I have been prodding and poking myself to focus on my short fiction for the past few months so as to get ready for March deadlines. Most mornings, I have gotten in 30-90 minutes of writing, so success! I've gotten in plenty at several other hours of the day, too (I swear, I'm becoming better and better at the art of sneaking in creative work that matters wherever and whenever - a must, even if a constant struggle - that's just how the game goes).
For submission this month, I have three stories finished but in need of a few more drafts before I'm satisfied. Also wanting a few additional readers who can provide diverse feedback (if anyone is interested, please let me know).
They are currently titled Breaking the Feud with Seeds and Mirrors (sci-fi fantasy mash-up experiment gone creepy wrong - this is the one pictured in the last post on physically spiraling drafts for revision processing), Patching the Rot (recovering double agent mole struggles to handle the rot in the buildings that are the object of his job and the rot in his personal life), and Rescue of the Fated (a brother and sister try to save a captive race from demons - I still prefer an earlier title for this one, Demons in Monsoon, but it doesn't quite match the content anymore, so perhaps for another story). There are also two poems, and two other stories, not quite as finished, but if I manage it, they will be submitted as well.
The main submission goal is Writers of the Future. Every three months that's a given until a story gets noticed and wins, or I get published and am disqualified from future submissions. This will be my third submission (though the first two submissions last Fall and Winter were the same story with different approaches), and my goal is to win by the twelfth submission or earlier (this is due in part to Eric Witchey's brief mention of his experience with the contest. I'm still undecided between submitting either Breaking the Feud with Seeds and Mirrors or Patching the Rot. The first story probably has a better focus on the specific fantasy/sci-fi element, which WotF judges love (based on my readings of interviews and a WotF anthology and a half), but I do prefer the second story for how life just gets more and more insane for the main character (maybe better for something specific to dark fantasy or horror, but it's more WotF length, i.e. 10K-17K words).
My other submission goals are less important, but it is beneficial to gradually increase my side goals. So for March, I also hope to submit a piece for consideration in the first issue of The Audient Void (by March 20th), and a story and two poems for consideration in the next issue of phantom drift (by March 31st), as well as submit a story for the Eugene Writers Anonymous writing prompt (again, by March 31st; the winner of the last prompt contest got some cool art for their story, so that'd be fun). I also want to submit to Nightmare Magazine, open for submissions in the spring, but I imagine that won't be until April or May.
After March, I'll put most of my writing time into novel editing (though I'll still be working on a story for the June 31st WotF deadline). And I'll need to decide on several more contests and magazines to start sending out a few pieces on a regular schedule to stock up on those rejection slips and, eventually, get some recent work out there for the public eye.
I'll admit, I'm struggling with keeping stories at specific word limits, especially when transitioning from months spent focused more on noveling to months spent more on shorter fiction. I find myself spending more time in the 10K to 20K region, rather than cutting it down to the less than 5K region. Well, I'm getting better at it, and meaner about cutting scenes and pointless lines. So here we go, onward to ever improving creative work! (Right after I finish the latest proofreading job.)