[This is Cicero Grade‘s first interview! The questions were designed to get authors to open up about how they got published, so readers can take a leaf from their books (aha! ahahaha!) and get on the road to publish-dom, themselves. Maybe you could be the next interviewee! Enjoy.]
Today on Cicero Grade we have the Gary E. Fields–possibly the authority on writing stories that show the grittier side of life. Where other authors might rely on the same kind of content to make their stories “deep” or “edgy,” Fields manages to write through the heavy stuff like it’s just another day. That just-got-beat-up feeling you get when you finish that last line of poignant prose? That’s reality finally hitting you after years of sitcom-blinders.
1. How selective are you in choosing what markets to query or submit to? How selective are they?
I try to be as selective as possible. I believe that in building one’s writing resume, you don’t want it tainted too much by fly-by-night entities, or magazines that also publish, say, teenager poetry. Credibility is a major factor to me. That being said, those same magazines will tend to be the more selective ones. I also will admit that all that goes out the window for the right amount of money (I don’t envision myself in the role of starving artist).
2. What advice stuck with you throughout the writing-editing-publishing process?
The best advice wasn’t given specifically to me, but to all writers everywhere. I think it’s useful to any genre and any length piece: Elmore Leonard’s ten rules for writing. Look it up and follow them and your writing will improve. Once the writing is solid, editing becomes easier and publishers will start to take your work seriously. Also, know the market. Don’t submit your blood, guts, and gore piece to a magazine that normally publishes family-oriented stories.
3. What have you learned about short-fiction publishers?
Make your first line great! Many publishers are looking for the first clue that they should move on to the next submission. Hook them and don’t let them go. Keep sentences short and powerful and economize your words at every opportunity. Don’t slow it down for extraneous descriptions and definitely don’t annoy them with flowery words. Any hiccups in the read will send your story to the shredder. And be original!
4. Cicero Grade’s Rule One is “Don’t let your writing get in the way of your story.” Do you have one defining rule?
Make every word, sentence, and paragraph count. If it doesn’t move your plot, get rid of it.
5. Are there any common writing rules that you break?
Sure, and most of them aren’t on purpose. That’s why I hire you!
6. What are your writing goals?
Short fiction is a good way to get started, but I’d like to eventually pay my bills with my writing. My goal is to finish (start) the novel I’m formulating in my head.
7. What are you working on now?
My focus is writing short stories that will help me build the world for my novel. I may submit some, but my main goal is to use them to flesh out settings and characters.
8. Which of your published (or completed) pieces are you most satisfied with?
The one that still makes me proud is also the first story published. It was raw and edgy and, because of content, was not easy to find a niche for publication.
9. Is there something you can never see yourself writing?
I don’t see myself doing ‘trendy’ romantic vamp fiction or anything Lifetime would want to turn into a television movie. I think it’s a good idea to experiment in as many genres as possible, if only to incorporate them into subplots of your work. A line should be drawn somewhere, though. No matter what you do, keep it original.
10. What do you do for fun when you take a break from writing?
I read! If a writer doesn’t read, he/she will fail. I also play video games, but I try to limit myself as they eat time that could be spent in the creative process.