Sunday, December 26, 2021

The Persistence of Submitting

gday gentle reader

 A story I wrote way back in the last millennium (1993) under the working title Time Loop won an Honorable Mention in L Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future contest in 4th quarter 2021.  This is a significant in a couple of ways.


First of all, it means I have won and Honorable Mention in every quarter of 2021. It also makes it the 6th Honorable Mention in a row, 7 out of the last 8. (3 out of  4 in 2020 - 4 out of 4 in 2021) This was also my 18th consecutive quarterly submission and the 12th award BUT three of the 18 are repeat submissions (reedited of course) so in fact I have only sent 15 original stories for 12 awards. 

You may be right in thinking the Covid pandemic has improved my writing/editing. For it certainly the bum's been on the seat for hours longer.

Second of all, this is at least the fourth time I've submitted the story. In the early days I didn’t keep good records of what I sent where, only how much I wrote, trying to fulfil Hemmingway's idea that the first million words are practice. Persistence is everything.

Bear with me gentle reader while I begin at the beginning, a very good place to start I'm told. In 1993 I wrote Time Loop longhand, then typed up my scribble on a portable typewriter and submitted a paper copy, except this never happened. I never submitted a single story before I had a computer able to print a perfect copy, that’s not to say to a perfect story, but a perfect copy of whatever story I had written.

My first 1980 computer, a TRS-80 Model-1, even after expansion from cassette tape storage to 5 ¼ floppy discs couldn’t cope. It wasn’t until 1996 when I opened "Books with Connections" an internet cafĂ© bookshop in Blackwood with 2 computers I had built to my specification, that I felt it at last worthwhile transcribing Time Loop and my full-filing-cabinet's worth of handwritten stories.

Now let's cut back to the chase. Some current members of the Blackwood Writers Group, (formed in the bookshop that same year, 1996), with long memories will know the story. It was workshopped under the title, The Persistence of Memory. I sent the workshopped story to Eidolon and Altair, probably in 2000, but didn't make the cut.

After my first success submitting to WotF in 2017, I reworked Persistence (it's short title) changing the protagonist source of overnight wealth from shares to crypto currency and sent it to WotF for the 2nd Qtr. 2018. It didn’t rate a mention, honourable or otherwise.

Once more into the breech. The contest coordinator had once suggested previously submitted could be resubmitted. The first time I tried this produced an Honorable Mention and so I did it again with Persistence now retitled Days of Future Passed (from a Dali painting to a Moody Blues album) for the 4th Qtr. 2021 and you know the result, another Honorable Mention.

It sort of validates Robert A. Heinlein’s Rule 5. "You must keep the work on the market until it's sold." (Or wins something)

Ooroo until my next post.  I hope you had a Merry Christmas and lets all hope 2022 is a better new year

PS One may think that because all my posts are about the WotF contest, I don't do anything else. you'd be wrong. but that's another story.   

Friday, July 2, 2021

The story is out there.

gday gentle reader 

I've been experiment with Twitter and story telling but except for the briefest flash fictions, the medium sucks. My much published (online an in print by Antipodean SF) 500 word story "Trojans" took 12 post and had to be massaged, not just to fit, but for each tweet to end on a cliff-hanger so readers would return.

In my considered opinion nobody, not even my 5 Followers, read it. So now I tweet links to stories.

I'm preparing an anthology, titled Colony Worlds, (a theme I like) all Honorable (USA spelling as per certificate) Mentions I've received from my submissions to  

I'll begin with the first 2 chapters of The Descent of the Kestrel now up on my website, with more chapters and further stories to come. Why 2 Chapters? It's told from two alternating POV's (points of view). Constructive Criticism is always welcome, no story is ever so finished it can't be improved.

 The Descent of the Kestrel 

9,300 words written 2011 won me an HM in the 3rd quarter 2017 exactly 20 years after my first HM in the 3rd quarter 1997.

In between I wrote the oft mentioned still unpublished 600,000-word trilogy which obviously improved my skills because 20 years on the competition quality is a lot stiffer, the award categories expanded, and an HM is no longer a finalist.

The story is a prequel, the first of five set in my trilogy world "The Restoration Legends."

Doing this now was promoted by my latest HM, the fourth in a row, which means my Silver Honorable Mention and the Semi-Finalist can be left out of the anthology. As posted earlier these two form the opening and concluding parts of a Novel (yet another colony world) It's the sagging middle part that needs work.

until my next post (might post about why I like writing colony worlds)

ooroo Rob

Saturday, January 9, 2021

A Fascination with Numbers


gday gentle reader,  

Me and WotF

On further analysis (see my previous post) of my eight (8) award-winning stories over 4 years of consecutive submissions to L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Contest, I  have yet to get a mention in the second Quarter that runs from January 1 to March 31.

As Spok would say: Fascinating. Is it that I slack off during our southern hemisphere Summer, or does the northern hemisphere Winter put more northern hemisphere bums on writing seats for longer periods? I shall turn up the aircon and try harder this quarter.

Word Counts

And one more fascinating thing about my most recent Silver Honourable Mention The Starbuck Chronicles, but let me digress a moment.  

Back in 1999 I won 2nd prize in the 1st Aurealis Millennium competition for a story that was and had to be exactly 1000 words not including the title. But wait there's more, most of my early submissions to Antipodean SF, under the mistaken impressions that Ion wanted no more than 500 words, were close to and often exactly 500 words. By now you're starting to get the picture. 

The Starbuck Chronicles,  

my Silver Honourable Mention has exactly 750 words (not including Chapter# and title) in each of its 17 chapters. 

 I am now left to wonder if unbeknown to the judges, the pattern (the rhythm if you will) of the chapters, played part in the win.  Did it lift it up to Silver H M or lower its chances of attaining higher or did it not make a scrap of difference. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the challenge of making a longer story hold together despite the self-imposed artificial strictures.    

 ooroo Rob

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Writing Aids & Awards

g'day gentle reader

The result of all my wailing and gnashing of teeth over writing programs is I decided to buy Scrivener, to organise big projects like my 600,000 word trilogy and an anthology of my Writers of the Future awards,

speaking of which, 2020 was another good year for me.  4 submissions to WotF returned 2 Honourable Mentions and a Silver Honourable Mention. 3/4 ain't bad. Ain't good either. Only 1st 2nd or 3rd count.  I did the same only better in 2018. 3/4 and one was a Semi-Finalist.

The awards however are asymmetric. The Table shows awards given for the Quarter.  My Silver HM Qtr.4 was equal 134th. if it had been in Qtr.3 it would have been equal 67th. Conversely my HM ranked better for being in Qtr.3 equal 330th, rather than Qtr.4 where it would've been equal 458th. As the contest grows the competition get stiffer, I am happy to still be winning awards, I must be improving.  

I also decided to buy ProWritingAid (Black Friday sale) for checking grammar and style and everything else chapter by chapter since with anything more than a chapter the incredibly detailed checks it does will slow you down. For example: Part 1 of Book 1 in the trilogy (90,000 words) took 9 mins and gave me 1473 errors and I accidentally hit the [Realtime] button instead of the an [issues] button. It restarted and wasted another 9 mins. And if you don't correct (or ignore?) the errors then save, it restarts next time you open.  

The error count was a lot bigger first time around but I had corrected the spelling issues, (again almost exclusively my Character Names) and saves the story 

The firsts lesson: don't open a whole book in PWA, do a chapter at time.

These comments subject to change without notice, I'm on a steep learning curve.    

I practiced with a couple of paragraphs (326 words) from my next sub to WotF, fixed all the issues and then sent it back to gold fashioned,  to format ready to submit. Word found a grammatical error PWA  missed.


Sunday, November 15, 2020

The GRim error count ... continued

g'day gentle reader  

as promised  ProWritingAid's five remaining errors turned out to be ordinary boring abbreviations of a space opera kind:  comms (2) for communications , 1 each of  techos (1) and unsuit (1).  ProWritingAid informed me there were 'no such words'.  The fifth and last error was  a preference for air-con rather than aircon (1). PWR also had a couple of

style suggestions 

hot water spigot: can you use a stronger adjective than hot  (boiling scalding scorching) This was a simple case of misconstruction, which hot-water spigot solved. 

and a couple of rubbery eggs ...  readability may be enhanced by and two rubbery eggs. It may, but it will also loose the comic flavour - I left that one alone beside Australian usage (er - mine) does not necessarily mean exactly two.   (give it a couple of days, she'll be right = 2 at least days.) 

hadn’t damaged anything  to had damaged nothing  readability again (  more positive - accepted) 

[ "Both were crammed" into her life pod ] passive verbs make your writing less direct. Good advice but the suggestions were nonsensical in the context  [ "I/we/they crammed both" into her life pod ] they are already there.

like Word, PWA wants to convert all We'll have to to We must,  but must is not always appropriate it depends on the context. Sometimes what is mean is We aught to. 

I loved this one 

the electrics are shotas one character says to the other meaning the electrical circuits no longer function.  PWA said they/I/we/it shoot/s the electrics Seriously? 

Of course the program was objecting to the passive verb "are" It pays to keep in mind, ProWritingAid et al are sets of algorithms, perhaps a bit more sophisticated than most but still just programs.   

And it seems to me the program does not yet have a handle on dialog. 


Monday, October 5, 2020

The GRim Error Count

Once more unto the blog, gentle Readers, once more;
Or finish the story up with our English words

(with apologies to the Bard)

Now let me be clear from the start. I'm back unto the blog in an effort to promote my writing and lift my profile a little above sea level. All post will now be solely about the writing and nothing but the writing.

My earlier trilogy of blogs begun in 2004 were meant to be about

original blog
The original Blog

Life: called "That's Life" subtitled 'A Baby Boomer's thoughts on the privilege of aging. (concerned as ever with maintaining my
(live donor) kidney transplant)' 

the Universe: called "A Writer's Blog" and tagged: 'I write, therefore I am' survived until 2014 and the one you're reading now that I'm resurrecting.

and Everything: called "Eye of the Robot" which was set up in 2004 and got its first post in 2007. I had such plans but it never really got off the ground.  

In the end due to failing kidneys and a transplant "That's Life" usurped "Eye of the Robot"  which  in  2015 was itself transplanted into "A Writer's Blog" (the 2004 entry is embedded in a  2007 post)

So, to begin again as I have begun so many times

gday gentle readers

I've been experimenting with Pro Writing Aid.  I uploaded The GRim, a tongue-in-cheek satirical comedy, or perhaps a comical satire to (here-in-after PWA) This story analyser (free online to limited of 10,000 word) is supposedly the best thing since sliced bread for writers - assuming writers like sliced bread. Its definitely a step up from, which is only marginally better than words Grammar & Spelling checker.

The Grim @ 7000 words is one of my shorter stories, and it appears in the anthology Out of the Dark, edited by Robert N. Stephenson and published by Altair Australia Pty Ltd.

PWA found 256 errors, divided thus: 160 grammar issues, 63 style issues and 33 spelling issues starting with "unusual capitalisation" in reference to the title The GRim. (as explained in the story GRim is how the characters of the story refer to their environment ~ the Galactic Rim)  

As in most of these programs there is a choice of fixes. In this case "ignore" or "disable rule".  I chose to ignored, until it popped up again. I then chose disable rule which PWA chose to ignore.

As with word, once I added character names  to "my dictionary" the spelling issues dropped from 33 to 5.  I'll discuss those 5 in my next post.

to be continued ...

ooroo for now 

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Writer's Lost Thoughts

g'day gentle readers  

I dreamt last night I was a writer. (That's a first - I sometimes have the weirdest dreams or salacious ones, even boring ones but never in any of them, have I been a writer) 

The dream writer was in, metaphorically speaking, a dream location. A farm of magnificent beauty and scale much like a film set. (Recent visits to real film locations like Hobbiton and Monument Valley probably played into the setting. Me the dream writer took notes and photographs much the same as me the real writer does. 
And then me the dream writer had what all writers dream of, sudden inspiration and I dreamt up a solution to a problem, I the real writer has had from book one of the trilogy. At the same time, the dream solution provided the seed for a scene that will become the trilogy's epilogue. 

Then I woke up. 

Now let me digress a moment because the dream solution solved a problem that should never have existed. It arose out of the way I write. I start knowing only where I want to end and make it up as I go along. Problem is I often forget little but significant details made up on the spur of the moment (with good reason at the time) and dismissed until stumbled over during the edit, at which point I scratch my head and say, "What was I thinking?"

For example from Book 3: The Arch of Restoration.

"There seemed to be no end to the flickering torches, they filled the park, the roads and all the gaps between the houses. Jorgena had seen crowds before but this was something else; this was a population on the move, a vast flowing beast like a herd of Wilderbeef." 
Rowena: “I take it the relays are in place.” 
Jorgena: “Yes.” 
Author: "Relays? What relays?"

As Sarah inspects the hull, she wonders why Jorgena went to such trouble to remove her implant but had no objection to her twin daughters having them. 
Author: "I'm with Sarah. Why?"

Thanks to Burnell’s slip as he began the scanning process…
Author: "What slip?"

“Look on the bright side,” Jorgena said hiding her one true regret. 
Author: "Which regret was that?"

Now the problem the dream writer solved, which the real writer created at the start of the trilogy, was a headless body in a dam overflow pipe. The scene in Ch7 of Book 1 is a precipitating incident for a major POV character. The problem is - whose body is it, who killed them and how did it get there? 

In creation, I had a few quick thoughts: I'll make it a bloke who is going to disappear anyway and have this person who is both mysterious and powerful do the deed - solved, forget until later, write on, 500,000 words to go. A decade and 500 Kwords later, I have never revisited the question and the first reviewer of Book 1 wants to know who the body belongs to - so do I.  

The original thought for 'who' got blown away, he turns up alive in Bk3. There are no other logical contenders without unbelievable contrivance. It would be better to invent a character and integrate he/she into the story but that adds more words to a book that is way too long already. Secondly, the person I had in mind to do the deed would not leave a body. She has the resources to make a body vanish completely. Then there's the location where body turns up: on a farm in a dead end valley with a single track in. Who would be stupid enough to drag a body all that way then dump it where it is bound to be found. 

So like the above examples, I have to scratch my head and say, "What was I thinking?" It plays on my mind and then my dream writer comes to the rescue and writes dream notes which when I wake and look for them, don't exist. I do remember however, I have the answer but of course, it's not something I want to reveal. 

Here's a hint: Think iconic phrase from 

ooroo until my next post