Mark Grace could play baseball. He played for 16 years and ended his career with a .303 batting average. Dude could hit. How’d he do it, hard work, dedication, years of practice, god given ability? Nah, Grace used a little something he liked to call a Slump Buster.
When a player was in a slump, Slump Busting was the act of finding the a woman one would consider the least attractive in the traditional sense and have sex with her. This means of breaking a slump was also known by some terms you may consider a bit less flattering, such as:
– Taking wood to a fatty
– Finding a swamp donkey
– Finding road beef
– Throwing yourself on the grenade
– Getting a blubbernaut
– Nailing the whale
I think you get the point.
So, what to do when you are in a writing slump? I haven’t had a story accepted in over a year now, my longest stretch. In the spirit of slump busting I’ve (unintentionally at least) written some stories that I consider quite heinous, written for the sake of writing, read up on story crafting, and even tried to attend a writer’s group that was of course defunct when I showed up.
What now? What is the writer’s version of Slump Busting? How do I nail my figurative whale, find my mystical swamp donkey or elusive blubbernaut??
Someone out there MUST have an idea!?
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!
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….
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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..
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.
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.
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
So, I guess I know what I need to fix.
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.