How many times have I heard someone gushing over their own prose? It’s vomit inducing and leaves me self conscious for most of my day.
I’m not talking about jealousy of another writer’s work, no, I am talking about the real envy that comes when someone seems to enjoy writing. I always took a small measure of comfort in the belief that all writers are masochists.
Setting aside personal time, staring at the blank screen then counting the number of blinks the cursor makes before you type in the next vowel felt necessary.
Then, all of a sudden, I’m confronted with johnny types-a-lot whose sparkling grin,stretched ear to ear, becomes the ultimate slap to all my masochistic endeavors. This wasn’t a tormented soul that gets up every morning, resurrected, to hoist themselves on that black and white cross.
Confronting that early in life sort of gave me the writing jitters. I clammed up at the keyboard, wondering if my pursuits were flawed, or if I was working against something that was innate in others.
Could I be doing this all for the wrong reason? Was I addicted to an aesthetic, a lifestyle of the sagacious old writer in twill concentrated on each pen stroke?
I hate twill, however, I love to be “tormented.” I sought that tortured artist motif and used it as a crutch to avoid my responsibility as a writer. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean I am unfettered from the struggle of writing, but at least I identified the thing that keeps me from producing. It is so easy to give in to the thrill of production and a day or nights work with actual atrocity. I could be alone in this, but if by some chance you feel this way, I’d advise taking a stronger look at the way you approach coming to the keyboard.
Can mitigating martyrdom help eak out a few more paragraphs? I have been approaching the whole thing in measures. I always want to get a certain number of words for each sitting. If I go over or under, then that is not a loss of my time. The real loss is when I sit on my hands and bemoan my own tortured time plugging away at my latest edition of “Zach, tortured auteur.” Now, I use a simple mantra, “find my time, find my place, find my mindset then write.
Creative writers often debate the wisdom of publishing fiction and short stories to their blogs or posting a creation process behind their creations. In this post, I will explore the “pros” and “cons” of content. The topic includes posting short works to a blog or through another site for free, posting spin off works, and posting a “how I made story x”style posts. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m in favor of all these style posts and my bias shows. Please consider checking out part one in my Be Bold Series regarding posting site metrics on my personal blog
-You are wasting a story you could have gotten published for profit
-The story you post may be stolen by an unscrupulous person and they may get it published for profit or collect credit on their better known site
-You may have held onto the story, continued to work on it and come up a longer, more complete story instead of the short work you published
-Offering work for free reduces the market for paid work. Why pay money when you can get writing for free?
-Your work may be and the work of your peers may be devalued. Some believe that free writing is bad writing. There’s a further idea that free blog writing is writing that could not have been “legitimately” published so they released it “on the cheap.”
-There are concerns around formatting and presentation of fictional works posted to a blog, just as there are formatting challenges through epub.
-You as a writer offer readers a sample of your style and theme so they can make a better informed decision if they want to commit to a longer work. The works I’ve published highlight elements in writing I specialize in and may help me find the right audience home.
-Alternatively, you may have a one off story that doesn’t fit your genre and still wish to share it. I have a drama piece that‘s out of place with my over all portfolio I‘d one day like to publish. I don’t want to learn all the ins and outs of the drama genre for one piece, a simple answer may be to publish it through a blog.
-You’ve written a work for fun. Our writing group exercises often fall in this category. We were challenging ourselves and just want to share the results.
-You want more direct interaction with your audience. One thing I love about publishing to a blog is that readers post their thoughts and I enjoy that. Yes I can get feedback via a review on a work, but reviews are for other readers. A comment is for both the author and other readers. It’s nice to have an open conversation with my readers.
-Your shorts may be companion pieces to a longer work. For example: I have a “Downtown Huntsville Tourist Trap” book written from the perspective of the characters from “Follow Me: Tattered Veils”. I also have a drink recipe guide and a tarot guide, all a possible collections for people who enjoy my novel and want more from the voices of these characters. I have deleted scenes I may publish to add to the novel hype when I launch the book. Here, I’m selling my novel but adding free bonus material because giving away some writing doesn’t mean I don‘t charge for other works.
Since I have posted flash fiction and short fiction, it’s obvious I’m in favor of releasing my writing through blog posts. However, I will add that it comes down to a case of audience or career. I accept that writing can never be a career for me (for many reasons). My writers’ goals include finding and keeping the largest audience the themes and style of my writing will allow. Is that ten people or a million: I’m not sure. Adding short stories, blogging, and a social media presence are all tactics I’m incorporating to find out.
I’ve never been shy regarding posting my stories. There are a few I regret sharing, but those are from a long buried high school account. Even then, it’s more about the cringe factor than the “missed opportunity” or “devalued work”.
What do you think? Do you read short stories from blogs and free sites? Do you post your own stories for free? Is there a situation where you would give away content? Are there situations where you would never give away content? Share any thoughts you have on getting published for free or reading work that’s been published for free.
Once Upon a Future Time: up to 15,000 words a scifi story that incorporates a fairy tale or folklore. ALL AUTHORS RECEIVE FEEDBACK on their writing. pay is $50 and royalties plus a copy of the book
Arsenika: up to 1,000 words all flash and micro flash or poetry. They respond in 14 days of submission pay is $60 for flash and $30 for poetry
Matter Press: ???words suggests short? looking for anything that deals with the idea of compression. Response time is 1-3 days and the pay is $50
Smoking Gun Press: 1,200-6,000 words “We welcome stories involving all types of supernatural beings… witches, zombies, vampires, ghosts, werewolves and other were-creatures, demons, and anything else we’ve left out! Mixing and matching of different types of beings in the same story is acceptable” all genres are acceptable pay is $20 and a copy of the anthology
Iridium Press: up to 5,000 words any story so long as it has QUILTBAG+ content pay is $.03 a word.
Belanger Books: 5,000-10,000 words “this collection will feature all new traditional Sherlock Holmes adventures with a science-fiction edge. Sherlock Holmes: Adventures in the Realms of Steampunk will feature Holmes in a futuristic Victorian setting. See him deal with airship pirates and steam powered robots. Maybe he’ll even deal with a time traveler or with alien invaders. ” pay is royalties
Selene Quarterly Magazine: up to 100 words between 101-1,000 words 1,001-1,500 words 3,000-7,500 words “Selene Quarterly Magazine publishes quality fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and art that dwells in the shadows. SQM desires stories and poetry that are thrilling, reflective, and imaginative.” pay scale varies for length but all are at least $.01 a word
Ulthar Press: 2,000-5,000 words ” looking for strange, gothic, and fantastic fiction in the manner of E.T.A. Hoffmann between 2,000 – 5,000 words in length. Stories that merely graft his characters into a new story will not be accepted.” response time is 60 days and the pay is $.02 a word
Thuggish Itch: 1,000-4,000 words theme is theme park looking for horror, scifi, and speculative works. pay is $5.00 under 2,000 words and $10 over 2,000 *to make this ‘worth it’ you need to write a 500 word pieceD
Space Opera Libretti: 2,000-7,000 words “The short version of what we want: Silly, diverse sci-fi that involves music. If it’s actually about operas in space, all the better!” pay is $.06 a word
Inkling Press: up to 5,000 words “The first anthology released by Inklings Press was Tales From The Tavern – a short collection of five fantasy stories by some of the early, happy crew that thought it was time to have a go. You can still read that – it’s collected in the Tales From The Tower anthology that rounds up the first year of Inklings Press.” flat $50 pay
Vex Me No More: up to 5,000 words “We want your witch stories! Though they do not necessarily have to be female-centric, they do need to be tales of powerful, unique beings. Remember, this is a horror anthology, so while you can have elements of other genres, we want to be scared.” pay os $.02 a word
Bad Dream Entertainment: 1,500-8,000 words “Bad Dream is now accepting submissions of humorous dark fiction. Editor Brett Reistroffer is looking for original horror fiction with a strong sense of comedy, and most themes, subjects, and settings are welcome but standard genre tropes are definitely discouraged (vampires, zombies, werewolves, etc.). The comedic aspect can be goofy and slapstick or black and morbid, just as long as there are equal amounts of darkness and humor” pay is $.06 a word plus split royalties
Curse the Darkness: 3,000-10,000 words “For our inaugural anthology, Curse the Darkness*, we’re throwing our doors wide open and inviting submissions on the theme of darkness. That could be the absence of light, the presence of evil, or the sinister thoughts of the afflicted. However you choose to interpret the theme, just make sure you leave us afraid to turn out the lights.” pay is $75 flat rate
Alternate Peace: up to 7,500 words “is to feature alternate history stories where the divergence from our timeline comes from some kind of peaceful change to our past. It must explore the consequences of this divergence, not simply introduce the divergence. Stories featuring more interesting historical settings and twists on the consequences of the peaceful divergence from our timeline will receive more attention than those with more standard changes to the course of history. ” response by end of Feb 2019 pay is $.06 a word
Temporally Deactivated: up to 7,5000 words “is to feature stories where the author explores what the phrase “temporally deactivated” could mean with regards to a person, place, or thing. Stories featuring more interesting takes on the twisting of time and how it is integrated into the story will receive more attention than those with more typical twisted time stories. We do NOT want to see stories where “temporal deactivation” means simply death.” response by end of Feb 3019 pay is $.06 a word
Portals: up to 7,5000 words “is to feature science fiction or fantasy stories that contain a portal opening up between two different worlds and the consequences that come from that portal. We are attempting to fill half of the anthology with science fiction stories and half with fantasy stories. ” pay is $.06 a word
Nothing Without Us: 1,000-3,500 words “All works must be fiction—fiction based on lived experiences is welcome. The lead character must be disabled, blind, Deaf, Autistic, neurodiverse, and/or live with mental illness. We do not expect all of these in one character, although we’re sure that character would be amazing. We are accepting fiction in all genres with the exception of hard-core erotica. We are also only interested in previously unpublished works. ” “We welcome writers across the disability, mental illness, developmental disabilities, neurodiversity, blind, and Deaf spectrums. We welcome those who manage invisible and visible disabilities and/or chronic conditions. We welcome those who count spoons! We’re just looking to have an entire work where we elevate the stories written by the folks in our community. We welcome the communities that intersect with the disabled, neurodiverse, mentally ill, blind, and Deaf communities, such as the LGBTQIA2 communities.” pay is $.03 a word
Allegory Online Magazine: up to 5,000 words but between 500-2,000 seems best “We specialize in the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror genres. We will consider other genres, such as humor or general interest, provided that the work possesses an original, “quirky” slant.” pay is $15
Cafe Irreal: up to 2,000 words “This fiction, which we would describe as irreal, resembles the work of writers such as Franz Kafka, Kobo Abe, Clarice Lispector and Jorge Luis Borges. As a type of fiction it rejects the tendency to portray people and places realistically and the need for a full resolution to the story; instead, it shows us a reality constantly being undermined. Therefore, we’re interested in stories by writers who write about what they don’t know, take us places we couldn’t possibly go, and don’t try to make us care about the characters.” pay is $.01 a word min $2
Crystal Lake Publishing: 500-5,000 words a non themed anthology in the dark fiction genre with fleshed out three dimensional characters pay is $.03 a word
Nexxis Fantasy: up to 15,000 words “Nexxis Fantasy has a twice a year publication. Our goal is to publish an exquisite science fiction anthology filled with the greatest works from across the galaxy.” the upcoming theme is “Lost” pay is $1 per 100 words
As I shared recently on my personal blog, grammar is the bane of my existence. I’m so excited to tell the story or express my idea, that I never push pause and wonder if I’m structuring well. Then, I have comb through everything looking for missing letters, forgotten articles, passive voice, adverbs, missing commas, and the list goes on.
This is NOT a post about the weakest element of my writing (though my rambling could transform it to that in an instant). Instead, I would like to present writers with some tools to combat the grammar demon. After all Microsoft Word and Open Office’s tools, don’t catch most mistakes writers fear.
ProWritingAid:Is hands down my favorite editing tool. I use the “style” and “grammar/spelling” report the most and it helps me find all my major pitfalls. There are over 20 reports a writer can comb through. It allows me to hunt down overused words, pacing problems, and repetitive sentence structure. When I’m “into” my story, I can spend days pouring through the reporting procedures making every element perfect. And I walk away with the sense I improved my writing
Beyond the different reports, there are different evaluations for different writing. I set my editor to ‘Creative’ on default, but you may prefer, “business”, “casual”, “web” or one of the other seven styles.
I use ProWritingAid in the web editor mode, but it has add ons that connect it to Mac, Scrivener, Word, and more. I’ve been working with the software for a little over the year and there are major quality of life improvements with this software. For example it doesn’t get rid of my bold, italic, or underlined text anymore when I copy and paste from one document t to another.
ProWritingAid allows you to use their editor for 500 words or fewer for free. To use the editor on longer works you must purchase. They have many pricing options and it’s affordable (less so than when I bought in but still WORTH IT).
Grammarly:This was the hottest grammar software on the market three years ago when I first poked around in the blogging world. I was convinced this thing would 100% make all the right corrections, and I was disappointed. A fellow writers’ group member, Ashley Saunders, (who is an expert on all syntax and structure) pointed out how much the software missed in my writing. She complained my “edited” draft still read like a rough draft.
Because I was so disappointed with the free services of Grammarly, I never investigated if the paid version provided better corrections. The pricing is more reasonable now than it was then. It may be worth consideration. Still, ProWritingAid offers more evaluation tools. For a writer looking to make their work the best and not just grammatically sound, ProWritingAid exceeds Grammarly.
Hemingway App:An excellent free web app that offers writers insight into readability, adverbs, and passive voice. I used to run everything through here. Since I’ve worked with ProWritingAid a year, I’m convinced the software finds everything Hemmingway App does and makes more helpful suggestions on how to correct issues I’ve encountered. Still, this a wonderful free app and perfect for an aspiring writer not ready to invest any money in a new editor.
Word Counter: I haven’t played a lot with this online tool, but it’s an interesting cross between Grammarly, Hemmingway App and a word production app. Their evaluations look interesting and the service is free. They send me emails about twice a week and the topics are interesting.
Do you have a grammar editor of preference? Am I missing the BEST one? Have I over hyped one editor while downplaying another? Talk to me, tell me more about the tools you use to make your writing everything it can be.
When I queried agents over my novel Follow Me: Tatter Veils, I got one personal rejection. The agent (and I apologize as I can’t find the email to name him) told me a major stumbling block I might encounter in pitching my novel is that I suggested it for multiple genres.
My mind makes connections. If someone followed my thought process, it’s like one of those mind maps except almost everything connections to each other some way. In all my work pulling together this massive 75,000 word work, I’d never thought opening it up as a genre crossover would limit my ability to market.
Since then, I describe Follow Me: Tattered Veils as an Urban Fantasy. It fits considering the book happens in present day world and introduces magical/mythic elements into an otherwise mundane setting.
Except, it also doesn’t fit. Follow Me: Tattered Veils is at its heart a book about obsession and stalking. The protagonist, Roxi, is living her daily life when Gerry, an ancient unpredictable fae being, deigns to take notice of her. From there, it’s a cat-and-mouse game of near brushes and tense attempts from Gerry to lure Roxi into his world. The novel culminates in a chase through faery land where Roxi must either save her friends and escape this dangerous world or surrender her autonomy to Gerry.
Could be Magical Realism. I use the concept of fae glamour to make these otherworldly beings hide in plain sight. I suggest this idea of two realities, the one we know and this other layer waiting underneath that Gerry, Roxi, and others work with. It isn’t the traditional secret society type deal, more like an alternative experience of reality.
But, I think Magical Realism has more magic integrated that’s just a shoulder shrug. Everyone knows about it, accepts it, and moves on. My magic systems imply they are real like Christianity and like Christianity, few people have or seek a genuine experience.
My colleague Lionel Green, suggested the back was “terrifying” and he read straight through that part “non stop”. It makes me wonder, is my work horror? There are both the real world and fantasy elements of the book that are horrifying.
In my heart, the book is a lot more about how a woman experiences the male gaze. In that way, I think Follow Me: Tattered Veils might be women’s fiction. The men who have read the book suggest that they “enjoyed reading it. Good on its own, but I’d never buy this book based on the description.” Does this feedback mean I’m marketing the book badly for both genders or is the work intended for a female audience?
This sort of bullshit was why I wanted an agent. Don’t they help you find and speak to an audience? What do they do? Because I had the idea, wrote it, edited it, and submitted it. So I’m just wondering when someone else comes in to help or if publishing is a solo journey.
Alas, I need to choose the genre too. Is there any part of publishing that isn’t a struggle?
Does anyone else have trouble identifying their genre? Do you think being in the right genre is core to success? Have you written anything that someone has labeled a cross over?
What about summarizing long works or picking which elements are most paramount? I am so invested in Follow Me: Tattered Veils, sometimes it’s hard for me to know what’s important. Any tips or tricks? Do I Google search what’s hot and sell it that way?
No idea who first said it, but someone said: “If you write, you’re a writer.” It wasn’t a conscious decision filled with tedium and angst. I picked up a pencil, learned my alphabet, and have been part of the writer’s club since first grade. My first stories all fall into the haunted house genre. Ghosts, friends dying or disappearing, and an ever increasing series of rooms. I told the story “Winchester” with the same stakes, except sometimes my characters didn’t survive. So better and told by a child, I guess I was too ahead of my time to rake in all that Hollywood money. At least I have creative satisfaction?
I’m mentioning this anecdote because a common writers’ blog question is “when did you decide you wanted to be a writer?” Is telling stories a choice for some people? Like is anyone in a room saying “I’m about to have an amazing idea for a story, but I need to get a jump on quantum mechanics so hard pass on inspiration.” Or are these people like “my dream was to be a plumber, but damn the money and security of writing is so tempting, I quit my trade school despite all the people encouraging me to follow my passion.”
The other thing I love about “when did you take the plunge to become a writer?” is the implication that a person stopped being anything else as soon as they choose writing. Yes Bob, I was a student, but Mrs. Williams asked me to write a story and I enjoyed it so much that I decided screw it, I’m a writer now! Or Wendy was a stay at home mom but then she started moonlighting as a blog content creator. Now her kids are in the orphanage, aspiring to write a compelling enough version of their life that maybe their mother will acknowledge them creatively even if she had to abandon them for the work.
The framing implies everyone who writes should have the one goal: to make writing a full-time profession and excludes the reality of most writers. It’s a passion we pursue around our lives, not a career we move towards single minded. And props to the rare, lucky, privileged few who make writing a full-time gig. I don’t mean to erase this group, I just think they’re a minority.
A more apt question in my perspective: “Was there ever a time you weren’t a writer or didn’t want to write?” Or even better “How big a part of your identity is writing and are there times where you feel it over grows its boundaries?”
None of the writers I know have a “and that’s when I realized I was a writer story” but most of them have “and that’s when I realized I’d gone too far,” or “now when I have time, there’s no writing,” anecdotes.
What about you? Is “when did you become a writer?” a meaningful question? Are there times you wish you weren’t a writer? Is writing enough validation of your career/hobby or do you only thing published writers have a claim to the title?
Writing is theft. Confession time: there are no characters, situations, or concepts in my writing I haven’t lifted from a real world experience. While anything is fair game for a story, I’m most focused on having “real characters” that a reader can relate to and believe are real while I make a world full of the fantastic these normal people have to deal with. Because I like character studies, my most stolen tidbits comes from the surrounding people.
When I talk to you with that over eager, boisterous barrage of questions, I am interested in you, but I’m also pilfering all your experiences and responses to mash up later when I sit down to write. Do not leave me alone in a room because I rifle through every drawer. There’s no shame in my cat killing curiosity and there’s no end to it. Tell me to back off anytime now. I know my intensity is off-putting, and I try to keep a lid on it. If we ever meet, I hope you’d never suspect how hungry I am to hear your life story. How much I want to dig into an abstract hobby of yours. I want facts I can check to see if you’re the honest sort, but either truth or lies, I’ll incorporate that study to some Frankenstein-esque mash up of you and four other people I met this week. It’s alive, and the only part I can claim rights to is how I fit the Tetris blocks together.
What in your day-to-day life do you steal the most inspiration from? Are your gems personal experiences and past events? Or do you explore expansive new places, plumbing each place for its local traditions, retooling them to your desires? Do current or past politics spur you into creative world building? Are you seeking to recapture old myths and fairytales in an unique way? Or maybe you dream of technological break through in the present and think of what they’d mean in the future (or what they would mean if delivered to the past)? There’s so much information offered, rife for a writer to pluck up and entwine into a new story. How is a creative to choose? Tell me what you hunt for, what parts of your story are the “most real” and how do you obscure the origins of those tidbits?
Fellow writers: would you rather a reviewer tell you that the book’s story and characters were amazing but the writing quality didn’t meet expectations or that your book’s writing was mind blowing but the characters and story were cliche retreaded territory? Follow up bonus question: are your feelings hurt by either or these critiques?
I’m asking because I write a lot of book reviews (check me out on Goodreads/shameless plug) and they are critical, even onbooksIlike. I wonder like many aspiring writers might, what effects if any of my reviews have on the authors and on my ability to reach out/break into their world of publication. Am I speaking to other readers or do authors also follow discussions on their books? Am I closing doors by breaking a book down or am I showcasing a thoughtful and attentive mind by considering so many facets? For me these answers break down to whether my comments are offensive and insults are often in the eye of the beholder.
Assuming for the moment that critical discussion on aspects of a book don’t automatically equal injury, I want to know what specific kinds of critical discussion would be fair to discuss with an author.
Personally, I’d rather have characters and plot that a reader falls in love with than pitch perfect writing. Things I want to hear include: “The characters felt very real,”, “I felt like I knew everything about these characters,”, “I needed to know more,”, “I’ve never seen this kind of story explored this way.”
That said, I have a distinctive sing song almost poetic style in all my writing. I have an unique “tone.” If someone compared my writing to another person’s style, I’d be curious to read more of that person’s work and excited to meet a kindred spirit. If someone doesn’t like my style, I get that too. It’s heavy in description, relies on alliteration, and is simile/metaphor heavy. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
Grammatically, I know I need serious help. Critiques to that effect can dishearten me after I’ve gone through editing that relates to correcting grammar, but it doesn’t cut me. Either I can go back in and correct the grammatical errors (a bonus to electronic publishing), or I’ve made the error in favor of how a phrase flows or draws out a feeling fragmented instead of a full detailed thought.
Does it all boil down to where we as writers are insecure? My confidence in writing style makes me believe problems in my book must be character/plot related, and therefor I’m more concerned with feedback from those quarters. I still want the feedback. For me there is never enough feedback or feedback that’s too harsh as long as it comes with specific examples so I can follow another’s thoughts.
Please give me your thoughts. Do you fear another kind of feedback? If someone published you would negative or mixed reviews hurt your feelings? And how do you rate books/media?