Hopefully this is where, if you like my stories, I can entice you into thinking my novels are worth buying. If there is one thing I’ve learnt from watching those in the marketing business, it’s all about the freebies. So here are mine.
I’ve put the links to all my SF stories in the column to the right. All have been well and truly revised, rewritten, rehashed, chewed up, gargled and spat out countless times and they’ve all been submitted to professional publications and the odd contest — did I mention my mountain of rejections? Each winter I go skiing :-) Perhaps I should’ve started at the bottom, like any sane and sensible writer would, but when you’re the World’s Dumbest Genius, sane and sensible aren’t in your vocabulary. In the early days, I got back so many rejections saying, ‘Sorry, but this doesn’t do it for me’ that I seriously considered sending a hooker with each submission so that something would do it for them, but when I costed it, I decided I’d rather the hookers do it for me.
Not that I did ;-) nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Just what do you think I am? Made of money? Really, would I be trying to sell you my novels so desperately, if I was?
Since then, I’ve basically just revised and revised as I’ve continued to learn. Some have come close to being published, but just haven’t quite been what the editors were after. In the end, I decided I didn’t want to sit on a pile of growing stories and sit on that ol’ merry-go-round of submission and rejection and instead, put them somewhere people could read and judge for themselves if they were any good. Somewhere like here. On the internet.
The internet also has a lot of good resources for the novice writer. There are authors galore with useful tips and plenty of sites where writers can congregate to help each other. After writing acouple of novels and a few short stories, I joined Critters. It’s one of the major internet critique groups for SF, fantasy and horror and has been around for quite awhile. I was a member for two years and really enjoyed belonging to it, but with work, music and my own writing vying for my time, producing 3000-4000 words each week was too much, so I had to give it up. But if you’re a novice writer, or you just like reading short stories or novels and would like to say what you think of them, then join Critters.
There are, however, pros and cons to joining any critique group. In Critters, the number of critiques a short story receives begins to drop quite precipitously once the length goes over 5000 words. The idea behind Critters is that you can’t please everyone and we all have our own opinions, but if several people have the same opinion about what is wrong with a story, then you should seriously look at revising that part of the story. This is good in theory.
The trouble is, most members of Critters are novice writers like yourself and if you have a reasonable proficiency as a writer, they may not recognise the problems that would get your story rejected. It may in fact be just one or two critiques that are really useful if an experienced and published pro or semi-pro writer critiques your story. Critters did, at least get my proficiency to a point where I began to get rejections beyond the mere ‘Sorry, but your story doesn’t do it for me’.
Ah critiques.... Sometimes you just have to wonder if some people have their heads screwed on backwards.
In one the first critiques I received for Panem Et Circensus, the guy suggested that I have one of the characters pull a women out from a crowd of supporters and have sex with her in front of them (and I must admit, I seriously considered it, after all, doesn’t sex sell?) A different reviewer suggested, for Price of Eternity, that the main character — a centenarian at death’s door, no less! — leap up out of his wheel chair on to a desk and swing punches at a doctor he was having a disagreement with, while all the time shouting and jumping about. I don’t know what they were on, but hell, I want to try some!
The problem with getting better is that it becomes a pain to submit, because the period before the rejection comes in begins to grow from a few months to six months or longer. I had one standard rejection come in by email eighteen months after I had submitted it, long after I had assumed it had been rejected. I can only assume I must have been really, really close to a sale.
I submitted You Gotta Use Protection to Fishnet Magazine, an erotic site, and they held onto it for nine months before rejecting it as not quite suitable for their site, even though they thought it was hilarious (their words). Strange, because I thought it was a serious expose on the dangers of unprotected sex with aliens (of the outer space variety, not the human variety.) Sex with human aliens is fine by me. In fact I’m quite keen on the idea of some Swedish au pair kinds of aliens taking up residence in my place. Not only do I need a damned good scrubbing (I mean that as a euphemism) but the place could really do with a clean as well. You know, all this makes me wonder ... just how do you clean a dirty old man—?
Hey! I didn’t mean me, although ... I have suffered from Freudian slips in the past.
But I digress. So you know I’ve had rejections, but I’ve had an honourable mention and also been a quarterfinalist and a semifinalist in the Writers of the Future contest.
A couple of rejections have commented that they stories should be novellas or even novels, and that’s probably the case for several of them. The truth is, I really want to write novels and many of these short stories are explorations of ideas for a novel or a series of novels I want to do in the future. But in the mean time what I want, what I want, what I really, really want is for you, after having read all these stories, to consider buying my novels. You can also download and read the first chapters of each to see what you think.
So even if only one story grabs you, be gullible. C’mon, get sucked in. For three bucks you can’t lose.
And once you swing over to the dark side, you’re mine.... Ha ha ha! All mine....