Category Archives: Writing

Writing Boom

Social_Network

Thanks to Andrew McKiernan, I’m finding my way back to the writing world, putting my words on file without the constant distraction of the net and my own failure to switch off my self-editing mentality.

This has been accomplished by Dark Room, (which I’m typing on now) after Andrew’s recommendation for TextRoom. Yes, they are different programs but they do very similar things, as they are writing tools, designed to get you writing. They have no grammar checks, spell checks, interesting little extras, etc., etc.

I like both programs but Dark Room is just that more suited to me (in the way that TextRoom is more suited to Andrew). I don’t believe either of them are better, just different, a bit like PCs and Macs…erm…wait a second there…

So, the order of the day has been to switch the laptop on, turn off the net and get Dark Room cranked up. It’s working like a charm, as you can tell from this short post, getting me to concentrate on what I’m writing and not what may well be happening elsewhere on the computer.

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My school reports had a recurring comment on them, which was "easily distracted" and not much has changed since. At least two of the staff at Morrigan Books have called me ‘magpie’ and that’s a nickname not unwarranted.

I am in love and awe of the shiny, this is true and there is much to interest me on these machines, especially with me having a late introduction to the whole scene.

Apart from gaming machines (as that’s what we used them for) such as: Spectrum, Atari and Amiga, my first serious use of computers was as late as 2000, with me only getting my first e-mail address (Hotmail) in 1999 but then not really using it until I started teaching in Sweden, September 2000.

In fact the first PC I owned was a cranky old desktop, donated by Etina’s parents when we moved in together 2002 and it wasn’t until 2004 when we bought this laptop (as you can see me typing of course) that the interest really started.

Nowadays I’m helping quite a few people out with software problems, hints, tips, installations and recommending programs for various usage.

I’m still not anywhere near where I’d like to be in terms of the art side but considering where I am on most of the other areas, I am sure, with some serious commitment and study, I’ll be up to speed there too.

On my beloved desktop (in the other room), there will be lots of flashing and beeping going on right now, as I have my Outlook open (which is my company e-mail client, containing all of Morrigan’s various e-mail accounts), Thunderbird open (the client for all my personal e-mail accounts), Facebook (for Morrigan Books), Skype (for business and to chat to family) and Word Press, to make sure all my blogs are ready to be updated.

In terms of the social network and blogging sites, today I am a member of:

LinkedIn (Morrigan Books and Personal)
Facebook (Morrigan Books, Gilgamesh Press and Personal)
Orkut (Personal)
MySpace (Personal)
Skype (Personal) (markdeniz)
Twitter (Morrigan Books, Gilgamesh Press and Personal)
Word Press (Personal, Fae Awareness Month and others) Beyond Fiction (Reviewing site))
Live Journal (Morrigan Books, Gilgamesh Press and Personal)
Blogger (Personal)
Dreamwidth (Personal)
Insane Journal (Personal)
Tumblr (Personal)
Posterous (Personal)
Digg (Personal)
Last.fm (Personal)
Flickr (Personal)

My aim is to try and keep this all updated and so this post should be appearing on all those, from Dark Room to Semagic and Live Writer to the various blogs and twitter accounts. Wish me luck, as I might need a lie down after this.

Oh and be sure to tweet, Digg, StumbleUpon and like this…Winking smile


Vanity Press: or is it?

Following on from the cracking post by KV Taylor regarding the pricing of e-books, I was thinking about vanity press, being as that is seen as much worse than self-publishing. I remember getting my acceptance for my second novel a few years ago along with a £300 fee for god knows what, I can’t remember now, and asking a few in the know for advice. The resounding opinion was that of outrage, that I was being asked to fork out £300 to have my own book published and one of those I spoke to mentioned the self publishing route.

That was even more of a shock to me, as if I was to go out and publish the book myself then what had happened to the whole process of publishing, how could an author just decide that their book was adequately edited and ready for publication and what did that mean for me as a reader?

Two recent cases in point have strengthened my negativity to self-publishing (sorry but I’m not a fan) and that is that two authors who sent books to Morrigan Books and were subsequently rejected by me have suddenly released their books themselves less than a couple of months later. I’m aware I’m off making generalisations again, as merely because these two have done that doesn’t mean that everyone does that but it begs the question when you know it’s self-published, yes?

Something that would sway me would be if someone like Robert Hood were to publish his own novel. Firstly I’d be shocked that he’d done it, mainly because he wouldn’t need to but then I’d be very interested in reading it because it’s Robert Hood (for god’s sake!) and because the work I receive from Rob is generally ready for publication, only minor editing required (“a quick pat on the bum and sent out the door” as an editor I respect once mentioned editing writers like this).

And this brings me back to the early queries I received which are now in print. The rejection was based mainly on shoddy editing, a level I though below par for a book at Morrigan Books, as we want to whip your works into shape, not get ready for a rewrite and extensive editing project. So when I see one of these books on the market, it saddens me and frustrates me, as I gave my comments, explained what needed doing and for it to be released just makes the indie press scene look bad, because someone picking up that book and seeing its flaws might be wary of another indie book and that can’t be a good thing.

However, my post today was supposed to be about something else, as I was going to discuss a mail I got, offering me the chance to be published if I won a competition (yes, only me, you didn’t get the mail did you, suckers?). Oh I love competitions, I’m in, I’m off…but wait a minute you want me to pay $25 for the privilege of me getting a chance to be published? I’m thinking your talking vanity press here, or?

I mean I have entered the 3 Day Novel Contest twice now, being as I think it’s a cracking idea, totally mental and it gets me writing again. OK, I could do the thing on my own but there is something about this event feeling, forums and the like, knowing others are stressing over their terrible manuscripts at the same time I am. There is a prize of publication for the best manuscript sent in after the three days but to be honest it’s not really on the mind when writing, as the book is the focus.

Yet this, was a whole different kettle of fish (I wonder if that’s why Pete found a fish in the percolator):

Like a kettle of fish but different…

I mean, you just send in your manuscript before a certain day and then they pick their best and publish it, no doubt using a POD (Print on Demand) facility and a dodgy cover, meaning their outlay is a fraction of what they received in participation fee. Remembering of course they are not going to spend a cent on marketing either.

And KV Taylor mentioned something about not self-publishing more out of a sense of not being able to maybe push herself enough in the promotion arena, and this is also a very tricky topic as how much do we as writers know about marketing? I mean there are degrees and such for this kind of thing and are you sure you know the border between aggressive marketing and just plain annoying. Again referring back to one of the books we rejected, based on the fact that it needed a very heavy edit (which I don’t believe for a minute was achieved in the two months between rejection and publication) the author in question has engaged in a heavy self-promotion campaign, which involves discussing all the different elements required to self-publish in a way that is painful to read.

I am now aware my post is starting to lose a little focus, mainly because it’s a culmination of a lot of thoughts that have been on my mind for a few months now, and make me fear a little bit about the industry we’re in. I’m sounding pessimistic while at the same time very positive about a lot of things in indie press. I mean we are about to announce three books that are extremely well written, require minor editing and will look very comfortable on your shelf, along with your other Morrigan books, (what do you mean you haven’t got them all yet?) and there are a few new publishers on the scene doing rather interesting things too (a later blog post).

It’s KV Taylor’s fault, she darn got me thinking!


Rejection musings

As a writer, an editor and a publisher, you really get to see the rejection process from all the angles. I’m not sure it makes you wiser about the whole rejection situation but, at least for me, it doesn’t make me worry about my work not being good enough when one of my stories is rejected.

Today’s post was prompted by Harry Markov, writing in his blog about a rejection, in which he said:

Even if it doesn’t elicit tears, the rejection sends the message ‘you are not there, yet’ and nobody wants to hear that. After all, we are all special snowflakes.

I suppose I agree with the special snowflakes bit…but I have trouble agreeing with the comment of ‘you are not there yet’. This is because I am aware that your story may well have been rejected for several reasons, and many of them not involving the concept that you’re not there yet.

Maybe you have sent your short story to a themed anthology, and even though you have followed the guidelines perfectly, the story jars with the others in the anthology (this is a reason why I have always struggled with anthologies that accept stories before the deadline date, as how can you, as an editor, know how the book is going to look until you receive all the submissions?) and this means that no matter how good the story is, it’s not going to make it.

Two examples of this over at Morrigan Books, are: a story that was easily one of my favourite submissions for our The Phantom Queen Awakes anthology, from an author whose work I adore. Her story really didn’t gel with those already in the book and we were forced to reject it. The fact that I have asked if I can have the story as a new story for a collection we will be publishing is testament to the quality. In no way was this a ‘you are not there yet’.

The second was a sub for Voices, our hotel anthology. Both Amanda Pillar and I liked the story but felt it was lighter in tone than the others in the book and rejected it. That story will feature in an anthology, entitled ‘The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime‘ and I can understand why. Great story, didn’t suit Voices.

These are decisions made from an editor’s perspective but what of the publisher? What does he/she reject and why?

Easier decision here as it all comes down to sales and marketing and the industry as a whole. Well, that bit is simple, the getting all that right is another matter…

Anyway, it may be that this is just not the time for another zombie novel, much as you think it is prime time, and even though your zombie novel is brilliant, it’s not now it should be published. The argument for there always being a place for good quality fiction is sound but at the end of the day the publisher is not OK about going out of business to prove that point (I suppose given this year’s disappearance of several indie presses, this can be argued too).

For good or ill, this is how I see it when my beloved story/poem/novel is rejected. It wasn’t the right time, it didn’t fit the anthology, etc. This is a sound way to deal with form rejections, as if the publisher hasn’t deemed that the stories deserve a critical analysis then how can you know why they are being rejected?

If they tell you why it is and they inform you that ‘you are not there yet’, then send it off somewhere else and when it’s accepted, you can hope they see your story on another website/magazine/anthology!

Or you could see it as a personal rejection, be all maudlin about it and lose valuable writing time…

It’s basically up to you isn’t it?


Go fourth and write!

Yes, yes, I know, you are already getting your little typewriter fingers ready to give me a telling off for my misspelling of forth but no, I was playing with the words, in that clever writerly style that only we that write can…;)

But seriously my use of fourth relates to me having been invited to work with three other writers in the field: Simon Marshall-Jones, Adrian Chamberlain and Mark West to produce a four novella book, due for release at Fantasy Con 2011.

Up to now, I’ve merely been hassling the three of them with a detailed plan of attack for getting the book marketed and produced to a high standard. I suspect they might see through that ruse pretty soon and wonder what I plan to write for the project as well…

Well, yet another reason to be miserable about missing this year’s FCon in Nottingham (I think I’m up to ten already, yes), is that the other three in the collective are to get their heads together and decide exactly what it is we’re going to do for this for this little book of ours: splatter horror, paranormal romance, contemporary comedy, shoe-gazing…the list goes on…

I suppose I just have to wait and see what they tell me then eh? Keep an eye out though, it promises to be very exciting!