The Gator Got Tazered, but the Mole’s on a Roll

Bounce back on the novella. It was my bad for misinterpreting the publisher’s submission guidelines. It’s pretty much writer 101 that when they say guidelines, what they really mean is “rules.” Don’t let The Pirates of the Caribbean fool you otherwise.

I went ahead and inquired if there were any hints about an open call for novellas anytime soon. If an opening might be coming in a few months, why not just wait? I’d rather work with these guys. If not, if they don’t see themselves being open again within a year, I’ll consider whether I should go elsewhere.

But on the brighter side, I went ahead and submitted a sci-fi short story to another publisher. This is a “bigger” catch in some ways.

You see, I usually rate the value of the publisher against what and how they’re willing to pay for your stories at all. Obviously, non-paying publications are the lowest of the totem pole.

Then there are those willing to engage in either a token commission that occurs once, or a sliver of the future profits. The latter of these two is slightly less risk for a publisher, and gives the writer considerably more incentive to promote both his work and the publisher over the course of the contract.

But there are those who pay a better amount for the work on the spot. These particular publishers are a step up from the previous ones. It’s saying, “We like your work enough that we’re willing to take a risk and give you $XXX for it.” Obviously, the publisher expects to make more than the $XXX he gave you, hence your work is (theoretically) profitable and a good investment.

This short story falls into that latter variety. I don’t know whether or not it’s going to make it with this publisher, but I think the story is good enough for someone to publish.

But back when I was busy trying to get The Black Wind’s Whispers together, a few of the guys came forward saying that although they enjoy or don’t mind writing it, horror was not something they wanted to do for their lives.

Now I have higher stamina than they do for writing horror. I enjoyed, and still enjoy, writing it. I will continue to, but I really do want to branch out and try other things. The novella was dark fantasy and this new short story is sci-fi.

But sometimes, it doesn’t feel like writing moves laterally. Sometimes, it feels like you’re back in the small pond again when you switch genres. I’m sure that there are some writers who were told, “Listen, you’re fantastic at (genre they’re done), but you’re not a very good (genre they want to do) writer. Stick to what works.”

And I wonder about that. How many writers thought they broke through the first publication barrier, only to find out that what they really wanted to do still treated them like a beginner?

Would it bug me to spend the rest of my life as a horror writer? … To be honest, yeah. It would. I don’t look down on writing terrifying tales. Especially because it’s a genre that is so poorly portrayed in the cinema (Who knows? Maybe someday my stories will be on the big screen.)

But who wants to create the same thing again and again and again? What I really want to do is be able to talk to someone, almost anyone. And hear what they like to read about, then pick a story of a similar vein from my bag  and hope they like it.

People don’t have to like everything I do. I accept that, cause they’re not going to. But I’d like for everyone to enjoy at least one thing I’ve done before.

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Shut Up Brain… Wait, Don’t!

When I was younger, I had a problem. Maybe it was Attention Deficit Disorder or the like, but I kept having… ideas for stories and characters. It was bad. I had a friend or two who got frustrated with my bouncing around on our mutual creative opportunities.

As of late, that… energy, that constant inspiration, has returned. A name, a country, a single powerful word can sometimes spark an idea that becomes a character, a subplot, or even the start of an entire novel. I tried to go to bed and ended up staying awake, eyes open as an idea for a short story, a good portion of a fantasy novel and a political/crime thriller novel, in some way about India, danced in my head. No. I don’t mean one of these things, I mean three very, very distinct stories that stand out on their own despite a single, unifying theme. And yes, I do intend to write all three.

But ideas aren’t enough.

Growing up, we constantly heard this… heh. I’m sorry. This lie that a “single idea can change the world.” I’m sorry. I know better. I’m older and freshly aware how it’s not just inspiration that gets work published but solid work. Research times three times writing and sticking to it. Followed by proofing, editing and being prepared to rewrite entire swaths of work, if not the entire piece. That last point has certainly happened before and will happen again.

My fear as of late has been two fold.

The first is that the inspiration will go away. Nothing is worse than seeing the golden goose fly away of its own accord, but sometimes that happens. I know it will happen again, be driven off and return in time. While I wouldn’t call these periods without the inspiration writer’s block, it is easier with inspiration than without.

The second, and what I fear far more, is that I get bored of something. That is the worst. If I’m bored writing, then something is very wrong. And that something is going to be reflected in the writing itself. Boredom is the very antithesis of writing because if you’re bored writing it, then it will be boring to read. Which begs the question of whether it was worth writing at all.

And I’ve certainly felt that before. If it’s just a short story then there’s no harm. In the long wrong, a short story isn’t that big a deal. To have boredom strike in the middle of a one-off novel is not good, especially if there has been quite a bit of work invested in it, but I can deal with it so long as it’s not on contract.

But what if boredom strikes in the middle of a novel series?

Now that scares me. I’ve written my first novella and I’ve been drawing out the work for the sequel. And although I feel confident that the sequel will have plenty of interesting aspects going on for it, what if there finally reaches a point in writing a sequel that I get bored?

Hell, who even likes to do sequels unless it’s a story that finally gets at something one wanted to write or do in the first place? How many boring origin stories led to outstanding sequels about what we really wanted to see? But what if it goes on? What could dry one’s interest out like writing about the same characters and dealing with the unresolved plot details that I’ve held off on.

I suppose that’s something I’ll worry about when it gets to that point. But I’ve been bored before. And I have to make a promise to myself not to let my writing sag or try ridiculous, unrealistic twists just to keep in new or fresh. If I just can’t take a character or aspect further, perhaps it’s time to give it out. Keep the original stories and let others play with that intellectual property.

Sometimes, the greatest tales have come not from the people who originally invented a universe or character, but from the people who came after, took the idea like a rugby ball and ran with it.

If I ever forget, remind me.

The Black Wind’s Whispers, Out Now!

The Black Wind's Whispers, by the Bolthole.

The Black Wind’s Whispers, by the Bolthole.

After months of work, it’s finally here… The Black Wind’s Whispers. Available now on Amazon. (Also in England.)

Included within are nine tales of  horror, featuring new twists on classic monsters, managed by yours truly, James “He2etic” Fadeley. Edited by CS Barlow and Andrew Aston, it features tales by Andrew Aston, Alec McQuay, Simon Howers, Jeremy Daw, Johnathan Ward, Robbie McNiven and Keanu Ross-Cabrera. Cover art by the amazing Manuel Mesones!

But best of all, it includes a tale from special guest author and veteran horror writer, CL Werner!

Get your copy today from Amazon! Smashwords version coming soon!

More to Come

Yesterday night, I finished my final short story of the year for The Black Wind’s Whispers although the page count really stretched the definition of “short.”

The length is bothersome, but it was critical to make a sharp story to explain the origin of the driving plot device. My first draft was summarily rejected. So I struggled to improve the power of the story. This took legitimate research and expounding on details, and the end result hogged word length more than I intended. Perhaps there will be cuts.

Based on certain definitions, the tale is somewhere between a short story and novella. I am debating either reducing its length or cutting it into two parts and separating them somewhere within the anth. I know a good spot within the story to do just that. I will discuss our strategy with the editors soon.

I will be fighting hard to get the book published probably late next week. In the mean time, I got to push the contract out tonight (no more delays on that).

With five (perhaps six) stories under my belt, I think I’ll finish the year by shooting a few more rejections at Every Day Fiction (and learning patience from their critiques). Research a few publishers and see what’s cooking. Then fail to complete a novel for NaNoWriMo, and by fail I mean probably not even start.

I leave for London tomorrow. I may or may not post once more before then. Expect a few BLW pictures when I return.

Need to Read

Faithless readers, I need your help with book selections.

In little more than a week, I’ll be on a plane to London. I’ve got some planning to finish up on, some travel and lodging arrangements to make that I’ll take care of tonight. But of more interest, the flight will be a good 12 or so hours of reading time, one way. That’s time enough to finish off an entire book or two.

At the moment, I’m four chapters away from completing The Return of the King. A friend of mine was quite surprised that this was the first time I ever had read it and not the dozenth. I have the Black Library’s Fear to Tread to read, but chances are I’ll take a chunk out of that before I ever board the plane. I would prefer to finish it before I leave for that reason, if only to have a fresh book on take off.

I still have Mockingjay and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, but my copy of Mockingjay is hardback and would not pack as easily as the latter choice. So I could use a hand in deciding what to read before take off.

So my fellow book cultists, I am open to ideas, suggestions, innuendo and insinuations as to further reading to cultivate my dark and evil mind. It is preferable that the books be of the Black Library persuasion, but any classic literature or modern (and good) pop culture hits will be fine as well.

Recalculating

When it comes to publishing work, I like this pace.

The year is going to end with an explosion of new work. Two pieces are already in the bag for Cruentus Libri Press. Another work, the anthology by the Bolthole, should be out either on time or very close to it. Finally, there is one more piece of work that has been turned in to Cruentus Libri, that has received the thumbs up from two reviewers.

If that final piece gets published, that’s six finished works before 2013.

Although I am pleased, it is a good time to stop, check the map and consider the direction I am taking. All six of these pieces have been horror, which I enjoy writing. I prefer a mix of darker and more subtle horror stories, with a willingness to explore themes rather than enact gore fests.

Many of my friends have also pumped the breaks, declaring that although they are enjoying our work, they do not wish to do horror for the rest of their lives. Rather, their interests are towards varying forms and degrees of science fiction. Myself, recall that I have neglected my dark swords and sorcery tales. They remain untouched since sometime late last spring.

Once the anthology for the Bolthole is complete, a break is due that will probably last until the new year. Although I’ll probably continue to send work to Cruentus Libri, I may start searching for other, non-horror publishers to submit work towards. I’ve tried before and it seems more difficult to try with science fiction or fantasy.

I cannot say why horror seems so oddly forgiving. Perhaps they are just more open to the various definitions of what constitutes horror. But, I feel the need to challenge myself. And that is what I will endeavor to do.