Tag Archives: personal

War Journal 74: Two to View

I meant to do this last week, but life got in the way… this time in the form of my nephew who came to visit.  He’s 18 now, and because of my former life as a military servicemember and deployed defense contractor, I hadn’t seen him in years.  So I spent a while talking to him about the Air Force (which he plans to join!), investing and life in general.  Also, I spent a good minute aggressively trying to not get my ass whipped on my own PlayStation games.  It was brutal, y’all.  Meanwhile this is the stuff that happened in publishing last week.

yousinheaven-cover

Counting back from the most recent first, my story Yours in Heaven debuted in Sci Phi Journal.  It’s the story of a sociopathic arms dealer who goes from being a captive in an interstellar zoo to Commander-in-Chief of an alien army.  I wrote this awhile back and I’ve always loved it because of the voice and style.  Unlike a good many of my stories, I think Yours in Heaven is uniquely appropriate for Sci Phi Journal, as they include the philosophical talking points which gives the reader much more to consider beyond what’s just going on at the surface.

apexmag92

Then earlier in the week, along my road to (hopefully!) J.K. Rowling fortune and glory, I accomplished one of my writing career side quests.  My story Soliloquy in a Cheap Diner Off Route 66 debuted in Apex Magazine.  These guys have, bar none, the BEST submission guidelines in the business.  My story is about Lolonyo, a man with strange and awesome abilities, who is trying to brute force his will over the seemingly immutable laws of the universe.  Not only was my story published, but Andrea Johnson over at Apex interviewed me, and it was a really awesome interview.  Granted, I’ve only done a handful of interviews in my career as a writer, but Andrea had some really dope questions.  Read the story, which is free on site, and then check out the interview.

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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 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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War Journal 64: The Shower

Life’s been pretty uncomplicated for me since my return to the States.  Got a job, went to work, wrote some stuff, then rinsed and repeated a few times.  This isn’t a complaint… while 2014 was fairly low key in terms of writing milestones and side quest completions, the pace was welcome and probably necessary in the ongoing story of my life.  But on the ass end of that slow boiling year, as if setting the tone for 2015, my wife gets implored by a long time friend to host and coordinate her baby shower.

When my wife received this message (email, text message I can’t remember which) she looked at me.  It wasn’t the usual look of lusty admiration.  She didn’t have a song in her heart, but a question on her face.

“Should I do it?” she asked.

“Yep,” I answered, quick, sure, full of confidence.  My wife’s a craftswoman, a top notch designer, and a ruthless perfectionist.  I absolutely knew if anyone could design an awesome party, it’s her.  I figured with all the hours she’d be spending on the shower, I’d have plenty of time to play my PS4.  Normally she asks for a bit of help in projects, but not this time.  I’m a dude… about as foreign to baby showers as women without veils are in Saudi.  I’d be of practically no help.  So I started thinking about level ups.  Hell, maybe I’ll actually do something useful on the ass end of 2014 and write too.

The joke was on me… I didn’t do much PS4-ing or writing.    When I wasn’t working at my job, I was an unpaid employee for Shower Inc.  I was going to stores to buy materials.  I was going back to the stores to buy more materials.  And I was being brought to her workstation (decidedly not a playstation) so she could get my opinion on the ballerina girls or the diaper cake or the xyz.  The thing is, she’s an awesome designer, and I’m NOT, so she wasn’t really asking me for my opinion, because I’m of the mind to buy the party supply store’s only options and call it a Wednesday… she was really asking me if her ideas were sound.  And they were, cause she’s an awesome designer and I still have my original blog wallpaper because well… I mean… it fits, right?  At first I figured it was just for the first few days, week at the most, but I got word that our family friends wanted to invite men to this baby shower… go new school with it.  That meant planning men’s game, which meant more input which meant no end in sight.

Here’s where I shorten the long story… we spent what I think was a month but felt like a lifestyle planning, plotting, designing and shaping this baby shower.  My wife spent countless nights up and awake–planning, crafting, creating the perfect decorations, researching the funnest games, drinking the strongest coffees.  I know because sometimes I woke up for water and got dragged into “what do you think of this…” scenarios.

But the day came and, just like I knew, she pulled off a pretty much perfect party.  The guests marveled at the decorations.  They raved about the food.  Several people told my wife they had never seen such a beautiful arrangement, and they had been to showers and events that were professionally planned and catered.  Many guests took pictures of the set pieces.  One person told me we should open up a business; we could take pictures of this layout and put them into a portfolio.  That’s when I started taking pictures myself.  Not too many, as I was still in my Bentley Farnsworth assistant role (which is a really busy role), but those pics are below for your viewing pleasure.  Sorry if they’re blurry but, again I was busy.  And remember, virtually all the decorations you see are handmade, custom built for this shower.

photo 3

That’s the diaper cake.

photo 4

 

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