Thursday, June 23, 2016

SUBMISSIONS OPEN CALL: +HORROR LIBRARY+ Volume 6


Pleased to announce the revival of +HORROR LIBRARY+ series!

Myself and the staff at Farolight Publishing are taking over and opening soon to submissions.

For those who submitted previously under different editors and received no response/ update, please resend your submission now, before the open call date, and mention it’s a resend; we’ll review ASAP. We have slush readers committed to ensuring response times are expeditious, between a couple days up to three weeks.

+HORROR LIBRARY+ Volume 6

Edited by: Eric J. Guignard
Publisher: Farolight Publishing (Cutting Block Books)
Submissions Accepted: July 15, 2016 – September 15, 2016
Projected Release Date: April 2017 (both print and e-format)
Payment: Three cents per word and one contributor copy
Reprints?: NO
Multiple and/or Simultaneous Submissions: YES
Response Time: Three weeks or less
Send submissions and queries to: Horror.Library.Submissions@gmail.com

+++

The Horror Library has arisen anew! That is, New volume, New editor, but with the same passion to advance dark, smart horror short fiction.

The Horror Library series has been publishing cutting-edge horror for more than ten years, with new volumes released about every two years. Past contributors include such notables as: Bentley Little, Gary Braunbeck, Kealan Patrick Burke, Jeff Strand, Ray Garton, Lisa Morton, Tim Waggoner, et al. We’d love to add your name to this list!

The short of it:

We’re looking for non-themed horror short stories.

The long of it:

The tastes of this anthology series run toward light horror or psychological horror rather than anything brutal (think along the lines of: The Twilight Zone, Tales from the Darkside, Tales from the Crypt, Black Mirror, etc.). Stories about demons, serial killers, or any traditional monster trope (zombies, vampires, etc.) will not likely be accepted.

Ideal qualities to make your story a success include:

+Emotional Resonance (e.g. Fear, Relief, Joy, etc.)+
+Action (Plot Movement)+
+Unique and Thoughtful Ideas+
+Literary Courage (Push Boundaries)+
+Extraordinarily Memorable ‘Voice’ in Characters+

The audience for this anthology are mature, literary readers (i.e. "R" rating). Profanity and sexually-related material is acceptable, provided it is not gratuitous and not excessive. What is not acceptable is anything relating to torture or sexual abuse of children or graphic sex/ “erotica."

If you’re unsure what we’re looking for, simply review former volumes of +Horror Library+ for additional insight. If you’re still unsure, just send it!

+Suggested word count is 2,000 – 6,000 words.+

+Please attach submissions to email as a Microsoft Word file (doc type doesn’t matter).+

+Formatting isn’t important (though good form is to follow Shunn guidelines at: http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html).+

Please send submissions, queries, and all else via e-mail to: Horror.Library.Submissions@gmail.com

Good luck and have fun!


Saturday, June 18, 2016

GUEST BLOG: “Finding the Voice in YA Fiction” by JG Faherty

Finding the Voice in YA Fiction
By JG Faherty

My latest novel (The Changeling, which I’ll talk more about later), is a YA science fiction thriller. It’s not the first time I’ve dipped my foot into the YA pool (Carnival of Fear, Ghosts of Coronado Bay, several short stories), but each time I do, it requires a radical change in my thinking. Because writing YA—effective YA, that is!—presents certain challenges I don’t normally find when I write adult fiction. Really, there are two of them:

Finding the voices of the characters
Living in the mindset of teenagers


You might think the first one is pretty easy. Watch some Buffy reruns, or binge a few seasons of Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, or even Pretty Little Liars or Gossip Girl. But that would be a big mistake. First off, TV shows and movies use (many would say overuse) current slang and lingo that, by the time your book is written and published, will be mostly out of date, leaving you with a book that might as well sound like Fonzie and Elvis wrote it. Second, look at any successful YA novel today. Most of them use just a smattering of teen slang.

Slang should be used the same way you might build a character who’s from the South Side of Boston or the Brooklyn Heights section of New York. How often could you read sentences like: “Go pahk the cah” and “My fatha don’t botha me,” or “You, youse gonna finish dat” and “My mutta gots no friggin’ idear of dis problem heah” before you toss that book out the window?

The trick is to work a few words in here and there, mention that someone has a thick accent, and let the reader’s imagination do the rest. If you can’t accomplish that, you might need to take some classes in writing dialog. The same thing goes for slang, especially teen slang.

Sure, there are certain phrases that stick around for generations. “Cool,” for instance. My parents said it in college. I said it as a teen, and I still do. My teenage nieces and nephews say it.

But what about “Netflix and chill?” “Yo, boo?” “Hey, bae?” There’s no predicting which bits of slang will stick around for the next 10 or 20 years, and which will be so ephemeral they’re gone before your kids start school again in September.

For me, the best way to get an idea of how my teens are going to talk is to listen to teens. I listen to my relatives’ kids, my friends’ kids. I listen to teens at the mall. In the movie theater. In line at the local ice cream shop. Not only do I learn what are common phrases and what are the ones you only hear on TV, but I also pick up the nuances. How does an 18-year-old boy sound compared to a 16-year-old girl? Do they talk different around me than around their friends? What about with members of the opposite sex vs. their own cliques? Angry vs. trying to impress? How many different inflections are there to “Yo, dude” or “Hey, bitch” and what do they all mean?

And you need to have all that in your head in order to really succeed at challenge number two, living in the mindset of your characters.

Your book is going to flop if your teen heroine sounds exactly like her college-freshman boyfriend, or if they both sound like their parents. Worse, it’s not just what they say, but how they react to the things happening around them. Teenagers have quick tempers, fast reflexes, shorter attention spans. They don’t have the same years of experience in the real world to temper their reactions or give them a good basis for making logical decisions. And they have to deal with so many things we adults have forgotten about. Bullying, social acceptance, isolation, depression, 24-hour horniness, rebellion.

For each of your characters, you need to be inside their heads and determine what motivates them. Who is going to break curfew, and why? Who is going to sit in the back of the class and keep quiet? Who is going to need a sip of whiskey, or a joint, or a punch in the arm from a friend, to ask the new girl out?

No two teens are alike, even if they’re ‘besties’ and talk the same (“OMG, he said whaaaat?”) and dress the same. We tend to forget that, to think of groups of teens as clones of each other, but underneath it all they more different than adults, because they’ve not yet become conformist or resigned in their thinking about the world, they’ve not yet come to terms with their emotions.

And, don’t forget, you can’t get caught in the stereotype trap. Yes, we all know jocks, cheerleaders, nerds, outcasts, dirtbags, paste-eaters, class clowns, honor roll students, etc. And some of them do conform to stereotypes. But not all of them. And many of them, again, are only showing you the surface.

In my novel Carnival of Fear, I purposely used stereotypical characters to set up my story. Jocks vs. nerds. In-crowd vs. outcasts. Stoners vs., well, everyone. But as the book moved on, I gave them each real personalities, real problems, real emotions, showed that underneath the plastic they were very different from how the world saw them, how they wanted to be seen.

It’s called character depth, and all your characters need it, unless they are nothing but red shirts.

In my new novel, The Changeling (I told you we’d get back to it!), the main character, Chloe, is, on the surface, a self-indulgent goth chick. But we quickly see there is more to her than that. She’s a good student, balances a tight line between rebellion (drinking, dating another girl) and conformity (she’s obedient to her parents and tries not to get in trouble). As the story progresses, she has to shed her rather indolent ways and take on responsibilities she never imagined, not only for herself but for everyone she loves. And she has to do it in a way that’s realistic for a teen rather than an adult.

In that respect, The Changeling is as much a coming of age story as it is a love story or thriller. And if this interests you, you can check out an excerpt from now until June 24th, because I’m running a Kindle Scout campaign for the book.

For those of you who might not know, Kindle Scout is a program where readers are invited to preview books and vote for the ones they feel worthy of publication by Kindle Press. The benefit to you? If it wins, you get a free copy of the book for your Kindle and the book gets published. Plus, you’ll have my ever-lasting gratitude for your support (and maybe another free gift as well!). Here’s the link:



http://tinyurl.com/Changeling-scout

And here is a short summary:

THE CHANGELING is a YA sci-fi thriller in which a high school senior is the accidental target of a top-secret weapons test. Afterwards, she develops amazing powers, including seeing through walls and transporting herself through space and time. Now the Army has kidnapped her and her family so they can recreate the experiment and build an unstoppable team of invincible soldiers. It's up to Chloe to save the people she loves and put an end to the experiment. But her powers are also slowly draining her life force, and she has no idea if she'll have the strength to stop her enemies before it's too late.

I hope you’ll stop by and give it a look.




Sunday, May 8, 2016

FAREWELL TO OLD WORKS

Due to moving—and for the first time—I’ve had to start getting rid of published books that I am part of.

Not so long ago, I found it a mark of pride to showcase every single anthology, magazine, journal, newspaper clipping, etc. that included my name in print... alas, I buried myself in mounds of swill and vanity!

Perhaps a bit sensational, but it did get to be too much, although not a terrible problem to have in retrospect. There now are just certain pieces I prize more than others, and ‘room’ on the shelves dictates what I can and can’t keep.

With that being said, it still pains me to donate these works away, although I hope a new reader will find pleasure in their pages.

Thus farewell, “DAILY FRIGHT, 2012”.

Backstory to DAILY FRIGHT, 2012: In March, 2011, I wrote a couple of my earliest works, two separate flash fiction pieces (500 words each) for this massive anthology (550 pages, yo!), and they were both accepted SAME DAY(!) of submission! It wasn’t my first acceptance (but, like, #2 and #3), and at the same time! Man, was I dancing, and I printed out the acceptance notice and hung it on the fridge, and expected from then on, every publication I submitted to would be falling over their feet to grab me up.

The book was a neat concept, one piece of flash fiction per day, over a calendar year, this being leap year, so 366 different horror stories, edited by Jessy Marie Roberts—who was very kind—and published by Pill Hill Press, who put out a large number of books, some others of which I was also happily part of.

I received no pay for my work, not even royalties. The book cover-priced for $24.99, although I have doubts it sold well, and with the number of contributors involved, I don’t fault the press for not providing physical copies (but not even a complimentary .pdf version...? C’mon...)

Anyway, I remember this experience well, as it was the very beginning of my writing journey, and the acceptance of having my name published gave me confidence to go on, to push myself for improvement, which I feel I have.

The funny thing is, at that time I had no other writer friends to share the news with... I simply didn’t know anyone in the industry. The book was published in November, 2011, and I bought a copy of the book to prove I was really a “writer”. By its publication date, I’d gotten to know some people, but this anthology did not have a Table of Contents, and I never actually read anything from it, so I didn’t notice who else was involved.

But before I passed the book away now, I glanced in the back at the contributor bios. Most of the names I don’t recognize, but it’s an affecting reminisce to think now that after several years, some of these people have since become my friends, while some names I encounter occasionally enough on the internet to at least recognize and follow their achievements. And there are more names than the ones I know and listed below, over 100 others! Some authors wrote four or more stories, some just one, but overall enough to fill 366 days.

I don’t think there was ever a complete Table of Contents listed online, but cheers to sharing a “For-The-Love-Of” project T.O.C. not-too-long-ago!

T. Fox Dunham
Kurt Fawver
A.J. French
Scott Goudsward
E.E. King
Frank Larnerd
Aurelio Rico Lopez III
Joe Mynhardt
Gregory L. Norris
Suzanne Robb
Joseph Rubas
Sheri White

Here’s a Goodreads Link, and a few other contributor names: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13186822-daily-frights-2012?ac=1&from_search=true





 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

MY FIVE YEAR WRITE-IVERSARY

MY FIVE YEAR WRITE-IVERSARY

This month marks an important personal milestone as being my five year ‘Write-iversary’! Meaning five years ago, in February, 2011, I decided to pursue fiction writing for the sake of publication.

Base Stats as of February 15, 2016:

352 Submissions since February, 2011:

84 Acceptances (*23 of those Acceptances are REPRINTS)
268 Rejections

= 23.86% Acceptance Rate

Of those Acceptances (including Reprints):

65 are Published
19 are Pending Publication (3 of which I don’t expect will ever be published, as either the publisher or their project seems to have fallen by the wayside).

In the last five years, I’ve written 73 original stories. Of those 73, I still carry some degree of sentimentality or pride for 52 of them.

Prior to the Feb., 2011 date, and going back to 1993, I’d written another 15 stories at random times of my life, which I may or may not have submitted to contests or underground ’zines, but which are not included in submission statistics, as I was not tracking them nor had any publishing goals set.

Lifetime of original words of fiction = 313,435
Original words of fiction written since Feb., 2011 = 295,884

In addition to fiction short stories, I’ve written and published:

3 Non-Fiction Articles
1 Book Introduction
15 Blurbs
2 Anthologies (Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations and After Death...), the latter of which won the 2013 Bram Stoker Award
1 Convention Souvenir Book (2015 HWA Bram Stoker Awards Weekend & 25th Anniversary World Horror Convention)

Besides winning once, I’ve been blessed with three more Bram Stoker Award nominations. I’ve also been nominated for the International Thriller Award and nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, in addition to nominations or winnings in a number of smaller indie contests or the such.

Observations:

I noticed my average word length for stories has increased dramatically over the last year. In the 2011-2012 years, I averaged about 1,500 – 2,000 words a story. During 2013-2014, I averaged about 3,500 words a story. 2015-present, my story averages have jumped to about 7,500. In the past five years, my shortest published story is 25 words long. My longest story (really, a Novella) is 34,816 words long.

This time last year (Feb., 2015) I was at 70 acceptances and 235 rejections, giving me a 22.95% acceptance rate. So I’ve averaged a little better than one acceptance a month over the last year, which I feel is pretty good, particularly as I did not write for six months during 2015 while caring for my brother and his affairs.

Although I strive to sell works at five cents a word, I estimate my going-worth or average acceptance pay rate over the last year is at three cents a word. Twice for fiction works 6,000 words+, I’ve been paid at ten cents a word. When I first started writing for ‘publication-sake’ I did not consider the financial worth of words and was thrilled to be published in any “For-The-Love-Of” self-published, charity anthology. Most of what I wrote during that time was dreadful anyway! Now before beginning any new story I consider the payment, the prestige of the publication (or skill of editor), and the amount of time needed on my part, especially as I think of myself as a rather slow writer.

In addition to writing fiction, my ‘Day Job’ duties consist of corporate contract technical writing as well as teaching technical writing in the University California system; raising infant children; volunteering for organizations and youth groups; and engaging in all other manner of life obligations and responsibilities...

The biggest thorn in my side is having not yet finished my first full-length novel, CHESTNUT ’BO... I was about 87,000 words into it last year, when I stopped to care for my brother. Afterward I was not able to emotionally pick it up, as where I left off just reminded me of the beginning of his illness and the months of following horror. I have, however, just recently began to work at it again, and am now over 90,000 words, and truly hope to work on nothing else until I’ve completed it with a hard-line max of 100,000 words.

I wrote the following thoughts last year, but they still hold as equally true today:

I’ve made mistakes, but also gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience in publishing, editing, and crafting stories. I’ve made wonderful friends and am still thrilled as a fan-boy each time I get to share a T.O.C. or even just communicate with an author I admire (er, swoon over!). I’ve met and/or worked with Joe R. Lansdale, Bentley Little, Ellen Datlow, Tom Monteleone, Steve Rasnic Tem, Ramsey Campbell, Stephen Jones, and others whom I’ve been reading for 23+ years, not to mention authors whom I’ve became familiar with and have inspired my dark fiction reading in the more recent 10-15 years, like John Joseph Adams, Jack Ketchum, John Skipp, Chuck Palahniuk, Neil Gaiman, Robert McCammon, and many, many more. Plus there are those other writers who have been particularly supportive and benevolent to me, such as Lisa Morton, Weston Ochse, Gene O’Neill, Jonathan Maberry, Stan Swanson, all the members of HWA L.A. chapter, as well as a hundred others.

My only regret is that I waited so long to even ‘try’ writing. I loved writing in high school but went to college under the impression I needed to focus on ‘serious-minded’ business, and never the twain shall meet. Although I ultimately did pursue other creative endeavors, I waited until I was 35 years old before I decided to attempt that childhood dream of writing... I torture myself now thinking where I could be with an additional fifteen years of experience under my belt. Ah well, I’m elated with the adventures I’ve found thus far and can only hope it all continues for countless more years!


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Random Writing Muse

Thought about this last night, and with absolutely no empirical data to back up, decided the following as a breakdown of the qualities needed to be a successful writer:

30% Skill
30% Perseverance
25% Networking
15% Luck