September 2nd, 2006

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Yeff is Really Writing SF (from blogspot)

Really, I have been writing SF during the past year.

I had vowed that 2006 was going to be a real year of writing, where I make the strong effort to produce work regularly during the year. I did not want to hit 40 without being on the path of becoming a writer.

So, where am I, after 9 months of 2006?

I have a writing group, SacSpecFic (Sacramento Speculative Fiction), which has been meeting every month since December. This group has been the main spur for me writing short pieces and getting them critiques by someone. I think we’re all at about the same level of ability, so I’m getting some useful feedback – more on the sense of what works and what doesn’t work instead of something more professional like “the story breaks down here”, “this character’s motivation is incomplete”, etc. It’s been useful for getting me to produce and for getting a first cut of feedback.

I’m still a Critters member, but my record is a bit spotty. I go through bursts where I get myself back up to 75%, but then I fall off again. I need to make a giant burst and get my ratio up to maybe 80% or so, and then I can submit stories again. I really want to get Critters feedback on a few pieces because I think it’s a good volume and mix of feedback.

Here’s the stories I’ve worked on during the year: “Samsara”, “Padre”, “Brandon Magi”, “The Case of the Metal Heart” (later changed to “The Case of the Killer Dog”), “The Grip of Death”, “Fly Boy”, “Hunters”, and “This Moment, and the Times Before”.

I took a Science Fiction and Fantasy class at Writers Online Workshops ( It was the first offering of the class, and was taught by John DeChancie. I enjoyed the class, and used it to write a first draft of “The Case of the Metal Heart”. I got some good feedback from the other participants and from John, which really helped me simplify the story and give it more focus.

I’ve entered Writers of the Future ( contest three times, with results as follows:
- 2005Q4, “Samsara”, Quarterfinalist (aka top 10-15%)
- 2006Q2, “Padre”, Quarterfinalist
- 2006Q3, “Brandon Magi”, TBD. Ending up a Quarterfinalist would be great, as I’m not as positive on the fate of this story.

Deadline for 2006Q4 is September 30, I will enter one of three stories: “Case of the Killer Dog”, “Hunters” or “This Moment”. Any of the three would work as an entry for me, I think either “Dog” or “Hunters” would have the best chance.

I have not yet submitted anything to a publication for consideration, but I am thinking about doing it in October. Candidates (and targets) are “Samsara” (F&SF), “Padre” and “Brandon Magi” (Asimov’s). “This Moment” could also be an Asimov’s story, depending on how it evolves.

I went to Worldcon in Los Angeles August 24-27 and had a great time – lots of sessions on writing, where real speculative fiction writers talked about writing and stories. It really cemented in my mind that I want to be a writer of science fiction (or more generally, speculative fiction). I like the way these writers think and how they express those thoughts. It’s really about thinking about the future, as a reflection of the present, and then expressing those thoughts in a story that should both entertain and have some meaning.

One of the highlights of Worldcon was going to Koffeeklatches, where a small group of people (around 8) gets to sit with a Science Fiction author or editor and just talk about the writer’s work and writing and science fiction. I went to sessions with Howard V. Hendrix, Sheila Williams (Asimov’s editor) and Mike Resnick, and I really enjoyed all three of them.

I’m not reading as much as I want – I’m way behind on Asimovs and F&SF and just started up Analog, and have a bunch of books. I need to read regularly, and form opinions on what I read for my SciFiComment blog (which I’m also behind on). I think the best thing to do is just start with August magazines and move forward, then read the others when I can.

That’s it – just did more work on “This Moment”, which I’ll be finishing up this weekend for sending to SacSpecFic. And that’s the state of “Yeff Writes SF”.