January 12th, 2011


[links] Link salad regards the frozen world with childlike wonder

"A Long Walk Home" is live at Subterranean Online — This is a Sunspin short, deep backstory for the novels.

On February 23rd, I will be a guest at Science Fiction And Fantasy Writer's Chat — It's quite a roster I'm joining.

Don't Steal My Books — Lilith Saintcrow is blunt about ebook piracy.

Star Wars If Dr. Seuss Had Created It! — (Thanks to @pfanderson.)

The War of the Worlds, Round 2 — Eris vs. Pluto in a subplanetary cage match. (Thanks to my Dad.)

Glass That's Stronger than Steel

A Light in India — Good news about low-cost, low-impact power generation. (Thanks to Bill M.)

The Wrath of Fools: An Open Letter to the Far Right — The angry left. And yes, it's weird that the same people who think videogames and comic books incite violence deny that violent rhetoric and political hits lists incite violence.

On Debating Our Debate — An overview of the rhetoric of violence.

?otD: Black ice or yellow snow?

Writing time yesterday: 1.75 hours (400 words on a short story, WRPA and revisions)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 5.75 hours (solid)
Weight: n/a (forgot)
Currently reading: Salamanca by Dean Francis Alfar


[writing] A day of editing

So in my pursuit of Not Working On Sunspin for a couple of days, yesterday evening I was planning to finish the current short story and do some editing. the_child's afternoon basketball game canceled due to inclement weather, so I wound up with a bunch of extra time.

I wrapped the story, did some editing based on market feedback for a couple of already sold stories, made some submittals. While I was doing all this, another editorial request came in, which I responded to immediately since, well, there I was. Then shortly after I was done, I received two acceptances from the submittals.

Sometimes the universe conspires in your favor...

This afternoon I am not certain what the plan is. I want to give the novel a day or two more to steep, so I'm either going to write one of a couple of other requested pieces, or maybe just take the day off writing.


[interviews] A reader asks questions

Recently, writer Paul London of Penny Ideas wrote and asked my advice on some writing topics. I suggested rather than have an email exchange, he send me some questions and I answer them on my blog. An interview, in other words.

With that in mind...

Paul: I noticed that you have won an impressive number of writing competitions. What came first: winning the competitions or getting a publishing deal? Would you say one was integral to the other?

Jay: Depends on how you define "publishing deal". I sold some short fiction in the independent press for a couple of years before hitting First Place in Writers of the Future. My novels didn't start seeing print for a few more years. And no, while neither was integral to the other, they were certainly related events in my writing career. I kept writing, my work improved, it became more attractive to editors as well as judges.

In a sense, this is a "magic bullet" question. The key here isn't that any one set of events unlocked the other. The key is that I kept writing, revising and sending out.

Paul: Where did you look for the competitions? Did you "write to order" or did you send work you'd already produced?

Jay: Ralan.com, through the writers in my critique group, by paying attention on line. For Writers of the Future, I generally tried to write a new story every quarter. That being said, the novelette that won, "Into the Gardens of Sweet Night" (and also appeared on the 2004 Hugo ballot) was originally written for another market that rejected it.

Paul: Do you have the letter you sent to either obtain your first agent or publisher? If so, would you share it?

Jay: There is no such letter. Unless you're talking about the submission cover letter to my earliest short fiction sales, which was extremely pedestrian. My agent and I met through the process of professional networking. Fundamentally, that's why one goes to cons and hangs out with other writers. I never queried her, as our professional relationship evolved from first being introduced in a bar at the 2003 Worldcon in Toronto. My first trade novel was sold via my agent, so no query letter there, either.

Notice that's not a "magic bullet" answer either. What made me interesting to my agent wasn't that I was at the right convention, in the right bar or knew the right people. It's that when we were introduced, and she asked, I had projects to discuss and a publication history she could review to see if she liked my work. There was serendipity in our original connection, but everything else flowed from the years of hard work I'd already put into writing and marketing my fiction.

Paul: In this day and age with many writers struggling to get representation or find publishers, what would be your key advice to climb above the parapet?

Jay: Write more. Listen to critique and feedback. If you're inclined to work in short fiction, do so to build your writing resume. If novels are where your heart lies, write one. Then write another. Then revise the first. Then write the third. Then revise the second. Keep moving, keep working.

Without that base of effort, without that production, all the marketing and networking in the world won't do you any good. You can succeed as a published author without marketing if your work is strong enough. Lacking the work, there is no success as a published author.

Paul: In your biography you say that you came onto the 'scene in late 2001' - is that date when you received your first recognition as a writer, or is that when you started writing seriously? In either case, how long did it take from making the call "I want to do this!" to finding success.

Jay: I first started writing seriously in 1990. Workshopped twice a month, wrote and submitted hundreds of stories without success. I finally made my initial sale in 2001. So, eleven years from making the call to first beginning to find success. Ten years since to build my career. There are still people who seem to think I was some kind of overnight sensation. I find this bizarre, given the 2-3 million words of first draft I've written so far in my career.

Really, it all comes down to the writing. Without that, there is nothing else. The paths to selling are as varied as the people who follow them, but every successful author writes. Everything else follows from that.