Write what inspires you, not what others think you should write. Be yourself, have your own voice. It’s a lot of hard work but if you are sincere in your craft you’ll find there are lots of people who are happy to help you reach your goals—B. Roman, author of The Moon Singer Trilogy.
There are several things I could say but one thing that comes to mind immediately is about reviews. If you get some bad reviews, don’t let them stop you from continuing to write. Yes, it’s disappointing, but it’s just possible that some of those bad reviews might turn out to be very helpful. Try to be objective and see what you can learn from them. The reviews for my first novel, The Ezekiel Code, were nearly equally divided by 4 and 5 star reviews on the upside and 1 and 2 star reviews on the downside. It took me a long time to get over the disappointment of the negative reviews but eventually I began to see that what many of those reviewers had to say was true. I made a concerted effort to learn from them so that my future work would show a marked improvement. I’ve made a lot of headway in that respect, and I’m still working at it—Gary Van Tenuta, author of The Lost Dreamstone.
Always remember to have fun with what you’re doing. If you enjoy what you’re writing, then it will show in your words. This goes for promoting your books too. Be excited and have fun with all the interviews, tweets, posts, and whatever else you do to get people to give your books a chance. Positive energy brings people in. It’s also one of the hardest things to maintain because you will get negative reviews and criticism, so make sure you have a solid support system to pick you up if you stumble. This is where social media can really come in handy because the helpful hands don’t always come from family and pre-author friends—Charles E. Yallowitz, author of Legends of Windemere series.
Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes Colorado author Steve Rasnic Tem. Best known for his adult horror and fantasy stories, we are please to help him share his new Middle Grade novel.
First, a bit about Steve:
A transplanted Southerner from Lee County Virginia, Steve is a long-time resident of Colorado. He has a BA in English Education from VPI and a MA in Creative Writing from Colorado State, where he studied fiction under Warren Fine and poetry under Bill Tremblay.
His 400 plus published stories, twelve collections, and seven novels have garnered him the British Fantasy Award, the World Fantasy Award, two International Horror Guild Awards, and four Bram Stoker Awards. The best of his stories are collected in Figures Unseen: Selected Stories from Valancourt Books.
Why did you pick to write books for the middle-grade?
Although I primarily write for adults, I’ve always loved children’s and young adult literature. The best YA and children’s stories possess strong, essential narratives and clear, highly imaginative imagery. So over the years I’ve published a couple of dozen short stories for that market. I’ve always wanted to write a novel about Halloween, and since my clearest memories of Halloween come from my childhood, a middle-grade book really seemed the best way to go.
What types of books do you like to read?
I read a wide range of literature. In my to-be-read pile are the latest Stephen King, several YA novels, a couple of graphic novels, story collections, and a few nonfiction science books on the subject of climate change.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do?
I love movies and I usually see three a week in the theater, plus several others on TV and DVD. I also dabble in art: drawing, painting, cartooning. I’m not a professional—I just like to do it, and it helps me work out story ideas visually.
Tell us about The Mask Shop of Doctor Blaack and how the story came to be.
The Mask Shop of Doctor Blaack is a middle-grade novel about Halloween: A Strange Shop, a Stranger Proprietor, & the Wrong Mask. I started this book many years ago and kept returning to it. I wanted to write about the experience of Halloween from a child’s point-of-view, especially from a girl’s. I have two daughters, three nieces, and five grand-daughters, and their perspective is very important to me.
Here's a peek at The Mask Shop of Doctor Blaack:
Fall is Laura's favorite time of year, but this autumn, things are different. She's a teenager now, and the season brings new changes and challenges. Laura's decided she's too old for trick-or-treating and wants a more grown-up Halloween experience with her friends. Unfortunately for Laura, her parents tell her she has to take her little brother, Trevor, out trick-or-treating first. When they go shopping for Halloween costumes, they stumble upon a very strange shop and its even stranger proprietor. When Trevor tries on the wrong mask, the consequences are both exciting and dangerous.
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
My previous novels have been for adults. My last novel UBO (Solaris, January 2017) is a dark science fictional tale about violence and its origins, featuring such historical viewpoint characters as Jack the Ripper, Stalin, and Heinrich Himmler. My novel Blood Kin (Solaris, March 2014), which won the 2014 Bram Stoker Award, is about Appalachia in the thirties and features witches and snake handling. And Deadfall Hotel (Solaris, 2012) is about a mysterious hotel where monsters go on vacation. The Man On The Ceiling (Wizards of the Coast Discoveries, 2008) written with my late wife Melanie, is rather unique, a fictional treatment of life and writing, a kind of “biography of the imagination.” A handbook on writing, Yours to Tell: Dialogues on the Art & Practice of Writing, also written with Melanie, appeared in 2017 from Apex Books.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
I’m always working on a new story—I usually finish between 12 and 15 short stories a year. Lately I’ve been working on two new collections of my short stories: Everything Is Fine Now will be a collection of my stories featuring young adults for Omnium Gatherum Press. That will be out in January. And The Night Doctor & Others from Centipede will collect some of my creepiest stories from the past couple of years. You can expect that later in 2019.
What advice do you have for other authors?
My best advice is to read 1,000 short stories, but read them carefully. How did the author begin the story? How did the story end? What strategies did the author use to get between those two points? Think about that seriously for 1,000 stories and you will build an inventory of possible story strategies, endings, and beginnings. Oftentimes writers get stuck because they aren’t clear enough as to what the possibilities are.
Anything else you want readers to know?
If you’re interested in my short stories the best place to start is with Figures Unseen: Selected Stories from Valancourt Books. You can get that on Amazon as an ebook, hardback, paperback, or audiobook. Or order direct from the publisher at http://www.valancourtbooks.com/figures-unseen-2018.html.
Where can readers find you and your books?
The easiest thing is to go to www.stevetem.com. There you will find descriptions of the books and links to such retailers as Amazon, Crossroads Press (for ebooks), and Audible.