Posts Tagged ‘editing’

Writers deal with a lot of tenses, and I don’t mean the ones associated when we hunch over our computers so we can better bang out stories.* No, I mean tenses like past tense and present tense, the tenses authors use to tell a story. Like first and third person POV, the use of either can vary from story to story (future tense and second person POV are rare, for reasons I’m sure people reading this blog can understand). And although I feel like I know plenty on the subject of using tenses sometimes, occasionally I find I still have something to learn.

Earlier today, I received an email from a magazine I submitted a short story to a couple months back. They rejected it. Which, honestly, I wasn’t broken up about. I figured out there were changes to this particular story while it was in consideration at the publication, so I thought this was for the best. However, they did include some notes on what worked and didn’t work with the story. Among those was one that really struck me.

They said that narrating in past tense, while giving the narration strength, also made it clear that the story took place in the past, and therefore made the story overall weaker, as it kind of gave away the ending. Namely, that the protagonist survives.

Now sometimes in a horror story, that’s fine. Part of the thrill is seeing how things turn out when you already have some idea of the ending. Interview with the Vampire is framed just as its title suggests, a vampire getting interviewed about his life. Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door is told by the narrator when he’s an adult remembering his childhood traumas (still the scariest novel I’ve ever read). And Salem’s Lot by Stephen King begins with two of the main cast in Mexico after escaping the town, then rewinds to the beginning of the events, and then afterwards shows those two characters burning the town down.

But apparently, with this story, that should not have been the case, as it took away some of the tension. And a horror story without tension is like a hamburger without a bun. It’s missing something essential.

Food metaphors aside, this shows an issue not only with the story, but a lesson I can learn from. With stories, it often seems instinctual, at least to me, about what tense to write in. Perhaps in future, I should weigh options and think about what the pros and cons of writing a story in past versus present tense. Perhaps then I’ll be able to write my stories and make them more effective in scaring the pants out of people.

And that goes especially with the story I got the rejection for today. I feel like this one could be one of my best if I can polish it a bit more and maybe get some more feedback on it. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens when I try changing the tense (and maybe the POV. I feel like that could also be an effective strategy for this story).

At least I know there’s still room for me to improve and become a better writer. I hear perfection gets boring pretty quickly.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to do battle with some exorcists who believe I’m an ancient entity here to usher in the end of the world (they’re right on one count, at least), and then do some writing. Thankfully with this story I’m working on now, I’m sure I have the right tense and POV for what I’m trying to do. That should make things easier further down the line.

Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

*In all seriousness though, take care of your backs, fellow writers. That will come back to haunt you if you don’t practice better posture. Believe me, I know. Brought to you by a writer giving a shit.

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As much as we make jokes about it, young adult fiction, or YA, is a massive and popular genre. Over ten-thousand YA books were released in 2012, read by both the targeted demographic, teens, and by an increasing number of adults. And among horror, there are writers who specialize in YA horror. But that leaves a question: when is a horror story a YA horror story? Does it have to star a teen or teens? Or is there something more to it?

I ask this because I have a project for National Novel Writing Month in November where nearly the whole cast are teenagers. And while I have nothing against YA or those who write/enjoy it (the amount of anime and manga I consume is primarily aimed at teens, which says something), it’s not a label I think this story should be given.

If you ask most authors and fans (and believe me, I have), YA fiction is usually defined as having teen protagonists and including themes prevalent around the teen years: first love, friendship, identity, and growing up. By that definition, many horror novels could be considered YA, even though they’ve traditionally been aimed at adults. A good example is Carrie by Stephen King. It fits both requirements–teens are prominent in the novel, and themes such as bullying and inclusion, first love, and becoming an adult are all present in the novel.

I even asked in one of my Facebook groups if other authors considered Carrie YA. I got over fifty responses in the course of a week, and it was divided almost evenly down the line. And while the opinion was split, many people admitted they or their children read it as teenagers. I myself read Carrie as a teen. So is it YA fiction then, like the Cirque du Freak books and last year’s bestseller The Sawkill Girls? And are other novels with teens in the lead role to be considered YA?

Well, here’s the thing: the above definition doesn’t include something very important that has to come into consideration. What is that? Marketing. Who is the book being marketed to? Marketing has always played a part in categorizing what is called YA and what isn’t. In fact, the demographic of YA fiction (it’s not a genre, no matter how much we think of it as one), was first defined by librarians in the early half of the 20th century who wanted to know which books were being read by the newly-defined teen demographic and why. It was later picked up by publishers when they realized how they could increase their sales by marketing certain stories to the 12-18 age group.*

So while Carrie has always been popular among teens, it was and has always been marketed at adults, as have all of King’s books. And that’s because King wrote it for adults, not for teens. Meanwhile, books like the Cirque du Freak series were always aimed at the teen demographic, from early writing stages to their eventual publication and marketing.

And that’s what we need to answer my earlier question: if my NaNoWriMo project has a teen cast and incorporates certain themes relevant to teens, is it YA? While I’m sure, if it gets published, some will categorize it as YA horror, I write for an adult audience. Everything from what I include in the story (including possible sex scenes) to just the word choices and the explorations of characters’ thoughts and feelings is through an adult lens.  YA, it is not.

So while a story may include teens prominently in the cast and feature themes and content relevant to teenagers, unless it’s written and later marketed for teens, it can’t necessarily be called YA fiction. Many may still slap the label “YA” on a story given its content, and they have every right to do so, if they feel that story fits their definition of YA fiction. But the intention of the story’s author will be the ultimate decisive requirement, whether in horror or any other genre.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Thanks for reading this little piece I wrote just to get my thoughts out on this subject before I started writing in November. But tell me, what are you thoughts on the subject? What makes a story, horror or otherwise, YA? Let’s discuss.

Until next time, pleasant nightmares.

And look, I went an entire post without once mentioning Rose. I consider that an accomplishment–oh dammit!

*Thank you Lindsay Ellis for helping me research this article with a great YouTube video.

Last night, I did some writing. And while that statement on its own might not be the most groundbreaking thing I’ve ever written on this blog, it was important for me. As you know, since early June, I’ve been consumed with the editing, publishing and marketing of Rose, as well as editing some other stories (but I won’t go into that right now). In fact, I’m still working on that last bit! I’ve been doing a lot every day to make sure people are reading the book. Just today, I’ve probably sent about ten emails related to the novel!*

Add in my day job, taking care of myself, sleeping and making sure I’m relaxed enough in the evenings not to go on a killing spree the next day, and I’ve had very little time to devote to new projects. I tried a week or two ago to do some work on a new short story, but it didn’t go as well as I would have hoped. I blame that on the story being existential horror, and I’m in too bright a state of mind these days to write that sort of horror well.

But last night, I was able to get back into the swing of things and get a significant number of words down on paper on a novelette I’ve been wanting to rewrite since 2015 but haven’t done since then (yeah, I can go for years without working on a story if I think I need more time before I work on it again). And I think part of the reason I was able to get so much of the story written in a single sitting, other than a glass of beer, was that I was able to put myself back in the mood to write after such a long hiatus.

The first thing I did while writing last night was make sure my writing space–aka my desk and where I take most of my meals–had everything I normally used to write. I had my laptop in front of me, with the story and the outline for it in front of me. I had something to drink–usually tea with honey but last night beer–and some mints nearby, as well as whatever music I’m in the mood for playing on iTunes (these days, it’s classical). And I had some incense burning by the Cthulhu statue. That helped me really get me in the mood for writing, because those are all things I associate with and use while writing. Just having them all there, especially after such a long break from doing any real writing, made a huge difference.

There’s a perverse pleasure in lighting incense in front of a Cthulhu statue that makes you want to write horror, don’t you think?

Another thing that really helped was that I had the right story to work on. I think this story, which I expect to end up being a novelette between ten and twenty-thousand words, was perfect because it was simple and easy to work on. I won’t go into details at this point about it’s plot (though I will tell you this YouTube video I’ve linked to is a hint as to the subject matter), but it’s not a complicated story. It’s not dealing with any deep themes like the fragility of the human mind, or requires extensive research. It’s just a simple story about a supernatural force affecting the lives of a bunch of teenagers.

But that’s the beauty of it. By not giving myself a really challenging story, I’m easing myself back into writing. I’m getting back the motivation to write after so long away. And it works. Because the last thing you need after getting one of the most challenging stories you’ve ever written published and then doing everything to market it is something just as hard or maybe even more so, right? No, you need an easy story to get back into it.

With both of these factors working for me, I was able to get a ton of writing done, and maybe even get some more done this week. And after that? I don’t know. I have a few ideas. But at least I know I’ll have an easier time writing now that I’ve eased myself back into it.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll probably have a new post about effective horror writing out in the next week or so, so keep an eye out for it. Until then, pleasant nightmares!

*And speaking of Rose, I think all that marketing work is…well, working. Amazon finally got both pages for the ebook and paperback linked, and the page lists the novel as a 4.5 out of 5 based on six reviews. In addition, Amazon Canada has the book rated as a 5-star and Amazon UK has it rated as a 4-star (both based on only one review each, but it’s a start. They also list the American reviews, but don’t list them for whatever reason). And on Goodreads, Rose is rocking a rating of 4.2 out of 5 based on 5 ratings and 4 reviews, and has nearly thirty people listed as having the book on their TBR list.

Not trying to brag, I’m just stating this is really good news and possibly bodes at more good things to come. Fingers crossed!

Well, it took nearly a week, and the pages still aren’t linked yet (jeez Amazon, get your act together!). But it’s here. The paperback version of Rose is finally available. And not a moment too soon, if you ask me.

For those of you who don’t know (though at this point, I’m not sure there’s anybody reading this blog who doesn’t know), Rose is my fantasy-horror novel that was recently released by Castrum Press. I started it as a college thesis project and spent five years editing and rewriting it. The result is this novel, which is summarized down below:

Rose Taggert awakens in a greenhouse with no clear memory of the past two years and, to her horror, finds her body transformed into an unrecognizable form.

Paris Kuyper has convinced Rose that they are lovers and as Paris could not bear for her to die, he has used an ancient and dark magic to save her from certain death.

But the dark magic Paris has used comes at a price. A price which a terrible demon is determined to extract from Rose.

As Rose struggles to understand what is happening to her, she must navigate Paris’s lies and secrets; secrets that Paris will do anything to protect.

Pretty cool, right? And while it’s only been out less than a week, there’s already been a couple of reviews (I’ll post about those when there are a couple more to showcase). So far, people have been enjoying the book. And now that the paperback is out, hopefully more people will be able to.

So if you wanted to read Rose but were waiting for the paperback, the link is down below, as is the one for the e-book. And if you do decide to read the book, I hope you’ll let me know what you thought after you finish. Positive or negative, I love the feedback I get from reviews, and they help me out in the long run in so many ways.

As to which page to leave your thoughts on, I’d do whichever one you bought a copy of until the pages are linked (hopefully in a few more days).

Rose-Paperback

Rose-Ebook

And while I still have your attention, if you missed What’s Write For Me with Dellani Oakes yesterday, here’s the link so you can listen. On this podcast, authors get together and talk about their new books, as well as writing and their genres. It’s a great show with excellent writers and I would love for you to listen and maybe discover your new favorite book or author.

Plus we somehow managed to work the Avengers movies into the show, so it’s worth a listen just for that.

What’s Write For Me

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you have a good time if you decide to pick up Rose. So until next time (most likely Saturday, when I’ll post a new review), good night, happy reading, and pleasant nightmares!

Pop the champagne! Or in my case, open up the apple-pie flavored honey mead. As of today, Rose is available for purchase!

So for those of you who don’t know, Rose is a story I started working on in 2014 as a college thesis project. Over the past five years and several rewrites and drafts, I’ve worked on and off trying to make Rose worthy of publication. Fifteen months ago in March 2018, Castrum Press accepted what was then Rose’s third draft for publication. Four rewrites/drafts later, and today the book was made available on Amazon.

Well, the e-book is, anyway. We’re still working on getting the paperback on there (Amazon is quirky like that, unfortunately). Don’t worry, I’ll post when the paperback is on the site.

And for those of you who are wondering what Rose is about, the short version is that it’s about a young woman who’s turned into a plant creature (and that’s just the start of her problems). The final draft of the long version can be found on the back of the book and on Amazon and goes like this:

Rose Taggert awakens in a greenhouse with no clear memory of the past two years and, to her horror, finds her body transformed into an unrecognizable form.

Paris Kuyper has convinced Rose that they are lovers and as Paris could not bear for her to die, he has used an ancient and dark magic to save her from certain death.

But the dark magic Paris has used comes at a price. A price which a terrible demon is determined to extract from Rose.

As Rose struggles to understand what is happening to her, she must navigate Paris’s lies and secrets; secrets that Paris will do anything to protect.

How does that sound?

And as I said, if you’re interested in checking out Rose, you can find it on Amazon in Kindle format, with the paperback version to come later. Just click this link. If you’d like to read a bit first before starting, here’s an excerpt for your perusal.

And if you do decide to read the book (which I highly encourage you to do), I’ll hope you’ll consider leaving a review. Positive or negative, I love feedback, and reviews help authors out in the long run in all sorts of ways.

In the meantime, thanks to everyone who’s been supporting this process. I’ve been dreaming for years of publishing a novel with a publishing company, and I couldn’t have done it without the love and encouragement of so many great people out there. Thank you so very much for keeping me going and making sure my vision doesn’t disappear.

Now if you need me, I’ve got about fifty different things to make sure the novel does well. And I have to make dinner on top of that! Wish me luck.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, happy reading and pleasant nightmares!

It’s finally here! With four days until Rose releases, we have a cover, made courtesy of The Gilded Quill. Take a look.

Now how about that? It’s very much influenced by fantasy, which is a big element of the novel. Though if you see this book in a bookstore and think it’s a typical fantasy, you’d be very much mistaken. In fact, here’s the blurb we’ve been using:

 

When Rose Taggert wakes up in a greenhouse, the past two years missing from her memory, she has no idea what is in store for her. Her body changes, transfigured into a new, plant-like form by Paris Kuyper, a student and her self-proclaimed lover who used an ancient family grimoire to save Rose’s life. While Rose is at first willing to trust Paris and work with him to recover her memories and the supposed love they shared, it soon becomes clear her lover is not all he seems. In a short time, she decides to put love and memories aside in favor of survival.

But a rose may be defenseless when a storm surrounds it. And Rose may only be able to stand for so long against the forces swirling around her.

So as you can tell, this is a lot darker than your average fantasy story. In fact, it’s fantasy-horror. And from what I’ve shared with people, they’ve responded well.

Speaking of which: advanced copies will end up being sent out Wednesday. Yeah, sucks. We were hoping to have them out today, but perfection can’t be rushed, and we wanted to make sure the book comes out as pristine as possible.

On the bright side, the book will still be released Friday, and preorder links and everything will be up as the advanced copies are sent out. It’s all happening rather fast, but I think it’s going to be magnificent once it does come out.

Well, I hope, anyway. Let’s see what the reviews say when those start popping up.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ve got to get started on dinner and get a lot more marketing work done before Rose is released. However, I might have another post, this one not Rose-related, out tomorrow, so keep an eye out for it.

Until next time, pleasant nightmares.

Their only relation is a Japanese influence. Nevertheless, it has to be used here.

Yes, that’s right. It’s only seven days till Rose is out. And ooh boy, am I getting all sorts of excited and nervous! This past week has been a flurry of emails regarding the novel. I’ve been emailing my publisher; my publisher has been emailing me; I’ve been emailing websites and bookstores; they’ve been emailing back. Plus a ton of final edits, planning for parties with coworkers and family members and friends, and a couple of anxiety attacks.

But as of right now, it looks like Rose will still be coming out on time next week, with the advanced copies being sent out on Monday most likely. And for those of you who don’t know, Rose is my first novel published with an actual publishing press. Castrum Press is set to release it on June 21st, 2019. Assuming I don’t do something to fuck it up between now and then (always a possibility).

As for what the book’s about, here’s a description:

When Rose Taggert wakes up in a greenhouse, the past two years missing from her memory, she has no idea what is in store for her. Her body changes, transfigured into a new, plant-like form by Paris Kuyper, a student and her self-proclaimed lover who used an ancient family grimoire to save Rose’s life. While Rose is at first willing to trust Paris and work with him to recover her memories and the supposed love they shared, it soon becomes clear her lover is not all he seems. In a short time, she decides to put love and memories aside in favor of survival.

But a rose may be defenseless when a storm surrounds it. And Rose may only be able to stand for so long against the forces swirling around her.

I really hope you’ll check out the book when it comes out next week. And if you do, please consider posting a review after you read it. It’s not necessary, but it would really help me out in the long run if you did.

And in the meantime, I hope to have more news about Rose in the future. Cover art should be finalized and sent to me at some point this weekend, and as soon as I get it–assuming I’m not fast asleep when I receive it–I’ll post that everywhere once I get it. And if I can arrange it, I’ll have preorder links up as well. And if any other developments come up, I’ll make sure to let you know.

Well, that’s all for now. It’s Friday night, so I’m making dinner, cracking open the beers, and relaxing with a couple of good movies. Until next time–which might even be tonight, for all I know–pleasant nightmares, my Followers of Fear!