Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Word On Titles: They Are Hard.


Or at least, they are for me. You know, I keep thinking, the title of any given piece, that is the first thing the reader sees, sometimes if they look only at the table of contents, the title makes the difference between a reader giving it attention or passing it over. Following this logic, I feel that a title should be awesome, should give a little info on the piece without telling you everything.

And I just have no gift for finding such titles.

I'll come up with this really great poem or story that I think is sweet, and then I'll be finished and ready to hit save, and I just can't think of a name for the damn thing! I mean, like nothing creative comes to mind that doesn't sound trite or like an utter brain fart. Fucking titles, I think, but I'll still have to make one up because I don't really like anything titled 'untitled'. Yay conundrum.

Being as unimaginative as I am when it comes to titles, I actually managed to give two separate pieces the exact same name. Twice. So far.

In both cases, a poem and a story have to share a name.

The first incident was 'The Other Road'. The poem is here and the story is forthcoming from Sam's Dot. In this case, I wrote the poem first but even while I was writing it, I began to feel that it had a story somewhere in it. However, I'm not sure I would have ever sat down and actually written that after I was done with the poem, but Tyree Campbell of Sam's Dot suggested that it would work better as a story and so, people pleaser that I am, I wrote it. Naturally, the story and poem share the same roots, but they turned out quite differently. Both may deal with the same narrative but they still look at it from different angles. Also, the story really does have a different ending. It even has a sequel that I so ingenuously titled 'The Girl Who Chose The Other Road'. You can find it in Shelter of Daylight Issue 5.

Now, the other incident is 'Wine'. The poem was published in Basement Stories #2, right here, and the story has not yet found a home. It does contain violence and sex however, though nothing very graphic. Probably. This time, there is no connection between those two pieces (though on a side note, 'Wine' is also one of my Red Riding Hood poems; I've been doing a lot with this fairy tale).

I don't know if I'm the only person who has trouble naming what she wrote properly or if, like coffee, that's just a writer thing. I'm not saying I never came up with a good title, but something that really satisfies me, grumpy critic that I am in my heart of hearts? Well. I guess I'll just have to add 'Become master namer' to my (long) list of highly desirable achievements. Grrr.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why the Slush Reader Is Your Friend

Slush readers are always looking for awesome.

This concept may be new and unfamiliar to some, especially if, like pretty much any writer, they have managed to pile up quite an impressive collection of rejection letters. It's essentially true though; slush readers are your friends (this post on slush reading is simply enlightening; go read it).

Unlike friends in real life though, a slush reader (or editor) will be honest to you; this honesty may be displayed in the form of a rejection letter. Also, while a friend may not care about how you format your writing--being a friend, they would probably read any fancy font, and damn the ensuing headache--slush readers and editors do, because, let's face it, you're not the only writer out there.

On the other hand, nobody who reads submissions does so in order to reject people. We read because we want to find awesomeness! We read because we are passionate about what we do and what we want to see published. People who read submissions are very much like treasure hunters, and every new submission that we look at is as exciting as finding Aztec gold or discovering Atlantis or making first contact with the alien mothership.

And now feels like a wonderful time to give you the But. So, when I open this potentially awesome submission, what should be the first thing I see? Yes! Right! I want to see the use of exactly the kind of formatting STATED IN THE GUIDELINES! See, personally I feel that has to do with respect. When I look at a submission, I fully expect to be wow-ed. I do so because I respect each and every writer's effort. In return, following the guidelines shouldn't be to hard; it's really like a friendly handshake and a smile, easy to give but, if denied, a source of potential insult. So, super-big HINT: READ THE GUIDELINES AND FOLLOW THEM TO A T! (Bonus Hint: Following the guidelines for one page and then going back to whatever format pleases you is worse than not following them in the first place.)

Following this first impression (which might lead to rejection without anyone ever reading even one word of what you wrote! Guidelines, people!), I will begin to read. Let me just say GHOSTPIGS.

So, to sum up, while rejection is one huge recurring part of being a writer, why not make sure it happens for 'all the right reasons' instead of an over-abundance of spelling or grammar mistakes, not sticking to the guidelines or boring your slush reader friends?

Please. We want to accept you as much as you want your baby to get published!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Me, Blogging about Writing about My Writing...

This might go well with the story, although the pic is not as dark . But it is a cemetery with dead people and headstones and all that. 

Is not the internet an amazing thing? Yes, today I will do pretty much exactly what this nice heading implies, I will be blogging about writing the stuff I wrote concerning my writing that you can read in all its splendor right here.

Still with me? Good. The Red Penny Paper's wonderful Katey Taylor does some great promotional effort for the stories published in the mag, one of them is a Miniview of each author and their story. Mine you can read here. I'm talking a little bit about how most of my stories start and what I'm writing at the moment, but especially in that last category, there is more coming *tease tease*.