It’s five in the morning. Coffee is brewed and I’m at the writing desk. And to be honest with you, aside from this blog I’m not sure what I intend to write. So why am I here? Cause writers write, god damn it. And to do that, I need to put my butt in the chair and my finger on my keys.
Between work, family, friends, and other obligations, it’s difficult to justify locking myself away and playing make-believe when others are awake. So I found my own time and my own place. And this time and place? It’s sacred. No interruptions. No distractions. No other business can take place aside from writing business. And it works!
Do I always get enough sleep this way? Do I sometimes show up at my nine to five job bleary-eyed and yawning? Are there mornings when I get up and just stare dumbly at the screen for fifteen minutes waiting for my brain to catch up with my body and wake up? Absolutely. But here’s the thing. I like writing, so I do it. Not just when I feel like it and not just on the weekdays. I’ve made a habit, and I’ve come to really enjoy it.
So here I am, five AM, only lit by the pale glow of the monitor, coffee coolly, familiar lyricless music in my ear, fingers on the keyboard. And I have a certain amount of faith that my brain will think of things worth putting down and at some distant time in the future, readers will be inclined to read it. If it wasn’t for this routine, that wouldn’t happen.
I know there’s many other members of the #5AMWritersClub. Are there any night owls out there? Let me hear from you guys. What is your writing routine?
THE BLANK PAGE
I recently moved my writing desk into a new room and there is now a freshly-painted but entirely empty wall just beyond my monitor. This morning when I sat down to write, I was staring at two blank pages: the white one with the blinking cursor a foot away from my face, and another one a foot behind that painted in two coats of mocha brown. But for some reason, only one of these blank pages intimidated me. The one on my computer monitor. That flat blank wall? I know what I’m going to do with that. Last night after work I bought four 1’x6” pine boards and sixteen shelf brackets. I’m going to put those shelves up and then I’m going to fill them with all the fun, cool, adventurous toys, collectibles, knick-knacks, oddities and souvenirs I’ve gathered in boxes and under stairs for the past four decades or so. I can’t wait to have displays where Boba Fett chills out next to a model Dodge Challenger, which will sit next to a human skull carved from whale bone, which will be next to a Jon Snow bobble head, who gets to hang with Stalker and Snake Eyes from GI Joe. I can’t wait to fill that wall with all the pop culture artifacts I’ve got hidden away.
And you know what? I think I’m going to fill the other blank page the same way.
They say there are no new ideas under the sun. If you’ve thought of it, a million other people already thought of it a hundred years ago. And I sort of believe that. The thing is, we have the privilege of witnessing all the millions and billions of ideas that have come before us. And although it’s rare for an idea to pop into our minds without any influence or inspiration, we can take and borrow and blend all those other ideas that came before us to come up with something entirely our own. So I’m going to fill up those shelves with all sorts of toys and trinkets and mementos from my life’s experience. And I’d eager to see how that seeps down onto the page!
2019 Year in Review
Happy New Years all you sci-fi, horror, and psycho fiction fans! It’s almost 2020, and as sci-fi as that sounds, I feel like a time traveler with 2019 already in the rear view mirror. But this was another fantastic year for making connections and creating fiction. Here’s the yearly rundown of everything Joe Prosit from 2019:
Of everything that happened this past year, I think I’m happiest with the connections I’ve made with other writers. Almost a year ago, I joined the Lakes Area Writer’s Alliance, a group of local writers of all types designed to support and encourage writing. Some of us are published authors, like Carissa Andrews, Kacie Clement, and T.J. Jones. Others write for the local paper or freelance for magazines. Some are just starting on their writing journey. Regardless of our diverse background and ambitions, we all work together to make the writing community a better, more supportive, and more interesting place. You can find out more about Lakes Area Writer’s Alliance on their website.
In October, I was invited to present at the Lakes Area Writer’s Conference and Book Fair. It was a great weekend. My short story Pre-Triage won first place in the short story contest, and then I was allowed to rant and rave about short stories, story structures, character arcs, ugly babies, and all sorts of things in my presentation on Short Story Creation. You can read my blog on the short story market on the LAWA blog here.
My good friend, Sebastian Hetman, started his full time editing service this year and has a fantastic daily blog full of thought-provoking and conversation-starting ideas. The man has been hard at work and strives with every job and interaction to make fiction better. Read his blog and check out the services he offers at his website.
Back on the local front, I’ve somehow got entangled in another group of writing friends who’ve dubbed themselves, “Whiskey and Typewriters.” For obvious reasons, this is right up my alley! Right now, we’re just swapping stories and providing critiques, but I feel like big things are going to come out of this gang of miscreants. I hope to tell you more about that in 2020.
But you’re reading this which makes you a reader, and if there’s one thing I know about readers is that they like to read. You want fiction and you want it weird and you want it now! Well, don’t worry friends, I got you covered.
My science fiction tale of a boy who’s not a boy at all but must save everyone he knows from nuclear annihilation was printed in this year’s American Emerging Science Fiction Writers anthology. Get your copy here.
This November, The Weird and Whatnot published my tale of a strange high speed police chase: a sheriff from the sticks and a girl from outer space. Get your copy of the magazine and read Solo Pursuit today.
And most recently, Horror Tree: Trembling with Fear brings you my three-part horror series The Stilt Walker. When a girl and her best friend, a stuffed rat named Jones, stay up late at night they start seeing monsters stalking through their small town, infecting the unsuspecting as they sleep inside their homes at night. Episodes One, Two, and Three are available now!
But most of my writing time this year was spent on three science fiction novels: 99 Town, 7 Androids, and Zeronauts. They’re not available just yet, but as I search for an agent and a publisher I can feel the momentum building. When they’re released, be ready for a mind-bending action packed mystery for the ages. I can’t wait to tell you more about it!
2019 has been a great year, and 2020 promises more connections, more events, more announcements, and more sci-fi, horror, and psycho fiction. If you want to come along for the ride, keep coming back here for updates or follow me on Twitter at @JoeProsit. Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. See you in 2020!
THE SHORT STORY RACKET
The short story market is tough. You're going to get beat up, bounced around, unpaid, under paid and rejected. But if you take your licks, get back up and keep on swinging, you just might get published and people across the world you'll never met will read what you wrote. And that's pretty frickin' awesome.
On Saturday, April 20th, I'll be discussion the lessons I've learned running the short story market with the Brainerd Writers Alliance. Can't make it into town? Follow the link to the BWA's website and my blog post.
2018 YEAR IN REVIEW
Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals! 2018 has come and is now on its way out the door. Time flies when you’re hustling! Regardless of the insanity in the real world, I built some great fictional insanity to tide you over. More published short stories, another novel in progress, more connections and friends. Here’s the breakdown of everything Joe Prosit for 2018:
“Pizza Face,” my first published short story of the year came from Dark Fire Fiction, which published the sordid tale of dead bodies, old pizza, and a whole house full of cats. As is to be expected, when the pizza runs out, the cat’s entire society beings to break down. Can their queen Snoots find a way to stay in power and save the pride? Read it at “http://darkfire.epizy.com/fiction_Prosit0818.html?i=1”
Also in August, “The Flea Circus” was published in Minnesota’s Emerging Writers anthology from Z Publishing. This is a tale of one man who must do what it takes to run his circus and elevate his show beyond the petty tricks of his childhood flea circus. The ringleader shows us all how desperation and depravity can lead to greatness. Get your copy at “https://www.zpublishinghouse.com/?rfsn=1560622.8d65f2”
My favorite story this year was brought to our ears by The No Sleep Podcast. The story, “Welcome to Mister Smiley’s Happy World Theme Park and Fun Land,” was produced by Phil Michalski and brought to life by the voice talents of Mike DelGaudio, Corinne Sanders, and David Ault. Hear from Mister Smiley on Season 11, Episode 15. “https://www.thenosleeppodcast.com/episodes/s11/11x15”
But it does stop there. Not for us. In October came two more tales of horror and wonder. Submitted to the Brainerd Writer’s Alliance contest, my Sci-Fi story “At the Core” won third place. Look for this story to get published soon.
And last but not least is “Mana for the Great Machine” from Aphotic Realm magazine. Enter a strange world where machines as seen as stone-faced silent gods ruling over humans. How much are we willing to sacrifice to appease them? Find out at “http://aphoticrealm.com/manna-for-the-great-machine/”
Short stories aside, I spent most of 2018 working on my two novels in progress: “99 Town,” and its sequel, “7 Androids.” 99 Town is a cyberpunk murder mystery featuring Federal Agent Chuck Alawode, whose stripped of all his twenty-second century hi-tech tools, and must close a murder case using only the technology available in 1999. But it’s only after he’s unplugged from the network and working in 99 Town does he start to see the truth of the modern technocratic society.
7 Androids finds Chuck plugged into the mind of an insane android named Seven. Chuck must survive the demented brain of this robot-assassin in order to uncover what led to the terrible day that nearly ended humankind, “the Event.”
In their steady march towards publication, 99 Town is looking for an awesome agent to represent and bring this book to publishers. 7 Androids will soon needs some tough and honest beta readers to polish it up and help me make it the best it can be.
2018 was a big year, and I couldn’t have accomplished what I have without the help of my fellow writers. Whether it was the colossus effort of beta reading 99 Town, or helping me polish up the short stories in workshops, or even just swapping writing memes on Twitter, my gratitude goes out to the following: Repo Kempt, Kelly Weiss, Krista Soukup, Erin Hart, Sebastian Hetman, Kedzie, my ever-supportive and lovely wife Sarah, and of course, you, the readers. Without you all of this would be pretty pointless. Thanks, everyone!
Have a great holiday season and I’ll see you in 2019 with more Sci-Fi, horror, and psycho fiction!
WORK IN PROGRESS: 99 TOWN
Several drafts later, a millions edits later, a few whole re-writes and 99 Town is getting closer to completion. Between drafts of 99 Town, I already started working on the sequel. That things is somewhat formless and very much in the first draft stage. More news on that later.
Progress continues. Slow. Steady. Deliberate. It takes time to pry the normal volume knob off the Marshall stack and install the new volume knob that goes up to 11. But it will be worth it!
2017 YEAR IN REVIEW
2017 has been a big year! I'm happy to say that more Joe Prosit short stories were published in 2017 than any previous year. But it didn't happen in a vacuum. I've met a lot of cool people this year and made some awesome writing friends. Plus, I finished the first and second draft of my work in progress, the science fiction novel, "99 Town." So before diving into the future, lets take a moment to celebrate the highlights of the last twelve months.
My first publication of the year came from the good people at Freedom Fiction. "Slaves to the Grind" is a sordid tale of how bad things can get when the wrong man doesn't get his morning cup of joe. You can read it for free at www.freedomfiction.com/2017/03/slaves-to-the-grind-by-joe-prosit/.
In April, I made my first trip to the bizarre town of Dead Oaks. And I brought a monster with me. "Monster Mike Goes to the Dentist" hit the podcast airwaves and was a big hit! If you thought getting a filling was bad, just listen to this: www.deadoakspodcast.com/2017/04/dead-oaks-monster-mike-goes-to-dentist.html.
In November, Chantwood Magazine, Issue 11, featured the SciFi tale "The Thin Man," the story of a man you sacrifices everything to see the future, and doesn't like what he sees. That is available here: chantwoodmagazine.com/issues/.
November also saw my return to Dead Oaks with more monsters! Feel that churning in your stomach? It feels you too! "Vomit Monsters" crawl into your ears at soundcloud.com/deadoakspodcast/vomit-monsters.
And December brought us one more blast of audio anguish, check out "The Hum" from No Sleep Podcast. This is worth a listen. But beware! Once you hear The Hum, you might never not hear it again. www.thenosleeppodcast.com/episodes/s10/10x05
If that's not enough short fiction for you, don't worry. My next publication comes at the strike of midnight on New Years. Start 2018 off right by checking out "Versions of You" in the Channillo short story collection at channillo.com/series/2017-short-story-contest-finalists/.
But 2017 wasn't only about short stories. My big project this year was my upcoming SciFi novel, "99 Town." This is still in 2nd draft phase and won't be ready for publication for sometime. But it was a blast to write, and I learned and grew each morning I sat down and added to the word count. I have no idea when or if it will ever be good enough to get picked up, but the journey of "99 Town" started here.
Speaking of learning and growing, that surely doesn't happen alone. I spent a lot of time over in the Litreactor.com workshop. Some great friends and peers helped me hone my rough drafts into something good and sometimes publishable. Also, Twitter, Reddit, Scribophile... I can't say enough about the support and encouragement I've received from my fellow writers. If you're an aspiring writing, I highly recommend getting involved in some of these online communities, as well as any local writing group you can find!
Who are some of these great people I've met over the year? Well, I recommend you check out that "7 Questions With..." tab in the upper right hand corner of your screen. There you'll hear from awesome writers Bill McStowe, Repo Kempt, Sonya Craig, and Christopher Waltz! In October, the awesome Kelly Weiss interviewed yours truly. You can read that interview at
www.kellyfumikoweiss.com/my-writing-experience/writersquick5-meet-sci-fi-horror-psycho-fiction-writer-joe-prosit. Thanks Kelly!
As we close out 2017, I'm all the more excited for the year to come! I can feel the momentum and excitement growing around me. The pump is primed and you can expect more SciFi, Horror and Psycho Fiction coming your way. I'm just getting started, peeps. See you in 2018!
WORK IN PROGRESS: 99 TOWN
The first and second drafts of my novel-in-progress is complete. Now its out in the hands of beta readers, hopefully being torn to shreds, but also enjoyed in at least some redeemable way.
In the meantime, it's back to the short story racket. Watch for more fiction coming your way!
WORK IN PROGRESS: 99 TOWN
I’ve taken a break from short story writing for most of this summer to focus on a novel-length sci-fi noir story of 99 Town: a city that in 2054 that rejects modern technology in favor of living like its 1999.
All is fine until the daughter of two Chicago elites is murdered in 99 Town and Federal Agent Chuz Abdullah must leave the modern world behind to enter 99 Town and find the killer.
I’ve finished the 1st and 2nd Draft. Pretty excited with what I’ve got on my hands. More to follow as this moves through the editing and re-writing process!
Guys! This story I wrote? It’s out there, published, just waiting for you to pick it up. Go to https://www.fictionmagazines.com/shop/u-t-b/under-the-bed-vol-04-no-11/ and pick it up. My story is in it, along with three other awesome, scary, terrifying horror stories. Do it. Do it now! It’s worth the $3.99.
I’m excited about this release. Excited because it’s in a respectable magazine. Excited to be listed with other talented writers. Excited because it pays money. Excited because I really liked writing the story. Excited by the idea that others will read it and like it too!
I have no delusions about making a ton of money by selling short stories. I’m not trying to live off this compulsion. If I was in it for the money, well, I’d find another line of work. But payment is validation. It’s proof that what I’m doing has worth, regardless of how little or big the payment might be. Getting paid to write also means I’m a “professional,” and that sounds fantastic!
So if I’m not motivated by the almighty dollar, and I’m satisfied with whatever amount comes in, why bother to promote? Isn’t that the publisher's job? I’m a writer for crying out loud! Not a salesman!
There may have been a time when that was the case. Writers wrote. Publishers published. Salesman sold. Everyone stayed in their lane and when a writer finished and shipped their work off to the publish, there was nothing more to do than to return to the dingy poorly-lit attic and typewriter to start hammering out the next piece. I think some writers still believe this to be the case. They think that they can be the stereotypical reclusive author and book sales will take care of themselves. That book sales are none of their business.
I’m here to tell you, those days are gone. Get that idea out of your head. Forget about it. Writing is a business and publishers need writers who can sell books. With that said, I am by no means a professional salesmen or best-selling author. But I’m doing my best. Here’s how I promoted what I’ve written.
My first rule is: Be Accessible. Always have an easy way for readers to find my writing. My primary way of doing that is this website right here. If anyone asks me how they can read something I’ve written, I can verbally tell them, “Go to JoeProsit.com and everything is linked right there.” The newest stuff is linked right at the top. You may have noticed that I also have some stories right here on this site, for free. Again, accessibility and availability.
Here’s another unfortunate reality about the market today: people don’t like to pay for things on the internet. Especially sight unseen. If I’m going to buy a music album, I guarantee you I’ve already heard a song or two on Spotify, Pandora, Youtube, the radio, etc. I get a free sample before I go ahead and pay money. I suspect my readers behave the same way. So, I include “free samples” on my website: a few select short stories that I don’t send out to publishers, that I reserve just for you, dear reader. Now many will buy the issue of Under the Bed Volume 4 featuring Joe Prosit’s short story “A Voice Exhumed” because they’ve read and were entertained by previous issues of Under the Bed. That’s the benefit of getting published. So yes, the publisher does some of the marketing work for you. But publishers are expecting writers to bring that value-added for additional readership. The publishers bring their audience. Writers bring their audience and together more issues are sold. It’s reciprocal. It’s team work.
My second rule is Be Approachable. This is where social media kicks in. I live up in the woods of Minnesota, so I’ve done VERY few public appearances, readings, etc. I’m not against them. I just haven’t had too many opportunities for public appearances. So, social media. Mostly Twitter. I do use Facebook and Google+. Also, this website and blog, message boards, workshops, etc. Now, I see a lot of other writers on these sites, and the biggest mistake I see is for writers not to be human. What I mean by this is the constant and repeated urgings to “Buy my book!” and nothing else. Or the dreaded auto-DM saying the same thing. Do I tweet links so people can buy the latest issue of Under the Bed Volume 4 featuring Joe Prosit’s short story “A Voice Exhumed”? Of course! But I also engage in conversations, make stupid jokes, retweet other writer’s stupid jokes and all in all give my followers a reason to follow me. I blog and try to give other readers something to write. I try to be helpful in writer’s groups. I be a good sport in writing contests. I write blogs to start conversations about how I work my way through the writing process. In short, I try to be human and engaging and interesting and interested.
There’s a balance between being a robot salesman and a human people can interact with. Sure I’ll be accessible and embed links to my work every chance I get. But at the same time, I know I’m selling myself as much as I’m selling a story.
Agree? Disagree? Got some tips and tricks of your own? I’m still new at this so let me know how you promote. Dump your thoughts in the comments below!
On the off hand chance I type out the random thoughts that wander through my brain.