The Writing Life: Publications, Rejections, Submissions, & Unsolicited Writing Advice!

Welcome to The Writing Life! This column is dedicated to the art and craft of writing.

My name is Tylor James. I’m a writer of dark fiction. My intention with The Writing Life is to inform and entertain — all the while allowing readers and aspiring writers a peak into my creative life.

First, the good news. ACCURSED: A Horror Anthology features my first paid publication, The Typewriter. This excellent volume of short stories about cursed items (everything from typewriters, to Christmas ornaments, to tattoo ink!) was published in paperback and ebook earlier this December.

I’ve been published in previous anthology books before, yet never paid for my work — until now. As you can imagine, I was pretty excited when the book arrived in the mail. Take a look at the wonderful cover artwork done by Eloise J. Knapp:

Accursed

Working with editor Jonathan Lambert was a great experience. He was very courteous to me and helped fashion The Typewriter into the very best story it could be. For that, I’m thankful. I recommend fellow writers of horror to submit their work to Jolly Horror Press for their future anthology releases, so long as they think they’ve whipped up a good tale.

Honestly, ACCURSED is a great collection of stories, all of them written by a talented writers. Therefore, I highly recommend fans of the genre to check it out!

One other positive news item: My fifty word story BLUE CHRISTMAS, was accepted and published by Fifty Word Stories, an ezine. Although Fifty Word Stories does not pay for stories, they do have a drawing for “best story” at the end of every month, which can win a writer $10. For those interested in reading my flash-fiction piece: Click Here.

I GOT THEM REJECTION BLUES

And now, it is time to mention some of my most recent rejections!

For writers, rejection is a constant game of, “Oh? Rejected again? Well, TAKE THIS!” and the writer submits his work to yet another publisher for consideration. It’s like Newton’s third law: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Wolfpak Publishing and 18thWall Productions reject my creature-feature horror novel, They Dwell Beneath. This novel is currently be considered by eight other presses, and I’m hoping to hear a ‘yes’ back from any one of them.

Aggregate and Tell-Tale Press rejects by short story, The Ultimate Torture of Charles Nevermore. This is a futurist tale about a literary outlaw and a subversive, underground movement of readers and writers.

TDotSpec rejects my shot story, The Eyes of the Lake — and yet provided very helpful advice in regards to re-crafting the story.

The Dark rejects my short zombie story, No Way Out.

Monster Porn Podcast rejects by short story, Bad Brains — and yet editors Bret and Matt were impeccably kind, lending advice regarding the betterment of the story.

Have you had work rejected lately? If so, just remember it’s only part of the business. Keep submitting, and keep writing. 

In Other News

This is the last column of The Writing Life for 2019. Looking back on some of the things I wrote in January and February of this year, I notice how far I’ve come in my ability to craft effective prose.

A lot of things I’ve written this year, in fact most of what I’ve written, has not been good enough to publish. But, I’ve also written plenty of damn good stories too.

So, for the record, here’s the tally for 2019:

I’ve written approximately 265,000 words.

I’ve never written so much in my life as I have this year.

And yet, when comparing it to some of the early 30’s and 40’s pulp fiction writers, it isn’t all that impressive. Those guys (Erle Stanley Gardner, for example) had an output of nearly a million words per year!

It’s hard to believe those writers were even human. In fact, I have my suspicions . . .

Yet, I am proud of the work I’ve done this year. I’ve come a long way as a writer, and have a long way to go still. I suspect there will never come a time in my life when I have finished learning how to write serviceable prose.

Writing is an art with a depth that is truly infinite.

Of the 265, 000 words I’ve written, I’ve created one short novel (They Dwell Beneath) and forty-five short stories. Plus several blog posts, The Writing Life Column, dozens of poems, songs, and essays. Not a bad year at all!

And thank you, fellow readers and writers, for putting up with my bragging.

UNSOLICITED WRITING ADVICE

This is advice about the craft of writing. Advice you never asked for, and which perhaps could hinder or outright destroy your aspirations as a writer. Without further ado, and as non-glamorous as this week’s advice is, behold:

Keep writing! 

When a story is looking ugly, don’t stop writing. Either finish it, or start a new story, poem, essay, whatever it is. But do not get up and walk away from your art. Sit down and write. Even if it is just one page.

You had an intention to write. Now it is not going as well as planned. That’s okay. All the same, you must continue to write. That is how we improve our work.

Practice.

Thank you to fellow readers and writers for their interest in The Writing Life. I hope you’ve found this column to be serviceable and entertaining. A very happy new year to you! May it be filled with love and art.

your friend,

Tylor James.

The Skinny Giant & The Morning Bird (My First Memory)

My father had purchased a new toy for me that day. I was amazed and enchanted by it. It was a Spider-man figurine which zoomed down a plastic web, connected between two points. He had set it up high upon the ceiling. To my astonishment, I could watch it zoom past me, its movement accompanied by a tiny whirring noise.

My father was a tall, skinny giant. He had powers clearly unfathomable to me. Like a God, he could touch the ceiling. Or the clouds, for that matter. My father told me it was bedtime, and after setting the toy to zoom by one final time, he sent me to bed.

I remember how very dark my room was. The only light to be found came from the white outline around the closed door. After laying there for some time, I heard something shut, then some footsteps, and finally the unmistakable sound of my mother’s voice. She and my father were talking about something, murmuring fuzzy words. I stood up in my crib, mattress wompy beneath my feet. Holding on to the bars and staring out at the white outline of the door, I was determined to escape and see my mother. It wasn’t so much a whim as a necessity.

The bars were rather close together, but I managed to squeeze my head between two of them, and then one arm, then the other, until I fell with a soft flop to the carpeted floor. I headed toward the light on all fours, then stood up, grabbed the knob and pulled back the door. The light flooded in upon me. It was bright and soft, encompassing me.

I was delighted by my mother’s kind voice, warm and clear. It sounded like the sweet tweetering of a morning bird. She was greeting me, saying hello.

***

What is your first childhood memory? Is it dramatic? Mundane? I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts!

Lament of Sisyphus (A Poem)

Well, is the following a poem? Is it prose? It’s a rather a pessimistic piece, yet not without observations of some merit, I believe. What are your thoughts? Constructive criticism is always welcomed here, by the way — I do think the following could use some work. Thank you, fellow readers!

***

Lament of Sisyphus

Futility is a life-form dying forlorn in the flesh. Futility is so unremarkable in its presence, so tactful in polite society, so swift and subtle. It is a perpetual specter residing in our lazy bones. It moves in the death crawl of traffic; upon lazy buses and grimy trains, in sad people on the subway, in junked poets sleeping in the gutter. It lurks upon high society airplanes, in lowbrow highway lanes, possesses the severed head of house, served to spread with butter and bread. Futility is mute, yet not speechless. Futility is the iron lament of Sisyphus.

Futility hides in plain sight, as if it were on the end of one’s nose. Perhaps it’s on the end of yours? With each opening of a window, another closed door! At our hearts lie an invisible termite, biting in stitches to the core. Futility is the unexpected expectation, and like syphilis, contagious. This is what makes it so dangerous.

Look at me, ma, I have no body! Life becomes a protégé craft, superficial and shoddy, a division between them and us. Us? What us? Consciousness is a bleeding pus. All people seem to do is shout for freedom to enslave and condemn us.

This does not mean the end of man, climbing upon land in order to be post-eternity jizzing in the sea. It is simply that there is a line between Freedom and Futility; what is perceived as part of life and what considered obscene incredulity.

Freedom realizes being, actions choices. Futility an antithesis; mediocrity of unconscious placation; bad faith in an obligatory nation; decision to endless cessation; an assimilation into annihilation; the proclamation of a convention for cute stagnation.

All the while we are bleeding and breeding and never believing that freedom is like responsible breathing. Futility is but the dampened soul; seething; caked in bog mud, just another agonizing dream repeating the cowed bleating of our souls’ perpetual leaving.