Sunday, June 21, 2015

Remembering My Father #1: Eulogy Given At His Funeral

I've been away from this blog for a long time. There are a number of factors there, but the most significant was the illness and death of my father, Steven Haynes, earlier this year.

It's Father's Day today and it seems as good a time as any to do something I'd been meaning to do and start a series of posts of the remembrances of him which I wrote after his passing.

This was what I wrote for when I spoke at his funeral:
Growing up around my dad, seeing him every day, I didn’t have the best perspective on just how remarkable he was. I know now that not every kid has a father who sings in the symphony chorus or a father who taught themselves to be a professional computer programmer because he felt he could write better programs than the ones he was using. Or a father who founded and cultivated a classic film convention attended over its nearly fifty years by thousands of people, some of them travelling from other continents to attend. Working more closely with Cinevent recently, I’ve realized that even more than the size of the convention, the remarkable thing about it is the place it holds in the hearts of those who attend. So many people have talked about how Cinevent is one of the highlights of their year and how they came to know Steve Haynes through attending the convention over the decades. Quite a few of them had anecdotes to tell about how he did something to make the convention special for them. He was remarkable, but I just saw him as Dad.

Even if I didn’t see clearly how special his accomplishments were, I knew that he was cool, and fun to spend time with. There are so many ways his personality is reflected in my life. He was the person who introduced me to computer programming, which became in turn my own career. I remember us typing in programs out of magazines on our Commodore computers and him teaching me specific techniques when I started writing programs of my own. He used funny voices to tell stories with. Sometimes those voices even creeped me out a bit but when I’m reading to my own children, I do that too. My taste in reading, music and movies are all heavily influenced by the things he introduced me to, both as a child and later in life. A new trailer for this year’s Star Wars movie came out just days before dad passed away and, watching it, I was reminded that he and I once went to see this really mediocre Wing Commander movie just because it had a trailer for the first of the Star Wars prequels running with it. When I go to see this year’s movie, dad will be right there with me.

Dad and I had a conversation several weeks ago, one where we talked about some of the things that were important to him for us to talk about while we could. Among the things we talked about was my writing, which he encouraged me to continue. As it happens, one of the stories I wrote in January, right before dad’s diagnosis, was about a son learning to accept his own place in the world with the passing of his father. It’s not a lesson that I had expected to be learning myself anywhere near this soon. But I’m grateful for the time I had with him and know that he did his best to give me the knowledge, experience, and wisdom to have a joyful life.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

2014 Year in Review

2014 was in many ways a step backward for me in terms of my fiction writing. While I sold one more story than in 2013 (and still sold quite a few stories in general), I didn't break into any notable new markets and I only sold to one SFWA-qualifying market in 2014. Just as important, I didn't feel as if I wrote stories in 2014 which would be likely to help me break into new markets.

There were some good things. I received my contributor's copies of my first major digest publication ("Lakeside Memories" in the February, 2015 Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine). One of my stories was listed as an Honorable Mention in Ellen Datlow's Best Horror of the Year. Another of my stories made the Tangent Online Recommended Reading List. And my acceptance ratio was up a bit from 2013.

Overall, I made a total of 174 non-reprint submissions in 2014. I received 199 responses, some of which were for submissions sent in 2013. (Conversely, some of my 2014 submissions did not receive responses during the calendar year.) For those submission responses:
  • Five submissions received no reply.
  • Two submissions were withdrawn.
  • I had 17 acceptances. (I also had a paying reprint acceptance.)
  • And I had 175 rejections.
Of the 18 paying acceptances:
  • Two were to pro-rate SFWA-qualifying markets.
  • Four were to pro-rate markets not on the SFWA list.
  • Seven were to semi-pro markets, this includes the reprint sale.
  • Five were to markets which pay, but either have a per-word rate below semi-pro rates or which pay a flat rate which can fals below semi-pro. For at least one of these, my pay worked out to pro rates, but I still classify it here.
I sold 18 different stories in 2014:
  • Seven of those were flash length (1,000 words or fewer), including the reprint.
  • Seven were between 1,001 and 3,000 words.
  • Four were over 3,000 words.
  • Nine were science fiction stories.
  • Six were fantasy stories.
  • Three were horror stories.
The length breakdowns were very similar to 2013. I had more SF sales this year and fewer fantasy.

I hesitate to call any year where I sold seventeen stories "disappointing" but the fact is that I think I can do better, so in that sense, it was. I'm going to work at improving my writing and submission process and will hope that the work leads to an even better 2015.