Gary Hurtubise

Welcome to my World(s)

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Picking the Right Market for Your Fiction

There’s this new feeling to writing that I get nowadays.  I haven’t done anything different, but different things are happening.

No.  Agents aren’t breaking down my door to represent me (yet).  Nor are all of my short story ideas suddenly Nebula or Hugo Award-worthy (…yet?).  But I do feel more confident with my writing – I know it’s of a higher calibre than it was a year, or even six months ago.  Plus, more people are taking notice of my work.  I’m getting more personalized feedback (to go along with my rejections!), and in some cases, I’m being given specific suggestions from editors, followed by requests to re-submit with changes made.

I’m trying to be more selective of where I submit my work too.  Many of my short stories are hybrid-genres.  They aren’t just science fiction, or fantasy.  I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve spent all this time submitting to ‘traditional’ markets, when I should have been looking for some of those magazines or journals who feature alternative writing.  I believe that’s why I was successful with “Flesh” last month (having it accepted for publication in Kzine).  And so, I’m trying that again with my story “Solace for the Soul-less”…

Sci Phi Journal

I came across Sci Phi Journal the other day, an online science fiction and philosophy magazine.  In it, they publish “stories that explore questions of life, the universe and everything and articles that delve into the deep philosophical waters of science fiction universes” (from their About page).  “Solace” is set in the future, but isn’t about robots or space battles.  Rather, it raises questions about identity and immortality.  Hey!  That’s exactly what Sci Phi Journal is looking for!  So I’ve actually withdrawn “Solace” from consideration at another magazine, in order to try my chances with a venue that might generate not only some interest in my writing, but some dialogue about it too.

Next on my list of things to do: another batch of agent queries!  On this note, here’s a good bit of advice written by Kathryn Craft, of ‘Writers in the Storm’, a writing blog that I follow.

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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!

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

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NaNoWriMo is Over… back to Agent Queries!

Participate in NaNoWriMo, every November!

Have you heard about NaNoWriMo?  It stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it takes place every November.  The goal: write a novel in a month (or, at least, write 50 000 words of it).

I first heard about it a little over three years ago, and was immediately skeptical of the premise: write 50 000 words in a month?!

Pshaw!  Not likely!

I tried it anyways, and did not succeed.  I tried again the year after, and again, failed.  This year, I was back at it, and came in woefully under-count, as I had two years running.

Am I disappointed in my results?

Well, yes.  Not at all!  Each November for the past three years, I managed to add thousands of words to my various novels.  I didn’t come close to 50 000, but thousands of words are certainly better than none.  This year, I used a good portion of October to world build my latest novel, then I managed to get over 20  000 words into it by the end of November.  Not too bad, considering my motivation recently had been lagging (see last post!).

I can’t think of any reason why I won’t participate again next year too.  Who knows – maybe 2016 will be the year I reach 50K!

Regardless of my result this year, NaNoWriMo served not only to springboard my next novel, but also got e re-energized with my writing.  I’ve got new ideas, new directions, and looming writing competition deadlines to work towards, and I’m looking forward to all of it. 🙂

First step: back on the agent search wagon.

I stopped submitting queries for the month of November, so that I could focus on my writing.

Now that we’re into December, I set myself the goal of getting my third batch of queries to agents out this past weekend, and I succeeded!  (While simultaneously neglecting entertaining the kids.  Gotta love multi-tasking.)  Coincidentally, I also receive a request for a partial manuscript from one of the agents from batch two, which was yet another boost to my motivation and confidence.  Things are starting to get rolling again!

Keep_calm

 

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The Big “R”

rejected

 

Ah yes, I’ve read this over and over from blogs by authors, agents and publishers – writers have to develop a thick skin – not the type at the end of your fingers from typing so much, but from suffering through an endless, impersonal torrent of rejections.

I’ve been entering short stories competitions for several years now, and have yet to break ‘honourable mention’ or ‘grab-bag winner’ status.  Nevertheless, the periodic rejections were spaced widely enough apart not to make to much of a dent in my psychological armour.  So no big deal.

I’ve currently got about half-a-dozen short stories circulating out there, searching for a market.  To date, lots of ‘thanks, but no thanks’.  Again – periodically enough not to get me down.

Now that I’ve finished a novel, however, and the search for agents is underway, the rejections are starting to come in at an accelerated rate.  Oh, and I’m reaching out for some freelance work too, to flesh out my writing even more… all to no avail, so far.

So, putting it all together, I’m getting close to having a steady stream of rejections coming in, from four unique sources.  It’s starting to suck.

sad_baby

       I can see why so many writers throw in the towel.  I feel like doing that right now.  I mean, what’s the point?  All this time and energy spent writing and researching and putting myself out there… for what?  Why hasn’t anybody seen my genius yet?

snoopy

Well, I’m not giving up.  I think I’m close.  I can’t *quite* feel it yet, but it’s not far away.

Plus, writing is just so much damn fun; why would anyone not want to be a writer for a living?!  So let’s keep chipping away.  There’s bound to be a few suckers wise individuals out there who’ll eventually end up publishing my stuff… right?! 🙂

Here’s a quote from Pierre S. Dupont IV that fits my situation perfectly, at the moment, and actually does give me a glimmer of hope:

       “I’m in a wonderful position; I’m unknown, I’m underrated, and there’s nowhere to go but up.”

Ok – that’s enough moping for now – I’ve got to get back to my world-building for the novel I’m writing during this year’s NaNoWriMo!

 

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Contacted by my first Agent

Four days after sending in my first batch of queries to agents, I received a request from one of them for a partial submission!  Very exciting, and a great boost to my confidence.  This coincided with one of my short stories coming up for critique through critters.org (for which I received a good 1/2-dozen descent ‘reviews’ of my work, which I can now put to good use in my next draft of it, before submitting it for publication), as well as the 24 hour writing contest through writersweekly.com this past Saturday, and a request to write two more articles for Gay Parent Magazine, to which I’ve been contributing for the past several years.

All told, a great week for writing.  It’s been keeping me so busy that I could almost mistake myself for a full-time writer!  (Soon, soon!)

This is my very first submission to the 24 hour writing competition, that I did back in early 2013.  It’s a fable about the four seasons, personified.  Hope you enjoy it, and don’t forget to check out some of my other fiction here.

 

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Seven agents down… but how many to go?

I am on the other side of history!

It’s nothing at that significant, of course; what I mean is, I’m looking back at having started my agent search, having dreaded the whole process for literally years!

Up until Friday 11th September 2015, I hadn’t really told many people about my novel: my husband, a close friend, and a handful of people on critters.org, who have absolutely no idea who I was anyways.  But now, I’ve sent my story out into the world, to professionals, who’s job it is to take seriously what I do in my spare time.  Which just feels weird to me, since I’m not quite sure I’ve been taking it seriously yet.

It was a bit surreal, when I hit <send> on that first e-mail query.  I couldn’t quite believe that I’d done it.  This is getting serious, I realized, though.  They’re going to laugh at me.

Oops.

Did I just think that?

They’re going to laugh at me?

Yeah.  I did just think that.  I can’t believe that I might actually make a living as a science fiction / fantasy writer.  I can’t believe that I might, one day, be an author.  That’s crazy talk.  That’s just a dream.  It’s just a joke.

…or is it?

Seven queries sent every two weeks, until further notice.  That’s the goal.  Let’s see if this dream can turn into… something much greater.

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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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