War Journal 69: The One That Is, The One That Will Be, and The One Remembered

Some troops deploy stronger than others...

Some troops deploy stronger than others…

So it’s been a busy month, not the least because I’m waist deep in slush for Unidentified Funny Objects 5 [SIDENOTE: Writers! Send us your funny!!].  Anyway, in the space of like a weekend I’ve got news of new stories.  It’s a trifecta folks, which is strange considering how we got here.

First, the one that is.  Freshly printed in the inaugural issue of the new prozine Compelling Science Fiction, check out my hard SF story “Opportunities for Lost Children.”  This one was one of my wife’s favorite pieces, full of old money, augmented reality, luchadors and a dude named Joke Roosevelt.

Secondly, the one that will be.  Specifically, my latest story “Episodes from the Abner-Mortimer Karmic War” sold to the folks over at the No Sh!t, There I Was anthology.  Conceived by Steven Saus and edited by the illustrious Rachel Acks, these stories promise to be the most awesome over the top tales you’ll find anywhere.  Currently the Kickstarter to support the project is live.  I hope you check it out.  Preorder!  Your money raises my pay rate… papa needs a PlayStation VR headset, which is likely the closest I’ll come to a holodeck in my lifetime.

Finally, we have the one remembered.  Ares Magazine bought my story “King of the Shell Game” like forever ago.  I’m talking like March of 2014.  They said they wanted it, would pay on publication and… went quiet.  It was that deathly stillness horror in the fog kinda quiet.  That process let me know authors age in dog years when they’re waiting to see their stuff hit print.  A year later, March 2015, the folks over at Ares hit me and said my story would appear sometime within the next three issues.  Cool.  Months went by.  And I just plain stopped checking.  I finally got an impulse to look into it and there it was… no announcement about it or nothing.  It’s just hanging out there, quietly being a story I really enjoyed writing, this cool concept of energy beings wearing other sentient races as shells and absorbing the host’s attributes for a short while.  I urge you all to check it out.

 

 

 

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War Journal 68: Leapolution II

I looked this good 4 years ago... the hell have I been eating?

I looked this good 4 years ago… the hell have I been eating?

Leap Day!  Some of you, two handfuls in fact, remember the last time I posted on Leap Day.  It only comes once every four years, so that first time I wanted to catch my blog in its infancy and see how it grew the next time Leap Day rolled around.

For the many more that are new, here were the stats back then:

I was in Afghanistan.  That kinda sucked.

I had 2 out of 3 pro sales to make SFWA qualifications.  I would later learn that one of those sales didn’t count.  At the time, that sucked even worse than Afghanistan.

I had 16 subscribers.  16!

I had a fierce thirst for more.

Now, four years later, and the only thing that’s still constant is the thirst!  Current subscriber count is 169, which is awesome.  I’m SFWA recognized.  I’ve sold 12 stories at pro pay to places such as Intergalactic Medicine Show, Daily Science Fiction, AE: The Canadian SF Review (making me an international player!) and the Unidentified Funny Objects anthology.  Speaking of, I also became an associate editor, directly affecting the landscape of speculative fiction comedy.  And it kinda rocks reading the work of other writers in the trenches, trying to get their funny on while battling the slush.

Who knows where we’ll be the next Leap Day.  Maybe 1699 followers and a book deal?  Your man can hope.

In the meanwhile, thanks for hanging out with a brother.  It’d be a lot lonelier in the trenches without you.

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War Journal 67: Settling Beef

Hello small yet growing fan base and the random theoretical folks that somehow wondered onto my site!  Those of you who belong to the latter group may not know, my latest flash story Settling Beef debuted today over at Daily Science Fiction.  This marks my first new story published this year, with a bunch more coming (I actually guarantee this)!

The fallow year is over folks.  In 2016 I’ve settled that beef!  To those who are fresh and new to the site, welcome.  That welcome comes with a smile that you can’t really see on your end of the Internet.  It also comes with a recommendation that if you liked Settling Beef then you should definitely check out Saviors, also at DSF.

In much related news, my friend, peer, and overall stand up guy Anatoly Belilovsky (seriously check out his Kulturkampf, text or audio!) sent me a video to commemorate this latest story.  It was too awesome not to share with you all!

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War Journal 66: The Fallow Year

Mmm... tastes like the only thing to eat around here!

Mmm… tastes like the only thing to eat around here!

I think the revelation struck me a couple of blog posts ago, when I advertised free swag.  A fellow writer in the trenches said “Thanks… hope your writing’s going well.”  It was then I realized I haven’t had diddly published this year in terms of new stories.   The only thing I had put out to the reading public is  a need to hope I’m still writing.  Damn…

I checked my Duotrope and found an interesting pattern.

Counting back from 2011 when I got my first pro sale, I got accepted for publication 5 times that year, 4 of them at semi-pro zines.
2012 it was 8, 4 at pro sites. 2013 it was 5, all of them pro. 2014 it was 5, 4 pro 1 reprint.

Ready for this year’s stats?  In 2015 I’ve gotten 3 acceptances, all pro.  2 in September, 1 in October, none of them have appeared in print yet.

There’s a couple reasons for the low numbers.  One is the word “NO”.  My spring and summer were full of ’em… Duotrope clocked me at 59 times rejected.  Another reason is I’ve been fairly non-prolific, writing a handful of stories and wrestling with just how the final novel plays out (good news, I’ve gotten all the kinks unkinked, so expect a wrap up soon).  I think all of this translated into the blog.  It transformed along with my numbers, changing from a place where I kept sane in Iraq/Afghanistan to a place where I mostly posted recent publications which were coming frequently to what it is now, a quiet place with updates few and far between.  The “no news is no news” approach to building a fanbase, I guess.

Goes to show you just how much this blog is a living, breathing entity.  Right now it’s taking deep, labored breaths!

At first I was really bummed about the numbers accepted, the low turnout.  But I looked at the stories I’ve written, the quality of work I’ve produced this year.  One made finalist at Writers of the Future.  Another put me on a first name basis with C.C. Finlay over at F&SF.  Then there was one which earned me a personal rejection with Tor.com, who expressed a fervent (their word!) wish for me to send more.  To Boldly Go has currently earned 17 votes (almost all of them 5 star!) and made my friend and fellow writer Anatoly Belilovsky seethe with pride and good natured envy.

And a bigger revelation took place, one where I realized I’ve grown this year.  I’m not just writing the same stories.  I haven’t been content to churn out content.  I’ve been seeking new approaches to storytelling, new methodologies.  Some don’t work as well as the traditional methods, some are well received even if there may not be a place on a site’s roster.  Some are still out there at war with the slush, their success stories yet to be told.  Mostly, I’m proud of these works and happy of how I have evolved to be able to write them.

Simply put, I don’t suck as much as I used to.  I think everyone can call that a win.

So I’ve made peace with the low numbers of acceptances.  I understand it’s ok to have a fallow year, low on harvest.  Planting the same kind of seeds ruin the soil.  Some years it’s better to grow your techniques, expand the area in which you can plant.  In the long run, it’ll make for an even bigger harvest later.

Happy Thanksgiving people.

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