At Lightspeed

Good news this morning.  John Joseph Adams has purchased my short story, Snapshots I Brought Back from the Black Hole, for a June 2011 publication at Lightspeed magazine.

It’s my fourth pro-rates sale.

Snapshots was my “seventh” Clarion West story.  It’s about humanity’s first voyage to explore a black hole, 1,600 light years from Earth.  It’s narrator is an Artificial Intelligence named Mikhail, the communications officer of Interstellar Vessel Albert Einstein.

I had hoped to have the story done for week six critiquing at CW, but just flat ran out of time, so I substituted Gossamer Yellow, a ghost story.

Thanks, John.  I can hardly wait!

At Analog

It’s official.

Analog has purchased my science fiction story, Flotsam.  I got the contracts in today’s mail.  No word yet on when it will appear next year.

Flotsam is the story of a three-person salvage crew stranded in near-Earth orbit after their ship is struck by orbital debris. The story was workshopped last July at the University of Kansas during Jim Gunn’s SF Writers Workshop.

For those of you who were part of the critique group there, I was calling it Fat-Bottomed Girl.  I want to thank all of you who offered critiques, either as part of the Kansas workshop or as independent readers. The story is what it is now because of your help.

And I particularly want to thank Professor Gunn for his insightful critiques and for encouraging me to send Flotsam to Analog.  Jim, you are my hero.

Needless to say, I am chuffed! 😉

I’ve changed my name to Anxious

I swore I wouldn’t talk about this until I had something more definitive, honest to God, I took an oath. But the waiting and not saying is just more than I can stand.

I’m not sleeping much, obsessing about this. I’m eating too much, what I always do when I’m faced with something important that I can’t control.

I’ve been writing, but I’m not finishing anything. I have five stories started right now, but I get to 1,000 or 1,500 words and it feels as if I’m dragging heavy weights.

And I’ve been haunting my mailbox, too; so much so that the mail carrier flinches when she sees me.

Here’s the situation.

Last July, I attended Jim Gunn’s SF Writers Workshop in Kansas and workshopped a story that wound up being titled Flotsam. It’s hard science fiction, a near-future story about a work team in low earth orbit. I don’t write much hard SF and I sweated .44 caliber bullets doing the research for it.

In mid-July, after the workshop and at Professor Gunn’s suggestion, I sent the story off to Analog. Editor Stan Schmidt requires hard paper submissions, so I knew there would be a wait before I knew anything. Maybe a long wait.

So, here’s what I’ve been holding in.

The third week in September, I got a letter from Dr. Schmidt saying that he liked the story and that he wanted to use it in his magazine, if I was willing to do a minor rewrite.

Would I be willing to do a rewrite to have one of my stories appear in Analog? Might as well ask if I would be willing to go on breathing.

It really was minor, though. In fact, all I had to do was insert five paragraphs that I had taken out in my final edit. I put the revised piece in the mail a couple days later and sat down to wait.

I haven’t heard anything yet. It’s been six weeks, but in this business, that’s nothing. I’ve talked to other writers who have had work published in Analog and they’ve all told me I just have to be patient.

But this is one of only a few times I’ve submitted a story via snail mail — there aren’t many magazines that require that anymore — and it’s the first time I’ve gotten a conditional acceptance from a major SF market.

I know it’s stupid to fixate upon this to the point that it interferes with my writing. With my life, to be honest. But I’m new enough to this profession to be anxious about the outcome. It’s possible this sort of thing may become commonplace at some point in my future, but right now this is a big deal for me.

It will be my third professional sale, which means I can apply for membership in the Science Fiction Writers of America. It’s validation that my Writers of the Future win wasn’t just a fluke. And, most important, it’s frakkin’ Analog. I’ve only been reading the magazine for fifty years.

But I’ll be good. I swear I will. I’ll wait patiently. I’ll focus on my writing; get it back on track. I won’t pounce upon the mail carrier the moment she steps down from her truck. I just hope word arrives soon, though.

Before I’m forced to resort to slicing open live chickens and reading entrails. 😉

I love the smell of a sale in the morning

I know I keep hammering away at the importance of persistence, but damn it, it’s important. Here’s one more example.

The Maple Leaf Maneuver is a snarky bit of fun that uses Canada’s recent changes it its Citizenship Law as a jumping off point. It’s one of those stories that if you asked how much of it is true, I would have to say all of it — except for the parts that I made up.

Anyway, I sent it off awhile back to a flash fiction contest. The results were announced early last week and my name wasn’t on the list. ::sigh::

But I knew it was a good story, so instead of sitting around, trying to figure out why I had failed and feeling sorry for myself, I sent it off right away to Every Day Fiction.

Managing Editor Camille Gooderham Campbell e-mailed me early today — a five-day turnaround — to say she thought the story was great fun and that she wanted to buy it.

God, this business is so much about finding the right writer-story- editor match. It’s like putting the pieces of a jigsaw together or recognizing the proper sudoku pattern. I’m starting to think of it as fusion.

Anyway, thank you, Camille. 😉

A 10/31/09 Update: I just got the word.  The Maple Leaf Maneuver will appear on November 23, 2009.  I’ll post a reminder.

At every day poets

The folks at Every Day Poets have accepted another of my tongue-in-cheek rhymes — Bear Necessities.

It will mark my sixth appearance at the daily poetry site. It’s offered as a little something for Halloween, all about a girl name Sarah Blaine and teddy bears and childish obsession.

Oonah called it “nice horror”, said it reminded her of a Hitchcock film. Constance said she’d never look at her children’s stuff animals in the same way after reading it. Kathleen referred to it as a “rollicking light bit of fun”.

We need to watch out for Kathleen.

Even so, I’m with her, although I do think she was too kind to call it rollicking. Chuckle-inducing would have been a strong enough adjective, I believe. But that’s just me.

Oonah. Constance. Kathleen. Thank you for reading and accepting Bear Necessities. I’m pleased you liked it.

I’ll post a warning for everyone else when it’s due to appear. 😉

Back in the saddle

After a six-month stint, I stepped down last week as a slush reader for Every Day Fiction. My time in the job was a delight and an education, and I think I am a better writer and a better editor for the experience.

It’s amazing what some folks submit to magazines, hoping to be published. That was part of the education. But it was also so much fun to happen upon a well-told tale. That was the delight.

And stepping down allows me to submit flash fiction to Camille and Jordan again. I wasted no time.

The day after I turned in my notice, Jake Freivald, editor at Flash Fiction Online, e-mailed me, passing on Canticles. So I wiped its nose, tucked in its noir and sent it back out the door to Every Day Fiction.

I just heard from Camille. She said it was “a great story” and that she would give it a home.

Canticles didn’t wander around forever, but it’s a good example of why a writer shouldn’t give up on a story because one or two (or a dozen) editors reject it. If it’s a good story, the right fusion of writer-story- editor will happen.

As Tim Allen’s Captain Jason Nesmith said in Galaxy Quest, “Never give up. Never surrender.”

Thanks, Camille. It’s good to be back on the writers’ roster at Every Day Fiction.

I’ll let the rest of you know when to look for Canticles. Thanks for dropping by.

Top of the world, ma …

Some of you may have heard the news already.

The results are in for the 1st Quarter Writers of the Future competition and my short story, Coward’s Steel, won third prize.

This is not your average neighborhood speculative fiction contest.

I was told that there were more than one thousand SF entrants for 1st Quarter, from all over the English-speaking world. Third prize netted me $500 in cash, a slick-looking trophy, participation in a week-long expenses-paid writers’ workshop in California and — this is the one I like — publication in the 26th annual edition of the Writers’ of the Future XXVI anthology, summer 2010.

The competition is administered by Author Services, an offshoot of the Hubbard Foundation.  Joni Lebaqui, program administrator, and the folks at Author Services are a swell bunch.

Joni called Thursday morning to tell me I had won and I babbled for ten or fifteen minutes, while she listened. Thanks for your patience and understanding, Joni.

First place went to Tom Crosshill of New York for Seeing Double and second place went to Alex Black of Oregon for Lisa with Child. Winners of the competition have gone on to publish some two hundred fifty novels and two thousand five-hundred short stories.

Check it out at Writers of the Future. It is well worth the effort of entering.

BTW, the win marks my second professional-rates sale. The first was At Both Ends, which is set to appear soon at Flash Fiction Online. I’m please to say that the two sales meet one of my goals for the year!

At boston literary magazine

Robin Stratton, editor of Boston Literary Magazine, e-mailed me today to say she was accepting my flash, Where It Lies, for the summer edition.

This will mark my second appearance at this top-notch publication.  The first was Stand and Deliver, last fall.

Where It Lies is a tongue-in-cheek tale of of golf, with its warm summer days and long drives from the tee box and companionable elbow-bending in the clubhouse.  It’s also about the difficulty of keeping promises.

Watch for it, if you will.  I’ll post an update when it’s on-line.