Friday, February 24, 2006

A Car-Chasing Dog

Last night I finished a short story in the Further Adventures of Damie Tempest.
Turned in around 12,000 words on a dime.
Conviced myself it was a tight-assed tale full of elusive magic, myth, mystery , hot sex, and the car blows up!
Felt a little like the dog that caught the car and now doesn't know what to do with it.
Staggered to this computer this morning prepared to do some market research on e-zines and print markets.
Had this vague idea, you see, of flogging off some shorts around my central character as a drive test, generate credits/ interest in the event I ever got my rear in gear and did some serious submitting of the first novel.
Or writing a couple more and presenting them as a sequel collection or something. Vague, as I said.
I donno.
One thing I found. It's a lot easier to write when you have only to make some evocative, suggestive reference to past events and don't have to fuss and fret with "back story, back story, watch for too much back story" pounding in your head.
I smiled almost the entire time I was writing the thing.
Removing the coffee funnel from my mouth so I could see, I clicked on a couple of sites graciously provided by one, an editor; and two, an agent.
Did you know that copious tears seeping through crossed forearms can damage a key-board almost as much as spewed coffee?
You did?
I thought so.
One said that e-pub, whether POD or not, didn't count as a credit at her place.
The other said that she curled her lip at cross-genre stuff and it takes a really superior writer to make her take one on.
Of course, they both, at some time or another, have articulated the need for "new, fresh, exciting," and all the other "!!!!!!'s."
To quote from an over age and grade novelist of yesteryear - "JesusGod, Mrs. Murphy!"
Now, if I can say so - without calling either claims of overweening conceit or beginner's blindness down on my tousled, frowsty head - I think, in my delusional way, that I'm good - not great by any means, but good.
Good enough to see print and earn some lucky publisher a reasonable return.
But not superior.
Not Pulitzer fine.
Not the hottest thing that ever burned a hole in an agent's desk.
I'm writing genre stuff, for chrissake!
Who is baying at the moon? Them or me?
I feel I'm playing in traffic.
And the road signs contradict.

Ballock; now generally bollock: A testicle; gen. plural. Very old word, S.E. until about 1840, then a vulgarity.

Ballocks: (1) A parson, late 17th. c. - early 19th . (!!!!)
In 1864, the officer Commanding the Straits Fleet always referred to his chaplain as Ballocks. (2) nonsense; late 19th-20th c.

Ballocky: adj. naked; cant and low;
from about 1905.

Ballocky Bill the Sailor: a mythical person commemorated in a late 19th-20th c. low ballad; he is reputed to have been most generously testicled.
Also sometimes bollocky, alone - left-handed, hence, clumsy.


Sandra Ruttan said...

Bernita, the times, they are a-changin'! And some agents and publishers might eventually catch up with them.

You are more than good enough to be published. And you should be published.

I put a lot of stuff into web publication. Why? People can read it at the click of a button. When I asked authors for interviews, they can go read the ones I've done with people like Stuart MacBride and Laura Lippman.

And they never turn me down unless there's a scheduling conflict.

So little old me out in the boonies gets email from writers who she couldn't hope to kiss the feet of - my idols - telling me they liked something about my last interview.

Make me fall over.

Anyone that doesn't think that has some credit to it is set back half a century, IMHO.

Go for magazine credits, go for ezine credits - go for credits. Besides, getting a story published online qualified you for the Million Writers Awards: and $300 is nothing to snuff your nose at.

And good luck! I think getting some short stories out there about your protagonist WILL help you.

I'm thinking I need to do this as well....

Bernita said...

Oh, oh, oh, Sandra!
May I shrink you and put you in my pocket?
The best reason in the world for blogging: solid reasoning from someone who has been there and done it.
Logic and sense to drive away the nebulous generalities, the should-shouldn't I's, the conflicting miasma of the dim, dark glass.
Sandra, thank you.
From the bottom of my heart.

Sela Carsen said...

Maybe Sandra can help me. I've had an agent sitting on a "pararomzomcomnov"* for 11 weeks. (Yes, I counted yesterday.) At this point, I doubt she's excited enough about my work -- assuming she's even read it -- to take me on, so it'll come home to roost while I try to find another home for it.

It's good enough to compete with the big dogs, but it's damn near impossible to find a home for a novella unless you've already been published. And Brava already rejected it.

Any words of hope?

*paranormal romantic zombie comedy novella. Also with vampire, ghost bitch and high school guidance counselor. *gg*

Ric said...

Sometimes you just have to be out there.
At the wake yesterday, a man walked up to me and asked if I was still writing for the newspapers. Took a minute to realize he likely wouldn't have access to anywhere I've been writing lately.
He went on to mention how much he enjoyed my columns and writing in the farm paper...
AH, light bulb!
I wrote a column for the Thumb Farm News - in 1987-1989.

Put your stuff out there. People remember.

Some times I think agents/editors say don't publish, don't e-zine, because if you do, they won't get their cut.

Erik Ivan James said...

I'm convinced there soon will be a hole burning in some agents desk. Visible through the smoke will be the name Bernita Harris on the manuscript.

Bernita said...

Sela, have you considered the e-publishers who take novellas? Or are you wedded to print alone?

Ric, that is a very interesting observation about agent reaction.
You have "platform," too and that just proved it.

Aw, Erik.
I do have to stop being so hesitant about chancing my arm, though, and buy a few tickets.

Erik Ivan James said...

When you start buying your tickets, you might keep in mind Lisa Hunter's comments on your post here yesterday.

With regard to 'chancing arms', you can place your dainty hand on the crook of mine anytime Dear Gal.

Bernita said...

Gallantry is not dead.
Erik, I'd be proud to.

Sela Carsen said...

I'd really like to see print for this baby. The thing about e-publishing is, even if I find a great publisher and it does really well, the audience is still miniscule -- several dozen as opposed to the few thousand that a print publisher will draw.

And did I say congratulations for finishing your story? Congratulations!! It's always a huge deal to finally be able to write "The End."

Sandra Ruttan said...

Bernita, you can try, if you can get me in the washing machine and dryer - LOL!

Sela, I don't know for sure. I've heard such a range of stories on responses, from 'the next day' to weeks later. Counting back 11 weeks from right now includes Christmas holiday season and New Years, and you never know, the agent might have gone on holidays in January or early February, or had an illness or death in the family.

So the timing doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't interested in it.

But I always think that mentally, it's good to prepare yourself for anything.

Then I read Miss Snark's blog and see her saying that sometimes the book gets sold elsewhere or the writer has a publishing offer on tap before Miss Snark's had a chance to take a look - it is just SO HARD for new writers to get agents. It is as easy to find a publisher on your own, if you can be happy with a smaller publisher.

Patience, and I'd be querying others as well. I never let a rejection sit and fester in my in box - once I started the querying process, I always had at least one submission out there so I never felt I was back to the drawing board. It took 3 months to get my first offer, it took 4 more months after that for the deal I signed.

You know what? You should read my interview with Laura Lippman - she talks about getting an agent and has some good advice.

Fingers crossed for you Sela!

Rick said...

Do most agents even look at short stories? (At 12,000 words I think it is still a short, though at the long end.) Mine does - alas, I can't write a short story to save my life; they always came out like Readers Digested novels.

Markets for short stories are awfully limited, and 12K words is a tougher sell. How much of the fantasy element shows up in this story? So far as I know, SF/F is by far the most active short story market.

You left out "bollix," meaning screw-up or confusion, but derived from ballocks, etc.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Those forgotten words crack me up...for some guy to scratch his ballocks..he's just scratched the parson. And ballocky Bill the sailor isn't naked, he's big!

Bernita, I think first you have to decide how you want to present it. As short stories, a novel, or a novella. Try Googling publishers or agents that way. Sandra has some good info at her site or you can try AgentQuery:

Savannah Jordan said...

Oh what a tangled web we unweave,
When first we practice to perceive...

It isn't easy, Bernita. It seems everyone wants something different. One editor wants 'this' and another editor wants 'that.' One agent looks for something that another doesn't.

I definitely agree with Sandra. Go for the credits. Even if one industry professional looks down on it, another might not, and if nothing else, you can puff your chest and hoot and hollar.

My two cents, anyway...

Bernita said...

No, I didn't, Rick. The editor must consider "bollix" to be post WW1. The book deals with "historical" slang.

Yes, "La Belle Dame" is an awkward length.
Probably impossible, even though there's nothing to cut - written bare.
Yes, it does have time-travel in it - the Luck of Eden Hall, actually.
All because you gave me an idea how it could be done.
It contains the three plot basics of the novels; the romance/the fantasy/ and the modern danger.

Bernita said...

I usually find that the "two-cents worth" by posters on this board are golden, Bonnie and Sela.

This one is definitely an episode that advances the main "plot bunnies" as Gabriele calls them.
Maybe I should just consider it a few chapters worth and keep on going.

M. G. Tarquini said...

If I knew what the hell burned a hole through an agent's desk, I'd be agented by now.

Bernita said...

Maybe I should just go stick my head in the flush.
I've "bollixed" again.

Rick said...

Bernita - Since it does have the time travel element, what have you got to lose by trying to peddle it to the SF/F zine market? A further bennie is that even a sale to a "semi-prozine" has street cred with agents who handle SF/F.

Bernita said...

A possibility, Rick.
Falls more under what is called "paranormal" rather than Sc-Fi/F.
There's always the romantica/erotica market.

Anonymous said...

If I had a choice between a paper periodical credit and an e-zine credit, I would choose the paper periodical. There are probably fantastic and prestigious e-zines out there, and I am beyond the times on them. However, there are also many marginal e-zines. Paper takes overhead and money to produce. E-zines don't have that impediment. I think that some agents and editors take comfort in the fact that someone else spent overhead dollars to publish you.

That said, I would gladly take an e-zine credit. I'm just saying if I could choose which, I'd choose paper.

Anonymous said...

Um, make that "behind" the times in my comment. Geesh. Nice typing, Jason.

Bernita said...

There is certainly something to be said for going with the ones with the best reputation, Jason.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Boy...there's a ton of E-zines out there Bernits...Ever think of serializing the story in one of them?

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Sheesh...I type bad...Bernita!

Bernita said...

I'm trying to think of everything, Bonnie, still in the research and fuss stage.

Rick said...

Paranormal (as opposed to some pseudo-scientific explanation) might not be a problem, at least for some of the SF/F zines, though since I haven't been scoping short story markets I can't really say.

About romantica/erotica short markets I'm totally clueless, though I presume that for the erotica market, Damie and John (or at any rate someone) will have to do a lot more than kiss. ;)

Bernita said..."hot sex" usually means more than a kiss.
In deference to Bonnie's fingernails ( oh, that Bardawill!) and my hardwood floor , I don't think I should post it though.

Carla said...

I don't know anything about paying markets for short stories so I haven't anything to add there; Rick's suggestions sound logical. What I would say is that if you don't find somewhere to buy the story, it would probably be a good idea to put it up on a blog or website rather than in a drawer. That way you may start to build awareness and a readership (like Ric and his column in the farm paper), and you may also get some feedback on what works and what doesn't at a story level (as opposed to at a snippet level), all of which is potentially useful. I've also seen advice floating around the web that published authors find it valuable to have short stories up on their websites, to give people a reason to go there and then go back to see if there's another one.

Bernita said...

That's yet another angle to consider.
Thank you, Carla!

Faith said...

It's getting harder and harder to find good genre markets.

Rick said...

Bernita - Hot sex "usually" means more than just a kiss? I'd say that if it ever means just a kiss, that would be one helluva kiss. ;)

And I agree with Carla. Given the limited short-story market (and for that matter limited pay), after a reasonable effort to sell it, it certainly would make sense to put it online instead of in a drawer.

Anonymous said...

I'd really like to see print for this baby. The thing about e-publishing is, even if I find a great publisher and it does really well, the audience is still miniscule -- several dozen as opposed to the few thousand that a print publisher will draw.

I think you have misconceptions about the audience that epub actually reaches. A few dozen? Maybe at a lesser epub. A few thousand. Definitly at the bigger publishers. And the potential for print. I think it's a mistake to write off epublishing because many agents now recognize it as a viable stepping stone to New York Pubs. Agents like Deidre Knight and Roberta Brown.

It would be worth your time to ask some epublished authors what kind of audience they're reaching. I think you will be surprised.

Also, not all epublishing is erotic romance or erotica. Take Baen Publishing, they do science fiction/fantasy. I read Wen Spencer's newest book in e-format before it was even available to buy in print.

And my own publisher does a multitude of genres. Epublishing offers a lot of advantages to authors--especially new authors. I wouldn't discount it.

~Angela James, Editor
Samhain Publishing

Bernita said...

From a quick look today, Rick, I say the market isn't exactly limited - it's just that the pay is often peanuts and 12,000 words is about 3 times too long.

If that's so, Faith, I find it odd, because I understood that the genres are the backbone of publishing, the sure sellers.

Ms. James, I am honored.
I think the potential is there.
Some of the negative claims I see made about e-publishing are based on outdated or insufficient data.
Certainly there is no question in the about the quality of the writers such as Savannah.

Ric said...

See what happens? Every day, I go off to work after Bernita gets a good discussion going and then it turns to HOT SEX.
Every day? Good grief, people, no wonder my Viagra stock keeps going up.

I am highly impressed that Bernita has garnered the attention of a major e-publisher. Ah, yes, cream always rises to the top.

ivan said...

You want erotica?
There's some on my site, though with Allen Ginzberg as the main feature, I fear it in more of a
homogeneous vein.
We got chicks writing in though.
Hell, we got kewpie dolls.
Doggie Doggie
Buffalo Buffalo.
Oy Yoy O yoy.

Bernita said...

Ric, all good discussions turn to HOT SEX...
Faith is also an editor... at WildChild Publishing.
I must seriously check these out.

Ivan, is a naked man ...erotica?

ivan said...

I used to write about an old
tranvestite troupe out of Toronto
called "She Rade." featuring Ricky Tic.
Every time some disgusted patron yelled "bullshit" The lead drag queen would say, "Something is eating away at you."
Or: "This is great if you're geared that way."
More: "What do you do for a living, sir?
"I drive a limo."
"You drive a homo?!
"Methinks the gentleman does protest too much!."

Ah, the days before political correctness.
I submitted my story and photos to my editor and when it came out, there were, ah, skidmarks all over the photos.
Not a single flower grew out of this offal.
Well, at least I got paid.
No wonder the Toronto Telegram ultimately fired me.

Savannah Jordan said...

"Certainly there is no question in the about the quality of the writers such as Savannah." Bernita, you flatterer!!

Thanks for the ego boost! :)

Oh, Rick and Others, the hot sex is always in my blog, too! ;)

alexandra said...

Just mailed you... Love these hanger jokes.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Okay...what happened here when I wasn't looking..LOL This conversation ran off onto the hardwood floor...*nails leaving tracks deep enough to control a train*!

Samhain's Denny's publisher....wheeeee!

Bonnie Calhoun said...

See what I mean...I can't type today...sorry Dennie!

Buffy said...

I never know how to treat backstory. Never sure if I'm showing instead of telling. Because it's all telling to me. It's my voice. In the end. See why I get confused!