Coming at Analog

I’ve had four or five small sales since I last posted in November 2011 but the big news is that Mike Alexander and I sold our collaboration, The Moon Belongs to Everyone, to Analog.  It’s alternate history noir set on the Moon in 1979.  The “what-if” of the story is what if America hadn’t backed away from the Moon after Apollo 17 in 1972?  Look for it in the December 2012 issue.

Clarion West – Week 2

The roller coaster ride continues.

Monday through Friday, five rounds of group critique on the first set of stories we’ve written here. It was intense.

Michael Bishop told us last week that we should give ourselves permission to submit less than perfect drafts. For less than perfect first drafts, the first week stories were damned good. One or two, in my opinion, are ready for magazine submission.

We continue to settle in and become accustomed to each other. There has been some head-bumping. When you get this large a group of strangers, living this close together, that’s bound to happened.

As for me, I like all seventeen of my classmates, wouldn’t change a single thing about any one of them, but then I’m easy. I like people and I have to say — again — that I am in awe of this group.

When did people so young get to be so smart?

We had three mystery muses this week — Connie Willis on Wednesday, Vonda McIntyre and Nancy Kress.  All three were funny and informative.  They talked about their careers, about working these days as an SF writer, about the differences between writing short stories and writing novels, and answered a slew of questions.  So much fun.

A couple of us had a little mini-celebration Saturday morning. One of the other participants, [identity deleted], just received word that [possessive gender pronoun masked] first published story, [title blurred], has appeared in [magazine name x-ed out] and has received a “recommended” review from [a major SF magazine].

Those of us who heard the news patted [identity deleted] on the back, applauded and shouted “That’s [expletive marked out], [profanity expunged] fantastic!”

There. Who says I can’t talk about the details of our forty-two days together and not be discrete?

I can’t say enough good things about Maureen McHugh. A week ago, I wasn’t really certain who she was, although I had read a couple of her short stories. After the last seven days, I’ve become an ardent fan.

She pours her entire being into teaching and remains just folks. Thursday night, a bunch of us went out for drinks with her and she used the casual time to continue to help us bond.

My work progresses. I submitted Kindred Soul for my Week Three story. It’s a fantasy/horror story with a senior protagonist (one of the goals I set for myself for the workshop).

I’ve also finished first draft on Seven Snapshots from a Black Hole for Week Four (another hard science fiction story that I hope to send to Analog eventually) and have a good start on a story for Week Five, Portraits Hung in Empty Halls. It’s a twist on time travel, with a protagonist other than the traveler.

In addition to all the writing, I’m not sleeping enough, eating too much and pretty much ignoring the outside world. I haven’t read a newspaper in two weeks. Not that I read a newspaper regularly before Clarion West, but I did look at one now and then.

It’s a Clarion West tradition to get some sort of gift for the outgoing instructor, something with some personal significance. Maureen admitted to us early in the week that she has a passion for post-apocalyptic tales, and so we put together a “survival” kit for her.

We gave it to her Friday afternoon, collected in a combat helmet doing double duty s a gift basket. In addition to the helmet, there was a gas mask, a multi-tool, a crank-up flashlight, water purification tablets, small bottles of alcohol (with rags for Molotov cocktails), a grimed and much-thumbed survival manual and lots of other essential odds and ends.

She loved it. Her only quibble was how she would get most of the items past Homeland Security on her flight home to Austin. We’ll deny everything, of course.

Good luck, Maureen. As someone else said, You’re the business. 😉

Nnedi Okorafor is here next week. She’ll be here tonight, this afternoon, actually. I’m looking forward to her time with us. Whenever I can find an idle moment, I’ve been reading her new novel, Who Fears Death, and it’s fantastic.

More Wednesday.


BTW, I haven’t gotten my tattoo yet. There was a funds snafu, but I think it’s worked out, so I hope to show you a picture soon.

Flotsam in Analog

My short story, Flotsam, is in the September 2010 issue of Analog, which went out to subscription holders June 15. It should be on the newsstands any day now.

I wrote this story a year ago, workshopped it at Jim Gunn’s SF Writers Workshop in Kansas last July, and got the letter of acceptance from Editor Stan Schmidt in early September.

The wheels of publishing grind exceeding slow.

At Analog

Got an e-mail today from Trevor Quachri, managing editor at AnalogFlotsam is scheduled to appear in the September 2010 issue, which will be in print sometime in late June.

I like that.   Just about a year after it was workshopped at Jim Gunn’s SF Writers program at the University of Kansas. That has a certain symmetry, doesn’t it?.

Thank you for the news, Trevor.  You helped make my day today.

Groucho Marx wasn’t always right

My membership application to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America was approved today.

This is a milestone for me, right up there with my Writers of the Future win for Coward’s Steel and Analog accepting Flotsam. Those were two of the three qualifying short stories that I needed for membership, BTW.

The third was At Both Ends, at Flash Fiction Online, which was my first professional-rate sale. My heartfelt thanks to Jake Freivald, editor at FFO, for that one.

And for those of you who aren’t familiar with the Groucho reference, he once said that he wouldn’t want to belong to any organization that would have him as a member.

This once, I can’t agree.

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. 😉

Busy, busy, busy

It’s been two weeks now since the SF Writers’ Workshop ended. Doesn’t seem that long. It’s been a busy and productive time for me. I’m pretty pleased with myself and so I’ll bore you with the details.

As I promised, I sent off Flotsam to Analog and Stuff of the Old Gods to Strange Horizons. I brought both of those stories back from the workshop, critiqued, rewritten and ready. I have also tucked Upon Whom the Pale Moon Gleams, Canticles and One Last Kiss into the mail.

Upon Whom the Pale Moon Gleams went to Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, the Australian SF magazine that sent the wry rejection on This Little Piggie earlier this year.

I hope they like the story because I do. It’s protagonist is Jolene Rainwater, an Ojibwa woman with an abiding love of the land, a fierce work ethic and a predilection for same-gender relationships. She whispers in my ear, the way some of my best characters have done.  In Pale Moon, Jolene encounters a traveler from a far-away world very like her own.

Canticles went to Jake Freivald at Flash Fiction Online, which ran my flash, At Both Ends, in June. Canticles is crime noir. I sent it to Alfred Hitchcck Mystery Magazine in January but haven’t even had the courtesy of a no thank you, so I figured the story got lost in the cracks somewhere.

Tim Murphy is the protagonist in Canticles. He’s a sad-sack crook who can’t catch a break to save his life.

And finally, I just finished One Last Kiss.  It’s been sitting, almost done, since before I left for Lawrence and Gracie Landis, its protagonist, got on my case to finish her tale the instant I set foot in Seattle again.

It’s one of my rare non-genre stories and it went to Glimmer Train, a non-genre quarterly out of Portland that I have subscribed to, now and again, since it began publication almost twenty years ago.

It’s a class act and I would love to have a story placed here.  Maybe Gracie , who has been told her whole life that Elvis Presley was her father, will help me get there.