The last month has been busy as hell. Of course, for the readers I have, they may not see any notable evidence of that in terms of output. While there are a number of publishers that have open submission calls, the ones that have calls or themes that interest me is just a fraction of that. For the ones that I then submit to which in turn get placed, that's an even smaller fraction. That's my joy and my burden, and I don't really lament it - it's just part and parcel of the game.
This is kind of lost on some people. I appreciate that. Mama, for example, expresses concern when I get a rejection. She'll ask why? She'll ask why I'm getting so many. She'll ask if there's anything I can do to make it better. Which is where I then explain to her that just because a story was rejected by a publisher, that doesn't necessarily mean that the story isn't any good. What's nice about this is that a publisher will tell me that they liked it or felt it was one of the better ones, etc. despite rejecting it. It's humbling and cool to get your props, even if it comes as a rejection. And the publishers have a variety of tastes - the same way the horror and dark fiction audiences have a variety of tastes.
Which brings me to the topic at hand.
Early this month - 9th April, to be exact - I was in Derby for the first meeting of the HWA UK chapter.
Held in some quiet pub in Derby, I took time out to get a train up there and meet with my fellow horror author. What hit me was that when I rolled up to the back room and met those authors in there was feeling like the child in the room. Partly from age: and bear in mind I'm currently in my mid-40s. But the wealth of experience, rather than mere age, is what gave me something to think about. Authors such as Jan Edwards whose book of ghost stories exceeds all the ghost stories I've ever dreamed up, written or not. The likes of David Riley, who's been writing since before I was born. Again, bear in mind that I'm in my mid-40s.
During the course of the afternoon, more people turned up. This is where I do a public apology, because even though one Erik Hofstatter turned up, I only realised it was him after I left when he gave me a shout out on social media much later. Had I known, I'd've roped that good man into the conversation on Dexter. I hadn't connected with Erik too long before this meeting, having crossed his path on the HWA forum when he signed up. Am currently listening to his audio tale The Deep End, courtesy of Manor House (and it's doing what a story should do: drawing you in. You might not see hair in your plughole without thinking on this tale once you hear it).
I'd met others who loved the genre but came at from a different angle: Peter Allison who loves dark fiction but also the genre mash-ups such as Aliens. Eric Ian Steele who's M.O. is screenplays rather than short stories or novels. And there you have it. Because for those in the game, no two approaches are going to be exactly the same. Each of us will use a different medium or medium - and each of us will bring our own unique blend of dark work to the masses. Each one doing their level best to bring the best of dark work to you, regardless of how long they've been in the game.
I do have a fair back catalogue to shop. The most recent story I placed: "Tear You Wide Open" is one that I wrote a year ago. And after looking here and there for a particular publisher to place the work with, I've found one. Sure, there are a range of publishers out there, but I don't necessarily want to submit work to all of them. So there are certain things I'll look at combined to decide on or against a publisher. How much do they pay? What kind of work do they buy/publish? This one is key, because I'm reluctant to have my work sit in a publication that will also showcase comedy or drama. The presentation of their site, e.g. does it look professional, is it easy to navigate, does it have a variety of content, any distracting adverts, etc.
So I'll actually offer up another apology here - because even if my published output is small, I'm doing my level best to make a major change. And that's to get work on the new novel. Yes, I'll still shop my back catalogue in the meantime, but the new novel will be a priority (right after I finish my last remaining beta reads). Yes, there's a novel. No, no teasers yet. Only my beta readers have the vaguest teaser on what the novel will be about. But since I want to drop a teaser for you ASAP? I guess I need to up the ante, and I will. Keep watching.