Writing About The Horrors

I’ve been wanting to write something along these lines for awhile now. I decided that the month I’ve devoted to short fiction would be a good time, since I tend to explore dark topic in short fiction.

I just finished writing a story about the Holocaust. I’m actually surprised that it took me so long to do it, because I have a fascination with the subject.

Yeah, it’s kind of a weird thing to be interested in. But I’ve read some really amazing stories based on it. Number The Stars, The Boy in The Striped Pajamas, Maus. Jacob The Liar is one of my favorite movies, and not just because Liev Schriber is in it.

Honestly, I don’t know why I do this. I read this stuff, and I cry. I read stories about wars, and abuse, and things that make me cry in general. Why do I do this?! Why do I read it, why do I write it? Why is there so much fiction about it?

If you’ve lived through a true horror, like abuse, drug addiction, wars or losing a child, there are a lot of reasons to write about it.” Click to Tweet

For one, it’s therapeutic. Sometimes an experience can be so big, that it’s impossible to wrap your brain around it. I’m sure that you’ve had experiences like that. Writing about it, either in non fiction or fiction, can be a way to start to understand what happened to you. To see the experience objectively, as a part of your history.

Your story might also help others. Full disclosure, my ex was abusive, both physically and emotionally. I didn’t believe it for a long time, until I started reading accounts of other people who had experienced abuse. It’s so subtle, the way it starts. The flashes of anger aren’t anything compared to the every day controlling behaviors and the slow, subtle things that break your sense of self worth down. I had convinced myself that I was just overreacting. He wouldn’t yell at me if I didn’t deserve it. Maybe if I wasn’t such a screw up, he wouldn’t have to do this. To put this in a little perspective, I now have a good day job that supports my whole family, a gorgeous husband who takes great pictures and cooks like a mofo, two brilliant children. I’ve published two books, written four, and make the best tuna casserole you have ever tasted. He’s unemployed, living off of his new girlfriend’s unemployment. So, perspective.

Huge historical events are important for future generations to understand. Like, for instance, 9/11. I was thirteen when 9/11 happened. Someday, I’m going to write about it, because I don’t think kids realize how different the world was before that day. I don’t know that we’re any safer these days, but I do know that we’re a lot more afraid. I want to write about it because I watched the world change.

Of course, it will be written about from an historical point of view. But that won’t explain how it felt to live through that day. Similarly, we can read the history of the Holocaust, but it’s not the same as reading Ann Frank’s Diary.

Finally, it can help us comprehend the shared horrors of the past. Like, for instance, the Holocaust. Knowing what happened, the absolute gruesome things that human beings did to other human beings, is more than my brain can handle. So I read about it, and it helps me grasp it. I write about it, and I try to understand. Being a Christian American, I’m trying to understand what it must be like to have something like that in your history. I don’t know, and I’m thankful for that ignorance. But I still want to understand.

What do you think of writing about horrors? Have you written about some dark historical moment, or just something dark from your own past?

Market, UFO Anthologies

That stands for Unidentified Funny Objects. This anthology is probably one of the more intimidating ones I’ve posted about, because past collections have included such writers as Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Martin. Bad news, the competition is fierce. Good news, if you get in, people are going to start learning your name, my friend.

Genre- Science fiction humor. This is supposed to be funny, not a romantic space opera or a downer piece where everyone dies. (Makes you wonder how Martin got in.)

Word Count- 500 to 5000

Submission Window- Because they’re not taking anything yet. April 1 to April 30.

Payout- Seven cents per word.

Wait Time- Thirty Days

Rights- First worldwide publishing rights.

Here is your link to the full submission guidelines.

 

Lots of Changes to Come

Surprise! Here’s the new website I made for you!

I’ve been working on this for awhile now. The site, my home online, has been looking a little crummy, a little old. Everything needs a fresh look, sometimes. And, since I wanted to update each of my static pages, I thought now would be a good time for a modern new theme.

Now, the shiny new look isn’t the only change around here. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I want Paper Beats World to do. I wanted it to be in line with my three main goals for the year; 1. Write awesome stories, 2. Make money doing it and 3. Help you do the same.

A lot of what we already do is geared toward those goals. So, the weekly writing advice on Sundays is staying, as is the Market listing on Friday.

My Tuesday post, however, is going to be more of a personal, blog style from now on. For those of you who are fans of my writing, this is where you’ll find news on upcoming books and current projects if there is any to be told. It will also be where I talk about whatever I might want to talk about this week.

The First Saturday of the month will still be Words Change Worlds. Book Reviews will come when I finish books.

My own work will be posted every other Wednesday, until I run out of short stories. Sometime soon, I have a surprise that’s going there, so consider this a place holder.

Anyone who wants to send me short stories to post in the time between when I run out of short stories and when I am ready to launch the new project, please send them to nicolecluttrell86@Gmail.com! I can’t pay you, but I would love to post some speculative fiction that isn’t mine!

Some new columns I’m going to start over the next few months are an ‘ask me’ column and a monthly poetry event. Some of my most read posts have been about poetry, a thing that I love but suck at. I miss writing about it, too. So, stay tuned for that.

Another big change is this; I’m going to be devoting this site to purely speculative fiction. I do not write historical fiction, slice of life, or anything else, and so I’m not qualified to talk about it. So markets, advice, and everything else is going to be mostly geared toward spec fic writers. I’ll be reviewing spec fic books. I’ll be posting spec fic, by myself and others.

And finally, I’ve decided to stop running The Road To Full Time. There’s not a lot of interest in it, and I don’t take enough pleasure in writing it to keep it up. With this being the case, I’ve added my market list here, and you may all peruse it as you like. It grows all the time.

Please take some time, and click around to see some of our fun new features on Paper Beats World, including a Shop From Here page, and a static Writers Market page. There’s more new to come, stay tuned.

Love the new theme? Hate the new theme? Have suggestions or comments? Let me know below.

My Book Is Launching

It’s hard to believe that it’s happening. But then, it’s amazing what happens when you decide to do something yourself, instead of waiting to see if someone else will validate you.

My second book published in two months, after a year of hard, hard work. Now, I’ve got more work ahead of me, because I don’t intend them to be the only books I get out this year. But on Friday, when the book launches, I’m going to sit back, and take some time to soak in what I’ve done.

Today, though, I want to take some special time, to thank you. Every one of you who is reading this right now. Thank you for reading me, for coming to my little corner of the internet to hear me rant and preach. I hope you take something from it, for all the good you give to me. I’ve said it before, but I don’t say it enough. Thank you for inspiring me.

I’m going to be on Social Media all day on Friday. Hit me up if you have any questions, just want to say hi, or whatnot. I will be giving away two free copies of Days, one on Twitter and one on Facebook, to a random person who tweets me or says something on the Facebook page. See you then, should be fun.

By the way, there’s still time to pre order for half off. Use offer code predays, and click here to order.

DaysAnd Other Stories

Writing Novellas, and What To Do With Them

Poor novella. You’re so misunderstood. Worse, you are wholly unappreciated for who you really are. At least, as far as I’ve seen. Most publishers don’t want to look at novellas, and no literary magazine’s got the room to run them.

And yet novella’s appear. Mostly by accident, but they appear. I’ve written a few just because there wasn’t enough of a story in my head to be a full novel, but still enough to be a really solid tale. In fact, I’m writing one on purpose now. But more on that later this year.

To start with, since there is some confusion about what constitutes a novella, the general word count is anywhere from 7,500 to 40,000. So, really, any story that’s too long to be a short story, too short to be a novel.

But what would you do with a story that size? Like I said, it’s hard to market that. Here, then, are some suggestions.

  • You could write multiple novellas that show a fantasy or science fiction world from different points of view, and package it as a novel.
  • You can self publish it as a way to start getting yourself out there as a writer with something a little more than short stories but not as lengthy as a novel.
  • You can write a novella, and then serialize it on your blog. (Cough, cough.)
  • If you’ve written a few, you can use them as a sort of sampler novel and self publish.
  • Also, there are actually contests and markets looking for novellas. Including this one, it’s not well known, maybe you’ve heard of it, Tor!

So it might be worth your time.

Funny story, the first time I wrote a novella, I was told by multiple people that a story of that length would never sell. According to them, I should add something to the story to make it longer. I am a fan of lean writing, but I listened. Why did I listen? Because young people are crippled by self doubt most of the time, and we can’t avoid taking advice from people we think must know better than us. That’s one of the perks of being 29, I’m not so susceptible to that shit anymore.

Anyway, I added a subplot that I wasn’t thrilled with, and drummed up some characters that felt uninspired. I added, and I fluffed, until my dark little mystery novella was novel sized and I hated most of it. I sent it out to some agents, and got a few requests for more material, but not a lot. Eventually I let the whole project go. Will I come back to it someday? Maybe. But I can’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t be doing fine right now if I had just left it the hell alone in it’s novella form. Lesson learned.

If you’re going to write a novella, on purpose, here are some things you want to keep in mind to write a good one.

Do

  • Keep in mind that any story of any length requires solid writing.
  • Stick to just a few plotlines. You won’t have room for long winded side plots for your characters. To be fair, if you wanted to do long winded side plots, you’d be writing a novel anyway.
  • Pour just as much energy and creativity into plotting as you would a novel.
  • Devote just as much time to character research as you would a novel.
  • Give your story room to grow, by cutting the unnecessary fluff. Example, your character tells a cabi some dark secret, good. Your character tells a cabi some inane time passing story, bad.

Don’t

  • Use novella’s as an excuse to push out a project that you’re not really done with. If you’re not sure the ending is really worth the journey your reader took to get there, fix it. If your middle is sagging, fix it. If that makes your novella a novel then it was supposed to be one anyway.

 

What do you think of novellas? Have you ever read one that really speaks to you? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Thank you, Ms. Lee

I was having such a good day, too. I’m sure that most of you have heard, but if I’m the first to tell you, I’m really sorry. Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird and Go Set A Watchman, passed away this morning.

It’s amazing that an author who only wrote two books could have such an impact on my life. But then, we’re not talking about any old books. So I wanted to take some time today, to thank her for everything that her work gave me.

  • Thank you for Scout. As a little girl who was always told to ‘be quiet, don’t play in the mud, stop yelling, don’t swear, be a lady’, Scout was just who I was when I was allowed to be.
  • Thank you for Atticus. He was a hero to me, as I struggled to find a place for myself as a liberal minded person in an old school Republican town. Yeah, we have those up North, too.
  • Thank you for writing a story that I couldn’t put down. Your work is considered a classic, and is served with so many others that even a bibliophile like me had trouble choking them down, they’re so dry.
  • Thank you for giving us Go Set A Watchman. Thank you for giving us Jean Louise, and the wonderful, independent, loving, brave woman Scout became. Thank you for showing us how hurt she was when the only mother she ever had turned on her because of the disparity between black and white people. Thank you for reminding me that race disparity hurts, and it hurts all of us deeply in a very personal, not political way.
  • Thank you, Ms. Lee, for sharing your stories with us.

And now, here is a picture of my cat, Harper, named after Ms. Lee. I know I wanted to hug her today.

DSCF9426
Photo by Garrett Luttrell

Market,Evil Girlfriend Media

I’m a sucker for funny titles, so of course this one tickled me.

Evil Girlfriend is actually two markets rolled into one. Not only are they a magazine, but they are also a small press publishing company. So, if you write horror, this might be one you bookmark.

For book publishing-

Genre- dystopian, near future sci-fi, horror, paranormal, apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, and urban fantasy genres. (Copied from their website.)

Word Length- 65,000 to 100,000.

Wait time- Generally three months, and they invite you to query them if you haven’t heard anything after that.

Reading time- They are only looking at manuscripts from March 13 to May 1 of this year. So if you have something ready right now, sit on it for another few weeks. If you’re not quite done yet, you’re in luck.

For the magazine, Speculate!

Genre- Horror

Word Count-4,000 to 7,000

Payout- $100, which makes this the highest paying market I’ve ever posted.

Wait time- Not listed

Rights- They will have first North America rights. Your story will be in the archives for two years, and they have the right to include it in an anthology if they so chose.

As always, here is your link to the full submission guidelines. Best of luck.

Want even more markets? Sign up for The Road To Full Time and receive the ever growing list of fiction markets to your inbox every month!

Demon

Here’s my most recent piece. Hope you like it.

The Demon That Followed us Home

    You run into demons sometimes, in my profession. Vile little things made from bad feelings and bad negative energy. I considered them nothing more than a nuisance. Human women deal with pests like ants and mice. I, as a witch, had demons.

Until one followed my Isabelle home from school.

I didn’t even notice the dirty little thing at first. I was too busy looking at Isabelle’s torn bookbag. “What happened now?” I asked.                                                                                                     “Got into a fight,” Isabelle said, “but look what I found, Mamma!”
She held it up, and I got a good look at it. It was all black fur and teeth, with two red, beady little eyes. And I could just swear I heard the damn thing purring.
“Oh, put that nasty thing down!” I cried, reaching in my bag for a wipe. “And what do you mean, you got into a fight? Isabelle, what kind of fifth grader gets into fights ever week?”
Isabelle muttered something that sounded like, “Not my fault,” and held the demon closer.
I sighed as we walked down the path to our cottage. Deciding to use this as a learning experience, I took up the seeing crystal I wear, and gave the demon a good looking over.      “What you have there is a Koval Demon,” I said, “they’re created when someone is killed by somebody they trust.”
“Neat. I’m going to call him Bucky,” Isabelle said.
“No, you’re going to call it ‘that thing I put down and let run off before Mom had to waste all afternoon dispelling it’,” I replied.
“But Mom, he likes me,” she replied.
“It does not have a gender, it is a demon, not a puppy. Now put it down,” I snapped.
“Oh, fine,” she relented, and set the demon on the path. It whimpered, I swear it did.
We walked away from it, and I started to swab Isabelle’s hands with a wipe.
I don’t know why I thought it would be that easy to separate Isabelle from her little pet. Needless to say, it wasn’t. She’s just like me in that way, very strong willed. I love it when it’s not directed at me.
She managed to keep ‘Bucky’ out of my line of sight for a whole week before I found her playing fetch with it in the garden.
Fetch, with a demon! I wouldn’t have believed it. But there she was, tossing one of those pink rubber balls for that fussy little pile of bad energy to chase.
Well, I never like finding out she didn’t listen to me, you know? It just makes her think she can get away with it again. Deciding that I’d better but the fear of the Gods in her now, before her powers manifested, I grabbed my dispelling spray before I even went outside.
“What did I tell you about that thing?” I asked. Let me tell you, it did my heart no good at all to see her jump like that. And the way the demon hopped onto her shoulder? Awful! You’d have thought the nasty thing actually knew what was going on.
“Mamma, Bucky’s my friend!” Isabelle cried.
“No, it’s a pest, and it can make you sick,” I replied. “Now I gave you a chance, and you didn’t listen to me. Now, I’m going to have to dispell it.” I held up my bottle to spray it.
That’s when the stupid creature launched itself at my head! I screamed, and it dug its claws into my scalp, right at the hairline.
Images started to flash in my mind. I guess they must have been the demons memories, but I’ve honestly never heard of a witch being able to communicate with one. Maybe Isabelle and I are the first ones.
I saw the kids at school, human kids, teasing Isabelle. Using our proper title, the one I’ve got to tell her never to use in front of other people, like it’s a curse. I saw the little demon purring on Isabelle’s shoulder, drowning out their shouts. I even saw her singing to it at night, after I’d sent her to bed.
“Okay, okay!” I screamed. I gave Bucky just enough of a squirt to make him let go of my head. “So long as you don’t do that again to me or anybody else, you can stay.”
I held him by what I assumed was the back of his neck, and set him on the ground. He bounded right back to Isabelle, and hid behind her legs.
She hadn’t gotten into a fight all week, I suddenly realized.
“You’ll have to figure out what he eats,” I said, “because I’ve got no idea.”
“Okay, Mamma,” Isabelle said, nodding. She was eager to agree to anything at that point.
I let them go back to their game. How could I deny her one little friend in this world that wasn’t always going to be friendly towards people like us, even if he was a demon?

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