Sunday, September 21, 2014

Writing Updates and Other FUN Stuff!

Lots of writing stuff going on for me quite suddenly.

Turn Left at November

Last week I posted on Facebook that I sold a book of poems (54 poems) to Eldritch Press, entitled Turn Left at November. I'm very excited about this. While I have sold/published hundreds of poems since my very first sales all at once to Aboriginal SF, Star*Line and Dreams and Nightmares in my mid-20s, I mostly still write them only for myself. For years I actually stopped marketing them. This year I stepped up to the plate again. It's been very rewarding. Here's a link to Eldritch Press.

Nice site! While it looks very horror oriented, in truth my poems in the collection cross all genres from soft horror, soft sf, seasonal, emotional-driven and mainstream. I don't write to genre. I write what I feel like writing in the moment and I am inspired by all different genres. The poetry editor at Eldritch was not put off (and I feared he would be.) Instead, he thought my cross-genre tastes would mean my book would appeal to a wider readership. Consider me flattered.

I always thought not "writing to genre" hurt me as a writer. I think in the traditional pro publishing venues (like the big NYC publishing houses) it did because despite the "myth" that they are gatekeepers of great literature, really they mostly looked at books as widgets and how to market them. If your book was hard to categorize they did not know what to do with you no matter how good the writing was. It also meant I couldn't even get agents who actually liked my work to bother with me because they already knew in advance that the marketers at publishing houses wouldn't know what to do with me.

Take my science fiction novel Pale Zenith as an example. Years ago, respected agent (and former editor of Asimov's SF) Shawna McCarthy actually loved the first draft of that novel. But she did not represent it because, she told me, publishers were looking for more traditional sf, and not the "type" of book I had written. I don't know what "type" of book I actually wrote. It takes place in two alternate universes. It has inter-dimensional travel, psychic warfare, and machine thingamabops that travel through time and dimension called spychiatrists. Definitely sf. But it also is a character-driven novel BIG TIME and it has violence and some explicit sex. Well, so does every other Hollywood blockbuster. But the characters are first and foremost my focus. Everything else is background. The writing is lush...but definitely not over-written. Shawna suggested I do a prologue to orient readers into the book. I did it. But it's my least favorite part of the book and I've considered in future printings to edit that part out altogether. It tries to make the book more traditional but you know what? 'Traditional' is not always such a great word.

My point: A darn good, well-written novel got shelved (after making the rounds to two more agents, both male, both of whom insulted me) and would still be there if not for this new world of publishing and unique encouragement to break old traditions by small press and indie publishers (Pale Zenith is published, by the way, by Eye Scry Publications.)

So back to the original topic, Turn Left at November: I want to thank Eldritch Press for taking me on with my cross-genre poetry, for being able to "see" more in depth, that there are varying shades to 'the dark', and being open to that.

Letters to an Android

My newest book, Letters to an Android, is really getting some nice comments from readers. Some are posting reviews, but most are just letting me know privately...they can't put this poetic, soft sf, character-oriented book down! I have also gotten compliments on the world-building, the likable characters, the writing...pretty much everything about it. It's hard for me to "toot my own horn" so to speak, but this really makes my year!

But the problem remains: finding readers. Finding those who will take a chance on someone they don't really know. I've been around for years, publishing a lot in genre magazines in the late '80s and all thru the '90s before I took a long break. Some people remember. Most don't. But I'm not whining. I'm thrilled to have any readers. Just sayin': marketing is a tough, tough job.

So I'm going to put it out here on my blog with no deadline in place and no date that this offer expires: If you wish to review Letters to an Android for any website, blog, magazine, newspaper, or other venue, just pop me an email ( telling me where you'll review it and when and I'll send you a pdf. At this time, I can't send paperbacks. It's too expensive.

However, if you just want to read for pleasure, for yourself, and have a good time, the ebook is real cheap on Amazon. It really isn't much to gamble to try it out, plus if you're not sure, the look-inside is free. If it doesn't hook bad.

Here is some artwork I found that captures the essence of my main human character in the novel, Liyan (I pronounce it 'lion') at age 20, just before he goes off to travel the stars at the book's beginning. Except for the uniform, which is white in my novel, this artist captures the eccentric scenario, mood and emotional foundation I was going for throughout the book. (Alas, I've tried to contact this artist many times to see if she does commission book covers but she does not answer.)

More writing news abounds, but it will have to wait for another post.

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