Tag Archives: Kristin Luna

The Good, the Bad, and the Meh, I Guess That Went Okay

Has anyone told you lately that this is hard job? Here, allow me:

THIS IS A VERY HARD JOB.

Sure, on one hand, we’re doing what we love. Writing stories, letting our imaginations run with interesting, and sometimes crazy, ideas. We write late, wake up early, and do it all over again because we love it. Not only that, we gotta write. It’s just what we do.

And then there’s the other hand. We polish our stories, make them the best we can for human consumption, and submit them for editor and agent approval. Ninety to ninety-nine times out of a hundred? Those precious stories are rejected. Our craft is rejected. And we are expected to smile, say thank you, and do it again and again and again. Because we are insane, yes, and because what else are we gonna do? We gotta write. It’s just what we do.

At the end of 2017, I find myself here, with these two hands. Thankful and grateful I’m still here after five years, working hard, grinding away at a career even if it feels like it’s moving at a snail’s pace. And on the other hand, I’m asking myself: “Am I crazy?” Because I have to be honest, reader. Sometimes I feel like what I’m doing is crazy. Working for days and sometimes weeks on a short story. Asking friends and family to spend their hours beta reading it. Submitting it, receiving a rejection. Submit again, receive another rejection. And occasionally, an acceptance. If I’m lucky, $100 for all those combined hours, and a publishing credit I pray to the gods will somehow entice an agent to take a chance on me.

I had a very frank talk with my husband about these battling feelings on our date night at our favorite hole-in-the-wall Indian food restaurant. It’s usually the one night a week I put on real pants (if you work from home, you feel me so hard right now), even put on a little make-up. But instead, I looked down-right sloppy. No make up, hair hardly brushed. I couldn’t even pretend to put on a mask. I was just tired. (I should give myself a little credit…I did put on pants.)

I explained everything that I was feeling to my husband – feeling beaten down and pretty exhausted. And true to form, he was nothing but supportive. “Take a week off. Take a month off. Hell, take a year off,” he suggested. “Don’t write for publication. Just write for you.”

“Would it help if you focused on novels instead of short stories?”

I nodded. They were all great suggestions. I dug into my matter paneer and he his bengan bharta (tandoor baked eggplant with peas and herbs). I temporarily forgot about our conversation as we both burned our mouths on way-too-spicy food, drank pitchers of water to cool the burn without avail, and laughed.

The next morning, I woke up feeling better. I got to work on research for my novel. I wrote a draft for this very post you’re reading now.

To be honest, I don’t know why. The only thing I know for sure is that no matter what, I’m going to write. No matter what I’m feeling, no matter how many rejections pile up. No matter how many acceptances grace my inbox. I don’t know why.

I gotta write. It’s just what I do.

The Inklings: One Friendship to Bind Them

When it comes to famous friendships, the one that first comes to mind is the bond between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Their friendship developed through their writing group, The Inklings, which met in a pub called The Eagle and Child, or as they affectionately called it, The Bird and Baby. Over years of critiquing and beers, a number of the Inklings went on to be published, as well as become some of the most respected authors in history.

In college, I was fortunate enough to take a J.R.R. Tolkien class from one of the most renowned C.S. Lewis scholars in the world, Diana Glyer. Naturally her studies of Lewis led her to the study of Tolkien as well. Diana Glyer recently released the book Bandersnatch: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings, which focuses on the relationships, successes, and pitfalls of the group. No one else that I know of, save for Christopher Tolkien, knows The Inklings like my former professor Diana Glyer. She’s devoted much of her life to passionately researching them.

Thanks to her book, I gathered some important points that you may want to keep in mind when it comes to your own career and the company you keep.

  1. There were 19 Inklings total, and they met for 17 years!
  2. The Inklings greatly encouraged one another, even going so far as writing publishers to encourage the publishers to publish one another’s books.
  3. While they encouraged one another, the group members fought and criticized just as easily and often.
  4. Tolkien didn’t like The Chronicles of Narnia when Lewis brought in the first pages to The Eagle and Child. Not even a little.
  5. However, not everyone was crazy about The Lord of the Rings either, namely Hugo Dyson.

These points stood out to me because of the group’s commitment to one another, even though they did not always agree. They fought for one another, encouraged one another, and did what they could for the others.

Sometimes we may get a little tired of our writing groups and wonder what the point of it all is. But just remember: a few men would meet in a pub not so long ago, and some of them might’ve had the same thoughts. But their commitment to their craft and commitment to the group didn’t waver.

Throughout the book, Diana also observes how the reader can shape their writing group to be successful. She outlines what was successful in the Inkling collective, and how to make your group dynamically your own while avoiding some of The Inklings’ nasty pitfalls.

I’d highly recommend picking up the book if you’re in a writing group and you’d like to learn lessons from some of the most well-known authors in history.

The Final Goodbye and Day Four – Two Double Nickel Stories

The Final Goodbye

You know, I forgot to tell you this. I loved the way you said my name. You pronounced every syllable, and you let the vowels roll the entire hollow of your mouth. You didn’t quite do that when you left. In fact, I don’t think you said my name at all. And I won’t say yours ever again.

Day Four

Angela took the hairpin from the Barbie and bent it straight. With her eye to the lock, she tried to read its secrets. She stuck the hairpin in the lock and waited. Silence. Then she carefully worked the hairpin, hoping tonight, it might just work. She really missed her family.

Footsteps sounded down the hall.

Meet the Fictorians: Mary Stormy Pletsch

“Come in, — come in! and know me better, man!” -Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

We’d love for you, our wonderful readers, to get to know us better. That’s why, each month, Kristin Luna will interview a member of The Fictorians. We’ll learn more about each member, such as their writing processes, their work, where they live, and what they prefer to drink on a warm summer’s day. We hope you enjoy this monthly installment of Meet the Fictorians.

Meet the Fictorians:

Mary Stormy Pletsch

Kristin Luna (KL): Hi Mary! How are you doing and what are you drinking presently?

Mary Pletsch (MP):I’m doing well and I’m drinking a can of Moxie. Let’s toast all the folks from Maine reading this and nodding. Everyone looking bewildered, head to Maine and see if you are among those lucky few who appreciate this delicious cola-type beverage.

KL: I love your love for Transformers. Please tell us when your love of them started and do you collect any action figures as an adult?

MP: Oh wow, in the fall of 1984 when the original animated series first aired. My Transformers and My Little Pony cabinets hold my life-long collections, still growing.

KL: How long have you been a Fictorian?

MP: I was here at the start of the site! I think that was 2010?

KL: One of the originals!

If you don’t mind sharing, where do you live? How does it play in to what you write about?

MP: I’ve lived in three provinces, but I do hold a special place in my heart for the Maritimes. I was proud to team up with my husband to write “The Island Way” in Tesseracts 19: Superhero Universe, which is a story about a superhero from Prince Edward Island caught between her family’s traditions and the opportunities she could find on the mainland.

KL: Your short stories have been in TWO unicorn anthologies: One Horn to Rule Them All and A Game of Horns. Tell us a little about both stories, and which one do you like best?

MP: Well, “Queen of the Hidden Way” in A Game of Horns is a prequel to “A Single Spark” in One Horn to Rule Them All. “A Single Spark” is the story of a young girl making her own destiny by joining a group of unicorn riders…and I really think that one is my favourite, because “The Unicorn Riders” is a game I used to play with my toys when I was a kid, and to have that mythology turn into an actual published story means a lot to me. Since the protagonist of “Spark” is a new recruit and not the group’s leader, I decided to make my second story be about the origin of the leader, who made her own decision to create the unicorn riders instead of fighting for her place on her nation’s throne. I like the way it turned out too, but as a prequel, it hasn’t got all the Riders in it yet.

KL: You’ve also had short stories in Apex magazine, Shock Totem, and other anthologies. What do you love about writing short fiction?

MP: I actually prefer long-form writing…novels and novellas. I like having the space for my characters to grow and change. I’ve learned a lot, though, from writing short fiction. Novels, by virtue of their length, are a harder way to practice building a story arc because they take so much longer to complete. And the word limits on short stories have done a lot to cure me of wordiness: when you’ve only got so many words to work with, you have to make every word count. I’ve also learned to focus in on primary characters and primary conflicts, and am less likely to get sidetracked by secondary characters or out-of-control subplots. This is why I recommend shorts as “learning-to-write” practice.

KL: That’s really interesting! So then what kind of stories do you gravitate toward writing and why? (Certain kinds of themes, protagonists, antagonists? Certain settings you seem to prefer?)

MP: I like to write military stories, but when I look back at my published works, they really are a mix. Every once in a while I get myself in the mood for a good creepy tale, but I’m not predominately a horror writer. I’m a sucker for tough older women and “found family,” particularly characters with a tendency to “adopt” younger characters.

KL: Are you working on any longer fiction right now or a book?

MP: I’m working on a book right now for The Ed Greenwood Group! It’s a space opera set in a “pulp sci-fi” universe: think larger-than-life heroes, ace pilots and rag-tag mercenaries, and a starship held together with baler wire.

KL: Sounds like a lot of fun! Are there any future projects of yours we can look forward to?

MPWell, there’s that book. 🙂 That should be coming out in 2018! I’ve not had as much time to write shorts this year now that I’ve got novels on my plate…but “Women in Practical Armor,” including my story “The Blood Axe,” should be out soon.

KL: What advice (that you’ve received) would pass on to a newer writer?

MP: Don’t be afraid to break rules. “Rules” that cause more harm than help don’t do you any favours. I don’t write every day. I don’t write when I’m sick. Writing when I’m sick creates pages of garbage I have to delete anyway, and delays my recovery, meaning in the end I’m farther behind for trying to write every day. Don’t get up and write first thing in the morning if you’re more alert in the afternoon: do your “mindless” tasks and get those out of the way first. Make the rules work for you, not the other way around.

KL: What’s your favorite Fictorians post that you’ve written so far and why?

MP: I’m happy with “The Semi-True Story” as an answer to the question about my writing process, which is informed by my reality without being a fully accurate report on it.

***

If you have any questions for Mary, please leave a comment below. Thank you for reading!