Publishing; Which Way?

Indie April

Self-Publishing and submitting; what I’ve learned so far, which admittedly, may not be much. It is what it is.

I’ve never considered traditional publishing, potentially because I can be a bit of a control freak (I hate waiting) coupled with a (sometimes stubborn) passion for self-learning and autonomy. In my view, it seems that there’s a lot of faff down the traditional route to wade through; from finding an agent and/or finding publishers that align with your style/genre/concepts. Jumping through many hoops for potential (likely) repeat rejection. Not that rejection is a bad thing, that too can be a very useful, if not utterly essential, learning and evolution tool. Then there’s if you’re accepted, you may have to change your writing significantly to fit into someone else’s ideals and target audience — a form of censorship and creative dilution, absolutely. Of course, I’m sure when (if) you get through the hoops, the potential for higher earnings and being considered a reputable writer because you’ve been approved and accepted by a higher power may well be worth the faff and hoops. Personally, all that feels like an elitist, bureaucratic headache for the most part.

Self-publishing has a lot of stigma thanks to the structure and standards set by publishing powerhouses. It’s a reflection of many of the institutions of life; be approved by the institution to be accepted by the masses, or you’re worthless. Music is like that too right. I don’t buy it, do you? I’ve read my fair share of tripe churned out by traditional publishers (sometimes due to who the author knows more than what they write), I’ve worked with highly educated fools who think their PhD gives them superiority even with a gross lack of real-life or business experience. They got approved, though. Better than you off the bat, right? Nope, I’m not buying that either. It filters right down through parenting as well — inescapable — must tick the boxes. All a despicable institutionalised, ritualised validation process, a façade that ignores the real nitty-gritty and that thing again — autonomy, passion, grit and authentic nurturing, in life as indeed art. Like the paper, age does not always bring wisdom, especially when one is stunted in their sole path and idealised view, selectively dismissing poorer choices. Or indeed highly institutionalised, even when it comes straight from the patriarchy (or matriarchy in some instances).

To self-publish, there are more and more platforms arising to help support and facilitate those with the desire to do this. There’s a load of work involved, even with a decent host. One must consider the writing, first and foremost, then, of course, there is editing, cover design (eBook/audio/paperback/hardback), book design, formatting, layout (yes, there are some basic standards for that, in respect of front-matter, back-matter, copyright declaration and numbering), narrator/producer (if producing audio). Sure some make it appear easy, but it’s far more involved than many may expect – it’s seen as the easy route to publication after all, right? Wrong. All of this takes time, dedication, learning and money. Of course, corners can be trimmed, but that will affect the end product. And we cannot forget attracting readers and reviewers to the work once it is out there — marketing really is another beast in itself. No, self-publishing is not easy by any stretch. Accessible — yes, easy — no.

I started self-publishing to get to know the process, and while I do love it, I’ve found much value to be gained in submitting pieces to small press and indie publishers. Gaining contacts, connecting with different audiences and driving creativity by rising to challenges I may not have considered solely. I’m not driven by pressure, and much prefer to go with the proverbial flow. There’s no cut and dry Pro-forma of right and wrong when it comes to art, creating it, and sharing it. It comes down to trying different things, and seeing which one resonates and fits with your flow best. In dealing with other publishers, I have quickly established in mind traits that I like and those which are huge turn-offs for me as a (submitting) writer. It’s fair to say once you begin submitting, you’d be mad not to have a ‘list’. Here are a few things that have landed publishers on mine after submission, which ultimately boils down to etiquette and communication:

  • Poor communication. Submission guidelines are not only a way for publishers to outline what they want and specify the format, but it’s also a key component for publishers to manage writer’s expectations upfront. What I find massively disrespectful is publishers who don’t respond to a submission – it doesn’t have to be big; a quick ‘thanks but no thanks’ is better than zilch. That’s just rude.
  • I don’t like arrogance and indie publishers mimicking traditional publishers – if I wanted that, I’d chase traditional.
  • When a call says ‘No simultaneous submissions’ but a publisher holds a piece too long, only to reject it, thus removing opportunities for the work to be considered elsewhere. If ‘No simultaneous’ is stipulated – considerations and responses should be swift.
  • Editorial changes and queries – I’ve had pieces published with errors that were not present when I submitted, and the queries ignored. Again, poor communication adds to the uphill battle many indies (writers and publishers alike) face. Sometimes support is as simple as acknowledging and owning mistakes.

While I can’t speak for traditional from any sort of experience, other than a reader, it is clear that one size does not fit all — in writing, publishing and indeed life. Sometimes one has to stop dreaming and just do it. Leaving expectations at the door. Jump in, flail around a bit, get over the panicked shock of ice-cold and learn to swim — however that looks. Jump back out and watch by the edge for a bit if you have to breathe again.

But don’t be afraid to at least try. As a good friend of mine often says — fuck it!

Speed-Meat

Bumbling sedate-like, a year on, rotters are no different to the local junkies. Except, the rotter isn’t coming at you with its drooping face, skin pulling down at the darkened cavernous eye-sockets, hanging loose off the jawbone, slurring; “Any spare change pal?”

They’re still using that old line, except by change they mean anything that can be offered to dealers in exchange.

I prefer the real dead-walking — even they won’t touch a junkie for their fix. Shame, maybe that’d help us all; thin the heard. Though, I’m not prepared for the sight of the dead on something like speed-meat.

This drabble was first published by Reanimated Writers Press in their anthology 100 Word Bigger Zombie Bites.

The Stranger By G G Flavell

As she slowly opened her eyes, a wailing from across the dark, candlelit hall instantly reminded her of the waking nightmare. Strands of hair were embedded into her forehead and swept across her face accentuating her pale, gaunt jawline. Her eyes rolled around in fits of agony and curiosity to see what had changed, if anything, in her death chamber. The dank smell of death hung heavy in the air. It was difficult to differentiate the floor and the ceiling, the walls and the windows. It was a wooden room, almost a box, containing her contagion, awaiting the final, tighter wooden box.

The light and colourful rooms from her family estate seemed like the memories of someone else now. The songs played by her sister, Elizabeth, on the family piano, which would fill every room in the house with joy and life, swirled around her head like a wasp. The last memory she had was of her father’s face as he closed the carriage door. He had paid the doctor to bring her to London to die. There was no hope for her now. Not since the blisters emerged. He couldn’t risk infecting the rest of the family. So, his youngest and dearest daughter Emmanuelle was sent to die, alone and in agony.

Upon arriving in London, she felt what it must be like for a corpse. She was tossed about, covered up and talked about as if she weren’t there. Occasionally, a kind nurse would try to comfort her, stroking her hand and dabbing her forehead. The doctors were never kind. Poking, prodding, retching and writhing. They were equal parts fascinated and repulsed by her.

“Money can’t save you from the plague,” they would often say.

She fell in and out of consciousness so often that the living and the dream worlds sometimes merged. The fever had played wicked tricks on her. She saw herself riding back home on her beloved horse, Daisy. Naked and radiant, she galloped through the fields of Hampshire where her family awaited her arrival, dancing in jubilation. More oft than not she was floating above her own corpse, wrapped in white linen, stained by the still seeping wounds from the blisters. Her family hadn’t come to say a final farewell, she was there, dead, cold, alone and insignificant for eternity.

But sometimes, her fever brought a strange gentleman to her bedside. He had long, thick black hair that was always neatly held back and under his top hat. His eyes were grey, like when the sun bursts through a rain cloud. He had a funny moustache and an exotic accent.

“And you say she is from aristocracy?” he would ask the nurses.

Always grinning from their affirmative answers.

Of late, he was visiting her at least once a week. On this particular night, Emma had been very lucid, lucid enough to realise he had no face mask, no covering at all to protect himself. She reached up to stroke his face, for reassurance that he was indeed there. But she passed out from exertion before she could feel anything.

The nurses started wrapping her feet and legs. A sign the blisters were getting out of control. Water was the last thing her body could ingest. It seemed hopeless. It had always been so, but Emma hadn’t quite accepted it until now.

The farmer across the room from her had succumbed just an hour before. He could only have been 17. Strong like an ox, with hands like shovels and voice deeper than a well. He looked like a man of 80 as they carted his body to the mass grave.

Emma felt as though she were crying, but the sweat rendered her senses of touch useless. She no longer knew if it was night or day. It seemed a shadow had filtered her eyes; making it so that only the candle from a nurse’s hands permitted her to see so far as in front of her face.

Tonight, that candleholder was, in fact, her stranger. A Count, from what she had heard the nurses say about him after he left.

“My dear sweet Emma, a beauty such as yourself cannot be left to die here, I beg of you, let me take you to my estate, where you shall have the best of care until you are brought back to life.”

This fever truly was the devil — encouraging hope hours before her last breath. But suddenly, it slipped and lost its grasp of her. She felt a cool facecloth on her forehead as she opened her eyes. Something the fever forbid her to feel since she was first bedridden in her family home.

A fire was roaring on the other side of this grand bed-chamber. A doctor gently lifted off the cloth, rinsed it in ice-cold water and dabbed her face again. He turned to talk to someone in the corner of the room. She couldn’t make out who, but it was an unusually tall shadowy figure with piercing white eyes.

“It has broken, sir” the doctor exclaimed, “the infection is rapidly regressing, and I believe in a matter of moments she will be clear. As we both know with the last patient, this may not last long.”

The shadowy figure spoke solemnly, “you can go.”

Emma was exuberant — pinching herself to ensure this wasn’t the last, most deceitful trick of the fever yet. Rubbing her arm as she sat up in the huge bed. She remembered suddenly that the shadow was still in the room as the doctor closed the door.

The white, unblinking eyes started coming towards her. The shadow began to take form as the fire cast its light upon it. A naked male body moved toward the bed as if floating. His skin pale as snow and crooked in ways she had never seen. But he looked so powerful.

Emma froze when she saw his face. It was her stranger. His thick black hair now let loose around his shoulders. His eyes would not stop staring into hers. As he got closer, his skin was almost transparent, it was truly revolting, yet it continued to come closer.

She had wanted to say thank you. Thank you for saving her life, but she no longer felt saved. She felt…hunted. The stranger lifted his arms out as he neared the bed. Emma tried to move, but before she could blink, his teeth sunk into her throat. Drinking her in. Her virginal, thick youthful blood soaked her hair, and his, as he made noises that would haunt her soul into the abyss.

© G G Flavell 2020

About the Author:

G G Flavell is a new author based in Scotland. Inspired by the worlds created by JRR Tolkien (with the tattoo to prove it,) George RR Martin and Charlaine Harris to name just a few. He also enjoys reading philosophical works, with Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus among some of his favourites.
Unsurprisingly, his writing leans towards fantasy and dark fantasy genres. He lets his imagination take him places the real world can’t.
When he’s not writing, reading or daydreaming, he is most liking to be found cuddling the life out of his French Bulldog Romy. Yes, like Romy and Michelle.

He writes with fun in mind, with passion and with wine.

https://www.instagram.com/wandering_avthor/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/G-G-Flavell/

Southeast Asian Fantasy

I came across this open call, quite near the end of closing, and I couldn’t pass it up. After a busy day with the family, that night, I could not sleep, which is fairly typical once an idea slithers through my head; the worm in my ear. Giving in to the noise, I fired up the laptop and tried my hand at writing Southeast Asian Fantasy Drabbles.

I wrote and submitted two; ‘Unity’ and ‘Dragon of Krakatau’ to Insignia Stories enticing call and both were accepted. I’m pleased to be included in this line-up of multinational Drabblers, including and compiled by Kelly Matsuura!

Release date to be announced very soon.

More details of Insignia Stories work, open calls and future releases can be found on their site; https://insigniastories.com/

Writing – 2020 so far

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted an update here so thought I should swing by!
The writing priority for 2020 was really to release Concoction V2 and focus on submitting pieces to other anthologies.
Subbing out is still very new for me, it’s been going well, considering all the hurdles 2020 has thrown so far!

Below are titles published in 2020 containing some of my short stories and drabbles. I’ve, naturally, been writing predominantly in the horror genre this year, and loving it.

Out with the already published works, including the 19 within the anthologies above, I have another 14 accepted pieces and 4 awaiting a response. A few of these are drabbles which will appear in Iron Faerie Publishing’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse series and a flash fiction dark fantasy tale in their Hexed Anthology.

I have also been dipping back into two ongoing pieces that seem to be continually evolving, so will have to see how they play out – they may evolve into an interconnected collection or novel. Their journeys are still being designed to the crazy soundtrack in my head!

Posts are more frequent on Facebook and Instagram, so feel free to pop over there; https://www.facebook.com/NatashaSinclair or https://www.instagram.com/clan_witch/

Natasha x

New Free Short Story

Sharing with you a new short, free, here on my site!

Check out ‘Unicorn’ via the new ‘Short Stories’ menu. Enjoy!

https://clanwitch.home.blog/short-stories/unicorn/

Cusp of Power

Wide eyed, helpless he gazed through his new mother’s entranced steel-grey orbs. The cosmos mirrored in the sacred water on this Samhain night, bathed in magically majestic blood moon. Reflected as it was in both their souls; ripples through stars, each one a gift. A single birth and death on the very cusp of the veil, a perfect way to live forever. Thought the power-hungry young witch.

Laoghaire’s meticulous scheme to dispatch and consume the making of her body, radiant new life, was in veracious ritual motion, void emotion. Mothers natural selection.

The tiny infants body wriggled, gagged and choked; crystal fresh water, stars and planets rushed down his throat. The deep iridescent fairy pool of sparkling emeralds consumed new life with the boundless universe. Laoghaire’s fevered eyes drank in every detail of her secret sacred bairn.

An exchange with the realms of darkness, immaculate life for multifarious transcendent power.

© Natasha Sinclair. 2019.

Door Number Nine

Halloween was dead-quiet in the morgue, just me. Tonight, a treat behind door number nine. I didn’t need to know why she was exhumed. They were done with her now.

Doors wide open, the dark creeped in around stark light. The sound of night magic dancing through the dead. Waiting; my rotting beauty lay on her steel gurney.

Moving inside her was a sensational treat. She was underground long enough for the crawlies to move in. A localised thrill of erratic movement around my hard dick buried inside my frozen cold seductress.

I always bag up, of course, I’m no sicko.

© Natasha Sinclair. 2019.

‘Lost Shadows’ – Cover Reveal

Small poetry collection being released very soon, currently just awaiting the printed proof for final review before it goes live!

“This is a small eclectic collection from an Independent Scottish writer.

If you’re looking for inspirational poetry, words of deep wisdom, even good poetry, this book is probably not for you.

The contents are inspired by various topics including; mental ill health, relationships, lust, consumerism, commercialisation, veganism, family, death, politics and history.

While this collection is admittedly somewhat disjointed, it is also truly organic.”

Damaged Goods


Discarded; damaged goods.

The lone whore bore foul, tainted, bastard fruit.

Shunned while still stunned from her whalers desertion.

Black lamb of the snow-white flock.

Abandoned for the call of the sea; another she.

Betty bid to follow suit with that ill seeded fruit.

As waves began to pour down her choking throat; peace called in tortured unforgiving song.

The final forbidden promise.

Lungs of fire burning; as blackened shadow blotted the sun.

A selfish rescue placed her back in hell; pulled from the mother’s largest well.

Need the ruined to give rest their good grace; a blinding disgrace.



© Natasha Sinclair. 2019.