Thursday, July 12, 2012

An Open Letter to Duotrope (Even Though No One from the Website Will Read This)

Dear Duotrope,

I like you a lot. You probably know that, considering in this message

you point out that I've visited your site 90 times this year. I think you're pretty nifty. What isn't nifty, however, is the quite-often request for money.

I get it: you want to pay for staff a decent wage. That's awesome. I think everyone who uses your website should contribute a bit. I don't like how you try to guilt people into it, however. "Is it worth skipping that $4 double caramel latte for, or that $6 hamburger." I doubt this sentiment applies to many of your users. I, for one, hate coffee, and I can make a damn fine hamburger for less than $6. Even if I wanted to waste my money on those things, I couldn't since I don't have any. I haven't been employed since February 2011, and I haven't had a full-time job since August 2008. (To be fair, I was in school until May 2009, so I couldn't have had a full-time job anyway.) Any money I do get from story acceptances goes to pay for personal expenses. I'll probably send you something when I'm working again, but until then, I don't like the reminder that I'm broke. I already know.

I know there are people who could afford to pay that wouldn't anyway. Those people are probably the minority, however. Many of your users probably don't have a lot of extra money, if they're lucky enough to have jobs, so they can't send much to help. I know you're asking for $5 a year from everyone, and that's not much, but as I'm sure you understand, every little bit matters when you're broke.

Please keep in mind that things are still crappy for a lot of people. Hopefully things will get better soon, but in the meantime, let's keep the guilt trips to a minimum, shall we?

Thanks for all the good you do.

Kristina R. Mosley

(And a side note: I have issues updating this thing regularly, so if any of y'all want regular updates, I'm on Twitter.

Monday, June 18, 2012


I'm terrible at coming up with writing goals and keeping them. I mean, I can think of them in abstract, but never anything specific. "I want to write a book one day" isn't the same as "I will start writing a novel next week." That being said, I have a list of writing goals in my brain. I'm going to write them down so that I might actually do them. 
  • Finish short story that's due June 30.
  • Edit novelette and send it to publication by July 31.
  • In the rest of July, rewrite "finished" short stories so they're more likely to be published.
  • After the novel's done, I think I'll work on some of the half-finished short stories collecting dust on my hard drive.
  • Then, maybe edit the novel and start querying agents? (This is the scariest goal, by far.)
That's all my goals for the foreseeable future. Help keep me honest, Internet.

What are some of your goals?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I Am Filled with a Writery Rage!

Neil Gaiman retweeted a blog post yesterday. The blogger was a writer named Mandy DeGeit. She sent a story to a small press called Undead Press. The owner/editor, Anthony Giangregorio, accepted her story but rewrote it drastically without her permission, ruining it. In her post, she related how his emails to her became more and more unprofessional.

Someone in the comments posted about a situation that happened to horror writer Alyn Day. Giangregorio accepted her short story for his Women of the Living Dead anthology, which would be published by Open Casket Press. (I have since learned that Undead Press=Open Casket Press=Living Dead Press.) Giangregorio asked Ms. Day to submit a story to another anthology, and she obliged. He ended up butchering her second story as well.

I had an experience not long after I started writing and submitting regularly. One of my short stories was accepted by a now-defunct Australian magazine called This Mutant Life. The editor cut out an entire paragraph, presumably to save space. In hindsight, the paragraph may have been excessive, but it should've been my decision to cut it out. I was angry, but nowhere near as angry as Ms. DeGeit and Ms. Day must be.

 I, too, have had an encounter with Anthony Giangregorio. I submitted a story to Women of the Living Dead. I received an email back that contained a smiley emoticon. That should've been my first clue about Giangregorio's lack of professionalism. I included my phone number because it's standard manuscript format, but I didn't expect him to call because, you know, the internet's a thing. Well, he called me the next morning. He talked super fast. (He called from a Brooklyn, NY number, and I'm a slow-talking Southerner.) I finally comprehended that he called my writing "novice," and that he might publish my story if it had a lot of tweaking. I vowed after the This Mutant Life thing that I wouldn't let someone change my work drastically. Besides, I didn't like his tone. I told him that he should pick someone else's story if mine was novice. He got pissed and said that he was glad he hadn't wasted anymore of his time. I think I called him a douchebag before he hung up; I can't remember. I'm just glad I dodged a bullet.

Getting published is hard enough without someone taking advantage of you. There are many small presses that will treat you professionally even if they can't pay you professionally. I hope Ms. DeGeit and Ms. Day have better luck in the future. The internet is a small place, really, so I hope news gets out, and Anthony Giangregorio is no longer able to make money off of ruining others' work.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wherein Kristina Doesn't Understand Modern Publishing

I’ve been writing seriously less than three years, but in that time, I’ve seen e-publishing and self-publishing boom. Along with that, I’ve seen the number of people who give away their writing—both literally and figurative—increase.

I’ve seen many tweet and such about people selling their short stories for 99 cents on Amazon, or they post free stories on their blogs. I can see where this is an effective marketing strategy: give the reader a small taste, get them hooked, and make them buy more. (Incidentally, I think this is how drug dealers work.) What I don’t understand, though, is when people do this repeatedly. They sell multiple stories for low prices, or they give away whole books.

One could argue that this is no different from the times I submitted stories to publications that offered either no payment or toke payment. My only argument is that mostly did that when I was starting out so I could get some publishing credits under my belt. (I’ve done it a few times recently, but I usually really wanted to be a part of the publication.) My goal now is to make at least some money off my writing. Shouldn’t I be paid a decent wage?

I guess my main concern is that writers are selling themselves short. I think that $3.00 for a novel is too low, even for an eBook. Novel writing is hard; that’s why I haven’t finished one yet. I know there’s a lot of competition out there, and authors have to do a lot to get their work read, but is it worth lowering our standards? If writers keep selling their stories for less than they’re worth, will the readers start to expect less. For example, say I finish a novel and decide to self-publish. I decide to set the eBook price a little higher, maybe $5.00, because I put a lot of work into my book. Will John Q. Public pass on my (hopefully) awesome book just because the price is too high compared to everyone else?

I’m not trying to condemn anyone’s actions, because Lord knows I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m sure other writers spend more time looking into their markets than I have. I just don’t understand modern publishing, I guess.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why Weird Stuff?

When people ask what kind of stories I write, I tell them I write “weird stuff”. Either they usually respond favorably, or they say, “Oh…okay…” But, no one has ever asked why.

I feel any writer has passion for the particular genre s/he writes. Literary authors may enjoy realism, for example. For me, my love of “weird stuff” has been life-long. My Barbies were often wizards and sometimes zombie hunters. I enjoyed TV shows with a sci-fi or fantasy element. (ex: Gargoyles, Transformers: Beast Wars, anime including Dragonball Z and the various Tenchis) I started reading fantasy when I read Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown. I used these things with speculative subjects as an escape from my everyday life.

When I decided I wanted to be a writer, standard fiction never crossed my mind. My first novel idea (which was also a scenario I played out with my dolls) was about King Arthur returning in the modern day. The rest of the ideas I came up with were traditional fantasy and some sci-fi, with a little urban fantasy thrown in. Of course, I didn’t know it was called urban fantasy at the time. I just thought, “Modern day? Why not dragons?”

I didn’t write anything in high school really, because of my own insecurities, but I always read. Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom books were among my favorites. His books introduced darker fantasy to me. I mean, what’s darker than necromancers and the undead?

I discovered Neil Gaiman through his short story “Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire” in a collection called Gothic. I became more interested in dark fiction as time wore on. I was an angsty teen, so the darker things were the better. I was a library aide my senior year of high school, and I noticed a small collection of Gaiman’s books. I read Stardust, but was just okay in my opinion. Then I read Neverwhere, which is probably my first proper urban fantasy. I was amazed at how Gaiman created a completely new world that was just below an existing one. Then, I read American Gods, and it changed my life. The epic nature! The characters! Everything was wonderful.

Then, zombies came for me when I read The Zombie Survival Guide my freshman year of college, and I never looked back. I soon thought of the idea for my zombie western, even though I didn’t write it until my junior year. I became obsessed with zombies and the undead, and I still am.

I started reading some of Christopher Moore’s books before my sophomore year of college. Even though he’s in the “regular fiction” section, he has written about monsters and vampires and zombies. Above all, though, he’s funny as hell. He inspired me to infuse humor into my writing, even if I don’t always succeed.

So, here I am: a writer-lady that is kind of paranoid and who likes weird things. Other people like weird things, so I write weird things I hope they like.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I'm Not Dead

I try to be a good blogger, I really do.  I just have trouble writing about writing, I guess.  I don't really know what I'm doing.  I've only been writing seriously on-and-off for the last five years.  (First grown-up poem was published in 2007.  Prior to that, I had a poem published in an anthology in fifth grade.)  I have way more rejections than acceptances.  Who am I to give advice?

I have picked up a few tips along the way, though (all this pertains to short stories, bee tee dubs):
  • Write about something you care about, something that interests you.  If you're not invested in it, why should the reader be?
  •  After you finish, let the story set for a day or so before you begin to edit.
  • Don't be afraid to cut out words.  A concise story is more likely to get published.
  • Make friends with other writers.  A writer will be able to edit/proofread your story better than a non-writer, in most cases.
  • Grow a thick skin.
  • Don't be afraid to send out your story.  Submitting to publications is emotional:  it's like sending your baby out into the cruel world.  (Side note:  Duotrope is what I use to find markets.  It tracks deadlines, checks dead markets, etc.  A lot of people use Ralan, but it's just a matter of personal preference.
  • Expect rejection.  It'll definitely happen.
  • Don't ever think your story is perfect, because it isn't.  Also, if a publisher is cool enough to offer a personalized rejection with feedback, consider the changes he or she suggests.  (That being said, don't make any changes if it compromises the integrity of the story.)
  • Expect people to try to screw you over.  It'll definitely happen.
  • Celebrate when you get an acceptance.  You deserve it.
I hope these tips help someone.  Also, if you want more advice, you should follow Brooke Johnson's blog.  She writes words good.
I almost forgot.  The issue of Scifaikuest that I'm in is out.  The editor said my haiku was her favorite.  Also, Tales from the Grave, the anthology that will contain my true ghost story "My Life with the Dead" doesn't have a release date yet, but it will come out sometime this month.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Giving Up

Relax, it isn't as serious as it sounds.

Sometimes, as a writer, you have too much on you're plate.  You've mentally committed yourself to various projects.  Or, maybe the deadline for the particular story you're writing is looming, but the story just isn't working out.  You have no idea how you'll meet the goal.

Unless you're contractually obligated, it's okay to give up sometimes.  It's better to let a story fall to the wayside than to stress out over a story that will turn out to be crap and not be accepted anyway.  The old saying "quality over quantity" really applies here.  You want everything you put out to be the best it can possibly be, and that's hard to do when you're concerned about getting the thing done.

Don't feel bad if you have to give up.  Just because you don't finish the story now doesn't mean you'll never finish it.  There have been many times when I have to put a story on hold because I can't think of what to do next.  Then, months or even years later, I'll suddenly have an epiphany, and I will finish the story.  

Of course, before you give up on your story completely, you should try to see if there's some way to tweak it.  A few weeks ago, I was writing a story for an anthology of true ghost stories.  I was writing about my first encounter with a spirit (long story), but it wasn't long enough to reach the 4,000 lower word limit.  I was about to give up on it until I decided to add an experience from college.  I was able to finish the story, and it got accepted.

Giving up is part of the business of being a writer.  You have to know when to stop working on something bad and when to keep working on something good.  Hopefully, you'll have more "keep working on something good" moments.  Those are the best.

Friday, January 6, 2012

I know the secrets that you keep/when you're blogging in your sleep.

(I'm not blogging in my sleep, but I'm not far from it.)

I have ten things out: nine stories and one poem, if I'm remembering correctly.  I wish I would hear something out of at least one of the places.  To be fair, I just sent one thing, and it's before the deadline on a couple of anthologies, but the other places have continuous submissions, I think.  These publications probably get hundreds of submissions, and I'm sure a lot of the a lot of the editors probably have other jobs and lives and stuff, but I'm impatient.

On the bright side, I received my copy of Evolutionary Blueprint on Wednesday.  That's the cryptozoology anthology that contains my chupacabra story "Night Things."

I didn't necessarily mean to match my shirt and the book.

So, that's pretty neato.

Monday, January 2, 2012


It's the second day of the year, (if you're reading this right after I post it and in the same time zone) and people are talking about their resolutions for 2012.  Many of these goals include losing weight and becoming a better person.  While I have similar resolutions, I'm not going to discuss them here.  Since this is a writing blog, I'll discuss my writing resolutions.

One of my goals is to have more things published in 2012 than I did in 2011.  I had five stories published last year.  Two things are forthcoming this year so far:  a haiku will be in the February 2012 print edition of Scifaikuest, and my end of the world story "Fire in the Blood" will come out this year.  Add to the nine things I have submitted to various publications, I think it's possible.

My main resolution, though, is to finish writing a novel.  I have a handful that I've started.  Two of those are a few thousand words.  My word goals is around 80,000, so that shouldn't be a problem, right?  Wrong.  Some people can write thousands of words in a day, but I lack the focus.  I'm starting out with 500 words a day.  Then, if I consistently hit that target, I'll increase.  I should have a novel written in around five months.

So, it's a new year full of promise, unless the Mayans are right.  Hopefully, a year from now, I'll have at least one finished novel, and I'll have the twin joys of editing and querying.  Good luck to everyone with their resolutions, and may 2012 be better than 2011.