Saturday, June 28, 2008

At the End of the Day


The end of another day: my wife, Wilma, snapped this photo back in January. Here you see one spent writer -- oh, and one spent pooch, too. (That's right, we don't use the "D" word around my house!)
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After writing the introduction for Bound for Evil: Curious Tales of Books Gone Bad, I collapsed from exhaustion. The intro was the capper of a year-long editing process that kept me up way past my bedtime far too many nights. As you can plainly see, Misty, having sat at my feet for so long during the editing of the book, has literally grown into my leg. But that's okay: a boy and his dog should be inseparable.
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Thought for the Day:
“Self is the only prison that can ever bind the soul.”
---Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933)
The Prison and the Angel
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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Blood & Snow: By Its Cover

What can I say about the cover design for The Age of Blood & Snow? Other than FABULOUS!!!

The image conveys perfectly the Heroic Ages which are the focus of the anthology. The stories, including my own, "Dry Places," contain elements of the fantasy and horror genres (including the supernatural).

This image looks as though it were lifted from one of those multi-million dollar Hollywood spectacles, but it's not. The photo comes from Nikki Phillips, and the concept design is by Reece Notley and Mark S. Deniz (the publisher of Morrigan Books, and also a successful writer and editor). I think they did an exceptional job.

Oh, and here's another Writers' Quote:

“The greatness of art is not to find what is common but what is unique.”

---Isaac Bashevis Singer
“Isaac Bashevis Singer Talks…About Everything,”
Time Magazine, 11/26/78
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Friday, June 13, 2008

A Few Bad Books

Here's a few quotes (as reported in Andre Bernard's Rotten Rejections, Pushcart Press, 1990) from rejection letters received by writers with whom you may be familiar (heh!) :


“It is interesting and has several good points, but it is not quite suitable for our list.”
---from a letter to Agatha Christie, 1920,
for The Mysterious Affair at Styles
(The first of many cases featuring the fastidious
Belgian private investigator, Hercule Poirot)
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“...Neither long enough for a serial nor short enough for a single short story”
---from a letter to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1887,
for A Study in Scarlet

“It is not at all probable, we think, that we can make use of the story of a Virginia soldier of fortune miraculously transported to Mars…”
---from a letter to Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1912,
for Under the Moons of Mars
(serialized in All Story; later published in book form as
A Princess of Mars, the first title in an eleven-book series)
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“A very bad book” ---from a letter to Pierre Boulle, 1954, for The Bridge on the River Kwai


Wise Words:
“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
---Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)
Life (1932)
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Thursday, June 12, 2008

THE AGE OF BLOOD AND SNOW: TOC

Here's the complete lineup for The Age of Blood and Snow, edited by Skadi meic Beorh (and due December 2008 from Morrigan Books):

"Mercy Hathaway Is A Witch" - Ken Goldman
"Your Duty To Your Lord" - James R. Stratton
"The Price Of Peace" - Anna M. Lowther
"Be Ye Silent, Sons Of Man" - Brad C. Hodson
"Eckbert & Mortimer" - David Ripley
"The Collector" - Bernie Mojzes
"Licwiglunga" - Tammy Moore
"Poseidon’s Claw" - Michael Colangelo
"The Unbedreamed" - Chris Johnstone
"The Waiting" - Aliya Whiteley
"When The Cloak Falls" - Catherine J Gardner
"Tricksters" - Jeff Parish
"Immortal Beloved" - Lisa Kessler
"Into The Demon Cosmos" - William Blake Vogel III
"Cold Fire" - Brian Dolton
"Goldenthread" - Elizabeth Barrette
"Thorvold’s Tale" - Jason Thummel
"Black Tiger" - Brendan Connell
"Dry Places" - Tom English
"When They Come To Murder Me" - Bill Ward
"Enclosure" - Ayne Terceira
"Begin With Water" - Sharon Irwin
"In The Name" - Robert Holt
"She Burned With God-Breath; Burned Within" - Skadi meic Beorh
"The Pagans" -Ben Thomas
"The Lords of Chickamauga" - Ron Yungul
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Writer's Thought:
“When the writer becomes the center of his attention, he becomes a nudnik. And a nudnik who believes he’s profound is even worse than just a plain nudnik.”
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---Isaac Bashevis Singer
“Isaac Bashevis Singer Talks… About Everything,”
Time Magazine, 11/26/78

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Sometimes "No" is NOT the Final Word

Thought for the Day:

"Beware of allowing a tactless word, a rebuttal, a rejection to obliterate the whole sky."

---Anais Nin, The Diary of Anais Nin, January 1944

An encouraging anecdote for writers:

Irving Stone's first book was about Van Gogh. Stone took it to Alfred Knopf, and "they never opened it---the package with the manuscript got home before I did." After fifteen more rejections the book, Lust for Life, was finally accepted and published in 1934. It has now sold about twenty-five million copies.
(from Rotten Rejections, edited by Andre Bernard for Pushcart Press, 1990)
Not to mention the book was the basis for a major motion picture starring Kirk Douglas.

In one of the 16 rejections Stone received, an editor described the work as "a long, dull novel about an artist." Moral of this story: everybody gets rejections; in fact, many of the best-known and best-loved books of the past 200 years were initially rejected. Obviously, the authors of these works did not take the rejections (however numerous) as the final word. They persevered until they found good homes for their literary children.

Manuscripts get rejected for a number of reasons: sometimes the reason is poor writing, murky plot, or lack of originality. Certainly we need to be honest with ourselves when it comes to our own work: it may need polishing, we may need polishing. But many times a rejection simply means "not here, try another market." Oh, and it's the writing that's being rejected---not the writer!!

My story "Lightning Rod" was rejected a few times before All Hallows accepted it. One of the rejections turned out to be extremely ironic, and I'll explain this in a later entry. The heartening news is that this summer the story will be reprinted in Horror: The Best of the Year, 2008. Glad I kept sending the story out.

I'll share about other famous books that were initially rejected, over the next few days. I feel these anecdotes help take out some of the sting of our own rejections. Chat with you later.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Meet the Creature from My Bloody Blog!!

Welcome to my writer's blog. I'm not new to the internet: as a publisher of quality fantasy fiction, such as the limited-edition hardcover anthology Bound for Evil: Curious Tales of Books Gone Bad, or the brilliant portmanteau novel, Engelbrecht Again! by absurdist Welsh writer Rhys Hughes, I maintain an active web presence at my Dead Letter Press site. Lately, however, my own fiction has been receiving some nice recognition. My ghost story "Lightning Rod" (which originally appeared in the Summer 2007 issue of All Hallows ) has been selected to appear in Horror: The Best of The Year, 2008 (edited by Stefan Dziemianowicz for Prime Books, and due July 2008). "A Handful of Dust" will appear in an upcoming issue of All Hallows and "Dry Places" will appear in The Age of Blood and Snow, an anthology of fantastic stories set in the Heroic Ages (edited by Skadi meic Beorh for Morrigan Books, and due December 2008). So, a blog empasizing my role as a writer seemed like a good idea. (Yes, another bloody blog to clog the Information Superhighway we fondly call the 'net!) And what better title for it than "The Literary Alchemist"! After all, by day I am a chemist---trying hard, by night, to transmute words and ideas into literary gold. cough... well, entertaining fiction, at any rate.

I hope you'll drop by again to see what's new. I promise I'll try and make it worthwhile. I realize many of us have literary aspirations, so to help feed our dreams I'll be posting a "Writer's Quote for the Day." I'll also post encouraging anecdotes about writing. I'll sprinkle in background pieces on how the ideas for some of my stories developed, and keep you posted on upcoming projects, both by me and some of my writer-friends. For the more general reader I'll post "Wise Words," about twice a week. And what blog would be complete without photos of friends, family, special events, my dog, my neighbor's cat, my...you get the picture (pun intended)!

Best Regards,
Tom