Category Archives: Publishing

Submission Stories: 2016’s Cautionary Tale

I was instilled from a young age by my parents – Mom in particular – that I could do anything I wanted. What no one told me was that I couldn’t do everything at the same time. It’s been a long year of operating at the uppermost limits of my capacity while trying not to lose what’s left of my sanity while I also suffer from a rather rare condition called FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out.

So begins the cautionary tale of 2016…

Back in January, the Utah Horror Writers decided on the theme for our next anthology. I was still riding the high of being published in the last one and started right away on brewing up a new story – this one even better than the last. Or so I hoped. A few weeks later, I had come up with a premise for the story and jotted down a few notes. But I was still deep in the throws of the first draft of my latest novel so that’s all I paused for. My subconscious could work on it while I finished the current project.

Fast forward to March when all the craziness of running a chapter of the League of Utah Writers descended on me – because I couldn’t say no, of course. Progress on the novel continued and I tried not to admit how much the pace suffered while I split my “writing time” with things related to writing but not all of it spent putting words on the page. The main focus still the completion of my latest novel, the horror story could wait a while longer. How long could it really take to bust out a short story, right? I’m a professional now with two of them published so I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal.

Then I decided to go back to school and things ground to almost a halt on any writing – minus my English Comp courses that is. It was then, when my self-imposed deadline (goal) of having the novel finished before school started flew past and I still wasn’t finished, that I admitted, as I struggled to find balance in my everyday life, school work spilling over into my writing time in order to keep up, that I wasn’t going to have time to write a short story for the anthology.

I told myself it was fine. My number one writing goal is finishing this novel. This amazing novel that started early on to pour from me. I refused to step away from it long enough to build and grow a completely different story since that would take me two steps back when it was time to return to the project. Added was the fact that all this time had gone by and no concise story or characters had grown from my initial premise I’d jotted down months ago. Which meant it wouldn’t come easy if I did pause work on the novel to write it.

Nope. I do not have a short story to submit to the anthology this year. Sorry. I told everyone this. I was fine with this. I was sticking to what my number one goal right now is and I felt good about it.

Then my fear of missing out reared its ugly head. I went to my writing retreat and there were several people working on short stories for the very same horror anthology. Some of them read excerpts aloud and they were good. I wanted to have a story to submit. Why couldn’t I? Oh, right, because my original idea was complicated enough it required a full novel to do it justice. No, I reminded myself that my number one goal was still the novel.

No short story. No short story. No short story.

I told everyone who asked that I was not submitting. Nope. Not this year.

Two days before the submission deadline, a snippet of a dream came to me. One that I’d had years ago and had stayed with me, plausible and terrifying at the same time. Hey, it would work as a flash fiction piece – super short, maybe one scene. BAM. Self-delusion engaged.

I started to write it between my school assignments. It was really cool and really fun to write. I finished it about an hour before the submission deadline. Finished the FIRST DRAFT, that is.

Everyone knows you don’t submit a first draft. Anywhere. For any reason. You’ve got to step away for at least a day or two to get perspective on the writing itself. Better if it’s longer. Then you read it and revise it because you WILL find problems. No one writes a perfect first draft. No one. Ever. Once you’re done with your revision, you’re still not ready to submit. You’ve got to show it to other people. Have them read it and tell you what you missed but didn’t see. You incorporate that feedback and do another revision. THEN you’re probably ready for a submission.

Did I do any of that? Nope. None of that. Zilch. Nada.

I SUBMITTED MY FIRST DRAFT.

Yes, you read that correctly. I completely justified it to myself. I had read it three or four times. Out loud once, too. It was fine. Because the alternative was not getting it submitted before the deadline and then I’d for sure miss out.

I hit send at 11:57pm – with three minutes to spare.

I regretted it almost immediately. I knew better. What was I thinking?

Understandably I was not selected to be part of the anthology this year. It was perhaps my easiest rejection ever, since I agreed that my piece wasn’t up to par when I went back and read it a few weeks later. It still hurt. It was a rejection all the same. But I understood.

Did I learn from the experience? Yes. Will I ever do that again? I want to say absolutely not, but I also know myself and I can’t guarantee it.

What’s my lesson in all of this? The “rules” as they are loosely thought of by most of us are there for a reason. Let this be a painful lesson I lived through so that others don’t make the same mistake I did. Do not ever submit a first draft no matter how great your desire to do so. Do not query a manuscript until it is polished and just as perfected as you can get it.

I’m back to focusing on the novel – amidst the chaos of being a college student again. I’m keeping my eyes on my biggest goals knowing that right now there are major things that I’ve got vying for all my resources and it will most certainly mean missing out on other things in the future. But that’s okay.


My First Royalty Statement

I reached another milestone today in my journey as a professional author: my very first royalty statement! Proof that I’m earning money from my writing. The first story I published has all proceeds going to charity so this milestone is a bit late in coming, but I am still thrilled at its arrival. Of course the money I’ve made in the six weeks since the release isn’t enough to warrant the publisher cutting me a check yet. But I’ve earned money, and that’s what really counts. Especially in this business where getting published is often easier than getting readership, which is the most important part.

If you’re a reader partially responsible for this milestone, because you bought and read my story in It Came From the Great Salt Lake, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Part of me wants to stop the hard work of novel writing and pump out another couple of instantly gratifying short stories for upcoming publications. I’m refraining. If I ever want to take the next step: a novel with my name on the cover and no one else’s, I must stick to the hard stuff. Current stats put me at forty percent complete on my first draft (assuming I can tell the story in sixty thousand words). If you need me, I’ll be writing!


Author Spotlight

Look who got interviewed and forgot to tell my own web followers so they could check it out!

http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/2016/03/author-interviews-terra-luft/

Many thanks to Connie Cockrell for hosting me on her weekly spotlight. I had a great time doing this interview. Hope you all like it!


Cover Reveal – It Came From The Great Salt Lake: A Collection of Utah Horror

My publisher revealed this glorious cover yesterday and I am even more excited now for the upcoming release. It is gorgeous and haunting and mysterious. But best of all is seeing my name on the cover. (Call me narcissistic but it’s a first so I’m going to celebrate it!)

UHWA2015-cover via Facebook

The cover artist is Carter Reid, creator of The Zombie Nation web comic.

One of the unique elements of this anthology is that every author either is from, or has lived in, Utah – including the cover artist. The theme draws every story together around one of the most recognizable and distinguishable landmarks in the state but the stories are still extremely diverse, showcasing some amazing talent the state houses. I can’t wait for you all to read it!

In a creepy side note that thrills me beyond compare… I am the thirteenth story in the collection. My lucky number!


The Next Step on the Publishing Path

My latest contract pays royalties. Pays. Royalties. My first publication had all proceeds being donated so I didn’t have to worry about accounting for money coming in, or all the other intimidating things I’ve been ignoring. Like paying taxes. But now the game has changed again. It’s time to get legitimate beyond a website address and some business cards. A step that felt enormous last year when I took it.

What's Next

Now I need a business license and a business account. At least I think that’s what I need. In truth, I’m guessing on that. I know I need to figure out how to file taxes as an author before I have income as one next year. It’s amazing the things I didn’t know that I didn’t know until I got here… Time to consult the professionals who can tell me how to navigate through this uncharted territory.

I can’t wait to see what next year brings!


Coming Soon: My next horror publication

Remember a few months ago when I’d just submitted a story and was struggling with the fear of rejection? You win some and you lose some in this business and this time resulted in an acceptance. It isn’t the first horror story I’ve had accepted but my first publisher has yet to publish my creepy bug story. Apparently that happens? I’m learning patience with this whole publishing endeavor. But I digress…

My story “Baby of the Lake” will appear in the upcoming “It Came From the Great Salt Lake” anthology from Griffin Publishers. Release date is scheduled for early February. This will be an eclectic collection of short stories from many talented authors that I’m honored to be included with.

If you’re like me, you’re dying for a sneak peek… And because I don’t like to wait I will do my best not to let any of my fans wait too long either. Here’s a little snippet to whet your whistle:

 

An invisible force weighed down her hands. She struggled again, but every muscle refused to respond as if she were an insect stuck in amber.

Not this, please. This was worse than a nightmare.

She screamed, as hard as she could. She heard it in her head, but her lips refused to part. It was like someone had forced her jaw open and shoved handfuls of cotton halfway down her throat then sealed her lips. She screamed again, harder this time. The scream echoed inside her head, but nothing escaped her lips.

 

May this little teaser satisfy your curiosity enough for a couple of months.

I know how hard it is to wait. I’m currently waiting to see what the cover is going to look like and the suspense is killing me!


Beyond the Wail Blog Tour

I’m a little obsessed with anthologies of late. What’s not to love about a short story – the perfect nightcap before bed without the threat of getting sucked into chapter after chapter and before you know it you have to get up in an hour for work. I’ve discovered writers I never might have read and went on to pick up longer works thanks to the wonder of anthologies. Which is why I jumped at the chance to host a stop on this blog tour.

BEYOND-THE-WAIL-Facebook-bannerWhat is it about fear and the unknown that pulls so passionately at the human heart? Perhaps we are drawn not to the darkness itself, but to the resolution, the overcoming of what we most deeply dread. After all, the more terrible the struggle, the greater the victory when it comes at last. Presented in this anthology are twelve remarkable stories of the darkness that overshadows us, and the resolution that may be found beyond them. They are stories of fear and oppression, but ultimately stories of hope, stories that will take you BEYOND THE WAIL.

Today I have the pleasure of spotlighting one of my friends-in-arms, L.K. McIntosh, a fellow author who I’ve become personally acquainted with through mutual associations and writing conventions the past year. Her story is one of twelve in this new anthology from Xchyler Publishing.

LK_McIntosh_200x274L.K. McIntosh has been making up stories about the people around her since she learned how to talk. She eventually discovered cultural anthropology, a fantastic and often macabre world of research rabbit holes and bare bones tales just begging to be fleshed out. She is irrationally terrified of sharks, which makes perfect sense, considering she has always lived in a landlocked state, and she is a proud supporter of the Oxford comma. She is currently working on two speculative fiction novels and several short stories. She physically lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, but tends to live life vicariously thanks to the Internet, books, television, and a vast array of interesting people.

L.K.’s story is titled THE ‘GRIM’ REAPER. When a soul reaper loses the source of their power, they must either find the witch who stole it or a new purpose for living.

I had a chance to chat with L.K. a bit and found some interesting (tasty even!) tidbits…

Me: How did you come up with the title of your story?

LK: I have to give credit to my mother. After talking through my story with her, she said, “Well, then I guess ‘grim’ really applies, doesn’t it? Hey, you should title it, “The ‘Grim’ Reaper”!” It is clever, so I went with it. (thanks mom!)

Me: What was the hardest part of writing this story, and how did you overcome it?

LK: The hardest part was just sitting down and writing it. I have this ridiculous idea that I want my first draft to be perfect, so I get in my own way a lot. I love to brainstorm and outline, but putting the story onto an actual page was very difficult for me. A lot of tears, frustration, and laborious placement of words, but I finally got there, and I love the characters and the things that happen within the story.

Me: So you’re a typical writer, then. I see! What is your favorite snack while writing?

LK: I usually have a cup of tea or coffee sitting nearby when I write.

Me: Girl after my own heart! I know you’re a speculative fiction writer which everyone knows makes you a nerd or a geek on some level. So just for fun, Star Wars or Star Trek?

LK: Star Wars, though I do like the new Star Trek films.

Me: Personally, either answer is correct on that question!

You can check out L.K.’s story and eleven others in Beyond the Wail available HERE on Amazon.

If you love a good book trailer – and who doesn’t? – check it out HERE.

You can also enter to win some great prizes as part of the blog tour – and who doesn’t love the chance to win free stuff?
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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For other author spotlights, check out the upcoming schedule:

BEYOND THE WAIL: 12 Grave Stories of Love and Loss

Book Release Blog Tour

Featured Author: Danielle E. Shipley

Danielle E. Shipley

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Are you Afraid of the Dark?

John’s Writing

Featured Author: Alex McGilvery

Alex McGilvery

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Ash Krafton: Emotion Between the Lines

Scott E. Tarbet, Author

Writer’s Law of Motion

Featured Author: T.N. PAYNE

Nicole Payne

Monday, October 12, 2015

Author Sarah Hunter Hyatt

Notes from Author Ginger C. Mann

Featured Author: Ginger C. Mann

Ginger C. Mann

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

L.K. McIntosh

J S Brown

Fairies & Pirates

Featured Author: L.K. McIntosh

L.K. McIntosh

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Rampant Games

Scotty Watty Doodle All The Day

Terra Luft — View From the Crystal Ball

Featured Author: Jay Barnson

Jay Barnson

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Storyteller’s Journey

Creativity from Chaos

Christine Haggerty

Featured Author: A. F. Stewart

A. F. Stewart

Friday, October 16, 2015

Tales by Julie

Perpetual Chaos of a Wandering Mind

Featured Author: Amanda Banker

Amanda Banker

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sebastian Bendix

Alex Campbell

Semi Short chic

Featured Author: Julie Barnson

Julie Barnson

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Ink Caster

The Road to Nowhere

Featured Author: Sebastian Bendix

Sebastian Bendix

Monday, October 19, 2015

The J. Aurel Guay Archive

:DandiFluff…

OriginiquEquanimity

Featured Author: Tirzah Duncan

Tirzah Duncan

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Alex McGilvery’s World

A.M.Harte

In The Spotlight

Featured Author: F.M. Longo

F.M. Longo

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ever On Word

The Cult of Me

Cobblestone Scribe


Fear of Rejection

The arrow of the mouse pointer hovering over the ‘Send’ button. The email meticulously crafted, submission guidelines checked and double-checked. Once sent, it cannot be undone. Will they love it? Will they hate it? Is it good enough? Will anyone else love it like I do? Will anyone besides my husband and my writing group ever read it?

All of these thoughts swirled through my mind as I clicked ‘Send’ tonight on my most recent submission. Now I wait… hoping for quick news about the fate of my latest story. It is par for the course in the life of an author – but also that of any writer who puts themselves and their work out there for consumption. Whether it be the first time or the hundredth time, waiting for acceptance and fearing the rejection–rejection that is statistically more likely–is perhaps the hardest part of this publishing endeavor.

© Rolffimages | Dreamstime Stock Photos
© Rolffimages | Dreamstime Stock Photos

For the moment, I’m trying not to stress and starting another project. May the universe and the submission editors smile on the latest slice of my soul that I just sent out into the world.


Why Every Fiction Writer Should Be Writing Short Fiction

I know you. You’re a novelist, an aspiring writer of the next great novel. Forging ahead through the jungle of self-doubt and rejections. I know, because I am just like you. Only I found a shortcut to success in the most unlikely of places: writing short stories.

Short fiction is an amazing avenue—even for those of us novelists who would never dream of writing short stories. Online magazines beg for content. Open calls for anthology submissions abound, hoping to find the next great thing. Many small presses use quarterly anthologies to find new novelists to sign. Flash fiction sites boast daily publishing for readers who want their fiction in tiny snippets. Land any one of these opportunities and that query for your novel just gained legitimacy—the kind that only comes from publishing credentials.

Opportunities aside, the best reason for aspiring writers and seasoned veterans alike is short stories hone your writing craft. Beginning novelists can take years to complete a first draft, then must repeat the process multiple times to polish their skills enough to land a publisher or sell well in today’s indie market. Why not learn all that on a microcosmic scale instead? Take months, not years, to learn the same lessons.

Can you never get from the dreaded middle to a neatly wrapped up ending? Write a short story. Do you struggle with dialogue? Write a short story using only dialogue. Not sure if you can pull off first-person present tense? Try it out on a short story. Do you avoid the overwhelming, often dreaded, prospect of editing your work? Write a short story, then edit multiple times to perfect it. My first published story went through eleven drafts. Imagine the time that would have taken with a novel! But once you’ve acquired these skills in an accelerated way, you can apply the experience gained to your longer fiction.

Veterans can use short fiction to further refine established skills. My editor’s favorite question is this: Does your writing do more than one thing at a time?

For example: The pendant hung from Susan’s neck where it always did. She loved the intricate scrollwork surrounding the pearl in a starburst pattern. She walked down the street, worrying about the events of the morning. Three sentences, thirty-four words.

Instead of separate sentences describing the pendant and the action, an experienced writer will combine the two: Susan eyed the storm clouds, thumbnail caught in the scrollwork of her mother’s starburst pendant like it always did when she was worried. One sentence, twenty-three words.

In that single sentence, we have tone, setting clues, action, and description. Plus, this shorter version shows us a characteristic when she’s worried, instead of breaking the cardinal rule of telling us she’s worried. Writing succinctly will set you apart in the eyes of readers and acquisition editors alike.

When you can write with an economy of words, stripped of the superfluous, your writing at any length will be more compelling. Use these benefits of short fiction, perfecting your own voice in the process, and your fiction writing overall will be improved.


Coming Soon: Ind’spiration Digest, with yours truly

Many of you, more than I ever dreamed of, begged for more when my first story came out. Wait no more, I have another publishing soon. Here’s a sneak peek at the cover, with my name on it!

Cover June 2015

This latest story, Fly On The Wall, is a horror story guaranteed to make you squirm; or so my beta readers tell me. You can get a digital copy or a print version when the magazine comes out next month. Like the Facebook page HERE to stay informed, and I’ll share links once they are available.