M. Frank Darbe A Writer's Blog


Submission Trackers

Submitting work is hit or miss. Keeping track of all it in my head is just too much to ask with all the stories, protagonists, antagonists, supporting roles, plots, counterplots, revolutions, and outright mayhem that is part of writing fiction. I could do it with a spreadsheet, as is used by many writers, but I want to try to keep the bookkeeping hours to a minimum. Since I am working on a shoestring tied to a prayer, finding something that is free is high on my priorities.
While looking for a market for my story "Prima Donna in Clockwork" I stumbled over the blog "Author Alden." While perusing Author Alden's lists of websites that offer Market listings, I saw lists of submission trackers: Sonar3, Writer Planner, The Writer's Database and The Grinder.
Sonar 3 is a freeware from Spacejock Software, written and managed by Simon Haynes. Mr. Haynes writes many good programs for writers. Sonar 3 allows a writer to enter information on markets and track submissions.
Writer Planner is a web-based free tracker. This site does everything Sonar 3 does plus has market listings available to members. Like Sonar 3, it is free and easy to use. So I keep it fresh in my mind, I have it set up on a tab in Outlook and Chrome.
Writer's Database is a free tracker. Like Writer Planner, it has market listings and allows reminders.
The Grinder is a new site in Beta Test. It keeps statistics of submissions. It is not as full featured as the others here.
At the moment, I am using all three and over the next few months I will decide which one works best for me.


Uncanny: A Magazine of Science Ficiton

This magazine is not yet open to submissions, but it bears watching.
Uncanny: A Magazine of Science Ficiton

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Yard Dog Press – Market

Yard Dog Press is a new Market I found via a link by Cj Cherryh on Facebook.

They are not accepting submissions at the moment, but they are worth watching.

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The Next Step Goes Over the Cliff.

My next step takes me over the cliff of the publishing world and hope I can make my own wings on the way down.
Having decided to publish "The Jungian Gate" myself, I find that I need information about the various services. Amazon looks good, of course, but desire and sensibility pull me in two directions. Electronic publishing is probably the best method, but I also would like to have a physical book in my hands on my shelf.
I suspect the later "desire" is vanity and age. All of my life books on the shelf meant something, and I find it difficult to give virtual print the same meaning.
Beginning tomorrow, with summer gone and the boys back at school, I have the time to sit down, look at my options and figure it out. There are ways to do both because some people do it. I just don't know how.
I have begun deep editing of the second novel "Twilight's Child." The book has twenty-six chapters, and I intend to revise/edit a chapter a day . Some of it should not be difficult, or so I hope. Chapter One did not work at all, and I was forced to rewrite the whole thing.
The third book, "Sleeping Lies" is about three-fourths written. My goal is to write 1666 words a day, which means I can write a first draft of a novel in about 50 days.
I have not given up my goal to find an agent and try the traditional route. Every novel I finish will be sent around for a while.
Finally, I also intend to write short stories for anthologies and to publish myself. Ideally, for my self publishing venture, I should come out with something (short story, novella, novel) on a regular schedule. I aim to put something up every two weeks.
I have lots of work to do.


Grammar humor

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The Challange of Sloppness

I am often sloppy when I write. I don't worry about grammar or exactly the right word. Transiting from the beginning, through the middle, to the end is the goal. The easiest way to get bogged down in the story is to start editing before the ending.
Now, I will admit, I have never achieved purity in that goal. I look back at times, especially when a character does or says something that I never planned in the beginning, or considered when I ask myself the most important question in writing, "So what happens next?"
But that sloppiness comes at a price.
My biggest weakness as a writer used to be finishing the damned thing. Now, it is the work of reading through and rewriting and editing for the just the right word, and making the grammar as perfect as I can make it.
That is what I work on now.
Now that I've written it right, the challenge is getting it right.

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You Never Know What You Will Write Until You Write It

Yesterday, I wrote about my next short story project. I thought it "Nonesuch" was pretty good idea with its future setting in human colonies in the Ort Cloud.

But you never know what your will write until you write it. I tried three beginnings. They weren't bad, but they were distant. The best was this"
"Ilah floated with the other children, tethered like helium balloons to rings in the floor while professor H'jal maneuvered his long thin body with tiny spurts of air jets to the podium in the center of the class. "One of you is a nonesuch." He said, while he went about the business of anchoring himself to the podium."
It isn't bad, but my mind just did not want to go that way. So, I let my fingers do the typing on my keyboard, (nod of the head to an old Yellow Pages commercial), and wrote a 500 word mini scene of "Renaissance Punk" story. It isn't Steampunk, because the story is set in 1740, before steam came into use. It involves Nicolas Fatio de Duillier, a minor alchemist and mathematician acquainted in his youth with Isaac Newton. Among other things, he came up with a very different law of gravity and invented a means to use Jewels in watches and other windup devices. The protagonist, is a ten year old girl, who also happens to be an Homunculus. There is a windup automaton name Clebold, and the heavies are two men who are part of the "Caminards" (one of them a sort of Frankenstein Gollum). I followed that mini-scene with a basic outline of the story.
As stated, this wasn't the story I intended to write. It is the one came out of the place where stories come from.


The Next Short Story Project

Dreaming Robot Press is another of those small press outfits that publish anthologies. They have an open call for science fictions stories, ages 9-11. Their reading period is between June 1st and August 31st. I've decided that this is my next short story project.
In the past, I've tried to write juveniles, and they ended up adult stories with Children protagonists, somewhere between King's "It" and Gaiman's "The Ocean at the End of the Lane." (I highly recommend both novels, by the way.)

I think it is time I wrote a juvenile that ends up as a juvenile. My idea is just a working title, "Nonesuch."

Nonesuch is defined as "a person or thing that is regarded as perfect or excellent." The main character will be a 10 year old girl who doesn't consider herself anything like that. It take place about 150 years in the future, in Ort Cloud. It will clock in between 3000 and 6000 words. It should take, oh, 4 or 5 days to write.

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It's one of those mornings
When I realize I have walked
Two miles down a one mile long road
In the wrong direction.

I know there's a way
To return to the path
To where I am going

But I am out here, exposed
In a big dark forest
And no sign post in sight.

My choices are
Sit on ass and wail at the world
Throw up my hands, and
Walk with no goal
Or make my own sign post.
This Is My Way
Follow At Your Own Risk.

I'll take the last
And hope old Frost
Wasn't blowing smoke
About that road not taken.

© M. Frank Darbe

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Where Do Story Ideas Come From

Contrary to popular opinion, there is not this wonderful weird world like Wonderland or Neverland that writers get to through the use of really good drugs, or drinking, or from epileptic seizures. No, we just see something, and "Wham!" it hits you.

This Idea came form Business Insider. One of those little stories you click through, this one being about science misconceptions.
I read:
"Goldfish actually have pretty good memories. They can remember things for months, not seconds like most people say."

I thought, what if the only witness to a murder was goldfish, and this scientist conceived a way of getting into its mind.

I suppose you call that creativity. It isn't a place, it is just the ability to look at something and say, what if.

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