Guest Judging and Curse Merchant Updates

I’ll be guest judging Leah Petersen‘s 5 Minute Fiction this week. Contestants cook up a piece of prose or poetry, of any genre, based on a prompt that she drops onto her blog page at 12:30. The contest then summarily closes at 12:45, giving the contestants five minutes (plus ten minutes’ grace for this, that, and the other reason) to offer the best flash fiction or poetry they can muster. It’s quite the workout of the creative fast-twitch muscle groups!

Now for some updates on The Curse Merchant.

My first beta reader has finished the book (in ten days, I might add), and will be sending me comments shortly. I’ll have to admit, no matter how many manuscripts I write, I always get nervous when the first “outside reader” gets their hands on my story. By “outside reader”, I mean someone who isn’t my wife, who generally gets an earful of the novel from pre-writing through revision. I have two more beta readers out there, plus a fourth who may or may not be able to get comments back to me by Christmas, but whose input is generally top quality. (I’m looking at you, Sis.)

For the last few weeks, I’ve been struggling with the whole self-publish versus traditional publishing debate. I have outlined my thoughts and concerns several times in the last month, often to a great amount of eye-rolling and patiently held sighs. I do feel as if I’m arriving at a decision, however, and it’s not what I expected. At this point, I’m preparing to shop the manuscript to literary agents sometime in January or February 2012. I would detail the finer points of my decision making process, but the honest truth is that the points aren’t particularly fine. The decision came down to a “gut call”. For a hyper analytical type such as myself, this isn’t easy. The path before me now involves final edits, proofing by my Secret Weapon, and honing my skills at query letter and synopsis construction.

In the meantime, I have two small projects in the works. I feel it’s a good time to develop short fiction, towards increasing my exposure. I’ve outlined two short stories, though one of these stories is rapidly evolving into a screenplay. We’ll see how that works out! The remaining short story is a near-future exploration of an American society on the brink of collapse. As I mentioned before, one of the universal themes of my writing is Downfall. This story will be a stampede through a night of chaos, panic, and brutality. Here’s the pitch:

“On the day China lands on the moon, Stewart, an unemployed ward of the state, must navigate through rioting citizens and a vicious police crack-down to the safety of the Failhouse.”

I’ll keep you posted!

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