General

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I’ts alive!

Here I am, one year and two days after the last post on this blog. It’s been a rough time. New job, new baby, a full speculative fiction magazine to take care of, publishing an anthology, and working on my novels. It’s not surprising I haven’t had time to update this blog. But…

…it’s not dead.

I’m planning to revive the blog and I already have a few posts lined up. I’m probably going to be realistic and admit from the start that I don’t expect to write more than 1-3 blog posts per month, but it’s still something… I hope some of you will find it useful.

So, I’ll see you all soon. And yes, if you are wondering, I am planning to finish the series about Creating a Fantasy World.

All the best,

Iulian

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Fantasy Scroll Magazine Issue #4 Available

Issue #4 is out! We’ve got 12 stories, 5 interviews, one artist spotlight, a book review, and a movie review. See the table of contents below. Please share:

Fantasy Scroll Magazine Issue #2 – science fiction and fantasy short stories

Fiction

Non-Fiction

If you enjoy this issue, please consider buying it. It’s only $2.99. There are subscriptions available as well.

Thank you!

About Fantasy Scroll Magazine: Fantasy Scroll Magazine is an online, quarterly publication featuring science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal short-fiction. The magazine’s mission is to publish high-quality, entertaining, and thought-provoking speculative fiction. With a mixture of short stories, flash fiction, and micro-fiction, Fantasy Scroll Magazine aims to appeal to a wide audience.

Iulian

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ROUNDTABLE: New Short Fiction Markets

I have recently participated in a roundtable on new short fiction markets organized by “Nerds of a feather, flock together.”

Besides myself, speaking on behalf of Fantasy Scroll Magazine, the roundtable pariticipants included: R. Leigh Henning of Bastion Magazine, and Ana Grilo and Thea James of Book Smugglers Publishing.

We discussed various issues faced by new short fiction markets and how our magazines are trying to deal with those issues in this very active and fast-changing publishing world.

To read the entire discussion please follow: Roundtable: New Short Fiction Markets.

I’d love to hear your comments about this discussion.

Post image credit: Only in my dream, by sunjaya.

Thank you,

Iulian

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Blog Facelift

As you can probably see, the Fantasy Scroll blog went through a recent facelift. The old interface looked outdated and didn’t function properly on mobile devices. Also, since our launching of our sister short story fiction market, Fantasy Scroll Magazine, we wanted to update the blog to match the site in look and feel.

The launching of the new magazine, with it’s insane time frames, administrative madness that included a successful Kickstarter Campaign, sucked up all our time, so it may look like the blog was a little bit overlooked. Mea Culpa, indeed.

Now that our first issue is out and our campaign is behind us, we will resume our regular posts, including our Blog Carnivals, and hopefully we’ll be able to get back on track sooner rather than later.

I appreciate your patience!

Sincerely,

Iulian

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Five Days Into Our Kickstarter Campaign

 

I have to admit, this is my very first Kickstarter campaign. I’ve supported a few in the past, and I’ve read a lot of articles about them, but before last week, I’ve never attempted running one.

Today, the Kickstarter campaign for Fantasy Scroll Magazine is in it’s fifth day since launch and I am happy to report that we are about 45% through the minimum goal. That’s a good thing, because most campaigns start strong, then they wither a little in the middle, and return towards the end.

So, the fact that we already have 45% of the funds after the first week is a very good thing.

Now, we need to keep the momentum going and push through the next two weeks of slow-down. Therefore, I urge anyone who can help to stop by the campaign site and donate something. Remember, nothing is too little. Even a dollar goes a long way.

Here’s the widget for our campaign:

One of the best type of support is helping us spread the word. To facilitate this, we have created a Kickstarter Kit that provides you with all the links, text, images, and info you need to help us promote this message. Access the Kickstarter Kit here.

Last, but not least, below you can see the video of our Editor-in-Chief, Iulian Ionescu, talking about the magazine and about the goals of this campaign. If you like it and agree that this is a worthy project (we think it is!) please support us:

Thank you!!

Iulian Ionescu
Editor-in-Chief
Fantasy Scroll Magazine

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Short Story Submission Strategy

Trinity Mirror Newspaper Printing Presses

Writing short stories is lots of fun and it’s a good way to start before working your way up to longer pieces. I’ve posted an article in the past where I am talking about why I think writing short stories is good for you.

Unlike a novel that takes months or even years to finish, short stories are written much faster. If you work hard enough and have the proper routine you could become a short story production machine in no time. Also, unlike a novel where you have one massive piece of writing that you are submitting to a hundred outlets, with short stories you are faced with the opposite: you have a few short pieces that you must submit to a limited number of markets, and in most cases (since most markets won’t allow simultaneous submissions) you may not be able to submit it to more than one market at one time.

So, what do you do? Is there a possible strategy?

Have Your Best Work Ready

This goes without saying – do not submit your story until it’s completed, edited, reviewed, proofread and, if you can, critiqued by people who know your genre. You don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot by submitting work that is not 100% ready. If you get feedback from markets who reject you, judge that feedback rationally and if it makes sens to you, see if you can make the story better. It’s true that the editor will work with you and try to improve your story, but your story must be perfect first. The editor will only try to make it stellar.

Research Markets

Once you have a completed piece you must know which market best fits that story. Is it literary fiction or genre fiction? Is it mystery, romance, or speculative fiction? Make sure you know your niche very well. The worst thing you could do is submit your story to the wrong market. You will waste your time and the editors’ time.

When it comes to looking for markets, there are a few places out there that you can use:

  1. Online
  2. Printed

With this in mind, in order to become a successful submitter of short stories you must maintain your own database of preferred markets. To know them, it’s not enough to just read about them. You must read those magazines, become familiar with the type of stories they prefer – length, style, voice, etc. The editor of each magazine will accept stories that are in line with the magazine’s overall style.

So, before you start submitting, make sure you read a lot!

Be careful what rights you give away

This is not to be construed as legal advice, but just a heads up: before you submit to any market, read their terms and conditions or their contract. Try to understand what kind of rights you are giving away. If you sign a bad contract, you might lose your rights to your piece for good. It’s unlikely, but be careful. If you are sending your stories to brand new markets, read their terms very carefully and if you are unable to understand something, ask someone. There are forums out there where people can help you.

Top To Bottom Strategy

Once you know what type of story you have, and once you have selected a few markets from the resources above, one idea is to take a top to bottom approach: submit to high-paying pro-markets first, and walk your way down.

Usually the markets are divided into Pro, Semi-Pro, Token and Unpaid. The Pro markets can pay anywhere between $0.06 per word up to $0.24 per word or more. Semi-pro markets pay around $0.02 – $0.06. Token markets pay around $0.01. These are not fixed numbers and are changing all the time. Read the market’s guidelines to get a better understanding about what they are paying. Some markets put minimums and maximums, others provide royalties on sales, royalties on anthologies, and so on.

A top to bottom strategy says this: You are confident in your writing and you believe your story is good enough to be accepted by a Pro market. If you can’t say that in good faith, then go back to the keyboard and work on your story until you can honestly say it is good enough for a pro market.

Chances are, statistically speaking, that your story will get rejected from a pro market. Don’t despair. Even award winning authors still get rejections. Keep going. Send it to the next market. Then the next.

Some tools, like Duotrope, allow you to order the markets by their likelihood to accept. Another highly important factor is the market’s response time. If you have 3 markets that are fairly similar, submit to the one that answers faster.

Lightspeed Magazine and Clarkesworld are known for their very quick rejections. They don’t like to waste their time and the writer’s time. By rejecting fast they give the authors the ability to submit someplace else.

Other markets, like TOR, Asimov’s, or Analog, might take 100, 200 maybe even 300 days to reject. So, if your story is rejected, you just wasted a full year without having your story published.

Get Feedback

There are a few markets out there, and sadly their number decreases every time, that provide some feedback when they reject your stories. Colored Lense, Ideomancer, Stupefying Stories- these are some of them. There are others, but you might have to discover them yourself, find out about them from Duotrope and the like, or from other writers.

Once you find an editor that gives feedback, make sure you save that name like gold. Don’t abuse it though. Keep your submissions far enough apart. You don’t want that editor to become your personal critique buddy, because he won’t.

But a first-hand direct feedback from an editor is a very valuable tool. Their response will usually pinpoint problems in your story. Don’t take their answer to heart or personally. Look at it objectively and realize if it helps your story, and if it does-fix it.

How many times?

Sometimes you submit a story and it keeps getting rejected. What do you do? How many times do you keep going? It’s tempting to say forever, but that’s not realistic, so let me give you my own opinion:

If you have a story that you deem perfect and you matched it with pro markets and it gets rejected more than 7 times, there’s definitely something not right with it. I suggest you go back to that story and take it to a critique group. See if you can make it better.

Just keep in mind that this is not a hard rule: I’ve seen stories rejected 16 or 20 times only to be eventually accepted by a Pro market, without any changes. That’s to prove that the acceptance is a combination of what the editor likes and what their market had already published or has in their inventory. Sometimes your story is perfect, but it’s too similar to another story published last month. In that case, you are out of luck.

Down the line

If you fail selling your story to a pro market, move down to semi-pro markets and then to token markets following the same logic as above. If you get some feedback and you feel like your story got stronger, go back to Pro markets, but keep in mind to do not resubmit your work to the markets that rejected you, unless they specifically asked so.

Publishing for free – good or bad?

If you are serious about becoming a professionally published author the answer easy: no, do not publish for free (unless you donate your work for certain worthy causes). Would you ever go to work and work for 8 hours then go to the boss and say: “you know what, don’t pay me today. Just working and having people look at me and appreciate my working is good enough for me.”

Of course you won’t. So, as a writer I recommend that you strive to publish to paying markets for the most part. In the beginning it is going to be hard, but try to get anything. Even if you get $5 for your work, it’s something that you earned for your potential future career.

Now, let me play the devil’s advocate for a minute. There is a situation in which I think you should be allowed to give your work away for free: You’ve been writing for a while and you’ve been getting tons of rejections. Your morale is really low and you need a mental boost. Fine. Take what you think is your weakest piece and market it to some free markets. There are a few out there that are quite nice.

Putting something of yours out there will help you get a boost of confidence, it will give you reasons to show something to your friends, it will, on some level, validate that you can in fact do it. But don’t fall into the trap of sending too many. Remember – you want to make this your career. If you are okay with keeping it as a hobby it’s a different story.

Gatling Gun Submissions

Many writers take it heavy when a piece is rejected by a market. It happened to me and any author that has ever been published. You must learn to develop a thick skin. The knee-jerk reaction is to feel invalidated. You get a kick in your confidence’s butt. Many authors react by putting that piece away and think: “Okay, I’ll fix it later.”

No. Don’t fix it later. Fix it now.

If there is anything to fix, do it right away. If you have no additional feedback and you have nothing else that you can possible fix, just submit the story right away to a different market. You have nothing to lose if you do; but you have something to lose if you don’t: time.

Remember that your story’s lifetime is this: idea, creation, perfection, submission, publication. During the submission time your story is essentially “dead” – you can’t really work on it anymore, and nobody besides the editor who has it gets to read it. It’s dead, until it gets rejected or accepted. So, if you add “dead” times by keeping it in your drawer between submissions you are not helping yourself in any way.

Recap

Let’s bullet point the ideas in this article:

  • Read, read, read – the more markets and stories you read, the better you’ll become at writing
  • Write, write, write – the more stories you write, the better your writing will be
  • Get feedback – pair yourself with other writers or critique groups to improve your stories
  • Edit, edit, edit – don’t let a story go out until it’s near perfect
  • Submit to high-paying markets and work your way down
  • Submit to markets with fast response times first
  • When you get a rejection, fix if there is any feedback
  • Re-submit a story right after rejection
  • One bonus point: Before you submit: MAKE SURE YOU FOLLOW THE MARKET’s GUIDELINES – My Caps are not enough to emphasize that.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Let me do a shameless plug at the end: Remember that Fantasy Scroll is now a speculative short story market publishing fantasy, science fiction, and horror. If you are a writer looking to market your works, please stop by and submit your stories!

Last but not least: leave some comments about your own submission strategy. What has worked best for you in the past?

Best regards,

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Sunshine Blog Award

sunshine blogger award

I want to thank Chrys Fey for sending me the Sunshine Blog Award. Chrys is running an excellent blog on writing, filled with useful tips and suggestions. you can find it here: http://writewithfey.blogspot.com/. Thank you so much, Chrys!!

The Sunshine Blog Award is passed on by bloggers to other bloggers who “positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” There are a few rules that every blogger nominated for this award should follow:

  • Acknowledge the nominating blogger with a link and post about your award.
  • Share 10 random facts by answering the questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  • Pass on the Sunshine Blog Award to other bloggers (up to 10) of your choice and let them know you nominated them.
  • Post 10 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer on their blog.

Here are my answers to Chrys’ questions:

1. When/why did you create your blog?

I’ve been blogging for quite some time, but this fiction writing blog was created in the beginning of 2012 and I started using it around May of that year. At the time I was about ten months into my writing career. I was writing, studying, learning, submitting, all of it. I am a “learn-by-writing” kind of person. Even in college, I used to study better if I took the time to summarize my lessons. I guess writing tickles my mind in a positive way or something… So, I decided to create a fiction writing blog where I could share some of the things I have learned, some of the epiphanies I had, and, maybe, some of my successes in hopes of encouraging other beginning writers. As time passed, I have expanded the blog. My goal is to make it a good source of information, resources, and guidelines for writers of all levels.

2. What is the one blog post you feel is the best you’ve ever posted?

I am particularly proud of my How to complete your NaNoWriMo 30-Day Novel post. Before my first NaNo in 2012, I held this myth in my head that a novel must take years and years to write. Once I participated in NaNo, I realized– it doesn’t. So, I think this post is really written from the heart and from the perspective of a lightbulb that popped above my head at the time. Sometimes, when I get lazy, I re-read this post and get going again!

3. What are some of your favorite blogs to read?

Of course, Write with Fey 🙂 Then: Victoria Greffer’s Crimson League, K.M.Weiland’s Helping Writers Become Authors, Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton’s Writer Unboxed, Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds, Rachel Gardner’s Blog, Jane Friedman’s Blog, Jeff Goins Writer, Daily Writing Tips, and a lot more, but I’ll keep those a secret 🙂

4. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An astronaut. I’m not kidding. The desire lasted until the day I climbed a tree and realized I have vertigo. I fell from that tree and my outlook on life had changed forever. I wrote my first illustrated story when I was four years old, so I guess on some subconscious level I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Let’s call it that!

5. What is your biggest accomplishment to date?

Fathering an amazing child. Nurturing a small person is by far the biggest and most fulfilling accomplishment for me.

6. Do you have any pets?

I had a Cocker Spaniel when I was a child. He lived for 11 years and Eric was his name. After he died I suffered deeply and I said to myself I will never have another. I still want one now, but my work schedule doens’t allow me to have a pet in the house. I don’t want to get one and have it spend 12 hours alone in there. Maybe I’ll get a turtle; at least that one will outlive me…

7. Where do you live?

New Jersey, baby! I don’t know why I said that… Maybe to use a George Constanzanism to conceal the fact that I live in an area of high pollution, high taxes, and near the whereabouts of Snookie and The Situation.

8. Favorite books?

The Hobbit was one of my first true favorite books. Most of Jules Vernes’ books are also among my all time favorites, but probably 20000 Leagues Under Sea was the one I loved the most. All books by George Wells and Stephen King, and, of course, the following classics: The Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver, and Catcher in the Rye.

9. Favorite movies?

Gladiator, Star Wars III-VI, Alien Franchise, Airplane I/II, all Sandra Bullock movies (shut up!), Indiana Jones, Matrix, Goonies.

10. Favorite TV shows?

I love to watch sitcoms. Some of my favorites: Seinfeld, Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Friends. I also love crime shows: CSI, Criminal Minds, Without a Trace. And how could I forget: Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black, Good Wife. From the shows that are no longer airing: X-Files, Twilight Zone, Tales from the Crypt.

Here are my nominees for the Sunshine Blog Award:

And here are the ten questions for my nominees:

  1. Why do you blog?
  2. Social networking for writers: Yes or No and how do you use it?
  3. What are your favorite writing blogs?
  4. What is your ideal place to write?
  5. What book you wish was written by you?
  6. Which author inspired you the most and why?
  7. Favorite Books?
  8. Favorite Movies?

All the best and keep blogging!!

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NaNoWriMo Progress

 

It’s been two weeks since NaNoWriMo started, and I am on track to finish it this year. I am already up to 30k words as we speak, so way ahead. I aim to finish the first 50k minimum required by Nov. 24, and then I’ll have 6 more days to flush it out a bit and do some editing…

Needless to say, there’s not too much update on the blog, as I am using any free time to write for NaNoWriMo.

If you are also working on your NaNoWriMo novel, all the good luck!

Iulian

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