Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year in Review

If 2012 was a fantastic year for me on the short fiction front, 2013 was... a decent year. Frankly, I'm honestly tempted to classify it as a very good year solely on the basis of my sale of a story to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Getting a story into one of the big print digest magazines has long been one of my personal goals, so that was a Big Deal. The "problem" (such as it is) is that when you leave that single sale aside, the year was only so-so. I didn't sell to any other notable new markets, I sold fewer stories than in 2012, etc.

Overall, I made a total of 299 non-reprint submissions in 2013. I received 275 responses, some of which were for submissions sent in 2012. (Conversely, some of my 2013 submissions did not receive responses during the calendar year.) For those submission responses:
  • Six submissions received no reply.
  • Three submissions were withdrawn.
  • I had 16 acceptances. (I also had a paying reprint acceptance and four non-paying reprint acceptances.)
  • And I had 249 rejections.
Of the 17 paying acceptances:
  • Six were to pro-rate SFWA/MWA-qualifying markets. (Including the EQMM story here.)
  • One was to a pro-rate market not on the SFWA list.
  • Five were to semi-pro markets.
  • Five were to markets which pay, but either have a per-word rate below semi-pro rates or which pay a flat rate which generally falls below semi-pro, including the reprint sale.
So, the good news is that the decrease in sales came from the semi-pro and token rate markets.

I sold 17 different stories in 2012:
  • Five of those were flash length (1,000 words or fewer)
  • Eight were between 1,001 and 3,000 words.
  • Four were over 3,000 words.
  • Eight were fantasy stories.
  • Five were science fiction stories.
  • Two were mystery stories.
  • Two were horror stories.
The genre breakdowns were pretty similar to 2012. Probably the most notably item in the above is that the percentage of stories which I sold at flash length decreased significantly from 50% to a bit over 25%.

So, the net is fewer sales but a higher percentage to pro-rate markets and a higher percentage of greater than flash fiction length. I'll call it a good year, yes. But I hope to have an even better one in 2014.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October News Update

Again, it's been a while. And for once I'm not feeling particularly prolix, so I'll just give various bits and pieces of news and then be back upon my way.
  • A couple of my stories have been released in the past month. "Embers", a crime story, is in the second volume of short stories published by Plan B. And "Editorial Discretion" was published by Perihelion SF. There doesn't appear to be a way to directly link to the story on Perihelion's site but as of today, it's available on their "Shorter Stories" page.
  • In addition to my ongoing work at Kazka Press, where I edit the monthly flash fiction contests, I am also now on staff at Goldfish Grimm's Spicy Fiction Sushi as co-Editor with Kelly Stiles. The first issue which she and I edited has come out and we've got some cool stories lined up for future months. We're not currently open to submissions, but will be sometime in November. At the moment, we're looking for first reader applications through the end of October, to ensure that we have a good number of people on staff for quick turnaround on submissions.
  • I've had a couple of story sales in the past month or so. "Bedtime Stories" has sold to Lakeside Circus and will be in their inaugural issue and "Lakeside Memories" has sold to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. I'm especially excited to be appearing, for the first time, in one of the major digest fiction magazines.
  • I appeared at Context last month and will be at Philcon in the Philadelphia area in early November. If you're going to be at Philcon, make sure to say hello! I'm not on programming at Philcon, since I wasn't sure I would be going until a few weeks back, so I should have plenty of time to socialize.
It seems that there should be more to say, but nothing else in particular is coming to mind. I continue to write and submit and I hope that before long I'll have more good news to share.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Checking In

I've been away from the blog for a while so I figured it would be good to stop by and put up an update.

There's not a whole lot particularly new to report. The biggest thing, by far, would be the release of Kwik Krimes last week. I'm still thrilled to have a story of mine in an anthology edited by Otto Penzler and on top of that, the book itself is in stock at our local Barnes & Noble. I haven't stopped by yet to visit "my" book in person, but I plan to do so and I might even have the opportunity to do an author event next month. If anything develops on that front, I'll be sure to let everyone know here.

I've been continuing to work on writing and submitting though the writing part of it dropped off pretty dramatically in July and August. So much that I've decided to reinstate my daily 500 word (or 45 minutes of revisions) goal for the month of September. I got off to a good start last night, writing a story for the weekly Liberty Hall flash contest. It's rough, but I think it's got potential once I put some more work into it.

In convention news, I'll be attending Context 26 later this month and will be doing a reading and a couple of panels. If you're going to be at the convention and want to meet up, let me know. Also, I was very excited by the news that Detroit's bid won for the 2014 NASFiC (North American Science Fiction Convention, held when Worldcon is outside North America). That's going to be a must-attend for me next year. And there's an odd touch of synchronicity for me, personally here. I've actually been to one NASFiC before, when I was but a wee lad and my parents went to the 1979 one in Louisville. I even have a program book from it somewhere. The Guest of Honor at that convention was Frederik Pohl who, word came out today, died over the weekend. I'd just recently picked up a collection of his and C. M. Kornbluth's short fiction and I plan to read a couple of stories from it tonight.

I haven't been good about setting (or keeping) monthly goals the past two months. My single goal for September will be to stick to the daily writing routine as described above. My intention is to get back to more detailed goal-setting come October.

Finally, a bit of Kazka Press news. Our new issue will be coming out any day now with three stories and we're open for submissions on the theme of "Outsiders." We recently tweaked our word limits, so the acceptable range is now 500-1000 words. Also, we have a new submissions email address. We'll still be checking the old address for submissions for the time being, but it would be best to send them to the new address. All the guidelines, including that new submissions email address, are here.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Watching Citizen Kane in A Movie Palace

I'd never seen the movie "Citizen Kane" before this month.

Somehow the idea had gotten into my head that the first time I saw Kane should be not on video but in a theater. And somehow I stuck to that idea from whenever it first came to me, probably in college, up to the present. I think I'd had a few chances to see Kane on a big screen which hadn't worked out in the intervening years. Finally, I set aside time to go see it at the Ohio Theatre as part of CAPA's Summer Movie Series. Not even car trouble kept me from finally getting to go see Orson Welles' famous movie.

Before the movie, at intermission, and after the movie there was live organ music. The Ohio Theatre's organ is bright white (bright enough to make taking a photo of it with my phone difficult) and it raises and lowers into the orchestra pit. I remember, as a child, finding that fascinating and disturbing. (Even the phrase "orchestra pit" suggested something that was more suited for Indiana Jones than musicians to my young mind.)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Nominations Open for the 2013 Million Writers Award

The 2013 Million Writers Award nomination period has opened. This award is for stories over 1000 words in length which had their first-ever publication in an online venue with an editorial process during the year 2012. (Full rules are here.)

Editors of online publications can nominate three stories. Everyone else can nominate a single story. The nomination form is here.

Here are my stories from 2012 which are eligible for the award. I'd certainly be thrilled if you were to see fit to use your nomination for one of these stories:

Being Unintentionally Offensive is Bad Writing

Carrie Cuinn put up a blog post today reviewing the last three months' of flash fictions from Nature Magazine's Futures feature. My story "An Alien Named Tim" was one of the stories reviewed. Carrie gave it a rating of 3 out of 5, saying it was "funny" and that she "Would have rated it higher except for the space hookers."
[Edited 7/9/13 to add] Carrie wrote to me on twitter saying: "By quoting only part of that sentence, you put the focus on 'women' instead of 'aliens', when it was the alien part I objected to. Either you didn't understand what I was saying, or misrepresented it--but the issues wasn't women, or even hookers in space. It was the specific trope of 'alien space hookers'/the racism of classic examples; your 'look I've learned' statement ignores that." I had not intended to misrepresent and apologize for doing so. The full sentence from the review was:
"Would have rated it higher except for the space hookers; suggesting one catches diseases from sex with alien women is based on the classic SF method of hiding racism by attaching negative stereotypes to 'aliens' instead."
The reference in question came near the beginning of the story in what was essentially a throwaway joke as the reference isn't in any way relevant to the rest of the action.
"We weren't armed; the trade routes had been peaceful for decades. The biggest risk to cargo haulers was catching something from one of the alien women at the waystations. A raygun wasn't much good against that sort of trouble."
I'm a bit embarrassed to say that my initial reaction was "But I didn't saaaaaaay they were hookers!" Which, if I'd been foolish enough to actually say that should've earned me a "not impressed" look and a "Really?" 'Cause... Yeah... That was pretty clearly the inference I was going for there. Fortunately, I didn't stop at that first reaction, and I also didn't linger around "But I didn't mean for it to be offensive" either.