The Nifty, Geeky Story

In which I alienate the entire sci-fi short story readership, fellowship, and mothership.

Arrival_Movie_PosterI just got back from Paris. Yes, I’m fancy. It was great, thanks for asking. I wrote a short story while I was there (which, given what I’m about to tell you, probably will never get published). On the way back I got to watch two recent sci-fi movies and I found them interesting to compare, particularly given my previous arrogance about “entertainment” (he said disdainfully), I was surprised which one I enjoyed more. Continue reading “The Nifty, Geeky Story”


Short stories

My novel went out to publishers some time last week, and that’s exciting, but now I’m back into a long waiting period. There’s this weird thing in writing advice where nobody talks about anything except getting an agent, so getting an agent was a strange letdown where my entire six months depended on a long drawn-out process of waiting. Now I’m getting that back in waiting to hear from publishers. I try to keep in touch with my agent, but I don’t want to bug him when there’s nothing for us to talk about. I’m now homeschooling a kid, and continuing to work on Firesage, which is going a little slow since it’s hard to find a consistent work schedule with the new adjustment.

I had decided to see if anything happened fast before I sent out any more short stories. All of them have been rejected except for one that’s been with the same market for almost three months (their time limit). That one I’m interested in, because it’s a prestigious market with a ready supply of subscribers, and only one author appears in any issue. The rest I have sent to a variety of interesting markets. My space colonization story “The Fault is not in Our Stars but Somewhere Between Jupiter and the Asteroid Belt” has gone into the black hole of Analog’s submission pile. That will take at least six months to hear back from.

I sent “Killing Montherek” to Flame Tree Press, a British publisher that is an offshoot of a fine gifts and calendars company. I felt a little weird sending it to them, as even though they are a SFWA-qualifying market, I had never heard of them and didn’t know whether they were “for real,” as in if they had good standards, or if they could really distribute their books well. I totally changed my mind the next day when I was at Books-A-Million in West Lebanon. There was a whole shelf featuring their anthologies, which were beautifully bound with fantastical Victorian-esque covers. Their shtick is to put brand-new stories from new authors alongside classics from Bram Stoker, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Robert E. Howard. Totally my thing.

I sent “The Harp” to Spark, which is a literary genre-fiction market. I have a hard time deciding where to send that one, since it is clearly fantasy, about sorcery, but its theme is decidedly sensual, so that rules out quite a few places that would otherwise be good for stories about sorcerors.  On the other hand, it’s not particularly kinky, more cerebral, so that rules out a lot of places that are more topical and weird.  I’m just going to keep sending these out until they stick somewhere.

I recently heard an author saying that you should only send stories to the top ten markets and trunk them if they don’t get published there.  I’m not buying that for now.  I know these stories are good, but they are not fashionable.  They are probably considered old-fashioned.  I’m not after prestige with other writers; I’m not even after the money.  I want people to be able to read these stories, and I want the opinions of good editors, not all of whom work at the top ten short story markets in SFF right now.  I am not trying to impress the top writers in the field.  Most of those markets seem very trendy to me, and unlike other people, I do not write just what those particular editors want.  So it might take longer, but I’ll see that people have a way to read them eventually.

Boskone 2017: A con worth going to

The value of professional networking at scifi conventions cannot be understated, except by talented writers…

This past weekend I went to my second scifi convention in Boston, Boskone. I had a great time and met some people I only know online or from the other convention I’ve been to, Readercon.  Most importantly, this con was really useful as a professional, and I’m definitely looking forward to going back next year. Continue reading “Boskone 2017: A con worth going to”

Reading for fun

In which I try to redeem my previous intellectual arrogance

A few weeks ago I questioned “reading for fun” in a post that started an excellent discussion with Michael McLendon and a few others on Facebook. I put forth that although Brandon Sanderson exhorted his students to always remember they are writing for entertainment, I don’t read for what I would strictly call entertainment, and I always aim to get something more serious out of reading a book. I don’t have the same expectations for movies and TV. Sounds reasonable enough and the discussion went fine without too much hair-splitting.

However, I became aware that I sounded a little like this:


Continue reading “Reading for fun”

Halloween Update

Today’s a pretty big day for my emerging writing career.  I got an honorable mention in the Glimmer Train Fall Fiction Open (i.e. open to experienced and new writers) and alphabetical order came in handy; I’m the first author listed on the page.  I didn’t win exactly, but this is the first official recognition of my writing and the editors said they enjoyed the story.  That’s a huge compliment since Glimmer Train is a very prestigious literary journal and, more importantly, it has great stories in it.  I think it’s the best one out there, and I have sampled a lot of little magazines.  The editors have good taste.  Continue reading “Halloween Update”

Let books be books: my low expectations for a Wheel of Time TV series

Books and movies fundamentally different, so I don’t have high hopes for the projected TV series

When I was fifteen the most significant and philosophically deep things in the world were Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s opera Einstein on the Beach and Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy “trilogy.” The Hitchhiker series was the first book series I read that really made me question my view of reality, which at the time was highly scientific, and the books helped me make room for something that if not spiritual was at least highly skeptical of a one-sided view of existence. And it was funny as hell. By the time I got to reading So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, Adams’ books had touched me very deeply and I carried them around with me, knowing that they’d taught me something special. The final validation of that would be seeing my vision of the series on a big screen. I had a title, first scene, opening credits, and many other scenes all mapped out in my daydreaming head. I had seen the television show but the movie in my head was perfect in its own way, so much better than anything anyone else could come up with. If only I could have gotten someone in Hollywood interested…

Continue reading “Let books be books: my low expectations for a Wheel of Time TV series”

Basement Books: Classic Scifi Anthologies

…the Golden Age of Science Fiction is when you’re twelve years old. –Fredrik Pohl

When I was twelve my father had a collection of books in the basement with names on the spines like Isaac Asimov and Brian Aldiss, and this is where I first read scifi short stories. These books dated from the late seventies and early eighties, when my dad belonged to a science fiction book club and my oldest brother was a fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Over the past couple years I’ve been reeducating myself, after a long absence from scifi, about the luminaries of this period. Some of the names I remembered, like C.J. Cherryh, Harlan Ellison, and Fredrik Pohl, but many of them I had forgotten, like James Tiptree, Jr. I had asked my dad several times about these anthologies, but after moving from the house where I first read them, he claimed he hadn’t seen them. Complicating matters was that I had probably taken them off the shelves and left them in my bedroom.  I wasn’t looking forward to going to Colorado over Memorial Day weekend, but I was looking forward to trying to find these anthologies.
Continue reading “Basement Books: Classic Scifi Anthologies”

Liberate tutame ex infernis

How I learned to stop being myself…

Over the past ten years I have gradually given up the childish dream I had of having a Ph.D. in science.  I now have a Master’s degree, but the road to not having a Ph.D. led me to realizing that my interests actually lay elsewhere.  I have embarked on a career of fiction writing, after realize that what really matters to me is clear expression of language and beautiful concepts, and telling stories.  Over the course of graduate school I sunk to denying my personality, a process that I am just getting over.  Yesterday I got my appendix taken out, and I feel those surgeons took out a whole lot of fear and conflict I was having over showing people who I really am.  For lack of a better concept, in graduate school and in the jobs I had before graduate school, I tried really hard not to be myself.  I unwittingly agreed to this when I joined the lab.

Continue reading “Liberate tutame ex infernis”