Writing Market News – December 13

Due to the upcoming holidays and vacation plans, this will be my last market news post of the year. The series will resume January 3. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season. Do lots of reading, and writing of course.

Insert Title Here

A collection of speculative fiction stories being assembled by FableCroft Publications, Insert Title Here (yes, that’s really the name), will contain all manner of speculative fiction. The usual cautions against gore and erotica remain true for this anthology.

Deadline: February 28, 2014
Words: 2,000 – 12,000
Pay: AUD $75
Reprints: No

Penumbra eMag – Issac Asimov

The submission window has rolled over on Penumbra. Did anyone submit for the Egyptian mythology anthology? For this issue of Penumbra eMag, they are looking for stories told in the style of Issac Asimov, or that include him as a character in the story.

Deadline: February 1, 2014
Words: Under 3,500
Pay: $.05 a word
Reprints: Yes

“Astronomical Odds” Themed Anthology

Third Flatiron Publishing is collecting stories for their Spring 2014 anthology themed around “astronomical odds”. Stories should be science fiction or fantasy. Based on the theme, you’ll probably want to have a central event that is unlikely in the extreme. There’s no shortage of ideas on this one.

Deadline: January 15, 2014
Words: 1,500 – 3,000
Pay: $.03 a word ($.05 a word if chosen as the lead story)
Reprints: No

AMOK!

The beginning of a series of anthologies called “Short Sharp Shocks”, AMOK!, published by April Moon Publicationswill feature people, well, running amok. Any genre or time period for the setting is acceptable, but no slapstick humor (keep it dark). This is the non-paying market of the list today, but again, is not strictly non-paying.

Deadline: February 28, 2014
Words: 2,000 – 5,000
Pay: None (Five editors choice awards will be given out, worth $30 CAN)
Reprints: No

Interview with William King

Today we interview one of the Black Library fandom’s favourite authors, the legendary William King. He’s responsible for creating the iconic Gotrek, Felix and Thanquol characters in Warhammer Fantasy, and for writing the Ragnar series in Warhammer 40,000 and more recently the Tyrion and Teclis and Macharius series. He’s also written a number of stories in his own settings. William King

Your latest novel Bane of Malekith, the third in the Tyrion and Teclis trilogy, is out now. What was the writing process for the book? Can you describe how you go about working on a novel?

The second question is tricky to answer since the process varies from book to book. The Tyrion and Teclis trilogy was probably a unique case among all the books I have written. They were done one after the other in the space of about nine months and then revised in about another 5 months.

The trilogy was in many ways the easiest thing to write I have ever attempted. I set myself the goal of writing a minimum of 1000 words EVERY day come rain or shine and I pretty much stuck with that until the books were done. I even spent an hour writing in a Costa coffee house in Qatar in the middle of the night to keep up my unbroken run.

I spent many years brooding on the story which probably helped make things flow. I wrote the original outline for it way back in the early 90s in the first High Elf army book so I was pretty clear what I wanted to write. The characters themselves have been pretty strongly defined and mostly I just wanted to show how they became who they are today. I wanted them to be believable as heroes and still sympathetic.

Bane of MalekithAs for my usual writing process, it’s pretty simple. I almost always work from an outline – which is handy since Black Library requires me to send them one before they will issue a contract. This outline provides a guide for the actual writing. I don’t try to stick to it religiously. Some things that look great in the outline don’t actually work when you come to write them and conversely there are always things that take on a life of their own as they escape from your brain onto the page.

As I go through the first draft, I tend to stop and go back occasionally and rewrite things the light of what has happened since I wrote them. I put in foreshadowing, bits of stuff that I now know will be important to let the reader know about and so on.

Once I have written the first draft, I go over the book a number of times, trying to make sure everything is consistent. Sometimes there are large changes needed at this stage as flaws become evident. Eventually the thing is done, sent to the editors. More changes are often required at this stage. There is a backwards and forwards process until the book is done.

Are there any parts of the book that were a particular struggle to write, and any you are now especially pleased with?

As I said above this trilogy was probably the easiest thing I have ever written, with the possible exception of Daemonslayer, which was written after a similarly long gestation period. It was an enormously pleasurable experience. There are lots of things in the books I like – in particular the depictions of Aenarion, Caledor, Malekith and Morathi. In Bane of Malekith I like the way Malekith comes across. I also like the final set of duels between Tyrion and Urian and Malekith and Teclis. I am pleased with the opening chess game between Caledor and Death as well, which is, as I am sure many people will have spotted, a reference to Bergman’s The Seventh Seal.Gotrek and Felix

Do you have any particular literary influences or sources you draw inspiration from in your writing?

Robert E Howard, Roger Zelazny, Michael Moorcock and Tolkien all spring to mind. Less obviously Lawrence Block, George Orwell and, this is going to sound bizarre, Charles Dickens. He had a brilliant way with creating memorable characters.

Readers sometimes comment that you have a great ability to portray details of character or setting with just a few well-chosen words. Is this an element of your writing that you’ve consciously developed, or has it always come naturally?

See my comment about Dickens above. He has a knack for giving characters memorable mannerisms (Orwell comments on this in his essay on Dickens). It’s one of the things I try to do—like Gotrek running his thumb along the blade of his axe as he ponders violence. When creating a character I try and come up with three really memorable things—a look, a mannerism, an attitude and I build on it.

With settings, it’s the same. I try and find small details that will be convincing to the reader. I look for the sort of things that make me nod and think, yes, that’s how it would be.

How do you approach character development? Do you prefer to see how the characters evolve as the story progresses, or do you tend to plan out character arcs before starting to write?

I tend just to let the characters run from where they start. My basic philosophy of character creation is find characters you like and understand and then torture them. By this I mean cause them difficulties, take away their stuff, pick on their loved ones etc.

Again though, when I pause to think about things, I would need to add that this varies from book to book. Sometimes I have a definite aim in mind. With Tyrion and Teclis I wanted to show how they got to be heroes. With Gotrek and Felix and Grey Seer Thanquol, I just ran with what was happening in the stories and left the characters to their own devices. You can see what happened.

Writers seem to have different patterns when they’re involved in their writing. Is the writing process for you a lonely one or do you become more social?

I’ve never been the world’s most sociable man. I enjoy being on my own. I think it helps. On the other hand, it’s easy for me to say since I have a very supportive family.

You’ve been writing now for over twenty years. How have you found that the world of publishing has changed in that time?

It’s a different world now, completely and utterly. The single biggest change has come in the past five years with the rise of indie publishing and Amazon’s Kindle store. I have sold something like 40000 indie books in the past couple of years. The royalty rate on those books is something like 10 times as much as those on a conventionally published book so that’s a significant shift.

I think the whole industry is in turmoil. We’ve seen giant bookstore chains close shop and more and more people shift to e-readers. The process has only just started. That said, I do think Black Library is incredibly well-placed to weather the changes. It has its own loyal audience and control of at least part of its distribution chain

Fist of DemetriusCan you remember when you started writing, and do you have any advice for aspiring writers now?

I can remember it like it was yesterday but the world has changed so much that nothing I learned in terms of the business side of things would be useful today. On the other hand, some advice never goes out of fashion. Write what you love. Write the best stories you can. Read a lot. Write a lot. Don’t expect to be an overnight success. Learn to manage money. I know those all sound like clichés, but there’s a reason for that. They are all true and will most likely remain so for as long as people write books in the hope of selling them.

You did a lot of work on developing the Warhammer setting as a designer. Do you find that has made it easier or harder to write fiction set in the world, and has that changed over time?

It was easier when I started but it has gotten harder as the Warhammer world had been changed and expanded and so many more books have been written.

You’ve written in a variety of settings. Do you prefer working in an original setting of your own or with somebody else’s IP?

It depends! (You’ll notice a trend in my answers here as once again I sit on the fence.) In some ways writing in somebody else’s IP is easier because the world has already been created and you have very clear guidelines as to what is expected.

In some ways, writing your own stuff is easier because you don’t need to worry about what other writers may be doing. When I am writing my Kormak sword and sorcery novels or my Terrarch gunpowder fantasies, I am free to do pretty much as I please, up to and including blowing up the world if I want. I am pretty certain I could not get away with doing that (in Warhammer fantasy at least, in 40K there are a lot of worlds).

In Warhammer as more books are written by more writers, the number of things you can write about tends to narrow because somebody else may be doing something you would like to do.

Also, if I may introduce a note of crass commercialism into matters, if you are working in somebody else’s IP there is usually some certainty that there is a market for it and that you will be paid. If you are working on your own stuff, unless you are already a well-established writer, that is not a given.City of Strife

Who would you say is your favourite character among those you’ve written?

It’s really hard to make that choice, I like them all.  Gotrek and Felix come first but as a team!  If I absolutely had to pick just the one character, probably Grey Seer Thanquol. He was pure fun to write.

In your heart of hearts, do you prefer Dwarfs, or Elves?

Elves. Most of the time. Although I would probably rather go out drinking with dwarves.

After the conclusion of the Macharius trilogy, do you have plans for any more novels we should look out for?

There are some things being discussed but I am not allowed to talk about them at the present moment. Sorry about that!

Profound thanks to Mr King for taking the time to answer our questions! For more of his thoughts, see his blog at williamking.me

Writing Market News – December 6

Sorry for the interruption of service last week. Things were very busy for me with the Thanksgiving holiday, so I wasn’t able to compile a post. I didn’t want to waste space on the blog for an explanatory one either. I figured you all would understand.

Moving right along, there’s some good stuff out there this week. I didn’t intend it to be this way, but it’s mostly a horror group, with one exception.

The Grotesquerie: An Anthology of Women in Horror

Mocha Memoirs Press is putting together a horror anthology, The Grotesquerie, written by women. They say, “Your submission must be written to frighten or disturb to be considered.” No slasher stories or splatterpunk. They are also quite clear on who qualifies as a woman:

For the purposes of this anthology, a person claiming to be a female author must have been born female or be a transgendered, hermaphrodite or intersex person living publicly as a female.

Deadline: December 31, 2013
Words: 1,500 – 6,000
Pay: $10
Reprints: No

Fear’s Accomplice

Not to leave out the guys, Noodle Doodle Publications has an open call for their debut anthology, Fear’s Accomplice. This is pretty wide open horror, with the caution that gore should be there for a reason, as is most often the case. Being a brand new publisher, your mileage may vary on this one, but it could also mean you don’t have a slew of competition. They also claim they will offer feedback on rejected pieces. You don’t see that every day.

Deadline: February 28, 2014
Words: 2,000 – 8,000
Pay: Profit Sharing
Reprints: Yes

V.F.W. – Veterans of the Future Wars

V.F.W will be a collection put together by Martinus Publishing, focusing on wars to be fought in the future. Entries should be stories that respectfully portray soldiers and warriors doing what they do in a science fiction setting. It’s somewhat rare to find a collection dedicated to military science fiction, so this is a good opportunity for those of you who appreciate that aspect of Black Library’s books.

As you’ll note if you check out the submission page, Martinus also has several other interesting open calls running right now. Check them all out if this doesn’t sound right for you.

Deadline: December 31, 2013
Words: 2,000 – 6,000
Pay: Royalties
Reprints: Yes

A Merry Little Apex Christmas Flash Fiction Contest

Apex Publications is currently running a holiday flash fiction contest. I am tossing this in as this week’s unpaid market, but oddly, it’s actually more guaranteed pay than most. All entrants will receive their choice of one edition of Apex Magazine. Stories should be holiday themed, but with a dark fantasy or horror twist.

One winner will be selected, and, among other things, that winner will earn a story critique (up to 5,000 words).

Deadline: December, 16, 2013
Words: Under 250
Pay: None (Winner will receive $.05 a word, a one year subscription to Apex Magazine, and a story critique)
Reprints: No