Staring into the Abyss

No, I’m not feeling glum. Quite the contrary, as the writing has picked up and I can see my holiday just over the hill in front of me after a long year.

Staring into the Abyss because I was fortunate enough to be invited onto the podcast of the same name, by their team of Scott Kemper, Matt Brandenburg and Michael Patrick Hicks.

The format of the show, if you don’t already know it, is that the guest chooses a short horror story to discuss with the panel. I chose a phenomenal piece called ‘Live Through This’ by the ludicrously talented Nadia Bulkin.

You may not be familiar with this story, as it has only ever been published in an anthology from Dim Shores, called Looming Low, and as we thoroughly spoil the story, I’d really recommend you pick up the anthology first, here* then listen in and see if we made of it what you did.

The chat also features a round-up of what we were all reading at the time of recording, when I was wrestling with the darkness of Ross Jeffery’s Juniper and the Staring Into The Abyss team were all at various stages of progress with Stephen King’s novella quartet, If It Bleeds.

Have a listen and tell me what you think, either at the spotify link below, or wherever you get your podcasts.

https://open.spotify.com/episode/0k68WUd98EaXaaNa9tusnt?si=tnBT-VaCQliF7LSfrf_SlA

*You won’t be sorry if you do pick this up. There are other stories in there by Gemma Files, Brian Evenson, Michael Griffin, Betty Rocksteady, Damien Angelica Walters, Kristi DeMeester, Michael Cisco and I could go on. Seriously, it’s astounding. You can read my 2017 This is Horror review of the book, here.

Half price promotion on The Balance eBook and Audiobook

After two months on sale, The Balance is doing better than I could possibly have hoped (all thanks to you readers!) To help more people find this fusion of Slavic folklore and ecohorror, Lycan Valley Press have decided to run a limited-time promotion, with the Ebook and audiobook both available for half price.

So pick up the eBook here.

Or the audiobook (lovingly narrated by Desmond Manny) here.

And don’t forget to use the coupon code Balance2020 at checkout. Note the capital B in Balance there, people.

If you do check it out, I’d love you to reach out to me and tell me what you think, via my contact page, on Twitter @LisboetaIngles or via Goodreads.

Nearly is nothing – but not exactly

When I started writing, I read a heap of writing advice. I continue to read it, listen to it on podcasts and request it from more experienced folk than myself when I get the chance. At the beginning, I was struck by just how often the number one maxim was: “be resilient, grow a thick skin,” or words to that effect.

Of course, they were right all along.

Regaleira Tower Green

2019 and 2020 have been the kinds of years that you might have seen in dystopian movies, had movie studios been bold enough – (maybe out of their minds enough?) – to believe the perpetual shit that much of the world has thrown at us all over the past 18 months or so could ever possibly have happened.

Way, way down in that list, in terms of global importance at least, has been the first dip of my writing career.

I made my start as a ‘serious’ writer in late 2016 and started submitting stories in 2017. Partly through luck (isn’t everything?), partly through finding ideas and submission calls aligning and partly through half-decent beginner-level writing, I managed to score some really great sales over that first year and into 2018, including a slot in the Lost Films anthology from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing which was a dream come true, and two stories which featured in Things in the Well’s Below the Stairs: Tales from the Cellar and Beyond the Infinite: Tales From the Outer Reaches that I still love today.

Moving into late 2018 and 2019, I sold my debut novella, The Balance, a novelette that I am still immensely proud of (Cinders of a Blind Man Who Could See) and also placed a story in Corpus Press’ beautifully realised In Darkness Delight: Creatures of the Night. I felt energised, and raring to push on.

I started to push the boundaries of my fiction, trying out different modes, character voices, etc, and feedback from beta readers was that this was my best work yet.

I naturally began to sub this work to new markets and stories were added to shortlists, reaching the last round of eliminations for two magazines that I would have sold at least a fair slice of my soul to be a part of and two anthologies that went on to or likely will go on to be named in best ofs and award ballots for the year of their release.

Ultimately, though, my stories fell at the last hurdle.

For all writers, and creatives more generally, I think self-doubt is only ever one knock away from smacking you hard in the face. And I’ve spent long, hard months over the past half a year considering whether maybe I just don’t have the stuff for this field, or whether my stories are not what people want or need right now.

In some ways, I think reaching being shortlisted and ultimately failing anyway makes the punch even fiercer than it might have been, were the response a simple form rejection. I wrote a while back about how failure can be full of insight and lessons and can help us grow, but sometimes it can just knock the stuffing out of you and leave you asking what the point of it all is.

Nearly is nothing, after all.

I have no stories scheduled for release. I’ve sold only two shorts for podcast adaptation in almost twelve months.

So what do I do from here?

I keep on going.

I try to find the right places to submit those stories that were shortlisted and remember that some editors that I respect enormously have said things like:

“… is one of the most viscerally impactful scenes I have read in a long time”

“thank you the opportunity to read such a fantastic story”

My novella, The Balance, has also received some reviews that I couldn’t have dreamed of, from reviewers who absolutely know their stuff, so there is a home out there for my writing. I just have to keep sending it out there until I find it.

And if (when?) it comes back from the next market with a rejection I have to pick myself up, dust myself off and get it ready to go back out.

I guess, in the end, this post is a very long-winded way of saying two things: writing advice 101 really is grow a thick skin, become resilient, accept or even embrace rejection and keep on going anyway. But also, do take on board that positive feedback. Editors I’ve asked about this assure me that people don’t write this stuff just to soften the blow of the rejection. If they tell you it was a great story and they expect it to find a home elsewhere, they probably mean it. If we’re to let imposter sydrome kick our arses from one corner of our homes to the other most of the time, we owe it to ourselves to accept positive feedback and use it as a counterbalance.

Anyway, back to my WIP…

New audio story, ‘Lost and Found,’ available now on The Other Stories

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I’m delighted to share my creepy tale, ‘Lost and Found,’ with you, courtesy of the amazing people over at Hawk and Cleaver’s The Other Stories podcast. It’s the fourth entry in their ‘Remote places’ theme, which has featured some fantastic, scary tales. Here’s the log line:

When Sadie goes off hiking in the heart of the wilderness, Gemma seizes the opportunity to unwind with a raft of movies and bubbly. When she doesn’t come back and a storm rolls in though, Gemma begins to fear the worst.

When writing this one, it was all about the atmosphere, trying to capture the isolation of the forest. I hope I got it right.

Leave your opinion in the comments, or tweet me: @lisboetaingles

To listen, click the image above, listen on Spotify, below, or search for The Other Stories in your podcatcher.

Happy Book Birthday to The Balance & Thanks

The Balance Cover High QualitySo, today’s the day. The Balance is out! Seeing my book out there in the world, two and a half years after I first wrote ‘The end’ is a surreal feeling. But a satisfying one. Early reviews have been really positive and, while no book is ever going to be for everyone, I’m pleased it’s resonated with some of the readers who’ve read it to date.

As is the way with life, nothing is without its little hitches. Amazon delisted the release, two days before launch without any real explanation as to why. So, if you want to get hold of it and can’t wait for Amazon to sort themselves out, you can pick it up direct from the publisher, in eBook format here, audiobook here & paperback (in North America), here. Until May 4th, both eBook and audiobook can be picked up with 50% off, using the promo code StayAtHome .

If you do pick it up and check it out, please do leave an honest review on goodreads and/or amazon. It makes a world of difference. Aside from that, leave me a comment here on the website, or tweet me. I’d love to hear how you get on with it.

Finally, I just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone in the horror community who has helped me to promote the release. To Kendall Reviews and the Gingernuts of Horror as well as S.J. Budd and Aphotic Realm, for hosting early reviews. To Sci-fi and Scary and Janine’s Ghost Stories for having me on for some really thoughtful interviews, to the fantastic writer Dave Jeffrey for his dream-come-true blurb of the book, to the Staring into the Abyss podcast team and just to anyone that has retweeted, shared or talked about The Balance to anyone. I try to thank everyone, but if I’ve missed you, THANK YOU so very much.

Now, it’s back to work on the new novel.