International Publication

Featured

I am pleased to announce the next publication of one of my stories. “Field Log” will appear in Alien Dimensions #22. The ebook version will be released February 22 and is available for pre-order on Amazon here.

For some reason, I have it my head that this anthology series originates in Australia. That’s international to me as I sit on my couch in the United States. However, with the internet, aren’t all publications pretty much international these days? (*Stop stealing my thunder, Rational Self!*)

I’d wanted to submit to this anthology series for some time. It has exceptionally specific submission guidelines as to its content. The editor wants stories involving aliens in a futuristic setting. Nothing should be set on Earth, unless that version of Earth is unrecognizable, and the story should be adventurous and fun.

Luckily for me, I had such a story. I wrote it three years ago and had submitted it to a couple publications but with no takers. I suspected my story would fit this market well, with one exception. For the longest time, the maximum length in the submission guidelines was lower than what my story clocked in at. I thought about doing a little cutting but ultimately decided, in this case, it would do the story a disservice. (Trust me, I don’t always think that with my work. I have found on several occasions that having to cut a story down to meet a submission criteria has benefited the story.)

Finally, my patience paid off. The editor upped the maximum story length. I was in business! Thankfully, the editor agreed that “Field Log” was a good fit for the anthology.

This was a challenging story to write. First, the story involves a human interacting with members of two alien species. The idea for the alien species came from a couple science articles I read in the newspaper. So some of their stranger characteristics are taken from actual animals here on Earth.

Second, the story is in the “found footage” genre. Think The Blair Witch Project. It is told solely through what is seen in a series of recordings. While I typically write in close third-person or third-person limited, I had never written something that completely eliminated the narrator. I enjoyed the challenge but probably will not repeat it.

I am excited to start the year off with a great publication. I hope there are more to come, and I hope you will check out Alien Dimensions #22.

4Q21 Update and 2022 Goals

Featured

It’s time to see how I closed out 2021 and then check in on how I did for the entire year. I also failed to provide my annual NaNoWriMo recap last month, so I’m tossing that in here too.

  • Words written = 16,100
  • Submissions = 24
  • Rejections = 17
  • Acceptances = 0
  • Shortlists = 0
  • Publications = 0
  • Rewrites = 0
  • Withdrawals = 0

The amount written was significantly higher during the fourth quarter, which has been typical for me the last several years thanks to the NaNoWriMo bump. The submissions were only a couple off my usual of 25-30 during a quarter. Rejections matched that of 1Q. Based on my numbers last year, editors plow through submissions during 2Q and 3Q but took it easy the other two quarters. Most disappointing was the lack of an acceptance during the fourth quarter. That torpedoed my goal of at least one acceptance a quarter.

The bulk of the quarter’s writing (about 15k) went to the middle grade novel I started for NaNoWriMo. It’s a sequel to the one I wrote during last year’s challenge. Unlike last year, I didn’t finish; and I still haven’t finished. December came, and all those things I had put off in November to write came home to roost. I did manage to crank out three flash (or shorter) pieces, two of which in the last week of December while on vacation. Even so, my vacation wasn’t as productive as usual. Something else to work on in the new year.

So how do the numbers for all of 2021 look?

  • Words written = 24,725
  • Submissions = 108
  • Rejections = 97
  • Acceptances = 3
  • Shortlists = 1
  • Publications = 3
  • Rewrites = 1
  • Withdrawals = 1

The numbers don’t lie. My volume of writing was pitiful. At least I kept up with submissions, and once again cracked the 100 mark. I came close to that mark with rejections as well, but I have less control over that number. Three acceptances/publications isn’t terrible for me, but every writer wants more.

I don’t plan to make many adjustments as far as my 2022 goals. I’d like to hit 100 submissions again. I already submitted one yesterday. 99 to go. On the flip side, I already received my first rejection of 2022. I’d also like to average one acceptance a quarter. Acceptance droughts are never pleasant.

As for words written, that’s a tough one. My total has decreased every year since a high in 2018 (my first full year of writing). I’m going for it and setting a 40,000 word goal. One of my three volunteer positions ends this month, so I’m hoping that will free up a little time. Now if only the day job would cooperate.

By way of specific projects, I intend to finish the WIP started during this year’s NaNoWriMo, as well as a short story I’ve been co-writing with a friend that took the back burner last year. I’d also like to complete another pass through my first middle grade novel and maybe get that professionally edited before starting the whole querying process. And, of course, fire out various short stories. Fresh stories always means more submissions.

How productive was your fourth quarter and 2021? What writing goals have you set for 2022? Let me know in the comments.

Reprints, the Gift that Keeps on Giving

When I first started writing – all of four years ago – I didn’t give much thought to reprints. I didn’t even know what a reprint was. I should have though. I own a bunch. Every anthology of classic science fiction stories I’ve bought through the years contains nothing but reprints. I had no idea at the time, but all those stories had appeared previously, likely in the pulp magazines during the Golden Age of Science Fiction. (As an aside, I’m currently reading Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee; so this era is very much on my mind.)

As a novice short story writer, acceptances still don’t come all that often. I’m sitting at a baker’s dozen at the moment. When a publisher accepts a story, I’m elated. I promote the release. And I move on, primarily focusing on writing new material and continuing to submit my other stories that still need a home.

Maybe I should rethink that after my most recent acceptance. The good folks at Metastellar: Speculative Fiction and Beyond accepted my reprint “Cramping Your Style” for publication on August 18. For those keeping county, I’ve submitted a total of two reprints one time each; and both have been accepted. That means I’m batting 1.000 on reprint submissions. Gotta like that average.

“Cramping Your Style” is a middle grade soccer story with a speculative twist. If you want to read it for free, come back on the 18th. I’ll have a link to the story on my Publications page. And give some love to MetaStellar on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mag_meta, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MetaStellarMagazine, and on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MetaStellar.

Apparently, I’m a Horror Author

I’m not sure when it happened, but I write horror now. Two of the last three stories I’ve sold have been solidly in the horror genre. The most recent, “Camping with the Carnival,” was just released today in Night Terror’s Vol. 14. Check it out in eBook, print, or Kindle Unlimited. An eAudio version will be out soon.

To give you a little background, my family went COVID-camping with my sister and brother-in-law last autumn. They had been on their own weeks long camping vacation (what better way to have a social distant vacation), and we met them for the weekend at their last stop. That night, my sister described some of the stranger people they’d encountered at their campsites. I immediately thought those people would make fantastic characters in a horror story. And they did.

I’ve sold to this market before. My story “Shadow” made it into Night Terror’s Vol. 6. The odd part is my sister also inspired that story. I wonder what it is about her and horror stories.

Below is a little taste of “Camping with the Carnival.” I hope it wets your appetite for me.

***

A dark stain blanketed the tent floor. An equally dark trail ran over the entry lip, continuing through the campsite and out onto the road. Something about the ichor smelled familiar–like the blood of its usual prey–but not quite the same. This caught the intruder’s attention. It ducked inside, shaking the entire tent in the process and uprooting several of the stakes securing it to the ground. It paid no attention to the stains adorning the remaining tent walls like a gruesome Rorschach test. Licking its lips to remove the last of the sample it had tried, the figure turned back to the slick trail, following it toward the campground’s communal firepit.



2020 Update and 2021 Goals

Last time, I caught up on my 4Q20 results. Now, let’s dive into how I did for all of 2020.

  • Words written = 34,027
  • Submissions = 91
  • Rejections = 82
  • Acceptances = 5
  • Holds = 1
  • Publications = 4
  • Awards = 0
  • Withdrawals = 0

I also had a couple rewrite requests, one of which also was the lone “hold for further consideration,” and both of which turned into two of those five acceptances.

Let’s be honest; that first number isn’t great. That’s the second year in a row my total words written has decreased, setting a new low again in 2020 by about 3000 words.

Both the number of submissions and rejections were down as well when compared to prior years. The number of rejections were particularly low. I noted several markets were slower in 2020 reviewing submissions. Hey, those editors were living through a pandemic too, with all the issues that came with it. On the brighter side, I set highs in acceptances and publications. Can’t complain about that. And one of those acceptances should be published this year after a COVID-delay at the publisher.

How do those results compare to the goals set in January? I didn’t reach 50,000 words (again) and didn’t reach 100 submissions (for the first time). I did average at least one acceptance a quarter plus one! I would gladly trade fewer submissions for more acceptances.

Now for the hard part, what goals to set for 2021. I’m going with a lower 30,000 word goal. I want to focus on editing, at least at the start of the year. I have that middle grade book and several stories to go through from NaNoWriMo. Coincidentally, my fellow Northern Virginia Writers Club member, Darius Jones, who blogs over at Inside the Writer’s Mind, set a similar editing goal. Then I want to finally turn back to my work-in-progress novel, which I haven’t looked at in a year, and continue adding to my memoir. I find the latter fun and easy to write and therefore a welcome distraction when other projects get bogged down.

I’ll keep the submissions goal at 100 again. A couple stories were slow to get out last year after I finished them, which I think kept my submissions down. I need to do better at getting freshly edited stories out the door.

Then there is my reading goal. I like to include this since one of those pieces of advise you always hear is to be a good writer you have to be a good reader. For 2020, I set a goal of reading three 1000+ page tomes. What was I thinking? I got through one, and it took me from January to August, though I took a month break in the middle to read the stack of magazines that had built up. I also read (or listened to) eight other books. That latter number surprised me, so I’ll take it.

This year I’m scaling back the tomes. I’m going with reading one 1000+ pager. Then, I’ll add in another eight normal size books. That should allow me to make progress on the stack next to my nightstand that never seems to get smaller plus have room to squeeze in a couple new discoveries.

Now I’m ready to tackle 2021. How about you? Were you as productive as you hoped during the pandemic? What goals did you set for the new year?