Category Archives: Opinion

2013: The Parting Glass

Now that 2013 is officially in the rearview, I’m not as hung over as I expected to be, but I’ve long known I’m a social drinker and when the party is small, so are my drinks. The party last night was just that—small—and in a way, quite reflective of the year I’ve had.

I don’t know if that’s necessarily a bad thing.

At any rate, I know a lot of my fellow writers are doing a “this is what I did with my writing” or a “this is what I’m going to do with my writing” post for the New Year and this is kind of like that, sort of, in a weird way.

What do you mean by weird, Chris?

Well, in 2013 I didn’t do shit all in regards to my writing. Oh, I wrote things; I just didn’t publish them. I went to some conventions and sold a few copies of my first novel, Necromancer, and met some cool folks out on the road. The awesome Nelson W. Pyles podcasted a few of my short and flash fiction pieces on The Wicked Library, but that was the extent of where my writing went the last 12 months.

Halfway through the year I freaked out about this. Of course, by the time June/July came around, I’d only subbed one piece (which ended up shortlisted and ultimately rejected). After the PMPress Writer’s Retreat at the end of July, I subbed two more pieces, and then another near the end of August. All three were (obviously) rejected by the respective editors. Looking back now, at the start of the new year, I’m more like fuck it. It is what it is. I did write, I just didn’t publish, and it’s about the former, not the latter.

One thing that I did do was get back into reading novels. Before some of you have a conniption over a writer “not reading,” let me explain: for the past several years, I’d read almost exclusively short fiction as the editor for Title Goes Here: and it was awesome; I was able to read and publish writers like Alison Littlewood, Paul Anderson, and Alexis A. Hunter. But it didn’t leave much time for novel reading. Sure, I’d squeeze in a couple here and there (and those were familiar books I’d read before), but not like I used to read. This year, I’m happy to say I put to rest 32 books over the last 12 months. The only book I attempted to read and didn’t finish was The Talisman by King and Straub. Sad to say this is like my third time trying, though I did make it further than any other attempt.

I will finish that book this year.

But, here’s the list of books I did read. You know, for the curious.

01)  Back Roads & Frontal Lobes by Brady Allen – 5/5
02)  They Thirst by Robert McCammon – 5/5
03)  Lucky Man by Michael J Fox – 3/5
04)  Phantoms by Dean Koontz – 4/5
05)  The Talisman by Stephen King & Peter Straub –
06)  Throttle by Stephen King & Joe Hill – 3/5
07)  Quarantined by Joe McKinney – 3/5
08)  The Hunt by Joseph Williams – 4/5
09)  The Rising by Brian Keene – 2/5
10)  Coraline by Neil Gaiman – 3/5
11)  Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill – 4/5
12)  Pavlov’s Dogs by D.L. Snell & Thom Brannan – 3/5
13)  Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock by Sammy Hagar – 3/5
14)  (dis)Comfort Food by Brad Carter – 5/5
15)  Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist – 4/5
16)  Demons, Dolls, and Milkshakes by Nelson W. Pyles – 5/5
17)  A Trail in Blood by J. David Anderson – 5/5
18)  Losing Touch by Christian A. Larsen – 5/5
19)  Draculas by Crouch, Kilborn, Strand, Wilson – 3/5
20)  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – 4/5
21)  War of the Worlds by HG Wells – 2/5
22)  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – 4/5
23)  1984 by George Orwell – 4/5
24)  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – 4/5
25)  I, Robot by Isaac Asimov – 3/5
26)  Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein – 3/5
27)  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick – 3/5
28)  Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – 4/5
29)  The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin – 3/5
30)  Children of Men by PD James – 3/5
31)  Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand – 3/5
32)  The Hand of God by Tony Acree – 4/5
33)  The Wolf’s Moon by Patrick Jones – 2/5

I started building a reading list for this year a couple weeks ago, which includes several old King books I haven’t read in a decade or so, plus some other things I found on the bookshelves here I hadn’t read. I also received four Jonathan Maberry books for Christmas. They’re on the list, too. I can’t even speak to the number of books I have on my Kindle. I’ll read some of those, too.

I watched many movies in 2013. I can’t say I’m completely proud of this, but it’s a fact, and I do love movies. The number I watched is about double the number of books I read, but this list does include the few movies I saw at the theater and Netflix movies. Here’s that list, too, for the curious folk.

01)  Diary of a Nymphomaniac – 4/5
02)  Apartment 143 – 3/5
03)  Sector 7 – 3/5 (Korean, subtitled)
04)  Trollhunter – 4/5 (Norwegian, subtitled)
05)  The Tall Man – 3/5
06)  Dead Season – 2/5
07)  In the Spider’s Web – 1/5
08)  Good Neighbours – 3/5
09)  The Rig – 2/5
10)  The Lost Tribe – 1/5
11)  Airborne – 3/5
12)  The Innkeepers – 3/5
13)  The Devil Inside – 2/5
14)  Black Death – 3/5
15)  Cashback – 3/5
16)  Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness – 2/5
17)  Intruders – 3/5
18)  Rango – 3/5
19)  The Day – 2/5
20)  Dead Snow -3/5 (Norwegian, subtitled)
21)  Chernobyl Diaries – 2/5
22)  The Thirst: Blood War – 2/5
23)  Red: Werewolf Hunter -2/5
24)  Cleopatra’s Second Husband – 2/5
25)  Pontypool – 4/5
26)  Total Recall (2012) – 3/5
27)  Jack the Giant Slayer – 3/5
28)  Evil Dead (2013) – 4/5
29)  Byzantium – 3/5
30)  The Lords of Salem – 3/5
31)  Battleship – 2/5
32)  Chronicle -2/5
33)  TMNT (2007, animated) – 3/5
34)  Behind the Candelabra – 4/5
35)  Extinction: The G.M.O. Chronicles – 2/5
36)  The Last Stand – 3/5
37)  Sanctum – 2/5
38)  Hanna – 2/5
39)  Cowboys vs. Aliens – 2/5
40)  Darkwolf – 1/5
41)  Wrath of the Titans – 2/5
42)  Trip to the Moon (1902) – 3/5
43)  The Great Train Robbery (1903) – 3/5
44)  World War Z – 3/5
45)  Frankenstein (1931) – 3/5
46)  The Public Enemy (1931) – 3/5
47)  This is the End – 3/5
48)  The Heat – 3/5
49)  Rear Window – 4/5
50)  His Girl Friday – 3/5
51)  Storage 24 – 2/5
52)  The Frankenstein Theory – 2/5
53)  Oklahoma! – 2/5
54)  Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) – 4/5
55)  Pacific Rim – 2/5
56)  The Wicker Tree – 2/5
57)  Spiders – 2/5
58)  The Conjuring – 3/5
59)  State of Emergency – 3/5
60)  Compliance – 4/5
61)  Shame – 4/5
62)  R.I.P.D. – 3/5
63)  Dredd – 3/5
64)  Infected – 2/5
65)  Stevie – 3/5
66)  Fatso (Norwegian, subtitled) – 4/5
67)  Battledogs – 2/5
68)  Apollo 18 – 3/5
69)  John Dies at the End – 4/5
70)  War of the Dead – 2/5
71)  War of the Worlds (1953) – 2/5
72)  The Sessions – 4/5
73)  Frankenstein (2005) – 3/5
74)  Mimic – 3/5
75)  Children of Men – 4/5
76)  Paranormal Activity 4 – 2/5
77)  The Possession – 2/5
78) War of the Worlds (2005) – 3/5

For the extra curious, you can read my post on how I derive my ratings here. If you don’t care, don’t click.

Overall, 2013 was a decent year for me and I’m happy in the growth I made as a writer. Personally, it was up and down. Probably the best part was finding out that grandfatherhood (BAM! just made up that word) here in a few months (March), while the worst part was fighting against depression and lethargy. I’m used to these spells just not for this long.

Funny truth…

On 12/31, before the drinking started, I did this Facebook “mental age test” and answered the questions honestly (c’mon, you know you fudge those fucking quiz answers to skew the results to whatever you think they should be) and my mental age was 16. Those of you who know me are aware I’m on the far side of 16 x 2. I don’t feel 16; I certainly don’t act 16 (though my wife may disagree with that). I believe it’s a sign I still hold a somewhat romantic and optimistic view of life and people, while masticating the shit sandwich I have every day for lunch.

Strangely, though, I’m okay with that.

Good night and joy be with you all.

Hello, 2014.

Opinion: Fun little viral list thing… thanks, Chris Larsen…

I got tagged. Yep, Chris Larsen got me, so here we go.

It’s a bit different from most others, and I like it, so I’m going to do it. It’s all about the ten books that stayed with you. Ten books? I have a few more than that, but I can easily give ten that shaped what I love to read and write.

Here they are, in no particular order, the ten books that have stayed with me over the years:

1)    The Tomb by F. Paul Wilson
2)    Watchers by Dean Koontz
3)    Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
4)    The Beasts of Valhalla by George C. Chesbro
5)    Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
6)    I am Legend by Richard Matheson
7)    The Seduction of Peter S. by Lawrence Sanders
8)    They Thirst by Robert R. McCammon
9)    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
10) The Stand by Stephen King

The hardest one was the King novel. So much of his early work was crucial to me as a young(er) reader, and honestly, his short stories impacted me more than any of the novels. Uncle Stevie can write a bitchin’ fuckin’ short story, man.

Now it’s my turn to tag some peoples, so if someone has tagged you already, no need to do it again. If you haven’t been tagged, have fun!

Here we go… my man Nelson Pyles, Alexis A. Hunter, G. Elmer Munson, and the awesome Kenneth Cain.

Opinion: Contamination Defcon 4 Report

contamination

Copyright to Dave Dyer, 2006

Another Contamination has come and gone.

It was my second convention in as many weeks and my third Contamination. I enjoy this convention, not just because it’s in my hometown of St. Louis, but mainly for that reason. It’s a much smaller convention than most of the ones I generally attend, and that has positive and negative components. The positive being a more intimate atmosphere with the other vendors and the celebrities. The negative being less foot traffic and fewer opportunities to sell.

Like most conventions, Contamination suffered from a few logistical issues, but none that seemed to greatly alter people’s expectation or experience. That’s to say it wasn’t a near clusterfuck like Fandomfest the weekend prior (you can read my blog post about Fandomfest here). The KISS cover band, Rocket Ride, and tiki party were easy to find, as was the dance party the following night. In all honesty, the biggest issue for me was no ATM in the hotel. Really sucks when you’re trying to get drinks from a cash bar and you have no cash. So, Holiday Inn South County, get a fucking ATM, eh?

The only thing I questioned was the size as compared to the two previous years. It seemed much, much smaller this year, despite the reports that it was the biggest one yet. It didn’t seem that way to me, but I don’t crunch the numbers for the con, so who knows?

losingtouchI was able to hang out with some family and and old friend from high school (more on that later, I hope). Nearly sold out of Necromancer again, but missed the mark by a single book. As usual, it’s nice to hang with Mr. Beebe of Post Mortem Press. I also got to hang out with Chris Larsen for the second time, which was also very cool. His book, Losing Touch, is getting great feedback. I know everyone’s read my book by now (right?!) so check out Losing Touch today.

All in all, if there’s a fifth Contamination, I intend to go.

Opinion: Fandomfest Report

I’m sitting here in my room at the Holiday Inn in St. Louis for Contamination (starting tomorrow) and last weekend, I was at the Galt House in Louisville, Kentucky. This post will deal with my thoughts on the Louisville convention, Fandomfest.

Many people have written up their own reviews and most of them have been negative. I cannot invalidate their complaints (I share some of them), but it wasn’t that bad for me.

fandomfest

The worst part, by far, was the walk from the hotel to the convention center. The reason that’s listed as a complaint is solely for the fact that it made going to my room for anything a pain in the ass. It’s not like my suave body couldn’t use the workout, but when I ran out of whiskey in my flask, it just wasn’t worth it to walk back and forth.

NecromancerMy only other complaint was the lack of attendance to the literary panels. I joined the track to put myself out in front of people, obviously in order to help promote Post Mortem Press and sell Necromancer. If you know me, then you know doing things like panels are way, way outside my comfort zone. In light of that acknowledgment, it should be known that I worried myself so much that I debated slinking away to hide. I’m proud to say I didn’t, but fuck, man, all that stress for nothing. It didn’t make me happy.

 

To be clear, this wasn’t the fault of the lit track organizer, but rather the Fandomfest staff. Stephen Zimmer did a bang up job providing interesting and engaging panels, fun panels, and when you needed something from him, he provided it. But you can’t get traffic to your portion of the event if the main Fandomfest staff leave your panels off the main schedule, no one is going to show up.

Those two issues aside, I met some cool writers, a few new publishers, and assorted people who can do things I can’t. I also sold out of Necromancer, despite the low attendance to the literary panels. We’d probably have done better if the convention had been better organized. The majority of guests spent hours (and we’re talking in upwards of 6-7 hours here) and that stunted foot traffic in the vendor hall. Despite that, Post Mortem Press also did well. It’s not my business to ask other publishers how they did, so I didn’t, but I assume they did all right as well. I’ve read where some of the authors with their own tables didn’t fare as well, so who knows; generally, any convention is a craps shoot.

Will I go back to Fandomfest next year? That’ll depend on my publisher; I won’t go on my own, but if Post Mortem Press returns, I probably will as well. Let’s just hope Fandomfest pulls its head out of its ass before then and makes it so people want to go back.

The cosplay was outstanding; I wish I’d taken more pictures, but I don’t think of these things until much later (like right now… see how that works?) and the few celebs I ran across were all smiles and nods. Well, except maybe Butch Patrick who was walking the streets of Louisville with a box over his shoulder and a snarl on his face.

Go figure.

Opinion: Sexism or Taste?

I just finished doing the dishes and drying my now soft-and-lavender smelling hands on a clean towel. I then used that towel to clear up some water off the counter. I also clean bathrooms, do laundry, and change diapers. Well, I did change diapers when needed, but my youngest is now potty trained and all we deal with now are the occasional accidents.

I used to think that all meant I wasn’t sexist. While none of the above qualifies for me anything remotely cool (like being a metrosexual, since I don’t shop enough nor care about appearance enough), I did think it meant gender roles and misogyny were not present in my life. And don’t take that the wrong way; I don’t hate women (love them, in fact) and I don’t think there’s any harm in a man doing any household chore or making less money than a woman.

But, after going to the movies twice this week, I realize there is sexism and misogyny present.

Let me explain.

Day or so ago, the wife and I went to see the Seth Rogen flick “This is the End.” As you can imagine, it’s a foul-mouthed, physical, ridiculously raunchy comedy. I didn’t love it (though, when Michael Cera is impaled by the street lamp, I did love it a little bit), but I did enjoy it. It’s not every day you get to see actors do shit like that, you know, making fun of each other and their professions in such a way. At one point, James Franco and Danny McBride have a three-minute argument about coming all over each other and their mothers and everything else. There’s fart jokes, fat jokes, piss jokes, cock jokes; it’s fucking garbage humor. Who can say or do the most outrageous fucking thing next.

Male humor.

Today, the wife and I went to see “The Heat” with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. It’s a generic buddy cop movie with your stiff partner and your over-the-top, nutty one. If this were a reimagining of “Lethal Weapon”, Bullock would be Murtaugh and McCarthy Riggs. McCarthy is a foul-mouthed, violent cop. I think every third word out of her mouth is fuck and well, if you know me, you know I appreciate the word fuck. Carlin and I agree on its many uses.

And the movie was okay; it certainly didn’t completely suck. I chuckled at times, even laughed out loud once or twice. However, if someone gave me a choice between “This is the End” and “The Heat,” there’s no contest. I’m watching a house full of dudes make dick jokes and drinking their own piss.

I wondered, momentarily, if this was more to do with “The Heat” being the overdone buddy cop movie. There’s more than a few of them, for sure. Turns out that’s not it, either. How do I know? Because I’ll watch “Lethal Weapon 4” before “The Heat” and LW4 was fucking horrid. We all wish Murtaugh would retire and Riggs along with him.

Okay, Chris, you’re saying. What’s your point?

Well, after the movie was over, the wife and I were debating the merits of each movie. This was, of course, before we left the theatre itself. Most of the people had already cleared and the usher was sweeping the aisles. He stopped and looked at us, we looked at him, and he goes, “Weren’t you the two in here the other day arguing over that other movie?”

We agreed we were (though, argument is too strong, see above and DEBATE) and he nodded, laughed. I’m sure he sees this kind of thing all the time. Then he leans in, almost conspiratorially, to my wife and whispers something.

“Say what?” I said.

“He said this movie was better,” my wife answered.

Gah!

We left the theatre and things ran through my head. What was it about this movie that put me off? It wasn’t either of the actresses: I haven’t seen McCarthy in much and I don’t mind Bullock. Granted, I tend to stay away from Bullock’s movies because they are, by and large, chick flicks… AHA! As we were driving past Kroger, it dawned on me that “The Heat,” branded a chick flick, was off my repeat radar for that single reason alone.

That’s when I got home and did the dishes, cleaned the counter, ate an oatmeal scotchie cookie, drank a cup of coffee, and started typing. I’ve tried to determine if this is just a one off, you know, the exception to the rule. And no, no, it’s not. I haven’t rewatched “Titanic” or “Pretty Woman” or “27 Dresses” or anything and none of those (except maybe 27 Dresses) are horrible movies. In fact, “Titanic” and “Pretty Woman” are pretty fucking good. I may be biased with “Titanic” though; it was the movie my wife and I saw on our first date.

It might be prudent, considering the topic, to point out that “Titanic” was her movie choice, too.

Now, some might be saying, it’s like a genre thing. But is it? Is “chick flick” a genre? Let’s face it; I love horror and science fiction movies. War movies and comedies are next. Dramatic movies are at the far end of the likability scale.

Before we call chick flick a genre, we need to develop a workable definition. Is a chick flick a movie about love only? Is it a movie with primarily female leads ala “Bridesmaids?” There’s very little love in “The Heat,” at least in regards to romantic sense of the word. So are chick flicks just movies bogged down by emotion? There was emotion in “The Heat” but there was also emotion in “48 Hours.” And believe me, no one would ever mistake that particular Nolte and Murphy movie as a chick flick. “Schindler’s List” is highly emotion and so is “Saving Private Ryan,” but they’re not chick flicks, despite Nathan Fillion’s turn as a whiney soldier in the latter.

It’s obvious (at least to me) that chick flicks must encompass more than this romantic or emotional base, so let’s also throw in movies that have multiple female leads, and the movies focus on the majority of these characters. So while Sigourney Weaver was the lead in the “Alien” franchise, the movies were far more ensemble in nature and therefore don’t qualify. The same thing goes for like “The Hunger Games” or “Tomb Raider.” Romantic movies make up the bulk of the chick flick genre, but I think it’s important to note that subgenres do exist.

The buddy movies, such as “The Heat” and “Thelma and Louise.”

The horror movies, such as “Descent” and “Ginger Snaps.”

The sci-fi movies, such as… well, I can’t think of any here. Surely someone out there knows of a female led sci-fi movie or two?

The comedies, such as “Bridesmaids” and “Pitch Perfect.”

Other than the movies in the horror subgenre, none of the others was particularly bad, just not what I’d watch again.

I don’t think it’s a matter of taste, either. But maybe that’s all it is. Yeah, you know, I don’t rewatch movies with lots of women in them. It’s not that I don’t like these movies, I like them fine (well, not the rom/coms, those suck), so is it “Hello, welcome to Sexism 101?” I doubt I’m the only one, but fucking hell, the guy at the movie theatre was up front that he liked “The Heat” more.

Speak up, people. Men and women, I want to hear your thoughts, so weigh in. Good, bad, ugly, I want it all. Do you share my sexist movie preferences, do you feel it’s just my “taste,” or do you have different ideas?

Writing/Opinion: Professionalism

I want to spend a minute today to talk about professionalism. If you know me, that probably sounds pretty funny, considering I don’t hesitate to drop the f-bomb into any conversation at a moment’s notice (in fact, there’s several in this blog post). I don’t stop to think about the words coming out of my mouth before I say them. Some people term that verbal diarrhea. And that’s all true; I freely admit to being one of the biggest dicks I know (I also freely admit to being one of the nicest people I know, but my hypocrisy knows no bounds). I’m opinionated and I pretty much disagree with 98% of the rejections I receive. Of course my fucking story was a perfect fit and I have no idea why it wasn’t chosen.

Despite my personality quirks described above, very few publishers or editors I’ve worked with know that about me. And until they read that line above, they probably thought their rejection letters were taken with a smile and a nod and possibly an “Oh, well. Better luck next time, Chris.”

Not so, not really, because if you’re a writer, rejection stings. Sure, eventually you get to that “better luck” point (sometimes it’s in 5 seconds, other times 5 years), but just like every other aspect of life, you’re judged mostly by your visible and public reactions to things. So you got a rejection letter. Not cool. Do you blast back at the editor/publisher with a “Hey, you’re a fucking tool!” or a “You’ll regret this because I’m the next Stephen King!” email? Or do you write back with something nicer, something like, “Would you mind telling me why my story didn’t make the cut?”

If you answered yes, keep reading.

Professionalism seems to be a lost art. And, by the way, professionalism is different than being polite; you can be polite and still be completely unprofessional. Professionalism goes beyond just saying please and thank you, as I’ll illustrate below.

I work in corporate America and it sucks. I’m not going to lie (nor am I going to say that’s a very professional thing to say, as it’s not) but it is a professional environment. There are standards that the company I work for must abide by and therefore, in my job capacity, there are standards that I must abide by. If I don’t abide by these markers set forth by my employer, what happens? My boss gets all pissy with me; I get reprimanded, possibly shit-canned. More than that, in my particular industry (which is heavily regulated), my employer can be fined and prohibited from doing business in certain geographic areas.

Now you’re probably wondering what all that has to do with being a writer. Well, consider those standards as a market’s submission guidelines. This means you better damn well read and follow them. Keep in mind, this is your reaction to those guidelines, not an action you’re taking (Your specific action in this scenario was writing your story, since you don’t have to send it anywhere). I read a lot of these blog posts where it’s “common courtesy” to follow a market’s guidelines. My response? FUCK THAT. It’s not a courtesy; it’s a requirement. By not following those guidelines, you’re being unprofessional. It’s not impolite to ignore a market’s request for 12 pt Courier, it’s fucking unprofessional. I don’t care if you hate Courier with a passion, if it leapt off the page and ate your mother’s face off, if the market wants Courier, it’s CTRL-A, change font, SAVE AS…

During my time editing Title Goes Here:, I’d have those people who wouldn’t read the guidelines and submit some of the most off the wall shit; they were rejected, without being read. And here’s a further little note: I kept a spreadsheet of submissions. Title, author name, and, if a piece was rejected, the reasons why. We weren’t a huge magazine, reading only about 700 subs a period, so I felt it was nice to remember people if they subbed again. But, I also knew if your first submission was some deformed version of our guidelines, too. You could be certain I was looking closely at your new baby, too.

Another thing: make sure your cover letter is in complete sentences, has proper capitalization and grammar, and addresses the things the market wants addressed. Usually that’s story title, word count, sometimes a brief list of publications, and a bio, in case you’re accepted.

Notice what information isn’t asked for up there?

Anyone?

Bueller?

Bueller?

Your name.

But that doesn’t mean don’t sign your email. You have no idea how many cover letters I’d get that looked like this (yes, this is an actual cover letter):

hi, here’s my story. let me know if its good enuff to be published. thanks.

Okay, I get it… we’re on the internet, dealing with something as impersonal as email, but that’s even more reason to make your communications professional. Hopefully, the above example illustrates the difference between polite and professional. I mean, they said hi and thanks, so really, that’s polite enough. But the professionalism is important here because what if the story is on the cusp and it needs some editing, which means working with that author to get the story where it needs to be. I couldn’t imagine any further email communication with this person. First impressions count.

And, lately, I have seen some markets now having “don’t forget to include your name” in their guidelines. This saddens me. It’s unreal that we’re so unprofessional that we need to tell people to sign their fucking name to a letter.

The other things that fall into that professionalism category are, like I stated above, not going back to the publisher/editor after being rejected, especially if your comeback is snark or ignorant in any way. You can be, and usually are, forgiven for asking for feedback, but don’t turn to being dick if A) you don’t like the feedback or B) you’re told no.

Reactions, people. It’s all about your reactions to these situations.

They also extend to personal meetings, though less so. Those personal interactions is where polite really comes into play. I’ve met editors who’ve rejected me, and it’s never, “Hey, you fucker, you rejected me…” it’s always “Hi, nice to finally meet you.” Shake hands, smile, and be personable since it’s unlikely you’re wearing a pinstriped suit, polo, or even khakis and a tie. Speak well, be as well groomed as possible (sometimes, in convention land, this isn’t as easy as it sounds), and try not to be drunk (again, a feat not as easy as it sounds).

Look at it this way: every time you submit a story to a market, you’re applying for a job. You want compensation for your work, which means you need to give that market not only a story worth publishing, but also an author worth representing. The writing “industry” isn’t huge and publishers/editors talk to each other. They listen, they hear your name, and you want them to hear your name in a positive light. You don’t want to be “that writer” who gets the thumbs down chat, the mockery, and placed on that “watch list” because you didn’t provide a professional package.

Think before you submit. Proofread. Remember those lessons from way back when about spelling, grammar, punctuation. Say please and thank you. Sign your name.

Bottom line is that to be taken seriously, then you have to be serious. That extends beyond putting your ass in a chair and writing as best you can. Every contact you have with an editor or publisher should be as clean as possible, professional, and top-notch.

Questions, comments, discussion are always welcome.

Writing/Opinion: TX Frightmare and Conventions

So, I should be writing or editing or doing something productive, but instead I’m doing a blog post.

“What about,” you ask?

“That’s a good question,” I reply.

“Well, considering you were supposed to do one at the beginning of April and didn’t, it’s at least valid.”

“True enough.”

“Well? Get on with it…”

Yeah, yeah. This isn’t the blog post I was going to put up back then (that one is only half written, actually, and involves writer’s groups). This post is about Texas Frightmare and conventions, so it’s partially on topic when it comes to writing.

It’ll be fairly brief, I hope. I don’t have a lot to say on the matter other than I had an excellent time at TX Frightmare. The publisher, Post Mortem Press, sold a ton of books (we even sold out of Necromancers), I drank myself almost to oblivion Saturday night, and spent four of my vacation days in a car. It’s a pretty long drive from Ohio to Texas (even with a layover in The Lou to drop off a kid with my parents).

I met some cool folks (new friends, horror fans, celebrities), watched a very early screening of Neil Jordan’s vamp flick Byzantium (I think it comes out end of June), and spent way too much fucking money (hotel breakfast buffet was $14.00 if that’s an indication).

As far as conventions go, while I find it awesome to “see” celebrities, I’m not the kind of person who goes up and pays for the picture and autograph. Don’t think I’m knocking people who do (I’m not), it’s just not my bag. That being said, I don’t shy away from conversing with them when the opportunity presents itself and, for me, relating to them on that personal level, that “Hey, how you doing? Good convention so far?” playing field is the best.

Where is all this leading?

Well, it’s really for the other small press authors, I guess. I think it’s important to realize that while these conventions are mostly monetary vampires that will drain a bank account faster than Dracula eating Mina (picture that any way you want), it’s vital to show your face. It’s necessary to be there. Not at all of them, of course, but as many as we’re able. It’s another way to build (dare I say it?) a fan base for your work. Isn’t the key to investment diversity? So why shouldn’t diversity be the key to investing in yourself as well?

I haven’t had much luck w/social media or this damned blog (though I appreciate all of you who do read it), but hopefully continuing this mixed bag of everything will pay off in the end?

Authors, editors, others… what say you?