Sunday, July 23, 2017

Rejection, Romance and Royalties by Laura Resnick

Rejection, Romance and RoyaltiesRejection, Romance and Royalties by Laura Resnick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Laura Resnick is a multi-genre writer who's been making her living at this writing thing for quite a while. She's written regular columns for the official publications of multiple writers' organizations, and this book is a collection of columns on a variety of topics. They were all written for an audience of writers, I've enjoyed this book very much, enough to read it more than once.

CONTENTS:

The Luck Myth
The Reader's Mighty Pen
Passion
Copy Edits We Have Known and Hated
True Believer
...Does Not Meet Our Needs at This Time...
Resolutions
The Best Bad Advice
Enlarge Your Penis
The Unfinished Conversation
The Long Haul
Ow! Ow! Owwww!
I'll Just Sit Here in the Dark
Labelismization
It Can Happen Here -- And Often Does
Nurturing the Nature
Those Who Are About to Reboot, We Salute You!
Vive La France!
Back in the Day
The Wages of Obsession
Orphans of the Storm
In Praise of Old Friends
Going Public
How Long Does It Take?
Jabla
Let's Face the Music
The Artist's Knife
Habit Forming
What I've Learned from Will
Selling Elsewhere Is the Best Revenge
Gunk
Lions By Night

The most memorable thing about this book, for me at least, is how wonderfully readable Laura Resnick's writing is. She has an easy, flowing style that carries you right along. Her pacing is pretty much perfect, making this an ideal book to read for relaxation. This isn't the sort of book you have to focus on, as if you're going to be taking notes. Instead it's the kind of book you read because it's fun, because it'll make you laugh, or smirk, or go "Huh" over something interesting, something you didn't know before.

One of my favorite essays here is one I've talked about before, It Can Happen Here -- And Often Does. If you've been reading my blog since early 2013, you might've read that post already. If not, click through and check it out, seriously, because the story is hilarious in a horrifying sort of way. The TL;DR is that, very late in the publication process, an editor went through and changed a character in a book from an adolescent boy to a raccoon. It was too late to fix it, too late to cancel the book, and it went out that way, over the strong protests of the writer and her agent. Really, you've got to read that if you haven't. (IMO, this one article is a good reason all by itself to get this book.)

As a writer who's had their blood pressure spike over especially egregious copyedits a time or two, "Copy Edits We Have Known and Hated" made me wish (for just a moment) that we still worked edits on paper, because Laura relates how her father once handled a particularly awful copyedit and I was envious for a minute or two.

Perhaps the most volatile reaction to a copy edit that I ever saw was that of my father, science fiction writer Mike Resnick. He wrote a novel in which the narratie describes one character, a leprechaun, as having an Irish accent. The copy editor went through the entire manuscript and changed every single word the character spoke which ended in ing to in'. Showin' a surprisin' streak of practicality, Pop went out and had a "stet" stamp made at the local print shop, rather than writin' stet ("let it stand") a thousand times. And when he sent the heavily stetted manuscript back to the publisher, he phoned the executive editor and warned him that if he didn't make these (stet) changes, Pop would personally fly to New York and rip his heart out of his chest.

Any writer who's worked a particularly awful set of edits in MS Word, one at a time, is probably with me in feeling a twinge of envy for Mr. Resnick's "stet" stamp. [cough]

"The Best Bad Advice" is full of examples of same that are funny in a way that makes you smirk and eyeroll, of the "Why don't you just write a bestseller so you don't have to worry about money anymore? type. I've certainly gotten some really awful advice from people who've never written so much as a short story, but who are sure they have great advice to give anyway. (One friend whom I let read an SF romance WIP back in the 80s was sure I should rip out all the "soapy stuff." He wasn't a writer (although he was an SF fan) and he didn't seem to get that something not to his taste (romance in this case) wasn't necessarily bad or a mistake. He was a bit offended when I told him I wouldn't be making that particular change.) Laura relates bad advice she's gotten herself, and bad advice other writers have related to her, and it was all recognizable in tone and type, even if I'd never gotten this or that particular flavor of advice myself. But one example, and the reaction to it, made me laugh out loud.

Ray Feist recalls once hearing an editor tell an audience that he preferred first-time writers to approach him directly, not through an agent. Feist says, "Under my breath I muttered, 'And armies prefer it when the other guys surrender without firing a shot.'"

I know -- agents -- but considering when this was likely written, and that the editor in question would probably have the same attitude about a newbie writer hiring an IP attorney instead of an agent, I think Mr. Feist's observation is still valid. :)

Every writer who is or wants to go tradpub with novels should read "Orphans of the Storm." Laura tells about how she was orphaned -- her editor left the publishing house in the middle of working on Laura's very first book -- and her new editor sounds like the sort of person you'd expect to show up in a Stephen King book. New Editor had no interest in Laura or her book, nor in the other manuscripts her first editor had asked to look at, considered Laura to be an unwelcome burden added to an already overlarge workload, and seemed to be doing everything she could to passive-agressively push Laura into leaving the publisher completely. The situation could've killed Laura's career -- and actually have killed the careers of some writers who couldn't manage the situation. Definitely read this one. And maybe take some notes, if you're going tradpub with your novels.

More favorites -- "Enlarge Your Penis," "Jabla," "Gunk," "Lions By Night." These are just a few that pop up in my mind when I see the titles, without even skimming back throught he book to remind myself of what they were about, as I usually have to do. If something short, whether story or essay, sticks in my mind well enough that I remember it from the title, it's definitely a good piece and worth a read.

All the essays in this book are worth a read -- I've only called out a few of my favorites. As I said above, Laura's style is smooth and enjoyable. This is another Chatting About The Writing Life kind of book that's fun to read, and made me feel part of a community. If you're a writer, and you've ever hung out with a friend and had an enjoyable time mutually griping about things you agree are annoying (my best friend and I used to refer to it as "being in violent agreement") then you'll enjoy this book. Kick back with a drink and a snack and have fun hanging with Laura for a while.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Write with Fire by Charles Allen Gramlich

Write with FireWrite with Fire by Charles Allen Gramlich

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a partial recycle, since I originally blogged about this book shortly after it came out. That was like eight years ago, though, so most folks reading my blog now probably haven't seen it. If anyone cares, Charles and I have been commenting on each other's blogs for coming up on ten years now. We're friends, more than "Facebook" type friends, but less than people who know each other in realspace, or even e-mail regularly. I like him a lot, but anyone who knows me knows that I never bullshit about writing, so my review of his book (or the book of any other writer I know) is what I actually think, untainted by the delicacies of personal admiration or friendship.

PART 1

So You Want to Be a Writer
First Words
Writer's Block No More
Tipping the Odds in Your Favor
Writing with Purpose
Don't Talk, Write!
Writing with Confidence
RQW3R
Five Habits of Publishing Writers
Quick Versus Slow Suspense
Six Steps to Creating Suspense
The Mechanics of Suspense
Creating Sympathetic Characters
Characters: The Best and the Rest
Harvesting Memories
Writing Your Past for Fun and Profit'
The First Rule of Endings
The Curse of the Lazy Ending
Endings: What's at Stake
The Physical Side of Writing
One Way to Put a Style Together
Writing for Excess (with "Barbarian's Bane")
Writing with Attitude
Selling and Reselling (with "To the Point")
The Working Man's Curse
Punctuate It and Forget It!
Problem Words
A Grammar Primer
Rewrite, Rewrite, Rewrite
By Example
Before You Submit, Don't Forget

PART 2

Writing Groups
Page-Turners: What Makes Them, What Breaks Them
In Praise of the Net
Blogging: Pros and Cons
Pro Versus Amateur
Expand Your Mind
Fun with Fear
Why Horror
Horror Writers: The Crazy Truth
The Horror Lists
Dream Stories
Criticism Hurts
An Error in Detail
Ernest Hemingway: A Writer's Life and Death
Jack London: Two-Fisted Writer
Ken Bulmer: Death in the Family
Where Have All the Good Themes Gone?
Writing Weather
What the Writer Wants
Rest in Peach: Short Story
Five Years Down the Road

PART 3

A Writer on the Run
Readin', Writin' and Me
Death by Prose
Interviews
Kids Insane
Fiends by Torchlight Introduction
About My Novels


This book is a stack of essays collected together into a book. I enjoy reading this kind of writing book, because it feels like sitting down with another writer and listening to them talk shop. "This is important, and this is useful, and oh, this funny thing happened to me, and here's what I learned from it. And whatever you do, do not do this, because this is what happened when I did it and it wasn't fun at all...." That kind of thing.

So while there's an essay entitled "Creating Sympathetic Characters" which is about what you'd expect it to be about, there's also one called "The Workingman's Curse," which discusses writing around a day job and how to cope when everything goes pear-shaped.

I highly recommend the latter essay, by the way, for its entertainment value as well as any actual lessons to be learned. He lists the events of one particular week when he got no writing done at all because of an ever-growing series of crises and calamities, and I have to admit I was LOLing by the end of it -- poor Charles must have desecrated a shrine or something, seriously. :D

There are discussions on punctuation and getting started and work habits, which are fairly typical of writing books, and sections on blogging and criticism and keeping hydrated, which are less so. And the whole thing is written in the very clear and readable style I've come to know while following Charles's Blog for the last ten years. I highly recommend this book to everyone, those who've been at it a while as well as those who are just starting out.

The one thing to wish for here is an electronic version -- the book is only available in paperback, which is an issue for some. This is definitely worth a read, though, even if you're not usually into books made of dead trees.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Anthology Markets

If you've just wandered in off the internet, hi and welcome. :) I do these posts every month, so if this post isn't dated in the same month you're in, click here to make sure you're seeing the most recent one. If you want to get an e-mail notification when the listing is posted, get the list a week early, or get a full listing of everything I've found (as opposed to the two months' worth I post here) a week early, you can support my Patreon.

Markets with specific deadlines are listed first, "Until Filled" markets (if any) are at the bottom. There are usually more details on the original site; always click through and read the full guidelines before submitting. Note that some publishers list multiple guidelines on one page, so after you click through you might have to scroll a bit.

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31 July 2017 -- Chthonic: Weird Tales of Inner Earth -- Martian Migraine Press

Pelucidar. The Hollow Earth. DEROS, and the Shaver Mysteries. Blue-litten K'n-yan, red Yoth, and black, lightless N’kai. The Amigara Fault. Derinkuyu. Agartha. The world (and worlds) below. Inner earth, a near infinite space of vast, echoing potential … our (possible?) birthplace, and the place where we all return, either as corpses, or something other? … the churning, chaotic underworld, and true home of all that is weird, unconscious, and forbidden. Descend with us in this anthology of weird fiction; descend to the realms CHTHONIC.

We are looking for weird fiction that explores the mystique and terror of caverns, abyssal spaces, and subterranean worlds. As with previous MMP anthologies, we will be including a seed story from H. P. Lovecraft’s oeuvre (in this case, The Rats in the Walls, though many of his stories went underground). We want to see bizarre civilizations, mind-boggling physical and biological phenomena, horrific rituals, mad science and madder sorcery. We want to feel the tunnel floors beneath our feet shake with the passage of beasts, machines, and gods that have never seen the light of the sun; sentient oils, intelligent muck, living rock, molemen, formless spawn and Efts of the Prime, worms, Dholes, and ghastlier things. But CHTHONIC won’t be just a serving of pop culture “surface” material, if you’ll pardon the pun. We like to see stories with depth (oh god, another one, sorry!); emotional and psychological explorations of the internal spaces of the human mind and soul, as well as the ground below. Write us stories that induce crushing claustrophobia or open us wide to new dimensions of thought and being. If your story can do both, so much the better.

Final story count for the anthology will be determined based on quality and number of submissions. CHTHONIC: Weird Tales of Inner Earth will be released as a softcover paperback and as an electronic book in multiple formats.

Submission period closes JULY 31, 2017. The anthology will be released in early December of 2017.

Submitting

Please use Standard Manuscript format when submitting. That’s double spaced, left justified, Times New Roman or Courier or something at least readable, a header on the first page (at least) with your author info and word count and… well, you know the drill. RTF or DOC files preferred, but DOCx and text files also accepted. Obviously, you could send us something that’s not in Standard Manuscript format, but it will lower your chances of it being looked at seriously.

We will look at both original work and REPRINTS.

To submit a story to CHTHONIC: Weird Tales of Inner Earth send an e-mail (with the story file attached, not in the body of the email) to: submissions@martianmigrainepress.com, with subject line: "CHTHONIC, [title of your story] [your name]".

Length

For short fiction, we’d like to see anything from 1,500 to 7,000 words.

FLASH FICTION: got something under 1500 words? Send it in. However, the following still applies…

NO POETRY.

Payment

All accepted submissions will be paid .03CAD per word, via Paypal, as well as two contributor copies (paperback) of the anthology, and copies in all electronic formats (mobi, EPUB, and PDF). Authors are also entitled to electronic copies of three additional Martian Migraine Press titles of their choosing.

Replies and Queries

We will try to acknowledge receipt of your submission within a week of its arrival in our inbox. The submission period itself will close on July 31, 2017 and we should be responding to all submissions, yes or no, throughout the submission period and no later than August 2017. We do our best to ensure that all submissions are contacted and kept up-to-date, but sometimes items fall through cracks, so, if you haven’t heard from us by September 15 2017, please query.

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31 July 2017 -- Sharp and Sugar Tooth -- Upper Rubber Boot Books

Announcing an open call for submissions for Sharp & Sugar Tooth: Women Up To No Good, an anthology of dark, speculative fiction, edited by Octavia Cade and to be published by Upper Rubber Boot Books in late 2018 or early 2019.

Sharp & Sugar Tooth is looking for creepy, seductive stories about the dark side of culinary life. The emphasis should be on the preparation, or the consumption, of food—horrifying, mouth-watering stories that make us hungry despite ourselves.

Sharp & Sugar Tooth is part of Upper Rubber Boot’s in the Women Up To No Good anthology series, so subversive, diverse stories with protagonists who identify as girls/women are appreciated. We want these characters in the kitchen—and out of it—using their butcher knives and baking skills to create meals that are dark and lovely and empowering, because consumption has a dangerous and tempting taste…

Stories can be any variety of fantasy or science fiction, provided the element of horror is present. Strong language and sex is no problem, but we’re not interested in torture-porn of humans or animals (regardless of whether they end up on a plate).

== Word/page count: Up to 5,000 words/story.
== Payment: six cents per word.
== Publication history: Original stories only. Reprints may be submitted by invitation only.
== Multiple submissions: No.
== Simultaneous submissions: No.
== Deadline: 31 July 2017. All stories will be replied to by the end of August.
== To submit: Please send stories in standard manuscript format, attached in .doc or .rtf files, to octaviacade@hotmail.com with the subject line SUGAR TOOTH. Be sure to provide mailing address and a short bio.
== If the work is a translation, please also provide a statement from the rightsholder that you are authorized to translate and submit it (both author and translator will receive full payment).

Authors must identify as female, non-binary, or a marginalized sex or gender identity.

We encourage and welcome stories from voices underrepresented in speculative fiction, including (but not limited to) writers of color, LGBTQ writers, writers with disabilities, and writers in translation.

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31 July 2017 -- The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias -- ed. M.J. Sydney; Lycan Valley Press

Word count: 4,000 to 6,000
Payment: $50 per story, a digital copy of the anthology and a discount code for print copies from Lycan Valley Press

Details: Phobias are defined as an irrational and extreme fear to something. Some of the most widely known phobias include arachnophobia, claustrophobia, agoraphobia, acrophobia, etc. Anything can be a phobia if it irrationally causes an intense and debilitating fear.

What happens when these irrational fears/phobias become reality? Make the fears and the horrors associated with that fear real. Take them from irrational to rational. Pick a phobia from the list below and take that fear to the next level. Make it come to life and give us a reason to be scared. Your characters don’t have to overcome their fears, but if they do, show us how. If they don’t, why not?

We don’t want characters sitting on a sofa in the psychiatrist’s office detailing their childhood or even characters with diagnosed phobias necessarily. Focus on the object of the phobia rather than the phobia itself as much as possible. We want you to make these phobias come to life in ways that will make readers sleep with the lights on, double check the locks on their doors and question reality.

There must be a strong pulp element to the story as well, keeping in mind that pulp doesn’t mean poorly written. If you’re unfamiliar with the original pulp magazines and stories, please do some research before submitting. Check out Black Mask Magazine http://www.blackmaskmagazine.com/ and here’s a pulp archive to get you started (warning: reading on this website may be addictive).
http://www.pulpmags.org/ and also here https://archive.org/details/pulpmagazinearchive.


Although you are free to write in your own style and that which best suits the story, Lester Dent’s Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot is here for reference should you wish to use it. http://www.paper-dragon.com/1939/dent.html Here, James Scott Bell talks about writing pulp fiction: http://www.rachellegardner.com/why-i-write-pulp-fiction/

Titles: Please do not use the name of the phobia itself in your titles.

Formatting: Please follow Shunn Short Story Manuscript formatting which can be found here: http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html. Or use the downloadable template for Word found here: http://www.shunn.net/format/templates.html

Simultaneous and Multiple Submissions: No simultaneous submissions. Multiple submissions from the same author for two different phobias will be considered but please note that only one story per author will be accepted to allow for greater variety and diversity. Previously unpublished stories only, no reprints unless requested.

Email questions to: MJSyd99@gmail.com with "PHB Question" in the subject line.

The available list of phobias as well as the submission form has moved and can now be found on the Lycan Valley Press Submittable profile at http://lycanvalleypress.submittable.com/submit under THE PULP HORROR BOOK OF PHOBIAS.

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15 August 2017 -- AFTERMATH: Explorations of Loss & Grief -- Radix Media

The inevitable breakdown of a long-term relationship; losing your home due to gentrification; struggling with the deportation of a loved one; navigating the crumbling healthcare situation in Trump’s America.

How do you define loss and grief?

Radix Media presents AFTERMATH: Explorations of Loss & Grief, an anthology that will examine what it means to face the consequences after tragedy strikes. The theme is left intentionally open, giving contributors the freedom to tell their story as it is most relevant to their experiences.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

We prefer previously unpublished pieces (though previously published pieces will b considered on a case-by-case basis), and they can be fiction, personal essays, or poetry, between 500 and 3,000 words. We will also accept comics, illustration, and photography that will retain its integrity in black and white. Accepted works will be collected into either a zine or paperback book, depending on the volume and length of accepted works. Visual submissions should be able to fit a print size of 5" x 8".

CONTRIBUTORS & PAYMENT

Contributed pieces will be paid for at the following rates:

Fiction & Non-Fiction: $0.06 per word

Poetry: $35 per work

Comics, Photos, & Illustration: $10 per page or $50 per work, whichever is greater

We strongly encourage typically underrepresented voices to submit. If you are a person of color, queer, trans, disabled, or any combination of these, we would especially love to hear from you.

DEADLINE

Pieces should be submitted via e-mail to submissions@radixmedia.org by August 15, 2017. Please include your name, e-mail address, and telephone number. Also let us know if the work has been previously published or not, or whether it is currently being considered for publication by another publisher.

For written works, please paste the text directly into the body of the e-mail. For visual pieces, low-resolution versions are preferred (we will contact you for a hi-res version upon acceptance). For this call, we will accept multiple submissions, but please limit to 3.

Accepted contributors will be notified within 3-4 weeks after this deadline, and payment will be issued upon receipt of your signed publication contract.

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15 August 2017 -- Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns -- ed. Rhonda Parrish

The ability for people to control (to some extent at least) fire has long been held as one of the major events that contributed to human evolution, but when fire eludes or escapes our control it is also one of the most destructive forces on earth. Associated with passion, power, transformation and purification, fire is a ferocious element with an unquenchable appetite.

We want to explore the many facets of this beautifully furious element and the creatures associated with it so Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns will be filled with stories about every kind of fiery creature you can imagine, not only those listed in the subtitle. We’re looking for phoenixes, ifrits, salamanders, lava monsters and fiery beasts no one has ever heard of before. And of course this anthology will not be complete without at least one demon, dragon and djinn!

Rights and compensation: Payment: $50 CAD flat fee and a paperback copy of the anthology. In exchange we are seeking first world rights in English and exclusive right to publish in print and electronic format for six months after publication date, after which publisher retains nonexclusive right to continue to publish for the life of the anthology.

Open submission period: June 1, 2017 – August 15, 2017

Length: Under 7,500 words

No simultaneous or multiple submissions.

No reprints.

Submit here.

Because I’ve been asked — though payment is in Canadian dollars you do not need to be Canadian to submit. Everyone is welcome.

[NOTE: there is a long section at the top of this page (actually, it's like 3/4 of the page) where the editor talks about what she wants, what she means by "fire," what kind of fire-inpired stories she's hoping to get, etc., along with some pretty cool artwork. Definitely click through and check it out if you're at all interested in this antho.]

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31 August 2017 -- Hidden Animals: A Collection of Cryptids -- The Dragon's Roost Press

CRYPTOZOOLOGY: the study of and search for animals and especially legendary animals (such as Sasquatch) usually in order to evaluate the possibility of their existence

CRYPTID: an animal whose existence or survival to the present day is disputed or unsubstantiated; any animal of interest to a cryptozoologist

We’ve explored loneliness, isolation, and solitude in our first anthology. We Put the Love Back in Lovecraft in our second anthology. Now we are looking for stories involving the creatures which hide in the shadows -- the monsters of cryptozoology.

Bigfoot, Nessie, el Chupacabra, The Jersey Devil -- cryptids so well known that they have become part of the cultural zeitgeist.

For our new anthology, tentatively entitled Hidden Animals: A Collection of Cryptids, we are looking for lesser known cryptids, creatures of the dark corners of cryptozoology. They can be the antagonist, the protagonist, the creeping dread which drives the story, but they must be present.

What We Want:

Finely crafted works of Dark Speculative fiction which feature one (or more) of the lesser known, but established cryptids. Authors are encouraged to put their own spin on the classic creature. Make them terrifying. Make them sympathetic. Make them humorous. Above all, make them feel real.

What We Don’t Want:

Non-fiction. We want fictional stories with a plot and a well defined story arc. While we are interested in hearing about your own personal experience, or that of your friend or family member, this is not the book for that.

New Monsters. While we appreciate your creativity, we are looking for stories which feature creatures that readers will have at least a passing knowledge of. Give us your giant cats, dogboys, and lake creatures, but please do not create your own creature.

[Note: There are plenty of website which describe various cryptids. A brief list appears here.]

Stories where nothing happens. Keep the creatures in the shadows if you like, but give us something. There’s a reason that we don’t watch that show where they look for but never actually find Bigfoot.

Retreads of established stories. This is going to be a little tougher. We do want stories based on "actual encounters." Feel free to incorporate material from real life sightings. Sprinkle the history of the creature in your prose. Do not simply give us a fictionalized version of a story that you read in another book or saw on the big or little screen.

We don’t like being sued.

Aliens. Yes, there is some overlap between the study of some cryptids (e.g., el chupacabra) and extraterrestrial beings, we are not looking for stories that exclusively feature visitors from other worlds. Maybe in a future anthology, but not this one.

Important Note: We are going for cryptozoological diversity. Towards this end, we will only accept ONE story featuring each cryptid. Authors may consider focusing on a lesser known cryptid, or getting their submissions in early.

The Specifics: We are looking for short fiction up to 6,000 words. While we prefer original material, we will consider reprints. Please query before submitting reprints. Naturally, we will only consider stories which you retain the rights to. Please provide original publication information for all reprints. Fan Fiction, Slash Fiction, and any other material containing characters or setting which you did not create, are not acceptable (so no returning to Boggy Creek). Submissions should follow standard format. For an example of what we are looking for in terms of formatting, please visit Shunn’s website. The only addendum to this is that the editor prefers Times New Roman.

Please edit your material carefully. Common spelling errors (they’re/their/there, your/you’re) may be acceptable in social media posts, but not in works submitted for publication.

Word (.doc/.docx) format is preferred, but we will also accept submissions in Open Office (.odt), and Pages (pages). Send your stories to submissions@thedragonsroost.net. In the subject line of your e-mail list “Hidden Animals,” the title of your story, and your last name. For example:

Hidden Animals / Really Awesome Story / I. M. Ayeti

E-mails which do not follow this format will be deleted unread.

Provide a short (500 words or less) biography in the body of your e-mail. Also, feel free to provide a brief description of the cryptozoological being which appears in your story along with links and/or citations.

We are looking for North American Print and Digital Rights. Rights revert back to the author upon publication. Submissions accepted until 31 Aug 2017 or until filled. Our previous anthologies have each closed to submissions a month or more before the deadline. For this book, we are only looking for 13 - 15 stories (instead of the 21 - 30 stories of our previous anthologies) Don’t delay, start writing today!

Please wait four weeks before querying.

Direct queries to editor@thedragonsroost.net.

Multiple submissions are OK, but please wait until you have received a response on your first piece before submitting your second. Simultaneous submissions: no.

Estimated publication date Winter 2017 via Create Space and Smashwords.

At this time payment is three cents per word ($0.03/word) plus one contributor’s copy and one digital version in the format of the author’s choosing. We will be running a crowd sourcing campaign with the goal of providing higher monetary recompense to our authors. As with our previous anthologies, this is a charity anthology to raise money for the canine rescue organization Last Day Dog Rescue.

Note to New Authors: Most publications seek First North American Rights. While you may be able to sell your story again as a reprint, publication in this anthology may limit your story’s future marketability and may affect the amount of money you will be able to receive from other markets. Please take this into consideration before submitting.

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31 August 2017 -- Mother of Invention -- ed. Tansy Rayner Roberts and Rivqa Rafael; Twelfth Planet Press

Mother of Invention will feature diverse, challenging stories about gender as it relates to the creation of artificial intelligence and robotics. This ambitious anthology from award-winning Australian publishing house Twelfth Planet Press will be edited by Tansy Rayner Roberts and Rivqa Rafael.

From Pygmalion and Galatea to Frankenstein, Ex Machina and Person of Interest, the fictional landscape so often frames cisgender men as the creators of artificial life, leading to the same kinds of stories being told over and over.

We want to bring some genuine revolution to the way that artificial intelligence stories are told, and how they intersect with gender identity, parenthood, sexuality, war, and the future of our species. How can we interrogate the gendered assumptions around the making of robots compared with the making of babies? Can computers learn to speak in a code beyond the (gender) binary?

If necessity is the mother of invention, what exciting AI might come to exist in the hands of a more diverse range of innovators?

WHAT WE WANT

We want to cover a variety of AI tropes, from the virtuous to the dangerous, from the purely computerised to the freshly built physical body. We want robots and programs and disembodied voices and steampunk and nanotech. We want stories that unpick the erroneous gendered assumptions around biological reproduction that so often underpin AI stories (do people who can gestate still want to make robots? We think so!). We’ll even accept sexbots and Stepford spouses if the story is good enough. It became pretty clear during our crowdfunding campaign that the notion of “feminist robot stories” struck a chord with our readership, so keep that in mind.

We anticipate that some stories will tackle gender issues (broadly defined) directly; others indirectly. Both approaches are OK! The only hard-and-fast rule is that the CREATOR of the AI or robot must not be a cis man. All other characters in the story, including the robots/AIs themselves, can be of any gender (or non-gendered), and we welcome other exploration of gender in this area too. (We also stress that the protagonist need not be the creator!)

Point of view, theme, setting, everything else is completely up to the author. We’re looking for a diverse range of authors, story settings, time periods, cultural backgrounds and protagonists. Magic, history, fantasy, steampunk and mythology are all options for you to play with; we do not require this to be a 100% science fiction anthology.

In addition to stories about women (both cis and trans) as creators of robots and AI, we are explicitly interested in stories about creators who are trans men or non-binary people (including but not limited to agender, bigender, transfeminine and transmasculine non-binary folk). The creator (or other characters, of course) can be intersex, regardless of gender. We’re especially interested in own voices authors in the case of trans and/or intersex protagonists.

We’re interested in hearing from marginalised writers more generally: for example, people under the QUILTBAG umbrella, including intersex people; people of colour, including Indigenous and Native writers from around the world; and disabled people. That said, we also welcome stories from authors who aren’t marginalised. Please don’t self-reject – we want your stories! If you feel your intersections are relevant to your story, you may mention them in your cover letter, but this is not required. We respect your privacy.

THE NITTY-GRITTY

We are looking for stories of 500–5000 words, within our stated theme and not published previously in any medium, including limited audience media such as Patreon. Payment is US$0.06 per word.

Submissions open on 6 July 2017 and close on 31 August 2017.

Send your story to motherofinvention AT twelfthplanetpress DOT com in DOC, DOCX or RTF format.

No multiple submissions or simultaneous submissions. We aim to respond to all submissions by the end of November 2017.

***

1 September 2017 -- The Beauty of Death 2 -- Death by Water -- ed. Alessandro Manzetti and Jodi Renee Lester; Independent Legions Publishing

Independent Legions Publishing is seeking original horror stories in English for the new anthology The Beauty of Death 2 -- Death by Water, edited by Alessandro Manzetti and Jodi Renée Lester, to be published October 2017 in print and digital editions.

We’re looking for stories that fit the theme: Death by Water. All types of horror are welcome. Sex or violence in a story should be artistically justified; no excessive gore. No stories about child abuse of any kind. We welcome all subgenres and forms of speculative fiction.

Word Count: We are open to stories of 4000-5000 words.
Deadline: September 1, 2017
Pay Rate: We pay (via PayPal) $100 for each original story.
We buy first exclusive English-language rights for three years.

We do not accept multiple or simultaneous submissions, nor do we accept unsolicited reprints.

Submissions should follow standard manuscript format (12 pt Times New Roman or Courier fonts, 1” margins all around, line spacing 1½ or 2 spaces). It must be in .doc or .docx format or it will not be considered. Your name and contact information must be at the top of the first page of the story. Page numbers with author’s last name and/or partial story name on subsequent pages would be appreciated.

Cover letter is optional, but if you do include one, please add a short bio (up to 200 words).

Response time is currently within four weeks. After that, if you haven’t heard from us, please query. We will not be sending confirmations of receipt.

To submit a story, go to our story submission form below. To submit your story via email, put “SUBMISSION - TBOD2” in the subject line and send to: a.manzetti@hotmail.it.

***

30 September 2017 -- Tribe Anthology -- ed. Lois Peterson

TRIBE: A print anthology about the lives of older single women seeks work by emerging and experienced writers, providing insights into the situations and roles of older single women in our times.

Contributors:

Women aged 55+
From anywhere in the world
Single, which for our purposes means:
== You are single - by choice or circumstance - widowed or divorced
== Do not currently live, or plan to live, in a permanent domestic relationship with a partner of either gender

We are looking for well-written prose, poetry, prose poems, memoir, personal narrative, fiction ….Your submission could be about sexuality, health, music, family, reading and writing, travel, the outdoors and nature, dating, finances, art, creativity, loneliness, community, volunteerism, work, politics…

Your work could be serious, humorous, self-reflective, dramatic -- about the condition of single life in modern times – your own experience and those of women you know, philosophical, sociological, analytical, revelatory…

We especially welcome work that reflects diversity.

Previously published work will be considered.

Prose submissions 1,200 words to 3,000.
Poetry max 45 lines

Submit:

Completed work – no queries

A maximum of two pieces of prose and/or two piece of poetry from each submitting writer

Complete submissions sent at one time as a single Word attachment

Include in the attachment:

== Your name
== Mailing address
== Email and phone#
== Month and year of birth
== If your submission has been published previously, please include info. about where and when

Rights: First North American Serial rights… the rights to the work return to the author 30 days after publication.

Email to tribeanthology@outlook.com with ‘Submission ^your last name^’ in the subject line.

Submissions accepted period May 1 – September 30, 2017

Remuneration: Initially* $25.00 CAN per piece (paid on acceptance), plus two copies of the anthology. *Sales/profits will determine further royalties paid to contributors.

50% of net profits will be donated to a charity, tbc.

Authors of work accepted for the anthology will be given the opportunity to sign off on any editorial changes made to their work prior to publication.

Tribe will be published by LPwordsolutions of Nanaimo, BC.

Submitting authors will be periodically informed of the progress of the project.
The publisher retains the right to cancel the project if the work submitted is not of the caliber required.

We are unable to provide specific editorial comment on submissions that are not accepted for the anthology, but will try to respond in a timely manner to all writers’ submissions and enquiries

We will also be seeking line drawings for the cover art and inside pages. Please contact tribeanthology@outlook.com for further details.

[NOTE: there's more info on what the editor is looking for on the project web site. If you're interested, click through and poke around.]

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Cover Branding Trick

Allyson Longuiera is the publisher at WMG Publishing. She also has a Masters in design, and does their covers.

In her publisher blog this week, she talks about using stock art in cover branding, and shows how she took two appropriate but disparate-looking pieces of art and made them match each other well enough to help cover-brand the first two books in a series.

It's one of those things that's simple when you read about it, but I probably wouldn't have thought of it. Check it out.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Writing to the Point by Algis Budrys

Writing to the PointWriting to the Point by Algis Budrys

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is another classic book about writing, by someone who was well known in the mid- to late-twentieth century as a writer, an editor, and a writing teacher. Algis Budrys, back when he was editing Tomorrow magazine, gave me one of my very best rejections ever, back when I was completely unpublished, so I've always been rather fond of him, despite having never met him. :)

Table of Contents:

Introduction
Chapter One: The Basic Basics
Chapter Two: The Basics
Chapter Three: Sara Jane and What She Means
Chapter Four: The Story and the Manuscript
Chapter Five: Creative Loneliness
Chapter Six: Odd Scraps
Chapter Seven: Agents
Chapter Eight: How to do a Manuscript
Chapter Nine: Review
Appendices:
== Ideas ... How They Work and How to Fix Them
== Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
== What a Story is

This book is so incredibly basic, that I think you have to actually be rather far along the road of Becoming A Writer before you can really understand it. Not that it's complicated, but rather because it's so simple it's hard to grasp. I remember reading this back in the day, I think I was in my twenties or maybe my early thirties, and most of it just bounced right off me. I mean, okay, there was obviously some good stuff in here, and yes, that sounds right, fine, but... what do you do with it? It was so incredibly contrary to everything I thought I knew about being a good writer back then, that trying to get practical advice out of this book was like trying to grasp fog. It was there, but I couldn't get a hold of it.

Reading it again now, it's not fog anymore, but more like rain or snow. I'm probably still missing a lot, but I can actually catch a couple of good handfuls.

Note that the point of this book is to write fiction that sells. Budrys isn't interested in teaching anyone how to write experimental fiction, or high-end literary fiction that's published in a literary magazine and read by eighty-two people. He's interested in the kind of fiction that some significant number of people will want to read, and hopefully pay some money for. This book was written well before indie publishing became a thing (and the chapter on agents, and some other advice about publishers is extremely out of date), but I think "fiction that sells" to editors who are curating a magazine or similar will also likely sell to individual readers.

Budrys says in the introduction:

I believe that if you do exactly what this book calls for, and do not do anything else, you will sell. If you are already selling, you will improve.

This will be harder than it sounds. You will inevitably try to add things you have learned from other books and instructors, and you may also feel that generally you know more than I teach. Perhaps you do, and perhaps the other books and instructors have valuable things to say. But what will happen is that you will confuse the instruction.

...

What should you do?

I think you should listen to what I have to say. I think it will help. If you listen to exactly what I have to say, it will help a lot. And you may prove to have a talent for it, as well, which will make things somewhat easier, and somewhat more pleasurable. And if you have a talent for it, you will gradually learn, by yourself, how to bend the rules I give; ultimately you will discover ways of telling stories that have rarely been done before; perhaps never been done before. But you will still cling to the things you first learned in this book, because these are the basics. They can be bent; they cannot be broken.

I think he's right, and I think this is what makes it hard. The basics he describes are so basic, you might keep thinking, as I did back when (and still felt myself doing occasionally during my recent re-read) "But there has to be more to it than that!" No, there really isn't.

This book is rather like an onion, and you start in the center. Chapter One describes what storytelling is, its development through human history, and how a story is essentially structured. Budrys describes seven basic components -- three forming the beginning of the story, three forming the middle, and one for the end.

The beginning has 1) a character, 2) in a context, 3) with a problem.
The middle has 4) an attempt to solve the problem, and 5) a failure, which are repeated a couple of times. (I've heard these described as try/fail cycles.) Then there's 6) which is victory.
The end is 7) the validation, where you let the reader know what it was all about, or assure the reader that what happened was legitimate, and that it is, indeed, all done.

Having read a lot of unpublished stories, in workshops and classes and online and just passing stories around between writers, I've always thought that the number one reason why an otherwise good story fails is that the ending doesn't work. This book explains why -- it's the validation that doesn't work, or is completely missing. And in fact, whenever I read a published short story that doesn't quite work for me at the end (I'm much more likely to keep going on a short that's not quite working for me, hoping the writer will pull it off in the end, than I am a novel), there too, thinking back to the ones I remember, it's usually the validation that didn't do it for me. This concept is definitely worth paying attention to.

At the end of Chapter One, Budrys says, "In the next chapter, we will learn that the manuscript is not the story, that writing is not the reverse of reading, and other useful things, including a demonstration of how the seven parts work. But you have already learned more than enough to get started on your career."

I think he's right, but I also think that, if you get this far, you should keep going. There's a strong feeling of, "Wait, is that it...?" at this point. Chapter Two fleshes out the basic structure, gives an example, and discusses the various parts, along with the other things he mentioned. But still, he's probably right that someone who was willing to take him at his word and do the things he discusses could probably read Chapter One and then go hit the keyboard and practice and be a lot better than they were before.

Chapter Three examines the example story (which is about Sara Jane, mentioned in the TOC), fleshes it out a bit more, improves it some, and basically goes over the seven parts again in more detail, with some focus on developing the validation.

In Chapter Four, he goes back to the idea of the story vs. the manuscript, and discusses how you can imply one or more of the seven parts, without actually showing them in the story, using some cool examples (described) that I need to go look up and read some time. At the end, he talks about novels, and how they're actually constructed from short stories, or are expanded short stories, so learning to write short stories will give you a leg up on writing novels, so you might want to start with shorts, if you want to do both.

At this point, he moves on to other topics.

Chapter Five is about how writing is an essentially lonely profession, and how if you don't spend most of your time by yourself, you're probably not getting much writing done.

Chapter Six is about work habits, setting up a place to write, deciding when you're going to write, and then defending that time from anything that might try to encroach. Once you've been working in your spot for a while, you'll have some stories, and he talks about submitting them. Budrys is of the "Start at the Top" school of market selection; that's definitely one thing I picked up on my first read-through. I've never been shy of sending my work to the best markets first; you shouldn't be either. Budrys says, "Well, as the late John W. Campbell said in relation to his magazine, Astounding, 'How dare you edit for me!'" Meaning, let the editors do their jobs. Your job is to send them stories; their job is to say yes or no.

Chapter Seven is about agents. This is the twenty-first century, so you can skip this one IMO.

Chapter Eight is about manuscript formatting and mailing. Every time I run into another writer who doesn't know how to format their manuscript, I'm amazed all over again. Make sure you get this right. Budrys explains how to do it, although it's a bit out of date, since he was talking about paper manuscripts. What I've heard more recently about formatting is, if a market is old-school enough to demand a paper manuscript, then use old-style formatting -- 10- or 12-pitch Courier, with underlining for italics, the whole nine yards. If you're submitting to a market modern enough to take electronic submissions, then something like Times New Roman is better, at least 12-point, and 14 isn't a bad idea, and italicize your italics.

The advice about mailing is pretty much obsolete, but this made me laugh: "Budrys's First Law of Manuscript Reading says that nothing publishable ever came out of a #10 envelope." I remember hearing editors ranting at conventions or online about writers who stuff a 5K-word short story into a business size envelope, so I guess enough writers did it to make it A Thing among editors.

Chapter Nine is a review of everything the book has previously told you. I read it, and found it worthwhile. Getting everything onto the stage of your mind all at one time has some value, I think. Your brain might work differently.

After Chapter Nine, swiping through to the next page, my tablet took me to the "Before You Go..." page, which isn't actually in the book, but is where they show you the covers of ten other books people who read this book have also bought, and ask you to leave a review. This makes you think the book is done, but it's not. On my tablet, the Appendices start at 64% of the way through, so there's still a lot to read.

I'm not going to go over the appendices in detail, but I do recommend you read them. Budrys is an excellent teacher, his ideas are on point, stated clearly and briefly, and he's just generally worth listening to. The third appendix, "What a Story is," is largely another repetition of the main part of the book. Read it anyway. Maybe mark down on your calendar to come back and reread this appendix every month or two, because this info is so basic and primal that it's still rather watery, and it tends to run out of your hands after a little while. Remind yourself periodically, and maybe take a look to see whether and how much your writing has improved since you first read this book.

If you can't tell, this book has my enthusiastic recommendation. Making allowances for when it was written, this is a pretty awesome book about writing, short and clear and to the point, with the absolute basics stripped down for you. Check it out.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Kris Rusch on Marketing Your Books

Actually, this is part of a longer series -- Kris writes a blog post on the business of writing and publishing every Thursday, and it's absolutely worth a read -- but this particular post has some especially shiny gold in it.

She talks about how to use the alsoboughts on your books' sales pages to figure out who's reading your books and what they like about them, which helps you make marketing decisions and decide where to spend your limited time and money.

There's more too. Check it out.

Angie

Sunday, July 2, 2017

DIY E-Book Covers: Design Principles for Non-Designers by Roz Marshall

DIY E-Book CoversDIY E-Book Covers: Design Principles for Non-Designers by Roz Marshall

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is not a step-by-step, click-this-and-drag-that book on how to create your own e-book cover. Rather, this is an overview of what a good cover should look like, with discussions of different design elements and techniques. The nitty-gritty of how to execute depends on what tool(s) you're using. Marshall stuck with generalities, likely as opposed to writing a book ten times as long with sections for the popular tools.

The design factor is where many people have trouble, though, which makes this book useful. Marshall also discusses how to put what you learn here to use if you decide to hire an artist to do your cover for you, or to choose a pre-made cover that'll work for your book.

Table of Contents:

1 -- Introduction
2 -- Covers matter
3 -- Tools
4 -- Genre
5 -- Content
6 -- Layout
7 -- Imagery
8 -- Color
9 -- Typography
10 -- Branding
11 -- Buying a cover: What to look for
12 -- Pulling it all together

"Don't judge a book by its cover" is a great saying to use with small children if the lesson you're trying to teach is not to judge people by how they look. When it comes to actual books, though, most of us do judge books by their covers, and any indie pubbing writer who wants to give their books the best possible chance of selling needs to put the best possible cover on their books. Figuring out what "best" means for your particular book is the trick, though, and that's what Marshall focuses on here.

Chapter One is basically intro.

In Chapter Two, she points out how many new books are published every month, every day, and how a good cover will help your book stand out. And that it has to stand out in thumbnail size, not full size.

Chapter Three talks about tools you can use, and skills you need to develop when learning to use your chosen tool, and things like file types, resolution and dimensions. Again, this isn't a book on how to use specific tools, but having a list of skills to learn tells you what to Google when you're looking for lessons, YouTube videos, etc.

The overall look and design of your cover depends largely on the genre of the book, and she talks about that in Chapter Four. She gives a few style elements to use for particular genres, but be wary -- specific styles and fads for a given genre change over time. You're better off looking at what the top selling books in your genre look like before you design your cover. As Marshall says, "Genres are developing all the time." Consider what the Harry Potter book covers looked like when the books were first being published, and what they look like now. They're very different, because the style elements that say "fantasy book" have changed. Make sure you do up-to-date research before you design your cover.

She also offers a cool trick I hadn't thought of before -- pasting your thumbnail cover over a cover in an array of bestselling books in its genre, to see whether it blends in, or whether it sticks out and looks amateurish, or maybe looks like a good example of a different genre.

After talking about some of the things you should put on your cover, Chapter Five talks about what not to put on it. Simple and uncluttered is good. Too many newbie cover designers try to put too much on their covers.

You may know what your book is about, but your reader doesn't -- until they've finished the book. So any symbols, clues or elements of the story that you show on the cover are meaningless to them until they've read it.

Rather than showing every element of your story, or faithfully recreating a particular scene, you should instead focus on representing the essence of your book; on generating emotion and desire (to read) rather than creating a photographic record of wwhat's inside.

This chapter also focuses on what text elements should (and possibly should not) be on your cover. There are more than most indie authors think.

Once we have some idea of what should go on the cover, Chapter Six discusses how to put it all together. Marshall gives design principles like a focal point, the rule of thirds, symmetry, balance (including balancing the text with the image), negative space, and margins. She also talks about how and why to group similar text items together. The last chunk of this chapter describes how to set up a cover template, which will make laying out all your covers a lot easier.

Chapter Seven talks about what kinds of images to use and where to get them, including cheap and free (but still legal) image sources. She also discusses the incredibly important issue of legality and rights -- even if you're purchasing rights to an image from a stock image site, you might not be buying the correct rights that'll allow you to use an image on a commercial book cover. Once you've got your image, she discusses things like resizing, cropping, and masking. Separate sections within the chapter deal with lighting and color "temperature" -- warm versus cool colors and how to blend colors.

Chapter Eight focuses more on color, how to choose colors, put different colors together, and how to use color to make sure your text is readable, even at thumbnail size.

Speaking of text, Chapter Nine is about typography -- choosing fonts, blending fonts. Marshall gives examples of different types of fonts, and explains why certain fonts work well with particular genres. A section describes font hierarchy, which means how to lead the reader's eye from one text item to the next, with the most important first, working their way down, using text size and color and contrast to lead the reader through the text in the order you want.

Next is kerning, layout, readability, and different font effects. Again, this isn't a point-here-click-this kind of book, but she explains the principles and they'll apply to whatever tools you choose to use. This is the longest chapters, and there's a lot of good info here. It rewards a read-through, and then another going-over once you've booted up Photoshop or InDesign or whatever you're using to actually do your covers, so you can try things for yourself.

Chapter Ten is a short discussion of branding, which in this context means choosing elements to be the same or very similar from one cover to the next, to signal the customer that this particular book is part of a series, or to help the readers easily recognize a book as yours when they see the cover in a bookstore.

If you've decided that doing it yourself isn't your best choice, Chapter Eleven is about what to look for when shopping for either a designer to do a custom cover for you, or for a pre-made cover that'll fit your book. She talks about how to examine an artist's portfolio, and what information the artist will need to have before they start working on your cover.

Chapter Twelve is a summary of all the above, which is handy for a quick once-over to refresh your memory if you read the book a while back. There's also a link to sign up for her newsletter; doing so will get you a free additional chapter which discusses wrap-around covers needed for print books, which could come in handy since everything in this book talks about the front cover only, the one you need for an e-book.

All in all, I think this is a good first book for someone thinking about doing their own e-book cover. It explains a lot of rules and elements of design, and gives you a good foundation for further learning, or so you can talk to a cover artist if you decide to purchase instead of make, without a lot of flailing and roundabout explanations. Just knowing the vocabulary is a huge help when dealing with a pro.

I took off one star because there are a number of weird little formatting glitches, including three "Pro Tip" boxes that don't have tips in them. These are minor, though, and the info included in the book is very much worth the purchase price in my opinion. (I do wonder what the tips were supposed to be, though. :) )

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Six Month Check-In -- Can't Believe It's July

Seriously, half the year is gone already??

The only reason I have a half decent (seriously, half decent -- just short of 95K) wordcount so far is because of the two workshops I attended, one in late February and early March, and the other in April. They both required writing, and I work best (unfortunately) with an external deadline. I need to learn to work to my own deadlines, which is proving to be kind of tough.

I had so much enthusiasm and such great hopes at the beginning of the year. My weight-loss-and-fitness thing was and is under control, and I was pretty sure I had enough spare focus to turn some of it back to writing. Guess not. Or maybe I do but I've been spending that resource improperly.

So, its July 1st. Right now, I'm renewing my determination to do more writing this year. I can still make my goal for the year if I buckle down and do the work, and I'm declaring, here in public, that I'm going to do it. I have a book about building habits and writing every day (which I'll review here after I've put it to use and seen how it works for me) and hope to get back to being productive.

It's not all bad -- I have accomplished some things, like starting up my Patreon, and my writing/publishing review series. The most important thing to a writer is writing, though, and I need to get back to that. So I'm going to stop blathering and do so.

How's everyone else doing, half way through the year?

Angie