Gary Hurtubise

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Category: writer

Offer of Publication: I reject you!

(or, 5 reasons why that offer might just not <gulp> be for you)

 

So I’ve been a bit quiet for the last few months, mainly because I didn’t know how to address the topic of this post.  Let’s set the scenario, work through the list, then we’ll debrief afterwards, shall we?

Situation: your manuscript, which you’ve been shopping around for going-on two years, finally has an offer of publication!  Yay!  But what’s that you say?  You aren’t immediately sending a reply with the subject heading: “Yes, Yes, Yes!!!”?!?

Well… why not?

(now here’s the list)

5 Reasons Why You Might Reject That Offer of Publication

5.       Your book will only be available via POD (Print-On-Demand).

Whoops – you’ll be published, but not in the traditional sense.  No books to show for your work.  That being said, if your offer of publication comes from a small-press publisher, I get the sense that this is pretty much how things operate nowadays.  And considering how many people are reading their books via e-readers, it’s really no wonder.

 

4.       You’ll have to do all the marketing for your book, yourself.

If you do not already possess, like, ten thousand friends on <enter social media platform here>, and have a faithful following on Amazon or Goodreads, this could mean the death of your book before it even breathes its first papery breath.  Marketing?  Isn’t that the publisher’s responsibility?  Well… again – in today’s market, I’m learning that most publishers are expecting authors to shoulder at least a portion of their own marketing.

 

3.       No advance (what? no money up front?!)

Nope.  Yet again, unless you are offered a deal with one of the large houses, the likelihood of seeing money before your book is published is very low.  In fact, if you decide to work with a hybrid publishing agency, you’ll be giving them money, and not the other way around!

Hey – let’s say you did get with one of the big publishers.  You’re still only looking at $5000.  Yep, that’s it.  Long gone are the days of $400 000 advances (believe it or not, this is what Stephen King got for his first book, back in the 1970’s!)…

 

2.       You’re afraid that the publisher’s brand is not a good fit with how you want to be perceived as a writer.

You write country-western-actions, but the publisher is known more for cozy-mysteries.  Will that ‘typecast’ you as a cozy-mystery writer for the rest of your career?  If you’re a seasoned author already, probably not (though people might scratch their heads when reading the spine of your next book).  But as a not-yet-published author?  I think this is a very relevant concern.

 

1.        The ‘suggested’ changes to your story that are conditional upon publication make you feel: _______ (fill-in: sad, mad, uncomfortable, scared, confused, etc.).

You’ve poured your blood, sweat and tears into this baby (ie: manuscript) – whether it’s your first or your fifth.  When some stranger tells you your baby is cute, but could be much cuter if you rearrange her face, change her clothes, and re-attach her arms and legs in different positions… hmmm.  That’s hard to swallow.

 

 

And there you have it.  Five reasons why you might say: “thanks, but no thanks”.

Wait!  Before you decide to say those words, realize that the state of publishing today is very different than, say, pre-internet days.  Paper-versions of books are ever so slowly slipping away.  Authors are being asked to shoulder more and more of the burden and responsibility for their books, for less and less money.  Writing is now more a labour of love, rather than labour for cash.  And if you ain’t lovin’ it, regardless of the hassle, you’re probably wasting your time.

Ok.  So, are any of the above reasons legitimate excuses to walk away from an offer of publication?

Numbers 5, 4, and 3 are, in my opinion, simply the realities of the publishing game as of 2017.  You don’t have to like it; just suck it up (if being published is what you truly want).

Numbers 1 & 2, though, are legitimate reasons to hesitate before signing on the dotted line.  You are trying to develop your brand here (especially with your first novel!!).  If your story no longer reflects the vision you had for it, or is presented on a platform that doesn’t fit with your goals, you are doing yourself a disfavour, and could end up damaging your chances for that second book (or any books after that).

And if you haven’t guessed by now, yes – I’ve chosen to reject an offer of publication of my novel “Darksea”.

“Why,” you ask?

Well… see above.  That’s all I’m gonna say.  😛

 

Ok.  That was a bit of a heavy post.  I’ll try to keep things lighter with my next one!

Don’t dismay!  Keep submitting those queries!!

First Short Story Published in Kzine Issue 17!

Well, the day has arrived – my first official published story was released on January 28th 2017!

… albeit in Kindle-reader format 😉    (but hey – published is published!!!)

The 17th issue of KZINE – a British sci-fi / horror / fantasy / crime magazine created specifically for the mobile reader – features seven short stories, including my tale Flesh.

Flesh follows the story of an octogenarian in his final few days of life, trying in vain to leave his past behind him.  Of course, there’s a nasty villain, a space station, a gun fight & a high-speed chase, and — just for good measure — a StarWars-esque fall down a bottomless shaft.

Anyways – I’m very excited, and seeing my name in (electronic) print has been a great boost to my recently lagged productivity at the keyboard.  Nothing like some tangible success to get the muse tapping at the window again!

Please check out KZINE, and consider purchasing a copy of the current issue here or here.  You won’t be disappointed!

 

How to Keep Writing Over the Holidays

Feeling down due to the frantic pressure of institutionalized holiday cheer (aka: the purchase of tawdry commercial goods to exchange with family and friends that you’d normally keep no closer than several hundred kilometers at any other time of the year)?

Overwhelmed by the reams of tasks that always seem to build up at this time of year?

Have you already started your yearly holiday treat binge (can you say: let’s add candy canes to everything)?

Or… most importantly…

Have you lost your will to write?

 

…It’s insidious, the way it happens:

Maybe you’ve come off a month of crazy productive writing (aka: NaNoWriMo), and said to yourself: ‘hey – that wasn’t so bad.  I should keep this up for December too!’  And then you find yourself one week from the 25th of December, not having written a bloody thing…

Or maybe you’ve been in a good, dependable writing routine for months, which has inexplicably trickled down to nothing – without you even ‘noticing’?  (But you did notice it, didn’t you?)

 

So what’s your excuse?

Does your holiday make you see red…rum?

The holidays, of course.  They’re a time to slow down, relax, chill-out, enjoy life—what’s that, you say?  They’re the most stressful time of year?!  There’s no time to do anything, much less writing?!?

Of course there’s no time to write!  Everything else at this time of year is too important, you know?  Your family members or your friends or your employer – they all take precedence over you, don’t they?  Don’t be so selfish as to think you can fit this silly little writing habit into your holiday…

So when will there be time for you?  For your writing?

 

Key #1 to successful holiday writing: SELFISHNESS

Yeah.  It’s an ugly word.  But when’s the last time your kids, or your spouse, or your friends, or your boss said: “hey – why don’t you just take today for you?  Don’t worry about us.  We’ll manage just fine.”

I bet it’s been a while, eh?

Remember: if you were sick, they’d manage, wouldn’t they?

If you were away on a trip, they’d manage too.

And even if you said: “you know what?  I’m NOT cooking tonight”, they’d still somehow manage, wouldn’t they?  (They’d just order out pizza, of course.)

So let’s say you do it: pull back from life, and force in a few hours – hell, even a day! – of writing.  You might be surprised (disappointed, even) to learn that you’re not as critical to the smooth running of the universe as you have come to believe.

The first step to writing over the holidays: TAKE time for yourself.

(Oh, but be prepared for pushback.  In fact, you might have to be a bit of a Grinch about it!)

Alright, you’ve gone all selfish and grinchy, and you’ve bought yourself writing time. Now what?  Does the muse immediately jump right back into your life and send you into a whirling, whizzing frenzy of writing?

No, she does not.

You sit at the computer, aglow from you new-found (albeit temporary) writing block, ready to work the magic.  But hold on!  You haven’t checked Youtube in like, at least an hour, so maybe you should just– No, wait!  IT’S A TRAP!

 

Key #2 to successful holiday writing: ACCOUNTABILITY

This is my weakness.  I’m a classic procrastinator.  I work with hard deadlines.  But self-generated ‘soft’ deadlines?  They just make my monkey laugh. (No, I’m not being gross or weird – check out this TED talk on the inner monkey of a procrastinator).

Me, sitting at my desk, alone, without a deadline…  Well, that’s just a recipe for Zero Productivity.

I’ve tried lots of things to put the evil procrastinator monkey in its place:

-making detailed to-do lists, organized by degree of importance and urgency

-setting small, easily attainable goals

-promising myself rewards for work well-done

-the Pomodoro Technique

-setting up a tickler system of file folders in my desk drawer

-trying to work up enough shame and guilt to drive me to ‘get it done’

They all work at first.  Maybe a few days.  Maybe a few weeks, even.  Then something weasel’s its way into the works (typically resulting in an unavoidable change in schedule, even for just a few days), and I’m back to square one, surfing hours (yes, hours) of the best Youtube has to offer.  Or, very often, the not-so-best.

Why were none of these techniques my holy grail for a no-procrastination writing routine?  Well, for one, I don’t believe in a holy grail for anything (life’s too complicated for a single fix, imho).  Secondly, all of the techniques I tried were monitored and policed by… moi.

I can’t do it.  I wish my will was stronger.  And maybe, at some level, I’m just being a cop-out.

 

Regardless of the why, the who has to change.

(And that’s where I should end this post.  Because I don’t know what else to say.  I haven’t solved this problem yet.  I’m not sure who is… who.

Maybe I need an anti-procrastinator coach – someone to hold me to account for my actions and accomplishments day-to-day or week-to-week?

Maybe a writer’s group is the key (in-person would be better – you can more easily ‘slip away’ from an online forum).

Or maybe I need to be looking for a procrastinators-anonymous group out there somewhere?)

 

Anyways, as Christmas ticks closer and closer, I’ll be fighting my monkey, and looking for the solution to who I need to keep me writing.

 

And that’s it for 2016!  Until next year, I wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season!

NaNoWriMo… here we go again!

nanowrimo_crest

Get involved!                    Get writing!

I’ve been on a two-month hiatus from writing my fiction – life and work getting in the way as they always seem to do…

However, as November approaches, there’s a very good reason to get back into fiction writing – one that many writers find is just what they need to jump start their creative endeavours, as the cold weather settles in: NaNoWriMo!

Writing is a uniquely lonely type of thing.  For an introvert (like myself!) it is a welcome escape from the invasive outside world.  It’s therapeutic, too – a balm to soothe the raw stress from all those… people (said with the utmost disgust) intruding themselves upon me day in, day out.

However, I have found that the private nature of writing is a double-edged sword.  There are times when even this introvert (I cringe to admit) craves contact with other like-minded humans.  Specifically the writing kind of humans.

Now, writing being an activity whereby you are lost in your mind and you stare intently at a screen for hours on end, contact with other such beings can be hard to come by… unless you all share a similar goal.  Say, the writing of a complete novel in the space of one month.

Well, look no further: National Novel Writing Month has you covered!  In fact, they couldn’t make it easier for you to get involved – to whatever degree you feel comfortable with.  You fill out some information on yourself and your prospective novel, you pick the local community you’ll be writing with, and once November rolls around, you start writing!  There’s a nifty little graph that shows you how much you’ve written, and if you are on (or off) your word count goal.  There are weekly activities, both locally and across the world that you (again) can participate in, or not.

This will be my third year participating, though I’ll immediately admit I’ll be cheating just a bit – I’m aiming to complete the same novel that I started last year (an urban sci-fi mystery… thingy) – however many words that ends up being.

Regardless of my insidious plans, NaNoWriMo is just what I need to get my fiction writing kick-started again.

21 days and counting…

…in the meantime?  I’ll be getting another batch of agent queries out, and outlining the next bits of that novel that is going to write itself! 😉

Piggyback Your Writing Retreat onto Someone Else’s Hobby!

nice-pen

How would you love a four-day writing retreat for one?  Can’t see how to fit it in?  Let me tell you how I just did it.

 

I was in Lake Placid NY this past weekend for the Ironman race.  No.  I’m not an Ironman.  Nor do I ever think I will be.  I’m what’s referred to as an Ironman Sherpa.  My job is to help cart the equipment for, drive around, and generally support one of the Ironmen athletes (who just happens to be my husband).ironman

If you don’t live with an Ironman, or a triathlete in general, you might not understand their routine.  It consists of them going out and doing ridiculous amounts of swimming, biking and running for about a year, in preparation for one full day of – you guessed it – swimming, biking and running.  Plus, they generally go to bed early.  Every night.

Now, if you happen to be a writer – one who enjoys writing in relative peace (like me) – then you might already see how this could be beneficial to your craft.  If, on average, someone training for a race like this puts in two hours per day of training, seven days a week, that turns into roughly 730 hours of writing time (not to mention the time you get after they go to sleep at 8:00pm).

730 hours of writing is just under 15 hours per week – basically the equivalent of a part-time job!  Think of what you could achieve, if you had that time set aside exclusively for writing!!

freetime

Unfortunately, I did not make use of those hundreds of free hours my spouse granted me.  No, it’s not because of procrastination (though there’s a fair amount of that in my schedule L ); alas: we have kids.

Ugh.  The bane of a creative mind.  Small humans whose sole purpose in life is to figure out when you most need a few moments to yourself during the day, and seek to fill those moments with needy little whines, self-generated disasters, pointless arguments with siblings and the ever popular throwing of a fit.  We’ve got two of them.  Small humans, that is.  Two boys.  One who loves to bug, and one who loves to shriek incessantly when bugged.

So for me, those hundreds and hundreds of hours when hubby was out training, I was on Daddy-duty.  Don’t get me wrong: I love my boys.  I love writing too, though.

The payoff comes on race weekend.  Finally – a full year of training has gone by, and we’re ready for the big day (whew!!).  Triathlon is an equipment-intensive sport.  More than one person (ie: the athlete) can comfortably handle.  That’s why it’s nice to have someone along for the race – the Sherpa.

We arrived at Lake Placid – amidst the beautiful Adirondacks – on Thursday afternoon, and left Monday morning.  The race was on Sunday (like – all day Sunday – it takes about 12 hours to complete it.  No joke).  Aside from a few administrative tasks (attending briefings, dropping off bikes, driving the course), that leaves most hours of the day free…

By the way, my husband is my biggest supporter when it comes to my writing, and it was he who saw the opportunity for me; he who suggested I accompany him.  So while I’m taking credit for this blog, it’s he who gets credit for the idea.

 

When exactly did I get my writing in?

-on the drive here and back (it took us 3½ hours each way);

-while my husband attended his pre-race briefings;

-while he did his last few workouts;

-while he dropped all of his kit off at the race site;

-while he slept (restlessly, stressing about the race!);

AND

-on race day, of course!  12 hours of uninterrupted ‘me’ time.  It was awesome.

Swim start of the 2016 Lake Placid Ironman.

Swim start of the 2016 Lake Placid Ironman.

So now, I’m on the lookout for a new race for him.  I’m thinking a marathon in the fall – that should be worth a three-day mini writing retreat!

 

Are you a writer-with-kids like me?  What do you do to fit writing into the circus that is parenting?  Drop me a line and let me know!!drop_a_line

Last Outpost Military Anthology – My 2nd Short Story to be Published!

Last_Outpost-banner

       I submitted one of my short stories to the 3rd Flatiron Hyperpowers Anthology several months ago.  It did not get accepted…  However, one of the judges happened to be Bascomb James, editor of the Far Orbit anthologies published by World Weaver Press, and he liked the story enough to include it in his upcoming “Last Outpost” military SF anthology!

Here’s a list of the authors and their short stories, to be included in the anthology (directly from Bascomb’s website):

“Conscripts” by Gary Hurtubise
“Corners and Curves” by Wendy Sparrow
“Deathbeast” by H.E. Roulo
“Hashtag Whitebitch” by Shauna O’Meara
“My Letters” by George Allen Miller
“Names” by Todd C. Wilson
“Ripplers” by John Moralee
“Risk Assessment” by David Tallerman
“Swimming Stars” by Andrew Wilson
“The Copper Queen’s Bazaar” by J.B. Rockwell
“The Quarry” by Marc Ferris
“The Thorne Legacy” by J.D. Brink

I’m very happy and honoured to be included in this list!  Can’t wait to see it in print, sometime in the fall of 2016!

My first published short story!

I suppose it was going to happen sooner or later.

After all, it’s a numbers game: send enough of my short stories to enough magazines and/or anthologies, and someone out there is bound to bite, right?

Well, early last week, a UK online magazine accepted my short science fiction story “Flesh” for publication for their January 2017 issue!  My first fiction writing success!

“Flesh” is the story of an elderly man who has given up everything for a chance at a new life.  But everything is not as it seems (dun, dun, DUN!!!).

I’m truly excited – this is a very significant step for me.  Now, I have a ‘publication history’; no longer do I need to leave that part of my submissions or queries blank!  I also get to have my fiction read by a much larger circle of people (beyond my husband, and the members of critters.org, to which I belong).

I had ‘set’ myself a goal of having my fiction published by the end of 2015 (fully aware that it wasn’t entirely in my hands); I’m pleasantly surprised that I was only off by a few months!  😉

Anyways – enough reveling in my success.  I have another set of agent queries to send out, not to mention crafting another couple short stories.  I’m also working on getting my freelance b2b copywriting career off the ground, by the end of the month…

Always lots to do, as a writer!

 

 

No New Year’s resolution… just ‘be’ a writer!

The holidays went well for me this year.  I ate less that I’d feared, and wrote more than I’d hoped, so all in all: a success!

think_like_a_writer       I thought like a writer over the holidays too: not once did I worry about my day job (the one that still pays the bills).  Instead, I planned what short stories I’d write in the coming months, picked which agents I’d send my next queries to, added up my freelance writing earnings for the past year (peanuts, at this stage, but growing!), and saw story ideas everywhere I went over that two week period.

In retrospect, I can’t believe how good I had it for those 14 days (helped by the fact that the in-laws were occupying the kids, which granted me that time to just… think – thanks guys!).

New Year’s eve came and went (we were playing a game of Quelf with friends as the clock struck midnight), and I purposely didn’t make any resolutions.  Instead, I decided (subtly, though – not really admitting it, even to myself) to simply continue the habit of ‘being’ a writer, for the rest of the year.

So far, my (non)-resolution has been easy… After all, I want to be a writer!  …

The secret to New Years' resolutions!

(…wait a sec – did I just crack the secret to New Year’s resolutions!?!)

Top 5 Writing Goals for 2016

With this new habit of ‘being’ a writer, what would I like to accomplish this year?

1.  Get Published

       Specifically, get a short story published (or recognized somehow – contest or otherwise).  Currently, my bio is conspicuously free of any writing credits, which means any and all queries I send out – either for my novel, or my short stories – show me as an unpublished rube.  It’s not helping my success rate… or my confidence!

2.  Get Representation

       (ie: agent representation)  Yep.  My career as a novelist is basically hinging on this step right now.  But I’m up to my 4th batch of agent queries, bringing my total to just about 30.  My agent is out there.  Hopefully in this time frame, spatial dimension, and planet.

3.  Get More Freelance Writing Work

       So far, my fiction writing has not paid many bills (precise number of bills paid: zero).  But freelancing does!  I’m a regular contributor to Gay Parent Magazine (gayparentmag.com), and I’m looking to expand that significantly, as 2016 progresses.  Key word: self-marketing.

4.  Get More Readership

       To paraphrase Julia Roberts, social media is like yelling into the wind.  Sure.  Sorta.  Just make sure you’re facing the right way when you do so.  And listen to others who are doing the same thing.  I need to spend more time seeking out like-minded individuals, and join their secret leagues.

5.  Get More Writing Done

       As I ‘think’ more like a writer, I think up more little tasks that need doing – many of which do not include writing.  I can’t forget that the whole point of this endeavour is to write more.  And so I really need to focus a part of each and every day just for plain, unadulterated  w r i t i n g.

       Should be easy, right?

used_to_hate_writing

 

 

 

 

Becoming an Author: Getting Started

Well, that title is a misnomer actually.  I started this whole process years ago.  It’s only recently that I’ve taken writing seriously, and it’s only tonight that I’ve taken the step to put myself ‘out there’, as it were, via social media.

Here’s a summary of what’s happened with respect to my desire to be a published author, to date:

Sept 2013:

Taking writing seriously; goal: finish the novel ‘Tale of Two Eorldoms’ (working title);

Attended my first Writer’s Fest, in Kingston Ontario (Margaret Atwood in attendance!);

Nov 2014:

Finished 1st draft of my novel, edited by my trooper of a husband, Trevor;

Feb 2015:

Finished 2nd draft of my novel, and edited by a friend (he’s still a friend, btw!);

May 2015:

Began compiling a list of potential agents to approach; and

Sept 2015:

Wrote the synopsis of my novel, and accompanying query letter.

 

And two years later, I’m just about ready to start my agent search.  I have my list, in order of preference, and the requisite ‘bits’ (which just need refining for each specific literary agency).  Over the next week or so, I’ll send out the first 3-5 queries, and then… wait!

(Patiently, of course.)

Of course, it’s hard to express in writing the excitement Trevor and I feel for this step.  Even as I write this, my heart is beating faster than normal.  It’s not every day that I get to send out my first query of my first novel, to the first literary agent in my list…

Final note for this inaugural post: I would not be doing this today if it were not for the support of my husband.  Trevor had supported and motivated me from before day one, and any success I eventually achieve from this is due in very large part to him.  I love you, Trev!!  <3

 

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