Fantasy Scroll a blog for writers

Fantasy Scroll Magazine Issue #2

Issue #2 is out and it’s a great one! We’ve got 14 stories, 3 interviews, one artist spotlight, a book review, and a movie review. See the table of contents below. Please share:

Fantasy Scroll Magazine Issue #2

If you enjoy this issue, please consider buying it. It’s only $2.99. There are subscriptions available as well.

Thank you!

About Fantasy Scroll Magazine: Fantasy Scroll Magazine is an online, quarterly publication featuring science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal short-fiction. The magazine’s mission is to publish high-quality, entertaining, and thought-provoking speculative fiction. With a mixture of short stories, flash fiction, and micro-fiction, Fantasy Scroll Magazine aims to appeal to a wide audience.

Iulian

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Fiction Writing Tips Blog Carnival Issue #11

Welcome to the Issue #10 of the Fiction Writing Tips Blog Carnival. For those of you not familiar with what a Blog Carnival is, here is a short description: a collection of links pointing to blog posts around a specific topic. As you may have guessed it, this blog carnival will be centered around the subject of fiction writing, with a special interest for fantasy and science fiction.

Previous issues: #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9 #10

Enjoy!

 

Fantasy Fiction General Writing

fiction writing tipsShanah Haislip presents 5 Things Rocky Taught Me About Writing Knockout Main Characters posted at Positive Writer, saying, “The Rocky movies achieved lasting popularity as a result of the hugely effective group of main characters. Here are five tips about characterization I learned while watching.”


fiction writing tipsEM Castellan presents Writing a large cast of characters – with Black Sails posted at EM Castellan, saying, “Fantasy and Historical novels have something in common: they often have a large ensemble cast of at least a dozen main characters, with up to hundreds of secondary characters. Writing a large cast of characters presents some specific challenges: how can the writer make sure each character is distinct from the others and fully realized?”


fiction writing tipsAva Jae presents How to Write a Great Antagonist posted at Writability, saying, “So while working on my last couple manuscripts, I’ve been thinking a lot about antagonists. Specifically, on antagonists that I really actually love.”


fiction writing tipsLisa Alber presents The Art of Creating Memorable Villains Whatever Your Genre posted at Writer Unboxed, saying, “I write crime fiction, so I’m fascinated by villains in all their diversity. However, I notice that when we talk about ‘villains,’ we tend to think only in terms of genre fiction such as mystery, suspense, and thriller.”


Fantasy Fiction General Writing

fiction writing tipsStephanie Morrill presents Editing in Layers: Drawing out Emotion and Tension posted at Go Teen Writers, saying, “One of the reasons editing in layers is such a valuable practice is that it forces your brain to focus on a particular element of each scene. If you read your scene looking just for adverbs, for example, you’ll have a much easier time spotting them than if you’re looking for adverbs, sensory details, and the level of tension.”


fiction writing tipsCate Baum presents Ten things to do to win a writing contest posted at Self-Publishing Review, saying, “With so many entries to judge, what is it about your book that will win you a prize? Cate Baum, co-founder of the SPR Awards spills the beans on the best tips to get that award.”


Fantasy Fiction General Writing

fiction writing tipsJanice Hardy presents A Quick Tip for Adding Conflict and Tension to Your Scenes posted at Janice Hardy’s Fiction University, saying, “Agent Donald Maas once said, “You can never have too much conflict.” He’s not alone in this thinking, and “not enough conflict” is a common reason manuscripts get rejected. Even novels with strong plots and solid core conflicts can earn a, “sorry, not for me,” because the conflict comes in dribs and drabs and there’s no tension on every page or in every scene.”


fiction writing tipsMelissa Donovan presents Mysterious and Thrilling Fiction Writing Prompts posted at Writing Forward, saying, “Sometimes it’s hard to start a new writing project. Maybe you’re overwhelmed by too many ideas and can’t decide which one to tackle. Or maybe you’re searching for the right idea, something to spark your imagination and inspire your next story.”


fiction writing tipsEmily Wenstrom presents 3 Times You Should STOP Writing posted at The Write Practice, saying, “Write every day. Set a word count and don’t get up until you reach it. Butt in chair, hands on keyboard. Writers get a lot of advice about the importance of pushing ourselves to get the words on the page. It’s a principle I try to live by, and I know I’m not alone. But there are times when the best thing you can do for your writing is to… stop writing.”


fiction writing tipsJody Hedlund presents The Importance of Throwing Our Readers for a Loop posted at Jody Hedlund, saying, “I think I’m one of those people built with an internal ‘surprise radar.’ I can sense a surprise coming, spot the clues, and figure out what’s going on without my family realizing I’ve discovered the ‘big surprise.'”


Fiction Writing Tips Blog CarnivalThis concludes this edition of the Fiction Writing Tips Blog Carnival. I want to thank all the contributors and invite them to submit more in the future.

If you enjoyed these articles, please leave some comments on the authors’ blogs and on this blog.

Submit your blog article to the next edition of Fiction Writing Tips Blog Carnival, to be published on January 31, 2014 using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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ROUNDTABLE: New Short Fiction Markets

I have recently participated in a roundtable on new short fiction markets organized by “Nerds of a feather, flock together.”

Besides myself, speaking on behalf of Fantasy Scroll Magazine, the roundtable pariticipants included: R. Leigh Henning of Bastion Magazine, and Ana Grilo and Thea James of Book Smugglers Publishing.

We discussed various issues faced by new short fiction markets and how our magazines are trying to deal with those issues in this very active and fast-changing publishing world.

To read the entire discussion please follow: Roundtable: New Short Fiction Markets.

I’d love to hear your comments about this discussion.

Post image credit: Only in my dream, by sunjaya.

Thank you,

Iulian

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Organize Your Weekly Writing Schedule

The more I write, the more I appreciate the value of being well organized. In this post I will try to give you a summary of my own organization process and explain why I believe it is extremely helpful.

If you are like Danielle Steel and can sit and write for 20 hours without stopping, this article is probably not for you. But if you are like me: easily distracted, quick to procrastinate, yet eager to do a million things at the same time, you will probably benefit from this method of organizing your writing.

I have developed this after a few years of trial and error and it has worked for me. I feel like I am able to accomplish a lot more in a shorter time than when I used to leave everything happen haphazard.

Tasks, tasks, tasks

If I ask you right now what do you do for your writing in general, you will probably answer with a list that includes one or more of the following items:

  • Write new short fiction
  • Edit short fiction
  • Submit short fiction
  • Write new long fiction
  • Edit long fiction
  • Brainstorm for new ideas
  • Promote works
  • Network

This is just a sample list, there are a lot of other tasks that you probably do on a weekly basis. That’s a lot of stuff to do, and the problem is you have to do them all. Every now and then you will have a certain focus, such as working exclusively on a novel, but probably most of the time you will do a little bit of each, as shown above.

Take a paper or open a new document right now and write down every single independent task that you do for your writing. You might even include things such as: read a new story by a favorite writer, read a specific chapter in a book on writing, or attend a webinar about writing. Just be honest and make sure you make a complete list.

It’s long isn’t it? Now that you are looking at it, I want to ask you: do you feel like you accomplish all of those things? If the answer is no, then keep reading.

Now you must think about the average time you spend for each task, enough so that you feel you have been effective at it and didn’t get burnt out.

For instance, for me, I can write for an hour continuously, and then I have to take a break. Most of the time I don’t even have the luxury to write for more than one hour. So, step number one is to establish blocks of time allocated to each of the tasks above.

Before you move on, let me just briefly mention the Pomodoro method that has worked for me. It postulates that working in short bursts, separated by shorter breaks, promotes productivity. So, based on this method working continuously for 25 minutes, taking a 5 minute break, then work for another 25 minutes, taking another 5 minute break, you will be more productive than working for 60 minutes without stopping. You can read more about the Pomodoro Technique here. This might not work for you, but it has worked for me. There are several apps for various platforms that help you work with this method.

Okay, now with that out of the way, let’s look at an example:

Write new short fiction 1 hour
Edit short fiction 2 hours
Submit short fiction 1 hour
Write new long fiction 1.5 hour
Edit long fiction 2 hours
Brainstorm for new ideas 0.5 hour
Promote Works 1 hour
Network 1 hour

 

Now that you have this setup, convert your weekly word counts back into hours. (if you want to read more about quotas and how to make them, read my article on how to complete your NaNoWriMo novel in 30 days). For example, let’s say you write 1000 words in one hour and your weekly quota is 7000 words. This means that you need about 7 hours of writing during the week to get there. That’s either one hour a day, or two hours in a few days, or any combination of that.

Use Excel and create yourself a seven day plan that includes all of the above, sprinkled throughout the days. Here’s an example:

M T W T F S S Totals
Write new short fiction         1.00           1.00           1.00           2.00           5.00
Edit short fiction           1.00           1.00           1.00           3.00
Submit short fiction           1.00           1.00
Write new long fiction           1.00           1.00           2.00           4.00
Edit long fiction         1.00           1.00           1.00           3.00
Brainstorm for new ideas           1.00           1.00
Promote works           0.50           0.50           1.00
Network           0.50           1.00           1.50
Totals         2.00           2.50           3.00           2.50           2.00           3.50           4.00         19.50

In this example, you spend 2-3 hours per day and a little bit more on the weekend. In total you spend almost 20 hours a week between all these tasks. It sounds like a lot, but as you can see, not only the hours are spread through the week, they are also spread throughout the day. By doing things in small quantities, you get to accomplish a lot, without getting burnt-out.

The Sunday Plan

date_time_preferencesOn Sunday evening you should plan your week according to the schedule above. This is extremely important, especially if you have multiple novels and short stories in the works. When Monday comes and you look in your schedule and see that you must do one hour of writing or one hour of editing, the question then becomes: what will you write and/or what will you edit?

You do not want to leave that decision to the moment when you must start doing it for two reasons: first of all, deciding what to do takes time. Why waste 10 precious minutes going through your notes to decide what to write? Second of all, deciding what to do is like looking at a white paper. You are leaving it to the way you feel in that moment and that’s not good. Decide ahead of time and take the guess-work out of it.

That’s where the Sunday plan comes into play (btw, I call it Sunday but it can be any day of the week, as long as you plan for the entire week). Fill-in the blanks with actual things to do:

M T W T F S S
Write new short fiction  start “My cool story”  start “My other cool story”  Finish “My Cool Story”  Finish “My other cool story”
Edit short fiction  Edit “some old story”  Edit “My Cool Story”  Edit “some other old story”
Submit short fiction  Submit 4 finished stories
Write new long fiction  Write “Chapter 3”, Novel 1  Write “Chapter 4”, Novel 1  Write “Chapter 5”, Novel 1
Edit long fiction  Edit “Chapter 7” Novel 2  Edit “Chapter 8” Novel 2  Edit “Chapter 9”, Novel 2
Brainstorm for new ideas  Come up with 5 new short story ideas
Promote works           0.50           0.50
Network           0.50           1.00

See how your week is now becoming organized and how things are much more clear?

How to track it?

timerIn this day and age, nobody wants to keep things on paper or even in an Excel anymore. You need tools to help you organize your time. Lately, my favorite tool for this is Remember The Milk, but you can use any calendar type of tool. I like Remember the Milk for personal reasons, but any system that lets you calendar things and have them recur will work.

What you do is first enter your main schedule and make each task recur weekly. So, for example, setup your “Write new short fiction” task for the following Monday and then make it recur every Monday. Once you enter everything in your main schedule, you are half way there. Your basic organizer skeleton is now in place.

During your Sunday Planing you will make the tasks in that week more specific. So “write new short fiction” becomes “write My New Cool Story.”

At this point what you’ve accomplished is this: you’ve taken all the things that you know you must do in a week to advance your writing and you put them on a recurring schedule. By making the schedule recurring you are essentially setting it on auto-pilot. The only thing you must do is once a week make that week’s schedule more specific by tagging the actual things you are going to be working on.

The overall goal here is to limit the time in which you think what to do and when to do it. Your time should be spend doing it rather than thinking about doing it.

Note that in my example above I don’t talk about scheduling during the day. That’s because my days are usually hectic and I don’t know ahead of time when I will have time. All I do is make sure that by the end of the day I complete the tasks that are due on that day. In your case, if you know you always have 2 hours in the morning, and one in the evening, you can set your tasks with hours as well. That will make it even more specific. If you have trouble finding the hours in your day to accomplish your writing tasks, read my other post about finding time to write, or my other post about writing when busy.

Cheating

Most systems have flaws, and this one’s is the fact that you can postpone your tasks indefinitely. I advise you to do that only in real exceptions. For instance, you have a terrible migraine today and there is no way you can write anything. Is there ANY other task from your list that you can accomplish? If there is, complete that one early and postpone the other. If there isn’t then postpone your tasks, but make sure you catch up on your backlog later on.

When I postpone my tasks I sometimes let them double up just to remind me that I have to work hard and recover the time lost. So, if I have a “write new short story” task Monday and Tuesday and I fail to accomplish it on Monday, i’ll postpone it for Tuesday and now I have two of them. That just tells me that I should “write a new short story” but work a little longer than I would normally do, just because the day before I wasn’t able to.

Also, remember that you are the owner of these tasks and you should be free to change them in the spur of the moment. If you wake up Saturday morning with an awesome idea and spend 5 hours writing 6000 words – good for you. Let that be a replacement for your tasks. We are not worried here about the good moments, the moments when your muse is sitting on your shoulder and words just flow out of your fingers. When you have that, just run with it. This method takes care of the other times, when nothing seems to come through your head. In those moments, having an organized schedule will help you advance.

It’s like waking up at 7AM to go to work. You do it because you have to, otherwise you get fired and don’t make any money. Think about your scheduler as your boss. You must do what’s in there or bad things will happen. Punish yourself when you fail, and give yourself a little prize when you succeed. If you train your mind, it will overcome your body and your writing will become faster.

Will this cure the writer’s block? No it won’t. It will still crawl in every now and then, and you have to learn how to deal with it.

I wish you good luck, and I’d love to hear the ways in which you handle your organization? Leave a comment below.

<strong>Before you go, please help spread this article by tweeting it:</strong>[Tweet “Organize Your Weekly Writing Schedule”]

All the best,

Iulian Ionescu

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Blog Facelift

As you can probably see, the Fantasy Scroll blog went through a recent facelift. The old interface looked outdated and didn’t function properly on mobile devices. Also, since our launching of our sister short story fiction market, Fantasy Scroll Magazine, we wanted to update the blog to match the site in look and feel.

The launching of the new magazine, with it’s insane time frames, administrative madness that included a successful Kickstarter Campaign, sucked up all our time, so it may look like the blog was a little bit overlooked. Mea Culpa, indeed.

Now that our first issue is out and our campaign is behind us, we will resume our regular posts, including our Blog Carnivals, and hopefully we’ll be able to get back on track sooner rather than later.

I appreciate your patience!

Sincerely,

Iulian

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Fantasy Scroll Magazine Issue #1 is out

Everyone, enjoy our very first issue, featuring stories from Ken Liu, KJ Kabza, Seth Chambers, Alex Shvartsman, Hank Quense, and many more!


All the best,

Iulian

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Five Days Into Our Kickstarter Campaign

 

I have to admit, this is my very first Kickstarter campaign. I’ve supported a few in the past, and I’ve read a lot of articles about them, but before last week, I’ve never attempted running one.

Today, the Kickstarter campaign for Fantasy Scroll Magazine is in it’s fifth day since launch and I am happy to report that we are about 45% through the minimum goal. That’s a good thing, because most campaigns start strong, then they wither a little in the middle, and return towards the end.

So, the fact that we already have 45% of the funds after the first week is a very good thing.

Now, we need to keep the momentum going and push through the next two weeks of slow-down. Therefore, I urge anyone who can help to stop by the campaign site and donate something. Remember, nothing is too little. Even a dollar goes a long way.

Here’s the widget for our campaign:

One of the best type of support is helping us spread the word. To facilitate this, we have created a Kickstarter Kit that provides you with all the links, text, images, and info you need to help us promote this message. Access the Kickstarter Kit here.

Last, but not least, below you can see the video of our Editor-in-Chief, Iulian Ionescu, talking about the magazine and about the goals of this campaign. If you like it and agree that this is a worthy project (we think it is!) please support us:

Thank you!!

Iulian Ionescu
Editor-in-Chief
Fantasy Scroll Magazine

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Fantasy Scroll Magazine Kickstarter – Fantasy & Science Fiction Short Stories

With Issue #1 less then a month away, Fantasy Scroll Magazine is embarking on a new adventure: Our Kickstarter Campaign! Read below or jump to our Kickstarter Kit to help us promote the campaign right away!

fsm-kickstarter

Why?

Running a magazine doesn’t come without costs. Crowdsourcing has been successful for many ventures in recent years, and it’s a symbol of the modern world, where people have access to platforms and tools that allow them to come together as a group and support the projects that they love. We are committed to this magazine, but with your help we can get there much faster. And the faster we get there, the quicker you can enjoy more stories, more art, and more interviews. You can make a difference!

When?

Our Kickstarter Campaign started on March 23, 2014 and will end on April 23, 2014. We have 30 days to achieve our campaign stretch goals, and you have 30 days to stand with us!

How?

There are many ways you can help:

  • Donate – This is an obvious one, but also the biggest one. Your kind donations will be used to fund the magazine’s start-up. We have prepared a long list of cool rewards for all our backers so make sure to check the campaign site.
  • Share – Any funding campaign is a numbers’ game – the more people get involved the higher the chances of success. Please share this page or scroll down to use our easy Kickstarter Kit that gives you all you need, at the tips of your copy-paste! May it be a blog, Facebook, or Twitter post – they all help!
  • Participate – A Kickstarter campaign becomes a place of networking, even if for a very short time. People who have similar interests flock there and help the projects that match their passions. So, don’t be shy! Post a comment, ask us your questions, and we will respond!

Where?

Our Kickstarter campaign page is here:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/iulianionescu/fantasy-scroll-magazine-fantasy-sci-fi-and-horror

(read below to see more links and ways to share)

Make sure you stop by and watch our video where Iulian Ionescu, our Editor-in-Chief, discusses the campaign in more detail. Also, see the name of the writers we have already accepted, and read about our cool rewards.

What’s Next?

Help us promote this campaign with this Kickstarter Kit. It has everything you need to simply copy-paste into your own social networks:

Kickstarter Kit

Kickstarter link:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/iulianionescu/fantasy-scroll-magazine-fantasy-sci-fi-and-horror

Kickstarter short link:
http://kck.st/1pp8ZVh

Kickstarter Long Promo Text (for Facebook, blog, Google+):
New Short Fiction Market Kickstarter Launch – Fantasy Scroll Magazine publishes science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal short stories, with one mission in mind: to provide high quality, entertaining, and thought-provoking speculative fiction. Currently, the magazine is running a Kickstarter campaign designed to help with the initial start-up, its main goal being to pay writers what they deserve. To contribute, spread the word, or learn more about the campaign, please visit: http://kck.st/1pp8ZVh.

Kickstarter Short Promo Text (for Twitter, Identi.ca):
Fantasy & Science Fiction Short Fiction Market Kickstarter – Please Help and Share: http://kck.st/1pp8ZVh

Kickstarter Image to use (650 x 366, size 100kb):
http://fantasyscrollmag.com/wp-content/uploads/fsm-kickstarter.jpg

Non-Kickstarter Image to use (714 x 402, size 200kb):
http://fantasyscrollmag.com/wp-content/uploads/fsm-cover-11.jpg

Facebook Post to Like/Share:
https://www.facebook.com/FantasyScroll
(look for the most recent post, pinned-to-top)

Tweet to re-tweet & favorite:
https://twitter.com/FantasyScroll/status/447785182976692224

Google+ Post to +1 & Share:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/112513178431030711268/+Fantasyscroll/posts/TkXTH3W64Ga

Share this post:
Last, but not least, feel free to share this post on your social networks. Alternatively we have a similar post here: http://www.iulianionescu.com/blog/kickstarter-campaign-for-fantasy-scroll-magazine/

Thank you very much for your help!

Iulian

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Fantasy Scroll Magazine Pre-Kickstarter Promotion

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As you all know, Fantasy Scroll is now a short story market for speculative fiction. You can read more on the magazine site http://www.fantasyscrollmag.com.

For the first few issues we have already prepared a great table of contents including authors such as Ken Liu, KJ Kabza, Mike Resnick, and a lot more.

To fund the magazine’s start-up we are going to launch a Kickstarter campaign during the week of March 17th. We wanted to spread the word a little bit ahead of time, and let people know where we are and where we stand.

This is the gist of it: Subscribe to be notified when our next issue is released and receive our first 2 issues as a PDF file and be entered into a drawing to win a $100 AMEX Gift Card.

To read more and enter the drawing go here: Subscribe to Fantasy Scroll Magazine.

Thank you!

Iulian Ionescu
Editor-in-Chief

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Lunacon 2014

GallegosLunyColor-224 Lunacon 2014 will start tomorrow, March 14, taking place at the Westchester Hilton, Rye Brook, NY.

It’s a fun three-day event centered around science, science fiction, fantasy, and related.

“Lunacon features author readings, writing workshops, crafting workshops, an art show and auction, a costume contest, a dealers’ room with genre-related merchandise, a tabletop gaming room, video presentations, movie trailers, fan meetups, fighting demos, and the best Con Suite in all of New York State!”

Program guide: 2014.lunacon.org/guide

Directions: http://2014.lunacon.org/index.cgi?title=Directions

See you there!

Iulian

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