A chance to drop out–but I shot the arrow again

Well, I just heard back from the Gather.com competition people (after four tries to get a response out of them.) They sent a boilerplate message with a “bullet” saying that the wordcount was out of range. No indication of which wordcount they mean, but the rules specify no max length for the overall novel, so they must mean one of the chapters that I sent was over 10K words. (That’s a pretty long chapter!)

I re-opened the file that I sent with the first three chapters in it, and sure enough, if you include the opening quotation that goes before chapter one, you get 10,012 words with Word’s “word count” tool. Eeek! Way out of line, sister! (sigh) Anyhow, so I copied each of the first three chapters into separate files, took out a couple of lines from the first chapter, and checked the wordcounts again. Looks all right now.

Then I thought, hmm. Do I really want to play in this sandbox? Well, why not . . . on the other hand, it’s a slush pile of sorts, and I keep wondering whether there’s much point. I finally just clicked on send. We’ll see if it gets posted this time. If it does, I’ll be interested in seeing what kind of ratings chapter one gets. It may be judged harshly, as it’s chick lit, present tense, first person, sorta-paranormal, yadda yadda yadda.

I did find another entry I like. _Outside the Box_ is a clever riff on corporate life and conformity. It starts out not really focusing in sharply on one character, but speaking generally about the silliness of keeping track of just when you got into work, down to the second. Then it focuses on the lead character. The voice and the subject matter both remind me of Bruce Bethke’s HEADCRASH, which is a cyberpunk/SF satire and one of my guilty pleasure-re-reads. But anyhow, readers may want to focus immediately on one character to see who to root for, so I don’t know if everyone’ll like this one. I do think it definitely has a chance.

I’m not sure why early entries aren’t getting MORE ratings. I mentioned I liked _Abigail’s Dragon_, and it’s right up there at entry 2 position, but it’s not getting as many ratings. This is due, I suppose, to the way they’ve set up the list of entries to be judged. I don’t know why their interface is so clunky. At least it seems clunky to me. *And* entries only stay up for two weeks and then are removed, presumably to be re-evaluated according to rankings at the end of the round. This is very little time for readers to plow through all these entries. Now I see why slush readers are constantly whining and complaining. *GRIN*

I don’t know whether entering this contest is the right thing, but there you are. We’ll see if I break through the wall this time. *crash*

Oh, and y’all back up your files today! Don’t forget all your personally created text as well as your digital photos and MP3s. Burn ’em to CDs or something. I remind you because a piano teacher I know just lost ALL of her music and piano files to an indiscreet “file compress” and cleanout, and she hadn’t backed up in a YEAR. Whatever she hadn’t file-attached to one of her friends or copied to a website, she’s either lost or will have to re-enter from hardcopy. Eep! Very scary. You can pick up a thumbdrive for under $30 at Staples. It’s worth it.

Back to studying the mysteries of Marfa and Terlingua.


Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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