A True Weekend.

The concept of a weekend when you work in a shift-based retail job is pretty much nonexistent. Every once in a while, you’ll get two days off in a row, but they’re usually in the middle of the week, so your “weekend” because Tuesday-Wednesday instead of Saturday-Sunday. This weekend, though, I was blessed with the rare combination of Saturday-Sunday-AND-MONDAY off, so I got to experience what people with “real jobs” experience with a “real weekend,” and it’s always lovely and kind of special. But, really, I have nothing to complain about since it’s not like my part-time ass doesn’t have plenty of time on her hands usually. I’m going into a fuller week because our supervisor is taking a vacation, but it’ll be nice to have the extra money.

But you didn’t come here to read about my job that pays the bills. You came here to read about my job that I actually love (but doesn’t pay jack crap…yet). So let’s get in on how the week was and how the week will be.

Reading: I finally finished Night Train to Memphis, which seemed to not want to end at all no matter how much I wanted it to end. And I’ve picked up The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy finally, which I’ve been meaning to get to, especially as I want to start getting back to my fantasy roots a bit more. It’s set up a bit like a textbook, with glossy pages and everything, so that’s a little off-putting, but, I mean, it’s got Terry Pratchett and Ursula K. Le Guin and Lloyd Alexander talking about the craft of fantasy writing. How can it be amazing? I predict I’ll probably finish Galápagos or (speaking of Terry Pratchett) Witches Abroad for this week.

Writing: I finally cracked 40 in rejections last week (currently sitting at 41, meaning I got 4 total since last Monday), which was a little depressing because that means I’ve almost reached the halfway point for a year in a matter of two months. I know the whole point of the challenge is to get as much work out there as you can, but, oof. It can be a little heavy on the soul. Thankfully, just as I marked that number 40 on my board, I received a letter from Bards and Sages Quarterly looking to print my story “The Space Between Worlds” for their April 2017 issue. Since it’s a reprint from Bowlful of Bunnies, it’s a non-paying gig, but it was just the boost of confidence I needed.

Of course, I’ve reached a point again where I’m running out of material. I’ve got 41 stories out there, and nothing new to send until I get my submission for The First Line typed up. And I’m definitely flirting with the idea of releasing a new collection next year. The amount of material I’ve scrounged up this year has been impressive, even I have to admit to that. I’ve got a few stories floating around that need to be finished still, so that will help, and today, I started up a potential piece for Candlesticks and Daggers. I doubt I’ll finish it by the deadline, though, especially since it’s starting to feel like something larger (I think my inner novelist is getting real sick and tired of all these short stories, but, hey, it’s almost NaNoWriMo time, so it can just settle down).

‘Rithmatic: It’s been about a month since I’ve done any walking or exercising, and I’ve really been feeling it, so I’m glad I had the opportunity to get a solid, unexpected nine miles in yesterday. I had been planning to get some work done, but the day was too nice to just sit inside! I might do the same again today, depending on if this soreness sticks around. I also had the chance to go to a concert this weekend with my boyfriend, his brother, and his brother’s girlfriend. I’ve never been much of a concert goer, which is a shame, because it was really a fantastic experience! We went to go see Brand New, my boyfriend’s favorite band, for his birthday, at the The Rave/Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee. I’d never been to Milwaukee, either, so it was all kind of new excitement stuff for me.

Brand New puts on an amazing fucking show, by the way. I know I’ll never get to the level of worshiping them as Ken and his brother do, since they’re not really my kind of music, but I definitely appreciate the hell out of them. It was a lot of fun, and the Eagles Ballroom, for all its crappy sound quality, is an absolutely gorgeous venue in an old 1920s building that made my architectural nerd-self happy.

I’d also like to remind everyone that there’s only one week left to submit your stories to the World Unknown Review! The deadline is October 31st, so get those stories in before it’s too late! Volume III is already shaping up to be pretty fantastic, but your contribution could make it straight up phenomenal!

That’s all (she says, laughing as she reaches 800 words) for now! I’ve got a story to type up and some submissions to read as I enjoy this sudden, random, classically three day weekend!

Happy reading!

An Overachiever in Failure.

Weather is a strange thing, especially in the Chicago area, but I don’t think I’ve ever recalled a time where it felt so absolutely autumn sweater weather, and yet the temperature was actually around 80 degrees and humid. It messes with my head in an unpleasant way: I feel the need to curl up with some tea or hot cider, as I’m constantly putting on and taking off a long sleeved shirt. Half the windows are open, because, while the breeze is cool, the air is really warm and uncomfortable. It’s been a weird sort of weather limbo around here, and the same goes for the week as a whole.

I’ve been getting fewer hours at work, for the most part, which is great for my writing work, although a little less great on the wallet. Unfortunately, there seems to be a chasm growing between the two: the more time I get to write and realize how much I love doing that, the less time I want to spend at my other job, because it’s just so repetitive and unfulfilling at this point. However, it does serve well as a reminder to keep trying, no matter what, and maybe, just maybe, I really can start dedicating all my time to writing, or at least even less time to the rat race.

Anyway, it’s Monday, so here’s a look at the week passed and the week ahead:

Reading: The long streak of not finishing a book has been broken with Karen Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove, which was filled with so many weird, quirky stories that are right up my alley. It reminded me of the first time I read Sheila Heti’s work, these crazy little stories that were plucked out of the most random things but resonated with all the things I like and find interesting. This week, I’ll definitely be finishing Elizabeth Peter’s Night Train to Memphis (finally!), and I’ve started Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here. I’ve read it before, but a radio advertisement reminded me of how it might be a pretty significant book to read right now: a totalitarian demagogue dictator winds up being elected as the President of the United States, leaving to wonder how in the hell we got to the point to allow this to happen, how we all claimed that “it can’t happen here!” but it does. Now why does that sound familiar?


Writing: It’s been a rejection-heavy week, too, although I did get in a few book sales, so that helps a little. Still, adding five rejections to my total felt like a little bit of a blow to my confidence, especially as the high of my Saturday Evening Post publication dwindled down. At this point, I’m at 37 rejections; with 39 stories currently out in the ether, there’s a good chance I’ll make it to 50 by the end of the year. Which is half of 100 Rejections a Year challenge, in a span of four months. Which is less than half a year. Yeah, I think at this rate, I’m going to have no problem at all hitting that 100 mark next year when I start over in January.

The real key here is to remember the successes, and that can sometimes be a difficult thing with this business. The rejections are many, they are quick and sharp and sometimes overwhelming, while the acceptances are fewer and number and they seem more fleeting. But October was and is a great month for me, even with all the rejections. There was “Sleepwalker”‘s appearance in Potter’s Field 6, I was published by the freaking Saturday Evening Post, and I’ll have a story popping up on Noise Medium soon. So there have been successes, and they have been great accomplishments. It’s important to remember that and strive toward the next one, rather than focus on the failures, though I’ve been really, really good at those lately.

World Unknown Review has been helping with that a lot, too. Last night I got the chance to just sit and pour through a bunch of this year’s submissions, and I’ll have the opportunity to do the same tonight, and I’m really looking forward to it. While my Writer Self is over there, flailing and worrying and doubting herself, my Editor Self got a nice boost as I marveled over how cool it is to be able to read so many wonderful stories by so many talented writers. I’m so proud of WUR and what it stands for and it’s such a great feeling contributing to the literary landscape on both sides of the fence. And it makes me realize that there’s so many wonderful stories out there that don’t get read, and then I realize that some of those stories are probably mine, and while they’re not getting published now, they will some day, in some capacity. And I’m glad I can help get some of those stories out for other people, even if in some small way.

There’s still time to submit stories to the World Unknown Review, too. You can do so here until October 31st. I always love the dizzying influx of submissions right before deadline, but it’ll be here before you know it!

Although I doubt I’ll make it to the deadline, this week’s story is a circus-inspired piece with this anthology from Azoth Kemp Publishing, although I really should focus on finishing up my potential submission for The First Line. I’m also giving more thought to my NaNoWriMo project, the top contenders being my “Kala” inspired book or potentially attempting one of 26 lipograms I would like to write one day. Because that’s just what I need, is to make a challenge I’ve never won even more difficult by turning it into a constrained writing exercise. But sometimes I feel I do work better if I pidgeonhole myself in with weird rules and restrictions.

Other: I’ve started to wonder if my weird mood and general dissatisfaction has been because I haven’t had many opportunities for walks lately. The weather, as I said at the top of the post, has been bizarre, and the timing just hasn’t worked out. I kind of want to get used to not getting out there, because I know it’ll be near impossible during winter, but, at the same time, I get a little guilty feeling that I’m not taking advantage of the few days we have left. But I’m still getting things done, so it’s not wasted time. Last week was my monthly lady time, too, so I’m also chalking that up to the feelings of despondency that seemed to rule the roost.

Plus, we got a new shoe rack shelf-thing for by the apartment door, and it’s really cute and helps clear up the clutter that is the shoes I never want to put away.

Later this week, I’m also going to a Brand New concert up in Milwaukee. It’s my boyfriend’s favorite band, and his brother got us tickets for his upcoming birthday. I’ve never really been into the band itself, but he’s been working hard to indoctrinate me, and I’m pretty excited, because I’ve never really been much of a concert goer, either. I’ve also never been to Milwaukee, so there’s another new and exciting thing. In fact, the only time I’ve even been to Wisconsin is to go to the Bristol Renaissance Faire, which is right on the border, so that doesn’t count.

That’s it for this week’s recap. I hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead of them, and keep your fingers crossed for some good news in my inbox. My one acceptance since August 15th is feeling really lonely with all those rejections on the other side!

An Interview with Jennifer White [WUR 2015].

Jennifer White’s story, “The Haunted Note“, may be the shortest one in 2015’s World Unknown Review, but it deinitely strikes a chord. (I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself!). It’s also perfect for October with its moody tone and the significance of Halloween. And, naturally, I wanted to “sit down” (in the virtual sense!) with the author and have a little chat about her, her work, and what inspires her. So please start up some ominous music, sit back, and get to know Jennifer White with me in the following interview:

So, we’ll start off simply: Who is Jennifer White?

A British writer currently residing in Texas. When I’m not helping out with a menagerie of animals at home, I volunteer at the local library or lose myself in the world of editing. One day, I shall stop fiddling with my work-in-progress novel and, hopefully, get it published.

How did you discover the World Unknown Review, and what inspired you to submit your story, “The Haunted Note?”

I discovered the World Unknown Review through my mum and at very short notice. Since it was deadline day, I didn’t have much chance to write anything new. “The Haunted Note” was written for a Halloween special on a blog I was doing with a friend at the time and was the most recent piece I’d written that I was happy enough to send out.

See, last minute entries are awesome, anyone who’s reading this and hasn’t submitted yet! “The Haunted Note” was one of the stories in this volume that shared something with another: a supernatural musical score. Any speculation on why music can so often be tied in with something haunting or peculiar?

This one is a toughy. Perhaps it’s because of the wide range of emotions you can create with music. Just by changing the way a piece is played, you can make a somber sounding piece bouncy and happy and vice versa.

Do you have any personal connection with making music?

Well, I’m definitely no Mozart or Beethoven, but I am teaching myself how to play guitar and piano.

What would you say is one of your favorite musical pieces and why?

Oddly enough, I don’t tend to listen to classical music, but I suppose my favorites would be a toss up between Pachelbel’s Canon and Edvard Grieg’s Morning.

Those are both such classics! Now, tell us about the last book you read.

The last book I read was Changes by Jim Butcher. Filled with snarky wizards, monstrous vampires, and a bunch of other supernatural beings, it’s a very fun read. The only issue is it ended on a cliffhanger.

Gotta love those cliffhangers! Who are your writing influences and inspirations?

Ah, the type of question that makes you forget everything you’ve ever read. Let’s see, I suppose I’ll have to be very unoriginal and say J. K. Rowling stands out the most. There’s a bunch of other authors across various genres as well, such as Sophie Kinsella, Dean Koontz, and Jim Butcher.

Kinsella’s a new one one that list for me. I’ll have to check her work out! What’s next for Jennifer White?

Next up is another Halloween piece for a contest on Deviant Art and then a writing tournament, again, on DA. Other than that, I’ll see where the Muse takes me.

Where might we be able to find more of your work?

You can find me on my blog https://nimtriel.wordpress.com/ and, for anyone who’s curious, I’ve had a Deviant Art account http://amethyst96.deviantart.com/ for years. Although I find most of the work on there cringe-worthy, hopefully it shows how I’ve improved over the years. Or not, as the case may be. Either way, I hope it inspires people to keep trying regardless of how awful they may think their work is.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’d like to give a big ‘Thank You’ to L.S. Engler and her World Unknown Review. I’m honored to be a part of it!


And I’m honored to have her a part of it, too! A big Thank You back to Jennifer for sharing with me her thoughts and ideas and I hope to see much more from her in the future.

Happy writing!

30+ and Counting!

This week has been a good week. Not a great week, although some great things have happened. And I’ve got a pretty good feeling that this coming week is going to be pretty great, too. It’s been a little off, due to a variety of things, none of them big things, but still steady. And any week that can be a little trick but still steady is a pretty decent week in my book. Lots to say about writing, so brace yourself. There’s a lot going on in my head and on the paper!

Reading: I finally got around to starting Misery, which I’m really excited about. It’s ’80s Stephen King, which has been the best Stephen King in my opinion, and it’s one of the few with movie adaptations where I haven’t seen the movie first. And this week I am most definitely going to finish Night Train To Memphis and Vampires in the Lemon Grove, or so help me God….!

Writing: Most of the excitement this week comes from writing, not because of anything new being accepted, but because of something accepted finally being printed. My short story, “The Alley,” has officially made it onto the The Saturday Evening Post. I now have an author bio on the Saturday Evening Post website. My story is in a sidebar with stories by Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, and Shirley Jackson. I am dying. It’s so surreal but so fucking awesome, too.

And I need to remember that when I get my rejections. It’s been a heavy rejection week, with four of them if my count is right. That puts me at 31; one more rejection, and I’ll have as many rejections as I have years alive. It’s also weird because I’ve been getting some more submissions for the World Unknown Review from people with a laundry list of publishing credits that include all the journals I routinely get rejected from. That sets off an interesting, “I’m not worthy to judge these people!” reaction in my brain, but then I have to remember: these people know what they’re doing. There are hundreds and thousands of journals out there, but they chose mine. It’s not an easy journal to get into; I only pick nine stories. It’s not even a well paying journal (although it is, at least, a paying one). This is my baby, my wild idea, and it’s not like they have to send it to me. They wanted to, and I’m greatly honored by that. Just also really, really intimidated, too.

For my new writing project this week, I started up a potential entry for Disquieted Dreams’s “In Our Bodies” anthology. Started it, and the deadline is in five days, so I doubt I’ll finish it in time, but it’s at least worth the effort, right? I’ll be focusing on that until the 15th, then, and then I’ll probably focus on finishing a submission for The First Line.

Then there’s also the issue of NaNoWriMo coming up, which I’ve been doing consistently for so long I can’t even remember how long, even though I’ve never once won. But it’s the principle of it! Part of me would feel guilty starting another novel when I’ve got quite a few of them going right now, including one that I should be publishing next year because people are waiting for the end of the Slayer Saga trilogy, but…but…Hey, it’s just a month, what harm would that do? I’m thinking of approaching it differently this year, too (yeah, I always say that), so I’ll probably try to balance it all. It’s just a new focus I’ll try to work in probably during the evening, which might help spark some evening writing, which I currently have trouble doing. I also don’t have a topic yet, although earlier this year, I was thinking of doing a Mad Max-esque book inspired directly by M.I.A.’s Kala album, but now I’m not too sure.

Other Stuff: Not too much other stuff going on. Sometimes I feel a little bad about that, but, for the most part, I’m perfectly content to live a life that is mostly just surrounded by writing. What other kind of life would I even want to have??

How’s everyone else been doing? Any other NaNo participants out there, and what are you plotting? Me? Right now, the only thing I’m plotting is to go have some breakfast.

Happy writing!

“The Alley.”

I’ve mentioned it a few times, but October has turned out to be quite the prolific month for me. Earlier, I was able to spew happily about my story “Sleepwalker,” which makes an appearance in Potter’s Field 6, and today is the blessed day I get to announce that my story “The Alley” is currently available at the Saturday Evening Post as a part of their New Fiction Friday feature.

Yeah. That Saturday Evening Post.

I may be a wee bit stoked.

The Alley” tells the story of a young woman named Sara, who discovers a mysterious dark entity living in an alley in her neighborhood (which may or may not…but totally is…based on the neighborhood I lived in before my previous digs), and she becomes obsessed with figuring out its bizarre, unearthly nature. It’s a bit of an exploration on what is and what isn’t, what we perceive and what we don’t, and I’ve always really liked this story since it’s inception a while ago. It was written for an anthology that ultimately passed on it, and it went through several more rejections before I finally shot it off on a “why not?” whim to the last place I actually expected to accept it.

And they did. They freaking did.

So this particular story stands as a shining example to keep trying and to try even if you have big fat doubts about it. It received ten rejections before it landed in the Saturday Evening Post‘s hands, all but one of them from spec fic journals I thought would eat it right up. But sometimes the perceived audience isn’t the best audience; the best audience might be somewhere you’d never expect it to be. This business requires a lot of patience and a lot of persistence, because, while skill and talent are important, there’s also a good dose of something being in the right place at the right time. “The Alley” is a good example of that, but it wouldn’t be where it is now if I’d have self-censored myself and listened to the voice that said it wasn’t good enough for a journal like the Saturday Evening Post. You really never know until you try. Sometimes, you can’t even fathom it until you try. And that’s why you always have to try, even if it means trying something you can’t imagine ever working.

Please duck on over to the Saturday Evening Post and give it a look. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Happy reading!

New Featured Story!

I’m a little late in the game at the moment, but I’m happy to announce that the new featured story for October is finally up! Just in time for Halloween, too, as the spooky October holiday plays a big part in Jennifer White’s “The Haunted Note,” from the 2015 World Unknown Review. What can be the mysterious reason Riccardo’s band can’t seem to get through their songs? You’ll have to read it and find out! And look forward to an interview with the author coming up soon, too!

There’s still the rest of the month to get your own stories into this year’s World Unknown Review, too. You can find information on how to submit your story here, and I’d love to see what you’ve got. Time is ticking, though! And who knows? Maybe yours will be one of the stories featured on the site next year!

Also, I smashed my finger on the latch on our heavy duty dumpster at work last night. Typing with a giant ass blue bandage on my very bruised and sore left hand ring finger has been…interesting. But hey, the pain anytime I type an A or shift to capitalize just helps to remind me that I’m alive, right?

(Oh, and did you check out Potter’s Field 6 yet? This post is filled with plenty of plugging as it is, so I thought I’d throw in one more for good measure).

A Quiet Week.

Maybe it’s just the soft autumn rain and the cooling of temperatures that have come with the beginning of October, but this last week has seemed like a pretty quiet one, though I suppose a lot has happened. After seven months, I now find myself with a little more time on my hand because the boyfriend has his driver’s licence again and I no longer have to be the one to drive our asses everywhere, which means that I had my first truly off day off yesterday. It was a bit of a disaster because I’ve never tried going to the laundromat on a Sunday before and learned that the lesson is DON’T, especially not when there’s a street carnival going on that day. I have to adjust to a few things (when do I do my grocery shopping now? I did it when I had to drop him off because our work is a lot closer to all the good grocery stores and I had making “extra trips”), but it’s going to be really nice, and, hopefully, beneficial to my writing.

Speaking of which, allow me to hop into the Monday Recap:

Reading: Finally got a book finished last week, and the winner ended up being Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot, which was very Eugenides (which is good, because I love his work). It had some of the most stirring descriptions of manic depression I think I’ve ever read, so I could relate to a lot of it, and I got pretty invested. It built up a certain way that made me declare that if it ended like this, then it would ruin everything I enjoyed about it, and it didn’t end up like that, so that made me pleased as punch. I’d definitely recommend it to any liberal arts major, anyone who suffers from or loves someone who suffers from depression, and anyone who likes Vampire Weekend. Because it was pretty much a Vampire Weekend song in novel form.

(I really like Vampire Weekend).

This week, I finally cracked open my Women of Wonder: The Classic Years anthology, which I’m stoked about, because it’s important to know your roots, y’all! I’m hoping it really charges me up for some of the sci fi pieces I’ve been working on. And I’ve still got Night Train to Memphis on my “To Finish Next” list, but, ugh. Why do I torture myself this way?

Writing: Some of you may have noticed via my post yesterday that Alban Lake Press’s Potter’s Field 6 is now available for purchase. They’ve printed my story “Sleepwalker,” which is a tale I’m particularly proud of, so if you get the chance, please check it out. It’s a good one! Although I guess I am pretty biased…

We’re also in October, which means it’s the last month to get your submissions in for Volume III of the World Unknown Review. Keep ’em coming, folks! Last years numbers have already been completely demolished, so I’m really thrilled by how this volume might shape up.

Only three rejections this week, which had me sweating a little as I’m running out of material and haven’t been writing as much since I was focusing on getting “Pipsqueak” finished for Less than Three Press‘s Heart of Steel anthology. But that’s why flash fiction is so great. Weeks without a lot of material to send out challenges me to see what I can come up with in a short hour, and I was able to start some things that, if they don’t immediately take off, can be developed into really great stuff later. With the rejections, though, I finally got my first acceptance since I started keeping track in August! So keep an eye out for my story “The Conspiracy Theorist Next Door” on Noise Medium later this month! And “The Alley” will be on the Saturday Evening Post‘s website this Friday. Yeah, October’s been a really good month for me so far!

‘Rithmatic: In an effort to try to get the scale to move (which it still hasn’t), I’ve been trying to cut off eating at eight o’clock. I was doing pretty well on it, too, until my boyfriend came home from his late shift last night with Taco Bell. I didn’t get a walk in this week, either, mostly due to weather and also due to the fact that my favorite spot is an “extra drive,” too, which worked great when I had to drop the boyfriend off, but is a little harder to justify when I’m not already driving out there for something. I still need to figure out what I’m doing for winter exercise, anyway.

That’s it for the wrap-up this week, kids! I think it’s going to be a good week ahead. What’s everyone else got going on?