Thursday, December 27, 2007

A year in statistics

So, am feeling a little dejected after a rejection today, another competition I didn't win, so I thought I would cheer myself up by looking at the year in total according to the Writingstats2007 blog Vanessa and I have been keeping since last Dec 27th. (Excuse the maths - it doesn't all add up exactly, but take it as a pretty good estimate!) It's really been a wonderful exercise which helped me keep the bigger picture in mind. So, that said, drumroll....

In 2007 I...

Submitted 155 pieces of writing (not 155 different pieces, often the same story was submitted several times) -
88 to story comps,
3 to play comps,
1 to filmscript comp,
60 to open calls for submissions,
2 to open call for audio submissions,
1 fellowship

Out of these, 30 were "hits", which is to say they got somewhere

1 short story collection accepted for publication (!)
1 radio story commission,
1 anthology acceptance,
6 acceptances by online mags,
5 acceptances by print mags,
1 flash comp 2nd prize and 1 finalist,
3 stories made shortlists in short story comps
4 made longlists in short story comps
1 Honorable Mention in short story comp
2 highly commended in short story comp,
1 commended short story comp,
1 commended in play comp

And 94 were misses (no that doesn't add up to 155 - some submissions still outstanding)
I didn't win:
43 short story comps
1 story collection comp
7 flash comps
1 novel comp

And my stories were rejected by
16 print magazines,
6 online mags,
11 flash fiction publications,
2 anthologies,
2 audio submissions,
1 scriptwriting comp,
2 short play comps

Financially speaking I..

Spent £484.50 (on entry fees etc...)
Earned £494 from my writing. (plus 30% discount off Abroad Writers Conferences (could be worth $750... if I want to pay the other 70%)

So I am ten pounds in the black....

All in all, I am thrilled - I have a ratio of almost one acceptance to every three rejections (30: 98), or a 25% acceptance rate (30/128) which is certainly far far better than I have ever done before! And it makes me so happy to see the range of submissions, not all to competitions, but to online and print publications too - and the odd short play comp. Of course, the highlight was the acceptance of my short story collection by Salt... nothing tops that! But it doesn't mean I can rest on my laurels... I now have to work on self-promotion, which is not something that comes easy to me.

I have a feeling 2008 is going to be an interesting year. I will be promoting my book come June, and am still sending out stories, still waiting to hear, still looking for great publications to read and submit to (thank you Duotrope!) But I go into 2008 not just as a published author, but as an editor, of The Short Review, my new baby, something I have set up single-handed and am running, with the assistance and input of an ever-growing raft of wonderful and enthusiastic reviewers. It is turning out to be a lot of work, but it is work which involves my passion, the short story, and every hour I spend on it thrills me. For the first time, I feel like maybe I am making my small but unique mark. Onwards and upwards!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I flash therefore I am

A couple of revelations this week. Firstly, someone I met yesterday asked me what I did and for the first time I said, with no hesitation, "I'm a writer". Not "Well, I used to be a journalist, but now, well, um, I write fiction, I'm trying to... um". Just straight: "I am a writer". Felt very good.

Second, I have been beating myself up for the past six months about not being able to write "full-length" short stories, i.e. anything over 1000 words (4 pages or so). Ever since my book deal in June, I have felt blocked on this front and I was despairing. However, I have been writing flash stories, under 500 words, loads of them. I've written at least 30 in the last 6 months. And Jen at Salt Publishing is a huge fan of flash. My book deal gives Salt first dibs on my second collection, and I have finally decided that this will be a flash collection. Yesterday I decided that it is totally fine to write only short short stories. Why not? Just as I resist all pressure to write a novel, I can resist my own pressure to write a short story. I love flash fiction, I love how it feels to write it, the process is completely different from a short story. So why shouldn't I just do this for a while?

I had two flash stories accepted for publication this week by Brand Magazine.... so I shall just continue in this vein. Sometimes we need to listen to what makes us happy, and stop trying to do the things we think we "should" but which feel far too much like hard work. I flash. That's what I do right now. And I'm proud.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Hava negila - 21st century

Ok, this really freaked me out.... Apparently it could be the UK Christmas number one! Wierd.

Embedded Video

Blogged with Flock

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Sunday Salon: Fifteen Modern Tales of Attraction

The Sunday
I've just posted my Sunday Salon blog over at The Short Review's blog, and today I blogged while reading Alison MacLeod's short story collection, Fifteen Modern Tales of Attraction. Stunning stories! The Sunday Salon is a group of bloggers around the world who blog every Sunday about what they are reading while they read. Pop into the blog and learn more about it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Another interview

A profile of me, on Normblog. Lovely to be asked, but still rather wierd for me to be on the receiving end of the questions. But it's good to think about all the things Norm asked me to think about. And he's linked to my favourite poem and song. You'll have to head over there to find out what they are!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I'm the interviewee, for once

I knew that when I gave up journalism, I'd not be doing any interviewing. But now I have been interviewed! Kay Sexton, the author of the wonderful writing blog Writing Neuroses ... mine are rare, yours may be legion, interviewed me about The Short Review and how it started, and about my own writing. Thank you, Kay! Do pop by and leave a comment.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Short Review Issue 2

I am delighted - and exhausted - to announce that The Short Review Issue 2 is now available. 10 reviews, great reads, do stop by and sign up for the newsletter.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Back home after a very writerly trip

I got home yesterday after twelve days in England, exhausted but inspired... sad that I left J over there for another 3 weeks, but energized and looking forward to a productive month. I already had some lovely news: my portfolio of three short stories has been Highly Commended in the Biscuit Publishing Short Story Competition.

I've got a busy week - I'll be launching the second issue of The Short Review on Thursday (fingers crossed!) and with almost 1000 hits to the first issue, I have high hopes that this issue - which is bigger than the last, with more reviews from my expanding stable of reviewers- will get even more hits from far and wide.

One thing I did in England was pick up several review copies of books sent to me by kindly publishers and distribute them to the wonderful women of the online writers' forum Fiction Workhouse on our fabulous day out last Sunday in London. I had only met one of them - Vanessa, the FW's founder - but due to the nature of the Workhouse, we all felt we knew each other already. Julia, Zoe, Susannah, Mel, Elaine, Vanessa... what a fabulous groups of wise and witty women. We met up at Holborn tube - just before it was shut due to a security alert! - and joined a Wellcome Trust walk about the medical history of the area, called Blood, Guts, Gore and Children. It was fascinating, despite the pavements being a little tough on the feet. Then we repaired to a nearby vegetarian curry house for the real purpose of the day: talking. Hours passed like minutes, and for me, to sit around and natter about writing was like being in heaven! Eventually, everyone sadly had to get back to their respective corners of England, but I really hope we'll do it again, and that more FW members will join us.

For me and Vanessa, the fun carried on, with a trip to Cambridge the next day to meet Jen Hamilton-Emery from Salt Publishing, the small press that is publishing our story collections, hers in March and mine in June. For three hours we talked about stories, about publishing, about our work and other people's, serenaded by the Italian owner of Clowns cafe, who took quite a shine to Vanessa! Jen insisted on taking our pic... spot the tiny clown in the background.

Meeting Jen - who is just delightful, with seemingly limitless energy and highly infectious enthusiasm - made it finally seem real to me. Months I had been worrying that her email with the offer of publication was a mistake, that she would withdraw it when she realized what she'd done. Now, after seeing her in the flesh and hearing her enthusiasm for my stories, I can almost believe it. We had another Salt meet-up last week:with excellent timing (for me!) Salt held a party on Thursday night at Foyles bookshop in London, at which many of their recently-published authors - poets and short story writers - read from their work and signed copies of their books (for pictures see Jen's Myspace blog).

For the first time, I was not sitting in the audience as other writers read and wishing it was me: for the first time, I knew it would be me, this time next year. This was further emphasized when, in the interval, I met several fabulous Salt short story writers that I had heard of and read: Chrissie Gittins, Elizabeth Baines and Carys Davies. We had never met, yet all three of them, without me saying a word, said "You must be Tania". Being someone who thinks of herself as having wallflower tendencies, observing from the sidelines without being seen, I was completely taken aback. But the world is a different place now - the world is blogs and websites and myspace and facebook, and The Short Review. Seems as though I can't quietly observe any more; now I am actually taking part.

It wasn't until J and I were driving back to his mother's that night that it started to sink in - I met authors and they treated me like one of them. I am an author. I am an author. I got quite emotional, and, since I was driving, we had to pull into a service station for an emergency Crunchie. Felt much better.

Now it seems I have work to do - Jen has sent me an Author Questionnaire and I have to find my USPs, she says.... my Unique Selling Points. Well, listening to the other authors read on Thursday night did demonstrate to me that I seem to have USPs because my stories didn't resemble any of theirs so I must be doing something a bit differently. How to put it in words? I also have to think about launch events... Where? When? Who? And I also have to get used to the idea of reading my own work, out loud, in front of strangers, assuming that any strangers want to come and hear me! Life is changing. It's all very, very good.