Monday, April 15, 2019

The Sound of Silence?

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is Knife in the Heart: The Harshest, Meanest Rejections from a Publisher/Editor/Agent. I think this is a great topic because it's always good to hear that *every* author receives rejections. While 99% of them are usually vaguely kind, there's always some who have to be vicious about it.

Arguably the worst rejection is the one you never receive. Send out a submission, you can even do it old school with SASE and everything and wait. And then wait, and wait and wait. It sucks. 

The worst I ever got was pretty nice. That might be because, for the majority of my writing career, I've looked like a Viking with enough rings on my fingers to remind many people of brass knuckles. or it might be because I'm a relatively nice guy. Or it might be the luck of the draw, but I've heard a few stories that would have very likely ended with me using those very rings to rearrange the position of oh, every part of a face. 

One of the very worst I ever heard was a truly nasty letter coming back from a small press editor who told the writer that he should consider any career but writing as his words were poorly chosen, his plot was derivative and his characters shared one voice. 

Personally? I think the editor was having a bad day and took it out on someone who didn't deserve it.

My personal worst wasn't all that long ago when a publisher told me, through the editor, that I was invited never to submit again. I don't take offense, I just move on to other opportunities. Once again, I suspect a bad day and possibly annoyance that I wasn't maintaining the publisher's "vision" for their company.

The end result of that sort of nastiness was in the case of my friend, reminding that fellow writer that editors are only people and like all of us their opinions vary. I also pointed out that the press was minuscule and the editor was very close to an unknown quantity. Said press long since went belly up and I have never heard the editor's name again. Be an ass often enough and you, too, can be forgotten in what is really a rather tight-knit industry. Seriously, the number of people who are editors and writers both is rather substantial. Most know better than to be jackasses. 

It should all be taken with a grain of salt. The people who offer help are wonderful for their efforts. The ones who offer a serving of piss and vinegar are usually only hurting themselves. I am far more likely to remember an editor who offered me a serving of feces than I am to remember a form letter. The difference is I'm willing to forgive the form letter and I am fairly confident that I am not alone in that. 

Here's the sort of thing that can take the sting out of a mean-spirited letter. Some praise for BOOMTOWN. A few of these were utterly unexpected and very kind. They also come in several cases from peers I both admire and respect. 

"A good weird western is a rare find, and Boomtown is very weird and very, very good. James Moore's effortless prose puts you in the company of fascinating characters as he subjects them to enough bizarre mayhem for three novels by any other writer.  You won't be able to put this one down, folks."  F. Paul Wilson--Author of the Adversary Cycle series

"Boomtown... F@*k. It's amazing. The way Moore captures the snowy landscape, the beauty and the absolute horror of what's happening within it. I loved the moral complexity, loathing humanity but knowing life is so precious, the way Moore writes so honestly about most of these guys being racist ... It's a really powerful book and I'd be very happy to say that anywhere."
                                                                              --Anna Smith Spark, Author of the EMPIRE OF DUST trilogy

"Just finished reading BOOMTOWN by James A. Moore. Holy moly! This is the kind of weird west that defines the genre. Read this now." -- Jonathan Maberry -- Author of the Rot & Ruin series

"I can't recall another author who can write of walking dead men, blasphemous sorceries, Native American legends come to life, immortal hunters, and neverending horror--and still elicit chuckles in the reader with subtly unannounced humor. Then, too, is Mr. Moore's complete obviation of the need for suspension of disbelief. As in others of his books, the reader is immediately absorbed and immediately believing.

BOOMTOWN is a "Weird Western". There's a lot of violence and grabby greediness and political incorrectness which we might expect from the culture of the day (the era of the American Civil War) but there's so much more. Skinwalkers and animated dead men; monsters which might even make Lovecraft quail; and an immortal Hunter, Jonathan Crowley, who is neutral in character, neither good nor bad nor in-between. In this era he is in effect a 19th century scientist like Darwin or Alfred North Whitehead, traveling the globe seeking out flora and fauna to study.

I can't imagine any reader not adoring BOOMTOWN, but I especially recommend it to aficionados of horror, grimdark fantasy, and Weird fiction." --The Haunted Reading Room.

"On the Weird Western front…well, Moore certainly doesn’t skimp there either. Carson’s Point is positively littered with all kinds of supernatural hijinks, although the primary nuisance here is the skinwalker and his creations. The skinwalker is able to reanimate the dead and he calls forth a band of Native Americans slaughtered by former soldiers now resting easy in the settlement. Although there are zombies aplenty in Boomtown, in the case of the Native American undead Moore puts a nifty little spin on this trope that really helps separate them from your usual pack of shambling brain-eaters, which I appreciated greatly.
Boomtown is a dark and very effective work of wild west horror, and Carson’s Point is densely populated with monsters, both human and otherwise. American expansion and settlement into the west was certainly a perilous and tumultuous period of US history, to put it lightly, and Moore doesn’t shy away from the violent and inhumane aspects of the era. While several women fall victim to rape and children are counted among the murdered, Moore never writes such scenes in a salacious, leering, or gratuitous manner. Even spared the grisly details, one depiction of a helpless child’s murder managed to hit hard. Sensitive readers may still wish to prepare themselves, although, thankfully, such mentions of sexual assault and child death are kept very brief and directly to the point. Boomtown does not offer a romanticized view of the American west, but a gritty horror story of predators and prey, and, in keeping true to the period being written of, the violence that ensues." 

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