Tuesday, January 22, 2013

News, Submissions Pt.1, and Con Air ?

I'm writing this on Monday. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. No disrespect meant to the great man, but when you're self-employed, whether it's as a writer, a business owner or whatever, you don't (or shouldn't) take days off. There's ALWAYS work to be done and things to do.

Currently chugging away on my second novel with a new working title of Faith. As well as looking into the details of how things work when you're self-publishing. I think I've kind of decided to go that route with my first book. That means it will probably be in print a lot sooner than I thought, though there's a hell of a lot more work involved. I'll be sure to let you all know when it becomes available and where. Also, for those of you who are interested, I've made a playlist on my youtube channel so you can see the kind of stuff I listen to while I write. I apologize for some of the videos, I am also an anime fan. Otherwise, enjoy, and be glad I didn't link in some of the My Little Pony videos instead of the ones I did. Yes, some of the songs on there have been put to My Little Pony.

Today's work is along a different route though. I had submitted my short story What Comes of Dreams to a magazine a few months ago and I recently got a reply of rejection back for it, so the search continues. I have the story where I'm comfortable sending it out, at least for now, so it's pretty much just a matter of finding places to submit to that I haven't already. I keep a running tab of where I submit my stories and when, so I don't re-submit to a place that's already rejected it.

So the question now, is where? Or better, where to look? If I was lucky, I would have some contacts somewhere that could recommend me towards a reputable magazine or ezine to submit to. As it is though, I'm not that lucky. Yet. So again, where to look. The first place I would suggest for any writer to look for places to submit their work would be here.

Specifically, I would recommend the Novel and Short Story edition of Writer's Market, but all of these books hold a wealth of information for the beginning writer as well as listings of magazines, literary agents and publishers to peruse. My copy has already been heavily flipped through and I've just about exhausted all listings in it for short horror stories. Though What Comes of Dreams weighs in at just under 5000 words, which puts it out of the running for some listings as well.

So if that's out, what next? The internet of course. A quick search turns up the The Horror Zine which actually has a full list of horror magazines and ezines which accept fiction. I've been through this list a few times actually and I like how they actually keep it up to date. 

Probably the second most important thing to submitting a story to a magazine (the first being to make sure your story is the highest quality you can make it.) is to make sure you pick a magazine or ezine that actually fits the style of the story you wrote. There are all kinds of horror tropes. Zombies, vampires, werewolves, slashers, psychological, gothic, scientific, etc. etc. The list goes on. Obviously you're asking to be rejected if you submit a slasher or a science-horror story to a magazine that focuses on vampires, but it seems to happen fairly regularly still. As well, you should always read through all the submission guidelines to make sure you agree with how it's set up, what you're submitting to and are aware of any special formatting they require.

Of course, once you've picked a place to submit to, you need to make sure your manuscript is properly formatted. An improperly formatted story can make it more difficult for an editor to go over quickly and could lead to a rejection slip in and of itself. One thing I've read and been told over and over again is how busy submission editors are. The more popular magazines and ezines have to deal with hundreds, if not thousands of submissions a MONTH and an improperly formatted submission or even a badly written query letter can mean the death of that submission. The subjects of proper formatting and a good query letter will easily stretch into full blog posts of their own, and I'll leave them to that eventually so this one post doesn't fill up with too much technical stuff. 

Another little thing I wanted to address is when horror happens by accident. A lot of people have seen the 1997 film Con Air. A pretty much formulaic action movie staring Nicholas Cage and John Malkovich. One of the best side-plots though, is Steve Buscemi's character Garland Greene. 

(Though I think the fake accent counts as accidental horror too)

We're introduced to him through a straight-jacket and face mask ala Silence of the Lambs and throughout the whole movie, he sits there quiet and calm. We never really know what he did aside from his nickname "The Marietta Mangler" and his single comment about driving through three states while wearing a girl's head as a hat. In what is easily the most nerve-wracking scene in the whole movie, after the plane lands to refuel, Steve's character walks over to a neighbor's house and joins their little girl's tea party in the front yard. Throughout the rest of the movie, no other scene has people on the edge of their seat like that one does. 

Despite the violence and rage and unconscionable character of Cyrus the Virus as the main villian, Steve's is the one that really gets to us. Mainly because while everything is exploding and burning and people are getting beat up all around him, he sits there calmly, like none of it means anything. It's that silence and calm amongst the chaos that really defines Steve's character as a monster among monsters and despite all the explosions and gunfights and action sequences, a little twist of plot to turn the camera to Mr. Greene; and we go from a pure adrenaline rush of a film to one that would have had the potential to be a truly terrifying experience. It's too bad really. 

~ Shaun

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