Never Self-Reject!

One of the things authors tell each other (and sometimes have to remind themselves) is to never self-reject.  If you’re not sure an editor will like your story just because they typically don’t buy much Martian weasel-farming fiction, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a shot.  Maybe some aspect of your writing will override the editor’s usual preferences.  Maybe all the time your weasel-farming story spends on Venus will be enough to break free of the Martian cliche.  But if you self-reject by never submitting the story in the first place, you’ll never know.

With that in mind, I didn’t think I had anything to send to Flame Tree Publishing’s Swords & Steam anthology.  After all, the closest I’ve ever come to writing a steampunk story was burning myself on the hot air rising from a box of microwaved pot stickers and yelling something that only sort-of sounds like “punk.”

But the submission guidelines did say they’d be looking for (among other things) historical fiction, so I figured–what the heck?  Let’s see if they’re interested in reading a little about Eli Whitney.

Let me tell ya–I’m sure glad I sent that email.

“Eli Whitney and the Cotton Djinn,” which originally appeared in Intergalactic Medicine Show #42, will now see print in one of Flame Tree’s positively gorgeous anthologies.  Last year I sold “Sweet Dreams, Glycerine” to their Science Fiction Stories anthology, and that book remains the prettiest thing on my shelf; I can’t wait to see Swords & Steam standing alongside it.

In other news, remember that post I wrote about Codex’s Weekend Warrior competition?  (If not, it’s right here.)  Well, as it turns out, I’ve sold another of my contest stories–this time, to a place called Fantasy & Science Fiction.

. . .

Yes, I’m talking about the same F&SF that’s been around since the 1940s.  The same F&SF that published things like Roger Zelazny’s “The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth” and “A Rose for Ecclesiastes.”  The same F&SF that I’ve long said is the short-fiction market I most wanted to sell a story to.

So, that’s a thing.  “The Woman With the Long Black Hair” will appear in the pages of F&SF sometime in the near(ish) future.  It’s a flash fiction story about 800 words in length, which is particularly crazy because F&SF only publishes a small handful of flash stories per year.  Really, I had no reason to believe they’d be interested in something so short.

And that’s why you never self-reject.

-Z

Happy Halloween!

Okay, so it’s a little early for Halloween.  (And a little late for Summerween.)  But you’re reading a post by a guy who gets the Christmas itch sometime around Lughnasadh, so let’s not worry too much about temporally displaced holidays.

The reason I’m wishing you all a happy Halloween is because I recently wrote a story about the holiday, and–in a rare fit of competence–also managed to sell it.  “The Fantastic Tale of Miss Arney’s Doubloon” will appear in the 2017 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide, coming soon to a Kickstarter near you.

Evan Dicken (a contributor to the 2016 YEAG) was the one who pointed out the anthology’s submission call to me, and he deserves credit for this sale:  his critique vastly improved my story.

If you’re wondering what the Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide is, it’s a book of short science fiction stories aimed at 9-12-year-olds.  If you’re wondering what it looks like, this should give you a pretty good idea.2017 YEAG Cover

I’m not sure the book will be out in time for Halloween 2016, but don’t worry:  you can read my story at any time of year.  After all, calendars are just guidelines, not regulations.

Merry Christmas!

-Z

Prophet Margins

Hello again, imaginary friends!  Today I’m pleased to announce that Alex Shvartsman has decided to buy my story “Prophet Margins” for his Unidentified Funny Objects 5 anthology.  This will be the third time I’ve appeared in a UFO volume, giving me a 60% success rate.  According to most grading systems, that’s a D-minus–or as I like to think of it, “A noticeable improvement over my junior year of high school.”

I owe Alex not only for buying my story, but for using his razor-sharp editorial skills to shape that dingy lump of fiction into something respectably shiny.  I guess this is why he’s the guy in charge, huh?

UFO5 will showcase a host of great authors, including big names like David Gerrold (whom you may know as the man who invented Tribbles) and Mike Resnick.  And speaking of Mike Resnick, I’ve got another piece of news.

Galaxy’s Edge #20 was published on May 1st, containing my story “Tomorrow’s Forecast.”  The current issue of Galaxy’s Edge is always available for free online, so if you’d like to check out my story there, be sure to do so before July.  (Alternatively, you could buy the ebook or one of those handsome physical volumes–both excellent options.)

And that’s it for now.  Until next time!

-Z

Story Sale: “Tomorrow’s Forecast”

At the beginning of each year the Codex Writers’ Group hosts a competition called Weekend Warrior, wherein participants are given five story prompts that must be sculpted into vaguely presentable lumps of story no greater than 750 words.  Naturally, the prompts are delivered on Friday night and the stories due by Sunday, because it wouldn’t be Weekend Warrior if we weren’t all panicking.

I’d say there are no prizes for Weekend Warrior, but that’s not entirely true.  Sure, you won’t win a ribbon, medal or gold-sprinkled victory-donut, but you will end up with all sorts of feedback from the other 30ish writers in your division, which is a prize more valuable than most trophies and baked goods.   Also, Weekend Warrior forces people to write on a deadline, and that’s not a bad thing for a guy whose motivation is often in short supply.

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, this is all leading somewhere:  I’ve sold one of my five Weekend Warrior stories from this year.

Specifically, it was my week-one story, titled “Tomorrow’s Forecast.”  I combined two of the week’s five prompts for this piece:  one that asked me to write a story where weather was relevant to the plot, and one that asked me to write an argument between two people who have known each other a long time.

At the suggestion of my good friend and critique partner Alex Shvartsman, I submitted my story to Mike Resnick at Galaxy’s Edge.  Fifty-three minutes later, there was a contract in my inbox.

So special thanks to Alex, not only for sending me Mike’s way, but for reading an early draft of “Tomorrow’s Forecast” and wisely suggesting I cut a huge chunk out of both the intro and conclusion.  The story is much stronger for it!

Tangent Online Recommended Reading List

Every year, Tangent Online publishes a recommended reading list for SF/F short fiction.  For 2015 they selected 416 stories, one of which sprang from the part of my brain that likes waffles and magic.  (You know:  the waffmagulum lobe.)  It’s called “Champions of Breakfast,” and you can find it in Unidentified Funny Objects 4, along with 15 other stories that made Tangent’s cut.  (Full list available here.)

Also, since my last post, Flame Tree Publishing’s Science Fiction Stories (which includes my story “Sweet Dreams, Glycerine”) has been published.  I have two copies of the book on my shelf, and I have to say:  they somehow managed to be even more gorgeous than anticipated.

-Z

 

Story Sale: “Sweet Dreams, Glycerine”

Sometime in the past month (or maybe two–time has become difficult to judge lately, thanks to this summer heat melting my brain into something that could pass for expired clam chowder) I heard about an open submission window for a trio of books from Flame Tree Publishing:  one each for horror, ghosts and science fiction.  They said they were open to multiple submissions, so naturally I upended my trunk of unsold stories over their inbox.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration–I only sent five stories.  And, as you’ve probably guessed from this post’s headline, one of them sold.

“Sweet Dreams, Glycerine” will be appearing in Flame Tree’s Science Fiction volume this August, hidden among 480 pages of SF stories new and old.  According to the volume’s description on Flame Tree’s site, I’ll be hanging out with such authors as Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, H.P. Lovecraft and H.G. Wells.  I’m not sure how I ended up in that party, but let’s hope no one comes around checking for invitations.

Now, they say you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but just this once, I’d like everyone to make an exception.

That book should be in an art gallery.  No!  It deserves its own gallery.  Actually, let’s just agree to appoint it as the President’s Adviser to the Arts.  And if you don’t think that’s the best idea ever proposed by a human being, then maybe I should point out that the book will be hardback, printed on silver, matte laminated, gold foil stamped, and embossed.

Mom, if you have to pick between having this book or a photograph of me on your shelf, the decision should be easy. I probably looked dumb in that picture anyway.

-Z

 

Story Sale: “Champions of Breakfast”

I found out last week that I sold a story to Alex Shvartsman’s Unidentified Funny Objects 4 anthology, which is significant for a number of reasons:

1.  I sold a story.  If you’ve been thinking about buying stock in confetti, now’s the time.

2.  Specifically, I sold a story to Unidentified Funny Objects.  Ever since having “No Silver Lining” published in the first volume of this anthology series, I’ve wanted to weasel my way back in.  Unfortunately, for the past two volumes Alex has managed to catch me breaking into his warehouse before I could glue my napkin-scrawled Buffy fan-fiction into the books.

This time around, however, I took a more conventional route:  tricking Alex into thinking I know what I’m doing.  Somehow, it worked.

3.  It’s no secret that I worship Neil Gaiman.  I mention this because A) it always bears mentioning, even if for no particular reason, and B) it’s relevant to the current topic, because Neil’s got a story appearing in UFO4.

This, of course, means that my name will be appearing in the same book as Neil Gaiman’s.  And this time it’s not just because I’m in a bookstore and have a pen handy.

There are a number of other great names included in the volume as well (you can check the TOC here), but I mention Neil specifically because he’s been a huge influence on me.  (See:  “worship,” above.)

And that’s my news for today.  See you all in 6-12 months!

-Z

This Time, It’s Not My Fault

Dear Dedicated Readers (i.e., Mom),

I once again find myself being late on an update:  “The Hornet’s Sting,” which I sold to Abyss and Apex in April of 2014, has been published.  In fact, it appears to have been published over a month ago, on December 9th, 2014.  I’d have gladly notified you all of this the moment it happened, except A) I’d hate to break my well-established streak of untimely updates, and B) I didn’t even know the story had been published until half an hour ago.  (Special thanks to Justin James for bringing this to my attention with his comment on my “About” page.)

Hopefully you enjoy the story (it’s free online), even though it’s now so old that it’s probably starting to smell funny.

-Z

Update (01/18/2015):  As indicated by Wendy’s comment below, the story was actually published on 01/01/2015.  But this still makes me late in notifying everyone, which means my streak of being a terrible communicator remains intact.  Victory!

I Am the King of Site Updates

. . . And like any good king, I hibernate every other year.  But now I’ve emerged from my Cave of Reclusivity (it’s a word, trust me–I’m a king), and come bearing a medley of news that’s one part recent, two parts outdated.

– News the first:  Bloody Knuckles has been published, which includes my science fiction/MMA story “The Miracle Man.”  You can check it out here.

– News the second:  I sold a flash story called “The Hornet’s Sting” to Abyss and Apex.  It’s due out in 2015, meaning you’ll see me mention it again sometime in 2037.

– News the third:  Not only did I sell a story to Intergalactic Medicine Show, but as of last night (11/25/2014), that story has been published!  You can read “Eli Whitney and the Cotton Djinn” here, and while you don’t have to be an American history buff to appreciate the story, being a cotton enthusiast would certainly help.

-Z

He Knew Not the Month Was October

As of last night*, the October 2013 issue of Lovecraft eZine is live, which includes my story, “He Knew Not the Month Was October.”  Like last year’s issue, this one is a tribute to Roger Zelazny’s Halloween classic, A Night in the Lonesome October.

If you haven’t read Zelazny’s book, my story may not make much sense.  If you have read Zelazny’s book, congratulations:  your existence is better than it otherwise might be, for Lonesome October is widely known for its ability to heighten one’s quality of life.

In other news (which probably shouldn’t be considered news, as this information is so old that it seems to violate the spirit of the word), “Tunnel Vision” is now available on the Daily Science Fiction website, as it has been for some time now.  If you’d like, you may read it.  You have my permission.

That’s all for now.

-Z

*The issue was only published “last night” if you’re reading this on October 25, 2013.  If you’re not, the rest of my post makes no sense.  You broke it.

Thanks for that.