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Posts Tagged ‘short stories’

I’m number 1! (Or at least in no. 1.) There’s a new flash fiction magazine coming in February called Factor Four, and they just bought my story, “The Deadline,” for their first issue. It’s a short glimpse into a long-term successful marriage that is hiding a very large secret.

I’m thrilled to be in at the beginning of what I hope will be a great success story. When the issue goes live, I’ll be sure to mention it here.

#SFWApro

 

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Balancing Act

There is only so much time in a day. The trick is to make the best use of that time. Hence my problem.

I have switched in the past year from writing short stories to self–publishing novels. This creates difficulties, because it turns out that writing novels on a self-publisher’s schedule requires even more time than writing a respectable number of short stories in a year. (This is exacerbated by the fact that no one expects you to write short stories on a schedule.) It requires, in my case, about twice the time.

Given this, I have abandoned writing any new short stories for the foreseeable future. I still have a catalog of unsold stories, however, and I am still trying to sell them. In our wonderful Internet age, new markets spring to life every month, unlike the Dark Ages of the Nineteen-Mumble-Mumbles when I started. So all those stories that haven’t yet found a home need constant attention in case a new possibility opens up.

But what happens when a new market opens that fits a story in your inventory perfectly–except that the story’s the wrong length? Can you extend a too-short story? You can, but it’s a tricky and dangerous game. Cutting down a too-long story is easier, but not easy, particularly when (as in the example which prompts this post) you’re talking several hundred words (a typewritten double-spaced page).

On what do you spend your time? The short story, which if sold will generate a few hundred bucks, or the novel, which is going to be published but each copy will only generate a couple of dollars and whose ultimate sales numbers are as speculative as that story sale? Not only that, but the story market has a finite closing date, whereas your book has a publishing schedule that you’d really like to keep.

If I were a best-selling novelist, this wouldn’t even a issue, but I’m not and it is. I know which way I’m leaning…

#SFWApro

 

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I am excited to announce that I have sold a story to Galaxy’s Edge magazine, edited by SF legend Mike Resnick. “Relative Fortune” is about two brothers whose lives took wildly unexpected paths after the death of their father. Now one is living the life that his brother imagined–but is what you gained always what you dreamt, and is what you received instead always less?

#SFWApro

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While the excitement of finally bringing a new novel into the world is energizing, it tends to fade a little while you’re waiting for it actually to come out, and in the case of an e-book, that means while you’re formatting and prepping and ordering the cover, etc., etc. This means that at some point, even though you’re not really finished with your massive project, an unwanted thought is going to invade your brain like an insidious virus sent from your Overmind:

What Am I Going To Do Next?

For some, this is not an issue. Some writers routinely juggle two or three projects at once; for them, finishing one simply means focussing on another (and maybe starting something new, but there’s always a list of those). For others of us, though, starting a new project is a daunting task. We can postpone it by saying, “Oh, I’m still editing,” or “While that cover is on order I’ll make sure my e-book is formatted,” or even the time-honored “I deserve a vacation,” but eventually the Overmind rears its massive head and thunders: “You Have To Think Of Something To Write.” (Yes, the Overmind always speaks in capitals.)

Guess where I am in the process?

Often when in this bind, I have taken the coward’s way out, and simply started another novel. Novels are easier: You have only one story to tell, and it takes a long time, so starting something new is a problem you can put off for months. But I have consciously decided to concentrate on short stories for 2017, so that option is barred. And now I am almost done with formatting The Cosmic City, so that’s no help, either. What’s boy to do?

Well, to start, he can write a blog post so he feels like he’s being creative…

The world right now is ripe with subjects that lend themselves to a science-fictional slant, problems that can be addressed through a speculative lens, making them seem less political because they aren’t happening in the here-and-now. I’ve done it before. But it’s very easy to become pedantic and transparent, which in turn makes the work hard to sell. I was hoping to focus more inwardly, touching universal truths by exploring personal truths. This, however, involves much spilling of blood all over your screen (or page, if you’re a Neanderthal like me), and we just vacuumed the carpets. So there’s that.

In the end, this is a question that I’ve faced (and answered) many times. I have developed various mechanisms over the years to deal with the issue. Most involve reading–a pastime which has suffered greatly of late–but all involve sitting down in a chair and writing.

You know, the kind of thing I’m doing right now, Mr. Overmind! This is over 400 words right here! And then there’s my tweets, they count, and I still haven’t finished formatting my book…

#SFWApro

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Hooray! “Grinpa,” the story of a little boy who’s more concerned with his dying grandfather than with the HUGE events occurring in the world outside of that little hospital room, is going to be reprinted by Digital Fiction. I am very proud of this story and excited to see it venturing out into the world once more.

This marks my seventh sale of the year (a record), and my 30th overall. When I think back on all those years I worked and dreamed (and despaired) about ever being published, having done so seven times in one year, let alone for the 30th time, is a little hard to process.

As always, I will post here when the story is available. (In the meantime, there is a rumor circulating that there may be more of these announcements in the near future…)

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It is my mantra that “timing is everything.” Ironically, however, while timing is “everything,” perspective is  worth “a lot.” Consider: You’ll spend an hour cutting coupons before grocery shopping because you can save $30. But you spend five minutes when you’re shopping for a house, trying to decide whether to raise your bid $10,000. An hour to save $30, but five minutes to spend $10,000? It’s all in perspective, in this case, how much is ultimately at stake.

This occurred to me because I am just past what is likely the half-way point of my latest novel, which I am planning to finish in the next two months. That will require me writing about 5,000 words a week, which should present no problem greater than whether I can type that fast.

But wait, let’s put this into perspective. Five thousand words is a good length for a short story. That means my goal for the rest of the year is to write the equivalent of 8-10 short stories. But writing 40,000 words of a novel is one thing; writing eight short stories is an entirely different proposition, a view from a different perspective. That’s why I can blithely take on one with every expectation of success, whereas I wouldn’t even attempt the other without a truckload of money waiting for me.

The difference in perspective is even more pronounced when you look at the relative outcomes. If you’re a writer of some ability, there’s a good chance you could sell one of 8-10 short stories. On the other hand, selling a novel, even for a good writer, is really hard. So from one perspective, writing short stories leads to greater rewards. And yet, if you do sell your novel, the amount of money in even one of today’s average advances is light years ahead of what you can reasonably expect from a short story. (It’s more than you could make from all ten of them.) So from that perspective, writing a novel is a better bet (even allowing for the time it takes to produce a novel, which varies widely).

Of course, even if you write a great novel about nine vampires seeking to throw a ring into a volcano, if ten others have beaten you to it, your efforts are  doomed. So, remember what I always say: “Timing is everything.”

#SFWApro

 

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Happy to announce that my (very) short story, “Jolly Crossing,”  will appear in the “Christmas in Crisis” issue of Splickety Prime magazine.

Have you ever wondered how George Washington got all those men across the Delaware River in the middle of the night in the middle of winter? I mean, who even came up with such a crazy idea?

You might be surprised…

Publication details to follow.

#SFWApro

 

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