Monday, August 3, 2015
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
I do love crafting a short stories, but there are a few problems with doing so. I am considering not creating as many of them to focus more on the two novels I've been working on for the last couple of years.
Here's the trouble with short stories:
- They pay crap. It's unbelievable how little most publishers will pay for a short story. I generally won't submit to a market that pays like five bucks (yes, there are tons of those). There are actually a lot of them now that pay nothing at all- and they are still choosy and demand your best work. Nope, not subbing to them either. I always sub to the high payers first, get rejected by them and then start subbing to the mid-paying markets. Those markets, however, are still going to be low paying and not truly worth the time it took you to write the work and submit it out from a monetary standpoint. I have bills, man. Lots of bills.
- The submissions process is grueling. Speciality magazines, ezines and fancy literary magazines are the markets that I have primarily been submitting to with short stories. They are so specialized in both topics and voice that it's tough to get on with most of them. This has made it necessary to submit most of my work to dozens of them, and that takes dozens of hours. This has further reduced writing income by keeping me from doing my paid, non-fiction work to spend hour after hour querying, signing up for every site's submission system and altering cover letters to suit each. Again, bills, man.
- It's been a distraction from my novels. Since I've been writing and subbing out short stories, I've sold five or six and have another four or so that I've been subbing out. That is a significant amount of time that has been taken away from the novels that I need to finish. One of them is a strong edit away from being done, and the other is still just an adolescent learning to walk in high heels. They both need time and attention.
Sunday, September 28, 2014
I started submitting short stories to publishers in my late teens, and in those days you had to physically print the stuff out and mail it in. It was tough for me to afford as a student, and I didn't grab much interest from publishers. I gave up in pursuit of non-fiction, and I haven't submitted any fiction again until last last year. These days, it is so much easier with electronic submissions. I had two short stories that I shopped for months, and I kept getting rejections for them over and over again.
One of the stories I believed in with all of my heart. I just believed that it was worth my time and trouble and the dozens of rejections it was getting. I got comments from publishers that it was basically useless, and one publisher actually said "No one wants to read about vampires anymore." I got several rejections because my protagonist wasn't some kind of warrior woman. No, she was just a regular woman without any super powers or astonishing strength. Isn't there any room for that in fiction, I started to wonder? Do all female protagonists have to be warriors or superwomen? Really?
But I believed in that story because it was intricate and extremely detailed and full of truth. I believed in it because I felt it and because I saw something in it that was rich and full and engulfing. I submitted it to various publishers for 10 months and finally gave up. They weren't seeing what I saw. I wasn't going to submit it anymore.
Then, one day, after I had given up, a publisher sent me an email that made by throat catch. I was sitting down with my laptop when I saw what I thought was the third rejection I'd get that day. It wasn't. It was the most amazing email I've ever gotten. It was from a publisher who went on and on and on about how amazing the story was and how lucky they'd be if I sold it to them. I had to get up and walk around because I couldn't tell if I was breathing. Someone else saw what I saw, and they wanted to pay for it and put it in print.
Within a few days, the second story I wrote was accepted by another publisher. Then, two little flash stories that I had submitted were accepted by still another. All four acceptances happened within about a week.
One of the more interesting things was the reactions that people had when I told them the news. When I first start telling people that I had sold some fiction, the first question every single person asked was, "For how much?" I wasn't selling a lamp on eBay. Selling fiction isn't really about the amount you get. To put it in perspective, the other day I wrote an article about how to write fiction, and that sold for more than any one fiction story that I've sold so far. Non-fiction may pay the bills, but it's amazing to know that publishers believe in your fiction so much that they will pay for it and foot the bill for publishing it.
The other question I kept getting when I announced subsequent sales is whether it was the same publisher who was buying it all. I don't know that people understood how insulting that was. No, family and friends, there are multiple publishers willing to pay- not just one guy somewhere who wants to buy it all. WTF?
Being able to sell some fiction has given me a serious boost of confidence for the two novels that I've been working on. It's shown me that believing in a work is a real force, and that if you have a strong piece that you really believe in, it's possible to find a good home for it even when that home seems unlikely. It's possible to find a publisher who sees it for exactly what it is.
Friday, March 28, 2014
I can't do it. I can't even tell people in person that I would be good for their projects. I have had two new projects locally in the past month, and both times I just gave them a couple of sentences about my experience and let them make up their minds. I can't bring myself to do more than that to promote myself. Sooooo, rather than be stopped by the discomfort and nausea that comes from self-promotion, I'm going to start promoting someone else.
I chose a kick-ass pen name that totally sounds like a real person, and I started building a Web presence for her this week. She has a Twitter account now, and she actually has a decent number of followers already. I will next get her a Facebook page, and then I can start shouting into passing cars. By the time I'm finished with the two novels that I am almost finished with, I will be able to point out "my" Web presence and show that I will be able to market the material. I don't know how I will feel yet about actively promoting her and telling my followers to read my stuff and all of that, but I think I can do it if I pretend that I am promoting someone else entirely. I've never had a problem promoting others through PR writing, press conferences, etc., so it should be a lot easier and less nauseating.
I hope this means that I'm not a crazy person. It seems a little schizophrenic to do things this way, but I don't really see an alternative at the moment. Plus, it seems like it will be kind of fun. And if I am a little crazy? Eh. Everyone interesting is.
UPDATE: It just occurred to me that she should have a blog! What should she blog about? How awesome she is? How much fun is to buy books and short stories? I think she'll have seven dogs and enjoy hiking or some other outdoor crap.
Monday, January 13, 2014
Then, just a few days into the new year, I got sick. This wasn't the cough and/or throw up kind of ill- it was an unexpected reoccurrence of a life-threatening infection that I've had twice before. I spent almost a week in the hospital, and now I'm out with some gross tubes in my arms. It's almost like the fiction gods were telling me to stop planning crap and to give up because I'm obviously never going to get anything done. Well, I spit in the face of the fiction gods!
Plants Vs. Characters
When I realized I'd be in the hospital for a few days, I quickly realized that I wouldn't be able to write a thing. For the first two days, I could barely lift my phone. However, I figured that if I couldn't write, and I had a few days to lay around and think, this would be a great time to just think about my characters. I could think about what they were doing, whether their dialogue was working, think about new adventures for them, etc. It would be a restful way to consider my work in-depth and to perhaps make some slow progress. The thing about that is that it's insane and wrong. After a day of IV drugs, the thing I was most thinking about was OMG, what if leaves could move around by themselves! That would be SO CREEPY!!!!11!
Inspiration Comes From Macabre Places
Ok, so no character development, no new characters, no in-depth inspection of major plot points. But what I did come out with was something unexpected. The point when I absolutely knew that the infection was back and it was what was causing my fever and chills was when I noticed that there was an ever-so-slight veil between me and the rest of the world. I'd noticed that the two other times this sickness came on, and I noticed it getting much worse as the illness progressed. I was a part of the world but not fully in it. I imagine that if I hadn't made it that first time (and it was actually kind of close), that sensation would have continued until I was simply no longer a part of the world. I think this will actually come in pretty handy when I eventually work on a novel I have planned that will feature an outbreak of a creepy, well-known disease as a major plot point. Thinking about that feeling of being removed and separated from the world is actually kind of inspiring. It gets me inside a character in a much more intimate way than before. Inspiration can come from absolutely anywhere, so never stop looking for it no matter how unappealing or weird the situation may be.
Monday, September 9, 2013
Of course there was a problem. It's me. Usually when I go out of town, I worry about getting sick. Something about leaving town always makes me sick with sinus infections, colds and other assorted crap, but that wasn't even on the radar this year. I was just hoping that I'd be able to walk and stand well enough to get through the con. Waiting in line, walking from panel to panel and just standing around looking at costumes seemed like insurmountable obstacles after spending months unable to walk and then more than a month in physical therapy.
I told my physical therapist that I'd need to walk around for several hours a day, stand in line and make a long trek down an uneven street just to get my con badge and OH MY GOD I WILL HAVE TO WALK ALL DAY AND MY MUSCLES DON'T EVEN WORK!!1!!!1!! He thought it would be difficult, but he started me on various machines and recommended walking down the street every day to try to get used to it. I trained daily for more than a month and even went to the mall to ride the escalators to get ready for the multiple escalators at the con. The escalators are always crammed with people and if you can't jump off in time, OMG, the carnage!
So, I get there, trying not to limp and walking like a cartoon character, and was all set to take my walk down an uneven street in a crowd and then stand in line on an ankle that was still slightly broken. I told a friend that I had been training for this for a while and that I was confident that I could make it. She looked at me like, well, like I'd just said I'd been training for a month to walk down the street. The line was more than an hour, but all of that training helped me to do it. And all the vodka.
Mercedes Lackey Gives Me the Eye
Once that obstacle was over, I had a lot of confidence that I could get through the con, listen to the writers I wanted to learn from and not look like too much of a freak doing so. I lurched around the con dressed like Edina Monsoon and saw amazing writers, a startlingly realistic Spock, two inexplicably naked women dressed in body paint, about 45 Khaleesis, some Tenenbaums(!), more superheroes than I ever care to see again, one of the Ghostbusters and a guy dressed like Sharknado.
I met Julian Sands and impulsively said, "I liked you! Like, a lot!" to the seventh Doctor as he rolled past me on a Hoveround.
Then I got sick.
I got two and a half good days in before I was hit by bronchitis and had to severely medicate myself in order to function. Then I got to hear "Why do you look sad?" every four minutes because apparently I looked as spacey as I felt. If you've ever had to suffer through bronchitis while being woken up all night by drunken roommates who thought they were whispering as they philosophized about life and then get told about all the fun you're missing downstairs, and who hasn't, you might understand why I was ready to leave when the day came. Usually I hate to leave and get back into the normal world where absolutely everyone is wearing clothes and no one is dressed up as anything, but this year I was pretty fine with it.
Friday, August 2, 2013
Aside from my obvious poetry skills, I like putting together short stories that would have a hard time finding a market. But as soon as I read the description of what they wanted, a vague outline of an idea began to form. In three hours, I had written the complete story and edited it, and I was ready to submit.
It's then I saw that the deadline was yesterday. I submitted it anyway with a plea for deadline leniency. Will they even read it? You have to wait six weeks before you can even ask them about it, and no simultaneous submissions are allowed. In six weeks, I'm relatively sure that I will have forgotten all about it, and I can't submit it anywhere else right now if I want to keep them as a potential market. They may just delete it outright because it's past the deadline. I may never know. Good times, writers. Good times.