History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Fun for Friday: Flash Fiction Writing Prompts

Posted By on April 3, 2020

My attention span tends to be fairly short right now, so the idea of writing flash fiction rather than longer works is definitely appealing to me. Here’s a list of 131 flash fiction prompts if you’re also looking for shorter things to write! The website offers it as a 100 day challenge or a 30 day challenge, but also suggests just picking one at random to inspire you!

March 2020 Recap

Posted By on April 2, 2020

Signs of life out in the world!

By the numbers:
Stories out at the beginning of the month: 144
Acceptances received: 3
Rejections received: 68
Stories withdrawn: 2 (+3)
Resubmissions: 119
New Submissions: 3
Stories out at the end of the month: 186

Rejections are even slower this past month than they were in February, and I’m not sure if that should be attributed to more of my stories being held or *gestures vaguely at everything*. I know my own output has been much lower this past month than in most months, so it stands to reason that editors may also not be progressing through slush as quickly.

I withdrew two submissions, had two non-responsive markets, and one story that never made it to its submission destination. The three new stories were moon and the two revised flash pieces from the flash contest at the beginning of the year.

The three acceptances were for “Fire Bad,” which has already appeared at Page and Spine; “Brick-Red Love,” which will be reprinted in Small Loves; and “To the Underworld” (poem), which will appear in April’s Abyss & Apex.

In March, I finished my briar synopsis and query letter, and sent out a handful of queries. I started editing the Lady Huntsman novella (about halfway through), wrote four new poems, finished revisions on moon and the two flash pieces, edited a hired project, and wrote a book review. I ended up shelving the hostile AI story and haven’t been able to work on the wolf story yet. And my essay research for Unfixed Timelines 2 got derailed when the libraries I intended to do the research at closed for coronavirus social distancing reasons.

In April, I’m planning to:

  • Send out more briar queries
  • Finish the bulk of the edits on the Lady Huntsman novella
  • Start outlining my next novel (currently: Pumpkin Planet)
  • Write a flash piece or some poetry
  • Revise my four contest poems
  • Revise my four remaining contest flash pieces
  • Write a new story (Friday)
  • Figure out if I can do my Unfixed Timelines 2 research online
  • Write two book reviews

It’s a lot on my plate, but I think it’s manageable. I’m working from home, which means no commute time, and I’m trying to maintain some of my writing schedule, when I have the ability to do so. I’m finding I get spurts of hyperfocus, so if I can use them to my advantage, I might get through all of this isolation (with husband and cats and lots of video chatting!).

What I’m Reading, Watching, and Listening To, Late March and Early April 2020

Posted By on April 1, 2020

Clip art of headphones, TV screen, and cat reading a sheet of paperReading: I just finished The Sparrow in Hiding by J. Kathleen Cheney (review to come soon), and the next in my “stack” is The Witches of St. Petersburg by Imogen Edwards-Jones, so I’m just all about the fantastical Russian stories right now!

Watching: We’re surprisingly not watching a whole bunch right now, largely driven by the fact that if I’m going to watch something, I want extremely light and fluffy. So we watched some Steven Universe one night, I watched a bit of Reign when I didn’t sleep well one night, and we watched Daybreakers recently, but mostly we’ve just been playing video games rather than watching shows.

Listening To: The K-pop industry hasn’t had much new out in March, which I can only assume is tied to COVID-19 there. But there are a few new things coming soon from a couple of my faves, so I should have new music soon! My latest purchase was to finally buy a 2NE1 album, since I knew and liked most of the songs on it.

Camp Haunt, Only on Channillo

Posted By on March 31, 2020

Cover art for Camp HauntI have one book that has never been released as an ebook or print book, though you can read it online at Channillo. If you like creepy, atmospheric stories told in a found document format, you should definitely check out Camp Haunt.

Camp Fairmarsh, founded in 1883, has a long tradition of giving teenage girls a residential camp experience. Girls spend eight weeks swimming, canoeing, horseback riding, making arts and crafts, hiking, and more. They leave camp with experiences and friendships that last a lifetime.

But for the girls who came to Camp Fairmarsh in 2003, the camp had more in store. Read their letters home, their diary entries, newspaper articles, and other camp documentation that chronicle the bizarre occurrences that summer. Find out why Camp Fairmarsh is Camp Haunt.

Balancing Writing with a Work From Home Job

Posted By on March 30, 2020

When I’m working in the office, I’m able to draw a solid line between work and writing. I can get a little bit of writing stuff done in the morning before my work day starts, and during my lunch break. But now that I’m working from home full-time (and have been for a couple of weeks now), it’s a little harder to use those same pieces of time for writing. In the mornings, I’m staying in bed a little longer (a benefit of no commute), and during my lunch break, I’m often doing chores around the apartment.

Then when the day ends, I don’t have my commute home, but it means I’ve got some more time for chores, and since I’m doing more cooking from scratch, making dinner takes a little more time. Normally, I’d then sit back down at my computer after dinner and do some writing. But even though I switch between my work laptop and my personal laptop, it’s still sitting in the same spot I’ve been sitting all day, just staring at a slightly different screen.

These days, I’m finding I can get work done a little bit better if I can get away from my computer for a bit. I printed out a copy of a novella that I need to clean up, so if I take that and sit in a different part of the apartment, I can still work on a writing task while not being in front of my computer. This doesn’t work for the majority of my writing tasks, but at least getting that little bit of a change is a helpful thing. And I could draft longhand, as well, which would also be a change of pace.

My next step may be to set up a completely different workstation for my two laptops. They’ll still both need to use the same keyboard, so I can only really use one at a time, but I’m hopeful that the act of physically moving from one to the other (rather than always being in the same seat) might help reestablish that separation between work and writing!

Fun for Friday: April 2020 Writing Prompts

Posted By on March 27, 2020

March has seemed a lot longer than it ought to have, but this is shaping up to be the new normal in our neck of the woods.

This month, we’ve got a random assortment of words, plus a bonus handful of words in the image for this post. Feel free to toss them in wherever you like!

If you want an extra challenge for April, use these words in your title. They could also wind up in your story, but coming up with really random titles might also inspire interesting stories!

Check back on the last Friday of each month (or occasionally the first day of a new month, when that falls on a Friday) for my History That Never Was writing prompts!

Day Word 1 Word 2 Word 3
1 Battle Troop Ignorance
2 Predator Gainful Inflation
3 Coincidence Strange Snails
4 Fork Grass Unfortunate
5 Housewife Desire Horoscope
6 Base Tribute Fuel
7 Childlike Sanctuary Raw
8 Sound Married Babies
9 Far-flung Bee Lunch
10 Grandmother Birth Constituency
11 Pumpkin War Consign
12 Abate Apple Nurturing
13 Feet Notice Related
14 Advance Shipment Steam
15 Fly Key Autopilot
16 Floppy Chat Reaction
17 Tent Bold Humdrum
18 Adjustment Mathematics Biggest
19 Protect Verse Stem
20 Miscreant Wilderness Enjoy
21 Card Hunt Gate
22 Wet Tie Soothe
23 Scream Swanky Tiger
24 Satisfy Meeting Assorted
25 Spend Terrify Society
26 Erect Dazzle Spicy
27 Ghost Solicit Bind
28 Jaded Scare Insert
29 Opress Unequal Flashy
30 Relax Pleasant Foamy

“Drink Me” in Heroes of Necessity

Posted By on March 26, 2020

Cover art for Heroes of NecessityWhat happens when you mash up Spring Break in Cabo with Alice in Wonderland and a weird ability? You get “Drink Me,” one of my short stories included in Heroes of Necessity.

I’m not sure which of the various ideas that I threw together for “Drink Me” came first, but I suspect it was the weird ability–seeing things as they will someday be, not as they currently are. When it’s applied to buildings, it’s creepy enough. But when it’s applied to human beings? What would you do if you could see how someone was going to die? Especially if you also realized that death was coming quicker than expected? That’s the problem Kirsteen faces, and all because she let her curiosity get the better of her.

If this sounds like the sort of of superhero story that appeals to you, check out Heroes of Necessity. It’s in ebook format only, but it’s available here!

Video Recommendation: Penguins Visiting Other Animals

Posted By on March 25, 2020

I love penguins, and getting to watch them waddle around and visit other animals is a delightful distraction.

The Nerdist has collected several videos of the Shedd Aquarium penguins visiting other animals now that the aquarium is closed to the public.

Enjoy the distraction!


Volatile Figments

Posted By on March 24, 2020

Cover art for Volatile FigmentsVolatile Figments is an ebook only collection of dark contemporary fantasy short stories, which includes some of the weirdest stories I’ve written.

Here’s the official blurb:

Dani finds the new director in her college theater department more than a little unnerving, but she has barely scratched the surface on just how weird things are about to get. Lucy just wanted a date for homecoming, not the heaps of trouble her wish cookie has stirred up in her high school. Unable to find the inspiration for a performance for her dance troupe, Mia calls upon a muse and gets far more than she bargained for. Mikayla feels bad about having drifted away from her BFF Ashley, but Ashley’s new lifestyle may be more than Mikayla can handle. Julia doesn’t know how she came to be bound to a painting in a hotel, but she’s about to find out how to break the curse. And Seattle homicide detective Moira O’Connelly has more than a suspicion that a recent arson is tied to an orphanage fire years ago. But how the young psychic who calls herself Cassie is connected is not what she was expecting to find.

The supernatural abounds in this collection of six dark contemporary fantasy short stories by author Dawn Vogel. Stories staring teenage witches and ageless childlike ghosts sit side by side with those featuring normal women confronting eldritch gods, muses, ghouls, and mad scientists. Everyone’s got problems, and these characters are dealing with more than their fair share!

The inspirations for these stories were all over the place, including the King in Yellow, a meme, a strange light in a dance studio, a creepy painting, and an RPG character or two. If this sounds like your cup of tea, you can find the ebook here!

Productivity during Stressful Times

Posted By on March 23, 2020

Handwritten text in a notebookMany authors I know have recently found it a lot harder to get any writing done. Whether they’re adjusting to a new work-from-home lifestyle, or have more of their family members in their previously quiet house, social distancing and self-isolation have an impact on productivity. So too do the frequent news updates and the overall level of stress in a time of pandemic.

Jessie Kwak, who is an author I met through Razorgirl Press, has been doing the freelance thing for a long time, and she’s got some fantastic tips on ways to get things done even when times are more complicated than they were two months ago. If you’re looking for some ideas, check out her blog post!