Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Riding the Submission Merry-Go-Round

Author (Age 6) Riding a Merry-Go-Round

After a two-year dry spell, where I didn't submit anything, I set a goal to submit at least two novels this year.

In June, I submitted two novels and a novella. One novel and the novella were rejected. The other novel? Awaiting word.

Welcome to the submission merry-go-round.

Authors should expect rejections. Yes, they suck. Sometimes. Other times, they're almost like blessings in disguise. Maybe that publisher you thought would be a great fit isn't. Always good to have a list of potential editors or publishers to submit to if your top choice doesn't work out.

The disappointment of having two manuscripts given the thumbs down was softened by the acceptance of a short story for an anthology. And my crime drama screenplay is a finalist in a film festival. So two for two isn't bad.

Let's see if I can go 3-2.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Waiting and Potential Rewards

I'm eagerly awaiting September. That's when I'm supposed to get a yes or no on a novel submission, and I'll also be able to share some good news I've been sitting on for the last few months. Hopefully, I'll also learn how my screenplay did at a current film festival. Meantime, I'll share this from the Indie Gathering International Film Festival for my short screenplay "Cemetery."

Award Plaque

This year at Indie Gathering, I participated in table readings. Last year, actors read my script Final Curtain and gave feedback on the few pages we submitted. If you've never had that experience, it's quite interesting. This year, it was nice to just read a character part and help out.

Next year, I'm hoping to submit a couple of short films to festivals, as well as new screenplays. No guarantees they'll show or final, but that's a risk we take when we submit our work. Because we know it sometimes pays off.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Monthly Round-up: July 2017

This month's round-up post is a week late, but this time last week I was sunning myself on a beach in France. The weather was lovely, but wifi access was appalling.


Hence, here we are now in August, reviewing July.


OUT NOW/COMING SOON


I'm hoping to promote the third Shara Summers novel, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, at Bouchercon in October, and hopefully I'll have a release date by then. In the meantime I'm plugging the first book the series, DEATH SCENE.


PUBLICITY


The third Goodreads giveaway for THE WHISPERING DEATH has finished. The lucky winners were Angela Paull from Hampshire and Olivia Silva from Hertfordshire. They have each received a signed copy of THE WHISPERING DEATH.


I am very excited about the forthcoming Bouchercon in Toronto, which will be my first time attending this particular conference. And I am particularly thrilled about being offered a panel. The panel is about violence in crime, and should be very interesting, though since it's on at 8:30am on the Friday, I am not sure how many people we'll have in the audience.


WORK IN PROGRESS


I am pleased to report that the first draft of the new horror novel, OUTPOST H311, is finished, and work has commenced on the second draft. At this stage I am feeling confident I will hit the 1 October deadline to submit this one. Hopefully I'll be feeling just as confident at the end of August.


Until then, if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, enjoy the rest of the summer. And if you are in then Southern Hemisphere, you've still got summer to look forward to.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Back on the Submission Train

After a three-year hiatus, I'm finally back on the submission train. Prose works, that is. I regularly submit to screenplay contests, and I'm still working on a sale or option.

So far this year, I've submitted a short story, a novella, and a novel. My goal is to submit at least one other novel, maybe two more. I haven't been idle, writing four novels and two novellas, with one novel half completed.

I can't explain why it takes me so long to submit something. Scared of rejection, most likely, although I deal with it. (When that Film Freeway notification doesn't begin with "Congratulations," I know my screenplay didn't get in.) Contests and publishing are both subjective. I'm grateful there are more opportunities for writers than when I was in college.

Hopefully, my books will find a publisher. As for finding an agent, at this point, I like being in control of the submission process. Perhaps in the future, I'll submit a novel to an agent, but probably not in the genre I'm currently working in. Depends on the certain factors. Right now, I want to write what I enjoy and not what's supposedly "marketable," since the market is in a constant state of flux. It's another reason why I like to write multi-genre, although suspense is always an underlying component of my stories, whether paranormal or contemporary.

Fingers are crossed.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Musings on Screenplay Contests

Screenplay writing contest season is upon us. From (hopefully) making the early bird deadline to (again, hopefully) being a finalist and even a winner, the months are filled with anticipation, excitement, and even a little dread.

This weekend, the quarter-finalists for the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards will be announced. My fingers are crossed. I recently received notification The Indie Gathering International Film Festival has awarded my short screenplay "Cemetery" an honorable mention. And my full-length crime drama Final Curtain is a finalist in Action on Film Festival (AOF). Winners will be announced in August.

Winning awards for my writing is great. I won't deny that. It's a validation for those times when I don't win. Like publishers, contests are subjective. Just because one contest didn't accept my screenplay, doesn't mean it's bad. Now, if all contests reject it, well, then, obviously something's wrong. :-) It also depends on the contest and the number of entries. Austin Film Festival? If I'm ever lucky enough to semi-final in that one, you can guess I'll be celebrating. However, I tend to be pragmatic.

One thing I've learned about submitting screenplays to contests is when I final or even win, I set the bar higher for myself, especially if I enter the film festival's competition a second or even third time. There's a level of consistency  they expect and I need to make sure I deliver. And because screenplays have a specific format and rely on what can be seen and heard, certain novel conventions can't be used, such as inner thoughts. That means when I adapt my books into screenplays, I have to change scenes that wouldn't translate well to the screen. If you're wondering why the book and movie can be so different, that's one of the reasons why. And writing a work of fiction (novel, short story, etc.) from a screenplay also comes with its challenges.

But it's worth it.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Ten Commandments of Writing #10: Thou Shalt Never, Ever, Give Up

I get quite cross with people who imply that I write 'for fun'. Or 'for pleasure'. This generally comes into a conversation where I'm trying to explain why the writing is not my full-time profession. I'm trying to explain that I don't make enough money from the writing to do it for a living, and so they say, "oh so you do it for fun then."


There is nothing fun about writing. Yes there are moments of exhilaration, like when the WIP is going well and words are flowing, when you're in that stage when you can re-read the words you've written and think to yourself, "actually this is pretty good. And I created it." But you know this is going to be followed by a period of crashing self-doubt, when you are absolutely convinced that everything you've written is a steaming pile of turds and you should give up deluding yourself that you're a writer and go and spend your time watching TV instead. This bit of the process is not fun. Neither is the constant lurching from self-confidence to self-loathing that I am convinced absolutely every writer, no matter how successful they are, experiences.


No, we don't do it for fun. So why do we do it? It's more a need, an urge. We need to write to keep on living, the same way we need to breathe.


You need to remember this once you have accepted the fact that you are a writer, because the road will not be smooth. There will be rocky patches. There will be times when you want to crawl under the bed covers and never come out again. Every time you submit something to an editor, you will spend the next few hours, or days, or weeks, on tenterhooks. You will be checking your email every two minutes to see if you've had a response yet. When you discover there isn't one, you will experience conflicting feelings of disappointment and faint hope, because no response at least means no rejection. Yet.


And then when the email finally comes you'll be afraid to open it, trying to put off the inevitable rejection and the crashing self-doubt that follows for as long as possible.


But then one day it won't be a rejection. It will be an acceptance. And it will all be worth it. On the dark days, it can be tempting to just pack it all in. But it's important to keep on going. When each rejection comes, give yourself a few days to pick yourself and dust yourself off, and then send the story back out into the world again. And carry on working on the next one. Whatever you do, you have to keep at it, because being a writer is in your psyche and no matter how hard it can be sometimes, it will always be who you are.