30 May, 2009


Frequently, I will submit a story and tell you about it. This blog is mostly for me, to keep me motivated and log my activities. It's good to keep a work diary. Hopefully this will be interesting to my fans one day.

Moreover, there's handy advice in this stuff, too. You can learn about what magazines are out there. Learn from my experiences. Here are a couple of things:

1) Always read the submission guidelines. Do everything you can to make reading your story an easy, pleasant experience for the editor, including write a good story with a clear narrative. Most magazines are happy with Standard Manuscript Format: http://www.sfwa.org/writing/vonda/vonda.htm. Beyond this article, which is pretty good, just google the thing. It's fairly simple and editors often don't bother reading stories that don't subscribe to these guidelines. Why should they? Anyone who can write a decent story should also be professional enough to know the rules.

2) Learn the editor's name and address your letter/email to him/her. Always.

Thanks for reading! I'll let you know how my submission goes. Could I acquire more than another friendly rejection letter? This week it's Abyss & Apex. They're a very good semi-pro e-zine. Being published there would be great. I sent them a story entitled Wake that I wrote late last year.

28 May, 2009

Best quote ever

“Being a real writer means being able to do the work on a bad day.”—Norman Mailer

So true. That goes on my wall, right above my computer screen. Now I will stop procrastinating, and even though I'm recovering from a cold and my girlfriend is sick (probably my fault, that) I'm going to keep working on that short story. (It's called Dud Hands, in case it ever gets published.)

Oh, and one last thing. I read The Demon's Lexicon, which is by a friend of mine named Sarah Rees Brennan. You should read it, too. (By "you" I mean the entire population of the internet.) It's very good. Buy a new copy, though, because otherwise the author doesn't see a dime.

Something helpful I found on the sfwa website

Here you go, you! Who are you? What the Hell? No one! Oh well. Enjoy if you are someone.

Actually I can't get it to copy correctly so here's the link:

It's a very handy article about English usage and abusage. It covers everything not covered in the extremely handy "Elements of Style" by Strunk and White. Now, I basically logged in here to procrastinate so, leave me alone, internet! I have to get back to work! I'm re-writing a story, making use of a great deal of advice from Paul McAuley. If you haven't read anything by Paul McAuley, I recommend this:

My favorite stuff of his, though, is in a printed collection called King of the Hill. You can get it fairly cheap on Amazon. http://www.amazon.co.uk/King-Hill-Paul-McAuley/dp/1857230086/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243554682&sr=1-2

Now stop making me procrastinate! People will only read this blog if I ever write any FICTION that's worth reading. Blogging is really just for posterity... maybe a little prosperity if I'm lucky.

27 May, 2009

What the Sam Hill?

So what's this blog for? I've been wondering. No one reads it. You will, damn it, but you don't, so why write it? Because I hope to have readers one day, and there's something I learned from years of martial arts study that applies here: if you want to achieve mastery, act like a master everyday. I do that with writing. I write everyday and I read everyday. That's what it's all about. Many writers also keep blogs for their fans. I don't have fans, but I do have a dream and the spirit to carry me through to success in that dream. I'm going to act like I have fans.

A good blog needs an angle. That's what they say. Who's "they"? Editors, publishers, agents. All that crowd. The type of people who would notice the choppy sentences here and wonder if my fiction looks that way. Perhaps. But then, perhaps I just let the paragraph be boss.

So what's my angle? I don't have one. Sorry. I met Stephen Jones (script editor of Hellraiser) the other day and he told me that a writer needs a persona. I nodded at him. It's often true, but I can think of many best-selling authors for whom it isn't. I have a persona. I just don't have to fake mine. You see, I'm honest in a way that not many people are. That's my persona. I guess it's my angle, too.

This blog is about me. As such, it's also about the journey to becoming a successful writer. It's really, really hard. For a long time now I've worked to impress my teachers, Scott Bradfield and Paul McAuley. I worked hard to seek out such good teachers, and it's certainly paid off in my fiction. I don't have all the answers. If Paul McAuley began posting about fiction writing, I'm sure it would be a great resource. However, I can show you the process in a way that a successful writer can't; not without a very good memory and way too much free time.

I'll try to post with what I'm up to every week. Obviously I have selfish reasons for doing this, too. I hope the blog motivates me to accomplish something every week. I'm not lazy at present. I write everyday, but I don't necessarily learn something new every week, and now I have to.

Some of my posts will be things I've learned about writing. These might be highly theoretical and even sometimes obscure. Such snippets of understanding are certainly useful to me, and I'll do my best to explain them.

Other posts will be about my career. Things I learn that help me build a career will be posted here, and those things should, hopefully, also be useful.

Here's a bit of advice for today:
"A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people," said Thomas Mann, a German writer (1875 - 1955).

Think about it. It's true of everything from choosing words to building plots.