Getting a Good Start

January 2, 2018 at 3:00 am (Fervor, horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , )

I gave my writing a bit of a rest last year – limited editing efforts, only a few short stories completed and a half-hearted commitment to submitting at least 100 times during the year.  I had some success, but my work life intruded upon my home life and I used that as an excuse to let things slide a little.

Thankfully, a Facebook writers group I belong to  has introduced a monthly writing goal thread that will help us all keep on track and I find it motivating.  I’m off to a good start, with some heavy duty editing and three short story submissions today to begin my January submission blitz.  Tomorrow I’ll get some more writing and editing in as well as more submissions.  I’ve also  come across a publisher looking to reprint or republish novels that offers some real potential for my now out-of-print series.  I’d love to see Fervor and Masters & Renegades in print again, and maybe I’ll get to publish the unpublished books in both series.

In the meantime, I’m going to celebrate my newest release.  “Fish Story” makes an appearance in Issue #6 of the Gathering Storm Magazine available online here, or in print here.  Once again, they have fabulous cover art, formatting and interior illustrations.  The are a top-notch publication specializing in dark, quirky fiction and poetry.  I’m working on another short for their next call for submissions.

I’ll try to follow-up on my progress over the next few weeks.  Wish me luck.

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Off to a Start

January 21, 2016 at 12:14 am (Links, writing) (, , , , , )

11411625_828063760601992_934110053421441574_oI was planning to save my next blog post for the next anthology release. It’s now available so here’s a link to the latest charity anthology from Grinning Skull Press.

I’m still waiting on three other releases from three other publishers. One is going through the editing process now. One was tied up by legal issues that have been settled but required some reworking as a result. The other has hit multiple unfortunate obstacles, but hopefully will soon see the light. Almost everything is in place but no release date has actually been set for any of them…so I sit…and I wait. Okay, I’m not simply sitting, but more about that later.

I have a couple of stories I was trying to decide if I should submit to another publisher. One got mixed reviews from test readers that spawned some doubts. A part of me wishes I could expand the story a little more but I ran into the top end of the word count restrictions and despite editing efforts, I couldn’t find enough give. I decided to send it in “as is.” The last time I was foiled by word count limitations, the editor who eventually accepted the story gave me leeway to go a bit bigger so that I could expand on what I had a little. This submission is to the same publisher but a different editor, so I can’t expect the same consideration.

The other story is based on true events and outside my normal genre. I already had one rejection from that venue and I’m not sure why. They said they liked my writing but passed on the story. I’m not sure if this new attempt is more like what they wanted or even farther off base.

That, and with winter’s snow comes the wall I often hit this time of year. I don’t know if I suffer from SAD, but I get a bit mopey in the winter and that dulls the enthusiasm I need to push things out, It’s the reason I prefer spring and fall submission blitzes, Summer is for gardening and winter is for glum.

In my attempt to combat that glum, I continue with jugger on Sundays and I have tried out trabampolining (as my friend, Gil, likes to call it) and dodgeball I’m hoping the best cure for the winter blahs is staying active and attempting to have fun (I’m not a huge fan of dodgeball but it was fun because nobody cared how bad I was.) I’m not sure if staying active is working. Time will tell.

I hope I can figure out what does work by February. I have two weeks off then, and I want to make the most of them.

More later…

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More News Post Blitz

May 19, 2015 at 10:40 pm (Links, writing) (, , , , , )

zucThis time of year my focus tends to be on gardening more than writing, but I’m happy to see submission seeds I planted during my blitzes are yielding fruit. I’ll be announcing the release of one of my zombie stories shortly from an acceptance from a prior submission blitz, and from this April one I just received a semi-pro rate acceptance for a favourite story of mine I’ve been shopping for some time. The ones I like best can take longer to find a home because I tend to be picky about venues, reserving them for semi-pro or pro rate calls for submission. I’m extra happy about this acceptance because it comes with multiple contributor copies as well as a good flat fee. It’s also a really good fit with the anthology.
I still am writing in dribs and drabs, toying with another fairy tale mash-up, one that mixes Snow White with Norse mythology. I’m also trying to dig up more info on two contracted acceptances that may or may not have been released. I couldn’t find my story listed on the table of contents for one anthology – the publisher has had issues, so if it turns out to be a no-go I won’t be terribly upset. The other anthology was released with no official notice sent my way and I haven’t been able to locate a table of contents for it anywhere. I was on the online acceptance list that used to be posted but now is gone and I do have a contract for it. I have to assume, at the moment, my story is in there, but I can’t be sure.
More updates as they come in – back to gardening.

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April Blitz – Day 14

April 15, 2015 at 1:37 am (dark fantasy, horror, writing) (, , , , )

I’m riding pretty high at the moment as I submit two more stories – this time to the same publisher for two different publications. I received an acceptance for one of my submissions this month, contract to follow, and I received the cheque for my first official pro-rate sale.  Happy times.

On a sadder note. I discovered one of the pro-rate venues that had given me a couple of maybes in the past had closed down at the end of 2014. It’s always disappointing to see a professional venue that made an effort to encourage newer writers fold.

I’m starting to have to dig a little more to find good fit for what’s left to submit, but at least I’m almost halfway to blitz end.

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All Was Quiet on the Home Front

December 23, 2014 at 12:02 pm (The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , , , , )

xmas5How many times have you sent a question out into the universe and actually expected to get an answer? Usually such questions are more an act of despair, not really anticipating a response. But then sometimes life will surprise you.

I hadn’t written anything in over a week, and I did not submit the last three stories I had considered submitting. Why? This year has been a struggle to maintain motivation. I had failed to make any of the progress I had been hoping for and suffered some serious setbacks. My publisher’s managing editor had encountered some delightful success with his own writing (go him!) and his financial manager spouse had met some serious family troubles that left her wanting to cut back on her workload (my sympathies), so they decided to focus on his work and release the majority of their authors.

My novels are now all in limbo, with the exception of my Snowy Barrens Trilogy. Most are just sitting on the shelf. Two are still with my old publisher but I’m expecting them to come down eventually. The others are mostly unavailable, many of them waiting on a release in writing, and a couple of them sitting with a Canadian publisher for review (they have been there for about a year.) It feels like everything has just stalled out. And it is not very encouraging.

I did have a few short story acceptances this year, but the pickings were slim. One of my stories also got picked up for a theatrical reading for Halloween, a new one for me. But mostly, I was looking at a handful of stories put on hold and then turned down by pro-rate venues (I did appreciate the “maybe”s and the feedback I did get was useful) and a big bag full o’ rejections. My creative process is fueled by feedback, preferably positive, and this year I was facing a drought.
To top it all off, I had failed at my new year’s resolution. My aspiration to get a pro-rate sale this year died with the rejection letter this month from the last pro-rate venue that still had one of my stories on hold – the one I considered my best shot. I was starting to believe the universe was trying to tell me something because my hard work seemed to be yielding little in the way of returns. There’s a saying in accounting about throwing good money after bad. The same thought could be applied to effort, especially when you find yourself moving backwards. Was all of this worth my time?

It doesn’t help that I’m not very good at marketing myself. I try, but I’m not a natural salesperson. I lack the gift of schmooze. That can make or break you in the publishing industry.

I figured I’d step back from writing until I had shaken this off. Either I’d come back to it fresh and ready to start writing just for fun again, or I’d move on to something else. I stopped blogging, wrote my last couple of short stories for a spell, and threw the question out there into the cosmos. “Is this worth it? Give me a sign?”

I’ve lived my life as sort of a cosmic joke, and this situation proved no different, because the cosmos’s answer got filtered right into my e-mail junk folder twelve days before my chance to succeed at my resolution would come to an end. Call it what you want – the powers that be…fate…coincidence or just dumb luck. Call it a good thing that I check my junk mail folder on a regular basis. Anyway, rather than finding my first pro rate sale, it found me.

There it was, mixed in with the spam about pills that could improve the size of my manhood and princes from Nigeria needing help to access their inheritance: an e-mail from a big publisher wanting to buy one of my stories, and a reprint at that.  I hadn’t even submitted anything to them.

I answered back right away. The e-mail had already been sitting there for three days. The going price they were offering was pro rate. So now it is just a matter of settling out the contract and providing them with the extra bits they need for promotional purposes (photo, bio, etc.).

If any of you were wondering why my blog had gone quiet, now you know. It won’t be quiet anyxmas1 longer. Right now I want to sing (and do a series of happy dances.) I’ll have a Christmas treat for you coming up and some links to share.

Happy holidays, and I hope you have your own reasons to happy dance as well.

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You May Have Noticed…

September 16, 2014 at 11:54 am (Fervor, Reviews, The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , )

I haven’t been blogging much lately. I’m still trying to make heads or tails of the fact that my publisher, May December Publications, has decided to release the majority of its authors, which means the better part of my novels will soon be out of print (in fact, Transcendence already is and the others will soon follow.) If you were thinking of purchasing any of the novels, you may want to grab them now while you still can. Some are being offered at deal prices – Fervor for $4.83 for example.

I can appreciate the reasons behind their decisions. MDP is a family run business and they are dealing with some very serious personal issues at the moment. They are choosing to concentrate their limited time and resources on the publication and promotion of the managing editor’s books instead. This a a more profitable option for them.  I understand their choice, it makes perfect sense, and I expected things to go this way for some time. Unfortunate circumstances just prompted it sooner rather than later.

So now I’m left deciding if I want to put the work into self-publishing these novels, try to find a new small press publisher or just sit on them for a while and mull things over.  My writing effort of late has been going into short stories and I am still publishing those with other publishers.  My Snowy Barrens Trilogy will still be available.

I will have to go about disabling the buttons and links here on WordPress for things no longer in print .  It will take me some time to update everything, so bear with me.  It sort of feels like I’ll be starting all over again from the beginning, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  The only thing  I’m unhappy about losing are the reviews I’ve amassed on Amazon, especially for Fervor.

Anyway, MDP and I will be parting on good terms.  I wish them luck and I enjoyed working with them.

On to the next adventure.

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April Submission Blitz – Guilty as Charged

April 25, 2014 at 1:51 am (writing) (, , , , , , , )

I love to push boundaries. Some publishers like that, or at least are willing to tolerate it if the story is good enough. I’m hoping the publisher to whom I just submitted “Heaven Scent” falls into this category. I went with inspiration while I was writing the story and I think it turned out all the more beautiful, dark and sensual for it, but I strayed into that blurry area just outside the posted guidelines in the process. I’ve done it before, many times and sometimes it has resulted in success. Other times, it has resulted in more attempts to get it published elsewhere. I’m not sure how this submission will turn out, but I may already have another venue in mind if this one says “no.”

The publisher may decide to adhere to provided thematic guidelines like glue. I met most of them, all but one in fact, so we’ll see if they like the story, and if they do, if that one straying from the marked path will get my story ousted. While I follow rules at work and the laws of society, I don’t think creativity should be too rigidly restricted. It does mean I sometimes lose out as a result, but a writer’s got to do what a writer’s got to do. The integrity of the story just happens to be more important to me, for some reason.

Only a few days left. Time to start something new.

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April Submission Blitz – Things I Won’t Do

April 5, 2014 at 11:24 pm (writing) (, , , , , , , )

While I will write cover letters and resubmit stories until I’m blue in the face, there’s a few things I won’t do to try to increase my odds of getting published. I won’t submit anywhere where a submission fee is required – contests included. I won’t pay for a venue membership to get “preferential treatment”. I won’t buy editing services from the publisher in order to improve my chances of acceptance. And I won’t support a kickstarter campaign in the hopes that it will give me a competitive edge in the slush pile either. I’ve seen all of those “opportunities” come up at one point or another, but I’m in this for the long run, earning my way into the game. I’m not on the hunt for possible short cuts I might be able to buy, or some publishing lottery I hope to win.

When I submitted today’s story, they had the option of just making the submission, or submitting and paying $5 to enter their editor’s choice competition (3 prizes of $100? – that’s a small prize for that kind of entry fee.) And you could purchase one of their memberships to get preferential treatment (that’s exactly how they described it.) I may have little chance of an acceptance as a result of keeping my money in my pocket, but if that’s the case, so be it. I hold to the advice that unless you are self-published (and are paying for things like editing or cover art), the money should flow from the publisher to the writer and not the other way around.

I submitted a story that has already received several rejections, so I’m not holding my breath, especially since it will likely be parked at the bottom of the slush pile because I didn’t pay. Nevertheless, it’s still worth a shot.

More tomorrow…

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April Submission Blitz – New Options

April 4, 2014 at 1:38 am (writing) (, , , , , )

I’ve been saving up links for different listings of venues open to submissions and that means I’m submitting to publishers I’ve never submitted to before. Today I sent in a flash piece to a new-to-me publisher and I’m staying hopeful that I’ll get a positive response. Unfortunately, submitting to unfamiliar publishers can have its drawbacks. The last time I sent off this story, it was also to a venue I hadn’t tried before. The results were not happy. The anthology switched hands while in development and the new publisher decided it wasn’t necessary to inform authors of rejected stories that they were going to pass on their submissions. The first I knew my submission had been rejected was hearing that the anthology had been released. It had been out for over a month – and all that time I was waiting on an answer that wasn’t coming.

I can understand not having the time to personalize a rejection letter or to offer feedback, but those submitting deserve at least a form letter so they know when they are free to resubmit a story somewhere else, particular if that publisher requires the submission be exclusive. It’s both the courteous and fair thing to do. I’m not sure if this publisher decided they couldn’t spare the time to send out form letters or had been cowed by a harsh response from someone they rejected in the past. What it does mean is I likely won’t submit to them again. I could have been sitting on that submission for months longer if I hadn’t noticed that the anthology had been released. I’d much rather get a rejection notice than be left in the dark.

Hopefully, I’ll have better luck with this one, no matter what the outcome.

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October Submission Blitz – Scary Scarecrows

October 30, 2013 at 2:03 am (horror, writing) (, , , , , , )

Three more days, three more submissions (and two more rejection letters – but it is what it is.) I hadn’t been planning on submitting novels as part of this blitz, but I got a rejection back from Baen for Elements of Genocide and then found out Angry Robot had an open submission window. I really want to find EoG a home – I don’t like having it sit and gather dust on my shelf so I decided to try it out on Angry Robot. That meant writing a two page synopsis, my least favourite submission task. I find tackling the synopsis more difficult that writing and editing the 100,000+ word novel the synopsis covers. But I hunkered down and got it done. Even if I don’t get it published soon, I feel rewarded each time I get someone to read it, whether it ends up rejected or not.

The second novel submission was actually a query in response to a publisher soliciting a novel. This is only the second time I’ve had this happen, so I jumped on it and suggested “Sleep Escapes Us” for review. We’ll see if there’s interest there. I have my fingers crossed.

My third submission was the third resubmission for one of my shorts. Maybe the third time will be the charm.

My horror trope today is scary scarecrows. This trope seems to crop up everywhere. From the classic Pumpkinhead to a myriad of Halloween-themed tales in anthologies and podcasts the scary scarecrow shows its spooky face all over the place. Considering they are designed to frightened, it’s no surprise that they are inherently creepy.

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