Okay, it’s 2012, the final year of Earth as we know it. So, if you are like me, you’ll have a plan ready just in case those whackjobs are right about the upcoming apocalypse. What? You don’t? Good thing you all have me to watch your backs. Even smart people who know better have an apocalypse survival plan. The Centers for Disease Control even has an article about surviving a zombie apocalypse. No seriously. Now that you see the importance of this Take Ten, let’s examine what might cause an apocalypse:
A major political shift that affects the stability of world super powers, and leads to widespread panic, economic instability and worldwide famine
A worldwide pandemic
A mega volcano eruption
An asteroid impact
…and zombies. Now here’s your apocalypse survival guide. Since you’re the unlucky bastard who made it out alive, you should try to stay that way.
1. Buy a sturdy, well-made backpack.
And never take it off. Not even if you’re having nasty, bugs-in-your-ass sex with a fellow survivor, because sex is a need too. You’ll need your backpack to carry all the shit I’m going to tell you to have ready. And condoms. Don’t forget condoms.
We can’t deny that the fascination with vampires in literature is old and complex. Vampires represent the darker, repressed side of human nature and society. Death, immortality, violence, deviant sex—all the things we’re supposed to shy away from—but secretly long for—are major components of vampires in fiction. Well, until Meyer came along with sparkles and vamps who don’t drink human blood.
Now, Stephenie Meyer, despite turning these glorious monsters into teenage clichés, has injected a much-needed jolt of life into the paranormal genre with her impossibly successful Twilight Saga. For this, she gets major points. However, when comparing vampires of yesterday and today, which author comes out on top; the dark, tortured souls that inhabit Anne Rice’s fantasy world, or the glittery heartthrobs that torture teenage dreams of Twihards worldwide?
Often when a book is adapted to film, whether for television or movies, a little of the magic is lost. I’ve found myself excited to see my fictional world brought to life many times, only to be disappointed with what Hollywood presented me. The problem is that writers have the luxury of however many pages it takes to convey our story, characters, setting, etc. to the reader. A screenwriter does not. So, he must pull what is necessary from the plot and dialogue, and then the setting is created based on what the filmmakers see when they read. This can differ greatly from what you or I imagine. Then it’s on to casting the characters, which can be a tightrope walk. Sometimes the writer describes the protagonist as a tall man with dark hair and rugged good looks, but Brad Pitt gets the role. This can be jarring when you’ve fallen in love with a George Clooney type of character in your mind.
True Blood is a refreshing change from my previous experience with book to film adaptations. But which is better, the film or the books?
I’m not really sure if this is the best place to voice these opinions and concerns. And I’m not really sure if it’s my place to be voicing them at all. This whole topic isn’t easy for me to discuss (it’s very personal) but I’ve never been very good…
nce I wrote a story about this girl who called up a demon. My initial plan was to have her go all badass and the demon would be this sexy beast kind of demon who saves her and blah, blah, blah. However, after researching demons I realized it wouldn’t be quite the happily ever after I had in mind. First, demons are really fucking scary. Second, you cannot control a demon. Nope. Not ever. That’s not to say it might not be worth calling one.
Pro: Demons will kick whatever ass you name. Imagine making those bastards pay for the grief they’ve caused you. I have this list…
Con: Sometimes demons get a little out of control due to their overwhelming desire to take over the world. So you might end up with more than one score settled, possibly scores you didn’t even know you had.
Pro: Your demon might give you the opportunity to be immortal.
Con: You’d be immortal in Hell, which I hear is a tad on the warm side and there’s a lot of screaming and chaos and pain.
Pro: Aligning with a demon is better than with a vampire because they don’t need to feed on your blood.
Con: While they’re not fans of blood cocktails, they might feed on your flesh just for fun.
Chuck Wendig is a man of great energy in need of a handicap – which is why he has been invited to the Rack. Chuck is a novelist, screenwriter, and game designer. His books include DOUBLE DEAD, BLACKBIRDS, MOCKINGBIRD, and the recently unleashed SHOTGUN GRAVY (Atlanta Burns), the first novella in a series that he’s about to whip out onto the unsuspecting world. Oh, and there’s the short stories artfully arranged in an array of journals and zines. And did I mention the spec screenplays, and his contribution to RPG?
fter laboring for months or years, wrestling with a manuscript, you’ve finished a novel. Then, if you want representation, you face running the gauntlet of finding an agent. Many writers in this site have been there. We’ve endured the tension of waiting, the depressing silences, and the rejections.
Inexperienced writers assume there could be scores of reasons why an agent passes on a query or proposal. In our experience, a manuscript can have three flaws: a. Our chosen genre or the type of manuscript doesn’t fit the agency.
b. Our manuscript is poorly written.
c. Our plot is cliche.
Unfortunately, books with one, two, or even all three flaws are published every day. But these are the exceptions. A contention shared by agents and publishers alike is that a manuscript lacking any of those faults will be snatched at once.
This week we’ll review the first of these three possible reasons behind receiving that nasty rejection, namely: Our chosen genre or the type of manuscript doesn’t fit the agency.
You’ve got me and my word obsession, so I’m here to help you out. Writers should never use a thesaurus anyway. So, here are ten more weird and wonderful words I wish you’d all start using so that I can too.
No, but seriously, it’s a word. When your dad calls that guy you’re seeing a useless tit, well he’s made a floccinaucinihilipilification. Say that three times fast. This word means “estimation that something is valueless.” Proper pronunciation? Look it up.
We all know someone who is inaniloquent, or given to talking mindlessly. Someone who is excessively talkative or garrulous is inaniloquent, an idle talker.
You know those idiots who are like, “Yes, I know you love him, but are you in love with him?” They’re referring to limerance. This term was coined in 1977 by a psychologist to describe an involuntary but conscious state of mind which occurs as the result of a romantic attraction to another person that is combined with an irresistible, obsessive need to have those feelings reciprocated. And by romantic love, we mean you want to do the nasty so bad you can taste it, but in a loving, worshipful, not dirty kind of way. Not the same way you did the nasty with that stripper you picked up at the bar.
Pertaining to the hour of midnight. Now you might be wondering how such a word is used. I will show you. “I’m not a mesonoxian vampire. I must have sunlight to survive.”
If you pull things from the trash, which may or may not be valuable, you’re a mungo. It means a dumpster diver. Handy little word, I think. And it really makes for much tighter prose than “dumpster diver” or “trash bandit.”
This word is derived from the latin word, nihil, which means “nothing.” The term refers to someone who does work of little importance. By “little importance” I mean work that is in no way challenging or interesting. I should point out though, that there is no entry for this in Merriam-Webster’s, so do with it what you will.
This is a rarely used adjective, deemed obsolete and therefore no longer in Webster’s, so let’s bring it back from the brink. Instead of saying, “The day before yesterday” use “nudiustertian.” Pronounce it: nu-di-uhs-TUR-shuhn. Yeah, it’s kind of awkward. But it’s good to know there’s a word for the day before yesterday. Usage? “Those shoes are so nudiustertian.” Even more insulting than saying they’re “so yesterday.”
Phenakism refers to the act of deceit, or pertaining to deception or trickery. Usage? “The government’s phenakism should shock people, but Americans/Canadians have come to expect such dishonest behavior from politicians.”
When the town was ripping up my road every summer for the first four years we lived in this house, everything was pulveratricious—covered with dust.
Those annoying bitches in high school with their fake laughs, designer clothes, painted-on tans and cold, vicious, empty lives; they were rastaquoueres, which means social climbers. I like “shallow bitch who will have many babies, get fat and suffer a cheating alcoholic has-been husband” much better too. It’s actually derived from the French word “rastaquouère,” meaning “social intruder, upstart, particularly one of exaggerated manners and dress.” Love those French.
Ah, more rules. Aren’t you excited? Well don’t worry, these aren’t technical rules like no head hopping or always wrap dialogue in quotes. These are a few things I’ve learned as both a reader and a writer that aren’t always in those ginormous books on how to write fiction.
1. Write what you’d read.
Because if you wouldn’t read it, why expect someone else to? Don’t try to write to an “ideal reader.” There is no such thing. Even if there were, by the time you finished writing, that reader will have read someone else and moved on.
2. Think beyond the book.
Sometimes a story idea is not meant to be told in narrative form. There are ideas that work better as a play or a film. Be flexible and open-minded. It never hurts to learn new ways of telling your story, so expand your horizons.
3. Be prepared.
Every story has its own unique demands and problems, so be prepared to bend a couple of rules, and to learn some you might not have had to know before. Don’t drive yourself crazy by believing one way is the only way. Just because one style or one POV worked for one story doesn’t mean it will work for the next.
4. Copy but don’t copy.
You can practice figuring out how your favorite author does what he does so well by writing your own versions of his stories, but don’t literally copy them. While style cannot be stolen; it can only be mimicked, and possibly improved, copying characters, setting, dialogue, etc. is called plagiarism. This exercise simply helps you to figure out how you can make something good, even better. Some people call it fan-fiction. But don’t share what you write in this exercise with you know, publishers. Actually, just destroy it when you’re done.
5. Choose quality over quantity.
It is not that you wrote 1000 words, it is how you wrote 1000 words. Let your ideas have time to develop. As with any sort of birth, it is giving your little one a long enough gestation time to be fully formed that matters, not how big a baby you push out.
6. Remember, we’ve got more than one sense.
If you think will all of your senses, it’s easier to remember to include these in your story. Don’t just tell us what to see, show us how it tastes, smells, feels and sounds. These are the secrets to bringing your fictional world to life.
7. Characters need to fight it out sometimes.
Characters are not real, but sometimes what you’ve got on the page lacks the chemistry or spark you need to really give your story that extra oomph. Here’s what you do when that happens. Lock the characters in a metaphorical room and let them hash it out. What’s that now? I mean sit down and, using dialogue or action, write what’s not working between them. Got two lovers with the emotional chemistry of mud? Well, let them talk it out. You’re going to come up with a lot of nonsense, and you’d never want anyone to read most of what you write, but as you flip from one character’s head to the other’s, you’ll get a handle on what makes each tick and also, what you’ve neglected to include in the story. Trust me on this one.
8. Live life before you try to write about it.
No, you don’t have to climb Everest, get married, have kids, bust bad guys and develop an addiction to sniffing glue before you write, but at least get outside now and then. Socialize, watch the news, have opinions, get into arguments, find a hobby that forces you to meet new people, engage in discussions, make mistakes…live. It’s easier to write about other people’s lives when you take an interest in your own.
9. Get comfortable being alone.
I know, I just said go live life. However, a large part of writing is being alone. If you can’t sit down and be comfortable in your own skin, odds are you’ll make a shitty writer. The sound of silence should speak to you, but you have to be able to listen. If being by yourself for large amounts of time sounds horrifying…consider another career.
10. Do not view writing fiction as therapy or self-expression.
If you wish to write as a career, you can’t afford to view it as therapy. A self-indulgent writer is rarely much good at what he does. Yes, writing fiction feels good, and it can be soothing and it helps prevent insanity, but when you’re writing a novel, pay attention to craft, technique and the construction of your novel, not how it makes you feel.
We weren’t searching for Suess, and didn’t intend to interview him just yet. In fact, I’d taken my daughter to the library and in the middle of a spectacular electrical storm, when he just showed up.
He first appeared on top of the train-shaped bookcase on the far wall, but not as a man or a ghost. He appeared as the Grinch, but not the Grinch from that movie with Jim Carrey. He looked the one from the cartoon, which is way more frightening than you’d think. Theodor Geisel always detested interviews in life, so perhaps the disguise was intended to intimidate potential reporters trying to get a story. I’m not a reporter, and it takes more than a cartoon to frighten me off. So, I took a deep breath and dove in.
“Good morning, Mr. Seuss. Can I call you that? Or do you prefer Mr. Geisel?”
“Can you hear me? I am really speaking, me to you? This is such a grand and wonderful occurrence. I needed just this thing. It is horribly dark and not at all fun over there.”
“Over there.” He nodded.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Seuss. Do you mean heaven?”
“I should say not. Heaven. What a wonderful concept. You know, you are wrong in your pronunciation of my name, that’s first. You see, my name does not rhyme with goose or noose. Seuss, in truth, rhymes with voice, but how you say it is really your choice. It does not change the reality a bit, so do what you will with it.”
"I never planned to write memoirs. My first love has always been literary fiction. Yet every time I’ve sat down to write to write the Great American Novel (or, okay, the Mediocre American Novel) something has pissed me off enough to make me respond with a nonfiction book."
Gary has a first-class degree and a PhD in psychology…then he went to the bad, exploring the darker reaches of horror – eventually ending up here.
His latest work, a novella The Respectable Face of Tyranny will be released by Spectral Press in April, but if you want to appreciate the true measure of the man you need to check out his website. He even has Eulogies. Why can’t I have eulogies instead of sharing a basement with rats?
In an email sent out to Smashwords authors and publishers, Mark Coker announced that Paypal has reversed its proposed censorship of independently published books. Coker reports that he met with PayPal in their offices in San Jose and was informed of PayPal’s decision to modify its policies to allow legal fiction.
Effective March 12, 2012, Smashwords reverted its Terms of Service back to its pre-PayPal ultimatum state. In other words, there will be no censorship of erotic novels that contain “legal” content within the story.
Coker went on to thank Smashwords authors, publishers and customers for standing up to PayPal’s attempt at censorship (and make no mistake, censorship is exactly what it was, not a business decision) through phone calls, emails, letters, petitions, blogs and social media posts.
And here’s the important thing that writers and publishers can take away from this crazy few weeks: We can make a difference. Without the collective voice of everyone who chose to see this as not a simple business decision that they neither could, nor should do anything about, but instead as a violation of their rights, the ban on the supposed “obscene” content would still be in place and erotica writers would have been forced to find another way to sell their work, or to write in another genre.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s writing has left a permanent mark on speculative fiction, particularly in the subgenre of weird fiction. Lovecraft wrote with a philosophical principle—he called it “cosmicism”—in mind, believing that life is beyond human understanding, and that the universe is essentially hostile to all of humankind. Heavy shit, no?
I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when Lovecraft contacted me from the “other side,” since this week marks his birthday (March 15), but I’d had ten-too-many raspberry vodkas and my brain was a little slow. This horror icon, best known for Cthulhu Mythos story cycle and the Necronomicon, kind of creeps me out to be honest. But I did manage to pull myself together and slur a couple of questions his way.
It went something like this:
I’d just pulled the blanket up to my chin, preparing to sleep off the worst of the vodka spins, when a frigid breeze swept over my face.
“If you do not cover your feet adequately, it will pick up your scent.” His voice was tinny, but clear.
I thought perhaps Poe had returned, but the chill in the voice didn’t feel the same. “What will pick up my scent?”
He tsked. “That which cannot be mentioned, foolishly intoxicated scribe. Now, cover those abhorrent toes and let’s get on with my interrogation.”
Read the rest of the article at OnFictionWriting.com
When writing fiction, nearly every detail we write (except perhaps in fantasy) is in some way inspired by reality. Crime, horror and suspense novels often borrow from headlines. What better place to investigate unfathomable evil than our own backyard? Here are some serial killers that prove no matter how creative you think you are the real thing is always far worse than your darkest imaginings.
1. Ritualistic Ripper
Many of our fiction serial killers have rituals, much like real serial killer. Killers like Dexter Morgan are not uncommon, with elaborate procedures for hunting, capturing, killing and disposing of their prey. Most have a method to their madness, although sometimes it may seem hard to identify. To make your sicko stand out though, you need to think outside the box, like real life killer named Ahmad Suradji. Suradji killed 42 females between the ages of 11 and 30 over the course of eleven years. Suradji, who hailed from Medan, Indonesia, buried his victims to their waists before strangling them with a cable, because his father’s ghost apparently told him that by killing these women this way, and drinking their saliva, he would become a mystic healer. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
2. The Woman Scorned
Female serial killers are rare in both reality and fiction…or perhaps we’re just harder to catch. Most of you will recall Aileen Wuornos (who could forget Charlize Theron getting uglied up to play Wuornos in the movie Monster). Wuornos, who claimed to be traumatized by the abuse she suffered at the hands of various men in her life, murdered seven men. She had no real ritual to speak of. She just shot them until they were dead…and usually added an extra bullet or two for good measure. Wuornos’s defense was that the men she killed raped her, or tried to rape her, while she worked as a prostitute. This real life example is a reminder that women represent a special kind of killer, because they can so easily play victim, adding emotional confusion to the typical serial killer tale.
3. Ambitious Bastards
Some killers want to be the best at what they do, and this ambition is a huge motivating factor in their murderous ways. Take real life killer, Alexander Pichushkin, a Russian known as “The Chessboard Killer.” His murder spree was inspired by fellow psycho, Andrei Chikatilo. Alexander killed 48 confirmed victims, mostly elderly homeless men…for the competitive thrill of it. He wasn’t particularly creative either, striking them from behind with a hammer and then tossing some of them into the sewers. His goal was to kill 64 victims, enough to fill the squares on a chessboard, and more than the killer he considered his closest competitor, Andrei Chikatilo. He was caught before achieving that lofty goal.
4. Sexual Deviant
While we’re on the subject of Andrei Chikatilo, let’s look at another fiction stereotype; the sexual deviant. Chikatilo, another Russian (those crazy Reds), was known as “The Red Ripper” and “The Rostov Ripper.” He killed 53 women and children of both genders. He didn’t kill his victims the same way either. While most were stabbed, some of them he strangled or beat to death. One common factor was that he mutilated all of them for sexual gratification. Impotent due to a childhood illness, Chikatilo claimed he could only become aroused by committing these violent acts. In fiction, sexual deviants create a more uncomfortable tale, particularly if the writer can stomach writing such a character realistically. Too often though, these characters end up seeming comical or unbelievable in fiction.
I’ve noticed a certain protectiveness among some authors about the genre in which they write. It’s difficult to say anything critical or to remark on clichés or formulas that are evident in some genres without a few authors getting their knickers in a bunch. What’s this about? Have we become self-centered and sensitive that we can’t handle a little bit of honest criticism or friendly teasing? What does it matter to us what people think of our genre of choice, as long as we know we’re putting our best work out there?
Writers in general are eager to help each other grow and learn by sharing knowledge and experience. It’s odd, don’t you think, that one can criticize another’s writing (which to me is far more personal) with little fall-out, but mention that writer’s genre with the least bit of negativity, and you’d best take cover. Personally, I don’t particularly care what anyone says about the genres I write in. I care more about their thoughts on my writing. In fact, genre doesn’t enter my mind when I’m writing. My goal is to write a story that readers enjoy. That’s it.
I am amazed at the genre snobbery that is present among both readers and writers. Guys, there is room on those bookshelves for everyone, no matter what is said about your favorite genre. Many readers like a bit of everything, but we should be able to point out things that bother us about each without it meaning that we’re saying all of the authors in that genre are talentless hacks.
I think all of us should take a step back and chill. Every genre has its share of geniuses and those who should never put pen to paper even to write a grocery list, as well as several in-betweens that leave you feeling okay about what you’ve read, but not blown away. Does that make any sense?
My friend and sometimes boss, OFW Editor-In-Chief Renee Miller, muses about writerly ambition and/or the lack thereof… and hookworms!
At first I thought that perhaps there was an epidemic among writers. Its name is laziness. Never have I seen such a large group of people so disinclined toward hard work. I’m not saying all writers, but I have to say that a large percentage of those calling themselves writers are about as energetic as a dead rat.
We want what we want, and we want it now. We don’t want to work for it. Critique groups? Pfft. I already write better than Stephenie Meyer, and she’s a bestseller. Marketing? Pfft. That’s what Twitter is for. Word of mouth is what sells books. Not work. Elements of fiction? Writing is an art? Fuck off. A story is a story. A five year old can write a novel.
Follow the link and read the rest of the post… I double dog dare you.
In the last few days, we’ve fielded a barrage of communications from friends, colleagues, and members asking all sorts of questions about the recent PayPal blunder. From the content of these messages, we’ve gathered that there’s a great deal of confusion about what’s going on. We’ll attempt to explain.
PayPal recently posed this ultimatum to several Internet book vendors including Smashwords: “unless you remove all titles containing bestiality, rape, or incest, we will deactivate your PayPal account.”
Why should a financial institution take such a step?
It appears that the credit card companies (unnamed but if you check your wallet, you might see one or two of them blinking back at you) have pressured PayPal into issuing the ultimatum. We can only guess that executives from the unnamed credit card companies are concerned about possible retaliation from those members of the public who find certain prose reprehensible.
There’s heated argument about the ultimatum, and as you know, an argument is only possible if there are different points of view. In one corner we have those who have chosen to defend PayPal’s actions while in the other we have those who condemn it.
Horror fiction contains some extremely valuable life lessons. If you pay close attention, you might just increase your chances of surviving the impending zombie apocalypse or a night stuck in the woods with your annoying girlfriend. (Hint: She ain’t worth it.) There are literally dozens of survival skills that can be picked up in a well-written horror novel, so we’ve gone outside of our usual format and included more than ten in our list—for the sake of the children.
1. Handwritten highway signs are omens.
Handwritten signs spell doom. So “turn right here” means, “just turn the fuck around and go home.” On the other hand, “Go back” is one you should probably listen to. If the sign says something like “Last gas station for fifty miles”…don’t push it. Just pull in, fill up, and then drive back the way you came. Any shithole town along the way that doesn’t have a gas station contains nothing but homicidal rednecks.
2. The buddy system works.
Never split up. I don’t even know how anyone could think this is ever a good idea. There’s strength in numbers, or at the very least, you’ll have a victim to stand between you and the psycho. Moms know shit. When we say always travel with a buddy, we aren’t just flapping our jaws to hear ourselves talk. When you’re being stalked by a homicidal maniac or an undead monster, why the hell would you split up? He can’t eat all of you at once. One more tip: When selecting a buddy, choose someone slower than you.
3. Don’t wake the dragon.
First off, don’t touch dead things. If it looks dead, smells dead, and sounds dead, just let it be dead. Don’t go shaking it or poking it. Also, creatures that have been sleeping for a really long time, like dragons and demons, were put to bed for a reason. Remember, curiosity kills.
4. Attics and Cellars are Evil Places Full of Bad Things
I know there are strange sounds coming through the walls that are driving you batshit, but never, ever go into the cellar or climb up to the attic. That flashlight is not a gun and even if it were a gun, it will be no good in fighting the things hiding up or down in those dark places. If you must go into the attic, remember that entering head first is a sure way to die. Well how else does one go into an attic, Renee? Exactly my point. Don’t do it…or send your slower buddy in first.
5. Never Talk to Strangers
This is particularly important if you are alone. Strangers are bad people, your mother wasn’t kidding. Hitchhikers, old men, and voluptuous women are the worst kinds of strangers to talk to. And if they claim to have food, shelter, a way out, or amorous feelings about you, they’re lying. Run away.
6. Always aim for the head.
Better yet, just hack it off. Then burn the body and the head in separate fires on different continents. In most life or death situations involving creatures that make you wet your pants, bullets won’t stop them. Neither will a knife through the heart. If all you have is a gun full of regular bullets, a knife or a big long stick, go for the head. All of these tools, when properly wielded and with enough fear behind them, can sever a head. And believe me, it’s always the head that keeps those bastards going. Don’t think for a second that your feeble attempts at shooting or stabbing has killed them, even if the thing falls and stops moving, moaning, or shrieking. Assume it’s faking. No such thing as overkill.
7. Big dogs will kill you.
Big, furry, black, foaming at the mouth dogs spell trouble. Ignore the tail between the legs and the pathetic whimper. Forget about his undying loyalty to you during your darkest hours. If the dog is doing weird shit, just kill it. See Lesson 6.
8. If it is pale, European, wealthy and beautiful, kill it. Kill it now!
Male or female, this combination spells trouble. If you can’t get away from them, kill them in their sleep. No, never while they’re conscious. Good lord, you should know that never ends well. Wait until the morning, when they slink off to their basement bedroom. Then, torch the whole place.
9. Random music playing anywhere without reason means you’re about to die.
I don’t care what kind of music it is, if it plays suddenly, without reason, and has a distinct repetitive tune…you’re fucked. Get out as fast as you can, but don’t run into the woods. Are you a moron?
Who’s this guy? Meet, the most vicious censor in mankind’s history: Inquisitor General Tomas de Torquemada. He’s got something in common with a few credit card companies and PayPal. I recently discussed my thoughts on PayPal’s ultimatum to Smashwords and other online publishers on my blog. This serious issue concerns all writers, and it’s beginning to snowball. …more
What is the most common reason you reject a manuscript?
I don’t like it or it’s not even close to the stuff I publish. The first one the authors can’t do anything about (and don’t ask me to describe what I like, as it’s akin to asking someone to describe the colour green without using the words ‘grass’, ‘apple’, or ‘green’; I know it when I read it), but the other one can be done by looking at the catalogue carefully and learning what sort of stuff I do publish. Sending me a philosophical treatise on why ugly people don’t get hired as often as attractive people isn’t smart if I don’t publish any non-fiction at all (which I don’t), and sending me poetry when it’s specifically mentioned in the submissions page as being something I do not want to see at all (as is the case) is the surest way to get me to make fun of you.
Honestly: know your market. Penguin isn’t going to be interested in sparkly vampires, in the same way that Harlequin won’t care about your work of great literature.
"This is absolutely a personal thing, but there is so much room for a writer to be taken advantage of with self-publishing or vanity presses. I realize that there have been authors who have found an audience through self-publishing, but it’s a risky proposition that requires a lot of capital, a lot of faith and even more hard work to achieve success than going through a publishing house. Self-publishing did bring Deepak Chopra into the public consciousness though… so… make of that what you will…”
Part of being an author these days is mastering the art of self-promotion. It’s no longer enough to sit in a bookstore or go to conferences; we also have to have a presence online. Many of us opt to use Twitter as a primary marketing tool, and many of us are doing it all wrong. Annoying your potential readers, targeting the wrong audience, and other missteps can actually have the reverse effect and turn people away from your books. So, if you’re doing any of the following, stop it.
You might not think you’re begging, but if you’re promising free books to the XXXth follower, asking people to look at your blog or Facebook page more than a couple times per day, or tweeting something like “Follow me, I follow back!” then you’re begging folks to like you. It’s not appealing and you’re degrading yourself.
2. All tweets, all the time
Here’s something that really pisses people off. You go to see the “new” tweets only to find it’s the same asshole posting fifty times in a single minute. Stop that. I know AutoTweeter is cool and it saves you time, but you should schedule your auto tweets so that they’re spaced at least an hour apart. Signing in and seeing the same person tweeting a billion times but saying absolutely nothing other than “buy my book!” is also annoying. Yes, authors have to promote, but tweeting about your book a million times doesn’t work. If you’ve got so much to say that you have to tweet a billion times, there’s this thing that authors also use called a blog. Use it.
3. One Link Blunder
If you only have one thing to tweet about, post it one time, not every ten damn minutes. Look, there are a lot of newbie authors who have a single book out. That’s fine. But tweeting about that single book every ten minutes, even every hour, is really not working in your favor. Other authors will tweet their “new” blog posts hourly until they post another, and then they tweet that link hourly until the next post comes. Please, if you want to keep followers, and you want people to care about what you have to share, stop doing that. If all you have is one link, mix it up a bit. Find other authors to promote. Gives you good Karma and doesn’t annoy other Tweeps.
4. Hashtag Whore
When you have more hashtag than tweet you’re a whore and nobody likes you. I’m staging an intervention. You can hashtag every tweet if you want, but please, one or two hashtags per tweet okay? Thanks. When you put ten hashtags in your tweet, you’re telling people that a) You’re annoying or b) What you have to say is not interesting. You’re not contributing anything new. If you’ve got nothing to say, that’s fine, don’t tweet.
Please celebrate Leap Year Day in the traditional manner by taking a writer out for dinner.
It’s been four years since many authors had a good dinner. We are waiting. Many of us have our forks or chopsticks at the ready - some of us have had them ready for days. We will repay you by drifting off…
In my next life, I want to be a tapeworm - the microscopic kind that can travel through arteries, up to the brain where I can devour creativity-rich grey matter to my stomach’s content. I’m not sure what I’ll do with all the ideas I’ve ingested considering I won’t have hands to write with, but I figure I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. These authors are first on the menu.
Edgar Allan Poe
Poe and the short story are synonymous. His uncanny ability to create a story that is both well-written and memorably twisted were what made him a writing icon. While the themes present in his stories are unoriginal (not his fault, considering there were centuries of writers that came before him), the plots, themselves and the fear they induce are.
If Poe is the classic king of horror, then King (how convenient to have a pun for a name) is his modern counterpart.
Hunter S. Thompson
While I’m not one hundred percent sure that there will be any brain left considering the massive amounts of drugs and alcohol consumed by this author, if there is any you can be sure that it is saturated with hallucinogens. A tape worm has no morals – bring on the bats!
Said to be the creator of the phrase, “in a pickle.” Do I need another reason?
“Writers drink so much caffeine that eventually the synapses start to break down like wires chewed by starving squirrels. And then those starving squirrels make a ratty nest of old leaves and smelly yarn inside our heads. We end up as gutted automatons piloted by a tribe of twitchy squirrels. Metaphorically.”—
Yep, that about sums it up. Everything comes down to the caffeine.
….or do they? Think about it, the hand that feeds, bathes, cuddles and disciplines tiny psychopaths could quite possibly rule the world. Muahahaha…that is, until junior gouges your eyes out while you sleep and serves them to the dog for breakfast.
What is it about kids that’s so fucking creepy? If you’re a horror writer, one sure way to make your readers extremely uncomfortable is to put a sociopathic two-year-old in your story. Better yet, singing pre-teens who will never grow boobs.
Psychological issues + innocence + weapon/evil spirit/toy with sharp edges = Guaranteed Horror. The scariest kids from books and film are the ones that still haunt your nightmares long after you think you’ve forgotten them. Here’s just a few.
1. The Grady Twins - The Shiningby Stephen King
I think the reason that these girls are scary is because of the movie, not the book. Also, there are two of them. Double weirdness is always scarier than singular weirdness. The scene with this set of twins is creepy as shit. Go on, watch it and tell me you don’t agree.
2. Isaac and his Gaggle of Ghouls - Children of the Corn
Pre-teens are pretty disturbing in general (I can vouch for that personally) but add religion and corn and you get downright pants-wetting scary. The Children of the Corn don’t believe in messing with your head or killing the family cat. No, subtlety is not one of their favorite things. These kids just hack you to bloody bits with a scythe blade. And that folks is why the sharpest object my 13 year old has access to is a butter knife.
3. Reagan - The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
Her head can turn all the way around, she can projectile vomit like nobody’s business, and, oh yeah, she stabs her vagina with a crucifix. Enough said, don’t you think?
4. Damien - The Omen by David Seltzer
The antichrist. Lucifer’s tiny bastard. To this day I am suspicious of kids named Damien and nothing you say will convince me that said kids aren’t evil to their core. This kid is not only creepy, but his charming, butter-wouldn’t-melt smile reminds you of those real kids you know damn well are bad. Let’s add to this freak show the ability to kill you with a thought—or rather, make you kill yourself. If that doesn’t make you shudder, think about Damien next time your kid screams “I hate you!” and see if you don’t watch your back.
If these kids don’t remind you that birth control is a good thing, check out the other 6 tiny terrors of fiction at OnFictionWriting.com.
emember way back in the day when writers were told that the agent/author relationship was like a partnership? The author actually pays the agent, the agent works to sell author’s manuscript, mutually beneficial, etc. But, finding an agent feels a lot like you’re job hunting, doesn’t it? We write up our application, resume and cover letter, and we send that out, hoping to impress just one so we get…hired. No? Think about it. Essentially, the query process is like we’re applying for a job with the agent, and then paying the agent to hire us. It’s an ass-backward dynamic when you break it all down.
I think that paying someone to try to sell my book is a good thing, and so I have to convince them it’s worth it. No big deal.
What’s bugging me lately is this “impress” thing. How does one impress an agent? There are hundreds (if not more) of articles telling authors just how to do this. Some from writers, others from agents. Each article shares the same advice over and over, and they’re also extremely vague. This regurgitation of the same shit, which never really seems to work, and trying to pawn it off as something new and secret and oh so valuable, is annoying.
Sometimes writers bitch about this thing called “writer’s block.” I thought that today, rather than make them feel like hosers by telling them it’s a crock of shit thought up by someone who didn’t feel like writing anymore; I’d give you all some ways to beat your imagined blockage. Much like laxative does to your bowels, there are a few places that can get those juices flowing…the creative ones—in your mind. Okay then, here we go:
The secret to unclog your creative colon in a restaurant is not to eat the Daily Special. No, the secret is to go alone. No companion to talk at you. No book. No phone. Just a pen and a notepad. Got it? Order something so you don’t look like a psycho, and then watch. Listen. Look at people as they eat and interact. Some people are gross eaters. I avoid looking at them because I want to punch them in the teeth. But you might find them fascinating. As you watch, imagine what the story might be behind each table of people, or the server. If you can see the guys in the kitchen, watch them too. A restaurant kitchen is the epitome of drama. Trust me, I know.
Sure it’s dirty and buggy and OUTSIDE, but Mother Nature is the original artistic diva. Sit next to a stream and watch the water. Build a fire, watch it burn so you can accurately describe it in your next scene that includes flames. When you watch fire or flowing water, I mean really watch it, you’ll realize you had no frigging idea what you were talking about before. Listen to the birds, or watch a squirrel fight with a crow over the bird feeder. (Random Fact: Squirrels win 99% of the time) Just observe…and feel. I promise, your literary constipation will cease to exist.
3. Hard Work
Physical labor, not nancy little jobs like hanging curtains or trimming the hedges. I mean cut the grass, dig the weeds from your garden. Or, if you’re like me and plants hate you, just dig every little bastard out of there. Work until there’s nothing but dirt and worms. You could also paint a room, clean out your garage (eep!) or your attic. Physical labor like this is mindless, freeing your brain to think of other things, like plot, characterization…ideas.
One of the first things a writer learns from all those “how-to” books is that establishing and sticking to a writing routine is imperative. Sitting there, twiddling your thumbs and staring at the wall won’t do shit for you. Or maybe it will. Every writer’s needs and routines are different. These writers all have something that works for them, mostly without fail.
David Sedaris, author of Naked
“When I wanted to become a writer, I spent every day at the typewriter. I haven’t missed a day in twenty years. I didn’t drink before I started writing, but when I started writing and drinking beer, I started looking forward to getting drunk at the typewriter. It’s hard to quit drinking, but by that time I’d been writing, oh, I don’t know, twenty years, and I could see that my writing had improved.”
“Talk about unhealthy. I binge and purge. I’ll spend a year listening to people talk, but never writing a word. Then, I’ll break a rib or get sick so I’m forced to sit still, inside, and write. The critical point is when I’m more afraid of forgetting a great story than I am of being indoors, keyboarding.” The First Rule of Interviewing Chuck Palahniuk
Stephen King, author of 11/22/63
“There are certain things I do if I sit down to write,” he said. “I have a glass of water or a cup of tea. There’s a certain time I sit down, from 8:00 to 8:30, somewhere within that half hour every morning, I have my vitamin pill and my music, sit in the same seat, and the papers are all arranged in the same places. The cumulative purpose of doing these things the same way every day seems to be a way of saying to the mind, you’re going to be dreaming soon.”