Archive for M.C. O’Neill

Getting that Shorty Published – Who’s Got the 5K?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2013 by royalmanaball

Shorts, poetry, and flash are great opportunities to exercise your writing skills as well as getting your name on a bookshelf. Yes, we all have a magnum opus either in our heads or on Amazon, but those aren’t written in a mere week. Large works are tough to sell – and guess what? So are the small works!

It’s true, but if you are new to the writing biz, you’ll have a better chance of publishing exposure beyond the indie/vanity presses if you gather the guts and submit. But first, there are a few pointers I’d like to share with you Manaballers. After all, I’ve been published a whopping THREE times this month with a fourth and fifth hopefully on the way. Ahem… So, here’s what worked for me:

Where to Find Calls for Submissions?

Facebook. I know, everyone secretly hates the damn thing, but as an author, this is a powerful tool. Yes, you get to first meet really cool people on Twitter, but hog calls for collections and anthologies don’t always pop up on the feed. It scrolls past faster than goose turds through a tin horn and you only get 140 characters to advertise. Every time I’ve been published (or attempted to publish), I had heard the battle cry on Facebook. It’s as detailed as the publisher wants it to be and it allows other applicants to hook up and compare notes.

Get to Know the Publisher.

I’ve been published by James Ward Kirk’s horror anthologies three times so far. First, in Serial Killers Tres Tria, then in his anthology Bones, and just the other day I had secured a story for Ugly Babies. James and his fleet of editors are now my friends on Facebook and we not only talk about books, we also sit around and bullshit about anything, really. I don’t even consider him anything more or less than a friend now (Heh, I like to call him Cap’n – Trekkies will understand why). I’ve just become part of his scene.

Follow the Rules.

When you read the Facebook post for submissions, you must, and I cannot stress this more, MUST follow the submission guidelines to a “T“. The safest bet is to format your manuscript in the time-honored SHUNN style. If you have any questions about the submission’s parameters, email the publisher and ask. Yes, your story may rival the wordsmithing of Edgar Allan Poe, but don’t send the damn thing in between two pieces of white bread with mayo. You’re not Julian Schnable. Here is the precise format for the SHUNN style. Follow it. You will be thankful you did!

http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html

Newbies – Don’t Showboat.

This is just a piece of advice, but not set in stone. Say if the submission guidelines allow for twenty thousand words maximum, I’d err on something smaller. Look at it like this: You’re an indie or self-publisher new to the game. Fair enough, but if you write a tale that is 19,999 words and then Neil Gaiman submits against you, you’re going to get knocked out of the running no matter how tight your story. Why? Ink. Mr. Gaiman is a bigger draw than you just by name alone. A publisher will be hesitant to feature and spotlight an unknown over a bigger, better-established name. Sorry, that’s just business. I’d do the same thing if I were in their position. Don’t be afraid to submit a short story, but I’d keep the language economical until your name generates more buzz.

Submit Early!

You’re a newb and you see the call on Facebook and you check the date. THREE DAYS UNTIL DEADLINE! Sure, give it a shot, but expect nothing. By this time, Stephen King and Tom Clancy have signed, sealed and delivered their contracts. I made this error when submitting to Neverland Library at the last minute. The good folks there said: “Yo, M.C. We loved your story, but we could not fit you in because so many well-established names are in the hopper at this point.” They even advised me to submit early in the future. I see their point. These babies fill up FAST! Work!

Don’t Go Broke on Edits.

I have a proofreader I pay to clean up my novels. These are 400+ page books. That really adds up to a pretty penny. For flashes and shorts, find other authors you trust in your social network and have them beta read it. My friend, the U.K. Horror/Bizarro author of Darke Times, David Eccles and I have an unsaid relationship to beta read each others works. Thus far, our efforts have worked well and this is very important. Every thing we’ve beta’d for each other has been published. Not bad. Use the buddy system. Find that author-friend you trust and develop that beta relationship. It really works in the end.

Stick with Your Fave Genre.

If you are a horror writer, I’d advise against branching into an erotica collection. The publisher will probably call the cops on you. (Of course,that would be pretty fuckin’ cool). But, yeah, you’ll have a better chance of acceptance if you stick with your usual mindset, and style. Besides, you’ll get a better buzz in the future if you huddle to your own ship than trying to jump the shark.

The Rule of Cool.

You do understand that you will get rejected in this business, right? Okay, glad we’re on the same page. My friend David Mack, yes, the author of Kabuki, says to always obey the Rule of Cool. Rejection is a part of any business, but definitely common for writing. Again, you WILL get rejections. Don’t take it personally. I’ve gone over the reasons you may not get the ink. but just like McDonald’s, it’s a business. Deal with it. But remember not to be an asshole when you get the boot. The publisher may not accept you THIS time, but maybe tomorrow? Keep your connections in your back pocket. Don’t chew-out a publisher who says “no.”

Kabuki by my dude David Mack

Kabuki by my dude David Mack

Okay, you’ve read this and you’re solid. Find it, write it, submit! Godspeed, you!

UPDATE: James Ward Kirk has informed me that he and Shawna Leigh Bernard are the sole editors for James Ward Kirk Fiction. Ms. Bernard is the mastermind behind the anthologies Ugly Babies and Cellar Door. This addenda was posted for clarification. Thank you.

Serial Killers Are GO!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2013 by royalmanaball

Living in Des Plaines, Illinois isn’t easy. It’s like the Beverly Hills for serial killers. Why, I only live a mile away from John Wayne Gacy’s House of Horrors! Robin Gecht of the Ripper Crew is from here and even Speck and Dahmer hung out in this burg. I suppose that’s why I felt compelled to submit a story to master of horror James Ward Kirk’s anthology Serial Killers Tres Tria.

Serial Killers Tres Tria

Serial Killers Tres Tria

It’s the third installment of the series, and I was lucky enough to have my short story, Conduct Disorder accepted! This ditty is a take on the early years of a young (and very spoiled) girl who becomes a powerful serial killer. In it, I give play to the current “Illuminati Panic” which is permeating our culture right now with a heavy nod to generational Satanism. So, not much of a leap from the themes of my YA novels when you really think about it. As an added plus, my story won the Editor’s Choice Award!

James Ward Kirk - the man with the plan.

James Ward Kirk – the man with the plan.

If you have an unorthodox sense of humor, you’re gonna laugh your ass off at my story. But the rest of the book is chock-full of poems, art, nonfiction and other talents ranging from all over the globe. The brilliant cover art and design was concocted by author and artist William Cook. I love it! The thing gives me nightmares! I cannot wait for my copy to arrive in the mail. And you can’t either! Order your copy of Serial Killers Tres Tria from Amazon today!

“Darke” Side of the Moon – Author David Eccles Interviewed

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2013 by royalmanaball

It’s time for Royal Manaball to give a little back. Yours truly has been interviewed loads of times already. The Vinny Eastwood Show, The Jeff Daugherty Show, The Silver Bullet Sunday and Maria DeVivo, but now, I’m going to pay it back (and forward). This transmission, we will spotlight British author David Eccles.

July has been a big month for this chap. A debut collection of short stories titled Darke Times and Other Stories plus simultaneous releases in various anthologies – all in one month! We at Royal Manaball can only congratulate him on his skill and luck for this great time! Without further ado… David Eccles!

Author David Eccels

Author David Eccles

So, David. Darke Times. Read it. Reviewed it. Loved it. It’s quite eclectic. You seem to be able to tackle any genre thrown at you. How does this work for you? What is your process?

“It’s not something that I normally share with anyone, but I do tend to suffer bouts of depression from time to time, and for the most part, I am generally thought of as a moody person, and I rarely smile. I do not, however, take any medication for my depression. Don’t get me wrong, I can have a good laugh with people and get drunk and make a fool of myself, but mainly I prefer my own company, and my bedroom is where I like to be when I write.

“I have a fantastic imagination, and when I get a good idea for a story I play it back in my mind as if I am watching a movie (I’m also a huge movie geek). The areas I like to focus on when it comes to writing are horror, science fiction, and fantasy, with a little zany humor thrown in, of course!”

One common thread with Darke Times is that it is out of the ordinary. I’ve not really read any take on these genres featured quite like it because you have a talent to twist and subvert them. It’s almost like you’re fed up with genre and have decided to take a fun, intelligent poke at them. Am I right?

“It’s not that I’m bored with genre itself; it’s more that I don’t want to be thought of as a one-trick pony; someone who can only write in one particular genre. For me, sometimes it feels as if it’s the stories themselves who control me, and that I have no control over what I write. It’s like they need to be written, and that I’ve been chosen as the conduit. I can choose to write a horror story when I sit down to write, only to find that when I’m done for the day it’s turned out to be a science fiction story! At other times, though, I can come up with an idea and know right away from beginning to end just what it’s about and where I want to go with it and I just hammer it out!”

Would you consider yourself Bizarro? I’d say so, because these tales are unlike anything I’ve read – and I’ve read loads.

“I’ve not read too much Bizarro, and have only recently become aware of the genre, but I do tend to write some really freaky shit sometimes, so if you say that what I write is Bizarro, I’ll happily go along with that if it means that I get grouped with the likes of Jeremy C. Shipp, Andersen Prunty, and Carlton Mellick III!”

Speaking of Bizarro, fellow British author Steve Aylett is considered the godfather of Bizarro (as well as the possible inspiration for the film The Matrix). Are you a fan?

“To my shame, I’ve not read anything by him – yet. But I’ll get around to it. It’s hard both reading and writing, but as they say: if you don’t read, then you’re not a writer!

I shall remedy the situation a.s.a.p.! I love where Steve says books just appear in his brain like a visual “glob” that looks like a piece of gum. That’s great imagination!”

You and I are both being released later in horror master James Ward Kirk’s anthology Serial Killers Tres Tria (which may have recently been retitled). What’s your thoughts? It’s a bit like waiting for Christmas, yeah?

Serial Killers Tres Tria

Serial Killers Tres Tria

“We are indeed! I think that the title remains the same. You may be confusing it with the second volume, “Serial Killers Iterum”. The waiting for the date of publication to come around is always a killer, yes. It’s normally the waiting to hear whether one’s submission has been accepted that is usually the cause of many a sleepless night! I was fortunate enough to be accepted for two of James’s anthologies within a week, and the longest that I had to wait to hear of my acceptance into the anthologies was two days!

“The first anthology of James’s that I was accepted into, “Sex, Drugs & Horror” has to date not yet appeared as an e-book. I bought myself a copy of the paperback and actually received it this morning!”

Sex, Drugs and Horror

Sex, Drugs and Horror

So, you’re on the H.M.S. Bounty. You throw Captain Bligh into the drink and wind up marooned on an unidentified island in the Outer Hebrides. What three books must you take ashore? Friggin’ in the riggin’! I know, this is a tough one.

“From a practical point of view, they’d be survival books, like “No Need to Die – Real Techniques of Survival” by Eddie McGee. He’s a legend when it comes to survival techniques! I used to be into all kinds of stuff, including survivalism, but I guess you mean books of a true literary nature that I couldn’t live without. In that case, my three choices would be: To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee; A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens, and finally, if I may include an omnibus, The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde.”

Wait! Not letting you off the hook here. I used to be a shrink, so we’re going to play a bit of word association. Answer as best as you can:

Clive Barker or Stephen King?

“Stephen King.”

Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman?

“Terry Pratchett.”

Alan Moore or Grant Morrison?

“Grant Morrison, definitely. Alan Moore has gone “weird” as of late.”

Rolling Stones or the Beatles?

“The Beatles.”

Sex Pistols or the Clash?

“Most definitely The Clash! I saw them in 1978 on their “Give ‘em Enough Rope” tour and came away from the gig with one of Joe Strummer’s badges off his shirt!”

Pretend it’s the ‘90’s again. It’s Blur versus Oasis. Who should win?

“Blur. I cannot stand the Gallagher brothers, and could happily punch Liam in the face all day and not get bored in the slightest!”

All right. Done with that. Speaking of music, I’ve learned you are a fan of Prog-rock. Me too. Who are some of your faves?

“Yes; Pink Floyd; The Moody Blues; Focus, Emerson, Lake and Palmer; The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, and Supertramp, to name a few.”

You have a shitload of beautiful tattoos. I have none. Do they hurt?

“Tattoos do hurt, and anyone who tells you that they don’t is a liar! Some areas are very sensitive indeed! When I had Poison Ivy done as part of my Batman sleeve, I really felt it in my armpit! For the most part, though, I tend to tune out the pain and have been known to fall asleep while being tattooed! It’s a very strange kind of pain; a pain that you can endure, and it is very addictive! Once you have one tattoo you want more!”

Have you any advice for new writers? Any pitfalls to avoid or has it all been a fun journey?

“Wow! That’s a hard one, seeing as I’m a noobie myself! I guess all that I can really say to anyone is to read as much as you can, so that you can learn how it should be done and can recognize a writer’s style, and to write as much as you can, whenever you can and develop a style of your own. I’m like a ferret, and will root out any information that I need to know. I’m always looking to learn new things, and that’s why I designed my own book cover too, instead of hiring a professional. I wanted the skills to do it all myself. I guess I’m a perfectionist and don’t like people telling me what I can or can’t do, and what I should or shouldn’t do. And you should get involved with as many writers and authors as you can, because they’ll always help you out, as you have done for me, Mark. Twitter is one of the best resources for writers to find help and new friends. It’s where I met you!

“As for pitfalls: I’m fortunate enough to not have experienced any pitfalls whatsoever–unless one counts finding out that my book had been uploaded to a website without my permission on the very same day that I published it, forcing me to issue a notice of copyright infringement to the website. My book was removed within a couple of hours, so that was a relief!”

Thank you, David. Had a fine time here. Please look below for all of David’s relevant links and follow him! Get Darke Times and Other Stories – now available from numerous retailers!

All details for contacting David can be found on his about.me page here.

Visit David’s blog, Fresh Crumbs From An Old Loaf.

“Darke Times and Other Stories” is widely available. A list of vendors can be found by clicking on the image below.

Darke Times and Other Stories

Darke Times and Other Stories

Writing and the Morality Shift

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2013 by royalmanaball

When you write, you will find yourself inside of a pigeonhole no matter if you are indie or self-published. And it’s not just with the Big Six, folks.

I am known for my YA saga, The Ancients and the Angels. Although the content of these volumes may be dark and unpleasant at times, no blue language is printed, and all of the sex is “offscreen.” There’s tons of violence and vomit in them, though, but parents just don’t seem to give a crap about this. Whatever.

As anyone in this business understands; a writer writes. In a recent blog post by my friend and fellow scribe, Ksenia Anske, she examines the topic of writing and “genre-jumping.” I say, “go for it!”

The burning question is whether this is good for an author’s business acumen. From what I’ve seen, it doesn’t really seem to matter much as long as the work is solid. C.S. Lewis who was renowned for his children’s literature, had written remarkable nonfiction tomes on religious philosophy. Philip K. Dick would alternate between out-of-this-world sci-fi versus weird dramas that criticized Nixonian America. J.G. Ballard took a 180 route with The Atrocity Exhibition and Crash from his more conventional sci-fi offerings.

Writing is an art and an artist is going to explore and you won’t stop this process. I simply cannot write YA and nothing but it forever. Sure, my elves and angels will return, I promise you this, but for the rest of this year, I have the uncontrollable urge to delve into the realm of Bizarro.

This stuff is NOT for children. Already, one of my short stories entitled Conduct Disorder has been green-lighted (lit?) for inclusion into James Ward Kirk’s horror anthology Serial Killers Tres Tria. The piece is nothing less than revolting and cruel. Now, I’m not that kind of a person, and there still remains a strong moral ethos to this tale, but I just took the dark alley (very dark) to get there with this ditty. And it works! So, did anything really change?

Look at it this way; many actors of children’s films extend their feelers into other areas of cinematography. After all, Anne Hathaway of The Princess Diaries has shown the world her boobs plenty of times. Oh, the horror!

Yo, my bewbs rawk!

Yo, my bewbs rawk!

It may sound like I am apologizing here. I am not. No artist should ever apologize for their product. You are responsible for it, sure, but you are also the one who had invested so much time and energy into making it in the first place. Yes, you may get egg on your face when you throw the masses a curve ball, but responsibility is the first phase of accountability. Just take that accountability like a good Scout and be prepared for it.

The bottom line is that genre hopping can involve a moral shift in content. As a writer, you will have to be brave enough to venture into places unknown, and sometimes, they’re bad neighborhoods.

That’s all I’ve gotta say about that.

In Response to Ksenia Anske.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2013 by royalmanaball

Ksenia Anske, author of The Siren Suicides, due in July, had just posted a blog in regards to the time-honored kerfuffle of how one can write a book – Pantsing versus Plotting.

Truth be told, I had just learned of the term “pantsing” last month. No foolin’. For those not in-the-know, it means to “write from the seat of your pants.” Not necessarily stream-of-conscious, but damn close.

Ach… how do I do it? Hmm… Well, when I had written Celestials, I did begin via pantsing, I suppose, but I soon found myself having to keep a “playbook.” This is basically an outline for your plot and a poopsheet for your characters. Now, I don’t mean you have to write everything that is in the bellboy’s closet that won’t even remotely be mentioned in the narrative, but it does file down some of the basics. What they do look like and, most importantly, what they do and don’t know.

I had managed my playbook in a very pantsing style, however. Things would develop and I would outline it as I went along. Remember, your characters are going to wind up writing the story for you eventually. No, they really will, and thus, the plot may change. Does this make me a pantser?

A typical writer's butt.

A typical writer’s butt.

Research. I do it. Only when I need to, though. If I have some sort of technical question, the wonderful world of the Interwebz will fulfill my need in a jet-flash. No excuse for technical inaccuracies anymore.

Normally, I’ve always thought of myself as a plotter, but I think I do rely on the wind to carry me more so than I imagine. My proofer and my editing phases or “passes” (I never think of them as “drafts.” I just don’t), take care of everything from the major transgressions to the minor peccadillos. MS Word is vertical, and I figure my process in a linear fashion.

Ksenia writes that she produces no less than two thousand words a day. I’m pretty much on base with her. During this principal production phase (my first “draft”), I write and write and do so simply via the little animated cartoons going on in my imagination.

That’s easy for me since I am, by trade, a graphic designer. Visual play is second nature to me, so as long as the film keeps rolling in my head, I can translate that into written drama.

I am not educated in English or Comp. Lit. or Creative Writing – nothing like that. Big University styles and shibboleths are more or less unknown to me. Because of this, I don’t kvetch for hours on end over, “It t’was the Schooner Hesperus! No, no. It WAS the Schooner Hesperus…”  Sure, I enjoy a certain beat or music to my writing, but I just let that come as it does and edit out the chaff during a later “pass.” Resting upon this knowledge, I just tap away during principal production and this does make the words flow in an easier fashion for me. I won’t stop until I hit that goal, because this is my job like any other and I’m not allowed to punch out early.

Due to this semi-pantsing process, if someone doesn’t enjoy my final “gold-phase” product, well, that’s just a question of that reader not liking my style. There’s plenty of styles out there and far more readers.

Author Spotlight: ME! M.C. O’Neill (Thanks to Lada Ray)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2013 by royalmanaball

Hey, Manaballers. I just have to say that I’ve been needing to give the old Royal Manaball more love, but May has been hectic and everything happens all at once, you know? Short story submissions, Novel releases and formatting, and, as always, editing.

Whatever. The work paid off and the tree bringeth me fruit. In my one year of first being published, I’ve had such an amazing experience. Two novels under my belt. Interviews on The Vinny Eastwood and Jeff Daugherty Shows. Interviewed by THEE Maria DeVivo, author of the Amazing Coal Elf (which is soon to be a series of books). A spotlight on the Silver Bullet Sunday, Flash fiction published by the Stephen King of Canada – James Roy Daley, as well as work published in the blog Writing Upside-Down (a big favorite of mine).

Need I brag more? Well, yeah I do. The astounding paranormal author Lada Ray, who pens the mighty Earth Shifter series AND it’s ancillary series The Earth Keeper, actually blogged an Author Spotlight on me! It’s so cool. You can read it right here.

How ya like me now? Photo credit: Indigo Moran

How ya like me now? Photo credit: Indigo Moran

I can’t find the words to thank her enough! It’s a big highlight for me and I am forever grateful, mainly because she is a visionary and a forerunner of the YA Revolution. As many of you may know, the YA Revolution is a collection of YA writers who are driving this reader demographic toward the light and away from that trite nonsense which gluts the market (and may bottom it out) this very day. We aim to hold line – by doing something new.

YA Revolution!

YA Revolution!

Well, I’m going to take the rest of the day off because I need to reboot my brain. You do know that I’m a cyborg? But that’s okay!

Speaking of cyborgs, I just read a book about Mr. T who became a cyborg zombie. No foolin’. It had the funniest line of dialogue in literary history: “Don’t give Mr. T. no jibber-jabber! Lemme eat them brains, fool!”

Archons Now Available!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2013 by royalmanaball

Folks, I have just gotta say that it has been a busy two weeks, so, sorry to be so scarce. Launching a new novel can be a daunting task. Last-minute edits, checking and double-checking. Oh, and then I had to design TWO book covers.

Anyway, with that being said, I now present unto you The Ancients and the Angels: Archons!

archons logo final2The saga continues as we follow Quen’die Reyliss and company. If you thought Celestials was dark, this one is even more so. Not only is it available on Amazon, but you can also find it on Smashwords.

On a grand note, Celestials is now available on Smashwords too! Finally! It had to happen. Check out this cool new cover to the e-book version!

celestials logo final2Pretty nice, huh?

Well, even nicer, is my BRAND, NEW DEAL! As a part of my contribution to Lada Ray’s YA Revolution, I am now GIVING AWAY the e-book of Celestials – FOREVER! That’s right! Call me insane, but I’ve gotta spread the word. You can only enjoy this offer from Smashwords, as Amazon is stupid and they make me sell it for 99 cents over there. So, uh, yeah… get it off Smashwords.

So, grab a copy of each today! Go on Smashwords and enjoy TWO entries to my awesome saga for only $2.99 – TOTAL! Not too shabby.

If you want, you can find my Amazon editions for kindle here and here

Have fun, and happy reading!

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