OG’s Speculative Fiction, Mid-Late 2010… (3rd Acceptance!)

A couple of weeks ago I grabbed my third acceptance to the long running speculative fiction/science fiction magazine on the Web — available as a free PDF Download to read and eventually purchase on LULU as a magazine for cons — The Opinion Guy (aka OG’s Speculative Fiction).  This would be my second acceptance in one year to them, and they’ve featured some very talented and familiar names in the science fiction arena.  Both short stories and poetry.  Matter of fact, this third credit comes right after my 2nd, and bolstered me up to the 400 credit mark.  Editor is Seth Crossman, and he also provides an Internet site full of informative articles.

 

Lawrence Dagstine RETURNS to OG’s Speculative Fiction

Third Acceptance – Click on the link(s) for some free reading in PDF format

MAIN HOMEPAGE:

www.theopinionguy.com

Previous Dagstine Stories:

https://lawrencedagstine.com/2010/03/25/ogs-speculative-fiction-march-2010-2nd-acceptances/

Other New Entries: “Magazines”

Lawrence Dagstine: “How to make $5000.00 from writing…”

*HOW TO MAKE FIVE-GRAND IN YOUR SPARE TIME FROM WRITING*

An Essay by Lawrence Dagstine

This conversation always seems to come up whenever my name is made in passing in certain industry circles, regarding that “Prolific Hack” Lawrence R. Dagstine.  This time it came via Facebook a few days ago by a person we’ll call Chubbs.  Congratulations, Chubbs, you are now a character in my upcoming, racially provocative, cyberpunk novella, MAURICE AND THE URBANITES.  All with good intentions, Chubbs; I won’t kill your character off.  If there’s one thing I’m known for, it’s helping other writers find markets for their work.  However, I think it is important that all housewives or househusbands, part-time tutors, teachers or students looking for extra cash, has-beens, wannabes, bohemians, panderers, starving artists, prose-driven lushes, pain-killer popping poet laureates, and yes, even young technical writers who need reminding pay heed.  Or if you’re smart, can program yourself to type methodically, but find yourself currently unemployed.  So let’s start this off right…

Publishing Clip/Magazine Tupperware No. 2 of 4 - Yes, I own four.

Hi, my name is Lawrence.  I’m a hack writer who made roughly $5000.00 in 2009 from the written word.  Cash.  Mojo.  Bling.  And I’m going to show you too how to make this kind of money over a 365-day period; have checks and payments coming in regularly in this tough economy; samples on how to get writing gigs and become a fiction writing machine in your spare time, and the difference between quantity and quality (in my opinion).  As a trench-writer since the late 90’s, with close to 400 magazine and webzine credits, and in this current market, this is how I perceive Quantity and Quality.

QUANTITY = The Possibility of Fast Money and Brief Popularity.

QUALITY = The Possibility of Immortality and Elegance of Prose.

Author’s Note: With the above, your mileage may vary.  But both can exhibit a certain level of professionalism.  I’ll also get to the novelist a bit more later on.  Everything I put down here in the meantime is from firsthand experience, acceptances, years of observation, and generally whatever else worked for me concerning the written word.

I think everybody pretty much knows by now that I submit to a LOT of half-cent to three-cent per word paying markets.  I often have a minimum of 20 to 40 different short stories and novelettes floating out there at any given time, and so should you; with reprints, once rights have reverted back to me, sometimes as many as 60 fiction markets.  There’s one short that I’ve sold over seven, eight times already.  These are often called “Trunk Stories”, stories which have already been published and are just sitting on your laptop, can be dusted off, and sold again after many years.  And I’m not including small non-fiction gigs, which rely mainly on published clips, actual “print” periodicals, or through connections/recommendations one might have through freelancing or journalism.  That’s a whole other ballgame.  If you want to make some kind of extra cash with short stories, you need to write plenty of them! Like one or two per week, then build up a hefty folder over time.  This is a must! It won’t be an overnight thing.  Oh yeah, and expect to get a boatload of rejections.  But I think every writer and his or her grandmother is aware that it comes with the territory.

At the same time, I truly believe that while the written word is the written word – by that, I mean whatever you manufacture from your keyboard – within short story writing and novel writing there exists two very different breeds of writer.  Two very different thought process patterns between both of them.  Even though, over time, it is essentially the hardworking novelist who will round up the most funds.  One is taught to submit to nothing but the highest paying markets, because there is this invisible rule, and everybody should adhere to it.  Because we should better ourselves.  Start at the top, work your way down.  Maybe go to Clarions or Borderlands or a similar writing workshop, and attend seminars where you can sit down with actual New York Times Bestselling Authors.  Excellent philosophy.  I’m for it one hundred percent! I’ve been told to submit to nothing but five-cent per word markets, otherwise throw your story away.  I’ve had writers tell me five cents is an insult and submit to only seven-to-ten-cent per word paying markets.  And there was the one old-schooler who said submit to only ten-cent markets (yeah, and out of the thousands upon thousands of genre writers, statistically we all know there’s a ton of those out there).  I wouldn’t dare say keep that piece sitting in a drawer, especially if you believe in it.  Submit it! Still, at the same time we can’t forget that some levels of writers do it for the sake of paying other bills, no matter how big or small that earning from writing may be: it might help you fill up your gas tank, it might help you afford air conditioning this summer, or even pay your mortgage or credit card.  For some the opportunity is out there (on both levels); for some, not in a million years because they might not know what to do or how to go about freelancing or how to utilize reprints or how to get into the “Writing Habit”.  Personally, I could give a damn about immortality.  I live in the Here and Now, therefore I must eat, think, and survive in the Here and Now.  That’s my philosophy.

Basically, have a secondary income coming in on a fairly repetitive basis.  Checks and Paypal payments flying in every week to two weeks.  The same way prolific novelists receive royalties by the quarter.  Two very different breeds of writer, in my opinion.

Example 1:

On one particular day in September 2009, I opened up my email to find seven paying acceptances in ONE DAY – nothing big, nothing exorbitant – and I’m not a full-time writer.  That’s my current record, by the way.  In December 2009 I had another four paying acceptances in ONE DAY.  That’s eleven paying short story acceptances right there.  In only two days out of 365.  Now, out of those eleven acceptances, who am I to say no to $25.00 checks, $50.00 checks, $75.00 checks, or even a $100.00 check, which might turn out to be a 2-cent per word story which just happens to equal a Benjamin Franklin? Especially if they’re rolling in constantly! Unless you’re already established, you never say no to Benjamin Franklin.  Benjamin is your friend; Grant ain’t so bad either.  A 2,000-word short story to a professional market equals the SAME hundred dollars.  Not to mention I can probably name three or four other prolific short story writers who have me beat with the numbers above.  And while Benjamin and Grant are your best friends, they can do more than just get your name and work out there.  In this current market and economy it can pay for things.

Here’s another example from December 2009.  The publication in the link below, which has been around eleven years, I often get acceptances from.  I’ve even helped improve their exposure and circulation a bit.  They pay me 1-cent per word for material.  The two accepted stories in this particular entry, to be released this year, are 6,000 words in length each.  That equals $120.00.  Over a period of twelve months, it adds up.

CLICK HERE: https://lawrencedagstine.com/2009/12/21/nova-science-fiction-spring-2010-eight-acceptances/

This recent story acceptance below is fairly long.  It took me one day to write this story.  The creative juices were flowing.  The check from it will pay for one gas bill.  Still, if you want to pay more than one bill, you need to have at least 40 different short stories floating out there for you.  When rejections come in, send the stories right back out.

CLICK HERE: https://lawrencedagstine.com/2010/02/10/aoifes-kiss-35-december-2010-12th-acceptance/

Once again, that $5000.00 was from part-time writing, not full-time.  This came from short fiction, short non-fiction, selling Dagstine mags and wares in Coney Island, small leads and gigs on places like Craigs List to resume writing (www.craigslist.com).  Let’s throw in a little off the books proofreading for people advertising simple jobs from foreign-speaking countries (e.g., gigs I had for Denmark and The Philippines).  You can charge these people a fee in the low hundreds just to edit their manuscripts or fill their technical and business writing needs.  Always charge less than what the Writer’s Market suggests for these jobs; work with your clients, they’ll use you again or recommend you to others.  That’s how resume writing fell into my lap.  It doesn’t matter where you come from: if you understand English, have Internet access, and enjoy typing, anybody can do this… ANYBODY CAN DO THIS! So what if it isn’t entirely fiction? Now I’m building up an entirely different kind of portfolio in the process, something I would never have done or thought of, say, five years ago.  I’ve written under such names as Lawrence Davis, Lawrence Roberts, Lawrence Hewitt, and in the science fiction arena, Lawrence Dagstine.  The list goes on.  I even wrote a porn story once under the name Nabudi Sun (this was for kicks).  Plus, the freedom of this also gives me the time to write more genre fiction, which I enjoy and grew up on.

SAMPLE FOREIGN / FREELANCE LINK: http://manila.craigslist.com.ph/wri/

You ever see that show, DEAL OR NO DEAL? Hosted by Howie Mandel? He comes out on stage rocking his baldy, a woman with a silver briefcase hollering and screaming at his side.  The audience is cheering on.  The woman is given the option to pick briefcases and go for a six-figure win.  Let’s pretend that the contestant is a writer, and that this game show scenario applies to writing.  Very rarely do people get that six-figures; shit, some times they don’t even score five.  Howie Mandel will call upstairs and one of the producers or whatever will make an offer.  It might be $6,000, $8,000, or $10,000… Do yourself a favor, TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN! Don’t wait around for a half-million dollars.  Because, in traditional publishing, six-figures ain’t happening.  $10,000, sure, why not.  I can figure that.  Pay your bills and have fun with your peers.

Example 2:

You know, when you think about it, $5000.00 equals an advance on some novels, which might take you a year to write and then an additional 18 months to be released.  There’s no guarantee the book will sell, the agent you have will keep you or you will keep her, or that you’ll be the next big thing.  Your book may sit on a shelf for what seems like an eternity, or be sent back for a refund.  Or, in the end, have its cover torn off.

You have to remember, writing is a starving profession.  Freelancing is quick cash.  Thanks to it, I sell most of my works a minimum of three times each.  Thanks to it I have heat and hot water, a full refrigerator, electricity and gas, copays on prescriptions covered, clothes on my back, toilet paper to wipe my ass, diapers on my kid’s behind, and all other bills and necessities besides a rent firmly paid.

But, I understand.  Even though you realize that genre is a lottery, with one in every 10,000 to 20,000 truly making it BIG, you aspire to be that New York Times Bestselling writer.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Dreaming big is a part of life.  Sometimes those workshops or classes, however, are pricey.  With round-trip airfare, hotel and food, you could be talking $2000 just to attend! Freelancing, in the fashion mentioned above, can PAY FOR THAT PROFESSIONAL WORKSHOP… It can help you afford these writing camps in what is a truly reserved economy.

In the end, it’s all about enjoying what you do.  The storytelling aspect, and of course, entertaining your readers.  Listen, you don’t have to stay in this little shell your whole life because some organization has it hammered out that way or because people have inferiority complexes (such as Chubbs).  What good is a writer who ends up worm food from lack of finances? I think that at a certain point, you have to come out and set up your career the way you feel most comfortable with it.  Remember, only you are responsible for your own destiny.  Only you can carve out a niche for yourself, thus turning it into your own reality.

Until Next Time,

Lawrence Dagstine

Lawrence Dagstine: “On the state of Science Fiction…”

…And a few other thoughts.

The following essay pertains to mostly science fiction.  It’s an opinion-based essay and nothing more than that.  These are my views, take it for what it’s worth.  It derives from something Harlan Ellison originally wrote on his Webderland Website a few days ago, a paragraph which can be found here: http://harlanellison.com/home.htm

Harlan Ellison thinks SF is dead.

Harlan Ellison thinks SF is dead.

 He might be right.  Here is what he wrote:

“Literature is dead. Civility is dead. Ethical considerations are dead. Common sense is dead. Dignity, respect, responsibility are dead. It is a cheapshit spur-of-the-moment tawdry and empty-headed congeries of societies, here, there, everywhere. It is a universally cheapjack time in which a steadily more ignorant and venal species has become drunk on notoriety and the scent of Paris Hilton’s thong. Science fiction is dead? You just noticed? You come late to the literature party; the hyenas have long since been attracted to the stench of stupidity; text them for me: bon appetit.”

HARLAN ELLISON / 28 August 2009

Now…

Did you know there are over 100,000 readers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror out there? At the same time, in any given year, there are around 100,000 submitters of genre fiction out there.  Worldwide, that is a rough estimate.  I was surprised to learn from one hobbyist publication that during their quarterly reading periods, they receive anywhere from 300 to 500 manuscripts.  And they only pay 25 bucks.  So the next time you get a publishing credit or get shortlisted for a story slot, give yourself a pat on the back, because getting published in genre fiction nowadays is sort of like trying to win the lottery.  Actually, if you live in New York, it’s probably easier to win the Take Five or one of those Loose Change/Bingo scratch-offs.  Or you could just pay-to-play (many esteemed venues such as F&SF are doing it, even though for years such places advised against it).  That’s code for broke.  Still, there are much more writers than there are magazines (it’s sad), and buying something as simple as a sample issue or two can help a magazine stay alive and keep slots – part-time and full-time jobs for those who struggle – open and afloat.  Then you have the whole e-revolution and how prices just went down on X-BOX 360’s, Nintendo Wii’s, and Playstation 3’s.  Now that makes it a whole lot easier to introduce a new generation to geek-a-ture.

Everybody has a story to tell, but not everybody wants to listen.  People are laughing now at devices like the Kindle, the iPhone, the Sony eReader.  I’m thinking way ahead of that, wondering what will replace those devices in twenty years time. 

Amazing Stories

Amazing Stories

Remember the days of Jack Vance, Frederick Pohl, Philip Jose Farmer, Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, A.E. Van Vogt, Fritz Lieber, Frank Herbert, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and yes, guys like Harlan Ellison? Remember the days of Richard Laymon, Robert McCammon, Hugh B. Cave, Charles L. Grant? Remember female authors such as Vonda McIntyre, Connie Willis, Ursula K. Leguin, and Octavia Butler? And yes, there are some notable British names I’m leaving out, that should be included.  Nowadays Stephenie Meyer is the NEW Stephen King, and I still don’t know what to make of Margaret Atwood all these years later.  Eventually I’ll have an answer.  In 2009 we can’t wait to read about vampire Bill Compton sucking on little Sookie Stackhouse’s titties—yesteryear it was Spike humping Buffy—or tuning in to the next great classics: Fringe (yesteryear it was The X-Files).  Everywhere there are zombies, werewolves, boogeymen or things that go bumpity-bump in the night.  And vampires.  From TV to movies to comic books to graphic novels.  Zombies, werewolves, vampire crossovers.  Zombies, werewolves, vampire subgenres.  It’s kind of like the Measles, but without the vaccine. 

Before all the clichés, before all the contrived storylines and slightly more mainstream pieces with beginnings but no middles and ends… before the slice-of-life vignettes which were supposed to relate to us, our inner demons (grrr!), or be politically daring and poetic to our ears and somehow symbolic, but was actually crappy and confusing rather… You had character-driven stories, plot-driven stories, protagonists you cared about, antagonists you cursed beneath your tongue, and most of all, innovative ideas.  Some of those ideas would eventually become what you see before you today.  Some of it yet to make its debut in society.

FACT: 75% of genre writers will die poor, starving, or rely on insubstantial bank funds as their nest egg.  Most don’t want to believe change is happening, or that evolution is impossible, and that it is going to stay that way.  A vast majority already have one foot in the coffin.  Otherwise, older, former editors and writers are about eight to ten years away from being maggot food regardless.

“Ah ha, Mr. Dagstine! But I have a Limited Edition of 500 copies from such-and-such-a-press in hardcover dustjacket.  It’s science fiction literature at its finest!”

No, trust me.  It isn’t… Paging Adam Roberts, paging Adam Roberts…

There are six-billion human beings on the planet Earth; most are from Asia.  There are more books than there are people.  Out of that 500 Limited Edition run from that Small Press, you might sell 250 to 300.  Perhaps more, and those will be to your colleagues.  It’s a race against time to write and get read (if, even after your death, technology has not evolved yet again and you are preferably read).  The other day I stared at a non-fiction check for $400.00 (Dagstine is my nom de plume for horror and scifi).  Then I looked at a micro-press pub and said I must be holding my prick in my hand.  My advice: take any money you make in this profession and fucking run!

 

Maybe Harlan Ellison is right.  Maybe science fiction is dead.  And maybe horror is just one big keg party where you get to check in but you don’t check out.  Maybe fantasy is for the LARP’ers who refuse to abandon ye’ olde dungeon.  Better yet, maybe we should save ourselves the glum silences and troubles of the clinical depressions that await us twenty, thirty years down the road.  What do you think? Should we start filling  those Zoloft prescriptions a little early?

Lawrence R. Dagstine

P.S.: If you still enjoy what you do, naturally, just go with the flow.  Me, I guess I’ll still keep on submitting, keep on trucking.  After all, what else is there?