Monday, August 21, 2017

Pre-Order Third Flatiron (@TFlatiron)'s "Strange Beasties" Anthology or subscribe for a year at Pantheon

Third Flatiron Publishing's "Strange Beasties" anthology (which yours truly has a story in) is up for pre-order at Amazon. You can also subscribe to a year's subscription over at Pantheon for a measly 12 bucks.

Have you done it already?

Check out the the full list of "Strange" authors for this anthology on Third Flatiron's website here.

Disclosure: I get no proceeds from these sales, but of course I'd like you to read my piece! :)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Story ... SOLD! (Pro sale to Third Flatiron Publishing)


Third Flatiron Publishing has picked up one of my stories for its Fall 2017 anthology, Strange Beasties, to be published in December September 2017.

I am totally stoked.

There shall be no bitching or complaining about writing (or That Famous Horror Writer) on this blog for at least another two weeks. At least. Hear hear!

Friday, July 14, 2017

My worst fear, thinking out loud, random thoughts, stream-of-consciousness thisas-and-thatas about "The Novel," and the last two months

Let's start with the good news: I am happy to say that I have utterly obliterated the six-month Writer's Block I wrote about last time. Not only that, but my writing skill has vastly improved, and I can say this with no hubris because I see where it was lacking before. I've penned an extraordinary number of tales since April 29. No sales yet, but I am "proud of myself" for what I have achieved, and the occasional editor's comment has gone a long way to improve my skill.

I believe I have finally developed that "Writer's Attitude" which That Famous Horror Writer alludes to in On Writing: Write, submit, pin the rejection up on the wall, don't give a shit, keep writing, it's all part of the biz.

I have a tale over at Baen's Bar at the moment (login required), if you want to go have a look. I'd love your feedback.

I also got another Silver Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future Contest, which I found quite hilarious, because I sent in a trunk story for that quarter. (It was around the time of my Writer's Block.) So, what does that tell me? Diddly. It tells me that Readers' Tastes are a subject understood only by the gods and that one should merely Write, Submit, Pin the Rejection Up, Not Give a Shit, and Keep Writing, because It's All Part of the Biz.

I'm pleased enough with the last three tales I've written that I don't think I'm even going to specifically pen a piece for the WotF this quarter, and instead send one of those pieces in (after they get rejected from their current markets because, hey, I sort of expect rejection these days, and that's also cool).

Now the "icky" news: "The Novel."

I've essentially written myself out of markets. Sure, I could delve into extremely specific SF ("our magazine needs a well-developed geological aspect for MG readers" or "our publication requires SF which delves into the subject of gender and its relation to...") but that would mean (a) researching highly-specific areas I know nothing about, resulting in (b) stories which I will be able to send nowhere else if (when, more likely) they get rejected, and (c) pull me off the Ultimate Goal which is, and has always been, "The Novel." 

Oh, and (e) -- because I know nothing about SF, the story is likely to turn out crap anyway, so it would just be one dang-bang long waste of time. I've been focusing on Historical Fantasy for the last nine months. It is starting to pay off nicely (it's getting easier / faster to pen tales in the mid 18th century).

I've admitted to myself, finally, that I am not a SF writer, and don't pretend to be. But I write fantasy, oh yes, replete with muskets, perukes, make-up patches, and that ever-present (yet never-mentioned) whiff of lingering chamber-pots, open sewage drains, and privies which (they don't tell you this when you watch Turn) never get cleaned. (Another one no one ever mentions is, er, yeah, if there wasn't any toilet paper... Say it with me, people: Verisimilitude!)

I've also stopped writing Flash Fiction, because (a) there are too few pro markets for me to send the pieces out to if (when, darn it!) they get rejected and, (b) writing a flash piece can take almost as long as a short story sometimes ... but can get rejected just as quickly. 

I'm a practical guy. It's all great and hunky to talk about "Art for Art's Sake" but I believe that my efforts should all be aimed at getting paid ... even if only eventually. I'd rather pen a tale that I can send to twenty markets, than one which I can only send to, like, two.

To be clear: I am not complaining or ranting. Honestly, I'm not. I'm just thinking out loud. I'm indeed very pleased with how the last two months have gone. I've improved tremendously as a writer. I still have a ways to go, and I have no markets to write for at present so, well, I'm blogging.

So, now what!? What do I freaking do now?

Wouldn't it be great if there were some way to make a little cash on the side with writing such as Ghostwriting, Pro Blogging ... (are there any other options?). I had a squiz (that means a "brief look") at some options, got depressed and overwhelmed when they required resumés and such ... and gave up. Does anyone know how to get into this racket without references such as "I penned seventy-three NYT bestsellers and got credit for none of them," and also without having to charge zilch Dollars per word because you're a nobody?

I'm stubborn. This is the problem. I actually called up my main client two months ago and said, "Er, look, I'm not really that available anymore unless you have something freaking juicy for me to work on." I was sick of the treadmill and wanted to dedicate myself 100% to writing. It was worth it. Nothing beats waking up in the morning and knowing in your hungry stomach that, if you don't pen something brilliant today, you're gonna be in some pretty deep merda / Scheisse / merde very soon.

I have enough reserves to be able to keep chasing this dream for, more or less, another year or so, without having to worry about work ... too much. I could probably squeeze it longer ... because I'm stubborn. I want to write for a living. This is all I want to do, nothing else, no other option -- Writing or Bust!

In a way, I'm forcing myself to "stay a little hungry" because I have the gut-feeling that this is the only way a writer can truly MAKE IT. (Remember That Famous Horror Writer? Hell, that dude was poor before he broke through.)

Uh-huh? And now? What do I do now!?

As I ran out of markets, I looked into other avenues to KEEP MYSELF WRITING.
I signed up for Writer's Market to hunt for publishers seeking unagented manuscripts. Wow, that was a waste of dough. I ticked "Unagented Manuscripts," and 80% of the search results didn't even match the query.

There also weren't that many to begin with.

So I canceled my trial and got a refund and picked up the same info from blogs (for free) around the web. None of the info was very promising, for a multitude of reasons. (If you're interested, what did look most promising was Tor, DAW, Baen's, and one or two others which one hardly needs a forty-buck subscription to Writer's Market to find.)

I considered returning to my "dark days" and penning some New Adult crap (which, once upon a time, did pay some bills for me). Possibly even some YA crap.
Urgh.......
I--just--can't.
Those days are over for me. O-V-E-R.

I considered self-pubbing under the "Paulo da Silva" name, maybe some horror or a dark fantasy ... but I've been down that self-pubbing road (cf. my last article). The thought of spending a month churning out some substandard swill for the sake of a few extra bucks at the end of the month (because, let's face it, none of my twenty self-pubbed novels have actually made me any decent dough compared to the work I put into them) is just ... disheartening. 

That's the very reason I started writing under the name "Paulo da Silva." I wanted to "do it properly." Getting published, clawing my way up, actually learn something about writing. 

Is it just me, or are there nowhere near enough short story markets around? Oh, and while we're on the subject, I did a comparison of pro pay-rates for those pulp-fiends of the 30s and saw that one could actually hope to make a living at 1c a word back then. (10,000 words x $0.01 = $100.00, which equates to +/- $1,400 these days, i.e. $0.14 a word ... )

I've considered penning mystery short stories. Same problem as Flash -- not enough markets for the piece to be worth it if (when!!) it gets rejected. I found zero romance markets. (I found a few erotica markets but, urgh.)

The final conclusion was the usual conclusion: It's time for me to face my fears and write that novel which I've been planning on writing since August or November last year. If I've learned one thing in the last 2 1/2 months, an extraordinary amount of "complexities" disappear if I just put my helmet on and write. Often I have to re-write. Often, I discover that the 5,000 words I've just penned don't make sense and need to be scrapped. The interesting thing is that none of these issues get resolved by researching or plotting or ... whatever; at least not for me. They get resolved by drinking tons of coffee, getting into that boxing ring and delivering one mother of an upper-cut to that story.

It doesn't mean I don't come out without a blue eye, or several missing teeth. 

It works, at least for me. I research enough to get me going, then I put on my gloves. Once upon a time, I wished it could be easier for me to write. I thought there was maybe "something wrong with me" because words don't flow from me like some super-duper-incredible-simile-here, and that I have to resort to such degraded tools as dictionaries and thesauri and encyclopedias to tell my tells. I have to sweat and think and work and pace up and down my apartment.

That concern has dissipated. A hungry man might complain about how hard it is to hunt a deer. He must still hunt the deer, somehow; and after he has hunted the deer, he can eat the deer. This is the attitude I am trying to cultivate with my writing. Maybe there are writers out there who require only to puff elegantly on cigarette-holders while contemplating earth-shaking plots. Power to them. I tend to need to box and fight to get my stories down on paper.

Re the novel: I think I need to adopt the same attitude as with my short stories: Write, Submit, Pin up the Rejection Slip, Don't take it Personally, because That's The Biz. 

The only problem worth solving, ever, I believe, is how to write fast enough while still maintaining quality. Because I just don't see that anyone can ever hope to make a living at this game (at least in the early stages) by writing slowly. Has anyone seen Trumbo? Hell, what a writer...

And now ... the Fear: that Gut-Wrenching Horror-Terror I Suffer From:

So, it's me and my novel ... until the next Short Story market opens up.
I think part of the problem is that I'm scared. That's what blocked me last year, my own fears. It wasn't easy facing up to them with the short stories, but I no longer feel like I've been knocked out for the count whenever I receive a rejection. A novel is a much longer project. I dread spending months on a project only to be told, "Hey, look, it actually really sucks. I mean, like, badly. Like, your work is terrible. It is just awful, horrible. Give up. Stop writing. Go beg on the street instead, go sweep up trash. Anything! Just, please, whatever you do, don't ever send us another story again!"

This is why I felt it was not hubris that made me say I feel my writing has improved dramatically, and that I wrote some good stories recently. Because this is the horror which gnaws at me constantly, endlessly: Am I good enough? It is a physical terror which makes my head heavy and stops me from writing. Only sheer willpower got me through it last time. "Boys and Girls: If it takes X willpower to get a scaredycat writer to write a 5,000-word tale. How much will it take to get him to write a 100,000-word novel, hmm?"

"Oh, teacher--me! Me! Pick me!"

So.

I've bared my soul. 

But, fear not, I never write on this blog for pity. If anything, I suffer more from over-optimism than from fear. Opening myself up on my last blog post gave me such a boost when I was stuck that I'm simply doing the same again. Hopefully you won't hear from me for another six months, because that means I'll be writing.

And when things get tough (like now), I'll just remind myself: That's the Biz.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

News, Updates, "The Novel," Writer's Block (OMG!) -- What's been happening since October last year?

I feel like I have just broken through the worst bout of Writer's Block anyone has ever experienced in their entire lives. (Yeah, right...)

Because readers don't like reading about writers' problems, I'll spare you the details.

The very reason for me posting this random / stream-of-consciousness post is because I feel I should write something, somewhere in order to keep any vague hopes of becoming a published author alive.

I received an Honorable Mention to my last story into the Writers of the Future. The result is not as good as my second-last entry (Silver Honorable Mention), but it's better than my last one (straight reject). This is officially my fifth (or seventh? maybe eighth? I lost count...) entry into the competition. The good news is: Before last year, I used to get straight rejects all the time. (I was such a freaking bad writer three years ago -- I mean, awful.)

I wrote a novel since November last year -- a desperate attempt to get something published in this dog-eat-dog world of writing. I self-published it; the first review out the block was a five star (thank goodness) but reviews don't mean shit, only hard sales do, and that novel was not entirely what I want to write anyway (it was a contemporary YA Romance) but, hey, I was blocked, and I was glad to get something out the door. (I wrote it under another name.)

The essence of my Tale of Woe is this:
I got sick of rejections, I decided to try write a novel (not that hack-novel above; another novel) instead of short stories, I got an idea for a setting, and the research has been an absolute nightmare. Yes, it's a truly "original" story (hence, why the research is so difficult), but it's taken everything out of me. I've been working on it since November / October last year (maybe even earlier). I am now stuck between the two possibilities that (a) I am trying too hard or (b) I am not trying hard enough.

I read a novel from Stephen King the other day (Colorado Kid) which completely SUCKED (yeah, yeah, King, I know you tell us that we're "wrong" at the end of the novel for thinking there was absolutely NO PLOT to it -- which only confirms that you got lazy, because why even bother commenting on it to your Constant Readers?) and I cannot help but feel disparaged that "The Big Boys" can publish so much trite because they have "Made it" while the rest of us spend six months trying to come up with Original Ideas and Knock-Your-Socks-Off stories when that isn't necessarily what people want. Or is it?

Anyway, I know King's tale, I read his book on writing: He's been through this (actually, he's been through worse) and he broke through it, like I guess everyone must break through. And there's no use griping about it, is there? So, I assume once I've broken through, I can also publish crap and get paid millions for it. (I hope not... Maybe King said the same thing in the early days...)

So, here I am, researching, researching, researching, and I wonder if I shouldn't just be writing, writing, writing instead.

I took advice from some "Top Writers" on "how to write" which ground my production to a dead halt. So I've come to the conclusion, now, that I must ignore all advice and simply write and maybe the Great Gods of Literature will bless me with their epiphanies if I simply do that for long enough, and submit enough stories.

Anyway, nothing is ever hopeless. I will probably regret this post later. But, hey, seeing as no one knows who I am anyway, it doesn't matter, because I can just delete the post later, and no one would care or know any better...

I promise that the next post will have better news (unless it doesn't...)

Bitching over, this is my current game plan:
- Continue researching and plotting "The Novel" because it truly has a "Bright Idea" associated with it, and I cannot think of a better one (and haven't been able to for six months).
- Use that research to also write short stories, and submit those short stories
- For the next few months, make all short stories related to "The Novel," and then put them together and turn them into a novel, so that I can, maybe at the end of the year, start canvassing for a Literary Agent who completely and totally loves my writing and thinks I am going to be the next (Stephen King?) "Big Name Author" who can write trash and get paid lots of big bucks for it in about ten years.
- Last, but not least, stop trashing Stephen King. He's not the reason your last story got rejected.

Best,
Paulo

PS. Maybe I'll start blogging more, too. Maybe...

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

"The Novel," and a trip to Lisbon...

I'm two days into a 17-day research trip in Lisbon for "The Novel" (that being the current designation of my Bright Idea for a book which hopefully I will actually finish writing, eventually, and then sell some day...) My feet are blue from walking and I feel ill from too many cafés, but at least I know now how deep the notches were for the bolts which locked one of the portal doors through the old wall surrounding the city (this particular doorway being at the Chafariz d'El Rey," or "King's Fountain").

I present it to you here, for I know you suffer from sleepless nights for lack of this knowledge... 


And here's another doorway, what they call a "wicket," which is apparently a thin passageway, only for pedestrians, through a fortification wall. Creepy, eh? Looks like the perfect setting for a horror novel.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Silver Honorable Mention, Writers of the Future, Q3, 2016

I received a "Silver Honorable Mention" for my story entry in the Writers of the Future Contest, 3rd Quarter, 2016.

It's not a sale, but it does mean that some of the big-hitters like Orson Scott Card and Nancy Kress and Kevin J. Anderson and Brandon Sanderson actually read my story and thought it mostly didn't suck.

Yikes, did these folk really read my story!? Wowser!