Who are you?
H. David Blalock
What type of stuff do you write? (Besides shopping lists)
I have published everything from novels to non-fiction articles, but I mostly write short stories in the speculative fiction genre. I know that’s a broad term, but it covers the majority of my fiction quite well.
What do you want to pimp right now?
My latest novel is the third and final volume of the Angelkiller Triad, Doom Angel. It wraps up the story begun in Angelkiller and Traitor Angel. I believe this series gives a reasonable answer to the age-old question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” in that it explains how, in the war between the Angels of Light and the Angels of Darkness, it was really the Dark that won. Since then, humanity has been conditioned to believe the opposite and has suffered for that illusion.
What is your favorite book? (Okay, or two or three or… I know how writers are as readers.)
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein is probably my all-time favorite. Then there is The Traveller in Black by John Brunner and the Slan series by A. E. Van Vogt. I enjoy how each of these writers took ideas of basic human need, greed, and ambition and turned them into something visceral.
What other hats do you wear besides the writer hat?
For the past 5 years or so I have been trying to help other writers through the Imagicopter network (www.facebook.com/Imagicopterand www.imagicopter.com) by keeping them informed of events and new venues for their writing. Hopefully, Imagicopter has been useful to the hundred or so members we have across the country.
On Rejection, And Stuff…
As a writer for the better part of 40 years and editor of my own and others’ work for at least that long, I’ve been on both sides of the rejection issue. For those of you who are just starting out, there are a few things I’d like to pass along.
- You cannot publish what you do not finish. Before anything else, finish what you write. Don’t consider anything else until then. Not who will publish it, not how will it get reviewed, not what will your family think of it. Nothing else. Finish the piece, but remember one thing: finish first, then edit.
- Don’t edit your piece until it is finished. Editing as you go along prevents you from doing what you want most, that is, have a piece ready for submission. Even the great masters could ruin a piece by constantly making “just one more improvement”. Trust your instincts. Only critique and edit your work after it’s done.
- Do not trust spell check as your only proofreader. There are several ways to double-check your spelling and grammar. I recommend reading your work aloud to yourself. This will give you an idea of the flow and readability of the work. Make changes as you go at this point.
- Have a disinterested reader look over the work before submitting it. Don’t give it to your mother, father, sister, brother, or even your best friend. And don’t trust writers’ groups to give you more than a cursory idea of what needs to be done. Most of all, remember that whatever feedback you get from proofreaders is just their opinion. You should carefully consider whether their suggestions will improve or hurt your work.
- Research the markets for your work and read the guidelines carefully before submission. I cannot stress this enough. You can hurt your ego and sometimes your reputation by not reading the guidelines. Editors do talk among themselves. They will relay information about writers who do not follow guidelines to other editors. It’s a smaller community than you might think.
- Be professional! You are going to receive rejection letters. This is part of being a writer. Not every publisher is going to want your work. This is not personal. Publishers have a business to run and to make that business successful they need to cater to their audience, meet deadlines, word limitations, budgets, any number of other factors. Your work may hit them at a bad time or simply may not be what they want. Do not take rejection as a personal attack. Most of all, do not react unprofessionally to rejection by sending the editor a nasty or snide response. I can guarantee this will be passed along to other editors as evidence of your lack of professionalism.
- If and when your work is accepted for publication, check the contract closely and don’t sign anything immediately.It’s easy to get excited about the prospect of seeing your work in print but remember that writers get paid, not the other way around. If the publisher expects you to pay to be published, best pass on that one. Unless you are self-publishing for personal reasons, avoid that kind of contract.
- Expect the possibility of further editing for word count or content from the publisher. At this point, it is important to remember the publisher’s job is to sell your work. However, you still have the right to remind them you are the writer and your name will be associated with it. Most reputable publishers will work closely with you to find a satisfactory compromise.
- Once your work appears, send a note of thanks to the publisher/editor. A good working relationship is based on courtesy and communication. You have built a bridge. Don’t burn it first thing out.
- Finally, be prepared to promote your work yourself. Even the big publishing houses do very little promotion for their authors. Learn about book signings, events, conventions, anything that will get your name and work before the public. Make yourself as available as possible. The success of your career as a writer is, in the end, up to you.