Monday, 29 June 2009 Trust Me

'Sometimes you can learn more about a person by what they don’t tell you. Sometimes you can learn a lot from the things they just make up. If you are tagged with this Meme, lie to me. Then tag 7 other folks (one for each deadly sin) and hope they can lie.'

All round puppy wrangler and zombie star Samantha Sterner caught me a vicious sideswipe to the head tagging me with this – I wasn’t due to post again until Thursday. Stops me being lazy though, so here goes.

Pride: What is your biggest contribution to the world?

The new James Bond novel – L.R. Bonehill writing as Sebastian Faulks writing as Ian Fleming.

Oh, and religion, that was me too. That’s pretty big, I guess.

Envy: What do your co-workers wish they had which is yours?

All the scripts for the final season of Lost.

Gluttony: What did you eat last night?

Dodo fillet. They make great pets too, by the way. Dodos that is, not just the cooked fillets; that would be too weird.

Lust: What really lights your fire?

Not sure I should post that here – I don’t think anyone would ever talk to me again.

If you really want to know, just send me an e-mail, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Anger: What is the last thing that really pissed you off?

Chewing gum, but I can’t say why.

Greed: Name something you keep from others.

The fact that I know everyone’s secrets – especially yours and, I have to say, I’m shocked. In a good way, though.

Sloth: What's the laziest thing you've ever done?

Left my completed trilogy on the shelf to rot because I can’t be bothered to write a query letter.

So there you have it, and not a word of a lie.

Rebecca, Michael, Benjamin, consider yourself well and truly tagged. If you want to, that is.

Remember though, the fate of the world rests on your decision. No pressure…

Friday, 26 June 2009 Chip off the Old Chopping Block

One of our local museums recently ran a Myths and Monsters exhibition covering things like dragons, sea-beasts, legendary creatures and all sorts of other monstrous fare. They even had huge animatronic models. Good, cool stuff, especially for kids. And my kids loved it, they really did.

The museum was also running a My Scary Monster Story competition which I encouraged them to enter. One of them did and wrote a short story about zombie parents. Not sure what he was trying to get at there…

I was a thorn in his side and made him rewrite and polish it a few times before sending it in. Old habits die hard, I guess.

To cut to the chase, Zombie Hotel came first in its age range and won cold, hard cash and publication in the museum newsletter. Seven years old and he’s already been paid more per word than I have!

He now carries a little notebook around with him, so he can write wherever he is. He’s also reading the Super Book of Ghost Stories and wants to watch Dawn of the Dead (think that’ll be a No). Start them young, I say.

So, after this first taste of success, does he want to be writer when he grows up? Nope – he still wants to be a wrestler.

Friday, 19 June 2009 Podding

This week saw me collect my 4th rejection from Pseudopod – just one more and I get a free wall chart and a set of stickers to track my rejection misery. So, it’s not all bad.

This is a market I would really love to crack; I think I’d sell what’s left of my blackened soul to place a story there. Maybe one day… I’ll keep trying anyway.

Until then, I’ll console myself with the fact that this was my first personal rejection from the head honcho there, so the story can’t have been terrible.

So, to celebrate (tenuous, I know) here’s a link to one of my favourite podcast stories - Under the Bridge Downtown by Gary A. Braunbeck and Matthew Warner.

If you haven’t come across this story before, be warned: it’s not for the easily offended. It’s not extreme or hardcore (my taste doesn’t run that way) but it does deal with a difficult subject matter and it’s emotionally devastating.

To me, this is short horror fiction at its best.

If you’re reading this, Gary (he’s an avid fan of the blog, you know) I fully expect you to link to one my stories too.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009 Cover Me… I’m Going In

The new issue of Morpheus Tales is out next month and contains Behind These Eyes - a story from the Boneyard. Here’s a sneak peek at the cover.

If you look really, really closely (you may have more luck if you turn your back and squint) you can just make out my name on the cover. Exciting stuff, I’ve never made the cover before.

OK, so everyone in the line-up made the cover, but that’s not the point.

If you have super-human vision, you can also probably see that there’s a story by Joe R. Lansdale too (never heard of him… wonder if he needs any writing tips?). Now, that really is exciting.

How they managed to get Joe R. Lansdale, I have no idea, but they obviously mean business. In previous issues they’ve had fiction by (the sadly late) Joseph McGee and Michael Laimo. Ray Garton is scheduled for a future edition with hopefully more to follow.

Aaron Polson was in their first issue too, so if nothing else, I’m in good company.

For a PDF preview of the issue itself, go here and click on the cover.

Not sure what that guy on the front has been doing, but he’s certainly built up a sweat.

Friday, 5 June 2009 Tipping the Balance

I’m a good writer (good as in well behaved, that is) and always follow guidelines to the letter. First impressions count, right? If you’re not a stickler for the guidelines, then you’re off on a bad footing straight away.

So, the story is sent off after a gazillion checks and double checks that the formatting is up to scratch (whatever happened to standard formatting, by the way? Why does every editor seem to want something slightly different?) and I sit back and wait for the rejection to come in. Optimistic, I know.

I check Duotrope for the average response time and when it goes over that, I maybe start to get a little excited. They’re holding on to it – could be a good sign.

More waiting and I’m heading away from the response time as stated in the guidelines.

More waiting and I’m steering towards their ‘you should definitely query us’ time. Could be a really good sign, either that or it’s been lost.

This is where I come a little unstuck with the guidelines. I don’t want to be pushy (I could be on to a winner here, after all) so I wait a little more.

Two or three weeks later and still nothing, I decide to finally send a brief, polite query. Don’t forget, this a good long while after they recommend querying.

Within hours, I get the rejection (still smarts every time) with lots of positive things to say about the story and an assurance that it was a close call, but in the end... well, you know the rest.

This has happened a few times, so I guess the question here is: am I doing the right thing? Should I query or should I wait?

Were these stories doomed from the start or did the query process tip the balance in favour of the almighty ‘Thanks, but we’re going to take a pass’?

By the way, I’ve come to truly, truly hate that expression; familiarity breeds contempt.