Moving forward

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I intended to publish some of my short stories on Amazon. Some are previously published on literary magazines, some are not. I was hoping to start my career in self publishing with a science fiction short story I wrote a while ago, but it’s still under consideration (I submitted it around last Christmas) and it seems it won’t be reviewed for at least a few more months. Last time the magazine updated their twitter status as well as their online tracker, they were still reviewing submissions from August 2016 and there are about 500+ submissions before mine. So, I guess I’ll start with another story instead.

Which brings me to my question: would you like to see the cover for the story before I hit the publish button? I know cover reveals are usually for novels rather than short stories, but I’m learning things as I go along about Amazon and self publishing, and I don’t know if revealing a cover for a short story is something people would like to see. However, I’d like to know what you think. In the meantime, I’ll start creating some advertising images about it on Pinterest (you can follow me or any of my boards here) and see if I can
generate some traffic and hype. Because, you know, marketing demands it.

I’ll be honest with you, it’s moments like this that the dreaded beast of Marketing rears its ugly head. In all my academic years (and they were plenty), Marketing was the only subject I failed and had to resit the exam during the summer. Its concepts simply eluded me at the time, and, quite honestly, I doubt it will be any different now. I hoped I’d never ever have to hear the word Marketing again. Bet that beast is having the laugh of a life time right now, huh?

Today also marks the anniversary of my first story that got accepted for a magazine. Needless to describe how excited I was when I got the email. I remember I read it four or five times to make sure I didn’t misread it. Three
years later and four more publications in various magazines, and the feeling of being accepted, of knowing someone out there not only read my story but also liked it still makes me elated.

I wonder if this new endeavour through Amazon will be as exciting.

Thoughts on the upcoming publication

It’s been a while since I wrote a short story. The reason is I’ve been busy with life and drafting the next novel. I’ve also been editing my synopsis, my query letter, trying to find more agents that might be interested for a story like The Darkening, etc. The list goes on and on.

So I’m really excited that one of my older short stories is only five days away from publication. This coming Friday the 22nd, Bride of Chaos will publish my story, Whisps of Memory, in their 12th issue of 9 Tales told in the Dark, along with eight more stories. As the title of the publication suggests, this is a collection of horror stories, and the genre may not be something everyone likes.

But thinking about this story and how long it took to get published, how many magazines I had to research through The Grinder before I found one that was a good match, I couldn’t help but notice how few magazines there are out there compared to the number of writers. And again, to a certain extent, I think it comes down to the fact that magazines and small presses need our support to survive. I talked about the importance of these presses and magazines in an older post, so I won’t bore you by repeating myself. But I will stress the need for these markets to carry on doing what they do. A few weeks back I learned that yet another magazine, one that had published one of my stories in the past, closed permanently. The main reason was lack of readership, which of course resulted in lack of funding.

If you’d like, talk to your friends and families, ask them if they can spare the money to occasionally buy an issue from a lesser known magazine. This upcoming publication also needs our support. Just to be clear, I’m not trying to make you give me money by buying the issue my story’s included. No. I was already paid for my story, and I intend to return some of that money by buying the issue, just like any other reader. There are no royalties involved or any other form of gain for me, except knowing my story will reach an audience (you can check their submission guidelines if you don’t believe me). What I am saying is that it’s important you help and support small magazines, so writers like us – all of us – can continue publishing our works and experiencing that warm and fuzzy feeling inside. You know the feeling I’m talking about. I know all of you experience it every time you publish something, be it self-published or otherwise. If you still think I’m trying to make you buy this particular book, go to amazon, type “magazine” in the search bar, choose your favourite category from the list on the left, and buy whichever literary magazine you like. Who knows? You may come to like some of the stories there, perhaps even discover a writer whose style is closer to what you like.

Published short story

I got published for the first time in 2014. That year was great for me, and totaled three short stories published in webzines. Loved them all, and it saddened me when two of those magazines ceased their operations. I think there’s a kitten whimpering with its head hung for every literary magazine that closes. For some of you, three short stories are nothing. Okay, maybe most of you craft that many in a day or so. But for me, short stories aren’t all that easy. I prefer coming up with longer narratives, stories where I can delve into some world building, deeper character arcs etc, so three were just fine 🙂 Lets not forget I had only started writing a year before that.

I had high hopes for 2015, and I kept whoring my stories left and right, as Faulkner once said. Alas, 2015 sucked! I probably collected more rejection emails from that year than a seamstress has pins in her arsenal.

2016 on the other hand, seems to be a promising one. “Seems” is the keyword, as always. Bride of Chaos will publish a short story of mine for its 9Tales Told in the Dark series, sometime around April. Have a look at them, and if you like horror, fantasy, or sci-fi consider supporting the magazine. I’ve already stated my opinion on literary magazines in a previous message, and I stand by what I had said back then.

Status update

I’ve been editing/revising my novel The Darkening for a few months now and I’m one chapter short of reaching the midpoint. So far, I’ve rewritten every single chapter. If I was to copy/paste the sentences that didn’t get altered, I doubt they would fill more than maybe two A4 pages. Maybe. So, technically, I’ve spent the last few months writing. Or rewriting, whichever way you want to see it.

It’s really amazing how much my style has changed in just one year, but I think the current version is better. *Chris leans over and whispers in your ear, “much, much better.”* The sentences are tighter, I’ve tamed my former nemesis of constantly using  “as” and “-ing” (but still not as much as I’d like), and the word count has dropped significantly (in some cases by as much as 1200 words per chapter, though I have to tighten it even further). I have also added more of the main character’s mood and voice through the prose. So far, nothing major story-wise has changed.

If everything goes as planned, I should have it ready for my two betas by the end of summer or early autumn. If they have any ideas about the story and other plot changes I should make, I will do them afterwards, during the second round of edits.

Other than that, I’ve started accumulating a few rejections for some new short stories, so I guess it’s business as usual 😛

Back at it again

My phone rang this morning and notified me about the upcoming mount Everest I had to start climbing first thing tomorrow morning. It’s been 37 days since the last time I laid eyes on the first draft of my novel’s manuscript and the time has come for me to start editing and revising.

I’m gonna let that sink in for a while. Editing and revising.

The manuscript is 149k words long. I have to trim it down to 110 – 120k, no matter what, and make it more presentable. I also have to rewrite the first 10 or so chapters and condense them to 2 or maybe 3. Then carry on with the actual nit-picking. To be honest, I’m not looking forward to it. Not because I don’t like the book, but because I’m scared.

I’m scared because I think I won’t like anything from it. I’m scared because I’ve never done anything in that scale. Editing short stories somehow seem different now to me (strange, I know; after all it’s the same principle). Most of all I’m scared because I don’t know if my editing skills (which in turn mean my writing skills) are up to the task. In some ways I feel I’m back to square one where I had no work published and I was  uncertain of my ability to produce publishable material. Three publications in so far (fingers crossed to place the rest ones somewhere) and I still feel like a speck of sand that somehow has to reach the top of a mountain the size of Everest.

In those 37 days I wrote 3 short stories and finished translating one of them for a family member who doesn’t speak English, making this past November my most productive month so far. My aim with these stories is to place them all either in semi-pro or professional markets. I probably shouldn’t have high hopes for pro markets as they seem to prefer writers whose writing has something that I still lack. One thing is they have more experience in the craft than me. But I’ll try. If I do manage to get published in any of them (semi-pro or pro) then it will be a TREMENDOUS confidence boost that will reflect in the way I perceive my novel’s worth and my skill as a writer and storyteller. (The stories are now up on Scribophile, so if any of you is a member there and you’re interested in their genres, have a look at them)

Is it strange that I feel so stressed right now? Those of you who made it and traditionally published your books (fiction or non-fiction) did you feel like that as well? Am I experiencing a twisted version of what I should be feeling about the whole process? Or is it that I’m pushing myself too much, in order to prove to myself that I can do it?