cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)

Thoughts in Passing
I am deep in the pre-production for my epic fantasy novella, The Unkindness of Ravens. During my final grammar-and-typos copyedit, my proudest moment was spotting the extra space hiding at the beginning of a paragraph. 😆 Want to know what gave me the most trouble? Figuring out the grammatically correct use of articles with a term I made up myself (turns out it's complicated).

Ah, writers. We do it to ourselves.
What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:
See above. I have a novella coming out soon! July 17th! Soon, The Unkindness of Ravens will be available in print for pre-order. The ebook is already available for pre-order on non-Amazon sites, with a special low pre-order price (Kindle coming soon).

I'm also going to two local writing conventions in the next month. I'm at 4th Street Fantasy, June 22 - June 24th (I'm there now!). And I'm at CONvergence July 5 - July 8. I'll be doing a reading (with donuts if they're allowed in the room) first thing in the morning on Friday! That same day I'll be on these panels: Kids Ask a Writer, Keeping Creatively Energized, and Next Big Monster. On Saturday, I'm part of the group book signing (look for my origami tree) and the Writing Violence in Violent Times panel.
Things Shiny or Useful
Archive of all shiny or useful links:  

A Mid-Year Prep Talk to Rejuvenate Your Writing Resolutions:

Featured Market
Sins and Other Worlds is a reprint dark SF anthology by Shacklebound Books.
All submissions must be science fiction in nature. Any sub-genre is acceptable, but the stories must have have a science fiction element and must be dark in tone or atmosphere.
Basics: dark science fiction, reprints ONLY, 1,500 words or fewer, pays at least $.01/word (maybe more depending on Kickstarter). Due until filled. Guidelines:
For the rest of the market updates, go to
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Thoughts in Passing

I'm in the middle of a massive hack-and-slash on a finished novella project, cutting 29,200 words down to 25,000 so that I can submit it a shorter version to a particular place. That means I need to cut enough words that they would make a good-sized short story all by themselves. I'm about a quarter done. I approach this project in the spirit of taking out everything that I possibly can, from adjectives to not-entirely-critical character interactions to whole scenes that can be summarized or omitted.

That is not how I normally approach editing. I don't believe that cutting down to the bone is best for every story. You can lose a lot of your personal voice and style that way. (I still cut my fair share of weasel words and plot going nowhere and bits that only exist to get from Point A to Point B, I assure you!)

I've also cut a couple hundred words from my "finished" long version. Maybe 1/10th of the time, the shorter version is stronger, not just different. I don't recommend gutting your story simply to see what works better that way, but it's a good exercise to try once. Save the original version first!

What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:

I held back on announcing this, because reasons, but I have a new publication to announce! My short story, "Miracle Material," appears in Mother's Revenge: A Dark and Bizarre Anthology of Global Proportions.

In this mixed genre group of eco-tales, thirty-two authors from around the globe offer up some lessons in why it's wise to be kind to Mother Earth. Read and take heed. Your very life may depend on it!

And if you're in Minneapolis, next Sunday I'm leading a free workshop on PoV (Point of View). Come and say hi!

Meetup event:

(Read the rest of this Aswiebe's Market List update here:
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
For the last part of 2016, I was posting three good things daily on Facebook. It helped my mood, and it helped me notice good things despite stress and sickness. I wanted to keep doing something like this. The plan is to post 10 good things weekly on Monday. This one is a little late. Oops!

The kids went back to kindergarten and preschool on Tuesday! This was a surprise, because my calendar had contradictory information so I was braced for a whole 'nother week of them both being home all day long. Surprise!

1. Theia was happy to go to preschool. Hopefully this means the long break has allowed her to forget that she was not wanting to go for a while.

2. I got summoned for jury duty! This has never happened before. I'm excited.

3. Cardinals in winter. Worst camouflage. Best bird-watching. The certified urban wildlife habitat beside Cassius' school bus stop has three or four pairs of cardinals living in it or nearby, so I often see them flying across the street, perching on snow-covered branches, and otherwise being photogenic.

4. Phil got me a new battery for my laptop. He used some of his Amazon reward from work to help *me* do my work. :) Now I'll have more than 10 minutes of battery life again. Such luxury!

5. I got the My Little Ponies of the Apocalypse t-shirt that I ordered as my reward for hitting a weight loss benchmark (thanks, pneumonia!). The kids think the t-shirt is of pirate ponies.
Ponies of the Apocalypse

6. I finished the final draft of my high fantasy novella, "The Unkindness of Ravens," and submitted it to Yay! That is the most rewritten piece I've ever created. It's about 29,000 words long, and only about 10,000 of those words are from the story I started with when I decided to do this. And there I was, thinking that all I would need to do was change the beginning and ending a bit and add a few thousand words. Ha.

7. Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest contacted me out of the blue, to ask MinnSpec to spread the word about the 2017 Minnesota Writing Workshop. I enjoy reading his blog, so that was pretty cool! Also, for pity's sake people. Have a website, and put a contact form on it!

8. I went back to the gym for more than just the sauna! It's been a while because The Sickness meant I couldn't breathe well enough to exercise. Saturday I did a yoga class, and it felt great.

9. First sale of 2017--a reprint sale of an eco-horror short story to an upcoming anthology. Huzzah reprint sale!

10. I started Project: Clean All The Things. Picking up went on my Not-To-Do List while I was cramming to get "Unkindness" finished, so I promised I'd spend the first two weeks after finishing it using my regular writing time to CLEAN (and catch up on emails).
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (editing despair)
I am not being a good patient writermonkey. I am antsy. Soon, soon Writers of the Future will announce the results for the 2nd Quarter, the one I sent a story that's reallygood to (No, it is--I promise!).

::drums fingers::

And that end-of-the-world anthology that I did get accepted into, which has had pub. deadlines pushed around--last I heard we were supposed to approve and finish edits by the end of June. Which is coming up pretty fast now.

::drums fingers some more::

And the other anthology that I just found I out I made the first cut for, which, er, might make me a leetle more Christmas-morning-impatient than usual.

::drums fingers even more::

There's the publication (coughGUDcough) that promised a sub response by April 14th, but which is flooded (because yes, they are that awesome) and now has an undetermined response time.

And the anthology that said it would send responses sometime after the reading period ended (April 30th), but which has posted no status updates since.

::drums fingers so hard it sounds like the Horsemen of the Apocalypse::

Sigh.... Settling down. It's not like I don't have other things to worry about, and all of these should wait at least another month before I status query.

In fact, I have lots of other writingy things to worry about.

What am I wasting my time with this for? It's out of my hands at the moment, and that's kind of okay. I don't need anything else to juggle right now.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (editing despair)
03/17/10, day job project that I'm working on from home, plus training for the shift I'm covering Friday/Monday
* Posted about "They told the new base meteorologist" to Twitter and MinnSpec.

03/16/10, Tuesday, day job project that I'm working on from home
* Wrote 1 pg. on "Alien/Mother/Whore" while at dr's office, which is good, as I think I got past the snarled "insert this back there and insert this over here" bits. Now I can just write forward.
* Posted writing log.
* Processed Nossa Morte form rejection of "Road of Dreams."
* Processed Pedestal's "enjoyed it but no" rejection of "Look Back to Keep Her," FKA "Dining on a Dead Girl's Dime."
* Processed Writers of the Future's receipt acknowledgment of "The Unkindness of Ravens."
* Posted about "They told the new base meteorologist" publication to Fb, LJ, Buzz.
* Sent out and posted writing newsletter, updated in various places linking to it.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (editing)
02/14/10, Sunday, Valentine's Day
* Finished 2nd and 3rd of 3 critters crits.
* Used MPC to bump "Ekaterina and the Firebird" to the top of the Critters critique list.
* Read Duotrope and WritersDigest newsletters and updated market list from it.
* Publisher-Author Outreach as it could be:
* Donald Maas' _The Career Novelist_ available as free PDF download:
* Finally(!) got around to making the 20 minutes worth of changes to get "The Unkindness of Ravens," which I think is one of the best stories I've written so far, ready to submit. All 15,800 words of it. ::facepalm:: For context, most publications don't accept stories over 6,000 words, and even fewer accept over 10,000. OTOH, the best publications generally do.
* Submitted "The Unkindness of Ravens" to Writers of the Future.

02/13/10, Saturday, most of day spent doing photo shoot and cleaning photos.
* Write with awareness and honesty:
* The Novelist Survival Kit, for use while waiting for publication/acceptance:
* When somebody on the internet is Wrong:
* Nathan Bransford's query letter workshop forum:
* Processed Emerald Tales' receipt acknowledgment of "These Things Take Time."
* Worked on critiques for MinnSpec meeting next week. No more last-minute writing of critiques that same morning!

02/11/10, Thursday
* Did 1 of 3 critiques needed to get "Ekaterina" bumped to the top of the queue.
* Prepped crit #2.

02/10/10, Wednesday
* Posted freewriting, writing log, NanoWri
* Wrote in transitions for "Ekaterina"--there were as many of them missing as I feared.
* Submitted "Ekaterina and the Firebird" to MinnSpec for the next critique session, and loaded it up to Critters. Next up, getting 3 crits done so I can use my MPC to boost it to the top of the queue.
* Went through manuscripts file and updated various statuses, marking down where I need to query on status or check the contract to find out when I can sell reprint rights again.
* Added "Ekaterina and the Firebird," Platinadar project, and "Her Alien Baby" to the manuscripts.
* Processed "Periwinkle Eyes" non-win of the Micro Award.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Let Me Tell You a Story)
In Progress, Writing

They thought they could come and conquer our world easily. - Kept in Coral

With great reverence, Leander committed the greatest blasphemy of his life. - Tree of Life

In Progress, Editing

When Albin's nursemaid woke him in the dead of night, he knew something even worse than the death of his father had happened. - The Unkindness of Ravens

Clara ought to be home by now, an' my daughter. - And the Dog Died

"Just go, Will," Isabel said, turning her head to look out the window as if he were already gone. - Writ in Snowflakes and Sunshine

Having the king of Achromia's confidence was a heady sensation, but Bertrand had only to think of some of the tasks he'd been assigned to feel his feet become firmly grounded once more. - Pneumatic Knights

The old woman found the naked boy curled up in a semi-truck tire on the beach. - The Old Woman By The Sea

"What a huge, marvelous fish!" John's wife exclaimed. - Out of Focus

Night mist swirled around Valinda's boots as she walked through the empty street. - Vicesteed

Writing Log

Jun. 2nd, 2008 02:19 pm
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Sunday, no work
* [ profile] penthius freewriting, a high-potential idea for linked short stories.
* Posted writing log.
* Processed Cemetary Dance's form rejection of "Good Help is Hard to Find"
* Processed Allegory's form rejection of "The Perfect Costume" (reprint)
* Processed GUD's "shows promise" rejection of "Charity From a Thief"
* Read 2 FundsforWriters, AbsoluteWrite, WritersWeekly, FFWSmallMarkets newsletters
* Read and responded to Baen's Bar comments on "The Unkindness of Ravens." Among other things, kept self from bitch-slapping negative commenter who I suspect was trying to make the competition look bad.
* Submitted "Charity From a Thief" to Weird Tales.
* Updated submission order list for "Miracle Material"
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (writingblue)
05/26/2008 - Monday, Memorial Day, no work but Phil was around and wouldn't give me the computer for a while. There was also copious sleeping in. Mmm, sleeping in. I used this day as an "extra" Sunday, so I worked on submissions and miscellaneous writing-related tasks, of which there is a never-ending supply.
* Posted writing logs for the last few days.
* [ profile] penthius freewriting, a nice high-potential little teaser of a story about love and swords and politics.
* Updated Markets list from newsletter
* Submitted "The Unkindness of Ravens" to Baen's Universe slush. Now I will have comments filtering back to me for a few days. And if they like it well enough, it might get chosen to be published. The competition is quite fierce, though!
* Submitted "Charity From a Thief" to GUD.
* Submitted "The Radiator Burped" to Les Bonne Fees.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
05/25/2008 - Sunday, no work
* [ profile] penthius freewriting - a trite little framework about wannabe colonists forced to live in the slums of their new home.
* Transferred new revision of "The Unkindness of Ravens" to desktop computer, changed status in spreadsheets.
* Processed new status of "Salvaging Scottwell" FKA "Police Bot"
* Processed Fictitious Force's rejection of "The Radiator Burped."
* Added "steampunk" to my definition of Vicesteed on the various places that I talk about it. Just a small change, but keywords and tags are important, and I can't think why I didn't change it before. Also, I totally need to create a document wherein I track the various places I need to change/update my writing info when such changes occur--a new project, a new publication, etc.
* Printed off Critters crits of Vicesteed Ch. 13.
* Sent one repeating critter Chapter 14 of Vicesteed for editing.
* Updated Vicesteed rough chapter summaries and submitted Chapter 14 into the Critters queue, where it will eventually bubble up to the top.

05/24/2008 - Saturday, no work
* Updated OpenOffice on laptop.
* Went through and marked up "Salvaging Scottwell" for edits again, using [ profile] douglascole's notes for part of it. That story rocks on toast. It will be even more awesome once I finish these edits. Robots! Adaptive programming! Ghetto uprising! Beating the man at his own game! Gah! I want it to succeed so much that just thinking about its future gives me butterflies. Right now I have three stories that I'm really proud of, and none of them are out there yet: "Ice Mother," "Salvaging Scottwell," and "The Unkindness of Ravens" (which was out there but had been recalled for further edits).
* Finished making editing changes to "The Unkindness of Ravens." Hope I've fixed the bad beginning, but am not sure it's actually good yet. At least it doesn't involve flashbacks!

05/23/2008 - Friday, full+ work at NgithOwl
Read WritersDigest newsletter - excellent article listing 101 best sites for writers ( Created syndicated livejournal feeds for a couple of the winning blogs that I found to be interesting--[ profile] bransford and [ profile] lperkinsagent. Also started following another agent blog that already has a livejournal, [ profile] arcaedia.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
  • 10:56 Made Phil blueberry muffins for his birthday. Of course, I get to eat them too! Mmmm, yummy. #
  • 14:00 Off to Cahoots. Which would be a good place to catch Phil and wish him a happy birthday. #
  • 15:52 Editing "The Unkindness of Ravens." Being able to work "putrefaction and rot" into any story is a good sign, yes? #
  • 16:07 Trying to remember word for "absolution in advance"--no, *not* 'indulgence'. #
  • 16:37 Mpls library e-audiobooks all 1 track & my mp3 player doesn't read them as audiobooks. Still, free! And quality! #
  • 17:26 Will be at Kieran's 6:15-7:45 for dinner & drinks. Company welcome to celebrate Phil's birthday! #
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* Hunted high and low looking for the marked-up copy of "The Ice Mother"--had hoped to make editing changes and figure length to decide whether or not to submit to Misfits writing contest. Instead, realized I couldn't find it anywhere. Freaked out and tore house apart.
* Went to Cahoots and redmarked "The Unkindness of Ravens" instead, fixing the jarring and confusing beginning. Beginnings are my kryptonite as a writer. I *never* pick the right point to start a story. Fortunately, I'm getting pretty good at fixing this.
* [ profile] penthius freewriting - "Signing Away Sanity: Science Fiction"
* Got home and double-checked digital manuscript to see if I'd maybe made editing changes and just forgotten to note that in my manuscript tracking spreadsheet. Nope. Still 1st draft. Cue profuse swearing
* Then there was alcohol, and an idea for what seemed at the time like a funny parody of all the "I fight demons" stories out there.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
  • 11:26 Good husband earned blueberry muffins breakfast in bed. #
  • 12:34 Freaking out over chance that I've lost my marked-up copy of "Ice Mother" before I made the changes it needs. #
  • 12:50 FUCK! Tore house apart, failed to find marked-up copy of manuscript, will have to redo. FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK! #
  • 12:52 Off to Cahoots to make editing changes on those manuscripts I can still find. Distraction/company welcome. #
  • 17:53 Fuck! Got home to find notice from insurance that physical therapists might bill me for $500 that insurance won't cover. FUCK FUCK FUCK. #
  • 17:57 That's on top of the $60/week I've had to spend on physical therapy as my co-pay. Good thing I've been working full-time. :( 'Bye, sanity. #
  • 18:09 On the plus side, at least I marked up "The Unkindness of Ravens" & fixed badness. Beginnings are my Kryptonite. #
  • 18:11 Is there anything going on tonight? #
  • 18:49 En route to Red Dragon. Mmm, tasty Asian food and Wondrous Drinks. #
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"Police Bot" Writing Log

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
4,436 / 7,000

Writing work periods completed: 2
Words yesterday: 539
Total words: 4,436
Scheduled non-writing activities: Returning books to the library
Other reasons for length: Slept in late, spent a fair amount of time on non-writing but writing-related stuff.
Overused techno-babble: characteristic tags
Gratuitous word: spectacles
Type of scene: Poor puppydog police robot gets an unplanned software update that totally changes everything.
Challenge(s): Logically explaining what this program is doing on a technical level, 'cause that's what the story plot hinges on, without getting too boring or technical. Not sure I succeeded, but at least I kept it relatively short.
Which line is it anyways?Following the program's instructions, Max gently nudged the spectacles onto his nose and used the back of his paw to shift them to sit more securely in front of his thermal imaging sensor. (Yeah, I gave my anthropomorphic canine police robot spectacles. They're slightly askew, too. If that doesn't make this robot melt your heart, I don't know what will!)
Notes: I really want this one to get published. It's going to be such a good, bittersweet story. Yes, writers have favorites among their children.
Other writingy stuff: Lots!
* [ profile] penthius freewriting - high-potential dark fantasy children's story, "The Monster Under the Bed"
* Read Absolute Write Newsletter
* Read FFWSmallMarkets and updated Markets List
* Read Writers Digest newsletter
* Verified that Writer's Market were dumbasses and removed the option to add non-listed markets to one's submission tracker, though they say that enough people complained that they're adding it back "in the near future". Better be near, 'cause otherwise I'm going to be canceling my subscription, which I mostly kept because I found the submission tracker really useful even after I built my own, damn spiffy market database (which I do plan on sharing with the world as soon as I figure out a practical delivery method).
* Updated status of "The Unkindness of Ravens" (rejected) and "Periwinkle Eyes" (accepted by Art Times for publication in February 2010) in my manuscript-tracking spreadsheet.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (tea ring)
Writing Project Completed
Project Finished: "The Unkindness of Ravens"
Summary: A high fantasy coming-of-age story. While the kingdom is at war, the next monarch must be chosen. Albin, royal heir of House Crow, is forced to flee to save his life. While in hiding, he loses his eye, earns a favor from his god, and has to pretend to be a member of the untouchable caste.
Inspiration: This [ profile] penthius freewriting exercise.
Soundtrack: Wagner's "Siegfried" - yes, opera.
Date Project Started: 12/15/2005 - that was when I started doing research.
First Draft Wordcount: 17,616 words
Final Wordcount: 15,543 words
Major Editing Changes: I added in a fair amount more description of the surroundings, removed one scene entirely, and expanded the ending.
Markets: I wrote this specifically for the Blood and Devotion Anthology. That's not my usual way of operating, but I had an idea that I'd tagged as "high potential" that seemed to fit the guidelines admirably. If it isn't accepted, the length of this story will make it a difficult sell. Not a few of the critiquers said, "You should make this into a novel!" Chirpy fuckers.
Notes: If necessary to get a few more markets for this project, I could probably shorten this by removing the inn scene.
Excerpt )
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Yesterday's writing log:

Redmarking "The Unkindness of Ravens" - Oog. I already know that the beginning is going to have to be rewritten (because beginnings are always awkward and stilted) and the ending is going to have to be expanded (because I was laboring under the deadline-that-wasn't when I was writing it). I also slowly managed to overcome my conviction that if I hadn't redmarked a sentence, there was obviously something I was missing.
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
20 / 29

I finally said something along the lines of, "Thbbpppt!" Then I curled up in an armchair, put my feet on the radiator, and read a book until the evil, awful husband forced me to watch the Superbowl. I'm hoping to finish the redmarking process today--I've got until the end of the week, or next week at the latest, to mail "The Unkindness of Ravens" off.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Redmarking "The Unkindness of Ravens"
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
13 / 29

Critters critiques done - in order to boost Vicesteed up in the queue, requires 10 critiques done by Tuesday.
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
5 / 10

Other Writing Stuff:
Confirmed that "Dawn Sky" is no longer accepting submissions. Phooey! Also went through my submission tracker and removed all the "Dawn Sky" entries to stories that I was planning on submitting to them (4).
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
The Unkindness of Ravens
Zokutou word meter
17,532 / 17,532

End of Project Writing Log
Words yesterday: 4,723
Total words: 17,532
Reason for length: The guidelines of the anthology that I hope I'm writing this for specify 7,000-20,000. I had hoped to keep it under 10,000, but it just grew and sprawled and stretched.
Type of story: A high fantasy story about a royal heir, at the mercy of the gods and surrounded by war, who is forced to pretend to be part of the untouchable caste, is owed a favor by his god, and learns a great deal about people and ruling.
Story origin: Battlefield Crows
Challenge(s): Well, I spewed this out in record time, though I later found that I didn't need to.... My main challenge here was working in the very complicated religious and social structure. I'm still not sure that I did a good job on that.
Notes: If this doesn't sell to Blood and Devotion, I'm not sure what I'll do with it. Even with drastic editing measures, this will never be a sleek, sexy 5,000 words. I will get it under 15,000, and I'll sing paeans of joy if I get it under 10,000, but the markets are limited. At this length, I can only think of a few.

Excerpt from The Unkindness of Ravens )
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)

Just looked at the guidelines of the anthology on the actual site, and either I miscopied them initially or they've pushed the deadline back a month.

So I've just been killing myself getting this damned thing written for no damn reason.

I'd like to say, I finished writing it about half an hour ago, too.


Well, at least I've got a decent amount of time to edit. Since it was written that fast, it'll need it.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
The Unkindness of Crows
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
12,809 / 20,000

Writing Log
Words yesterday: 3,649
Total words: 12,809
Reason for length: Really need to finish this. Did nothing but write from the time I woke up (still hungover) to about ten o'clock, when I burned out.
Overused word: feast
Gratuitous word: ignominiously
Type of scene: How the forsaken came to be that way, the effects of the war, and gods have deadlines, too.
Challenge(s): Describing many individuals and keeping it in order.
Which line is it anyways?He knows that offending the forsaken might mean that suddenly, when the inn is at its fullest, the nightsoil stops getting carted away.
Notes: May need to go back and doublecheck all the Family vs. House vs. whatever stuff.


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