Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Christmas Gift for the Demented

It's that time of year when I gather my year's stories together into a collection for those who enjoy the dark side. I don't always write pure horror fiction, though I've indulged in it using the short form for about three years now. My real home is suspense, psychological suspense to be precise. In my new collection this year, SINISTER-TALES OF DREAD 2014, the thirteen stories are pretty even between suspense/noir and horror. If readers are like me (and I always think they are), they like both genres and don't mind a variety of stories in a collection. This will be ready to pre-order by December 5 and ready to buy by December 15, a real holiday release.

Here is the new Kindle cover for the collection. It is original from the cover artist, Jeffrey Kosh:

There will be a paperback edition, also, available from Amazon. Eventually I hope to have at least a trio of the Sinister collections.

Why do I write so many short stories? Because I have to. I have a million ideas and very few of them are ready for the prime time of the novel arena. Most of them don't have the "legs" for noveldom, but they are perfectly right for the short story form. I get to explore characters, situations, and locations that I'd never be able to explore if I stuck completely to writing novels. It's true, too, that I began my career writing stories. I've written and published them for over thirty years and the majority of them were published, hundreds of them. In the 80s and 90s I had so many contributions to paperback and hardback anthologies the copies filled up four shelves in my bookcase. Since the advent of digital ebooks, I've tried to gather some of the older stories into collections and now I've decided to make my yearly collections into the Sinister series.

I love to read short stories. In today's world we seem to have little time to devote to reading and the short story is the perfect solution. You can read one story at a time during a doctor's visit or when out camping, or when your mother-in-law is in the kitchen rearranging your spice cabinet. You know how that goes. In a collection or anthology a reader can skip around and not lose anything for doing it. Read the last story first, sample the one in the middle, or read right from the beginning, the way we read a novel.

I've been lucky to have my stories taken by editors and featured in various anthologies and magazines. I take nothing for granted. I expect hundreds of thousands of stories are written a year and the inclusion in print by an editor is quite a special event for writers. The competition is fierce, other writers are terrific and inventive, and stories proliferate. I'm always grateful for the impetus that keeps me writing short stories, for the way sometimes editors want to publish them, and for you, the reader, who come back for more when I do a new story or create a new collection of the year.

Writing is my love, my Muse is my helpmate, and the short story is my love letter (no matter how dark it might be.)

I hope you'll remember me in December when the Christmas lights are shining and the presents are stacked beneath the tree. Look for SINISTER-TALES OF DREAD 2014 on Amazon and see what you think. I promise to give only my best. I give you all I have.

If you absolutely need a novel fix, please look at THE GREY MATTER, my latest novel of suspense on Amazon from Post Mortem Press.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Awful Desperation of the Fiction Writer in Today's World

I've read disturbing facts on Facebook having to do with publishers. Asking for forever copyright to a book, plus all foreign rights and movie rights, for instance. What!? Just go get a gun and shoot yourself instead, that would be a faster way to destruction. Or what about a publisher changing terms in the midst of accepting stories. What? You don't go changing terms willynilly. Not if you want to keep contributors worth their salt.  I’ll address that later.

Because really, trying to take away a writer's copyright? Insanity.

The number of years you grant is one thing and it's what you feel you can live with, but giving away your entire copyright forever? You'd have to be brain dead. Yet I've heard of a small press asking for those forever rights and maybe even one of the Big Five or Six is trying to go that drastic (for the writer) route too.

If a writer doesn't understand the strength and power of his copyright, he should get out of the writing business immediately. Do it, do it now, and don’t look back. You’re making the rest of us look stupid.

Yeah, I blame sneaky publishers for proposing such an unheard of thing, but let's blame "writers" who even listen to such rubbish without going ballistic.

Sometimes I think I've fallen down Alice's rabbit hole. If this is the way so-called publishing is going, it deserves to die. A big, rattling, snorkeling death.

Nothing gets me hotter than people taking advantage of writers or writers allowing it to happen.

Stealing copyright is like someone coming into your paid off home and saying, "I live here now, I'm taking over. I'm going to keep this house until 70 years after your death. What do you get in return? Bumkus, that's what you get."

Bottom line...there are NO circumstances under which you lose or give away your copyright forever. None. Not offers of money or the hope of heaven. None.

I've felt desperation as a writer before. Years trying to get published did that. But even then if the largest publisher in NY had offered a deal asking for all rights forever I would have embraced my desperation and said go away Junk Heap brain, I can't talk to you. You simply can’t be so desperate you would do that, can you? Again, Jesus, go cook a casserole or something instead of trying to be a writer.  You can’t possibly think giving away your copyright is an okay deal, under any conditions.

As for anthologists who change terms during the acceptance phase of compiling an anthology, well, cripes and soda crackers, what’s going on there? You want the fiction for a whole year, then you say okay I’ll settle for six months, then after stories come in you go back to a year’s rights. What? You offer a certain amount of payment then you change it, THEN you come back and change it back again! It’s like dealing with a swinging door in a stiff breeze. You say there will be just minor edits, then you go hogwallers all over the pages of stories, or so they say, and that swinging door is flying in a hurricane.

This, my dears, is not professional. Professional people do not do these things. There’s a statement of rights, a statement of payment, a true statement of editorial interference, and that’s it. It does not change on a whim and out of the blue.

I’ve been disturbed for some time when I’ve seen so many new writers giving away their stories or novels for “exposure.” Is your work not worth payment? Then don’t fucking write it in the first place! This is a profession, get it? It’s not a Look At Me I Got into an Anthology game.

Oh don’t be such a hardass, you might say.  Have a little sympathy. Sorry, I have no sympathy for morons and people indulging in stupid practices. Don’t devalue stories and novels. Don’t devalue yourself. Have a little pride, at least a little pride, for chrissakes. If you don’t think fiction is worth paying for, worth protecting the rights of, worth keeping out of pseudo-publisher hands who is stealing it and doing a terrible job with it, then hell, go along your merry ignorant way because you do not belong in the writing profession. And I’m not the only one who thinks that way.  I may be one of the few who will tell you the unvarnished truth, (because frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.) I am not the only one who thinks writers are being used and abused and, evidently, liking it just fine.

 Bah. Move over Alice, I’m trying to climb out of this hole. It’s got too many dancing cards in it and the rabbit's wearing a hat.