A Return to Longhand

Alternate Title:  Oh God, What is My Handwriting.

Let’s write letters together, everyone!

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During the  month of February, I am going to write a letter every day that the post runs.  Why?  Well, mainly because Mary Robinette Kowal said I should!  Also, I have a ton of stationary that is practically begging me to be used for something other than the occasional ‘thank-you’ note.

“All right,” says you, “This is a novel concept and has my interest, but what does writing letters do to improve your writing?”

From the way I intend to approach this, it gives a writer a chance to write 23 thoughts that they would not normally put to paper (or screen).  You can write anything from massive letters to quick ‘hey how ya doing’ postcards, so this is a big chance to explore writing out things that you typically wouldn’t!  You can write a letter without using the letter ‘e’, describe your local scenery as a writing exercise to someone who has never visited your town, or write a letter to someone in the voice of a character.

You, uh, might want to include an explanation on that last example unless your friends already know how weird you are.

This could also provide a good starting point for writers that are afraid to put their work out into the world.  Letting people read what you’ve written can be daunting!  Why not use these letters to force yourself to send off your words into the wide world?  If you are among those who back away from writing groups or posting your work on the forum, get over your fears by sending out small notes to family members, or even a drabble or two if you feel inspired.

And of course, if you’re like me, this gives you a chance to send people you know strange things.  Like… as much My Little Pony fanfic as you can fit on a greeting card!  Or a poem, if you’re slightly less like me and can write poetry.

Will you join me in writing a month of letters?  Would you like me to write a letter to you?  You can e-mail your address to me at kalisa[dot]lessnau[at]gmail.com and I promise not to deliver it in person.  If you sign up, find me as “muchandquick”.

How to Spend Your Week’s Allowance

The following is a list of things that I would like to own.  I’m sharing them with you because not only do I think that you might like them, but at the least it might open you up to a new website/creator/thingy that you were previously unaware of.  Let’s go!

  • The Abominable Charles Christopher books.  This webcomic features outstanding artwork and an intricate, fascinating storyline that will make you cry aloud at your computer when you get to the pivotal moments.
  • Prints of Planets (and dwarf planets, respectively).  The Geekerie features a wide array of science/sci-fi/nerdy prints to adorn your house.  Perfect for anyone who has recently been forced to admit that the posters they collected in college need to be retired.
  • Preorder of Unfettered.  I purchased this one already!  Whee, preorders!  Let me save you the effort of going to the site and copy the list of contributing authors: Terry Brooks,          Patrick Rothfuss, Naomi Novik, Brandon Sanderson, RA Salvatore, Tad Williams, Jacqueline Carey, Daniel Abraham, Peter V. Brett, Robert VS Redick, Peter Orullian, Todd Lockwood, Carrie Vaughn, Blake Charlton, Kevin Hearne, Mark Lawrence, David Anthony Durham, Jennifer Bosworth, Lev Grossman, Michael J. Sullivan, Eldon Thompson, and Shawn Speakman.  Profit from the book will go to alleviate the medical debt incurred by author Shawn Speakman during cancer treatment.
  • Tentacle Kitty Plush.  Do I really need a reason beyond “Tentacle Kitty Plush”?
  • 2013 Fantasy Pin-Up Calendar. Tell me I’m not the only person that waits until February to get their new calendars?  This calendar lets you know what day of the year it is, features space to keep track of your appointments on said days of the years, and feature some lovely literary-themed ladies.  I love classic pin-up illustrations because it always looks like the woman is in on what’s happening.  All the profit made on the calendar goes to charity (Heifer International) so there’s that as well.

So there you go, my suggested items that you spend your hard earned cash on.  Did you just get a check for a story you sold?  Then treat yourself to something fun (after you pay the bills, of course).  Go ahead and let me know what items you’re currently coveting in the comments!

Open your heart, also your wallet.

This is a post in support of World Builders.

Let’s take a step back.

Out among the wide world of charities that wish to take your money and help out people on a global to local scale, there is Heifer International.  Heifer International works to provide needy families with sustainable solutions to end the cycle of poverty and hunger.  Long story short, they send bees, geese, sheep, llamas, bunny rabbits, trees, and the knowledge that will give families their own means to feed themselves and eventually aid others in their community.  Bunnies make more bunnies, after all!  I feel it is a rad and worthwhile charity.

That being said, I started donating to them annually for a mostly selfish reason.  And that reason is that author Patrick Rothfuss holds a totally sweet lottery to help raise donations, where he gives away tons of books and various prizes.  You ain’t just getting a pat on the back and a warm, fuzzy feeling here, folks.  For every $10 you donate through Rothfuss’ Heifer International team, you get 1 chance to win something in the lottery.

I am not joking about the prizes you can win.  Read this post from his blog and just start scrolling down.  What you see there is a part of the donations he receives and organizes into a lottery that is designed wholly to get you to pry a few dollars out of your bank account to help families in need.  For those of you who don’t appreciate the “chance” part of a lottery, you can straight up bid on a wide variety of great books and other fantastic prizes.  There are some serious collector items floating around, waiting for you to claim them.

I already put in my chunk of change.  I think my donation equated to buying a tree?  Whatever!  I am sold on the idea of massively encouraging nerds to donate to charity and this post is my small attempt to spread the word to anyone who may not have heard of the World Builders yet.  The lottery closes on January 21st, so make sure you don’t miss your chance!

Duotrope: Totally Worth the Subscription.

The Internet is thick with tools for writers.  Thick with ’em!  Off the top of my head there is:

All of these sites (and podcast) are free to access and use, which is great because who don’t love a free thing that is also incredibly helpful?  I also know that 90% of the time I want to believe that the Internet is a paradise of free content that was created just for me.  Yet, there are even times when I am forced to admit that a paid subscription is worth the coin.  That being said, let me introduce you to a site that I think is well worth the sticker price.

Duotrope is a site that provides writers with a wide catalog of available markets to submit their stories.    It allows you to search for markets based on genre, word count, type of pay, what kind of publication the market is, and other variables to find new markets for your work.  This is a great resource for finding publications that an author may be unfamiliar with or never come across on their own.  Surprisingly, it is one of the few ‘useful’ time-killers I have on the Internet as you can spend hours pouring over different markets, reading the interviews Duotrope gets with editors about what they’re looking for in a story, and finding all the weird tentacle-related publications that are out there (quick answer:  there are many).  Users can submit data relating to their own experiences with markets such as submission process time and whether or not they were accepted and provide statistics about each publication that other users can consider.  Good stuff!

Duotrope was, until January 1st, 2013, sustained on donations.  Now they’ve dropped the donation format due to lack of donators and have moved to a subscription model.  Here’s what the Duotrope site has to say about the new system:

What will a subscription give me?

Subscribers will have access to all the features you have come to love:

  • Our robust search feature.
  • The index of market listings.
  • The calendar of upcoming themes and deadlines.
  • Interviews with editors.
  • Full market listings, including response statistics*.
  • Statistical reports*.
  • Personalized RSS feeds.
  • Your personal control panel including your submissions tracker, etc.
  • If you have opted-in to receive our newsletter, you will continue to receive our info-packed weekly issues.

As Duotrope adds and improves features — and we do have plans! — you will have access to those as well.

If I don’t subscribe, what will I miss out on?

  • You will no longer be able to run searches or browse the index of listings.
  • The information shown on individual market listings will be limited.
  • You won’t be able to access our calendar of deadlines, statistical reports*, or RSS feeds.
  • You will lose access to your control panel, including your submissions tracker**.
  • You will no longer receive our info-packed weekly newsletters.

If I don’t subscribe, what will I still have access to?

  • Market listings (and editor interviews) via a direct link (from Google or Twitter, for example) will still be available, minus the statistics for that market.
  • Our Twitter feed will continue to announce new market listings and markets that have re-opened to submissions.
  • If you have opted-in to receive our newsletter, you will receive monthly issues with a summary of Duotrope activity, including number of new markets added, number of recent openings and closings, and number of new submission reports received. Three recently added listings will also be featured in the newsletter.

A subscription either runs you $5 a month, or you can buy an annual subscription for $50, which gives you a bit of a discount.  I say that Duotrope is worth the ducats.

2013! Already?

Happy New Years according to the Gregorian calendar!

If you celebrate the Lunar New Year, Rosh Hashanah,  or Losar, you’ll just have to wait a bit longer to party.

Ooh, it is actually interesting to see all the different times when people celebrate their new year.  Yay, arbitrary measurements of time!

I am a fan of New Year’s resolutions.  They’re fun, it gives you something to think about throughout the year and on some occasions you can look back and say, “Hey, I actually followed through on that one!”  Typically, my resolutions lead to me lying around in November trying to figure out where the rest of the year went, but right now I am full of enthusiasm and snack-foods from the party I went to last night, so let’s run with that!

Here were my basic 2012 resolutions:

1) Finish first novel (including several revisions). – Does “made some serious progress” count?  I certainly haven’t done “several revisions” but the first draft far more drafted than it was at the start of 2012.
2) Become published.  – Completed!  High-fives all around.
3) Increase production of short stories. – I think I kept my average amount of stories produced per year.  I didn’t decrease, which is good, but I do have plans for upping the amount I write.
4)Read more. – Technically, yes, but I read a pathetic amount of books for someone who needs to read almost constantly for their profession.  According to Goodreads I read 15 books, which is just not enough and everyone knows it to be true.

So, what’s to be done in this New Year?  How about some fresh resolutions!  Here we go:

  1. No, seriously, read more. – I will be striving again for a minimum of 52 books read this year.  This Christmas I was fortunate enough to be given a Kindle, so I really have no excuse not to literally have a selection of books to read in my hand at any given moment.  If you’d like, you can friend me on Goodreads at the username “Muchandquick”.
  2. Participate in W1S1. to increase short story production. – There is a nifty new widget-thing on my site that leads to information about “W1S1”, which is short for “write one, sub one”.  Participants agree that they will complete a short story AND submit a short story on an either weekly or monthly basis, no excuses.  The W1S1 front page has the quote,
    “An improvementon NaNoWriMo for serious writers.”
    Jonathan Laden, Daily Science Fiction
    Which sounds pretty good to me.  It is an on-your-merit venture, where your reward in successfully participating is to reap a more productive writing schedule.  I think it sounds like fun, and I know that I perform much better when I have an established timeline.  It also provides a chance to talk to other writers about their experiences, which is always a good time.
  3. Get published in a SFWA publication, or get paid professional rates. – Self-explanatory.  My pie-in-the-sky dream would be to join SFWA this year, but I ain’t banking on it actually happening.  Still, I feel like it is a good goal to work towards.
  4. Weekly updates on this blog and my podcast reviews. – Because schedules are meant to be adhered to.
  5. Finish the damn novel.– Because I need to and that’s pretty much all there it to it at this point.

I also need to learn how to crochet better and practice the ukulele, but those are sort of auxiliary to the whole writing thing.  And I guess get back to going to the gym.  And training my cats to perform more tricks.

Do you have any resolutions for 2013?  Let me know in the comments!