When Should You Give Up (via @frippet, HT: @Louise_Swinn)

Sounds like pretty depressing advice, but sometimes it’s worth reading:

I’ve read a few things over the last month or so which have made me realise what a tiny step towards being an author this getting published business is. First, there was this piece from author Annabel Smith about looking for an agent when you have two published novels and a third on the way. Basically, she says, it makes no difference that you’re published. Nothing has changed, it’s still the case that no one wants you; no one cares. If you haven’t sold big, you might as well have never been published. Other authors talked about how if you haven’t sold big, it might even be an impediment to have been published – all the data about your crappy sales lives on forever on BookScan, where prospective publishers can see it and decide you’re really not worth the risk.

Read on: http://janebryonyrawson.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/when-should-you-give-up/

How Writers End Up On NSA Watchlists (via: @cantrelljason)

When talking about writers and their search histories I’ve joked that there are only two types of people who search for ‘How do I dispose of my wife’s body with a woodchipper’.

Jason Cantrell talks about the realities of quite how dodgy a writer’s web search history can look, and how you might end up on totalitarian government watchlists:

And of course, in addition to researching ponies and Mesopotamian slave names, I did extensive research into decay rates of human bodies. As you can see, I spent quite a bit of time visiting multiple websites on this topic. It’s almost as if I’m planning to enslave someone and I want to know how long it’ll take the body to decay when I finish killing her. But that seems unlikely . . . maybe if we go a bit further back, there’ll be something in my search history that will shed some light on this and explain what I’ve really been up to.

I tried to do this to find out what mad story ideas are shown in my own history, but it seems an earlier version of me had proactively disabled Google’s web search history tracking for my account. Good thinking, yester-me.

Click here and check out Jason’s history, if you dare: http://writingpossibilities.com/2014/07/07/how-writers-end-up-on-nsa-watchlists/

Monday Markets – Rockingham Short Story Competition – October 10 (HT: @leebattersby)

You can submit to the Rockingham Short Story comp from July 14th to October 10th of 2014. Work from 1,000 to 4,000 words, based on the provided art piece (see link below) can be submitted in Open, Over 50s and Young Writer categories, with prize money for each.

Authors can submit up to three stories. Entered stories must be inspired by, drawn upon, or use the theme of the artwork “Underneath the Arches, Mangles Bay” by Rosemary Singleton (1988), which can be found on this webpage and on the entry form. Individual stories cannot be entered in more than one category.

Note: submissions must be in hard copy form, with no entry fee.

Read it here: http://www.rockingham.wa.gov.au/Community/Art-and-culture/Writing-and-literature

Flash Fiction is like a Good Dram (via @literaryminded)

Flash Fiction is hard but rewarding, and has a much better hourly payrate than your first few novels*. The awesome Angela Meyer opines about it thusly:

Those who know me have probably realised I’d eventually get around to using whisky as a metaphor for writing. Flash fictions—stories under 1000 words—are like a good dram. You savour them, roll them around in your mouth, are left with resonant remnants.

Here’s a little guide to tasting flash fiction.

Find it here: http://literaryminded.com.au/2014/06/19/flash-fiction-is-like-a-good-dram/

*this fact may have been pulled out of my backside but sounds about right.

Fun Ideas Time: The Fermi Paradox (via @waitbutwhy)

And by ‘fun’ I mean ‘terrifying existential crisis’.

Sometimes it’s good just to throw some brain-food into the blogging mix in the hope that it will spark some kind of story ideas. The Fermi paradox continues to be terrifying because of mathematics. eg:

Continuing to speculate, if 1% of intelligent life survives long enough to become a potentially galaxy-colonizing Type III Civilization, our calculations above suggest that there should be at least 1,000 Type III Civilizations in our galaxy alone—and given the power of such a civilization, their presence would likely be pretty noticeable. And yet, we see nothing, hear nothing, and we’re visited by no one.

Yay: http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/05/fermi-paradox.html

And here a little refreshing breath to not worry so much about it, we’re special: http://praxtime.com/2013/11/25/sagan-syndrome-pay-heed-to-biologists-about-et/

Monday Markets – Grimdark Magazine (via @AdrianGdMag, HT: @staceysarasvati)

Here’s another great market:

Grimdark Magazine is a grimdark fantasy and sci-fi pro paying market for authors and artists. Working in a sub-genre means we are after a very specific style of story or image. We want dark settings, grey characters of both sexes, morally ambiguous decisions, and plenty of grit. Joe Abercrombie, George RR Martin, Mark Lawrence, Scott Lynch, Graham McNeill, Dan Abnett, and R. Scott Bakker are our favourite authors. Buy a copy of our magazine to see exactly what we’re after.

They’re looking for 1,500 to 4,000 word stories and paying a solid 5c AUD per word.

Check out the full guidelines here: http://www.grimdarkmagazine.com/submission-guidelines-for-grimdark-magazine/

He Said/She Sighed – Part 1 (HT: @ginad129)

A great article here from Catherine Austen, which could be ‘here are some rules about writing rules':

Big picture rules are good, like: A book should spend more words on important scenes and fewer words on unimportant scenes. That rule is hard to argue with.

Rules I roll my eyes at are nitpicky particulars like: Use “said” as your only verb in dialogue. That is a stupid rule. Or, rather, it is stupid to think of that as a rule.

Catherine gives a good analysis of why there are apparent ‘rules’ like ‘just use  s‘ as a dialogue tag’. Like all ‘rules’, you can break them once you understand their purpose. This article is about the why:

You can have people spew their words, spit their words, growl them, bark them, bray them if you like. None of it is grammatically incorrect. Just as you can have your character drag her heart to the door, once she gets there she can sigh hello if you want her to. Readers love a good metaphor; why bar them from dialogue? The question is not whether it’s correct usage. (It is.) The question is whether it works. If it enhances the scene and makes it clearer, more vivid, more real and alive, then it’s good usage. If it obscures the action and slows the understanding and annoys the reader, it’s bad usage.

There’s a lot more in there, with this great little smackdown:

Note to nitpickers: The hiss of speech doesn’t have to be on sibilants. Humans do not hiss. The meaning of “hiss” in dialogue is not “sssss. If someone is hissing “ssstay away sssilly” you’d better spell it out because no reader is going to assume the speaker is actually hissing the sibilants – unless you’ve already said they’re insane and one of their symptoms is hissing like a snake. Hissing in dialogue means to speak in quiet anger. Like the hiss of a snake or a cat, it is a small noise with a big angry warning attached to it. It is a perfectly good word for a whisper-shout. So please don’t show off your ignorance by calling out an author for saying a character hissed, “Pick that up” to her unruly child in church. You might not like the usage, but it is not bad grammar.

It’s only part 1. Read it and bookmark it so if I forget to link you to part 2 then you won’t miss out: http://catherineausten.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/he-saidshe-sighed-part-one/