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Leo X. Robertson

News of my latest publications, events, and episodes of the Losing the Plot podcast!

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advice

Writing advice!

Who doesn’t love writing advice? Well, me, actually. I can’t remember the last time I, or really anyone I know, took advice. (I know one person who takes advice and he only takes it from like two people anyway.)
That’s one of many reasons that it takes a long time to become a good writer. Being a writer is, I think, more a question of temperament than anything. Artists in general are people who can’t really be told what to do. So then good advice is just annoying because if you want to follow it, you have to forget having read it and pretend you came up with it yourself.
Except recently a horror writer asked me if I had any tips! It was super flattering. Here’s what I told him, and we agreed to share it here in case it helps anyone else 🙂
So: I have a group of four writer friends and I send them my work for feedback. (Any more people than that and it gets confusing, at least for me.) I found my trusted people through Goodreads—LitReactor is a good source also, I think, though I haven’t used it myself. You might have to try a few different groups/options before you find “your people.” Might surprise you from reading my fiction, but I can’t stand snarkiness/meanness/ridicule—it’s so unhelpful/unnecessary when it comes to feedback—I respond better to gentle encouragement and refuse to accept anything else, haha. As for what feedback is useful, technical stuff like “There are too many passive sentences” or “The story doesn’t seem to begin until the third paragraph” is great. Nothing to be done about, “I object to the story you’re telling”, so, uh, just ignore it, maybe?
As for what to read: read the top litmags in/outside of your genres of choice and find the authors whose work you like. You probably already know them, but for horror, mags like Nightmare, Black Static, TheDARK and Unnerving Magazine are good places to start. Read stories once for enjoyment and read a second/third time to study. You don’t have to like everything you read, and if you’re anything like me, you probably won’t. But once you’ve found authors you do like, see if they have short story collections or other works to read. Using this method, I found Gwendolyn Kiste’s “And Her Smile Will Untether The Universe”, Naomi Kritzer’s “Cat Pictures Please” and Rich Larson’s “Tomorrow Factory.” (I’ve since been published alongside Gwendolyn Kiste and also Rich Larson—which I don’t think is a coincidence.) All these authors use mostly conventional story structures—beginning, middle, end—mostly short sentences with simple vocabulary, and deliver compelling original stories with new and complex ideas. I would bet that this is why they get published so often. (Not concerned with showing off their vocabulary or needless experimentalism—both things I used to love doing!)
You might like to know about my podcast, “Losing the Plot“, on which I interview authors and other creatives. It’s hosted by Aphotic Realm, who also have a magazine and enjoy publishing new authors—if you submit, they may even give you kind feedback also. Might be a great place to start! (Duotrope, The Horror Tree and Submission Grinder also useful sources of horror markets.) You could even start your own horror writer interview podcast—all you need is Skype and a mic. Authors are lovely people and almost all of them like to chat. Of all the many authors I’ve asked, only one or two said no—but even they responded!
All I do know is that there are no iron-clad rules when it comes to writing or advice that you “must follow.” (Well, that and that rejection really isn’t personal, unless 100+ editors a year really do want me to suffer, haha!)
Anyway, there are nothing but really good suggestions. I hope you find some of mine helpful. They’re all things I’ve done and continue to do, because I find, as all my favourite authors do, that writing is a lifestyle/continuous practice. It’s nice to think of it this way because, whether you get published tomorrow or in a decade, you’d still be doing the same thing anyway. Reading and writing, reading and writing.
Hope this is helpful to whoever read it! Have you picked up any tips you wanna tell me? Let me know! Cheers and best of luck with writing and all your endeavours 🙂

New Losing the Plot, with Riya Anne Polcastro!

Riya Anne Polcastro is an Oregon-based author whose books include Jane, Suicide in Tiny Increments, The Last Magdalene and the forthcoming Dentata.

We talk about austerity, privilege, murder photography and more!

Riya’s site

Twitter

Facebook

The Anti-Austerity Anthology

As always, if you’re a reader, writer, creative type, someone with something to say, you can always get in touch with me using losingtheplotpodcast [at] gmail [dot] com. I look forward to hearing from you!

(But, as I mention, I’m moving, so the podcast is going on hiatus for a bit—see you later this year :D)

Marshall, who provided Losing the Plot’s intro music, has a new EP out now! Check out “Emerald Shitty” here!

New Losing the Plot, with Jenn Stroud Rossmann!

Jenn Stroud Rossmann is a fiction writer and an engineer. Her first novel, The Place You’re Supposed to Laugh, is out now from 7.13 Books. She writes the essay series An Engineer Reads a Novel at Public Books.

We talk about the ways in which society perceives us, the challenge of pursuing two passions at the same time—and the Navier Stokes equations, of course!

As always, if you’re a reader, writer, creative type, someone with something to say, you can always get in touch with me using losingtheplotpodcast [at] gmail [dot] com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Marshall, who provided Losing the Plot’s intro music, has a new EP out now! Check out “Emerald Shitty” here!
emeraldshitty714.bandcamp.com/releases

New Losing the Plot, with Matt Spencer!

Matt Spencer is an author of weird and wonderful fiction, currently living in Vermont. He has work published in Broadswords & Blasters (whom we’ve heard from before on Losing the Plot!), his collection, Story Time with Crazy Uncle Matt: A Tangle of Yarns is now available, and he has a novel forthcoming next year.

We talk about sucky high school experiences, the new pulp movement and getting so high you adapt Shakespeare!

Site

Amazon

Facebook

As always, if you’re a reader, writer, creative type, someone with something to say, you can always get in touch with me using losingtheplotpodcast [at] gmail [dot] com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Marshall, who provided Losing the Plot’s intro music, has a new EP out now! Check out “Emerald Shitty” here!

New Losing the Plot, with Sam Richard!

Sam Richard is an editor at Weirdpunk Books, whose latest book is “Zombie Punks Fuck Off”, co-released with CLASH Books. He is also an author with two forthcoming books, a memoir from CLASH Books and a collection of short stories with NihilismRevised.

We talk about writing, grief, and people who pretend to be characters in Cormac McCarthy novels!

Zombie Punks Fuck Off

Weirdpunk Books

Facebook

Twitter

As always, if you’re a reader, writer, creative type, someone with something to say, you can always get in touch with me using losingtheplotpodcast [at] gmail [dot] com. I look forward to hearing from you!

New Losing the Plot, with Renee Miller!

Renee Miller is a prolific indie horror author from Canada, and an undeniable inspiration to us all!

She has a slew of great material out with Unnerving, such as Church, Stranded and Cats Like Cream (now collected in the paperback Licking the Devil’s Horn) and she has a forthcoming short story collection, Flesh & Blood, out with Deadman’s Tome.

We talk about the trials and tribulations of the indie lit world, joining Scientology and Christmas ouija boards!

Renee’s site
Amazon
Twitter
Facebook

As always, if you’re a reader, writer, creative type, someone with something to say, you can always get in touch with me using losingtheplotpodcast [at] gmail [dot] com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Marshall, who provided Losing the Plot’s intro music, has a new EP out now! Check out “Emerald Shitty” here!

New Losing the Plot, with Christa Carmen!

Christa Carmen is the author of the horror short story collection “Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked”, out with Unnerving. We talk about writing stories, going to conventions, and the subjectivity of horror!

Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked

Christa’s site

Twitter

Facebook

As always, if you’re a reader, writer, creative type, someone with something to say, you can always get in touch with me using losingtheplotpodcast [at] gmail [dot] com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Marshall, who provided Losing the Plot’s intro music, has a new EP out now! Check out “Emerald Shitty” here!

New Losing the Plot, with Zak A. Ferguson!

Zak A. Ferguson is the author of Eat Your Keyboard, Mr Nick and the forthcoming A Taste of Feeling, all out with Nihilism Revised.

We talk about labels, connecting with people and the catharsis of art!

Eat Your Keyboard

Mr Nick
As always, if you’re a reader, writer, creative type, someone with something to say, you can always get in touch with me using losingtheplotpodcast [at] gmail [dot] com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Marshall, who provided Losing the Plot’s intro music, has a new EP out now! Check out “Emerald Shitty” here!

New Losing the Plot, with author Darrin Doyle!

Darrin Doyle has lived all over and worked all kinds of jobs. He has an MFA in fiction from Western Michigan University and a PhD from the University of Cincinnati.

He is the author of the novels Revenge of the Teacher’s Pet: A Love Story (LSU Press) and The Girl Who Ate Kalamazoo (St. Martin’s), and the short story collection The Dark Will End the Dark (Tortoise Books). Currently he teaches at Central Michigan University and lives in Mount Pleasant, Michigan with his wife and two sons.

We talk about his latest short story collection, Scoundrels Among Us (Tortoise Books)—as well as the merits of writing for yourself, living in different cultures, and Sturgeon’s Law!

Darrin’s links:

Scoundrels Among Us

Website

Twitter

Goodreads

As always, if you’re a reader, writer, creative type, someone with something to say, you can always get in touch with me using losingtheplotpodcast [at] gmail [dot] com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Not only does Marshall, who provided Losing the Plot’s intro music, have a recent album out with Captain Crook Records, he has more exciting stuff in the pipeline! Keep an eye out for him in future and remember you heard him here first!! 😀

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