Today marks marks the tenth anniversary of when I wrote my first s-f story. Here is an excerpt from the introduction of my first collection, "Fantastic Texas".
"In 2002, at the age of 45, I was having some mid-life musings. One weekend, the life support system at our residence failed (translation: it was August in Texas and the air conditioning broke down at home). My wife high-tailed it back to her mother in Dallas, while I waited it out until the repairman showed up on Monday. Meanwhile, the only way I could survive was to sit at a desk next to a small window unit. Thankfully, that’s where the computer was. I recalled during my mid-life reveries that I had never acted on a whim to write s-f in any serious kind of way. I did an internet search and found a web site where you could write stories and self-post them. I cranked out a 2,000-word story, staying up until 4am, uploaded it and went to bed.
"I woke up Sunday at the crack of noon and logged on to see how badly my story had been savaged. I was pleasantly surprised to read many positive comments, and I realized I might actually have a shot being an s-f and fantasy writer. I didn’t think about it at the time, but I suppose spending thirty years as a journalist honed my English skills. I’ve never had an editor say a story was poorly written or ungrammatical.
"I started writing s-f in a serious fashion, and the following summer I had my first sale. In 2004, I made my first pro sale. I guess I can say I write s-f and fantasy for the best of all reasons, because I enjoy it, and it’s fun. I still work every day at my newspaper job."
That weekend was the Labor Day weekend in 2002. That first story was ultimately printed by a British magazine called Twisted Tongue in May 2007; it was called "Insight". My first publication was a short story called "Silvern" at Revolution SF in June 2003; it is still archived on-line here. My first payment was five bucks for a flash called "They Call It Time" that was published in Alienskin in Dec. 2004. Although Gardner Dozois accepted "A Rocket for the Republic" for Asimov's in March 2004, the story was published in the Sept. 2005 issue, and the check reached me a week or two later than the five bucks from Alienskin.
"Rocket", of course, was my first pro sale, and my only story that ever ranked in a competition; it came in third in the annual Asimov's Reader's Poll in the short story category that year. Both "Rocket" and "The Witch of Waxahachie" - my second pro sale that was published in Jim Baen's Universe in 2008 - picked up a few Nebula recommendations. My first collection, "Fantastic Texas", was published in 2009 and "Texas & Other Planets" was published in 2010. My collaborative collection with Ed Morris, "Music for Four Hands", was published in 2011.
I've had stories reprinted in The First Bewildering Stories Anthology in 2006 and Zombified: An Anthology of All Things Zombie in 2011. My non-fiction has been printed in the SFWA Bulletin and the anthology Zombie Writing.
As of today, I've had 69 short stories, flashes (and one novelette) published in print or on-line; I've had eleven Honorable Mentions in the annual list published in Dozois' annual The Year's Best Science Fiction.