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The Deadline Game

The Deadline Game

There are a lot of different feelings that pop up when you hear the word DEADLINE. Sometimes they are productive feelings, like the little hamster in your think wheel on crack because he’s so excited to get things done! But more often than not, there is a sense of urgency or dread that can sometimes be crippling.

Ive experienced both scenarios in varying forms over the years. I get a lot more dread when I have deadlines piled on top of each other. Some I’ve set for myself, and some are from outside sources. Either way, when I miss a deadline, I might as well miss my kid’s solo at the school play – it hurts that much.

Over the past year I had a metric crap ton of deadlines pile on top of me. I got to a point where I was almost nonfunctioning because these deadlines (90% of them writing related) were too much to handle.

But I didn’t want to quit- I mean, I did want to quit and live on an island with no wifi, but I want to do that all the time anyway- so I gave myself a morning to figure it out. Here’s the list I made for myself:

1. Prioritize: by due date, and by importance. (I’m not going to give you cute examples because I’m guessing you have a brain in your head.)

2. Organize your time. Plan specific times and days to work on things and give yourself some wiggle room.

3. Evaluate. If the prioritization and organization leave you feeling like you’ll have to give up sleep, food, and reading (good writers never stop reading) then it’s time to say NO to some projects and ask for extensions on others. There’s no shame in saying, “I am a very organized person who values my sanity and if you want a good product from me then I need more time,” even if you’re lying about the organization part and you’re saying it to yourself in a mirror.

4. Plan rewards. For each deadline, have a corolating reward. (Again, no examples. You know what you like, and if you don’t, you need more help than you can find on a blog).

That’s it folks. My four step plan to fame, fortune, happiness and significant weight gain- I reward with chocolate and expensive restaurants that use real butter. Maybe you have a better plan? Would love to hear it. Especially if it involves weight loss.

xoxox

Clockwork Gnome

Strange Charms: Resistance

Strange Charms: Resistance

There is a lot of talk about resistance on the interwebs right now. And just because I love words, I looked it up.

re·sist·ance
rəˈzistəns/
noun
1.
the refusal to accept or comply with something; the attempt to prevent something by action or argument.
“she put up no resistance to being led away”
synonyms: opposition to, hostility to, refusal to accept
“resistance to change”
2.
the ability not to be affected by something, especially adversely.
“some of us have a lower resistance to cold than others”

At QFT, we resist all the time. We refuse to accept life as we know it. We face challenges in our personal lives and careers. We stare hardship in the eye and sometimes it gets the better of us. But then we get up and we create better worlds, worlds with dragons that turn into teardrops, and ghosts of mushrooms past, rocks who take human form, trees who hold secrets and heroes and heroines of unlikely vampires and golems.

We also make sure that even when we are affected by the world around us, we don’t let it stop us. We find our safe places and create beautiful things, whether it be poetry, art, or story form. We protect our creativity from those forces that would stop us and we continue to create.

At QFT, we commend you for continuing to create as well– to draw, to write and to dream. No matter your politics, country, race, religion, creed, or preference for Marvel or DC, there are Gnomies at your back, cheering you on as you make this world a better place.

Because, ultimately, that’s our job as creators– to give the world our heart and soul and dreams. Without those, it’s just dirt and rocks and leaves.

Carry on, Gnomies. Carry on.

H(A)UNTED

H(A)UNTED

For the past month or so, my husband and I (Schrodinger’s Cat) helped a friend out on a movie project. Every year for Halloween, our friend films a spooky Halloween short and then projects it outside on the big screen for trick-or-treaters to see. This year, Schrodinger’s Cat and I to starred in the Halloween horror film.

Since this film definitely falls under the category of speculative fiction AND we love showcasing the talents of young people here on Quantum Fairy Tales (this movie was filmed and directed by a very talented senior in high school), I thought I’d share this creepy Halloween short with all of you.

Hope you enjoy watching H(A)UNTED!

 

Thursday Prompt: Making Lists

Thursday Prompt: Making Lists

In Tuesday’s Post I talked about the movie: Ten Things I hate about You and how it relates to Evie and Gideon, the main characters in my YA Fantasy, Heir of Thunder. In that same post, I had Evie write her own poem, listing ten things she hates about Gideon.

lists

Lists are fun. They’re useful. They help keep us organized, help us remember things we might otherwise forget. They help us prioritize. Plenty of great stories have been based on lists:

  • My Name is Earl: After Earl wins the lottery, he makes a list of all the people he’s hurt in the past and then spends his winnings trying to right those wrongs.
  • The Bucket List: Two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die.
  • A Partial List of Lists I have Lost over Time is a great flash piece by Sunil Patel in Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine (March 2016). Entirely via lists, the narrator tells a story about fighting his duplicate from another dimension.
  • 57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides is a dark short story by Sam J Miller that appears in Nightmare Magazine (http://www.nightmare-magazine.com/fiction/57-reasons-for-the-slate-quarry-suicides/) also told entirely as a list.

These are just a few examples to help you get started thinking about lists as a vehicle for writing a story. Whether the story is about lists or is told in a list format, go out and write your own list inspired story. And then, maybe, you’ll list it or put a link to it in the comments.

Happy writing!

 

Author Interview: Jenny Martin

Author Interview: Jenny Martin

qft-Tracked.CoverThe Fast and the Furious gets a sci-fi twist in this action-packed debut!

On corporately controlled Castra, rally racing is a high stakes game that seventeen-year-old Phoebe Van Zant knows all too well. Phee’s legendary racer father disappeared mysteriously, but that hasn’t stopped her from speeding headlong into trouble. When she and her best friend, Bear, attract the attention of Charles Benroyal, they are blackmailed into racing for Benroyal Corp, a company that represents everything Phee detests. Worse, Phee risks losing Bear as she falls for Cash, her daring new teammate. But when she discovers that Benroyal is controlling more than a corporation, Phee realizes she has a much bigger role in Castra’s future than she could ever have imagined. It’s up to Phee to take Benroyal down. But even with the help of her team, can a street-rat destroy an empire?

 TRACKED (05/05/15, available hardcover/ebook/audiobook)


qft-Marked.CoverMad Max meets Firefly in the exhilarating sequel to the sci-fi novel Tracked!

After an escape gone wrong, Phee barely made it out of Castra alive. But Cash, the leader of the rebellion, is still missing–and Charles Benroyal is to blame. Caught between grief and blinding thoughts of revenge, Phee fights for the resistance, gaining new allies and, perhaps, making new enemies, too. Meanwhile, Phee can’t control her growing feelings for Bear, her best friend since childhood, and she’s forced to make a choice–between the boy who has always been there for her, and the one who might never return. As Benroyal’s attacks grow bolder, Phee and her team embark on a daring mission to defeat the Sixers and save the planet. But no one is prepared for the sacrifices Phee will have to make to win this war once and for all. With nonstop action and a wholly original science fiction world, Marked will have your heart racing until its breathless conclusion.

MARKED, (05/17/16, available hardback, ebook)


qft-JennyMartinJenny Martin is an author and librarian. Her first novel, Tracked, has been featured on The Mary Sue, Bustle, Bookriot and Hypable. Tracked was named one of Paste Magazine’s and Teen Magazine’s ‘Best Books of 2015’, and its sequel, Marked, released May 17th, 2016, from Dial, an imprint of Penguin-Random House. Jenny is also an experienced speaker, panelist and presenter who’s appeared Texas Teen Book Festival, Texas Library Association and San Diego Comic Con.

She lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with her husband and son, where she hoards books and writes fiction. And yes, she’s still on a quest for the perfect pancake.


Hello again, loves! It’s time for another crazy amazing author interview with the crazy amazing Jenny Martin, author of TRACKED and its sequel, MARKED. I know these things. Read them. Met her. Be jealous. She’s super sweet, smart, and fun, and she gives fantastic advice.

These are a few of her favorite things:

Author: Neil Gaiman

Book: Stardust

Song: Let it Be, The Beatles or The Pretender, Foo Fighters

Show: Poldark or Netflix’s Daredevil

Movie: Empire Strikes Back

Fairy Tale: Sleeping Beauty

Superhero: Superman

Super villain: Winter Soldier

Superpower: Telekinesis

Motivational Quote or Saying:

“The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” – Hemingway

“Feminism isn’t about making women strong. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” —G.D. Anderson

Love those quotes! Tell us a little about yourself and what made you become a writer.

I’ve always been an insatiable reader and writing was the one thing that always ‘fit.’ As a teen, I wrote essays and short stories (and some very bad poetry), but somehow, by senior year, I’d gotten it into my head that I could never write for a living. Fast forward to adulthood…after finishing my Masters’ Degree in Library Science…I’d read so many great books and had written so many essays about them…suddenly, I wanted to write those kinds of novels myself. So I started writing again and never looked back.

How did you get the idea for Tracked?

In one way, the idea for Tracked had been sleeping in my subconscious for years. I’m a huge Star Wars fan, and I love science fiction (especially space opera) so much. But the immediate inspirations for Tracked came after watching Death Race 2000 with Jason Statham and Hot Coffee, a documentary about corporations and the slow erosion of civil rights.

Once I had the basic idea, my main character—Phee—was born. Writing her was good for my spirit. Writing Tracked helped me conquer my own fears and finishing the sequel helped me reclaim my confidence.

How did you come up with the title and character names?

The title has a double meaning, but only some readers notice the connection. As for the character names, I come up with them after sketching them out in my head and trying out different names. The right names just…fit.

Tell us about Phee and what makes her unique.

It’s funny…Phee popped into my head almost fully formed. From the get go, on the page, she was impatient and reckless and headstrong. And above all, fearless—a Han Solo girl with a smart mouth and a stubborn, loyal heart. Basically, she was everything I’m not! And I think that’s no accident. Phee came to me during a really tough time in my journey. Writing her was almost therapeutic. She was so good for my spirit, and she helped me face a lot of my own hangups and move past them. As for what makes her unique, I don’t know for sure, but I love that she’s flawed, but capable.

Who was the easiest character to write? The most difficult?

Phee was easiest, and I think it’s because she’s just so larger than life. She’s outrageous, and that’s fun to write. Bear was the hardest. Readers tend to love him or hate him, and I think it’s because it’s hard to convey the “still waters run deep” core of his personality. He’s a quieter kind of hero.

Who do you see playing Phee on the silver screen? Bear? Cash? How about Charles Benroyal?

I’d love to see Ivana Baquero play Phee. I loved her as Eretria in the TV version of The Shannara Chronicles. I’m not sure who I’d cast as Bear, but I think Manish Dayal would make a wonderful Cashoman Dradha. And wouldn’t Guy Pearce (ala Peter Weyland from Promoetheus) or Matthew Goode make a great Benroyal?

Umm, yes, please! Also, I just like to look at them. What is your favorite quote from Tracked? What about Marked?

Ah, this is a great question.

My favorite quote from Tracked is: “I guess that’s the difference between you and me…I have to believe in impossible things.”

From Marked, it’s the one that makes me cry: “For him, for them, for always.”

From conception of Tracked to finished product, how long did it take to complete, and what was that process like for you? What about Marked?

I drafted Tracked in 2011, but it wasn’t my first book. It was not even the first book my agent submitted to editors. Or the second book. And even then, Tracked didn’t sell right away. It sold in August 2012, and after almost three long years of bumps on the list, it finally released in May 2015. Marked was quicker. I finished it in 2015 and it came out in 2016.

 Can you tell us a bit about your querying and publishing process? Any tips?

For me, getting the agent was the (relatively) easy part. My first novel was just…terrible, and of course, was not picked up. I got an agent while cold querying my second novel, after sending out a couple dozen queries. (My advice? Query your project about sixty to seventy times…if it hasn’t snagged you representation by then, move on to the next project…which you should have already started working on). After signing with my current agent, I wrote two more books, and Tracked finally sold after being on sub for about ten months.

Fantastic advice. What about the challenges (research, literary, psychological, etc.) in bringing them to life?

While it was really fun to learn about the different aspects of racing for Tracked, its sequel required a deeper, more intense kind of study. There’s a lot of darkness in Marked, because Phee is battered and broken by events. Amidst intense grief and loss, she must find her way back to herself, against a backdrop of galactic war. Because of this, I took great care, relying on research and experience, in an attempt to depict the very real, everyday struggle with PTSD and anxiety that’s wounded far too many veterans and survivors. But where there is darkness, there is hope. And I wanted to reflect that reality, too. How we can find ourselves again, with good therapeutic support, and become ‘strong in the broken places.’

What draws you to speculative fiction? Do you write in other genres?

First and foremost, speculative fiction is near and dear to my heart. I spent a lot of my childhood with my nose in science qft-JennyMartinQuotefiction novels. Like many people, I’ve always been interested in stories that ask “what if?” Like them, I love daydreaming about the road ahead, where science, technology and humanity might take us. And there’s something really compelling in the intersection between the ingenuity of the mind and the restlessness of the heart. I can’t help but be fascinated by the prospect of faraway worlds and new frontiers, full of wondrous (and sometimes frightening) possibility. To me, that’s what great speculative fiction is…an answer to that call.

What book/s are you currently reading?

I just finished rereading Sandman, and am reading Saga. I’m also in the middle of Dead Wake by Erik Larson. Which is weird for me…I most often read novels, rather than graphic novels or non-fiction. I guess I’m branching out this year!

What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m working on a sprawling, epic, multi-POV saga that straddles the line between fantasy and science fiction. (Seriously, folks. This is the toughest, most ambitious thing I’ve ever written!) There are queens and programmed consorts, pirates and knight-commanders, assassins and engineered soldiers, and many more…some of them heroes, and most of them pawns. I joke that it’s my feminist Game of Thrones.

And now I kind of hate that I asked that because I want it now! Do you work on multiple awesomes at once or focus on one project at a time?

Usually one project at a time, unless I get stuck. If I get stuck, I’ll let myself “cheat” by writing on another project.

Tell us about what do you do when you get stuck and what keeps you going through the tough times.

I think there are two kinds of stuck—the lazy kind and the creative kind. For the lazy kind, there’s no easy solution; just stop making excuses and get to work. (Writing is hard. But it’s not that hard. So do it or don’t.) With the creative kind, I’ll talk a break from the project and do something else for a while, or talk out the story problem with someone else.

qft-JennyMartinQuote2What do you think is the hardest thing about writing? The easiest?

For me, the hardest thing is discipline. Contentment is my enemy. When I’m content, it’s easy to get lazy and stop writing. But when I’m discontent or a little uncomfortable? I tend to long for the keyboard. Sometimes, I do my best writing under pressure. The easiest thing? How about typing: THE END.

Valid. What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

  1. The solution to the obstacle is almost always…write another book
  2. Luck, Talent, Persistence…you only need two of out three.

Best piece of advice for life?

  1. Sleep on it before you send that email reply.
  2. This too shall pass.

Thank you so much for your thoughtful responses, fabulous advice, and all around coolness, Jenny, and we can’t wait to get our hands on your feminist Game of Thrones! Reader loves, if the opportunity arises to meet Jenny at a signing or conference, do it! You won’t be disappointed!

FIND JENNY HERE:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

PRAISE FOR JENNY MARTIN:

“Martin’s Tracked reminds me of both the thrill of Star Wars and the energy and grittiness of Firefly … a brilliant old-school SF adventure that will appeal to absolutely everyone. A truly great read I’d race to buy again!”—Rachel Caine, New York Times bestselling author of the Morganville Vampires series

“An exciting blend of dystopia and racing…Hunger Games meets NASCAR.”—Beth Revis, New York Times bestselling author of the Across the Universe series

“Deeply inventive, Tracked is an action-packed sci-fi with heart. Sequel, please!”—Erin Bowman, author of the Taken trilogy

“Adrenaline fueled from first page to finish line.”—Mindy McGinnis, author of Not a Drop to Drink

“Dazzlingly imaginative and whip-smart, Tracked is pure adrenaline rush. Buckle up!”—Antony John, author of the Elemental trilogy and The Five Flavors of Dumb


“If you ever wanted to read a book that’s The Fast and The Furious meets Firefly with a hint of romance, then Tracked is the book for you.”—Glitter Magazine

“If you only order one book on this list, make it TRACKED.”—Paste Magazine

“This is a terrifically fun book and readers will look forward to seeing what Martin comes up with in the sequel.”—VOYA

“The intrigue builds into political conspiracies and action—debut author Martin’s strength—and a wild climax that begs for a sequel.”—Kirkus Reviews


“Filled with new technology, political motivations, and action-packed racing scenes, this book will appeal to fans of the Fast and the Furious movies as well as readers of dystopia.”—School Library Journal

“It’s a wholehearted adrenaline rush when it comes to the thrill of the run, making it easy to get drawn into a fast-paced, high-stakes story.”—Publishers Weekly

“Action packed…With a unique concept and intense action, Tracked is a must read.”—Hypable

Heart-pounding.” —Kirkus Reviews

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2016 Write Well Awards

2016 Write Well Awards

Congratulations to our gnomie, Idynne MacInnes, for winning the 2016 Write Well Award for her short story, FUNGUS, featured in our summer issue of 2015. This is a well-deserved award, and we couldn’t be more proud of Idynne for her awesome story. We’re grateful she let us publish it here first.

Idynne MacInnes is a Minneapolis-based writer and illustrator. Look for her work in February’s issue of Literary Mama and We’Moon 2016.

Fungus
Original Illustration by Idynne MacInnes

Good luck to the rest of you gnomies out there. We’ll continue to search for the best and brightest stories to nominate for all the prizes we can find.

Cheers!
Clockwork Gnome

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They Remember

They Remember

Fire sings. If you listen.
It tells a story with flames like brush-tips
dripping wax.

Hear the song reverberating through flesh and bone.
It remembers you.

Shadows trip and tumble upwards,
caught in a rippling dance, unable
to resist the rhythmic susurrations.

Beat by beat, resistance ebbs, then finally forgotten.
But it remembers you.

Tongues lap and ashes lather, between
the blackened birch. Holes like empty staring gazes,
yearn with insatiate eyes.

Contorting faces in the embers whorl.
They remember you.

Beneath the crisp-crackle of dry tinder snapping —
a sawing, heaving, expanding whisper;
a bellows crushing; a breath taken
by lost souls.

They remember you.

La Belle au Bois Dormont

La Belle au Bois Dormont

for Yo

Yvette is incredulous.
But I was there, she thinks. I saw the body.
It was sprawled across the floor, a spinning
wheel toppled beside it. Today, she heard,
was the girl’s 16th birthday. Yvette was stone
as her heart broke. You learn, she thinks,
to put these things aside. To deal with them later.

But the whole building is buzzing
as though every atom has been stirred to frenzy:
she lives!

At the scene, Yvette smelled coffee and lanolin
as she fell to one knee. Her shadow lay itself
across the body in the chaos of unexpected
death. Red and blue reached through the window,
playing alternately at the edges of her, battling
for supremacy on the floor in a cyclical dans macabre.
The body’s diamond earring scattered light
in jubilant sparks onto pale skin.

Once laid on the table, the girl yielded blood
for high pressure liquid chromatography,
mass spectrometry, analysis for diacetylmorphine
and a host of other death-inducing
witches brews.

Yvette heard the parents wailing in another room,
aunts and uncles whispering This can’t be real.
This isn’t happening. She thought she heard
someone mention an ancient threat.
Her camera flashed, clicked. A voice,
low and gentle, asked questions she knew
in her bones: Was anyone here
when it happened? Who found her?
Did you see anything unusual?
A page turned a pencil scratched.
The sounds are a gestalt of sorrow.

The dead girl’s last breath left her lips
open behind it. A strand of blond hair
lay across her mouth where it fell,
taping off the entrance like a door.
The coroner pushed the hair aside
with his gloved finger. He sees
only the absence of breath, of life.

The rug buckled where it is pushed
against the wall. A splatter of coffee;
a broken cup; a spindle, wool-wound
and blood-kissed: Yvette photographed
each numbered trace, zoomed
in on the lifeless right hand, the index
finger, a tiny puncture wound,
a tiny bulb of red. She mists
the spinning wheel needle with luminol,
watches as the fluoresces under black light.
Nobody noticed, she thought, as she released
a single word, a prayer, with her breath:
Please.

But somebody did notice,
because the coroner was leaning in,
he says, to measure her vitreous potassium
when she woke, her bright blue
living eyes staring
into his too-close face.