Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Pirate Witch story


I just sent my short story, The Pirate Witch to Jean Rabe, editor of the Blue Kingdoms anthology. I think it came out great, though it's 8,371 words, and the ideal was four to six thousand. Oh, well. It's a swashbuckling adventure with a lot happening, so I hope she goes for it.

If not, I think I have the start of a fun novel. It wouldn't be half as good without the help of three of my friends, Brad Beaulieu, Patrick Tracy and Kelly Swails. They critiqued the story and provided invaluable help.

Brad's initial critique really helped me fix the story, then Kelly's ideas and Pat's additions polished it off really well. Kelly had some good suggestions and Pat added some really pirate-like language. The tale is more cohesive, makes more sense, and has a strong rudder.

The reader will understand the main character, Maeve a lot better and will care about her more. Most of the initial problems were related to me being worried about word count and going over. But screw it! Write the story and make the editor decide if it’s too long. Arrrr! Savvy?

To all of you writers out there who get critiques or give critiques: Llife will be even better for you if you start using the Track Changes tool on MS Word. It makes giving critiques a snap (adding comments, deleting lines etc.) and helps the poor writer see what terrible lines were there before the critiquer made them a LOT better. Without the Track Changes it makes finding changes quite difficult.

John Helfers, the editor who bought my first novel and hired me as a copy editor a while back, asked me to get MS Word and to use Track Changes when we first started working together. I was nervous at first, but once I started using it I realized that it was amazing. Critiquing with Track Changes and adding comments in the text makes you look like a pro.

Well, today I'm going to send a query to an amazing artist, Ciruelo Cabral, and hope he can do the cover for The Golden Cord. I have authorization from my editor to contact him. I just hope we can afford him.

Well, I best get busy. I’m working five 13 hour night shifts in a row this week—starting tonight (Sunday-Thursday). Yes, I will have a lot of loot at the end of the week, but I’ll be very tired.

My unit lost two charge nurses this week (one to the ER and one to the mechanical heart program), so I must step up and shoulder the load. Damn! I need a clone!

I wish you all a great week!

Paul the Pirate

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Where do I send my novel?

Melissa emailed me this message:

Outstanding on getting your first book published! I just finished reading what you posted on your blog site about the journey you took into getting such a wonderful feat accomplished. My purpose for writing to you is that I am in the process of writing a novel and while I have read many online 'how too's about self-publishing vs. finding a publisher, I am at a loss at where to start to send my work. I read how connections and senimars worked for you, rather well might I add, but where do I start if connections aren't established? You must get so many emails from people asking you such questions but I appreciate your time and patience with one more person asking. I would love to know who to contact and where to start. Any help or suggestions you have would be absolutely wonderful.Thank you again for your time and patience,Melissa S.

I replied:

Dear Melissa,

Thank you so much for emailing and for reading my blog on how to get published. It’s my pleasure to respond and help you. First, what type of work are you writing? The genre and type of book is important for me to know. Non-fiction is quite different than fiction. Once I have that information I’ll be able to help more and give specific advice on where to send your work. Blind submissions are not a great idea though. Chances of getting published after an unsolicited submission are slim to none with fiction.

Also, where do you live, what city and state? Depending on where you are there might be some great conventions or writing seminars you can take that will help you make some connections. If not, I would suggest you go when you’re ready. Perhaps that is when you’ve finished the novel. Actually finishing a novel is probably a great goal for you at this point. Or writing a short story is a good goal. Short stories can be done comfortably in a couple of weeks. Something around 4000-6000 words is good. The time commitment is limited and that’s a good thing. Novels can take so long . . .

First off, though, keep working on your craft. Find a group of people who share your desire to publish and critique each other’s work. The chance that your work will be good enough to be published is greatly increased if you have skilled people helping you improve it. Becoming a good enough writer is a journey and none of us exist in a vacuum. The courage to show people who are not your family, your work is important. Writing groups can be good, but you have to find the right one.

The most important thing for you to do now is to keep writing your novel and study the craft of writing. Read books on the subject. I’ve posted some good books to read on my website in the resources section. Check them out. Your local library is a good place to find books on writing, though go with current books if you can.

Please send along the info on what type of book you’re writing and I’ll let you know some places you can send it, or other steps you can take. Thanks again for writing and best wishes.

Paul Genesse

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tragic event in Salt Lake City

Things have been tense here in Salt Lake City with the shooting at the mall on February 12. I'd been at work for twenty minutes when it happened. We received two of the shooting victims a little while later at my hospital where I'm a nurse on a cardiac unit. The whole hospital was freaked out and we went into lockdown mode. At first we didn't know what was happening and if there was more than one shooter still on the loose. The staff and patients on my floor were all very upset. When we found out the shooter was dead we all breathed a sigh of relief--but couldn't believe what had happened.

The fact that I go to that mall once in a while made me think it could have been me getting shot at. The Sharper Image store that got blasted is a place Tammy and I like to shop. And my buddy Patrick and I go have gont out to eat at the restaurants there. It really made me sick when I heard about the shootings. It was at 6:46 PM when it happened and Pat and I actually go out to eat at that time on rare occasions. I think everyone in Salt Lake is thinking "it could have been me."

Thank heavens that the off-duty cop--Kenneth Hammond--a name that deserves to be mentioned when this event is discussed, was there with his pregnant wife. He took action and started shooting at the killer. The cop saved a lot of lives. Mr. Hammond, 33 years old of the Ogden Police Department, says he isn't a hero, but he fits the definition perfectly. He gives cops a good name.

As horrible as the tragedy was, in the big picture, life is easy here in America. Try living in Baghdad for a week. They have bombings and shootings that kill 75 people at a time on a weekly basis. I cannot imagine what kind of pressure and stress the people there are under. Thousands of innocent people--women and children waiting in line to get food--have been killed there recently.

Life sucks in most of the world, so I don't have much reason to complain. Still, I'll probably never think of that mall at Trolley Square again in the same way. I don't think Tam will want to go there either. I don't know how I'll feel the next time I go, but I'm definitely going. I don't want to let this maniac win. A terrible act of of violence is not going to ruin a historic and beautiful place for me.

We still don't know why the 18 year old--whose name does not deserve to be mentioned--did what he did. But he was a loner, a high school drop-out, and a refugee from a war-torn country--Bosnia. Perhaps his family, or our society failed him. He dropped out of school at 16. I don't know much else yet.

Maybe we need to figure out how to help troubled kids in a much better way. As a society we need to be nicer to people and not pick on them--I'm mostly thinking of school kids picking on other kids. Make the outcast kids your friends. Be a defender of the weak and oppressed, not a bully or a snob. Show respect to other people even if they are different than you are.

And in the end, when you are faced with difficult decisions, do the right thing, like off-duty policeman Kenneth Hammond did, by helping others in any way you can.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Pirate Witch


Well, I'm 3,400 words into my 6,000 word short story, The Pirate Witch for the Blue Kingdoms anthology. It's going well and I'm at the halfway point. I'm loving the story and am just wondering about length. I hope I'll be able to keep it at 6,000 words, which is the limit. The editor, Jean Rabe said we could go over, but I'd rather not.

The main character is Maeve Tierney, The Pirate Witch. She's a fiery character with a past that is catching up to her in a bad way. Marrying the infamous pirate, Bull Tierney was probably not the greatest idea, but as a witch she got even when the sea dog did what most pirates do--he went after another person's booty . . .

Now Maeve's on the run with only a single friend in the world. Her and Bax were hiding out in a remote pirate town called Bilgewater, and it would have been a perfect place to hide if Cap'n Coyle of the buccaneer ship Vulture hadn't found out where she was.

All she has to do is escape on the last ship in port, a leaking sloop captained by a highly contagious leper and two salty sea dogs. Except for Maeve, all of the crew is about thirty years past their prime.

If she only knew that the worst is still ahead. I hope you'll all enjoy reading The Pirate Witch in the Blue Kingdoms anthology edited by Jean Rabe and Steven D. Sullivan. The book should be out this summer when Pirates of the Caribbean 3 comes out, savvy?


P.S. I guess this is all assuming that the story is accepted, but I have a good feeling about this one. Visit for more info on the world.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Ground Hog news


In case anyone missed the prediction last week, Punxsutawney Phil, the resident ground hog at Gobbler's Knob, has made his prediction. There will be an early Spring! Woo-hoo! Ground hogs forever!

Post away


I was just informed by my buddy Patrick, that people without a Blogger account couldn't post on my blog. I'm so sorry about that! I had no idea. However, I just went in and found the place where I change that particular setting. I changed the setting so that anyone can post on my blog now. Sorry Rachel! I'm still a blog newbie, and haven't finished setting up my blog. I'm going to get a blog roll going soon where I list all of my friends with blogs on my blog page. Yes, that means you!

Thank you for stopping by and please let me know if you'd like to be listed on my blog roll.

Bye for now.


Thursday, February 1, 2007

How do I get published?

My Journey

“How do I get published?” is a very big question. Every author has a different story, but there are certain principles that will help anyone who wants to take the leap into writing and become a published author. The good news is that if you want to do it, you can.

There is hope.

I’m living proof that it can be done. However, it’s going to take some major sacrifices and a level of dedication that few can achieve.

For those who don’t want to suffer that much there is also good news. Anyone can get published by going with the self-publishing route. Pay your money and someone (usually an online company) will put your book together—after you have supplied them the content and the cash. It doesn’t matter how bad the book is or how good the book is. They’ll publish it no matter what. Money talks.

Self-publishing non-fiction is somewhat accepted if you travel and give talks on your area of expertise and have a need to sell material to people in your field of interest, but if you are a fiction writer self-publishing can be the kiss of death.

As in, don’t self-publish if you want anyone to take you seriously. Sure, there are a few famous authors today who did very well with self-publishing, but the chances that you’ll get a legitimate writing career after self-publishing are slim.

My advice: if you want to join the books on the shelf at Barnes & Noble, don’t self-publish. Take the much more difficult route and get your book or story accepted at a legitimate publishing house, magazine, or possibly an ezine.

The route I took was a six-year journey from the time I decided to try and get something published, to actually getting something accepted. I went to writing seminars, writing classes, writing groups, read books about writing, and most importantly—I wrote.

I wrote over 550,000 words in my Iron Dragon Series. I wrote three fat books, but now that book one has undergone some big changes, it seems they’ll be five shorter books, which is fine with me.

Okay, here’s the secret: Once you’re writing is good enough it becomes all about WHO YOU KNOW. If you know editors, authors, agents, and publishers your chances of getting published go up many fold. However, you’re writing better be good enough. You’re not going to get published if the work is not ready. The editor you know will reject it, even if they like you. There’s almost no chance of getting a novel accepted by just mailing it to an agent or publisher. You have to know people.

How do you get to know people in the publishing business? Go to conventions, seminars, book signings, readings, etc. Go to places where writing professionals are going to be. I went to the Gen Con Game fair for many years getting to know and love the writers who went there. Kij Johnson, Jean Rabe, Janet Pack, and Mike Stackpole became my teachers and mentors. They were so great and by attending their seminars I learned what it would take to become a published writer.

The whole time I kept writing my novels. I wrote like a mad fiend for three years until the Iron Dragon Series was finished. It only took half a million words to get close to being good enough. After all that I still wasn’t good enough. I needed to go to more seminars and writing groups. I needed to rewrite my work many times and delete the crap and rewrite whole chapters. I needed to figure out who I was as a writer and grow a lot.

The process I described took years. About Six years. In wasn’t until late 2005 that I got my first offer from an editor. She wanted me to write a short story, but more on that in a moment.

The key event was when I went to the World Fantasy Convention in Minneapolis in 2002. Kij Johnson, my first professional writing teacher encouraged me to attend. Once I was there I was very alone. I knew few people and was quite scared. I saw Janet Pack, a writer I’d met at Gen Con. I went up to her and she took me under her wing. She introduced to an editor and I pitched my novel. He thought it sounded interesting and asked to see a few chapters. Nine months later he rejected it, but we built a relationship that has endured ever since.

I kept going to conventions and got to know many writers, editors and wannabes. We became friends and in the end one of those editors, Jean Rabe, asked me for a story. She had room in the Furry Fantastic anthology because the stories sent to her were shorter than she expected. I had a week to get her a story. If it was good enough, I was in.

I managed to write the story, The Mob, and then had it critiqued on deadline day by my great friend Brad Beaulieu. He ripped it apart, gave me ten pages of single spaced advice, then sent it back. Somehow, I managed to implement his suggested changes and rewrite the story in a few short hours. Brad gives very helpful critiques and without him my work would suffer.

I sent The Mob to Jean and heard back the next morning. She loved it! I was in the anthology. Finally, after all those years of struggle I was going to be published.

Then doors started to open. People read the story and I got the attention of a few editors and agents when I saw them at conventions. Another request came in for a short story and I delivered Almost Brothers for the Fellowship Fantastic anthology to a different editor.

Then, when I least expected it, an email came from the same editor who had rejected The Golden Cord back in 2003. He wanted to chat on the phone about some big news. We spoke a few days later. He dropped the bombshell. He had seen the new version of the novel and liked it a lot. He wanted to publish it. I couldn’t believe it. But I had not stopped believing in the work, though I admit I thought it probably wouldn’t be published until after I’d had some other novels out there.

Six years of struggle happened before I broke into publishing. Now things are rolling along. I just got invited (in January 2007) to be in a new pirate anthology, Blue Kingdoms, edited by Jean Rabe. Relationships matter, that’s why Jean asked me for a story.

Now, some people will be faster than me in getting published, no doubt, but expect a long haul. From novice to expert is a far journey. If you really want to go for it, then go for it. But be warned. It’s not going to be easy. Determination is the name of the game. Keep improving your craft. Take chances. Let people read your stuff and learn from their comments. Put yourself in the places where you can meet the professionals in the business. Get to know them. See if you really want to be writer by learning about what it’s really like.

That was a brief summary of my journey. There are other routes and please read some books on getting published—not on how to write, but on breaking into publishing. There are a bunch of them out there and online. Do a search on Google or Read a current one with all the new information.

You can do it with intelligent striving. Then once you break in, there is a whole new level of stress. Decide if you really want that in your life. There isn’t much money in writing unless you’re one of the 500 authors in America who claim to get all of their income from writing books. With 17,000 titles or more in the average Barnes & Noble, the percentage of writers who make enough money to live is slim. Don’t quit your day job—or in my case—my night job. The average book only makes around $10,000 for the writer.

Writing is about passion. Writers write because they must. If a writer doesn’t write they don’t feel well. There is an itch that isn’t scratched until they write. Does that sound like you?

If those statements do apply to you, think about getting published. Be prepared to suffer for your art. But like anything in life, the things that are the most worthwhile require sacrifice. Email me with questions and I’ll do what I can do to help.

Now go and write something!