Well, a quarter of 2016 has flown by already. If anybody knows where the time goes, and has any ideas on how we can all slow it down, please let me know.
2016 has been pretty good to me so far. I’ve had two acceptances and both works should be published over the next few months. I still get a buzz when I see my work in physical print, or E-print.
Acceptances can be scary though. When a story gets rejected a handful of people will have read your submission. When you get an acceptance your work is scheduled to be exposed to the entire readership of the publication that said, YES! It’s a sobering thought and it’s exactly why you shouldn’t submit a story until you’re 200% happy with it. As a writer you should take pride in your work, and you should strive to deliver your very best for your audience.
I’ve worked on six issues of Firewords Quarterly and it still surprises me that we get submissions with really basic errors: Missing full stops, spelling mistakes etc.
Spelling mistakes is probably my pet hate. Pretty much every word processing package out there will highlight spelling mistakes. Ms Word underlines the offending articles with a big red squiggly line. There’s no excuse for an author not to make those corrections. It’s lazy writing.
The perfect submission probably doesn’t exist, and I’m not asking for it. I’m pretty sure that some of my own submissions are guilty of having a misplaced or missing comma. But is there any excuse for really basic errors?
Anyway I’m going off topic. The words have been flowing lately. Although, not exactly as planned. Quite a few times I’ve sat down to write Project A, or B, and nothings really happened. Then the muse will give me a painful elbow to the ribs, and I’m writing something completely new, completely unplanned. Two stories have come to fruition thanks to the muse: Shush and A Brief History of Doozer’s Cyclic Theory of Re-Invention. Both were seat of the pants creative outpourings and I had no idea where they were going.
I’ve also been busy with re-writes and submissions.
The Ending has been re-titled as Beautiful. The prose has been cut and submitted to Anti-Heroin Chic under a different pen name.
Dancers was tweaked following some useful feedback from my buddy Dan Burgess. I’ve entered it into the annual FictionDesk, Ghost Story, competition. I hope it does well. Any writer likes their work but sometimes a writer can’t help having favourites, and Dancers is one of mine. The standard at FictionDesk is high though, so it’s going to be up against some strong competition. Fingers crossed.
The Man On The Train has been sent to The Starving Artist. I’m pretty confident that I can place this one somewhere. Feedback has been universally good. It’s just finding the right market.
Wiped Clean has been re-titled The Remote Control Love Affair. I’m re-writing this one at the moment. This is an accepted work, but one that was never published. These things do happen.
I’ve added the new stories to the My Stories section of the blog. Rather embarrassingly I also noticed that two of my stories weren’t listed. So The Man On The Train, and A Quiet Retirement have now been added to my canon of work.
Firewords Issue 1 is now available for purchase. 32 pages of entertaining prose and poetry from fiery new writers. Each story is accompanied in some way by a graphical style tailored to that story which makes Firewords one of a kind. Unique!
Here’s a link to an online article re the promotional Issue Zero which explains how each story was represented artistically / graphically. http://cargocollective.com/danb/Firewords-Quarterly-Issue-Zero
I know I’ve put a lot of work into Firewords, but my efforts pale in comparison to the other two talented members of the team Jennifer Scott (Associate Editor) & Dan Burgess (Chief Editor). These two have put so much time and effort into this, not to mention love and care, that it deserves to be a success.
Magazines like Firewords will only survive if readers support the publication. So please if you fancy a good entertaining read give Firewords a try. Here’s the link to the website where you can order a copy: http://www.firewords.co.uk/shop/
Writers - The above sales pitch applies to you too. Check the magazine out. It will give you a good idea of the material we’re looking for. When you see the artistic slant given to each work I’m positive you will want your work to appear in our hallowed pages. The only way to make that happen is to submit stories / poetry. Here’s the submissions link: http://www.firewords.co.uk/submit/ Yes, submissions are currently closed but we re-open on the 9th June which isn’t very far away.
That’s It! The first submission period for the inaugural edition of Firewords Quarterly has closed. It closed a couple of weeks back, but I’ve just caught up reading the last of the submissions assigned to me.
It’s been a complete eye opener being on the other side of the fence. There’s a great sense of responsibility that bears down on you. The responsibility to Firewords Quarterly in only accepting stories that genuinely warranted publication. There’s the responsibility to the submitting writers. Reading all work in an open and honest manner, and giving honest feedback.
Rejections are inevitable. The majority of submissions will end up being rejected at any publication. The reasons for rejections? Well, I can’t list them all, but in this post I’m going to talk about the Stock Concept. But one important point of note before we begin, and it’s vitally important. Any comments I make regarding my experiences with Firewords are my own personal opinions. They in no way reflect the views of the owner, or any other editor. Now we’ve got that sorted let’s talk about…
The Stock Concept
What do I mean by the stock concept? Anything that’s been done countless times before. Here’s a few off the top of my head, and some of which we’ve seen at Firewords:
· The best-man forgetting the wedding rings on the big day
· Characters that don’t know they’re dead until the ‘twist’ at the end of the story
· The ghostly house that seems to have a life of its own
· The killer prostitute – throw in a caring punter and an aggressive pimp too
· The boxer paid to throw the fight
· A young girl nervous and afraid to tell her overly strict parents she’s pregnant
Hopefully, you get the idea. So they should be avoided at all costs right? Well, not exactly. They need to be handled with care. You – as the writer – need something unique. It could be a unique setting, an unusual character, something that gives your ‘stock concept’ story an edge over anything similar.
Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot is a great example. It’s littered with stock concepts. Vampires have been with us in literature for a long time. King’s vampires obey all the usual rules: sunlight kills them, a stake through the heart kills them, a familiar protects the ‘master’ through the daylight hours, the master vampire sleeps in his coffin, holy water burns the undead, etc, etc. However, King replaced the mystery shrouded gothic castle with the ramshackle house shrouded in urban myth. He put his vampires on your doorstep and he set his story in the present day. The first part of that book sets up character and setting. King does that to put you in the world of the everyday, with characters you know or you can relate to, because they’re the people in your town. King did something different with a stock concept, and he sold a lot of books in the process.
Watch the film 28 Days Later. The film draws a lot from John Wyndham’s The Day of The Triffids. The man eating plants were replaced with zombies, a classic horror monster, but instead of the lurching lumbering zombies of old we were introduced to the fast and agile running zombie. Danny Boyle and Alex Garland did something different with a stock concept, and a film that cost approx. $8M to make raked in almost $85M at the box office.
Probably the best example of recent times has been GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF). There are many stock fantasy elements in this highly entertaining saga: Numerous prophecies, a magic wall to keep the bad guys out, dashing princes and beautiful princesses and the list goes ever on. But Martin took those stock items and literally tore the rule book up. Fantasy before Martin was pretty linear. Good guys were good, and the bad guys were bad. Sure the good guy would have difficulties and adventures aplenty, but they’d pull through in the end. Not in ASOIAF. Good guys – as in main characters – die. The most dashing knight of all is gay. Characters evolve and some that were most definitely ‘bad’ become ‘good’ or at least inhabit some grey middle ground. Martin took a whole genre – that had become very predictable - and he rode rough shod over it and re-invented the genre in the process.
So if you want to tackle stock concepts / themes, or ideas, go right ahead but push the envelope and take some risks. Dream big! Playing safe will likely lead to a rejection slip irrespective of the publication you send the work to.
That’s it for now.
Two posts in one day. What's going on? Well, I've been busy looking at markets lately. My main focus has been trying to find a home for 13 Seconds. There were many possibles, a few probables, but in the end I opted for Horror D'oeuvres which is produced by DARKFUSE.
Why? Well for one they actually pay you. 5 cents a word is pretty good. I also liked the design of their website. You can't read the stories in full unless you subscribe. However, from what I could see all of the stories were well written, and professionally presented.
The submission information is clear. The rights they ask for is listed clearly. They use Submittable to handle the submission process. As a fan of Submittable this was also a bonus. Oh, and did I mention that they pay you?
They also seem to genuinely care about the writer. The author bio, which was mandatory not optional, allowed you to express yourself in a significant 250 words. If you've got a website they want to have a look, and they're interested in how you will market the work too. Two way partnerships. They're great.
And of coure they pay you. Damn, that jokes wearing thin. Note to self...must do better! To be honest, it looked like a website that I'd be proud to have my work displayed on.
I hope they like my work as much as I liked them.
Here's a link to their website which I shall also add to the Useful Links page: http://www.horrordoeuvres.com/
You can also find them on twitter @DarkFuse
if you're a reader of Horror fiction check them out. If you're a writer of Horror fiction check them out. What have you got to lose.
Hello, to one and all.
I've been quite busy lately. Yesterday, I finished a short little horror story which has been titled - 13 Seconds.
The idea behind 13 Seconds was originally conceived at the inception of Project 13. For reasons I can't recall I decided not to progress the idea at the time. Yesterday I was in one of those writing moods / zones where the muse was in total control of everything I did. The story just poured itself out.
Usually when I finish a story I'll lock it away in a drawer for a week or so and then go back to it. As soon as I finished this particular story I had a really positive vibe about it. I sent it off to one of my writing buddies, the incredibly talented J T Harrell.
J T pointed out a few areas for tightening up the feel, and his points were relevant and honest. He also described the story as "Fun, and unnerving" which really made me happy as that's exactly what I was aiming for.
On another front the editors of the 13 Anthology have told me that the final story in the anthology will be The Thirteenth Camera. I'm quite proud of this. Ordering the story content of an anthology is a really difficult task. The two hardest positions to fill are the first and last stories.
The first story has to be the anchor, the story that will intrigue the reader enough to draw them in to the rest of the anthology. The final story is - presuming the reader tackles the anthology in order - the last story the reader will read. It will be the one most recent in their memory. It will be the one that completes the experience of the anthology. Nobody wants to end on a bum note so I'm more than happy with where they've placed me.
Night Owls has been sent to a literary magazine for their consideration. I'm expecting a rejection as I targeted one of the toughest markets to crack, but you've got to roll the dice. I'll do a post on the submission experience once I've had a response.
I've re-written The Flower Woman again. This will probably be its final straight forward re-write. Any further revisions will be radical. In some respects I haven't given this one too much of a chance. It was only ever entered into one competition. I'm currently getting feedback from a trusted source after which I'm going to make a point of submitting it to every qualifying market I can find. It's always been a popular story on TSL & Zoetrope so there must be an editor somewhere who will take a shine to it.
We're in July and 2013 has already been my most productive year. Three short stories finished, and one existing story re-written. Hopefully, I can maintain the productivity.
Keep writing, and keep reading, but most importantly take care,
Fantasies was published by Erotic Shades on the 1st April. A lot of writers via their blogs will list where their work has been published, but never say much about the publication or website that is promoting their work.
I’ve always felt that was wrong. Any Publisher / Editor who is publishing a writer is promoting that writer’s work. The very least the writer can do is return the favour.
We probably need to get one thing straight right away. Erotic Shades publishes literary erotica, and not porn. There’s a difference.
I was made aware of Erotic Shades by a fellow writer, Gary Clifton. I checked their website. I liked what I read. Fantasies had been written about a year ago. I liked the story but I didn’t know of a suitable market. The conversation with Gary seemed fortuitous so I decided to send Fantasies to Erotic Shades. It proved to be a good decision.
I found the editorial team at Erotic Shades easy to get on with and very friendly. I also like what they’re trying to do. Here’s what they have to say themselves:
Erotic Shades was a tiny idea that came up after a (very) long afternoon sat in meetings, listening to other people worry and stress about the publishing industry. Oh there was much to worry about we were told – the publishing industry was being ‘thrown open to every Tom Dick and Bob – why, anyone would be able to circulate their work with ease!’
Now, this was being pitched as the end of the world, but to a certain (silent) few sat round the table, this sounded like the start of a revolution – a chance for the vast amounts of quality work out there to rise to the surface. Writing can be a solitary business, filled with rejection and uncertainty – but as an onlooker, watching the way the publishing industry is having to recreate itself, there are huge opportunities for writers to get their work out there and get positive feedback – from the readers - you know; the people you actually want to buy your book.
And this is where we come in – erotic fiction is on the rise, but we feel that so much of what is coming on the market, is merely a repeat performance; publishing companies trying to recreate the popularity (not to mention the profit) of Mr Christian…Well, you know his name.
We want to offer folks a little sizzle in their day, and we want your help. We will be calling for submissions of erotic short fiction, sometimes based around a theme, sometimes not. We are aiming to publish straight to the site for all to enjoy. But – it will only be available to enjoy for one week, before coming-down to go in our quarterly anthology.
We think this is the best way to get your work out there, and show the reading audience the great quality – and variety – this genre of fiction has to offer.
We three; Jo-Anne, Liza and Anna, rack up twenty years in the publishing industry between us, and we’ve been hands on to witness the almost complete alteration of the publishing field in the last five years or so. And we think these are exciting times…
I’ve been impressed with the work that I’ve read on Erotic Shades so far, and I’d recommend any reader or writer to check them out.
Great News!!! The Editor at Erotic Shades has just informed me that Fantasies will be published on the 30th March. I can't wait. I'll do an expanded blog entry on Erotic Shades either on the 30th or the 31st. I like what they're trying to do, and they're a friendly bunch.
Apologies, it's been quiet around here. I've been bogged down with 'Project 13' and another short story called 'Night Owls' which I'm desperate to finish.
I've also got the worlds highest reading pile at the moment. I read the 'Last Bus To Wodstock' the other day. It's the first Inspector Morse novel. I'm a fan of detective fiction as in traditional detectve fiction, not the scientific forensic type. I've been reading stories about such fictional greats as Holmes, Poirot, Maigret, Inspector Wolf, The Baron, Cribb, and my current personal favourites Bryant & May for many years.
I've aways avoided Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse novels. I thought they were going to be a little bit pretentious, elitist, and hard to get into. I couldn't have been more wrong. The 'Last Bus To Woodstock' was a well written, easy to read, well plotted, witty, and engaging tale that really drew me in.
I loved Morse. There's elements of his character that I really related to. We share the same love of pubs and real ale for one.
I'm now reading Patrick Rothfuss' highly rated 'The Name of The Wind.' I'm about 200 pages into this mighty epic. I'm enjoying it but dare I say that nothing much has actually happened in those 200 pages. One key event in the main characters past, and some mystery about current events with the spiders, but not a lot else so far.
That's it for now. My next post will be the feature on Erotic Shades.
The title of this blog entry is the first line from ‘Hello!’ a short creepy horror story.
It was some months ago that the editor of Firewords magazine (Dan Burgess) approached me asking if he could use ‘Hello!’ in an upcoming literary magazine.
I was interested but I asked a few questions before agreeing. I was keen to know exactly what Firewords was, and what ideas Dan had for the magazine.
Dan replied promptly. I can’t remember the exact words, but he basically said that the majority of the published short story magazines were visually uninteresting or uninspiring. He wanted to do something different. He wanted to have visuals that complemented the stories. That would interact with the stories.
I gladly agreed to Dan using ‘Hello!’ I was keen to see what he would come up with.
On Saturday a surprise package arrived through the post. It was an edition of the small print run teaser edition of Firewords.
This is the first time I’ve seen my work in print and the feeling is euphoric. Five years of effort finally comes good!
However, I’m going off topic. Having now seen Firewords I totally get what Dan was aiming for. To say I’m impressed is an understatement.
What Dan has done with ‘Hello!’ is fantastic. I don’t think the photo I’ve taken really does it justice. ‘Hello!’ was written in a traditional way, except my use of space, but the look was the same as any short story.
Dan has taken the story and…well the picture above tells its own story. I had no idea that he was going to do any of the above. I suspect that anybody reading this won’t have read ‘Hello!’ but trust me, the story is even more effective because of the way it has been presented. The presentation fits the story exactly, and really is complimentary.
The rest of the magazine was impressive too. In another story called Rock & Roll the text gets lowered mid-sentence and then rises again. The same story has a line printed at an angle. It sounds mad, but the story ends with a character in love with a rock. Again, the visual representation is matching the story. It really is a creative approach.
I’ve mentioned text, and the photo above maybe suggests the effects are only achieved with text fonts, but that’s not the case. The magazine makes use of photos, and illustrations. Each story is accompanied by a visual style that suits that story, or indeed poem. Yes, poetry has a place in Firewords.
I’ve been reading small press magazines since the early nineties and I haven’t quite seen anything like this. I’m proud to have my work published in Firewords. The other works in Firewords were all of a high standard including a fine story by Dan himself.
As I said earlier this was a small print run. Dan intends to do some more work on the magazine and produce a larger scale print run sometime during 2013. I wish him all the luck. Getting a print magazine produced can be hard and costly work, but this one deserves to succeed.
Take care and keep an eye out for Firewords and its talented creator Dan Burgess.
I submitted ‘ A Mother’s Child’ to Andromeda Spaceways In Flight Magazine a while back.
It was subsequently rejected – Bastards - with the following comments:
“This is good but not exceptional. There are too many characters. You need to familiarise yourself with our magazine.”
I have to say that the submission service at Andromeda is excellent. Each submission is assigned a unique number. Once you have your submission number you just visit the tracker page on the Andromeda website and you can see exactly where your story is within Andromeda’s reader process.
They basically have three stages. Stage 1 is an initial reader, stage 2 is a second reader, and stage 3 is the editors. It’s worth noting that there are more than one editor.
It seems like a robust process, and very transparent, which is a writers dream.
The feedback from Andromeda was also appreciated. It tells me that the story isn’t a complete dead loss. It’s one I’ve always liked and has had favourable reaction at Triggerstreet.
I had read Andromeda before submitting, and I thought the work well placed. However, I didn’t consider the number of characters when I was reading editions of Andromeda. A Mother’s Child has four main characters. I have to admit that the stories I’d read in Andromeda had one or two, three at most. The stories were also at limited locations while ‘A Mother’s Child’ had several locations.
It was a lesson learned in what to look for when trying out a magazine to see if it would be a suitable vehicle for my work.
I would submit to Andromeda gain, but I’m not revising A Mother’s Child for Andromeda. Reducing the characters would necessitate changing the story, and I wrote the story I wanted to write, and more importantly read.
Good luck with your own submissions.
M J Wolfson - That's me.