A Year on Saturn

...is approximately 29.7 Earth years.


"A Year on Saturn" is the website of Shannon Fay,
freelance and fiction writer.



Clarion West Write-A-Thon 2017 Week 6

Posted on: July 26th, 2017 by Shannon Fay No Comments

The last week of the 2017 Write-a-Thon! The last blog post about it! Woot! I want to thank my friends who have sponsored me and given money to Clarion West. It really means a lot to me. Thank you.

My goal for the Write-a-Thon was simple: write a set number of words every day. At first the word count goal was 1,000, but when that was too much I shifted the goalposts to 750. Even with that lowered amount there’s still a whole week worth of days where I wrote absolutely nothing (some days I had a good excuse, like when I did a full day of first aid training and came home to a surprise party. Other days not so much). So with this last week of the Write-a-Thon, I’ve temporarily doubled my daily goal to 1,500 words in order to catch up. I’ve been hitting it so far and I really feel like my novel is coming along.

The point of all this boring word count stuff is this: don’t get discouraged if you fail some days, if you fall behind, if you aren’t meeting your own standards. If you keep at it you will get a chance to catch back up.

The Write-a-Thon ends Friday, but in the meantime you can still sponsor me for this last leg of the journey at my write-a-thon page:

https://www.clarionwest.org/members/shannonlfay/




Clarion-West-Write-a-Thon 2017 Week Two: Today Will Be Better, I Swear!

Posted on: July 4th, 2017 by Shannon Fay No Comments

Clarion-West-Write-A-Thon Week Two

Last blog post I wrote about how much it meant to me when people sponsored me for the Write-A-Thon. I want to say thanks to Beth Moris Tanner, a fellow Write-a-Thon participant and a very kind and insightful writer and critiquer. I also want to say sorry, because for all my talk about how donations to Clarion West encourage me to write, it’s been a lackluster week writing wise. I wrote a 700-word mystery story and that’s it. I didn’t work on my novel, I didn’t work on my short story. I had a few ‘real life’ excuses to fall back on (work, health) but really the only reason is that I lost faith in myself. Last Sunday was my local in-person writing group. “I really like this,” a friend there said. “It’s my favourite thing you’ve ever sent in.” And yet all I could focus on was the criticism. Not because they weren’t fair crits, they were, that was the problem. I depressed myself by thinking about how much work it would take to ‘fix’ this story. What was I doing working on a short story anyway, when I had my novel to work on? But what if that was no good too? What if I was no good?

But several things happened as the week went on: I received a contract for a short story sale. A story of mine was published in a mainstream magazine. I was paid for the story, and able to use part of the paycheck to pay for two cavity fillings (one of my summer projects is fixing my teeth. I’ve been going to the dentist so often that I know measure big purchases against how many dentist visits the same amount would cover). I got an email telling me that a story of mine had been held for further consideration.

It’s rare to get a series of validations like that. Even then it didn’t totally shake my self-doubt; writers are like Schrodinger’s cat in that we are capable of believing we are awesome while simultaneously believing we are crap. But it did make me realize that I couldn’t celebrate my accomplishments and believably keep up the pity party. I had to let my self-doubt go if I was going to move on.

On July 1st Camp Nano started. I got up early and type out 750 words. I’ve done so every day since. I’ve sent back out stories that had been rejected. I (successfully) pitched an article to a magazine. I feel like I’ve come out of my mini-slump stronger for it. I’m ready for week 3.

As always, if you want to sponsor me (or any other writer out there, like Beth for instance) I would really appreciate it. I promise to keep writing.




Clarion West Write-a-Thon 2017: Week 1

Posted on: June 22nd, 2017 by Shannon Fay No Comments

What the heck is the Clarion West Write-a-Thon? It’s anything you want it to be. For six weeks you write, working towards a goal that YOU set, hopefully raising money at the same time for Clarion West, a fantastic writers’ program. As I have mentioned multiple times on this blog, I am a Clarion West graduate and I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without it. I was also lucky enough to receive some financial assistance from the program to help me attend, so I try to help out with fundraising, even if it’s just throwing a link out to my Write-A-Thon page in the hope that some generous blog readers might go sponsor me and kick some dollars CW’s way.

The Write-A-Thon has officially started (first day was Sunday) but the registration date has been extended to June 25th, so register! You can even double dip and do it alongside the Clarion San Diego Write-a-Thon, or Camp NaNoin July (yet another ‘set-your-own-goal’ summer writing initiative). If you are a writer, I highly encourage you to take part. It’s kind of like a personal NaNoWriMo, in that you have a set time (six weeks) to achieve your goal. The big difference is that this is a bit more personalized than NaNo, in that it’s your own goal that you’re chasing rather than 50k. It’s all very low-key and casual. You can make your goal as specific or as vague as you like. Heck, you can even go onto your personal page and change your goal if it is not working out for you. For example, I wanted to hulk-out writing wise this summer, so I challenged myself to write 1000 words a day (I also wanted to update this blog more, so writing a blog post each week was also one of my goals. Hence, this post). But I am at Day 5 of this Write-A-Thon and I am just not going to survive if I try to keep up 1k a day, so I am lowering that goal to 750 words a day, a number that will help me write tons but still keep everything else under control.

I am working on both my novel ‘Innate Magic’ and also a short story that is growing in length. The not-so short story doesn’t have a name yet, though it does have a pretty silly pun title that I will only reveal if I reach $20 worth of donations on my Write-a-Thon page. I’m not usually one to post excerpts from works in progress, but I thought it might be fun to show a little bit of what I am working on, even if it’s still a first draft (plus I am really liking this short story so far so I’m willing to go against my better instincts and share it with the world). If you like it, please consider going to my page and clicking the donate button. Knowing that there are people out there who have donated money on me behalf is a great motivator for me to keep writing. I’d be grateful for any donation.

https://www.clarionwest.org/members/shannonlfay/

CLARION WEST WRITE-A-THON WEEK 1 SHORT STORY EXCERPT

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2017 Eisner nominations!

Posted on: May 3rd, 2017 by Shannon Fay No Comments

In my day job as a freelance editor I do a lot of work for manga publishing company Seven Seas, something I’ve posted about here before (check the tags for more info). One of the books I worked on, orange: The Complete Collection vol.1, has been nominated for an Eisner award!

Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia
  • The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, by Sonny Liew (Pantheon)
  • Goodnight Punpun, vols. 1–4, by Inio Asano, translated by JN PRoductions (VIZ Media)
  • orange: The Complete Collection, vols. 1–2, by Ichigo Takano, translated by Amber Tamosaitis, adaptation by Shannon Fay (Seven Seas)
  • The Osamu Tezuka Story: A Life in Manga and Anime, by Toshio Ban and Tezuka Productions, translated by Frederik L. Schodt (Stone Bridge Press)
  • Princess Jellyfish, vols. 1–3 by Akiko Higashimura, translated by Sarah Alys Lindholm (Kodansha)
  • Wandering Island, vol. 1, by Kenji Tsuruta, translated by Dana Lewis (Dark Horse)

https://www.comic-con.org/awards/eisner-awards-nominations-2017

I am super happy to see orange up there on the list. Ichigo Takano has created a great, genuinely heart-touching series that manages to be an elegiac teenage drama AND do something interesting with time travel tropes. Amber Tamosaitis did all the heavy lifting translating the series, and Seven Seas has done a great job of promoting it and getting it out into the English speaking world. As for me, I am just bowled over to be on the same list as actual living legend Frederik L. Schodt, one of my favourite manga creators Inio Asano, and great series like Princess Jellyfish. Congrats to all the nominees!

 




Science Fiction Every Day!

Posted on: January 10th, 2017 by Shannon Fay No Comments

I’ve recently had not one but two stories published in Daily Science Fiction. One is a story I wrote just this summer. I sent it to one market (where it was rejected) before sending it to DSF, where it was accepted PDQ. The other story is something I wrote in the year two-thousand and thirteen, back when I was still finding my feet as a writer. That older story was rejected at least 13 times before I remembered that I had never sent it to DSF, the perfect market for it. And it was the perfect market for it: they bought it.

I won’t say which one is the old story and which one is the new. The point is that sometimes you will find success with a submission right away, other times it might take several years and submissions before it gets out into the wider world. But however they ended up in the world, I’m glad they are finally there.

To Give you the Night Sky published on December 22nd, 2016

Goes Both Ways, published (today!) on January 10th, 2017

I will have a few posts up soon about my submission stats for 2016, but if you can’t wait you can re-read my post about my 2015 submission stats, as I suspect my 2016 post will be quite similar stats-wise (though maybe a bit more hopeful tone wise).




NaNoWriMo Week Four: WINNER WINNER CHIICKEN DINNER

Posted on: December 4th, 2016 by Shannon Fay No Comments

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NaNoWriMo Week Three: 10K Behind

Posted on: November 25th, 2016 by Shannon Fay No Comments

NaNoWriMo Week 3

My word count is 32,697, which is roughly 9,000 words behind where I need to be if I want to ‘win’ NaNoWriMo. What’s frustrating is that during any other month, 32k would be a pretty good haul, word-wise. But because this is NaNo it is a disappointment. This is what NaNo has done to me: it has robbed me of satisfaction of even what I have managed to achieve.

Despite sounding bitter, I still have hope that I can hit the 50k mark. It’s tough going, but I have been going to Write-Ins (including an all-night lock-in event at a nearby bookstore. Props to London’s hardworking municipal liaisons for putting it together). I’ve also just tried to take better care of myself. For example:

1. Eating a big breakfast. Lately I’ve been having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, which has been a big blow as morning used to be my most productive time (I blame the changing of the season, a killer cold, and the US election, and the fact that all three have just been feeding into each other like a horrible maelstrom of suckiness). But making myself actually eat breakfast in the morning has helped somewhat. Not only does it give me energy to get to lunch, it’s reminded me of two things I like doing: cooking and eating. One of the new recipes I’ve tried lately is tomato scrambled eggs from Leanne Brown’s cookbook ‘Good and Cheap’ (you can download it for free here). It’s a cookbook designed for people on low-incomes (cheap) and every recipe I’ve tried in it so far has been pretty tasty (good).

2. Taking a zinc vitamin. I’ve only been doing this for about a week now, but it seems to be helping.

3. Installing f.lux on my computer. F.lux is a free piece of software that will adjust your screen’s colour so that it will stop aping natural light once the sun goes down. Ideally this should make it easier at the end of the day to go to sleep. Of course, it can only help so much. You still have to find the will power to turn it off your computer and not write blog posts…

4. Drinking hot water. This was a habit I fell into while living in Shanghai and have only recently picked back up. In China it’s common to drink plain, hot water, rather than cold or room temperature H2O. It’s actually very relaxing. You might say ‘But I already do that! It’s called drinking tea!’ But no. For this to be a relaxing escape from the world it has to be just plain old hot water. Even chamomile is just too stimulating. Try it: turn off the news and put away your phone, pour a cup of very hot water into your favourite mug. Find a nice place to get comfy on the couch. Sip it slowly at first, carefully because it’s really hot, but as the water cools down you can drink more and more, feeling it warm you up. It is very chill, almost meditative, though it may also make you sleepy.

5. Really lose yourself in a book. Reading can be a great escape. But sometimes, when the world is being a bit much, you really have to commit to it. It’s like making a covenant with the author: I will believe everything you tell me. I will picture every character as if they were my own family. I will give you 100 percent of my attention from the moment I open the pages. You might think ‘But I already do that!’ in which case, good for you, but there are plenty of times when I am a slightly less involved reader. I don’t think it’s a mark against either myself or the book, just sometimes maybe you want to go a little faster, or you are enjoying it but don’t feel the need to really immerse yourself in it. For me, this kind of light reading usually lines up with me feeling good about things and not being particularly stressed, looking for a minor distraction rather than a major one. Well, lately I’ve been needing a major one, so deep reading it is. I’ve been reading ‘Children of Time’ and enjoying it.

Now, to end this post with some actual specific writing advice: one of the big things about NaNo is pushing yourself past your inner editor and allowing yourself to write crap. It’s important to get the words on the page: you can’t re-write a blank page. But after three weeks of writing crap it starts to wear you down. What I recommend is taking a break from the quantity over quality mind-set, just for a day, and write something that you actually like. Take time to go over the sentences and tweak them into something you are proud of. You might not hit your word count for the day but it will remind you that you still do have the goods.

I also recommend being a bit of a NaNo rebel and maybe working on something else for just a day or two (in my case, I took a break fro ma novel to work on a short story idea that popped into my head). It’s easy to get burnt out on your current project when you are barrelling ahead and it will be easier to remember why you liked it in the first place if you take a bit of a breather.

 




NaNaWriMo Week Two: In other news, the novel’s not going well either.

Posted on: November 16th, 2016 by Shannon Fay No Comments

There will be actual writing advice at the end of this post.

Last Tuesday night I huddled in my London living room with my housemates to watch the US election (among our group we represented Italy, England, Germany, Canada, and Uganda).  It was a party at first, with popcorn and rum and coke. We flipped around between different news streams: NBC when we needed shiny graphics to stay awake, BBC when we wanted actual information, FOX when we wanted to be entertained by the reporters’ bluster. But early on there was an uneasiness as Hillary’s lead never seemed comfortingly strong, then as the hours ticked by it grew smaller. Then Trump over took her and she never came back. We kept watching, making up new endpoints: we’ll go to sleep when they call Florida. We’ll go to sleep when they call Michigan. Despite the mounting urgency we started nodding off, though it seemed as though at any given time one of us would stay awake, watching the news feeds like a someone keeping watch around a campfire. Five AM was when I called it a night and climbed into bed.

And to be honest, it almost feels like I’ll never catch up on the sleep I lost that night, like I’ll always be this wrung out, this tired, this on edge. This morning I woke-up feeling like you do after sleeping on an airplane, dehydrated and sore. I have so many American friends. Just typing that made me stop and pause as I thought about them. Some will be more effected than others, but all will be effected. And what about the rest of the world? What about my home, Canada? What effect will it have there?

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NaNoWriMo 2016 Week One

Posted on: November 6th, 2016 by Shannon Fay No Comments

I love NaNoWriMo. Just seriously love it. I love that for one month of the year I can publically boast or complain about my word count and have it be relevant to the outside world (if only in regards to how while my home region is doing stats wise). I love how easy it is to find people to do word wars with online. I love going to write-ins and meeting other strangers who may have nothing in common with me except that we have both decided to challenge ourselves to write 50k in a month.

I even, usually, love the ‘more more more’ greedy attitude of NaNo, the push to reach not just your daily word count but beyond (for example, yesterday, Nov. 5th, is when the main NaNo site pushes everyone to double their word count so far).  But this year it’s been a bit tricky. NaNo hit and I was knocked down. Up until the very last moment I was ready: I had planned out a daily routine, worked on what I was going to write and written an outline (pretty easy, since I am basically using NaNo as a method to re-write a previous draft of a novel). I was pumped!

But I woke up November 1st just feeling like shit. I didn’t want to write. I didn’t even want to get out of bed. I had one of the worst colds I’ve had in years. I blame the night before: on Halloween I went on a ghost walk conducted by one of my co-workers and she took us to damp graveyards, dank cellars, foggy London streets and alleyways. It was a lot of fun, but I also blame it for giving me this killer cold. I still managed to hit my word count on Tuesday. Wednesday I didn’t write a damn thing. On Thursday I roused myself out of feeling sorry for my sniffly self and went to a Write-In. The Write-In reminded me of the main reason I love NaNo: it turns what is usual a solitary activity into something a little more communal. I also managed to hit my word count for the day and then some. During one of the breaks in writing I spoke to another NaNoer and complained about my cold. She nodded sagely.

“Ah yes, the NaNo flu.”

I hadn’t heard this term before, but I liked it. It makes sense: November is the time of year when people get the cough, the flu, the cold. People have gotten sick before during the month of November and they will again. It’s just something that happens. It’s nothing that you can’t recover from, both physically and in terms of word count.

Thinking about it that way made me feel a little bit better about my faltering NaNo start. I am still behind- 6321 words when I should be at 10k- but I usually write more than my word count when I make myself go to Write-Ins, so there is hope for me yet. Also, yesterday was the first day since Tuesday where I didn’t debate with myself about whether I should call in sick and actually felt somewhat okay. Whoot! Though, honestly, I think if the devil showed up right now and offered me an unblocked nose in exchange for 1000 words…even knowing how hard I worked to get them down on the page I just might…Okay, that’s a premise for a story for another time.




Thoughts on Old VHS Movie Covers

Posted on: August 18th, 2016 by Shannon Fay No Comments

Lately my landlady has been telling me I should blog more. “You’re a young person, working in a major London gallery, traveling around the world, having exciting interesting experiences every day! You must have things to blog about!”

And she’s right. So, following in that vein, I present…

FIVE VHS COVERS THAT SCARED ME AS A CHILD

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