The Publisher Came to Me

Some things in life are luck and some things are perseverance and putting yourself out there. Some things are both, though not probably a 50/50 split. In fact, I don’t even like to think of the good things in life as being a ratio split between luck and effort, rather I like to believe that effort can lead you to lucky breaks that wouldn’t have otherwise been on your path had you not worked hard and been brave in the first place.

Right now I feel overwhelmed with luck. The masthead of Corona\Samizdat, Rick Harsch, reached out to me to ask if I had a book I’d like to publish with them. I told him YES and then promptly described my dialogue-only short story collection and emailed off links to some pieces from it published in zines. The thing is, I wasn’t actively even looking for a publisher. Only occasionally would I find myself working on one my dialogues, usually after I had heard about a themed anthology or magazine which one of my stories might go well with. I planned to wait until after I was finished editing my novel before working seriously on my dialogues. But then, the perfect publisher for this weird, little collection came knocking on my social media door.

How did I end up so lucky? I own . . . let me count them . . . eleven books published by this press (if I wasn’t on a book-buying ban without a gift card in hand, I’d own more). I adore Corona\Samizdat’s releases. Their covers are often enviable and trippy. They’re releasing some of the best experiments in literature bound in some of the most amazing cover art I’ve ever seen. So what in the world possessed Rick to reach out to me on the off chance I had a book just sitting around, unpublished or out of print? In short, how did I end up so lucky?

I’ve been on Instagram for over a year, but only this year have I really been figuring out how to properly use it (I don’t think I even owned a smart phone when I first signed up using a web browser; I intended to toy with advertising my Hello, Author interviews on the platform). It was on Instagram that I discovered Corona\Samizdat and began—as frugally as possible—buying their books. I followed them. They followed me back. I followed Rick. He followed me in turn. All the while, I began posting more bookish content.

It was on April 27th that I posted several photos of my office, the first one being a photo I took directly in front of the dusty TV screen I use as for my computer monitor when I’m editing. The accompanying text was this:

Me contemplating actually cleaning up the messy office which I haven’t really used for writing since December, as the Kanban board shows. Piles of paper litter the place, the desk is a wreck, and the book I’m writing increasingly wants the weight of the room lifted. It is an ideal writing space to boot.

We have finally found a new crew member at work, meaning that soon things should be normal. Normal for me means working only weekends and one evening a week. Normal also means I can try out a new writing routine. Since the baby was born less than 5 months ago, in December, I have been attempting to write while taking on the roll of full time dad. These past couple of weeks the baby has changed, is demanding more attention and thus more time. So I’m thinking now that I need to try writing later at night, after baby and wife are in bed. I think this may be my new way forward for writing.

It was the next day that Rick reached out to me asking if I had a book. It was pure luck . . . except for the parts that led up to the lucky break. Everything coalesced to put me on this path, from brute-force learning an app I find unintuitive and putting myself out there (shitty pictures and all) to denying myself small indulgences so I could comfortably buy a few extra books—it all led to Rick taking the time to read the words I wrote to accompany a weird selfie I snapped. It all led to my lucky break. I couldn’t have had this kind of luck without participating in the book and writing world of today’s social media. And I really couldn’t have have done it without Rick seeing my post and deciding to take a chance on me. So thank you, Rick.

I’m happy to announce that Dialogues: A Collection of Creative Conversations will be published at some unspecified time in the future by Corona\Samizdat. I’m working on edits. A couple of stories were inexplicably lost in the move from a rental to our house. I may also find that not all of the dialogues are actually salvageable in their current forms (and maybe even in their concepts). I know I’ll have at least 52 completed, but can’t say that all 52 will come from the 2018 self-imposed challenge of writing one story a week for a year using only dialogue. I feel incredibly lucky that I’ll be joining the Corona Crew—a group which includes Rick and all of the authors and illustrators he’s published through Corona\Samizdat. And hopefully the luck will keep coming as I get hard at work on this collection.

NEW PUBLICATION – Bright Moon Over Lover’s Bridge

Image credit: tikaderjoyj – Pixaby

I forgot to make an individual blog post for when it came out, but my short story “Bright Moon Over Lover’s Bridge” has been published in the Anansi Archive Anthology, Vol. 1. You can currently read it online or purchase the book on Amazon.

This story was the first one I wrote after meeting my then future wife, Libby. I remember her thinking it was quite good. I also had a couple of rejection letters that praised its aesthetic, but they rejected it anyway. The one I remember clearly was a moon-themed anthology, and I think my piece turned out being very different than any of the others – more artsy and less hard genre. Like many of my favorite pieces of writing, this one took a while to find a home. And I’m happy to see it found a home both in print and online.

I’ve also been working with a friend at one of the local public libraries to create a new writing critique group. I’m really excited to not only read the work of others with a constructively critical eye (something that always invigorates me) but to also start sharing excerpts of the novel I’ve been working on for years now. I’ve been spending a lot of time editing it, really cleaning it up for my beta readers. I know I’ll have even tougher work to do with one of the later chapters that I believe will need a lot of rewriting due to a misguided attempt at a tonal shift that I don’t think paid off in the end.

I’m still working at the hotel. The company is trying to sweeten the position, but . . . well, there’s other prospects that look enticing. Though nothing can beat this job’s usual atmosphere, there comes a time when more than doubling one’s income looks like the better option. But we’ll see.

plain of swords – New Publication

plain of swords

I’m so excited to announce that my first hard fantasy story plain of swords has been published in Outposts of Beyond. I call it my first hard fantasy because I have written some other things that are arguably fantasy-esque, such as Demon Zone, but nothing like this: We have a knight, a princess, and a dragon. But don’t expect this to be a straightforward tale either. It’s not really what you’d expect just from those details.

plain of swords is an experimental story. I try to indicate with the all lower-case title that this piece is approaching the conveyance of prose in an unusual way:

a plain of swords is made to kill. The knight surveys the glinting blades . . . crows swoop low . . . a daring game . . . “a death dance,” the locals say . . . a love affair with the polished edge and the gore of impaled pilgrims who have flung themselves from the cliffs above . . . a reenactment of Saint Leemarrow’s ancient miracle . . . only with less flying . . . yet just as much faith.

Outposts of Beyond

As you can see, it’s their January issue, but there was a delay at the printers, so it came out just last month (and I got my copy in the mail—check enclosed—just yesterday). This is also the last issue of Outposts of Beyond. I’m super happy to see that it’s a very reasonable price, only $9 USD. I think people spend more than that for coffee and cookies on the regular.

If sci-fi and fantasy isn’t your thing, I’ll understand you probably won’t buy it unless you’re a huge fan of mine (I see you waving your arm in the back there, Mom!). So if you’re really wanting to see the rest of the short story, you’ll have to purchase a copy of the magazine since I don’t know when I’ll have a collection coming out with plain of swords in it. Probably not anytime soon (though I certainly have been building a collection of stories which will include plain of swords).

Thanks for all the support, Bookworms. Let me know what you’ve been reading lately. If you’re a writer, me know what you’ve been working on and if you’re been writing outside your usual genres and how you experiment or keep it traditional within your own work.

Remembering to Celebrate Our Successes

Remembering to Celebrate Our Successes

Dear Blog Reader,

I am not going to troll you. This post is about my latest publication, Remembering to Celebrate Our Successes, which appeared in C.R.Y. yesterday. It’s an enjoyable piece if you read it blind. And I suggest you do. Below I’m going to be writing about the publication, so if you would rather not have spoilers, please click the link above and return here when you’re done.

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In the past month I had around 30 people follow me on Medium. Currently, I try to check out my followers and read something of theirs if they happen to be writers. Almost every single person who followed me was a writer, generally posting their articles rather than submitting to publishers who use Medium, a company that hosts the writings of both publishers and individual bloggers. Some of the authors were quite good. About 20, however, wrote what I can only describe as motivational copypasta. Maybe it is original writing, but the vague feel-good and self-improvement articles certainly lack any original ideas or spin.

I have found that since Medium created a paywall option for articles—meaning that writers are actually paid when their work is read—that tons of articles with clickbait titles, containing little of substance, have exploded on the host’s platform.  Remembering to Celebrate Our Successes is my response to this.

Derailment is the central image of this article. The piece starts out as another pro-tip for positivity, aimed at creatives and entrepreneurs. Your reading expectations are derailed when this motivational article turns into a story about the narrator’s celebration of his recently completed manuscript. Likewise the narrator’s own plans are derailed when his drug and alcohol-fueled night go awry.  In fact, the image of derailment, in the form of dilapidated boxcars sitting off the train tracks, sets the final scene of this story.

By the way, this is a story. I only wrote it to make it seem, at first, like a nonfiction article. The character is not me. He only shares a vague resemblance to me, including a common nickname, just as the story only shares a vague resemblance to all the motivational copypasta inundating Medium’s feed.

Anyway, I appreciate you giving my story a read. And don’t forget to celebrate your success while knowing that perfection in your plans is unattainable, and sometimes what you want is derailed by circumstances both within and out of your control.

Also, don’t write clickbait. Write something original.

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All photos from Pixabay or remixed from Pixabay unless otherwise stated. 

BIG – New Publication

BIG - New Publication

My thirteenth dialogue to be released is BIG. Okay, it’s actually a rather short story, but it’s subject is big and is fittingly appearing in the Gypsum Sound Tales anthology COLP: Big. All the stories in this collection are themed big: Big is home to a collection of stories that feature large, enormous or gigantic characters and concepts and, in this situation, it is most definitely a case of bigger is better.

My story is called The WaveIf you’re so inclined to read some short stories about big things, you can purchase a paper copy or you’re free to grab a Kindle copy on Amazon.

COLP: Big

 

WIP Wednesday #4: Am I a Novelist?

Work in Progress

When I began writing Descriptions of Heaven, though I did intend to one day become a novelist, I never intended this narrative to be of book-length. The thing grew from a single scene into a story composed of chapters. It, in fact, unintentionally took the place of a book I was writing about a son dealing with the decline of his mother’s health due to Alzheimer’s disease.

Descriptions of Heaven 3D image black background.

Even with this book published, I had never been quite certain that I legitimately was a novelist, since my first book is what many call a novella. However, I have come across writing just as short as my novella where the publisher calls it a novel in the blurb and foreword. So I was either a novelist who wrote a little novel (novella) or a short story author who wrote a long short story.  Either way, my book was published as a standalone piece, just like any novel—big or small. Yet, I still kept asking myself, Am I a novelist?

Novelist contemplating©2004-2019 wredwrat

When asked what I do all day, my default answer is no longer “I’m a writer” or the only sightly less vague “I write books.”  Instead, I’m more apt so say “I’m a novelist” (though saying I’m a short story author is equally true, short fiction work isn’t a part of my quotidian practices).

There are two primary reason I’ve embraced the term novelist:
1) Recently, a friend on my Literary Fiction Writers Facebook group, during a discussion about the demarcations between a short story and a novel, pointed out that the real difference isn’t word count, but structure and flow. Novels and short stories are extremely different in that respect. While I’m not willing to discount word count as playing a central role in their difference, I’m apt to agree that rather small word counts can still be structured as novels. Descriptions of Heaven has under 35 thousand words, but it is structured as a novel and does not flow like a short story.
2) I have to admit that in this past six months I’ve become much more focused on my novel-in-progress, spending less time on my short fiction, which I often used to write, edit, and submit in lieu of working on my novel. Not only did my computer go kaput, as I explained in a previous WIP Wednesday post, making this kind of productive “distraction” less available, but I’ve also been spending every free day I have novel-writing for as long as I feasibly can. While it’s often not as much as I want, I can honestly say I am spending large chunks of my weekdays writing a novel.

©2016-2019 TheGraphicNovelist
©2016-2019 TheGraphicNovelist

So, there you have it. I have already written one little novel, and most Tuesdays through Fridays I spend my hours after breakfast until lunch writing my next novel. I am a novelist, both a published and actively working novelist.

Real talk time: I think a lot of novelists suffering from impostor syndrome or whatever, suffer a lot not because their book is too small, but because they don’t write as much as they can. No one should spend all their time writing, and in your life there are likely other things that take precedence over creative work. But a lot of us have the time—have in fact painfully carved out some small hours to focus on creativity—and yet we feel like impostors because we haven’t developed a good writing habit, thus we don’t use the time as we should. Consequently, we don’t feel like writers, let alone novelists.

The truth is, I haven’t developed a consistent habit of getting back to the desk after lunch. I can’t even blame it on a honey-do list, since I don’t let chores distract me anymore. My problem is that writing’s been going so well that I often finish my intended writing goal for the day or complete a long scene before the hours I’ve carved out for myself are used up. So I often stop writing because my brain feels like it needs a reset or some time to think about what’s next (yeah, I’m not a huge plotter).

On the one hand, I don’t mind these breaks because I’ve felt productive and hit my goals. On the other hand, I want to make a living as a writer—as a novelist—and in order to do that, I’ll probably want to be putting out a book every other year. Stopping for scene changes isn’t going to cut it.

Maori Sakai writer's life

© Maori Sakai

Here’s four things I’m doing to try and keep it going:
1) During lunch, I don’t turn on the radio or watch any TV. This lets my mind linger on my work, keeping me in my novelist zone or at least letting me transition back there faster.
2) I just get right back to the desk after my break and write. It’s been years since I’ve had to be in a mood or needed the Muse to write. So why I think I need to be calibrate my brain for the next section of my novel, I don’t know.
3) If I don’t have so much as a bullet point on a sticky note or general idea of what comes next, I’ll let myself go on a walk and think about it. I write when I get back. This isn’t something I want to become a habit since I won’t be going on walks come our long Midwestern winters, so I’ll only go out for a walk after serious creative thought. If nothing comes, I’ll let myself head out into the neighborhood for an hour or so.
4) I’m building a habit by writing every day I can, starting as early as I can and staying at it until 3:00pm if possible. Yet there’s this thing called real life that gets in the way sometimes of that good habit, so I’ve been trying to write daily regardless of the time. If needed, I’ve started at 11:00am, which is really late for me. I’ve even resorted to writing in the evening if I didn’t get a chance to during the day. While it cuts into family and reading time writing so late, it also shows my commitment to making a living from my books, continues to build my writing habit, and literally gets me a few pages closer to my goal.

This book is getting done. And, while I am a novelist, it’s forming the habit of novel-writing that’s going to let me someday be a career novelist (and occasional author of short story collections).

author novelist short story writer

© Elias Stein

 

Do you consider yourself a novelist whether you’ve written a novel or not? Or a poet, even if you haven’t made a collection of poetry? What are your writing habits like? Are your habits working or can you improve upon them? Let me know in the comments below.

How To Piss On Your Therapist

How to Piss On Your Therapist

 

Public House Magazine has republished a story of mine, this time it’s available to read online for free. The original story appeared as Pissing Therapy in their print magazine, themed and designed as a tabloid. The reprint is now titled How To Piss On Your Therapist, cataloged online under their “How To” section.

Click here to read the story.

Art by Agni Dasein, Austria. Via Saatchiart

Art by Agni Dasein, Austria. Via Saatchiart

 

The Final Voyage

The Final Voyage - Randal Eldon Greene

I’m very excited to announce that my first ever hard science fiction story is appearing in Strange Mysteries 8 (Whortleberry Press). I’ve written some pseudo-sci-fi pieces before. But those works are satire, utilizing sci-fi worlds to poke fun at our modern times. There’s War and @ChefNipsNips are the two I’m specifically referring to. So I don’t consider them serious science fiction. Keep an eye out for an upcoming interview with Midnight Mosaic that I hope better explains my relationship to genre writing.

Ship on the ocean

The Final Voyage is a story about the last two humans on Earth who grew up on opposite sides of a divided island. Melody, the artist, has plans to take their last floating boat and sail away on a solo voyage as a kind of final performance art. Fausto, the practical one, wants her to stay and, through their union, give humanity a second chance. They are not a good match. So you watch and you wonder, Will they flounder or will they float? 

If you’re a fan of fantastical writing, then you should check out Strange Mysteries 8. As the blurb states: This collection of stories includes the science-fictional, the fantastic, the serious and the not-so-serious. All these writers are strangely mysterious, so fasten your seat belt and enjoy the ride!

Click here to purchase the anthology.

Strange Mysteries 8 - Whortleberry Press

Image source CC0 Public Domain

Defenestration (weird humor)

Defenestration (weird humor)

Another one of my dialogues is out this month. @ChefNipsNips has appeared in the humor magazine Defenestration. It’s free to read online. This piece is a throwback to my earlier days of bizarro fiction + some saucy satire of YouTube baking shows. Check it out if you want a laugh while you learn how to make murumples!

@ChefNipsNips

Flash Fiction Addiction

Flash Fiction Addiction

I’m pleased to announce to that my short story in dialogue, A Lover’s Dwelling, has been published in Flash Fiction Addiction: 101 Short Short Stories. It’s available as an ebook and in paperback. If you love flash fiction, this collection from Zombie Pirate Publishing is going to be one you’ll want to add to your shelves.

Find it on Amazon in

Paperback or Kindle

Flash Fiction Addiction cover