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Category: Magazine

Fantastic Fiction: Beyond Swords and Sorcerers

Fantasy writing got a bit of a boost in the latest Writer’s Digest magazine. It takes a look at the new wave of literary fantasy out there on the shelves.

I don’t read too many “literary” works as I often find them overly wordy. However, I decided to pick up Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife (mentioned in the article). I’m only half-way through it, but it has me totally hooked. It’s original, fluid and well written.

You don’t have to go out and get the magazine – you can read the article right here:

On the Edge: Fantastic Fiction

My First Published Article: Part 4

Crises continues to rain down on my family and friends. I am at the point now where I’m just angry with it all. To hell with fate and circumstance – I’m getting on with life. I’m not going to let these challenges and obstacles stop me from pursuing the life I want to live.

I have to get a couple of short stories out of my head and onto the page before I continue on with my book-length projects.

On with the show. This is the fourth installment of an entry I made to my private blog from April 26, 2005, concerning the first article I ever wrote for publication.:

Lunch with my editor.

I know this makes it sound as if I sat down with an editor for a novel I have written – that was accepted by one of the big publishing houses. I know it’s not and the title should read ‘Lunch with My Editor (for the time being)’, but I am enjoying the illusion.

Jeff is the editor-in-chief for Iron Horse Magazine. After having corresponded with him for over four months, we both finally found the time to meet. He came to my office on in Harvard Square about 1 p.m.. Being a one-time food editor for the Boston Herald, he suggested going to a yuppie/bistro pizza place called Cambridge 1, on Church St.. They serve large pita-styled flat bread, and have toppings like arugula, shaved steak and goat cheese – chicken, artichoke and Portobello mushroom – you get the picture.

Upon meeting, we remarked how the other looks far different than what each of us had pictured. He said, “You’re a lot bigger than I ever imagined” like I’ve never heard that before. I told him that he was younger (and I didn’t mention scruffier) than I had imagined. Jeff is six-foot tall, a little slouch shouldered with a wiry build. He has longish mouse brown hair; a face scarred by acne, and intense blue/green eyes. He was dressed as if he was either ready to go on a day hike or hop on a skateboard. Jeff is very direct. When he talks to you, he looks you right in the eye.

We went over the article I submitted. He explained a few modifications that were made and where he tightened it up. We also spoke about a new article I am beginning work on this week. It’s going to be an expose’ on a custom painter in Wilmington, Mass. In addition, we tossed about the idea of my taking a trip to Knoxville, Tennessee for the Honda Hoot and writing about it for the magazine.

Considering his size, I think Jeff either he has a very high metabolism or a tapeworm. He ordered three half-pizzas and devoured whatever I couldn’t. During the meal, I interviewed Jeff to find out a little more about him.

He graduated with a dual degree in journalism and photojournalism so he could make himself more marketable. After graduation, he began as a freelance photographer on the rock music circuit. He then got a gig being the photographer and eventual photo editor and writer for a popular skateboarding magazine. He toured extensively all over the U.S. and Canada. He did this for eight years, but knew he wanted to be a senior editor of a magazine. He soon became the Food editor for the Boston Herald and then the editor/photographer for the Art and Music section of the Herald, for another four years.

Now he’s entirely responsible for putting out Iron Horse Magazine every three months, but after September, they will be going on a bi-monthly schedule. He said that as long as I can bring him some good ideas, he’d have work for me.

Overall, it was a good lunch. I found Geoff to be an extremely hard working person, but knew how to have fun at the same time. He takes his work very seriously and doesn’t put up with bullshit and he will let you know it right away. I like his direct, no nonsense, don’t make excuses attitude. It’s the only way to get things started and done in a timely manner – and he does.

My First Published Article: Part 3

This is the third installment of an entry I made to my private blog from March 23, 2005, about the first article I ever wrote for publication.:

Bad Writing vs. Good Writing.

As you will recall, I told you about my psychotic episodes of trying to write an article for Iron Horse magazine. I also told you that at one point the writing wasn’t going well. I knew it, so did the editor and he let me know it. It was because I was playing head games with myself. When I finally said, “To hell with the fear”, I focused and totally immersed myself in the task. I sent it in and this was the editor’s response:

—————————————————-
From: “Jeff”
To: “Werner”
Subject: like comparing apples to oranges…Werner

–WHAT the FUCK happened?!?!

This story is about 1,000 times better than the first version you handed in! VERRRRY good reporting, I must say! Kudos to you!

I haven’t actually tackled editing it yet, but gave it a thorough read-through and did some polishing up on your grammar, etc. Everything looks pretty good. Might have some questions for you to answer over the next few days, but that’s par for the course as I pick apart each story, so fret not.

If I make it past our Apr. 15 ship date, we are def. going out for drinks!

congratulations again,
Jeff,
Editor In Chief
Iron Horse Magazine

—————————————————–

As you can imagine that first line scared the shit out of me, but the rest of it made me so happy that I barely slept last night. I am working with Jeff, to be sure that we make the June issue – so he can buy me those drinks!

I want to do this again. You get to make new acquaintances and learn new things. Once I got past the fear of doing the interviews (three of them), I really started to enjoy it. It’s fun asking direct questions and getting people talking about their passions.

I hope by June I will be able to let you know that the magazine, with my article in it, is on the newsstands. I think I’m more excited that I am finally going to be a published writer, with my first clip, than I am about being paid for it …

… NAH!

That’s just screwy!

My First Published Article: Part 2

This is the second installment of an entry I made to my private blog from March 17, 2005, about the first article I ever wrote for publication.:


I submitted the completed first draft article about Chopper Works Inc. to Iron Horse magazine. Jeff, the editor, said the article was boring and read like a manual. That was pretty much the tip of the iceberg. There was no hook, it had structure problems, a lack of dialogue and missing information. I knew it might need some work, but I didn’t realize it was that bad. When I re-read it with a more critical eye, I agreed with Jeff.

I stared at that article for a long time. I then tossed the entire thing. I took out my notes and interview tapes and started over. When I was done, I re-wrote it again. I went through it over and over and polished it as much as I was able. I felt better about the article this time, but I wasn’t sure if it would be good enough for Jeff. I worried that I may have overlooked something critical. But, with a deadline looming, I sent it to him.

Having a photo-journalism degree, Jeff didn’t like my pictures either. Luckily, the owners of Chopper Works Inc. had a CD with professionally photographed bike pictures on it. They burned me a copy and I FedEx’d it to Jeff.

The article is now in its final edits. As this is my first attempt at writing an article for publication, and knowing that it will be read by a wide audience, has been a real head game for me. I always wanted to be a published writer, but I never realized how tough the mental aspect of it would be.

Some hurdles I needed to cross was to write a story that is interesting, well structured and formatted correctly. The biggest hurdle though, is the psycho soap opera that takes place inside my head. I’m stunned by all the irrational fears that crop up. I have to fight hard to overcome them.

I know the fears are irrational, but I still let them influence my life. I wanted to back out of this assignment when I had to do my first interview. I wanted to quit when Jeff kept hounding me to see the article – which I knew wasn’t going well. I really wanted to quit when he read my first draft and tore it apart. I wanted to quit when I had to do follow up interviews to fill in gaps and dig up new info.

You know what – these fears are just dumb (but I still have them). The interviews went really well. The brothers that run the bike business are open and friendly. The senior editor, Jeff, has 15 years of experience and has interviewed over 1,000 celebrities and notables. He can be harsh, but very fair. Considering I had no writing clips to show him when I started, Jeff has taken this newbie to article writing under his wing and is giving me a HUGE chance. He takes the time out of his busy schedule to provide me with guidance and to show me what I need to do. I can’t begin tell you how much appreciate this.

The fear of my responsibility to the article and to the editor still makes me want to run away from it. However, I made a promise that I would not let him down. I hate when promises are broken, and I REALLY hate to break a promise I make to someone. This fear/hatred of disappointing someone I made a promise to is more powerful than the fear I have of being responsible for the article. So, I push through the fear.

I couldn’t blame Jeff if he never has me write another article for him again. However, if he does, I will be timelier with my submissions and do a better job with the first draft. Moreover, with this experience under my belt, I’m sure the fears will have a duller edge the next time around.

~W~

My First Published Article: Part 1

This is an entry I made to my private blog from January 25, 2005. It is in reference to the very first paid article assignment I ever queried … and got! I found it as a listing for a new magazine on Writer’s Weekly. Actually it was a re-release of the old Iron Horse Magazine with a new format and new owner.

I queried the editor to do an expose’ on a high-end custom bike shop in my town (Chopper Works). I added the shop’s website link to the query. The editor liked what he saw and gave me the go ahead. Throughout the article process he coached me in what he was looking for in the article and came up with a few questions I had not considered. It was an invaluable experience. The editor was blunt, but a straight shooter and very patient.
I did the interview with the guys at Chopper Works. It was great.

At first I was really nervous … no actually I was scared shit-less. You know stage fright scared, the kind of fear people have when they have to give a public speech. I was looking for any excuse not to go and do the interview. I often get this sort of fear when I try anything new. I’ve found that if I push through the fear and do it anyway, it turns out to be a good experience.

My nervousness disappeared as soon as I entered the shop. The brothers are about my age and we had a lot in common. They gave me the grand tour of the show room and the shop operations. They let me take all the pictures I wanted. All very cool. They had me sit on one of their $65K bikes, and a bike they built for Sully Erna (the lead singer of Godsmack). If it had been spring, they would have let me take one their choppers for a ride…bummer.

As soon as I got home I reviewed my notes and played back the interview tapes. I created an outline of the article with the more interesting points I want to highlight in the article. Now I need to flesh out the article with the information I gathered, do some follow up for questions I’m sure to have, then put it away for a few days. I will then go back review it, re-write it, and polish it until it shines. Only then I will send it to the editor of the magazine. I’m working on this article as a lynchpin to many other articles – hoping some of them involve travel.

Lunch with My Editor

I know the title makes it sound as if I sat down with an editor for a novel I have written – that was accepted by one of the big publishing houses. I know it’s not and the title should read ‘Lunch with My Editor (for the time being)’, but I am enjoying the illusion.

Geoff is the editor-in-chief for Iron Horse Magazine. After having corresponded with him for over four months, we both finally found the time to meet. He came to my office about 1 p.m. and being a one-time food editor for the Boston Herald, he suggested going to a yuppie/bistro pizza place called Cambridge 1. They serve large pita-styled flat bread pizzas, and have toppings like arugula, shaved steak and goat cheese, chicken, artichoke and Portobello mushroom – you get the picture.

Upon meeting, we both remarked that we look far different than we had each pictured. He said, “You’re a lot bigger than I ever imagined” like I’ve never heard that before. I told him that he was younger (and I didn’t mention scruffier) than I had imagined. Geoff is six-foot tall, a little slouch shouldered, and a slender build. He has longish mouse brown hair; a face scarred by acne, and intense blue/green eyes. He was dressed as if he was either ready to go on a day hike or hop on a skateboard. Geoff is very direct and when he talks to you, he looks you right in the eye.

We went over the article I had just written and he explained a few modifications he made to my story and how he tightened up certain aspects of it. We also talked about the article I am undertaking this week about a custom painter in Wilmington, Mass. In addition, we tossed about the idea of my taking a trip to Knoxville for the Honda Hoot and writing about that.

Considering his size, I think Geoff either has a very high metabolism or a tapeworm. He ordered three half-pizzas and he devoured whatever I couldn’t. During the meal, I interviewed Geoff to find out a little more about him.

He graduated with a dual degree in journalism and photojournalism so he could make himself more marketable. After graduation, he began as a freelance photographer on the rock music circuit. He then got a gig being the photographer and eventual photo editor and writer for a popular skateboarding magazine. He toured extensively all over the U.S. and Canada. He did this for eight years, but knew he wanted to be a senior editor of a magazine. He soon became the Food editor for the Boston Herald and then the editor/photographer for the Art and Music section of the Herald, for another four years.

Now he’s entirely responsible for putting out Iron Horse Magazine every three months, but after September, they will be going on a bi-monthly schedule. He said that as long as I can bring him some good ideas, he’d have work for me.

Overall, it was a good lunch. I found Geoff to be an extremely hard working person, but knew how to have fun at the same time. He takes his work very seriously and doesn’t put up with bullshit and he will let you know it right away. I like his direct, no nonsense, don’t make excuses attitude. It’s the only way to get things started and done in a timely manner – and he does.

[Update: Geoff no longer works for Iron Horse and I’m not entirely sure if Iron Horse is still in publication.]

Back in the Saddle Again

Yesterday, I received a call from Geoff, the editor in chief of Iron Horse magazine. He wanted to know if I had any article ideas for upcoming issues. I was flattered that he came to me. We talked over some things, and I mentioned a custom painter I saw at a bike show this past January. I also told him that I am in the process of trying to upgrade to a bigger bike so that I can make a trek out to Knoxville, Tennessee for something called “The Honda Hoot”. It’s sort of like a bike week gathering for the large number of members in the Honda Rider’s Club of America.

Today Geoff called back and said he researched the custom painter at KrazyKustoms.com and liked what he saw. He spoke to the owner Eric Silverio, and he’d be pleased to have us do an article on his shop. Geoff was also excited about the prospects of my going out to Knoxville. He wants me to do an article about that if I go. He just wants to find a professional photographer to either travel with me or meet me there.

After I got off the phone with Geoff, I called Eric. We are going to meet on Friday morning so I can interview him. I let Geoff know and he suggested meeting for lunch tomorrow (his treat) to get to know each other better and go over what I’m going to cover in the article.

I’m not going to get rich from writing these articles, but the experience I gain from researching, interviewing and writing is indispensable – and the extra income is nice too. This is beginning to take off just in the way I hoped it might.

[Update: Krazy Kustoms is no longer in business]

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

Bad Writing vs. Good Writing

 

As you will recall, I told you about my psychotic episodes trying to write an article for Iron Horse magazine. I also told you that at one point the writing wasn’t going well. I knew it, so did the editor and he let me know it. It was because I was playing head games with myself. When I finally said, “Fuck the Fear“, I focused and totally immersed myself in the task. I sent it in and this was my editor’s response:

——
From: “Geoffrey Kula”
To: “Werner Meyer” chopper_writer@yahoo.com
Subject: like comparing apples to oranges…Werner —

WHAT the FUCK happened?!?!

This story is about 1,000 times better than the first version you handed in! VERRRRY good reporting, I must say! Kudos to you!

I haven’t actually tackled editing it yet, but gave it a thorough read-through and did some polishing up on your grammar, etc. Everything looks pretty good. Can’t wait to see the images we have to choose from. Might have some questions for you to answer over the next few days, but that’s par for the course as I pick apart each story, so fret not.

If I make it past our Apr. 15 ship date, we are def. going out for drinks!

congratulations again,
Geoffrey Kula,
Editor In ChiefI
ron Horse Magazine
—–

As you can imagine that first line scared the shit out of me, but the rest of it made me so happy that I barely slept last night. I am working with Geoff, to be sure that we make the June issue – and he can buy me those drinks!

I hope I get to do this again. You get to make new acquaintances and learn many new things. Once I got past the fear of doing the interviews (three of them), I really started to enjoy it. It’s fun asking directed questions and getting people talking about their passions.

I hope that by June, I will be able to let you know that the magazine with my article is on the newsstands. I think I’m more excited that I am finally going to be a published writer with my first clip, than I am about being paid for it…NAH! That’s just screwy!

Chopper Works article (WIP-2)

Well my article about Chopper Works for Iron Horse magazine is in its final edits. Being this is my first attempt at writing an article for publication, and knowing that it will be published, has been a real head game for me. I always wanted to try writing for publication, but I never realized how tough it would be.

One of the hurdles is just trying to write an article that is both interesting and formatted properly. The biggest hurdle though, is the psycho soap opera that takes place inside my head. I’m stunned by all the irrational fears that crop up. I have to really fight to overcome them. I know the fears are irrational, but somehow I still let them influence my life.

I wanted to back out this assignment when I had to do my first interview, I wanted to quit when the senior editor kept hounding me to see the article – which I knew wasn’t going well. I really wanted to quit when the editor read my first draft and tore it apart. I wanted to quit when I had to do follow up interviews to fill in gaps and dig up new info.

You know what – these fears are just plain dumb (but I still have them). The interviews went really well. The two brothers that run the business are very open, welcoming and friendly. The senior editor for the magazine has 15 years of experience and has interviewed over 1,000 celebrities and notables. He can be harsh, but he has taken me under his wing and is giving me a HUGE chance – considering I had no writing clips or examples to give him when I started. He is taking this newbie to article writing, and working with me as closely as I will let him, and is guiding me and showing me what I need to do.

The fear of my responsibility to the article and to the editor still makes me want to run away from it all – to return to my quite complacency – but I promised I would not let him down. I did this because I hate when promises are broken, and I REALLY hate to break a promise I make to someone. This fear/hatred of disappointing someone I made a promise to be more powerful than the fear I have of being responsible for the article. So, I push through the fear.

I can’t blame this editor if he never has me write another article for him again. However, if he does, I will be timelier and do a better job with the first draft. Moreover, with this experience under my belt, I’m sure the fears will have a duller edge the next time around.

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