Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Boy Meets Girl


by I.A. Watson

A couple of years ago I learned the word ‘meet-cute’, a scripting term referring to the first encounter of a couple who will later have some romantic entanglement. Done right a romance can add a much-needed emotional depth to a storyline. That initial meeting has to grab the audience’s interest in seeing the potential partners get together. We want the readers to be pulling for those two crazy kids.

But ‘boy meets girl’ is one of the archetypal story forms, and launching off that narrative relationship has been done a million times before. What are the go-to classics, what doesn’t work as well now as it once did, and is there still something new to put on the page?

Here are some of the oldies-but-goodies:

The Clash – He and she just don’t get on for some reason. She thinks he’s boorish and annoying. He thinks she’s shrill and irritating. There’s a massive row. He may wreck her carefully-planned social event. She may call him out for being a bully or a coward. They may well spend the next half of the story insulting each other; that’s how we know they’re attracted. Sometimes everyone else in the cast can see their attraction but they remain blind to it.

The Misunderstanding – Perhaps it’s mistaken identity. Perhaps she’s believed the villain’s lies about him. Perhaps he thinks she’s his best friend’s out-of-bounds wife. Perhaps each believes the other to be the person who wronged them. Sometimes its comedy, occasionally it’s deadly serious, but at their first meeting the future lovers get entirely the wrong idea about each other. Sometimes the misunderstanding links together with ‘the Clash’ for extra mayhem.

Opposites Attract – They’re a real odd couple, different in upbringing, manners, expectations, personality types. Maybe they’ve going to Clash. But somehow their widely different character types and skillsets compliment each other, making the other one complete. There will be fireworks along the way, but it’s going to turn out that each is what the other desperately needs.

hen he should really be standing up for himself, little knowing what he really spends his nights doing. He thinks she’s just the serving maid when she’s really the princess. This often involves the less-clued-in partner making outrageous statements to the other one about the other one. Eventual revelation is often the spur to the happy couple coming together at last.

The Rescue – Nothing makes an impression on a girl like being saved from her would-be ravager by a sudden handsome hero. Nothing screams romantic female lead like a heroine dragging a guy from his dungeon pit. This is one of the oldest kinds of tropes and sometimes feels hokey in an age where main cast, especially female ones, are expected to have some agency themselves. It also dredges up a very old “now he deserves to take a kiss – or more” undertone implicit in a lot of ancient stories. Handle with care.

First Sight – He sees her from afar. She’s the most amazing thing ever. Or she spots him as he does his daring deeds and knows he’s the one. Or their eyes meet across a crowded room. He can’t get her out of his head. She keeps thinking about him all day. They might not meet until another scene, might even have a second ‘meet-cute’ when that happens, but first sight is how the story signals the reader to watch these two together. Nowadays love at first sight, possibly based on appearance alone, can seem shallow or unmotivated, so extra care is required to set up this kind of meeting these days.

Forbidden Love – The attraction is there, but they should be enemies. Their families are at war with each other. Their allegiances are at odds. Their love would never be sanctioned and might cost them everything. Yet somehow those problems don’t matter because these two are attracted like fridge magnets. It’s going to be them against the world. Extra points with this trope if the lovers-to-be recognise that they can never be together and are self-sacrificingly noble about it – until their next scene together.

The Third Party Complication – At first meeting one (or both) of the couple are already linked with someone else, even a spouse. Quite often that third person is unsuited or unworthy of the hero or heroine; a domestic abuser, coward, traitor or whatever. Subsequent story shows how the hooked-up lover is freed from the “wrong” relationship. Sometimes the problem is handled more subtly and the story squeezes quite a bit of agony out of the cast as hard emotional choices must be made.

Arranged Hook-Up – Boy and girl are embarrassed by their friends’ matchmaking. They have no interest in being together except that their families/best friends/dynastic royal treaty demands it. They have every reason to buck against the pairing, and that’s their first thing in common. United against the pressure of being a couple they suddenly discover – often much later in the story – that they want to be a couple. A special mention goes to those “we have to pretend we’re married” undercover plotlines.

The Interrupted Meeting – Just when things are getting interesting, perhaps because of one of the ‘meet-cutes’ listed above, the newly-met couple are prematurely separated. He’s knocked out and kidnapped. A strict guardian drags her away. Everyone else arrives with news from the front lines. The car arrives to take her to her wedding. A sudden realisation about what the villain is doing right now means he has to make his feeble excuses and run. The reader is left wanting more – and so are he and she.

The Difficult Situation – They’re forced together by danger or mishap. They’re handcuffed together and hunted. They’re locked in the cellar alone except for the other. They wake up in bed together and meet for the first time (that they remember). He stumbles through her door, bleeding and hunted, the police a step behind him. She’s shut out of her hotel room in nothing but a towel and he’s got the room opposite. Through circumstances dramatic or humorous they are forced to work together and so come to know each other in ways they might not otherwise at a first encounter.

Just a Spark – Here’s a bit of a catchall, referring to when two characters meet and just click together. Perhaps the banter is really fun. Maybe they find a unifying purpose. Sometimes it just feels right. This kind of meeting seems to work especially well when two previously-established characters occupy the same scene at last. It’s a common occurrence for secondary characters, especially when the protagonist isn’t likely to be the settling down type.

There’s lots more of these, of course. Boys and girls have been meeting, on and off the page, for a long time. All sorts of combinations of the various tropes have been tried out. I’m not sure there’s a fresh untried meeting type to chronicle.

What can be new and fresh is the way that meeting is done: new media – first meeting via text or video; modern moralities of sexual and gender politics; recombinant genres allowing variant circumstances; contemporary writing techniques including first person, split perspective, and shifting voices.

And sometimes it doesn’t have to be new or fresh to be good. It just has to be well done. There’s a reason these kinds of first romantic meetings have played so often across literature. Sometimes it’s not cliché, it’s archetype.

Sometimes the world just stops and there’s nobody else in it except for him or her.

I.A. Watson has just received the Pulp Ark Award for Best Author 2016. His most recent work appears in SHERLOCK HOLMES: CONSULTING DETECTIVE volume 8, currently shortlisted for Best Short Story in the Pulp Factory Awards and in the Pulp Ark Best Anthology winner LEGENDS OF NEW PULP FICTION. His new novels, HOLMES AND HOUDINI and LABOURS OF HERCULES are both due out in the next three months. A full list of his publications is available at http://www.chillwater.org.uk/writing/iawatsonhome.htm

Friday, April 22, 2016

Ideas Like Bullets -- Remembering Logan Masterson

by Tommy Hancock

First, my apologies for the absence of the column these last few weeks.  On March 30, I and the community of creatives within which I work received the news that one of our own had passed away at his own hand.  Logan L. Masterson was an author writing for me at Pro Se Productions as well as having been published by other companies.  Logan was also a friend of mine, and his passing was poignant for many reasons, one being that just a week before, I had written a column here on depression.  

So, yes, I’ve been away, dealing with that loss, both professionally and personally.

And to be honest, I’m still struggling with it as many of us are, so much so that I thought about simply letting another week go by without posting.  But, instead, I’d like to share something with you.  Something of Logan’s.

This piece appeared in RAT-A-TAT: SHORT BLASTS OF PULP, a flash fiction volume Pro Se did a couple of years ago.  It is a very short, but complete look at Logan as a writer, at the amount of talent and imagination contained in one large man, a guy with a heart bigger than the Western Hemisphere.

Miss you, man.

ESCAPING ATLANTA 
by Logan L. Masterson

Her fingers weave through the diamond gaps of the chain-link fence. As the pursuers grab at her, pulling at her pants and shoes, the steel wire bends, giving out in advance of her desperate strength. Eventually, she falls. The men, all gray cloth and gas-masks gather her up, ignoring her kicking and screaming.

“Atlanta ain’t what it used ta be,” one of them says. She kicks at him, receiving only an elbow in the ribs for her trouble.

“Easy!” says the other. “Don’t mark her up.”

Moments later, she is thrown into the back of the wagon. Doors slam closed, leaving steel bars and benches her only companions. She sighs, drags herself up onto a bench and straightens her hair. Her blouse is torn, and no matter how she tugs or tucks, it will not cover her bra. Looking through the bars, she notes the passing buildings: the Midtown Hotel is close. It had taken everything she had to make this escape. She will not be given back to him. She would die first.

Steeling herself to this thought, solidifying it into fact, she bashes her head against the bars, hard. It stings and aches all at once, but she does it again and again. Blood drips down the bulwark, splatters the sides of their unmasked faces. The wagon pulls over. Outside, the men argue in frantic voices. She doesn’t stop until the doors open. When the first soldier starts to climb in, she throws herself at him, toppling him back onto his partner. They struggle against her and each other. She rips the mask off his face, spitting and clawing at him. His reply is a sharp blow to the stomach.

With the breath driven from her, she slumps over. They get to their feet, straighten themselves out. She sees his vicious smile vanish under the mask, but she has a smile of her own. As they come to return her to the mobile cell, she levels the pistol at him.

He stops dead, feels his empty holster. Four ringing, echoing shots later, she has a vehicle and a mask of her own.

She will finally make it out of Atlanta tonight. Tomorrow, she will watch it burn.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Annie Douglas Lima announces The Gladiator and the Guard!

I'm excited to announce that my young adult action and adventure novel, The Gladiator and the Guard, is now available for purchase! This is the second book in the Krillonian Chronicles, sequel to The Collar and the Cavvarach


First Things First: a Little Information about Book 1: 


Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire's most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie's escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time.  With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?


What is the Collar for, and What is a Cavvarach?

The story is set in a world very much like our own, with just a few major differences.  One is that slavery is legal there.  Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone.  Any slave attempting to escape faces the dilemma of how and where to illegally get their collar removed (a crime punishable by enslavement for the remover).  

Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil.  It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with "have a rack"), a weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge.  Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades.  You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

Click here to order The Collar and the Cavvarach from Amazon 
for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through May 30th!
 
And now, The Gladiator and the Guard, with another awesome cover by the talented Jack Lin!


Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is just one victory away from freedom. But after he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he is condemned to the violent life and early death of a gladiator. While his loved ones seek desperately for a way to rescue him, Bensin struggles to stay alive and forge an identity in an environment designed to strip it from him. When he infuriates the authorities with his choices, he knows he is running out of time. Can he stand against the cruelty of the arena system and seize his freedom before that system crushes him?

Click here to order The Gladiator and the Guard in Kindle format from Amazon 
for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through May 30th!


Click here to order The Gladiator and the Guard from Smashwords (for Nook or in other digital formats) 
for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through May 30th!

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published twelve books (two YA action and adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, and five anthologies of her students’ poetry). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.


Connect with the Author Online:



Now, enter to win an Amazon gift card or a free digital copy of The Collar and the Cavvarach!




Or find the giveaway at this link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ad2fd99a3/?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

[Link] The world of invisible bestsellers

by Kevin J. Anderson

“I’m a bestselling author!” That’s a statement bound to elicit cheers . . . but what does that mean, exactly? Well, it means that your book sold better than a lot of other books. But in what category? Tracked by whom? Backed by what data?

I am a bestselling author in the usual, traditional sense — on the New York Times bestseller list, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal, USA Today. But there are a lot of other bestseller lists… and they keep proliferating. Amazon in particular has launched so many esoteric bestseller categories it’s hard to keep track of them. (Like the Steampunk Short Story Collections Featuring Vampires bestseller list. That’s not a real one… at least I don’t think so.)

I am also a publisher, and my mid-sized house, WordFire Press, has released over 300 titles from 73 authors… and as such, I get to look at the actual numbers. One of our WordFire books was a #1 bestseller on the Amazon “holiday anthologies” bestseller list — a #1 bestseller! Wow! In actual numbers, that translated to about 80 copies sold. (But, hey, it’s still a “#1 Bestseller!” if I wanted to call it that.)

But I am also the author, and publisher, of a lot of “invisible bestsellers” — books that actually sell more than many titles on even the major lists, but are released through non-traditional channels and thus are never tracked. Right now, in fact, we have eighteen titles this week alone that have sold enough copies to hit the New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists… but they are tracked by neither.

Read the full article: http://boingboing.net/2016/04/15/the-world-of-invisible-bestsel.html

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

I'd Like You To Meet... Annie Douglass Lima

I'm happy to be part of Annie's new blog tour.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

The Gladiator and the Guard is the second book in the Krillonian Chronicles, the first one being The Collar and the Cavvarach. The stories take place in a world almost exactly like our own. Although most aspects of the culture are just about what they are currently on Earth, a few sports are different, such as the martial art known as cavvara shil. The main difference, however, is that slavery is legal there.

The Krillonian Empire rules much of the world. An emperor, who is never named, governs from the capital city, Krillonia, on the continent known as Imperia. Eight separate provinces (independent nations before they were conquered) can be found on nearby continents. Each province, plus Imperia, is allowed to elect its own legislature and decide on many of its own laws, but the emperor reserves the right to veto any of them and make changes as he sees fit. This seldom happens, however, and to most people the emperor is merely a vague and distant ceremonial figure.

The prevalence of slavery is probably what would stand out the most to visitors from Earth. There are nearly as many slaves in the city of Jarreon, where both books take place, as free people, and they are easily identified by the steel collars they are required to wear locked around their necks. From each collar hangs a tag inscribed with the slave’s name, their owner’s name, and a copy of their owner’s signature. On the back of the tag is their owner’s phone number and a bar code that can be scanned to access additional information.

Many families own one or more slaves who do their housework and yardwork. Businesses often own a large number of slaves, usually for manual labor, though some are trained for more complex tasks. Those who don’t own their own slaves may “hire in” one belonging to someone else. The accepted rate for an hourly wage is two-thirds the amount that a free person would earn for equivalent labor (the money goes to the slave’s owner, of course).
To read more about the culture of the Krillonian Empire, take a look at this post on my blog.

Here’s the back-cover blurb for The Collar and the Cavvarach :

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire's most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie's escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time. With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

And the blurb for The Gladiator and the Guard:

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is just one victory away from freedom. But after he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he is condemned to the violent life and early death of a gladiator. While his loved ones seek desperately for a way to rescue him, Bensin struggles to stay alive and forge an identity in an environment designed to strip it from him. When he infuriates the authorities with his choices, he knows he is running out of time. Can he stand against the cruelty of the arena system and seize his freedom before that system crushes him?

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

In this series, it’s the value of human life. I also focus on the responsibility of each individual to do what they know is right, regardless of their circumstances.

What would be your dream project?

I’m currently working on a science fiction novel that takes place on another planet. As long as we’re dreaming big, I’d love to complete my research for it by actually traveling into space myself!

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

I would go back to my first book, a YA fantasy called Prince of Alasia (in my series the Annals of Alasia). It represents the best writing I knew how to do at the time, but I’ve grown a lot as an author since then, and I know I could make it much better if I were to re-write it. I’ve actually considered doing so, but I have too many other new books simmering my mind, waiting for release. Rewriting old ones just isn’t a high enough priority for me at this point.

What inspires you to write?

Characters romp around having adventures in my head until I have to let them out. I have no choice!

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

Anne Elisabeth Stengl, author of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, has. I love the way some of the books in her series take place in overlapping time periods, from the perspectives of different characters. I did something similar in my Annals of Alasia.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

I would place it somewhere in the middle, but closer to the art side. Without art, it has no beauty or creativity. But it needs science, too; without that, it has no structure.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

There will probably be one more book in the Krillonian Chronicles, though I’m tossing around ideas that may eventually lead to other stories set in the same world. In the meantime, I’m working on a final book in my Annals of Alasia fantasy series, which should be ready to publish in the next few months. There’s also Heartsong, the science fiction novel that I drafted for last year’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, in November). I hope to have that one polished and ready for publication in another year or so. Lots of irons in the fire!

Monday, April 18, 2016

2016 PULP ARK NEW PULP AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED! AWARDS TO BE PRESENTED IN LITTLE ROCK, AR, JUNE 11!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

2016 PULP ARK NEW PULP AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED! AWARDS TO BE PRESENTED IN LITTLE ROCK, AR, JUNE 11!

Pulp Ark, a Convention within a Convention (River City Comic Expo), announces today the winners of the 2016 Pulp Ark New Pulp Awards. These awards honor the best writers, artists, and works in New Pulp today with a vote that is open to public nomination, then a public vote on the nominees in eight categories.

"The process," says Tommy Hancock, Coordinator of Pulp Ark and the Awards, "took a tad longer this year. We saw a massive increase in participation over last year, which is fantastic, but also meant more vetting of the ballots had to be done and more care had to be taken to insure all ballots were valid and results accurate. The winners represent at least 10 publishing houses represented by the various creators carrying home Pulp Ark Awards this year. Congratulations to all winners and each nominee for the 2016 Pulp Ark New Pulp Awards!"

The winners of the 2016 Pulp Ark New Pulp Awards are-

BEST NOVEL
Ravenwood: Return of the Dugpa by Micah Harris- Airship 27 Productions

BEST COLLECTION/ANTHOLOGY
Legends of New Pulp Fiction, Airship 27 Productions

BEST SHORT STORY
Dragonfly Shadow by J. PAtrick Allen from the Dragon Lord’s Library Volume 1-18th Wall Productions

BEST NOVELLA
Badge City: Notches by M.H. Norris, Pro Se Productions

BEST COVER
From the Dragon Lord’s Library Volume 2, Morgan Fitzsimons, 18th Wall Productions

BEST ARTIST
Morgan Fitzsimons

BEST AUTHOR
I. A. Watson

BEST NEW WRITER
Loreli McCole

The awards will be awarded as a part of Pulp Ark programming at River City Comic Expo in Little Rock, Arkansas, on June 11, 2016 at 3:00 PM. Any winner not present to pick up their award will have their award mailed to them in the week following the presentation.

For any questions or comments concerning the 2016 Pulp Ark New Pulp Award winners, please contact Hancock at editorinchief@prose-press.com.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES-IN AUDIO! ‘THE BONE QUEEN’ NOW AVAILABLE AS AN AUDIOBOOK!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES-IN AUDIO! ‘THE BONE QUEEN’ NOW AVAILABLE AS AN AUDIOBOOK!

From THE ADVENTURES OF THE PULPTRESS Comes A Villain Like No Other-THE BONE QUEEN by Andrea Judy. And now the origin of The Pulptress’ arch foe is available as a top quality audiobook produced by Radio Archives!

All of humanity shares one inescapable experience, one inevitable fate. They all die. And in death, one woman finds her destiny. To be a Villain, to stand toe to toe with the ultimate heroine, The Pulptress. But first, evil had to rise from somewhere dark. Renata, a devotee of Mene, Goddess of Death, is on a singular mission during the era of the Black Death: to kill the Necromancer who is bringing the dead back as chiffoniers, rag and bone men. With a small band of men who have survived the Plague, Renata must find who is attempting to steal away the power of death and destroy them once and for all. Chiffoniers dog them every step of the way. And when death itself finally comes for Renata, everything changes. Once hunted, she becomes the hunter, tracking down the necromancer at any cost to herself and those around her. From devotee to deliverer of death, follow Renata as she discovers her true purpose lies in what comes after life. May The Gods Help Us All.

Featuring a cover by Arianne Soares and a riveting performance by Julie Hoverson, THE BONE QUEEN is available now at Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/The-Bone-Queen/dp/B01DOJD5V4/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1459622778&sr=8-1

This action packed audiobook is also available on Audible and Itunes.

THE BONE QUEEN is available in print and digital formats at Amazon and www.prose-press.com.

For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital eBook copies to review this book, contact Pro Se Productions’ Director of Corporate Operations, Kristi King-Morgan at directorofcorporateoperations@prose-press.com.

Check out Radio Archives and the fantastic audio books, classic radio collections, and the fantastic variety of classic Pulp eBooks they offer at www.RadioArchives.com.

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to www.prose-press.com. Like Pro Se on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ProSeProductions.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Apex Publications announces first communions

Apex Publications
Contact: Lesley Conner, Managing Editor
lesley@apexbookcompany.com

Apex Publications is proud to announce the release of first communions by Geoffrey Girard. Geoffrey Girard first appeared in Writers of the Future and has since written and sold more than sixty short stories of dark fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Collected here, for the first time, are sixteen of his best, and darkest, tales.

The man who collects chips of bone from his willing victims... A legendary evil is adopted by a small, and thankful, village... The doomed girl invited to take part in a deliberate tragedy... A horrific church choir assembled after the zombie apocalypse... The boy who harvests spiders for a shadowy woman of magic... A fearsome town where the children’s nightmares are all real... The pain, price and beauty of blood and first loves...

From the curse of ancient evils to futuristic retirement homes where the dead still rule, haunted graveyards, planets of torture where all are equal, hockey-playing demon hunters, dark sorcerers battling in Algeria, and even voodoo-cursed pirates. Explore the darkest, and most majestic, extremes of us all in sixteen unique tales that will entertain, horrify and keep you thinking long after the last page is turned.

Let the communion begin…

first communions is available direct from Apex (http://www.apexbookcompany.com/products/first-communions) or from one of our online retailers.

Release date: April 12th, 2016
$14.95 (print edition)
ISBN: 978-1-937009-41-0
268 pages
Cover art by Anjo Matko

GEOFFREY GIRARD writes thrillers, young adult novels, and short speculative fiction. First appearing in WRITERS OF THE FUTURE in 2003, Geoffrey has since sold more than sixty short stories, including the TALES OF… series, a collection of original tales based on U.S. history and folklore. His novels include Cain’s Blood, a techno thriller, and the Stoker-nominated Project Cain, a YA companion novel, both published by Simon & Schuster. Geoffrey graduated from Washington College with a literature degree and has an MA in creative writing from Miami University. He is the Department Chair of English at a private boys’ school in Cincinnati where he teaches literature, horror, and creative writing; and a frequent lecturer and workshop instructor at schools, universities and writers' conferences. For more information, visit www.GeoffreyGirard.com.

APEX PUBLICATIONS (www.apexbookcompany.com) is a small press dedicated to publishing exemplary works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Owned and operated by Jason B. Sizemore, Apex publishes the thrice Hugo Award-nominated Apex Magazine. The Apex catalog contains books by genre luminaries such as Damien Angelica Walters, Catherynne M. Valente, and Brian Keene.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Draft Editing: Whens and Whats

Special thanks to Ellie Raine for this week's Writers Roundtable questions.

What is the biggest editing rule you constantly break while writing a first draft?

Derrick Ferguson: I break 'em all. I don't a give a poobah's pizzle about any rule of editing or grammar when I'm writing that first draft. I'm telling the story to myself and just letting everything gush out in a white-hot blaze of pure storytelling.

Herika Raymer: Double space after period, train of thought writing (in other words it may not be coherent and probably terrible pacing), jumping from scene to scene, data dump, more showing than telling. Shall I go on?

Clint Hall: Telling. It's not that I try to tell instead of show, but if I can't immediately think of a great way to show, I'll just tell the reader (basically) whatever I want them to take away from the scene. Which leads nicely into...

Do you try to fix it right away, or do you save it for the first round of proof reading?

Clint Hall: Nope, I don't fix it right away. The first draft for me is about trying to get the story down. I'll come back and figure out the best way to show instead of tell in my second or third pass.

Bill Craig: If I see it I correct it the first time around. Then once the manuscript is complete I print it out and go through with a red pencil and find and mark typos and errors and then using the printed pages go back through the computer manuscript and go through and make corrections.

Derrick Ferguson: Nope. I never fix any errors right away. That's what the second and third drafts are for.

Herika Raymer: Depending on whether or not I am in a rhythm, I will usually try to fix it right away because it helps close any plot holes or fill in any gaps I may have unintentionally done. Afterwords, I will catch other editing mishaps on the beta read.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Apex Publications
Contact: Lesley Conner, Managing Editor
lesley@apex-magazine.com


Apex Magazine Issue 83
Apex Publications is proud to announce the release of issue 83 of our science fiction, fantasy, and horror zine Apex Magazine. This month we have two pieces of original short fiction: “The Laura Ingalls Experience” by Andrew Gray and “The Teratologist’s Brother” by Brandon H. Bell. Our poetry selections are by John Yu Branscum, Michael VanCalbergh, Jeremy Paden, and Craig Finlay. Andrea Johnson interviewed Andrew Gray about writing “The Laura Ingalls Experience,” as well as its themes, and they also talked about his work as a program coordinator at a Canadian university. Russell Dickerson sits down with our cover artist Sarah Zar to discuss art and her beautiful piece “Hurricane Woman” which is the cover of this month’s issue. We bring you two reprints this month: Catherynne M. Valente’s “The Quidnunx” and “Collecting James” by Geoffrey Girard.

The entire issue will be released over the month on the Apex Magazine website (http://www.apex-magazine.com/issue-83-april-2016/) or the entire issue can be purchased for only $2.99 as a nicely formatted eBook. Subscriptions are also available direct from Apex, Weightless Books, and Amazon.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Editorial
Words from the Editor-in-Chief—Jason Sizemore

Fiction
The Laura Ingalls Experience — Andrew Neil Gray
The Teratologist's Brother — Brandon H. Bell
The Quidnunx — Catherynne M. Valente
Collecting James — Geoffrey Girard
Nonfiction
Interview with Author Andrew Neil Gray — Andrea Johnson
Interview with Sarah Zar, Cover Artist — Russell Dickerson

Poetry
Fertility — Craig Finlay
The Farmer's Milk — John Yu Branscum
Myth of the Mud God — Michael VanCalbergh
Song of the Encantado — Jeremy Paden

APEX PUBLICATIONS (www.apexbookcompany.com) is a small press dedicated to publishing exemplary works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Owned and operated by Jason B. Sizemore, Apex publishes the thrice Hugo Award-nominated Apex Magazine. The Apex catalog contains books by genre luminaries such as Damien Angelica Walters, Catherynne M. Valente, and Brian Keene.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

[Link]The Case of the Copula Overdose

by Joe Ponepinto

I read a book a while back that has stayed with me for many months and has affected the way I write and read, and it’s opened my eyes to a weakness in much fiction writing, even in published books. Douglas Glover’s Attack of the Copula Spiders (Biblioasis, 2012) criticizes many aspects of fiction, but saves its most withering scorn for the rampant and indiscriminate use of copulas.

I hear you asking, “What’s a copula?” I admit I had to look it up. Webster’s definition says: “the connecting link between subject and predicate of a proposition.” In most cases, this refers to a form of the word “be.” But what does that mean to us everyday writers? It means banal, didactic, often passive sentences, almost completely lacking in action or depth.

Read the full article: http://woodwardpress.com/2016/04/04/the-case-of-the-copula-overdose/

Monday, April 4, 2016

Potters Field Six Accepting Submissions

Guidelines Potter’s Field 6
Potter’s Field 6
An anthology of tales from unmarked graves
Open to submission as of 1 March until 30 June 2016.


Writers and Artists Guidelines
Alban Lake Publishing is looking for stories and illustrations for Potter’s Field 6, a print anthology of tales from the graveyard.

This volume will be the sixth in the Potter’s Field series. This anthology is scheduled to be published on 1 October 2016 in trade paperback format with a color cover, and black and white interior illustrations. Potter’s Field 6 is edited by Robert J. Krog.

Potter’s Field 6 is not open to poetry.

Please note that horror fiction written in the third person stands the best chance for acceptance.

“They” say that there are no new plots or stories anywhere. “They” may be right, but you are the only you there is, so send us a story as only you can tell it, one that’s atmospheric and highly entertaining, has fascinating characters, one that takes place in a unique location or time period.

A potter’s field is the burial place for the indigent and the unidentified. Just about every city has one. There’s a potter’s field in the Michael Douglas movie, Don’t Say a Word. Obviously, we’re looking for works that are themed to graveyards in some way. However, it does not have to be a conventional graveyard. Let me give you one example: back during the days of the Black Death, bodies were crammed–yes, literally crammed–into mass graves underneath churches. Even today, in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, you can take a walking tour deep under the church and see walls of skeletons and dirt. Such a place would also qualify as a graveyard for the indigent.

We do not want gore, blood, splatter, or slice-and-dice. Sure, it might be good fun to make balloon animals out of someone’s intestines, or find out how long the heart will continue to beat after it has been ripped from the body with a spatula. But that’s not what we want. We want stories that will scare readers, not stories that will make them gag. This is not to say that someone in your story cannot bleed, or die. Just put a lid on the icky stuff. Think spooky or suspenseful not spewing.

Think too of the ways that a person might end up in an unmarked grave. Think of homeless folk, murder victims, unidentified soldiers, runaways, plague victims, etc, and tell a story involving them. Use any perspective that strikes you as workable to tell that story. Tell it from any angle that seems workable. Such stories may come from the person before he gets to that unmarked grave, or from his ghost, or from his murderer, or the kind soul who at least thought to bury him, or from an investigator of some kind. Run with it.

For inspiration, by all means, visit the Alban Lake store and buy back issues of Potter’s Field 3-5 [1 & 2 are sold out], but do not repeat those plots and situations unless you have a really unique twist on one of them.

A word about sex and extreme language: we don’t mind it, necessarily, but the sex and/or colorful language must have a purpose.

Stories for Potter’s Field 6 must be written in English. You may use King’s English or American English [but don’t mix them in the narration, please. Characters will of course use the voice appropriate to each.]. Please use standard manuscript format: 12 pt Times New Roman, double spaced, page num

Other useful hints:

1. Do not underline. If you want italics, use italics.
2. Put quotation marks around your dialogue, so that we know it’s dialogue.
3. Do not, repeat, do not use headers or footers. (Except page numbers. )
4. Your bio should include your thoughts about your writing style and what drives your stories. Of lesser interest is your favorite color of pizza. And do not include your publishing credits, please.

Now, then:
We are looking primarily for original stories. However, we will consider reprints. If your story is a reprint, be sure to let us know when you submit it. We will want to know the name of the publication [online or in print] in which the story first appeared, and when it first appeared. Also, you must currently own the rights to the story. We likely won’t accept more than two reprints for Potter’s Field 6, and unpublished stories stand the best chance for acceptance.

Submit your story as a Word or rtf attachment to pottersfieldsix@yahoo.com. [Yes, same address as PF5]. Be sure to put Story Submission and the title of your story in the subject line of the e-mail. Be sure to include the following information in your e-mail: your name; your snail mail address; your story’s word count; your story’s title; a statement about which rights are offered; and a brief bio written in the third person [50-100 words, more about YOU, less about where you’ve been published].

Please allow 3 months for us to respond to your submission as we will not begin responding until the submission period ends.

Writers and Artists, please note: If you move, tell us. If you change e-mail addresses, tell us. It is your responsibility to let us know where you are so that we can communicate, as well as send your payment and contributor’s copy.

Art submissions:
Interior art should be thematic, not necessarily applicable to any particular story.
Submit one black and white illustration at a time as a jpeg of less than 50K in the body of an e-mail to pottersfieldsix@yahoo.com. Be sure to put Art Submission and the title of your illustration in the subject line of the e-mail. Be sure to include the following information in your e-mail: your name; your snail mail address; the title of your illustration; a brief bio [50-100 words, more about YOU, less about where you’ve been published].

Payment:
In return for your accepted story or illustration, you will receive payment and one contributor’s copy of Potter’s Field 6, upon publication.
Pay rates for original stories: $25.00
Pay rate for reprinted stories: $7.00.
Payment for cover illustration: $25.00.
Pay rate for original illustrations: $6.00 per illustration.

Contributors who live in the U.S.A. will receive checks. Contributors who live outside the U.S.A. have two payment options. One, they can receive cash in American dollars. Two, they can receive payment via PayPal. And yes, if they have a third option, we’ll listen to it.

Contributors are also eligible to buy additional copies of Potter’s Field 6 at 30% off the cover price, plus S&H at cost.

If you have questions about this anthology or these guidelines, please contact Editor Robert J. Krog at pottersfieldsix@yahoo.com.

bers at bottom right corner, etc. The word count of your story should be between 2,000 and 8,000 words. We will be somewhat flexible on the 8,000, but the 2,000 is pretty firm. Of course, story quality usually overrides word count limitations. Usually.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

C.S. Lewis on Writing


“We do not write in order to be understood; we 
write in order to understand.” -- C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Nugget #77 -- Lizards and Guns from Nowhere

I tend to look for inspiration without realizing it -- while I listen 
to the radio, while I read, while I stare off into nowhere and 
happen to see a cloud shaped like a giant lizard holding a 
machine gun -- it just happens. It's not something I can plan. 


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Chuck Dixon Doesn't Need Your Permission To Write


Sure, most of you may know Chuck Dixon as one of the greatest Batman and Punisher writers alive today, but what you may not know is that he is also a best-selling novelist and author of both the Levon Cade action/adventure series and the Bad Times series.

So, in an effort to help share the word about his latest prose work, I was lucky enough find that he had some time to devote to an interview for the ol' blog here.

 
Tell us a bit about your latest work.

Chuck Dixon: It's called Levon's Run. It's the third book in my series about Levon Cade. He's a military vet who inadvertently becomes a vigilante crime fighter. In this book he's on the run from an alphabet soup of federal law agencies and he has his eleven year old daughter along. The series kind of scratches my Punisher/Death Wish itch.

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

Chuck Dixon: I never write to themes. Themes are for others to find in my work. I'm drawn to action stories set in almost any genre. My novels have included military action, apocalyptic survival, time travel, zombies, and I'm working on a western.

What would be your dream project?

Chuck Dixon: I'm living the dream right now. E-books offer me freedom from the gatekeepers. No pitches. No meetings. I don't need permission to write. I have a ready audience and I wake up every morning eager to entertain them.

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

Chuck Dixon: If I were writing the Punisher again I'd provide him with a law enforcement antagonist, a Javert who's always hunting for him. It';s the one element I think was missing from my Frank Castle stories.

What inspires you to write?

Chuck Dixon: I can't help it. It's a compulsion. And comics taught me to write even when I don;t feel like it. I'm closing in the last chapters of a novel now and can't wait to work on them. I hope I instill that enthusiasm in the reader.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

Chuck Dixon: Donald Westlake and Edgar Rice Burroughs are tops. Westlake for pacing and humor. ERB for action and sense of wonder. There's also Ben Haas who wrote westerns under the name John Benteen. That guy could write compelling action with a clarity that allowed you to see it happening. There are others. Lots of others. I've always been a compulsive reader.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

Chuck Dixon: I'm not sure what writing is that continuum. It's certainly a craft. I never think of it as an art. I have a quote from Stave Martin hanging on my wall. It's my sic transit gloria. He said, "Entertainment can be art. But if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

Chuck Dixon: My fifth Bad Times novel, Sons of Heaven, will be out in May.

For more information, visit: http://www.amazon.com/Levons-Run-Levon-Cade-Book-ebook/dp/B01AWXK6H6/ref=sr_1_14?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1458844053&sr=1-14&keywords=chuck+dixon

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #348 -- Novels in the Bathroom

How often do you actually read? How often do you read a book, 
as opposed to smaller options like newspapers or magazines?

I read all the time, but it's mostly articles online and stuff like that. I try to read several short stories or chapters from novels each week (often in the bathroom, when I can get my official *Sean time* during the week). I do try to sit down either at home or during slow times at work at least once per week for about an hour or so of devoted reading time. And of course, as the manager of a comic book store, I read about 35-45 comic each week to keep up on the product knowledge I need to run the store.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

An Opportunity for New Pulp Writers


From Tommy Hancock:

I am extremely proud to announce that the well read and popular Venture Galleries website has asked me to do a column each week in addition to my reviews that will focus on authors writing pulp fiction today, what many call New Pulp. This new column, part commentary/part interview, will debut on Monday, April 4th at www.venturegalleries.com.

Any authors who write pulp fiction, referred to by some as genre fiction, that would like to be a part of this column, email me at braedenalex@centurytel.net. I will be reviewing each author who contacts me to make sure they fit the profile we're looking for and then will schedule writers in the order emails are received. A part of this will be my comments/thoughts on each author's works and/or style of writing, so providing me with a copy (digital or print) of at least one of your works would be suggested, especially if I'm not familiar with your writing.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Ideas Like Bullets -- The Depression of Creatives


by Tommy Hancock

A few weeks ago in a previous post, I used a phrase to classify writers, artists, sculptors, performers, pretty much anyone in the arts field that uses their talents to make or form something, be it a book, a performance, or a statue.  creatives.  Not a term I personally coined in this way, but one that I agree with and use often.   I open this way because what I want to talk about is a particular aspect of being a creative that I fully believe each who can wear that title deals with at some point or another, and many of us, myself most definitely included, on a regular basis.

Everyone in the world is special in some way, this I believe.  Some would argue that everyone in the world has a fire of creativity in them, the ability to imagine and bring things to a unique life.  I could argue this point with very salient examples to the contrary, but that’s a whole other mountain to die on.  When one is a creative, there is a passion, a volcano of emotions that percolates, rumbles, and finally erupts into expression, either on a page or a canvas or in a song or across a computer screen.  And what is crafted is not simply a piece of utilitarian necessity or padded luxury. No, it’s a vibrant, active part of both its maker and the experience its maker wishes others to have.  So, yes, all in the world are special, but creatives, for the aforementioned reason are set apart.

Emotions run high, at a near constant fever pitch with most creatives.  Where a pleasant event may make one person smile, it could potentially stir within a creative type a new idea, give birth to an entire world.  Anger irritates everyone, but in a creative, it also inspires an almost decadent form of invention from destruction, feeding the intense, raging skills of a creative, driving him or her to new heights, to the edge of their own private insanity, maybe.  Yes, creatives are emotional usually to an extreme, even those who have some skill at concealing it.

Although this passionate embrace of their emotional selves is largely what fuels creatives, it’s also a double edged sword that cuts so many of us.  Creatives also experience what can only be described as Depression, and although everyone can experience situational depression and there are those, creative or not who deal with clinical depression every day, there is something intense, not more, but differently when a creative is in the throes of depression because of the very essence of their being, because of what they were born to do.

Again, let me clarify this.  I am not belittling depression or saying in some way that creative people are special because they have a different sort of issue to overcome.  I have worked in or near the Mental Health field for over twenty years and have a clear and all too often up close understanding of how depression can ravage anyone and has touched everyone in some way.  I am offering a perspective on a particular group of people that suffer from Depression with their own aspects added to it, one of which I am. 

Some people really find it hard to believe that someone who writes books…or performs on stage… or can make a plain piece of paper suddenly into a fantasy land replete with penciled dragons actually experience depression related to the fantastic talent they have.  Not to the point of people believing creatives can’t be depressed, that would be silly, but more along the lines of “you can tell stories so well. How can writing or the act of it or being involved in it ever be depressing?”

It’s very hard to explain when I try to decide how to do so in my head.  So, it may come out rather oddly here, but we’ll give it a try.  The reasons that a creative can become depressed or get down about their work, about their talent are numerous, but many relate to how a creative ties him or herself directly into the work they produce.  Although there are a few out there who probably have the ability to just blindly turn out paintings or books or songs with little to no personal investment, most of us cannot. Most creatives quite literally put at least a little of themselves into every single work they make.  Be it a distinct memory that fuels it or simply a level of commitment that would boggle many minds, we pour some of who we are into the things that we create for others to hopefully enjoy.  And with that donation of self comes a lot of things.

Self-doubt is probably the most notable aspect of giving yourself to your art.  Does anyone want to see this? Is it good enough? Are they going to laugh at it?  What if it has no impact? What if I don’t make a dime off of this?  These questions are just a few of the slings and arrows we creatives throw at ourselves, many of us over everything we do.  Even those who don’t consciously focus on these querulous questions do at some point worry over how their work will be received or if it’s even worth it to do.  This path leads into a spiral for many creatives, that often unfortunately ends in them never going beyond one, if even finishing that, work.  They lose their way in the forest of their own insecurities and never ever get out, blending in with everyone else and allowing the thing that they wanted to give birth to, to add to the world to simply never ever be.
And yes, as you would imagine, that act of doing nothing, of not creating, adds a heavy, even dangerous edge to an already intense despair.

Another issue that can darken a creative’s perspective is one that I deal with regularly, that of completing, finishing work, and keeping up with all that that entails.  I am a self driven workhorse, someone who is so involved and eaten up with what he wants to create that I put myself into everything I can get my hands on.  And I get behind, even when I’m a hundred percent.  But, life gets in the way.  And projects slide and stack up and fall on me.  And then there’s the sudden inspiration to do one thing, working on it awhile, then seeing the next new shiny and moving to it, leaving the other cooling its heels as dust collects on it. Yeah, guilty of that too.  And whether it is being overwhelmed and behind or simply not being able to focus long enough to finish something, you end up with a lot of incomplete works and someone who is doubting their ability to follow through, who sometimes ends up resenting the choices they made to get as far into this as they did.  This feeling is not helpful in any way or fashion for anyone.

One other factor that often contributes to the depression of creatives is the passion versus payoff dilemma.  Yes, we’d all love to make our livings doing the creating we do best, but the reality of it is most of us never will be a full time whatever type of creative we are.  Many of us will have people buy our things and will likely be able to go have a few good meals off the proceeds or pay a light bill, but that’ll be it.  Some won’t ever get that much. And yes, some will hit it big and blow up to be the next King, Patterson, Cussler, Spielberg, etc.  But that population is small, extremely small, and yet it’s the goal most of us set our eyes on at some point.  The goal that ends up being a reason we hate ourselves because it’s one that we don’t reach when we think we should.  And obviously, you can’t eat passion, so if you’re relying on your art to feed you, then there has to be a payoff for you.  The struggle with this concept of creating for some reason beyond cash or simply to make a living and the battle to find a balance between the two has cost many a creative a sleepless night and worse, unfortunately.

All of that explanation was done to get to the point of what to do about it.  Obviously, there’s the standard process of talking to someone or getting professional help if you’re simply too depressed to deal with it on your own.  Again, background in the field for 20 something years. There are good therapists and resources available that don’t involve locking you in a rubber room or necessarily putting pills down your gullet.  But if you’re at the point where your depression is such that you are walling yourself away, then it’s really time to reach out, to get help.  And there are people out there waiting to help you, I promise.

If you’re not to that point, but are constantly dealing with the up and down swings of being a creative, then I have to tell you something.  There isn’t a magic pill. I don’t have a solution scrawled on ancient parchment or a crystal that I can plug into a keyhole that will fix all the things which waylay us.  The biggest reason I don’t have that is it doesn’t exist and what may work for you may not work for the creative beside you.   So, no, no instantaneous fix.  

Instead, I have advice, or if you want to really know, I have what I use as my mantra lately.  It’s a logic of sorts that many creatives apply to the process already, just in regular production of whatever they come up with.  And yet it has special significance when one is drowning in their own pool of hopelessness and disillusionment. 

Just Do. Go forth and Do.  Doesn’t matter if you’re a writer with a deadline tomorrow or a sculptor who hasn’t put chisel to stone in weeks or a dancer who agonizes over that one move you just can’t get exactly right. If you’re a creative, don’t rest, hide, argue, or resist.  Just Do.  Because what you have to offer may be just the thing, might be the magic elixir of some sort just one other person may be looking for.  And what if you’re the only wizard who can work that brand of prestidigitation?  Just Do.

Is just doing going to make you feel less crappy? No, probably not every time.  Is it going to cause all the depression to dry up. Nope, actually, sometimes it might make it worse for a while.  But when there is not blanket answer, and all there is is either Do or Don’t… Do is always the best choice.

Struggles. We all have them. And these trials are unique to each of us simply because they are ours. And sometimes we seek to overcome them, we set a plan, we make a date to begin getting over them. And we do for a while, but then again we stumble and the stumble leads back to the struggle. There comes a point, though, I believe, when all that is left to do is either overcome or simply not. A point when you have to make the struggle a nothing, take away its name, its identity, its power. And simply do, whether or not you succeed in the way you think you should. Doing is living, not struggling. Even when it's hard and you seem to fail, it's still better than drowning in what becomes an unending fight, a surrender to a struggle that we ourselves allow to live.

I'm fed up with struggling. Tired of it in so many ways. Time to start doing.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

[Link] How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day

by Rachel Aaron

When I started writing The Spirit War (Eli novel #4), I had a bit of a problem. I had a brand new baby and my life (like every new mother's life) was constantly on the verge of shambles. I paid for a sitter four times a week so I could get some writing time, and I guarded these hours like a mama bear guards her cubs - with ferocity and hiker-mauling violence. To keep my schedule and make my deadlines, I needed to write 4000 words during each of these carefully arranged sessions. I thought this would be simple. After all, before I quit my job to write full time I'd been writing 2k a day in the three hours before work. Surely with 6 hours of baby free writing time, 4k a day would be nothing....

But (of course), things didn't work out like that. Every day I'd sit down to add 4000 words to my new manuscript. I was determined, I was experienced, I knew my world. There was no reason I couldn't get 4k down. But every night when I hauled myself away, my word count had only increased by 2k, the same number of words I'd been getting before I quit my day job.

Read the full article: http://thisblogisaploy.blogspot.com/2011/06/how-i-went-from-writing-2000-words-day.html