The home page for author Eric J. Juneau

Midwest Literary Magazine Is Helpful

While I was busy helping my wife poop out a tax deduction, I garnered a few rejections in the e-mail box, natch. One of those came from the Midwest Literary Magazine for Vampire Family Story. They gave me one of the most complete personal rejections I’ve ever received. He told me what he liked and didn’t like. AND he gave me a recommendation on where next to send it to.

This is a good sign. The more personal the rejections get, the closer you are to being thought about by an editor for selected. Plus a recommendation is already a +5 to acceptance. The hard part is trimming the story. When I was done with one run-through, I discovered I had trimmed almost a thousand words (keyword:almost), a large portion of which is in the beginning. You know what they always say, get to the story faster. But now I’m trying to trim that last little bit so I can squeak out under half a grand, because A) it’s important to have goals and B) this opens up more opportunities for submissions.

I went through that story with the scythe of the grim reaper, cutting out everything that wasn’t the story. And I mean everything–asides, narrative information, adverbs, metaphors, unnecessary dialogue tags–and now I’m down to 5,022 words. This is the part that sucks. I’m scraping for words to cut, trying to reword sentences, and desperately searching for any little junk words that can be killed.

And the interesting thing is this is coming from a story that was previously 6,000 words, and I thought was finished. I thought it couldn’t be revised any more. But I was able to cut 17% of the text. Just goes to show no work of art is ever finished, only abandoned.

Is the story better for it? I’m not sure, my scope is too close to tell. But I think overall, the story has improved if for nothing else than adding a more mature voice and better word selection. Maybe I made a mistake in cutting so much of the beginning, perhaps I’ve ruined the pacing. But if I want to make this saleable, I need to open it up for a literary audience and kill my darlings.

Doggonnit, People Like Me

I got another request to do a novel exchange, this time with an actually published author. Granted he’s from Spain, and English isn’t his first language (or second), but I’m quite happy that, if my wife ever finishes her Kathy Reichs’ books, I’ll have four pairs of eyes looking at it. This is good, because it means people are interested in reading it. And if people are interested, maybe publishers will see that too. Hopefully, I get thoughtful reviews and critiques. It’s not easy slogging through 140,000 words.

Vampire Family Story was submitted to Hungur Magazine – an anthology of vampire stories. It’s 2,000 words over the submission limit, so I’m wondering if I’ll be cancelled out just for that. 4,000 is not a very long short story. But rules are rules. It’s disappointing, because its the only all-vampire magazine that I know of. Besides a vampire chronicle, I don’t know where to send it. Is it horror? Dark fantasy? Regular fantasy? A children’s story? It widens and narrows my options at the same time. I could just throw stuff at the window until it sticks, but that lengthens the submission process, as I’m just taking shots in the dark. Such is the life of an amateur.

I made a GoodReads profile, after John Scalzi said something about his. It’s just something fun to do in-between compile times, and, unlike LibraryThing, there’s no 200 book limit. However, I don’t like that it makes you pick editions instead of book covers, which may not have the right cover (or a cover I like). So I’m not ready to switch my right-rail widget just yet, but I think I will someday.

In happier news, I got a bunch of new books. The bookstore never has what I want, but I found John Scalzi’s The Last Colony and Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother. I’ve already read Little Brother, but I think that book is so important that I wanted a copy for my kids (although, now that I think about it, all the tech that makes the book so special will probably be outdated by then, but hopefully the principles will still be the same). But none of these make good research for my next novel. Fortunately, the library had one book I was looking for (Blue World by Jack Vance). And another (The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard) I ordered from Amazon (along with Jim C. Hines’s The Stepsister Scheme, which I’m much looking forward to). There’s one more left that I think I should get, but the library says its on order. So I’ll wait until I’ve exhausted these before I buy it.

Vampire Family Story Done

I’m done revising Vampire Family Story, and I’m pleased with how it turned out. Unfortunately, it also ballooned up to 6,000 words, which limits some of my publishing options. It’s no Hugo Winner, but it’s a good story, and I think I improved it to the point where many people will be pleased. I wondered, as I was revising, whether I was trying to please everyone. I tried to only fix problems that multiple people complained about. But even multiple people can be wrong (and make me pump the story to too many words. That’s the double-edged sword with getting a lot of critiques. Too many cooks can spoil the soup. And I think its important that the reader dictate the story he/she wants to tell, even in the view of a hundred naysayers.

That’s it for the thre “open-door” drafts. After I read through Vampire Family story one more time, it will be suitable for publishing. Fairy Kingdom is already being submitted places (still waiting on word from Flash Fiction Online, almost up to the magazine’s min response date), but I want to put White Mage Story through the Critters wringer one more time. Its changed drastically from its first incarnation, much like Avatar, and I think it could be served by another run-through.

Next up is to revise the “closed door” drafts – ones that aren’t ready to be seen by eyes other than me – to make them “open door”. Only two – Kaiju Story and Old Dragonslayer Story. Of them, I’m most worried about Kaiju Story. A lot of times, I thought I should have scratched it, but it seemed like such a good beginning, I couldn’t waste it. But the ending is shaky. I was trying too hard to be original, because most Kaiju stories I’ve heard don’t have any kaiju in them. They’re about the surrounding circumstances. So I was trying to be different.

Lastly, I don’t have it on the sidebar, but I’m reading through the Nebula nominees – at least the ones I can read online for free. So far I’ve read “The Button Bin” and “Baby Doll”, and based on those – Jesus Christ, are the Nebulas all about the disturbing? One was about drug use, rape, and buttons (and not in the childlike Coraline sense), and the other was about 8 year olds with boob implants and modeling lingerie and watching boy bands named “Stick That Dick”. Maybe this wouldn’t have affected me as much if I didn’t have a daughter, but all I wanted to do when I read it was hug her and tell her she doesn’t have to be anything that she doesn’t want to be.

Where am I at? (For the 0 people who care)

Short stories: I’ve finished Fairy Kingdom and sent to to Flash Fiction Online. We just passed the min time for expecting a reply, so hopefully I should know something soon. Revising White Mage story was a pain in the ass, because of all the restructuring, and I’m wondering whether I improved the story or nerfed it. It feels like its less than it was now, but maybe that’s because there’s too much here for a short story. I’m working on Vampire Family story now, which is getting too mixed for me to figure out what to do. And Avatar continues to languish in Hub-land.

While I’m on the subject I just want to say that I really hate writing short stories. I wish someone could tell me how to make a short story writer out of a novel writer.

Black Hole Son: Draft 2 is done, and now ready for the door open. I’ve printed out a copy to give to my wife, and two people on Critters have volunteered to RFDR it. This makes me happy (but it also likely means I’m going to get an influx of information that will just confuse me and nerf the story like White Mage Story). I hope most of the feedback is technical. Also I found out there’s some book called “Deader Still” that also uses “object memory”, only they call it (and I don’t if this is the technical name) “psychometry”. Nothing new under the sun.

Other: It’s time to start researching for Mermaid story. Problem is, the library has none of the books I need for this. And this is a major metropolitan area. It makes me disappointed – I thought the library had a good selection. Besides that, reading lots of Gaiman lately – Graveyard Book, Sandman, Fragile Things.

Vampire Family Story: Polls Are Closed!

I have the final results of the Vampire Family story from Critters. It seems that reaction was overall positive. Several people said they liked the concept. A few said it seemed pulpy and they didn’t like it. When there’s contradictions like that, especially regarding the central idea, I don’t listen. It’s one of those cases where I’ve got to write what I’ve got to write, and if I try to please everybody, I end up pleasing nobody.

I was especially pleased to find out one of my writing instincts was right, and I should have gone along with it. I made the beginning bulkier in order to show the relationship between the protagonist and antagonist, and to do what I thought was the “right thing” in terms of writing rules. It seems most people wanted me to skip over this part, get to the point faster, which I wanted to do too. So it seems I can abbreviate this exchange and still retain impact. Maybe that’ll give me more space to work with too.

Most of the other consistent critiques seemed to do with the real consequences of having a vampire family, which I was worried about, and will probably be the most challenging. Things move fast in this story, and I’ve got little space for pacing.

I’m still not sure if its publishable. I wonder what genre it fits in. Horror? Fantasy? Is it too Full House to make an impact on the adult market? Is it too short to show the real consequences? Are characters accurately portrayed? These are all issues that people brought up, and to fix them, I don’t know if I can fit it into 5,000 words.

Current Update

I’ve finished with Vampire Family Story for now and submitted it to Critters. It really didn’t need a whole lot of restructuring, except for the first scene which still bothers me. There’s just no way to communicate all that information without telling. And I’m wondering how much of the gun I need to reveal in the first act for it to show up in the third, and not need to extend the story so much. It’s already at capacity, about 5,000 words. I need an objective opinion on it at this point.

Now I’m working on White Mage Story, and its just a hoot. Again, needs condensing. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get it under 5,000 words, but I’ll try. Again, lots of information to cover, so it ends up fast paced. I fear if I cut anything, I’ll end up reducing its excitement and interest. But I’m really surprised I added so much light-hearted humor, like “bummerino”. And I think there’s enough here that I could turn it into a novel. Maybe that’ll be the one after Mermaid Story, but I’m still going to make it into a short story first.