Book giveaway! Follow me on Goodreads and enter to win a physical copy of the ‘Dead of Winter’ Anthology!
Just checking in with some writing news—nothing too exciting at the moment—but a lot is happening in terms of staying busy trying to get two short stories published and working on a novel. That was a really long sentence.
Goodreads: Thanks to the awesome ‘Dead of Winter’ Anthology, which includes my short ‘The Huntress of Bur,’ Goodreads has added me as an author! I’m trying not to freak out very much since I was only part of a published book, not my own novel, but it’s still pretty exciting to be part of the club. You can find me here if you want to follow: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16424995.Justin_Chasteen (you can only post novels and such, but I snuck in a published short story, shhhh). I’ll probably do a book giveaway soon for the anthology.
Short stories: Where are they, right? Well, I’m still shopping around ‘A Woman Named Life,” which had previously placed Silver Honorable Mention in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. I also finished a new short story called ‘Saudade.’ ‘Saudade’ is about a woman who’s obsessed with a mistake she made earlier in her life, and she punishes herself mentally because she feels she doesn’t deserve to have something she wants very badly. It’s a bit longer than my usual short stories–close to 10,000 words–but there are homes out there for longer short fiction. What I’m beginning to realize is that it takes about a year to get something published. I’m going to get in that shortly.
Novels: I know, I’ve written four, but they were just first drafts. The one that ended up being a second and third draft I am now rewriting completely. So, I’m now rewriting my first novel, which I feel is much needed. The story is there, but it’s too long. My writing has grown ten times since I wrote that novel, so I want to give it a fair chance with a publisher by providing my best writing. It’s not nearly as easy as i assumed. I thought it would just be copy, paste, fix. I’m trying to fix the writing, so really I have to take as few notes as possible on each chapter and literally rewrite each word. It was also 70,000 words too big, in my opinion. One quote I’m learning is true: the first draft is just the author telling the story to themselves. I think it is important for me—especially now that I know I can write to a level I don’t hate (completely)—to know that a first draft is just a map. Changes, big changes, will need to happen with future drafts and rewrites to make it whole. We all LOVE The Lord of the Rings trilogy extended edition, but it’s also important to understand why they were trimmed in the first place. Same thing applies to first to final draft. The Hobbit films were trash, though.
From what I’ve learned through the writers I’ve met on social media, to the incredible podcast I recently started listening to titled “I Should be Writing’ (any newish writer should check this out), is that a ton of writers are crushed by rejection from publishers—from poetry to short stories to novellas to novels. I think it’s important that we, as writers, be honest with ourselves about our own work. How? Good question. We hate everything we produce. What I’ve discovered over the past 18 months is that I just know if something is ready to see a publisher. How? I don’t pick at it like a dried scab. It’s also important to know that you’re going to get rejected. Everyone knows the stories—Stephen King, JK Rowling—so I won’t go into that. I wanted to extend two bits of advice that has helped me have a solid three-out-of-four success rate with my short stories being published.
- With each rejection, send your story to two more publishers. It’s that simple. Make a second fist and strike again. This will keep your bait in the water and give you a good routine to practice so that rejection isn’t a pity party. If the publisher provides feedback, use what you feel is helpful. Don’t change your entire story based on the opinion of ONE person. Send out that same draft for a year. ** Make sure the publishers you submit to accept simultaneous submissions! Follow their guidelines.**
- One year: Submit that same draft for a year. Do not give up on it. I’ve done this three times and have had three short stories published by places that were the right fit. My fourth short story hasn’t hit a year yet—but it’s getting close. So much of getting published has to do with fitting in with the publisher. You could write a perfect love story, but a place that publishes supernatural horror isn’t going to give two-shits about your masterpiece. Pay close attention to where you submit—it has a lot to do with actually getting your work published.
Thanks to whoever took the time to read this. You can find the links to my published works here:
“What seemed like just another raid goes wrong in the worst way possible, and the hunters become the hunted. A story with a twist you won’t want to miss.”
The paperback copy and kindle version of the Dead of Winter anthology–featuring my story, ‘The Huntress of Bur’–is released tomorrow! You can buy it on Amazon! Any fans of horror may enjoy.
I was interviewed by the talented Nadia L. King for her blog. Go check it out!
I’d like to see more people write. It’s not a competition. I love when friends tell me they’re writing something. I love to throw ideas and struggles off each other. It’s big that we support each other. We’re only competing against ourselves, not one another.
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The last time I posted was four months ago. I may not be the most consistent “blogger,” but I am a consistent writer. By making that statement, I do have some updates for those of you that care, which I am so very grateful that so many of you do ask me about the progress of these novels–especially those of you whom I’ve never met.
I finished my BA in Creative Writing in January. That doesn’t mean much aside from the fact that I’m a lot better at knowing the rules of writing so I can break them. Writing–true writing–can’t be taught, but it sure as hell can be defined, exampled, and admired. A lot of authors say it’s pointless to go to college to learn how to write because each professor has a different opinion on what authors they respect and want to teach from. I disagree, because I learned a lot about what I find effective. The truth is, I didn’t learn how to be a writer, but I learned how to write so people would be interested in what story was being told. Writing isn’t something you learn, outside of the basic principles, but something you do until you get better –like basketball or knitting. I write 500 words a night and can tell you that has helped me form my writing style more than any class–but those classes helped craft those 500 words into something I now keep instead of deleting with disgust the following day.
On to the good stuff!
Publication: I have a flash fiction and two short stories out to various publishers at the moment. That will go on for some time because getting a story published it more about timing and luck as much as talent and story. I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten an email back stating “This would have been perfect for our theme two months ago, but doesn’t fit this month!” Probably an easy wake to soften the blow but it at least keeps me confident.
- Agatha Christie was rejected for five years before landing a publishing deal.
- Dr. Seuss was told his work was too different from other juvenile works to warrant selling.
- ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ was rejected so many times, Beatrix Potter self-published 250 copies of her own. It went on to sell 45 million copies.
Novels: I’m a bit of a mess when it comes to this.
I have the third draft of one novel (a 220,000 word fantasy story) done, which I now want to rewrite because my writing style has progressed so much over a two years span.
I wrote a romance novel just for the hell of it, which ended up getting really good feedback. I may throw it on amazon one day under a Pen Name–any suggestions? It was something I wanted to challenge myself with–writing from a woman’s first-person point-of-view–and I feel like it’s made me a better character writer overall. It’s romance, who cares about the ending as long as it’s happy. I need to finish this story.
The third novel is about 80% done. I got snagged on an event and need to take some time off. That’s the best thing when you consider deleting chapters and arcs and stories from a novel. I’ll go back to it in three months and start right back where I stopped with no problems. It’s about a witch named Lilac who is a pharmacist. She’d never used her witchery–but when her grandmother and sister were burnt at the stake, she decided it was time for revenge. Really it’s a novel about a clumsy, kind woman trying to learn how to be a witch like the rest of her family–and botching a lot of it along the way. It is a fantasy novel, but a little less “fantasy” than most.
Right now I’m really deep into another fantasy novel. It was a plot I had stuck on my brain and it nagged me until I started writing it. It’s going well–minus the annoyance of building a world, kingdoms, history, laws, wars, and Gods. It’s my best yet, mainly because my writing is at its sharpest point.
Thank you for caring enough to read this and I hope my next post is something I can share (hopefully published).
Here is the list for the third quarter of the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. I received Honorable Mention (top 3% of 5,000+ submitted, not bad for my first try). My goal is to win this next year. I’ll keep everyone posted.
The story is here. Thanks to everyone who helped me edit it.
Now, I get to apply it all to the computer, then start the third draft! Thank you to everyone who has shown interest!
I imagined the 208,000 words and over 700 pages–printed and bound at Staples–taking me close to six months to edit by hand. By hand, I mean I edit each page with pen. I’ve been told (by you, Brian) that it allows you to be a little more personal with your story and see things you may not see on a screen. For the most part, I’ve loved it. Reading my story upon completion feels rewarding, and I always find myself getting excited when a new chapter starts, “ohhh, this is the chapter where X and X do X!!!” I honestly expected to come out of this draft being really down on my writing, but for the most part I am thrilled.
Sounds great, right? It is, but now I have three chapters left, and I find myself not wanting to finish it. Now, I never had this type of trouble with the first draft. I just slowed down to make sure the ending didn’t suck.
Just because I finish the hand edit doesn’t mean I’m done, not by a long shot. Upon completion, I’ll apply my edits to the computer and complete the second draft. I won’t even be done after that. In the third draft, I’ll need to cut about 20,000 words, make sure my maps are all correct, add a compete historical holy war in my lore, and find a way to balance my narrative and dialogue as much as possible. There will probably be another handful of drafts after that, too.
Why am I stalling? I still feel the novel won’t be even close to publication-ready for another year, so why does it all feel so sudden–so final? Any other writers get hung up finishing a draft for no reason at all? I’d love to hear your stories.
At least I have a name for the first book of the trilogy. That’s a plus.
I have a deep interest to get one of my short stories published in a magazine or e-zine. I was hoping to talk to someone who has done this before. While, I do know quite a few places to submit my writing, I was unsure of two things.
1. Is it okay to post the short story on my blog until it is picked up to be published? Do I have to remove it after?
2. The short story takes place in the world my novel is about. Is it a good idea/bad idea to post a story about your world before your novel is published? I feel like it could generate interest…
Anyone who wants to comment and give me their experiences and opinions is much appreciated!