No Interviewers Were Harmed In The Making Of This Post

My eyes stare through your soul. Also, what’s your favourite spoon?

I did an interview for Flashpoint, the upcoming anthology from Third Person Press! In it, I answer many questions:

-Who are my favourite authors?

-Why am I not a superhero?

-How can you help the Kumquat Army?

Who’s next on my hit list?*

Go read it! And if you want to buy/support the anthology, click here!

That’s it! I’m out of exclamation marks!

*Like I’d give that away.

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What It’s Like To Get Published

There was a sizing error with the author copies…

Getting one of your pieces published has two sides.

On one hand, there’s the awesomeness: holy shit, someone else thinks that a thing you did is good. And it’s probably not your mom! You are the creator of worlds, motherfucker, and that world is now open for visitors! Stamp your passport and get your shots, because we’re taking a trip into your brain.*

But on the other, far more creepy, hand, there’s the terror: holy shit, something you wrote is now out in the world where other people can read it. And judge it. And write scathing one-star reviews on Amazon. What’s worse: that people hate it…or that they don’t notice it at all?

It’s at this point that most writers retreat into a corner and begin to gibber. It’s okay. It happens to everyone. Try that corner over there, it’s got a nice floor.

But once you unfold from the fetal position, you realize there is a third hand to all this, one that you never considered before you got published: getting published is not the end.

So many writers are focused on the notion of publication that they don’t realize that getting published is just one more stop along the line. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an important stop—not least because someone is giving you money for a thing you made, which is awesome—but it’s not the end. Because after publication comes promotion, and readings, and launches. And of course the next publication, and the next story.

And that’s a good thing. If publication was the end of it, I’d be sad that it was over. Instead, the train keeps right on rolling.

Best thing you can do is enjoy the ride.

Which I am doing right now. I’ve got a story coming out in a new anthology, Flashpoint. You can find out all about it over here, at the IndieGoGo page, as well as check out some of the cool bonus rewards for those who support it. There are copies of the book and ebook, shiny things, events, and other assorted perks for supporting the anthology.

Or, of you want to know more about the anthology and the writers featured therein, check out the blog, which has interviews with the authors. Find out what writers drink! Who’s an outliner! What our superhero powers would be!** My interview will be going up shortly, in which you will find out exactly when I slithered my way into this dimension from my own.

So go check it out. I’ll be updating progress along the publishing ride here as new things happen. Book launches! Readings! Summoning rituals! All the trappings of publication.

And, in the meantime, I’m going to go write something else.

*Watch out for the locals. They bite.

**Spoiler alert: ‘hero’ is not the word for me.

Staying Inside The Lines: Writing For Anthologies And Other Stuff With Rules

“Monsters and Waving Hero Junk” sounds like an anthology I would read. Someone get on this.

Short stories and I are taking a break from each other right now—it’s not you, stories, it’s me—but most of the ones I’ve written have been written just for anthologies or collections. Which means that I’m writing to a specific set of guidelines. This is a valuable skill for all fiction writers to have because 1) it’s a cool way to try something new, and 2) it gives you more markets for your work.

But how do you fit your style into a set of guidelines? Unless your style is entirely illegible, it’s not that hard. Here it is: the Bare Knuckle Guide to Writing For Anthologies.

1. Read the guidelines. Then read them again. Make sure you know what it is you’re supposed to write. I’ve seen guidelines that ranged from the crazy broad to the hella specific and everything in between. If you’re going to write for something, then make damn sure it fits the guidelines. They’re there for a reason.

2. Check your pipeline. Got something half finished that could work? Or something that you completed that fits the guidelines? How about an idea that you had a while ago and hadn’t gotten around to writing yet? You might surprise yourself with what you have already available. A few tweaks might be necessary, but, hell, you’re a writer, aren’t you?

3. Research. Is the anthology/magazine/collection/whatever based on a time period? Do some reading about history. Particular sub-genre? Google it and check out what comes up. Spend some time trawling Tumblrs and Pinterest* boards with the keywords. Get images, styles, philosophies, geographies. Anything you think might help.
A note for those who worry this might taint their final project with unoriginality: bucko, you can’t work in a bubble. Well, you probably can, but it’s not advisable. Have faith in your own awesomeness and do the goddamn research. It’ll stop you from making silly mistakes.**

4. Let it percolate. With the theme in mind, let your hind brain work on things. Brainstorm a few things, and then settle in to think. This is less about driving toward an idea than it is about filling your brain up with crap and then seeing what it comes up with while you’re doing the dishes.

5. Listy McListPants. Make a list of ideas. You might have to roll a few around before you find something that sings. Don’t throw the others away, though. They might fit something else down the road. Writers: we’re like idea hoarders.

5. Write. Now you actually have to write the story. With your hands. Like an animal.

6. Check the guidelines again. Does your story still sound like what they’re looking for? Stuff changes in the writing sometimes; it’s like trying to pin down a Hydra. Double check what you’ve done with what they want and see if they still cross over. If not, you have two choices: change the story to fit, or keep it as is and write a new one. Use your own judgement. And remember that if you feel changing it would alter the story in ways you don’t like, that’s cool. Just don’t submit it to that anthology. You’ll waste everyone’s time and come off like an entitled douchebag who can’t be bothered to read the guidelines. Don’t worry, a home for that story will come along sooner or later.

7. Submit: Again after reading the guidelines. Write the cover letter (if one’s needed) and send that bugger packing. Move on to the next one while you anxiously wait for a reply. Rinse. Repeat.

*Fuck me, but Pinterest is obsessed with steampunk.

**While giving you all the freedom to make bigger, better mistakes, of course.

All About Timing: Deadlines and Time Crunches

Beasts of Hoth

This is what delivers mail in my province. (Photo credit: leg0fenris)

(Late post is late because I was out shoveling 8,752 pounds of snow out of the driveway. My arms are tired.)

Sometimes, the universe has no sense of timing.*

I’ve been working away at my list of submissions. To date, I only had one story lying around that I could send in. All the rest I’ve had to write from scratch. So in my quest to get thirteen new rejections in 2013, I’ve had to increase my output. I started scouring listings for short stories, and I found quite a few, but I do not keep a large backlog of stories. I don’t write a lot of short fiction, and what I do write tends to be in response to some deadline or another. Well, I figured finding some more deadlines would mean more stories finished. Right?

Well, I was partially right. I have been writing more short story ideas, and in general having more ideas for them. Part of that is the old you only find what you’re looking for trick: if I don’t have short stories on the brain, I’m not going to come up with ideas for them. Law of…I don’t know. Law of brains or some shit.

But, wonderful though it is to have all these ideas, there is still not enough time to get them all done. Or even half of them done. Which can be irritating.

There was one anthology that particularly intrigued me, but I was having trouble coming up with exactly the right story for it. I had some notes and a few false starts, but nothing worth submitting. And then I got sick, which put me behind. I chose to devote time to the anthology I actually had a story for and let the other one go.

And then I came up with an idea. A good one, too. It came to me while I was lying on the couch, covered in cats, trying to sneak in a pre-gym nap. A little more thought, and I knew I had something good.

But there was a problem: the due date was too close. With other projects in the works and, you know, having a fucking life, I wouldn’t have time to get it done. At least not done well. And I’m not going to submit a poor piece just to meet my own goal. That’s cheating. Again, I cursed the gods of inspiration** for their piss-poor timing.

But very occasionally, the world listens. Because when I was back checking more listings this week, I saw a change: the deadline had been extended. By two weeks. Just enough time to get it done.

So now I will. Thanks, universe. I owe you one.

*For example, three snow storms in the last week of March. What the unholy fiddle-playing fuck, Weather Gods?
**Commonly known as Research, Coffee, and Being Bat-Shit Crazy.