Tag Archives: Berchta

Writing: Publishing News

I finally received my copy of Shroud #7, with my story “A Kind Hand.” However, though I just received it, it did come out last fall. Sometimes there are time lags and sometimes there is miscommunication. I’ve been paid for stories that were never published. I’ve had articles published for which I was never paid. I’ve signed contracts after the story came out and I’ve been paid and informed of a publication after  it happened as well. None of these things have been frequent but none are optimum.

Publishers and writers sign contracts, which are agreements as to publication, for how long, for which rights and for how much. The contract indicates a definitive agreement and set of rules by which both parties agree. The right order is to accept the piece, send and sign the contract, publish the story and/or send payment (some publishers pay first and publish later, and some publish first and pay later, but not too much later; usually on publication). The publisher should give the author a copy of the contract as well. To sign a contract after publication could very much screw up the publication should the author not agree to the terms. This leaves the publisher open to embarrassing circumstances at least and legal action at most.

Thus far, I have been paid for all of my stories though the order was sometimes a bit mixed up.

I have also just been paid for “A Taste for Treasure” coming out (on the shelves now) in Alison’s Wonderland. I’ve also just signed the contract for the poem “Of the Corn: Kore’s Innocence” in Witches and Pagans #21, which will be out soon.

“A Kind Hand” took me about eight years to write and is based on a tale about the Germanic hearth goddess Berchta. I had the idea and the plot, but for some reason I just moved it along very slowly. “A Taste for Treasure, based off of one of the many Grimm’s fairy tales (tales that they collected and wrote down) was written specifically for the anthology. The poem “Of the Corn” was part of a Greek revisioning series of poems. Some of the other poems are are about Athena, Persephone, Leda, Psyche. I don’t think I’m done with that series yet, which looks at the untold feelings of these mythic figures. The Persephone/Kore poems are a set of three and now two have seen publication.

And slowly slowly I’m working on my Mary Magdalene story. The scenes are now plotted and half of them are written. It’s taken a fair amount of research to place a story in ancient times during the time of Christ. That alone has slowed me down as I’ve read various gospels, the Dead Sea scrolls, books on Mary Magdalene and on Christ in my attempt to get a sense of the climate (both geographical and political, the flora and fauna, clothing, food and daily life of the characters. This is only a short story but the amount of research for certain historical times can be phenomenal. And of course about 70% of what I research doesn’t go into the story but helps me flesh out the characters and places.

I’ll need to finish it by August so I can get going on it. So it’s time to knuckle down again and see what I can get done in the next few weeks.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, entertainment, erotica, fairy tales, fantasy, myth, poetry, Publishing, sex, Writing

Writing: The Process

The writing process is a different beast for every writer. There are those that have a set time every day and write within that time. How I envy them. Me, I abhor schedules at the best of time, which is also my bane. This blog is about as regular as I get. It’s one aspect of the “write every day” rule. The writing process can also be different for every story.

Some stories nearly write themselves in a few days. Some are long struggles. Often the ones I think are going to be easiest (such as writing a fairy tale) turn out to be the worst for getting the idea flowing. Some stories take forever for different reasons. “A Kind Hand,” which I finished last year and is fantasy, took me about eight years to write. I would work on it in fits and starts and stop again. It slowly progressed with a lot of agonizing along the way. And every time I went to work on it, I had to read it again and then try to match the voice I had started in. I also quite like the way I was writing it and didn’t want to ruin it.

In this case I knew the ending because it’s based off of a particular tale about the Germanic hearth goddess Berchta. But in between the ending and the beginning I needed a flow of events that raised the tension. Like many fairy tales, the original tale was fairly bare bones and short, jumping to the one climax. I needed to put flesh on those bones. I got closer and closer to finishing and finally last year worked out the full story. I think I sent it out once but in the meantime also had a friend read it. His comments included that there needed to be more tension so I made the character a bit scarier, upped the ante at the end and sent it to Shroud, and it sold.

My longest running story ever, from start to finish is “Awaking Pandora,” which I’m working on right now. It’s science fiction, which I don’t write as often. I started it about fifteen plus years ago, while visiting a friend in New York. I was struck by all the barges and the prison barge around Manhattan. So I started the story and began writing and writing and realized, if I wasn’t careful, it was going to become a novel. But I didn’t want a novel. I knew it was still going to be a long story.

With this story the problem was that I really didn’t have a finally resolution. I had a conflict, conflicts in fact, but I didn’t know how to solve them. So it sat as I ruminated. I’d pull it out once in a while, read the whole thing, rewrote a bit what I’d started and then let it sit. I discussed it with a friend or two, trying to find an ending. Then, a year ago, there was an anthology looking for novelettes, stories between 10-20,000 words in this case. I tried to finish it but just couldn’t get there. I did finally finish the first draft last year.

Now, again there are two anthology markets that this story could fit into but I’m running out of time on the first. I’ve spent the last month writing and rewriting, taking the comments of two friends. The story was running at 9800 words and is down to 8600 but one market has a limit of 6,000. I’ve looked at it so often, changing word, changing sentences, deleting some, moving some up, some down, expanding and changing.

I’ve changed, more refined, the ending twice and it’s not quite there. I passed it by a third friend last night who said she just couldn’t chop some out as it would take rewriting to remove some aspects and make it shorter (partly because I’ve already removed extraneous words and removing more means redoing the flow). Again, I think this is a good story and I like my characters though I already cut the extraneous ones as too many for a shortish story. I have this weekend to make the thing work as I have to mail it latest by Monday.

It’s a long process, agonizing over a word, a line, a paragraph, a character. Then the conflict; is it enough, does it need to be earlier? This story has been easy for getting description and mood in, and characterization was fairly effortless, but plot. Yikes. Well, I’m back to the writing board and the true test is whether I’ll sell it or not. One last shot at getting the plot right and trying to cut out another 2,000 words and away it will go.

Leave a comment

Filed under entertainment, fairy tales, fantasy, horror, life, myth, people, Publishing, science fiction, Writing

Writing Update March

I’m way behind this year on submissions. Normally I do a blitz in January. But this year I was working on a large editing project for a client. I just seemed to busy to hunker down. Right now I’m trying to get a story rewritten for one anthology and write a new story for another anthology, as well as work on my novel. And I’ve been trying to get my taxes done. So I don’t think I’ve submitted anything new yet this year.

I’ve received some rejections for stories sent out from last fall, but yesterday saw some reward. I arrived home to find a letter from Barton College saying my poem “Finding Dionysus” was awarded second prize and will be published in Crucible. As well, there was an email from Shroud magazine saying they had accepted my story “A Kind Hand” for publication in issue #6.

Yesterday I said that perseverance is a large part of writing and becoming published. I’ve also talked about revisionist poems. Although “Finding Dionysus” is from Persephone’s point of view it’s not as revisionist as some of my others but is part of a series I’ve done on Greek gods. The poem was written about six years ago but as is often the case with submissions, an editor’s preference can be for a particular type or style of writing. As well, magazines may have themes or just published a piece with a similar theme. I was once told by one magazine that they had just published a torso story and they couldn’t take another or they would be seen as a fetish magazine.

“A Kind Hand” is a tale of perseverance in the writing. I started the story probably ten years ago, wrote a bit and let it sit. I liked the idea but for a while wasn’t sure where to go with it. I was basing it off of a Germanic folktale about Berchta (a hearth goddess) so I had the plot but I wanted to give it a more human aspect. Some stories flow out easily and all at once. Others come out in fits and spurts and seem to be a jumble. “A Kind Hand” was somewhere in between and when I wrote on it, it came out fairly smoothly. However, taking so many years to write the story meant that I had to keep rereading it to figure out where I was going. Also, one’s style can change from story to story and year to year. I had to try and continue in the style in which I had started, which I really liked.

Once it was done I sent it out but also sent it to a friend to read. He made some good comments so I brought out the threat aspect a bit more and once it was rejected, sent the story out again. I think I had only submitted this one a few times before Shroud.

Looking at start to finish on the poem was probably seven years. The story was ten or more years in the process. I have ideas like this, that I start because I had an image in my mind, but perhaps no plot, or no ending. They sit and sometimes I do finish them. There are those stories that I complete but am not satisfied with so I maybe send them out once and then they wait for a rewrite so that I can figure out how to make them better. Rarely does a story or poem flow out quickly, all in one piece, with minimal rewriting. And rarely does it go from creation to publication quickly. My quickest was probably “The Fishwife,” which flowed out in no more than three days, needed a minimal rewrite and sold to the first or second place I sent it. Still, with the time taken for submitting and the selection process of the magazine, it was about a year.

This doesn’t even include the time from acceptance to publication. The tardiest rejection I ever received was seven years. Some pieces that have been accepted may be  a year (or more) from acceptance to actually being published.

And last, as fantasy editor of Aberrant Dreams, I have released all stories but one back to the authors. The magazine is going through some structural changes and it was becoming far too long in holding stories. I hate giving up good stories but it wasn’t fair to hang on indefinitely. I have two letters to send out, releasing one more and letting one author choose if he wants his accepted story to sit in the to be published pile or if he’d like to withdraw it. Then we wait for the restructure.

Time is not linear in the world of writing and submitting, nor on the publishing end of a magazine. Patience and perseverance really help.

Leave a comment

Filed under art, entertainment, fairy tales, fantasy, horror, myth, people, poetry, Publishing, science fiction, Writing

My Greatest Science Fiction

Back around grade 10 or 11, I was taking biology and had to do an experiment and write a report. I chose to do something with fish, guppies most likely. Therefore I would get some guppies–we might actually have had some still, and colored lights. I would then test how different colored light affected fish.

Well, I never did buy the lights at all. I did no research, I read no book. But I did submit the experiment. I wrote up a full paper on how the various lights (red, blue, green, yellow) had affected the fish. I can’t remember what I wrote but I talked about how the red light made them sluggish…or maybe it was the yellow, though I think I equate yellow with sunlight and had them more active.

The experiment covered several weeks and in the end, i received a B+ for the paper. Not bad for a piece of science fiction. Not it could be I got away with it because the teacher knew nothing about biology, being the physics teacher, but that’s the point.

I don’t really consider this cheating because I didn’t copy anything from anyone else. I just made it all up. Somehow, this tale came out tonight after we did Mexican with margaritas and came back to the dorm where several people actually worked on stories. I did too. I’m nearly done on the Berchta story. My day for being critiqued is Wednesday.

I know what will be said: my story is very complex. I’ve had to create a society, religions, races, geography, culture, myths and history. It’s not easy but I am looking forward to getting some direction. And I’m still waiting to see if I received a grant or not.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, humor, science fiction, Writing