100 Horrors

Ahhh, reminds me of watching Nickelodeon as a kid...

Ahhh, reminds me of watching Nickelodeon as a kid...

Jumping on the same wagon as Raziel4707 and Tyrant have before me, I too am being published. My flash fiction will appear alongside theirs in 100 Horrors, edited by Kevin G. Bufton. The release date is set for February 20th of this year.

Bufton has been a joy to work with. He has kept us writers up to date about every change or piece of news that comes through, as tedious as it might be to coordinate between 100 individual authors and one terrific cover artist. What started as an e-book became more when he told us our work would be in print as well. That was welcomed news to me, as I’ve always wanted to see my name in print before all fiction is moved onto Kindles, Nooks and e-readers.

But for me personally and for the writers at the Bolthole, it’s red letter day. 5% of the stories being published are from Bolthole writers, the other two being Lord Lucan and Mister Ed. Both of whom I will be bugging to write blog posts about this event.

Now, although I’ve been notified that I’m being published for a few months now, I’ve only decided to mention it openly now. Why? Because I’m mentally prepared for bad news at all times. Maybe the anthology doesn’t get published. Maybe things didn’t work out, or a crucial contract didn’t get signed in time. Promising ventures can and do fall apart easily.

Since writers get rejected all the time, the last thing I wanted to do was discuss the bitter taste of false hope. So close and yet so far. But I believe we’re passed that fear now. No, now we have something else to fear. Not just a fear, but terror. 100 terrors of 100 words by 100 authors.

Look for 100 Horrors on February 20th, folks. And take it easy, as one’s heart can only take so much.

The Week’s Demise

My job interview went alright today. It was clumsy, but I touch upon everything they needed to know. I suspect they’ll consider me, but only in comparison to everyone else they’ll interview next week. I need to sit down and re-articulate my interviewing skills a touch before I do that again.

That’s on my plate for Monday. For now, I’m going to work out. My alternate history horror story was completed and send to Raziel4707 and Lord Lucan for review. It needs work in cutting some words from the beginning and middle to improve the ending.

Tonight, I am actually going to my mother’s and bringing a load of goods with me. I’ll be busy with around-the-house projects and spending time with her. I’ll be pulling down a few short stories into a lap top that’s coming with me so she can review them while I do house work.

Here’s hoping I hit next week harder than I hit this week, although I wouldn’t say I was soft this week either.

Writing Action Scenes

What’s the difference between my action writing and that of a professional?

This video from Sherlock Holmes is a great example. Simply put, my writing is like the scene from 0:00 to 1:00, while a professional’s writing is more like 1:09 to 1:40. And before you ask, yes. I am excited about Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Robert Downey Jr. may yet save the 2011 movie year.

Cue music. The reason I bring this up is because my action-writing is slow, explanatory and overly detailed. Where as the professional tends to hit us with the WHAM! CRUSH! KA-POW! of the original 1966 Batman series starring Adam West. The pro uses fast paced, quick words that hit the reader like a blow to the stomach. They use active words while I use passive ones. Which is not good.

In the rejection letter I received from Every Day Fiction, one of the editors made it quite clear that he did not like the long action descriptions. Another stated that they read the entire scene in bullet time. Reading such long details slows it down. It’s fine from time to time, like Sherlock Holmes’ thought out fight sequences. But to have all the action like this is akin to filming an entire movie in slow motion.

This needs to change. I took my latest short story to my friend, Lord Lucan, for some editing on the back-to-back horror and action scenes. My story isn’t finished, but I decided that asking for corrective thinking now would allow me to practice writing fast paced sequences in the draft. If I understand what I need to improve on, I can try to write that way rather than wait for editors to rip me apart.

I took almost all his small suggestions. But I rewrote his rewritten sentence suggestions. On one hand, I know I need assistance and I’m not too proud to ask. But on the other hand, I don’t want an editor doing all my rewrites.

When comparing active to passive words, publishers financial love active. Explained, it’s more concise. Publishers often pay per word, so less is more.

Taking this one step further, I brought three books with me today. The first is Blood for the Blood God by C.L. Werner, the second is Helsreach by Aaron Dembski-Bowden while the third is The Guns of Tanith by Dan Abnett. Here’s what I noticed.

The Guns of Tanith: Forget the use of a thesaurus, the words are clean and clear. Red is red. Scenes involving sneaking and maneuvers start out descriptively but concisely. The closer the characters get to the action, the shorter the paragraphs get. Eventually it boils down to one, sometimes two sentence paragraphs. Sometimes the action becomes little more than two words in a sentence, reliant on the reader’s imagination to describe the how.

The point is clear. Not everything needs a description and it respects the reader’s imagination to let them fill in some of the blanks. However, this style of writing likely works better with the sci-fi military action, where people can die instantly from a stray shot.

Blood for the Blood God: Paragraphs are longer and far more detailed. Every move gets more focus, such as wide swings and reactions. Sentences are separated by one or two commas; action, supportive description or result. As I read the sentences, part of me wants to mentally rewrite them to make them more concise, but then I second guess myself as I realize that some of the idea maybe lost doing so.

Some sentences seem to mix active and passive words. The effect forgoes spur-of-the-moment action for more epic story telling. This story is fantasy however, which is probably more open to passive words.

Helsreach: A combination of the two, though on the leaner side. Occasionally, some sentences are separated by multiple commas. The one I’m looking at actually has five commas in it. This story, I realize, is a pretty good combination of the previous books’ genres. It’s sci-fi military action with plenty of fantasy style melee combat. For many reasons, it actually strikes me as middle of the road.

While the words he uses are simple, he tends to accent the sentence with a single or couple of more extravagant words. Such as personification of a bolter, describing it as ‘starved’ when it’s ammo-less.

Keeping things shorter and sweeter can be a challenge when my mind demands the entire scene be told. But no one said this would be easy.

Some Improvements

This is how American's celebrate good news!

This is how Americans celebrate good news!

Lots of small updates.

First thing I want to do is give a slightly delayed welcome to Lord Lucan to the blogosphere. You can find a link to his freshly created blog both with this link and on the Hip Cats section to the right.

I will be helping him over the next few days improve his blog’s technical and visual aspects.

Second, a new blog is up at the Bloghole written by yours truly, dealing with how to come up with ideas for writing. Check it out!

Third, the Publisher section has been updated, as I promised, with two new publishers. In this case, they’re both horror publishers, but more for all genres are on their way.

Fourth is that the Sample Writing section has been updated with a new general fiction story, The Office Warrior. Check it out for a chuckle.

Fifth and finally final, a new story writing competition will be going up this afternoon. Keep you posted.

Tranzfurm ‘n Rollz Out, Ya Gitz!

It transforms. It has Orks. What more do you want?

It transforms. It has Orks. What more do you want?

Head on over to Da Waaagh forums to see the pictures of this fully transforming masterpiece. Talk about awesome.

Interestingly enough, I found out about this model through the saved searches on Google+. After Facebook’s modified user interface today, I found myself going back to G+ to see what I’ve been missing. It’s growing on me.

So today is off to a rough start. My LG Ally phone’s keyboard has decided to stop working. I don’t know what’s wrong with it. I’ve checked some forums but no one has the answer, so I’m taking it into the shop after my reports are finished for work.

Today I’m making an effort to get started on writing some stories for other publishing companies besides the Black Library. For a couple of years, the Black Library competitions are the only thing I’ve honestly tried professionally, being far too content to write strictly for fun. And Lord Lucan’s success has galvanized me to try.

Today I’m going to throw more effort into it. Reports are almost done. I’ve 10 more pieces of music for writing to post a little later today. Later folks.

Lord Lucan, Professional Writer

Yep, that's Lord Lucan. Go on! Give him a hug...

Go on! Give him a hug...

Congratulations are in order.

Lord Lucan, now better known as A. R. Aston, has recently been published. His short story can be found in Stone Mind’s Folly. You can also check it out on Amazon.

This is a big day for the writers of the Bolthole. First Pyroriffic (Sarah Cawkwell) gets The Gildar Rift, and now Lord Lucan is making a mark of his own. Drop by the Bolthole and wish Lord Lucan well on his posting! Oh, and buy his book too. You can afford $2.