Navigating Through a Sea of Writing Failure

titanic-sinking

For the first time since I’ve been published I’ve hit, what is for me, my low point. I’ve made no posts, because I’ve had no work accepted for publication in the year 2014! Admittedly, my volume has suffered due to lifestyle changes, the most time-sucking one having been going back to school. Add in a few more excuses and what you have is basically…just that, excuses.

Although the amount I’ve written has been decreased, I didn’t think the quality had suffered, yet I find even the “positive” rejection is now something of a rarity. Nearly extinct is the “great story, but it doesn’t quite fit with this issue/publication/genre.”

There does seem to be less markets available for my level of submission, with smaller windows of time in which they are reading,  but again that’s just an excuse. I spent some time on a story or two that were certainly out of my comfort zone, and I’m sure I’m better for having written them, however; it’s little solace as the benefit of improvement is unmeasurable, particularly when success is measured by acceptance.

So, what is the answer? More writing of course! Easier said than done when the only results are form rejections. Is it fan fiction? The Press of Atlantic City published on 11/1/14, “Why publishers want fan fiction to go mainstream” by Jessica Contrera. In her article she mentions many websites in which fan fiction is published. She sites numerous success stories, one of which is “The Gabriel Trilogy,” which is Twilight fan fiction that was picked up by a publisher and has sold 850,000 copies. Another example of Twilight fan fiction is the “Beautiful Bastard’ series in which 1 million copies have been sold. Let’s not forget “50 Shades of Grey” and its 100 million and counting!

Is that the answer? Pick a best selling franchise and apply your talent toward retelling the story? I don’t know if that’s the best route to take, but it still seems a more palatable version of self-publishing per se. I don’t think I’m one to spend the limited writing time I have in producing a novel that is a retelling of an existing story, especially given that the chances of being successful are possibly no better (assuming the same level of writing talent in doing an original story vs fan fiction).

Anyway, for now, my answer will be to stay the course. I’ve switched it up with a flash fiction piece under 1,000 words. We’ll see where that goes. Other than that I’m open to some advice!

“Little Pieces” in Haunts & Horrors Anthology

Image

 

 

After a mind numbing six-week course on International Business where I debated such fascinating topics such as how Latvia could have better transitioned to the Euro as opposed to devaluing their lats and how South Korea could have prevented the crash of the won and the ensuing financial crisis after their recession in 1993 …it’s finally time to get back into writing mode.

As I started looking into various markets and the status on some of my pieces I was happy to learn that the reprint of my story “Little Pieces” is in the Wildside Press Haunts and Horrors Anthology.

Here’s the list of stories inside:

SURREAL ESTATE, by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

BIRTHMARK, by Seabury Quinn

THE MONKEY’S PAW, by W.W. Jacobs

FUGUES, by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

DEAD BABIES, by Lawrence Watt-Evans

THE MUFFIN MAN, by Mike Brines

THE SILENT MAJORITY, by Stephen Woodworth

THE TOMB, by H.P. Lovecraft

GONE, by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

THE MEAT FOREST, by John Haggerty

ETERNITY AND THE DEVIL, by Larry Hodges

MISS FAVERSHAM’S ROOM, by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

THE DAMNED THING, by Ambrose Bierce

THE SHADOWS OF THE DEAD, by Louis Becke

BONESY, by Larry Hodges

VENGEANCE IN HER BONES, by Malcolm Jamieson

LITTLE PIECES, by Matt Piskun

THE MAN WHO LIVED by Raymond F. O’Kelley

THE FOND NIGHTMARE, by Colin Azariah-Kribbs

THE RESIDENCE AT WHITMINSTER, by M.R. James

 

The good news is that if you want to check it out it’s on Kindle AND….

Image

 

It’s only $0.99…

The anthology showcases many talented authors. Colin Azariah-Kribbs has published many short stories as well as poetry and of course there’s Chelsea Quinn Yarbro who has been named a Guest of Honor at World FantasyConvention 2015, which will be held November 5-8, 2015 at the Saratoga City Center in Saratoga Springs, New York. There’s also a story by some guy named H.P Lovecraft.

Anyway check it out if you can.

Feedback from the Steel Cities Anthology

Image

 

 

I’m on the bubble of being accepted into the Steel Cities Anthology. That’s what senior editor Steve Ramey told me; however, there are still some 57 other stories yet to review. As one of my favorite ficticious pilots famously uttered, “Never tell me the odds!”

So here is some of the negative feedback I’ve received from his editors:

  • cliche metaphors
  • I don’t think the payoff quite justifies the word count
  • The metaphors were heavy-handed
  • we once again have a male characters fixated on almost exclusively on tits and ass

However, just when you think the story has no chance, I present to you the good:

  • very well written
  • good sense of reinforcing imagery and escalation
  • The writing pulled me in
  • I was sickened by some of the imagery, but I kept reading because I wanted to know what would happen
  • pulled in by the characters relationship triangle
  • Overall, I was compelled to read this story to the end despite its problems

Should know in a couple of weeks.

Spanish Inquisition = Publication (At Last)

Image

 

I guess the 10th time is a charm!

My story “The Cost that Lies Between Heaven and Earth” has found a home. The story is about Queen Isabella and the Spanish Inquisition. What could possibly cause an individual to go to such extremes and start a holy war and ruthlessly torture those with different beleifs? They must be pretty messed up right? I have my take on it and some of the scenes are, shall we say. NC-17. I am proud to say that someone in my writing workshop I was a member of found parts of the story so offensive she quit class.

Needless to say, none of the material in question was gratuitous. The actions of the characters fit the theme of the story and are “in character.” 

So, where has Isabella landed? Temptations Magazine: The Home of Erotic Fiction. NOT Temptation Magazine:Homoerotic Fiction as a friend hilariously misheard me say, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I will certainly post the link once my story is up and running. I think I may let my mother skip this one.

Image

Also simmering in the slush pile wasteland are several other of my stories:

  • Beth Hartley is Hot is currently submitted to Shock Totem
  • Colony is submitted to an anthology by Parsec Ink
  • Pax Salutem is submitted to Pseudopod
  • God Mother is submitted to Black Static 

 

Living in the Post-Apocalypse World

IMG_0092

It has been too long since my last post. So much has happened…a 6 week MBA course that derailed my writing is now in the books….the world did not end, we learned that the Mayans just weren’t so good at math….Christmas came and went (with another new addition to my office as seen in the photo above), I am battling a super-cold of some sort that refuses to die… oh, and I appeared to have re-torn the labrum in my shoulder and nearly overdosed on Xanax in order to get the MRI to see how bad the damage is.

So, through all that I managed to complete a yet unnamed story about a young man dealing with personal demons in the midst of a massive hurricane. It deals with some touchy subject matter and I hope it doesn’t suck because it was interrupted so often by this thing called life.

I also plan on sending out a bio-punk story I wrote called Pax Salutem that deals with the potential downside of being able to cure all disease and illness with science. It’s a strong story I wrote before I started class, but didn’t have the time to send out to the proper market.

I also need to edit another strong story I wrote called “Colony.” It was expertly critiqued recently by a fabulous editor named Stephanie Loree who is doing marvelous work on Nightmare Magazine. If you haven’t checked the magazine out, do so immediately, its edited by the horror guru John Joseph Adams.

Nightmare_01_October_2012-200x300

So, I have a lot of writing ahead of me, which is aways a good thing, especially since physically I feel like crap…silver lining and all that..

Word Fantasy Convention 2012

I finally made it to a writers convention. After a few years of thinking about it I finally decided it was time to go, but the universe seemed to conspire against me. Fist came the bitch storm, Sandy. She flew into south Jersey and New York devastating so much around me. I am grateful that I had only minor damage and loss of power for 2 days. Not even a flesh wound compared to so many friends and neighbors.

Sandy flooded LaGuardia airport which is where West Jet flies out of. Day by day they handled fight cancellations leaving my fight status in constant limbo. 10/31 cancelled. 11/1 cancelled. Would they give me my money back and let me make other arraignments? First off, no, because despite being nearly completely submerged LaGuardia held out hope they would be able to fly me out on 11/2. Second, there were no other flights to be had…anywhere…as thousands of people were in the same situation as myself. My flight ended up being cancelled 11/2 anyway and I stopped keeping track after that.

Uhm…fly out of here?!

The cosmic joke continues…as I’m on the phone with Orbitz, begging for my money back I get an e-mail from Black Static rejecting my latest and greatest story, “Pax Salutem.” So now I’m thinking that maybe this whole writing thing wasn’t quite meant to be.

Now I get my money finally and begin the drive from Atlantic City to Toronto. Good, right? Now there is no gas to be found. All up the Garden State Parkway and through New York it was Mad Max territory.

So, at last I arrive at WFC and I had a great time. I met up with my old teacher and friend Jeff Ford, as well as lots of other talented writers and editors. The panels were excellent, entertaining and informative and the networking proved to be most valuable and reason alone to make the trip. I’d list all the cool people I met, but would hate to leave someone out. I posted some pics on Facebook if you’re interested.

I can’t recommend going enough. 2013 will prove to be interesting as WFC will be in England, but the World Horror Convention (where I probably belong) will be in New Orleans. Either way I better start saving.

Pseudopod Rejects “Colony” (but in a nice way!)

Image

 

One of my favorite horror sites, Pseudopod (who happened to publish my very first story), has just rejected my short story “Colony.”

The responding editor had some good things to say though:

“Thank you for sending us “Colony.” I have reviewed this submission and
decided not to purchase it. I found it lovely and well-wrought and
enjoyed most of it immensely. The ending just really didn’t work for
me. For me, it detracted from such an otherwise strong piece. It
brought me out of the dark place and shattered my suspension of
disbelief.”

So, I guess I know what I need to fix.

The Art of Will Conrad: The Cherry on my Office Sundae

In my home office, that I primarily use for writing, I have been trying to surround myself with things that I enjoy (obviously) as well as inspire me and get me excited creatively.

At the center of my desk is a replica of LeMarchand’s box, better known as Pinhead’s Hellraiser box, and I have many other autographed Clive Barker pieces smattered about.

Also on my walls are several autographed sketches and inkings from various comic book artists I’ve collected over the years, two of my favorites are from John Romita JR, and Ron Garney. I also have a unique photograph of a Stormtrooper drinking beer in the Cantina Bar on Tatooine from the http://www.thesecretlifeoftoys.com.

However, there was a giant space right above my desk. For about 1 year I waited and searched for just the right piece and finally I found it in the art of Will Conrad (many examples of which can be found at http://www.willconradart.com).

I won’t get into MR. Conrad’s bio other than to say I love his stuff and I finally found what I was looking for in Wolverine Origins #38 page 13, a 1/2 page splash of Wolverine stabbing his son Daken. Cool stuff. I had it framed with the actual comic cover and page. It came out pretty nice.

Pax Scribendi, Hiatus Over

Image

 

After an intense 6 week course of MBA 707, a rude introduction to a derecho, and a dastardly cat named Cocoa eating the powercord cord of my Mac Book, I have finally begun writing again.

The MBA is something I feel is needed to excel at my job and therefore a necessary evil.  No way around it, I make good living, but I always want to do more and I’m not satisfied with status quo when it comes to, well when it comes to anything really.  Therefore, I must forge forward and add letters to my tittle.

If you don’t know what a derecho is, all you need to know is it comes, it kicks your ass, takes your power, and freaking spoils all the food in your fridge.  Derecho, you suck and I’m glad you’re a “once in a generation” storm in south Jersey.

For those of you who are interested, Cocoa the cat is now subject to cruel yet necessary water gun therapy.  It’s exactly what it sounds like, and it works, one apple knock-off power cord later.

So the short story I was working on before all of this happened is in a coma, basically dead.  For me story ideas are like burning embers, you best use it to start a fire or it will simply turn to gray ash and die, and that is what happened.

Now, I am close to finished with a first draft of a story tentatively titled “The Broken Art of Perfection.”  The idea of the story came to me from an article I read in the NY Times about dream therapy.  I’ve enjoyed writing it so far.

In the mean-time a couple of stories have been rejected.  Dark Discoveries said “Always a Soldier” was quite well written, but not for them.  Black Static, which has become my great white whale, simple form rejected me on “Reflections.”

Heavy Metal Magazine, upon inquiry to my submission “The Cost that Lies Between Heaven and Earth”, said “I assure you that everything that is sent in is reviewed and we respond only to those works we choose to publish.  Please also note that we are working on magazines several months in advance of publication so don’t despair it often takes many many months for a project to be selected for inclusion in future magazines.”  I have no idea if that means I was rejected or not?! 

Meeting Larry Hama (and many other amazing talents)

It’s always a pleasure when you meet someone your a fan of, or admire, and they turn out to be a geniuinely great person. Many creative people that are successful can be arrogant and treat you like a bother when you take the time to meet them.

I won’t mention the individuals who have been less than receptive over the years, but I can mention those I admire who have been quite accommodating and inspiring.

Clive Barker was extremely nice. He took a lot of time to answer all my questions and seemed more than pleased that I was a fan. He also signed a ton of material I had with me, as well as promotional material he had with him. He was very down to earth.

Neil Gaiman was an intriguing guy. I had to get a ticket, wait in line and ride some elevator to some secret room to meet him if I remember correctly. We talked a bit about his creation Sandman and he drew a little picture on the cover and signed my copy of Sandman #1. He also took a lot of time to chat and didn’t make me feel rushed at all. Cool guy.

Ron Garney is a very talented comic book artist. When I met him my kids were both under 2 years old. I was waiting on line for about 30 minutes in my comic store at the time, “A Timeless Journey”, when my kids had a meltdown. My informed me in no uncertain terms that it was time to leave. Ron saw I had to split and offered to draw me something and leave it with the store’s owner. When I came back in a few days I was more than surprised to see the detailed drawing of Spider-Man he left for me. He even inked it! He made me a fan for life.

At a comic convention I was waiting to meet one of my favorite all-time artists John Romita, Jr. Long story short there was a mix-up and I waited on the wrong line for a while along wit a bunch of other fans. When he found out he was very apologetic (even though it was not his fault) and banged out a quick Spider-Man sketch for me that now hangs in my office.

Another author I happen to know if Jeffrey Ford. The man is genuinely friendly and has been more than helpful to me for years when I took his Creative Writing class. He has gone out of his way on numerous occassions to mentor me and help me out. He’s one of m all-time favorites. Talented author who’s an even better person.

Lastly, as seen in the picture above, is Larry Hama. He is way more talented than most people realize and if you took a look at his career I think you would be amazed. What I remember him most for was his his tremendous run on G.I. Joe. His run was nothing short of epic and what he did with Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow was amazing. The mystery and suspense that he architected around those 2 characters was nothing short of awesome. The issue you see in the pic I gave to my son, but I had him sign copy of “Silent Interlude”, which was the issue of G.I. Joe with no words (a very cool issue), for me. He also signed a copy of Wolverine for me, for which I even have a greater fondness for. I grew up on his run of my favorite mutant and that’s what we talked about. He told me that the idea to give Logan bone claws when his adamantium was sucked from his body was not something he wanted to do and it turned out to be somewhat of a Marvel controversy. The X-Men summit was split 50/50 on whether to give him bone claws, but after 3 days of arguing he finally agreed. I told him for what it’s worth, he pulled it off quite well and I loved it.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.