January 27, 2012

Thank you to submitters


I wanted to put a quick post out there to let everyone know that we have almost finished deciding on the submissions for the next issue. I also want to give a big thank you to everyone that sent something in. This is by far our best response, both in terms of quality and quantity.

I've said it before, but I really do feel like HBM creates a place for stories that don't have many avenues of exposure. I think all of our readers will be blown away by the cool pieces we have coming in the next issue. In fact, we're looking into printing a bigger issue just to fit all of the fantastic stuff that we got.

And, if you're looking to get your hands on the anthology, we'll be launching in mid-March. Keep checking here for more details on the launch as well the other ways that you can pick up the book.

Thanks very much for reading.


January 20, 2012

"Click", or the Ever-Talked-About Mysteries of Inspiration

"Where do you get your ideas?"

Writers (and other artists, but maybe especially writers) often get that question, and possibly even more so when they practice their craft (or art, or trade, or whaterver else you want to call the act of putting words on a page to make up a story) in sci-fi, fantasy, horror or other strange, zombie-filled arenas (Why do you use so many parentheses is another question I get asked a lot).

The answer varies quite a bit depending on your personnality, the way you work and your personal neuroses.  Some get inspired by other books, or news, or a stain of pureed banana shaped like Jesus (yes, I have a new baby, why do you ask?).  I've heard that Stephen King answers "Cleveland."

The way it usually works for me is what I can describe as a "click" moment.  It usually takes me by surprise, when I'm letting my thoughts wander.  Almost unbeknownst to me, my brain suddenly latches on to one thought.  Many times it's an image, like a man alone in an office building on New Year's eve (to see what kind of story comes from that image, read our next issue, available in march.  Awesome.  Fits every budget).  Sometimes it's a line, like "Alistair was at the country club when the world ended", which was the starting point for one of my favorite stories I've ever written (It's called Alistair's Armageddon, and you can read that one in HBM issue 2, Safer Where You Are.  Aweso...  alright, moving on).

In any case, when I get that image, or that line, it comes with a thrilling sensation in my chest, the type you get when you have a great present you're waiting to surprise someone with.  Contained excitement.  That's how I know the idea's good, that I should run with it.  Over the years, I've learned to trust that feeling.  I don't think I've ever written a story that I was happy about that didn't come first from that "click" moment, at least to some degree.

Then of course there's all the tedious work, ten percent inspiration, ninety percent perspiration, all that stuff they teach you in writing books and seminars.  No good writing can come without that (see Alex's post about editing).  By all means, edit, work at it, sweat, swear.  "Vingt fois sur le métier remettez votre ouvrage", as Nicolas Boileau said.  But I don't think I'd be writing if it wasn't for the rush I get from the "click".

(Oh, and I use parentheses a lot because they're fun and my thought process is like an overloaded, super-caffeinated flowchart on crack).

(But I don't do drugs).

January 13, 2012

The Deadline Approaches

Our submission deadline is in just a few days! If you still have something to submit don’t panic. You can leave the panicking to us as we sit bleary eyed and caffeinated reading through the numerous stories we’ve received. Numerous is really understating the reality of it.

I saw this recently posted on an education forum. It describes in detail how to grade, we can’t use it however at HBM, because we aren’t grading. Also if we used a similar method… well we would miss out on imagination and other worlds. We could use a modification of the stair method, but again we’d only be cheating ourselves out of literary goodness.

To change topics, so many crazy things are happening in the world. I will keep myself from talking politics, or education here, but I’m tempted… So I will just mention that I had our logo, which is pretty awesome, printed on a t-shirt. This combination of logo plus t-shirt is even more awesome. So awesome it’s crazy. It’s crazy good, not crazy bad like some other events that are perhaps political.

I had intended on posting tonight about some of the sites that we receive from submitters. Unfortunately, life has just been too hectic for me to get down to it. I check them out, but I wanted to comment on a few. So I hope to have more time in the days and weeks ahead to get to this. This may be a little ambitious, but what’s life without a little ambition? 

Then there is also ambition like this... So You Want to Write a Novel

January 4, 2012

Learning to Love Editing


We're back after a short break for the holidays. I hope everyone enjoyed theirs. Mine was filled with family, food, and shopping. Not much time for writing sadly, which I usually enjoy on a cold winter day.

I wanted to discuss editing and how I've come to really love it as part of the writing process.

When I first started taking writing courses, I disliked both planning out my stories and revising them after they were completed. It seemed like all that was great and exciting about writing was the stuff that happened when you sat down and felt the words coming out.

This was when I was younger, passionate, and, to be honest, pretentious, I felt like this was a way to break the mold of the stodgy writing that had come before me. I even had that Robert Frost quote to prop me up (I'd seen it in a high school English course earlier) -- "No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader."

How could I write properly after all the surprise was gone? The story was written, the mystery was solved, things were wrapped up.

I've learned two important things since then:

1. Don't trust people who are justified by quotes
2. Without editing, my writing is garbage.

Now, my work isn't finished without review. Sometimes, I'd love it to get more but I just run out time. It's true that some of that initial spark is gone when you go back to edit. But that isn't the hard part. I think I was being dishonest with myself when I thought that before. The hard part is looking at all your mistakes, all the awkward parts, all the places where you used 10 words instead of 2. Editing involves swallowing your pride, and that took some time for me to embrace.

There is no question, for me, that edited work is better than raw work. Writing is often called a craft, and nothing shows that more than comparing my original pieces to their published versions in HBM. We've actually been looking for a way to share some of our early drafts with people so that everyone can see how it looks. Lots of red ink and scratches from the three of us and our amazing editor, Sam LeClair.

I'm closing in on the end of another story now, and I'm looking forward to getting that first, edit-filled, copy back so that I can polish up my story and make it as good as it can be.

Oh, and I have another quote now. I apply it to editing, writer's block, and just about anything else I want to in writing. It comes from Carlos Ruiz Zafon's book The Angel's Game: "Inspiration comes when you stick your elbows on the table and your bottom on the chair and start sweating. Choose a theme, an idea, and squeeze your brain until it hurts. That’s called inspiration."