Voting for Sword, Sorcery and Subway Cars now open

Good morning, world!

In case you missed it, I got a new story published last month at The Astounding Outpost. It’ll be part of their Sword, Sorcery and Subway Cars collection.

Every month (or so) they publish a themed anthology and run a contest where readers can pick their favourite story. Editors also choose the best story, according to them anyway and cash prizes are distributed. Nice deal, isn’t it?

Voting poll is now open for last month’s stories so you can go and vote for Saving the Shamrock here. Just follow the link, click on the name of the story you like best and hit ‘Vote’. Easy-peasy.

Also, if you haven’t read it yet, you can find Saving the Shamrock online here.

Much appreciated it you show some love to my story!

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And the winners are …

Last month David Wing of Zero Flash asked me to guest judge the January entries for their monthly competition and I gladly agreed. I have no experience whatsoever and had never done anything remotely similar, like being a slush reader. But it sounded like fun, and fun it was. And educational as well.

As writers we’re told that reading is one of the best, if not the best, ways to learn to write (besides writing and writing and writing). Of course, you have to read with a different mindset than that of a recreational reader in order to pick up the techniques and language subtleties that turn an average idea into an outstanding fiction. And when you are going through the scores of stories in your slush pile, your brain is extra alert to spot what works and what doesn’t, what’s a good story and what isn’t really a story at all. In other words, you’re giving your reading muscles a good workout. So no wonder many successful genre writers started in the trenches, proof-reading, copy-editing or editing all sorts of magazines out there, particularly in these days of e-zines, blogs and every other kind of internet publications.

But I digress, as usual.

Last weekend I had a great time reading some forty stories and choosing a winner was hard. Very hard. There were so many good stories: interesting ideas, surprising turns and beautiful wording – really good stories. You can go and read all entries for Zero Flash January competition here. And congratulations to Alex L Williams, M.P. McCune and Jenny Woodhouse, 1st, 2nd and 3rd place respectively, and to the runner-ups Kris McGinnis, Rebecca Field and Alex Z. Salinas. BIG CONGRATS!

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Writing goals {February 2018}

Oh my, January is already come and gone, way too fast I would say. But maybe that’s just me because I was on holidays for the first ten days of the month and it still took me nearly a week to get my bearings in this new year. Call it what you want, the harsh reality is that February is already here.  The nice side of this reality is that it is time to make some new resolutions for the month we’re starting today.

This year I took a brad-new approach to new years resolutions. Besides not really making any personal new years resolutions (okay, I set to read at least 24 books this year and I am hoping to travel to Malaga in June and Scotland later this year) I decided that instead of setting myself some magnificent writing goals for the year whose weight would drag me down month after month, I would break things down in smaller, more manageable chunks. So I came up with the idea of monthly writing goals. You guessed it. And not too original, I know.

Anyway, things have worked out rather good in January, in spite of time constraints. I wanted to edit and submit to flash stories I had written earlier this year and editing and submitting I did. Besides, a couple of cool things happened last month. First, I won Zero Flash’s December writing competition and was asked to be a guest judge at January’s competition and thinking it would be fun I said yes (I’m a total newbie at this but very, very excited!). And second, I had a new story published at The Astounding Outpost, which you can read here. Saving the Shamrock is very different from everything I have written until now but I really enjoyed working on it and I’m hoping you’ll enjoy reading it just as much.

So yeah, January was definitely a good month. I have already patted myself on the back and I am very looking forward to a busy and fruitful February. Let’s do this.

  • Even if I haven’t written as much as I would have like in January (time is always short around here these days), I finished another flash story which I would like to edit and submit, ideally during the first half of the month.

 

  • I am also working on the second draft of a short story I wrote last year. This is proving trickier than I thought to rewrite but I think I have spotted the problem. The thing is, it is a fantasy story set in a secondary world (kind of) and I think that this world needs to be developed more in order to better understand my character’s journey. So that’s what I’m planning to do in February as well.

 

  • And finally, I am hoping I’ll have enough time to complete the first draft of a short story I began writing in January. I only have a few disconnect ideas which, I hope, will converge into something worth publishing.

And that’s all, after all, February only has 28 days.

What about you? Have you set yourselves any goals for this month? Anything you would like to accomplish?

Have a productive February!

 

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It’s all about trial and error

You might have noticed that I this blog has been coming and going lately. Or maybe you haven’t, which I’m not sure whether it’s a good or a bad thing. Good because that means no one’s really noticing that I am kind of toying around with my internet presence in a rather childish way. Bad because it might mean that no one’s actually noticing that I am around here. So good and bad, I still have to make up my mind about which one I’d prefer.

Anyway, it seems like I’m back around here and there’s a good reason for that. Or maybe there isn’t but then again, what would be the point of writing this post. I used to think that it looked more professional to have a blog/personal website with my name on it and my very own domain. I still do, I guess, but I have realised that blog and site needn’t be the same thing. In fact, I think it can be a good thing that they are separate, for they do not serve the same purpose.

I still have my website, which you can visit. Please do, you will find me at Irene Montaner. After trying to get things going there several times, I decided it was best to keep things simple and neat, so I chose a simple template (in fact the theme is called so simple) and laid out a rather slick site, if that makes any sense at all. You will find a small bio and my bibliography there, and maybe some news about my writing career.

There are also times when I’d like to ramble about anything and nothing and that’s when a blog comes very handy. However, I have chosen not to blog on that website. Partly for simplicity’s sake, and partly to preserve my creative spark. What?!, I hear can you saying, what the heck do you mean? Well, I don’t even know it myself. But what I have learnt from my experience in these two years that I have been treating my writing hobby more seriously is that I don’t want to give up on blogging. Also, that blogging is a great way for upcoming authors to promote themselves. However, I sometimes feel constrained when I think of blogging solely as a means to publicise myself. I feel that I should only write about certain topics, that I should have a certain consistency and that I should have a certain voice. And that’s when the blogging spark dies out.

So, after trying out as many possibilities as I could, I think I have figured out what I want to do with this blog and how I want to start my author platform (I still need to learn so much about this elusive and ever-changing concept). And what I’m doing is keeping a professional-ish website and a personal blog, where I’ll chronicle my writing journey, pretty much as I have been doing lately, but also, where I’ll babble about whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like. After all, writing and blogging, much like everything else in life,  are all about trial and error.

I hope you enjoy it! And if you happen to be a writer, whether an aspiring author or not, I’d love to know how you are handling your online presence. What do you do? How long did it take you to figure it out? Is it working for you? 

 

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My goals for 2018

Two weeks into 2018, it may seem a little too late to come up with some resolutions for the new year. But better late than ever, or so they say.

Now that this year has been tried and tested I know where I stand. Or I should better say that I know that I don’t know where I stand. Here’s the thing, life is unpredictable and this is particularly true when there are children at home. And with a baby and toddler, no two days are alike. Some days I have plenty of time for writing, reading or whatever it is that I have to do, some days I managed to squeeze some fifteen minutes of editing in between the most hectic hours, and some days I simply don’t have the time or energy to do anything at all. Besides cooking, washing dishes, cleaning the house, playing outside and playing inside, that’s it. With all that in mind, I am keeping things simply this year. And simple might be the key for me.

Last year was already a busy year and I kept my expectations very low. I didn’t have much hope that anything would happen in my writing career and yet quite a few interesting things happened, including having a handful of flash stories published at a couple of magazines and winning a writing competition. So yay, let’s keep things simple and take this writing thing (and life) one day at a time.

Here’s a list of the things I would like to accomplish this year. And a very humble list it is.

  1. Read at least 24 books.
  2. Publish at least 5 more short stories.
  3. Get at least one publication in a pro-paying market.
  4. Write at least a short story per month.
  5. Blog regularly and begin building an author platform.

You might have noticed that I don’t really have that many writing-related goals but this is not because I am forgetting that my number one priority as an author should be writing. Nope. The reason why I am not listing many writing related goals is because I have decided to take things slowly and review my writing goals monthly. First, because that’s the easiest way for me to assess how much time I have and can dedicate to a certain project. And second, to keep myself accountable. I think that writing down my goals every month will help me not to lose sight of what I want to achieve and stay on track. Plus, if you know about it, I’ll have to stick to it, don’t I?

So, January it is and even though I don’t have that much time this month, I have a few things on my to do list. I have three stories waiting to be edited and rewritten, when necessary. Two of them are flash – and written this year already – and I’d like to edit those and submit them. The other story is a bit longer, clocking at 2000 words (not that much, actually) and I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to tackle that one or not, so that might have to wait till February.

Phew, that was all for January. And pretty much the rest of the year.

If you’re still looking for inspiration you should definitely check this post on the resolutions that every writer should be making year after year. It was written by Frances M. Thompson, a self-published writer, blogger, traveller and mam, not necessarily in that order. I have been a fan of her and her writing for quite some time now and I can only recommend anything she writes or blogs.

And up to you now, what are your writing goals for this year? Anything you’d like to achieve in 2018?

All the best for this no-longer-new year!

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Short stories I read and loved in 2017

Well, well. I finally got to write this very short post with my favourite short stories from 2017. Many of them are flash and you can read most of them on the internet for free, so enjoy!

Paradise Regained, by Edward M. Lerner (Analog January/February 2017). Decisions, decisions – a lonesome human in an agonising planet has to decide whether to trust a machine and complete a certain procedure or not. To be honest, I don’t remember many details of the plot but I know I liked it.

A Singular Event in the Fourth Dimension, by Andrea M. Pawley (Asimov’s, March/April 2017). A poignant tale about a child robot who has to find its place in her expanding family.

Seven Permutations of My Daughter, by Lina Rather (Lightspeed Magazine, April 2017). The old conundrum of whether time travel can help us to change the past, only that this time the protagonist is jumping around different universes.

Carnival 9, by Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue #225, May 11 2017). Caroline M. Yoachim is one of my favourite contemporary writers. I really enjoy everything she writes and this was definitely my favourite short story of 2017. An teeny tiny doll with too much life in her faces the hardships of life. There’s loss and love, sadness and contentment, much like in real life.

Artist of Love, by JT Gill (Every Day Fiction, June 1 2017). A beautiful story about a father and the love for his son. Or daughter. I no longer remember the details.

The Seven Deadly Genes, by Candice Lim (Daily Science Fiction, October 2017). Again, another story about a mother and the love for her baby.

What I Told My Little Girl About The Aliens Preparing To Grind Us Into Hamburgers, by Adam Troy-Castro (Lightspeed Magazine, October 2017). And yet another story about fatherly love. I’m already spotting a theme in here.

I won at NaSuHeMo!, by Marissa Lingen (Daily Science Fiction, November 2017). Now, onto something totally different. This was a most absurd story, much like everything at DSF lately, but I had a good laugh while reading this one. And I haven’t even done a NaNoWriMo in my life.

And that’s all, folks. I told you that I hadn’t read too many short stories last year. My days were way too busy with a baby and toddler and I don’t think things will be much different this year. I will try, however, to read more short fiction. After all, that’s a great way to learn more about the writing craft.

What about you? Do you enjoy short fiction? Which were your favourite stories last year?

Have a lovely weekend!

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Some happy news

We just returned yesterday night from a three-weeks holidays in Tenerife. Besides being exhausted, I am extremely busy unpacking, tidying things up and cleaning the house. So not much time for writing and everything else right now. It is definitely going to be a slow start this year. Although I have already scribbled a flash story and I have another short story waiting to be edited, I don’t think I will get much done until February rolls in. Or at least, I am not putting any pressure on myself until then. But who knows. One thing I learnt last year is that the busier I am, the more productive I am.

Some exciting things have already happened this year – and it’s only been ten days! First things first, I have won Zer0flash’s monthly competition. Yep, I’m December’s winner. The theme for last month’s competition was obviously Christmas and I went and wrote my goofiest story to date. You can read Santa Hits on Grandma here. Thank you, guys, for this first place. It might be a teeny tiny thing, but it feels like a huge achievement.

And now, onto more mundane things, you can find me on Instagram. I already had a personal account, which I hardly ever used, and now I also have a profile for my writing shenanigans. Photography has been a hobby of mine for quite some time, though I don’t take as many photos as I used to these days – ah, the sacrifices of motherhood. Nevertheless, I want to try and keep a consistent record of my writing journey. And also establish my online presence as an author, or whichever way people call those complex marketing strategies nowadays. Anyhow, let’s be friends! Do come over and say hi. Or simply drop by at @irenemontanerwriter.

That’s all for the time being. I will be back soon with my favourite short stories of 2017 (I still own you that) and my writing goals for 2018. And in the meantime, happy writing!

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