About 18 months ago, I went to a writer's workshop at our local sci-fi con (MarsCon... which is awesome and if you are local, you should totally go!)
At that time, I'd just gotten notified that On the Fly was going to be picked up for publication, so I had three stories accepted; Golden Moment, Shadows of Kenfig, and On the Fly. Not many. Certainly not enough that I considered myself a professional writer.
(I have since been informed - rather tartly - that I became a "professional" the moment someone paid me to write. So, there's that.)
Anyway, I attended two writer's workshops that weekend, one for hooking your reader with a good opening paragraph or two, and the other for scene setting. Allen Wold, his daughter Darcy, and Danny Birt were among the panel members who were offering their advice.
I wrote two paragraphs. (I cannot find the original draft with my notes on it from the seminar, but rest assured, it was pretty rough.)
"Do you know, Jamison," Duncan Farnsworth, Earl Leveret said as he stripped off his gloves and deposited them in his hat, "what the absolute worst thing is about being dead?" The sun was skimming the horizon. Another few minutes and he might have had some unpleasantness. Jamison closed the heavy door behind his master and Duncan shuddered with relief.
"I fear you are about to tell me, sir," his butler replied, entirely uninterested.
"It is simply this; being deceased has done nothing to improve the quality of my social engagements."
"Perhaps, sir," Jamison said, ushering his lord into the parlor and folding the rain-damp coat over one arm, "you should lay down and play dead with slightly more conviction."
Those starting paragraphs went on to become the beginning of my soon-to-be-published short-story, Synchronous Rotations. (Which will be out July 3rd, from Torquere press.)
Synch is the 3rd of my London Steam saga (started with Shadow of Kenfig and continuing in The Blister Effect) but it stands alone better than Blister Effect did. I've also learned to Make Sure that the fact that it's a continuation story is in the marketing materials. Blister Effect did not do as well as I'd hoped, probably because the only review for it, the reader was fairly confused.
In a reimagined 1890's London, where steam-driven airships rule the skies and monsters roam the streets, Duncan Farnsworth is discovering that being a vampire is not exactly good for his chances of finding love, continuing the family line, or getting a bite to eat. Maneuvering his way around a sarcastic butler, his spinster sister, a run-in with an amorous werewolf, and finally confronted by a dead soldier and a French airship captain, Duncan finally finds exactly what he is thirsting for.
Continuing in the story-line begun in the Shifting Steam anthology, and continued in The Blister Effect, Synchronous Rotations takes a look at another player in that infamous card game, Duncan Farnsworth. If you like your steampunk with a little supernatural on top, Synchronous Rotations should wind you right up.I sent both Allen and Danny quick emails today letting them know that I had been very well benefited by the seminars.
[sic]... congratulations. News like that assures me that it's worth while to continue with my workshop. I'll be doing it again next year, as I do it at other places as well. But you're on your way to not needing it any more. More stories, more stories! -- Allen Wold