I subscribe to emails from The Review Review magazine, which is a wonderful resource for finding literary information. Their latest email highlights a writing magazine (Tethered By Letters) that also has a submission tracker page. What this does is highlight some reputable magazines and when they are open to submissions. This is extremely useful, so I thought I would pass on the information. I always encourage writers, particularly new writers, to submit work to such places. They are a great way to get your foot on the publishing ladder without too much pressure. And most good ones pay, too.
There’s something about the word that drips from the tongue, fan-ta-sy. Three syllables became my sanctuary. I’m thankful for them daily.
It all started when a little girl — not me, thank you very much — walked through a wardrobe and stepped out into snow. Wow! Could you? Would you?
There was a simple answer for one young lad who wanted his own space, his own little world to live in: yes. Perhaps it was isolationism or just a desire to dream during the safety of day instead of risk the terrible nightmares he suffered every night? I still can’t answer that, but my future was set. Not only this, but I secretly promised myself that at some point, at some time, I would write something that released others in the same way that the incredible C. S. Lewis did for me.
Once one develops a taste for a certain genre of writing it can rapidly develop into an obsession. It did, too. Every penny of pocket money, odd jobs and birthday money went on comics and books. We weren’t well off and neither were my extended family, but one advantage of loving the written word is that generally, you don’t need to be. I bought, collected and read. It made me happy.
As I grew from single figures into double and onwards, my lust for reading never evaporated although it was kept secret from my friends and even family to a degree. Being sporty, which I was and still am, it would have been unwise or at best ill-advised to advertise a passion for books to the world if you know what I mean. And so my secret horde grew. Foremost amongst my collection was the author Michael Moorcock and for one good reason: Elric.
Elric was first written as an exact opposite to Robert E. Howard’s classic Conan the Barbarian. Where Conan was muscular, powerful and epitomised physical might, Elric did not. The albino prince of a dying race, Elric survived on drugs and sorcery. He prayed to Arioch, a less than redeemable God, and had a general dislike for everyone: just my kind of guy. When Elric (and I can’t remember how he actually came to own it) finds the sword Stormbringer — wow, what a name — the circle is complete. Elric’s sword sucked souls and passed that vitality to its owner. The white wolf was born and my love of antiheroes with it. I read many Elric novels — Moorcock was ever prolific — and was staggered that right at the end of them, my hero was killed by his own blade. So many twists. So many possibilities. So much scope to learn from in my desire to write. I read EVERYTHING that Moorcock wrote and still own upwards of fifty of his novels. One of my few regrets of youth was not getting to meet him at a book signing. I drove, then walked many miles to get his autograph only to find it cancelled when I got there. For someone as shy as me to have plucked up the courage to do so was devastating.
Fantasy can be interpreted in so many ways and so my reading diversified. I vacuumed up Gene Wolfe’s poetic prose, Ray Bradbury’s never ending imagination, everything and everyone from age old classics to the latest in modern writings. I enjoyed them all and still do when I can find the time to read. Fantasy provided an outlet, an escape, a place beyond the sneers and angry words of what to me did and still does seem a vicious world. At times, anyway.
The best Fantasy authors have the ability to not only drag you into their worlds but make you think they’re real, possible, plausible. I think this is why I did and will always prefer Fantasy to Science Fiction. No matter how good a Sci-Fi novel is at its core you know it’s not actually happened, where just perhaps a Lewis or Tolkien might have been to their worlds. Maybe that’s just me, but I like to think it.
In these days where computer games deliver sights and sounds to our every sense, where cinema slams ideas in through our eye-sockets, I feel very sorry for those kids who aren’t given the freedom to use their own imaginations as of old. There is and never will be anyplace like the deepest parts of our own minds. We have such scope, such magnificent horizons available to us that lie just waiting to be unlocked. I hope children in particular can return to these places over the next few years. Things often have a way of going in cycles. One can hope. As for me, I’m now writing what I was once reading, and it’s still the only thing that really makes me happy. Long may it continue.
This is my latest Medium.) post. Please feel free to click the link and join me there.
A friend recently asked me for advice on the submission process. It wasn’t until she cross-examined me with several pertinent questions regarding her work that I remembered just how frightening the whole business can be if you’ve never done it before.
For me, and many others, the writing itself is never an issue. I revel in the art of creation, but being your typical introverted writer absolutely dread others seeing it. On top of this, I hate being made a fool of which stems from doing things wrong and being reminded of it (you know who you are). This is my own personal nightmare. I can turn off to what people say in both pros and cons regarding my work, but not to my own incompetence. Hence, I made sure of several fail-safes when submitting work.
Here are a few tips I have gleaned over time. I genuinely hope they help. If even one makes life easier for you, then this has been worth the writing.
The Bio Business
Most authors hate talking about themselves and the ones that don’t never shut up. So, when a magazine or publisher asks for a simple bio to be attached with your submission, it can render a writer paralysed. There is no need for this to be the case. In most circumstances, all that is required are two or three sentences stating a little about yourself and your previously published work or highlights. If you have none, it doesn’t matter, the editors are reading what you’re sending them not what you’ve sent elsewhere. Here are two examples of what are acceptable. Always write them in third person.
John Smith is a British writer born and bred in Lancashire. His work has been published in such notable periodicals as Clarkesworld Magazine and The Guardian. John writes daily for his own self-titled website.
John Smith is a new British writer born and bred in Lancashire. A writer of speculative fiction, John loves all aspects of the written word and its distribution. John writes a daily blog with a substantial following.
Number one has many qualifications and number two has none. They both sound good though. Never be afraid to tell it as it is.
PS: As a Yorkshireman, I have no idea why I chose to use Lancashire for my example, but it pained me to type it.
Once you have a short bio you’re happy with SAVE IT. Copy the thing and keep it safe. My tip is to never retype your bio, but, instead, copy it into emails, websites, or whatever is required. This method guarantees it always being the same, always correct and requires less checking. You can update it as and when.
Standard Manuscript Format
THE WHAT! Yes, it does sound terrible, but it isn’t. A lot of sites and potential places to send work will quote the name William Shunn. The reason for this, is William was kind enough to create a submission ready template that anyone can download from his site. Get it HERE. By writing your stories in this template or transferring them to it, you are guaranteed a professional looking manuscript. The template is essentially for Microsoft Word but I have opened it in several other word processors notably Google Docs and Apple Pages and it has worked fine. Plus, once you know how it looks, you can always type your own.
One little addendum here is to always check what a site requires. Some editors hate one font and love another, like a certain spacing in documents etcetera, etcetera. That’s no problem just select all on your document and alter it to how they want. Easy.
A Few Basic Tips
Don’t mail your work with a stupid email name. I would suggest using a separate email account (Gmail allows you lots) to look more professional. Example: JohnSmithauthor@gmail.com as against Johnthebigman@gmail.com
As previously stated, always format your work as requested. At times, it can seem petty, very petty, but they ask for a reason and the writer should respect that reason.
I have mentioned before about having a Submittable account. Many writing outlets use Submittable to manage their submission process. Get one HERE. Submittable is a wonderfully easy site to use and also acts as a submission manager/database for you the writer.
Many sites you submit to offer email updates on when and what they require at any given time of the year. As a rule, you won’t get bombarded by emails so it’s well worth signing up to them. Plus, if they don’t help, you can always unsubscribe.
You will be one of possibly hundreds of people sending submissions to your sites of choice. No matter how good a story is a publisher can only print so many. NEVER be discouraged. If you keep at it, keep polishing your work and choose your destinations with appropriate care, you WILL be published. They say you always remember your first time although I’ve forgotten. Either way, it’s wonderful to see your brainchild enjoyed by others.
I hope this little list has helped unlock some of your submission process worries. Good luck. I hope you become the next J.K. Rowling.
Steampunk often baffles me, not because I don’t like it, I love it, but because people pooh-pooh it without even trying it. I know folks that say they hate it, yet in the next breath extoll the virtues of Dr. Who or The Time Machine or The League of Extraordinary Gentleman or Jules Verne all of which comprise Steampunk at some point or another. The head and the tail of it is this, if you like Victorian, dark literature and I would include the likes of Sherlock Holmes in this, and you also enjoy Fantasy, then Steampunk is a very definite blend of the two. As the years have gone on this has been expanded to include the Dracula type books and other Victorian horror genres. If anything, this has made Steampunk one of the most cult genres in all of literature.
So, in a different way to normal, I am merely going to show the titles and covers of said recommendations and hope they spark your interest, get the old cogs turning, (see what I did there? Cogs, clockwork, steam…oh well!)
As always, I own all these books and would recommend them without hesitation.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen / Alan Moore
Morlock Night / K. W. Jeter
Anna Dracula / Kim Newman
The Osiris Ritual / George Mann
Phoenix Rising / Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris
The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack / Mark Hodder
The Japanese Devil Fish Girl / Robert Rankin
The Feaster From The Stars / Alan. K. Baker
The Kingdom Beyond The Waves / Stephen Hunt
Clockwork Angel / Cassandra Clare
I hope you enjoyed this look at Steampunk. Please try one or more and see what you think.
The Fiction shelves of a bookshop can carry the widest variety of work from the ancient to the new and everything in between. The benefit of this can be books that are unexpectedly superb because you aren’t entirely sure what to expect. The following are ten books all of which I own that have done just this – surprised due to their exceptional quality. I recommend them all. Enjoy.
Memoirs of a Geisha / Arthur Golden
If you enjoyed the movie you’ll love the book and vice-versa.
Sister / Rosamund Lupton
Rosamund Lupton is an author who has fast built up a following. There’s no surprise why after reading this.
The Night Circus / Erin Morgenstern
The cover says it all, enchanting. One of my personal favourite books.
Dark Matter / Michelle Paver
This could have gone in a ghost or horror category, but it’s so well based in reality that I felt it best here. You’ll never see sunlight slipping away the same again.
Across The Nightingale Floor / Lian Hearn
The Orient, assassins, tradition, what more could you want? Most of all, a beautifully crafted tale.
The Virgin Suicides / Jeffrey Eugenides
This book put a spell on me just as had the Sofia Coppola movie. Not to everyone’s taste, but well worth the read.
I’m Not Scared / Niccolo Ammaniti
I felt this. ‘Nuff said. Distinctly Mediterranean and a great read.
The Vengeance of Rome / Michael Moorcock
This is the fourth book in the Pyatt Quartet. The only series of books that I’ve ever read, reached the last page, and thought ‘Jesus!’ he had me all the way.
The Dream Life of Sukhanov / Olga Grushin
‘Dream Life’ explains this better in two words than I could in a page. Very Russian. Very surreal. Always superb.
Milan Kundera / Unbearable Lightness of Being
Of love and lovers. A fantastic book and a great way to finish off this list.
I hope you enjoyed the choices and get chance to read at least one of these fine works of literature.
The lovely Soumya wrote a post thanking me for giving her the courage to choose writing and literature for a career. I was very touched by it.
I had no choice in my own decision, at least in my eyes, and life was passing fast; Soumya had choices and is far braver than I ever was. Wish her luck if you can.
She heard the voices, the advice, the wailing warnings gathered to crescendo and considered her future. How could someone so young be expected to know what to do, the first decision the hardest. Yet despite it all she listened to the loudest, herself. To follow your heart takes courage more than most could ever know. So I shout, not say, “Good luck Soumya and may writing forever bring you happiness!”
It is though a russet memory to me now Leaves fell as if rain A swirling palette of texture and colour It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen A butterflying patchwork quilt Of autumnal brilliance Leaves of all descriptions alighted upon my arms It made me laugh And then departed as quickly as they had landed To resume their circling Who would think nature could be so gentle My body a trunk, my arms branches As my life-stuff span about me This most tender of tornadoes This freak of the Fall Was a gift from above for me alone Then just as quickly as it arrived it was gone One whole minute of perfect creation And I was the only person to see it No reminder of such a blessed event Until I looked down and saw three sycamore leaves Perfectly aligned in variegated death I had quickly taken a picture of this most incredible of acts Then left before anything could spoil it I do not know if those leaves are there still I cannot bring myself to return But that picture lies in my breast pocket and shall forever A reminder of the gift God gave me On that cool October morn.