Saturday, January 05, 2008

New Year Day 5: Update

Mostly an update today. I’ve been working on getting ready for school, and found out yesterday that a textbook I was going to use for a class has had its publication date pushed back from November 2007 until March 2008. That will leave me scrambling for a book since classes start in about a week. The University bookstore is supposed to let me know about this kind of thing, but alas. I should have had enough sense to check earlier.

Other than that, I did get an acceptance on a story from Flashing Swords. The tale is called “Worms in the Earth,” and is one of the few humorous stories I’ve attempted over the years. Humor is popular with editors, though. This is actually a reprint sale. The story sold first time out and was published, then I resold it a couple of years later to an anthology that ended up never seeing print, then resold it again this week. It’s actually been submitted four times and sold three of the four. The other submission was for a “best of” anthology so it had pretty stiff competition there. Below is a brief excerpt from the piece, but I’ll be sure and let everyone know when the piece is published.

Deep into his palace Farthane stalked, making his way to what he called his "black" room (though a visiting imp had once been heard to remark, "why doesn't he call it his 'blacker' room since his whole castle is most wholesomely black?"). Drawing from his fastidiously immaculate shelves his most ancient and potent grimoire--the Necronudicon (older than the Necronomicon and with better pictures besides)--he turned the laminated bat-wing pages until he found the one spell he sought, the one cantrip that he had never used in his rather short long life.

I hope to have a post on writing humor in the next few days. I generally find it difficult to do, but when it works I really enjoy it. How about you? Any humor writers in the audience? Do you find it easier or harder to write humor? Do you enjoy reading humorous works?

Finally, I know most of you are not in this area, but if you are or know anyone who is, I’m going to give a talk on writing and publishing, and hopefully sign a few books, on January 14, at 6:30, at the library in Slidell, Louisiana. That’s a Monday night. Would love to see anyone there who could make it. But I can’t pay for your plane tickets if you live in, say, New Zealand or Canada or England or Detroit or Chicago, or some wild and wooly place like that.


Travis Erwin said...

I'm attempting to write a humor novel now. I've enjoyed but find I have to be in just the right mood to write funny or the tone turns dark as that is my natural inclination when writing fiction.

Steve Malley said...

I always did like Slidell, though I never used the library there. And to think I used to think crossing the Pontchartrain bridge was a hike!

Have to be there in spirit this time!

Travis Cody said...

Writing humor is tough. I'm not really very good at it. I do reasonably well when one of my characters needs to say something funny, but I don't think I'd have the confidence to write any story based on humor.

I enjoy satire or a good humorous story when it's done well.

Miladysa said...

Congratulations on the acceptance of Worms in the Earth -(again) :)

I liked the excerpt and did find it funny. I'm a Brit so that probably means it appeals to both American and British sense of humours which is hard to achieve.

I am really disappointed about the lack of plane tickets on offer, I mean, you just had the piece accepted surely you authors are rolling in it? ;)

Shauna Roberts said...

Congratulations on the acceptance!

Coincidentally, I had an idea just yesterday for a humorous novel for teens. I need to wait, though, until I finish up some other projects (although this little voice keeps saying, "but you only need 50,000 words for a young adult novel!").

I've written three humorous short stories and sold two. Like Travis, I have to be in just the right mood to write humor.

I do scatter humorous scenes throughout my books, partly as a break for the reader after something serious or heavy and partly because I think it reflects reality better. The older I get, the more obvious it seems that hope always lurks in the most terrible of events and that the shadow of eventual death haunts even the happiest times. The very dark fantasy popular nowadays leaves me cold because they only acknowledge the darkness and not the light that is always there, however small.

William Jones said...

Congratulations on the sale! Or the "re-sell," which is always good. Sometimes writers overlook the fact that they can keep selling stories.

I suspect the library reading is too far away, so I won't be there. But good luck.

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis Erwin, I too have to be in a particular mood to write humor, and I'm not often in that mood.

Steve Malley, I guess I can give you a pass on this one. I'm getting more and more use to the bridge all the time since I cross some bridge or another every working day.

Travis, yeah, I think I do OK with humor when one of my characters gets to say something Dark humorous but other than that it's pretty hard.

miladysa, thanks. Honestly, there is some British humor I don't get well, but there is still plenty that makes me laugh. As for "rolling in it." Indeed, just not much in the "money" department. LOL.

Shauna, I've gotten where I much more enjoy a bit of light with my darkness these days, although I didn't much when I was younger. For me it has been a bit of an aging, and perhaps maturing issue.

Shauna Roberts said...

Same with me, Charles. Life seemed very dark when I was young, so darker books seemed to reflect life realistically then. But after one's been to hell and back again a few times, one learns to appreciate the beauty of a soaring bird and the smell of soil as one digs in the garden and the silliness of a cat rolling in a patch of sunlight.

Angie said...

Congrats on the re-resale! :D

I've written a few humor pieces, and a bunch more stories that had funny bits in them. I find it easier to be funny here and there -- and it helps break tension in a story which would otherwise be too serious, or would try to stretch the reader's "OMGACK!" capacity beyond its posted load limit -- than to write an entire story that's supposed to be funny as its main purpose.

Short funny is easier than long funny. I admire people like P.G. Wodehouse and Esther Friesner, who can sustain funny for the length of a novel.

And sorta-funny equals not funny. Funny either works or it doesn't; you can't be "almost" funny. I think that's one of the reasons it's difficult, because it's a pass/fail exam with a fairly high passing standard.


ZZZZZZZ said...

I've been trying to write but unfortunately I start school this week. With work and four classes I'm afraid my writing will have to go on the back burner again. damn it.

Bernita said...

I highly approve of re-cycling.
I like that excerpt!
Makes me feel the beginning of an anticipatory grin at the corners of my mouth
Don't think you needed the parenthesis though.
I always like to read some humour in a story, even if only smart ass dialogue.
I find it much more realistic than relentless doom 'n gloom.
Canada is definitely arctic fleecy and "wooly" right now.

eric1313 said...

Congratulations. You've been having a nice run of luck with the acceptances. That has to make you feel pretty good.

As for humor, it depends on the subject. It will inspire humor or it won't. Forced comedy really doesn't go over well for me.

virtual nexus said...

Like this; enjoy Terry Pratchett type humour - agree there can be distinctive difference of slant between Brit and US humour - though maybe that's reducing with media exposure and some of it may be down to personality anyway.

I like to write in a mildly satirical vein at times & did a cartoon strip for a few months when I worked for a rag up in town.

atb with the presentation.

Josephine Damian said...

Charles, I hear you on the school stuff. Back at it for me on Friday, and already have an email from the prof with the homework assignment! Ugh! And of course no textbook yet from

Congrats on the story sale. The more I read about agents, the more I realize those short story sales matter.

Me? Even when I describe something awful it comes out funny - my problem is keeping the humor tuned down while I'm being dark and serious. Being Irish, the humor comes easily.

Charles Gramlich said...

Shauna, agreed. You see how often young folks write of "death" and "sadness," but once you've experienced those things you discover what agony is really like and start to hope for some smiles.

Angie, love the OMGACK. Lol. I agree, short funny is easier than long funny. I've read very few "books" that I found humorous throughout.

Sheila, yes, starting tomorrow my life is becoming constrained again.

Bernita, you may be right on the apostraphes. I inserted frequent authorial intrusions in the story and tried to set them off that way, but particularly the imp one probably goes better with the natural flow of the sentence.

eric1313. Agreed. You can't really force it or humor loses it's power.

Julie, I don't know how to identify the difference between British and American Humor but I often recognize it when I see it. Lana is a big fan of British humor but for me it's hit or miss.

Josephine Damien, well I'm of German ancestry and my last name means "Grief and Sorrow" so I fear humor doesn't come very naturally to me. Lol. Thanks for stopping by.

Erik Donald France said...

Excellent, Charles! Congrats!

I hear you on bookstore bureaucracy, too. Can be a real drag.

Maria said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I have always wanted to visit Louisiana.

I like humor and I am told that I write best when I aim for a humorous bent, but it has to have an edge to it. It has to be David Sedaris or his ilk.

Donnetta said...

I think it's just hard to be funny-to really be funny. Probably the most difficult kind of writing that there is. Much easier to do sad.

Well, sure wish I could boogy on over to Louisiana to see you! I used to live in Lake Charles. That was in my previous life.

You'll do a wonderful job at your book signing! Is Lana going to be there? She'll be cheering you on!
Have fun with it. Congratulations.


Jo said...

Whaaaat? You can't pay for my plane ticket to come and see you? Oh, drat!!!

Well, keep us posted.

Maybe you can post a YouTube of it.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Well first off congrats dear CHarles... seems you have caught the publishers eye and good for them, if I may be so bold.

I would love to come hear you speak, unfortunately, I have already started classes. (woohoo, graduation is coming!)

About writing humor, I really never have tried. I have been told I am funny, but then everyone has a taste for something. I will look forward to your posting on it.

Here's to you!

Charles Gramlich said...

Erik, yes, the bookstore situation is going to leave me scrambling.

Maria, I rather like biting humor when I'm reading it, but I am generally not fond of political humor.

Donnetta, yes, Lana will be there and I actually already got the check for the speaker's fee so that was nice.

Josie, never thought of a youtube vid. Maybe I should.

Tara, thanks. Good luck with that graduation.

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

I wish I were there! Congrats on the story and I hope you blog about the reading and signing!

Greg said...

Congrats, Charles! Can't wait to read the rest of the story.