Monday, October 31, 2011

Taking stock

I must admit, I'm not doing too shabby with the fiction writing. I just realized that, for the first time in my life, I have signed contracts and two stories pending at pro rates - "Great White Ship" with Daily Science Fiction and "The Centurion and the Rainman" with Buzzymag. "Ship" also counts as a pro sale; although Buzzy pays a pro rate, as a new mag they're not an SFWA qualifying publication yet. And Chris Garcia has "The Quantum Gunman" - the story I banged out in the foyer on my portable typewriter while at FenCon - which he plans to publish in Drink Tank 300.

I've also had eight stories published this year, to wit:

* "Black Hats and Blackberrys" - Bewildering Stories, March 2011
* "Irredenta" - World SF Blog, March 15, 2011
* "Meet Me at the Grassy Knoll" - 4 Star Stories, Spring 2011
* "Hopscotch and Hottentots" - Shadowgate, April 2011
* "Ghost Writer" - Flashes in the Dark, June 16, 2011
* "Mak Siccar" - 4 Star Stories, Summer 2011
* "The Goddess of Bleecker Street" - Kalkion, July 2011
* "Re-opening Night" - 4 Star Stories - Sept. 2011

I have seven stories in various slush piles, so there's possibilities there, also.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


I think I'm going to take the promotional blog I originally created up after I sold my collection "Fantastic Texas" - which has lain dormant for two and a half years - and renovate it into a blog on the subject of my fiction in general. "Fantastic Texas" is still just as good a title as any for a blog about my fiction. It will be a good place to also tout my upcoming publications.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I'm wondering whether I should try Nanowrimo this year and spend November trying to write that great novel. And wouldn't it be cool to do it on a typewriter? Did I even get that right? Nanowrimo? Ah, heck...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

OCR solution

Although I love using my Smith Corona typewriter, there is a practical problem in using it to write a story, since there are so few fiction venues that still take hard copy submissions. But I recently stumbled across a simple fix - OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software. I am going to try it. I recently ordered and got in the mail a new ribbon, so my pages should clean and readable.

Monday, October 24, 2011

False starts and fragments

I took a little time over the weekend and went through a folder in keep on my computer called "Works in Progress". This is where I have stashed stories or fragments over the years when I can't keep going or I am unhappy with the outcome.

I thought it might be helpful if I cut and pasted all these false starts and fragments into one file where I could more easily read and compare them. For example, I have two separate false starts for two stories, called "Desarrollo Separado" and "Sympathy for Salieri". In the case of "Desarollo", seeing them together gave me an idea how I might cobble together a story from the two parts. There's at least one complete story in there, called "Osteopithicus" that I finished but wasn' t happy with and never subbed.

These stories or fragments are in addition to stories which I did finish and DID sub which I have laid aside for further work after getting feedback from editors by way of rejections.

Anyway, the new file, which I labeled "False Starts", come to 44,000 words, so I definitely think there is some material to be mined there.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Beware the spam filter!

I think we've all heard cautionary tales about how careful spam filter monitoring is important to authors, with all the submissions and correspondence that we do through email, but I received another reminder Wednesday.

I always check my spam email box, and I'm glad I did, because my acceptance from Daily Science Fiction landed there.

This doesn't happen very often, but back in 2004 I had the same thing happen when Andromeda Spaceways accepted "The Cast Iron Dybbuk". The acceptance sailed all the way through the ether from Australia to drop smack dab in my spam.

I think I have pretty good spam filter settings, but in both cases, the acceptances came from an email address that I had never received an email from before, and I had never sent an email to before. That makes sense - you send submissions to one email address, and you get rejects from the slush pile reader. The acceptance come from a different direction.

I suppose the spam filter regards an email address where there has hasn't been any communication before - either coming or going - as suspect.

This certainly highlights the fact you should NEVER set your email to delete spam unread!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fast and professional

I read and approved and returned the contract from Daily Science Fiction tonight for "Great White Ship". I must admit, they seem to be very professional, I only received the acceptance yesterday. Also, the contract was one of the most clearly-written and concise I have ever seen. I have a good feeling about this, I'm glad they like the story.

They also asked for a short (250 words or less) bio and some author's comments, at the same length. I attached all that.

I also logged onto the SFWA web site tonight and uploaded a copy of the contract to show I made the sale. As my third sale at the pro rate, this should get me upgraded from Associate to Active status.

I wonder if I am the first person to get active status on the basis of a sale to Daily Science Fiction? They were just approved as a qualifying market a few weeks ago.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Great news!

Got word today that Daily Science Fiction wants to publish my story "Great White Ship". Needless to say, I'm thrilled. It's the first time I've cracked that market, which pays pro rates. In fact, this will be my third pro rate sale, so once I sign the contract I will be able to upgrade my membership in the SFWA from Associate to Active member.

My previous two pro sales were "A Rocket for the Republic" in Asimov's in 2005 and "The Witch of Waxahachie" in Jim Baen's Universe in 2008.

"Great White Ship" will be my 59th story published since 2003. Daily Science Fiction just became the most recent SFWA-qualified market, only about a couple of weeks ago, I believe.

I've had a lot of cash sales over the years for small amounts, and in at least one case, I made a semi-pro sale that - because of the rate and length of the story - paid more than a pro sale, but this is only my third sale that meets the pro rate guideline.

In light of how this is only a sideline for me, and I enjoy my regular full-time job, I can't hardly complain. In fact, when I was speaking at the writers group I referred to in my previous post, someone asked me, whether if I had a choice, I would rather write fiction or be a journalist, I had to confess I'd rather be a journalist.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Guest speaker

Thursday evening I was the guest speaker at a local writers' group, the North East Texas Writers' Organization (NETWO). They had a monthly dinner meeting at the local Applebee's. I haven't had much interaction with the group over the years; these are folks who mostly write books (of the dozen people in attendance, only one - in a show of hands - conceded to writing short fiction) and since I work primarily in short stories, there's not a lot of overlap. Also, I really don't think there are many people in the group who read fantasy or science fiction. But since I got the invite I thought it would be fun to make an appearance.

Despite the variance between what I do and what these folks are interested in, I think they enjoyed it. I spoke a little about how I broke in, and what my writing is like, and I ended by reading "Off the Hook" from "Music for Four Hands".

I also sold a few books, two copies of "Music" and three copies of "Fantastic Texas". Unfortunately, I didn't have any copies of "Texas & Other Planets" to sell. I've got an order on the way from John Teehan at Merry Blacksmith Press.

One of the NETWO members blogged about my visit, which you can read here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

My schedule for Contraflow

My next - and last - convention for this year will be Contraflow in New Orleans Nov. 4-6. CONtraflow will be held November 4-6, 2011 at the Clarion Inn New Orleans Westbank in Gretna, Louisiana

It will feature scientist, public speaker, and award-winning author David Brin as our Author Guest of Honor. Also featured will be Dr. Demento’s “Most Requested Artist of the 21st Century”, the great Luke Ski as the Musical Guest of Honor; long-time leader in the New Orleans fan community Robert Neagle as the Fan Guest of Honor; and game master and designer Michael "Scotty" Scott as our Gaming Guest of Honor.

I have received my schedule of panels, which is as follows:

SATURDAY 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Panel Room 1 How to Promote Yourself Online
03:00 PM - 04:00 PM Panel Room 3 Ebooks: Is this the Future of Publishing?

SUNDAY 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Panel Room 2 The Importance of Place in Science Fiction
02:00 PM - 03:00 PM Panel Room 2 Reading

Monday, October 10, 2011

Positive signs

My story "The Centurion and the Rainman" which has been bought by BuzzyMag is with an editor for line editing. I turned in my revised version - in response to the original edit - around Labor Day. Hopefully this process will continue to go smoothly. BuzzyMag expects to debut at the start of the new year.

I also got an email that a story has passed the first round at Daily Science Fiction. I didn't even know Daily Science Fiction HAD a second round, I've never been there before. So that's another piece of good news.

The knee continues to get better, by way of recovery from last Thursday's fall. I have a day off from doing the paper today.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Close call

I had a rather startling accident Thursday, and while I walked away relatively unhurt, I was badly shaken. Somehow a blue Ethernet cable that runs under my desk had pulled, or been pulled, away from the wall, and I didn't notice it was under my feet. It was 7:30 a.m. when I jumped up from my seat and realized a foot was caught in the cable.

I had jumped up fast enough that I was already off balance by the time I realized my foot was caught, and I was helpless as I fell down like a ton of bricks.

On the way down, I think I made a flash decision NOT to throw my hands out - because I would probably break one or both of my wrists - and I twisted somewhat to ultimately take the brunt of the fall on my left knee.

You can imagine what I thought as I was going down. Some of my thoughts included:

A. I've never broken a bone before. I hope this doesn't hurt too much.

B. Patricia is not going to enjoy getting the phone call that I'm in the hospital.

C. I wonder who'll get the paper to press today.

My cry as I went down was essentially a strangled scream of surprise and dismay. I can imagine what it sounded like to Rey, the sports editor, who was the only other person there.

After I landed I rolled over on my back, Rey rushed over and asked if I needed an ambulance. I told him I wanted to lay there a minute and see how I felt.

I didn't feel any sharp pains, and after a minute I realized I had survived the fall intact. I got up on my own and after a few minutes got back to work.

I took a bad jolt and I felt somewhat woozy until after lunch, but all things considered I think I was pretty lucky. I'm glad Rey was there, in case I had needed any help. It's also good to see I'm not that fragile.

Probably as a result of the overall stress to my system, by Friday I had caught a stomach virus that's been going around the office, and I had a stomach ache Saturday. It seems to have been a 24-hour thing, and I'm feeling better now.

My left knee remains sore, but it never swelled or discolored, and it will probably feel normal in another day or two.

Although I have some things to do Monday, it is my day off from doing the paper, so I have a little time to recover. I skipped church this morning, Patricia has to give my regards since she teaches third and fourth grade Sunday school.

Like I said, a close call, but it turned out OK.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

"Re-Opening Night"

The autumn issue of 4 Star Stories is on-line, and they've published another story of mine, "Re-Opening Night". This story is a mash-up of vaudeville and space opera, if you can believe it, that incorporates that old routine most people remember as "Niagara Falls" - Slowly I turn, step by step, inch by inch.

It allowed me to dredge out and hold up to the light old racial and ethnic stereotypes, both to remind us of them and highlight how wrong they were. Some of the terminology is crude, but appropriate for the protagonists, who've been reconstituted after being disembodied in 1927. In the back of my mind I recall a story I read years ago by Brenda Clough called "May Be Some Time" about a frozen Antarctic explorer from the Robert Scott Expedition being thawed out in modern times.

Another interesting thing is how, having missed the last three quarters of the 20th Century. how much the protags missed. They missed the Great Depression, much less WWII and all else.

This is the third story 4 Star has published of mine this year, and my 58th story overall since 2003.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Photos from FenCon

Sitting in the gallery last weekend and banging away on my Smith Corona Classic 12 portable typewriter attracted a little attention. A few photos found their way onto the internet. I've copied four here. The top right one was posted by Rie Sheridan Rose on Facebook, from when I pretended the typewriter was a real old-fasioned "laptop". The others are from when I was sitting at my table. The top left one was taken and posted on his blog by my good friend Keith West. The one below that was actually posted on the FenCon Facebook page. The bottom photo was taken by Charles Tolliver and posted on facebook. Thanks, folks. As you might surmise from the changed shirt, three of the photos were taken Saturday, and one on Sunday. Chris Garcia has the story I wrote on Saturday, "The Quantum Gunman", and will publish it in his Drink Tank 300 issue

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