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  • People Eating People: A Cannibal Anthology
    People Eating People: A Cannibal Anthology
    by Frank Larnerd, Tony Peak, Geoff Gander, Shenoa Caroll-Bradd, Robert Hart, Nikko Lee, Kyle Yadlosky, Edward Martin III

    Contains Bouillon de Bebe by Nikko Lee

  • Valves & Vixens: Steampunk Erotica
    Valves & Vixens: Steampunk Erotica
    by Nicole Gestalt, Crysta Coburn, J.T Seate, Nikko Lee, V.C., Zak Jane Keir, Blair, Regina Kammer, Jim Lee

    Contains Boson's Mate by Nikko Lee

  • The Big Book of Bizarro
    The Big Book of Bizarro
    by Rich Bottles Jr.

    Contains Honey-Do by Nikko Lee

  • Between Love and Lust
    Between Love and Lust
    by Nikko Lee

    E-book

    Print-on-demand paperback

  • Templar and Other Stories of Suspense and Terror (Vampires 2, Volume 4)
    Templar and Other Stories of Suspense and Terror (Vampires 2, Volume 4)
    by J. Troy Seate, Patricia McCarthy, Nikke Lee, Andrea Saavedra, James Hartley, Edward McKeown, Mike Graves, J.E. Gurley, Zakk Erikson, David Bernstein C.C. Blake

    Contains Pure Delight by Nikko Lee

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Sunday
Sep142014

Writing Worry #27: Am I a writer if I don't write?

In some ways, this year has been a very productive writing year for me. While I haven't progressed far in my first round of editing Safe Word, I've made substantial progress toward building my bibliography by submitting short stories and flash fiction. In a matter of weeks, my life is going to take a dramatic change with the arrival of our first child.

There are plenty of authors with families, day jobs and other responsibilities that manage to carve out time to write. I know it's possible, but it could be some time before I find a new normal and identify where I can carve time from.

I've always had some trepidation about labels. Writers write. It is an action. Just like martial artists - which I used to be - train. Rock climbers climb. Cyclists cycle. What are they when they are not doing that thing that earns them that label? How much time needs to elapse before toting that label just seems silly?

I've gone through writing droughts before. Perhaps the longest was between my early years at college after completing my first attempt at a novel and graduate school when I resumed writing largely because of the support of an online roleplaying group. Since then I have had months of not writing, but the love of story craft always pulls me back in.

I have no idea what challenges the arrival of our daughter will bring or what the next year of trying to adjust to redefining my role as parent, spouse, curator, etc. will bring. Priorities are going to shift. I can't wait to get back to a more regular pattern of physical activity. I also will need to decide which hobbies can still be pursued. 

My last submission for a poetry contest will go out by the end of the month. Right now it's easier to concentrate on smaller works. I may not finish my were-bear story. I'm waiting on a few submission responses including my second publisher submission for Wolf Creek.

After that? I hope to still find some time to write now and then so I can justify calling myself a writer.

Saturday
Aug232014

Why the sale matters to me

A few weeks ago, I posted about there being no yard stick for success in publishing. For every accomplishment there seems to be another goal just beyond an authors reach. One of my personal measures for success - at least at the level of the story - is a sale/acceptance to a publisher or editor then to a reader.

I've learned over the years that if I want people to support my published works, I need to let them know that it's out there and encourage them to buy it. A sale for an anthology, short story or novel means increased name recognition for me. If someone likes the story and tells a friend who tells a friend etc. Many authors will talk about selling a book one sale at a time. That's the reality even for a mid-list'er with a big five publisher, let alone an unknown part-time author like me.

I'm under no illusions of getting rich or being able to quit my day job. My writing and recognition factor just aren't on that level. For me, the sale is about building my audience and getting more people to just look at this website and maybe, just maybe, read one of my stories. One day I will get that print novel contract and have an audience to share it with.

There's no point in modesty when it comes to publishing. 

Tuesday
Aug052014

Maternity-inspired horror fiction

Pregnancy, especially the first time around, is a time filled with unknowns, changes and a lot of scary possible outcomes. The first few weeks are spent wondering if it's really happening even as your body undergoes changes from mood swings to morning sickness. There's the fear of something going wrong despite your best efforts to give the growing little one the best start in life. Then there's the fear of loss that lingers at the back of the mind every step of the way. Even as I approach my last few months of this pregnancy I still think about everything that could go wrong and how I would deal with it.

It's no wonder that my thoughts and experiences throughout this pregnancy have crept into my fiction.

Authors often draw on experience for inspiration. But they also draw of fears. I heard that Stephen King often wrote about the bad stuff in life and inside people specifically to get that darkness out of his system. 

So far I've written about:

-a picky eater zombie who must chose between the base desire to eat and her maternal instinct after losing her own child in Brainatarian

-the loss of an unplanned pregnancy during a post-apocalyptic world in A Mother Knows

-a father who will go to any length to save his unborn daughter even if it means cannibalism in Bouillon de Bebe

That last story was just published in Dusty Wallace's People Eating People: A Cannibal Anthology. When I first saw the submission call, I knew I wanted to submit a story. Besides my fascination with survival stories that sometimes necessitate compromising morals and norms, the call reminded me of a short story published in Lightspeed magazine that haunted my thoughts long after I listened to it.

'The Taste of Starlight' by John R. Fultz is an eerie sci-fi short story that starts off with a scientist on a mission to save a planet faced with starvation when a ship malfunction threatens his mission and survival. His descent into madness and the lengths he will go to stay alive were first understandable, if gruesome, then progressively became more and more extreme.

At first, I had thought to write about a pregnant couple stranded on a spacecraft or planet. However, the logistics of their survival set-up and their motivations to stay alive kept tripping me up. I also wanted to write something more down to earth and possibly going on now. I found my inspiration in a combination of a French Canadian upbringing and my life in Maine.

The end result was Bouillon de Bebe. Yes, there is cannibalism in it. But you'll have to read the story to find out more.


Monday
Jul212014

Writing Worry #26: Encouragement isn't critique

 I'll admit it; I love a good review. Nothing makes me happier than hearing how much someone has enjoyed my writing. Truly, I love to see the reader/listener reaction at my writing groups as they process and grasp what's going on. If I've done my job well, I might even see that spark of understanding a theme, idea or emotion that I meant to convey.

These moments are few and far between. Mostly, writers create in their own space. A part from writing groups and beta readers, often the only feedback they get is the form rejection letter when they submit to an agent, publisher or submission call. Of the nearly twenty agent rejection letters I've received for Wolf Creek, only one didn't look like a form letter. The agent took the time to tell me that she didn't think the idea for the novel was unique enough to sell – a worry that already has a footing in the back of my mind.

Worse than the void of no comments are the well-intentioned words of encouragements that take the form of vague compliments.

'I loved it.'

'It was great.'

'Don't change a thing.'

'It's perfect.'

'I can see the movie already.'

While these compliments can be ego boosters, an author who has opened more than a dozen rejection letters knows how empty these comments can be. Nothing is ever perfect. All works could be improved, especially after only one draft. These comments leave the author with no idea of where to go to improve their work. Unless these words are coming from someone who is offering me a publication contract, I say thank you, enjoy the pat on the back and go back to the work of creating a solid story.

If a reader can give me specific examples of what they loved, great. It's even better if they tell me where the story lost them or the characters came off as unrealistic. Critiques that point out strengths as well as weaknesses, as subjective as both may be, are far better than well-meaning statements of praise.

Encouragement is like dessert; yummy, but full of empty calories. An author needs balanced and specific criticism to thrive.

Wednesday
Jul092014

Writing Worry #25: No yard stick for success

When I was a college student, I excelled at tests. The thrill of getting a good grade was a confirmation of my hard work. Then graduate school came with yearly meetings with my advisory committee and the rare course that gave out standard grades. It was tough at first to know whether I was on the right track in my research because there were no tests, no grades. There was no one there to assure me that all my hard work was paying off. Five years later, I had a degree and a couple of peer-reviewed publications under my belt.

As hard as it was to deal with insecurity of not knowing if my research was headed in the right direction, it is even worse when it comes to writing. Other than a big-five publishing contract or a New York Times bestseller, how do you measure success?

When I first started pursuing fiction publication, my goal was to publish without having to pay for it. I had a friend who had vanity published. However, I was determined that if my writing wasn't good enough to get someone else to pay for publishing it then I shouldn't get my hopes up. It took me two years to find a publisher for Between Love and Lust.

I set my sights on a print publication contract. Unfortunately, I couldn't sell my dark fantasy novel to even e-publishers. I'm in the process of finding a publisher for my LGBT YA urban fantasy. Attempts to find an agent were only me with form rejection letters.

While I am disappointed neither of my last two novels sold, I understand why each of them isn't a good sell for print publishing. 

This year I have been writing and submitted short stories while I procrastinate on editing my erotic thriller novel. It was partly to set and achieve a writing goal and partly to reassure myself that my writing was up to publication standards.

After selling more than half of my new short stories, I am still left with some uncertainty. While I can produce fiction that others want to publish, I still don't know if I can produce a novel that is not only good enough but interesting enough to find a print publisher.

Each step of success seems to bring the realization that I could set my sights on another goal. A big five publishing contract or a New York bestseller are probably never going to be within reach, there are plenty of other writing goals to strive for.