Author Topic: Aspiring author  (Read 1838 times)

houstonsteele

  • Recruit
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Aspiring author
« on: 19 October 2023, 17:32:17 »
I am recently retired and hoping to submit several stories I've written and held onto over the years for Catalyst's consideration. I've come across and sent one via https://pulsepublishingsubmissions.moksha.io/publication/3/guidelines. Is this the correct website or is there another way I should be approaching this?

Thank you

trboturtle

  • Freelance Writer
  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 4056
  • Erraturi te salutant!
Re: Aspiring author
« Reply #1 on: 19 October 2023, 20:05:50 »
Hi!

Yes, that website is the correct way to submit stories to Shrapnel. That's the only way to submit stories. It may take a while, as Phil Lee, the guy who runs the day to day work on the magazine, is busy and skims through the submissions when he's preparing the next issue. On the plus side, he is always looking for new authors, and you f he thinks the story is good enough, he will buy it.

Craig
Author of 32 Battletech short stories including "The Lance Killer," "Hikagemono," "Negotiation," "The Clawing," "Salvage," "The Promise," "Reap What You Sow," "Family Ties," "The Blood of Man," "End of Message," "Heroes' Bridge," "Kurodenkou," "Thirteen," "My Father's Sword," "Evacuation," "Operation Red Lion," "A Matter of Honor," "State of Grace," "Operation Blue Tiger," "A Warrior's Fear," "Shadow Angels," "Murphy's Method," "End of the Road," (IAMTW 2019 Scribe Award nominee!), "Tales of the Cracked Canopy: Blind Arrogance," "Laws Are Silent," "No Tears," "Tales of the Cracked Canopy: Shadows of the Past," and "Three White Roses."
Novels -- Icons of War, Elements of Treason series, "Vengence Games." Upcoming: "In the Shadow of Dragons" and "Poisoned Honor" (WoR #1)

My Blogs!
Battletech:  http://thebattletechstate.blogspot.com/
Other writings: http://trboturtleswritings.blogspot.com/

houstonsteele

  • Recruit
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Aspiring author
« Reply #2 on: 20 October 2023, 13:58:43 »
Craig,

Thank you for the quick reply! It's a big relief that I found and used the right site. I just wish the algorithm would allow for multiple submissions!

I also have a longer, book length story and and accompanying source book. They're still a little rough, but is there a place I can send them for consideration when they're ready? Thanks again!


trboturtle

  • Freelance Writer
  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 4056
  • Erraturi te salutant!
Re: Aspiring author
« Reply #3 on: 20 October 2023, 15:39:09 »
Craig,

Thank you for the quick reply! It's a big relief that I found and used the right site. I just wish the algorithm would allow for multiple submissions!

I also have a longer, book length story and and accompanying source book. They're still a little rough, but is there a place I can send them for consideration when they're ready? Thanks again!

The best advice I have is to continue writing short stories. Unless you've already established yourself as an author somewhere else, John Helfers (the head of the Catalyst Fiction department) won't want to look at longer pieces (novellas and the like). By writing and having short stories published in Shrapnel, you show that A) You can write. B) You know the Battletech universe (A lot of people stumbled over this one) and C) You are consistent in your writing. (The second hurdle a lot of would-be BT authors trip over).

What does that mean? It means that you treat this as a serious attempt to break into writing for BT. You get Phill Lee's attention by submitting a good story, with a solid BT foundation. You have good characters and they are more than stock characters. The story you write is important for that character. They come out the other side of the story's events changed in some way, good or bad.

The foundation is things like the right 'Mech (For example, no one in the Inner Sphere in 3025 is piloting a Mad Cat [Clan name: Timber Wolf]), that all 'Mechs names are italicized (See previous phrase), and knowing what 'a Tai-i is and who has them. It also extends to how 'Mechs move and react how their weapons fire and how it does damage.

But the story need not be 'Mech-based combat -- eleven of my short stories don't include 'Mechs. Espionage is as important as a battle for a capital city is. The important thing is that there needs to be conflict. Nine times out of ten, that's warfare.

For general advice, I would say write small. Boil your story to a few characters and make the story personal to them. A hard-luck mercenary unit on the other edges of the Inner Sphere is a popular setting. Big, major events in your story will not work. For one, those are planned out in advance by the PTB (Mostly Ray and Aaron) and 5K words is not enough to do something like that.

Established BT characters in your story have the same problem; most have a preplanned life, and they may overshadow the story itself. It wasn't until my sixteenth short story that I used an established character to any extent. You are better off writing about your own characters first, and once you have a few published stories in your corner, you can start branching out a little.

The last thing you want is overpowering characters. A lot of players have an RCT-sized unit that makes the Wolf's Dragoons green with envey, but it's not going to fly in writing for BT. Most Merc units are less than a company in size and are barely holding their heads above water. See Bryan Young's Fox Patrol for an example of a new merc unit trying to expand its wings in the new world. Or take a subunit of an established unit and run with that.

Your character needs flaws -- the CO might be competent but likes to drink or get into trouble with romance. What you don't want is Biff Beefcake in his A-1000 Acme supermech taking on the entire First Sword of Light and wiping up the floor with them, then afterward romancing the nearest Noble Lady with articulate sophistication. (It's an extreme example, I know. I'm just pointing out have extreme it could get.) Losses are expected -- it's war after all, and it becomes part of the story's fabric.

Sourcebooks are a much harder sell. They are planned by the PTB and the call goes out for pitches for sections of the book. there, you are given some idea of what has to go into that section, including events that occur in the section. Unless it is something for the PDF lies (Touring the Stars, Turning Points, and others), the sourcebook idea will not be accepted.

I've prattled on too long. I tend to get wordy when I give out this type of advice. But in short, write good stories that show good knowledge of the universe, with characters the Reader will invest time in. Once you prove you can write story after story, better offers will come your way. Offers to pitch for anthologies and product work will come once you prove yourself. And once established, you can pitch John novels. No guarantees he'll accept your pitches, but he will at that point, be willing to at least listen.

Craig

Author of 32 Battletech short stories including "The Lance Killer," "Hikagemono," "Negotiation," "The Clawing," "Salvage," "The Promise," "Reap What You Sow," "Family Ties," "The Blood of Man," "End of Message," "Heroes' Bridge," "Kurodenkou," "Thirteen," "My Father's Sword," "Evacuation," "Operation Red Lion," "A Matter of Honor," "State of Grace," "Operation Blue Tiger," "A Warrior's Fear," "Shadow Angels," "Murphy's Method," "End of the Road," (IAMTW 2019 Scribe Award nominee!), "Tales of the Cracked Canopy: Blind Arrogance," "Laws Are Silent," "No Tears," "Tales of the Cracked Canopy: Shadows of the Past," and "Three White Roses."
Novels -- Icons of War, Elements of Treason series, "Vengence Games." Upcoming: "In the Shadow of Dragons" and "Poisoned Honor" (WoR #1)

My Blogs!
Battletech:  http://thebattletechstate.blogspot.com/
Other writings: http://trboturtleswritings.blogspot.com/

houstonsteele

  • Recruit
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Aspiring author
« Reply #4 on: 21 October 2023, 00:37:42 »
Craig,

You're awesome for giving all that advice. I've been involved with the BT community off and on since 2005 (Netbattletech leagues), with most of my experience being on the clan side of the house. I've been an avid reader of the novels since before then, so I hope that comes across in my writing! I was a little discouraged when I hit the submission wall earlier this week, but based on what you're saying I feel more confident that I should continue to put together tales. I'm trying to keep a mix of my comfort zone (small to midsize clans) plus other areas in the BT universe that aren't usually focused on like the Periphery or Pirates. I hadn't wanted to do a merc unit as that ground seemed well trodden, but you're point is well taken. I'm actually really glad to hear that they're open to non-mech stories, as I've been throwing a couple around in my head after I get the ones I'm already working on wrapped up. Again, I really appreciate you replying to these posts, it's a big help!

DarkISI

  • Praedonum Dominus
  • Freelance Writer
  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 7184
  • https://amzn.to/3Dm3bvj
    • My Author Website
Re: Aspiring author
« Reply #5 on: 25 October 2023, 04:10:16 »
I would also like to point you towards this thread, since we discussed a lot of questions from aspiring writers in there https://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php/topic,76852.0.html :)
German novelist and part time Battletech writer.


HPG Station - German Battletech News

"if they didn't want to be stomped to death by a psychotic gang of battlemechs, they shouldn't have fallen down" - Liam's Ghost

houstonsteele

  • Recruit
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Aspiring author
« Reply #6 on: 26 October 2023, 12:48:52 »
I would also like to point you towards this thread, since we discussed a lot of questions from aspiring writers in there https://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php/topic,76852.0.html :)

Much appreciated!