2018 was an up and down writing year.
Five short story acceptances and five short story publications... Yay!
(I know this sounds like the same five stories, but it’s not. Some stories were accepted in 2017 and not published until 2018; somewhere accepted in 2018 and will not be published until 2019.)
Falling short of my yearly writing word count goal... Boo!
(Yearly writing goal was 300,000. Had to be lower to 250,000. Will likely make that.)
Getting to read my second place winning short story on a panel at a Sci Fi conference (and getting to attend that conference for free)... Yay!
(The Pawnshop of Intangible Things got second place in the 2017 Baltimore Science Fiction Society’s Ametuer Writing Contest. Later it was published in Deep Magic, my first professional sale, thus making me not an ametuer anymore. The con was Balticon. It was really cool.)
No one showing up for the panel… Boo!
(Except the readers, the panel moderator, and one other panelists three family members. Still worth it though.)
Establishing official social media author accounts on facebook and twitter… Yay!
(Find me on facebook @margerybayne and on twitter @themargerybayne.)
Not really knowing how to use twitter… Boo!
(WTF is a subtweet?)
Learning much from my ‘write 1000 words a day for 30 days’ challenge… Yay!
(This wasn’t NaNoWriMo. Podcast on my experience to come.)
Struggling with original fiction… Boo!
Still making progress with original fiction despite the ups and downs, changing jobs, and making my halfway point through graduate school… Yay!
Welcome to Behind the Story -- a ‘behind the scenes’ series of blog posts that give you the inside scoop on my the stories and other written works I’ve had published. I’ll be starting with the oldest and moving forward through time.
Surface, published by LitSnack Magazine in December 2010
Surface was my first published short story. I wrote it while I was in college but it wasn’t for my any of my creative writing workshop classes. However I did share it in a writing group some of students had formed to share stories and receive feedback.
The core idea of the story was inspired from a detail I heard about a distant, far-extended family member who passed away after diving into a pool while intoxicated. Swimming pools had always been fun in my family, from being a little kid splashing around all summer to more than one family wedding where grooms, brides, and others were tossed into said pools. In fact, my dad threw my mom into a pool at the party they first met, so I guess pools and fun is sort of in my heritage. A pool being turned into this vicious, haunting thing was disonnent to my personal experience.
Before it was accepted at LitSnack Magazine, I recall it being rejected by another magazine with the note that the editors didn’t like how impersonal it was with the character, particularly the POV character being unnamed. I was stubborn about it them. (I found it awkward to introduce character names and liked the aesthetic of he/she third person statements.) With perspective, got to say that I agree with those editors!
I feel like this early story is a little embarrassing, like a middle school class photo. At the time, a semester or two or three (my timeline memory is a little fuzzy) into my college creative writing education, I was trying to write serious, literary fiction and that meant writing about death and grieving apparently. But writing (and publishing in the world of literary magazines) is just a series of learning processes and stepping stones. This first publication was an important stepping stone for me.
PS - It is heartwarming to go look at the comments on this story. Six out of seven are spam, but the first was a person who read and liked my story! Thanks friend!
Sometimes you have year long dry spellings with publications. (Cough, ahem 2012-2016... although it was 2015&2016 that were particularly brutal because I was very actively writing and submitting with no success.) And sometimes you have two stories that are unexpectedly published on the same day.
That day is today: February 1st, 2018.
While you can always find my full list of publications under the publications tabs (including these as I have already updated it), here they are presented in all their glory.
"Castles at Night"... a 1500 word magical (and family-friendly) story, podcasted by Manawaker studios, available here: www.manawaker.com/podcast/ffp-0303-castles-at-night/.
"Seeds" ... a 1600 word Persephone and Hades myth retelling in which Persephone might be a little more proactive and, ahem, manipulative in getting what she want. Published by Enchanted Conversation, and available here: www.fairytalemagazine.com/2018/01/seeds-margery-bayne.html
Enchanted Conversation also made me this wonderful cover art and made it available for my use.
Here’s my straight up disclaimer: I do not intend this to be a snobby hate fest for ebooks supposed inferiority in comparison to print/physical books. This is intended to be an exploration of my reasons, as well as a thesis on what makes ebooks lack a certain appeal for readers like me. Disclaimer ended.
There are probably several reasons that need to be addressed first before I get to my thesis.
First of all, despite being a smack-dab-in-the-middle millennial, I was a late adopter to smartphones, having only transitioned from my flip phone that had battery power that would last a goddamn week, to a smartphone about one and a half years ago in summer 2016. For reasons of monetary frugality. Which is the same reason why I never had a tablet or ereading device before that point. It’s not that I’m a luddite, but my favorite piece of technology is not my phone but will always be laptop computers, recently being my wonderfully portable chromebook. As a writer, having a qwerty keyboard is a necessity for a useable piece of tech. All this to illustrate the point that (although you can read ebooks on computers), I never owned one of the portable devices used for ereading until fairly recently.
Second of all, I’ve worked consistently in the public library since I graduated from college in 2012, meaning I’ve always had free and easy access to every book I could think of without even having to drive out of my way to pick them up.
Third of all, I must consider my book buying habits. See my point above: public library and free books. I am a giant library user, and a giant reader, and a giant book lover, but also frugal and have limited space. I don’t buy every book I read or want to read. I buy books I know I want to reread, to pick up again, skim favorite parts, and put sticky notes in. I buy books for aesthetic reasons: for the cover art, for anniversary editions, for complete sets. I have multiple copies of the Harry Potter series, the Lord of the Rings, and The Outsiders entirely for aesthetic and collector reasons. I also buy strange and interesting finds in used book stores for discounted prices, although that experience tends to be more like a search through a thrift shop or antique shop for hidden treasures than a trip to Barnes and Noble.
As you can see, the discounted price for ebooks does very little for me when I can free books from a library and want to buy physical copies of my favorite books and of the prettiest books.
Someone: “But what if you want to pack several books for a trip?”
Me: “I just make room to pack several books. No seriously, I packed like four books for a weeklong beach trip. Reading on my phone at the beach while wearing sunglasses doesn’t sound like it is going to work so well anyway, does it?”
Since getting my phone (and before then, using a computer), I have borrowed several ebooks via library services and purchased a few as well. (Let me make clear right now that I’m differentiating here between ebooks and eaudiobooks. eAudiobooks are the bomb, but that’s apples and oranges. Audiobooks, whether on cassette tape, CD, or digital are essentially the same end product on different types of devices.) The reading experience has never really clicked for me.
But here’s the strange thing… the problem is not reading on a device that I find troubling. I read a lot on my devices, computer and phone. From blogs to news sites to even lots and lots of fanfiction. I’m comfortable reading on a device. My excuse cannot be eye strain or the distractions of the internet that is just a touch away when I have a device in my hand (which are the common issues I’ve heard.)
So to my thesis: I propose that the problem with ebooks is their format. In their desperation to get the reluctant to convert, they decided to format ebooks ike codex books. (Unfamiliar with the term codex book, just think books as you know them, sheets of paper held together by a spaine as opposed to say… scrolls).
They have artificial page flips and print book formatting. While the user is given control over the size of the text and even have a few font options, ebooks are trying to look like print books. And I don’t like it. Like I said, I read a lot online, and reading on a screen is a different experience than reading a physical book.
For example, the page flips. Everywhere else online, we read by scrolling down, not by flipping pages. Having read fanfiction for many years before the ebook boom, that is more natural to me than the page flips, and is a more natural reading experience than flipping a page. We (in the west) are taught to read left to right, top to bottom, and we just want our ears to keep going down. Flipping the page is a necessity of the codex. There is no need for it on a screen. Furthermore, repeating many people who have said the same thing, it is a lot easier to flip through the pages of a print book than an ebook. Let us scroll. Let us use search and find features like internet browsers have casually built in.
No, I’m am not proposing we have endless scrolling 80,000 word novels. Again, I hail to the formatting decisions of fanfiction sites like fanfiction.net and AO3.org. Let the read scroll and read for the length of a chapter, and then have a next and previous buttons. That is also how blogs and sometimes longer news stories do it too.
Another nitpick, the spacing of the words on the ebooks page. Again, they emulate book formatting which is standard English practice: indented paragraphs with no spaces between. Perhaps you have noticed the unspoken rules of internet writing and publishing. (Maybe they are spoken somewhere, but I’ve just picked it up by observation.) Look at my blog post. Go look at a news article on the New York Times website. Notice something? No paragraph indents. Instead, there is a line space between paragraphs. I believe this is done probably because it is easy to format as well as easier to read on a screen. (Additionally, I believe that serif fonts are easier to read in print, and san serif fonts are easier to read on the screen, but New York Times haven’t caught up with this one yet).
I think ebooks would be a more enjoyable experience if they emulated the way every other field is publishing online, and how online readers usually read. And it definitely would for me.
For: Writers and others interested in writing, the publishing industry (traditional, indie, and self-publishing), book stores, and other parts of the book world as a whole.
By: “The Passive Guy” (a lawyer)
This blog is a great aggregate, but personally-picked aggregate, of articles and news from around the web about publishing industry news, hot topics, and opinion pieces. Although the banner of the blog profess this space to be “A lawyer’s thoughts on authors, self-publishing, and traditional publishing,” I don’t see the blogger himself doing a lot blogging, but tends to offer.
However, this blog is a very nice resource for keeping abreast with the publishing industry and writing business in many facets and from many angles. I believe it’s good for emerging writers to be aware of the economic climate around their work. Because the articles are handpicked (and not just everything with certain SEO tags) you can’t get too overwhelmed by browsing through it.
Insights from the life of an aspiring, struggling writer; a passionate reader, and a working librarian.
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