Help With Publishing

I have stumbled upon a couple of tools I thought I’d share to help writers get published. I have been writing since I was a teenager and have enjoyed every single minute of it. But, I did it all for me, all for the sheer fun of it. I honestly think that if the world ended and I was the last person alive, I’d still spend my time writing, even though no one would ever read it.

It was by chance that I came across a website called ‘Dark Markets’ (http://bit.ly/2oR6JA8). This is a great resource if you write anything that explores the darker side of the literature. The day I viewed it there was a call for submissions for a brand-new magazine called ‘The Wyrd’ (http://bit.ly/2oRxT9Z).

I had recently completed the final edit of a short story called ‘Sick Puppy’ that I thought would fit. So I spat in a tissue and cleaned its sticky face, tucked its shirt in and sent it off. Shouting for it to bring Daddy back a publishing credit.

Once I completed the submission, Wyrd recommended I track the submission with a tool called ‘The (Submission) Grinder’ (http://bit.ly/2oYmt2r). This tool is fantastic. It lets you track where you have submitted your work but also has a complete reference of magazines which accept submissions. You can filter by genre and required word count and also whether they are paid.

I have been checking it every few days and you can see when people get rejections and acceptances. This gives you a good idea of whether you can expect to hear something back from the submission.

I am now going to utilize these two tools extensively to try and get my work published. This is how the pros must do it. No one told me about these things, I happened across them by chance, so thought I’d pass on my limited knowledge in the hope it helps someone else.

‘Sick Puppy’ was rejected. I got a personal response, which was great for my self-confidence. I plan to resubmit somewhere else where the subject matter fits in a little better.

The Midnight Oil

A little experiment.

The thought felt it was thrust into his mind with the force of a knife in a in the hand of deranged killer. Typical. The bed was warm and his wife was even warmer and his mind was telling him to go a perform a little experiment at the keyboard. Her body gently rising and falling with her breaths, her cute face hidden behind the plush eye mask she was wearing. This bed is bliss, why get out of it.

To write. The book in his hands hid the message from the casual reader, but the ones that the author intended to reach, the message was there like delicate scent of rose water that wife sprayed on the pillow before resting her head for the day.

Get out of bed and back to the word processor. The book was shouting silently from the black and now slightly yellowed pages. No matter what you write. Just write. It doesn’t matter that it is late. Midnight oil is fuel that can sustain the art just as well as any other time of day.

It may be winter and cold and late. So what? Go and sit at your desk. Your personal space where you can play God. The chores, are done. The children are fast asleep. Your wife, who will probably wake and moan about having to wear a mask while you insisted reading with the lamp on for the last hour, will fall back to sleep with the same effort it takes to close her eyes.

His own mind had now teamed up with the book. It was promising peace to concentrate on any subject you want. Put on some chilled-out music and let the muse point you in the right direction. There is an uneasy feeling building up. He couldn’t help think of drug addicts shaking and jockeying for that next hit to sooth the nerves. Something that the author of this book would know all about.

“Just going to go and check the doors are locked babe,” he says.
A soft hush that could be and word in the English language or just a yawn. Either way, intelligible as it was, the meaning was there.
Sure babe.

You know the muse will stop visiting you if you don’t listen to him. I can see him as clear as day usually a young woman with a loose toga draped over curvy frame. Perhaps a golden crown leaves weaved intricately into her jet-black hair. Not mine. My muse is a fat man in a creased blue shirt and tan khakis. He never, ever does up the sleeve cuffs and just lets them fall however they want.
He is an Avant Garde intellectual. The sort that makes up his own rules. Including those on hygiene judging from his scruffy stubble. He is lazy and he is grumpy. That novel he wants you to write is still only in the early chapters.

How long has it been now? Four days since you picked it up? A week?
He is going to go out and buy a bottle of wine and slowly try to kill his ideas with it if you don’t start to listen. Last time he stormed out, it took ages to find him again. Babbling on a park bench about the ideas he had that have flown to the stars.

This book is an interesting read. Nothing really that he didn’t know but maybe a push in right direction. The same way a father will eventually give a little push and let go to watch their child cycle away without their stabilisers.

In some ways, he is a morally strong person. But not when it comes to writing. Not when it comes to reading really. These are the drug that have infected him since he was nine years old. The first story about futuristic human animal hybrids that had names like strongly generated passwords gave him that first kick. Poor XYTC00zTY did die in an explosion. But he sacrificed himself to the story. On again and off again, so did he.

Sitting at his computer he takes a breath. Disconnects the wifi and opens a new document.

“OK. Let’s see how this shapes out. Let’s try a little experiment.”

Review-A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

Review-A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

This book rode a wave of praise to get onto my reading list. A chorus of voices on GoodReads placed it on a pedestal as a five-star book. Multiple authors, whose views I respect, placed this as their best book of 2016. My ‘to be read’ list is growing larger each day, but the hype surrounding this book, which I knew little about, allowed it to race to the top. That and the fact that it was reduced to something stupid like two pounds on Kobo.

With all the forces aligning to ensure that I read this book, I was excited. I knew nothing of the plot or the author for that matter. This situation reminded me of the hype surrounding The Arctic Monkeys, who were selling out gigs before they had even released their first album. The difference being The Arctic Monkeys are a great band. Paul Tremblay, on the other hand, is better than great.

This book fully deserves the praise that it has had so far, and from a writing point of view, deserves even more. An accomplished piece of work which submerges the reader into the story with little effort.

I truly believe the best way to approach a novel is to jump into it with a clean sheet. No preconceptions or ideas. Just allow the author to tell the story they want to tell and see if you like it at the end. The next few paragraphs contain spoilers, so be aware if you feel the same as me and are likely to pick this book up in the future.

The story is primarily told from the view of an eight-year-old Merry’s point of view. Although it is a recount of her life from and her adult memory of that time as she recounts her life for a journalist. She is the only surviving member of a family that supposedly went through a possession and exorcism during her childhood, which was all filmed for a TV show.

The way in which the protagonist talks, both from an adult and juvenile point of view is very believable. The behavior that the character’s exhibit is also believable. It allows you to accept what is happening and stay on the ride. Too many authors out there today do a poor job with characters. Making them act in a very unbelievable way, which ultimately frustrates me as a reader and has me wanting to jump off the ride.

Not so here. Another very clever technique is keeping the whole premise very ambiguous. Is this young girl’s sister possessed? Or is she acting? Do the parents, individually have their own agenda? Are the memories from the main character accurate? Little touches here and there just subtly keep you intrigued.

A case in point is when the main character Merry is being interviewed by a journalist as an adult. Merry is chatting away about her experiences as an eight-year-old when the journalist stops here and reminds us what Merry said wasn’t in the police report. Is she now trying to spin the story in a new way for her own gain, or does she believe what she is saying?

The atmosphere is very dark and brooding, but without the sighting of a ghost or any floating furniture. Even after finishing the book I am asking was this a possession, or just a case of mental illness?

I would recommend this book to anyone. You will not be disappointed.

Novel v Short Story

I have a question. What is the difference between an idea for a novel and an idea for a short story?

Is it just the amount of fleshing out that you do? Does more research and more plotting mean a longer story? Or are some ideas (like the majority of ones I have in my notebook) only ever suitable for the short story format?

I have ideas galore. Some I write down and some I just let percolate in my mind. Most of them only seem usable for a short story. The latest, for example, was as follows:

A rock star slaughters a pig and records it’s death cry for his new album. You can read the first draft of this story on this blog as part of a series of posts I’m trying to do to highlight my writing process.

Well, there you have it. Is it possible to spin this out over the course of a novel. You can introduce multiple characters I suppose and maybe even start with the band being formed. But how do you keep a narrative flow and introduce intriguing conflict with the ending being a man killing a pig in front of a microphone?

Maybe it is just a matter of perspective.

 

New Year Goals

New Year Goals

Even though I’m a virtual person and this online blog is a virtual book on my existence, I am within the sphere of influence of the New Year celebrations. Happy New Year by the way. It is at this point that many people set goals to achieve within the next year. So I thought I’d list mine here for what they are worth.

Complete Manuscript

I have had the seed of a ghost story gestating within me for a few months now. I have written the plot, done character and locations research and started writing. I have a prologue and the first chapter and a rough idea of what I want to achieve. Even though in Chapter 1 the characters took on an almost uncanny ability to shape themselves.

I’ve been on this project for a few months. Sometimes what seems like an important story marches into my head and defiantly sits there, refusing to be budged until I relent and write it. But, this year I am going to complete this manuscript and I have had a very clever way of doing this. Money!

I am a miser at heart. If I am paying for something, then I expect to get my full money’s worth and then some. I renewed my subscription to Microsoft Office (in my opinion the best word processing software, Word, comes with this) and a few subscriptions to a few other services. Now, if I don’t write every day, I’ll feel like I’m wasting my own money. Worked so far anyway.

Be More Social Online

I don’t mean on Facebook or Twitter here. Those are not for me. They feel more like an advertising forum, more than anything else. I’m mean right here, on WordPress. Expect more comments and posts from me this year. A great place to learn and meet other like-minded people, right Richmond?

I have also signed up to Goodreads and joined a reading group. We are going to be reading a book I have had on my reading list for a while ‘The Jersey Devil’ by Hunter Shea. We are going to start this book on Jan 15th and I can’t wait to see what people think of my critical side, as well as learning what readers want.

Get Fit

I suppose this is on most people’s goals list for the next year. Well, I have reached the age where youthful energy doesn’t flow through my body like blood, and my metabolism has slowed down to the pace of a sleeping dog. This year, I plan to get my virtual body fit.

Again, I plan to do this through paying. With the hefty price of a gym membership flying out of my bank account every month, I will be visiting the gym more often.

So, that’s it. Nothing ground breaking and nothing unrealistic. All of those things are within my control so all of those things will be achieved. I think!

Review-Wake by Elizabeth Knox

Review-Wake by Elizabeth Knox

A short review, but in my opinion, a short one is all that this book is worth. On balance a poor book. I know that there are many people on GoodReads, and the world at large come to that, who disagree. Sorry, but in my opinion, this book is poorly written. I had just finished Joe Hill’s ‘The Fireman’ and Joe R Lansdale’s “Paradise Sky” before picking this up. So, I was knee deep in good writing. Well thought out story lines and three-dimensional characters that resonated in a very human way.

Then I started this book which felt like the opposite.

A good premise for a story, but badly executed. Cardboard characters whose conversations were unrealistic and at times I felt pathetic. Confusing switches between points of view really jarred me out of the story. So much so that I took longer to read this book than normal. And it is a relatively small book.

I have been critical of Richard Laymon’s juvenile style of writing in the past. But his work is far more accomplished than this.

My advice is that if the hype hooks you then give it a go. But, if three or four chapters in your not feeling it absorbing into your sub-conscious like usual then give it up. Spit that hook back out and bite down on another one. Don’t do what I did and allow that hook to drag through to the bitter end. It doesn’t get any better.

For The Art – Draft 2

So I have changed quite a few things in this draft, including the title. I still intend this to be a throwaway piece of work. Something used to let me flex my writing muscles and nothing more. But I cant help but take it as seriously as I take every piece of work I do.

This title sounded better to me. The original title ‘His Nerves Were Running Him’ was a line that popped into my head and brought the story kicking and screaming along with it. The first draft was me getting the idea down on paper, or screen if you prefer. The second draft is where the serious stuff begins. I take the characters personalities more into account and focus on the narrative. Some of the colorful Simile’s and metaphors which probably sounded good at the time have been cut out.

Kill your darlings as Stephen King would say. This is what he means. Feeling a sense of pride of likening an ax to a woman’s body feels good. But if it detracts from the story as a whole or doesn’t fit in then it feels the scalpel’s blade as I slice it out.

I thought most of the background was an unnecessary explanation of what was happening in the story. These paragraphs helped me write the piece to explore the characters motivation. But overall don’t fit into the short story narrative all that well in my own opinion.

Lastly, I tried to humanize the two main band mates and threw away all the sex stuff. I had read an Edward Lee book whilst writing the first draft and his splatter punk gore-soaked influence made its way in. I wanted to the characters a little more rounded. Good musicians and marketers. Not some two-dimensional stereotypical perverts that wanted fuck anything they could.

Let me know what you think, even if it is negative. Nothing said will hurt me because I dont really exist.