Sunday, 22 November 2009

Easier to Pretend in Escape Velocity

Was there ever a time when I resented editors suggesting rewrites? Yeah, I guess there was, and it probably wasn't even that long ago. Still, it's hard to remember the mindset, though I know it's pretty common amongst learning writers. "Who's this editor to tell me what my story should be like," and "what's the point of making changes when I got it right the first time?", and "yeah, that paragraph's a bit weirdly phrased but it's exactly how I meant it to be."

All of which, if we're honest, adds up to "It was enough work writing the bloody thing, you can't seriously expect me to rewrite it?"

A little older, possibly a touch wiser, and I can see that that's not how the world - let alone the publishing industry - works. I want my stories to be as good as possible, right? And editors, unless they're basically psychotic, want my story to work as well as it can before they're going to consider publishing it. It all seems pretty much like common sense.

But I think the reason for that is that the more I've written, the more my perception of what a story is has changed. Once upon a time, I believed that once I wrote THE END that was basically the thing done. These days, I would be hesitant to use the word 'finished' to describe anything I write. As long as I can make it a little bit better, it's still a work in progress. For that reason, both of the reprints I recently had picked up for anthologies (Fear of a Blue Goo Planet in Zombonauts, The Other Ten Thousand in Kings of the Realm) are subtly different from the originals. I saw that there was room for tweakage, and so I tweaked. If they ever get reprinted again, I'll probably tweak some more.

Explanation for ramble? My It's Easier to Pretend in the Dark has been picked up by science-fiction magazine Escape Velocity. I sent it in to co-editor Geoff Nelder knowing in my heart of hearts that it wasn't quite as good as it could be but not knowing how to fix it, and Geoff, bless him, asked for some changes and in so doing pointed me towards some other things that needed sorting out. As such, the version that's been accepted is a hell of a lot better than the one I first sent out. That's got to be a good thing, right?

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Feeler Headlines Final Ballista

Some bittersweet release news, as November sees my story Feeler kicking off the seventh and final issue of British small press magazine Ballista. Ballista has garnered respect in its brief lifespan, and its a hell of a shame to see the - let's face it, not exactly bloated - UK small press get smaller by one.

Still, looking on the bright side, it's a nice issue to say 'goodbye' to. For a start, there's that gorgeous cover by Paul Neads, and an editorial from Andrew Myers that turns into a clever little horror story in its own right. After that comes my contribution, Feeler, a short tale of an empathic grief counsellor and the one thing that keeps her sane.

As a brief diversion from my usual fence-sitting, here are my three personal favourite stories, in no particular order (except, come to think of it, the order they appear in the magazine):

Crunch by Neil Beynon
Flood by Terence Kuch
Will by Mario Milosevic

Hmm, I can't help noticing that all of those - like Feeler - had one-word titles. Sorry, everyone else, your titles were just too damn long for this fruit fly-like attention span!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

October Wrap Up

Just a quick post to report a few belated odds and sods of October news:

Well, the month was a bit of a triumph, all told, with a couple of very strong sales and three acceptances for non-paying but fun venues. Of the latter, and not to denigrate the other two, I'm currently most excited about the picking up of my comic strip for Mangaquake, since I've just finished the new edit. It's now called Endangered Weapon B, after its grizzly-bear-in-robot-armour hero Banjo, and it comes in at ten pages, twice as long as Fleshworld (as printed in Futurequake #10) or my forthcoming strip in Something Wicked. It's been fun to decompress the story, and I think that this is the definite high point of (my admittedly limited!) comics work so far. In short, I'm chuffed with it, and can't wait to see what an artist makes of those ten pages of utter dementedness.

I'd hoped to have a couple of things out this month, but neither has materialised; on the plus side, the anthology from Comet Press that's to feature my Rindelstein's Monsters now has a fantastic cover, a neat webpage all of its own, a release date at the back end of November, and perhaps most importantly, a name - The Death Panel. I've seen a copy of the galley, and I can say with only a hint of bias that this one is going to be awesome.

Last up, I found yet another review of The Living Dead, which is both staggeringly thorough and singles out Stockholm Syndrome for credit - in the shape of a 4 out of 5 rating. At least, I hope it's out of five, and not say, seventy-three. Either way, cheers to reviewer Gregory Tidwell.