Next challenge, please!

So yesterday I re-read the last few chapters of the novel I’ve been working on since last fall (a novel I’d originally intended to bang out in, oh three months, but actually took me about eight or nine), and then I printed out one version of it to mail to a friend for copy-edits.

I also used the awesome writing tool Scrivener to format a MOBI file that I sent to another friend for his feedback, and made an ePub of it just for kicks. (I love that Scrivener gives me an ePub that is error free, according to this site. Love it!)

And just like that, I had a draft of A Wild Epidemic of Magic, the sequel to A Sudden Outbreak of Magic. My first sequel. Too cool.

I totally ended the book on a cliffhanger, so I’m already thinking about what happens in book three, tentatively titled A Lasting Cure for Magic.

And I still have the ancillary work to do on book 2 — reworking the blurb, maybe making a new cover and possibly changing the title of the novel, not to mention incorporating the feedback from my friends — but the hard part is done. And I’m not quite ready to dive into all that yet. I need something different…

So I’m looking for the next challenge. Which I think will be a short story. Maybe two.

I’ve been really focused on novels the past few years, and I haven’t written a new story since I wrote “Skidmark & Mudbeam” after the Master Class workshop in 2009. That’s 2 1/2 years. I’m itching for something short and sweet, a sprint versus the marathon work of a novel.

I’ve been reading a bunch of short stories lately, many from this site: Popcorn Fiction. Check out the stories “Snake People” by John August and “Hoss” by Christine Boylan, both of which have lovely twists in them that turn all your expectations on their ears, along with “Lightning in a Bottle” by Craig Mazin, which is the kind of story about music and bands that I wish I would’ve/could’ve written. (Also check out the great podcast by August and Mazin, “Scriptnotes.”) If you have a weak stomach, though, you may want to skip the vampire tale by Patton Oswalt.

I’m still working my way through all the stories, and the site is really a treat. Free fiction by pro writers. You gotta love the Internets!

I also came across Robin Sloan’s website, and he offers some more fiction of his for free, including the simply amazing story “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” (soon to be a full-length novel, yay!) and the heart-stopping, surreal tale “The Wrong Plane.”

And just yesterday I read a nifty, nasty little story by Kristine Kathryn Rusch over at her website about the fear of flying that’ll haunt you next time you climb aboard a plane: “Turbulence.” Thanks, Kris! 😉

Lots of inspiration there for me, plus the fun of building new worlds and new characters instead of expanding on existing situations and characters from my novel series (and I’m plotting out 2 other potential series as well!).

So it’s short story time. My challenge is to knock out two stories before my birthday, which is June 13th (but you all knew that, right? Right?). I have no idea what those two stories will be about. All I know is they’ll be something totally new — can’t use any existing notes or ideas.

The ideas will come. I’m opening my brain up to the universe. Something will fall in. I’m sure of it.

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