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Progress?

23 days in and I’ve written *almost* one full page. Something tells me that – my son’s surgery and complicated aftermath – this was NOT the month to start anything. I have been doing some brainstorming at least. That’s something, right?

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2014 in derek's writing

 

Plans for 2014?

What’s this, you say? At least you might if you’re one of the four people who have RSS-feeded this blog to your readers or whatnot. I’m a little behind on this techno-babble. I still find it shocking that I have not one but two Twitter accounts (for which I’ve personally composed a grand total of 2 tweets.) This entry is only two or three sentences long and I’ve already drifted. Let me get back to the matter at hand.

Does this mean that the 2012 Short Story Project blog is back? Will Aaron and I be writing new short stories for 2014? No. No, we won’t. I’ve crushed all your dreams now. So go back to picking potatoes, as I’m sure that’s what the majority of our readers do for a living.

However, that doesn’t mean that this blog won’t see some action this year. For many years (more for Aaron than me), we’ve had some grand plans in our brains for novels. Personally, I’ve had an idea kicking around for a novel since I wrote a theme-mail to Will several years ago. I fell in love with one of the characters and thought he had legs to sustain a whole novel. Well, many years  and dozens of brainstorming sessions later, I think I have the skeleton of a novel in the works. The only thing that’s been stopping me is momentum.

So I figured if I set monthly deadlines for myself (just that I HAVE to write, not a specific amount that I NEED to write), I’ll be able to make a dent in this idea of mine. Aaron has agreed to review my stuff despite the fact that the general genre of my novel (noir) is not one of his favorites. Additionally, he has told me that he is interested in putting some of his long-standing ideas down on paper, so it would be a swap much like the Short Story Project of 2012 (lo those many years ago).

There are obvious obstacles to overcome, like how some months will have little or no contributions and others will have many. We’re not stressing. We both want to be writing again (lord knows I need something to keep me away from Angry Birds – seriously, why are those birds so angry? What did the piggies do to them, really?) We hope that having someone else expecting material from us will prompt us to actually provide some of that material.

So there is life in these creative bones after all. Will some (or any) of the stuff we write be available for reading by the general populace every month? I don’t know. Will we take criticisms from “the masses” and sculpt our writing accordingly? Got no idea. But we want to at least chronicle (to some degree) what we’re going through, so when we’re famous trillionaires (our debut novels each breaking record sales), we can print this blog out and sell it for even more money, because we’re greedy bastards at heart.

Enjoy the ride.

 

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i’ll be honest

i completely spaced on writing this story.

i’m currently in week two of three of running my office while my boss is away, and if you’ve ever been involved in working for the government, you can imagine all of the ridiculous stuff that goes along with it.

with that in mind, i managed to write entire stories in a few hours for the project last year.  i’m pretty sure i can figure out a topic and write this one in a weekend filled with not only work (yes, saturdays are work days too), but also celebrating my birthday and mother’s day.

awesome times.

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2013 in aaron's writing

 

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Topic

While I don’t feel a strict need for secrecy on this project, I will say I think I have my plot and will get to work ASAP on it. However, since hearing about this, I’ve had a number of permutations on a plot that I’ve since abandoned. Really, I kept thinking of a baggage runner at an airport finding The Holy Grail on the ground. Even within that there were a few variants there:

- it was a very dumb runner who saw a red Solo cup and thought it was the Holy Grail

- the woman who finds it is a very conspiracy-theorist type who sees a chalice clearly labelled Holee Grale – and she thinks it’s the gov’t trying to get away with something: couldn’t do this one in 600 words

- it’s actually the code to Jesus or whatever, and not an actual cup – either way, didn’t feel like rehashing DaVinci Code in a micro-story

But the religious aspect has made its way into my final idea, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the holy grail.

By the way, this entry is right now nearly 200 words, meaning this is 1/3 my final word count. YIKES!

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2013 in derek's writing, monthly topic

 

There may be life left in this ole’ project.

My wife posted this link.

http://www.npr.org/2013/05/04/180596004/three-minute-fiction-round-11-finders-keepers?utm_source=books&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=20130504

So much for no deadlines. We’d have less than a week to do this, so we wouldn’t be able to do our normal process. I’ll also be travelling, so I’ll have even less. Time.

But 600 words? Most of my blog entries are longer than that. Let’s do it!

 
 

My old novel

This is not about a short story or this blog, per se, but it felt like an appropriate place to put it. I had recently submitted my novel for consideration in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. I figure it’s a long shot to win (as I had to enter it in sci fi/fantasy because of lack of a ‘comedy novel’ category), but I figured I could write a good enough 250 word summary to at least move it on. Besides, I had NOTHING TO LOSE by sending it.

So I just got word that it was picked to move on to round 2. At the start, up to 10,000 TOTAL stories were accepted in 5 categories. They quartered that for round 2, taking only the top 400 in each category. Now, it’s certainly possible that only 408 people submitted a sci fi story, but I’m more likely to believe that it was at least a fairly popular category.

Next, they cut that list down to the top 500 total stories (maybe top 125 in each category?) That happens in a month, so I’ve got time to forget about it. I think being classified in sci fi/fantasy both helps and hurts. It hurts because it’s a popular category and my story is fantasy only because it deals with totally impossible things, but really, it’s a comedy story. However, that’s also a strength. It will stand out from the rest of the spaceship epics/microbiology thrillers/chemistry capers out there. I do wonder if I should have submitted in the “general fiction” category, going under the idea that most people would submit their stories in the more specified genres. Whatever. Anyway, here is the 250-word summary that helped my story advance.

 

God is most dangerous when he’s really, really bored.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the comedy novel Same Old Same Old, where everyman Cain Baxter finds himself at the business end of God’s mischievous streak.  When God’s computer malfunctions during one of His pranks, Cain finds himself in a world called Albatross, one wholly consumed with golf.  It is there that he meets Paula, the runaway daughter of the President of Albatross.  Together, they escape to St. Louis and find two more travelers to complete their party: a professional nomad named Sammy and an eccentric nurse named Peeps.  Throughout the pages of this book, the quartet journeys to Heaven and back with their only mission being to navigate through the chaos and return to normalcy.

Same Old Same Old is an 82,000-word comedy novel that flirts heavily with – but never quite seals the deal with – science fiction.  Another in the incredibly short line of novels that contains elements of fantasy, courtroom drama, fugitive chase, and British comedy, the story is a non-stop tour of the absurd. Whether devising theories that would make enlarging themselves possible, being attacked by a renegade dishwasher’s virtually spotless dishes, making clones of oneself by asking for advice, or hypothesizing on television that humans are actually devolving, Cain and a host of unusual characters must untie the web of confusion that God’s mighty computer has wrought.  Along the way, Cain must make the ultimate choice: continue knowingly living a world of esoteria, or return to the banality of his previous existence. 

 

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2013 in derek's writing

 

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Some Stats

So avid reader Carol posted her rankings (which I’ll copy at the bottom of this post, as she put it in a comment in one of our previous columns). She didn’t rank them 1-12, but rather lumped them into groups. Ones she didn’t like, liked some, liked a bunch, etc. So what I’ve done, being the stat nerd I am, is compile some stats on the 3 people who have read all our stories (us two and Carol). For each “1st” place, that story got 12 points. 2nd favorites got 11, etc, all the way down to 1 point for our least favorites. For Carol’s, where many tied, I added the points together and averaged them. So if 3 stories were here favorite, they each got 11 points (10 + 11 + 12). Pretty simple stuff. So here are our OVERALL rankings (if you’re new to this blog for some reason, the top guys are the stories you may want to request we send copies of – you can request that at shortstoryproject@gmail.com.

Aaron’s stories (3 people voting), from lowest-scoring to best-scoring:

10(T). March – Gaius the Bold (13 points)

10(T). April – The Fat Man (13 pts)

10T. October – The Baker (13 pts)

9. August – The Ledgers (15 pts)

8. February – Rigging the Future (16 pts)

7. January – Sign of the Times (17 pts)

6. December – My Name is Cashew (19.5 pts)

5. November – Dark November (21.5 pts)

3(T). June – Project Titan (26 pts)

3(T). July – Year of the Stone (26 pts)

1(T). May – Climbing for Her (27 pts)

1(T). September – A Life in Rouen (27 pts)

Derek’s Stories

12. March –  The Efficiency Expert (4.5 pts)

11. April – Leaving Gunite (13 pts)

10. June – The Exorcism of Anne Foster (14.5 pts)

9. February – Heads of State (15 pts)

8. October – Sleepytown (17.5 pts)

7. July – Two Pair (19 pts)

6. September – Seeing the Forest for the Trees (20.5 pts)

5. November – Sunset at Belham Bay Park (23 pts)

4. May – Unbecoming (23.5 pts)

3. December – Birth of the Stone (27 points)

2. January – Finding Home (27.5 points)

1. August – Cornered (28 points)

More than individual achievements, I’m seeing trends where we just definitely picked better topics than other months. Admittedly only two examples is a very small sample size, but it looks like the three worst topics are:

March – we had to incorporate 5 sentences into the story (two story total of 17.5 points)

April – “Two people meet every day at a bus stop. Until they don’t.” (total of 26 points)

October – “a baker puts a special ingredient in his bread that changes life in his sleepy town, while someone in the town discovers a surprising branch on a family tree” (total of 30.5 points)

The BEST topics were:

May – “a story that focuses somehow around 7 flights of stairs” (total of 50.5 points)

September – we had to incorporate 9 character names into the story (total of 47.5 points)

December – we had to write a sequel or prequel of one of the other person’s stories (total of 46.5 points)

A quick analysis of this info before getting to Carol’s actual comments:

1) Carol and I have wildly different tastes, particularly in regards to Aaron’s stories. What I thought was easily his best, she thought was his second-worst. What I thought was definitely his worst, she said was easily his best. Go figure?

2) The overall list for my stories seems to be fairly close to my own rankings of them. However, Carol & Aaron (and my wife) all think that my June story (the silliest one) was definitely one of the worst, and I think they’re all wrong. It’s a classic!

3) I had a story that received only 4.5 points. Rather than think I totally churned out a lemon, I’m going to pretend that all my other stories were amazing.

4) I had thought that the “gimmick” topics (the ones we did every 3 months that were not based off a specific topic per se) would either be the best or worst, but they’re all over the place. I guess like everything else – they’re hit or miss.

5) If anyone else has read all 24 stories and wants to write their own rankings, I’ll update this list (or if you only read one person’s, that’s fine – you can list their 12).

Onto Carol’s review:

“Okay, here goes. I have re-read the stories, and not surprisingly, my rankings are quite different from both of yours.

Derek,

My least favorite story was July. All those game plays bored me.

For me, your “meh” stories were March (odd, but humorous) and June.

Enjoyable were February (initially hard to get into), April, August (disliked language, but it worked with the story), November and December.

Excellent reads: January (surprise ending), May (lovely story), September, and October

Aaron, My least favorite story was April.

Your “meh” story was June- just not one of my favorites.

Enjoyable were November and December (Love the song)

Excellent reads: February (fun), March (adorably funny), May (fun), July, August, September and October.

And my hands-down favorite of all the stories throughout the year- your January story about the house.

I have truly enjoyed being a part of this adventure, and looked forward eagerly to each month’s contributions. I hope that you come up with another way to showcase your talents.”

 
 
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