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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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short stories

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 🙂

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!

Last Losing the Plot of 2018, with SC Burke!

SC Burke is 1) a good guy, 2) a force of nature, 3) the author of “Id Cancer” and “The Weird”, 4) editor-in-chief of NihilismRevised.

We talk about professionalism, the ethos of indie publishing, and friends made along the way 🙂

NihilismRevised
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 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!

Upcoming writings

I’m back in a promotional mood, and just as well, because there’s a veritable plethora of new Robertson material hitting the virtual shelves!

I have a story in the Zombie Punks Fuck Off anthology, which is out now!

“The Advent of Noise” is about how the “noise” music genre was created by a punk band after they died and brought it back from the afterlife. I don’t know if you knew that.

Zombies are anathema to certain publishers who have seen too much of them. Just like a fashion trend trickling down towards Anne Hathaway’s cerulean sweater in The Devil Wears Prada (or like a game of Telephone for those of you who now need to go watch Devil Wears Prada), other publishers and writers started going, “Yeah zombies are totally over”, but most of them saying it without really knowing why, I would argue.

So I like to imagine this book’s title is a response to those who decided to shun zombies.

Zombies don’t die, duh!!

I also have a story in the upcoming Twisted50 volume 2–it’s called “The Art is Absent” and it’s about what might happen if you were a performance artist who’d committed to living in an art gallery for a month but were then like, “Hang on I can’t do this.”

Just like that haunting episode of Sex and the City that Marina Abramovic refused to be in (to her constant dismay now, I assume.)

Last but not least, my novella “Jesus of Scumburg” is coming out on Xmas, but the preorder is available now!

Jesus of Scumburg is about Jesus DeJesus, lead singer of the Nazi Sympathizers, whose music excites audiences into a frenzy, such that they destroy whatever city the band plays in.

So please: give me the encouragement I don’t deserve to create more monstrous writing like the above 🙂 (I’ve written plenty of tasteful things, but the market has spoken, haha!)

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