Source: Author Interview: Jim Goforth
Tags: aberrant menagerie, Get Rejected, Go Insane, Highway To Hell, REJECTED FOR CONTENT, sanitarium, SPLATTERGORE, Vicious Vengeance
THE REJECTED FOR CONTENT PHENOMENON
Now that the doors to the Sanitarium have been opened wide and the fifth volume of the Rejected For Content series is out in the world, spreading insanity far and wide, I figured it was time to have a little retrospective into the Rejected For Content phenomenon.
What is Rejected For Content?
Well, unless you’ve been living on the moon, or under a rock, or in some other way out of the loop, chances are you may have heard of it. Although it is perfectly viable that you haven’t heard of it at all; after all, the phenomenon isn’t exactly something aimed at all audiences. It isn’t something normal folk who don’t have a penchant for the extreme would be inclined to seek out or investigate.
So what is it? Quite simply it started out as a simple discussion, a notion, an idea to create a place where those stories deemed too offensive, objectionable, disturbing or horrific for various reasons to be published by the majority of publishers could find themselves a home. Essentially, it was to become a suitable outlet for tales that had been, or were likely to be, rejected on the grounds of content.
A small collective of authors were originally involved in the general banter which soon switched from mere discussion to plans and suggestions for a specific anthology. These folk included the likes of Catt Dahman, Scott Essel Pratt, Michael Fisher, Amanda Lyons, Mark Woods and myself. A conversation was mostly revolving around extreme horror and during the course of it I was making mention of the fact that I had a story submitted somewhere that I was pretty sure was going to be rejected on the basis of its content. That story, House of the Goat Monster, was later actually accepted for the publication I’d submitted it to (Ghosts: An Anthology of Horror From the Beyond) and more recently has resurfaced in Dual Depravity Volume One, but from that off-hand remark sprang the discussion that led to the creation of Rejected For Content. Michael Fisher knocked up a cover concept, a call for submissions was opened up and the wheels were set in motion.
It was bold, it was an experimental venture, it was risky, it was a gamble. And it dropped at the perfect time. Into a sea of readers keen to be launched into realms of extremity. This was only a mere couple of years ago.
Extreme horror was not new then by any means; it’s been around for a long time indeed, but its popularity was, and still is, continuing to rise. Folks love the extreme, they dig it, they want to be immersed in it and they can’t get enough of it, and though different things, fads, whatever you want to call them, are going to shift in and out of fashion, extreme horror has entrenched itself solidly and it’s not about to go away any time soon. And what’s more, those stories that were getting knocked back by publishers on the grounds of content that mere couple of years ago, would now stand a much better chance of getting published by those same publications that shied away from them in the first place. Because extreme horror sells. People want it. They crave it. They love it.
The submissions flowed in for Rejected For Content, and they ran the gamut from subtle to outright shockingly gruesome, displaying just how many different levels there are to the concept. What is, or should be, rejected on the basis of the content, doesn’t essentially require it to be an utter bloodbath or a murky mire of depravity and perversion, it can simply be something that is disturbing and disquieting through suggestion alone, enough to make your mind conjure up worse things than what’s already been spilled on the pages.
Catt Dahman helmed this first volume (which later ended up with the subtitle Splattergore), while I assisted and advised with stories, and chased bios and things along those lines. There were no theme limits (and even to this day, despite the various subtitles that were attached to ensuing volumes, Rejected For Content remains an open theme venture), which meant folks were free to run wild with their imaginations, or of course, submit those stories that had been knocked back from other places, whatever they happened to be about. Horror, bizarro, erotica, or even some strange melange of all the above were perfectly acceptable and continue to be.
And surprise, surprise, the audacious gamble paid off. Readers loved the concept, they loved the inclusion of the rejection letters with each author’s contribution, they loved to be frightened, horrified, appalled, disturbed…all those things horror should make the reader feel.
However, the purpose of Rejected For Content wasn’t a solitary one. It was multi-fold.
Not only was RFC intended to become a home for those difficult to place outlandish, shocking stories with their desire to approach the unapproachable or to delve into topics and material few would be game to consider, it was a place where these stories could convey messages despite the often outrageous content. These weren’t just tales designed to shock for the sake of shock, or to be explicit and ultra-violent just in order to be extreme, they carried an undercurrent of commentary and societal reflections within their grisly or provocative trappings, things to make you ponder and contemplate. Unfortunately there are those who misconstrue writing extreme horror as an excuse to spill buckets of blood or plumb the depths of perversion without bothering to anchor any semblance of a story to it, but that wasn’t the case here.
On top of that RFC served as a place where new and upcoming writers could have an opportunity to get a foot in the door. Publishing might be a hell of a lot easier in some contexts to get into these days, at least in comparison to several decades ago (when I first had a bash at getting work published), but there are still certain expectations, levels of writing, all manner of things to consider and it’s tough for new writers to try and crack. Easier doesn’t mean easy. So with that in mind, RFC also existed to allow some exposure to be spotlighted on some of these folks. In some ways it also served as a launching pad of sorts for several, some who have managed to crop up prevalently over the whole course of the series, some who appeared in perhaps just the one volume. After all, repeating the same table of contents (at least in terms of author names) wouldn’t allow for anything fresh, or new names to appear. Naturally there are multiple repeat offenders and a rare few have the distinction of appearing in every single volume thus far.
This inaugural volume featured tales from many of those involved in the original discussions, including Essel Pratt, Michael Fisher, Mark Woods and yours truly as well as introducing the likes of Toneye Eyenot and featuring some truly worthy pieces from folks like Jason Hughes and Kevin MacLeod.
After the surprise success of Splattergore-or perhaps it wasn’t such a surprise, since it was a unique concept dropped right amidst the scene in all its filthy, shocking, brutal and jarring glory that folks were keen to embrace-it was a given that a follow-up book would be planned. Midway through the process of this was when I took over the series (which is why I also have a story appearing in said book-I’d already written it with RFC2 in mind and had it accepted) and again, the tales creeping in for this one were a wildly diverse bunch that covered all bases, from the quietly disturbing to the brutally affronting. Writers embraced the concept with whole-hearted gruesome glee and readers did likewise. Once more, and as it always will be, the theme was wide open to interpretation, meaning if you had a story that was likely to be rejected because of the content or already had been previously, no matter what it was about, then it was a potential fit for what I later termed the Aberrant Menagerie. A zoo full of freakish exhibits, a collection of the unusual and the horrifying.
The same template established in the first volume, the same reasons for existing, the same ideology was present in Rejected For Content 2. Rejection letters, actual or otherwise creatively conjured up, would be part of the book and have become one of those quirky little aspects that have vastly appealed to readers and are here for the duration.
More importantly though, the stories carried messages, cautionary concepts or presented ideas and notions designed not to just horrify you, but to make you think. Again, there were opportunities for new and upcoming writers to join the RFC brigade. A blend of established inkslingers and unknowns delivered stories essentially deemed unfit to be published on the grounds of content. Nothing was taboo here. Censoring horror is counterproductive and unnecessary sanitization of a genre which, as its very name suggests, should be horrific. It should invoke feelings of dread, or fear, apprehension, terror, even disgust and shock. Which probably explains a little of the success of the series. There are no boxes here to try and fit in, no stone left unturned, no dark corner which can’t be explored, no layers that can’t be sliced and peeled away.
There weren’t just stories here, there were works of poetry (the first volume also contained poems), displaying that less words, or shorter entities could convey just as much of those requisite sensations experienced when reading these books as lengthier stories could.
Toneye Eyenot, Essel Pratt and Amanda Lyons (who are the only three recidivists with the distinction of being in each book of the whole series to date) resurfaced in the Aberrant Menagerie; we had names such as Christine Morgan and Michael Noe dipping into depths of depravity.
The Aberrant Menagerie opened for business in April of 2015 and remains in the top 100 Horror Anthologies today, albeit dropping out now and then, only to resurface with renewed venom and vigour.
Given the fact that the first book and the second one appeared in 2014 and 2015 respectively, one might assume that the ensuing volume would surface in the following year, but in the grand scheme of things, the span of time between the two wasn’t exactly one whole year. What was more, folks wanted more. No, they needed more. Craved more. Which brings us to Rejected For Content 3: Vicious Vengeance.
This beast also marked the beginning of something of a new trend in the series, where a themed subtitle presented more focus on specific subject matter, at least loosely. To begin with, this wasn’t a conscious decision. Like the two predecessors, RFC3 wasn’t given any title until after I’d compiled the stories and pieced the book together, but it was as I was going through the various submissions that I noticed a high proportion of them received for this call revolved around themes of revenge and vengeance. While the whole concept of Rejected For Content remained open theme, this high occurrence of vengeful tales meant the opus pretty much named itself.
Some very familiar faces made themselves known yet again with Toneye Eyenot, who up until this point had been a regular contributor of poetry, unleashing a stunning story of brutal vengeance to open proceedings and set the scene for what was to follow in a deluge of darkness. Powerhouses K. Trap Jones and The Sisters of Slaughter (Michelle Garza & Melissa Lason) were on-board for this too with tales to eviscerate and decimate, as were a host of newcomers who brought all kinds of weird and wonderful to the table, from more subtly nuanced pieces to the utter gory filth we love at RFC, albeit once more with multiple layers to each composition. Some of these names such as Brent Lorentson, G. Zimmerman and Matthew Weber would return in later volumes, penning truly intriguing stories that most definitely belonged in the establishment known as Rejected For Content.
Michael Fisher, the man responsible for the artwork of both previous volumes was back to create the cover for this one too, with the dark greys, browns and blacks of those two supplanted here by striking blue/purples and bright bold red.
Nine months after the release of Vicious Vengeance, another bestial, bloody, hellish RFC baby was spawned. This entity built on the foundations laid in volume three and went one further, by actually having a subtitle set in place prior to the book being put together. This was courtesy of cover artist Michael Fisher who was playing around with ideas for a future RFC cover and created one with the subtitle to match. Thus, Highway to Hell was born.
This time, despite keeping the overall theme as an open one, I made mention of the fact that I would be specifically seeking for some of the submissions to address this subtitle in some way, however folks chose to interpret that or involve some highway to hell, actual or metaphorical, was completely up to them. Plenty of sanguinary scribes rose to the occasion and delivered all manner of good stuff, from a literal walk through hell, to suggestions of mental hells, to folks whose deeds meant they would surely be guaranteed a berth in any perceived hell. Splatterpunk scribes such as David Owain Hughes, John Ledger, K. Trap Jones and others brought the extreme, newcomer Eric LaRocca brought one of the most intriguing stories we’ve seen to date, T.S. Woolard shredded souls with a short, sharp gut-punch of a tale and the whole volume itself made for one hell of a fucked up road trip into the pit (both mental and actual). A blend of seasoned pros and fresh faces was again the order of the day, the same ideals of strong stories with more than just shock factor were present and accounted for.
Which finally brings us to where we’re at in the series now. The recently released Rejected For Content 5: Sanitarium. By now, the template where we have a subtitle prior to the open call, has been set in place, so while an open theme policy remains consistent, a focus on stories which in some way, no matter how tenuous, adhere to that whole Sanitarium idea, was encouraged. This meant I wanted tales of craziness, insanity, institutions, folks who should be incarcerated in them or whose actions meant they’d end up there sooner or later. And that was precisely what I got, in all kinds of lurid interpretations. The creativity and imaginations of folks out there is astounding, brilliant and captivating, and it’s always fascinating to give these people a simple focal point and see just how differently they all choose to approach it. Consequently, while Rejected For Content will always stay as an open themed entity (not sure I’ve said that often enough in this whole look back on the phenomenon, so best to say it once more), the whole notion of putting a subtitle to the book beforehand or pointing out that I’ll be after a proportion of stories related in some manner to said subtitle gives people something to focus on. Their interpretation, how they elect to approach it or whether they even want to adhere to it at all is all part of the fun, and one of the things that makes Rejected For Content so vibrant, fresh and so much fun to be involved with.
So when the doors to the Sanitarium finally cracked open, there was insanity abounding. Old hands at this Rejected For Content business were lurking in the corridors and new inmates were ushered in and shown to their rooms, where it was either going to be a case of straitjackets or lobotomies. K. Trap Jones, Essel Pratt, Toneye Eyenot booked themselves padded cells, and we welcomed back repeat offenders such as Brent Lorentson, G. Zimmerman and David Owain Hughes, while newcomers J.L Lane, Tamara Fey Turner and Mark Nye brought their own special breeds of insanity.
I coined the simple phrase Get Rejected a while back in the series, and this time I added Go Insane to that. It was fair to say that all those who were admitted to the Sanitarium certainly did that. In fact, they should all be institutionalised.
So, where to from here when it comes to Rejected For Content? Well, you will all have to wait and see, but there are most definitely plenty of plans and plenty of places we have yet to go. I can’t foresee this wrapping up any time soon. I love Rejected For Content and at this point in time, there’s no end in sight. In fact, soon I might be calling on fans of the series to be involved in various future endeavours. For now, be sure to check in to the Sanitarium and catch up on the latest installment. And wonder just where we’re going to end up next.
New Horror Anthologies for Charity: VS: US vs UK Horror/Bah! Humbug! An Anthology of Christmas Horror StoriesPosted: December 4, 2016 in Uncategorized
New Horror Anthologies for Charity:
VS: US vs UK Horror/Bah! Humbug! An Anthology of Christmas Horror Stories
In opposition to the last post I made here, now I get to talk about some of the truly awesome stuff that goes on in the horror community. And what could be more awesome than not just one, but two, brilliant new anthologies packed full of some of the best horror inkslingers in the game right now, both of which will be donating all proceeds from their sales to charity?
Well, that’s precisely what’s going on with the two very recently released books, VS: US vs UK Horror edited by Queen of Extreme, Dawn Cano and Bah! Humbug! An Anthology of Christmas Horror Stories put together by the UK’s premier extreme horror king, Matt Shaw.
Like I made mention of in that previous post, I had the good fortune to be involved in of both of these books, lining up in two stunning Tables of Contents alongside many of the biggest names in the business, and many bright and brilliant ones to keep a serious eye on. There are true heavyweights of the genre representing it here and there are some who will be carrying the torch for it for many years to come.
First up, we have VS, which stems from a suggestion devised by anthology ideas wizard John Ledger, and fully developed and realised by Dawn Cano. The notion was simple-pit horror authors from the USA against those from the UK in a bid to see who writes the best horror. Authors from Canada and Australia were also added to the respective teams (Canada with US, Aussies with the UK), which will explain why myself and fellow Aussie inkslinger, brother Toneye Eyenot are involved in the whole thing. The latest in a line of anthologies where various teams are matched against one another in story writing battles which are then judged on by a team of impartial judges (who are also not made aware who wrote which story at the time) over a series of rounds, VS bids to answer that age old question. Which country(s) will come out on top in a no-holds barred, brutal, bloody, horrific streetfight? It was an exceedingly close, and hard-fought, battle throughout, and though all of us involved know the final outcome, it’s now up to the readers to delve into the book and see who they’re going to pick each round, and ultimately, overall.
There’s extreme horror, straight down the line classic horror, bizarro, comedic horror and just about everything in between here, and if that isn’t quite enough to sway you into snaring a copy of this book (and the fact that it’s all for charity), then check out this line-up.
Who writes the best horror: the US or the UK? Find out for yourself in VS: US vs UK, a competition anthology featuring some of the year’s best horror, judged by horror enthusiasts and you: the readers.
Featuring Pre-Fight Hype from The Ginger Nuts of Horror and The Eyes of Madness!
Duncan Ralston vs Rich Hawkins
James Ward Kirk vs Kit Power
Glenn Rolfe vs Lex H. Jones
Tim Miller vs Daniel I. Russel
John Ledger vs Jim Goforth
Essel Pratt vs Daniel Marc Chant
Thomas S. Flowers vs Kyle M. Scott
Jonathan Ondrashek vs David Owain Hughes
T.S. Woolard vs Toneye Eyenot
Michael Noe vs Dani Brown
Sisters of Slaughter vs Matt Hickman
Salome Jones vs Kitty Kane
Peter Oliver Wonder vs Kevin J Kennedy
Cover art by Michael Bray
The book is available to purchase here
There is also a poll going on over here at the publisher (Shadow Work Publishing) where those who have read the stories are able to vote on which particular story in each round they considered the winner, so if you’ve already feasted your eyes on the various tales, best get around there and vote on them all.
All proceeds from the purchase of this book will be donated to the Second Chance Center for Animals (US) and the West Wales Poundies Dog Rescue (UK) charities.
Then there is Bah! Humbug! An Anthology of Christmas Horror Stories, conceived and conjured up by the one and only Matt Shaw. If you’ve been playing along at home, then you will most likely be aware that earlier in the year (around Easter, funnily enough), The Shaw pulled together a host of stellar names from the horror community to create an anthology of Easter horror stories-no easy feat, considering it’s not the first holiday most folks would associate with the genre. Or so you would think. The resulting Easter Eggs and Bunny Boilers was a hell of a lot of fun and proves that nothing is off-limits for horror scribes, no holiday is sacred, we all have no problem with putting a unique horrific spin on just about anything.
In any case, several of the same names who were involved in that book have now returned, alongside many other big hitters of the horror community, to contribute either reprints or brand new stories created just for an anti-Christmas anthology. Shit, why let Easter have all the fun? Christmas definitely deserves to be lampooned, chopped up, massacred and strewn in brightly coloured segments over all and sundry, and therefore Bah! Humbug! was spawned in unholy nativity. It was a fuckload of work for Matt, with more and more folks jumping on-board and contributing pieces, but it’s come together superbly, and clocks in at over 100k words.
Twenty five authors comprise this mammoth beast, and like VS, these are both some of the best names in the business, as well as many who will be, and the stories (and poems) contributed run the gamut from all out splatterpunk and horror extremity to tongue-in-cheek irreverent pieces.
Once more, if this concept (and the proceeds to charity incentive) can’t convince you this is one book you absolutely must have for Christmas, have a look at this line-up
Terry M. West (poem)
Daniel Marc Chant
Wrath James White (poem)
David Owain Hughes
Kealan Patrick Burke
Billie Sue Mosiman
Duncan P. Bradshaw
Thomas S. Flowers
Cover art by Michael Bray
As mentioned earlier, this book is made up of both reprints and originals, and for my own contribution I have an original tale which features a setting some of you may be familiar with. If you have read Easter Eggs and Bunny Boilers, you may recall an establishment called Fantasy Dress which has their own unique ways to celebrate various holidays throughout the year.
Now you can catch up with that place once more, and if you though things went a little awry at Easter, wait until you see what kind of chaos is unfolding around Christmas.
If you haven’t read Easter Eggs and Bunny Boilers, best rectify that immediately, and grab hold of Bah! Humbug! as well.
All monies received from this title go to different charities each month
The book is available to purchase here
Grab both of these books as soon as possible. Perfect for Christmas. Perfect for the apocalypse. Perfect for any occasion. Get into them now.
I rarely talk of, or dwell or concentrate on negative aspects in the writing world. Mainly because there are too many good things going on or I’m too damn busy with myriad projects at any given time. And for the most part, these more unpleasant happenings and occurrences don’t impact on me, have zero effect on my writing or output, book sales or what have you, but I have seen how they impact on friends and create unnecessary ripples and tensions where none should be.
The horror scene is one that is absolutely packed with brilliant people, stellar writers, supportive souls, wonderful fans and folks who will go the extra mile to lend a helping hand to all kinds, be they new writers looking for assistance, people needing some attention drawn to various projects, publishers needing a replacement to jump in on and help out with a suddenly vacant spot for something or other, others just needing general advice on all manner of miscellaneous matters.
One only needs to check out the level of excellence assembled in two very recently released horror anthologies (I’m going to be posting another post after this which will focus solely on these two books) and the people that got themselves involved in these works to realise how wonderful the vast majority of folks in the horror scene are. Because the proceeds of sales from both of these books goes directly to charity and all writers going into these projects were completely aware of this, and dove headlong into them wholeheartedly and gave their all to their stories to create top shelf products that any horror fanatic would be crazy not to get hold of.
I’m proud to be a part of both of these books, but what’s more is, I’m proud to be a part of the horror community. I love it, I love the vast majority of folk in it and I love to be involved in it, in many capacities.
Unfortunately, like most scenes, it isn’t without its pitfalls, negative things and all round general fuckery. (Shit, I come from the metal scenes and sometimes one could hold up a mirror to one scene and see the reflection of the other in it. Fuckery abounds in both).
In the grand scheme of things, it’s a small percentage of bad apples (for lack of a better word), but often that’s still too many. I’m talking sniping, Chinese Whispers, outright lies and slander, petty vendettas, biting the hand that feeds, talking utter rubbish about other writers or publishers, using people for own personal gains, all sorts of bizarre agendas,stepping on anybody possible in a bid to climb to the top and then pretending it was done alone, riding coat-tails, cashing in on the success of others, a lack of any gratitude in various respects, shit I could probably fill a Plebs-sized book with some of the things I’ve heard and/or been witness to. And I hear a lot, so just as in the metal scene, I know what’s going on. Now, I mostly couldn’t give a fuck about this; I observe, I see what’s what and I know who will either come crashing down or find themselves boxed in without any real other avenues out, but as I mentioned, some of this fuckery has either impacted on friends or associates of mine, or been detrimental in some way. Ultimately, regardless who it impacts on, it’s not cool.
You might be a brand new fledgling writer looking to get yourself out there, looking to get known or acknowledged. Don’t bite the hands of anybody if they’ve been extended to help you in any capacity.
You might have parted ways with a publisher for one reason or another. Unless that’s some serious shit going on which probably should end up in court, or there’s some major fucking money issues, don’t badmouth them to all and sundry.
You might be an established writer who had plenty of assistance, tips, help and pointers to get you headed on the right direction. You might suddenly blow up and become an overnight success, or some such shit. You might be the next big thing. Don’t forget where you came from. Because even if you do, all those you stepped on, on the way up, sure as hell won’t forget.
You might be too easily swayed by others’ opinions. Fuck that. Form your own opinion.
Be careful about what bridges you burn. Some of those motherfuckers aren’t going to be rebuilt. The old once bitten twice shy adage works well here. People don’t like to be associated with somebody who has proved untrustworthy or too eager to shoot off their mouth half-cocked.
You might have issues with others in your community, well, that’s always going to happen, whatever the community. Either sort it out, or just move along. Agree to disagree. Some folks will never see eye to eye, and who cares to? Not everybody can be friends, not everybody will be friends, but there is an ability for most adults with a capacity for lateral thinking to be able to coexist. If there’s an issue, you can address it or you can choose to get on with life without making it the focus of your existence. Dredging up shit and beating it like a red-headed stepchild is tedious, counter-productive and a waste of time for everybody that gets dragged into it, directly or otherwise. Any of the random shit I’ve had the misfortune of somehow being indirectly involved with is precisely this, though it doesn’t hinder my writing or other work at all. It’s just like that fucking mosquito that keeps buzzing around your head when you’re trying to sleep. You’ll fall asleep eventually, but not before you wish you could splatter that motherfucker against the wall.
Most of all of this bullshit is white noise to me and I treat it as such, but since not all people would feel that way, I wouldn’t suggest they try to tune it out. There’s some pretty insidious stuff that goes on at times, some bollocks and slanderous rubbish that spins completely out of control, some of it impossible to ignore. After all, even white noise can get pretty fucking aggravating when it’s incessant.
Can’t we all just get along, you say? Nah, fuck that too. There are people who I would intentionally choose not to get along with, because they’ve revealed their penchant for inane fuckery, and agendas both hidden and not so hidden which detract from writing and serve no benefit, or in any way aid the overall community. So, no I’d never suggest we all try and get along, because that is an impossible scenario with too many different personalities that are bound to clash under any given circumstances. All I would suggest is if you are in it to write, then write. If you’re in it for any other reason, fuck off out of here.
If I’ve said this once, I’ve said it a million times and I suspect I’ve got at least another million times to say it. I write because I love to write. Point blank. Simple. I make money out of what I write, but that’s a bonus added to the love of writing. It’s always cool seeing people appreciate and dig the stories I write, and knowing they have similar tastes to me because I’m writing the tales that I love to read.
I submit to paying markets, I submit to non-paying markets, I write for charity, I write books because I have thousands of stories in me I want to tell. Bottom line. I didn’t walk into this expecting I’d sell my first story for a bajillion dollars and swan out of it rich. If you’re in it for that purpose, then probably best to fuck off out of it right now too (I think I’m horribly mangling a similar statement made by Jack Ketchum in that regard). In fact I didn’t even start with stories, I started off with a novel, and even then I didn’t go into it thinking it was a money making enterprise. I subbed it because it was a book I loved writing and I wanted to share the story with others, and that’s still a prime factor in writing stories today. I love telling stories and if I’m getting paid for some of them, sweet. If I’m subbing them to help out others, then I’m supremely cool with that too. I’ve no problem building up a great resume of writing publications and credits, and if there’s no money in some of them, so be it. So many people out there are staunchly against non-paying markets, and that’s all well and good, each to their own. At some stage in a writer’s career, they’ll be able to consider that and pick and choose, and be a little more selective, but coming straight out of the gate and thinking you’re going to crack the moneypot from the word go is hilarious. I’ve explored this whole scenario in another post, so I’m not going to rehash it again, but there are two schools of thought on the whole paying, non-paying market thing and that’s up to each person to decide where they sit with it. It’s pretty damn simple to me, that shit’s all about balance. Again, not everybody is likely to be on the same page with that, but anyway…
I’m going to keep on writing, keep on paying homage to the folks who inspire me, keep on supporting the horror community and those in it. I’m going to continue to sub to paying markets, to non-paying markets. I’m going to keep writing for charity, I’m going to keep assisting those who need or want it. I’m going to keep handing out pointers, tips, advice, what-have-you. I’m going to keep scouting fine extreme horror talent for WetWorks, I’m going to continue writing big-ass books. I’m going to keep on slinging bloody ink and scribbling horrific tales. I’m going to keep doing what the fuck I love to do.
And since black metal is perfect for drowning out white noise, I reckon I’ll put some of that on too.
2016 J. Ellington Ashton Awards/Awards in General and how the right kind of attention could benefit youPosted: September 7, 2016 in Uncategorized
Tags: Awards, JEA, jellingtonashton, REJECTED FOR CONTENT
2016 J. Ellington Ashton Awards/Awards in General and how the right kind of attention could benefit you
Around this time every year it seems I write a post regarding awards, so while this one essentially won’t be any different, it will address a couple of things other than mentioning specific awards.
In any case, J. Ellington Ashton Press recently held their annual awards and it was great to see a whole bunch of well-deserving authors, staff, artists and books receive acknowledgement for their assorted achievements throughout the year. My brothers in metal or splatterpunk or WetWorks, extreme inkslinging, whathaveyou, Toneye Eyenot, John Ledger, Michael Fish Fisher won some truly deserved awards as did many others who have gone above and beyond in 2016. As for me, I snagged this little beauty here
In addition to that Rejected For Content was runner up for Anthology of the Year. This would be for RFC4: Highway to Hell I would assume since Volume 3: Vicious Vengeance came out in October last year. Not too bad considering Highway to Hell has only been out a few months.
I’m pretty sure I say this with each post as well, but I’m going to say it again anyway. I don’t write for awards. If you do write to win awards or that happens to be your motivation for writing, shit, get out of the game now.
I write because I love to write. I love to tell stories, I love to create the kinds of things I personally love to read; I have a restless, twisted imagination full of things that need to be spilled onto the page. I just love writing and that’s why I do it. If people happen to dig the freakish horror tales that make their way out of my head and splatter blood all over the pages, then that is awesome. If those same things garner the sort of attention that results in awards or other forms of acknowledgement, appreciation etc. etc. then that’s pretty cool too. It’s always great to be acknowledged by peers, fans, readers, the general public and so forth, but it will never be (and should never be) the principal motivation to write.
And as for winning awards, well I sure as hell can’t tell anybody how to win them. Because I don’t know. I can’t tell you how to win awards and nor can I tell you how to be the best author or anything like that. But I can tell you how to increase your visibility (so if garnering awards of any variety is one of your motivations, maybe your chances will also increase, hell, who knows) and try and maintain a profile.
Write. Keep writing. Keep releasing things. Be prolific. Don’t rest on your laurels.You can’t expect to maintain a high profile if you write one book, sit back and wait for the world to discover it (sure, there might be exceptions to this, but I can’t think of any right now). Let folks know about it, make people aware you have something out there they should be reading. Don’t assume people are just going to stumble across it without having a few pointers in the right direction. Interact with readers, other authors, potential readers, fans you might already have. Know your fanbase. Increase your fanbase (easier said than done I know, but it can be done). Be approachable. Be supportive of others. Writing isn’t a competition; there’s a fuckload of us out there and it makes more sense to support those fellow creatives than trying and wage war with them. Folks don’t always remember who is there sharing their shit or whatnot, but they sure as hell remember who did some underhanded shit or who tried to make enemies of them or just did some all round general fuckery in the name of climbing up that ladder a little higher. Sure, not everybody is going to get along, there will be those who like to step on others or use others to give them a leg up and then promptly forget who helped them out in the beginning, but again, it’s always a better option to take the higher ground there. Don’t involve yourself in drama. Fuck that shit. Of course, some of it is unavoidable, but for the most part it is. Stay away from it. Nobody wants to be remembered as that writer always getting embroiled in some kind of happy horseshit. Save that for writing. Wasting time on vitriolic rants, vendettas, targeting others or whatever is the in thing regarding drama these days is productive writing time wasted.
Promote yourself. Market your works. Identify your target market and ensure you’re directing the right information to them. No good pitching to folks who won’t have a bar of what it is you’re writing; try and win over a new fanbase or broaden into different areas after you have an established one. Keep potential readers and current fans updated on your releases, upcoming projects, current projects and plans. That again is easier said than done, and there’s often a fine line to tread between promoting and spamming or overkill, but that’s for each to find their own balance.
Create a brand for yourself. Build up a resume of work. Submit to markets. Hell, submit to anthologies and markets that don’t pay shit. I do and I’ll continue to do so, namely because there are so many great projects out there I want to write for, regardless of whether there’s any money in it. If you’ve got grand designs on subbing to the same places over and over because they pay top dollar and you keep getting rejected, might be time to expand horizons a little. There’s no creating a brand for yourself if you’re not getting anything accepted anywhere. That doesn’t mean write and sub for everything under the sun of course. Be choosy, but be a little smart about it. And when you do get rejected-it happens to all of us-be gracious about it. Don’t go on a tirade, don’t assume you know better than whoever knocked you back, they have their reasons. Editors always remember those who can’t take rejection graciously.
Bottom line. Don’t be a prick, asshole, bitch, cunt, whatever. It’s easy enough to achieve, unless of course that’s ones natural persona. In which case, consider your career longevity to not be overly long. Once more, probably exceptions to the rule, but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest folks didn’t always get where they got by being any of the above to others, particularly on a constant basis.
Be gracious, accepting, supportive, approachable, proactive, creative and keep on writing. And don’t write for awards. If you do do enough to earn them the way they should be earned, they will come.
I’ve got a novel to write before this month is out, so rather than ramble on any more here, best I get to doing that.
Jim is an incredibly talented man and one that I’m very proud to call my friend. He has written many great books and if you haven’t read one go get one right now….go on! His writing will absolutely blow your mind. He is a devoted family man who loves his wife and children with all his heart. I have many good friends that attribute their writing and where it is today because of him and his help. That says a lot about him. He is never one to shy away from a challenge or the task at hand and will keep you on the edge of your seat reading his stories. Please welcome my friend Jim to Roadie Notes………
1. How old were you when you first wrote your first story?
Extremely young. I started reading early and not long after that I was writing my own stories. I was…
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