Skin Deep Published in Aurora Wolf!

skin-deep-676x640

Source: Aurora Wolf – A Literary Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy (aurorawolf.com)

SKIN DEEP PUBLISHED!

Just wanted to let you know that Skin Deep, a short-story that I’ve worked on and detailed on the blog has been published by Aurora Wolf – A Literary Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy.  Please head over to their website, read my story, rate and comment on it and (while you’re there) perhaps, read and comment on other stories that I are listed.  Right now my story is on the from page (with the above image – thanks to Aurora Wolf for letting me use the image!).  There is no cost to read the story, or  in other words, its FREE!

Skin Deep has been very much of a long-term passion project.  It was one of the first stories  I wrote with the intent of getting it published.  The story that is published in the 3rd major draft of the story.  My first draft came in the 90s and I submitted it to several markets found in Writer’s Market & Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market.  I only remember one piece of feedback that I received for it from an editor who thought the Psionics (mind powers) in the story strayed too close to magic for her tastes.

I put it “in the trunk” for a while and then I rewrote it substantially around late 2013 – early 2014.  The basis of the current version came from this rewrite.  I had the plot and most of the character, but something still didn’t feel right about the character and her motivations.  I put it up again (not submitting it significantly) until I revised it mid-2015.

As I noted in the blog about the story,  I changed the main character’s name, and really worked to increase the setting of the story and I think that’s what was missing from the 2nd draft–not enough setting to really ground the story.  In all, I’m glad I got to tell Mahalia’s story.  Please go read it if you have a chance–best of all, did I mention its FREE!

CHILDE ROLAND PUBLISHED!

In case you missed it, Childe Roland was also published late last year.  It is still up and, like Skin Deep, it is also FREE!  Please head over to ElectricSpec.com to give it a read as well if you have the time.

OTHER PROJECTS

Lastly, I’m still writing and working on other projects.  As you’ve no doubt realized by the slowness of the blog, I’m really overwhelmed with coursework and classes, but I’m trying to get a handle on the massive amounts of reading and grading that I’m having to do.  I will post more about other projects that I’m working on in the coming months.  Like a business, I need to refresh my sold “stock” with new “stock” if I’m going to make my writing career work, so I have lots of new projects in the wings.  More on these soon.  Well, that’s all for this week, and I’ll try to have a new post up next week (I promise, I really will TRY!).  See you next post!

One is Not Enough, But Five is Too Many

motivational_quotes_bruce_lee

Found listed on Quotesgram.com

TWO MARKETS–JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT

So, I received a rejection this week on Here Be Monsters.  It stung particularly hard–not because it was a rejection or what was said in the rejection letter.  I was able to compartmentalize and objectively take the rejection in the spirit it was given: to help improve my writing for that specific market.  No, what stung was that I wanted to send it right back out, but I didn’t have a market ready for it to go to at the time it was rejected.  I had to wait (the WORST thing for me when I get a rejection) in order to send it out again.  That’s when I discovered a flaw with my submission process.  One market isn’t enough (& leads to the situation I just found myself in with HBM) and five (5) markets is too many.  Trying to decide where the story should go next, what market is open, how long it takes, do I have another market ready if this comes back too quickly, will this be out too long to keep if from going to this new anthology?  Questions like that make it too difficult to try to have a reserve of markets available to submit to after a rejection.  So, I’m going with just two (2) markets per story.  I submit to one and then have a backup market ready to go if the story is rejected.  Once I move on to the second market, I’ll then find two (2) more markets to submit to if it is rejected that second time.  This way, I will (mostly) have a market ready to send a story to immediately and I won’t feel so stung by a rejection–kinda’ hard to obsess about a rejection when you’re already hopeful that the next market will see the potential in your story.  As the quote above indicates–“adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is specifically your own.”  I know obsessing about rejections doesn’t do me any good, so now I need to adapt a system that works for me and minimizes the time spent obsessing about a specific rejection when I should be getting the story back on the market.

WARLIGHT ACCEPTANCE (TENTATIVE)

This week hasn’t been all bad–I just found out that Carrol Fix, the editor behind the Visions series at Lillicat Publishers, has just ACCEPTED my short story entitled, WarLight!  It should be published in Visions VI: Galaxies!  It will be published fairly soon, the middle of November.  I’ll keep everyone posted on this exciting development and will blog about it again when the anthology is released.

CHILDE ROLAND ON SHORTLIST

Also, received an email letting me know that Childe Roland has been “shortlisted” for a market (that I will not name just yet).  Shortlisting means that it survived the first round of rejections and made it to the “short list” of potential stories.  This particular market will have a 2nd round of “voting” for stories and if it survives this test, it will be accepted for publication.  This is the 2nd story this year that has managed to make it to the shortlist (I, Magi made it earlier this year for a different market, but didn’t ultimately make the cut.)

So, I’m really concentrating hard on both the creative side of writing–I’ve finished two stories since summer, and on the business side of writing–refining my submission process and managing two publications (so far) this year!

Author’s Note: Silence Will Fall

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Source: Wikipedia (The Rover–from the TV show The Prisoner)

roverthe-prisoner2

Source: David-Stimpson.blogspot.com

AUTHOR’S NOTE: SILENCE WILL FALL

So I finished Project Silence this morning and I’ve officially titled it, Silence Will Fall.  The title comes from a line in Dr. Who (New version with Matt Smith playing Dr. Who) where he must defeat an enemy known as The Silence.  That line stuck in my brain for some reason (as has the enemy’s name of The Silence which I may use/revisit in another story some time in the future.)

STORY’S GENESIS

The genesis of the story is both simple and complex.  Simply speaking, the story originated from a dream where I saw the protagonist at a dam defeating a Floater in a novel and unique way.  With a few minor tweaks here and there, I tried to capture both the feeling of the dream and the actual events as best I could in the story.  The more complex version the image of the Rover (see above illustration).  My family has always been into PBS, and while I don’t watch period shows like Downton Abbey, I’m my uncle would have as he was hugely into Masterpiece Theatre.  However, somewhere along the lines, I must have seen The Prisoner (on PBS as rerun most likely as I remember the bounding ball of the Rover and I remember it killing someone) as a child.  That image has also stuck with me although I don’t think I consciously thought about it.

However, after that dream, I wanted to write about a “ball of death,” and see if my protagonist could defeat it.  I knew I wanted the story to be post-apocalyptic because that’s what I saw when I dreamed, but I also didn’t want to create a huge backstory for the Floaters.  I thought about Independence Day 1 & 2 and other invasion movies that tried to explain the aliens and I didn’t want that for this story.  So I decided that they would just descend from space down to Earth as if space was simply water and they were traveling from world to world (reef to reef to continue the water metaphor) in search of food.  The key is they are hunters of noise.  Any noise attracts them, so for humans to survive, we would have to be silent (hence the title).

KEEP IT SIMPLE 

So I wanted to try to keep everything in this story simple.  Three parts (Beginning, Middle, End) and about a 1,000 words for each section.  I managed pretty well with the 1st and 3rd sections, but I needed to have some dialogue between characters as well as to have the protagonist discover a potential solution to the story’s problem.  The 2nd section clocks in approximately at 1,800 words–a little longer than I would have preferred, but if it works, so be it.

I wanted to finish this story quickly, but right after I finished the 1st section, I started Orientation at MTSU for their program.  I don’t seem to handle transitions well and when the weekend came, I was mentally exhausted.  I didn’t actually pick up the story again until two weeks after school started (so approximately four to five weeks elapsed between the 1st & 2nd sections), but once I picked it up again, it took about three weeks to finish it.

REVISION

I don’t intend to submit this story immediately, although I think that it is one of my better pieces.  I want to “put it on the shelf” for at least a month and then look over it and revise it.  I still may not submit it for a while though because I have a “backlog” of stories out.  I currently have (with Silence Will Fall) ten (10) unpublished stories, with five (5) stories currently out.  I don’t want to try to have more than 5 out at any one time because with school, it gets too hard to coordinate markets (finding ones that are open and are good, and then formatting the story(ies) for those markets all take time that I could use for schoolwork).

My hope is that I can just submit my “backlog” of stories and hold off submitting this piece until the first of the year (2017).  I do reserve the right to revise this plan at any time however.

NEXT UP

So I have started two stories.  I want to start a longer project–I’m leaning toward the 1st issue of a four issue (or 3 or 5 issue) comic book mini-series.  I’ve got about 3 or 4 options, but I’m still deciding which one I want to go with first.  I think I may work on one more short story while deciding, or I may start on the long one and then switch to the story once I get a rough draft done.  I’ll decide after I finish the schoolwork for this week–at least, that’s the plan.  We’ll see how it goes.

Until next time.

It’s that Time of Year Again . . .

tourdefrance2016

Source: Letour.fr

Yup, it’s that time of year again–The Tour De France 2016 (aka “my annual 3 week production drop”).  It’s that time of year when my brain goes into “shutdown” mode and I gorge on four hours plus of race coverage for 3 weeks straight (including the “Rest Days” as I end up watching reruns of the previous days race even when there’s not a race on because I can’t bear to be without the race.  Sad isn’t it?  :0 )

I love watching the Tour and I have since the mid-80’s when Greg Lemond was participating in the Tour.  This (after E3) is my unofficial “Me” time where I put most everything aside and just watch.  I’m not a huge TV watcher, meaning that I’ll turn it on , but unless I’m invested in a (sci-fi and/or BBC) show, it is just “background” for me.  The Tour is one of those few exceptions.

“Project Storm”

openboat

Source: learningenglish.voanews.com

Surprisingly enough, this year I’m actually still producing work.  I just started a new short-story tentatively titled, “Project Storm.”  For those who are interested, it was inspired by “The Open Boat,” by Stephen Crane.  I’m less interested in the actual plot of the story and more interested in some of the comments/thoughts of the men.  More on the genesis of the story in an Author’s Note when I finish it.  This one may be one of my shorter works–I’ve finished Section 1 and I’m thinking there’s only going to be 3 sections, but that may change.

Outlining Longer Works — “Project Skye”

 

A few posts ago, I was bemoaning the fact that I’ve not outlined anything any of the longer works that I would like to work on and summer break is quickly coming to an end.  So, with that in mind, I grabbed my notebooks and began going through them looking for ideas that I could use for Chapter Headings/Titles.  I put down around 60 or so possible chapter titles (whew!).  I’ll start whittling them down and then I’ll see if I can put a sentence or two description about what happens in each chapter while watching the Tour.  Who knows, if I’m really lucky, I might have a novel outlined by the time race concludes in 3 weeks.  How cool is that?  Wish me luck!  🙂

Goal: to have an outline finished by Summer 2016 so that I can start writing chapters in my (rare) downtime, so that by the end of the 2016-2017 school year, I have the “rough draft” of my first novel completed!

 

Author’s Note–WarLight

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“The Demon Killer” Geoffroy Thoorens (ArtStation.com)

So this blog post is an examination of some of the inspirations, challenges, and final thoughts for my newest short story WarLight (formerly known as “Project Light.”)  This has been a hard story to complete, but it is finally finished.  I will let it “sit” for a while and will revise it based on feedback from my “Beta readers.”

  • The genesis of this story is simple: it is the “Halo-Killer” that I always wanted Sony to develop for the PlayStation.  Bungie originally intended Halo to be a multiplatform game and I followed its development with great interest.  Then Bungie’s website “went dark” and then when it came back, the game was suddenly Microsoft only.  I despised that tactic of “buying” a 3rd party game to “deny” it to your rivals and MS lost me as a customer for their game system with this philosophy.  There was always talk of Sony developing its own Halo-Killer, but Killzone, the game that was touted as the sci-fi shooter of the PlayStation, didn’t achieve the level of heights that Halo commanded.
  • Halo worked because it started with a cool sci-fi premise and then added an “everyman” character on to it.  Add in awesome vistas, cool secondary characters, a menacing enemy and a story where one man could save the world, and you had an instant sci-fi classic (the “new” Star Wars).
  • I tried very hard to start off with a cool sci-fi premise: what if your world’s sun would go not just supernova, but hyper-nova.  This would generate a shockwave of light, heat, and radiation that would all obliterate everything in its path for hundreds of millions of light years.  What if a civilization could just barely stay ahead of the wave, their technology only allowing them to “jump” up to a couple weeks ahead of the doom–a vast array of ships, collectively known as the Fleet–all jumping, emerging into real space for a week or so scavenging resources and jumping out again?
  • What if the Fleet got trapped?
  • This is the story that I try to tell in WarLight.
  •  The hero of the story was born in the weeks after my grandmother passed away, so he has a “darkness” about him that is unusual for my characters (no, he is not “morally ambiguous”–a term I hate with a passion–rather, he looks at the death and destruction and wonders what is the use of trying).
  • The actual story takes place on a planet and that is taken from a dream that I had about kids arriving on world with a long dead civilization and awakening an ancient evil.
  • The theme was originally going to be “Fight on no matter what,” with epigraphs taken from “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” by Dylan Thomas.  However, he is contemporary enough that his poem is still in Copyright, so I was unable to use it without obtaining permission.
  • The story floundered for two years–I’d write the first paragraph down (sometimes more), but each time I’d be unsatisfied with the way it turned out.  It never made it past the first couple of paragraphs.
  • I was determined to write it this year and I was originally going to write it to be submitted for Visions IV.  It was the 1st story I started working on in 2016.  I then reread the guidelines and saw that stories for that anthology needed to be in space not on a planet and so I had to switch from writing WarLight to Ship of Shadows.
  • After, I had finished and edited Ship of Shadows, I thought it would be easy to finish up WarLight.  Boy, was I wrong!  I still had the same problems and issues as before, not having a way to illustrate my theme and not understanding enough about my main character (named Tyrian in early drafts).
  • Finally, in late April/early-mid May, I happened to be going through my Literature books and remembered “Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.  I was able to adapt that poem to my use for epigraphs and also to refine my theme to be “find something to live for even in the face of great tragedy.”
  • I copped out on the original ending.  I needed another day to finish it, but I had literally an hour before the place where my “beta readers” worked closed, so I wrote a dreadful ending.  I wrote the “real” ending over the weekend and emailed it to the beta readers, but I don’t know which one they prefer yet–although I know which one I prefer.
  • The artwork is by the artist Geoffroy Thoorsen via ArtStation and you can find his work there and at his website (DjahaLcom).  The title of the piece is called “The Demon Killer,” and the suit is similar to what I’m hoping to convey to readers of the story.  This is another artist I would love to work with in the future.  He “gets” my type of sci-fi.
  • I plan to revise it when it is time to submit to Carrol Fix’s next Visions anthology.

Score One for the Good Guys! Ship of Shadows–in Visions IV: Space Between Stars

Visions IV

So last week, I was super discouraged with life in general and the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre in particular.  As a self-proclaimed good guy (a la Captain America/Luke Skywalker in my own humble assessment 🙂 ) I felt I was getting the short end of the stick on pretty much everything last week.  Then to top it off, everything I tried to read for enjoyment seemed to be some poorly written pastiche of Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, or Walking Dead (where the bad guys get to win).  Argh!  It was enough to make a grown man scream (or in my case, post a disconsolate blog entry).

And then comes this news from the wonderful Carrol Fix–the book that has my story that I worked on and submitted in February 2016 is OUT NOW!

YAY, Carrol!

Here is the full Press Release.  Please, Please, PLEASE, consider purchasing a copy, if not for my story being inside of the book, please consider purchasing a copy to show that sometimes the “Nice Guys” get to win!

Visions IV

Visions IV: Space Between Stars Cover

The Antidote to Boring Scifi!
It’s time to read
Visions IV
Space Between Stars

• When an influenza decimates everyone else aboard the colony ship, Evalynn Santori discovers unexpected companions.

• Should past knowledge always be preserved? Even if that knowledge is dangerous to what remains of the human race?

• Vampires in outer space. What could happen to the polymorphous vampiric body away from sunlight and gravity?

• A murderer is stalking a paradise space station at the outer edge of the heliosphere. Some believe Lady Ink’s body ink gives her special senses that will find the killer. Some think she’s the killer. She doesn’t know who is right.
Buy Now From Lillicat Publishers!
or
Buy from Amazon

Imagine the deepest regions of space between the stars. Cold, empty, silent, and vast. Someday, humankind will reach those realms and find endless opportunities for strange and exciting adventures. What will they see, and what dangers will they overcome, in the dark recesses of the deep space between stars?
Space Between Stars describes how those voyages could be made and speculates on the unique challenges to be faced. From generations ships with internally developed cultures and religions, to cold sleep and faster-than-light travel. Black holes, space warps, FTL travel—or something never thought of before—will transport future voyagers through the long night between the stars.
Fifteen talented, award-winning science fiction authors share their visions of how our descendants will live, and possibly die, in deep space.

The Visions Series examines our urge to venture outward…to explore the Universe. Visions: Leaving Earth, describes our first faltering steps to rise from Earth’s surface. Visions II: Moons of Saturn confirms that we have left the Earth and are at home in our solar system. Visions III: Inside the Kuiper Belt proclaims humankind’s domination from the Sun to the outermost reaches of the Kuiper Belt. Visions IV: Space Between Stars astounds us with the infinite possibilities of adventure and danger far from any suns or planets—in the cold, dark regions of deepest space. Beyond these volumes, we will search far beyond our solar system to colonize the Milky Way and understand the Universe.
Our vision is limitless.

Lillicat Publishers
Editor@lillicatpublishers.com
www.lillicatpublishers.com
“Communicating with the world, one book at a time.”

Tangent Online 2014 Recommended Reading List (Hey, Would You Look at that–“Faerie Knight” is on it!

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So I got accepted into a PhD English program (yay!), but I did not get any funding, so I’m going to have to find some way to pay for it (boo!).

I am very frustrated with this outcome as I desperately want to attend, but I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to pay for it and I’m worrying myself sick over it.  I also noticed that this is similar to my frustration with the writing process.  I can dream up the stories, write the stories, edit the stories, submit the stories all day long, but if editors don’t ACCEPT them and publish them, then the whole process often feels like just time wasted.  So I was all ready to write a blog entry (diatribe/rant, really) on the frustrations of being a writer and the breakdown of the writing process and how too much of it is out of your control, blah, blah, blah, when I happened across this little nugget.

My story, “Faerie Knight,” which was published in the anthology Fae, ed. by Rhonda Parrish was listed on the Tangent Online 2014 Recommend Reading List!  I had no idea that it was there.  Yes, I knew that the story had been reviewed by Tangent Online (all the stories in the anthology were to the best of my recollection), but I did not know Tangent well enough to know that they did a recommended reading list every year (I know that Locus, the granddaddy of the Science Fiction/Fantasy field did one, but not that Tangent did).  Imagine my surprise when I discovered it online just a few minutes ago while taking a break from (unsuccessfully) looking for funding awards/fellowships/scholarships.

And what’s more, it looks like they assign a “star” system to rank how well a reviewer “valued” the story.  No stars, 1 star, 2 stars, and 3 stars.  Now, I’m thrilled that the story just made the list period which is what a no star rating means, I think, but guess what?  It even got a 1 star rating beside it!

I’m totally flabbergasted!  It was for something like this–where the whole process works and completes is why I wanted to start writing Science Fiction and Fantasy in the 1st place.

I dreamed up the story years ago, but didn’t have the writing skills to see it through.  After several aborted drafts, I found a good character and plot and finished it.  It was rejected several times (7 or 8), when I decided to try Rhonda Parrish’s Fae anthology on a lark.  I didn’t think she would take it as it has someone fighting the fae, but the central character technically wasn’t a faerie.  Then she did.  Then she requested quite a few edits.  As they didn’t change the overall story/tone, I enacted all of them (although I was a bit dubious on a rather severe cut of 2-3 paragraphs at the end).  And then it was published, and then there were reviews.  Now Rhonda’s moved on to other projects and so have I, but to come back 2 years later and discover that your story was good enough that someone liked your work well enough to recommend it (and give it a star, no less) makes me want to jump with joy.

I dream up a story, I take the extra step of writing it down, I take the extra step of submitting it, the editor takes the extra step of asking for edits, I take the extra step of getting the edits done, and the editor publishes it.  We both get rewarded with the satisfaction of a published product.  It gets reviewed and it sells for a period of time (hopefully positively on both accounts).  Then the editor and writer move on.  And hopefully, somewhere down the line, either the editor or author will find someone who has read their work and enjoyed it.  Maybe even enjoyed it enough to recommend to someone else.

This is how the writing process SHOULD work.