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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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novels

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 🙂

Cover reveal! “Greev” coming March 27th!!

It’s about a futuristic city in which, one day, everyone’s mother dies. The citizens mostly resort to android therapists to cope with their grief—but then scientists discover a potential way to bring back everyone who ever died. A cult enlists a lonely programmer to track down and stop this technology, because they fear it will bring about the end of the world.

This one I wrote on and off for 7-8 years. When I started writing, it was just so I could tell this story and then I didn’t think I’d have others.

So if you wanted to know where best to start with my writing—or really anything about me—this book contains about anything I ever figured out in 28/29 years, haha.

Ever forget to post anything on your blog for almost a whole year?

Oopsie!

It doesn’t mean I’ve disappeared from the internet–but where did all my content go?!

Well, I wrote some blog pieces for Aphotic Realm which you can find here–and then I half-wrote a whole bunch more, thousands of words of them languishing in Google Docs somewhere, for me to maybe get around to one day…

And my podcast, Losing the Plot, has similarly migrated over to Aphotic Realm’s podcast network! Sorry I didn’t inform you of that on this blog, dear follower—but please do head on over to AP to catch up on the latest ‘sodes (ew, haha!)

As for my fiction–Urban Crime Short Stories from Flame Tree Publishing came out earlier this year, featuring my story “Mr Sleepy.”

Super exciting to have gotten work in such a prestigious anthology! I even found a copy in one of the mainstream bookshops here in Stavanger, leading me to believe the book is all over by now. I opened it, showed my name to the woman working there then left immediately (as one does. Sharing TOC joy with a strange? Yes. Sharing tears of joy? Not so much!)

I also have a story in Weirdpunk Books’ forthcoming anthology The New Flesh: A Literary Tribute to David Cronenberg. I’ve seen the full cover art for it and it’s absolutely wild! My story, “Lackers”, is about a secret sex club for maimed people, because of course it is. I interviewed fellow contributor Gwendolyn Kiste about this book recently, and plan to interview some of the other authors in future also 🙂

Finally, my novella/novel/memoir thing, “Greev“, will be out with NihilismRevised on 30th December looks like.

Does that mean I can finally tell you what it’s about?! I guess so.

It’s a sci fi story that takes place in the fictional city of Los, where one day everyone’s mother dies. Soon after, a pair of doctors stumble upon a technology that may bring back the dead–though a local cult is convinced this technology will bring about the end of the world…

I’m excited to see what people make of it. I initially started writing just so I could write this book, but along the way became enthused by the notion of telling so many other stories. Over the course of 7 years, I kept taking the new skills I obtained back to the writing of this book. How could I possibly say, after a time like that, whether it’s what I expected it to be? It half-is, half-became something else. But it’s as “what it’s supposed to be” as I can make it, and for that I’m glad 🙂

What’s next? Well, I seem to be halfway through writing two separate short story collections (which doesn’t tell you anything about when you might get to read them!) while also pouring a lot of energy into the Stavanger Filmmakers Club, a club I started in because, well, it didn’t exist already. And I started it on no greater authority than having seen the necessity for it. As is my right!

We have any number of ideas for the direction of how this thing will go. I already made a little short film so I could demonstrate to others what I was after. Here is “Can I quit my day job yet?

What to say about the club? If you ever find yourself in Stavanger, hit us up! And wherever you are in the world, you have my permission to pursue anything you damn well please 🙂

Cheers for reading, sorry for not checking in earlier, and hope your year is going well enough!

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 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!! 😀

All of the news!

As is so common in the writing world, nothing happens for a long time and then loads happens at once.

Here’s what I’ve been up to of late:

  • I was on the Horror with Marchese & Buller podcast
  • I woke up at 04:30 this morning to appear on the Deadman’s Tome podcast. Which explains why we talked about moon Jedis, Scandinavian hallucinogenic mushrooms and washing feet, among other things!
  • (On both these podcasts, we discuss my upcoming release, Jesus of Scumburg [Hindered Souls Press, Dec 25th 2018])
  • Steve Pool interviewed me on my own podcast, Losing the Plot! It was his much-appreciated suggestion, and we had an interesting chat thanks to his efforts and well-considered questions.
  • Kendall Reviews will feature an interview with me some time this week (no sign yet, but I’ll post about it when there is. Do check out the site in the meantime!)
  • Unnerving and Deadman’s Tome had sales recently, which I’ve tweeted about etc. before, though I think they’ve ended now. Still, as good a time as any to check out the content from these great publishers!
  • The Anti-Austerity anthology, which I had a piece in with many other talented writers, reached #4 on Amazon for fiction anthologies. And Penguin-published author Kit de Waal bought a copy too.

I’m somewhat keen to reassure the writers reading this that news comes and goes in waves, and that I’ve been quietly writing and submitting and chatting to folk for months nay years to make this kinda stuff transpire. But the main point of the post is, 1) Check out all this great stuff and support these cool people, and 2) This is far from the last you’ll hear of me 😀

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