Friday, September 25, 2009

It's Strange...

For the longest time, I’ve held onto the strange belief that writers ahead (or above, take your pick) of me don’t have the problems that I do. I’ve always, for some odd reason, assumed that people with entire books to their names don’t worry about their work the way I do.

After meeting and/or listening to (or reading the posts online of) writers with books and publishing contracts, I’ve come to realize that writing neurosis is fairly universal. Everyone worries about their work, how it’s received, and what the critics say.

I guess most writers suffer from the same self-doubt and fear of rejection and/or criticism as I do, and that’s a comforting thought. We’re all in the same boat.

I’m not so different from anybody else, and that makes me feel so much better.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Can't Believe I Did It

I went ahead and queried a publisher for In the Teahouse.

Now comes the part where I scramble around nervously going over the manuscript with a fine-toothed comb, adding chapters, moving things around and generally agonizing over whether my work is honestly any good or not.

I’ve had conflicting emotions about this story since I first sent it off to beta readers. Some liked it, some didn’t and some never even got back to me. After a few comments I was forced to do some real soul-searching on the subject matter and a few of the characters and I came to the conclusion of “Hell with it, it’s my novel and I’m telling the story I want to tell.”

Now I’m to the point where I’m not sure if this is all I can do with it, but I’m not getting anywhere by letting it sit on my hard drive while I mope about it.

I don’t think I will be receiving a response for some time, seeing as the publisher is an indie horror press and is currently quite busy, so I now have this manuscript and its very final polishing to keep me busy.

I hope I don’t freak out and decide to tear it apart and rebuild it before then.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Horror Realm, or: I Came in Second!?

In case I haven’t mentioned it recently, I went to Horror Realm over the weekend. We’ve got a great zombie-themed convention going every fall here in Pittsburgh, and this is the first year it’s been held outside the Monroeville area. The whole thing went down at the Crown Plaza hotel beside the South Hills Village Mall and it was damn cool.

Two years ago, during the first convention (while it was still called ZombieFest), I wrote my first zombie-themed story after listening to Kim Paffenroth, Gary Braunbeck and Edward Holsclaw read their work at an author panel. As someone who, until then, focused mainly on vampire and ghost stories, I was struck by the sheer versatility of the zombie story. Before that point, I had a very narrow view of the subgenre, and seeing several very different (and altogether amazing) takes on it blew me away. That night, I wrote Wings, which will published in volume #69 of The Nocturnal Lyric a few months from now.

Last year the convention was held in the Monroeville Mall proper, with author tables set up amongst a lot of standard weekend foot traffic, and I didn’t get to sit in on any panels. I met Gary Braunbeck again and got him to sign my copy of October Dreams, one of the best Halloween-themed anthologies I’ve ever read. It’s one of my little treasures.

This year I got to sit in on two panels on Friday, and they were awesome. I was in the audience during readings by Jonathan Maberry, James Melzer, Rob Fox, Dave Dunwoody, Kim Paffenroth and Steven North. I got back to the con late on Saturday, unfortunately, and missed the panels for the day.

One of the reasons I was late is because I was stuck at Eric’s writing my entry for the Permuted Press Apocalyptic Flash Fiction contest. I got a bit drunk Friday night, woke up at seven Saturday morning, walked the Waterworks Mall and got breakfast to slough off the morning-after booze fog and came back to the house without an idea in my head. After a few minutes, I came up with the concept of beached orcas coming back from the dead and eating the people that were attempting to rescue (and then, when they failed, dispose of) them. It was an awesome story. I really, really love it. It’s called Blackfish, and I plan on submitting it somewhere soon.

However, despite its awesomeness, it didn’t seem to fit the guidelines of the contest. It takes place at the very cusp of a zombie outbreak, not afterward, and once I’d bounced the idea off Eric and got an “I like this a lot, but...” response I decided to go back to the drawing board. This time I wrote a story called Conference, about a woman barricaded in her office building.

Eric dropped me off at the con and took off for a friend of ours’ bachelor party and I wandered the hotel by myself for a while. When I turned my story in to the Permuted guys I was told that I was the twelfth entry so far. Seeing as how many excellent novelists and short story writers were in attendance, I didn’t think my chances were that great.

A friend of mine and a few other women she works with that I’ve met once or twice before showed up and we continued to wander a bit before heading over to the mall to search for Umbrella Corp. patches they need for a zombie home movie they’re making at work. Once that was over, they took off and, after running through the Dealer’s Room at the con and picking up a few more books, I decided to head home. I was tired and feeling a bit worn out and for some reason I seemed to have caught a bad case of the “shy and awkward” and was just wandering here and there not getting much accomplished.

Sunday came and went and I didn’t go back to the convention. It’s an hour’s drive and I had little money left to spend, was low on gas and I had a ton of stuff to do around the house. I debated driving down to make the last day’s author panels but by the time I had most of my work at home done I would have missed almost everything and it would only be an hour or so before the convention ended.

I wondered a few times Sunday and Monday about the outcome of the contest. I figured I’d hear about it over on the Permuted forums at some point this week, and to be honest I never really thought I’d had much of a shot at winning, seeing as who the other entrants more than likely were. Still, I was really curious about the stories and wanted to hear more about the whole thing, and so I kept my eyes peeled. In fact, I was thinking about it on the drive home from classes today while listening to The Funky Werepig’s post-Horror Realm podcast.

When I came home from my walk this evening, I had a message over on the forums from Jacob Kier, owner of Permuted.

I came in second, and my prize is a pick of two Permuted titles. These are some seriously slick books, trade paperbacks with amazing covers. I bought three titles over the weekend already, so I’m going to have a whole stack of Permuted books to tear through this Autumn season.

I came in second and I wasn’t there to acknowledge it because I’m a dork who had too much stuff to do at home to make the trip back down. I’d really love to smack myself right about now. In fact, I still may do it.

I was a bit shocked to find out that there was actually a panel for the contest winners. The judges were there to talk about the entries and James Melzer, author of The Zombie Chronicles (who also has a badass podcast called Unleashed that I like to listen to while I’m on the road and in the gym) read the three stories that placed and an honorable mention. He has an awesome radio voice and he did an excellent job with all of them. I was thrilled to hear him read my story to the audience.

If there’s a moral to this story, I suppose it would be “Don’t be a shy dork and don’t cut out early.” Next year I’m going to have to spring for a room at the hotel so that I don’t have any lame excuses.

Horror Realm Flash Fiction Contest from James Melzer on Vimeo.

Monday, September 21, 2009

"You May Have Already Won!" Appearing in 69 Flavors of Paranoia

“You May Have Already Won!” has been accepted by online horror publisher 69 Flavors of Paranoia. I got the email this morning when I woke up, and I’m really thrilled. This wasn’t an easy story to place, and I honestly thought it would be one for the “Maybe in a thousand years I’ll have a collection and I can shove it in there” file.

I’m really happy I was able to get it to an editor who liked it enough to put their name on it. Rycke, the editor who went over my piece, was kind enough to do a few edits that really brought it up a notch. I’m going over the proof in bits and pieces today, and the subtle edits are looking great.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Oooh, I Got Some Shiny New Business Cards

The things that amuse and fulfill me. Seriously.

Even the smallest, most insignificant things make me happy.

I decided it would be prudent to open a Post Office box rather than list my home address on a card I intend to hand out to different people, so this afternoon was spent picking a Post Office, printing the forms, rifling through files for secondary identification papers and running back and forth to the local PO to turn in the forms and pick up my keys. I also dropped off the contracts for my anthology sale, which still feels rather nice.

Anyway, the legwork's all done and I'm now the owner of an empty box down at the local PO. There's a certain nostalgia and romance I always end up feeling when I walk into a Post Office, much like what I experience when I stay in hotels, so I'll be looking forward to more of that in the future.

The cards should be here in time for next weekend's Horror Realm convention, which is perfect. I should have planned this out long ago, but the idea of business cards as a necessity didn't strike me until very recently.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

First Anthology Sale!

I’ve been published both online and in small press magazines before, but never a book. Next year, that will have changed. My short story “Forward Forward Forward” is appearing in Pill Hill Press’s collection Twisted Legends: Urbanized and Unauthorized.

I can’t wait for my contributor copy!