RSSAll Entries Tagged With: "fiction"

Reading Slush – On the importance of critical analysis and variety

Reading Slush – On the importance of critical analysis and variety

Written by Simon Dewar
Originally Posted: February 24, 2016

I think every writer, at least every short story writer, should read slush for a while. My god, but it really puts fiction in perspective for you.

For the uninitiated among us, wikipedia informs us:

In publishing, the slush pile is the set of unsolicited query letters or manuscripts sent either directly to the publisher or literary agent by authors, or to the publisher by an agent not known to the publisher.[1]

Sifting through the slush pile is a job given to assistants-to-the-editors, or to outside contractors (called “publisher’s readers” or “first readers”).

Reading slush really gives you such a huge appreciation for the talent and skill of true professional writers. Take a run of the mill slush story and a story published by a professional writer in a magazine or anthology…most often there is simply no comparison to be made. It’s not even a case of apples vs oranges. It’s a case of biting into an apple versus chugging a pint of bleach.


And that’s not to denigrate those of us who aren’t the elite cadre of writer’s out there. God knows I’m not in that grouping (yet!! *shakes fist*). But you really have to admire those professional writers at the top of their game.   They’ve come up with a cool story idea; they’ve crafted characters who are real people; they’ve started the story at the right spot (biggest issue with most poor short fiction); they’ve placed those characters in some sort of situation or presented them with some problem that requires resolution; they’ve developed an underlying theme or motif that either overtly challenges the reader or bubbles away in the background; and they’ve written the story using finely polished prose that takes the reader through that process in an evocative and engaging manner. They made you think things. They make you feel things.  That’s no small feat!

So what’s this got do with reading slush? The vast majority of fiction in the slush pile fails at one or more of the above mentioned things. The more things it fails at, the more the story’s ‘apple’ dissolves into ammonia.   At first, some of these failures (usually outright omissions.. e.g no plot, no real people, no situation/incident, etc) are hard to spot, and that’s the beauty of it.  Reading slush hones your ability to critically analyse stories and prose. It might be hard at first, but I guarantee you by the time you’ve read 100 slush stories… you will  be spotting issues with many stories with ease. You’ll look at a story and think “Geez, three pages went by before I found out what the issue/problem/incident to be resolved is!” and bang, there you go.. you know the story started 3 pages too early. Your own writing will improve dramatically.  When you’ve picked out unnecessary filtering of action and emotion in 100 manuscripts, you’ll really start to notice it popping out in your own. Conversely you’ll start noticing where a more distanced point of view might be of benefit to the story.  With 200 stories under your belt your repertoire of issues that you’ll catch during your analysis will increase and you’ll develop strategies and a process or workflow that you use when analysing a story.  With 300 stories under your belt, you’ll develop a true confidence in your analysis. (Obviously we’re all different I’m just throwing out some ballpark numbers here, but you get the drift.)

It is extremely hard to notice flaws in your own fiction, even some of the real pros struggle with it, which is why they continue to get critiques and beta-reads done by other writers. You need some serious writer/editor-fu to be able to do it, and this only comes with time and experience.   I believe this is where slush reading is of a huge benefit because via repetition and exposure to an endless variety of writing styles, it provides that experience.  Slush reading, for me, is the equivalent of basic routines and katas in martial arts.  In martial arts, you perform the move a hundred times, two hundred, three hundred – block-punch-kick. block-punch-kick. block-punch-kick.  It seeps into you and becomes part of your subconscious and your muscle memory, to the point where if someone throws a punch at you, your immediate response is block-punch-kick!  When you’ve seen and noted 300 different authors filter the actions and emotions of their point of view character, then you have the literary muscle memory response of block-kick-punch, and you blow away that filtering and you write in a more active and close point of view into your own manuscript.

Beyond critical analysis skills, slush reading provides a writer variety and exposure to a variety of ideas, narrative styles, prose styles, grammatical techniques, story telling techniques. This is invaluable. As humans, from the time we’re born we’re copying others. First our parents, then our teachers and friends, and later in life even other adults. This is how we learn and grow.  Sure, we often put our own spin on something we’ve learned or we innovate in a particular area, and we can still create extremely unique art, but our ability to do this is extremely limited if our exposure to new ideas and methods is limited.  I am currently doing an interview series where I’m chatting with Women who work in the horror genre. Almost every single response to the question “what’s the best advice for new writers” is “Read a lot and widely.”  Reading slush is a perfect way to do just that.


This blog post was originally posted on Simon Dewar’s blog on February 24, 2016.

Looking for Slush Slashers

Looking for Slush Slashers

Dark Recesses Press needs Slush Slashers (readers).

If you are interested, please fill out this questionnaire. We are currently looking to build our slush slasher group for the resurrection of the Dark Recesses Press Magazine.  We will only be pulling from those who fill out the questionnaire.  Once the positions are filled, anyone who has filled out the questionnaire will get priority selection when new slush reader positions arise.

A few notes:

  1. This is an unpaid volunteer position.
  2. Slush readers & other staff are prohibited from submitting stories or articles to the magazine.
  3. You will be expected to read and provide comments on an average of three to five stories per day.

 

 

MIDNIGHT ETERNAL is coming!

MIDNIGHT ETERNAL is coming!

MIDNIGHT ETERNAL COVER

The latest release from Dark Recesses Press is about to be unleashed in horrific fashion.  MIDNIGHT ETERNAL is a dark superhero novel which beautifully illustrated through out by Ken Leinaar, and penned by author Vince Churchill. A break-neck tale of (almost) good vs evil which is bound to leave you breathless. If Sin City and The Watchmen got together and had demon babies, they’d come close to what MIDNIGHT ETERNAL has to offer.

The official release date for this wonderfully disturbed piece is June 3rd, 2016, and to kick it off, here are the upcoming MIDNIGHT ETERNAL release tour dates with author, Vince Churchill:

• Friday, June 3rd, from 5p-7p (during the Art Hop!) – Our Town Books (https://ourtownbooks.com ) – Jacksonville, IL

• Saturday, June 4th and Sunday, June 5th – Villains Con 2016 Pop Culture & Tattoo expo (http://www.vintagevillainscon.com) – Dansville, IL

• Friday June 17th – Sunday, June 19th – The Return of Contamination 2016 (http://www.con-tamination.com) – St. Louis, IL

If you’re in the area, stop by at any of these locations to meet the mind behind the madness, and pick up your personally signed slice of sinister goodness.

Kate Morgan, author.

Guest Blog Post at The Cerebral Writer – Kate Morgan: THE REDEEMERS

Kate Morgan, author.Kate Morgan, author of THE REDEEMERS, takes a guest blog spot at The Cerebral Writer. Stop by to read what real life events spawned such a dark and twisted adventure.

http://www.cerebralwriter.com/blog/kate-morgan-the-redeemers

 

“I wanted revenge against the mind games, the manipulation, the thought retraining, and I didn’t want to write nonfiction. Since I’ve been a horror fan from the age of five, the path opened clear and easy before me: A dystopian horror novel in which the bad guys were batshit insane descendants of Catholic monks convinced they had a direct line to God Himself.”

The Redeemers

Women in Horror Month Goodies

The Redeemers

It’s Women in Horror Month, if you didn’t already know, so now is a great time to show some love for our female author, Kate Morgan, and her dystopian tale THE REDEEMERS. (Links below)

In addition to the great discounts, and the opportunity for a fun read, we will be holding a random drawing on March 15, 2016 from all new reviews for THE REDEEMERS. Winner will receive a $15 Amazon gift card.

• For the month of February, you can purchase the hard copy at 50% off cover price at this link: https://www.createspace.com/5638480
• Upon checkout, enter the discount code: EZJSQUAA

• If ebook is your preference, the price has been reduced to $2.99 starting February 5th, 2016 for the month of February.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B013EQ4EJE

Tell your friends, tell your enemies. Hell, just spread the word!

The Redeemers

THE REDEEMERS – New from Dark Recesses Press

New from Dark Recesses Press – The Redeemers by Kate Morgan

The Redeemers

 

Long after the Great War, life flourished again, due to The Redeemers’ help and guidance. It was a simple life, but a good one. Annie’s world made sense…until one fateful day when everything of value is ripped from her.

With nothing left to lose, Annie embarks upon a quest for the dark, disturbing truth of why – never imagining how deep the trail leads.

The Redeemers is a dark, dystopian tale of adventure, mystery, and terror.

In this world, words are more than they seem.

 

 

50 Shades of May - Review, Interview, and Excerpt

50 Shades of May – Review, Interview, and Excerpt

We’re celebrating 50 Shades of May with  50% off our erotic thriller, Hyde by Vince Churchill

HydeBanner

“From page one I was drawn into a heart-pumping journey of erotica and mystery that literally left me begging for more! “

Hyde is twice the story at only half the cost for the month of May. Whether you’re a tactile person and desire the physical touch of Paperback, or just want to keep it sleek and simple on your Kindle, we’ve got you covered.

  • To get your 50% off on paperback, click the link HERE, and enter this code on check-out : PPV7DAUT
    *(NOTE: only works in our CreateSpace shop. Amazon will remain standard price)*

The Smutsonian did an in-depth review of Hyde along with an interview with the author, Vince Churchill.

This was an Erotic debut from an author who generally works in horror, and the result is both genre-bending and incredibly entertaining.

The blurb for this book references Kiss the Girls and I can’t argue with that assessment… If Alex Cross was also abducted and kept at the mercy of Casanova.

Hyde is a serial abductor who keeps his victims for a week and releases them physically unharmed back into the world. None of the victims will talk about their experience with the mysterious Hyde, and the NYPD are left chasing a ghost. They are no closer to catching their man when he abducts his eighth victim…

But this time, it’s personal…

Here’s a link to the full review, interview, and excerpt from The Smutsonian: Hyde by Vince Churchill

We hope you enjoy this journey of self-discovery, desire, and danger.

Let HYDE Grab YOU for .99¢ - Kindle Countdown

Let HYDE Grab YOU for .99¢ – Kindle Countdown

HydeBanner

 

It has begun…

The kindle eBook of the erotic crime thriller, HYDE by Vince Churchill is now ON SALE for .99¢ during our Kindle Countdown Sale.  Price goes up incrementally – first price raise is at midnight October 20th, when the price will go up to $1.99.  Then, at midnight on the 23rd, it goes up again to $2.99 before going back to regular price on October 25th.

This countdown sale lasts 7 DAYS ONLY! All you have to do is read the reviews to know it’s a steal of a deal. HYDE REVIEWS

Titillate and tantalize your dirty dark side with HYDE. I dare you.

PS. Feel free to share the love far and wide before the deal is done.  Just send them here: HYDE for .99¢

Oh, and remember, if you post a review by the end of the month, you’ll be entered in to our draw for a $15 Amazon Gift Certificate.  Three lucky winners will be drawn.

Meet The Author

Meet The Author

If you’re in the Jacksonville or Springfield, IL area, why not stop by at either of these upcoming events to meet and converse with Vince Churchill, author of both HYDE and GOODNIGHT, MY SWEET. A great opportunity to get books signed (or pick up a new one!) and get to know the author.

pumpkin example

 

 

Jacksonville Main Street
4th Annual Pumpkin Festival
Downtown Jacksonville Plaza
Jacksonville, Il 62650
Saturday, October 25th
9:00 am-4:00 pm
http://www.jacksonvillemainstreet.com/play/activities/pumpkin

 

 

 

553613_10150961074887555_420927395_n

Club Station House

Club Station House
306 E. Washington Street
Springfield, IL
217-525-0438
Halloween Happy Hour Book Signing
Friday, October 31st
5:00 pm -8:00 pm
http://clubstationhouse.com/events/

Subscribe to Win - Review to Win more!

Subscribe to Win – Review to Win more!

 

800px-Userbox_Contest_Winner

Let’s face it.  Everyone loves free stuff. How could you not, it’s free!  Even better when it’s good free stuff.

Dark Recesses is starting up a monthly newsletter and we would like YOU to subscribe.  It will be a great way to let you know of current events and offers, along with opportunities.

There will be two versions, one for the writing & reading crowd, and one for the readers only group.  Subscriber’s choice.  The distinction is only to save the Readers Group from having to sift through submission calls to get to the stuff they really care about.

On October 31st, that most blessed of days, All Hallow’s Eve, we will do a random drawing of TWO (2) names from the subscribers list to receive an eBook copy of both current offerings from Dark Recesses Press, erotic thriller novella, HYDE and end-of-world thriller novel, GOODNIGHT, MY SWEET.

AND if that isn’t enough…

Dark Recesses is also running a second chance to win for THREE (3) people who provide an honest review of either one of the titles listed above on Amazon.com.  The top three reviews, for either title, will receive a $15 Amazon.com gift card.

Two chances to win free stuff.