Saturday, December 5, 2015

What It Takes

After years of writing, I have learned a lot about the craft. I have learned that to be a writer, you must write. I have learned that in order to get published, you must submit. I have learned that to sell books, you must promote. Most importantly, I have learned that to be successful, you must commit.

Being a writer or artist is not for everyone. It is not for the thin-skinned. It is not for the shy. You are sharing yourself, baring your psyche, exposing your very soul to praise and ridicule. It is both therapeutic and terrifying at once. Most fail who try, few succeed well enough to be well-known.

Writing genre fiction isn't like writing mainstream fiction. It requires a specific set of literary skills and much more innovation. Drama is about life in general, an experience commonly shared by all. It isn't easy by any stretch of the imagination to write it well, but it can be generated from common ideas.

To write good epic fantasy, the writer must be hero and villain, statesman and despot. You must build an entire world within your own mind and keep it straight while juggling events, names, places, and emotions. The epic fantasy writer fails most often because of the little things that scurry out from under their control to hide in plot holes. Plot holes that eventually become the craters that swallow the story.

To write good horror, the writer must be afraid of the subject they write. The writer must feel the horror to describe it believably. Without knowing horror, they cannot write it well. They must visualize the most terrible things and convey that sense of mortality in the face of the lethal in a way that speaks to the reader's soul.

To write good science fiction, the writer must research and understand the science before writing the fiction. Science fiction readers read it because they enjoy the paradigm between reality and fantasy. Cheat them of that and the writer fails miserably.

I have done my best over the last four decades to give my readers the best of my interpretations of those genres. I hope I have succeeded on some small scale in doing so.

On to writing news. 

My short story Granny Wise appeared recently in Southern Haunts 3: Magick Beneath the Moonlight. This was actually a fictionalization of actual events and I enjoyed building the story. I got to work once again with some wonderful editors and appear with great talent.


A Barrier to Us appeared in Ten-Legged Tales from the Anthology Club, a tale of hubris in exploration. This collection is different from most of the other anthologies I have written for. Matthew did a marvelous job creating a unique premise and executing it admirably.

Finally, my story Nothing at All came out in the NovoPulp Anthology Volume 3 from Hermit Studios Press. It has been described, correctly, as "hard s-f", a term I prefer to "scifi". I believe it was Ackerman who created "scifi" during the heyday of "hifi" and it makes me think of furniture-sized sound systems instead of a writing genre.

More of my fiction remains accepted but unpublished, hopefully to appear soon. Stories with Pro Se Press, Amoeba Ink, and InkMonkey Press lurk in the wings.

I have been accepted as a guest for the upcoming ShadowCon and MidSouthCon, two conventions I always try to attend. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone there.

Til then, remember to stay low and keep your powder dry!