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Have $12 burning a hole in your pocket?

Well, you should.  I mean, how else will you buy this?

Mystic Signals #13

Go buy Mystic Signals #13 over at Amazon, now!

I read this blog entry from Dario Ciriello this evening, and found it to have great advice for anyone, not just those who want to self-publish.

Dario Ciriello

As someone who put out his first eBook (the novella anthology, Panverse One) back in 2009, I suppose I’m something of an old-timer in the field. And even in the eight months since I published my own book, Aegean Dream, the eBook revolution has gathered steam. Though there’s still some stigma–rather too much–attached to self-published eBooks, I see cracks starting to appear, as more self-published books break from the shadows onto bestseller lists, or are snapped up by traditional publishers for big money. One day, who knows, self-published authors may even be able to get reviewed in a mainstream venue.

One thing bothers me though: a lot of strong writers who self-publish simply aren’t prepping and polishing their manuscripts well enough. Without agents and editors involved, too many people are simply throwing books out there that are still in draft condition and definitely haven’t been copyedited or proofed…

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Brain Dead!

That’s about how I feel these days.  I have a job that is pretty mentally demanding during the day, so when I get home in the evenings, my brain just wants to shutdown and turn into a vegetable.  So I wind up sitting in a chair with my laptop and playing a game, or watching TV.  Not much writing happens these days, and reading even has taken a backseat.  Sure, I’m getting some reading done, but it isn’t in the same quantity as before.

So how do you get out of that rut?  Well, in my case I just need to settle into the job and once I have a grip on it, things will improve.  It’s been about a year since I seriously wrote something that wasn’t a review or a blog entry, and it was almost a year ago that I got the job that got me to where I am now.  I’ve been in my current position for 4 months, now, and I think I’ve a grip on things, so everyday I feel a little better when I get home.  I’m also eating better (sort of) and shooting to improve my health (need to lose some weight and get off my ass and ride my bike more).  And, with the very early arrival of spring, I find my own mood lifting.

Which is why when two weeks ago a story idea just came to mind and I grabbed it and let it churn in my head, I was pleased when I found myself still pondering it several days later.  I’ve warped and altered the story, making it more sinister, then backing down and making it more preachy.  And so on.  I finally wrote my idea into my Ideas document and made some notes in my Moleskine.  More than I’ve done in a while.  That makes me happy, because I’m starting to get back to where I was several years ago when I started this journey of becoming published.

I’m still sticking to my pursuit of quality and my desire to only be published by the best out there.  I could just toss my stories to the lesser markets right out of the gate to get that quick “I got published!” feeling, but I’m in no rush at all.  I’m still going to be an insatiable perfectionist with my stories, only turning one loose when I’m sure that its worth being read and when I am (mostly) satisfied that it’s the best it can be.

So I may have been down, but I’m not out.  I’m still reviewing books (Bull Spec #7 should hopefully be out soon).  I’m still the Assistant Managing Editor at Tangent (I also maintain the site’s Facebook and Twitter presence).  I’m just also a very busy service desk supervisor that needs to let things balance out.  All things in due time.  There’s no rush. 🙂

“Karma” is now up!

Head on over to Short-Story.me to check out “Karma” in all its 950 word glory!

And “Karma” gets a home…

Looks like Short Story Me liked “Karma” enough to select it for publication!  Nice to see that someone there could be bothered to, you know, read it and all that.  I’m very pleased that this piece finally found a home, so many years after it was initially written.

However, this puts me in a bind.  I’ve always had a couple stories floating around in various places.  Well, with the sale of “Karma,” I have nothing else left to send out.  I have a lot of stuff written, but nothing is ready to send out!  So I guess its time to bust out some of these stories I’ve had sitting around and actually edit them and get them ready for mass consumption!

You’ve got to be kidding me…

Many years ago, while in a quiet moment at the computer shop in which I worked, a story idea popped into my head.  I belted it out, and in about thirty minutes had a 1000 word story called “Karma.”  It’s a fantasy story, about an undead assassin who gets what’s coming to him.  I was proud of it, enough that when I seriously started pursuing the glorious life of a writer, I pulled it out and edited it into the 950 word powerhouse that it is now.

Now, it’s made the rounds.  A couple of high end publications had narrow fields which included it, but eventually it was cut.  Which tells me its good.  Damn good.  Just not quite good enough.  But, after even more revision, it is about all it can be at my current level of skill.  I’m okay with that, and its still making the circuit.

This morning, though, I received a rejection that just blew my mind.  I won’t say who it is from, as that isn’t really necessary.  It’s bad enough I had to bitch about here.

Here it is, in its entirety (names changed to protect the… err… innocent?)…

We can’t use your story at this time. We hope you have some luck placing it with another market. See below for editor notes. Please submit more fiction.

Your submission of “Karma” was reviewed by John Q Editor.

The thing is, I didn’t read all of it, but it quickly became a vision of the afterlife, and we’re really not interested in stories that are a glimpse of the afterlife. Granted, all writers must write these stories, and obviously some do get published (Sixth Sense), but it’s not right for our magazine.

Now the form part at the start of this rejection is fairly normal.  “We don’t want it, good luck placing this junk with someone else.  Oh yeah, send us more of your junk.”  Every writer sees them.  I’ve learned to ignore that part of the message.  It’s a rejection, and for whatever reason (however nebulous), they didn’t want it for their publication.

For most rejections, that is all you get.  A simple “Thanks but no thanks.”  Sometimes you get lucky and the reader provides something further.  It’s usually a reason why they  won’t take it (didn’t like the character, the story was too drawn out, too much exposition, etc.) and maybe something constructive like “delete pages 5-9 and you will have a good story.”

The part that blew me away on this rejection was the feedback.  Bear in mind, this story is 950 words. 950 words is a fast read.  Double spaced, its a 3 page Word document.  We’re not talking about a time commitment, on any level.  So yeah, the reader above chose not to read it, and on top of it all, quickly proved that he didn’t by assuming what the story is about.  Also, he brought up the movie Sixth Sense to prove his point.

What?  Unless the Sixth Sense he’s talking about features an undead assassin who serves a mysterious master who loves a dose of Karma and Irony, then I’m not sure what he’s talking about.

The editor/slush reader is well within their rights to not read something, that is fine and dandy.  But to call attention to the fact by proving you didn’t even finish reading the first 100 words, well, that’s unprofessional and not very intelligent. Had he just said that he didn’t finish reading it as it felt like something he wasn’t interested in, then I wouldn’t be here writing this.  Now would I?

I also fully respect that the reader felt it wasn’t right for their publication.  I wouldn’t expect a publication that takes vampire robot stories to accept a werewolf hooker story.  But make the rejection a little more friendly.  Come on, you’re making a struggling writer a little sad that their story wasn’t up to snuff.  To be rude and say “Hey, I didn’t read your steaming pile of excrement because it is a werewolf hooker story and we only take vampire robot stories,” when had you read further than 20 words in you would have seen it was a werewolf hooker who teams up with the main character, who just so happens to be a vampire robot.  Well, that’s just bad form.

You know what, give me a form rejection.  At least that way I don’t know you didn’t take it because you don’t like how I had the letter T in the character’s last name.

Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

Farewell 2011

I can’t complain too much about the year.  Within the borders of 2011, I was unemployed, found a good contract job, which resulted in my being brought on full time for an even better job.  I also sold four stories, one to Ray Gun Revival and another to an anthology.  I do regret that I didn’t get a lot of writing done between April and December.  However, adjusting to a job can be taxing and then having to learn another one months later is even more taxing.

I seem to remember making goals last year around this time…

Yeah, I’m not going to get into it here.  The year didn’t work out like it should have along those lines, but it still worked out well.  Now that my employment situation is leveling out, I’m hoping I can get more writing in starting soon.  I have ideas, just need the will to sit down and get it done.

I really need to do something.  After all, I only have one story left on the market, and I hope to move it along soon.  So I need to get on some of these stories sitting around collecting dust.

Anyway, everyone have a safe and happy New Year.  See you in 2012, and while I’m not going to set goals for myself, I’m nonetheless going to make sure I do better than I did this year.  Which, all things being equal, wasn’t too damn bad.