Thursday, April 30, 2009
I don't envy the publishers at this point. It is tough. I understand that. Even a free online magazine has a hard time, with quality pieces, gaining an audience that is anything other than other writers. I don't know what to do about that. I am always suggesting stories for my non-writer friends and they seem to enjoy them, but they don't seek them out on their own.
Still, I consider what I do to be necessary for myself. Even when I was working full time and didn't have time to write stories, in full anyway, I would jot down ideas on scraps of paper and sneak into the office in the middle of the night to get a few paragraphs down every once in a while. I even kept a notebook when I worked so I could tap that spot in my brain after I ate, while I waited for the others to get back from whatever cafe or gas station they were eating at.
I would write if I wasn't published and I would seek out new stories and new authors until I die. Just the way I am wired I guess.
By the way, Editors that I have stories out to, you still have 15 hours to get that rejection or acceptance (even a hold) to me to be included in the end of month blog that I will post tomorrow. Hurry, this offer won't last.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
My vermin story is turning out much longer than I had anticipated. I still like the characters, but the natural progression of the story is taking much more paper than I had imagined. Such is life. Still I think I can save both of my characters and get by with only maiming them- Severely.
In other news. I have not heard back from an editor, good or bad in fifteen days now. That is a record this year. I take that back. I heard back from Doorways magazine yesterday, but they must be having a heck of a time keeping track of submissions because Brian and I corresponded on that story last year and I really enjoyed the analysis that Mort Castle gave of my story as he rejected it, in July. That story has since found a home. Oh, well.
I will go over more of this in my end of month segment in two days time. Until then have a happy humpday.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
I am wondering where this is leading and are there any projects you have going on that a second mind involved throughout the project, instead of at the end to proof it, would be a good thing. Or would it take a good friendship and chuck it out the window over creative differences. My other thing is who does what (You take this chapter and I'll take that chapter. We'll see if they mesh together when we're done.)
I came across this idea while talking to a friend and it was confirmed when I saw a video of Eric Idle talking about collaborations on Monty Python. It is a good video, insightful.
Monday, April 27, 2009
On Friday I managed to get though half of my vermin story. The characters are fun ones that I am enjoying writing about. It is too bad I have to kill at least one of them off. At least seriously maim them anyway.
Yesterday it rained all day. The first good thunderstorm of the season. My boy (at two years of age) heard the thunder and kept insisting that dinosaurs were coming. I don't know where he gets his ideas. This after a horrendous haircut the day before. It will take a month to get his hair to grow to the length it is supposed to be. At least we hope it will only be a month.
I hope today goes well. I have big plans and not a lot of time to get them all done. I would like to finish the first draft of my Vermin story and, if I can change gears that quickly, work a little on my MG book as well.
Hope everyone has a good day.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Okay, on the writing front- still working on 'Gold' which is going well. I have also started a little story for the Vermin Anthology. It was an idea I had stuck in my head and goes along with my construction background (termites). I hope it will be fun to write, because I might focus on that today instead of the book. I really need to get the book done though, not for a deadline, but my own piece of mind.
The good news is that I haven't gotten a rejection in almost two weeks. I am sure this will change, soon, but I hope it doesn't . As long as I hear back from editors I am happy- they can send me all the acceptances they want.
And now in the spirit of Friday I leave you with this video:
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I have been toying with some short story ideas and I think I have an entry for the Vermin Antho. I am still trying to come up with an idea for the Oz book. I think that one will take a little bit of time to do.
Anyway, I have a ton of stuff to do so I will now be going. Have a great Wednesday.
Monday, April 20, 2009
I consider myself to be well versed in Tools (the kind you would build a house with) and all things construction. That comes from almost 20 years experience. I also like to think I know a thing or two about motorcycles, although my knowledge seems to stop at about 1995. Anything before that and I could probably answer your question. Billiards is a hobby of mine that I have worked on for the last 15 years, I can successfully masse a cue ball to make a shot if I need to, although my jump-shot stinks. The last thing I know a few things about, more than most, unless they were in the military or work in a place that sells them are guns. This comes in handy when putting together a military approach to getting rid of zombies or what my character is holstering when walking down the street in my latest hardboiled adventure.
I am happy to put myself out there as a walking reference for these topics if anyone has any questions.
Now, I wonder what you consider yourself to be knowledgeable in.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Nine (52 Stitches)- I don't know why, but this story speaks to me.
2. The Locker (still out in submission land)- this is actually an older story that hasn't found a home. It would have had one at Strange, Weird and Wonderful Magazine, but the editor said he just flat out couldn't afford any more shorter stories at the time so it is still looking for a home.
3. Wine For Two (Ruthless Peoples magazine)- One of my very favorite stories and so far from what I normally write- you will have to read it for yourself when it comes out in issue #3.
4. The Passenger (on hold at Midnight Echo)- A simple ghost story. Fun to write.
5. The Glass Jar (still in submission land)- A story I wrote the first draft of more than 10 years ago. Probably on its last leg, but that doesn't mean I can't love it.
6. Open Graves (Still in submission land)- A hardboiled story with a nice ending for a tough character.
7. Lullaby (Macabre Cadaver #3)- This story came to me in a flurry. the ending took me by surprise.
8. Life in Vignettes (Literary Chaos print issue #1)- Another story written in a very quick succession and submitted the same day. It is probably the closest thing to poetry I have ever written and the title is exactly what it sounds like. When my contract with Chaos is up I may post it here.
9. Beneath the Willows (Bards and Sages)- Another piece that is pretty far removed from what I normally write. It involves a creepy old man and a young boy.
10. Play Date (Sand #5)- Very fun to write. This one was probably the most vivid in my mind as I was writing it. It was like watching a movie and putting what I saw on paper.
I have to say I love all of my 'children', but I am ready for many of them to move out of the house and get a job, or at least run away and join the circus.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Meanwhile, edits have been going well, if not as fast as I would like them too. I have been reading for a couple of friends and managed to get an acceptance to a magazine I can truly say is quite an honor. My story "Play Date" will be in Issue #5 of Sand. I have tried with two other stories to make it into Sand and have failed both times. I was actually inspired to write it by a story that was featured in the last issue of sand by J.C.Tabler called "Crib Death." In a couple of months, when you get the chance to read my story and then compare it to J.C.'s story you might be going WTF, but that is just the way my mind works.
In bigger news, today is the day that Felicity Dowker's book "A Phantasy Moste Grotesque" is released. Very excited for her. I am going out on a very short and stout limb by saying that this will, doubtlesss, be the first of many for her. (and the start of a fantastic year for most all of us her in this circle of bloggers, just a hunch).
Have a happy Friday. Have a great weekend.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Jamie: Tell us a little about yourself.
James: I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers. As for what got me started, it goes back to childhood. I loved to read and to write, finding excuses to do extra assignments in class (the teacher who gave a why-I-should-not-do-whatever punishment quickly found me indulging in the exact infraction that would let me write what I thought was a witty essay) and loving, yes, loving the use-this-word-in-a-sentence exercises. Back at home, my first writing consisted of comic strips and comic books (as you can guess, I also drew), but by eighth grade I started to write stories. Initially they were bad knock-offs of my reading material, science fiction and fantasy. My first "book" was an 80-page Tolkien echo typed on my dad's portable electric Smith-Corona on 25% cotton bond. I was doing bad Heinlein imitations through high school, but found myself turning toward mainstream stuff once I hit college, probably because my taste in reading changed through high school and beyond.
Jamie: What trends have you seen in publishing since you started writing?
James: Once of the biggest publishing trends I noticed was one of the earliest. In the late 1970s or early 1980s corporate conglomerates began to eat up the smaller and even larger publishing houses, so that decisions regarding the catalogue began to be made not by editors, fundamentally, but by accountants (and their ilk). At roughly the same time there were changes to the tax laws which made it much more costly for a publisher to keep a backlogue of work in print, so the shelf life of a book began to diminish. Traditionally, books found their audience by word of mouth, but this is a lengthy process which is far more difficult to afford. A book not doesn't get as much of a chance. Another change is that fewer publishers seem to want to publish books of short stories, at least as a first book. They exist, but it's tough (Alice Munro is the brilliant exception). They don't fit the ideas of ad campaign managers, who want snappy slogans and tag lines. Also, the money stinks, by comparison. John Updike said that when he started publishing stories in "The New Yorker" in the 1950s, two of those a year could earn a living for his family. As TV permeated through the culture, the lucrative markets for the most part turned to dust. A current fad in short story collection publication is for the linked suite of stories, or a batch somehow tied to gether by character, plots, geography, or whatever. No hodgepodges, please.
Jamie: This is a big question, at least with genre writers. I am curious to see how this pertains to literary writers. What do you see happening with paper publishers, both magazine and books, in the near future (five years or so)?
James: I'm pretty bad in the crystal ball department, but it seems somebody wants the book and magazine to go the way of the dodo. Personally, I don't like reading on computer screens and would hate for this to dry up (although I've heard great things about the Kindle device, which I have not tried). The literary presses are certainly moving toward e-books and e-magazines, though not in monolithic numbers. Not yet, anyway. The ease of distribution is certain an attraction to the corporately minded, but as a reading experience it doesn't appeal to me. On the other hand, look how few people seem to read.
Jamie: This is actually a continuation of #3. Do you see publishers, readers or writers pushing or embracing any changes that might happen? Of course if nothing happens this question is moot.
James: Lots of embracing; will it result in marriages? Hard to say. Probably more than I'd prefer.
Jamie: Do you see the short story, in this electronic age, becoming a more accepted form by the general public, especially with the advent of e-readers (if they can get the price down) and seemingly shorter attention span by the general public?
James: I couldn't say the short story will become a more accepted form or not. See my last sentence in the answer to question 3.
Faculty: Creative Writing Instructor, UNO Writer’s Workshop, 1994-2006
Managing Editor, The Nebraska Review, 1997-2003
Fiction Editor, The Nebraska Review, 1990-2003
The Gettysburg Review
Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry & Prose
Epicenter: A Literary Periodical
Bat City Review
Talking River Review
The Tennessee Quarterly
AURA Literary/Arts Review
The William and Mary Review
The Nebraska Review
Anthologies: The Workplace Anthology : www.workplaceanthology.com 2008
Tribute to Orpheus :Kearney Street Books 2007
Awards: Fellowship in Creative Writing: National Endowment for the Arts 2008
Semi-finalist, St. Lawrence Book Award: Black Lawrence Press 2008
Honorable Mention, Press 53 Open Awards: Novella: Press 53 2008
Finalist, Dogwood Fiction Award: Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry & Prose 2008
Semifinalist, Iowa Short Fiction Awards: University of Iowa Press 2007
Finalist, Quarterly West Novella Competition: Quarterly West 2005
Finalist, A. E. Coppard Prize for Fiction: White Eagle Coffee Store Press 2004
Finalist, Dana Award in Short Fiction: Dana Awards 2002
Semi-Finalist, Sandstone Prize in Short Fiction: Ohio State University Press 2002
Finalist, Spokane Prize in Short Fiction: Eastern Washington University Press 2001
Semi-Finalist, Julia Peterkin Award: Converse College 2001
Finalist, H.E. Francis Literary Competition: Ruth Hindman Foundation 2000
Honorable Mention, FLASH!POINT Fiction Contest: FLASH!POINT 2000
Finalist, Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction: Sarabande Books 1998
Finalist, The Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction: The University of Georgia Press 1997
Finalist, The Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction: The University of Georgia Press 1996
Finalist, The Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction: The University of Georgia Press 1995
Finalist, The Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction: The University of Georgia Press 1994
Individual Artist Fellowship Master Award in Literature: Nebraska Arts Council 1991
Charles B. Wood Award for Distinguished Writing: Carolina Quarterly 1988
Leo V. Jacks Award for Creative Writing: Creighton University/Nebraska Writers Guild 1976
Nominations: Pushcart Prize 1998
Pushcart Prize 1989
General Electric Foundation Award for Younger Writers 1989
General Electric Foundation Award for Younger Writers 1986
Other: Panelist, “Approaches to Historical Fiction,” AWP Conference 2009
Omaha On-Line / The Laundry Project 2006
College of Fine Arts Part-time Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award 2004
Fiction Judge, Shadows Literary Competition, Creighton University 2003
Guest Editor, Frigate: The Transverse Review of Books 2001
Prairie Schooner 75th Anniversary Celebration Panelist 2001
World’s Largest Writers’ Workshop Panelist: Writer’s Digest/Barnes & Noble 2001
College of Fine Arts Part-time Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award 1998
Individual Artist Fellowship Task Force, Nebraska Arts Council 1996Literature Panel, Oregon Arts Commission 1994
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I have learned a lot since then. For one I learned that the short story and its close cousin, the flash story, are completely different beasts than a novel. Aside from the obvious length. You have to think about different things to make them work.
The flash is, in my opinion, the story at its most elegant. It is petite and to the point. A slice of life. It is the prose equivalent of a poem.
The short story tends to ramble a little more, still without a word out of place in it best case. We get to know the characters and perhaps the setting a little more. We have a larger world to explore within the short story.
The novel. What can I say about the novel and its step-brother, the novella. At least from a writers point of view. We have not only a world we can explore, but universes. We get the chance to play God on a grand scale. With no limits to how we do it and how long we take for the journey, as long as we hold the readers and our own attention long enough to make it work.
I find it unfortunate that the university setting that I was educated in, at least in my writing classes, focused on the short story exclusively. Not that I didn't get a good education. I wasn't ready to play God at that point either. Something about walking before running. (I wasn't very good at the flash story at that point either.)
Monday, April 13, 2009
You will note what is missing from this list. Any serious effort at writing. Time has not been on my side. It isn't looking good for today either. As I mentioned on my twitter feed earlier this morning. I think this summer my writing will mostly consist of grocery lists, as my children allow for little else.
I have recieved two rejections this weekend. One story prompty got shelved. It has run its course and has been relegated to a file folder. The other one was reformatted and sent to another market. My short story, Winter Solstice, which recieved an honorary mention for the Return to Luna anthology in August, has found a home at M-Brane SF in issue number 8. At almost 5,000 words long it took it awhile to find a home. I will post when that issue becomes available. That keeps me on track for a story sold each month this year. Anything else this month will be gravy. I have yet to come up with a short story (or flash) idea for the month, but I still have a couple of weeks to mull that over.
I hope everyone had a good weekend. Let us all hope for a very productive week.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
I want to thank BT, all the way down under for nominating me for an Honest Scrap award. Truly and honor to have him think so highly of me as friend and as a writer. His opinions in the past have been invaluable for honing some of my stories.
The Award and Rules:
This award is bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant.
The rules are as follows:
1. When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.
2. Choose a minimum of 5 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have five friends. Show the five random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.
3. List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!
I could have included everyone on my blog roll for this, but I will keep it narrowed down to 5 for the sake of the rules (damn rules)
The Honest Scrap Award goes to....
2. Barry Napier- Talk about a man who is doing what I wished I could do. This man has more irons in the fire than - Anyone. and he still has time to blog about it.
3. Felicity Dowker- Would any of my lists be complete without mentioning Felicity? I didn't think so either. She has a new chapbook coming out this month, although her short stories will leave you speachless as well. An inspriration to new writers everywhere.
4. K.C. Shaw- She likes fuzzy things that talk. She likes to hike through the Tennessee Wilderness. She writes books and dislikes short time travel stories (at least when she writes them, although an editor thought it was pretty good). She is also someone we are all glad to call friend around here.
5. Ransom Noble- I actually went to school with this girl and she has a book coming out this month as well; The Art of Science will be available later this month. She is a YA writer and a lover of science fiction in general. She is also a new mother.
And now 10 things about me you might not have known:
1. When I ran a pool hall, people didn't start fights on my shift because they were scared of me. I am about as scary as a cheese sandwhich.
2. I am a big ol' comic book geek from way back. I managed to sell them all way back when, but I wish I still had them.
3. I would rather go fishing than write, but I have to have something to do when I have to stay home.
4. I have never been involved in any organized sports. The coach tried to get me involved in football my senior year. I turned him down because I didn't know the rules of the game.
5. We recycle everything we can in our house. Mostly becuase we don't have a garbage service pick up our trash and tin cans don't burn.
6. The quickest way to get me to buy a book of yours is to autograph it. There is something about signed books that draw me to them.
7. I learned to cook completely by accident. I really just wanted something more than peanut-butter and Jelly one night and I was broke.
8. I have a high tolerance for electricity. What would knock my cousin out only feels like a tickle to me.
9. My idea of a perfect vacation would be to load the family up and go on a restaurant tour, stopping at little cafe's across the country looking for pie. My wife would go along with me, but the kids would be bored silly.
10. I have never been out of the country. I have never lived outside of Iowa (although I did work in Nebraska and live in Iowa for a time.) needless to say, I have a pretty limited view of the world.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Needless to say, if you spend a lot of money on stamps you are going to send out to only good paying markets and I didn't really know of any FLT markets. I am sure they were out there, but they at least paid in copy. Stick with me, this is going somewhere. You edited and proofread and if you thought it was junk there was no way you were going to waste the stamp on it. Needless to say I got a lot of rejections and remained an unpublished writer. My circle of writer friends all went their separate ways after college and, while I keep in touch with a couple of professors, it isn't quite the same. They had all been published, in prestigious magazines and most had won awards for their work. I missed reading other peoples work, both in the classroom and for the literary magazine (now defunct) that the college ran. It was a good time and it gave me a chance to see how I stacked up to what else was being put out in the market.
Flash forward to today, I am now published. Granted I have never had a story in Redbook or Playboy like my professors had but I have been published. In the meantime I missed the thing that college gave me. I missed seeing 'what else was out there.'
Here come the read requests. You betcha I will read what you send me. While I consider each and every one of you my friends, you are also competition (it is a friendly game). We are all vying for the valuable spaces that the magazines allot. I celebrate your victories and mourn your losses. It is all part of it. I like to think that by reading your unpublished works it is making me a better writer. I like to pick apart, see where I would change something, what I would cut out and where I would add. It is part of my training. So go on, send me your unpublished works jeyberg74 @ gmail.com (take out the spaces). Let me rip them apart. Don't take it personally- I am training for a marathon here.
Just a warning, I will read everything that comes my way. It may take me a couple of days to get to it. :)
Monday, April 6, 2009
I am looking forward to push through edits today. I have a clear mind and a fresh outlook on the week. It will be a short week, I can't dilly-dally around, my kid has Spring break and the wife has vacation time as well.
I was shocked this weekend, I expected a flurry of activity in my inbox from editors telling me my writing sucked and that I would better spend my time scraping gum from the bottom of bleachers and not to bother them again, but I only got one rejection. Not that I'm complaining about only getting one rejection.
Here is to a happy Monday (is there such a creature?), Good luck.
Friday, April 3, 2009
If you want a good laugh go to Aaron's blog today and watch one of my favorite videos. I think I have that on both VHS and DVD formats. I won't post it, but there are some pretty good Star Wars versions on youtube as well. I will let you try to find them.
Now for the multicultural part of the show:
Thursday, April 2, 2009
In other news. Started the re-write/editing process on my YA book, Big Chief's Gold. this is more fun than a short story, as far as the editing goes. I don't know, exactly, what is different, but it feels more fluid to me. Maybe I had good bones to work with- I don't know. I think I will be done with what I have in another two weeks. Then I will let it sit for a while and work on another book I have in the wings. After that comes the Novella and then I get to do it all over again until I feel I have piece good enough to show others.
Isn't this fun.