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Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

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Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

Wulf, reporting in as ordered. I'll first analyze what Simon Sinek highlights in "The Infinite Game", then answer four posited questions....

APPLICATION TO POSITED QUESTIONS:
1) Who are you competing against in publishing? You are competing against both yourself, and until you hone your skills, the others who are momentarily ahead of you.
2) Does a rejection mean you lost, or does it mean something else? Publishing is an infinite game. With an infinite mind set, there will be increase in trust, cooperation, and innovation, and one won't feel threatened as he or she hones their craft. You're just behind; you're just behind. Temporarily.
3) How can each of us be leaders? Do we have to be top dog? What does it mean to lead? Sinek's definition is succinct: To be a LEADER, you bear the responsibility of seeing those around you rise. All of us can be the leader WE wish to have. Sinek points out there are those in authority (top dogs) who can't lead or lack the capability of ever leading. There are those with little to no authority who could inspire thousands.
4) In what ways can we assist our small tribe to succeed toward becoming published writer and develop their professional career? What do we bring to the table that might aid the pack? We assist the tribe by sharing the piece of the jigsaw puzzle (any piece of pieces) that we've found successful along the way. Those who are already published become MENTORS. In the 18th Century, one can read about apprentices to the different trade crafts. The concept is similar, though not identical. I can bring to the table any of the puzzle pieces I've learned, either through practice or reading professional literature for the past few decades.

I hope I haven't bored anyone to tears.

You didn't bore me to tears. Great review here, with logical, personal insights. I can tell you were a debate judge, Retro. : )

This is the thing. If we have the infinite game mindset, there is no end. There are only finite marker points in our progression. They are not losses. They are not failures. They are simply points of interest on the map as we continue on in the progression of our world tour.

Keep travelling forward.

Moon

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Topic starter Posted : October 19, 2019 5:28 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

I confess - I started my Q4 submission higher up and expanded my margins slightly to get something onto the second page. But my next story, which has gone out to market, was formatted correctly (and glad to see you say Italics are good... I wasn't sure!).

It has been hard for me to break the habit of two spaces but I finally did it. I still have to search for "[space][space]" and replace all with one space. For formatting, I recommend never using tabs and using a built-in indent on first line. I would assume that's easier on publishers if they want our stories! But also makes life easier writing once you're used to it.

Ari

Officer, you are absolved. Say two Hail Merrily's and four My Fodders and send another story out to market. DO NOT sin again. : )

I, too, had the hardest time breaking the two spaces before the next sentence issue. It was automatic. I've unlearned it now, but it wasn't easy.

EXCELLENT catch on not using indent! To all: go into your paragraph layout in your WP on your template doc and set FIRST LINE on paragraphs as .5 inch. And turn off that fancy point spacing between paragraphs, set to zero. You want to set DOUBLE SPACE between lines, nothing else. And yes, there are other ways. Just do Shunn's way. You'll be dressed for success.

Thanks, Officer!

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Topic starter Posted : October 19, 2019 5:40 am
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 549

EXCELLENT catch on not using indent! To all: go into your paragraph layout in your WP on your template doc and set FIRST LINE on paragraphs as .5 inch. And turn off that fancy point spacing between paragraphs, set to zero. You want to set DOUBLE SPACE between lines, nothing else. And yes, there are other ways. Just do Shunn's way. You'll be dressed for success.

Crap, we aren't supposed to use indents on new lines?? Well, I guess that's my Q4 rejected...I had no idea. It's just the default formatting in scrivener.

R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!
Stories in Apocalyptic, Cossmass Infinities, and Podcastle

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Posted : October 19, 2019 6:24 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

Comments on "New Lies." Challenge submission requirements by Zeeteebeez.

First, I like your handle, Zeeteebeez. Yup, that has nothing to do with your story. Smile

We have lies and deceit here, which again clearly fits our prompt of DECEPTION. Fun story, I'd read more. Why? Big world, complex systems of refugees, pilgrims, and smugglers, odd religious sects and magical powers, big danger. Think of that. You got all that in within a word limit of 500 words. That's a magic trick. But the best professional writers are indeed magicians...

Good writing, but we all knew that, you took this challenge, didn't you? Whom do you think I was looking for by setting the bar high, hmm? So, some constructive criticism.

First, you didn't capitalize the second word of your title. It's "New Lies" not "New lies." Attention to details is the difference between a pro and an amateur. Don't mess up on little things like that. As we've been discussing (see my EXERCISE on Shunn's above on this page) little details are not little when you make it to the finals and are now competing against thirty black belt karate experts for the title of Grand Champion, Dojo Beast, King of Mount Fuji, or whatever they call it. : ) One failed point can cost you the match, and that match can cost you the championship. Always practice doing it right, even in exercises where I told you to practice doing it right. : ) (SwiftPotato, I know you are a black belt, and I know you are reading this. Please tell us why black belts in karate--masters of their discipline--must practice perfection in every move they make. I think the analogy will prove interesting to us all.)

Here's a style fix that will make you look just a pinch more swank. You wrote: “Aren’t we all, when we need to be?” Shokhad said, reaching into his pocket and producing a small vial of oil. “Check this out.”

Instead, write it like this: “Aren’t we all, when we need to be?” Shokhad reached into his pocket and produced a small vial of oil. “Check this out.”

See? Less is more. That little bit less made your dialogue sleek. You didn't need "said." It was obvious, so it's a superfluous word. Cut it, and smooth it out.

Your 250 is interesting, and experimental. I like experimental--I play with it all the time. Why? We can't always create pure magic, like making people cry their hearts out over imaginary characters that are built of nothing more than bits of alphabetic coding. But we can do sleight of hand all day long. We are wordsmiths. So experimenting with different stylistic approaches is like a magician that practices making a card appear and disappear from her fingers. Poof. It's there. Poof. It's gone. Looks like magic. But it's not. It's simply very fast, very practiced hands. So how did this stylistic approach work out? Lots of one and two word sentences. It's dramatic, and I did like "Inhale" and a line and then "Exhale." There are places that trick would be fun to play, and I'll remember you for it and be sure to send you royalties and credit you in my acknowledgments and will. : ) But overall, it's a bit overplayed, so instead of dazzling, it becomes annoying. Still, cool you did it. You get kudos for the attempt, and it might work in a different short piece this size. In a long piece, same problem. Amplified a hundred times. : )

The 500 was stronger. Why? In your 250, you told the same story, with less words is all. Had you chosen to focus on one aspect of your 500, like the magic of that oil (still not sure what it actually did, or what the token did) we would have had that poignant moment I look for in vignettes. Seek that. You can discover potent scene setting and emotion utilizing the exercise the way I suggested.

I'll end with commendation. Your 500 had the great, full circle ending line. "They were all liars and thieves when they needed to be." It carries a punch, because it nails your theme, and comes full circle, because you used an equivalent of that line in the opening. We now ask ourselves: are there circumstances where it may be necessary to act as a liar or thief when needed? You didn't preach. You just hung it out there.

Well done! Glad to have you with us. I am truly impressed with the caliber of writers in this group. I am absolutely certain one or more of you are going to sell stories this year to respectable markets, even hit that level up moment of your writing career where you make your first professional sale! I believe in you. Now you believe, too.

OH KEEPER OF RECORDS! DRAW BLOOD FROM ZEETEEBEEZ AND SCRIBE THIS WORTHY NAME ON THE WALL OF OATHS! LET THE WILD RUMPUS START!

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Topic starter Posted : October 19, 2019 7:11 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

EXCELLENT catch on not using indent! To all: go into your paragraph layout in your WP on your template doc and set FIRST LINE on paragraphs as .5 inch. And turn off that fancy point spacing between paragraphs, set to zero. You want to set DOUBLE SPACE between lines, nothing else. And yes, there are other ways. Just do Shunn's way. You'll be dressed for success.

Crap, we aren't supposed to use indents on new lines?? Well, I guess that's my Q4 rejected...I had no idea. It's just the default formatting in scrivener.

No one will execute you for it, Swift. It's just a better way to do it, and saves copy editors headaches when they are preparing text for publishing. Don't sweat it, just fix it for next time. : )

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

ReplyQuote
Topic starter Posted : October 19, 2019 7:14 am
Henckel
(@henckel)
Silver Member
Posts: 402

I confess - I started my Q4 submission higher up and expanded my margins slightly to get something onto the second page.

Likewise. I'm guilty.

__________

And on the subject of formatting, for all those outside the USA, remember to change your paper size to USLetter. Dont use us legal. It's different. Also, it you're using metric, set your margins to 2.54 cm. ... lastly let your default language to usa english. This will highlight all the words with unique spelling.

___________

Wulf has asked what it means that so many people published had been WOTF winners. To me it says

....winners of WOTF are the sort of people who are motivated to continue writing and maintain a presence.
....winning WOTF is not a fluke. It doesnt happen by accident. Winners are professionals who continue to deliver.
....there is a psychological threshold many winners pass. Winners know that can do it. They dont hold back. They dont write with the fear of having to prove themselves looming over them anymore. They write, with the confidence.

_________

Last quick note, thanks everyone for your encouragement re my personal rejection. Y'all are awesome and I'm delight to be here with such a fine bunch.

Given one of our major themes this year is submitting, .. I submitted the story to ckarksworld the same day I received the rejection from F&SF. and if that fails, I've got a list specific for this story. Next up is strange horizons.

Thanks for the motivation and encouragement!!!!

(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist
(2021) V38 Q1 – Semi-finalist
(2021) V38 Q2 – tba

Publications
2019 Writing Bloc Cooperative – Escape Anthology
2020 Sci-Fi Lampoon – Winter 2020 Issue

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Posted : October 19, 2019 7:59 am
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 549

EXCELLENT catch on not using indent! To all: go into your paragraph layout in your WP on your template doc and set FIRST LINE on paragraphs as .5 inch. And turn off that fancy point spacing between paragraphs, set to zero. You want to set DOUBLE SPACE between lines, nothing else. And yes, there are other ways. Just do Shunn's way. You'll be dressed for success.

Crap, we aren't supposed to use indents on new lines?? Well, I guess that's my Q4 rejected...I had no idea. It's just the default formatting in scrivener.

No one will execute you for it, Swift. It's just a better way to do it, and saves copy editors headaches when they are preparing text for publishing. Don't sweat it, just fix it for next time. : )

Glad to know I get to keep my head... Smile That'll be the first thing I do when I sit back down at my computer.

R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!
Stories in Apocalyptic, Cossmass Infinities, and Podcastle

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Posted : October 19, 2019 8:28 am
AlexH
(@alexh)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 247

I was going to say before I watched the Simon Sinek interview that I'm my biggest competition! I think I've seen his Ted Talk before, but I was more thinking about the mental barriers and self-care issues (like writing until the early hours of the morning when I have to be up for work).

There have already been good answers about leading. Something that hasn't been mentioned yet is accountability. I don't like to let people down, and if I say I'll do something, I generally do. So it's helpful for challenges to be set, in this and other topics.

I've always submitted using Schunn format. Unless otherwise specified, I use Times New Roman font. I find Courier difficult to read, and it isn't on my PC or Google Docs. Always pay attention to guidelines. Some markets prefer a 12pt font, others 14pt.

lastly let your default language to usa english. This will highlight all the words with unique spelling.

It doesn't always, though. I prefer to stick to British English, then at least I'm consistent. If some words in my story are British English and others US English, I think that could look worse. Spell-checkers won't pick out different terminology either. I remember being shocked as a child when I first heard "fanny pack" in an episode of The Simpsons, as "fanny" is offensive in British English. We call a fanny pack a "bum bag." There are loads of differences with clothing alone. Here are a few: http://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2 ... confusions

Wulf mentioned errors in my 500, and I'm not sure if they're due to my British English, so sometimes I do wonder if it works against me. Many non-UK markets say British English is fine, and I reckon Dave and Kary have read enough to spot the difference.

And by the time you read this, you'll probably have heard back from Clarkesworld. They're quick!

35: - R R R | 36: R HM R R | 37: HM HM HM SHM | 38: HM

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Posted : October 19, 2019 9:19 am
officer
(@officer)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 106

Spell-checkers won't pick out different terminology either. I remember being shocked as a child when I first heard "fanny pack" in an episode of The Simpsons, as "fanny" is offensive in British English. We call a fanny pack a "bum bag." There are loads of differences with clothing alone.

Just makes your world building seem more exotic!

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Posted : October 19, 2019 10:18 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

LAST DAY (24 HOURS) TO JOIN THE NEW CHALLENGE! IF YOU LIKE WHAT WE DO, THIS IS FOR YOU! CLOSES MIDNIGHT PDT, OCTOBER 20TH.
Also, there's a bonus challenge at the end. I highly recommend it, and remind all those already in to consider it again. But you know what you can handle...

Since this got buried again, I'm reposting. Only ONE MORE DAY to do your thang to get into this year's SUPER SECRET Challenge!

Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 37 STARTS HERE! (No it didn't, it's a few pages back, and back, and back. This is a repost so you can find it!)

A battle-scarred lycanthrope in his wolfish form rests upon his throne of skulls deep in the hallowed caverns of his lair. He lifts a gnarled staff crowned with a glowing orb; its silvered glow illuminates yellowed ivory fangs as his lips curl back and he opens his maw.

“Ah, it appears the decapitated bodies in the halls before this one did not deter you.” His eyes kindle. You feel stripped to your soul in its fire. “Perhaps you do have the ancient blood of conquerors flowing through your veins that will help you survive this challenge.” And then he smiles, a look shared only with prey about to be devoured. “You will, of course, have to prove yourself.”

He rises, shadows fleeing as he points the staff at a wall, the orb igniting in bright, silvery moonlight. Amber glyphs radiate in response, and you know the concepts each represent, because they glow the same within your heart.

The werebeast's voice rings out like a death knell. “BEHOLD! Moon’s SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge, Vol. 37. May you have what it takes to conquer.”

_________________________________

And here we are again, Challenge Beasties! We launch Moon’s SUPER SECRETS Bonus Challenge, Vol. 37! The foundation of this challenge? Repeat after me: WRITE FRESH ORIGINAL STORIES! I’m sorry, I can’t hear you. Again, and this time, with feeling. WRITE FRESH ORIGINAL STORIES! Ah, thank you, I heard you that time. Honestly, I wasn’t sure why you were here at first. Now, I know.

Actually, I didn’t know. The challenges take much time for me, time I should be writing. My wife reminds me of this most of all, and she’s right, except for one thing.

I am one of you. I came from here. And I don’t believe in leaving anyone behind, not if they are willing to do the work and are simply asking for a helping hand. I believe I can shorten your learning curve and save you some of the pain I experienced from the school of hard knocks. Maybe I can even save you a knock or two, because that’s what friends do. They help one another.

And you can help me. All of you can. I wasn’t sure if I should do this again. But many responded to my polling query at the end of the past challenge--many from behind the scenes as well--that had been reading all these posts and Secrets and said how much they had helped them, some saying they wouldn’t be writing and entering the contest again were it not for these Secrets. And then Joni Labaqi, the contest coordinator, wrote me a few days ago, and that clinched it. She said the Super Secrets are working, don’t change a thing! And so I go on....

I will change one thing. We are going to double our efforts. Four fresh stories in one year’s time is not enough (but it was a noble start!), you are not getting where you need to be fast enough. So this year, we are doubling the requirements. EIGHT FRESH ORIGINAL STORIES. Does that sound like a lot? Yes, for mere mortals. But you want to become a professional writer, don’t you? That’s a drop in the bucket for a professional writer--but again, it’s a noble start! Are you with me? Good. Then here we go!

The Challenge:

In the WotF Vol. 37 calendar year, you must write TWO FRESH ORIGINAL STORIES each quarter, each story 3000 words minimum. The objective is that you will have TWO original stories to choose your submission for that quarter from. You will send one story to WotF, and “kill the spare!” No, wait, that’s Voldemort. If you’ve done your work right, that spare may very well be Harry Potter. We need his lifeblood. Because we’re sending him out into the real world of publishing, and he’s going to have to stand on his own. So the alternate story? You send that one off to a respectable paying market. That’s the rule. And at the end of the quarter, you are a responsible member. We don’t have to hunt you down. You post that you submitted one story to WotF, and one of those fresh, original stories to a respectable paying market. I’ll have a list provided for suggestions on what “respectable” means to me. There’s more, I know. It’s just to help.

One caveat this year. You may have just gotten a Silver HM, or have a trunk story that you really feel if you touched it up a bit, it might have a chance winning the contest. This challenge won’t hold you back from that. But you do have to write TWO original stories regardless, and send at least one to market in that case.

If you have never sent a story to market, don’t worry, I’m going to help you figure it out. You see, this year, I figure you’re past the mechanics of trying to figure out HOW to write a good story; this year, I’m going to focus on teaching you how to SELL a good story.

The Requirements:

This is an advanced course. At college, in order to take advanced courses, you have to meet basic requirements so admissions understands that you are, shall we say, THE RIGHT STUFF. It is no different here. In order to take this challenge, you must:

1. Read the basics of the prior numbered SUPER SECRETS from the Volume 36 year. A hyperlinked table of contents has been provided. This is so you understand the basics of creating a professional story. Don’t worry, I don’t expect people to be at the same level. But I do expect you to do your homework and understand the basics before undertaking this challenge. And you do have to believe the overall approach is something compatible to your own beliefs, or why take a course where I’m going to be drilling down on these more? Make sense? Good.

2. You must watch Dr. Jerry Pournelle’s video and again agree with the basic premise: you need to write fresh, original stories. Lots of them. And stop endlessly reworking old stories. You are moving forward as a writer. You want to level up. You believe this is the next stage. Here is where Joni posted the video. It’s short. https://www.writersofthefuture.com/jerr ... i=77104938

3. You must study the SUPER SECRET: Kill Your Darlings exercise. And then you must do all three phases based on ONE of two prompts: either DECEPTION or BLACK WIDOW.

4. You must post here by midnight Pacific (contest time), October 20th, in one post, just your 500 and your 250. Begin with “I’m in.” And then, format your pieces like this: My 500 titled “Black Widow Night” or some such, and then make it readable, meaning you’ll have to add line spaces to separate out paragraphs and dialog in here. THEN, same post, you’ll write: My 250 titled “Black Widow Night” and more of the same. This is your entrance exam. This is your proof you are capable of doing the work and meeting deadlines. Fail to post by midnight Pacific by October 20th, and we know you aren’t interested, move along, these aren’t the droids we’re looking for. : )

5. You agree to have a share in commentary, and to responsibly post your having met the requirements each quarter. You want accountability, and you want to share in positive discussion about how we can apply and learn from ideas shared. You want to be a valuable member, helping cheer other members on in this goal of getting professionally published, whether through Writers of the Future, or through other esteemed venues. It does no one any good to have members we don’t hear from until the end of the year. Additionally, we don’t mind hearing from outsiders from time to time (I’m happy you’re here), but if you do comment, please make sure commentary is meant to encourage these runners in this sprint they have challenged themselves with. And, I might add, the coach leading them—this challenge is challenging for me to run as well. Comments should put wind in one another’s sails, not shred their sails. We want to help all reach the horizon this challenge has set for them.

6. We will have homework and discussion. Our workbook for this will be HOW I GOT PUBLISHED AND WHAT I LEARNED ALONG THE WAY by Camden Park Press. You’ll see why we’re using it as we go along if you can’t tell from the title. Most courses at college require you to obtain a textbook, and then pay a lot of money for the class. This class is free. The textbook we’re using is only $4.99 on Kindle. Our first assignment is to read David Farland’s essay—he is the WotF contest coordinator after all. Here’s the link: http://www.Books2Read.com/howigotpublished .

You might wish to get the book in Kevin J. Anderson’s NANOWRIMO STORYBUNDLE. For a few dollars more (bundle purchase by donation so you choose your price), you get this book, plus the latest writing books from around five WotF judges. It’s an excellent deal, and a great bundle for building your knowledge (wasn’t that one of my Secrets? Study your judges?). Here’s the link for The 2019 Nanowrimo Tools Storybundle: https://storybundle.com/nano

Finally, it goes without saying you must have the time to take on the added requirements. This is double what we did for Volume 36. It’s not meant to stress you out; it’s meant to challenge your abilities. If this goal seems within reach, reach for it. If not, don’t put unnecessary stress on yourself, you can still read long and cheer the runners in the race on to the finish line!

I look forward to seeing what our challenge beasties accomplish this year. Last year, we saw much good from the challenge. Many said the challenge was the reason they are writing again and submitting to the contest. Members said they learned things they had never understood about writing before. While the verdict is still out for Q4, we had two finalists come from our group, as well as many other honor levels. This year, I believe, will prove even better, because we are seeking results both from the Writers of the Future Contest, and from other markets as well.

So think hard about ALL the requirements. If you believe this is for you, you know what to do. You have until October 20th, and then THE DOOR IS SHUT!

So get in. Now’s the time.

All the beast!

Beastmaster Moon * SUPER DUPER BONUS CHALLENGE: In addition to the above, commit to ONE fresh, original flash story PER MONTH that you put through the KILL YOUR DARLINGS exercise (Super Secret #33) using one of my weekly Monday prompts. This means at the end of the year you'll have EIGHT fresh original short stories, and TWELVE fresh Flash stories, TWENTY new stories in all! You don't have to show these on the topic, we trust you. You just have to commit this month to the Super Duper Bonus and report your progress on this bonus flash challenge each month or each quarter, whatever works for you. These take time, just like short stories, but I believe they will help you advance if you do them regularly. You can post like this: Flash Challenge: 1/12. Have at it if you feel you have the writing time. *

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Topic starter Posted : October 19, 2019 2:31 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

To those that joined already: Anyone else biting on this part of the challenge?

* SUPER DUPER BONUS CHALLENGE: In addition to the above, commit to ONE fresh, original flash story PER MONTH that you put through the KILL YOUR DARLINGS exercise (Super Secret #33) using one of my weekly Monday prompts. This means at the end of the year you'll have EIGHT fresh original short stories, and TWELVE fresh Flash stories, TWENTY new stories in all! You don't have to show these on the topic, we trust you. You just have to commit this month to the Super Duper Bonus and report your progress on this bonus flash challenge each month or each quarter, whatever works for you. These take time, just like short stories, but I believe they will help you advance if you do them regularly. You can post like this: Flash Challenge: 1/12. Have at it if you feel you have the writing time. *

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Topic starter Posted : October 19, 2019 2:34 pm
Peter_Glen
(@peter_glen)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 143

EXACTLY LIKE SHUNN'S

Yes! I've been submitting using Shunn's wotf007 ... but at some point the para intents dropped off, so will fix that from this point forward.

Edit (after reading next post): ah, no indent is good then ... lol

One thing I've found useful is to write the frist draft in a more condensed font and then, after the first edit, introduce the format. For me, it makes scanning and navigating about easier. Also, I've been told that you read the story in a new light with every format change and are more likely to pick up issues.

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Posted : October 19, 2019 2:59 pm
Peter_Glen
(@peter_glen)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 143

And on the subject of formatting, for all those outside the USA, remember to change your paper size to USLetter. Dont use us legal. It's different. Also, it you're using metric, set your margins to 2.54 cm. ... lastly let your default language to usa english. This will highlight all the words with unique spelling.

Great advice ty ... I am pretty sure all of my submissions have been in A4 so the next will be USLetter ... I agree re usa english (it has to be good manners to use the language style of the country that you are submitting to).

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Posted : October 19, 2019 3:11 pm
rjklee
(@rjklee)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 172

Hello Everyone! I've been messing with my flash fiction piece enough. Time to submit before I miss the deadline on joining the pack. I'd like to give this a go!

I’m in for the Vol. 37 bonus challenge and super duper bonus challenge. I believe that's as follows. Challenge 1. Write two new short stories every three months of 3000-17000 words with one sent to the WotF contest and the other to a paying market. Challenge 2. Write a new flash story every month and put it through the Kill Your Darlings exercise (1000 to 500 to 250 words).

Here are the two versions of the flash story with some comments after.

My 500 titled

Art and Child Theft

The park was dangerously slick for young ones some guardians would say. Instead of another job interview, I’d come as close to my custody-winning ex-wife as I’d dared in months, their windows many floors above the trees. Moist with rain, I’d thought it empty, so I flinched when the girl appeared.

I delayed in the play area, pushing rocks into bear shapes as my daughter had when younger, destroying the religious sanctity of that rock garden as her bear family hunted honey despite bees and ridiculing neighbors. She’d giggled and beamed, so I didn’t stop her.

“What you doing, mister?”

Blue eyes a contrast against dark circles below and black curls above, the unknown girl was obviously an Asian-Caucasian mutt with that natural tan. A thinner, ghostlier version of my daughter.

“You want some help? My parents build. Mom makes houses. Dad drew amazing pictures.”

“Where are they?”

“I’m alone. Don't try anything. I know karate.” Her stance looked legit. “Dad’s gone. Mom’s busy. Other fam’s mean so I ran here. I like it here.”

“My daughter’s up there.”

“She trapped? I was, and I got out. See?”

She jumped and threw one hand in the air, almost comical. A bad drama.

“Her mother took her.”

“Like me.”

“What do you mean?”

“Mom got super angry. Dad ran. He tried to see me at school. Police took him. Mom spanked me for it.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“It’s okay. That’s life. I’m growing up. Soon I’ll get out.”

“Is that what you’re doing now? Running away?”

“Maybe.”

“Careful. It’s hard on your own.”

“Hey mister, you help me and I’ll help you!”

“Why would you?”

“You look sad. Like me. And I need a couch. Name’s Tsumi.”

The scurrying speed of her speech sounded excited, but it wasn’t happy exuberance per se. It was because she’d found me, someone as down as she was.

“Max.”

I shook Tsumi’s hand, treating her with the respect of an adult.

We approached the apartment complex shining high overhead, three linked towers covered in glass and foliage.

“She’s upstairs pinned in by family. Any bright ideas?”

“Oh, a ton. This’ll be easy. Room number and names, and I’ll get my playmate fast. Max, I’m glad you’re not leaving her.”

“Because your father left you?”

It was out before I could stop myself. Tsumi merely shrugged.

“I know he had to. Police grabbed him just for saying hello at school. I forgive him. I wish he’d tried again and won. He’s still—“

She stumbled. She wiped her mouth with a sleeve.

“You have to win.”

I was competing with an affluent connected family, and this meant the courts could not assist. So it was me partnered with no one but a runaway against a kimono confident mother swooping in for prey in her metal hummingbird. Given that my daughter’s future was at stake, I had to try until the claws killed or I retrieved a treasure more valuable than honey.

My 250 titled

Art and Child Theft

My hands melt three rocks, salty with typhoon and tears, while trees sway and creak. I make figurines (fox, tanuki, their hybrid) that match my daughter’s, what she made years past. I’m delaying sneaking in Otetsumi Suites.

No joint custody. Visits wouldn’t be enforced. Court favored my ex, Kumiho’s assets, victimized scenarios, race, and influence. It didn’t matter that she can change shape or my young one loves me.

I draw my stun gun.

“Don't pull that. I know karate.”

An anorexic elementary schooler resembling my daughter intrudes. Black curls, blue eyes, an Asian-Caucasian mutt. Her fighting stance looks legit.

“Mister, you okay?”

“My daughter’s kidnapped.”

“Family drama. Me too. I’m running away. Too many selfish idiots. That’s growing up. Hey, I’ll help you.”

“Why?”

“You look sad. Plus, I need a couch.”

“Thanks.”

I tug her sleeve to the park’s edge.

Crossing the street, she hesitates.

“You don’t let alone.”

“Never.”

She pulls away, screams for help, and flees.

Cheap shot. I’d fallen for the false face.

Security charges. I zap them.

Bolting inside, I grab the elevator. Teeth bared in the corner, she’s transformed: taller, curvier, furry ears, bushy tails.

We ascend. I display the family of rocks.

“What our kid wants.”

Kumiho sniffs them.

“We bury failures to build a richer burrow. That’s our way forward.”

“Tsumi deserves more.”

Eyes wet, she leads on.

Hallways lined with rocks, Tsumi crafts real scenes. She stills her magic to wave. Our hands reach for peace.

My other comments:

Wish I’d been engaged for Vol. 36, but it’s great to have the chance to read back through what was learned previously. I’ll try to apply it moving forward.

Also, I wanted to say thank you so much for doing this Wulf Moon. What an inspiration! How do you make the time? Must be a super power. I do hope you get some time for yourself of course, but I am glad you’re providing us with this amazing opportunity to encourage each other.

I hope to put some editing time in on my novel(s) as well, but still thinking how to schedule that in, jeez. For now, I think this challenge will give me the extra practice I need. I’ve found it hard to balance my current freelance and part-time teaching and proofreading lifestyle that began in Spring. It almost seemed easier to write when full-time, as my schedule was more certain. But I will do what I can to make it happen. I managed to submit to every quarter this year, so I am looking forward to doubling down on that for the next year of submissions.

Ever since you revealed the Deception prompt, I’ve been obsessing over writing flash fiction, so that was fun. Not sure if I succeeded in getting my story where I wanted it, but it is much closer. This year I’ve been thinking of sticking a little more of my experience in Japan into some stories. Some of my writing was set in Japan back before I started working here from 2005. A novel excerpt about a sleepless and haunted woman in central Tokyo written in English and Japanese snagged me a 3rd place win in the UO KIDD contest in 2005. When I came back to writing regularly, I started writing fantasy, science-fiction, and horror without any relation to Japan whatsoever, and some great stories came about, a few of which got HM in the WotF contest.

After a comment from Kristin J. Dawson that maybe I should try writing about Japan, I went for it and wrote this supernatural story for Q3 about a single mother hunting real pokemon in the streets and parks of Tokyo. No dice for another HM but it was a fun story. Then I wrote a start to a short story or novel about a foreign event organizer meeting a high class business woman running services in Japan via a chain of these hummingbird helicopters, and how the family they start breaks apart, riffing off issues of work, culture, divorce and family.

So that brought me to my Deception flash fiction piece, which started as an exploration of where this character is heading to try to salvage what he can, to a piece aiming at greater focus on the underlying powers of this family. It went through at least 11 drafts to be honest, and I actually brought it to 500 then 300 then back up to 800 then to 500 again. And from that second time to 500, I ended up changing a lot about it. I changed the tense, and I also inserted a haiku pattern to sentences at the start and end (5-7-5 and general nature focus, though I wasn’t strict about the nature focus part). Perhaps that was influence from reading the poetry vs flash discussion.

I also wrote the other two prompts, Black Widow and Simply Irresistible, but those have not gotten as far, though some interesting seeds within.

Some response to the entry requirements follow below.

1. I have just read through all of the links to the basics of the SUPER SECRETS from Volume 36. It’s great to have all of this near at hand as a tool. I’ll forever wonder what secrets were found within #7, #10, and #25.
I’m not sure what to make of that first person hate. The judges may personally detest it but it must only be a hindrance up to a point. The four HMs I got were all first person stories. The third person stories I submitted were all rejected. Still good to know. I do agree that first person can actually put more distance between reader and character, but I think it certainly has its uses, and can bring a particularly strong voice that grabs readers. I’ll probably just set that worry aside and write in the tense each story calls for.

2. I watched Dr. Jerry Pournelle’s video and the main point seems to be that to have a chance at getting your work published one needs to focus on writing new stories, getting them finished, and submitting them to paying markets. Don’t get in the trap of rewriting or just sharing stories with friends. Get the work done and keep producing new work will grant writers the biggest improvements and chance at getting published. I agree, though I do think once a writer gets established, then it can be worthwhile going back and rewriting and submitting older work, as that seems to be done, but that’s after a writer’s already published several other works. I have rewritten stories that received a rejection and submitted them to WotF again with some success, in that they received an Honorable Mention. In fact my first entry was a rejection then my second entry was the same story rewritten and it got an HM. That said, I definitely want to get more fresh material written. I enjoying seeing what is produced.

Furthermore, I’m thinking of the few conversations I’ve had with Eric Witchey, and am impressed at how quickly he can dive in and produce solid pitches, hooks, stories, and it makes me realize there is certainly something to be said of how important it is to develop the ability to produce solid work quickly and smoothly. Perhaps it still needs a ton of revision, sure, but the piece comes out with solid training in story-making apparent.

Also, I know Witchey is involved in these ghost story writing retreats (man, I wish I was back in the northwest, you people get all the creative treats) and they have to come up with stories and present within a short time span. I think they have one night but maybe less. Anyway, I remember Witchey explaining how you really train your subconscious to tap into your natural storytelling ability and produce decent material. I think this is part of why always creating new stories is vital. You’re training yourself and also keeping that well of the subconscious fresh. Secret #13 mentioned this about the subconscious granting us with the words and the story, with this raw creative force that should be utilized carefully. Hence, 13’s ruling that we “Don’t overedit. Avoid rewrites. Write fresh stories.” And 14’s mention of trusting instincts.

Honestly, I think it can be hard for me to draw the line between when a story is finished enough to stop revising or when it is in need of more revision, especially when it comes to novels, but with short stories, too.

3. I studied the Kill Your Darlings exercise and went through the phases, though I ended up going through the phases more than once. I think part of it is that the first time I moved from 500 down to 300 words, I reviewed what was being said about the exercise and realized I was just trying to summarize the story instead of rewriting the story to reach its vital kernel of emotion. Not sure I quite got there. I ended up changing names and content, and inserting changes to better fit the purpose of that moment. I also started to reach a better understanding of my characters, the fantastical element of the story, and where the characters might lead the story given the chance.

5. I know I haven’t really engaged with the group yet, so I will try to push myself to share in the commentary. I am thinking to write up a to-do schedule for writing and will likely insert ENGAGE WITH THE WULF PACK. I know when I used to be more engaged with Eugene Writers Anonymous and some other friends, it really inspired my writing and I like to think I helped others as well. Hopefully I can make that happen here.

6. I’ve grabbed the NaNo Writing Bundle, as I definitely wanted to read Farland’s Writing Wonder, and I will soon start reading our workbook, HOW I GOT PUBLISHED AND WHAT I LEARNED ALONG THE WAY.

I’ll try to write up my thoughts about the other assignments I’ve missed, such as the discussion on flash fiction, the question of denouement, and I did want to comment on some of the flash fiction people wrote. Hopefully I can keep up better. I see there's another assignment on the Shun formatting as well. Must work faster!

Oh, right, most importantly, is the offer for free ice cream and free cake from Vol. 36 still good? Offered somewhere after secret #5 I believe. Asking for a friend…

R.J.K. Lee
WotF 2015-present: HMx6 SHMx1
My blog has monthly lists of upcoming deadlines and submission windows; let them motivate you to be more productive: https://figmentsdiehard.blogspot.com/
Give a listen to my creepy reading of my original flash fiction piece on the December 2020 episode of the Weird Christmas Podcast at the 22:10 mark: https://weirdchristmas.com/2020/12/23/weird-xmas-flash-fiction-2020-contest-results/. May Stosh persevere.

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Posted : October 19, 2019 8:33 pm
ZeeTeeBeeZ
(@zeeteebeez)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 145

Thanks for the feedback, Moon! All very helpful. I definitely knew my 500 was better than my 250, and your analysis is right on point. I didn't change the story, I just tried to tell the exact same story in fewer words. With my 1000 to 500, I needed to change the story I told to condense it. Should have done the same for the 250. Great exercise.

Shunn comments:

I've been using Shunn for many MOONS (sorry). But it's been a long time since I went through it and realized certain small things have become fuzzy for me. This was a good reminder.

Things like how far down to put your title, and how many lines from the byline should you start the story. Also, my headers and page numbering have strayed a bit.

Oh, and I definitely HAVE been underlining all my italics thanks to Mr. Shunn. The Shunn giveth and he taketh away. I only recently saw some recent publishing advice that said to italicize. My Q4 is definitely underlined. And I have a tendency to underline/italicize a lot.

So, thanks again Wulf. I've known for a long time that there are little things like this I would have to master before "breaking in," and your help on the forums is invaluable for that reason (among others).

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Posted : October 20, 2019 3:11 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

Zeeteebeez, glad to help! You did a great job of making us feel a HUGE world in only 500 words. You should write more stories in that world, even for the contest. It's the mark of good writing when the writer can make you sense a much bigger world than what's actually on the page. And it's a real trick to do that in small space.

I'm going to give you a personal assignment, because I think you need it. Actually, this assignment is for most of you (except Dutson's story) that I said the 250 was just a pared down plot of the 500. Go back in and find a scene within your 1000 or your 500 that could be used to create the 250 I called for--the poignant vignette. It's very important to use that final 250 as it was intended. You will learn something new when you do it properly. You actually get to expand a scene and develop the emotion within it when you create the vignette. Done right, it will become not skimpy overview of what you wrote before, but a powerful magnification of the most important thing in your story.

Glad you reviewed Shunn. I wish he'd update it. Underlining italics is out. So is that double space after a period. But it's still a great example of what a pro manuscript looks like. You want your ms to look pro. Editors are used to seeing that format from pros. Anything else says "not pro." That's not the first assumption your want a first reader or editor to be thinking at first glance.

Again, glad to help. Sometimes we are so close, but one silly thing is holding us up, and if we don't know what it is, it might be years before we figure it out on our own. I did the Secrets to save you guys time in getting where you need to be. And I shared my Kill Your Darlings exercise because it's what I realized helped my writing to advance the most toward professional level. Well, writing fresh is equally important.

Sally forth!

Wulf Moon

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Topic starter Posted : October 20, 2019 4:12 am
StarReacher
(@angelakayd)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 141

1. In publishing, you are competing with yourself to create a story that will fulfill an editor's wishes for story, novel, etc. While editors may sometimes reject your piece because they don't have room, usually it is because that particular piece did not meet their needs. A good story is a good story, no matter if discovered in a pile of ten or ten thousand.

2. Rejection can mean a multitude of things. Psychologically, as a writer, you need to look at the infinite game. What did you accomplish simply by writing that piece? Hint: Improving skill set. Accomplishing the goal of writing a complete piece and then submitting it. Living, if only briefly, in a world that YOU created. That, in itself should give you joy. And the reality is that the rejection (Might) mean nothing more than the editor did not have room for a piece that size or just was not genuinely interested in that particular story. As writers, we need to be able to separate the piece of writing from perceived slights or criticism to ourselves. To look at our work objectively. A rejection is not of "you" personally. Also, did you have fun writing your work? I have pieces that I wrote long ago that I still enjoy. I know they are not publishable, but I enjoyed writing them and they represent me where I was at that point in time. No shame in that!

3. According to Simon Sinek in the video clip, leaders are not necessarily the people at the top or even with authority. Leaders are those who bring up "the person on the left and right of you." As Wulf says, we are part of a Wulf Pack, lifting in each other up so that all of us can be successful writers.

4. Hmm . . . What do I bring? I am an eternal optimist, someone who believes that anyone who sincerely loves to write and is willing to invest time and effort, WILL get better. I am also a mom to an awesome kid who defies expectations thrust upon him by those who don't expect as much from those with learning disabilities. In my world, failure means: "Let's try something different." I am genuinely excited about all of us in the Wulf Pack achieving great things!

Here, NEW ASSIGNMENT, watch this, it's about five minutes long. https://www.cbsnews.com/video/simon-sin ... nite-game/

And then comment on these questions, and anything else that might have grabbed you:

1. In publishing, who are you competing against?

2. Does a rejection mean you lost, or does it mean something else?

3. How can each of us be leaders? Do we have to be top dog? What does it mean to lead?

4. On midnight, October 20th, we become committed to one another's success in this group for a year (hopefully longer, but the terms are one year). In what ways can we assist our small tribe--that fellow on the right, that fellow on our left--to succeed in their journey toward becoming a published writer and to develop their professional career? We all have gifts, we all have life skills inherent or learned. What do we bring to the table that might aid our pack?

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Posted : October 20, 2019 7:49 am
Retropianoplayer
(@retropianoplayer)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 224

Just wanted to welcome OISHISUSHI911 to the group. I'm sure life is fascinating in Japan – culture, cuisine, mindset. It seems you're thoroughly familiar with the requirements Wulf Moon has set for all of us. It was an interesting choice of flash fiction you chose!

Wishing you all the best. Just out of curiosity and I"m not trying to be nosy or personal – but do you play a musical instrument (string, percussion, woodwind, brass) by any chance?

Retro

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Posted : October 20, 2019 9:05 am
StarReacher
(@angelakayd)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 141

Exercise: Comparing Shunn's Manuscript to ours

1. Goodness, is that only 12 lines I see on the first page?

Your honor, I humbly plead guilty to charges of overburdening the first page with too much story. And, yes, I should know better! I was taught to start about halfway down the first page (which gives you roughly that many lines). But, Yikes!! when I look at some of my past stories, I have woefully neglected this format.

2. Make yourself a PROFESSIONAL SHORT STORY TEMPLATE.

Done!!

Thanks, Wulf, for highlighting this common error. I'm a stickler with margins, headings, etc. but hadn't realized I had slipped up on this particular point.

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Posted : October 20, 2019 9:29 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

StarReacher,

Thanks for reviewing Shunn's and doing the assignment to create a short story template. You are hereby ABSOLVED and will be BLESSED! Hopefully, by an editor that says, "Hey! How did this get in the slush? This story looks PROFESSIONAL!"

Thanks for running with the Wulf Pack. You get it, and I'm glad.

All the beast,

Wulf Moon

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Topic starter Posted : October 20, 2019 11:11 am
Henckel
(@henckel)
Silver Member
Posts: 402

do you play a musical instrument (string, percussion, woodwind, brass) by any chance?

Retro

I've been known to shred the old 6 string from time to time. And I play the appalachian dulcimer

(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist
(2021) V38 Q1 – Semi-finalist
(2021) V38 Q2 – tba

Publications
2019 Writing Bloc Cooperative – Escape Anthology
2020 Sci-Fi Lampoon – Winter 2020 Issue

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Posted : October 20, 2019 11:29 am
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 549

First, you didn't capitalize the second word of your title. It's "New Lies" not "New lies." Attention to details is the difference between a pro and an amateur. Don't mess up on little things like that. As we've been discussing (see my EXERCISE on Shunn's above on this page) little details are not little when you make it to the finals and are now competing against thirty black belt karate experts for the title of Grand Champion, Dojo Beast, King of Mount Fuji, or whatever they call it. : ) One failed point can cost you the match, and that match can cost you the championship. Always practice doing it right, even in exercises where I told you to practice doing it right. : ) (SwiftPotato, I know you are a black belt, and I know you are reading this. Please tell us why black belts in karate--masters of their discipline--must practice perfection in every move they make. I think the analogy will prove interesting to us all.)

Sorry for the delay on this!

So, yes, I'm a black belt in taekwondo, as Moon says. I've learned a lot from other black belts about practicing for tournaments and just practicing in general. The woman I used to train under in college has won multiple medals for forms in national and international competition and she put a lot of emphasis on making sure we practice perfection so that it becomes muscle memory. There's also a famous quote out there saying that the person fears the man who has practiced one kick 1,000 times more than the man who has practiced 1,000 kicks. All of this is totally true. The thing that has stuck with me most, though, is what my old grandmaster used to tell me: all black belt means is that you know the basics and that you never gave up. In many ways, black belts are still white belts. Everyone always has flaws - even the people who have medaled at international tournaments, or in the Olympics. The important thing is to know what your flaws are and work on them.

For the competition I was in this past weekend, I knew I had issues with a certain stance my form. Crane stances are hard, yo. Ever try to do a 90 degree turn into a stance where you only have one foot on the ground and the other foot up by your knee? Here's a Youtube video of Keumgang if you don't know what I mean. You have to sit there like that for eight seconds, and you have to do it four times throughout the form. I know I suck at it, so I practiced the crap out of it. Everyone wobbles in crane stance. Everyone, at some point, will wobble in crane stance in the middle of a tournament and it will suck but no one will laugh at you because crane stance is just nasty. But that doesn't mean you just practice Keumgang without doing the crane stances because you know you'll wobble anyway. Nope. You practice transitioning to crane stance until your thighs are burning and you're ready to scream with frustration but you can't because you'll lose your balance for the millionth time.

Interestingly enough, though, depending on the tournament you go to, forms are extremely subjective. Yes, you all have to do the same moves, but if you're at a smaller local tournament, judges have some leeway to judge you based on things besides how well you remembered the form: the speed at which you do the form, the energy you give off, how loud you yell when you're supposed to yell, etc. I got second place at this competition because the guy who got first just did his form differently than I did. I favor doing forms in a more fluid, graceful, precise way. That's just my style. But Keumgang can look really cool when you do it with more raw strength and energy, and that's what he did, and I think that's why he won.

How does all this come back to writing? Well, assuming we're all writing in English (for this contest), we all have the same 26 letters to use. There are lots of tips we all can use and general guidelines for great prose and storytelling. But at the end of the day, if you don't identify and stamp out your weak spots, you're going to get to the judges and you're not going to be judged on your energy or your speed or anything so subjective as that. You're going to be judged on the fact that you fell out of your crane stance, or you did a back stance that was two feet long instead of three and a half. When you're that close to the top, you want to be judged on what is subjective: did you tell a good story? Did you engage me as a reader? In martial arts, forms are stories too. I don't think I missed out on first place this weekend because I told a bad story. I missed out because the judges simply liked his story better.

OH KEEPER OF RECORDS! DRAW BLOOD FROM ZEETEEBEEZ AND SCRIBE THIS WORTHY NAME ON THE WALL OF OATHS! LET THE WILD RUMPUS START!

In what seem to be some of the last flickers of your lantern's flame, you see another name scrawled on the wall in blood: ZEETEEBEEZ. You scratch your head. That's a pretty sweet name.

R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!
Stories in Apocalyptic, Cossmass Infinities, and Podcastle

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Posted : October 20, 2019 11:32 am
Retropianoplayer
(@retropianoplayer)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 224

That's truly great, Henckel. There's something about jamming with other musicians that gets the dopamines going on steroids. I love the sound when the different sounds of the orchestra come together and blend into one harmony.

Best,

Retro

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Posted : October 20, 2019 11:59 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

Comments on "Art and Child Theft." Challenge submission requirements by oishisushi911 (RJK Lee).

We have an interesting story about a dad trying to get back his shapeshifter daughter, lost in a custody battle. He is met by a waif outside the building his daughter is held in. In the 500, she helps him. In the 250, she has changed and becomes an obstacle to his goal. That's a good use of the exercise, rethinking your characters, focusing on different ideas than just how to cut words to make 250. Well done for getting the point. Your use of meter is interesting too, and does stick out, especially in the 500. It's fun to do avant-garde, but it's also a big risk. Sometimes there are rewards for big risk, and sometimes we fall flat on our face. But that's how we learn. : )

In this case, because I observed the intentional meter--your play with hidden haiku within the prose--I think it detracts a little. I don't think it would detract in all cases, and is an interesting idea, and I commend you for the attempt. But to do tricks like that, you have to contract sentence construction. The format change therefore jumps out, and we get pulled from your story, because just like Shunn's manuscript format, when something doesn't look like what we're familiar with, we often stop and try to figure out why something seems off. And that's something you never want your reader to do. You want them pulled into the story hook, line, and sinker, so you can reel them in all the way to your potent ending. So, while your writing is interesting, it does feel a bit choppy and has odd starts and stops. This has to do with the clipped sentence structure you utilized.

I do think there is forgiveness in different formats if we know it is coming, and if we know it's a story from another culture. The trick is making us understand that when we begin. Editors do it by intros to the published work, saying a story was translated from Japanese for instance. As readers, we say, okay, got it, this won't read the same as from my culture, but it's fun to explore and thanks for the head's up, editor! We do this at Future Science Fiction Digest. About half our stories in each issue are translations. You do sense cultural differences in our stories, even in the format of the storytelling. So how do you, the writer, give the reader a head's up? Do it in your opening. It takes quite awhile for us to gather that this story likely takes place in Japan--a kimono reference at the very end of your 500 is the only solid clue. You opened your 500 like this: "The park was dangerously slick for young ones ..." How much better it would be to open like this: "The park in Osaka was dangerously slick for young ones..." I added two words. But that's all we needed to get grounded properly in setting and culture, and even some vague thought that perhaps this is not a Western styled tale, but Eastern, which would give you some allowance for your experimental meter. Grounding us in setting and culture in the opening of stories is so important. You don't want your reader wondering where they are at the opening of a story. They really do need to know, and right at the start. That highlighting isn't just for you, it's for everyone. Proper setting, with economy of words, is a huge problem for new writers. And don't feel bad. You gave us some setting, and that's good. We just needed a bit more.

Your 250 actually had more plot in it, getting your protagonist into the building to show us more, and the rocks in the hall were an oddity for sure. Odd is good. Odd is something unusual and not of the normal world. But to get all that in, we had less of the waif interaction--she became a minor character. I liked the twist in the 250, however. That she betrays him after earning his trust would be great to explore, both in the 250, and in the expansion back out. Honestly, I would rewrite the 250 to focus entirely on the meeting and interaction with the waif, and end it with the betrayal. If you built her up as sweet and innocent and he places his full trust in her, that betrayal at the end would shock your readers. The vignette would make a point about--wait for it--deception. That even the young can deceive.

As a friend, I will advise you to really work on nailing your endings. On the 500, your ending was an exposition on all the backstory. That's not a potent ending line, that's all stuff we should have found out in the body of your story if you wanted us to know it. Honestly, in this size, we don't need most of it. What we do need is a killer last line that punches us in the gut and makes everything taking place wrap up with finality. Let me make it easy. Your opening is like a park map on a bulletin board that says YOU ARE HERE. It also has an arrow on it, and some dashes marking a trail, with another sentence saying THIS WAY TO PARADISE PEAK. And when your reader follows that trail to the end (your plot), there should be an obvious sign at the end that says, PARADISE PEAK. ENJOY THE VIEW. Doing that with style and flair and brevity? That's what makes pro stories pro.

I hope that helps. I enjoyed your submissions, and I absolutely LOVE it that you are sharing another culture with us. Right now, that's hot stuff in the field of speculative fiction. There are magazines, like the one I work for (future-sf.com), that are built entirely around introducing us to the writing of other cultures. If you can perfect your stories--what we are all trying to do--you will have a hot commodity. Well done and thank you for your hard work on this!

Before we add you to the wall, a few comments about your friends. I know the ones you mentioned. Eric Witchey was in the Wordos workshop, and I critiqued with him for many years. He's a great guy, super kind, and I'm glad you know him. When I knew him, he hadn't won Writers of the Future yet. He was still in his nauplius stage, focused on attaching to his writing dream like a barnacle. Look at him now. : ) And Kristen Dawson? We've been friends for a couple years now, she's on the board of DEEP MAGIC. Wonderful person as well--she gives the social presence of DEEP MAGIC such a delightful personal touch, making all the readers feel like a family. Her first novel, THE LILAC PLAGUE, is doing very well. You have good friends. : )

OH KEEPER OF RECORDS, DRAW FORTH THE BLOOD OF oishisushi911 AND ADD HIS NAME TO THE WALL OF OATHS! HE IS BOUND! THE BONUS AS WELL, HE'S ALL IN! No, Keeper, that's o-i-s-h-, gah, you messed up sushi, there's a sushi in there, look again! Ah, forget it. Just do RJK Lee. YES, IN ENGLISH!

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Topic starter Posted : October 20, 2019 12:55 pm
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 549

OH KEEPER OF RECORDS, DRAW FORTH THE BLOOD OF oishisushi911 AND ADD HIS NAME TO THE WALL OF OATHS! HE IS BOUND! THE BONUS AS WELL, HE'S ALL IN! No, Keeper, that's o-i-s-h-, gah, you messed up sushi, there's a sushi in there, look again! Ah, forget it. Just do RJK Lee. YES, IN ENGLISH!

A new name begins to appear on the wall before you and then disappears. Begins and then disappears again. You squint in the dying lantern light as the mysterious, bloody writer struggles to put down OISHISUSHI911 (RJK LEE). You estimate that there are mere hours of light left and wonder what you will do as the whispers surround you in the dark.

R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!
Stories in Apocalyptic, Cossmass Infinities, and Podcastle

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Posted : October 20, 2019 1:04 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

NEXT ASSIGNMENT.

SwiftPotato wrote in a few posts above: "When you're that close to the top, you want to be judged on what is subjective: did you tell a good story? Did you engage me as a reader? In martial arts, forms are stories too. I don't think I missed out on first place this weekend because I told a bad story. I missed out because the judges simply liked his story better."
___________________________

Bows with respect to SwiftPotato, standing there in her Taekwando dobok. "You did not fail me, oh fastest of root vegetables. The disciple becomes the teacher."

Turns to the group. "There is your next assignment. Go. Study her words and report back."

1. What can you learn about professional writing and winning contests and perfecting style and performance from what SwiftPotato wrote above?

2. If we know we have a weakness in our writing, what must we do?

3. Why did Swift believe she took second at her last match, instead of first?

4. How does that relate to Voice and the importance of individual style?

5. Should Swift change her style to be more like the guy that took first?

6. What can happen when, at the next match, she has a different set of judges?

Please share your answers and any insights from this post with the group.

I have never heard this saying. It's awesome, Swift! "The person fears the man who has practiced one kick 1,000 times more than the man who has practiced 1,000 kicks." That would be a great signature line!

Beastmaster Moon

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Topic starter Posted : October 20, 2019 1:18 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2096

Midnight, October 20th. "THE WAY IS SHUT. It was made by those who are Dead, and the Dead keep it, until the time comes. The way is shut.”
Admittance into Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge Vol. 37 is officially closed. I gave everyone plenty of time, so no late arrivals, sorry, talk to the dead king if you have a problem.

But for those that got in, CONGRATULATIONS! The door is wide open for you, and we are going to keep opening doors. That's because the SUPER SECRETS' theme this contest year is: BOOK TWO: HOW TO SELL YOUR STORIES. Our focus will be on helping our challenge members get published, whether it's in Writers of the Future, or in other respectable paying venues. I hereby guarantee at least one of our challenge beasties will have their first professional sale this contest year, and I hope for many more. How can I guarantee such a thing? You're doing the work, right? You're writing fresh stories, right? You're applying the SUPER SECRETS, right? You're doing the exercises, right? You're going to be sending stories out if you aren't already, right? Then I can guarantee at least one of you from this group will have their first professional publication. I've seen the caliber of your work. You're good. I believe. Plus...dum dah dah dum...I know things.

So strap on your sword, we're going to battle! A year of new SUPER SECRETS is about to come!

All the beast!

Beastmaster Moon

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Topic starter Posted : October 20, 2019 7:34 pm
Henckel
(@henckel)
Silver Member
Posts: 402

And by the time you read this, you'll probably have heard back from Clarkesworld. They're quick!

Just a quick check-in. I heard back from Clarkesworld today (3 day-response). This was a form response rather than a personal. Still a rejection.

Dear Christopher,

Thank you for the opportunity to read "Magicians Midlife Crisis." Unfortunately, your story isn't quite what we're looking for right now.

In the past, we've provided detailed feedback on our rejections, but I'm afraid that due to time considerations, we're no longer able to offer that service. I appreciate your interest in Clarkesworld Magazine and hope that you'll keep us in mind in the future.

Take care,

Neil Clarke
Publisher/Editor
Clarkesworld Magazine

So, I'm trying a smaller market next that may be better suited. I just submitted to Sci Fi Lampoon.

(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist
(2021) V38 Q1 – Semi-finalist
(2021) V38 Q2 – tba

Publications
2019 Writing Bloc Cooperative – Escape Anthology
2020 Sci-Fi Lampoon – Winter 2020 Issue

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Posted : October 20, 2019 7:37 pm
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 549

Happy Monday morning, y'all! Moon asked me to post this week's Monday flash prompt. The new prompt is: THE BEAST WITHIN. Sally forth! There are more darlings to be killed here!

R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!
Stories in Apocalyptic, Cossmass Infinities, and Podcastle

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Posted : October 20, 2019 11:35 pm
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 549

Now that the doors to the challenge are officially closed, I present to you: the official volume 37 roster! If you submitted your kill your darlings exercise, please be sure to double check your name is on this list. Additionally, if you don't see "extra credit flash challenge" under your name and would like to, now's the time to let me know!

MEMBERSHIP ROSTER
Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge, Vol. 37 "How to Sell Your Stories"

To keep all ye beasties accountable, here is the list of who is in the challenge and whether they've submitted for each quarter. When the thread receives updates from you, so too shall the list. This is not going to track which markets you've submitted to. Just the fact that you've submitted.

officer

Q1:
Q2:
Q3:
Q4:

thegirlintheglasses

Q1:
Q2:
Q3:
Q4:
Extra credit flash challenge: 1/12

RSchibler

Q1:
Q2:
Q3:
Q4:

SwiftPotato

Q1:
Q2:
Q3:
Q4:
Extra credit flash challenge: 1/12

AjZach

Q1:
Q2:
Q3:
Q4:
Extra credit flash challenge: 1/12

CCrawford

Q1:
Q2:
Q3:
Q4:
Extra credit flash challenge: 1/12

Retropianoplayer

Q1:
Q2:
Q3:
Q4:
Extra credit flash challenge: 1/12

storysinger

Q1:
Q2:
Q3:
Q4:
Extra credit flash challenge: 1/12

Peter Glen

Q1:
Q2:
Q3:
Q4:

einstein36

Q1:
Q2:
Q3:
Q4:

AlexH

Q1:
Q2:
Q3:
Q4:

StarReacher

Q1:
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Q3:
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Henckel

Q1:
Q2:
Q3:
Q4:

JESchleicher

Q1:
Q2:
Q3:
Q4:

AVDutson

Q1:
Q2:
Q3:
Q4:

zeeteebeez

Q1:
Q2:
Q3:
Q4:

oishisushi911

Q1:
Q2:
Q3:
Q4:
Extra credit flash challenge: 1/12

R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!
Stories in Apocalyptic, Cossmass Infinities, and Podcastle

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Posted : October 20, 2019 11:39 pm
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