Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Writers of the Future, Guest Posting

Writers of the Future

A funny thing happened yesterday. I received a call on my cell phone marked "NO CALLER ID." Now, here's where I'll admit I'm not a huge fan of phone conversation. In most cases, I'll gladly take a text or a tweet instead. So usually when I get a call like this, I send that sucker straight to voicemail. This time, however, I picked up. And man, I'm glad I did.

"This is Joni from the Writers of the Future contest," the voice on the other end said. My breath caught a little. "I'm calling to tell you that you're a finalist."

Woohoo! The story I entered in this year's Quarter 1 contest has made it through coordinating judge David Farland's culling process. I've known for more than a month that my entry had made the "first pass," but that doesn't guarantee even so much as an honorable mention. So to say I was thrilled to find out I'm a finalist would be an understatement. Now my story and seven others will be sent off to a panel of quarterly judges, who will narrow the eight finalists down to three winners (first, second, and third place). The winners get a cash prize, a fancy awards gala, and the chance to attend an intensive, five-day master-class workshop. Cross your fingers for me.

Guest Post

While I've got your eyes, I'd like to direct them to Adam Gaylord's blog. Adam is a science fiction and fantasy writer like myself, and he recently invited me over for a guest post. If you'd like to read my take on market research for short fiction writers, it went live today. 

This is a topic I've done some chewing on, so when Adam sent me the invite, I figured this was a nice opportunity to talk about my (fairly involved) research process. In fact, when I actually sat down and wrote the post, I discovered I had even more to say than I anticipated. I wrote so many words on the subject that Adam decided to break the post into two. The first part is up now. The second part will be posted next week.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Read "Item Not As Described" in Kasma Magazine

In 2013, I sold Item Not As Described to UFO Publishing for the second entry in their Unidentified Funny Objects anthology series. This was my first short story sale at pro rates, and as such, it will always hold a special place in my heart. So I'm happy to report that it's now been reprinted by Kasma Magazine.

Item Not As Described is a humorous fantasy story. The basic premise is: if an online auction site like Ebay existed in an epic fantasy world, what would the customer support emails look like? Read the story here (for free) to find out. And check out that illustration by José Baetas. Isn't that awesome? I hope I never fail to get a kick out of seeing art based on my work. Such a cool feeling.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Read "Möbius" in Nature's Futures

The latest issue of Nature is out, and if you turn to the "Futures" page, you'll find a story of mine called Möbius. You can also read it for free online, along with all the other science fiction stories in the Futures series. As a science enthusiast, I'm thrilled to have my work featured in one of the most respected science journals in the world. Getting into Nature's Futures has been a goal for a long time.

Normally with these heads up posts, I like to write a little about the story behind the story. This time, however, I was invited to write a guest post about Möbius on the Futures blog, so if you'd like to learn a little about the inspiration behind my time travel tale, head over there and give it a read.

In this post, I thought I'd give a glimpse into the actual writing process. I wrote Möbius last year at Odyssey Writing Workshop. This was a few weeks in, and I had a fair amount of lead time before I had to turn in a new story for critique. Unfortunately, the story I'd been working on wasn't going well. The whirlwind experience of Odyssey had wreaked havoc on my creative process (mostly in a good way), and the wheels just weren't turning smoothly. Burnout was setting in. Eventually, I threw my hands up and did something crazy. The night before my due date, I tossed the story I'd been toiling at all week and stayed up into the wee hours of the morning writing something entirely new (this would later come to be known as "pulling a J.W. Alden" by my Odyssey classmates). Möbius was the end result.

I should also mention that this sale came with a lesson. I actually wrote Möbius with Nature in mind. But by the time I'd finished it, its word count had swelled to the point that it was too long for them. At first, rather than following my gut and trimming the story down, I stubbornly put off sending it to the market I'd written it for. After a couple of "close but no cigar" rejections, I finally put my ego aside and killed my darlings. I made the necessary cuts to get under Nature's word requirements. And what do you know? It sold. So follow your gut, writers. Even when it means making those tough cuts. There's nothing more satisfying than seeing a story end up in its intended home.