A little bit of news for the end of June: I’ve sold a short story to Horror d’oeuvres, Dark Fuse‘s online venue for bizarre and experimental flash fiction. “To Dearest Amelia, Always In Our Thoughts” is a piece about explorers voyaging into the Jungian unconscious, and the first new story I wrote this year. It’s due to go up on 25th July for Horror d’oeuvres subscribers, but may also be reprinted in a print/ebook anthology at a later date.
Today I was pleased to discover that a story I’d submitted for Quarter 1 of the Writers of the Future Contest has been awarded an Honourable Mention! This is definitely one of the nicest ways of saying “I’ll pass” that I’ve come across so far. I’m very proud of this story and remain optimistic that it’ll find a great home some day soon, but receiving this little nod is a nice reassurance all the same. In the meantime, my Q2 story is already waiting patiently for David Farland to judge it, and I guess I’ll have to pull my finger out and write something to enter in Q3 soon. Congrats and good luck to the finalists!
It’s been a relatively quiet time recently, I think because I’ve been a bit more consistent with aiming high up the food chain this year where fiction submissions are concerned. The responses have been sporadic and often a long time coming. But silence on the submission front doesn’t mean silence on the “getting actual words down on the page” front. In March I managed to finish up three new short stories and start sending them out into the world, and I’ve spent the bulk of April engaged in a big scary novel–a Young Adult Fantasy that takes place in a secondary world modelled on the Roman Republic.
This is my third attempt at a novel. The first took ten years to outline, write, and rewrite until I was finally ready to call it “done.” The second, by contrast, was a NaNoWriMo project that was written in a month flat. Both taught me valuable lessons. The first: that there is such a thing as too much planning, too much researching, and too much tinkering. Eventually, you have to call time and get on with the next big thing. It would have been nice if I’d been slightly quicker off the mark to figure that out, but still. The second: that I’m useless at making things up as I go! Some writers thrive on that–on laying once sentence in front of the next like railroad in front of a speeding train, discovering the story and the characters as they write. After a dizzying month of 2000+ word days, I had no idea where I’d ended up, but it was a scary, alien place where nothing quite made sense and every road had a “No Entry” sign hanging above it. Why didn’t I think to bring a map along with me?
So here we are with novel #3, and I think I’ve found a happy medium. A good, solid outline with enough space around the edges for situations to grow organically, and for the intricacies of the story to remain shrouded enough that I’m still able to be surprised by the places the characters take me. After spending much of April outlining, the words are now flying onto the page. I’m averaging 3000 words a day, which for me is something approaching the miraculous. Many of those words might even be salvageable, too! I’ll have to give a shout out to Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method here, which has been invaluable for me with this one.
In other news, the humorous speculative fiction anthology Alternate Hilarities from Strange Musings Press, in which my story “The Great Abyss Disjunction” appears, is now available to purchase in both paperback and ebook formats.
I’ve got a story, “The Great Abyss Disjunction,” upcoming in the humorous spec-fic anthology, Alternate Hilarities.
Currently the plan is to release the anthology as an ebook, however Editor Giovanni Valentino is running a Kickstarter campaign with a modest goal of financing a print run. Rewards include having a character in one of the stories named after you. That would include my story too, you lucky people!
Alternate Hilarities should be out in ebook form by the 1st May, and will also feature stories from the following authors:
Isabel Sterling – Day Al-Mohamed – Brenda Anderson – Jason Bougger – Gavin Cameron – A.B. Rinklin – Dan Doerflein – John H. Dromey Christine Edwards – Jaimie M. Engle – Eric James Spannerman – Steve Esling – Laura Thurston – Ronald Friedman – Jay Fuller – Steven Grassie Cathy Greco – James E. Guin – Shari L Klase – Felicia Lee Lance Manion – Daniel McPherson – Jez Patterson – M. Kelly Peach Clay Sheldon – Chuck Rothman – Josh Strnad – Giovanni Valentino – Adam Millard – Aaron Austin
The campaign runs from now until 25th March. Take a peek here for all of the details.
Some odds and ends for January…
Every Day Fiction Acceptance
First up, my flash fiction piece Shadow-play has been snapped up by Every Day Fiction.
This one is a bit of a departure for me as it has much more of a children’s/storybook feel. I had originally written it for PodCastle’s flash fiction contest, but I didn’t think it was really all it could be. With a 500-word limit for the contest, some of the concepts I’d imagined for the story couldn’t really be fleshed out the way I would have liked. It probably didn’t help that I rushed the draft out hours before the deadline, and some of the writing might have been a wee bit clumsy as a result!
Still, I was very fond of the concept of the piece–a world of eternal day in which people’s shadows have their own lives, and what might happen if there were an eclipse–so afterwards I set to rewriting it. After several revisions, I finally arrived at this finished version–somewhat longer than the initial piece, and with (I hope!) the problems that plagued the original contest version banished. All said, I’m very proud of the results.
Shadow-play is due to appear in Every Day Fiction on the 28th February.
Kzine Issue 9
Next, a quick plug for Kzine, a tri-annual Kindle-focussed genre magazine edited by Graeme Hurry. Kzine’s broad range gives each issue an interesting slant: science fiction, fantasy, horror, crime, mystery… pretty much anything “genre fiction.” Fun never knowing quite where the next story might take you. Kzine issue 9 is due to include my story Dear Sweet Rosie, a story about a young shape-shifter struggling to understand the vagaries of language. Table of contents (subject to change):
Joshua Schwartzkopf – Connections
Rachel Marquez – The Obligation
Richard Zwicker – Witchcraft 2.0
Danielle N. Gales – Dear Sweet Rosie
Michael Haynes – Escape
Rhonda Parrish – Shattered
Vaughan Stanger – Time to Play
Maureen Bowden – Teller
Jez Patterson – Heads
Paul Hamilton – Seventeen Year Switch
Issue 9 is due out towards the end of May.
Unidentified Funny Objects 3
Plug the second: humorous speculative fiction can be a tough sell in the short fiction world. Dark, literary, experimental… there’s plenty of places to locate all of those things, but something just plain fun and funny is a lot harder to find. That’s where the Unidentified Funny Objects anthology series comes in. Be sure to drop by the Kickstarter campaign for the third in the series. Edited by Alex Shvartsman, UFO3 is set to include stories from Mike Resnick, David Farland, and Jody Lynn Nye, amongst many others. Heck, it’s worth backing just for that awesome cover art by Tomasz Maronski.
The Kickstarter campaign is aiming for $8000, and runs until 18th February. Also, check out the first two anthologies at UFO Publishing.
Overall, January has been decent on the writing front, though I have not gotten near as much accomplished as I should! One new piece of flash fiction completed, a whole bunch of half-stories in my WIP folder that may or may not go anywhere, and a new story underway which is turning out to be a bit of a monster to write, but I’m happy with where it’s going so far.
To steal what some other writers are doing on their blogs, I figure I might as well throw some raw stats out there, just to show how I’ve managed this month on the submission front:
Acceptances – 3
Rejections – 2*
Submissions made – 3**
(*I’ll never reach 100 by the end of the year at this rate. **Must write more stories to send out there!)
The July issue of Bards and Sages Quarterly will include my story “The River Fox,” in which I get away with having a talking animal for a character.
This one was written in the middle of an “everything I write must be completely different from anything I’ve ever written before” phase, and was the result of a bit of a frustrated creative flurry. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the result; it’s sort of mythic, sort of a storybook fable, and a bit odd all round, and I’m glad it’s found a nice home.
Just a quick update…
In the “hopefully this year will be awesome” department, I’ve recently made my first short story sale of 2014!
“Odd Leg,” a science fiction flash piece involving genetic engineering, has been accepted for publication by Stupefying Stories. A nice surprise, and I’m very happy that one of my pieces will be appearing with them in the future.
Now available from Dark Opus Press: Tell Me a Fable, an anthology of dark short fiction retelling Grimm’s fairy tales, edited by A.W. Gifford and Jennifer L. Gifford. Included is my story, “Eyeless Old Gothel”, based upon the story of Rapunzel.
Once upon a time… These words begin one of the most enduring forms of literature, the fable. Timeless in its history and simple in its morality, it’s our legacy, passed down in written form. Of all the fables, Grimm’s fairytales hold a special place in our collective hearts. Favorites like Rumpelstiltskin, Rapunzel, Snow White and Little Red Cap are retold in this collection with a modern flare. Stories by: K. Trap Jones, Danielle N. Gales, Wendy N. Wagner, Kristal Stittle, Vivian Caethe, Anne Bean, David Turnbull, Marie Michaels, Mark A. France, Benjamin T. Smith, Jason Barney, Wendy Nikel and Brenda Kezar
Rapunzel she shall be called, after the least of the herbs the thief had stolen. A girl born with sin deep in her heart, just like her mother. Just like old Gothel.
Old Gothel takes the infant, as is the price. The demon wretch mother, see how she begs with her hollow words, how she cries her empty tears for her child. Old Gothel slams the door on her, trapping her inside with her lascivious deceits. Others with keen eyes can watch her close now that the truth of her shame is revealed.
The father–her little sneak-thief–he begs her so. “Must it be this way?” he pleads.
He’s tall, this one, his body the product of long, heavy hours under the sun; such strength is but a trifle before the weakness in his soul. Gothel sees him from a great distance before swooping in with her sight, sees the nights he lies with his demon woman, flesh all twisted and glistening and excited and mounting and full and ripe and bursting and, and, and… Oh, how she hates him. She sees it and it burns, scolds her deep. Look upon his eyes now, all wet weakness and regret. See how he averts them from her hideousness–her scarred face, her hairless head, the strip of coarse black cloth wrapped where her eyes once sat.
To read the rest, as well as check out all of the other stories, pick up a copy below!
- Tell Me a Fable (wendynikel.wordpress.com)