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Writer Beware

  I recently submitted my Medusa novel to a publisher I found because they approached me to review one of their books.   Now, my nonfiction blog isn’t a big deal.   With only a couple hundred regular readers I’m sure it didn’t lead to sales.   The book, honestly, wasn’t that good. Still, the website was friendly and welcoming.   As I filled in the proposal form I was honest, as it asked me to be.   How many copies, it asked, do you think your book will sell?   Be honest, it advised.   I put a number, realistic, that my own publisher would’ve been satisfied with.   Most books, truth be told, sell less than 1,000 copies. When they sent their rejection note a week later they said that I wasn’t well enough established as a fiction writer.   In other words, I couldn’t bring in enough money.   I’m not established enough?   How are you ever going to get established if even a small publisher like that won’t give you a chance? Here’s the inherent dishonesty in the system.   I’m not famous—I’m
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Double Life

  Sometimes life’s too busy to be leading a double life.   My fiction writing has once again been suffering because of nonfiction.   Funny how that goes. I have my fifth nonfiction book coming out this summer and a sixth written in draft form.   The real problem, however, is the nine-to-five job.   As a professional, it’s expected that the eight-hour day be more like ten.   And what with basic survival, and social time, writing both fiction and non can be a challenge. In a spate of optimism I submitted three or four stories back in the summer, with predictable results.   I finally got brave enough to submit my Medusa novel again.   This one has quite a history, starting with being under contract in 2012. I’ve had a few nibbles since the publisher pulled the plug after an editor left.   Hey, as a professional I know that’s not a very professional thing to do!   Publishers that don’t live up to their obligations, well, let’s just say they don’t thrive. Just recently, though, I saw that s

Nothing Like It

  There’s no feeling like it.   Finishing a story that you know is good.   You’re ready to send it to a publisher right away.   But then you hesitate. You’ve received so many rejection notes but each one stabs you afresh when another one comes.   Still, you know this story’s good.   You’ve managed to do something different than you usually do.   Will they, can they appreciate it for what it is? I’ve managed to have thirty stories published—averaging one per every two years I’ve been on this planet.   The rejection numbers are beyond a one-to-one correspondence.   And yet, I know this story’s good. Fiction publishing’s all about convincing some editor you don’t know that you do know.   You know your own writing.   I write many stories that aren’t publishable.   Writing’s that way.   When I do manage a good one I’m like a kid on Christmas morning. It takes thick skin, they say, to be a writer.   My question is should it?   Of course, there are lots of would-be writers out there.   You’d

Too Much Writing?

  Has this ever happened to you?   Have you written a story that you’ve completely forgot?   Not only completely forgotten, but made unfindable?   I play games with my stories and sometimes the joke’s on me. Okay, I suffer from graphomania.   I write constantly.   I do try to keep organized—I use a spreadsheet that has all my submissions on it.   It has rejection/acceptance dates (mostly rejection).   Lots of information. I decided to list on it every story, whether finished or in process.   There are far too many (mostly in process).   When I finish a story I often submit it.   If I get burned, I’m shy about resubmitting.   I often rewrite at this stage.   Then, when I feel brave enough, I try again. The spreadsheet is color-coded.   There, in the color that indicates finished and ready to submit is a story cryptically titled “The Password.”   I don’t remember this story.   I can’t recall what it was about or why I thought it was ready to publish. Looking through my electronic files,

Fiction Dreams

  I haven’t submitted anything for publication for several months.   Once the courage wears off, after having had some success, it seems that I’ve become thin-skinned again.   Part of the reason, I suppose, is that I’ve had pretty good success with non-fiction. But I really want to write fiction. One idea, and it’s not something I figured out, is that submitting to contests is a good idea.   Somehow knowing that hundreds of others are also trying makes it seem less like rejection if I lose.   I can say, “there were hundreds of others—chances were small to begin with.” I really have no idea how many submissions your typical magazine (print or electronic) gets.   I do know that a number of editors don’t get my style, or what I’m trying to do.   It’s not really horror.   It’s more weird fiction.   But literary. What’s wrong with the literary weird?   To me, the unusual or uncanny is what I’m looking for when I read a story.   I’ve read too many where nothing interesting happens (and yet t

Writing Nook

  When I bought a house (not on any royalties from my writing, mind!) I looked for a place with a writing nook.   In order to work remotely I had to prove that I had a dedicated office since, well, the man doesn’t like competition.   The writing nook was supposed to be separate. This requirement automatically ruled out modern houses.   New houses have no space for books—they’re designed around entertainment centers and home theaters.   We needed an older place.   We found something from the 1890s.   Perfect. I tried writing in our downstairs office.   It’s where my wife put the desktop computer—really, there was nowhere else for it—and it has no room for books.   It’s also very cold in winter. Then I tried the attic.   It’s sufficiently creepy and it’s full of books.   It’s even colder than the downstairs study in winter, however.   And, to get to the bathroom (I write very early in the morning), I have to creak down the stairs and through the bedroom to get there.   Between the cold a

Research Writing

  My current fiction project has me researching.   The best advice all writers give is that to be a writer you must read.   A lot.   I read on an average, more than a book a week.   Roughly half of them are fiction and the others non. I’ve had four nonfiction books published (with a fifth in the editor’s hands).   Writing nonfiction takes a lot of research.   So does good fiction.   Not that it’s ever helped me get my novels published, but should they ever see the light of day, they’re well researched. My novel on Medusa, for instance, was written after teaching introduction to classical mythology three times at a state university.   Indeed, it was that class that led to the novel.   I was only an adjunct, of course, and those with full-time affiliations have it much easier.   I know.   Believe me, I know. Now my research takes the form of books I buy myself, much to the protest of my study shelves and bank account.   All of my books contribute to my research and all of them are used t