Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Perseverance: The most important word for authors

I've been struggling with demons lately. Of those demons, the worst has been procrastination. I find myself waking in the morning, vowing to accomplish a lot of work on my novel during the day. Instead, I find myself planted in front of the computer reading blogs by literary agents and editors about the publishing industry. I tell myself that I'm not wasting time because I need to know what's going on in the publishing industry. When I get off the computer, I pace through the house, looking for things to do. I might wash dishes, which is actually something that sucks if neglected. I eventually find myself sitting on the sofa, watching television or surfing through the channels to find something to watch. God knows that daytime television is an absolute waste of time to begin with because there's never anything worth watching anyway. Usually, I can pull myself away and plant my butt in front of my laptop to knock out some editing or to write a few pages. My goal is to edit/write 10 pages each day, but recently, that number has dwindled and I find myself compromising with a few pages, varying between 3 to 5 each day.

I'm losing my forward momentum and I realize that to stay on this path is the smooch of death. So, today I asked myself what was the problem. Why was I plagued with this monkey of procrastination on my back? I believe I've found the answer. When I wrote the first draft of my first novel, I made myself sit down and write 1,000 words everyday. During that time, I had days when I couldn't bring myself to reach my goal, let alone sit down in front of the computer. That's just life, we're not machines, after all. But, I also had a penalty system. If I missed a day, that meant that I had to double up the following day. I was pretty firm with myself about this and finished my first draft three months after starting it.

Now that I'm revising that first draft (I'm currently on the third revision) and working on the first draft of my second novel, I've found myself in a major procrastination rut. When I looked deeply at the cause, I realized that some of the problem arose from the blogs I've been reading. Most of the agents talk about certain elements that make a story sellable: intriguing plot, voice, style, believable dialog, rich characterization, visual settings and imagery, etc. I've since gone back and asked myself whether these elements were evident in my work. Feeling a boatload of self doubt, I find it intimidating to sit down and continue to embarrass myself at my laptop. Also, making repetitive passes through a mountain of pages to look at the dialog, characterization, etc. is such a daunting task that it takes the wind right out of my sails. I find myself without the motivation to continue.

Now that I've identified the problem, it seems that the only solution is to just persevere, to lower my head and charge into the task at hand. Internally, I feel as if I'm on a timeline with a quickly approaching deadline that I know I'll fail to meet. But rationally, I know there is no such deadline. My eagerness to sell and publish my first book is getting me worked up. Self doubt is playing into it as well, squashing my motivation. If I don't stop it now, this could be a never ending cycle. I guess this is what writer's block is like. I've heard many writers discuss about this problem, but have never experienced it myself until now. But, I know what I have to do.

When I finish this blog, I'll turn off the stupid TV and plant myself in front of my laptop, and like the Nike slogan says, just do it! I urge you to do the same.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How do you separate yourself from the multitude of other writers?

With such fierce competition between the numerous aspiring authors trying to get their books published, every author should do what he/she can to make themselves stand out in a publisher's mind so that they will get the recognition they deserve. Now, I'm not going to say that you should pull silly gimicky tricks to make an editor notice your query letter among the heap they peruse daily. No. I'm talking about using your craft to get the attention of an editor. What I am going to say here is very importnant. These are things I've noticed just from reading what publishers produce and communicating with other writers. Frankly, some of it is appalling.

I like to say that seeking a publisher or literary agent is very similar to competing in American Idol. I say this because if you watch American Idol, there are hundreds of thousands of people who audition for that show. Out of that multitude, some actually have talent. The rest? Well, they're disillusioned individuals that think they have talent. Now, I can't sing. If I tried, people might pay me to stop! But rest assured, you won't see me in line to audition for that show. At least I know I can't sing, so there's no use in me trying. But what about all those idiots that stand in line, waiting to waste the judges' time? How can they not know that they suck? I mean, really! Well, I feel that many aspiring writers today are equivelant to these talentless asshats that tryout for AI and think they have talent. Of course, I believe that editors and agents are too professional to tell a horrible writer that they suck as candidly as Simon Cowell delivers the news point-blank. I think it would be a much different industry if editors/agents were so blunt.

I like to follow literary agents' and publishers' blogs to keep abreast of the industry and changes in it. Also, I try to follow some professional authors' blogs (not only because I enjoy what many of them have to say, but because they can teach me things about the craft of writing and the publishing industry). I even follow some of the unpublished writers. Now, the aspiring writers are the best, in my opinion, because they are like a yard stick by which I can measure myself against the competition. For instance, one writer said they were going to write four different stories for four different submission calls they heard about. Well, that's fine and dandy, but I've read quite a bit of this writer's previous stories and they all stank (again, my opinion--well, and a few of my friends' opinions as well). The writer in question comes across too brash, always trying to whip out a story like a switchblade in a streetfight. When a writer acts that hastily, usually their work suffers because of it. This writer is no exception. All it takes is to read this writer's work to see that spelling and grammatical mistakes go unchecked because the writer is too caught up in the daydream of being in print and hurries toward it without heed. As a writer, your work reveals a lot about you. Writers should not try to publish (or self-publish) a piece of work until it is as error free as possible. Otherwise, you come across sloppy and/or lazy.

I also find it embarrassing to correspond with other writers only to learn that their messages are peppered with misspellings or that the idea the writer tried to convey was jumbled and difficult to follow. As writers, we're supposed to be wordsmiths. Our vocation is using words to paint visual imagery to our readers, to efficiently and elegantly describe or convey something to those reading our prose. When I read an email or message from a fellow writer and I see ungrammatical text and the sender is telling me they write, have written, or better yet, are published, I can't help but roll my eyes and wonder whether they are just lying. I mean, what kind of agent or editor would represent such a sloppy, lazy person? I know you may be reading this and asking yourself where I get off thinking I'm God's gift to the reading world. Well, I don't want to come off sounding so high-handed, but goddamn it, someone needs to bring attention to this situation.

I read the work of a professional author recently (I won't mention any names, but this writer is fairly prolific) and I was amazed that a major publishing house represented this writer. I actually thought that the writer must've finished a first draft and submitted it to their agent/editor. Well, maybe I shouldn't say editor, because if an editor did read any of the manuscript, he/she should've wiped their ass with it because to say they read it and then published it that way, well that agent/editor should be fired! So enough of my ranting. I wanted to talk about ways to set yourself apart from this large crowd of non-writers that are also seeking to publication.

First, I must strongly urge you to pay very close attention to your writing. Walk amongst the trees again! Reread your work once it's finished, seeking out those misspellings and unclear thoughts. Fix them! This is called editing. It exists for a reason. I know it's boring and sometimes very tedious, but without it, you may come across to the reader as a moron or lazy. I usually edit my short stories several times before they ever see the light of day. Another trick is to get a couple of close friends (people that will tell you honestly what they think of your story) to read your work and provide feedback. Also, make sure these people are fairly literate. There's no need asking someone that never reads for their opinion. Try to steer clear of people that will tell you that they love your work because they wouldn't want to hurt your feelings by telling you that they did not like what they read. I believe there are a lot of writers out there with this problem. Actually, I'm quite sure of it! I've seen authors with dreadfully bad stories posted on the internet and the comments have all been sugar-coated bullshit about how well the story was written, etc. Please! This does nothing to help the writer improve and only gives him/her a false sense of pride. Make sure you receive honest, educated feedback. My wife is my first reader (she's an English professor) and I listen to most everything she says about what I should correct. However, sometimes I might disagree with her on more subjective things. In which case, I leave it the way I originally wrote it, but this is quite rare.

Okay, I know I've praddled on quite a bit so I'll offer up one more bit of advice: study the really successful authors in the field. And not just one, but several. Get to know why they are successful. You should be able to glean this from reading their work and watching how they write descriptive scenes, their use of narration and dialog and a whole host of other things. You will learn volumes from their writing if you open up your mind to look for these things. Also, read some truly bad authors to learn what not to do. I think that if you follow this advice: learn your grammar, edit (edit, edit), let others provide unbiased feedback about your writing, and learn from the success or mistakes of other writers; you will single yourself out from the herd of talentless twits trying to take away from you that publishing slot.

One last thing: as a writer, you should always be improving and growing. Never stop doing that!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

One Word, One Sentence, One Paragraph At A Time: Baby Steps Toward That First Novel

It's almost NaNoWriMo time again and while I've never participated in this event I thought I'd comment on writing a novel. This is by no means a nut-and-bolt breakdown of writing something as monumental as a novel, but it should spur some motivation in anyone who reads this and wants to make the commitment it takes to undergo the journey to produce something as lengthy as a book. Here's how I do it, in a nutshell...

It's amazing how many people want to become writers, or at least, how many say they want to write a book. Most of these people never make the time to ever write to begin with, but that's a whole different topic I may address later. For those that do make the time and then sit down, trying to write, they soon become frustrated by the monumental task of writing a novel. I didn't have that problem when I wrote my first book, The Shadow People. I read Stephen King's book, On Writing, prior to embarking on the task of writing. (I seem to do everything the hard way first)

In his book, King says to commit to a regimen of 1,000 words every day (and that it is permissible to take one day off each week). He said that in a period of three months, one could have a novel. Granted, there is a lot of other factors that come into play: creativity, a good story idea, and fortitude, to name but a few. I already had an idea, however, and I did as he said. I sat down each day in a closed room and did a brain dump, putting my 1,000 words (or more, sometimes less) down on paper. Well, actually into the computer, but whatever, let's not split hairs here.

After three months had passed I had my first draft complete. I didn't sit and worry about how long the story should be, or suffering through a certain number of pages. I think if any of those concerns had carried much weight I might have been doomed before I started. I simply began strolling among the trees, comprised of words and scenes, until eventually, I came out on the other side and was able to turn and look back at the forest I had traveled through. It was a spectacular feeling!

Oh sure, there were days when I sat and tried to write those thousand words, but nothing wanted to come out. Those days were tough, but I stayed at my desk until I finished, and then there were days when I wrote two to five thousand words. Those days didn't come as often, however. For me, I simply sat down and looked at where I had left off. Once I was reacquinted with my place in the story, I watched as it unfolded in my head like recapping a movie or television show. As it played out, I sat by as a spectator, recording what I saw happening on the stage of my mind. With this technique, it's harder for the writer to pace the floor worrying about how many words he/she has written, or how many more they have to write to be finished for the day. Your job at this point is to simply watch happens and write what you see. The content will make itself: first as a word, then a sentence, and finally forming each paragraph at a time.

Writing is not an easy job. It's hard! Much harder than I first thought. Sitting down to write for one's self takes a lot of the difficulty out of it, but if you're writing for an audience and a living, there's so much more to worry about than how many words you can suffer through. If suffering through them is your primary concern, you shouldn't be writing anyway because then there's no joy in it. So, if you still want to write and you take it serious, just sit back and let your mind play and your fingers fly. Your story will eventually write itself. Just get it from your head to the paper. There's no one else that can transcribe that masterpiece but you, and the second draft is where you worry about fine-tuning it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Stranger in a strange land: Crossing over the genre line

When I first started writing, I wrote only horror stories. Horror is my passion. I'm a horror junkie. Whether it be movies, television, or books, I prefer horror. I love all the old slasher films. I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer and now I am a huge fan of the show Supernatural. I read mainly Stephen King for scares. Yes, I pigeon-holed myself as a horror writer because it's what I love to read, so naturally it's what I chose to write.

My best friend and writer, Mark, is quite the opposite. He is a sci-fi author. Which stands to reason since he is as passionate about science fiction and space as I am with the dark and my monsters. I do not want to be labeled as only a horror writer, however. When you stand back and look, you'll see that Stephen King, although called the King of Horror, does not write only horror stories. He has written science fiction (the first one to come to mind is a short story called The Jaunt), fantasy (the whole Dark Tower series) and other works of fiction, although I'm not sure quite how I would label them (The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile).

Although I love horror and want to dethrone my idol, Stephen King, I don't want to simply be complacent in the horror genre. I want to spread my wings, flex my creative mind and reach out to other realms of writing. It's definitely a great way to excercise your creativity. I decided to try my hand at science fiction because fantasy and other genres, mystery, romance, etc. do not appeal to me. I will say, however, that they may appeal to me one day, just not right now. Science fiction never appealed to me before, with a couple of exceptions: Stephen King's The Jaunt and Ray Bradbury's awesome story, Mars Is Heaven. I have always loved that story because it broke the stereotypical mold I had of the genre being dominated by pasty nerds in glasses swooning over space stories such as Star Trek and Star Wars. (Note: I enjoy watching Star Trek and loved Star Wars as a child, but Star Wars has somehow lost its luster to me as an adult.) What appealed to me about Bradbury's story was how it did not take place in a space craft among the stars (granted, there is a space ship, but the setting is more like that of Earth). The twist ending was the thing I loved most. I am a huge fan of Twilight Zone-Rod Serling-ish endings. That's what turns my dials up to ten. Another thing that turned me off from the science fiction genre was the notion that the field has been too heavily mined, much like Vampire stories in the horror genre, there just wasn't much unexplored territory.

That last notion is somewhat of a misconception, in my opinion. Sure, the genre has been heavily mined but so has the horror genre, that's why a creative mind is so vitalas well as reading broadly. Stephen King once said that writing is like being ushered into a vast building with more doors than one can open in a lifetime, and as a writer, you're given leave to open as many as you like. It's definitely true with all writing, no matter the genre. I recently read a sci-fi story called Blood Child, which blew me away. Again, it did not take place aboard a space craft, which intrigued me because of my stereotypical view of the genre. It now ranks top in my mind, next Bradbury's story, sitting aloft that pedestal with Mars Is Heaven. I decided to try my hand at writing some sci-fi. I explored the farthest recesses of my mind for a good story angle. I came up with a black hole scenario (again, mined to death). I kicked it around, looking for some new spin on it, but no matter what I dreamed up, it seemed too cliche. After letting the idea ferment for about a week, something came to me. I had the perfect twist ending. I sat down and pounded the story out and began editing it. I had written my first science fiction piece! One that I am quite proud of.

Bitten with the bug, I decided to see if lightning would strike twice. I racked my brain for different scenarios, but my lack of science fiction exposure hindered me. After all, I do not read much science fiction, so I was niave about what had been overdone and what was on the fringes of the genre. For me, it was unmapped territory. I began reading science fiction stories to test the boundaries and get a feel for the style of some notable authors. Finally, another idea came to me. I wrote it down in my Ideas file for later. While I thought I was stuck for ideas days ago, another story emerged from the abyss, bubbling up like Texas-T for old Jedd Clampett. I watched a television show that mentioned The Lost Colony of Roanoke, a subject that has always intrigued me. I turned the mystery around in my mind and got a great idea for a science fiction yarn. A story that I'm currently editing. Since then, I've had some other ideas for sci-fi stories. I've even written my first poem!

My point is this: don't try to pigeon-hole yourself because other genres don't appeal to you. If you give them a try, reading several different stories by several different authors, you may find that you like some of the works in a particular genre and that can open up a new area for you to excercise your writing abilities. This is why I said earlier that while I don't like romance and mystery, it's not to say that I never will. To subscribe to that theory would make me closed minded, and close mindedness (to me, at least) is an author's poison. So spread your creative wings and fly!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Releasing your book into the wild: When is the best time to submit your work?

I've encountered this quite a bit lately and even wrestled with the question myself. I recently read on a writer's bulletin board a post that basically asked when one should finish a work and move on to the next WIP (work-in-progress for those that don't already know). A literary agent even addressed this question as well, so I decided to further the topic. As I've said, I wrestled with this conundrum myself, but luckily, I've managed to see past it. While I still haven't actually released my novel into the wild yet, I have gotten the inspiration to get it finished much quicker.

Here's my account: I began writing The Shadow People in 2005, before my horrible divorce. It took me 3 months to write the first draft. I set it aside while my life was turned upside down. I tried editing the hard copy in 2006, but felt it was too monumental of a task along with the ongoing divorce, so I quit after 80 pages. In 2007, after remarrying, I pulled out the manuscript and began thinking of how to edit the monstrous thing. I had a ream of pages before me and the mere sight of it took the wind out of my sails. Finally, I sat down with a legal pad and pen and read the whole thing through, creating an outline of revision notes on the pad. I thought it was horribly written and decided it needed a rewrite. I eventually rewrote it, although I don't remember how long it took to do so, but I think it was relatively quick. I put it aside again, to let it mellow. While it was tucked away, I began other novels, leaving them in various stages to work on other projects that felt more interesting. Finally, I stood back and looked at the mess of WIPs I had accumulated, realizing that if I kept on like this I would always have plenty of unfinished projects out there and nothing to show for it. Meanwhile, I kept reading agent blogs and news of debut authors selling their books to publishers. If I wanted to join these new authors' ranks, then I knew I had to get off my ass and quit procrastinating with my work. Like writing a first draft, I vowed to set some limits to accomplish the goal. I committed to editing a minimum of 10 pages each day. With 380 pages, it would take me just over a month. I made it through and it felt great! Now, I've decided to make one more pass, a 4th revision, but this one will be a lighter version since I've already completed the line-edit. I'll look at pacing, dialog that doesn't progress the story, etc. and clean all this up. When finished, I plan to distribute it to my first readers who've expressed an intrest in reading it to provide me with feedback.

The moral of my experience is this: writers are great at procrastinating! Whether they think of it that way or not, it's true. Maybe it's the trepidation we feel toward rejection. I could've continued telling myself that my work just wasn't good enough with each revision. Reading it over and over, feeling that I can do better than this. Of course, as writers, we should constantly be growing in our craft and this means that we will always look back at our older writing and see where we could improve it or express something better than we did. Even the famous authors have published books they can look back on, thinking, Wow, I could've done better than that! At least they're published! This is what finally lit the fire under my ass. I want to join the ranks of published novelists, so I decided to get the story written to the best of my current ability. If you sit on the manuscript, thinking you can always do it better, then you'll probably find yourself in the same detrimental cycle I was in. Eventually, you have to see if it has wings and can fly from the nest.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banned Book Week: I'm a little late with this...

but, better late than never. Yes, I'm blogging today about Banned Book Week. I've been poring over the lists and statistics of banned books and I'm amazed. There are some real party poopers out there that want to ruin the fun that literature brings to people. Mainly, these people that challenge a book's worth and merit are parents. They do so because they are supposedly looking out for their child's best interest. Well, that's pretty noble, I guess. I have three boys of my own, but I've never taken to the streets or written my local library or school board because of what my kids are reading. Hell, I'd love it if they showed more interest in reading! Here's some of my opinions about such behavior.

First, be proud that little Jimmy or Sally is reading at all! It's bad enough for books to compete with cable television, movies, video games, and cell phones. Most kids that I know only read a book when it is assigned in school. I must admit, I used to be the same way, shirking the reading assignments my teachers gave me. Now, however, I would be lost without a good book to read while I lay in bed before dozing off, or sitting on the back deck during a pleasant day.

Second, stop whining about what your child is reading (be glad they're reading at all-see first point above). The statistics for people intiating the banning of books show that the largest percentage are parents. Like I said above, trying to protect your child from profanity and sexually explicit material is noble, but do you really need to try to get a book banned because it has the words damn, hell, and ass inside? I think not. Also, I think that shielding your child from such expletives adversely effects them when they get out into the real world. I happened to look at the list of banned and challenged classics and I was amazed at some of the books on the list. There were books that I've read and never would have imagined being targeted for banning. One was To Kill A Mockingbird. I believe it was challenged because the intiator thought the content promoted racism. All I can do is shake my head at such narrow-mindedness.

Third, most of the reasons for these challenges against the books are brought up by people who want the world to see things as they see them. They majority of these people might be religious fanatics, I don't know, but I do know that they want to squash intellectual freedom by imposing their views on the rest of us. Why is it that because someone out there disagrees with something, they have to get up in arms and start a crusade? Reading is just like watching the TV: if you don't like what you're seeing or hearing, turn the channel! In the case of books, close the cover and return it to the library or get a refund, but do not try and ban the book and ruin the entertainment value for the rest of us. Just because we don't see eye-to-eye doesn't mean I have to do things your way, and vice versa.

Now that I've had my say and gotten that off my chest, here is a link to the banned books week website: Banned Books Week

Monday, September 28, 2009

Eschew obfuscation: Why do so many writers try to sound so literary?

I received an anthology the other day in the mail. I ordered it online from a publisher where I wanted to submit a story. I wanted to get a feel for the type of writing the editors published. All of the stories in the anthology had been published on the publisher's website, but were also winners out of other stories. I opened the cover and began reading the first story. It was horrible!

I will compliment the author on her immense vocabulary, but did she really have to try to use all of her big words in that one story? Was she trying to impress someone? The use of so many uncommon words made the story artificial and labored. I suffered through the story, trying to quickly get to the next. When I finally reached the next story, it too, used flamboyant words throughout and I don't mean one or two scattered liberally here and there. I mean, every other word (well, not quite, but pretty damn close) was some obcsure word to lend the prose some kind of descriptive literary merit. It was horrible and painful to read!

Okay, you may be thinking that I'm being too critical here, but seriously, why must writers go out of their way to sound so literary? Having a large vocabulary is great, don't get me wrong, but do you have to bludgeon readers over the head with your fancy words? I had the problem myself, of trying to hard to sound literate with my earlier writing and occassionally it tries to creep back into my writing. Luckily, I have a constant reader that tells me when I'm trying too hard to sound literate. I was completely unaware that I was doing this until she pointed it out to me. I just knew that when I reread some of my work it was stilted and jagged on the ear, but I couldn't pinpoint what the problem was until it was brought it to my attention.

Now, when I finish writing something, I sit down with it and look for any places that rub me the wrong way. Usually, the places that tend to do this are where I've tried too hard to sound like I'm trying to impress my readers with my words. Falling into this trap is bullshit, and doing so will show in your writing, sticking out like a turd among the flowers. It is my opinion, however, that some authors can actually pull off this feat. If you pick up a book by one of these successful authors and read it, pay close attention to the flow of the narrative. I bet you any amount of money that the author will write as casually as they converse even if they have an extensive vocabulary.

I'm not saying to disregard all of your eloquent words. I'm just reiterating something King said in his book, On Writing, use the first word that comes to your mind. If you do this then you will more than likely write prose that flows unencumbered and doesn't jag on the ear. If you haven't read his book about the craft, I encourage you to do so. It's very informative. In it, he says that language doesn't always need to wear a tie and lace-up shoes. I agree. As you're writing, if you stop to think of a more impressive word to use in place of your small words, you'll come up with one. But, really, do you want to use a word that's only cousin to the word that first came to your mind? It's powerful stuff, that bit of advice. The only writer that really blew me away with the use of his extensive vocabulary without ruining the story I read was T. C. Boyle. He is one of the exceptions to the rule, however. He still manages to deliver beautiful prose wrapped inside those large words, but that is because he knows what he's doing. He's been doing it for decades. If you doubt it, then by all means, continue to write obfuscated prose and feel literate. As for me? I'll read something much less like a college dissertation, thank you.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Will a lofty advance sink your writing career?

I'm still in the revision process for my novel, The Shadow People, and before I get hard at work editing everyday, I like to read blogs from literary agents, publishers, and other more notable authors to see what's happeing in the writing/publishing world. Basically, I'm looking for knowledge to get me over the hurdle of finding an agent to get my book published. I mean, what writer doesn't daydream about making it big by landing that glorious book deal and large advance so they can tell their boss to kiss off, right? Well, my daydream is becoming more and more tarnished the more I read about the publishing process. First, there are stats that say only so many books submitted are published (can't remember the exact figure, but it's pretty intimidating) and then there's some conflicting information I recently read about advances, which really got me to thinking.

One of the literary agents I follow is Rachelle Gardner. She is an agent with WordServer Literary and she recently posted blogs about advances paid to authors, most importantly, debut authors. I read both of these posts, which can be found here (part 1) and here (the followup). I urge you to read these blogs, they are a little daunting, especially the first one's title. After you read these, there is another blog you simply must read, here by an author saying not to accept any advance a publisher offers you because to do so would undoubtably wreck your writing career before it even gets off the ground.

Now, I'll admit, I read the first two blogs by Rachelle and felt slightly disappointed. I mean, I highly doubt my first book will be something that knocks the socks off literary agents, publishers, or the reading public, but I try to keep telling myself that it might get a warm reception and do fairly well on the bookshelves. What writer tells him or herself otherwise? To do so means that you've already thrown in the towel and declared defeat. What motivation would you have to continue if you thought that way? After I read the third blog, by Joe Quirk, I was dumbfounded. Whose advice or information is right? I mean, I'd listen to Rachelle because she is in the publishing world and I would trust what she has to say. On the other hand, if Joe isn't blowing smoke, then that would logically mean that since Rachelle is working for the publishing world, she would encourage authors to stick with traditional publishing so she could make her cut of the money. Is what Joe says a strategy of the pulishing industry to keep the competition fierce? Do they really share financial information about an author's sales with their competitors? If so, then this is some scary news!

I've got to say that, in his blog, Joe sounds quite bitter toward the large publishing houses. Maybe he got burned early on. Maybe he's like a lot of "writers" out there who think they are stellar literary types who only manage to produce swill when they put pen to paper. Who's to say? I'm simply offering these few links to you so that you can read and compare as I have. I intend to do more research into this to better determine how I might react when I get to this point in my writing career, and I urge you to do the same. It's better to be forewarned when approached with a publisher's offer.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A life of rejection...

Okay, well, that was a bit strong, but I received two rejections this week. One for a flash story I wrote called Intruder and another I submitted to an anthology for nautical horror called Mark Avery's Final Voyage.

I've got several stories out there, waiting for some kind of response from editors. It's a painful thing for a writer to create something he/she really believes in and then send it out into the world seeking validation from others as to whether it is any good. On top of that, the waiting is nearly unbearable. I realize editors are inundated with large piles of manuscripts, so I understand this. I am not a very patient person, however, but I am learning to be more patient.

Intruder was a story that came to me one night as I was lying bed. I hurried to my computer and wrote down the idea so I could flesh it out the following day, which I did and then revised several times. I had no market in mind when I wrote the story, just a feeling that it needed to be written, to receive life, so to speak. Finally, I found a publisher of flash fiction tales and thought my story was a worthy candidate. It took about a month and a half before I received the rejection email from them. I was disappointed, but at least it's closure and I can still send it out to other editors.

On the very next day, I received word from the editor of the nuatical horror anthology that my story just wasn't right for them at this time. Again, I was disappointed, but I have set it aside until I can find another market for it.

I have three more stories waiting for some response from editors and the wait is killing me. In the meantime, I've decided to just knuckle down and complete the 3rd revision of my novel, The Shadow People, and create more short stories. This time when I write a short story, however, I am going to try to create something more cerebral than the last couple of yarns I've spun.