Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Ten Commandments of Writing #8: Thou Shalt Heed the Submission Guidelines

It's been a while since I posted anything in this series of posts. Part of the reason, if I'm honest, is a crisis of confidence. When you have no faith in your own writing, you feel you have no right to lecture anyone else.
However, that sort of thinking is unhelpful, and I'm going to come back to that a bit later in the series. For now, though, it's time to pick up where we left off in the Ten Commandments of Writing. So you've written your manuscript, you've polished it until it shines, and now you're ready to send it out into the world. So what's next? You have to submit it.
Things have moved on quite a bit from when I first started submitting to agents and editors, back in the 1990s. In those days the submission instructions were fairly standard - the first three chapters and a synopsis, with a stamped self-addressed envelope, which involved spending my lunch hour standing in line at the post office to get my envelope weighed, buying return postage to include on the return envelope before sealing up the package, only to have it land on my doorstep a couple of days later in an envelope with my own handwriting on it.
Nowadays most submissions are made by email, but the instructions can vary widely. Firstly, you have more options, because there are far more small presses out there who are willing to look at unsolicited manuscripts, so you are not restricted to submitting only to agents. But some publishing houses might not want attachments in emails for fear of viruses. Some might have old machines that can't deal with certain types of software so they can only accept submissions in a certain format. Some don't like fancy fonts. In the old days of postal submissions, everything was pretty much written in courier or Times Roman. I still write all my manuscripts in Times Roman. It has a bad press in the business world these days, but I have a fondness for serif fonts that are clear and straightforward and easy to read. None of this sans serif font business where a capital 'I' and a lower case 'l' are indistinguishable.
Anyway, here is Commandment #8, and it is important: read the submission requirements carefully, and follow them to the letter, and this is about a lot more than ensuring that the publishing house you are submitting to deals with the genre you write in. Are the instructions asking for the first three chapters and a synopsis, or the whole manuscript? Do they ask for a blurb and the first chapter that must be embedded in the email, and do not under any circumstances send attachments? Do they want the whole manuscript, in 10-point courier font, single spaced, using paragraph auto indents instead of tabs and no page numbers? Then that's exactly what you send. 
Read the guidelines carefully, prepare your submission equally carefully, and double check everything before you hit 'send'. And then, if you're anything like me, you check your email box obsessively every half an hour until you get a response.
But at least your work will be Out There, and that's what counts. Good luck!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Cover Reveal: SUFFER THE CHILDREN

I am very pleased to be able to reveal the brand new cover for the MuseItUp release of my horror novel SUFFER THE CHILDREN today, on this blog.

Those of you who have been with me since the beginning of this journey will be aware that this is the third incarnation of this particular novel. It was my first published novel, released as an e-book by Lyrical Press in 2010. When the contract with Lyrical expired in 2013, the rights reverted back to me I self-published it as a Kindle e-book, with a specially commissioned cover designed by artist David Bezzina.

And now, finally, SUFFER THE CHILDREN has found a home with MuseItUp Publishing. The cover for their version has been designed by Charlotte Volnek, who also designed the covers for the two Shara Summers novels. And I have to say that once more I think she's done an awesome job.

SUFFER THE CHILDREN will be released in e-book format only by MuseItUp Publishing on 9 August. More information about promotions and so on will follow. In the meantime, I'm going to look some more at this beautiful cover.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Monthly Round-up: June 2016

I missed posting the monthly round-up last month, because at the end of May I was driving through the Arizona desert. So this month I am playing catch-up.

COMING SOON

I now have a release date for SUFFER THE CHILDREN - 9 August. More information will appear very soon, including the cover reveal, so stay tuned.

Next year will see the release of the third Shara Summers novel, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH.

PUBLICITY

I appeared on Chris Mannino's blog on 19 May, musing about why anyone would want to be a writer.

On 28 June, I did a reading from SUFFER THE CHILDREN for the lovely folks gathered at the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club - a real-space meetup for SFF/Horror fans occurring in London on the last Tuesday of the month. It was a lovely crowd and though I was slightly in awe at the company I was keeping - Paul Cornell and Laura Lam were also reading that night - everyone was very friendly and put me at ease.

WORK IN PROGRESS

I'm still working on the urban explorers horror novel, but it has not yet got a name.

That's it for now and I have to apologise for lack of updates on the blog. I am hoping to be able to make more regular postings from now on.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Using Screenwriting to Revise a Book

I write screenplays. Two are adaptations of my published novellas, and have won honorable mention. Currently, I'm waiting to hear back from three contests and also waiting for the laurels for another film festival that two of my screenplays were accepted in.

So while getting ready to work on revisions of my paranormal suspense novella, Hell on Earth, I decided to write the screenplay version. Why? After all, the novella hasn't been contracted for publication, and if the Hell on Earth screenplay managed to get an option, that would make the work previously published in a publisher's eyes. No, the screenplay will remain on my hard drive with fingers crossed a publisher will offer me a contract.

One thing I did notice was in writing the screenplay, I was also revising the story. For example, dialogue. I would start writing the dialogue for the screenplay, then realize that what the character said made no sense. And I would note this on the manuscript. Or I would be forced to look at a scene I'd written and realize I'd had the wrong location. (I've since remedied that by using Scrivener to keep track of scenes.)

It's not a full-proof plan, and obviously won't work for everyone or for every book. I think what happened was writing the screenplay adaptation put my mind in a different mode, gave me a similar but different perspective.

At least writing the screenplay was a lot more fun than going through the manuscript and finding those "garbage" words.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Reel Dark (v. 2) Releases

Cover for Reel Dark
In 2014, fellow author L. Andrew Cooper asked me if I wanted to help him co-edit an anthology to be published by BlackWyrm Publishing. The book was released in paperback in May 2015. Shortly after, BlackWyrm closed its doors. Authors' rights were returned, and Andrew told me he had plans for Reel Dark. Later, I learned he had talked with Seventh Star Press, a Kentucky-based publisher, and the anthology would be published as a second edition with a new cover and two new stories.

This past Friday, May 13, the anthology, which made its debut at StokerCon, was officially released. I love the cover, and I'm excited the book has a second chance.

Reel Dark Synopsis:

Welcome to a macabre cinema for the imagination, to twisted tales projected not on a movie screen but on the page. In Reel Dark you'll find suspense, horror, science fiction, and fantasy in fiction and poetry by authors ranging from new voices to bestsellers. From the battle for recognition between a child actress and a vengeful, long-forgotten film star in "Whatever Happened to Peggy...Who?" to a hapless artist whose talent propels him into a nightmare of jealousy and revenge in "The Dreamist," the authors have created worlds filled with madness and twisted desires. Where the lines between reality and fantasy blur, where films flicker at 24 frames per second, we catch a glimpse of strangers' dreams and nightmares. As David Lynch puts it, "This whole world is wild at heart and weird on top." As Karen Head writes in her poem "Amnesia," responding to Lynch, "In the movies / everything is illusion." But with cameras everywhere, how do you know whether you're in a movie?

Available from:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/27xjOxy
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1Nxueq9
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1XkWE8D







Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Monthly Round-Up: April 2016

I am once more a week late with my monthly round-up. Life is a bit hectic. But there is news to report, so on with it.
COMING SOON
Final edits for SUFFER THE CHILDREN are done! I still have no confirmed release date, or a cover, but I think we're looking at a summer release.
And in case you missed it last month, the third Shara Summers book, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, has been contracted to MuseItUp and will be out in 2017 - likely Autumn.
PUBLICITY
I only had one guest appearance this month, but it was a rather interesting one. Susan A Royal interviewed my amateur sleuth Shara Summers on her blog on 11 April.
WORK IN PROGRESS
I'm about 7000 words into the new horror novel, but I'm not happy with what I've got so far. I've only recently realised how to fix it, and it's going to need a reboot. Scrap and start over. Oh well. With any luck, some of the words already written will be salvageable.
I've also got the muse whispering in my ear at the moment with the plot of the fourth Shara Summers book, demanding to be written. I'm trying to write only one book at a time, so thus far I've been attempting to resist the urge to succumb to this one. But she is whispering quite loudly. All I can really say at this stage is that this book will take Shara to New York. I feel another visit there might be required. You know, just for inspiration. 
That's it for now, so go off and enjoy the spring sunshine, and I'll catch you next month.