Finding a Home for Your Story: Advice on Publication

Way back when I was about 22-years-old, I took a poetry class that changed my writing forever. I’m by no means a poet. I barely managed to write any decent poetry during the class. And since leaving the class, I’ve hardly ever written a poem – except for the occasional one that is born out of a purely emotional moment. But my lack of poetry skills isn’t what I took away from that class. It was actually quite the opposite. I walked away from that course as a newly-infused writer full of confidence and a sense of hope. As writers, we should always be filled with a sense of hope as we tell our stories. And we should always be hopeful that our work will find its intended audience.

That is probably the biggest take away that I received from my professor. She often spoke about “finding a home for your writing.” At first, we all thought she was talking about publication and finding the right magazine or journal to accept your work. That’s not remotely what she meant.

She told us a story about a series of poems she had written, which subsequently got rejected from every place she submitted to. Discouraged, she put them away in a file cabinet and forgot about them. Then, one day years later, she was going through the file cabinet and found them again. She was experiencing some personal difficulties at the time and her own words ended up being exactly what she needed to hear in that moment.

“Sometimes, you won’t always reach the broad audience base every writer dreams of,” she said bluntly. “Sometimes you’ll find that what you created will only reach a few people or even just one: yourself.”

The silence after she said those words covered the room in an impenetrable cloud of thought. I scanned the pensive faces of my fellow students as they digested what she’d just said.

Sensing many crushed dreams in that moment, my professor smiled as she added, “But you also have to keep in mind that your work serves a higher purpose. Everything you pour onto the page is intended for someone to read – to provide someone with whatever comfort they need in that moment. It will always find its intended audience so don’t be discouraged by your words. Use them. They will always be hope for someone who needs to read them.”

To this day, I still get chills when I think back to that moment in class. Every writer has a moment when they defined themselves as a writer – and that was mine, at the back of the classroom, quietly absorbing this poet’s wise words. Yes, we all want to be discovered as the next J.K. Rowling and have our stories printed for the masses, but those grandiose dreams are really us getting ahead of ourselves.

The journey to finding a home for our story doesn’t begin at the end of the road with a publishing contract and an advance; it begins with ourselves. We are our story’s first home. We are the ones who need to take comfort in our own words – after all, they live within us. Finding the hope within our writing will have a ripple effect. So far, I’ve had a couple short stories published and each one was the most honest version of the story in my mind that I managed to tell on paper.

Author Interview with Steven Bruce

Dragon Soul Press took a moment to interview Steven Bruce, an author of poetry and horror.


1. What inspired you to start writing?

The inspiration came from needing something to pull me out of a quiet life of desperation. I was between unemployment and warehouse jobs while living in a run-down apartment block.

Steven Bruce
(Photo courtesy of Steven Bruce)

Then one night, I recalled hearing Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart in primary school. And I thought, what if I wrote horror stories. So I got out of bed, switched my old computer on, and, in total ignorance of the craft, spent the night writing. By the time the sun came up, I had written my first horror story.

From there, I never looked back.

2. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

At the very beginning, before I typed the first letter of the first word of the first sentence of my first story.

Before you can convince others of what you are, you have to convince yourself.

3. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

I find perfectionism during the editing process hampers my output. From time to time, I also suffer from procrastination.

4. Is writing your full-time career? Or would you like it to be?

Yes, I write full-time. Although, I also moonlight as an editor and proofreader.

Thankfully, I’ve learned to live a spartan lifestyle, so I don’t need large sums of money to survive. I can be content with a cup of coffee with a good book in the morning and, in the evening, my wife’s tuna pasta with a film.

I think putting an artist in a nine-to-five, dead-end job is comparable to strapping them in a straightjacket. Not to say that I’m an artist, but I’m definitely an artist type.

5. If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Creative, diligent, and sexy.

Disclaimer: The three words above are chosen solely by my wife, who may be slightly biased.

6. Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?

At the moment, I’m working on a second poetry collection titled Caffeine. It’s a collection of poems that delves into what keeps us awake at night. It’s an intimate collection which I hope reaches out into the familiar.

It will be available to buy in August of this year.

It’s my departure from poetry. At least for now. I want to focus more on writing fiction.

7. Who is your favorite author and why?

It’s always challenging to pick a single favourite when there are so many authors I admire.

I often return to the works of Raymond Carver, Ernest Hemingway, Anton Chekhov, and Franz Kafka, to name a few.

However, if I had to pick one, it would be Ernest Hemingway for his brevity.

8. What famous author do you wish would be your mentor?

For poetry, Ezra Pound.

For fiction, Gordon Lish.

9. What do you like to do when you are not writing?

When I’m not writing, I like to visit art galleries, museums, parks, and cafés. I also enjoy reading and going on long weekend walks around Barcelona with Gosia (my wife).

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

The best place would be through my website, LinkedIn, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Author Interview with D.J. Elton

Dragon Soul Press interviewed D.J. Elton, an author of short stories, microfiction, and poetry.


1. How long have you been writing?

I started writing as a child as it was encouraged at school and held my interest. I kept writing over the years, especially poetry. Recently, in the past 5 or so years I have become more focused in getting my work published. So I’ve been quite prolific with poetry, microfiction and short stories. It was bliss on a stick to return to writing, something was fulfilled inside of me.

2. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

My day usually includes a range of various work-related activities: because other than writing I also teach, promote, liaise, meditate and follow up people and engagements. So I do a lot. Nothing is tricky about the actual writing itself, but finding time to write as much as I would like has been a big challenge. I suppose another difficult thing is getting a heap of rejections all at once; one day I got five and it was so painful. Then you get some acceptances and it balances out.

3. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Engaging descriptions. Characters and dialogue that are interesting, attention-grabbing, page-turning; people want to keep reading and not get bored. I always attempt to adhere to a plot framework but it sometimes gets hijacked by the characters. Several rounds of editing is usually helpful too. I am a short story writer, not a novelist.

4. How do you come up with the story or poem titles?

Mostly I leave it to the end, when I have written the piece. Then a title often comes to mind which is an added extra to highlight the theme. This I find easy. There will always be some words in the work which stand out and are significant for the title. Recently, I thought I will experiment with just a title and write a poem or story from just that. This can be a fun and challenging exercise, eg: “The Dog that could Fly” or “Green Skin.”

5. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I’m in quite a poetry-writing phase these past few months. I can whip up a poem really quickly – I amaze myself in doing this; just writing it out, free-flow. (Not all are accepted or sent for publication of course!) But the ease of the writing of poetry continues to give me a real high, whereas writing stories and even microfiction is a lot more of a calculated process. (I’m a plotter mostly). I mean I would never plot a poem. No need.

6. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I’ve not written novels although I have my work in around 50 anthologies, which includes short stories, poetry and microfiction. I was the team lead for a group of writers last year to come up with a speculative version of Alice and her adventures with the White Rabbit. The title is The Thirteen Lives of Alice. It’s quite a favorite, and completing it in 2021 was a huge challenge although there was a good team of authors on board and a savvy publisher (can I name Black Hare Press?) There’s a novella called The Merlin Girl which is the first thing I ever had published in the past few years. In retrospect it’s very raw but I love the story behind it; a medieval girl comes to the twenty-first century to repair some karma, stirring up the Camelot story.

7. Where do you draw inspiration from?

Nice question. From my life; what I see and experience. I have a healthy imagination so that works well for fantasy and sci fi. Anything that happens can be teased out into a story – this can be morphed into that and so on. Love rewriting faerie tales, folklore stories and myths. There is some great content available and I love to research.

8. Do you have any new stories planned?

At the moment I have about 6 stories I am rehashing, re-editing. I love how the editing one does today would be different in the next round of reading, or in 3 months’ time. I do have a plan for a book of essays on various themes, and have started writing these with a list of topics that continues to grow!

9. Who is the author you most admire in your genre?

I have to say Neil Gaiman. I just so loved The Graveyard Book when I read it. That is something I would like to write. I’m definitely more of a YA author than a horror author. I also like a good Michael Robotham read; he does crime thrillers and has an investigative journalist background. 

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

Readers can learn more at my website, Facebook, and Instagram.

Author Interview with Charlotte Langtree

Dragon Soul Press sat down to interview Charlotte Langtree, author of The Shadow Queen featured in the Timeless 2 anthology.


1. What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember and telling stories since before I could write. I just love jumping into another world. I suppose that’s probably because I’ve always loved reading, too. However, I spent many years of my adult life dabbling in writing but letting my lack of confidence hold me back. When I became a mother, I realized I wanted my daughter to know that you should chase what makes you happy. I couldn’t bear to think of her one day being stuck in a career that made her unhappy, as I had been. It’s not easy to chase your dreams but it’s so very important, and I knew that I had to be the one to show her that it’s the right thing to do. That’s the point when I started to take my writing more seriously, so I guess you could say that my daughter is my inspiration – in so many ways.

2. What comes first, the plot or characters?

For me, it’s always the characters who come first. My work explores and focuses on emotion, so it’s right for me that a character is ‘born’ before their story. I might have only the vaguest idea of the theme for the story but, once I know my character, it always falls into place around them.

3. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I don’t know if it’s really a quirk, but I write whenever and wherever I can. As a busy mama I have to squeeze my work into short snippets of time. I’ve jotted sentences down on my phone during night time car rides (obviously I’m not the one driving!), carry a small notebook with me wherever I go in case inspiration strikes, and have written some of my best work with my little one asleep on me. If I get to sit at my laptop in the morning, I have a cup of coffee. At the minute I’m enjoying a lovely Christmas-flavored coffee. However, if I’m at my laptop in the evening I need a strong cup of Yorkshire tea (often more than one).

4. Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?

I have almost completed my first poetry collection, which is a real passion-project that examines concepts of love, memory, loss, and so many other emotions through the lens of my own eyes. I am also working on my first novel, which is book one of a fantasy trilogy. I’m in the editing stage at the moment, so obviously I’m drinking lots of coffee and pulling lots of grumpy faces! In all seriousness, I’m very excited about it and hopeful that I may have it finished in the new year. It follows the life of a young mage who’s forced to face up to the increasing prejudice tainting her world when her choices lead her down a difficult road. Why do the leaders of the four clans allow such violence against their people? What secrets have been buried in the long forgotten past, and how do they relate to the current segregation of magic? How far will a mother go to save her child when the growing darkness is turned against her unborn babe? I hope you all want to read more! Feel free to follow me on social media and I will definitely update my pages when there’s more news.

5. Who is your favorite author and why?

This is a really hard choice as it can often depend on my mood. Nick Harkaway wrote my desert island book. Jasper Fforde always makes me laugh. Robin Hobb says such important things about the world through her fantasy work. Cecilia Dart Thornton’s writing is heartbreakingly beautiful. There are also some fantastic indie authors out there. An impossible choice! If I’m forced to choose just one author, I have to say my favorite is David Eddings. Several of his books were read to me when I was six, to check they were appropriate for me to read, and I was given my own copies aged seven. I’ve read them at least once a year since. They are definite comfort reads; reading Eddings’ Belgariad series is a little like coming home. I love the way he builds characters, and I’m sure some of those lovable rogues helped to shape my own character.

6. If you could ask one successful author three questions about their writing, writing process, or books, what would they be?

I would love to question Jasper Fforde. He has so many brilliant ideas and a wonderful way with words. I would ask what his process is when planning out a new story. The different ways of working really fascinate me, and I’m always looking out for tips to make my own writing process more organised. Included in that would be any tips on editing, which is the bane of my writing life. Secondly, I would ask for his advice on approaching agents and publishers. If I’m feeling deflated, I like to remind myself that his work was rejected 76 times before he found a publisher. Now, he’s incredibly successful as well as fantastically talented. I’m sure he could offer some useful tips in persistence! Lastly, I’d love to know how he comes up with ideas for his Thursday Next series (if you haven’t read those books, you really should!), with a cheeky extra question about what’s next for his most famous character.

7. What are you reading now?

I’m actually in the middle of two books, both of which I’ve read before. The reason for having two on the go is that I have one downstairs to grab if I have a spare few minutes, and another upstairs – I don’t get a lot of time to read with being a mummy, and I never know when opportunity will strike! My upstairs book is The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde. My downstairs book is The Goneaway World by Nick Harkaway. They are two of my favorite authors and I read everything they write.

8. What do you like to do when you are not writing?

These days I have very little time to do anything – I’m sure other parents can relate. I’m thoroughly sleep deprived and take every opportunity to go to bed early! I used to enjoy martial arts and dancing, and do intend to take both up again when I can.

9. What is the best part of your day?

Every moment with my little girl is magical. She is the absolute light of my life and can make any gloomy moment brighter. Nothing is ever boring when she’s around (even if you want it to be!) The phrase ‘pride and joy’ was just three words together until I had her; now it resonates.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

Learn more at my website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Spooky Inspirations

Here are ideas on how to create a spooky novel!

I recommend the following books such as On Writing by Stephen King, On Writing Horror- the collection of essays by the Horror Writers Association, and Writing the Paranormal Novel- Techniques and Exercises by Steven Harper. These books go into real detail about the paranormal. Within this genre, there is more freedom to create what you want whether that be a sparkly vampire, toothy werewolf, or chain rattling ghost.

After you read these books, highlight the advice, and incorporate the advice into your writing. For a good story about a ghoul of choice to be believed, it must be believable and written well. All stories benefit from good writing. Be consistent about the traits, superpowers, or awesome abilities your monster has. We all know vampires hate garlic and sleep in coffins, but maybe a coffin-shaped bookcase could be their nesting habit during the daytime.

Read widely in your chosen genre. That will let you know what has already been written by other authors.

Buy a new set of highlighters, pens, white out, a binder, paper, and a fresh bag of coffee. Do what it takes to make you commit to the writing for the long haul.

Clean your writing/ office space. Light some sage and clean the energy to allow for the creative energies to flow unimpeded. Light a candle or incense. Play music that inspires you as you create your ghoul or axe-wielding maniac. Create a special playlist and soundtrack. Know your monster! Make it consistent and believable.

Keep a routine when you sit down to work on your story.

Reach into the deepest darkest part of your imagination. Free write a scene of confrontation between your protagonist and your monster. Or the monster is the protagonist? These days your demon or ghoul needs to be ORIGINAL. Everything in the paranormal novel has been done … or has it? That part is up to you. It must be original. If you are seeking more inspiration, read the paper. Clip and keep newspaper articles.
For example, I published a short story about pumpkins that can eat people. The vines can extend themselves and the pumpkins were toothy and bloodthirsty. Talk about a real twist on our favorite squashes!

But by allowing yourself to imagine, you may invent something that no one has done before. That is a huge advantage in the field of writing and publishing. Being original and true to your monster is extremely important. The world wants to read a story that has never been written before. They do not want thirty knockoffs of It or The Babaduk.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this. It might spark an idea or two and you would then be on your way to writing a gothic novel like Northanger Abbey or something like the Pit and the Pendulum by Poe.

Good Luck!