Finished Projects and WIPs – June 2018

Happy summer, my friends! Just a quick update on how far I’ve come and where I’m going…

Finished Projects

I’ve added a new page to the site here titled “Finished Projects” that I hope will be a helpful guide for any literary agents or publishers that happen to be stalking me (And yes, stalkers of that nature are more than welcome!). I’ll be updating it on a regular basis as I finish projects or as pieces find homes. I guess you could call it an author portfolio of sorts, or perhaps a constantly changing resume.  Either way, here’s the overview list thus far:

Novels:
Kira’s Tale  (self-published)
Hope’s Journey (New Adult Fantasy, seeking agent/publisher)
Ghost at Grandma’s (Middle Grade Fiction, seeking agent/publisher)

Short Stories: 
“Wizard’s Task” – Children’s. (615 Words)
“The Price of Fine Art” – Literary. (2,200 Words)
“Home Sweet Haunted Home” – Horror/Paranormal/Suspense. (3,300 words)
“Revenge” – Horror/Supernatural. (1,100 words)
“The Banquet Hall” – Suspense/Horror. (1800 words)
“Worthy is the Lamb” – Suspense/Horror. (5,100 words)
“Train Wreck” – Suspense/Horror. (1500 words)

Not bad, I don’t think, especially because these are polished pieces I am proud of, not just half finished drafts. There are a few short stories not listed because they are ‘in the shop’ so to speak – they are waiting for me to get around to editing and revising, and not ready to be submitted anywhere.

WIP (Work in Progress) Projects

A writer never stops just because we finished a project. There is always something we’re working on, and most the time it’s about a hundred different projects all at once. It’s the beauty of being a writer, really – having the ability to wake up every morning and decide on the spot what you want to work on today. Like the majority of writers out there, I’ve given myself plenty of projects to work on, just in case I’m not in the mood for a specific one.

Here’s what I’ve got going on right now…

Horror/Adult Novel
I’m a sucker for a good old fashion ghost story. Over the winter, I satisfied a life long dream of writing a children’s ghost story like the ones I fell in love with when I was a child. Now that I’ve grown up, I love adult ghost stories, but again find the genre is lacking some ‘good old fashion’ ghost stories. It seems “paranormal” has been changed to “paranormal romance”, and I’d like to pull back the reigns on this merger. Ghosts rarely ever get the spotlight, either, and many stories are focused on the living people instead of the ghosts. I’d like to solve both of these problems, while also honoring a few of my deceased relatives by ‘bringing them back to life’ with mannerisms and speech that were unique to them.

Young Adult/Teen Fiction Novel
I haven’t touched this novel for months, yet I’ll mention it anyway. It’s a half finished story of a teenage girl who discovers her necklace has power. There is family drama, magic in a real world setting, some twists and turns, and no plan as to how/where it will end. I’ve got a few ideas, but nothing that I’ve been able to connect fully to the half that is already written. Maybe this is what other writers are talking about when mentioning ‘plot holes’. I’m sure I’ll figure it out soon, as I’m not ready to give up on the story. I just need to finish some other projects first.

Short Story – “Lost and Found”
Normally I wouldn’t have time to even mention a short story, since usually by the time I mention I’m working on it, it’s finished. This one is a bit different. It’s a rather long short story, especially for me. I expect it to be somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 words, which of course can be quite long for a ‘short’ story. This one seems more important somehow, probably because the idea behind it has been lodged in my brain for weeks. A girl from out of state is stranded, and she experiences… well, my community. We are a different kind of people out here. When someone is lost, they aren’t lost for long. If you are genuinely in need, we come out of the woodwork to help. This is the message I’d like to offer in this story – that my neck of the woods is a beautiful place to live, and places like this still exist in the world. I think what’s taking me so long is making sure my details are in order (I’m getting picky with it), and that the message comes across loud and clear.

Additional Short Stories and Publishing Projects
I have a few other projects on the back burner (some of them WAY in the back) worth mentioning because they are specifically for publications/contests.

The Sun Magazine is something I’ve recently subscribed to and absolutely adore. There is no way I’m prepared to submit a regular piece, however, they have something called “readers write”. I love this idea, and feel it’s less terrifying than submitting to ‘the real’ slush pile. I’m working on something that will need to be sent in before the end of the month.

Midnight Dreams/Midnight Nightmares will be an anthology of short stories. I love the idea behind it, and let’s be honest, what writer is going to turn down a paying market? I don’t believe any of my current pieces ‘fit’, so I’ll be creating something new to submit. The due date isn’t until November, but I’ve given myself until September to finish something, that way there will be plenty of time to revise and edit without overloading the editor too close to the deadline.

– Penny Fiction by Haunted Waters Press is an interesting concept. Basically the “stories” are nothing more than 18 words. What is published is a poster that features everyone’s “stories”. I love this because it’s like a writing exercise, but with the potential of being paid and published. Due date is the end of July, but I plan to submit my “stories” (you can send more than one as long as its on a single page) by the first of July. Almost finished with this one, since I have a specific number in mind that I plan to submit.

That’s all for now! Obviously the list will change, although this is what’s on my plate for June and July.

Happy reading and writing!

Advertisements

Author Beware: My Experience with a Bad Publisher

*********************
Disclaimer: This post is not here to “out” anyone or to point fingers. I don’t name names or publications. This is post is meant to show how important researching the publication is, and outline the red flags I spotted along the way.
*********************

First let me say, I don’t claim to be an expert of the publishing world. While I’ve been writing for over 20 years, I’m also not a ‘best selling’ author or authority on writing. I have, however, written a few fiction novels, short stories, and poetry that I am quite proud of, but I am also still learning and perfecting my craft, as well as trying to find the perfect ‘home’ for all my pieces.

That said, I’m relatively new to the submission scene, or rather, what it has become since the last time I wrote fiction to submit a decade ago.

As I wrote the two novels I’m currently querying for, I also wrote a few new short stories to submit to publications. Why not? My thought was, the publication credits would be nice, as would ‘getting my feet wet’ with the submission and publication process before I started querying for novels. I understand and expect rejections, and even look forward to them sometimes (weird, I know, but it proves to me that I’m actively trying and constantly learning. Plus there is sometimes that random bonus of feedback that truly helps us as authors learn).

For several months I submitted short stories on a regular basis. My first acceptance came in January 2018, from a brand new publication I had decided to take a chance on. Again, why not? Everyone has to start somewhere.

I very soon found out why I should not have given them the benefit of the doubt, and should have dug deeper into the editors of the anthology.

My first red flag came when the editing process began. The story was given a major overhaul, and she attempted to more or less plagiarize a well-know author. I was horrified at the idea of my first short story having this association, and pointed it out. It took a bit of arguing, but she finally changed it. I gave her the benefit of the doubt when it came to her editing skills, assuming she had at least some professional experience editing. I found out later she did not.

The second problem of the publication became the launch date. All along, we expected a release of April 1st, 2018. The closer the date got, the more the problems compounded. There were too many submissions, the issue was being ‘split into more than one volume’. Then there were layout issues. Then there were page number problems. Then Createspace booted the publication out due to some type of issue (which, of course,was blamed on the authors, but also blamed on Amazon). By the time the publication finally made it to self-published market, it was TWO MONTHS past the original date.

Now thankfully, my piece (ironically titled ‘Train Wreck’, which is exactly what the piece was accepted into) was to be in one of those ‘next volumes’. I felt relieved, actually, that it wasn’t a part of their first release. But watching how they had handled all the missteps, seeing another editor step in to ‘take over’ because the first editor was having a mental breakdown or something, I decided I’d best contact them to have my story removed completely from their clutches. The final decision came when the original editor and headmistress of this hair-brained idea had spewed out all kinds of information about herself and reasons why she wasn’t ready to handle a project like this. She stated she’d been writing since May of 2017 (no that’s not a typo), had a handful of things published (which, you guessed it, you can’t find), and had a degree in economics that told her there was a market for this type of stuff.

At this point, I’m sad that I’ve left my short story be edited by someone that probably shouldn’t have. I contact the ‘new’ editor, a young pup who’s been ghostwriting for a whole 8 years (also, can’t see his stuff, ‘cuz you know, he’s a ghostwriter), and tell him to kindly do not use my story in future publications. I get zero reply. Concerned he didn’t get my email, I take to the Facebook group, under where he’s stated to ‘please email him for removal’ at his yahoo email address (another huge red flag, folks). His reply to my request was less than professional, and he proceeds to make a huge deal out of my method of contact and demanding to know why I’d need them to reply (So I can take my story elsewhere without concern, maybe?), then stating they purposefully didn’t ‘engage due to conversations like this’. Huh? Why would you be afraid to say “Okay we’ll remove your story from our files”?

As if the above wasn’t fishy enough, he proceeds to get even nastier, stating “your story would never have been accepted at this publication had I been the one to read through it, or any other for that matter. ” And then ‘muted’ me, so I would be sure to read his comment in the private group, but not be able to reply (and yes, mentions in the reply that I’ve been muted).

RUDE.

Rejections I can handle. Feedback I can handle. Constructive criticism I can handle. Unprofessional, childish, and rude behavior I do not tolerate. Especially from someone that claims to be a publisher. Every step of the way this group has been unprofessional, which is mind boggling to me if you are trying to BE a professional.

Now, authors, here’s my biggest issues with all this:

  1. They’ve wasted 6 months of my time
  2. They’ve held my story for 6 months
  3. They had no marketing plan AT ALL, and expected the unpaid authors to volunteer for marketing.
  4. They were unprofessional, unprepared, and are too stubborn to admit it.
  5. They have put the authors attached to this project at risk, because they have absolutely no idea what they are doing in relation to publishing or marketing.

Honestly, I think they all saw dollar signs and are lashing out because it’s not going according to plan, and publishing/marketing is a lot harder than any of them dreamed of. They had no experience with self-publishing before hand, and thought they would learn as they go.

What I learned here is to do my due diligence and RESEARCH those involved in any project or person I plan to trust with a piece of my writing. YES a bad publication can damage your reputation, especially if they are marketing poorly. YES the publishers need experience in editing and publishing (NOT JUST WRITING – I can’t emphasis this enough! Having a little experience in writing does NOT make you knowledgeable in publishing!).

NO you aren’t stupid for running as fast as you can from projects such as this. You don’t NEED that credit, nor do you need ‘the exposure’. You as a writer need paid, not ‘credit only’ and advertising duties for someone else’s publication. There are PLENTY of markets that either will pay, or actually provide you exposure and a recognizable credit without you having to market for them. And if all else fails, there is always the avenue of self-publishing and promoting yourself or your own writing.

Above all, authors, do not let a bad experience, bad advice, or bad people prevent you from writing. Let them sink in their own problems. Listen to the actual professionals in the publishing and writing world that have hands-on experience, research, and keep writing!

Forgotten Spirits of Halloween (Short Story)

This story was written years ago, the prompt being “an unlikely character POV”. It was always one of my favorites and will eventually be part of a short story collection. Since the collection won’t be out until long after Halloween, I felt it necessary to share the story now. Enjoy!

Forgotten Spirits of Halloween

Halloween night, 7:30 PM.

I watch the parade of trouble makers filing past me in search of perfect sugary treats. Silently chuckling to myself at the sight of these little people dressed in odd clothing with several layers of make-up, I wonder how anyone could mistake them for real spirits. I know any self-respecting pumpkin such as myself would not. Silly humans, anyway. It’s like they don’t even try. As if this night is just a joke to them.

They also don’t even know it’s not late enough. The real spirits don’t appear to me for another few hours, once all the children have put themselves into sugar-induced comas and all their care-givers have retired to their beds. Once all is quiet on the street again, I know they’ll come.

When 11pm comes around, I see the first one. She is a beautiful flowing light, with smoke trailing her like a long transparent dress. Alone and looking distraught, I know she is lost.

“Hello there miss, need some direction?” I ask, hoping she can see my form in the dark. I only wish my creators would have left the candle inside burning. Although sometimes that scares them a bit when they are new, and I wonder if she may be.

“Who said that?” she whispers in tones only we can hear, even on Halloween night.

“Over here. The pumpkin. I’m here to help guide you.”

“You can hear me? See me?” She looks at me with a puzzled look, not quite understanding how a pumpkin could communicate with her when no one else can. Now I know she is a new spirit, having very little interaction with the others. She needs to be with her own.

“Yes, and yes. Have a seat beside me, and I’m sure others will arrive soon,” I would smile sweetly, but my face has been carved in a fixed evil grin. I assure her I am not evil, but rather created to look it. She accepts this information, still bound by her former knowledge of the forgotten holiday.

We sit and chat awhile, as I explain to her the ways of the ghostly world. I am not like her, and have never been human. Instead, I only exist around the holiday, fading in and out of existence. My only purpose is to guide, similar in the way the sun gives off heat.

It isn’t long before more travelers appear. An aged gentleman and younger woman, both standing similar to that of my new girl. I call out to them. “Hello travelers! Might you come here for a moment?” They look to me, seeing the new girl. The older man nods. He knows what favor I seek.

This newly deceased girl has been taken care of, but more come tonight. Resting on the front porch of the living, I wait in the darkness under the moon for more travelers to arrive.