Archive for Writing

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!

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.


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.

In Response to Lisa Frideborg-Lloyd: The Power of Writing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2013 by royalmanaball

Earlier today, I had stumbled upon my friend’s Tweet in regards to her blog about writer’s block and twenty-three ways an author/blogger can overcome it. It had some great tips, pointers and activities. You can read about it at Lisa Frideborg-Lloyd’s blog, Seer Pathways.

Lisa’s spirituality is pretty eclectic, and I’m not sure if she’s a Theosophist like me, but practically everything she posts causes me to nod my head, laugh or flat-out cheer on. So, don’t quote me, but I dig her blogs.

Lisa Frideborg-Lloyd

Lisa Frideborg-Lloyd

Anyway, many of the comments stated that writer’s block was a rarity for them, and I was amongst that lot.

In my comment, I had noted that writing is spelling, ergo, casting a spell.

I’m not going into a history of human language here, but in response to my comment, I would like to elaborate a bit.

In Kabbalah, the power of words is intrinsically linked with the universal language of numbers. Each scale of numbers is sectioned by a power of ten. This works for the human species inherently, mainly because we have ten digits, or fingers. The root of all human perception of mathematics and, ultimately, spelling is designed around our action-oriented tool of ten fingers. You don’t have fingers; you don’t have the body process to manipulate human will as we have been naturally designed (although challenged people can overcome this!).

So, say if we were a species that only had six digits in total, we’d design our mathematics to fit into a series of six. Our spelling would fall in suit with that biological paradigm.

We also write (spell) with our fingers as the driving impetus. No great surprise at all here.

As I’ve blogged before about the nature of spelling, I’ve stated there that spelling is Kabbalah-based. When you spell, you practice magick. I don’t care if you are a Hellfire-and-Brimstone Evangelical who vehemently fears magick, if you’ve ever written a cheque – you’ve just cast a spell, buddy. Sorry, but every school that teaches your child how to spell may as well be Hogwarts – and that’s ALL of them.

Why do people spell? What drives a person to write? The answer is the caster’s sympathetic action in desire for a physical or emotional reaction out of the human object. Spelling makes the world go ‘round, but in a way that convinces others to bend upon the writer’s (the agent’s) will.

Whether you are a cop writing a ticket, a kid posting a note on the refrigerator, a doctor writing a prescription, a novelist writing an omnibus or a politician promulgating legislation, you are casting a spell. You are attempting to evoke a response out of your human target(s).

Of course, all humans have free will to disregard or resist the spelling. We could toss that script or ticket in the garbage. We have the ability, the choice, to ignore the note or break the legislation enforced upon our community’s will. This all depends upon the power of the caster versus the will of the object, as all spells can fizzle.


Ksenia Anske’s “Easter Bunny Apocalypse”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2013 by royalmanaball

Well, it was bound to happen, but I was invited to partake in my first flash fiction compilation. The theme was (drum roll) –The Easter Bunny Apocalypse.


Yes, I know, be careful what you wish for, but I had so much fun!

Here’s how it all went down…

Author of The Siren Suicides, Ksenia Anske had a fevered idea to coordinate a flash fiction potluck of writers from various genres from all over the world. USA, Mexico, EGYPT!!! the UK and, of course, Canada (and two from Chicago – murder capital of the world) took a shot at kicking the tar out of the Easter Bunny (that bastard).

I want an apocalypse NOW, dammit!

I want an apocalypse NOW, dammit!

And so, the plot had to be:

a)      Crazy, and

b)      About the possible end of the world in the springtime.

How ironic, don’t ya think?

Love it or hate it, those were the rules. We scribes had a world of possibilities before us!

The end product was awesome and tight, thanks to the editing wonders of Ms. Colleen M. Albert. I mean, what more could a project want than free editing! (That doesn’t come cheap). I feel a bit bad for her as she had to connect the dots with our eclectic and, admittedly, insane plot-points and styles. Some of us were poetic, some zany and others spot-on with adventure writing. British author David Eccles, was kind enough to blog the experience as well!

Twenty chapters and yours truly was number nineteen. EEKS!

After reading J. Luis Licea’s inspiring entry to the story, I just had to jump the gun and tap out Chapter Nineteen well before my time was due. You can read it right here. Very divine I must say, and I mean this literally.

Must admit, my preemptive shenanigans threw a turd in the Easter basket, but damn it, we sailed to the shores of Switzerland with this one!


The best part of it all was I had the opportunity to connect with amazing new friends in the writing field. This was something foreign to me as I’ve never hung with the scribe-crowd before.  I wish all of you guys the best, and you will be with me for as long as I can hold on to you.

In no particular order:

Ksenia Anske

David Eccles

Baz Nova

Brandon Yusuf Toropov

J. Luis Licea

Becky Flade

Colleen M. Albert

Danielle Tauscher

Dustin McKenzie

Rosalind Smith-Nazilli

Sandra Hould

Diogenes Ruiz

Michel Lee King

Lori Lesko

Aliaa Jordan El-Nashar

Kevin Nielsen (the Canadian dude)

Cat Scully

Kai Kiriyama

Doug Karlson

Sheila Hall

Andrew Hovenden

Seth Werkheiser

You guys are the greatest. Hold on to me, and I’ll hold on to you!


Write Like your Parents are Dead.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2013 by royalmanaball

Back in graduate school, I had quite the struggle with the concept of content. Art can be anything in these post-modernist times. During my crits, I was never given the golf-claps like some of my colleagues would enjoy. Frankly, I’m quite glad I got my ass kicked. It only managed to develop me and by the time my thesis show was up on the walls, I had secured record-breaking attendance for the gallery and graduated second in my program. Nice!

One thing that got me out of my shell was advice from a professor of mine who said, “Paint like your parents are dead.” Whaaa?

Eventually, I got the message. Don’t hold back. Be dangerous. Disclose. Be naked. You simply cannot push envelopes while nestled in your comfort zone.

Yesterday, I had written a piece of Bizarro flash fiction intended for James Roy Daley’s Books of the Dead Press. It turned out to be too long for the site’s guidelines, but I still had a blast busting it out, and now, I want to continue on with future installments of it! Let me just say, the thing is out there. It’s mean. Read it here.

Whether you manaballers like it or not is neither here nor there, but I did feel a great sense of relief having written a tale off the trail of my beaten path. Sure, I may have lost Tweeps over this ditty, but I had also received some props.

Point is, art applies to writing. Writing is an art in and of itself. Reject your fears and hang-ups and inhibitions and battle them with your unfettered imaginations. And never apologize.

Write like your parents are dead.



I Won the “Very Inspiring Blogger Award!”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2013 by royalmanaball

Fellow writer on the Easter Bunny Apocalypse flash fiction project, David Eccles was kind enough to award me The Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Seriously, I’m quite flattered! Many thanks to you, David.

You can check out David’s wonderful blog on writing right here:


Anyway, as I receive this award, I must pay it forward, so let me roll my eyes back into my mind and think about whose blogs inspire me. Hmm…

Oh wait! First, there are some rules. To keep in the form of this chain, please follow these guidelines:

  1. Display the award logo on your blog.
  2. State SEVEN facts about yourself.
  3. Link back to the person who had already nominated you.
  4. Nominate FIFTEEN other bloggers who deserve this award.
  5. Notify each of the bloggers of your nomination.

Seven facts about M.C. O’Neill. Well, they’re more like factoids, but you’ll get the gist.

  1. When I was five, I was punched in the eye by a kangaroo in Indiana. No one ever believes me that this happened, but it is the truth. Like the truth, it really hurt!
  2. My father worked on rockets and nuclear weapons for the U.S. Army as a JAG.
  3. Three, three… I forgot what three is.
  4. I have recently developed lower back problems and must now get a cane. This sucks because I’m not even forty yet.
  5. A few years back, I used to ink comic books.
  6. I am of Rh- blood type and naturally immune to chicken pox.
  7. I used to create fake mailers featuring absurd adverts and slip them into magazines.


The fifteen bloggers who richly deserve this award are featured here in no particular order:

  1. Lada Ray. Leader of the all-new YA Revolution and author of the amazing Earth Shifter series. None of my lists would be complete without her!
  2. 1 Earth Unite. Curated by Madeline Walsh, this survey of spirituality is more valuable than most books out there on the topic! Check out her entry on the Sufi Path.
  3. Three, three… I forgot who three is.
  4. Seer Pathways. Lisa Frideborg’s wonderful site about angelic tarot studies (among other types of decks). Uplifting and definitely inspiring!
  5. The Legend Begins. Author Wendi Potocki’s thoughts and analyses on the horror genre. Really insightful stuff I’d never considered.
  6. Middle Chamber FX. Curated by Knight Templar Freemason and insider Frater X. ‘Nuff said.
  7. Ksenia Anske. Author of The Siren Suicides and Glorious Leader of the Easter Bunny Apocalypse. Great information on writing. Definitely one for the YA Revolution, but damn, girl, you gotta finish this!
  8. Katherine Vucicevic. Aussie Sci-fi writer who actually badges me! Really great wisdom on how to write. Love the site, but I’m still trying to find her novel O’Tura! I wanna read it!!!
  9. Dionne Lister. Another amazing Aussie who is the author of Shadows of the Realm. It’s about dragons! DRAGONS! Wellspring of info on self-publishing.
  10. David Van Dyke. Love this author’s blog. Great advice on writing. Case in point: BE ENTERTAINING! And always wear a gasmask…
  11. Books of the Dead Press. Brainchild of the goriest horror author out there – James Roy Daley. Really, need I say more?
  12. JJ Collins. A fountain of information on book reviews and writing in general. Love the blog!
  13. James Riklef’s Tarot Blog. A surgical analysis of tarot. Card-by-card. Great stuff!
  14. Paulette Mahurin. Author of The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap. Read the book. Read the blog. Just do it! She may know more than all of us combined!
  15. Andersen Prunty. Author of The Fuckness and one of my favorite writers possibly EVER! The blog has lots of cool info on writing and book production.

So there you have it. These are folks I think you really need to follow.

Look, don’t feel obligated to partake in this, just feel warmed in the knowledge that you guys have made a difference in someone’s life. Namely, MINE!

Have a good day!


My interviews with many authors

Jon R. Meyers

A Bizarre Collection of Creative Writing and Random Banter

A Fine Small Press Publisher of Collectible Editions


Is it a man?...Is it a writer?...It's both, it's Super Barry NoVa!

A Broken Laptop

Mercedes M. Yardley's Writing Blog

Desires in the Dark

The desires of the heart and soul expressed through words.

Malleus' Blog

This is the blog of Malleus Rock Art Lab

John Edward Lawson

The man your librarian warned you about...

Dreamscape Press

Publisher of Speculative Fiction Anthologies


Author of horror business, editor of black candies, drummer

Author Allen

Writer, Humanitarian, Optimist

Chicago Publishing Network

Chicago-area publishing-related people, events, and gigs

Dear my Aibon,

half-writer, half-monster.

Black Adagio

A supernatural thriller about a cursed ballet

Jeremy C. Shipp

writer of horror, fantasy, and science fiction

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