About Mario

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Born and raised in Los Angeles, Mario Piumetti is a freelance writer of science fiction, horror, screenplays, and nonfiction. He has a bachelor's degree in English from California Lutheran University and an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University. An avid music lover, his work is heavily influenced by rock, punk, and metal. You can contact him at mario.piumetti.writer@gmail.com.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Interview with Ashley Perez

Some writers are like the hatchlings of highly venomous snakes.  Even with a long future ahead of them, they already display a potent bite.  Ashley Perez is one such writer.  She is a graduate of Antioch University's M.F.A. program.  Her short story The Crow Letters was published this year in The Weekenders Magazine.  In August, her story A Claw Hammer to the Nuts was included in First Time: An Anthology About Lost Virginity.  She is currently a blogger for the online literary journal The Rumpus.  Ashley's essays on the craft of writing have appeared on Bleed - the blog for Jaded Ibis Press - and she also runs the online publication Arts Collide.  She is also working on her first novelI recently spoke with Ashley about writing and the themes of her work.

How did you get into writing in the first place?
Writing was always a thing I wanted to do but never did and kept it a secret desire.  I didn't think anyone would take me seriously.  That fear is still there.  Almost three years ago, after I graduated from my B.S. program, I was in a depression about what to do with my life.  In a serendipitous moment, I came across an ad for Antioch's M.F.A.  program and though to myself that if I am going to be in debt for the rest of my life, I'd better be doing something I loved rather than something I hate.

What is the single best piece of advice you've gotten from another writer?

That is pretty difficult.  From writers that I don't know, I would say anything from Stephen King's On Writing or Stephen Pressfield's The War of Art is good.  As far as personal advice, I have heard this in several different formats, but it's just to get it out of you.  Don't worry if it's shitty, just get it out.

When you write, is there a specific person in the audience you're trying to reach?

I don't know about audience per se, but there are certain people that I want to impress: my mentor from grad school, my editors, certain friends, my man.  After those people, it is really out of my hands how strangers or an "audience" takes it.  I am happy with feedback whether it's good or bad, so long as it's constructive.

You talk about project burnout in your essay Doubt or Death, and it seems to affect novels more than short stories.  Why do you think it happens more with long fiction than others?

I think that initial burst is like a drug high.  The first time you get it is intense, but after that, the high is a lot more difficult to sustain.  I struggle to finish stories, so trying to write a novel is extremely difficult.  I think the process is different though for everyone.  I started out writing short stories, so trying to sustain a larger narrative is a struggle for me.

Speaking of novels, what can you tell us about the one you're working on now?

I am taking four linked short stories that I previously wrote and expanding them into a longer narrative.  It is moving rather slowly, but I hope to have some progress made during 2014.  It is about a special kind of prison that houses special types of prisoners.  I suppose that is all I can really say about the actual story.

A Claw Hammer to the Nuts is about losing virginity.  The Crow Letters is an intimate correspondence between a man and a woman.  If someone approached you and said you're a romance writer, what would you say to that?

I would have to laugh.  Aside from those two examples and another essay I am writing, I have never (not that I can remember anyway) written romance, which in my head translates as a physical scene.  I am an awkward person in real life, so writing about romance is even more awkward.  Although I did write a character that had a succubus-type quality.  Does that count?

I suppose in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer way.  So do you think there's really any point in referring to writers by genre, or is it more a "go with the flow" kind of thing?

Everyone has heard this before, but genre is a labeling thing that let's you know what section of the bookstore to look in.  I am not a fan of it.  I think a lot of writers get mislabeled in an attempt to put them somewhere, and because of that their work can get ignored by readers just because they don't read that genre.  The stories I write have horror elements, but I would not say I am a horror writer.

One way to look at The Crow Letters is to say that there's a connection between love and insanity.  Do you think the two are inherently linked?  Can you have one without the other?

Of course the two are linked.  The very essence of love is that your brain is flooded with chemicals that it's normally not.  I don't think that is a bad thing.  I think if I am with someone that can handle my kind of crazy and I can handle theirs, then we have a shot of being something special.  As to having one without the other, who knows?  I think that depends on what your version of insanity and love are.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Violent Trade

I enjoy listening to The Beatles, but tonight, as I listened to Paperback Writer on the way to the local coffee shop, I realized how terrible a song that is for writers.  It's too idealistic, too full of that wide-eyed naivete.  It was the first time I really felt the Fab Four screwing with me.

I've also been thinking a lot about Ernest Hemingway over the last couple of days.  Most people probably associate him with passion.  I think of him as the most violent of men.  The man hunted, boxed, turned his liver into his bitch.  But I also think of him as a violent writer, and I started to think about how writing - good, consummate writing - is at its core an act of violence.

Hemingway's son John once said that writing was the one thing that his father couldn't live without.  The man could do without family time, and he often did.  He seemed to have a fragmented personality when it came to fatherhood; he was sometimes very warm and supportive, but when he was in his writing mode, everything else was simply shut out.

In fact, John Hemingway remarked that writing was the closest thing the man had to a religion.  He didn't always enjoy writing, but he was committed to it.  At five in the morning every day until noon, Ernest Hemingway was faithfully at the typewriter.  And he never left, even in his later life when people suspected that he was starting to lose his touch.

Hemingway is the man who hunted lions in Africa, caught the largest marlin of his day in the Gulf, almost got his ass blown off in World War I, and - I'll always remember this - derisively told Gertrude Stein that "a bitch is a bitch is a bitch".  He was bold, passionate, and in his own way, be it overt or subtle, he was violent.

Ernest Hemingway, "There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."  But I'd also like to think that he imagined writing as facing a bull in Spain, each work a powerful beast looming before him.  If it were, he'd grab it by the horns and slam it into the dirt.  I think every writing, especially the struggling ones, would be wise to adopt that same sort of no-bullshit attitude.

Friday, December 6, 2013


Okay!  Fine!  I've done it!  I've signed up for membership to Duotrope.com!  My friend Allie has been bugging me for a while to sign up for it, and thanks to their Cyber Monday deal for a free first month's subscription, I gave in.

For the record, I've got no problem using Duotrope.  I have used it in the past, but when they began charging for membership, I felt like I had to stand my ground on that $5 per month because, frankly, I'm a stubborn jackass.  That was a long time ago, or at least it feels like it's been a long time.  It looks like the website's undergone a lot of change, so I feel like a bit of a novice all over again.

Here's what I do remember about Duotrope and what truly, finally made me give it and fork over the membership cash.

Duotrope is unlike any other website for writers.  It's a database of hundreds if not thousands of publications.  You can search through these publications by genre and sub-genre.  That all seems like pretty standard stuff.

But the Duotrope that I remember (and apparently the revamped version I see before me) are so much more than that.  The listing tells you which titles are the new ones, those that are more likely to be eager for incoming submissions.  For each listing in the database, the site tells you the likelihood of an acceptance over a rejection, the desired submission length, the pay rate, how they feel about style.  Some of them include average response times, but all seem to include a link to the publication's website for more information.

The listings even tell users where other submissions have been sent to as well as where acceptances have gone on to write for.  For example, if you look at the listing for Analog Science Fiction and Fact, you'll find that people who've submitted there have also sent their work to places like Strange Horizons and Tor.  People who've had their work accepted by Analog have had similar success with Interzone and Corvus.

Duotrope seems to have upgraded itself with even more goodies beyond the database, and I think this is probably why they've begun charging a fee.  In addition to the listings, members also have a submission tracker available to them to help keep an eye out on what they've got out floating around.  You can even choose to ignore certain publications if you'd like.  This is where I start going into the dark on because Duotrope didn't have a submission tracker when I last checked it out, so best of luck to both of us.

In any case, if you're not of the mindset that you need something like this, I say suck up your pride and just give in.  Duotrope's membership fee is just $5 per month or $50 per year, and is as useful a resource as Writer's Market.