Nobody Said It Would Be Easy:

Showcase interviews G. Lloyd Helm

On Breaking into Writing

Widely published poet and short story writer, fantasy/science fiction novelist G. Lloyd Helm has published three novels in the F&SF field, Other Doors, Design, and World Without End. His most recent volume of short stories is Train Wheels, Flying Saucers, and the Ghost of Tiburcio Vasquez. Showcase asked him to draw on his 40 years of experience to help aspiring writers get a foot in the door.

Showcase: You’ve been published in the U.S. and abroad. Breaking in here seems daunting enough, but how does someone get into foreign publications?

GLH: Pretty simple really with computers. Go to google and ask for English small presses. There are thousands. Then keep sending your stuff to them according to their requirements and someday some editor will have a hole in a volume that your piece will fill. For all markets, you need to hook up with – fresh markets that they send to you once a week and it’s pretty cheap.

Showcase: What about contests and anthologies?

GLH: Contests can be dangerous. The ones that have no entry fee are OK and some are good, but then there are those that aren’t free and some are very expensive. Some of those are scams. Look closely to see who’s sponsoring the contest, then go from there. If the sponsor seems legit and you can afford the fee, go ahead, but be careful. Lots of wolves out there. As to anthologies, that is the way for a newbie to get published. Lots of anthologies around need writers. Some pay, some don’t. Most offer a share in the profits if there are any, but you shouldn’t hold your breath to ever see anything back except a copy or two of the book for you to admire.

Showcase: Do you have any tips or tricks for acquiring discipline?

GLH: No, and if someone knows any I would love to hear them. Getting one’s behind in the chair is the hardest part of writing for me. Always something else that seems to need doing more – just excuses of course. Any old excuse not to sit down and write.

Showcase: How much work does it take?

GLH: Depends on what you’re working on. My latest book, a straight-ahead literary novel, actually took me forty years to write. It was very hard and took lots of work over all those years. Yet some of my Big Dave stories like in Train Wheels, Flying Saucers, and the Ghost of Tiburcio Vasquez just come rolling out with almost no work.

Showcase: What should we know about Tiburcio Vasquez?

GLH: Californios, especially desert dwellers, should know some about one of the most famous bandits of the 19th century. He robbed everybody from San Francisco to San Diego and he was no Robin Hood. He stole from rich and poor alike and kept it. He was a lover and when he ended up at the end of a hang man’s rope in San Jose, women from all over California came to see it. They came to visit him in prison in mobs. There is speculation that if women had been able to vote and serve on juries he might have lived. Oh, and his hideout on the edge of the Great Mojave is used in hundreds of Western movies and TV shows and at least that many science fiction shows. No doubt if you watch TV, you’ve seen it.

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