Author Etiquette - Your Stories Matter

by Jennifer 31. January 2017 08:53

I had to think long and hard about writing this, but with the current events unfolding, it’s more important than ever to say it.


Write your story; the story only you can tell.

Edit it to the best of your ability and get it out there.

Then start another, something better.

 

We’ve arrived in a new round of turbulence. It’s a growing pain of sorts, where we can either set back the clock 50 years or once more progress. It takes energy, protests and force to push through the darkness that has descended. Every day might seem darker, the oppression more solid, but there are others out there fighting with you.


Not everyone can be on the front lines. Major protests happen in larger cities, it’s often a long drive for many. Phone calls (most effective) and emails only take a few minutes. Donations take even less. I do cheer at those taking steps in becoming elected officials, but that’s not for everyone.


Then what do you do with your time? Fret over the latest kerflunkle? Watch newsfeeds explode with more bad news?


Or do you focus that anger, insecurity and tension into something else. Something constructive. Something that could either give comfort or entertainment or plant seeds that changes someone’s mind.


As artists, we have a very unique power. We are the things that people fall back on. When they need a rest, they may pick up a HEA (happily ever after) book such as a romance. When they need to see the possibility of what’s to come, they may pick up an apocalyptic horror. And when they need to find the strength to carry on the fight, they might look for a fantasy or science fiction book that features heroines and heroes fighting back against injustice.


These stories don’t just come from thin air. They come from from what’s inside. That fear you have about clean water in the future? That’s a SF novel set on another world where industry is poisoning everything. Problematic legislature? There’s a fantasy short story that involves a council judging someone unfairly. Alternative history? Well there’s too many current things to point out.


Write the story then edit it

I know it’s hard. The fear and frustration that twists your gut and makes you want to run screaming out of the country is difficult to get control over. It kills your desire to write. But you can fight through it. You can focus. Take it a few words at a time. It gets easier.


Sure it might be a hot mess of a first draft. But once it’s on the page, you can fix what’s wrong. You can make it better. You can select words to clarify what you mean. Eventually you’ll have a story you can be proud of. It’s ready for the rest of the world, if you want to share it.


Submit that story

If you do decide to send it out into the world, you will probably find writing may not be the hardest part. Sending it out is possibly even scarier. But that’s where you have to stand true. Find markets that are open to your particular genre and style. Research, follow guidelines and then submit. If you get rejected, find another market. Keep sending it out.


Beware of fallout

Authors introduce things through a non-confrontational media to anyone who reads or looks at our work. With a book or poem, there’s no one to immediately argue with. This is why at some points in history artists of all types were regarded as dangerous. Art challenges and changes ideas. Not everyone likes having their ideas challenged.


I won’t lie, it’s very possible that people will post negative reviews, try to discredit you, make you afraid. However, you won’t be alone. There are other authors right now, writing these types of stories. Right now there are people getting threats because they wrote something that challenges someone’s worldview. You might feel alone, but you aren't.


Is it political?

Currently there’s a lot of discussion about whether certain subjects are political in writing. Women’s rights, QUITLBAG characters, environmental changes and more mirror concerns in our current society. Your story may not be about politics but if they contain certain views, there could be push back.


Accept that writing about these things IS political, even if you feel as though it shouldn’t be. It’s going to be clear from your work that you support progressive or conservatives causes. And that’s fine. Your stories are your world. Not everyone is going to agree.


Stand together

Other authors are already putting their emotions to good use. Their work is out there but it can’t just be one story out there that begins the process of changing people’s minds, it has to be many. I’ve been seeing the movement for a while now, more inclusiveness of QUILTBAG characters and main characters with mental illness and disabilities. I’ve found more stories that aren’t set in European settings. More foreign stories.


Each one opens up our world to new and unique ideas. And those ideas eventually changes the worldview of our readers. Changing the worldview changes the world. Hopefully, making it better for everyone.


Don’t worry about the genre. We all need a HEA at times. Sometimes a grand long adventure. Other times, a dose of horror to put things into perspective. Just write it. Help change the world, one reader at a time.


So take a few hours.

Write the story.  No excuses.

Edit it to the best of your ability.

Send it out.

Write another.

~The Shadow Minion

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2015 Yearly Roundup

by Jennifer 16. December 2015 08:56

It’s that time of year. The holidays are upon us and it’s the final rush of family get togethers, office holiday parties, and gatherings of friends. We wish you the very happiest of holidays.

 

With the year about to end, it’s also time to look back and reflect on everything we’ve accomplished this year.

 

We think 2015 has been a pretty good one. Apocalypse Ink Productions released several titles, many concluding series that were started over the past few years.

 

The Torn Soul - Sheynan Trilogy #3 by Dylan Birtolo

Chimera Incarnate - the 4th book in the Karen Wilson Chronicles by Jennifer Brozek

Crusade - the final book in the Flotsam trilogy by Peter M Ball

A new series, Cross Cutting by Wendy Hammer, began this year with The Thin.

 

We also put together two omnibus together for the Sheynan and Flotsam series. These contain not only the novels but all of the short stories related to these trilogies. They are only available on the AIP website or at conventions.

 

If you’ve not checked out any of these titles we encourage you to visit our store. There’s more dark fantasy worlds that contain shapeshifters, gargoyles and dark magic on the coast of Australia for you to explore.

 

And next year we have more. We are excited to announce more releases including:

The Karen Wilson Chronicles Omnibus

The Hollowbook #2 of The Cross Cutting series

Famished: The RanchBook 3 of the Gentleman Ghouls series by Ivan Evert

The MarrowBook #3 of the Cross Cutting Series

FamishedThe Gentleman Ghouls omnibus series

We look forward to bringing you more dark fiction titles in the future. Sign up for our monthly newsletter to hear announcements, news and keep up with our authors.

Thank you for all of your support and happy holidays!
The AIP Team

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Guest Blog: What Scares a Horror Author?

by Jennifer 6. October 2015 14:00

Oh, dear.

I wish I feared the things in my books. Eternal damnation or creatures from beyond the veil. I wish ghosts and aliens made my hair stand on end. Honestly, however, they don’t.

Given my publisher, I wish the apocalypse gave me pause, but no dice. I watched The Day After in grade school, and while I later understood why it was such a big deal, even at the time it seemed kind of silly to worry about it.

Even threats that are all too real – serial killers, drone strikes, and mass shooters – don’t really scare me. I mean, I’d be scared if I knew that one had targeted me. I’d be even more terrified if someone I love was a victim of one.

Nevertheless, as with the end of the world, I learned early on that worrying about unlikely things (and by the numbers, these things are unlikely) does more harm than good. To spend your life preparing for a disaster that never comes is counterproductive, if it gets in the way of enjoying your life in the moment.

I know. Hello, ants. Meet the grasshopper.

No, none of those things worries me.

I won’t share the one thing which terrifies me above all else. To do so would be paradoxical; this may give a clue in and of itself.

Instead, let me speak of L’appel du videThe call of the void. The unlovely language of science and psychology calls it High Place Phenomenon; but the French philosophy is so much clearer and more true.

At its most basic, this is the urge to jump off of a tall bridge, or building. I used to think it only happened to me, that it was the apex of a certain tendency toward self-destructive activities; but I’ve learned that it’s a widespread phenomenon.

That helps, somewhat. It makes things seem more rational.

It doesn’t help when I’m there.

The last time it struck me was here, in Door County, Wisconsin. Adamant that I could overcome it, that this time would be different, that I am a grown man who needs to face his fears, I insisted on climbing to the top.

Once there, Leanne tells me I was simultaneously shaking and paralytic until I had to sit down, where I couldn’t see over the railings. I barely remember that. I just remember looking at the treetops, and picturing them rushing past me. Looking at the rocks and feeling them scrape against my skin as my body rolled down the ravine. I remember that my hands hurt gripping the railings tight on my way back down, wincing as merry children raced past me on their way up.

Per Kierkegaard’s The Concept of Anxiety, the anxiety of individual freedom and responsibility causes L’appel du vide. The fact that one is free to make any decision, even the most terrifying, triggers immense feelings of dread.

Kierkegaard called this our "dizziness of freedom," the ability to make any choice we want at any time in our lives. That terrible sense of freedom, and the consequences it carries, lies at the heart of my greatest fears.

Read into my writing whatever else you may wish. This one’s now a given.

~Ivan Ewert, author of the Gentlemen Ghouls series.

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It's All Connected

by Jennifer 20. January 2015 09:49

For a very long time, I, like many young readers, didn’t know or understand much about publishing. I went to bookstores, picked up books that I thought I’d like to read or borrowed books from the library. I didn’t know much about different publishing houses or even the difference between traditional publishing and indie publishing. It wasn’t until I began writing and submitting stories that the difference became clear. I also realized how connected everything really was, especially in the speculative fiction side of publication.

 

From the outside, publishing seems to be a wild and crazy industry, and it can be. At first glance there’s a mad rush of stories to fit into select spots in anthologies, publishing houses and magazines. There’s tears on occasion, sometimes anger and shoulders to cry on along with virtual high fives, congratulations and cheers. It can be a scary place at times, especially for a new writers. But with some time and some mentoring things begin to make sense.

 

There’s many different types of publications in the world of speculative fiction. If you start at the top, there’s the traditional publishers--the ones that most people are familiar with on bookshelves. These brick and mortar companies have stables of authors, warehouses of books and thousands of customers. They often carry books with familiar themes or characters.

 

Indie or independent publishers are often thought of having a smaller fan base and books that are a bit more difficult to find but that isn’t always the case. Some indie publishers have a wide distribution list that includes bookstores. Even though they might not be as well knows as the big 5 publishers, many indie publishers have a very strong and loyal fan base. They are often more willing than the larger publishing houses to take a chance on a new sub-genre or a unique piece of literature. Many indie publications have found a niche and cater to a particular corner of the market.

 

And while most people think of publishing as books, we should not dismiss the importance of magazines. In speculative fiction, there are many popular magazines both in print and online. While few only print publications have survived through the years, online magazines--often referred to as ezines--have grown in popularity. Some have subscriptions but many are free. They offer a wide variety of stories that are often thought provoking and well as entertaining.

Even though speculative fiction seems to be segmented into the big publishers, indie publishers and magazines, it’s really very connected. What happens on one segment often has implications in other portions. For example, an upsurge in a particular type of story often begins in the magazines and indie publishing houses. Once it catches on, the large publishing houses are more willing to take a chance on something new. Other changes, such as contract negotiations often start in the larger publishing companies (though not always).

Authors and editors often wear several different hats according to what publication they are working for at the time. Authors often have short stories in magazines, while writing novels for larger publications. Editors often work for a variety of employers including indie houses and guests in ezines. New writers often get to know the business by volunteering for positions such as slush readers, public relation positions and internships. As writers gain experience, they often lend a hand up to newer writers, offering the same types of advice they received when they started out.

So while yes, speculative fiction publishing might seem complicated it’s mostly because of how connected everything is. Once you dive in, it’s much less scary.

~The Shadow Minion

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Why Novellas?

by Jennifer 16. December 2014 08:40

When most people think of books, they imagine a typical 250 page novel that can be picked off the shelf at a local book store or shopping center. While some might be thicker and some thinner, most of the titles are an average size. But what most people don’t realize is stories come in many shapes and sizes.

  

Authors generally estimate the word count of their stories, and as they progress in skill they can closely identify if a story is a flash (1,000 words), short story (1,000 to 10,000), or something a bit larger. Most novels are around 75,000 to 150,000 words but there’s this grey area between 10,000 to 75,000 words that are called novelettes and novellas.

 

Some stories warrant a full 100,000 words but others don’t. Many very well known authors such as John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway and even Stephen King realized this and used the novella--or short novel form--to tell stories. Sure they could have filled the pages with more information or descriptions, but they felt that the best way to tell this particular story was to keep things focused on what was necessary.

 

While novellas has been very popular in the past they fell out of fashion.They became harder to find except for already published works but the last few years has seen a re-emergence of these types of stories. Novellas are perfect for our on the go lifestyle as you can pick them up during the day and be finished in a few hours. You can also slip a slim paper edition into your purse or bag or use them for a quick gift.

 

Apocalypse Ink Productions feels that the short novel is the perfect form for the stories we offer our readers. We found these action packed, engaging stories worthy. So if you like some dark or urban fantasy with a little bit of horror mixed in, give our authors a try.


Don't forget! AIP is having a winter sale. Code: WINTER2014 gets you 20% off your entire order.

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Genre Talk: Dark Fantasy

by Jennifer 18. June 2014 09:15

Speculative fiction covers a very broad range of literature from sword and board fantasy to the monsters that keep you up at night. Most of the time a story will be pretty clear cut as to what it can be classified as, but some stories sit in between two genres.

 

When we think of magic, many people think of brightly colored fairies who grant wishes. Bad things don’t happen when magic is involved, does it?

 

Horror might seem simple, but it’s one of the most complicated genres to write. It’s a genre of making you care about someone or something then yanking it away leaving the reader shaken.

 

What happens when you mix the two?

 

Imagine a story where fairies trick children into leaving their homes and take them back to the hollow hills only to be slowly devoured by the very creatures that promised to save them from a dull normal life. Or, murder victims have been found in the city and it’s up to a detective to not only find the murder but stop him before he completes his rituals to open a portal of darkness.

 

Stories like these can be classified as either fantasy or horror but most often sit in a sub-genre called dark fantasy. Dark fantasy combines elements of the fantasy genre such as magic with darker elements such as monsters. Often these stories have a more grim setting and very little humor. Dark fantasies also often have a sense of urgency, as things must be stopped before it is too late.

 

While the term dark fantasy is probably relatively new, the genre isn’t. The original Brother’s Grimm stories were as dark and fantastic as they come. Many of our modern fairy tales are softened renditions of these dark stories. H. P. Lovecraft wrote about magic and monsters in his tales. If you’ve read Elric of Melnibone, you’ve tasted the dark words of Michael Moorcock.  Even Stephen King has dabbled in dark fantasy in his Dark Tower series. Many movies such as Pan’s Labyrinth, the Dark Crystal, and Legend also deal with magic and dark themes.

 

Like much of speculative fiction, dark fantasy gives us glimpses not only into fantastical worlds but the strength of the human spirit as it faces surmountable odds. These stories gives us hope that even when things seem darkest, persistence and hope can turn things around. It’s an important thing to remember when we look at our world today.

 

So if you like magical elements and dark themes give some dark fantasy stories a chance. Perhaps you’ll find a new favorite genre to enjoy.

 

~The Shadow Minion

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Jay Lake

by Jennifer 2. June 2014 06:58

I thought a lot, yesterday, about how to make a professional blog post about the death of one of our authors, Jay Lake. In the end, I think the personal blog post I made just hours after I discovered that Jay had passed is the best thing I could have written.

“I do not want to read this on Tor.com. I do not want to write this about Jay. I don’t. I really don’t. But I have no choice. Jay is dead.

He wrote for me. My first anthology,
Grants Pass, when I was nothing and no one. He wrote for me every single time I asked him to. For the Edge of Propinquity. For small press anthologies and large.

He was my mentor for years before I published his non-fiction book,
Jay Lake’s Process of Writing. We talked by phone, by Skype, and at conventions. He was generous with his time and his advice. It was this wealth of knowledge that led me to ask him if AIP could publish a non-fiction book. It was then I learned so much more from him.

I can’t help but feel for his family, Bronwyn, Lisa, and the rest of those family members—by choice and blood—whose  names I just can’t remember though the tears.

All I can remember is how good he was to me and how much I’m going to miss him.

Radcon 2009 - Not the first time I met him in person but close to.

JayWake 2013.”

All of us at AIP will miss Jay. Our hearts and sincere condolences go out to his family.

 

9 June 2014 - This link was sent to me by Simon Owens: The Legacy of Jay Lake: the Novelist Who Blogged His Own Death. I think it is worth a read.

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Inspiration

by Jennifer 4. May 2014 21:51

When interviewing a writer--or an artist of any type--one very common question always seems to pop up. “Where do you get your ideas?” I’ve rarely ever heard an interview without it and the answers are as varied as the people who are interviewed. I like simple answers best. “Everywhere” is always a good choice.

For many artists, inspiration is all around us. It can’t be determined by math or science--although those things can certainly add to the pot of ideas. For some, music is a common source, so are photos and landscapes. Other times, it’s a person walking down the street or a phrase in a newspaper. But it isn’t just a single thing that causes someone to create. What often happens is the artist picks up bits and pieces of things and with one event, several ideas come crashing  together, leaving you staring into nothingness for a few moments as you sort out what is going on.

Inspiration is a driving force for an artist and it often produces highs and lows. I’ve heard writers say the muse won’t leave them alone and even wakes them up at night.  While other days they despair because  it seems as though they’ve been abandoned. Inspiration can be fickle while teasing you with just enough of an idea to begin to put it on paper before everything fizzles out. It can also drive you to writing until your wrists are sore because you are so close to the end. In many cases most artists report depression on days the muse isn’t present and a high on days they are filled with ideas.

Some people have so many ideas it makes others jealous. But if you look closer, those successful artists have learned to harness their creativity so that it comes in a more steady stream. They tickle the muse back and ply her with what she craves: more experiences to feed upon and tidbits of things she’s never seen/felt/heard before. The muse can’t help but cooperate as her little mind is full to the brim with possibilities. That slips over to the artist as he or she continues with a smile.

So if you are an artist of any sort don’t starve your muse. Take her to a museum, a walk in the park or a concert. You never know what might tickle her fancy and lead to your next big idea.

~The Shadow Minion

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What Makes a Good Urban Fantasy?

by Jennifer 10. March 2014 10:13

Over the past few years Urban Fantasy has grown from a scattering of stories to a popular subgenre on the shelves of bookstores. Combining familiar elements such as cities and a modern setting with classic monsters and gods might seem easy but creating a good urban fantasy is more difficult than you think.

First of all, most urban fantasy centers itself around a city or area that is just familiar enough to evoke a sense of comfort in the reader. For the author this takes a lot of research if they haven’t actually lived in the area. Not only are streets and buildings important but the atmosphere and general outlook of the population are taken into consideration. The city isn’t just a setting in a good urban fantasy, it’s a character in itself.

Characters come next on the list of important items. Generally an urban fantasy heroine or hero is a strong but complex character. Thier back story might be revealed in pieces throughout the series or laid out up front to complicate the story line. Many times they have powers, but not always so. Some of the best urban fantasy series have great secondary characters that not only help out the heroine or hero, but prove that even though they are powerful they are human also.

Another great characteristic of urban fantasy is the monsters and gods that are readapted to the story. Where werewolves were seen as bloodthirsty monsters in the past, in an urban fantasy they might be the downtrodden minority in the story. Ancient gods are given new roles in a modern world and sometimes seem confused about the changes while other gods seem to delight in the new accommodations.

While the main plot might be familiar--finding the stolen item/defeating the bad guy/rescuing those who have been kidnaped--some of the secondary plots are pretty complex. Urban fantasy often touches on discrimination, gender roles and other subjects that hit close to home and make a lot of people uncomfortable when said in normal context. By bringing these issues up in a fantasy setting, it allows people to think on the issues without being pressured.

I’ve seen quite a bit of diversity in urban fantasy over the past few years and I’m looking forward to more. I’ve enjoyed the more traditional noir private eye such as Harry Dresden by Jim Butcher. Patricia Briggs gives us a mechanic who can shape shift in the Mercy Thompson series. And our very own Jennifer Brozek introduces us to a city with a mind of its own in the Karen Wilson Chronicles.  Each series offers us a different look at what the world could look like if there was a little magic around.

So if you are interested in writing urban fantasy, keep these things in mind. I hope it helps out.

~The Shadow Minion

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Why read horror?

by Jennifer 30. January 2014 10:15

I don’t remember when I started reading horror. I think it was probably in the fifth or sixth grade (somewhere about age 12 I guess) when my voracious appetite for books left me little to read in our small elementary school library. Because I scored high in reading, I was allowed to pillage the high school for books. I enjoyed mysteries and I somehow ended up grabbing my first horror book.

I don’t remember the title, and of course it was probably very mild on the horror scale, but I liked the thrill the book gave me. From there, I slowly picked off the horror section at school and at the local library. I became a horror junkie really quickly once I started. When we stopped at the used book store I’d load up with anything that happened to have vampires, werewolves or a mention of serial killers on the cover. Most of my family rolled their eyes and looked the other way as I devoured bloodbaths in word form. Even some of my teachers suggested that some of what I was reading wasn’t suited for a young lady my age.* But I was happily addicted and I still am today.

But the question remains: why do we like to read about monsters and people who do terrible things to their fellow humans?

For the most part, our lives are pretty boring. We get up in the mornings, go to work, do our job, come home, cook, eat supper, watch some TV then go to bed. Kids and pets stir up this recipe of boredom but overall, the days still blur into each other. When you boil it down, our lives are stagnant and boring most of the time. We live a life safe from big scaries in the dark (for the most part) and live in a world where we feel we are wrapped in bubble wrap. But some portion of our brain still wants a bit of excitement. So--purposely or not--we reach for something that makes our heart beat a little faster.

Horror safely satisfies that craving for many people. When we read horror, we can experience danger and excitement in a very safe place. We can glimpse inside the heads of monsters while we stumble through the mundane. The mess of blood that often accompanies horror isn’t a problem to clean up because the visualization is in our minds. Horror evokes a variety of emotions from fear to disgust to unease. If it gets too much, we can take a break and set it aside. It makes us twitch and it makes us think.

We still have that portion of our lizard brain that makes us jump when someone knocks on the door unexpectedly or when we see a shadow on the wall that shouldn’t be there. When our heart races we feel suddenly alive and able to do things we normally wouldn’t think of. The flight or fight response isn’t easily subdued by years of evolution. In fact, with our quiet lives, I think the response is stronger.

There are other reasons why people read horror (please feel free to add them) but I’m sure most of us will agree that experiencing fear--even if it is jumping a little in your seat--is one of the biggest draw of the genre. It’s hard to deny that adrenaline rush.

* I read IT in the eighth grade


~The Shadow Minion

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