Hello and welcome back to the blog! Sorry for my absence the past two weeks, I have been hard at work. Continue reading for some news on how that is going. Today, I’m going to ramble about a deal with my daughter, a few books I have read, and much more. Without further ado, let’s get started.
- I have written a few times in this space about my introverted nature. I was quiet and shy as a kid and am much the same as an adult. This shyness has followed into my social media presence. I’m virtually a ghost on Facebook due to my level of inactivity. Until six months ago I didn’t have a Twitter account to speak of. Since joining Twitter, I have come to realize I had made an error by not joining earlier. The writing community on there is supportive and knowledgeable to a degree I haven’t experienced in my everyday life. If you’re a writer and not on Twitter, you should rectify that immediately. Use the hashtag writing community and let other writers know you’re looking for other writers to follow. Most will follow you back in return. It really is that easy, you’ll be glad you did.
- I’m a horror writer who doesn’t believe in the paranormal. My writing is filled with things that go bump in the night. Ghosts and paranormal entities have graced the pages of many of my stories. You will also find vampires, werewolves, and various mythological creatures as well. This collection of horrific creatures and entities make for a story that can quicken the pulse and tingle the spine. Yet I don’t believe any of these things exist in real life. I’m a pretty hard skeptic about such things existing outside the pages of fiction or cinema. Still, I would think twice before entering a long-abandoned house, as Calvin and his friends do in Breaking Character: The Craven House.
- While at my daughter’s conference a few weeks back we stopped by the book fair. Getting a new book is a reward for meeting with all her teachers over the course of an hour and a half. A reward for who? Well, for my daughter and me (I write middle grade, so it’s kind of like work, right?). We struck a deal while perusing the choices the book fair had to offer. I would pick out a book for her to read in my genre (middle grade horror), and she would pick a book for me from her genre (young adult romance). I’m sure you can tell who got the better end of that deal. I actually downgraded from horror to thriller, knowing she doesn’t do horror very well. What did I get in return? A full-on princess bachelorette drama. A deal is a deal and I read the book. It was a well written book that I found myself enjoying, despite the love triangle taking place.
- I enjoyed reading the book she picked out for me. The same cannot be said for the book I picked out for her. When she was done reading my choice for her, I picked it up and started reading. Before deciding to purchase a book for myself I have two things I check for first. That it’s written in past tense and in third person. The likelihood of me buying a book plummets if it doesn’t meet at least one of the two. I have mentioned my problems with present tense before. For those new to the blog, early in my writing career I tended to switch tenses at random. Once I noticed the problem, I couldn’t unsee it. I spent a lot of time and mental energy correcting this slippage. As a result, reading present tense in fiction can become mentally exhausting for me, because my brain wants to fix the problem. It takes me twice as long to read a book written in present tense than in past tense. As for third person, well, it’s just a preference. (Back on topic, please) The book I picked out for my daughter was first person present tense. Talk about a brain cramp. Yes, I finished it, though my wife can attest to the fact that there was plenty of whining in the process.
- Recently I read a book in which the ending was so cliché that I had dismissed it as a possibility.
- Believe it or not, I have read some books I enjoyed. Gilchrist by Christian Galacar is one I enjoyed a lot (I may have already mentioned it on this blog). If you like Stephen King, you’ll enjoy Gilchrist. The Haunting by Lindsey Duga is a middle grade horror novel I enjoyed recently. It was somewhat predictable, but still an entertaining read.
- Stephen Roth happens to be a popular name for authors. I published a short story a few months back as a test run when I was planning on self-publishing Breaking Character. It was then that I saw there was already an author with a few books published under my name. There is also a mystery writer who goes by Stephen M. Roth. It’s for this reason I write under my full name, Stephen Michael Roth. Perhaps I should consider a pseudonym.
- A few weeks ago, I took to Twitter with a question. How many literary agents should be queried at one time? At the time I had been querying five agents at a time. When one would reject the manuscript or the timeframe expired, I would send another out. I always kept five queries out in the world. A fellow writer on Twitter (who has an agent) said she queried ten at one time since they tend to take months to respond. It’s sound advice that I have taken into action.
- I finished editing From Darkness Comes… yesterday. I’m still in the process of figuring out my next project. There are a lot of ideas swimming around in my brain, including a return to writing adult horror. As always, I will write what I believe to be the best story. That could mean staying in middle grade horror or a return to my roots in adult horror. I will have made up my mind before the next blog post.
- I have come to a decision regarding Breaking Character: The Craven House. This decision effects the entire Breaking Character Series. For those who read the last blog post, I’m sure you will remember I had decided to write the second book in the series. Ever the second guesser, I have had a change of heart. I have queried nearly forty literary agents without much success. It has been at the forefront of my attention for more than a year. I know in my heart of hearts it’s a good novel that the middle grade audience will enjoy. Yet I have had my fill of it. Sometimes the love of the story blinds a writer to reality. I feel that has happened in my case. There simply isn’t enough interest to warrant continuing to pursue an agent with that manuscript. I have decided to shelve the series for now. If I decide to self-published Breaking Character: The Craven House, then I will write the second book. I have yet to hear from seven literary agents regarding my query. There remains a glimmer of hope.
(An editing note: I always read and edit each post before hitting the publish button. It reads as though I am down on Breaking Character: The Craven House. That is far from true; I still love that book. I simply wish others saw what I see in it. Writing is easy, rejection is the hard part.)
- In the coming weeks I will begin querying literary agents about From Darkness Comes… It’s time for another story to have my attention when it comes to querying. I maintain that it is good enough to warrant some querying attention. It won’t get a year to make a good impression on agents, but its time in the sun has come.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, remember to follow your dreams, even if they terrify you.
Stephen Michael Roth