Works in Progress—Stories and Novella

In following with a plan laid out in an earlier post, this week’s post will just be a little update on where my writing is at. Here we go:

The Ghul of Yazd
This story should be published in the next two weeks by Strangelet Journal. I will likely do a separate post here when it goes live. I can’t wait for this horror/undead/suspense thriller to come out. In the meantime, Strangelet has already revealed the cover art (right) and you can pre-order “Issue 0” now on their website. Strangelet_FrontCover

B” – a science fiction story.
This is set in the year 2070 after a series of conflicts known as “The Great Wars.” It was influence by Dante, a song by Ellie Goulding and T.E. Lawrence. I just finished the 2nd draft and this weekend I plan to wrap up the 3rd draft. After that, it should be pretty close to done and ready to submit. It will be nice to have something done (knock on wood) before the Ghul gets published.

AFTA” – a comic-horror novella.
Man, does it take a long time for a novella to get reviewed and accepted/rejected…After submitting a couple of query letters to some horror publishing imprints, I’m still waiting to hear back. I guess it’s just getting used to novella/novel submission time frames vs. short story submission time. I will keep you posted on what happens.


That’s all for now. Tune in next week when I write the next BIG post on the craft of writing or come back two weeks from now for another update on my works in progress. It’s up to you. I hope this new blog schedule works for everyone. It’s definitely making things easier for me.

The Craft: Conflict and Metamorphosis

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what makes a short story not just good, but great. Why do some reach out and grab you and others leave you cold? Well, I think I’ve hit on one of those things that compels you to keep reading: conflict leading to metamorphosis.

I began to suspect this was an important thing when Kenneth Jobe, another writer I follow, said that it was strange that his stories that were accepted both had characters in them that didn’t die.

My story ‘Tale of the Revolution’ is in there, and like my other story to be published so far, it’s a bit of an anomaly. Once again, it’s the rare story where no one dies and there are no curse words.

“Both stories where no one died?” I thought. That got me to thinking about an editor who said that he preferred to accept stories in which the protagonist DID NOT die, but was rather changed by what they experienced. Then, something else clicked: I remembered that at the writing workshop I took at RavenCon, Allen Wold said that a story was a tale with a plot, setting and characters in which the characters, the world or both change in some fundamental way.

So, like writers do, I mused a bit more on this. I turned it over and thought about it: Did my stories contain characters that metamorphosed, that changed? Yes, they did. Both of my accepted works featured protagonists that underwent major changes by the end of the story. How and why did this change happen? In every case, it was because of pressure, because of conflict.

The HatchlingsAntonio_del_Pollaiolo_Apollo_and_Daphne
In “The Hatchlings,” the narrator, Pharos, must decide whether to witness the horrendous Zakir ritual in the arena from start to finish or to walk out. The tension or conflict is: Will he stay or will he leave? He decides to stay and is forever changed by it.

The Ghul of Yazd
In “The Ghul of Yazd(to be published by Strangelet Journal in Sept.), Rasul must decide whether to assassinate a child, knowing that failing to do so means he will betray the hashashin brotherhood. In the end, he balks, setting in motion a long series of events and personal transformations…More on that later, once the story goes live…


It made me think of the story I’m working on right now, “B.” This story passes the metamorphosis test as the main character changes profoundly by learning the truth about the world she inhabits and deciding to DO something about it. She is a completely different person from the one she was a mere 4,000 words earlier. That’s no guarantee an editor will like it, but it’s a good start.

So, as you write this week, think about that. How do your characters—acting under pressure and in the midst of conflict—change? It works as a device in literature because, in the end, that’s what life is. Who is the same as they were 10 years ago? Who is the same person that they were this morning? We are constantly changing (or resisting change) in response to pressure. Characters in literature should be no different. After all, as Borges wrote:

The universe, like you, is Proteus.

or in the original Spanish:

el universo es, como tú, Proteo.


PS…Don’t forget to break the rules. I’m toying around right now with a protagonist for a new story who NEVER changes. I can just see him saying, almost spitting out this line of dialogue: “Me? Change? I don’t change. I never change. Let the world change. I remain constant.”

Of course, the delicious thing about this character is that a person with such an attitude immediately creates conflict wherever he goes. He will either force the world to change or have to bend to IT as a result. There you have it: Tension and conflict leading to change. We’ll have to see how the story turns out…That’s a post for another time.

Giveaway and Blog Tweaks

So, first, a business item: My Weird West tale, “The Truck Stop” and a historical novella, “The Man Who Ran from God” are both free this weekend (Aug. 16 and 17) on the Kindle. Stop by and check them out. You don’t need a Kindle to get them, just the Kindle app.


Blog TweaksCover_1_kindle_1_5_12
Next, I just want to talk about this blog. I’ve been trying my best to update it every week. I haven’t always succeeded and it’s been tough feeding the beast with all my other commitments (job, family, life and fiction writing). I don’t think I will be able to deliver every week.

So, here’s the deal: I will TRY my best to do a post EVERY week, with more substantive posts coming every other week, starting NEXT week on Aug. 22. That is, unless there’s a major life event or emergency. I will try to keep those posts bigger, more substantive. Musings on the craft of writing, the state of publishing, philosophical tirades, etc. The off-week posts sandwiched between the substantive posts will be more prosaic posts about where my writing work is at. Today’s post is an example of the later: just a writing update post.


Writing Update
So here’s the first writing update. You can learn more about the works referenced here in last week’s post or my Works in Progress page.
  • I have resubmitted my comedy-horror novella, “AFTA” to a couple of new places. Not a single squeak out of them yet, but, hey, this is a novella submission, so it takes time. Right?…Right. It’s also a cross-genre piece, which I imagine editors picking up with tweezers or fire tongs, hoping they won’t get burned, infected or mutilated. Oh well. Comedy horror can work and it’s a damn fun genre. Problem is, it’s too funny for some horror publishing houses that want “suspense” and too dark for comedy houses looking for light comedy. But there’s someone out there that will fall for “AFTA,” I just know it.
  • I am about half way done editing my science fiction short story, “B.” I’m also working through (FINALLY!) the notes from the writing group (hosted by Lisa Mistry and Jason Van Gumster) that was kind enough to read a beta version of the story. I will polish this one up and start submitting it.
  • Strangelet Journal just put together the Table of Contents for their first issue, with my story, “The Ghul of Yazd” in it. You can follow Strangelet on Twitter as the publication day approaches. I, for one, am super-excited to share my story. Can’t wait.


Musical Interlude
It’s been too long since we’ve had music on this blog. For some reason, I’ve been wandering through the Renaissance and Baroque composers lately…Don’t ask. I love this track, (“O Dolce Vita Mia” by Willaert) especially the beginning note. There’s something undeniably “spacey” about it. Enjoy.

The sounds of Gothic deep space.

Back to the Writing

All right, getting back at it. Just a short post to let you know I’m still alive, kicking and writing. Here’s what I have on my plate today:

ResubmittingWriting Man
I have to take a little time today to resubmit my comedy-horror novella, “AFTA.” It hasn’t been rejected once already, but I’m not deterred. It has a number of rejections ahead I’m sure, but, hey, that’s writing.

I hate to take time out to do this, but I know “AFTA” will find a home, I just need to find the right market. Often, this involves writing query letters, a wholly new activity for me. I don’t understand why you just can’t send the manuscript like you do for short stories. If anyone out there has a good explanation for this, I’d love to hear it in the Comments section below. Any tips on potential markets are also appreciated. 

Prewriting.
I have TONS….TONS of ideas for short stories. I also have some scoped-out novels that I keep adding tidbits to like filling in a painting with more and more detailed brushstrokes. Pretty soon you have characters, a structure, scenes, dialogue…But I digress…

The challenge is to get these ideas down, before they fly away. I have the ideas stored in hardware (on my mobile phone) and wetware (in my head). I need to dedicate serious time this afternoon to transferring the good ones from both.

Editing.
My new Sci-Fi story “B” has been patiently waiting my editing for months. I had to go back and do some rewriting of my “Ghul of Yazd” story, so I was held back a bit. No more. I will be getting to editing the 1st draft today or this weekend at the latest.


There you have it, the life of a writer when he isn’t exactly writing: Submitting, prewriting and editing. I’m starting to get anxious because I can’t wait to get back to what I really love: writing first drafts. It’s this editing and other stuff where I feel I get bogged down. (Those writers that LOVE to edit always annoy me and—I admit—make me jealous). Still, it needs to get done. If I believe in anything as a writer, it’s giving readers a quality finished product. I want to see my name attached to quality stuff.

That’s it. It’s time to get to work. I just wanted to keep you guys updated and let you know what’s coming next. Until next time…

Keep reading, keep writing,

Darius

“The Ghul of Yazd” Finds A Home

Finally. My story “The Ghul of Yazd” has been picked up by Strangelet Journal for publication in its first issue due this fall.

I always believed in the “Ghul,” in the story. I knew no matter how many times he got rejected—no  matter how many stabs and bludgeons he absorbed, he’d get back up and resubmit himself. And one day, slowly lurching along in his unique way, he’d find a  home. After all, ghuls are hard to fricking kill. The-ghoul-poster1

So, today, I’m very excited. It’s my second story to be picked up by a magazine after “The Hatchlings.” The “Ghul” helps  show that my writing’s not a fluke or a one-off. More importantly, I think Strangelet will be a great place for it. It seems that the new mag will be right in that “literary speculative fiction” niche I like to be in. It’s also cool to be part of a new mag’s inaugural edition. And finally, the editors aligned with my long-term vision for the story since its inception (a happy marriage of artistic vision there) as a piece of found fiction a la Potocki’s magnificent Manuscript Found in Zaragoza.

I will provide more details in the coming weeks as the publication date approaches. For now, check out my “Rejectionable Ghoul” page for more details. I will only add that the manuscript was rejected seven times before being accepted. So, fellow writers out there on the InterWebs, wherever you are—keep at it. You never know when that next acceptance letter will come.

This Blog Reaches 100 Followers–Plus Shoutouts

Ye olde blog here just reached 100 followers. Not bad. And it comes right after passing its 2nd anniversary of the blog.

I was feeling pretty awesome about this when, the other day, I decided to visit my sister-in-law’s blog and found she had about 3 times as many visitors in a comparable time period. And I’m the one who’s supposed to be the writer here. Oh well…


Shoutouts
…Still, it’s quite an accomplishment. I couldn’t be happier knowing that 100 people out there check out my blog on a regular basis. To celebrate, I’m going to give a shout-out to some of my blog followers today. Especially those that are doing the same thiPower, Money, Art Patronage. It's good to be the Pope.ng I’m doing: writing fiction.

But first, let me ask a little favor: Please stop by THEIR blogs and check them out. And if they have books or stories available, please consider BUYING them and leaving a review. And when you stop by their blogs, don’t be afraid to COMMENT on a post. They won’t bite… hard…as Austin Powers said. Trust me!

Remember, you may not be Pope Julius II, but you can patronize the arts and support real artists just the same with a few dollars and a few clicks. So, thanks in advance for supporting the art of writing and now…Drumroll please. Here they are are in reverse order, with those who most recently followed the blog coming first and the original, Back-in-the-Day followers coming last. 

Grady P. Brown (Blog Follower #100)
I’ve jut “met” Grady virtually via the blog, so I haven’t had a chance to get to know him or his writing. On his blog, he says he’s a “science fiction author who is diagnosed with high functioning autism” and “a connoisseur of the science fiction, fantasy, and superhero genres.” His superhero novel set in Los Angeles, The Young Guardians and the Genesis Spell is out now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Anna Bayes (Blog Follower #96)
On her blog, Anna says that “sex is not the only thing she writes about, but mind-shattering, great sex makes her feel alive, and so it has become a topic she writes about with gusto.” She also “admires how a story with multiple layers of meaning can be packed into just a few hundred words” and “aspires to produce good work in the short story form.”

It is very, very difficult to write good erotica (I have dabbled and failed) and the little I’ve read of her stuff is top notch. Her latest piece is Love Letter available on Amazon Kindle. (The story is for the 18+ crowd, so be advised.)

Tim W. Burke (Blog Follower #89)
This guy I actually met in the flesh at RavenCon. Speaking of flesh, his latest book, The Flesh Sutra is out and has already garnered some great reviews. He has a blog where he self publishes some stuff and a Facebook page. He’s published a lot of stories in top-notch magazines and there are more to come. Look forward to reading a lot more horror (Tim, please include the dark humor too. I love that stuff!!!) from him.

Kenneth Jobe (Blog Follower #28)
Watch this guy. He’s just getting started, but his writing makes you feel like he’s been doing this a long time. His blog, The Books of Jobe, covers writing, music, movies and everyday life. It’s hilarious and insightful at the same time. He recently published “Tale of the Revolution” in Nebula Rift and “Aiden’s Acting Up Again” in The Rusty Nail Literary Journal of May/June 2014.

I can’t wait to see where his writing goes next.

Lita Burke (Blog Follower #3)
Lita was one my first followers on this blog. She is an “Indie fantasy writer” and writes about the worlds she creates on her blog. Her latest novel is Wrath, Prequel to Tredan’s Bane and is available on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.


Apologies to those I passed over this time. There are a lot of great writers out there and I would have loved to highlight you all. In time, I hope to write about more of you.

Until next time…Keep reading, keep writing,

Darius Jones

Two Years of My Blog + A Giveaway

Well, it’s been two years since I started this blog, “A Writer Begins.” On July 20, 2012 I wrote my very first post. Here it is, in its entirety:


My New Novel

[Jul 20 by dariusjones]

Well, here goes nothing.

My first novel has just been published. It’s on the Amazon Kindle store here. It’s also on Goodreads.

Please take the time to leave a review. And a big thank you to all of you who have already got it and are reading it.

,D


“Well, here goes nothing”??? Wow. I’ve come a long way since then. Here are some of the best things that have happened in my past two years of writing:

  • I sold at least 200 copies of The Library of Lost Books (haven’t counted sales in over a year).
  • I gave away at least 1,600 copies of The Library of Lost Books.
  • Fiction Vortex published my short story, “The Hatchlings.” And it won 3rd place in their Reader’s Choice Award for that month.
  • Self-published an historical novella: The Man Who Ran from God.
  • Finished and submitted a new comedy-horror novella. (Let’s hope the publisher likes it!)
  • Wrote and submitted and submitted and submitted a historical horror fiction piece, “The Ghul of Yazd.” I believe in the Ghul and know he will find a home someday…
  • Written 107 blog posts and had 1,500 views of the blog.
  • Watched followers for this blog grow from 0 to 96.
  • Connected with over 500 Twitter followers. Really loving the interaction with readers and fellow writers over there.
  • Went to my first Con, RavenCon, where I attended all the writing panels I could and a writing workshop.  I plan to be their next year in April. It’s totally kickass, so you should go. Just look for me in the writing panels, I should be there.
  • Switched my writing strategy from purely self-publishing to writing mostly for traditionally-published markets. This means I’m writing my stuff and submitting it to magazines instead of putting it up on Kindle.

I want you to know that I’ve done all of this while keeping down a full-time, pretty stressful job. I write mostly on the weekends (on Sundays) and do the business and blog end of stuff at night when I can. The reason I’m telling you this is not to pat myself on the back, but to make all you guys out there stuck in a 40-hour (or more) a-week job, know that you can do it. You can write in your spare time and make real progress. I know, I’ve done it. The trick is having the discipline and self-confidence to stick to it.

So, I keep writing and you guys keep reading my stuff and supporting me.

Mayan Writer

In my darkest hours, at those times I’ve wanted to quit, to give up the writing gig entirely…There’s been one thing that has kept me going—the fans. I can count a number of times when a glowing review, an enthusiastic note or a kind comment struck me and shook me to the core. So, thank you. Your encouragement counts for more than you’ll ever know.


Giveaway

As a small sign of appreciation I’m celebrating by running a giveaway this weekend. I’m doing a 2-day (July 19 and 20) giveaway of The Man Who Ran from God and “The Truck Stop” on the Amazon Kindle. So, if you haven’t had a chance to get them, grab them while you can.

As for the future, well, one can never tell. But I’m going to keep writing and giving my best every weekend. There’s lots more to come, so stay tuned.

And once again—thank you all for keeping the faith. 

Darius

“Get it Done Little by Little”–Novella Done

So, first things: good news. I’ve finished, proofed and reviewed by comedy-horror novella. In fact, I’ve just sent it off to a publisher. We’ll see what happens next. There’s not a HUGE market out there for comedy horror, but I’m hopeful.

In other news, I keep on trucking on. I’m getting some good feedback from my other stories and I’ll share things as they develop. I’ll also get back to some of the personal news that’s been getting me down lately in posts to come.

Right now though, I’m outside just enjoying the sun of a Saturday afternoon, blogging, and dreaming about getting back to writing first drafts. I’m so sick of the damn editing! Enough already! It’s time to let the first-draft wild dogs (or is it horses?) out and watch them “lap the Miles.”

More to come…


I was thinking of a song that captured what I felt in finishing this piece. That feeling of being triumphant, but drained. This defiant number from Bob Marley hits it just right.

“Let’s get it done little by little.”

Just remember, Ya’ll. Keep on trucking. Don’t give up.  Finish your piece.

Good Luck,

DJ

Proofing and Polishing—While Life Sucks

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. I don’t want to get into the reasons why right now, which I’ll save for a longer post later. Suffice to say, personally, things have been up and down lately with more focus on the DOWN. Anyway, I’m soldiering on with the writing. proofreading-marking-critiquing

I’ve got back the manuscript of my comedy-horror novella from my proofreader and I’m going through it now. It looks tight and good so far, so I’m pretty pleased. It’s just tough trying to keep motivated right at the moment. I don’t feel motivated to sit and go through the thing and I don’t feel motivated to blog.

Sorry to be such a Debbie Downer about this, but I feel I owe myself and you guys the truth. When the writing’s going well I talk about it here. When it’s not, I don’t hide it from you. Same thing with the personal  stuff.

Anyway, the trick right now is not to let the personal stuff allow me to loose focus on the writing I get to sneak in on the weekend (away from that 9-to-5 job). It’s tough. But bit by bit, I’m making it happen.

That’s all for now. I want to reserve what energy I have for reviewing the manuscript and helping family and friends in need. It’s just one of those things.

Take care out there and don’t forget to spend some time with the people that truly matter to you this week.

All the Best,

Darius

The Eagle Has Landed: My first published story sees the light of day

dariusjones:

Sometimes, people ask me what they can do to support Literature, writing, new writers, etc. One of the best and simplest ways is to buy their stories and support the magazines that publish new writers. So, it turns out this is your lucky day. Kenneth Jobe recently published his 1st piece (ever!) on The Rusty Nail Literary Journal. See his post below for more details. Then, go over to the Rusty Nail’s site or Amazon and buy the issue. And for extra, bonus points and much gratitude from us writers, leave a review or tell your friends (in cyberspace or otherwise). I know Kenneth and a lot of us other writers will be grateful. Thanks! DJ.

Originally posted on The Books of Jobe:

After proudly telling the world (which is, literally, tens of people) I’d finally gotten not one, but two stories accepted for publication last month, next I did the only thing I could—I waited. And waited. I realized that I had no idea when either magazine/journal would actually come out, and started to feel a little uncomfortable that perhaps I’d tooted my own horn a little prematurely. Friday I finally got word that one of them is officially out, on the market and available for sale.

wp86ff1dd4_05_06

The Rusty Nail Literary Journal May/June issue is out now! Hard copies are available for purchase from Amazon here, and digital downloads are available at their website here. In it you will find my flash fiction piece “Aiden’s Acting Up Again.”

It’s a bit surreal, after all this time finally seeing my name and my words in a real-life, published product. It feels pretty…

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