September 2nd, 2009

Creative Joyous Cat

Flash Fiction: The Big Blue Tent

Jay lake proposed a flash fiction contest, with a photo as a prompt. His post is here.  You should go peek, there are other stories there.  The photo is included here by permission, under the Creative Commons license, and is by criada .

My entry follows.  For those keeping track, this is not in the world of Fireborn.

The Big Blue Tent

Iliaran waved proudly at the sturdy blue tent. “Isn’t it great?” The tiny, wrinkled elf loved bright colors.

“Great? It’s a funny color.” His twin, Illio, scowled. “And it’s shaped like a human thing.

“Critic. Want me to change it? I could paint birds on it!”

“Yes. “ Illio looked at the grey sky. “No--I think it’s going to rain soon.”

Iliaran ran about, picking up the shells, stones, and leaves he’d been painting on before Illio reminded him he had promised to magic up a tent. He stuffed them into the tent, then ran back out for his brushes and paints.

With a sigh, Illio gathered their bedrolls and backpacks, tucking them inside the tent just before the rain started, huge fat drops that, luckily, missed his backside as he followed them in.

Illio dashed inside, soaked, his paints in hand. “Did I miss anything?”

“Yeah, the bedding. And clothes. And food.”

“You got those. “ He looked around at the mess. “Oh, dear, I’d better organize this.” He set to gathering his art together, calling a light to see by, and pausing often to admire his work. He didn’t notice his stomach rumbling, nor his brother’s.

“Where’s the smoke hole?”

“Smoke hole?”

“Smoke hole! What’s a campout without a camp fire?”

“We can have one after the rain stops.”

Illio took out his knife, and levitated to the center of the tent.

“Illio, what are you doing?”

“Cutting a smoke hole.”

“Are you mad? It will let the rain in!”

“I’m hungry.”

“So use magic!”

Illio grumbled, but Iliaran had a point. He didn’t want to get wet.

In time, they were settled comfortably on their sleeping bags, eating mushroom stew.

“The stew is good! You’re as good a cook as I am an artist.” Iliaran smiled, spooning a third helping out of the pot.

“Thank you.” Illio had more too.

Then they heard the sounds of large feet outside the tent, splashing in the mud. “What’s this?” A human voice.

They froze, automatically sinking into an illusion of twigs and leaves, stones and mushrooms, though, of course, the human wouldn’t see them in their tent.

“Why, it’s a hat! And in great shape. What a lucky find on a rainy day!”

The tent rose around them, and, staying as still as twigs and leaves, stones and mushrooms would, they watched as a dirty, unshaven man smiled at the tent and put it on his head. The rain poured over them, soaking everything, and diluting the soup.

“Oh, what pretty rocks!” The human leaned down and picked up all the painted rocks, smiling. “Maybe I can trade these for a bit of dinner.” Whistling, the man walked off.

Once he was out of earshot, Iliaran started to dance. “He liked my art! He said it’s pretty! And lucky!”

Illio refrained from commenting on how lucky Iliaran’s art was, and instead conjured a standard, properly camouflaged tent, and set to getting things dried out.

ETA:  Now there's a sequel: 
Painted Pebbles


Actually, this is my second attempt at a story from that prompt; the first one ran long so I'm going to polish it and try submitting it for publication.
My other news is that I have a real job interview on Thursday, and I spent way too much time talking with my cell phone provider about the calls I've been missing and losing, and they're sending a second replacement phone out to me.  Ever notice it's hard to write while you're keying random-sounding codes into one phone, and reporting back on the results to the person on the other phone, so that you have a phone in each ear?

Musings on Marketing

I've been looking through Duotrope's Digest and a number of magazines' submission guidelines, thinking about where to send several of my stories next.  It feels like slogging through mud.

I joke about collecting rejections, and I'm resigned that it is an inevitable part of the process. 

However, watching myself  read these guidelines, I see myself imagining why this editor and that editor and the other editor are likely to may reject the story.  And that doesn't help my mood, or the process of actually getting the story out the door (or, more likely these days, through an online submission window). 

In the meantime, in the back of my head, I'm getting ready for that job interview tomorrow.  I think I have a new answer to the question, what skill would you like to improve.  I definitely need to get better at marketing myself! 

We spend so much time being told not to toot our own horn, to be modest, and so on.  And too much time being told to find our weaknesses and to stay aware of them so we can improve on them (or, sometimes, use other skills to compensate for them).  And identifying ways we can improve is important.  But it's not the only thing that's important.

Being able to be happily excited while figuring out how and where to share your work with the world is important too. 

So, I guess, now one of the goals I'm working on is getting better at selling myself and my skills, both mundane and fantastical.

Anyone have some tips to share?