Writing. Focus.

So my college classes are over. College classes? Yeah, I don’t blog as much as I should. I spent the past 16 weeks back in school taking Psychology 101 and Contemporary Short Story 221. I can’t believe the sheer number of hours I just spent on only two classes. How on earth did I ever take and pass five? Oh, right, I was in my twenties.

But now I’m back to writing in the mornings before dawn in Iceland and I’m enjoying the heck out of my WiP.

A big part of that is a website/forum I recently started with a writer friend of mine and some additional dedicated writers called “Future Finalists .com”. This forum is for an extremely select group of people. Those who have been finalists in the Writers of the Future contest – and didn’t win. That’s only 20 people a year, and on years with multiple finalists, well, then that’s only 19.

I’m scouring the internet for others to invite them to join us, but it’s odd contacting people out of the blue. With all the spam we have to deal with I’m never sure if people will think I’m trying to get them to buy something or what. I mean, that’s why the internet was invented, right? To sell stuff?

Well, anyway, that’s an entirely different post. Suffice to say if you see an e-mail or facebook post or blog post from me, I’m not selling anything. I’m just looking to chat with you and the few others who know exactly how it feels to get “the phone call” and then, well, the second phone call…

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Career – to date – submission stats

OK, so I’ve given you my mid-year stats, but how about career?

Recently, I reached the milestone of my 50th submission, so I thought I’d share some more stats.

Submission 1. Writers of the Future contest. March 20, 2010. Result – Honorable Mention. (Still a rejection, but a nice one.)
Submission 15. March 5, 2012. A flash fiction story sent to Fiction365. My first acceptance!
Submission 50. Sept 6, 2013. IGMS. Oddly enough, a rework/rewrite of my first submission.

Rejections: 39
Acceptances: 6
Pending: 5

So, right now I’m at a 12% acceptance rate. (Assuming the pending 5 are rejected.) Pretty good, I’d say!

Here’s to the next 50, may they not take 3.5 years to happen…

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Mid-year submission/acceptance story stats:

Okay, so I’m totally stealing this idea from Jennifer Campbell-Hicks 

As of today. (Missed the mid-year by a lil bit.)

Total submitted = 11.
Currently submitted = 3
Accepted = 1

Last year I was 4 for 21, so I’ve got to pick up the pace if I’m to equal last year’s totals, which, for me, was my best year ever.

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Age, the leading cause of death.

Age: A blog honoring my published story regarding the cure for aging:

I recently read that one hundred, eleven (111) year old Bernardo LaPallo visited the new Yankee Stadium. (Around a hundred years removed from visit to Hilltop Park, the Yank… I mean the Highlanders first park.)

I expected to see a shriveled, shell of a man in a wheelchair. Instead, he stood upright, dressed in a snazzy suit, and shook hands with Derek Jeter and Joe Girardi.

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130601&content_id=49324808&vkey=news_nyy&c_id=nyy

I can’t help but wonder why some people live so dang long, while others wither and die in their fifties. Case in point, my grandfather.

I never knew him other than a sickly, old man. He passed when I was 11. He was 59.

Recently, I was looking at an old photo album of my father’s. I found a picture of my grandfather in his early 40’s, before I was born. He looked OLD. My father commented that he was “always old.”

Mr LaPallo is 111.

So what is it? Modern medicine? Constitution? Genetics? Luck?

In general, we’re all living longer, (Average life expectancy varies by country, Japan leads the way.) but 111? Seriously?

The article says there are several hundred known super-contrarians. Those over 110.

Where will I fall on the spectrum? I have my grandfather’s genes, (And his southpaw.) but I’m not “old” at 40. That’s a good sign. But there are diseases out there that don’t care hold old we are. If they get in, they stay, and the average takes a dip.

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Goal set: 10k words a month – 2013

In April, (I’m a little behind in my blogging) I publicly (on a writing forum) offered up a challenge – to write 10k words a month, each month, for the rest of 2013.

I reached my goal in April and May.

I believe the 22k or so words were more than I wrote all of last year. All because I set the goal and insisted on reaching it.

June is looking like it will be quite challenging to reach the 10k. I’ve got to edit my WotF entry, (editing doesn’t count as new words) I’ve got some writing contest entries to read and critique, I’ll have a few other WotF entries to critique, and I have a script to look over and tweak. (Thanks to a Kickstarter reward, a movie producer will read my script and offer comments/critique)

Today’s the 4th. I’m around 1000 words. I need to get busy.

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Raising the planet’s happiness level

For the past half-dozen years, I’ve donated varying amounts of money to the charitable organization, World Vision (.org). Each year I’m sure to buy a pair of soccer balls. They are delivered anonymously to small villages in various third world nations. Cost, $16.

For the cost of viewing an Imax movie, I can give groups of kids hours of play and enjoyment.

I’ll never meet these kids, nor seen them playing with my gifts, but I trust World Vision and I know the balls will be delivered to kids with next to nothing in their lives.

There will be joy, and happiness, and laughter. I like to think their possitive energy is released into the atmosphere and spreads over us all.

This year I’ve committed to doubling my gift. This year I’ve ordered four.

Have fun kids. For all of us.

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Taking TOOK out of your MS

Took isn’t the most evil word to be found in your MS.
But it ain’t great either.
Below are some examples on how to remove took and alter your sentences for the better.

*He took a step forward and peered around the corner. He took in the scene before him. The room was empty. He suspected they were all hiding.

Rewrite:

*He stepped forward, peering around the corner. The empty room confirmed his suspicion that his family and friends were hiding.*

The above *stepped*, which is generic, could also be written as, *He inched forward.* or *He edged forward.* Depending on the exact mood you wish to express.

*edged, peering (not looking or glancing), and suspicion.* These are all mood and character words meant to show you that the character is not pleased. Yet, we didn’t come right out and say it. I would guess this character will quite grumpy or sarcastic when the others “surprise” him.

More examples:

I took a sip of my drink. I sipped my drink.
She took a step toward me. She stepped toward me. (add mood: She slinked toward me.)
He took three steps back. He backed away. (Not: he backed up. Up? Did he just descend a ladder?)

Do a “search” for the word *took* in your MS. See if you can rewrite it. But watch your echoes when replacing words out of context.

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