Friday, May 29, 2009
This will also be the first test of my summer writing schedule. I don't even know if I can call it a schedule at this point. It will probably be random stolen moments where I happen to be close to the computer and the house is fairly quiet (I can't write while there are any distractions around).
I am finding it incredulous that Monday is the first day of June and my youngest sister's birthday. Talk about making me feel old. We used to go to movies together and people thought I was her dad. She is only 3 years younger than me. There is a reason one of my nicknames in college was 'the old man.' A rather high hairline will do that to a guy.
Anyway, that was a little off the point, but I think I was trying to say that the end of month report will be coming out that day. It is looking like a very short report at this point, unless I get a slew of responses from editors, which isn't likely.
Hope everyone has a good weekend and enjoy the rest of your Friday as well. I might go try to drown a worm now.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
As far as the first question goes, there is no doubt that the entire industry is floating, on a speed boat with the throttle stuck in high gear, toward the electronic mediums. You can look at the newspaper and magazine industry for this. Time magazine gets ten times as many readers online than they do in their print journal (and the material isn't the same). More people read the Drudge Report than the New York Times, even if they just skim the headlines. So what does this mean to the industry. Will paper be a thing of the past in ten years. Probably not, but it might be harder to find a paper copy of your favorite book in a used book store.
I have worked in print magazine in the past and I can tell you that getting the layout just right for the printer is a pain, big pain. I don't don't have any experience with the electronic layouts, other than this blog, so I asked someone who has experience with both. Jason Sizemore of Apex Publications has had a successful Pro-market magazine and a successful Pro-Market e-zine. I asked him which took longer to produce, the print issue or the e-zine, or if it was a wash. He responded with "(It)Takes me way, way less time to prepare a digital issue of Apex Magazine as opposed to when it was in print.” This got me thinking of the magazine from the editors POV. If you are giving the authors the same money, and reaching more people, it takes you far less time which in Jason's case gives him more time to focus on the Book part of his business, why wouldn't you go to an online format. Sure I miss the paper editions, but printers cost money, a lot of money so from the editors point of view I can see the online edition being advantageous.
From the writers point of view I would like to think we have two goals in mind, get paid for our work and have as many people as possible read that work. It isn't like in the 1950's where every household in America subscribed to the Saturday Evening Post and Every teenager had a subscription to the pulp magazine of the day (and every Uncle had a subscription to Playboy). Now people aren't relegated to two or three channels on television and the radio. We don't sit around on Sunday afternoon and sing along to Cousin Bob playing the piano. Times have changed and while people still read, and some of us read a lot, most don't read as much as they did 25-50 years ago (although most read more than they did 200 years ago when your choice was The Bible or The King James Version of The Bible.
We want to get paid so we submit to the pro markets. Fewer and Far between. A lot of very good, and well known, writers are competing for those few slots. These are the writers that actually make a living with their craft. Most people don't make it to the pro-markets and those that do usually don't make it into one, maybe two a year. This isn't enough to make a living from either, not like it used to be. I am reminded that Robert Bloch could sell an 8,000 word story to Weird Tales for a penny a word and live for a month on the procedes. Try and do that now. For most of us that would only pay for our internet and a couple of Happy Meals at McDonald's.
We also want people to read what we do get published. The internet has made this amazingly easy. Just post a link and most people can read 90% of the online content. Sometimes you might have to pay a token amount to the magazine to read the latest online issue but his is a far cry from the cost of the paper issue. Still, I prefer to have my hands on a paper copy. One of my favorite magazines in the 90's, before the internet truly had a foothold in every day life (and my modem speed was an amazing 14.4 bps) my favorite magazine was a small horror mag called Haunts. It was well done in a digest sized format and glossy covers. I still have a couple of copies (possibly the only ones in existance) but I still have them; the magazine hasn't been published in 12 years. In twelve years most of the online magazines we submit to will be gone and replaced with newer, shiner, faster versions that push the same types of stories that we are selling or trying to sell to them now. The stories we had published on the old versions, no doubt will be gone with a couple of months or maybe a couple of years if we are lucky of the magazines downfall.
I am still trying to gauge the readers desire to read online versus paper. There are a lot of variables. I prefer to read in bed or in a favorite chair, in the car, under a tree. This doesn't make for electronic reading the best option. New e-readers are trying to bridge this gap but for most people the price of the readers are prohibitive so until they start to lower the price (and lower the price of the download prices, which in many cases are just as much or more than a paperback copy) they are going to have are going to have a rough start with the general public, especially in this economy. Still, most people, it seems don't mind reading, at least in short bursts, on a computer screen so as we become more used to this it will become less of an issue. I really think that if the cost of the e-readers gets cut in half (does anyone remember the first DVD players. I bought my first one for $250 dollars. The last one I bought cost $80) more people will be likely to buy them and the stigma that has become associated with online publishing will start to diminish.
I could go on but this post has gone on long enough. I guess, that I would still rather see my work in print and I applaud the magazines that give the reader the choice (it seems that the very small press magazine is ahead of their bigger print brethren on this issue). Overall, I would just like to be paid a fair price for my work and see as many people as possible enjoy it, however that may be.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I am thinking that the same philosophy might apply all Summer. I used to do that all the time. Get all of my writing done in the morning before I lost the morning nap and had to switch to the afternoon nap. I think I might be losing the afternoon nap her shortly. Man, I hope not but I have to prepare for the eventuality.
I am still psyched that some good (okay, maybe not good but productive, we can call it productive) writing time ensued in this short window of opportunity.
As far as the rest of the week goes I think tomorrows post will concern itself with my take on paper versus online debate. I am still thinking of my arguments are still forming so I won't take it on today. Have a good day and write well my friends.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The rest of the week is choppy, especially with Thursday being the last day of school for my six year old. I think she has a t-ball game that day as well.
I haven't heard from an editor in weeks now, despite having 11 stories out in submission land and 5 of them have been out for longer than 100 days. One just hit the 500 day mark. When combined with my recent idleness at the keyboard this could be a long summer. Especially since my next story to be published isn't scheduled until August. *sigh* Anyway, these books aren't going to write themselves, not without my help anyway, so I will see you later. Have a good one.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Ransom Noble, a person I actually knew in my high school days, recently had her first book come out from 4VR Publishing called The Art of Science. This is the second stop on her blog tour, the rest of which are
May 20 – Vivian Zabel at Brain Cells and Bubble Wrap
May 21 – Jamie Eyberg at A Continuity of Parks
May 22 – Shanachie at Ramblings of a Confusted Writer’s Mind and Quill, Parchment, and Ink – Writings and Ramblings
May 23 – Karen at Sharing with Writers and Readers
May 24 – Nancy Famolari at Nancy Famolari’s Place
May 25 – Crystalee Calderwood at Crystalee Calderwood, Writer and Poet
Ransom will be giving away one copy to a lucky winner drawn randomly from comments, so be sure to leave an email address for contact information.
I have decided to ask her some questions about the process she went through in writing this delightful book about a girl struggling to do what she loves and what is expected from her mother and her peers.
R: Thanks! I am active in a writing community, and the publisher is also a member. She mentioned running a contest for children's books. I'd written this book and not done anything with it, so she encouraged me to send it in. Eventually I did. I heard back about a month later that I'd won- not just with the editors but also the reader's test. I was amazed, but extremely happy.
J: A lot of writers dive right into a story, others make careful notes on every detail on their characters and the plot. What kind of writer are you?
R: I've done both. This one was plotted, but I've also done it on the fly. I think I do better on a middle of the road approach. The last story I tried to write with careful notes on every detail took a sharp turn away from my plan in the middle and became a better story because of it. I try to stay open to those things as I write.
J: I get confused with the classifications of YA books, middle grade and young adult. After I read the book I thought it might be classified either way. Would you consider this to be a middle grade book or young adult book and do you plan on writing others for this market or do you plan on branching into different reading groups? I only ask this because your other published story, 'Qui's Contract' in the Ruins Metropolis Anthology (published by Hadley Rille books) was more adult fare.
R: I think the lines can sometimes be blurred between middle grade and young adult. I am sure there are guidelines out there, but it might come down to the heaviness of the topics involved in the book, the age of the characters, and the narrator's voice. You might be right on this one; it could fall in the gray area between the two classifications. I do plan to write more young adult, but I also enjoy writing for older audiences. I don't like saying I'm only going to write one thing - either in classification or genre. Might be harder for marketing, but we all have to follow our muses, right?
J: How much has your background in engineering helped you in your writing? Conversely, how much has your writing helped you with your engineering endeavors?
R: My writing has always kept me in touch with my imagination. Using that in engineering made my designs and ideas on how to fix or improve existing products and processes unique. It often required lengthy explanations or leading questions to get people to see what I had in mind. On the other hand, engineering can be both a help and hindrance to writing. Science fiction is one of my favorites, but now and again what's actually possible stops me from finding a fictional solution. It also helps by making me get the details of the story correct - I can be very analytical in the editing process.
J: How has your writing changed since you signed that publishing contract?
R: If you mean, has the publishing contract changed my writing, I don't think so? I think life changes writing. All of us write what we know, and every day we learn something new that we can bring to our stories. Tomorrow will bring something else, and I look forward to it.
Ransom, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and good luck with your next book.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Today will be an interesting day. I have stories to read, pages to fill and a child to bathe. Not all at the same time, the pages would get soggy and I would probably short out my computer. I also have a lunch with another local writer and her boyfriend. Should be interesting, especially if my boy doesn't want to cooperate. She writes YA and is a reporter for the local paper. I know somewhere in this little town of ours is a Harlequin romance writer as well. I don't know who she is but she writes under a pseudonym that I am unsure of. I am a little rusty on my Harlequin's.
Yesterday, in a sleepy stupor I managed to get no writing done. I did read a bit, which was nice and started to watch the history channel program I had taped from Sunday night 'How Bruce Lee Changed the World.' Very interesting so far, I would recommend it.
Have plenty to do today, so I am going to do them now and if you are interested in queries go to Carrie's page. She has played with one of Mercedes' query letters and it is a good time.
Monday, May 18, 2009
I did manage to get some thinking in. Some plot holes were filled in, mentally anyway. I will look forward to getting them on paper eventually. Maybe even today.
I was planning on doing a bunch of reading this weekend, but that plan fell through. I might try to fix that this morning while the boy eats his pop tart and watches his favorite cartoons.
Lots of good stories have come out in the last week: Jameson gave us 'Nuts' on 52 Stitches, Aaron had a story (and an interview) come out on EDF, Danielle had a story come out in Anthology form here, and I want to thank everyone for the kind comments you left about my own story Wine For Two.
Hope everyone had a good weekend and if you were not feeling the greatest (as apparently many of you were) I hope you are feeling better.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Also you should read Aaron Polson's short on EDF today.
Yesterday I took a day off, I didn't want to write I wanted to drive. Somewhere I have never been. This is hard for me to do in a very limited amount of time as I have taken almost every highway, biway and gravel road south of interstate 80 in Iowa and a good chunk of them north of it. Lucky for me I have never been to Northwest Iowa so in a couple of hours I was out of familier territory and into new scenery. It was beautiful, flowing glacial hills and flat plains that seemed to stretch forever. I showed my son some turtles in a farm pond and just enjoyed the time out. I considered it a re-charging time for my creative batteries. I was also looking for new landscapes and settings to showcase in my fiction.
I had better get going, it is raining today so I know I will be able to spend a good chunk of time in front of a keyboard when the boy goes down for a nap.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Lately I seem to have written my fair share of ghost stories. They aren't always meant to be scary. I don't think they need to be. Most of the ghosts in Dicken's A Christmas Carol weren't scary (with the possible exception of the ghost of Christmas future) and I think we could look to our Hollywood brethren and say quite a few of the specters on film are quite gentle (Can we look to Bruce Willis's portrayal in The Sixth Sense?)
That being said, I think that ghosts can be looked at in two ways, memories and ideas.
The ghost of memory is the one that we see most often, it is the spirit of grandpa Gino who throws the dinner plates across the room when the pasta isn't cooked properly. Most of Algeron Blackwood's stories are based on the ghost of memory.
The ghost of idea is a much harder one to nail down. It may have no reason to be there. It may have a fleeting association. It may only appear in the dream, locked away in our subconscious waiting for us to banish it and hoping it never does. This is the ghost that I would like to write about someday. The one that is much more psychological than metaphysical. I would like to think that The Shining is a good example of this story. We don't know the backstory, it just is, and it catches us at our most vulnerable.
What do you think? Are there other types of ghost stories that I don't know about?
Monday, May 11, 2009
Speaking of recycle bin, I took a tip from BT and cleaned up my flash drive files where I keep all of my stories (once they are accepted they get put to disk and stuffed in a filing cabinet). I had a whole slough of stories (I think we can call them that, maybe just a collection of semi-coherent words is a better description) that were just sitting around doing nothing. They are now gone and my flash drive looks a lot nicer for it. I actually know what I have now. Some of them were just a couple of notes or a simple scene that I couldn't remember going anywhere. That actually felt good to get done.
This week the plan is simple, write as much as I can and piss around as little as possible. It will be hard with such things as Twitter and Facebook and addictive little games like Pandemic II (Thank you Barry) but I think I can do it.
While I am at it I want to Congratulate one of the newest members of my wall of blogs I follow, Samantha Sterner- AKA Horror Girl, for her microfiction story which will be part of Weird Tales video series. Fantastic news!
Friday, May 8, 2009
Now to the business at hand. I think I have a good start on a 16-20,000 word MG story as I plug away on another MG adventure which is looking to be about 28,000 words long. nothing like spreading yourself thin. My short story front is thin right now. I have a couple of ghost stories sloshing around my skull, aging like a fine whiskey. I hope they don't turn rancid on me before I tap my brain and release them into my electronic shotglass.
Hope everyone has a good day, it is Friday after all. Pour yourself a cold one and belly up to the keyboard and have some fun today.
Oh, and before I forget, I will be posting this next week as well, Ruthless Peoples Magazine comes out with issue number 3 next week (the 14th to be exact) and my story "Wine for Two" is featured. I hope everyone downloads it and lets me know what they think. It is a little different than my usual. Don't worry, I will remind everyone when it comes out.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Different Seasons by Stephen King. For those of you who haven't read it, go pick it up. I found my copy at a second-hand book store for $2.00 in paperback and the binding wasn't even broken yet. It contains the ideas behind such movies as 'The Shawshank Redemption' 'Stand By Me,' and 'Apt Pupil.' While I haven't seen the last movie I understand that my brother really enjoyed it.
What the book entails is a series of 4 novellas. King explained in the back of the book that he wrote each of these as his winding down from each of his first four major books and stuffed them into a drawer because no one would ever want to publish a novella. That wisdom still holds true today. I can say that I am glad that he, along with his agent (and due to a little bit of prodding on Mr. King's part) bypassed conventional publishing wisdom and released them. Even though they aren't horror stories so much as dark tales (His agent was leery that no one would want to read anything other than creature fiction from his client at the time). They are clunky at times and good reads all around. They show a writer who was unafraid of language and less afraid of writing something outside of his publishing comfort zone.
Well worth my hard earned money and even more worth the time to read.
As I write this a huge machine is tiling the field behind my house, laying a thick black drainage line into the wet soil. I would post pictures but I don't care to go outside and get wet. It looks like a military machine thought up in WWII and the tile line looks like a thick snake that ropes around the field. *Quick, in a thousand words or less come up with a story about this :) *
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
So far it works pretty well. Something tells me I am going to have a problem later on with characters that weren't written in to one story popping in for a visit. I didn't say it was a perfect idea.
Today, instead of writing, and if it doesn't rain, I will be spending my time planting flowers, cleaning the garage and maybe hanging more drywall. On the top of my list is tightening a water line under my dishwasher without snapping it and making a bigger mess. I thought I would have taken care of that earlier but I grabbed a handful of wrenches and none of them were the proper size. If this is any indication of how the rest of my day will go I am going back to bed.
Have a happy Wednesday!
Monday, May 4, 2009
Now I am off to reformat a story to send to Weird Tales. (Thanks Cate)
Friday, May 1, 2009
Acceptences: 2 (Yippee! I tied a previous record for acceptances in a month)
Play Date in Sand for issue #5
Winter Solstice in M-Brane SF for issue #8
Rejections: 4 (one for a story that was later accepted.)
Short stories written: 0 (although I did start one)
Books written: 0 (although I have worked diligently on one all month)
agents queried: 0 (Lets face it, none of my books are ready for that just yet)
Books read: 3 (better than my usual average of 2)
All in all, a pretty slow month, although I can't complain about the acceptances. Looking forward to see what May brings.