My science fiction story “CARE” was published on Daily Science Fiction this morning. This was a really fun story to write and probably the quickest I’ve written a tale to date, it fell onto the page in under an hour! I hope you’ll give it a read and that you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. “CARE” is available to read for free here.
Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories is an entertaining mix of forty science fiction and fantasy short stories and flash fiction. For those of you that don’t know the name Alex Shvartsman, he’s an award-winning short fiction writer and editor responsible for the highly successful Unidentified Funny Objects anthology series and the new professional science fiction market Future Science Fiction Digest. He’s written over one hundred short stories in places like Analog, Nature, Strange Horizons, Intergalactic Medicine Show, Galaxy’s Edge, and many other anthologies and magazines. Within the pages of this collection are some of Alex’s finest stories.
I read a hell of a lot of short stories and I like a variety of styles. Unlike many collections I’ve read that are very much a mixed bag of good and so-so stories, I was pleased to find that I liked or loved all the stories in this collection. This is a rarity for me, but I know it has a lot to do with Alex’s range. He’s a master at both short fiction and flash fiction, and he blends powerful emotional tales with historical elements and sprinkles in a good dose of tension and action. His characters are memorable and his prose is smooth and enjoyable to read. Some stories were humorous, some dark, some darkly humorous, some expiramental, some action-packed, and some light. There are Science Fiction and Fantasy stories in the mix and Alex has the talent to pull both genres off effectively without his strengths resting solely in one genre or the other as I’ve seen with other writers before. The stories in these pages are brilliant and many will stick with me for a very long time.
Do yourself a favor and go pick up a copy.
I finally got around to reading Port of Shadows over the weekend. Glen Cook’s Chronicles of the Black Company remains one of my all time favorites and I’ve been looking forward to this release for some time.
The book takes place between The Black Company and Shadows Linger and I was surprised to learn that there is a gap here in the company’s history. The usual suspects are back in this tale and the book enjoys a different atmosphere than many of the others in the series in that the climax of the book does not resolve over the course of a large battle. The story was layered and intricate and quite honestly, despite some negative reviews that I’ve seen that say otherwise, the book reads like a classic company story. Croaker is back as the annalist and his war-correspondent voice and somewhat self-import attitude steer the story in a familiar and enjoyable way.
This book was a pleasure to read and it was fun to get back with some old friends. I would definitely recommend it for any Black Company or Cook fans out there still on the fence about giving it a read.
On Friday I announced my first full-length short story sale. This sale will allow me to qualify for an SFWA membership, which has been a milestone I’ve aimed for. It was also my second sale to Mike Resnick at Galaxy’s Edge and sixth overall professional sale. But there’s a little bit of a story behind it.
Martian Maintenance started as a flash fiction story I wrote for an anthology call about a hotel that has a lot of weird things that happen in it. Obviously, I didn’t crack the slushpile for that call, but the editor had a lot of nice things to say in her rejection letter. The story is far more humorous and with a snarky narrator, very different than anything I’ve written before. So when the rejection came I sat on the piece, unsure of what to do with it next. Humor is a bit of a hard sell in Science Fiction magazines.
I go on Youtube quite frequently to watch interviews with a lot of popular writers on their inspirations and creative processes. I happened to watch one with Mike Resnick and in the interview, he mentioned that he wished there was more humor in Science Fiction. It clicked that I was still sitting on Martian Maintenance so I sent it off to Galaxy’s Edge on Wednesday.
On Thursday night I got the rejection slip. My heart fell until I saw that it was a little longer than the usual form. I’ve received a few personal rejections from Mike since my original sale to him and there’s always useful info so I gave it a read. He didn’t like the resolution of the story and invited me to submit again. It was a rewrite request, my first!
Friday morning I was pretty unsure of what to do. I reread the story several times but couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the ending or how to rework it. I sent it over to two writer friends to get opinions and ideas. The story ended up clicking in my head and in a flurry of words, I had a new ending typed up in about fifteen minutes. I reread the story for errors twice and once aloud and sent it off before I could second guess myself. An hour and a half later I got an acceptance letter. I was stoked.
In the revision process, the story started just under 1k words. I trimmed 150 words off of it to get rid of the old ending and then doubled the size of the piece to an end word count of 1,655 words. I wasn’t sure he’d like the length size increasing so much but I was pleased to have a story solidly in short story territory sell.
Overall, it was a fun and exciting experience to get a rewrite request and deal with the pressure of getting it right. I’m working on a secret short story for a third party IP that I’ve been straining to get written as well as an original short story so it was nice to get a break with a different kind of pressure. Succeeding felt great and working on multiplle things at once and writing under pressue made me feel like a real true writer for the first time in my life. It feels great.
Story sale! My science fiction short story “Martian Maintenance” was accepted by Galaxy’s Edge Magazine! This is my second sale to them, my first short story sale that wasn’t flash fiction, and my sixth overall professional sale. I am very excited!
If you’re an unpublished writer still hunting for your first professional sale, I may have a book for you. The Art of Selling Genre Flash is a very brief overview of the essentials of producing and marketing flash fiction. The guide covers the business aspects of leveraging flash fiction to further or launch your professional short fiction career. It is not a craft book, but rather a business book with strategies to crack the top genre markets. It can be had on Amazon for only .99!
I’m pleased to announce that Daily Science Fiction acquired my story “CARE” for publication. This is my second sale to them and fourth overall professional sale. I’m a long time reader of DSF so every sale I make is extra special.
I’ve reached the end of the second month in my personal writing challenge and here’s how I’ve come out:
Month: 2/12 16.67%
Stories Written: 4 completed stories + 5 the month before = 9/52 17.3%
Stories Read: 69 + 95 the month before = 164/1,000 16.4%
Pro Publications: 0/5
January was very productive in terms of shifting my mindset. I read seven books on craft and started to focus more on telling good stories instead of worrying about prose. I’m trying to incorporate more emotion and description in my writing to tell more vivid and compelling stories. So I certainly didn’t mind the dip in short fiction reading in exchange for all the craft books I read.
I ended up making the highest round of consideration in Fireside which I was proud of achieving, and I got a hold notice from a pro market that I have hopes will turn into a second sale to them, so there is hope for my five pro sales yet–I’m pretty eager to break into that goal to get the ball rolling.
Aside from those things, I’ve started getting into longer short stories. I’ve been mostly a flash writer up to this point and I think a lot of that has to do with my learning. I feel comfortable telling a story in 1k words but very out of my element with anything longer. I’m trying to push myself to write longer stories with more content and I hope that several of my 52 stories wind up longer than 1k.
Thanks for following along!
My short science fiction flash story “Leeching for Good” is live on the Daily Science Fiction website today! I was thrilled by this sale as I’d tried thirteen times before to get into DSF. I hope you enjoy my tiny tale.