Thursday, August 04, 2016

How to write, edit and sell a story in four hours

Sci-Phi Journal published my short story "The Yellow Flag" on Monday. This is the story that I started one day after lunch when I realized I had some free time on my hands. I think it took an hour and a half to write - it's only 1,842 words long - and then I spent a half hour proofing it before I shot it off to Jason Rennie.

I thought it was the kind of story Jason might like, and I was right. I think he emailed me with the acceptance by 4:45 p.m.

I really doubt I'll ever top that record for a quick turnaround.

Now, like they say on the commercials, don't do this at home - and don't feel bad if you can't do it yourself.

First, being a journalist by profession, I can write fast and fairly clean. That's not to say the story wouldn't have benefited from more editing. But heck, when I looked at it, I said to myself "I think this could be published as is", and I sent it off to see what happens.

"The Yellow Flag" is my 100th published short story, and it is only the THIRD to be accepted on the first submission (the other two were to Asimov's and Daily Science Fiction).

Secondly, it helps to know your market, and having already been published in Sci Phi Journal, I had an idea in advance that it might be a good fit.

The story was written, submitted and accepted on May 6, 2015. Even with a semi-pro market like Sci Phi Journal it took over a year to see publication.

Here's a link if you haven't read it already.

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Latest reviews

"It’s possible that you haven’t run into the stories of Lou Antonelli. Since 2003, he’s been publishing delightful short tales of alternate history all over the nooks and crannies of the SF world. Thanks to Fantastic Books, we now have 28 of these little gems in one place. "Many of Antonelli’s stories have an unexpected twist ending. And many of them are what he calls “secret history” stories, which aren’t exactly alternate history—they’re set in our familiar history, but there’s always some element that contemporary observers missed. " -

- Don Sakers, The Reference Library, Analog July-Aug. 2014

A better path develops for a distraught man in “Double Exposure” by Lou Antonelli (debut 6/11 and reviewed by Frank D). Jake is about to end it all. He has been trying to keep his high maintenance wife happy for decades and has needed to embezzle to satisfy her spending habits. Now, on the verge of indictment and abandoned by his spouse, he buys a gun. Before he pulls the trigger, he spies a Kodak one-day photo hut. Curious, he pulls up to the window. They are holding pictures of him and his last girlfriend from 30 years before. The package is a lot thicker than it should be. Double Exposure” is listed as an Alternative History story but I would classify it as a Magical Realism tale. It is set as a second chance tale, a look into a life that should have been. The author is inspired by his memories of the old photo huts (I remember them) and of their disappearance. A cool idea (photos of another life), one that I could imagine would make for a great anthology.

- Frank Dutkiewicz, Diabolical Plots

“Great White Ship”: A traveler stuck waiting for a flight strikes up a conversation with an old airline employee. The Old Timer tells him a story of a Great White Airship that arrives from a most unusual destination. The story of a craft from an alternate reality and how it got there is only the precursor to the final act. This is one of my favorite stories from this site. I have a great passion for lighter-than-air craft and their potential as a future means of transport, which opens the story. The author uses this speculation to launch into an engaging tale. As fascinating as the main story line is, the alternate history premise that accompanies it is just as worthwhile. This story was well written and very well thought out. It is well worth the read. Recommended.

- James Hanzelka, Diabolical Plots

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