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Zombie, Fairytale, light Horror low gore, Sweet Romance novella … with a happy ending

#Writing #Goal #Today: After going to learn about Jesus, finish my zombie, Fairytale, horror, romance novella. The two are unrelated, I swear. Well, I did pick a fairytale with religious themes, but the two are largely unrelated. Also, after ignoring the glaring contradictions in my life, so I can get some “work” (writing) done, I would like to get a little sleep as the baby decided not to sleep most of last night.  I will report back upon the failure of these goals.

This may be the hardest thing I’ve ever written (the novella … not this post). These elements were specifically dictated by the call from Entangled Books. If I flub it, this piece may be a hard sell anywhere else and this is a lot of words to have just sitting around in my computer without a home.

I took on the market because I thought it would be hard … nearly impossible even. I thought zombie writers would struggle with the romantic elements and low/no gore. I also thought romance writers would struggle with zombies and the horror elements. Then, there was the length. Both groups might give it a shot on a short story, but a larger piece between 20,000 and 40,000 words would be a daunting challenge while balancing all these elements. I decided to take it on for these reasons. I was hoping all these challenges would cancel out most of the available talent pool.

For all these reasons, I am having trouble with it myself. My poor wife had to sit through the first few chapters to see if I was striking the cords I needed. The story has gotten darker as it went along. It’s about zombies and for some reason A LOT of fairytales involve elements of the threat of cannibalism. The stories we tell children are fairly morbid when we take a close look.

If I had to bet my life on it, I think I went a touch too dark for the publisher. I think the story is very good and I am usually the most critical of what I write. I have had publishers like my work far better than I liked it once I was done. Over time, I tend to become less satisfied with a piece once it is finished and once it is published. I always feel I can do better next time. I learn a great deal from my own failed stories and reading I’m doing for other groups. I learn a lot from editors and feedback from publishers that do or do not like what I’ve done. I read old stories of mine and catch missteps in my work that I avoid now.

I have put a lot of time into this piece and I hope I land it. If I don’t publish it in its intended market, I WILL get it published somewhere. I am committed to that.

Once I finished my zombie, fairy tale, romance, novella for the Entangled Books open call, it was 37,000 words. I remember outlining the story to be sure I got above the 20k word minimum. Boy, was I stupid…er back when I started. I see how Congressional budgets get out of hand now. I’m actually really proud of how it turned out. I believe I hit a great balance in the end.

Despite being low gore, I’m still concerned the story may be darker than they want. I believe now that it is good enough to be published in another market even if the original market passes.

Update: The story was submitted on Friday, July 20, 2012.

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Jay Wilburn
Jay Wilburn has a Masters Degree in Education that goes mostly unused since he quit teaching to write about zombies. Jay writes horror because he tends to find the light by facing down the darkness. He finds the journey through life easier by having you join him. Jay is the author of 2 series: The Dead Song Legend and The Great Interruption. He cowrote The Enemy Held Near with Armand Rosamilia. You can also find Jay's work in Best Horror of the Year volume 5 and Dark Moon Digest. Each year Jay has the pleasure of featuring many great authors in the genre through the Summer and Winter of Zombie blog tours on his website.

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