Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pack up yer bags...

...cos I'm moving.

This blog will no longer be updated as my new one, Screaming Ink, has kicked into life (we had to drag it from the bowels of hell so it's not impressed at being thrust under the spotlight, but we have it well chained down so it's not going anywhere).

Screaming Ink is a consortium of the imaginarium, a group blog set up with AJ Spedding, Mark Farrugia, Juliet Bathory, Dave Schembri, and myself. We're all just that little bit wacky so we get along fine--plus they're a talented bunch so I figured I should ride along on their coattails and live off their success :)

We've got some big plans this year, some exciting announcements to make (but not allowed to for a few months), and some even bigger crazy plans I haven't spoken to anyone about yet... So stay tuned, grab your gear, and head on over to the new place. There'll be free scotch on arrival (but you'll have to pour it yourself. From your own bottle).

Oh, and while you're at it, check out my all new website: - it's still being built with some wild artwork to come from Big D, but I think it's starting to look all right.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Death of '11 and a Warm Welome to the End of the World

2011 was crap, shit, a big dog's poo and there I was, standing right in the middle of it--in bare feet. My shifty sideshow freak of a muse had gone off with the circus clowns and was enjoying wild, kinky sex backstage, leaving me to stand in my crap alone.

So come New Year's, I'm going to have a bonfire and burn the ghosts and demons of this past year, then bury those ashes well and good. Maybe they'll rise from the grave in true zombie fashion but if they do, I'll be ready for them cos none of that shite is coming back this new year.

Sure, it might very well be the end of the world in 2012 but it's going to be a fun ride towards the end as far as I'm concerned. I have plans, great big, no-poo-on-my-shoe plans--and I'll be hunting down my muse and dragging him off the circus freaks and hauling him back into my dark domain--he'd best pull up his pants too, cos there is writing to do.

I said 2011 was a bad year and it was, at work, at home, and in my writing. It sucked. But there were some good things to come from '11; my mate Rosscoe got married, I made my first pro short story sale, Tanya and I got a dog, I took on the Executive Editor role at Midnight Echo magazine, and (finally!) semi-began my new career as a consultant.

Other than that pro-sale (which was fucking awesome), my writing career pretty much stagnated; I wrote two short stories over the course of the year and both remain unpublished (one was rejected with the words '...while this was a strong story, one I really enjoyed, it doesn't quite fit the direction the anthology is going...' and that's a very sucky rejection...). I subbed novel number 1 to the agent fella and he said that he loves my writing but the novel was too slow paced for this day and age. He did, however, ask me to send him my next novel--but I didn't end up finishing the final edits on that novel.

I told you, this year sucked. It's like the engine just wouldn't tick over, and every time it did and I'd find first, a little old nun would tumble out onto the road in front of me and I'd have to wait for her to finish crossing. By the time she was across, the engine had died again...

Now I'm not sure about making New Year's resolutions as I don't think they last much past the first hangover of the year, but I've made some resolutions regardless and they are:
1. Finish novel number 2 and get it to my awesome editor in California, and then to the agent fella in London. Deadline is ASAFP (February at the latest)
2. Review novel number 1 and sharpen it up in line with the agent fella's and my HWA-mentor's comments. Deadline is 2 months from starting on it.
3. Write 3 short stories and submit them to pro-markets.
4. Sort out my website and blog. Deadline is NOW!
5. Learn about self-publishing and sit down with a very stiff scotch and seriously consider going this route--perhaps whilst chasing down agents.

I think the writing industry will see some big changes in 2012 and we're smack in the middle of it all. It's exciting.

Some other possibilities for 2012:
1. Take a course in publishing/editing
2. Take a course in marketing
3. Learn how to use InDesign
4. Pick up my pencil and paintbrush and get back into my art

All through it all, I intend to feed my muse so his appetite is sated and he has no need for those other sideshow freaks and he can focus his interests on me, instead. Him and I, we have business to attend to, this new coming year...

Starting now, actually.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Now This I Like...

David Conyers has just announced on his blog a new anthology he is co-editing, and it's something that has my imagination soaring. The anthology is called Extreme Planets, and as David says:
Chaosium is expanding into new lines of speculative fiction. Extreme Planets will be the first of these publications, with a science fiction anthology of short stories set on or about alien worlds that push the limits of what we believe is possible in a planetary environment.
Story length is 4,000 to 10,000 words (they may accept a couple of novellas up to 20,000 words from established authors), with payment at US 3 cents a word and 3 contributor copies. So that all sounds pretty sweet, but more important is the subject matter.

Before I turned to geology, I was studying astronomy at uni; I had always wanted to be an astronomer and used to spend many nights when I was very young sitting on the shed roof at home with my trusty telescope and notebook, writing down my observations under red cellophane-wrapped torchlight. Yes, I was a geek. Even now, I'll sit outside deep in the night when no one else is stirring and watch the sky (although now I often have a scotch to keep me company instead of my telescope; I'm saving up for a big juicy telescope at the moment, one that will show the rings of Saturn in clear detail).

The problem I found with astronomy as a degree was the physics and calculus and chemistry... All daunting subjects, and when you started getting so in-depth, you began losing the magic. I enjoyed classical astronomy as that taught the history of the subject, and I did pass astrophysics, but then I discovered keg nights hosted by the geology department and I was lost to the dark side...

I've always maintained a strong interest in astronomy though and have been following the ongoing exoplanet discoveries with a sense of wonder. There are some spectacular worlds out there, seemingly pinched straight from sci-fi novels, and there are some very exciting ones too, especially those perched right within the Goldilocks Zone. There might just be some exciting times ahead...

So it looks like I have a short story to write...(AFTER I finish novel 2)...

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The State of Pro Markets

One of my New Year's resolutions--which actually kicked off last week--is to first and foremost target pro markets (5c/word or more) with my writing from now on (unless there is an anthology I love the sound of, or am asked to contribute somewhere by someone I respect). To get a clear understanding of the state of pro markets, I browsed Ralan's market report and this is what I found.

There are currently 47 pro markets listed. Of that number:

  • 4 are closed til Jan 1, 2012 or later
  • 1 is indefinitely closed
  • 2 are merging
  • 5 are closed until further notice
  • 1 is dead
  • 1 is not recommended due to lack of response to submissions and queries
  • 1 is listed as having subs open by assignment only 
  • 1 is closed to unsolicited submissions
That leaves 32 currently open to subs. That's a pretty healthy number of markets. Response times range from a few weeks to 4 months, which is also pretty good.

Breaking this down even further to remove those who do not accept the type of story I write (ie horror/sci-fi), I find that:
  • 1 is open to adventure fantasy only
  • 1 is Canadian and only publish a limited number of international stories
  • 2 are for readers aged 9-14
  • 1 does not accept horror
  • 2 publish mystery/crime only
  • 2 publish stories set in an existing 17th century world 
  • 1 is a 'magazine of wholesome fun' for children up to the age of 12
  • 1 is a literary magazine for children
  • 1 is medieval fantasy and set in an existing universe
This now leaves 20 pro markets currently open to horror/sci-fi submissions. Still a good number but not as good as the 32 I first thought were available. But for someone like me who only manages to write 2 or 3 short stories a year, this should be more than enough to keep me busy. 

I also found 2 pro rate anthologies currently open to submissions, although one seems a bit dubious...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

To self-publish or not to self-publish...

I've been reading a bit lately about the 'new' publishing world, and how self-publishing has become a legitimate way for a writer to become published. It's an interesting time, to say the least, and one that's making me sit down and seriously consider the direction I take my career.

Some of the advice I'm reading (from more than one refutable source) includes:
  • why you no longer need an agent but an IP attorney instead.
    • also included in this was why you should ignore publishing houses who say they will not accept unagented queries or submissions and send them a very professional submission package
  • why going both routes (ie, indie publishing and the traditional way) should be the new normal now, as this provides you with options when it comes to negotiating contracts etc.
  • how being self-published will not impact on your chances with a traditional publisher   
  • how being a smart writer is vital; this includes learning all there is to know about self-publishing and knowing a scam when you see one
All of this is of course built upon the basic premise that you know how to write well, you have your work edited by someone who knows how to edit, you have a stylish, eye-catching cover (because believe it or not but people do judge books by their covers), and you make sure your book is correctly formatted.

There are numerous resources out there now to help you self-publish in the best way possible (okay, I'm writing this mostly as notes for myself while I consider my writing future, because in typical Marty fashion, I'm about a year behind everyone else on this), and David H Burton provides a brilliant post listing a lot of extremely useful info (after explaining why you really should avoid Penguin's self-publishing program Book Country) regarding this. There are enough links on that page to keep you reading for days...

Interesting times... I don't profess to know anywhere near enough about the pros and cons of self-publishing versus going the traditional route, but I will definitely be reading up on this topic. I had a short story published on Horror World back in April that is now no longer available to the public; maybe I should consider self-publishing this?

Novel update: am finishing off my last short story for the year and will then be delving back into novel #2, with the aim of finishing the edits by the end of the year. Then I'll revise novel #1, perhaps with the aim of turning that into a novella.

Just brought another eBook, too (damn you one-click purchase!): The Indie Journey by Scott Nicholson