Daniel I. Russell is the author of Entertaining Demons, Samhane, Retard, Come Into Darkness, Critique, The Collector Book 1: Mana Leak, Mother's Boys and the huge collection Tricks, Mischief and Mayhem. Daniel is a HWA active member and represented by the Tobias Literary Agency, NYC. Daniel has also been the vice-president of the Australian Horror Writers' Association, special guest editor of Midnight Echo, associate and technical editor for Necrotic Tissue, and Shadow Awards judge.
Retro Review: Venom by John Tigges
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Monday, April 26, 2010This is the NEWS!
It’s been a long time since the last blog. An increase in work load (in all areas) combined with some time away resulted in less time on the net. We also had disaster strike when the laptop froze and refused to come back on. This meant I’d lost the last few thousand words of the latest novella, the video footage from my eldest’s birthday and had no net access right in the middle of a Necrotic Tissue submissions period…of which I’m the head editor. Shocker!
Retravision wouldn’t give me credit for a new one (because ‘I could run away to England at any time and take it with me’. Ha!) and that was a very good thing in hindsight. We found Acer netbooks in the supermarket for just over $300. We bought one and I love it! Means I have net access another place to back up all my manuscripts and I can also sneak off to the kitchen or garden when I need to write. To top it all off, the laptop now works again! Yay!
GREAT NEWS PUTS THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE
Any regular readers to this blog (and it’s a miracle they’re out there) will know that I usually class great news as a short story sale or the signing of a novel contract. This put things in perspective.
A few weeks ago (later in day after the last blog, as I recall) my papers from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship arrived. My permanent visa was granted! Yes, when I sell something writing-wise it’s great, but it pales in comparison to being allowed to stay in the same country as my partner and children.
With that hurdle out of the way, it’s time to look at the next: a bigger house and more money! Fingers crossed because…
As previously mentioned one of the top Australian literary agents requested a full manuscript from me with the view of possible representation. She now has a copy of Australian horror novel The Forgotten in her PO Box.
Hard copy. Been a while since I did one of those. Not much fun printing off a 520 page book, packaging it and posting off the whole caboodle for mucho $$$. But these things need to be done. The dice have to be rolled, or else why play? So the agent has the book, and my nerves? On a scale of 1 to 10 it’s bicycle clip time.
I’m confident with the quality of the manuscript, and think it will come down to personal taste and whether it will be considered as marketable. I hope this agent has a strong stomach!
COMING IN YOUR EARS
Great new that isn’t as great as the great news above, is that there’s been another short story sale. This time to Pseudopod, a well-followed audiozine. Never had one of my stories produced in audio before and released as a podcast, so it’s all very exciting. Contracts have been signed and I’ll post further news when I receive it.
The story is Broken Bough, a more personal and (dare I say it) grown up piece from me. A couple are trapped in their high-rise apartment during a global disaster, struggling with their own problems. They can’t get out, the walls are closing in and the baby won’t stop crying. A decision has to be made.
I’ve been trying to crack this market for a while. Over the moon with this hit.
Copied from the Necrotic Tissue blog…Starting with the submission period in July, I have need of two people to help with submission for Necrotic Tissue. At NT, we have four submission periods each year (January, April, July & October). The current volume is approximately 500 submissions in that time frame. With the addition of these two people, we will have four people handling submission, so each would get about 125 over the month.
Our goal is to respond initially within two weeks to all writers with either a personal rejection (with at least one piece of feedback as to what could be improved), or a notification of making the Short List. At the end of the month, each associate editor is allowed only 12 stories in their short list. For the 15 days after submissions close, all associate editors read everyone else's short list and create a new revised list in order from best to worst in one of 4 categories (100-Word Bites, Flash up to 1,000 words, 1-3,000 and 3-5,000). We then meet on Skype for a BATTLE ROYAL CAGE MATCH. When the dust settles, we have chosen around 40,000 words of fiction and usually between 20-24 stories for the issue due out in 4.5 months (so the stories from July's reading period will be used to select stories for the issue coming out January 2011).
When stories come in, the Editor in Chief distributes them randomly so it is fare. Cronyism is not tolerated, so if you get a story from someone you know well, you should let the Editor know so someone else can read it.
For your hard work, you will get:
1. Credit as an Associate Editor
2. Invaluable experience that will help you as a writer and give you insight into the small press publishing world
3. A free subscription to NT (if you already have one, your subscription will get extended)
4. A discount on all NT products
5. The praise an admiration of your peers and family
6. And last but not least, a warm fuzzy feeling that comes with doing a great job and helping to put out a fantastic product.
1. Prior editing experience is preferred but not required
2. A great attitude and the ability to give actionable feedback
4. Must be reliable. I realize this isn't a paying gig, but if you agree to take the job, we expect you to be conscientious and complete your stories in the time allotted.
To apply, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org . A resume and cover letter are not required and there is no "right" format, but please describe your writing and editing background and tell me why you are interested in the position and what you are looking to gain from the experience.
This means I’m now also the technical editor, so if any of you writers get an acceptance from Necrotic Tissue it’ll be my red pen that will be going to work!
We look forward to considering any potential applicants but please, as Scott has said in the post, only apply if you’re committed. Working for NT has its rewards, but it’s a lot of hard work with heaps of reading involved. Think carefully, but if you think this is the thing for you, we’d love to have you on board!
Friday, April 09, 2010Some tips on editing
A literary agent has requested a full manuscript of my latest novel, The Forgotten. After I'd finished it and edited it, a few things popped into my mind regarding the 'polishing' process. Being a writer-type, I thought it best to simile-up. This is not a complete list, just a few thoughts. Here's hoping that old hands agree and new writers take heed. Let's hit this...
EDITING IS LIKE...THAT HIDEOUS OUTFIT YOU BOUGHT
We've all done it. The hideous thing I bought once was a sleeveless tight t-shirt with flames around the bottom. For someone skinny in the arms and not so skinny around the waist...it was a bad bad look.
And it didn't need to happen! If a friend had simply said "Mate. Seriously?" it would have gone back on the rack and I could have spent my money on something more sensible, like beer or a catapult or something.
But that's the thing: a good mate will not want to hurt your feelings.
You've finished your book, and if you do say so yourself, it's the dog's. Maybe? Nah, probably not. You need readers to, you know, read it and offer their opinion. Some writers claim that they're writing a novel just for themselves and screw the readers. Good for you. I hope you enjoy it. But for most writers who want to make sales and form a readership, a book has to appeal to a wider audience than just you. What works for you might not work for someone else. Fair enough, difference of opinion. But if something works for you but doesn't work for the other 5, 6, 7 people that read your manuscript...something needs to change.
And it's crucial that you have the grits to take criticism and have beta readers that can dish it out unhindered. If they want the book to succeed as much as you, they'll be quick to point out the flaws rather than blow happy smoke up your ass.
And I'd like to thank the team that beta read/reading The Forgotten for me: Jim Mcleod, Jeanna Tendean, Felicity van Ravensteyn, Kody Boye and M. E. Ellis.
EDITING IS LIKE...A BOX OF CHOCOLATES
Because no one likes the coffee creams and the strawberry creams are always the first to go.
To set the record straight, a few years ago my mother was throwing out a box of chocolates because she thought no one wanted them. She put them close to the bin (not IN the bin!). I found them, saw they were mostly caramels, and ate them. I refuse the claims that I ate chocolates from the bin (Sherie) but I do admit that they sufficed as breakfast that morning.
I digress as I often do.
As Hanks said in that film where he played Forrest Gump (the name of the film escapes me), with a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. And that's true with editing. There are so many things that can go wrong, so many intricacies to consider. Unfortunately, there's only one real way around this. Read, write, learn.
An editor I worked with once said that any master craftsman needs to know each and every one of his tools, and this is very true of writing. Listen to any experienced editor you work with and absorb their knowledge like a sponge.
EDITING IS LIKE...A GAME OF POOL
You know how it is. Sometimes you just have to go to another town and all these differing rules come in. If you pot the cue ball, does your opponent:
a) place it anywhere on the table
b) place it anywhere behind the line
c) place it anywhere behind the line and play down the table or
d) place it in the D?
I've met guys who have sworn by each of these rules. The game is ultimately the same (hit balls with a stick) but each place develops their own rulings. So when you come along with the rules you've been taught, you look like an idiot.
With the written word, I've noticed a lot of this, in particular, subtle differences between the US and UK. Yes, we all know that Americans can't spell (colour, grey, foetus, kerb, mould...for example are the correct spellings ;-P ) but there are a few other things.
Did you know that UK writers go backwards and forwards while American counterparts go backward and forward? Little things like this make a difference and its just one more thing to pick up as you go along. That way, when an editor of a US magazine is making these changes, you'll know why. When I was doing the tech edits for Necrotic Tissue last month, I was an Englishman removing the English-terms from American stories written by Americans! Confused? You should be...
EDITING IS LIKE...MAKING LOVE TO A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN
You have to watch your dangling modifier, be careful not to splice her comma and most importantly, have fine wines and Belgium chocolates to hand.
Okay, I might cop a bit of flack for this analogy, but hear me out.
With a new partner, you might be a little more responsive, notice her scents, her sensitive areas (!), her sounds more. Not that your partner/wife doesn't do the same...but you get...hmmm...how can I put this?
Basically, if you're handed someone else's manuscript, you don't know what it's going to do. You're more alert, your editor's eye a little more thorough. When looking at your own stuff, you WILL miss things. I firmly believe that no one can create a 100% technically correct manuscript (unless they edit a page a day for example and have ultra-concentrated editing sessions...but that's just a pain!). Another pair of eyes will see the things yours failed to, but then again, it should go vice versa.
Even for the best of us. I'm reading Brian Lumley's Necroscope and yesterday, I came across a woman who was a window with two children!
I don't know if this Editing is like... section worked, but any excuse to put a Swiss Tony clip is a good thing.
Enough editing stuff. I'm off to celebrate something...
Sunday, April 04, 2010A quickie: Easter and competition winner.
HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!
I didn't know it was today until last night, and that's the truth. Would I have been a bad father to deny my children Easter eggs for another week? I know what you're thinking: Yeah, Dan, like they would've lasted a week with you prowling around the fridge area!
No. Seriously. They would have. I tried a chocolate rabbit. I would be doing them a favour to throw the whole lot out. Cheap chocolate has an after taste of urine.
RESULTS...AND NOT OF MY STD APPOINTMENT (where it turns out turns out I do have a small, tiny di-)
Let's get the competition winner announced. I aimed for 50 entries in a week. Okay, so I didn't get that many, but 29 isn't that bad. Shame on you Critter's Bar, where not a single person entered. Named and shamed, Critter's Bar! I hope you can live with yourself.
There's a few entries I liked, such as this one from Jim Mcleod on Facebook:
"The orang o tang, for as long as they exist, there is at least one hairy ginger that is uglier than me"
and another that tickled my fancy, this time from Kent Allard, also on Facebook:
"The cockatrice. It's got a funny name."
You can't go wrong with a nob joke, can you?
This entry from Cogito over at Writing Forums was in the running, just for the sheer effort and complexity:
"I don't have a particular favorite. But Doctor Who had a creature I enjoyed immensely in an episode called "Blink": The Weeping Angels, also called the Lonely Assassins. They were "quantum-locked", only capable of movement when not being observed. When looked upon by any sentient creature, they existed only as stone. They kept their own eyes covered lest they gaze upon one another by accident. When unobserved, they could move quickly, and if they touched you, they could send you to another time, stealing the energy of the life you would have lived in your own time.
It was a beautifully creepy concept, guaranteed to make you look nervously at statues for days."
We received a wide spectrum of entries with this at one end and the nob joke at the other! All welcome.
Here's our winner. The idea appealed to me (I've written a novel dealing with the concept back in '07) and I found it very elegantly stated.
So the winner of the signed copy of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #43 (although it's more a small book), goes to Damien Walters Grintalis for this:
"My favorite monster is the human variety. So many dark things can linger behind the guise of normalcy, from a serial killer's twisted need to destroy to a slippage of the real as the mind falls into the waiting arms of madness. The human monster can be anyone--the boy next door, the man at the end of the block, the person lying in the bed next to you, or perhaps it is the face you find in the morning mirror."
Well done, Damien. If you would like to email your address (or where ever you want the magazine delivering) to my admin at my site email@example.com, we'll get one sent over to you. Please state if you just want it simply signed (for eBay if I get famous) or a personal note.
And if anyone would like to order one for the low price of AUS$8.95 + postage, shoot the admin an email too.
THE END IS NIGH!
For today's blog post. I got so much on writing wise, my head's spinning! Be good, and I'll see you all next week.