Monthly Archives: September 2011

Short Story #28 Mailed

I was on travel with the family this weekend, so no time for writing really, but I did whip out one short-short on the iPad for a short fiction contest. It’s the shortest story of this year’s challenge so far, but finished, titled, and mailed, so I’m counting it :-). I also wrote a 500 word fragment in which I have no idea where I am going, so I will shelve that for now and may or may not return to it.

This week I am focusing my effort on working up something to send to the Writers of the Future contest. The deadline is midnight on Friday so I’ll have to write this one fast and hard. This one will be a complete redrafting of a story that I wrote at the Kris ‘n’ Dean short story workshop. By redraft I mean I’m not even looking back at the original manuscript, just starting from a similar idea of what the story will be. It was a story with a nice rich, lush setting– setting is probably what I do best as a writer– and Kris commented that it was beautifully written but left too many story questions unanswered. And actually, at the time, I remember being relieved at her comments because all the same questions had been nagging at me as I wrote it– I knew I had left them dangling– but under a tight time deadline I hadn’t been able to figure out the answers. And a number of people at the workshop liked the story even as it was (we all read each other’s stories, in addition to a hefty writing load). As Kris said repeatedly during the workshop, “It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be finished.” Where “finished” means at least 3,000 words, with a beginning, a middle, and an ending– as well as that closing validation that gives the reader permission to leave the story.

My daughter was sick last night, so there was little time for writing, but I did manage to pound out an 800 word start on the new story for Writers of the Future, again on the iPad. I never would have imagined that the iPad would be such a useful tool for writing, and to be honest I only downloaded the iWork Pages application to study and experience how Apple handled a multi-touch word processor– professionally, I work in interaction design– but I’ve noticed that a hefty percentage of my stories are getting their starts on the iPad. So it seems to encourage lowering the mental filters that let words flood onto the page, and it’s a great “shim” device for wedging into those little crevices of writing time that appear here and there in daily life.

In the past week I also received 5 rejections and sent six manuscripts back out in the mail. That brings my race score for manuscripts in the hands of editors at pro-paying short fiction markets up to 22.


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Filed under Flash Fiction, Kris 'n' Dean Short Story Workshop, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Rejections, Short Stories, Story Challenge 2011, Workshops

Short Story #27 Mailed

I finished off a story during my lunch break and mailed it off to notch Story #27 of my 2011 Short Story Challenge.

It was a story I started over the weekend on my iPad. I was really tired over the weekend and didn’t do much writing other than that, and I didn’t even crack open the laptop to work on the short novel. But I think it’s pretty cool how the iPad has become a shim for me that I can wedge in against the oh-my-goodness-I-just-need-to-be-horizontal fatigue that sets in late at night sometimes. I just grab the iPad and type my 500 words and then go to sleep.

And heck, some completed stories are coming from that– and one of those even looks like it might sell– so don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

Since my last post, I recieved one rejection back on a story that had been out forever, and received news that one of my iPad-written stories is being held for further consideration– on the first time I mailed it out no less– so there’s a potential professional sale brewing there. It was also one of those stories that I initially thought might be destined for my “Crimes Against Literature” folder, so once again, what do I know. I just write ’em and have fun with it.

My story for this week might have an even more ridiculous premise than the one I whipped up last week, but I think it’s a fun story nonetheless. Should be entertaining to see what happens with it, and I won’t be letting the cat out of sight, just in case…

There’s about 15 weeks left in the year to write 13 stories to reach my 40-story goal, which seems pretty doable (even with a missed week here or there) given my recent pace. And if I do a bunch more shorts, another 23 stories to reach my stretch goal of 50 stories in one year is not yet impossible, but unlikely if I continue to write a bunch of longer stories as well (like the in-progress short novel…).

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Filed under Novels, Short Novels & Novellas, Rejections, Short Stories, Story Challenge 2011

Short Story #26 Mailed

I’ve been busy, both as a writer and in my high-technology professional life, since I last wrote here about my 2011 Short Story Challenge.

I completed short story #26 of my challenge a few days ago and mailed it. The whole premise of this story is so ludicrous that I almost can’t believe I went through with it, but who knows, it could end up being a really fun one, or maybe it will come back from editors with hate mail and threats of bodily harm. Hard to know– I’m just the writer.

So this might be one of those stories destined for the “Crimes Against Literature” folder on my writing computer (yes, I actually have a folder there with that exact name). But I mailed it anyway. I’ll leave it to the professional editors to tell me what I wrote and whether it’s any good or not.

On the publication front I received 7 rejections back from professional markets since the end of August and mailed out 12 submissions. That pushed my race score up over 20 for the first time and I feel like I’m just gaining steam here, so it will only be going higher as I write more and get more stuff out in the mail.

I also received my first sale from Kindle’s UK store, on Trinity of the Sands, so I can add another 26p to my treasury of short fiction. So, a shout of thanks across The Great Pond to whoever you are.

I had a pretty productive writing week this week, with almost 6000 words written in the 5 days where I was able to find some time to write. I’ve been trying to concentrate on writing 500 words a day, even if I’m feeling super tired, and that’s been working for me, although on one night I must admit that I fell asleep while getting my kids to bed and got nothing written. But on the days I did write that determination to write just 500 words, which seems so tantalizingly simple, often got me going and steaming well past that mark.

The thing I find I have to guard against is binge writing, where I stay up way too late and try to write thousands of words in one evening. I just end up burning myself out that way and get fewer words written in a week when I do that. Plus, I have to save some energy and brainpower for my professional work.

I’ve been concentrating most of my effort on the short novel, which has now steamed past 21,000 words and is getting close to completion. I have the ending already written and just need to fill in 2-3 scenes to complete the narrative arc, which I imagine will add up to somewhere around 2-4,000 more words. I also need to cycle back and weave in a few details and foreshadowing in the opening and a couple other earlier scenes, so a bit of effort yet to go, but I’ll get there soon. I may go just direct to e-publishing this one given its length. and to get some hands-on experience with e-publishing and print-on-demand for longer works.

I also have a professional deadline, a long weekend away, and then the deadline for the next quarter of the Writers of the Future Contest looming, so things will stay very, very busy for me through the end of the month.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Novels, Short Novels & Novellas, Rejections, Short Stories, Story Challenge 2011

Short Story: The Thriller Writer’s Workshop

The Thriller Writer’s Workshop, a 3,450 word tale of mystery and psychological suspense, is now available for the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Smashwords:

The Thriller Writer's Workshop by Alistair Ainscott

Hotshot faculty member and amateur writer Martin Sanderson attends a Thriller Writer’s Workshop at the ragged edge of the world on the Oregon Coast and finds that he’s in way, way over his head. But Sanderson has a thriller of his own to write and intends to show these so-called professionals just why he belongs right there in that chair with the rest of them.

“The Thriller Writer’s Workshop” Copyright © 2011 Alistair Ainscott, Published by Rapid-Dynamix Publishing

Cover illustration © Rolffimages |

The Writing of The Thriller Writer’s Workshop

After I corresponded with Dean Wesley Smith about the 2011 Short Story Workshop and he invited me to participate, I was struck by a sudden irrational fear that it would be a total disaster and that I would completely embarass myself. Now you have to understand that many of the students attending these workshops are early-career professional writers who are well ahead of me in terms of publication credits and accomplishments in the world of fiction.

So, I bottled up those fears and tried to imagine the worst possible way it could turn out for a fictional character that I put in a similar situation. And this story was the result.

Now of course, the actual workshop was nothing like what’s portrayed here and both Kris and Dean were most gracious hosts, although Dean did get a little gruff when too many fake details snuck into the settings for one of our class excercises now that I think about it…

Thanks and I hope you enjoy the story.

The Thriller Writer's Workshop by Alistair Ainscott The Thriller Writer’s Workshop: How far will a man go to prove he belongs?

A mystery story by Alistair Ainscott.

The Thriller Writer’s Workshop available now on Amazon Kindle Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Smashwords.

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Filed under Dean Wesley Smith, E-Pub, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, mystery, Short Stories, Stories Available, Workshops