Ken Bebelle

Magic – Monsters – Mayhem

And in the blink of an eye, another year had passed.

So, the last few weeks ended up being quite a bit more hectic than I had anticipated, causing this year-end post to come out much later than I had expected. Such is life, especially during times of change! There are things in motion that I will talk about once they are actually concrete, but they are (for now) all pointing in the right direction.

2022 was a very productive year for me as a writer. It’s the year I decided to participate in a number of the NYC Midnight short and flash fiction contests, forcing myself to learn to write in shorter formats. Prior to this, whenever I tried to write anything, the story always (always) ballooned beyond my expected word counts. I used to think that if I preferred to write over 10k words, then limiting myself to say, 8k words, was a good way to try to write shorter.

Well, that’s not the case. Or at least, it wasn’t the case for me. The first NYC Midnight writing contest I took part in was a 100 word microfiction contest. And surprisingly (especially for me) I found the entire process to be really enjoyable. It let me get really technical in the writing of the story once I had the seed of the idea, trimming words and phrases like pruning a bonsai tree, whittling the story down to the barest and most essential words needed to convey my ideas.

I ended up signing up for the 100 word contest a second time, along with the 1000 word flash, and the 250 word microfiction. Each contest guaranteed at least three rounds of competition, so it was a way to rapidly force myself to write, refine, and iterate my process. Even at the end of a year, I can see differences from my first entries. You can read Quest here. I think it’s the best one I’ve written so far.

My first entries were really plot-focused (on brand for me) and I think I did a passable job of telling stories in such a limited format. As I went on and saw what stories were getting better marks than mine, I turned my focus to the emotional impact of the story, and began refining my stories with that in mind, trusting my baser instincts to ensure that the plot kept pace. 

(Incidentally, this is right along with the feedback we got from our New York editor for Ebony Gate in the first round of edits. We did a great job of writing a book with a fast-paced plot, but we needed to slow down at times to allow the emotional impact to really breathe and have impact.)

So by the end of the year, I think my short fiction writing has improved. My results in the contest have been trending up. I made it to the final round of the 1000 word flash, and the results from that should be out next week. Keep your fingers crossed for me! You can read Foster here.

If nothing else, participating in the NYC Midnight contests is a relatively inexpensive way to give yourself a deadline to finish a handful of short stories. Even if you don’t win, you’ve still finished a few projects, no matter how small they are, and for a writer, it is the finishing that is ultimately most important. And now I have several small stories that are completed works. I’m already eyeing a few of them to expand them a little and my goal for next year is to try submitting them around in the short story market.

If you’re a new writer still cutting your chops, or even a seasoned author, I highly recommend the NYC contests. The feedback they give each round is easily worth the price of their low cost admission.

In other aspects of my writing journey, Julia and I published books one and two of Seattle Slayers, our new urban fantasy series. While we have self-published before, this is the first time we’ve come out with two books in such rapid succession. We’re very happy with the initial response to the books, and we’re currently plotting book three, aiming for publication in April 2023! If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can find both books here! If you read and like them, please help us out by leaving a rating or review!

Progress on Ebony Gate is not only continuing, but slowly accelerating! I know we’ve been relatively quiet on this front, but that’s because we haven’t been given much we are allowed to share just yet. But, we still have a target publication date of July, 2023, which means that the first part of 2023 is bound to be full of news! We’ve already been given a peek at the interior pages (amazing) and we have all our fingers crossed that we will have a cover to share with you soon! If you’d like to help us out, add Ebony Gate to your to-read list on Goodreads.

When this post goes live there will be only a few days left in 2022. I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful new years and that we all start 2023 strong!

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