Friday, October 15, 2010

Beat to a Pulp Round One Interview


We are visiting with Elaine Ash, who, along with David Cranmer, edited the fantastic new anthology Beat to a Pulp Round One. Elaine has agreed to answer some of my questions, and, as you know, I also solicited questions from the blogosphere. Below are Elaine’s answers, and if you have others just ask in your comments here and we’ll make sure you get answered. I’ll leave this post up for a few days. Questions are in italics, the answers not. Thanks to Elaine for joining us, and without further ado, here she is:

Charles: Elaine, can you tell us how you chose the stories you did? And how did you get major names like James Reasoner, Bill Crider, and Ed Gorman to contribute?

Elaine: Hi Charles! First let me say that you are not only a prolific writer, but you seem to be on top of every blog on the web, offering comments and encouragement throughout the community. You’re one of the pillars, and thank you so much for offering Razored Zen as a forum for the release of Beat to a Pulp Round One. Your readers have been very generous to supply such great questions.

This project started as a gleam in David Cranmer’s eye almost 3 years ago. Back then, Beat to a Pulp was a little acorn of a site; it did not have the established author and agent attention it now enjoys, and we had no idea if we’d get any stories at all for an anthology.

So we started with what we had—some really terrific writers like Glenn Gray and Patti Abbott, Frank Bill and Chap O’Keefe, who had been with us almost from the very start. In Chap’s case, I loved his satire “The Unreal Jesse James” so much that I begged for its inclusion. We just started asking for stories, and then word got out and stories rolled in. About halfway through, I got the idea to contact bigger names like Ed Gorman and Charles Ardai for stories, and David said, “Okay dreamer, go ahead.” Now I knew an ordinary email stating a plain request was not going to cut it. I spent hours and hours crafting customized pitches as to why we deserved the story and our track record with respecting short fiction and our plans for the book. I proofed and proofed those emails, because I knew both of them were sticklers for spelling and punctuation, and they’d be judging me, as an editor, to see if one extra space got through. When they both said yes, David about fainted on the spot. All of a sudden this project was bigger than he had ever imagined, with well-known names associated. He’s already been working on Robert Randisi and James Reasoner for months and months, and got them onboard. He also wrangled Bill Crider into doing the Introduction, and Bill has been a stalwart supporter of BTAP from the first story. Anyway, David was coming up with the cash, so he took an assignment overseas to earn money to finance it.

Charles: You and David Cranmer edited this book together. How did you divide up the duties? Did you butt heads over anything?

Elaine: I started as the developmental editor on BTAP and it became obvious, as the thing grew like kudzu, that I couldn’t handle the webzine stories plus the anthology. So I’ve exclusively worked on the anthology for about the last year. David and his brilliantly talented wife, the web designer and book designer, Denise, handled production, including the cover, and of course, David does what he always does; vetting the first round of stories that come in, vetting my suggestions and changes, and then keeping the promotion and publicity stoked on his blog, Education of a Pulp Writer.

Creative debate makes every project better. Did we butt heads? Like two rams on the side of a clover hill, you betcha. I come from the Hollywood tradition: He Who Cares the Most Wins. I argued passionately for “my” stories and reasons for printing them, and David argued for his. Why do you think there’s a boxer on the cover of this thing? The result is an eclectic collection that reflects the breadth of our contributors and readership, plus a touch of whimsical this and that. You gotta lighten up once in a while.

Charles: What makes a story hard or easy to edit?

Elaine: Plotline, plotline, plotline. Did I mention the plot? A story has to have clear plot points on which to hang its hat, or it just gets off in the weeds and is hard to follow. I take out a scalpel and trim away some fat, if necessary, so the plot shines clearly. When the plot is good, the rest is much easier. It doesn’t matter how great and colorful the characters and setting are, without events that twist and turn the story, and move it along, ya got nuthin’. A story has to have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Proofreading is the next biggest time waster for an editor. Never rely solely on spell-check. It’s not your last friend standing. Webster’s latest edition is your friend and you have to pick up that ten pounds of paper and use it. Did you know back seat is spelled backseat? How about loose versus lose, know the difference? Put the time in with Webster’s before you send a story out. Editors really appreciate the effort. It separates the pros from the not-yet-pros. I might have found one teeny proofing item in Charles Ardai or Patti Abbott or Ed Gorman. The less well-known the writer, the more riddled and riddled with typos, misspells etc. In a 140,000-word anthology, that means weeks of work for me, for David, and for the designer who has to go in and laboriously change every letter by hand. Late nights, lots of late, late nights. Yes, it’s my job to do this. I’m not complaining. I’m just lifting the curtain on the process.

That being said, BTAP has always pushed the envelope and we appreciate experimentation. Case in point: George Miller Jr.’s “Cedar Mountain,” which can be found in our archives on the webzine. It does not have a classic plot, it follows the four seasons, which still qualify as a beginning, a middle and an end.

Charles: The anthology has an awesome cover. How did that come about?

Elaine: David and Denise have always been art collectors and avidly follow new painters and photographers. When Denise came up with her wonderful and unique design for the webzine, I knew she was very special and I defer to her judgment, always. I think she and David, together, found James O’Barr on-line, contacted him, and commissioned the original artwork for the anthology. This was not existing art; it was especially commissioned just for the anthology and David now owns the piece. It’s this kind of enthusiasm and dedication for the book as a whole, from the words to the layout, font, design, cover, that set Round One apart from other works, in my opinion.

In fact, “looks” set BTAP apart from other webzines, in my opinion. Again, I’m from Hollywood, where how it looks is very, very important. BTAP’s web design and graphics are colorful and well-balanced. The archives are beautifully structured and maintained. I’d love to see some other webzines team up with art students or budding designers and let them show what they can do to showcase words. I think the world, even the world of reviewers and critics and competitions, have shown they are willing to take on-line fiction seriously. As a result, IMO, it’s time for on-line zines to step it up a notch and take proofing a little more seriously, for a start. Utilize an independent proofreader. Writers are too close to their own work to accurately catch mistakes. It’s entirely possible to find a crime-loving proofer who will do the job for a credit on a webzine, you just have to ask. Find him/her and use them to get rid of the typos and punctuation gaffes. If anybody’s listening, maybe I’ll never have to grit my teeth at the sight of another double hypen in place of an em-dash! Attention journalists: your fiction can’t be proofed againstthe AP Handbook. You gotta crack that Webster’s. Now then, you see what David puts up with? :) Not taking my advice won’t kill you in the zine world, but it will in bigger competitions. A typo knocks you out of the field, say in the Thriller Awards. They’re ready to take zines seriously. The question is: Are we ready to take them seriously?

Deka Black: Well, here is one question I’m very interested in so...
Any chance to see Beat To A Pulp published in Spain?

Elaine: You know, even with internet and all that e-shop stuff, sometimes it’s hard to be a pulp reader in the East of the Great Puddle.I’m very flattered that you show an interest. The market decides, you know. It’s all about demand. BTAP is a teeny, tiny player funded with capital from our personal piggy banks. But publishing is changing rapidly. People buy more and more books online and big players like Barnes and Noble are getting left behind. They were very slow to recognize the on-line sales trend and are hurting because of it. The good news is, all it takes to launch a book in a new market is a translation and throw it up on CreateSpace. Or if you mean just selling the book in English, in Spain, CreateSpace ships internationally. There are no borders to internet selling. That’s the great thing about it.

Ron Scheer: Were there stories you liked but didn't select for reasons other than space?

Elaine: Yes, undoubtedly there were. But we were already hefty at 397 pages, and had to draw the line somewhere.

Ron Scheer:Did you start out with an agreed balance among past, established, and new writers? Were there any differences between the two of you from the start about selection criteria? Any that came up later?

Elaine: No. My criteria is and always will be a compelling story that makes me give a damn. I don’t care if you’re nobody from Bumlost, Nobodyville. David always checks resumes, but I’ve been known to give thumbs-down to stories that may be by big names that I don’t feel are as good as one by somebody not well known. Case in point would be Jake Hinkson’s story, “Maker’s and Coke.” Nobody would call Jake a household name, and David suggested, rightly so, that we might push the story a little further back in the lineup to make way for a writer who is, very much, a household name. But I felt strongly about the emotional impact of “Maker’s and Coke.” I felt that anybody cracking open the book and reading that story first would be unable to put the rest of the book down. It sets the tone for editorial excellence and our taste and eye for great crime writing and characterization. “Maker’s and Coke” may be a tough-guy story but it’s as much a heart-rending tear-jerker as any literary drama out there. I just said my piece and let David make the final decision. Jake stayed first up.

Ron Scheer: Doing this all over again, what would you do differently?

Elaine: Nothing. It would just get done quicker and more efficiently because the trail has been blazed already.

Tom: Will there be a "Round 2" and if so, when can I submit a story?

Elaine: That will be up to David Cranmer. I think somebody asked that question on his blog, Education of a Pulp Writer, and he said he nearly fell on the floor. He’s swamped with publicity and business demands right now, trying to get the word out about Round One.

Scathach Publishing: Are the authors paid a lump sum? Do they get royalties? If so, how much per copy goes to the author, how is it worked out?

Elaine: BTAP contracted and paid writers outright for their stories, which is more than some anthologies are doing. We also provide a free copy per author. Royalties are something that may be discussed at reprint time, if and when it comes around. Remember, this anthology is a labor of love, and David and I went in and invested in it knowing we might not make our money back. So although we don’t pay a lot, at least we pay something, and believe me, the writers got paid a year ago and we’ll probably have to wait another year to see anything, and maybe we won’t ever. But it’s worth it. We raise our own profile while providing a vehicle for our writers, and that’s the main thing. BTAP would be nothing without writers trying their best, over and over again, and we appreciate it so much. The on-line crime writing community is the best, most supportive, decent bunch of people in the world, IMO.

Thanks very much to Elaine for visiting and answering our questions. If you have any others, now’s the time. Just put ‘em in your comments
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55 comments:

Deka Black said...

Well, many thanks to Elaine for answer myy question. As i said earlier, in the next weeks (province goverments are really slow payers) i must see certain ncome. And, after take what is needed fir bills and eat, i will look for two books (no more,lack of space!).One will be Bitter Steel ('i'm decided). The other Beat To a Pulp for one single reason: Variety of authors ;)

ivan said...

A story has to have clear plot points on which to hang its hat, or it just gets off in the weeds and is hard to follow

That is so apposite, from Elaine!

In my own plots, I try to keep it simple. But often Tragic!

My goldfish, whom I named Fair Dinkum-- because all my Ausie friends talked that way-- suddenly died.

Certainly a plot.

Too bad, Mate.

I felt beaten to a pulp.

I had to write the obituary on my blog!

Lana Gramlich said...

Cool interview, hon. Very interesting.

X. Dell said...

(1) Sounds like a great venture, one that allowed a creative outlet to many writers, and has a great future ahead of it. I'm always encouraged by how people can come together in the ether and produce things that are really good.

(2) Regarding your last post, you didn't count all the websites you've been to?

Chap O'Keefe said...

Many thanks again to Elaine and David. When I think of my free copy of the 400-page anthology wending its way to me at today's huge cost of international mailing, I feel very, very guilty. All I can offer in return is another story for the online BTAP!

Charles Gramlich said...

Deka, I'll start reading my Round one pretty soon. It sure looks good.

Ivan, there's something I've never written, an obituary.

Lana, thankee sweetums.

X-Dell, it was definitely a labor of love, and they got some really fine writers. Maybe I should start keeping records of my blog visits. Naw, that's too OCD even for me.

Chap, yes it is definitely a hefty piece of work. Lots of good reading there.

Elaine Ash said...

Deka, nice to hear from you, and thanks for the support. We truly appreciate you.

Ivan, I'm sorry about your goldfish. I have a friend so in love with his fish, that it eats out of his hand and kisses him on the face. Men and their fish!

X. Dell, the on-line crime fiction community has really created their own presence. Web writers are taken more and more seriously. Like you said, I love how a group can come together and produce something larger than imagined.

Chap hello! I can't wait for you to see your book. It is absolutely beautiful and so impressive with its heft. Will you autograph mine if I ever get to NZ?

Cloudia said...

Thanks for the wise words, Elaine.





Warm Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

><}}(°>

Jess said...

The less well-known the writer, the more riddled and riddled with typos, misspells etc.

I'll be quoting this to my writer's group on Nov. 6th. :)Thanks Charles & Elaine. Great questions, wonderful answers.

David J. West said...

Thanks Charles and Elaine, always good to know a little more about the editing process to help writers keep perspective.

Evan Lewis said...

You know, Elaine, most boxing matches are scheduled for 12 rounds. Here's hoping BEAT to a PULP goes the distance.

Deka Black said...

Charles, from the things i rea din the blogs (and in te comments), i'm sure is very good bunch of writers.

Elaine, nah, thanks to you for being so kind.

ivan said...

Elaine Ash.

Hi,

Well I here I was, in the exurban wilds of Toronto, Country Joe and the Fish.

But Gulp, oh, so sad.
Thanks for commiserating. :)

Naomi Johnson said...

Thanks to Elaine and David for all they do.

laughingwolf said...

thx so much, elaine, appreciate your candor and professionalism, and charles for doing this, a super way to get folks interested in the genre!

G said...

Very cool interview. Was always curious on how books like this (or for any book for that matter) were put together.

And thanks for the compliment about my story as well, it was a thoughtful gesture that was greatly appreciated.

Like I stated elsewhere, this will be the occasion for me to blow off the dustbunnies from my c/c and purchase a brand new book.

Rick said...

After the muck I've been dealing with recently, Charles, this interview was a breath of fresh air. Elaine comes across as so intelligent and thoughtful and full of ardor that I'm going to become a loyal read of whatever she's associated with.

Chris said...

Great interview, the both of you. I'm a huge fan of BTAP, and a big part of why is just how good they make their authors look. I know if I submit a story to David and Elaine, it's going to be cleaner and prettier than I'm capable of making it myself, and that's a rare thing indeed in this era of push-button publishing.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks to Elaine for making every story that comes to her desk a better one.

Elaine Ash said...

Hi you guys! My goodness, it's 7 A.M. here in L.A. and I just checked the site and saw all these lovely comments. First, I'd like to say that I got a private e-mail from professional writer Chap O'Keefe, who is a perfectionist after my own heart, worrying about his double hyphens because his keyboard doesn't have them. Em-dash can be found under the INSERT icon at the top of your word processing program. Then click SYMBOL. Click the right box that says SPECIAL CHARARACTERS and em-dash is the very first one on the list. Then click INSERT at the bottom of the page and CLOSE the box. Done!

Also, don't worry about the finer points of proofing until you are through writing the story, done completely. If you stop the creative flow to worry about spelling and punctuation, it will impede your free writing. Go ahead and get it down first, clean up later.
Best wishes,
Elaine

Elaine Ash said...

Hi Cloudia! Thanks you for your interest and keep writing!

Jess, you might also mention to your writer's group (is it writer's group or writers' group, I must check) to worry about proofing LAST, and not while the creative process is ongoing. In fact, pointing out spelling and punctuation errors in the group can be confined to "final draft" versions only. This way, it keeps the group focused on discussing plot and characters, instead of being diverted by proofing issues which are separate from the development process of a story. Develop first, proof later.

I hope this is of interest to your peeps!
Elaine

Elaine Ash said...

David J, West, thanks for your kind comment.

Evan, nice to hear from you. I love your stuff, keep slugging.

Naomi, you are welcome!

Hi Laughingwolf, sometimes my candor comes a little too unvarnished. Thanks for putting up with me.
Elaine

Elaine Ash said...

PLEASE NOTE:
I'm not editing over at the BTAP webzine anymore, because the anthology has taken and is still taking up my time. Plus, I'm working on a secret project which will be announced in due course...I've been exclusively on the anthology for the last year, so my contribution can be seen most visibly in the first year of publication, and David has taken on the whole burden of editorial at BTAP for about the last year.
Elaine

Elaine Ash said...

Hi G! You're welcome.

Rick, how nice to hear from you. I'm going to check your profile.

Hi Chris! I know you have a very special working relationship with Cranmer and he very much admires your writing. If I recall, it was always letter-perfect when I saw it. I don't think you have anything to worry about!

Elaine Ash said...

Whoops, I forgot to mention to Patti: why don't you write a little something here about your experience with me as a developmental editor? We've done a few things that really turned out well, and you're a joy to work with, Patti. So, what's it like? Don't spare the horses.

Harry Markov said...

Elaine, that was fantastic. Charles your interviewing skills are mad. :D

I'd like to know if the last story in the anthology matters as much as the first and how you choose it?

Elaine Ash said...

Hi Harry! I was just about to leave my computer for a few hours and your comment came in. Glad you asked! The last story is Frank Bill's Acting Out, and it's a novella, which to the best of my knowledge here today is anything over about 17,501 words, but I'm willing to stand corrected, since I don't have the time to research thoroughly before answering this. Perhaps someone could do a little research and enlighten us?

Anyway, short version is that Frank sent me an old novel which needed help and was gathering dust in a drawer. I spotted a gem, and whittled it down, very careful whittling I might add, from over 50,000 words to about 18,000. The result is our "anchor" story in the anthology and it has never been seen or published anywhere but here. I'm rather proud of it. Actually, Frank and I have been discussing doing a longer interview on the process of "Acting Out" over at David's Education of a Pulp Writer. Let me get back on that...
Best regards,
E

Ron Scheer said...

Elaine, thanks for the answers to my questions. As a reader of student papers in a writing class, I know the effort of getting writers to develop ideas and push harder. Correctness, like you say, comes after all that. Wish sometimes I could just toss a paper aside at the first typo. Ha.

Having worked for a time in "information design," I second your comments about the design of webzines - and blogs, too. There are blogs by people I like that I rarely visit because they are so thoughtlessly put together.

I have another question: Increasingly I read fiction today that looks like it wants to be optioned for the movies. It's mostly visual and dialogue. In a word, superficial. I'm wondering whether, as a fiction editor (and reader) you have noticed this and how you feel about it.

Charles Gramlich said...

Elaine Ash, thanks for responding so graciously.

Cloudia, I appreciate you stopping by.

Jess, I’ve seen that myself, in my limited editing experience.

David J. West, appreciate you coming by.

Evan Lewis, you’re twelve rounds comment might just give David and Elaine heart attacks man. 

Deka Black, I enjoyed working with Elaine when BTAP published one of my stories.

ivan, exurban? Interesting.

Naomi Johnson, they are appreciated. Thanks for dropping over.

laughingwolf, thanks, man.

G, yeah, I noticed she got in a mention of the old Cedar man.

Rick, She’s definitely good to work with.

Chris, indeed. The care is what separates a lot of the work being done out there today.

pattinase (abbott), cool!


Harry Markov, Good question. I think it matters quite a lot. I’ll see what Elaine says.

Ron Scheer, that bothers me about a lot of modern writing and is part of the reason why I often comment so negatively about heavily dialogue driven work. It looks like a play on the paper or a screenplay. Not my cup of tea.

Deka Black said...

Charles, you have stealed my answer to Ron. I dislike very deeply this kind od dialogue driven readings. makesme feel very angry as a reader. I ca't stop thinking "man, why talk so much? if you want to do a script for radio, TV or cinema... do it! But not this, please!"

Elaine Ash said...

Hi Ron, thanks for the comments and question. First, I’d just like to hail the pioneers of crime publishing on-line, who devote countless hours to writers and readers. In the beginning, getting the stories out was what mattered, and there was little time or resource for visuals. But the time comes in the evolution of every endeavor when help is needed, and it doesn’t have to cost anything. It can be as simple as asking for help. The greatest challenge of any small business (if you can call free web publishing a business) where the owner/operator has to ask for help and delegate tasks. People will generously help, especially in our community. You just have to ask.

Now, on to the burning issue of dialogue in stories! With the advent of film, film and more film, it was only natural that screenwriting started to infiltrate. Long stretches of dialogue in novels is common now. Personally, I don’t care what device a writer employs as long as it “works.” If I can’t see the characters, know where they are standing and what they are doing at the same time they’re talking, then the dialogue device fails. It’s failed because the writer has depended solely on the device and hasn’t fulfilled the other requirements of painting a complete picture in words, in the reader’s imagination. So before putting the kibosh on the dialogue device, let me say, IMO, that it’s not a bad thing when it’s used to augment, not supplant, the more traditional form of description within a novel.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Smashing interview. Love me BTAP, I do.

Steve Malley said...

I can't imagine the effort it took to bring this anthology out-- my hat's off to you! :)

Elaine Ash said...

Hi Paul! Does everyone know you were nominated for a Derringer for "The Tut" which was published on BTAP? I loved it for it's classical structure and use of sound in an Edgar Allan Poe-like torture sequence.

Steve, it's wonderful when others feel my pain.(ha ha) The thing about writing and editing is I never can believe how much work it actually takes to get to the finish line. How could anybody do it if they didn't love it?

Glenn Gray said...

Great great discussion. Elaine, it is always such a pleasure to work with you. Everyone can now see just how generous and knowledgeable you are. Congrats to you and David (and dmix)!!

Carole said...

This was so interesting. Great info also, Very cool.

Jess said...

Thanks for your response, Elaine. And I'm sure it's writers' group. :) My peeps will be very interested in your info and the anthology. I'll advertise it. And let me add that our annual conference is Nov. 13th: if anyone wants to send publicity stuff for the goody bags or freebie table, feel free.

Bayou Writers' Group
P.O.Box 1402
Lake Charles, LA 70602

The comments, questions and answers are really great. My curiosity is getting the best of me so I'm ordering my copy of Beat to a Pulp now.

Thanks again. I've learned a lot.

Charles Gramlich said...

Deka Black, Me too. Absolutely.

Paul D. Brazill, thanks, man. Yes, BTAP is a great addition to the zining world.

Steve Malley, it's a big thick book for sure. I just got my copy.

Elaine, that's cool about Paul's nomination. I didn't know that.

Glenn Gray, thanks for visiting.

Carole, glad you enjoyed.

Jess, it's a great looking book. I just got mine and haven't had a chance to start reading it yet but I'm sure it's going to be great.

Jodi MacArthur said...

What's a partnership without passionate head butting? (Why does that sound wrong? ;-p ). So much work you and David have put into this book, the website, and the promotions. Nothing but top notch all the way. Just ordered my copy tonight. Can't wait to raed it. Wonderful Q & A's here.

Barrie said...

Great interview! I learned a lot.

David Cranmer said...

This was a marvelous interview that demonstrates exactly why Elaine is the very best at what she does. I hope folks seek out her website to learn more on how she can improve their own short stories and novels.

And thanks for all the kind comments directed my way.

Best,
David

Elaine Ash said...

Hi Jodi! Thanks for ordering, much appreciated!

Jess, that must be some writers' group! When I was in one, we had 6 members and met in one booth at Denny's. I'll make sure David Cranmer sees your post. We're on a shoestring, and haven't got any printed materials except the book. All our stuff is on-line, and it's kinda hard to put that in goodie bags.

I see David has mentioned my out-of-date website and blog. The blog is defunct, and the website is not up-to-date with information. I was not mentioning them, because I want to update the info before driving people to the sites. As I mentioned, I'm on a "secret" project that is taking all my time and effort, s those things have to wait.

Hey, the comments on dialogue in a novel petered out. I'm up for more? Who is the worst offender with lengthy dialogue that doesn't work? Does anybody have an example where it does work?

Charles Gramlich said...

Jodi MacArthur, out of that kind of interaction a lot of energy comes.

Barrie, thanks for dropping by. Glad you enjoyed.

David Cranmer,let's you hope you two's labor of love will earn you a bit of mula as well.

Elaine Ash, I never get very far into a novel that has that much dialogue in it. Dennis Lehane does good believable dialogue. The guy who wrote "requiem for a dream," had the worst use of dialogue I've ever seen, and the most boring.

Harry Markov said...

Thanks for that answer, Elaine. I love hearing about the creative history of the pieces, which are involved in the anthology, although I was more like talking in abstract.

Since the opening story sets the tone and has importance as the hook, I imagine that the closing one has to be of importance.

G said...

Okay.

Dialogue...most of what I've read so far the dialogue has been okay, so I don't know who would be the worst offender out there today.

I do know that when I was starting out, I used to go wickedly overboard with my dialogue and quite frequently (sad to say) I would bore myself to death reading it.

It has gotten better as the years progressed, which is probably due to trying to make it more relevant to the scene at hand and less as a filler.

Perhaps people have problems with dialogue because they're trying to use it as filler as opposed to making it relevant to the scene at hand.

Elaine Ash said...

Hey Charles, thanks for the tip to check out Dennis Lehane’s take on dialogue. G, nice to see you’re still at the party.

Actually, I owe Cranmer a correction. It was his idea to contact Charles Ardai. David is always on top of who’s doing what and where. Me, not so much. So he pointed the way that Ardai was a man to meet, and I followed up with some “hat shaking” for a story.

Harry, FYI Cranmer will be hosting a Q&A with myself and Frank Bill just on the “Acting Out” novella contained in the anthology and how we got from 50,000+ words to 18,000. I’m sure Frank will be report a few tidbits on the editing process with Farrar Straus Giroux as well. So watch for that over at EOPW, probably coming late next week or just after.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Let me tell you about Elaine. Each story I have sent to BEAT TO A PULP has been made stronger, thanks to her. She is willing to take the time with an author to help them see their characters more clearly. The ending of my story in the anthology is much stronger because she said, take it up another notch. Make it end with a big bang. It is rare to have someone read your work so thoroughly and not only get it but get how it can be better. Every writer needs an Elaine Ash.

Charles Gramlich said...

Harry Markov, I think it's kind of like with a story in general. The first paragraph sells your story, the last paragraph sells your next story. In an anthology, the first story sells the book, the last story sells the next one.

G, I think forcing dialogue to do too much is the problem, and it's also fairly easy to throw dialogue onto the page rather than put in description. It's hard to do it right though.

Elaine Ash, cool.

pattinase, I believe it!

sage said...

Good interview--good remarks about editing one's work beforehand.

Charles Gramlich said...

Sage, yes, Elaine has some good suggestions.

Elaine Ash said...

Patti, thank you so much for your kind comments. You're a pleasure to work with, always

Charles, what an interesting observation that the first story sells the book and the final story sells the next book. Loved it!

I should also mention that the "epilogue" of the book is a piece by Cullen Gallagher about the history of pulp fiction. It's 5,000 words long and remembers the late and great writers and publishers who came before us and blazed a trail. This piece may be a little "geeky" but I'm the kind of geek who loves an historical perspective about where we've come from and where we're going.

jodi said...

Charles, great interview and I agree with Elaine and thank you for all of your comments and support. I am proud and honored...

Charles Gramlich said...

Elaine Ash, it's something I heard somewhere along the line, probably at some conference or other.

jodi, sounds good!

Erik Donald France said...

Fantastic -- thoroughly enjoyed this.

And this observation, absolutely true:

"First let me say that you are not only a prolific writer, but you seem to be on top of every blog on the web, offering comments and encouragement throughout the community. You’re one of the pillars . . ."

Charles Gramlich said...

Erik, thanks for that. I appreciate the kind sentiments.