Sunday, April 20, 2008

False Starts, Confusing Advice, and a Writer's Angry Rant

A long, long time ago in a land far, far away (also known as rural Texas), I opened up my mailbox to find out my short story had been accepted to a 'zine that specialized in all things to do with vampires. I danced around the mailbox with glee and ran into the house to excitedly show my Mom and other family members the acceptance letter. It was an exciting moment that felt full of promise. That short story brought me my first fan mail that meant a lot to me. At that time it validated my writing and made me feel hopeful. But hope can only go so far...

Well, the catch was that I had no idea what to do with that promise or that potential other than put my free copy of the magazine in my book case for safe keeping.

I lived in the middle of nowhere, I was just learning how to use my brand new computer and I was not at all Internet savvy. My only real access to the publishing world were the books in the library and Writer's Market book that came out once a year at the local bookstore. I had no idea what I was doing and after years of frustration, I gave up writing and got involved with roleplaying instead as a creative outlet.

I'm not even going to go into how much time and energy I wasted doing THAT.

Years later, I ended up reading Stephen King's fabulous book "On Writing" and decided to try the short story route that did great things for his writing career. I was very unhappy with the time I wasted on roleplaying and with the two years I spent trying to be normal. I was just getting back to my Goth roots and I needed to start writing again.

The only problem was that my short stories always want to be full blown novels. I did manage to write a short story I really loved and sent it off to a magazine. A few weeks later I got a rejection letter that had me dancing around my apartment. The editor actually loved my story, liked how it ended, but it was not what the magazine was looking for. The fact she took the time to read my story, comment on it, tell me she liked it, even as she had to decline it, meant the world to me. If someone in the actual publishing business liked my writing, then I had hope of future success.

I wrote a few more short stories that I really liked and sent one of them off. I never heard back on that submission. But in the meantime, I ended up writing for The Edge Magazine covering the Goth/Industrial scene. Though this was not fiction writing, it was very enjoyable to attend shows and interview bands.

This was also the time period when my vampire novel was under consideration by a publishing house that is now defunct (I noticed their books on Amazon are in limbo and no one can purchase them...yuck).

The last year I have tried to focus on being more productive with my writing, researching the publishing world, and trying to come up with a game plan for my publishing endeavors. One of my next steps will be joining one of the writer's groups here in Austin. I've flirted with doing this more than once, but didn't feel I was in the "right place" to do so. I was traveling a lot in previous years and I wasn't even sure if I could show up to the meetings. Now its a whole different world and I know it will just take me marking the meetings on my calendar to remind myself to show up. I've read so many books, blogs, and writer's advice that I'm just chock full of conflicting advise on how to get published by the regular route. I'm hoping that a writer's group will help lessen this confusion.

I am very secure in my choice to self-publish my Zombie trilogy (which started out as a short story..hehehehe). I do know a lot of terrible books are self published. In fact, I checked out the self published book from the author of a blog I really enjoy. He does a great job with his blog, but his sample chapters of his novel were so horrible I couldn't believe it. I had to read some excerpts aloud to my husband, who said in shock, "That doesn't even make sense!". It was bad. Really bad. So horrible it made me feel embarrassed for the writer. Seriously, his blog is a great read and really enjoyable, but his book was mind-shatteringly bad.

Which brings me to this wonderful blog. Cliff Burns is anything but a bad writer. He's been in the writing world for a long time and knows the publishing business quite well. Maybe too well. So Dark the Night is his new novel that he was basically forced to publish on his blog after being rejected by the publishing world. Check out his post here. He is obviously not very happy with the publishing world and he burned his bridges with glee.

I downloaded his book and decided to read the first few pages. After checking out that other self published book, I was a little nervous. And you know what? It's good! Really good. It kicks the shit out of a certain writer who has had her thumb on this genre for awhile and has devolved into badly written porn. I cannot understand why this book wasn't snatched up by a publisher for gobs of money and put out in bookstores like TOMORROW.

The publishing world confuses me. It probably confuses a lot of people. I'm just trying to sort this all out and figure out what my place is in the grand scheme of it. Obviously, there are writers who make decent (not great) livings at writing. There has to be a way in for writers who are good at their craft and have good stories to tell.

Now, I just have to figure out my doorway.

Meanwhile, I'm self publishing my zombie trilogy for my fans and I feel good about that. What comes after that, we'll see.


  1. My thanks for your kind remarks re: my novel SO DARK THE NIGHT. Would you mind posting a version of those sentiments on my blog? There's a chap who's taken the opportunity to write a personal attack on me and my work in reaction to my post "Mediabistro, Redroom and Ominous Rumbles From Publishing Central" and I'd love to have your praise as a rebuttal. I refuse to censor or delete offensive letters but, at the same time, I'd like to see some balance.

    The state of horror/dark fantasy is a sore point with me. We need more literary efforts to stop the splatter idjits and misogynists from having the field to themselves. Best wishes and warmest regards to you.

    Write on...

  2. Cliff, I was glad to comment on your blog. Best of wishes to you!

    P.S. Loving the book!!!

  3. You'll have to let me know, and the rest of the ghouls at moviesonline, when your book is out. Also, will I be able to buy it in Canada? Probably have to order it online, hey?

    No doubt publishing can be a challenge. It helps to have an acquaintance in that world. It just so happens that I used to work at a book store with a guy who also is a publisher (horror genre, typically). I hope to make use of that when I get Stone Walls straightened up.


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