Being paid with Exposure…

There’s a skirmish raging in the publishing industry at the moment… no, I’m not talking about two of the Big Six going head to head over something, or Traditional Publishing attacking Self Publishing.

I’m talking about writers waking up to a strange concept.

Payment.

When I started writing in the hope of making it a career, I was naive and hopeful. I’d followed an article I read in a Writing Magazine and started out by trying my luck with the Short Story market.

With every acceptance for an anthology I gained, my ego was given a boost. I was going to make it and in just a few months, I’d have accumulated a writer’s CV with enough stories published to wow an agent when I sent out my first book manuscript…

… or at least that is what I thought.

I was careful. After a few submissions paid for in “exposure”,  I went for anthologies and magazines that paid a minimal amount rather than the “for the love of it” publications. My plan was to get a few of those under my belt and then try for the markets that paid multiple pennies per word.
That went awry when I opened my own webzine and realised that unless I paid for writers, I wouldn’t get more than my friends submitting… and I had a sneaking suspicion that my friends were submitting to either shut me up or to make me feel better as my webzine tanked on the views.
*sighs*

I came out of that period a lot wiser. I learned that being a webzine owner / editor wasn’t as easy as it looked and that the stress of getting an issue out each month wasn’t worth the small moment of pride I got each month.
It also taught me that unless I wanted to starve my family, I was going to have to work harder at bringing money in.

(Yes, I know. I live in the UK – our benefits system is supposed to mean no one starves… *snorts*…)

Anyway. That was where I started my inroad into novel publishing.
I’d sent out a large number of novel queries at the same time as the short story foray. It hadn’t gone well.
Exposure wasn’t worth the paper it wasn’t written on after all, I had discovered. Agents weren’t interested in my publishing credits with magazines, even ones that were popular in the genre crowd. They wanted something that they knew would sell to a big publisher, so that they could collect their 15% commission on a large sum.

So now I’m here.

Self publishing is almost as bad as working for “exposure” but at least I get to set the prices when I publish a book. And at least I do get paid… sometimes it might be pennies per book, but at least all those pennies are mine and mine alone.

Chuck Wendig writes a superb blog. He has an entertaining writing style that brings people to his yard for more than just refreshment…  He’s one of my Writing Heroes because he seems to find time to write Books as well as blog pieces. He’s a genius in the art of grabbing his audience by the throat and getting his point across in a few, well chosen words.

He’s also a tad sweary… which I appreciate because I can’t do it properly. There’s an art to swearing that I have never mastered. But I digress.

I’d seen the blog that Wil Wheaton had posted on the subject of Huffington Post’s refusal to pay for his work back in October.  And at the time, I agreed with it wholeheartedly. I’d chuckled and agreed with The Oatmeal’s take on Exposure Payment and then in the rush of creativity for NaNoWriMo, I forgot about it again. Until this…

SCREAM IT UNTIL THEIR EARS BLEED: PAY THE FUCKING WRITERS

Chuck’s post on the 18th whacked me full force in the face with a wet Kipper and forced me to pay attention to something that I thought wasn’t happening any more.

I don’t know why I thought it wasn’t happening anymore. I haven’t been in that world very much, having been spending more time trying to work on my own novels, worrying about my partner’s back and my children’s  schooling.

But now I realise that the “exposure” payment never actually went away… and that I will never again write anything for just exposure. I will expect some kind of payment – whether that is in kind (so a guest blog post on another blog will always mention my own work somehow; aka free advertising)  or an actual monetary payment.

The only place that you will find my words for free is here – on my own blog. And even here, should you wish to support my writing career, you can. I have several e-books available for purchase on amazon and other places; just type “Kira Morgana” or “A. E. Churchyard” into your favourite e-book site’s search facility.

Just buy yourself something to read and thereby keep my cats in Kittynibbles and my kids in socks… it’s as simple as that.

PS: The only work that will ever be entirely for free will be either my Fanfiction (I don’t believe in profiting from someone else’s work and if the copyright holder objects to it, I’ll remove them from my site) or the stories that get published through Cake & Quill – Charity Anthologies are worth the work for an entirely different reason.

Buttons, Hallowe’en and Belief…

It’s the 31st October today.

It means different things to different people.

To kids all over the world, Hallowe’en is time to dress up and collect so many sweets they’ll either be sick from eating them all at once ( I have experienced that one… never again) or they’ll be able to eke out all the goodies until Christmas.

To Teenagers, it’s time to dare each other to watch the goriest, scariest horror films that they can. To watch Pinhead torture another victim of the Chinese Puzzle Box or the Puzzle Killer slice another abductee into tiny pieces…

and yes, I have done that one as well… once more, never again.

To the Pagan community, it’s Samhain. This is the end of the Harvest true; but it’s also the night of the year when the veil between the worlds is thinnest and the Dead can visit us from the Spirit World…

…hence why we decorate our houses with ghosts and witches (not every pagan is a witch by the way) and carve pumpkins and turnips into lanterns to scare the evil spirits from our doors…

…then spend the 1st of November (Day of the Dead, All Saints Day) remembering those of our families who have passed on.

It’s also NaNoEve – the day before NaNoWriMo when those writers taking part are preparing themselves for midnight, to write 1677 words and upload their wordcount in celebration of writing without editing…

… I’m doing it again this year – did the change of Web Banner and addition of the NaNoWriMo Word Counter in the sidebar not give it away?

So in the spirit of both NaNo and Hallowe’en, I’m going to Treat you to some words  –

Firstly a couple of reviews of  “The Button Man” by Wayne DePriest

The Button Man takes a button when he takes a victim. And he takes a victim whenever he wants. The authorities don’t know he exists, though he leaves them ample evidence of his existence. They just don’t see it.

As a rookie patrolman, Detective Dan Finney met The Button Man in Maria Kuroshchepova’s apartment. Finney discovered her body, tucked neatly into her bed. A decade later the case is still unsolved and Detective Finney has seen the handiwork of The Button Man again and again without knowing it.

Saddled with a partner who seems hellbent on destroying both their careers and a girlfriend who just might take what sanity he has left, Finney gradually becomes aware of a sinister force loose in the city, a man who has gotten away with murder time and time again. As the picture of The Button Man becomes clearer, Finney comes face to face with his worst nightmare.

I’ll be adding my own review of this book a little later, but until then, here’s a couple of Amazon Reviews, warts’n’all…

* * *

5.0 out of 5 starsSerial Killer, Dedicated Dectective and a final Plot Twist makes for a good read.,March 15, 2014
By J Faye “J Faye”
This review is from: The Button Man (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed reading The Button Man, not only once, but twice. The characters were well developed, the dialogue was well written and there were even a few pearls of wisdom thrown in here and there. I have enjoyed reading some of Mr DePriest’s other works and expected a lot from this story. I was not disappointed.
If you want to read a story about a wily serial killer and a dedicated detective who match wits and ride a plot twist through to the end, this is your book.

 * * *

3.0 out of 5 starsNice story, but too many tangents., May 28, 2014
By Pelagicus
This review is from: The Button Man (Kindle Edition)
I liked this story, it was very well written, but it was detracted by the fact that it took too many tangents, and too many characters were introduced, that didn’t really add to the story. I wanted to identify with the main character, but it seemed to jump around too much chronologically, so I could never get a handle on who the character really was. His relationships with the many secondary characters attempted to do this, but even these detracted from the main story. The strongest character was the villain, the Button Man, and the one that I could identify with the best, because he was simple, straightforward, motivated by the basest of instincts. if this story was pared down and stripped to its barest, rawest elements, it would be a great story.
* * *
And here is one of my short stories –

A Dieter’s Halloween Nightmare

I have flashes of inspiration sometimes. This story is one that occurred to me during Halloween 2009 and was accepted for publication by House of Horror in December of the same year. It also found its way into their “Best of 2009“ Anthology.

The inspiration came from listening to everyone at my Slimmer’s club complaining about the amount of sweets and chocolate there was in the shops…

* * *

I’m walking down the stairs. It’s midnight on Hallowe’en and there is a noise in the kitchen. Gripping the cat tightly, I creep towards the door. An unearthly green light shines from beneath it and the rustling, crunching noise is getting louder.

I get ready to swing the cat, in best baseball batting fashion and using my foot, I push the door open. It swings away from me, creaking fit to wake the dead and the light blinds me. I tense as the noise stops and then I can see through the light…

A huge bar of dark G & B stands in the centre of the room, googly eyes whirling round and a huge Cheshire cat grin on the dark brown wrapper, “I’ve been waiting for you…” it whispers seductively and the wrapper begins to strip away, revealing the golden foil beneath.

As the eyes and grin float up above the bar, the gold foil rustles and starts to peel away. I can smell the deep chocolately aroma and my mouth begins to water.

“Eat me…” the seductive voice floats down from the grin.

“I can’t, I’m on a healthy eating plan.” I reply, dropping the cat to the floor and taking an involuntary step forward.

“Eat me. It’s Hallowe’en, you can have sweets at Hallowe’en.”

“No, I can’t… I mustn’t…” I struggle against the force pulling me into the kitchen. The gold foil drops to the floor and I can see the huge chunks of chocolate in front of me.

“No! I lost half a stone this week, I have to keep eating healthily!” I cry out weakly.

“Eat me…” the bar floats towards me, breaking apart into delectable pieces. I reach out, my feet stuck to the kitchen tiles

“NO!” I pull my arms in and take a step backwards. It tears the skin from my bare feet and I leave bloody foot prints on the floor as I step backward again.

The chunks of chocolate melt together to form a huge fanged mouth, the googly eyes resting on top of it. It opens and the deep chocolately smell draws me closer. I close my eyes to savour the aroma and I step forward again. I feel a sudden sharp pain in my hands and open my eyes to see the blood fountain from my wrists. The mouth gulps it down and I become weaker.

“If you won’t eat me then… I’ll just have to eat you!” the voice roars.

The tongue inside swipes out and curls around me, dragging me inside. The mouth closes and for an instant I am in chocolate heaven. Warm, melted chocolate pours in around me, down my throat, up my nose… and it’s wonderful.

Then pain explodes all over me and I realise, it’s not Heaven.

It’s Hell.

– Taken from:


The mind is a strange place. Darkness and Light are normally equally balanced within, but when the balance tilts toward the Darkness, dangerous things can happen…

This collection of Short Stories comes to you from A. E. Churchyard’s Darkness. Follow her as she walks the paths less trod within… just make sure you bring a torch… teddy bears optional.

A good assortment of horror (or Variations on a Scream!)., 14 Dec 2012 By Paul T.
This review is from: Darkness in Mind: A Short Story Collection (Kindle Edition)

Mention horror, and I would probably have thought ancient houses, creaky floorboards and unquiet spirits. Until, that is, I came across this collection of horror-themed short stories.

Churchyard does an excellent job of demonstrating that horror can cover a very wide range. There’s techno-horror, comedy horror, food horror, romantic horror – and more besides. There’s even a story involving a tragic death and a restless spirit that isn’t at all horrible, just to turn the genre on its head! And, yes, there are a few ancient houses, some creaky floorboards, and a fair bit of gore splashed around here and there!

All the stories, however, display a vivid imagination and a smooth flow of words that will draw you in to your doom… you have been warned!

 * * *

Well written tales, June 10, 2014 By Shari Rood
This review is from: Darkness in Mind: A Short Story Collection (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed this book of short stories. Well written and often clever and thought provoking. The only thing I would say is that I didn’t find them at all scary or frightening and the title seemed to suggest that they might be. Still, these are very good and written by a very talented author and I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted collection of stories.

* * *

And finally, here’s something I ran across the other day:

Autumn is on its way… and so is NaNoWriMo!

I don’t know about you, but September is one of those months where everything is a little confused. The weather can’t decide if it’s summer or autumn, there’s new flowers blooming and trees dropping their leaves. There are Bees and Butterflies, but also Craneflies and giant Spiders…

It’s the start of education for many children (and adults) as the schools, colleges and universities start back after the summer holidays, so there’s uniform, new shoes, stationary to buy… in fact it almost feels like it should be the start of the year, instead of the year being almost over.

I get quite sad at this time of year because of the confusion all around me. Then I hit the anniversary of meeting TOH (we count this our anniversary because we’re not married yet) and I’m reminded that this time of year was the start of our partnership and that that partnership brought me the three lovely children that we have together

TOH

Then things get better. We have several birthdays in October (including mine) and then Hallowe’en appears and NaNoWriMo… and before you know it we’re counting down towards Christmas.

So while September can be quite sad at it’s beginning, by the end of it, I’m cheery and moderately excited.

Hmm… Yes, all things considered, I like autumn and it starts with September.

* * *

Now I have to consider something really important.

What on Earth do I do for NaNoWriMo this year? Do I continue on with “The Secret of Arking Down” Project or do I do something completely different?

For those of you who don’t know what “The Secret of Arking Down” is, I’ll give you a quick recap.

In 2009 I wrote a story based on two things; a house in the village I live in that I would love to live in and the wish to win the biggest prize on the lottery and not have anymore money worries…

…yes, I know, it’s a recurring wish for me…

The story I wrote was about a set of twins who were split apart by divorce. One sister stayed with their Mother in Wales and the other went with their Father to live in England. The story followed the twin who moved away and the life she ended up living…

The Angel's Crown - cover (1)

…but as I was writing it, the world opened up in front of me and stories began appearing in front of my eyes. I scribbled down the premises and carried on with the one I was writing.

Once NaNo was over and done with, I reread what I had written… I’d managed to write 50,000 words but not finished the story, so it took me the rest of the year to finish that particular story. I decided in the run up to NaNo 2010 that I would try one of the premises I had come up with and write a complete story this time.

It worked. 

I wrote “The Dragon’s Pendant” in 30 days.

02 - The Dragon's Pendant - cover

I finished editing “The Angel’s Crown” and asked a editor friend to take a look at it. She was wonderful and pretty soon it was ready to publish. So publish it I did.

In 2011, I took another premise from my notebook and wrote “The Second Door” about the sister who didn’t go to Wales.

The Second door - cover - 03

 

I hit the 50k mark with it, but again, the story wasn’t finished and I was so involved with “The Tower and The Eye”…

The Tower and The Eye Series

… that I didn’t have enough time to finish it. So NaNo 2012 crept up on me!

I again managed to hit 50k on “Daemon’s Will” but I didn’t finish the story again and once again, TTATE swallowed up the rest of my year, so it remained unfinished.

The Daemon's Will - cover - 03
Last year, I wrote the required 50k on “The Cat’s Bell” – book #5 in the series. And yet again I didn’t manage to finish the story.

The Cat's Bell - cover

I started looking at “The Dragon’s Pendant” again this year. I decided it needed a thorough re-read and edit… there are so many plot holes and things that it’s now in the re-writing queue!

I’ve finished the TTATE series now, so there’s nothing to distract me from NaNo and I need to decide if I’m going to continue writing the series or take a break and do something else.

The book that is in line for creation this year is “The Tree of Fate”:

The Tree of Fate - cover

 

The novel is based on a novella I wrote called “The Bog Boy. This one is going to be almost pure Fantasy (Science Fiction crept into most of the previous books) with a touch of romance.

The story of  “The Bog Boy” is set after “The Dragon’s Pendant” and involves a very yucky sounding British sport called Bog Snorkelling and some rather interesting historical people!

Here’s an excerpt –

The Healer watched the little boy crawl around her herb garden. “He’s a fine, healthy boy, Annwr.”

“But that foot means he’ll never be a warrior. The Druid wouldn’t let my husband expose him the way the Gods approve of.” Annwr rocked the tiny girl feeding at her breast, almost absently.

“Tylo said the little one had a greater destiny waiting for him, Annwr. Stop worrying.” The Healer handed the other woman a steaming cup, then poured herself one from the jug beside her.

“He never makes a sound, Carys. Even when he falls and hurts himself; his mouth opens, but nothing comes out.” Annwr cast a scared look at the child.

Carys bit back a groan. I’ll have to have words with Hafwen at this rate. The changeling rumours have got to stop before poor Annwr goes moon-shy. “Iluead!“ she called to the investigating child

The little boy carried on exploring the texture of the herb leaf he had in his hands, his back to the adults. He rubbed it against his face and sniffed the fragrance.

The Healer rose and touched the child’s shoulder. He looked up, then held the leaf out to her, smiling.

“That’s Thyme.” Carys told him softly.

Iluead opened his mouth and nothing came out. He smiled.

I could have sworn he tried to copy me; but nothing came out. Is he deaf and mute?

Carys frowned and tried a few more of the tests her Mentor had taught her. She talked to him, naming objects. Each time, Iluead would open his mouth and no sound would come out, but he would grin as if he’d got it right.

She whispered into each ear and he’d turn towards her, but when she moved back and clapped behind him, Iluead ignored her until he was touched in some way.

Then Carys examined Iluead’s ears and throat carefully.

Annwr watched Carys test her son, the worried expression on her face growing with each failure.

Finally, Carys returned to her seat. “He is responding to me and trying to repeat the words I am saying, it’s just that nothing is coming from his throat.”

Annwr bit her lip.

“I can see that he hears me in some way, I just don’t know how.” The healer was perturbed by her failure to diagnose the problem.

“I see that you have discovered the gift the Gods have given our Moon Child.” The Druid’s voice preceded the man himself.

“He has no voice, he cannot hear and he has a deformed foot. How can you call those gifts!” Annwr’s voice rose. “He should have been exposed when the foot was discovered, yet you demanded that my husband let him live.”

“The Gods told me that your firstborn son would bring the Clan a great deal of power and save it from annihilation. I could not in conscience allow his death to happen.” He smiled down at the child who rocked over on his back and grinned toothlessly up at the white robed man, who hunkered down beside the boy

Annwr subsided as the Druid picked her son up. “But what will he do? I cannot look after him for the rest of his life if I can’t hear him and he cannot look after himself.”

Carys took Annwr’s hand as her distress disturbed the baby.

“I can hear him just fine. He has a lovely clear mind voice.” Tylo looked at the boy wriggling on his knee.

“That explains a lot. It would seem that he is destined to be a druid then.” Carys smiled and relaxed.

“For a while, yes.” Tylo let Iluead go again and laughed as he toddled off after a butterfly. The druid looked at Annwr “Is he weaned?”

She nodded. “He has been on solid food for several months now.”

“I will take him into my house as my Foster Son. May I ask for Alys to accompany him as well? Both will be well looked after.”

The child giggled silently as he fell over in his pursuit of the insect. A bumble bee caught his attention and the little boy scrambled up to watch it buzz from flower to flower; a small, serious expression on his round face.

Annwr sighed and rocked a little. “I don’t know what my husband will say.”

“He has already agreed to this. Your new daughter needs both her parents and there will be other children for you to love.” Tylo caught Iluead as the little one reached out to touch the bee. “Oh no you don’t.”

The toddler wriggled away from the Druid and wandered over to tug on his mother’s kirtle. She looked down into his guileless blue eyes and ruffled the white-blonde hair curling wildly around his cherubic face.

“I will always love him. He might be deformed, but he is my first born son and will always be so.” Handing the baby to Carys, she picked up the boy and held him close. Iluead snuggled into her arms. “I know you cannot hear me, Iluead, but I am your mother. If you need me, I am here for you.”

The little boy reached up with one hand and patted Annwr’s cheek, then he kissed her and wriggled down from her lap. She watched as he toddled over to Carys and planted a soft kiss on his sister’s head.

“It looks like he’s saying goodbye.” Carys said with wide eyes.

“He has more gifts than you think.” The druid said, holding his hand out to Iluead.

Iluead took the druid’s hand and without a backward glance followed him out of Carys’ garden.

Annwr watched her son leave, tears running down her cheeks.

The misery the little boy’s mother felt, swept over me in a wave. I could feel myself crying in my sleep, the lump in my throat making it difficult to breathe.

 

If you’ve made it to this end, maybe I can get an opinion? Should I continue with “The Secret of Arking Down” or do one of the many new ideas that have occurred to me in the last six months or so?

Thanks for reading!