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Archive for July, 2010

Rejections: I reject your reality and substitute my own!

First, my apologies to Adam Savage for stealing his line.

I received another rejection letter for a short story that I have written (one that I am particularly fond of) and have had a few people comment that rejections must really sting.  Well, I haven’t been writing long enough to achieve a large pile of rejections, but I have lived long enough (and sarcastically enough) to collect a lot of first-hand knowledge about rejection.

Most writers view rejections as something to be feared and avoided.  I don’t think they can be avoided. If your writing hasn’t been rejected, chances are your Mom is the only one who has been reading it.

You shouldn’t fear rejection letters, at the very least they are a sign that you’re willing to step up and put your writing out there. I’ve talked to a lot of authors who are going to publish something “some day”.  Make today the day and send out your work in progress, even J.K. Rowling collected a number of rejections before a publisher decided to give Harry Potter a chance.

If you’re lucky enough to get a personal rejection letter, view it as a learning experience.  I have been lucky enough to have a few editors take the time to give me a good idea of why my work was being rejected.  This gives me very valuable feedback on what editors are looking for and what I need to work on.  Nothing feels better than getting a rejection letter from an editor, working on your craft some more and then getting a story published in the same market that previously rejected you.

Rejections are part of the business, take them in stride and try not to take them personally.  Make sure that you send out only your best quality work and make sure you research who you’re sending that work to.  Above all, remember that selection is still a personal preference.  One editor may not like your work, but the next one may have nothing but praise.  The only way to find out is to put your work out there.

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Categories: Writing

Jeff Strand: Graverobbers Wanted (No Experience Necessary)

An author friend recommended this book to me saying that it was ‘suitably twisted’ for me to enjoy.  I don’t know whether or not to be insulted, but after reading the book, it seems that he may have great insight into my personality.

I hadn’t heard of Jeff Strand before, but after reading this hilarious story of graverobbing gone horribly wrong, I will be adding Jeff to my ‘gotta read’ list.

The main character is Andrew Mayhem.  He is a twit. A well meaning, unemployed, loves his children, danger magnet, twit.  You can’t help but like him and be appalled by his decision making at the same time.

The book opens with Andrew attempting to make a few bucks as a private eye.  He’s the type of detective that hangs out in treehouses attempting to video the neighbor’s husband in a compromising position; not exactly the ‘Poirot’ of the suburbs. Needless to say, it goes horribly wrong, Andrew has to replace his wife’s camera and he still needs some money to pay for other bad decisions.

Enter Jennifer. A svelte patron at a coffee shop who has an interesting offer. $20,000 to retrieve a key. Why so much? Said key is in a pine box, in the park, buried in a shallow grave. Oh yeah, Jennifer’s husband is in the box as well. Andrew and his best friend Roger decide to take the job (have I mentioned his decision making skills?)

Things unsurprisingly don’t turn out well, although they do turn out hilariously (if you’re the reader and not Andrew or Roger). The intrepid duo fail at retrieving the key and begin to investigate the murder of Jennifer and her husband. The couple’s business, ‘Ghoulish Delights’, makes home-made horror films and supplies a cast of characters that keep Andrew and Roger busy guessing who the killer could be. The killer continues, in macabre and gory style, and leaves tapes of his work for Andrew to puzzle out. He keeps it interesting by leaving presents on the hood of Andrew’s car, leading him on a wild scavenger hunt across town.  How much more complicated can life get for a guy who just wants to watch his kids and avoid getting a real job?

Andrew Mayhem is a great character, with a sarcastic sense of humor and a seemingly endless supply of bad decisions. The supporting cast of characters are well-drawn and provide a rich texture to this short novel (it’s 200 pages of fun). His wife is suitably distrustful of his ability to watch the children. Roger, his best friend, is dumb enough to follow along on Andrew’s chase.  His children are a perfect foil, and his daughter, Theresa, may be the most sarcastic character in the book.  There was a chuckle on every page and a splotch of blood on every second page.

Jeff Strand combines humor and dismemberment – how many people can do that and do it with style? His narrative flowed so easily that I read the book in a single sitting, laughing out loud in a number of places.  I must be sick, because two of my favorite scenes were the jack-in-the-box and the puppet show with Mr. Gaggles and Boo-Boo – pick up the book to find out how they turn out.

You can visit Jeff’s website at http://jeffstrand.wordpress.com/

Categories: Reviews

Ebooks in CS5 with Jason Hoppe

For an author who wants to get his or her work out there, we have to learn an awful lot beyond story, style, and grammar.  It is tough to get published and the world of publishing is changing. I am not going to pretend that I have experienced it first-hand (hopefully, I will sooner or later), but some of my author friends have. Just trying to keep up with their schedules of blog tours, twitter updates and online interviews for promotion is tiring.  Even with all that work, there seems to be small return for the amount of effort and time.

Many authors find it impossible to even find a publisher, so they self-publish. They manage the resources to produce online and print copies of their books and then go through the never-ending process of marketing and promoting their work.

I can write moderately well. To produce any sort of copy that would look like a professionally published work would be well beyond my artistic and geekly capabilities. I can’t even colour inside the lines.

I was pointed to a great course by Jason Hoppe entitled: Creating eBooks and PDFs with CS5 (Creative Suite 5) which looks to solve a huge dilemma for me: How would I produce something that looks professionally laid out? It is a 10 week course which, I hope, will lead me through the creation process in a simple and straight forward manner (since I have never used CS5 before). I have a lot of confidence in the material since my wife has taken a similar course on Photography and I ‘sat-in’ while she attended. The presenters are professional and really know what they are talking about – and they keep the course interactive with their online audience.  They ‘get’ how the Internet works.

The courses are unique in that they are free to attend while they are filming them and, if you cannot attend all the viewings or you want to have a reference afterwards, you can purchase the final edited product once it is complete. I think that this is a wonderful way to promote the material and get a great targeted audience for the final product.

The course begins July 28, 2010 and runs for 10 weeks. I hope to see some of you there.

Categories: Writing

Craganmor

What, Dave? In the wilds of Georgian Bay at Craganmor Point, with no Internet connection for a week? Well, not exactly ‘the wilds’. With a microwave, hot and cold running water and restaurant (yes, a restaurant) we aren’t exactly braving the wild frontiers with nothing but a swiss army knife and a ball of twine. And, I did manage to find a wireless connection that is usable, but all too reminiscent of dial-up.  It’s painful, but not nearly as painful as complete ‘net withdrawal.

Day one was interesting. There was a water pressure problem that caused the shower to be a less than invigorating experience. I described it as  being pissed on by a guy with a prostrate problem and a mild fever. Not the greatest mental picture, but a good analogy to the experience. To their credit, it was fixed within an hour. Don’t get me wrong, the resort is fantastic, this was just a minor bump that makes for a bit of colour in a blog post – I would highly recommend this resort to anyone looking to get away from it all, without having to suffer complete tech withdrawal.

The scenery is spectacular, the weather is superb, the staff treating us like royalty – making it virtually impossible for me to picture nasty denizens crawling out of the forests.  Even the kids are polite and quiet.  My next story may be about vampires that love the sun, play Canasta and volunteer at the Red Cross.

In amongst all the great weather and relaxation, I did manage to get an idea from a Robert Silverberg article in Asimov’s about a small town in Florida where the pastor declared the town a ‘Satan-free zone’ and actually had the proclamation supported by the mayor. I wonder what would happen if Satan (or one of his minions) showed up with the ACLU to contest that?

The sun is shining, beer is cold and waves are lapping the shoreline. Now, if the kids would only dig up a body on the beach…

Categories: Uncategorized

The Tombs

Added a new feature to the blog – The Tombs – you can now read some of my stories that haven’t found a home.  The one that I posted today – Third Base – is a favorite of mine, although editors disagree.  I submitted it to many, many places that turned it down. I still like it – let me know what you think of it.

Categories: Uncategorized

Procrastination – Round 1

I stayed home from work today in order to get some work done for a course that I am teaching this fall.  Instead, I started a blog.

I think  I am becoming a procrastination junkie.

If I attempt to sit down and write, I end up surfing the ‘net – in the name of ‘research’ for the story.  If I attempt to work on my course for the fall, I spend hours setting up virtual machines and networks in new and novel ways, but not setting out any sort of organized lesson plan.  If I attempt to get some yard work done on a beautiful sunny day, I end up on the deck with a cool drink as I carefully assess the pros and cons of each approach to the yard work.  My preferred method of completing yard work (getting my wife to do it) hasn’t materialized yet.  I guess I need more planning and/or jewelry.

I am hoping that this blog will spur me to write a little more frequently (albeit, not more eloquently) and even garner a few people who may find my stories (and blatherings) interesting in some way.  Feel free to comment, flame, or yawn at anything you find here.  That way I’ll know you’re procrastinating too.

Categories: Uncategorized