Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Coping With Rejection sucks but you can get through it

It used to come as the sound of your manuscript in a brown envelope thudding as it hit your doormat.

Now its more likely to come as an email which in a way makes it worse because until you've read it there's this tiny glimmer of hope that its going to be a yes and that in a minute you will be dancing around the rooming yelling, "Ya, beauty." (I'm Scottish and that's how I celebrate).

They'll be no happy dance:)
You read the email and usually the phrase you get is "it's not for us" or "thanks for sending this to us but you weren't successful on this occasion." Your head dips, your heart sinks and all the other cliches happen.

So, how do you get through this crushing sense of failure?

First off, don't see it as failure. Its usually someone's opinion - just one person. Do we all like the same things? Nope. So, why would we like the same books?

Besides, failure isn't trying and getting knocked down. Failure is not trying and putting yourself in a position to fail.

How many people do you know who say they're writing a book who never actually write a book?

Too many.

What else helps when you get that disappointing no?

Well, I like to watch comedies. After yesterday's thumping disappointment I binge watched Parks and Recreation.

Laughing away the tears helps.
Chocolate also helps. Probably so does wine but I'm teetotal and it would be too easy to drown your sorrows. If you know when to stop, you go for it.

Talking to other writers might help. My favourite forum is the TalkBack one from Writer's News. You'll find it here

Most importantly if you got any feedback at all treasure it. Publishers and agents don't say things they don't mean. My latest rejection said they liked the idea behind my submission.

Be kind to yourself, folks. Remember the path to a writer's success is paved with rejection slips and emails. It shows you've been brave enough to get your work out there.


Saturday, 30 January 2016

Free Zombie story - Pick Your Brain

What would happen once the zombie apocalypse was over and people (and zombies) were forced to justify their actions?

That's the scenario I took and then ran with it for my short story Pick Your Brain. I'd describe it horror with a touch of crime.


“Miss McBride, in all my years of representing clients whom other less well attuned legal brains would turn down as unwinnable, I have never come across one single case I could not win.” He pursed his lips. “Until now that is. Do you honestly think citing a…”
He cleared his throat.

“And, I’m quoting your expert witness Professor Romero here. "A virus that renders people incapable of rational thought and gives them an uncontrollable compulsion to consume human flesh, especially human brains," is going to assist your boyfriend in his defence after he was caught by two police officers, standing over the lifeless body of his friend, clutching a baseball bat soaked in the blood and chunks of brain matter from the deceased who was later found to have died from multiple brain injuries consistent with several blows to the head from a baseball bat?”

“Yes,” I said. “It’s the truth.”

Charles Benson, who had so many letters after his name it was like a game of Scrabble, eyed me like I was the last lunatic left in an asylum. “Did one of my learned colleagues put you up to this?” His eyes swept the room. “Are there hidden cameras? Is this some TV prank show?”

His reaction was hardly a new one. I’d encountered similar reactions from other barristers who were convinced I was delusional. “No,” I said, defiant, “this isn’t a prank. This is real.”
He raised his chin. The gesture reminded me of a haughty child.

“Well, in that case Miss McBride, I can’t help you. It’s a psychiatrist you need, not a man of law.”

Condescension seeped from his every word.

It was hard to hide my disappointment. I’d been sure he was the one man who could help us and argue that Scott had acted in self-defence. His friend, Archie was trying to eat him.
“I’m sorry to hear that, Mr Benson.” And I was genuinely sorry. If he couldn’t help Scott in this way he’d have to help him in another.

“I honestly thought someone of your calibre who’d successfully argued that a man wasn’t guilty of murdering his wife because he mistook her for a lion, would have a more open mind.” I paused to eye him with disdain. “Perhaps you could speak to Scott and explain why you won’t help him. He’s a teacher and a well-respected pillar of this community just like you. It’ll only take a minute. He’s outside.”

Charles Benson’s face went pumice grey. “No, I’m sorry, I don’t have the time. My next client will be here.”

I stood up and walked over to the door. “Well, in that case our business is over, Mr Benson. But there’s one last thing you can help me with.”

With a nod of the head, I opened the door. “I think you should meet Scott anyway, so you’ll understand. You see, in the attack he was bitten. More like a scrape caused by teeth sliding against his skin really. He didn’t turn as quickly as they do in the movies or in The Walking Dead.”

I gave a wry smile. “Well, things are seldom as they are in the movies.”

Scott shambled into the room, feral eyes glowing as he saw his prey. His nails were ragged and torn and bloody from eating the two prison guards on the way over and the secretary outside.

Charles Benson’s eyes were wide with terror. “You better leave now, or I’m calling the police.”
His words were strangled.

As Scott pinned him to the desk and sunk decaying teeth into his fat flesh, I couldn’t resist one last parting shot.

“Do you believe me now, Mr Benson?”

He was unable to answer. Scott had ripped out his throat – the blood that spurted out of the arrogant lawyer’s veins reminded me of raspberry sauce on an ice cream cone. Blood is never as red as you think, not when you get used to it.

Scott devoured the lips, then the nose, followed by the brain. The intestines he gorged on like cheesy string. Benson’s fingers he wolfed down like hot dogs.
Once he was done, he licked the blood and flesh from his teeth.

I wagged a finger at him. “Christ, Scott, we’re gonna run out of lawyers soon.”
Scott drooled. “HUNGRY. BRAINS.”
My face softened. “Okay, but we need to tidy up this office and go. We have more legal brains we need to pick.”


Jenny Thomson is the author of Scottish zombie novel Dead Bastards that's been described as "a cross between Trainspotting and Shaun of the Dead."
Note - This story first appeared in the kick ass Pulp Metal Magazine