Monday, December 29, 2014

What Rough Beast

So Charles R. Rutledge and I have been busy. We usually are, mind you, but in this case we've been working on a different little ditty, piece coming out from White Noise Press.

White Noise Press does very limited edition chapbooks that are, frankly, gorgeous.

Here's the first piece of artwork that publisher Keith Minnion is sharing:

And this particular book is done in the style of a penny dreadful and is properly called WHAT ROUGH BEAST:  A Crowley and Kharrn Yarn

Crowley would be my recurring character Jonathan Crowley. Kharrn would be Charles' very long loved barbarian adventurer, who also recurs in the strangest places.

This one's gonna be a hoot!

What Rough Beast crouches our way in February.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Blackguards and Blackguards: Blacklist

The following os from the folks at Ragnarok Publications. I'm just sharing the news.

We received 262 submissions in a very short period and my thanks goes out to each and every one of the submitters for making my decision so damn hard. We received a lot of strong stories and this was not easy by any means. In addition, I extend heartfelt thank-yous to Sarah Chorn of Bookworm Blues and Mihir Wanchoo of Fantasy Book Critic for their awesome assistance.
Okay, so without further ado, congratulations to S.R. Cambridge and Clay Sanger for making it into the pages of BLACKGUARDS: TALES OF ASSASSINS, MERCENARIES, AND ROGUES!

Here is the full TOC for BLACKGUARDS:
Foreword by Glen Cook
Introduction by J.M. Martin
“Mainon” by Jean Rabe
“Irindai” by Bradley P. Beaulieu
“The Subtler Art” by Cat Rambo
“Seeds” by Carol Berg
“Jancy’s Justice” by Kenny Soward
“Professional Integrity” by Michael J. Sullivan
“Troll Trouble” by Richard Lee Byers
“A Better Man” by Paul S. Kemp
“First Kill” by Django Wexler
“Manhunt” by Mark Smylie
“Better to Live than to Die” by John Gwynne
“The Secret” by Mark Lawrence
“Friendship” by Laura Resnick
“The First Kiss” by Clay Sanger
“The White Rose Thief” by Shawn Speakman
“A Length of Cherrywood” by Peter Orullian
“A Taste of Agony” by Tim Marquitz
“What Gods Demand” by James A. Moore
“Take You Home” by David Dalglish
“Seeking the Shadow” by Joseph R. Lallo
“Sun and Steel” by Jon Sprunk
“The Bety√°r and the Magus” by S.R. Cambridge
“A Kingdom and a Horse” by Snorri Kristjansson
“Thieves at the Gate” by James Enge
“His Kikuta Hands” by Lian Hearn
“The Lord Collector” by Anthony Ryan
“Scream” by Anton Strout

Also, congratulations to eleven more awesome authors who have filled up the contents of the BLACKGUARDS BLACKLIST. Here is the table of contents:
“Angel of Tears” by Erik Scott de Bie
“To the End” by Rob J. Hayes
“The Assassination of Poppy Smithswife” by Sam Knight
“Comeuppance” by Linda Robertson
“The Lonesome Dark” by Anthony Lowe
“Gret” by Brenda Carre
“To Steal the Moon” by Rebecca Lovatt
“Laughing Wind” by Noah Heinrich
“The Muttwhelp” by Edward M. Erdelac
“Bloody Gratitude” by Mike Theodorsson
“Telhinsol’s Shadow” by S.M. White
If you are not among these listed here, you are now free to submit your stories elsewhere, and although I did not choose your story this time, I enjoyed reading them and this has been a great experience. Thank you all so much for thinking highly enough of our project to take the time to submit your story. I don't take a single one of you lightly for pursuing that which you love, the awesome art of fantasy writing. It's such a wonderful endeavor. Please continue writing and submitting!
And thank you, most generous and honored backers, for your long-suffering patience. Now that all the stories are assigned and edited, we have but a couple pieces of art left (for Clay's and S.R.'s stories) and then Shawn King and I will begin production in earnest. The digital rewards will follow soon thereafter, followed by the print editions (manufactured and fulfilled by the great folks at Thomson-Shore). 
Thanks again, and HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Let's ROK on into 2015 and make it a banner year!


Monday, December 22, 2014


Sometimes I forget that links vanish. 
I did four different stories for THE SEVEN FORGES and THE BLASTED LANDS, that actually take place during book one or between them, and they are still readily available. 
They are as follows:
And as I posted on Facebook. there's a new story, "What The Gods Demand," staring Swech, coming out in the Ragnarok Publications anthology BLACKGUARDS. in January, I believe. 

So, if you were looking for a few quick reads, here they are. 
Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Michael Moorcock: Happy 75th Birthday!

True story.

When I first got into reading it was strictly comic books. I mean for a very, very long time. I don't think I actually read a novel until I was around thirteen and before that, pretty much comic books. I read a LOT of comic books.

My first few novels? Yep. They were comic book related.

My family moved a lot. I read a lot. A Lot.

One of the first books that I bought for myself that wasn't a comic book or a novel was WONDERWORKS, a collection of artwork by Michael Whelan. The book is a marvel. For the first time in my life I picked up a book of artwork and I was enthralled. It was a torrid affair, really. I went to my local bookstore several times and I would sneak furtive looks at the illustrations again and again until, finally, I broke down and coughed up the money to actually buy the thing.

And then I looked at the pictures for a long time, drawn in by the nearly photorealistic background and the sense of, well, wonder, that I found in the different illustrations.

One of the things about that book that I never forgot was that Whelan had a description of each and every piece in there. Some of them were just a few sentences, there were more detailed, but all of them involved not the pictures themselves, but the books that the paintings were designed to illustrate. I was so taken by the idea of this man's work and he was so taken by the stories he illustrated,that I systematically purchased a copy of virtually very book I could find a cover fro in that book and there were a lot of covers in there.

Among those were the incredible cover pieces he did for the H.P. Lovecraft collections. Those two illustrations were broke down into bits and pieces and used as the covers for a half dozen books that I bought and read. And loved.

I saw more covers and was introduced to Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Next up, Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern--my first venture into fantasy that was really science fiction in disguise (and, okay, a lot of romance at the same time). Fred Saberhagen's Berserker books were next and then, oh, then, I encountered the amazing works of Michael Moorcock.

Among Whelan's covers I saw the illustrations for Sailor on the Seas of Fate, the Weird of the White Wolf, and other tales of Elric of Melnibon√©. What an amazing character! Driven isn't the first word to define the albino prince, but it certainly is among the best. Prince of a decadent land, he loses all that he has to his cousin and then seeks a way to get ti back.And the method he finds? That would be a sword of unholy peer, Stormbringer. The blade feeds on souls and offers a portion of their energies to the sword-wielder. Poor, sickly Elric, always the weakling, suddenly finds himself with a way to achieve his goals. 

I fell in love with the tales. I was fascinated by his motivations, by the people he surrounded himself with and by the tragedy that followed him like a shadow. 

Michael Whelan introduced me to a lot of authors. I even had the chance not long ago to meet the artist at a convention where, hopefully, I didn't make too much of an ass of myself while gushing over the influence he had on me not only as a reader but as a writer. One of my personal goals , and one I do not believe I will ever achieve, but one can dream, would be to have Whelan illustrate one of my books. 

In any event, he led me to a lot of my favorite authors and was certainly an influence on my writing as were the authors he introduced me to. One of the big ones was Michael Moorcock. I can safely say that his dark tales of swords and sorcery had a heavy influence on me back in the day and they've likely been instrumental in my works over the years. 

So, a thanks and an appreciation of Michael Whelan for introducing me to Michael Moorcock and in turn to Elric. 

And a very sincere happy 75th birthday to Michael Moorcock! Thank you, sir, for the inspiration and the wonderful tales. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sales time again! Seven Forges, The Blasted Lands!

Seven Forges and The Blasted Lands are on sale for the Kindle!



Both at $1.99 for the Kindle. Get 'em while they're hot!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Just gonna put this here and bask for a while.

Yep. Bragging. Doesn't happen often, don't get too used to it. But for the moment, there it is:

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Number 1! (And Number 5, too!)


Product Details


Product Details

      Friday, December 5, 2014

      75% off Seven Forges and The Blasted Lands

      Well, it's true.

      I think only for today, but there it is.

      And that's the Kindle versions.

      What can I say? I like sales!

      Monday, November 24, 2014

      BLACKGUARDS and Ragnarok Publications

      Now and then as I'm surfing the Internet and trying to find new and interesting things to confuse myself with, I run across a possible anthology I consider submitting to and bookmark it. Back around last September I did exactly that for an anthology called BLACKGUARDS.

      The premise was cool. Here was an anthology that wanted to take the less-than-savory characters from published book series and tell tales about them. 

"Swift from the shadows, comes an 'edgy' anthology featuring sundry tales of roguish types—assassins, mercenaries, thieves—many of whom are already established in your favorite fantasy series. We have a full roster of authors from indie sensations to New York Times bestsellers, and all the stories are turned in." Neat premise, kind of like a sampler from a dozen or so different established worlds. You get to read the writers, see if you like their stuff and maybe even discover a new series or twelve that you can't live without. Of course, I saw that all the stories were turned in and shrugged my shoulders. 

Now that sounds like the end of the game, right? Only they had two slots opened for other authors. Ragnarok was doing something just a little different than what you normally run across. They decided to let other people play in that sandbox. I'd have been delighted but there was no way in hell I was making that deadline. Why? Because it was too close and by the time I could have done a story the deadline would have already passed. 

You win some, you lose some. 

On with life. 

And then I went to the World Fantasy Convention in DC this year and I ran across the editors/publishers for this particular beast, Joe M. Martin and Tim Marquitz (who also has a tale in the book at the insistence of Mr. Martin). They were cheerful and enthusiastic and we had a talk about BLACKGUARDS. Joe looked at me and said it was a shame they couldn't get hold of me when they were working out the book because they would've loved a tale from the Seven Forges. 

I'm paraphrasing here:

      Me: When is the deadline?

      Joe: We're laying out the book next week.

      Me: So I'll have a story for you.

      Joe was a bit surprised and very pleased. 

      I was screwed. Deadlines all over the place, but who cares? I wanted in. 

      Why, you ask? Because I WANTED IT!!! My God what a great concept for an anthology! I mean, first, I have roughly a trillion ideas for Seven Forges short stories. Second, the anthology concept would let me play with one of my favorite characters from the series who simply has not been getting enough limelight (That would be Swech, who is currently in hiding in enemy territory) and would allow me the chance to play in one hell of a cool sandbox. 

      So I turned in my story. It's called "What Gods Demand," and is just over 7,000 words in length, and there are many corpses before the tale is done because, damn it, Swech is one mighty mean lady when it comes to combat. 

      When I announced my inclusion, by the way, several writers were a bit disappointed because that meant they were NOT included in the anthology. 

      Heh heh heh, guess again.

      I spoke to Joe a little while ago while doing some fact checking on this here article (I do that from time to time) and he told me that there are actually not two slots. There are TEN slots. 2 for the main book and 8 for the e-book companion anthology that is being included for the Kickstarter funders who helped make the entire thing possible. Currently he's whittled the numbers down from 261 tales to 35. That's a lot of careful selection going on and I for one can't wait to see the final results. 

      Currently, the tome weighs in at approximately 165,000 words. That's not including the final two stories that are still being selected. If you add in the eBook companion and those other two stories with an average word count around 5,000 words each, by the way, you're looking at over 200,000 words. Ni-ice.

      Here's the cast as it stands right now, with at least two more stories coming along.

      • CAROL BERG, "Seeds"  
      • RICHARD LEE BYERS, "Troll Trouble" 
      • DAVID DALGLISH, "Take You Home" 
      • JAMES ENGE, "Thieves at the Gate" 
      • JOHN GWYNNE, "Better to Live than to Die" 
      • LIAN HEARN, "His Kikuta Hands" 
      • SNORRI KRISTJANSSON, "A Kingdom and a Horse" 
      • JOSEPH LALLO, "Seeking the Shadow" 
      • MARK LAWRENCE, "The Secret" 
      • TIM MARQUITZ, "A Taste of Agony" 
      • PETER ORULLIAN, "A Length of Cherrywood" 
      • CAT RAMBO, "The Subtler Art" 
      • LAURA RESNICK, "Friendship" 
      • MARK SMYLIE, "Manhunt" 
      • KENNY SOWARD, "Jancy's Justice" 
      • SHAWN SPEAKMAN, "The White Rose Thief" 
      • JON SPRUNK, "Sun and Steel" 
      • ANTON STROUT, "Scream" 
      • MICHAEL J. SULLIVAN, "Professional Integrity"
      • DJANGO WEXLER, "First Kill"
      • ANTHONY RYAN, "The Lord Collector" (novella)
      • PAUL S. KEMP, "A Better Man"
      • JEAN RABE, "Mainon"
      • BRADLEY P. BEAULIEU, "Irindai"
      • JAMES A. MOORE, "What Gods Demand"

      And the entire grimoire will be edited by J.M. MARTIN. 

      Sunday, November 16, 2014

      A few new reads I recommend.

      I’ve read two amazing novels in the last few weeks.
      That’s a rarity for me. The two part I mean. These days, if I’m really lucky, I can manage a novel in about three weeks on the average. I mean, full time day job and my own writing and that eats a lot of my day away. Some books make me break my rules and spend more than fifteen minutes at a time reading and both of these  managed that feat nicely. 
      The first of the amazing books was Tim Lebbon’s THE SILENCE. As happens from time to time the publisher asked if I might consider reading an early copy and saying something nice about it. I told them I’d be delighted to read it. I never promise nice words, because sometimes the books sent are…less than spectacular.  While I do not publish bad reviews of books, I also do not like to lie about the quality of what I’m reading.
      Now to be fair, I know Tim Lebbon and I know his work. I’ve never run across one of his tales I did not enjoy. Some I liked more than others, as is always the case, but so far there have been no lemons in the crowd.
      THE SILENCE is no exception. It’s a damned solid piece of work about the end of the world. Novels of the apocalypse happen. Tales of how the world as we know it have been around almost as long as there’s been a world and a way to communicate the idea. Lebbon has done end-of-the-world before and done a mighty fine job with it. In particular I’ll point to WHITE which is a deeply disturbing tale of monsters hiding in the frozen cold and taken out humanity one step at a time. Deeply disturbing stuff, and until recently I would have called it the best work Tim Lebbon has done to date.
      Now? I have to give that title to THE SILENCE. The story is intimate, told through the eyes of one family, a father and daughter to be precise. To add to the matter part of the story is told in the third person and part in the first. It’s a lovely trick for differentiating the narrators and perspectives and I liked it a lot.
      I’ll not give away the plot. I’ll only say that the intimacy makes for a novel that is both horrifying and at time softly beautiful. All the carnage in the world means nothing without an emotional impact and Lebbon does a truly wonderful job of making every moment in the book count and every sacrifice great and small a potent jolt to the system. He also shows us exactly how easily society might crumble when the simplest luxuries are taken away from us.
      A profoundly disturbing tale by Tim Lebbon. I cannot recommend THE SILENCE enough.

      The other book that blew me out of the water was HALF A KING by Joe Abercrombie.  I’ve gone on about Abercrombie before. My friend Charles Rutledge suggested the man to me and loaned me a few books. I read the first chapter of THE BLADE ITSELF and was immediately hooked. Abercrombie knows how to write and more importantly knows how to tell a solid tale. Fantasy can be a nightmare in its own right. You have to do a lot more world building in a full on fantasy series than you do in most horror or mainstream work. If it ain’t set on this planet, things are going to get tricky, and Abercrombie handles they challenge better than most. Not too much information at one time but rather enough slow reveals to let the world develop without even really noticing that it’s happening. That’s a skill, folks, and a mighty rare one. Not a once in one of his books did I get bogged down in wasted details or lost for the lack of important knowledge.
      HALF A KING is a story about a young prince who gets his life turned around completely by the death of his father the king and his older brother, who should be lined up to take the king’s place in case of emergency as it were. When they both die at the same time, our hero—if I can safely call him that, as most of the characters in an Abercrombie novel are well and properly human when it comes to their moral compasses, which is to say flawed—is stuck dealing with the consequences of a life he never wanted. And from that moment on his life goes downhill at a frightening pace.
      I won’t reveal much more than that. I loathe reviews that tell you what happens to the point of ruining possible surprises. What I will say is that Abercrombie is in top form here, working with deft skill to show a new world, to let us know what we need to know, and offering up several surprises that I genuinely did not expect.
      Some of the most profound characters that Abercrombie creates are the sorts that we should not cheer fro and yet we find ourselves enjoying just the same. He is adept and making characters we could easily love to hate, and many of the players in HALF A KING easily qualify along those lines.  
      HALF A KING is a shorter novel for Abercrombie. That doesn’t make it any less complex or rewarding. Top notch stuff and highly recommended for anyone who loves a good story.

      Thursday, October 30, 2014

      V Wars

      So the third V-Wars book has been announced. V-Wars: Night Terrors. It's gonna get bloody!

      Dig this cover!

      V-Wars: Blood & Fire just came out.

      And the first book, V-Wars, is still available.

      You should buy these. Mind you, I have a bias.

      Keeping Up With The Joneses

      So, yeah, I'm a Luddite.

      And I thought it might be a kick to try something different, like, you know, maybe linking my multiple sites.

      Just for grins, if you'd like to see it, here's a link to my Amazon profile.

      And because I like the way it turned out, here's a picture of me with James R. Tuck, where were are properly framing Delilah S. Dawson.

      Who knows, maybe next I'll try this whole fan page think on Facebook...

      Wednesday, October 22, 2014

      V-Wars: Blood & Fire hits comic stores today.

      You should be able to go to any of your finer comic book stores and pick up a copy of this today.

      It'll hit regular book stores in two weeks and it'll even be out on audio book in the near future.

      And some time soon it'll even be out as an ebook.

      Tuesday, October 21, 2014

      JordanCon Meets The Seven Forges

      Robert Jordan was one of those guys, you know, a writer with a massive following.

      The folks who honor him every year with JordanCon have asked me to be a guest next year. I said "Yes."

      So if you follow the hypertext link you can see a bit more of what they convention is all about. I'll give you a hint, it involves Robert Jordan and the staggering WHEEL OF TIME series among other things.

      Thursday, October 9, 2014

      Ebola and you

      So, here we go.

      Recently the first confirmed cases of Ebola have shown themselves in the US and Europe. (Well, confirmed this time around. One person I know says there have been others before, and he's a sharp dude, so I'll have to consider that possibility.)

      And that sucks.

      And in the case of the US, apparently the problem was the gentleman in question lied about his symptoms. To be fair he might not have known. Once again we're in that gray area where the devil rests in the details and I am simply too busy/lazy to actively research the heck out of the subject because I have two novels to finish by year's end and a few short stories besides. Oh, and a day job.

      So that is that. No research from me.

      What I've heard is that he might well have infected the entire plane he flew in on. And of course multiple people at the airport. And his family when he arrived (Some of whom have been quarantined). Over 100 people all told are now being carefully watched over to see if symptoms show up.

      In the case of the first US victim, he passed away. Heartfelt condolences. There are worries that he might have infected as many as a hundred through either blatant lies or possibly simple ignorance. Apparently at least one person has been infected by being in contact with the area where he was found. I understand he had no direct contact with the first victim, which likely means he came in contact with an infected surface.

      I hope for a speedy recovery.

      And now for the feedback and outrage part of our post.

      Once upon a time we were known to quarantine houses and people who were deathly ill and a risk of contagion.

      I think it's time to start that procedure again.

      21 days, I think it is? Three weeks before a person who MIGHT be infected is supposed to show symptoms. I propose that anyone coming into the US from areas with a known Ebola outbreak be quarantined for three weeks. I think they should be warned in advance and settled into decent housing that is set aside for this purpose. I bet we can find a few dozen military bases gathering dust that would work just fine as quarantine zones.

      I will further propose that any billing actions that have to take place for this be paid at cost by the people in quarantine. No profit margins. At cost. Food provided can be MRE's (Meals Ready To Eat). They aren't all that tasty but they remove a lot of risk of contamination.


      Because until a proper vaccine is available for the public at a reasonable price, this is the best way to avoid the possibility of a truly devastating disease overwhelming this country. I am very much a proponent of civil rights. I absolutely believe that we should have borders as open as is reasonable. I do not believe that delaying entry into this county and making someone who feels the absolute need to come here wait to ensure the safety of the millions already living here is a bad thing.

      because I don;t have any kids of my own, but I know that if I did, I'd want to government to make sure they are protected from unfortunate negligence and the occasional lies. And I personally should rather avoid the Ebola virus, like, well, like the plague.

      That's my two cents.

      Anyone want to chime in? I'm always up for a lively discussion.

      Friday, October 3, 2014

      DEAD HARVEST coming soon!

      So I had a post up before, but apparently the publisher and the artist-type are having a falling out.

      So, new cover coming soon!

      Book coming soon (November, I believe.)

      Here's the table of contents:

      Nice cast of contributors...

      Scarlet Galleon Publications Presents An Exciting New Horror Anthology:
      DEAD HARVEST – A Collection of Dark Tales


      Tim Lebbon – Into the Trees
      Benjamin Kane Ethridge – Villianwood
      E.G. Smith – Autumn Lamb
      James A. Moore – Dear Diary
      Lori R. Lopez – Cornstalker
      Aaron Gudmunson – The Guest
      Angeline Trevena – Husks
      Jeremy Peterson – The Truth
      Christine Sutton – Peter, Peter
      Jaime Johnesee – The Last Harvest
      Gregor Cole – The Old Cider Press
      Lori Safranek – Katy and the Green Boy
      Martin Reaves – Reaping a Quiet Lunacy
      M.L. Roos – Ablation
      C.L. Hernandez – Marissa
      Nick Nafpliotis – The Artifact
      Marie Robinson – The Hawthorne
      Mark Patrick Lynch – A Knowing Noah
      Jeffrey Kosh – Revenant
      Lorraine Versini – Ravenous
      Greg F. Gifune – The Raincatchers
      Sara Brooke – The Field
      Chad P. Brown – The Reaping
      Andrew Bell – Extreme Times, Extreme Measures
      Dana Wright – Retribution
      Stuart Keane – Hodmedod
      Jeff Strand – Nails
      Bryan Clark – Putting the Ground to Sleep
      Amy Grech – Crosshairs
      Jonathan Templar – Red Fuel
      Matthew Pedersen – What Lurks Within the Darkest Wealds
      Bear Weiter – Reunion
      Jason Andrew – A Sacrifice for the Soil
      Wayland Smith – Bad Salvage
      Patrick Lacey – Mrs. Alto’s Garden
      Michael McGlade – The Mad Doctor’s Bones
      Todd Keisling – House of Nettle and Thorn
      Jordan Phelps – Beyond the Trees
      Kyle Yadlosky – The Flower Dies
      Tim Waggoner – Weeper
      Richard Thomas – Bringing in the Sheaves
      John Grover – The Longing
      Greg Norris – Uncle Sharlevoix’s Epidermis
      Jon Michael Kelley – The Tended Field of Eido Yamata
      Tim Jeffreys – The Orange Grove
      Ahimsa Kerp – On the Quest for the Crow King
      C.M. Saunders – Harberry Close
      Brian Kirk – Seeds of Change
      Billy Chizmar – The End
      Richard Chizmar – The Man with the X-ray Eyes
      Mark Parker – Hell’s Half Acre

      And here's the new cover!

      Thursday, September 18, 2014

      Faster than the Speed of Success!

      Here's another of my older posts from STORYTELLER'S UNPLUGGED. A few notes have been added, but only a few.

      So, a friend of mine is in the process of getting divorced. It’s not been a pretty situation. There have been angry accusations, and every possible sort of recrimination cast to the wind, names and anger thrown like stones and shards of glass, all of which leads up to a court date within the next month or so.
        I asked my friend how everything was going. The answer I got speaks volumes: “After all of this, I just want to know how everything is coming down. Win or lose, I want to know the answers and then I want it done with.” 
      I can understand that. Anyone who has ever submitted a manuscript, or a short story, or even a proposal for a short story and anticipated being published at some point in their futures can understand the feeling. 
       It’s the knot of anxiety that settles into your stomach and twists the flesh it finds into new and uncomfortable shapes. It’s the little voice in the back of your head, the one that starts whispering about all of your shortcomings when earlier it was telling you about how someday people will recognize your brilliance.  Self-doubt comes lumbering up and sits on your chest, making it hard to breathe, hard to think about anything at all except the story you sent off, the one that could make or break everything you’ve been dreaming about for as long as you can remember. And yes, you know it probably WON’T change your career, but that other little voice keeps telling you it could, maybe, this time, be the one.
        It’s inevitable. There’s a line they use a lot in the military, which sums it all up: Hurry Up and Wait. Get the stories written, submit the stories and then…
       And wait some more.
        That’s the way these things work. That’s the way they’ve basically always worked. At least when you’re starting out. After a while, if you’re very lucky, it changes and things speed up a bit.
        I could mention names. I won’t. I know at least three different authors who have called or written publishers and said “This is taking too long. I am hereby withdrawing my submission to your house.”
      Not necessarily in those exact words, but that is what they have done.  They lost their patience. They forgot what every writer needs to never forget. We are not the only writers in existence. We are not the only writer that any editor has to deal with.
        You met an editor at a convention? Cool.
        The conversation went well, and the editor said yes, please send me an outline, the first three chapters and a self addressed, stamped envelope? AWESOME!
       You sent off the manuscript following the guidelines as presented in various magazines, online at your favorite sites for checking guidelines and as your friendly neighborhood editor gave them to you? BRILLIANT!!!! 
      But after waiting for the length of time the guidelines mentioned, you haven’t heard back? Welcome to the club.
      My advice? Kick back and wait some more, because it won’t get any faster. Not for a while at least. Maybe not ever.  Oh, sure, send a query. If you were lucky enough to get an e-mail address, you can check every few months. Don’t expect an immediate response.
       Editors are busy. From time to time they’ll spend a few hours answering emails, but there are so many other things they have to do, like looking over the mountain of manuscripts sitting on their desk, on the floor next to their desk and spilling over the sides of the slush pile they have in the back corner of their office.
       Trust me: None of the editors who had manuscripts pulled by the writers ever lost sleep over the opportunities they’ve squandered. At worst, they felt a quick flash of guilt, but even that is probably less painful that having to turn down yet another attempt by a name they recognize from previous submissions. In the words of one editor: “Every time someone tells me they want their manuscript back, I send it to them. It’s just one less I have to look at.”
       It’s not an attempt to be a big meanie. It’s just the nature of the beast. Now one of the things I wanted to point out with this little essay is that patience is a virtue. It’s a minor virtue, granted, but still a necessary one.
       You send off a short story to your favorite magazine’s fiction editor and wait two days before you start bombarding that editor with queries, e-mails, or phone calls, and the likelihood of you ever selling said short story to said editor is a big fat no chance in hell. It sucks, but that’s the way these things work.  
      Ah, but Jim, there are other ways, aren’t there? 
      Sure. Go ahead, bring up the self-publishing thing again. You know good and damned well that I’ll shoot it down. But what the hell, we’ll entertain that for a moment. On one of the boards I haunt from time to time a discussion about freelance editors came up today. Here’s the notion as it usually works in the industry (or more accurately, the peripheries of the industry): You write a manuscript, spend a few weeks/months/years of your life on the thing, and then you send it to a book doctor. Hey, look in most of the magazines for fledgling writers and you’ll find a plethora of ads from people with “25 years of experience!” or even up to 100 years worth of experience if you combine all of the editors together.
        Here’s a new twist on that old notion about self-publishing: To avoid the pitfalls of so many typos sneaking past, one of the people on the board suggested hiring an editor to look over the manuscript and then self-publishing. Then you’re avoiding all of that hideous waiting and honing skills stuff and getting right to the satisfaction, right?
        I’m going to sidebar here for a moment, because there’s an anecdote about this that I feel a need to bring up. Not all that long ago, a couple of gentlemen who were with the same writers group invited me to lunch. I was under the impression it was a social meeting and so I brought along my wife and enough cash to cover the meal. The pleasant aside was that they actually picked up the cost of our lunches, because what they wanted to do was pick my brain and possibly get an endorsement from me. Okay, I’m game. I listened to their pitch as we dined.  
      What they wanted to do was offer a book editing service.  “What can you put on the table for new authors?” I asked.
        “We have over thirty years of experience as writers,” was the answer I received. You could see their chests swell with pride as they said the words.
       “Really? How do you figure?” I looked from one would-be book doctor to the other with genuine curiosity, and paused to chomp away on my lunch as I waited for an answer. See, that puzzled them, because I was apparently having trouble with their math.  
      “Well, I’ve been writing for seventeen years, and he’s been writing for fourteen. That’s thirty-one. That’s over thirty years of experience.” Ah. Now I understood their reasoning.
       I nodded, took a sip of my iced tea, and asked a simple question that knocked the foundations of their logic to the side.  “What have you had published? No, wait, what have you been paid for?” 
      The two freelance editors looked at each other and then at me. I in turn tapped the page they had shown me that listed the rates they would charge for their editing fees. “You want to charge a lot of money to help out other writers (and in their defense, they believed they could help younger, newer authors with their manuscripts. I will concede that much.). Let’s look at this logically, shall we? I’ve been down the publishing road a few times, and I’ve seen a few contracts, looked them over, signed them. Judging by your rates, if I wanted a complete and detailed edit of my manuscript, it would cost me something like two thousand dollars, maybe as much as four thousand, because I’m a wordy bastard and you’re charging by the double spaced manuscript page.” I took a moment to breathe, because I could feel my blood pressure wanting to rise and the volume of my voice wanting to join the mad rush to the top of the scales.  
      “Guys, I didn’t get paid that much for my first novel. Hell, I didn’t get paid that much for my second novel.”  Yeah, that sort of took the wind from their sales. Despite the very generous offer to give me a finder’s fee for every single writer who came to them with my recommendation, I had to turn down their business proposal. I wouldn’t have been able to sleep with myself.  
      Again and with feeling, their hearts were in the right place. I genuinely believe that. But seriously, that’s the sort of stuff that screws up everyone involved.  The gents in question had been published several times in markets that did not pay more than an occasional copy. They had also been published in the annual book put out by their writers group. They had never been paid professional rates. How could I then, in good conscience, endorse them as the people to make the careers of younger, less experienced writers who had also never been published in a professional medium? 
      And folks, I suspect that MOST of the self-proclaimed book doctors out there have around the same level of experience as the gentlemen who bought me and my wife lunch that day. Yes, there are exceptions. They are probably as rare as truly successful self-published authors.
       There are legitimate methods of learning the business that have absolutely nothing to do with going to college. You can apprentice. There are seminars, there are weekend long sessions that can be eye opening and enlightening. There are panels at conventions where you can learn from some of the best in the industry (okay and some of the not -so-best, too) There’s the tried and true method of submitting, getting rejected, doing rewrites and then submitting again and again and again as you hone your skills and refine your style. There’s building a series of connections, networking, and, after a while, building a reputation as a professional.
       Or you can self-publish. Hey, listen, go to and look under the writing section and there are at least a dozen different hyperlinks to different sites that will help you publish your own book and get it a place of honor with and maybe even a few book distributors. You can even get a really cool clip art cover. You go right ahead if you want to. I assure you, I will not be one of the seven people who actually buys your novel, but far be it from me to step on anyone’s dreams.
      (Update: Okay, so the world is changing. Go to and check in on what the man has to say. He’s making a very nice living as a self-published author and he has a lot of sound advice.)
       Or, hey, you can be a professional.
       Okay, that ends our sidebar. Back to the subject at hand. No one likes to wait. No one ever wants to wait for half a year or more to get a rejection, either. It sucks.
        Know how I sold my first novel? I had been doing freelance work writing role playing game supplements and one of the guys working for the company was starting up his own publishing house. For a change of pace, he actually had some chops and a bit of business savvy (read: he had experience in the field, cash flow, artists for book covers and distribution deals already in place. Oh, and cash flow. He was paying me.). He asked me if I had anything he might be interested in. He had clarified very carefully that he didn’t want the standard genre tropes, but something that was different. I told him in turn that I had a novel that had been turned down by Stellar Books (Not the real name of the major publisher) for being “too complex.” That part in quotations is a direct quote from the rejection letter.
        He took the manuscript and he read it. Later, a few months after the taking, he made me an offer and I accepted it. It was a low offer, and some of the stipulations in the contract would NEVER make it into one of my contracts today, but we all take risks when we’re starting out. Sometimes they pay off and sometimes they blow up in our faces, (more on that another time) but we all take chances.  
       There’s always a right way and a wrong way. Actually there are multiples of both. You are the only person who can decide the right direction for you, but along the way, try to remember that if writing were easy, everyone would have novel contracts. It ain’t rocket science (barring science fiction, or course) but as with everything else in life, it takes time to get it right.
        And it takes that minor virtue I mentioned a while back, patience.  There are no miracles out there to guarantee you a sale. John Skipp covered that a few days ago and if you missed it, you need to go read his last essay, because, damn, he nailed it on the head. No one can take your manuscript and turn it into gold without having spent a good deal of time looking it over first and even then, no matter what they might be promising you, they can’t sell it to the publishing houses for you or guarantee that once it is sold, it will become a best seller.
       There is no set way to speed up the process of writing a novel. There are no quick fixes. Pay attention to the biography of your favorite writer/actor/singer/artist and the one thing you’re likely to hear from most of them is that their “overnight success” took years, not days.
      Yeah, yeah, I know, there are exceptions to every rule. Don’t walk out there expecting to be one of them.  You have to work for it. You have to have the patience of a saint and you have to continue with that patience, even after you’ve succeeded in selling a dozen or so novels. 
      So, Jim, how long do I wait? 

      Ah, that’s another story for another time. But as a starting point, check out the submission guidelines and assume that whatever they say the waiting period is, it’s really at least twice that long.  The waiting game sucks, boys and girls, but it’s also the only game in town that’s worth playing.