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.
Everyone’s A Critic Part II:
I’ll share some of the comments from “Cookers” my story that revolves around a small family traveling through a wasteland filled with man-eating plants and legions of super heated undead. I’ll leave out comments that include spoilers
Here’s a link to the story:
OK…believe it or not…there were NO negative comments. Huzzah, mead and salted meats for all!
omg! i am blown away by the amount of good stories on this site! nice one Matt, the cookers is seriously intense and entertaining. =) much like the other writers i am hoping you will keep adding more to this story.
This sotry is out of this world yet never fails to make that human connection.
The best stories use the environment of its worlds
to drive a point into that mystery we know as the human soul.
This is the best example ive come across on this site.
Thanks Matt, i hope you make this a series..
Id really like to know what happens to the characters.
I really liked grandma, if you turn this into a novel………..
Thanks to all the writers, no the wordsmiths on this site.
Just killer. Nice take and VERY well written. Can’t wait for more… hopefully.
CREEPY,GROSS,TWIZTED,WELL WRITTEN WHERE WE CAN PICTURE THE CHARACTERS IN OUR MINDS OF WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE.
A VERY GOOD JOB
Definitely a diff. take on “zombies”. Reminiscent of “The Road” & the animal zombies of those books by Keene & I kinda saw the cannibalization part from the 1st mention of them eating but very good w/brief backstory & good action scenes depictions. This site is great not to add just typical zombie stories but all kinds. Thanks all authors
Just…wow. The world-setting was an original twist, while borrowing in the best sense from I am Legend in a couple ways, and the characterization/byplay between grandmother and Brie was both intense and savagely touching..Awesome, awesome story. Bravo!
And the Greatest Comment of All:
holy fucking hell up the ass with a chainsaw that was an awsome story dude please write some more
Feel free to take a read and write your own!
After months of writing a longer piece, in which I’m currently soliciting input for a third draft, and re-writing a few recently rejected pieces I have found inspiration for a new story.
I was listening to “Hexagon” by Jason Rizos on Pseudopod.org (the very ones who published Infestation by yours truly) and it hit me. The story revolved around bees which then got me thinking about Colony Collapse Disorder, one of natures more ominous mysteries at the moment. I got to thinking about what it meant for the buzzing little bastards and then what it would mean if applied to the human condition….and would it be a good or a bad thing?
Thus I present to you “Untitled Work That I started Today Which I hope Won’t Suck.” I’ll keep you posted on its progress or lack there off.
And in case you haven’t checked it out yet, here’s the link to “Infestation”:
I was fortunate enough to touch base with Vladimir Petkovic who illustrated my short story “The Key” coming up in Morpheus Tales.
Morpheus Tales is of on the UK’s finest Horror Magazines and I am pumped to be published in its pages. However, we need to wait until January of 2012 to see it in print. I can’t wait.
I love the interpretation that Vladimir has made of a scene in my story. Obviously I can’t get into it now but come 2012 I’ll be happy to go over the scene and the gorgeous illustration.
Vladimir is a talented dude. Check out his work here (I also added him to my blogroll):
“The Cost That Lies Between Heaven and Earth” is one of my favorite stories that I have written. It’s a story told around the spanish inquisition and I think it has the perfect blend, of sex, violence,and mystery. Definitely in the weird category.
Since I was so high on the piece I sent it to uber market Weird Tales Magazine.
Weird Tales would be apex of what may considered my writing career. They have had my submission for 4 months. At first I was thinking “Yay, they are considering it’ BUT I sent a query as to what the status was and if they actually received it. That has gone unanswered for 2 weeks so I have come to the conclusion that they are just far behind and being a top market that attracts the top talent makes perfect sense. Heck, they were even closed for submissions a while ago they were so backed up.
So, I continue to wait. Out of curiosity does anyone know if they happen to be behind?
Another semester of Fiction Writing Workshop in the books. I have taken Jeff Ford’s workshop at Brookdale Community College for a couple of years. I won’t say how many!
I think I put some pieces together this year. My writing has improved from last year and so has my storytelling. I have a few pieces that should get published but who knows. It takes so damn long. Hopefully 2010 will be my year. The Badgerine will be the first to know.
My first 2 stories for class have a shot at being published after I clean them up.
The first is a children’s story that has the Sandman, Easter Bunny, and Santa himself among other characters. I am excited for this one and hope to get it out into the world this weekend.
The next one has to do with a man’s journey across the desert in a burning world as he searches for his daughter. I have a lot of hope for this one too.
Only time will tell but I am getting better at the very least.