I taught myself to write. There are too many worlds, too many people and possibilities crowding my mind, and they need to get out.
Well, not really 9...
Bride of Chaos is publishing a few of my shorter and darker works in their 9Tales series. "Al Dente", a hostage story you can get your teeth into, is already out in 9Tales Told in the Dark #8. "The Shadow Boxer", a dieselpunk tale of magic and Nazis, is also out in 9Tales Told in the Dark #13. "The Big Coverup" comes out in July in 9Tales Told from Elsewhere #7. "Harvest of the Christ" in September, and "Final Station" and "Well Suited" will appear together in a space horror themed 9Tales sometime in November.
This story shares something in common with my previous story sale, "The Lemon Thief of Munjid Al Salam". I wrote the Lemon Thief as a first attempt to win the "L. Ron Hubbard Presents, Writers and Illustrators of the Future" award. It didn't win, but got honorable mention. My next story, "Vector Victoria" won 2nd place for the first quarter, and I was flown out to Hollywood to accept the award. I wrote "A Single Soft Step" on the plane ride home from that award ceremony. I've now sold every story I either submitted to, or worked on, in relation to the Writers of the Future contest. I even sold the story I wrote in a day for the writer's workshop while I was out in Hollywood, "Set in Stone" to Plasma Frequency Magazine.
My story "The Lemon Thief of Munjid Al Salam" has finally found a home at Liquid Imagination.
This story holds sentimental value, because it was the first story I'd tried to get published back in 2010 when I decided to get off my butt and become a writer. I originally submitted it to "L. Ron Hubbard Presents, Writers and Illustrators of the Future", but it only won an honorable mention in that contest (My next story, "Vector Victoria" went on to win 2nd place in the first quarter of 2011). The Lemon Thief marks a turning point in my writing career, and I'm happy that it's finally in print.
For all those aspiring writers and illustrators out there...
This contest is judged on pure creativity and talent. The stories year to year are always amazing, and the prize for winning is more than you're likely to get for any other sale. I recommend this contest to anyone trying to begin a career in ether writing or illustrating speculative fiction.
I sold my story "Al Dente" to 9Tales Told In The Dark #8. It's available on Amazon.
It's been six months since my heart exploded. I feel like I've aged twenty years since then. It's a chore to get up in the morning, and I'm often in pain. My traitorous heart continues to plot against me. I spent last Tuesday in the emergency room, short of breath and suffering the same pains I felt when I had my subsequent heart attack (three days after being released from the hospital for my torn aorta). Another blocked artery, and time for another stent. I'm quickly becoming a cyborg, and not the cool kind.
I'm back in work. It's a lot tougher than I remember, but I'm handling it. I'm also back to writing, and that's a wonderful thing. I was worried the brain damage had stolen my mind.
I collapsed sometime around midnight on the 6th of February. I couldn't breathe, the pain in my chest felt like someone was standing on top of me. One of my valves had split open. Blood was pooling in the in the sack surrounding my heart, crushing the life out of me.
I got really lucky. The odds were against me, but I lived. I spent ten days in the hospital before they let me come home.
I had a heart attack three days later. Seriously. They rushed me back to the hospital and placed a stent, and I thought I'd had enough.
A week later I went in for a routine follow-up, and they found blood clots in both my legs. Back into a hospital bed I went.
They let me out a couple of days ago, but I'm taking injections to the belly twice a day and I want to curl into a ball every time I hear a siren.
My twin brother set up a funding site to help me with some of the medical bills. Anyone interested call find it here: http://www.gofundme.com/ngci7o
So, that was my February.
I find it difficult to write sometimes. Well, the writing part isn't actually what I have trouble with. It's getting in there and trying. It's easy to blame work or family, but it's all internal. I want to write. I love writing, making up characters and stories, and I get lost in the worlds I create... when I finally manage to take that first step.
Part of it is drive. My enthusiasm wanes from time to time. I find it difficult to get motivated, and when I do I find it hard to find the confidence that my work is worth completing.
I've been doing this writing thing with essentially no support. I have no writing group, first reader, or network of other writers to consult or converse with. Nobody in my life even likes to read.
I write my stories and send them to editors, some with a measure of revision, but essentially as they flow from my brain. The first critiques I get are usually rejections. Some stories aren't rejected, and the few successes keep me going.
I've had a couple of dozen stories published in the last four years, and that says something. But this lonely road is taking its toll.
"Bittersweet" was chosen as one of the top 10 stories of the year by the Critters P&E Annual Readers Poll. It originally appeared in Plasma Frequency Magazine's 11th issue, April/May 2014, and will be featured again in their Year Two Anthology.
Plasma Frequency Magazine has included my story, "Bittersweet" in their year 2 anthology.
The wonderful people at New Myths Magazine will be publishing my clockpunk story, "Jucarii" in their December issue. I'm excited because this will be my 20th published story since that first breakthrough sale to L. Ron Hubbard Presents, Writers and Illustrators of the Future in 2011.
My steampunk story, “The Woman Who Was More Than a Wrench” is available at Plasma Frequency Magazine. They'll also be publishing my story, "Outside the Box" in a later issue of their magazine.
Working crazy hours at my day job is killing my word count. How do people juggle long hours and still manage to crank out novel length manuscripts?
I reworked my website to make it a little easier to read, and a bit friendlier to edit. Hope you like it.
Plasma Frequency Magazine purchased my story, "Bittersweet" for their April/May 2014 issue. I wrote this piece over the winter while having a nice cup of cocoa.
I sold my twelfth story of 2013 today. It was "Point of Ascension", a near future space story about orbital divers on a desperate mission. It's one of my favorite stories, and I'm very happy to have sold it. It'll be included in the Strange Bedfellows anthology by Bundoran Press.
We were asked to write a story in a day during the L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future workshop (May 2011). Props were given out, and we were to use those props in conjunction with a brief conversation with a stranger on the street to formulate an idea for our stories. My prop was a rock. I wrote a story titled, "Set in Stone" that was about a discovery in a rock, on a planet threatened by rocks falling from space. The characters were as stubborn as rocks, and one of the characters was even named Rox. Plasma Frequency Magazine will publish that story.
Counting back from the sale of "Moment of Inertia" to Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine at the beginning of this year, to my story "Dee", just purchased by Every Day Fiction, I've sold TEN stories this year. Quite a feat for me. 2011 was the first year I started selling stories, and I only sold two that year. I sold two more the year after, and for my third year, this year, my goal was four. I think I'm doing okay.
Every Day Fiction has purchased one of my more pretentious and literary pieces, "Dee". It's a very dark what-if story set in the world of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, and I've inserted quite a few nods to Lewis Carroll. Every Day Fiction is one of my favorite markets. They seem to like my quirkier pieces, and with this sale they've published works of science fiction, horror, and fantasy that I've written.
I occasionally have writing contests with friends where we choose two or three words randomly from the dictionary and try and concoct a story around them. My story, "Requiem in Diamond" was the result of a contest with a longtime friend, and I'm happy to say, SQ Magazine has purchased it for their Issue 11, November 2013. Oh, the words were: Kris Kringle, and Fyn-bos.
I've sold another story in what might become my working universe. It's a flash piece that lightly touches on a series of stories/novels I'm planning to write, about a team that rescues multi-generational slowships, those slower than light vessels destined to take hundreds of years to reach the stars. The team is comprised of several species from my universe, and while their main job is to find and recover known genships, they occasionally encounter species unknown to the galactic confederation known as the consensus. Perihelion will be publishing this piece.
I finally sold my story, "Little Men" to Silver Blade Magazine. I'd written this story several times from many angles, but couldn't quite make it work. At one point it topped out at twelve thousand words, but the version being published is only a bit more than two thousand words.
Last year I wrote a story in a day. It was part of a challenge set up by my twin brother. "Watchtower" was the result, and now Shock Totem is going to publish it in their January 2014 issue.
Crossed Genres has bought my story, "Depth of Perception" for their 9th issue. I'm happy about this one, because it's a story from what might someday be my persistent universe. I've written a few pieces in this far future universe, and I hope to make it my "known space" someday. The oudjji, aliens from "Depth of Perception", feature in a novel series I'm writing, as well as in a few other stories I've completed.
My second sale to Every Day Fiction is a piece of flash horror that grew from an explaination of "show" versus "tell". "Hush Honey" is the "show" version of "Jalisse went to the store".
A second sale to New Myths Magazine. They're going to publish my story, "A Slender Darkness" in their September issue. It's the first in a chain of stories that follow a young man's path into dark wizardry.
The wonderful people at New Myths will publish my story "The Dragon's Back Door" in June. It's a fantasy story, not my usual genre, but I never know what's going to dribble out of my brain. I think I had the most fun with this one. It evolved out of a writing challenge with my brother and a close friend, and is basically just a series of jokes. The weird relationship between the main characters is a satire of my own relationship with my twin brother, Dean, and the names of the characters are anagrams of our own names (apologies to my brother for the added body part, but I did make you the better man).
Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine will publish my story "Moment of Inertia" in their April issue. This story is one of my harder science fiction stories, and one I really enjoyed writing. When I read, my favorite type of science fiction is space oriented, future forward, and optomistic. Why don't I write that more often?
It's a new year, with a universe of new possibilities. I've expanded my writing goals for the coming year to include a push to publish more stories, and to complete another novel.
I received word yesterday that Every Day Fiction has decided to publish my flash story, "Fart Monkey and the Shoe". This piece was intended to be both humorous and sad, and although it's written in a style that doesn't reflect my usual work, I'm happy with the way it turned out.
Eschatology, The Journal of Lovecraftian and Apocalyptic Fiction has purchased my flash story, "Recycled". It's a very short piece I wrote while driving my truck up to New Hampshire one Sunday morning. Someone threw trash out of their car, and it hit my windshield (and my IRATE button). See it here: Recycled
My hopes for 2012:
Submit every story I've written that hasn't been trunked.
Second draft my novel "Vector Victoria"
Finish at least one more novel: "Palace of Wonders", "Her Majesty's Own Striders", or "A Slender Darkness"
What I did on my summer vacation at L. Ron Hubbard's Writers and Illustrators of the future 27th annual workshop:
Flying out to Hollywood and meeting the other writers and illustrators, all really wonderful people who wrote what I wrote and dreamed the same dreams, was a moving experience for me. I made more friends last week than I had in the past 30 years. I'll never forget them (or let them forget me--be warned).
The instructors, K.D. Wentworth and Tim Powers were amazing. We hit the ground running, and I learned more in the first day than I could have at any other workshop.
I loved reading the articles by L. Ron Hubbard. Although they were written decades ago, they're so insightful and well done that they seem as if they were written by one of the contemporary masters of science fiction. "Magic out of a Hat" was my favorite article, because it showed me that ideas are everywhere. Everything and anything can be world changing, pivotal, interesting.
I thought I might not be able to do the 24 hour story, especially since my item was a rock, but the level of excitement and creativity surging through the workshop was infectious. I used that rock as the
story's problem, its prize; I put the main character between a rock and a hard place, and made the oppositional character as stubborn as a rock. I even named one of the characters Rox. I really rocked that story, and it made me feel as if I could write anything.
Meeting the judges, all those famous writers who were there just to speak with us, made me feel as if this really was something very special. Kevin J. Anderson, Mike Resnick, Robert Sawyer, Eric Flint,
Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Tim Powers, K.D. Wentworth, and so many more that I thought my head was going to explode--wow!
I almost cried when we did the big reveal and I got to see the illustration for my story. The emotional impact of seeing how another person interprets the random scribbling in my head was really powerful.
My words evoked a place, a character, an entire world that someone else could see and feel. My illustrator, Ryan Downing, really captured the main character's fear, while still keeping the feel of who she was, the walking billboard, the Shimmy girl--and he made it look sexy.
We got to meet some of the winners from recent years: Eric James Stone, Ken Scholes, Laurie Tom, Jordan Lapp, and several others. All had exciting writing projects in the works, and every one of them treated me as if I could do that too.
Jordan Lapp was nice enough to share his illness. A professional writer finally gave me something, yea!
I had my reservations about getting on stage, I think we all did, but everyone was so wonderful and professional that they got us through it--and we actually looked good.
The book signing was surreal. I have a picture where I'm signing books right beside Larry Niven. LARRY NIVEN! His books were my major inspiration to begin writing. The worlds he created made me feel
real wonder--and there we are, signing the same volume of L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Volume XXVII together.
People kept coming up to me and asking how was the best way to enter and win this contest. In reply, I asked them if they'd read all the anthologies. Most said a few, some said just one. I was baffled. I'd read every single volume, and I would have read them all even if I'd never planned to enter (and win) the contest. The stories are amazing, so vastly different yet so well written. Anyone who reads Fantasy or Science Fiction should pick up these books.
It was difficult for me to feel as if I really deserved this, but from the very beginning Joni Labaqui (and everyone at Author Services and Galaxy Press) treated me like I belonged here, like I was the important
The radio play of the Invaders by L. Ron Hubbard on the last night was like frosting on a cupcake. I love the pulps, and seeing such a well done and classic tale so cleverly voiced was a real bonus. I think I
woke up a few times in the middle of the night still clapping.
Overall, this was the one moment. No matter what happens from this point forward I will always remember this week, this workshop, this dream. Thank you.
"Daily Science Fiction" Has just offered to buy my story "A Trick of Memory". It's one of my older works that I almost didn't submit, but I kind of liked it. I don't have a publication date yet, but check my list of publications. You'll find it there.
I've redesigned my web page. The older style seemed a bit amateurish. I hope this one looks better. Now, back to writing...
I've finally made it to the half way point on my novel, "Vector Victoria". It's been slow going. I didn't have a clear plan going in, so I wasted a lot of time (and dozens of rewrites) fixing a plot. I'm on track now.
I joined the SFWA today. My sale to the Writers of the Future anthology qualifies me for an Associate Membership. It's not the full membership I'd hoped for, but I will upgrade as soon as I add a couple more qualifying sales to my resume. Now I'll be able to draw on the resources available to SFWA members, and I get to vote for the Nebula Awards.
I just built myself an office in the basement where I can go with my laptop to write. I've disabled the NIC card so that I'm not tempted to surf the web and look at time wasters like facebook (sorry). There are no evil games installed, not even solitaire. I'm determined to have one more novel finished by next august, and I need to sell two more stories to qualify for SFWA membership. I don't want to have the opportunity presented by my 2nd place win in the "Writers of the Future" contest go to waste. I WILL write for a living some day.
I built a facebook page, something I swore was a waste of time. I'm tired of doing this alone. It would be really nice to find other writers and get other perspectives on the process.
I've decided to try and turn my winning WOTF story into a novel. I know the characters and I'm familiar with the world, so it shouldn't be impossible.
I've been told that if I plan on being a professional author I'll have to promote myself. This website is a start. I'll be adding things as I think of them, or when people tell me I should.
On June 3rd I received a call from Joni Labaqui at Writers of the Future, and she informed me that I had won 2nd place in Q1, 2010 for my story "Vector Victoria". I was shocked, surprised, and delighted. This is my first professional sale, and I hope to turn this into an opportunity.
I received Honorable Mention from the Writer's of the Future Contest for my story "The Lemon Thief of Munjid Al Salam" for the 4th quarter of 2009. I was both excited and disheartened. It wasn't a win, but it also wasn't really a loss (OK, it was a loss, but it came with a certificate).