Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS Workshop & Challenge!

Open topics on the Contest itself, to include results-watch threads and other items of note.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed Oct 30, 2019 8:44 pm

einstein36 wrote:Here's another gootchy if for Wulf...I think I might have found another helpful technique that would help us to become better writers, but like Wulf said, it would take away his time and ours from writing....but hey, it's a great brain technique I find that works...we can all play with the grand master Scrabble superstar, Wulf and try to beat him at Scrabble, because man oh man...sitting there looking at only those letters and try to use them to one's advantage to beat Wulf in points....that would be the day Wulf will know we are becoming great writers...
So what do you think??? :)


My wife is the Scrabble expert--she plays daily and is lethal. I play her now and then--usually when I cook a brunch--and I give her a run for her money, but it's a day for celebration when I win.

It's a good memory jog for words. Reading is better. But the KYD exercise? That's where you're going to grow your skills. If you do it the way I outlined.

Thanks for thinking of playing, however. Working with words is always a good thing for writers to do!
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Oct 31, 2019 10:26 pm

Speaking of writing to theme for anthologies, notice the response I got tonight after I submitted to this 6 cents per word anthology with Kevin J. Anderson's WordFire Press. (11:58 pm their time before midnight close, but I custom wrote it today and got it in!)

____________________
Thank you for submitting to MONSTERS, MOVIES, AND MAYHEM. We are eagerly reading all the submissions searching for the ones that best fit the theme. We will get back to you by the beginning of December with our final decisions. We appreciate your patience.

We wish you luck,

The Editorial Team of Western Colorado University Graduate Program in Creative Writing, Publishing MA Students
____________________

See what I've been saying? "[S]earching for the ones that best fit the theme." Really, really important when you're submitting to anthologies. And getting them in on time. : ) This was a Hail Mary--today was my first day I haven't been working on the editing job. Now, I sleep!

All the beast!

Wulf Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Nov Master Class on Winning Contests almost full! https://bit.ly/2ZWkuyu

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby DoctorJest » Thu Oct 31, 2019 11:02 pm

My Aunt used to study books of scrabble words. She was lethal at that game when I was a kid. As an adult, I was still worse with words than some of my family, but would win because I had better game strategy on the board.
WotF: R:0 / HM:7 / sHM:3 / SF:0 / F:0
In for Q4.v37!
Currently taking a breath ahead of Q1.v38...

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Fri Nov 01, 2019 3:43 am

Hi all! Here's your monthly post unburying the super secrets TOC.

All pages are for ascending order in the forum. Links will take you directly to the comments explaining each secret.

Moon's SUPER SECRETS copyright 2019 by Wulf Moon.


Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge, Vol. 36

BOOK ONE
Moon's SUPER SECRETS: How to Write a Winning Story

SUPER SECRET #0: Proper manuscript format for the win! Improper manuscript format for the lose! - p.8
SUPER SECRET #1: Enter EVERY quarter. - p.2
SUPER SECRET #2: DON'T drive to the story! - p.2
SUPER SECRET #3: Set the hook! - p.2
SUPER SECRET #4: Pick a major emotion and make your reader FEEL it down to their core! - p.2
SUPER SECRET #5: A story is a PROMISE. - p.3
SUPER SECRET #6: Hint in your opening the grand vista of your world. - p.3
SUPER SECRET #7: Private message for challenge members only. - p.3
SUPER SECRET #8: Kill "as you know, Bobs" in your story! - p.3
SUPER SECRET #9: Open your story with your protagonist. - p.3
SUPER SECRET #10: Private message for challenge members only. - p.3
SUPER SECRET #11: Triple check that your name is OFF your manuscript!!! - p.3
SUPER SECRET #12: MAGIC UP FRONT! - p.3
SUPER SECRET #13: DON’T OVEREDIT! - p.4
SUPER SECRET #14: Do not overthink your story! - p.4
SUPER SECRET #15: Open your short story with 1. A CHARACTER, 2. in a SETTING, 3. with a PROBLEM. - p.5
SUPER SECRET #16: Read your story out loud. - p.6
SUPER SECRET #17: Know thy judge! - p.7
SUPER SECRET #18: Start your #%$@#%!& hero’s quest! We’re on the clock! - p.7
SUPER SECRET #19: Mock-up your story! - p.8
SUPER SECRET #20: Employ the 7 Point Plot model. - p.9
SUPER SECRET #21: KISS. - p.10
SUPER-DUPER SECRET #1: Take your reader on a *deep* emotional journey. - p.11
SUPER SECRET #22: THINGS GET WORSE! - p.12 and p.14
SUPER SECRET #23: READ! - p.15
SUPER SECRET #24: Study your judge! - p.15
SUPER SECRET #25: For WotF, DON'T write a story in first person narrative! - p.17
SUPER SECRET #26: Find your wise reader! Preferably, someone with more pro sales than you! - p.18
SUPER SECRET #27: Private message for challenge members only. - p.18
SUPER SECRET #28: YOU MUST WRITE. - p.20
SUPER SECRET #29: Help your subconscious to ENGAGE. - p.21
SUPER SECRET #30: Experience life, don't just read about other people's experiences. - p.22
SUPER SECRET #31: Not too long, not too short. Your story needs to be jusssst right. - p.23
SUPER SECRET #32: Deploy your MAGIC SWORD. - p.30
SUPER SECRET #33: KILL YOUR DARLINGS: The Economy of Words Flash Exercise - p.33 for summary and tip; p.22-28 for exercise and critiques
SUPER SECRET #34: A Climax Goes Big Badda Boom - p.34
SUPER SECRET #35: "Who was that masked man?" - p.36


BOOK TWO--Moon's SUPER SECRETS

RELEASE THE KRAKEN: How to Get Your Stories Successfully Published
Copyright 2019 by Wulf Moon

SUPER SECRET #36: RELEASE THE KRAKEN! - p.47
SUPER SECRET #37: Aim Your Baby Kraken at a Ship it Can Take Down! - p.51
Last edited by SwiftPotato on Sat Nov 02, 2019 8:22 pm, edited 5 times in total.
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

Stories in Apocalyptic and Cossmass Infinities

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Nov 01, 2019 9:03 am

Thanks for keeping us organized, SwiftPotato! We appreciate all your hard work in behalf of the challenge beasties!

If you would be so kind, please adjust Book Two to read as follows:

______________________

BOOK TWO--Moon's SUPER SECRETS

RELEASE THE KRAKEN: How to Get Your Stories Successfully Published
Copyright 2019 by Wulf Moon

___________________________

I adjusted the title. RELEASE THE KRAKEN has so much more kick! Copyright notice is because this is a public forum.

Okay, I just finished up with some hard deadlines. Have to go out of town today, but SUPER SECRET #37 is halfway done and is COMING SOON! Be sure to do your homework for it. Read "Never Let Go" from HOW I GOT PUBLISHED AND WHAT I LEARNED ALONG THE WAY. It's not only the foundation of the next SUPER SECRET, it's the premise behind this entire year's challenge. Stay tuned!

Same bat time. Same bat channel. Same batty writer!

All the beast,

Beastmaster Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Nov Master Class on Winning Contests almost full! https://bit.ly/2ZWkuyu

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Nov 01, 2019 9:30 am

NEW ASSIGNMENT: READ SUPER SECRET #26. Again, please, if you read it before.

Rhetorical questions:

1. Have you found your wise reader, preferably someone with pro sales, or at least a writer with more experience than you?

2. Admittedly, finding a pro to read your work is hard to find. How about someone at your level that is striving, just like you, to do their best to level up?

3. Writing partners are good things--they keep you accountable, and they are positive people that are always there for you, helping you achieve your publishing goals, because you are doing the same for them. Do you have a writing partner?

4. Writing partners are writers you get along with, and you love reading what they write, they love reading what you write. It's the only way it works effectively. They aren't softies, they tell it like it is and expect you to do the same for them. What might be another reason that Moon had a list compiled of all the challenge beasties, linked to their intros (which are really bios)? Why might analyzing their writing samples help you find a compatible writing partner with the same goals as you?

5. Have you looked at their publishing credits? How about those credits in their signatures with this contest? What might this indicate as to the level their writing is currently at?

These are rhetorical questions. You decide what the answer is. :)

Finally, there is no shame if one hasn't placed in WotF yet. We all start somewhere. But I highly recommend having a writing partner, whoever might be best for you. The most important thing is that you're compatible, you get along, and have similar goals. Since you're striving to become a professional writer, they should be striving just as hard as you. Even if you don't have a lot of EXP yet, both of you can learn the rest, and will help one another with anything you learn. You are friends, or will become friends, but you are friends with the same mission.

All the beast!

Beastmaster Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Nov Master Class on Winning Contests almost full! https://bit.ly/2ZWkuyu

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby officer » Fri Nov 01, 2019 9:47 am

Link to bios and writing samples: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7600&p=93108#p93108
HM, R, HM, R, ?

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby RSchibler » Fri Nov 01, 2019 10:12 am

I have some really exciting news to share with the group. I sold a story to Flame Tree Publishing! My story "Whose Waters Never Fail" will be appearing in their anthology "A Dying Planet" in January 2020. (Preorders available now) I can't thank my fellow forumites enough for their help in growing my craft to this point. I never could have done it without this place. I'm living proof that with enough hard work and passion and grit, we can crack this dream!

http://blog.flametreepublishing.com/fan ... 0002493434
V34: R, HM, R
V35: HM, R, R, HM
V36: R, HM, HM, SHM
V37: HM, SF, SHM, P

ALWAYS available for critique. PM me.

Stories in:
A Dying Planet, 2020
Hold Your Fire, 2021
Upon A Once Time, 2021
2020 Writers of the Future Superstars Scholarship

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby disgruntledpeony » Fri Nov 01, 2019 10:25 am

RSchibler wrote:I have some really exciting news to share with the group. I sold a story to Flame Tree Publishing! My story "Whose Waters Never Fail" will be appearing in their anthology "A Dying Planet" in January 2020. (Preorders available now) I can't thank my fellow forumites enough for their help in growing my craft to this point. I never could have done it without this place. I'm living proof that with enough hard work and passion and grit, we can crack this dream!

http://blog.flametreepublishing.com/fan ... 0002493434

Congratulations, Becky. wotf007 wotf010 I knew you could do it!
If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells

R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, ?, ?

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Fri Nov 01, 2019 10:31 am

Wulf Moon wrote:Thanks for keeping us organized, SwiftPotato! We appreciate all your hard work in behalf of the challenge beasties!

If you would be so kind, please adjust Book Two to read as follows:

______________________

BOOK TWO--Moon's SUPER SECRETS

RELEASE THE KRAKEN: How to Get Your Stories Successfully Published
Copyright 2019 by Wulf Moon

___________________________

I adjusted the title. RELEASE THE KRAKEN has so much more kick! Copyright notice is because this is a public forum.

Okay, I just finished up with some hard deadlines. Have to go out of town today, but SUPER SECRET #37 is halfway done and is COMING SOON! Be sure to do your homework for it. Read "Never Let Go" from HOW I GOT PUBLISHED AND WHAT I LEARNED ALONG THE WAY. It's not only the foundation of the next SUPER SECRET, it's the premise behind this entire year's challenge. Stay tuned!

Same bat time. Same bat channel. Same batty writer!

All the beast,

Beastmaster Moon


No problem. Done and done! Assignment list also updated (on page 49).
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

Stories in Apocalyptic and Cossmass Infinities

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby officer » Fri Nov 01, 2019 11:39 am

Way to go, Becky! Congrats! Inspiring us all and leading the pack forward!
HM, R, HM, R, ?

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Retropianoplayer » Fri Nov 01, 2019 11:40 am

Congratulations, Becky, on your recent sale to Flame Tree Publishing regarding their anthologies! The best of luck as your career continues to grow.

Best,

Retro
"Judge your success by the degree that you're enjoying peace, health, and love" - Rule 306
"Never compromise your integrity." LIFE'S LITTLE INSTRUCTION BOOK by H.J. Browne, Jr.

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Retropianoplayer » Fri Nov 01, 2019 1:05 pm

Deep insightful thought – I had never heard of Flame Tree Press until I went on their website. Immediately noticed they accept novels 70,000-120,000 words. Along with CV and three-paragraph synopsis. I was just about to submit my novel to them when . . . . . . .

I HAD AN EPIPHANY.

This cathartic moment told me to STOP, DO NOT SUBMIT, YOU HAVEN'T LOOKED AT YOUR NOVEL IN FIVE YEARS, IF YOUR STORY HASN'T RESONATED, ANALYZE YOUR WRITING.

So I did.

And I discovered my writing style has completely changed, COMPLETELY as in 64-point BOLD font. I don't construct sentences the same. Five years ago, I didn't have the SUPER SECRETS, and I still employed clunky, chunky words.

A chilling realization came across me – BEFORE I submit a single page to Flame Tree, I'm going to need to edit the manuscript. What didn't work in 2014 is not going to work in 2019 and 2020.
"Judge your success by the degree that you're enjoying peace, health, and love" - Rule 306
"Never compromise your integrity." LIFE'S LITTLE INSTRUCTION BOOK by H.J. Browne, Jr.

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby storysinger » Fri Nov 01, 2019 1:42 pm

Congratulations Becky, great job showing how it's done. wotf010
Proof that hard work brings rewards.
HM-V32/Q3
HM-V36/Q4
Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Peter Glen » Fri Nov 01, 2019 6:42 pm

Way to go Becky! Grats !! wotf010

GL Wulf on your submission to Wordfire.

I've got my 1000 down for Undeserved pardon prompt...is a story based on the General Firth KYD exercise. I set out to use the 'telling emotion' technique from Maas's book :) Will give it until tonight to hack those darlings to bits.
HM, R, R, R, R, HM, R, R, SHM, ?

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby JESchleicher » Fri Nov 01, 2019 9:50 pm

Awesome Becky! I'm very happy (and inspired) for you and your success. I bet there'll be much more to come for you and the rest of the pack.

Nice progress, Peter. I've also been reading the Maass book. There's so many great nuggets and exercises that I'm excited to implement.
V36 Q4 - R
V37 Q1 - R
V37 Q2 - R
V37 Q3 - HM
V37 Q4 - ?

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby JESchleicher » Fri Nov 01, 2019 9:54 pm

And Writers of the Future, of course! I assume that goes without saying. :)


Most def! WOTF is my numero uno wotf013
V36 Q4 - R
V37 Q1 - R
V37 Q2 - R
V37 Q3 - HM
V37 Q4 - ?

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby AlexH » Sat Nov 02, 2019 12:03 pm

MY PERSONAL INTRODUCTION

I'm back from a last-minute road trip around Latvia and Lithuania. Travel is one love. I enjoy multiple creative hobbies, but they've taken a backseat to what now feels like the hardest: writing short stories. I've had some success with photography, but now the other hobbies are occasional escapes from writing. Reading other bios, it's great to see other members with multiple creative hobbies. A change helps sometimes. I also enjoy cycling, hiking, film, live music and all sorts of things. My longest hike was this year; 6 days along the Isle of Jura's beautiful and wild coast in Scotland.

I'm a former web developer/designer. Now my job is helping companies improve their websites. I went part-time at work to concentrate on writing, but I've just agreed to mostly full-time weeks until the end of the year.

I'm a member of two local writing groups, including a Poetry Stanza. I haven't sold a story, but I'm getting closer. I've had responses indicating as much from the likes of Fireside, The Reckoning, F&SF and Podcastle. Getting close is harder to take than the quick form rejections. I want that first sale! It's encouraging though, and I always appreciate personal feedback.

I committed to this challenge because I felt I'd be an idiot not to. A contest winner sharing his advice and loads of great forumites to share the journey with? I'm up for anything that will help take my writing to the next level and took the challenges to push me to work even harder. Thanks to Wulf and everyone involved. :)
35: - R R R | 36: R HM R R | 37: HM HM ?

Probably free for critique swaps, but double-check in case I'm away.

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby AlexH » Sat Nov 02, 2019 12:29 pm

1. In view of Officer's comment above, if story determines length, why would you ever write a story to a certain length?

Some markets ask for it. The Kill Your Darlings exercise is also great to find out what's important in a story.

2. With regular practice, what might the Kill Your Darlings exercise teach you to do?

The ability to write what's needed, and only what's needed. Your last-minute WotF winner is a great proof of that.

3. Besides stimulating fresh ideas for stories, what other concept might Moon be teaching with the weekly prompt?

Pro-published authors are asked to submit to prompts, so the weekly prompt will help with that. It's also another way to get us writing regular fresh stories.

4. When open submission calls for anthologies are announced, what is the case with every anthology?

Each has their own submission guidelines.

5. How can this knowledge improve your targeting?

Follow the guidelines and you have much more chance of a sale. Some publications have guest editors for each issue. Check out what those editors look for.

6. Why is it a good idea to sign up for market newsletters and to continue to do market searches, even after you've set up your personal market list?

New markets and calls for anthologies regularly appear. I use Submission Grinder but haven't signed up for the newsletter. Thanks for the push!

RSchibler wrote:I have some really exciting news to share with the group. I sold a story to Flame Tree Publishing! My story "Whose Waters Never Fail" will be appearing in their anthology "A Dying Planet" in January 2020. (Preorders available now) I can't thank my fellow forumites enough for their help in growing my craft to this point. I never could have done it without this place. I'm living proof that with enough hard work and passion and grit, we can crack this dream!

http://blog.flametreepublishing.com/fan ... 0002493434


Thanks for your critique, Becky, and congrats on that sale!

On "Mother's Love", I thought this was a nice story, and I liked how you came full circle. I was confused by the speculative element. "See" is capitalised, but that initially made me think the paragraph starting "Dyah closed..." had switched to Dyah's PoV. Some of your descriptions could be replaced with something unique e.g. "threw up her hands," heart ached" and "cringed." "threw up her hands" could also be taken literally in speculative fiction. I thought you could cut some words e.g. "Then" (events in a story happen in sequence anyway) and "began to" ("Dyah tripped over a rug and cried" instead of "began to cry"). "Dyah took a deep breath" = "Dyah breathed deeply."

The PoV threw me in a couple of other places too e.g. "Dyah's wails continued. She hadn't heard." How does Sahmi know that? Dyah could be ignoring her.
35: - R R R | 36: R HM R R | 37: HM HM ?

Probably free for critique swaps, but double-check in case I'm away.

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Sat Nov 02, 2019 4:05 pm

RSchibler wrote:I have some really exciting news to share with the group. I sold a story to Flame Tree Publishing! My story "Whose Waters Never Fail" will be appearing in their anthology "A Dying Planet" in January 2020. (Preorders available now) I can't thank my fellow forumites enough for their help in growing my craft to this point. I never could have done it without this place. I'm living proof that with enough hard work and passion and grit, we can crack this dream!

http://blog.flametreepublishing.com/fan ... 0002493434


Wonderful news, Becky! Your first pro sale, and to a hardcover anthology at that! This is a great publisher with a fast turnaround from purchase to publish. You won't have long to wait, and it's the greatest feeling holding a REAL BOOK with your story in it. As Dean Wesley Smith once said to me...YOU'RE A PUBLISHED WRITER!

You are also the very first challenge beastie in our RELEASE THE KRAKENS Vol. 37 challenge to sell a story to a respectable market, and to a pro market at that! Well done! You've proven that dedication combined with the application of accurate knowledge produces winning results! I promised at least one of you in this challenge would get their first pro sale, and YOU made my prophecy come true! That deserves a reward. For showing the Wulf Pack how it's done, I hereby award you a signed copy of the double issue anthology TERRA! TARA! TERROR! that featured my award-winning story, "War Dog." You will also receive two collector buttons from Writers of the Future Vol. 35, one featuring the iron robot, the other featuring Super-Duper Moongirl with her dog Moon Dawdler. Well done!

Enjoy the feeling. For a writer, there is no greater feeling than holding a book in hand with your story in it. Well, wait a minute, there is one feeling that's greater. Having a fan hold your book out to you, trembling as they ask you to sign it for them. Enjoy! You worked hard for this!

Let's hear it for Becky! She just ran to the head of the pack and showed us how it's done! And if she can do it, so can we ... we're all of the same blood!

Howl, wolves! We have prey to take down!

All the beast,

Beastmaster Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Nov Master Class on Winning Contests almost full! https://bit.ly/2ZWkuyu

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Sat Nov 02, 2019 6:21 pm

Moon’s SUPER SECRET #37: Aim Your Baby Kraken at a Ship it Can Take Down!
Copyright 2019 by Wulf Moon

So you’ve released all your baby krakens from their chained-up crates, and they’re in your hair! You’ve got to get some of these cephalopods out from underfoot so you can have a little peace! But you’re a good papa, you want your little monsters to become infamous, so you study your charts and and flip through your copy of Nautical Vessels for Dummies. Lo and behold, you find the biggest ship of the line. Here’s a good un’! One-hundred-twenty-eight cannons on three decks with 1,280 sailors to chop your wee kraken’s arms off. It’s a million-to-one shot, but won’t the other kraken parents be green with envy if your boy can take such a mighty ship down!

So you place your baby kraken into the water, point to the tallest ship on the horizon, and shout, “Attack!” He wrings his little white sailor cap in his tentacles, scrunches down, points to a smaller passing cutter with hope and looks again at you with pleading eyes. You give it a cursory glance. What? Six cannons, maybe twelve at best? What kraken parent will care if that’s your baby kraken’s legacy? No, no, no, your firstborn is destined for GREAT THINGS! You stomp your foot, point again to the tallest ship on the horizon and shout, “Get crackin’, you coward!” He winces, nods, dons his snappy little cap, gives one last wistful glance to the cutter he could have had a chance at, and heads out for the behemoth ship. A ship it will take a miracle to break—he’s just a baby kraken and, quite frankly, he’s not even tall enough to flip a tentacle over the bow. But that’s okay, you’ve got more! When he fails, you send another, and another, because other kraken parents had kids that took ships that size, and by Poseidon, your kid will too! Meanwhile, cutter after cutter slips by, loaded with precious goods that could have been yours, but those ships have sailed away...

The tale is the same for many a new writer. Pros with shelves full of trophies from stories in prestigious magazines and anthologies will look out over a group of new writers at a convention and solemnly declare, “You must send out your story to the top SFWA approved market that pays the most, and work your way down their list.” Some might add a caveat, “Until that market would not reflect well on you as a writer,” but I’ve heard many a pro say, “Don’t sell below SFWA approved markets, they are not professional sales, your writing won’t get noticed there.” On the surface, this sounds like wisdom. Who does not want their work noticed? Who does not want to be paid the most they can get for their work? Who wouldn’t like a chance at being nominated for a prestigious award?

But consider the source. These are professional writers talking. They’ve been at this a long time—their krakens aren’t babies, they are powerful mature monsters, lethal, some as big as the ships they are sent out to. Of course they should send those stories to the top magazines and publishers in the field—their stories have a real fighting chance! For the most famous of these authors, just a whisper of their name can take down one of these vessels, they are that powerful. But the baby krakens sent out by new writers? Is it really fair to tell novices they should always start at the hardest magazines to get into? Just because everyone says it, does that make it right?

I’ll be hanged by my toes for this, but I’m going to tell you a secret, and yes, it’s a Super Secret, and one of my most powerful. I believe it’s a disservice to tell new writers their stories can take down the biggest fighting vessels publishers own. A new writer can send stories again and again to these top of the line markets, but it’s highly improbable they will sell.

Woah, I just heard a collective GASP! “How dare you!” someone cries, and that someone is likely a pro that has parroted this so-called wisdom for years. “If you don’t start at the top, you will sell your next Hugo winner to Baby Kraken Quarterly when it could have sold to Illustrious Beasties and you’d now be famous!” Yes, I’ve actually had an editor lecture me with the equivalent of this. In fact, I’ve gotten this lecture for a very long time, from many well-meaning pros. And it is probably the most singular bit of bad writing advice I have ever gotten.

Let me explain. Go ahead, take out paper and pen. Got it? Okay, draw a long line across the page. On the left side (if you’re in Western culture) write ZERO WORDS. On the right side, write ONE MILLION WORDS. Now, make a line at the halfway point. Put 500,000 there. See where I’m going with this? Good. You know the saying, although who first said it is still debated. “Your first million words are practice.” (I've always heard "crap" but let's play nice, it really is practice, and not all of it is bad writing.) But I like Jerry Pournelle’s comments in the recent video Joni Labaqui sent us, and I’ll paraphrase: ‘It’s around 500,000 to a million words. Depends on the skill of the writer.’ Okay, so it’s possible we could write something that a professional magazine or anthology would buy at around 500,000 words. This is not a rule, but there is practical logic to it (ask our Rebeccah how many words she was at when she just made her first pro sale). In order to create something professionals will pay money for, you’ve got to become a professional. That means lots and lots of practice. Hundreds of thousands of words of practice.

Okay, back to our line chart. Divide that line with equal marks and number those spaces one through ten. One represents your first 100,000 words, five represents your half million mark, and ten is the big million. Now, Pournelle was a very smart man, and he was recalling things Heinlein taught him—also a very smart man and an incredible writer. So let’s take their word and say around 500,000 words, you can probably write a story that would sell to a professional publisher. Put a star above that number. Now, go count up word counts on every story and trunked novel you have written. You can average, you don’t have to be exact. Mark where you are at on that line. Are you close to the zero mark? That’s okay, Pournelle and Heinlein were there at one point in their careers too. Are you at the two mark? Two hundred thousand words is a lot of writing. You’re getting warmer. But, according to Pournelle, you still have more than halfway to go before you’re writing in the ballpark of that first pro sale zone. For new writers, that three hundred thousand words you have yet to go? That’s going to take you some years yet to get close to striking range. Don’t get me wrong. You’re a writer. You’re probably a good writer. But this graph demonstrates you most likely still haven’t gotten enough practice in to viably compete against other pro writers. And if you don’t think that’s what you’re doing when you send stories in to pro magazines, then you shouldn’t be in this business. Do yourself a favor. Write for the love of creating with words and don’t put yourself through this process.

Oh. You’re still here. Well good, I knew you took this challenge for a reason. So where did you come out? How far away is 500,000 words from where you are at now? If you’re a new writer, an aspiring writer, chances are you still have some distance to travel. THERE IS NO SHAME IN THAT. Hey, every pro writer you have on your bookshelf had to travel to that distance and beyond. Ray Bradbury and Stephen King and Frank Herbert and Brandon Sanderson were once exactly at the point you are at now. Didn’t stop them. Shouldn’t stop you.

Now to make my point. What are the odds the story a new writer creates at a low point on that scale is going to sell that story to one of the most prestigious publishers in our industry? Wouldn’t it make sense that the closer we are to the 500,000 or even the one million mark, the better the odds? The further away, the worse the odds? And yet, virtually every pro will tell new writers, “Start at the top SFWA market!” It’s like sending out immature baby krakens to take down battleships. They just aren’t strong enough to do it yet.

Meanwhile, if you are low on that scale, you could have used that same time to send your stories out to markets that aren’t quite as prestigious, but are fairly clear of those trophy focused pros that are only sending their stories to SFWA approved markets! Doesn’t it make sense that your story would have a better chance at a market just shy of SFWA approved, since the competition isn’t quite so fierce? Whereas, sending it to the best SFWA market is almost a guaranteed rejection? Am I talking rocket science here? I don’t think so. I’m talking about giving your newish writer stories a fighting chance!

Does this mean new writers should never send their stories to the big name ‘zines? No way! You have to keep testing where you are at in your writing. But if that’s the only place you’re willing to send your stories, chances are, it’s going to be many, many years before you will ever see your first professional sale. And because new writers can be so focused on getting into these markets, they can miss the markets they could have easily sold to right in front of their noses. Like our illustration of that smaller clipper ship papa let pass by because he was blinded by the glory of his baby kraken taking down a ship-of-the-line.

“Well, wait just a minute!” you say. “Even at the Writers of the Future workshop, the instructors say you should send to the top markets and work your way down.” True. I won’t deny that. I was there. That is what they say. But who are they talking to? You got it, writers that have put in their time and won the contest because they did their 500,000 words on up. Flip through the bios in the latest book. John Haas, my roommate at WotF? He had fifteen published stories and two novels written by the time he won (small press, so he still qualified). Andrew Dykstal, the Golden Pen winner? He said he had written countless stories, novels, and poems, and had two pro sales under his belt when he won. And you know where I was at--I had easily put in my million words before I won. So, at the workshop, who are the instructors talking to? That’s right, a group of writers that have proven they can write pro stories, they won the contest! Of course you would tell such writers to start at the top with every story they write. They are about to become professional writers, or, like Andrew, like myself, became pro writers with that sale to WotF. They have a real chance now at getting into those pro venues--especially with the added credit of winning a major international contest.

But if we’re not in that range yet on our bar graph, it stands to reason it’s going to be harder for us. And if we’re only sending to SFWA approved markets, it’s a good chance we’re going to stack up hundreds of rejections before we make our first sale. Writing for years and years with nothing to show for it but some nice “try us again” letters can be psychologically damaging. People don’t like to admit it, but it’s true. You find ways to deal with a whole lot of negative energy in order to keep writing. And if you don’t, you quit, or take a break, and come back rusty and have to build your skills up all over again. Writing to be published professionally is a tough row to hoe.

So why not make it easier on yourself? Why not collect up some proof you can sell a story while you’re doing your apprenticeship while trying to reach that half million words or more? What is better? Having nothing to show for your work for years, with the hope of one day seeing yourself on the cover of the Rolling Stone, so to speak, or playing some local gigs where the owner of the establishment pays you real money and the local fans cheer and dance to your songs? Don’t you have local bands you love to listen to? They aren’t signing million-dollar record deals yet, but a lot of them are decent musicians, and they’ve found a way to be paid for doing what they love.

You can, too.

Look at it another way. Suppose someone took acting lessons in high school, and their moms and dads cheered at their school play and told them they’re going to be famous. So they head to New York, convinced they’re going to be stars and off they go to the next Broadway audition. They have no credits. All they can list is their school play, but that doesn’t matter. By Thespis, they’re going to be on that Broadway stage! Surprise, they don’t get the part, but by Thespis!, they’ll be on the stage of the next Broadway production! They don’t take any acting lessons, they don’t work any other productions, because it’s Broadway or bust for them!

Meanwhile, another young actor applies to Juilliard. She finds herself a good coach. She tries out for some Broadway spots, but she’s realistic, she knows she’s new, she’s green, she’s going to have a much better shot at an off-Broadway production just around the corner. In fact, she targets these places, and she lands a small role. She keeps studying. She lands a bigger role! She’s worked herself Uptown, just next to the big theater she’d ultimately like to be a part of. And the next time she auditions for that Broadway production, she’s got a resume’. She’s got references. And she’s gotten good.

She gets the role. Because she got some experience in, and she was willing to work her way up.

News Flash! There are many magazines and anthologies that are like off-Broadway productions, just around the block from Big Name Publisher. Many even pay pro rate, they just don’t have the volume of subscribers to meet the SFWA criteria yet. Or maybe they haven’t been in business the minimum one year yet, but they’ve got everything else going for them. And there are many others that are close, but can’t afford to pay eight cents a word. Should a new writer turn their noses up at them? Are these markets beneath a new writer? Depends on how low you go. But many are right up there, right around the block from that famous Broadway theater. Getting a gig with them and landing your story on their stage not only gives you an ego boost, it gets you a credit on your cover letters, it gets your story an audience, and it makes you money.

These aren’t skid row productions. Your stories aren’t busking on some street corner, begging for handouts. They are established markets. They pay real money. You can actually see your words in print and get paid while you’re apprenticing until you land that big role. You also build up your credentials. Editors see you are selling to their friends. They know these names you list in your cover letters. You get lifted out of the slush--called back, so to speak, for a second audition. This is a good place for a new writer to be.

Don’t get me wrong. You keep trying, you keep auditioning on Broadway. But you do not allow yourself to be so focused on the big stage that you miss all the auditions happening all around you. Many of these respectable anthologies and magazines have narrow submission windows, and if your story is tied up working through the SFWA markets first, top on down like everyone says, there’s no way you’ll get that story free in time to send it to one of these lesser known markets and make the deadline. You’ll miss your chance, like that schooner sailing by while your baby kraken is all tied up trying to take the big one down. And it could have been a very nice prize indeed. You could have been holding a magazine or book with your story in it. You could have shown your friends and family you were right.

By thinking outside of the box, by adjusting your marketing strategy just a little, you could end up holding the proof you were not crazy creating all those baby krakens. You could be proud papa saying, "Looky, looky here, folks! My baby kraken just snagged his first ship!"

(ASSIGNMENT coming from the essay “Never Let Go” in HOW I GOT PUBLISHED AND WHAT I LEARNED ALONG THE WAY.)
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby RSchibler » Sat Nov 02, 2019 8:22 pm

For the interested, my word count is at 462,727. It was a little lower when I learned I’d made the sale, and a little lower when I wrote the story that sold. That’s pretty close to 500,000 words. And I did grad school and an 80-page thesis for my Bachelor’s- and anyone who tells you there’s not an element of creative writing in academia should go back to school. I’m glad I kept track - it’s proof of what Heinlein and Pournelle and others have said.

A big part of my first sale, I believe, is that I targeted a market - a nice juicy ship, as it were - that my little minion had a chance of tackling. A themed anthology I happened to have a story for, but I put in the words to make it scary enough they couldn’t fight her off.

The advice Wulf Moon is offering is solid, in my limited experience. We’d be wise to take heed.
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V36: R, HM, HM, SHM
V37: HM, SF, SHM, P

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Peter Glen » Sat Nov 02, 2019 9:29 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:Moon’s SUPER SECRET #37: Aim Your Baby Kraken at a Ship it Can Take Down!
By thinking outside of the box, by adjusting your marketing strategy just a little, you could end up holding the proof you were not crazy creating all those baby krakens. You could be proud papa saying, "Looky, looky here, folks! My baby kraken just snagged his first ship!"


Thanks for the grapeshot dose of reality Wulf, your argument is compelling.

I thought that there's an additional benefit of the weekly KYD exercises: After a year that will be +50000 words to the tally wotf013

Also, will have 52 flash stories. I'm thinking that I'll collect the flash, but not submit them to the flash markets, or at least, not until that firstborn baby short-story Kraken catches a ride.
HM, R, R, R, R, HM, R, R, SHM, ?

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby RSchibler » Sun Nov 03, 2019 6:44 am

Wulf Moon wrote:I promised at least one of you in this challenge would get their first pro sale, and YOU made my prophecy come true! That deserves a reward. For showing the Wulf Pack how it's done, I hereby award you a signed copy of the double issue anthology TERRA! TARA! TERROR! that featured my award-winning story, "War Dog." You will also receive two collector buttons from Writers of the Future Vol. 35, one featuring the iron robot, the other featuring Super-Duper Moongirl with her dog Moon Dawdler. Well done!


How exciting! Thank you! I can't wait to put the buttons on my writing briefcase!
V34: R, HM, R
V35: HM, R, R, HM
V36: R, HM, HM, SHM
V37: HM, SF, SHM, P

ALWAYS available for critique. PM me.

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Hold Your Fire, 2021
Upon A Once Time, 2021
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Sun Nov 03, 2019 1:35 pm

RSchibler wrote:
Wulf Moon wrote:I promised at least one of you in this challenge would get their first pro sale, and YOU made my prophecy come true! That deserves a reward. For showing the Wulf Pack how it's done, I hereby award you a signed copy of the double issue anthology TERRA! TARA! TERROR! that featured my award-winning story, "War Dog." You will also receive two collector buttons from Writers of the Future Vol. 35, one featuring the iron robot, the other featuring Super-Duper Moongirl with her dog Moon Dawdler. Well done!


How exciting! Thank you! I can't wait to put the buttons on my writing briefcase!


You're welcome! Proud to have you running in our Wulf Pack!
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby zeeteebeez » Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:17 pm

Congrats Becky! May we all taste the sweet victory you are enjoying right now.

You’ve done the work and are reaping the rewards.

For someone who uses google docs mostly, is there an easy way to see your total word count without having to add the lengths of each individual piece together?
Z.T.

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby RSchibler » Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:26 pm

zeeteebeez wrote:For someone who uses google docs mostly, is there an easy way to see your total word count without having to add the lengths of each individual piece together?


I don't think so. I've been keeping track since the beginning, so It wasn't the kind of Herculean effort it would take for someone to start with a bunch of stories and have to add them together.
V34: R, HM, R
V35: HM, R, R, HM
V36: R, HM, HM, SHM
V37: HM, SF, SHM, P

ALWAYS available for critique. PM me.

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:48 pm

ASSIGNMENT to go with Moon's SUPER SECRET #37

After reading "Never Let Go" in our workbook HOW I GOT PUBLISHED AND WHAT I LEARNED ALONG THE WAY, please answer the following:

1. Why are amateur writing contests an excellent way to break into publishing?

2. What benefits come from entering the Writers of the Future contest even if you do not win? (And we hope you do!)

3. What might consistently getting honorable mentions in Writers of the Future indicate about our writing? When we start getting the higher honors, what does that indicate?

4. Before George Mallory successfully climbed Mt. Everest, what did he do?

5. How do we scale new peaks with every story we write? If we keep training, what happens over time?

6. If you haven't watched this video from Joni Labaqi already, please do so. https://www.writersofthefuture.com/jerr ... i=77104938

7. What's the concept behind the saying: "The first million words are practice?"

8. It's quite possible Jerry Pournelle coined this saying, and he said it alot (although some swear it was Heinlein, others Bradbury, and so on). In the video, did he say we have to write one million words before we'll sell a story to a professional market? What range did he list as a general rule where our stories might start hitting the professional mark? (His definition of professional being someone with the ability to publish that will pay us for our story.)

9. While every writer's innate skills and learning levels vary, what's the takeaway from Mr. Pournelle?

10. Suppose a novice actor decides they're only going to audition for Broadway productions, nothing else. What is likely to happen?

11. Why might it be a good idea for that novice actor to audition at Off-Broadway productions as well?

12. Thinking of this illustration, if a new writer only sends their stories to the top SFWA approved markets and stops at the last SFWA approved market, what will they miss out on?

13. How will targeting these semipro markets and writing to their specified themes improve your chances of a sale? What will be the case with the competition in these markets?

14. Once you get your foot in the door with a publisher, what often happens?

15. Are there any other advantages to selling a story to mid-level respectable markets, what I call Off-Broadway productions?

16. Are there any drawbacks?

17. Do the benefits outweigh the risk?

18. If we're being realistic, if we're well below the 500,000 words mark in our writing, are we really risking much?

19. Psychologically, how might getting a decent sale and seeing our story in print--even thought it's not technically a pro market--help us stay in this marathon for the long haul?

20. List one of Moon's "Lessons Learned" stated in the essay that could help you in your goal to become a professional writer.
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby Wulf Moon » Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:51 pm

Sorry this set of questions is long, but this is the premise behind our entire challenge this year. I'll go easier on you next time! Pinky promise!

Next secret: pro cover letters, so you can dress your little krakens for success!
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Nov Master Class on Winning Contests almost full! https://bit.ly/2ZWkuyu

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Postby SwiftPotato » Mon Nov 04, 2019 4:31 am

Hey all, time for another Monday prompt! This week's prompt: INSATIABLE GREED.
R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!

Stories in Apocalyptic and Cossmass Infinities


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