Archive for June, 2015

chizmar author pic Richard Chizmar is the founder and publisher/editor of Cemetery Dance magazine and the Cemetery Dance Publications book imprint. He has edited more than a dozen anthologies, including The Best of Cemetery Dance, Night Visions 10, October Dreams, and the Shivers series. His fiction has appeared in many publications, including Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and The Year’s 25 Finest Crime and Mystery Stories. He has won two World Fantasy Awards, four International Horror Guild Awards, and the HWA’s Board of Trustees Award.

Thanks to author, editor, and publisher, Richard Chizmar, for stopping by and answering a few questions.

VWC: When did you decide you wanted to be an author? What are some of the things you did to reach that goal?

RC: I started writing stories when I was a little kid. Usually war stories or tales of monsters lurking in the shadows. I still have my first “published” book from when I was 10 or 11 – about a lonely snowman who couldn’t melt. It even features my own artwork, which clearly predicted a career that had nothing to do with drawing pictures. But it wasn’t until college that I started writing seriously and submitting for publication. I started selling my stories my senior year at the University of Maryland.

As for things I did to reach that goal…I read everything I could get my hands on and I wrote a lot. That’s the key. Plop your butt down in a chair and do the work. I sent out a lot of stories and received a lot of rejections. But they didn’t discourage me. I looked at them as a sort of badge of honor. Eventually, I started selling stories to small magazines and anthologies. Then, larger, more professional markets. I was twenty-two years old at the time and doing exactly what I felt I was born to do…

VWC: How has your background as a publisher helped you with your career as an author?

jack5.500x8.500.indd RC: Well, it has certainly helped by allowing me to work with many of the genre’s top editors and publishers and agents and authors. I have access to a lot of cool projects that a beginning writer would never be exposed to. But, to be perfectly honest, my job as publisher/editor is probably more responsible than any other factor for me not writing that much for a period of 10-15 years. I was simply too busy building a business and working with other authors on their own books. Something had to take a back seat and unfortunately, it was my own writing time. This is something that I have finally been able to change. I have written more in the past 6-7 months than I have in the past decade, and 2015 should be a banner year for me.

VWC: How did you find a publisher for your first book?

RC: My first book, a short story collection called Midnight Promises, was published way back in 1996 by Gauntlet Press. I knew the publisher, Barry Hoffman, from other projects and he was kind enough to ask me to publish my first collection. Of course, I was thrilled.

VWC: How do you find a publisher for a book now?

RC: Pretty much just like you always have. Usually an author will send a query letter with a short bio and a very short synopsis of the book, asking if the publisher would like to see a complete outline and sample chapters, or if they are very lucky, the full manuscript. If the publisher agrees to read either the samples or full manuscript – and the odds are as tough as ever on this happening – then the waiting game begins. Usually anywhere from a couple months to a couple years before you hear back from them. It’s NOT an easy business, and you better LOVE it if you are going to do it!

chizmar2Of course, there is a somewhat different process if you have a literary agent, but finding an agent in today’s marketplace is a whole other subject and challenge!

VWC: Have you ever self-published a book? If yes, what are the greatest challenges for a self-published author?

RC: I haven’t. I have been very fortunate in that I have sold everything I have written to other publishers. But self publishing – if done correctly and professionally – is a viable way to reach a wide audience and earn good money, so it’s certainly something I would consider in the future. There are a decent number of self-published authors making a good living at it these days, so it’s definitely something more and more writers are trying…with widely varying degrees of success.

VWC: Four books written by you are to be published in 2015. Do you work on more than one book at a time?

RC: I do, usually by necessity. Sometimes, I’ll set aside one manuscript to work on another if I feel stuck or uninspired. Or if a deadline is looming!

VWC: Do you have any time-management secrets for writers?

RC: I wish! If anyone out there knows the secret, please ask them to drop me an email and share! I write when I can. At home. At my office. In the car waiting for one of my boys to finish practice. Anywhere I can squeeze in a few paragraphs…

VWC: What book that you’ve written is your favorite, and why?

chizmar3 RC: Ahh, that’s too much like asking me if I have a favorite child! My stock answer – which usually ends up being true – is whichever story I am currently working on is my favorite.

VWC: What projects are you working on now?

RC: I’m juggling a bunch of things right now. I’m finishing up a novella for my next collection, A Long December, due this Summer from Subterranean Press. Another novella for a British publisher, SST Publications, as well as a number of short stories for various editors and a movie script.

VWC: What advice do you have for writers trying to get a book published?

RC: Be dedicated, be stubborn, believe in yourself and your story, and do the work. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s the opposite of easy. But it’s all part of the process and worth it in the end.

VWC: Who was your favorite author as a child?

RC: Dr. Seuss and Stephen King. King’s stories are what made me want to become a writer.

VWC: Who is your favorite author now?

RC: Still Stephen King. I also really enjoy John Sanford, Ed Gorman, Robert McCammon, and dozens of other writers. My “To Read” pile isn’t a pile; it’s a tower.

VWC: When is your favorite time of day to write?

RC: If you had asked me this question 20 years ago, my answer would have been late at night, after most other people are asleep. I loved the hush and stillness of those hours, and they really worked for me as far as productivity and inspiration. I would write until 2 or 3am and sleep in. These days, I tend to write whenever I can find the time. Mornings seem to be working best as of late.

VWC: What was the most valuable piece of writing advice given to you?

RC: Do the work. Read. Write. Expect the rejections. Embrace the process. Don’t give up.

VWC: And now, the final and most important question: What’s your favorite kind of cookie?

RC: Chocolate Chip!

To learn more about Richard Chizmar visit the Cemetery Dance website. You can also find him on Twitter @RichardChizmar 

To purchase Richard’s books, you can visit Amazon.

Thanks, Richard, for stopping by. Watch Whimsical Words for more Guests, Quotable Wednesdays, Writing Tips, Recipes, and lots of other interesting posts. Have a Cemetery Dance kind of Monday – Vonnie

PS. If you want to show some love, visit my Amazon page and buy one of my books. 🙂

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“The most important thing we can do is inspire young minds and to advance the kind of science, math and technology education that will help youngsters take us to the next phase of space travel.” – John Glenn, astronaut (and more)

Perhaps it’s because I’m writing some science fiction as the moment, but I’ve been remembering the excitement, not only in the USA, but around the world about space travel when I was younger. I’m not sure anything can take the place of the absolute certainty I felt as a child and young adult that humans would travel not only in our solar system, but among the stars. And like John Glenn, I know the students of today are the ones who must take us into the next phase of space travel.

But long before computers were a way of life, John Glenn trusted a woman, Katherine Johnson, to calculate the mathematics for his flight into space. Never heard of her? Most people haven’t. Here’s a Women’s History Minute video to introduce you to Katherine Johnson.

Still want more? Here’s a link to a little more information about Katherine Johnson from NASA.

Let’s encourage kids to learn more math, science, and technology – and reach for the stars once more.

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First, let me say I need to work on my blogging. With that said, I’ve been trying to come up with a strategy to write and share interesting content with my blog readers on a more regular basis.

Content is a tricky thing.

As an author, I want to engage my book readers – not only in the hopes they’ll continue to be interested in my writing, but also because they’re the ones who stop by at author events and cons to chat. Still, I don’t want to turn them off by constantly pushing my books.

As a writer, I’m interested in writing tips. When I find an interesting article on some aspect of the writing journey, I like to expand upon it and then, share the link. But I don’t want just writers reading my blog.

As a person, I’m interested in many things, including books, movies, science, gardening, animals, cooking, history, folklore, fairytales… well, you get the idea. In fact, those interests are the very things which inspire my writing and art. But I don’t want to just post recipes and gardening tips.

So ideally, the content of my blog speaks to my readers, helps other writers, reflects my interests, and hopefully proves interesting to many people. Like I said, content is tricky.

But content is only part of the journey to being a better blogger – there’s frequency, appearance, engaging your blog readers, etc. A good summary can be found in a She Writes post by Meghan Ward.

Happy blogging! And if you’re enjoying my posts, please visit my Amazon page and consider buying one of my books.

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“If a child is to keep his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him [or her] the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” – Rachel Carson

Which is why, I for one, strive to maintain and nourish my sense of wonder. Beyond that, I try to create worlds in my writing and art which are filled with joy, excitement and mystery. And I encourage all my readers, especially those who write or illustrate, to embrace his or her sense of wonder!

For those who want to know a little more about Rachel Carson, remembered most for her book, Silent Spring, here’s a link to a Women’s History Minute video.

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I’ll be updating my website in the next few weeks. In order to streamline the site while still offering an opportunity for my readers to check out a few free samples, I’ve turned to Wattpad.

Watt-what” a few of you might ask. Wattpad is a site where many writers, some professional and some beginners, post free excerpts and complete stories. There are even some complete books for readers to enjoy.

I think it’s a great site for readers (free reads – need I say more) and writers. For writers, it’s an opportunity to offer a sample of your work to readers who might become fans of your work. If you decide to only offer excerpts, perhaps readers will be intrigued enough to search out the complete story or book. If you own all rights to a story or book, and are so inclined, you can gift your readers with a complete tale. Again, in the hopes those readers will become fans.

Here’s a link to one of my excerpts (over 12,000 words, so it’s a big excerpt) on Wattpad. You can easily find the other free prose I’m offering (including a complete story). If you like my excerpts and complete story, please Follow me, make a comment, favor the tale, and tell your friends.

Happy reading!

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Like many authors and illustrators, I attend various author events in hopes of meeting my readers and selling a few books (and maybe a poster or 2 of my artwork).

It’s always a challenge to find a way to engage the attendees without scaring them away by being too aggressive. When someone stops by my table, I try to be friendly, and (gulp) suggest they look at one of my books.

I often wonder if there are better ways to attract people to stop and chat, and then buy my books, posters, illustration pendants, etc. I came across an interesting post from DerpyGurl which has some great tips for authors. Don’t be put off by the title if you’re not attending Comic Con or writing science-fiction and fantasy – this article is very informative for all authors.


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