Autumn Is Coming


Just got word from Mike Davis that my story "Cul Du-Sac Virus" is going to be included in his Autumn Cthulhu anthology. As an avowed lover of Autumn (there really is no better season) I'm both honored and excited to have one of my stories among the leaves.

 

 

 

 

Friday
Aug182017

Before and After

It's always a weird experience to reread (or re-listen in the case of podcasts) to a story years after your wrote it. A lot of the time, I avoid my stories once they've been published--if only to spare myself the visceral cringe when I come across a poorly constructed sentence, repetitious phrasing, uninspired simile, purple description, or other tidbit of hackwork nestled like a viper in the awkward bosom of my prose (yes, that applies to blog posts, too--if you're wondering).

Seldom does a story I wrote actually hit me in a different way than when I wrote it. I mean, I'm all for interpretation as a facet of art, death of the author and all that, but, being said author, it's strange to read into a story in a way I hadn't intended.

Case in point: my story, "Survival of the Fittest" that just came up on the Tales to Terrify podcast. It's a nihilistic little Lovecraftian yarn written for an anthology dedicated to exploring what it'd be like if the Great Old Ones came rumbling up from their respective sunken cities, demiplanes, and cyclopean tombs and take over the earth.

I wrote the story back in 2014, married and childless. The main character, a soldier returning from a tour of duty in Hastur's Yellow Guard, to try and reconnect with his wife, child, and friends. Strangeness and sadness ensue.

I'd written it from the perspective of a military brat, myself, whose father was routinely away. Not that I fault him, but there was always a period of adjustment when he came back after being away for a week, or a month, or longer. Additionally, I tried to work in generational themes--shifting boundaries, priorities, etc., and how new generations can seem strange, even alien to previous ones. Add to that the stress of adapting to an inescapable and repressive regime, and well, I don't want to say it's a presentiment of the Trump presidency (I couldn't have even conceptualized that back in the halcyon days of 2014), but it definitely feels timely.

So, I'd expected all that to come back when I listened to the podcast, not realizing that I'm a totally different person than when I wrote the story.

It hit me as a father--what it would be like having to leave your friends and family, then returning to find them changed--or perhaps unchanged. It's a feeling I've (thankfully) never had to experience with my wife and son, but one I've dealt with in the past with old friends, long parted.

It's a strange thing to sit down with someone you once knew but who has become a stranger. You talk about what old times you remember, reminisce, catch up on where your lives have gone, but there's always that awkward moment (at least with me), where you realize you're not the people you were, that those people are as good as dead.

Not to mention, that the main character in my story mentions having to kill kids.

As a dad, I've developed a lot more of what I like to call "hooks." For instance, before my son while I certainly found the injury and/or murder of children abhorrent--now I feel it on a deep, visceral level when I come across news, or pictures, or even think about kids (even imaginary kids) getting hurt. I'd meant the reference as a shock, as something horrible to truly hammer home how different and terrible the world has become. The fact that they were evil kids notwithstanding, the line still hit me.

I mean, logically, I know I've changed, but it's weird to be confronted so directly with evidence of the fact. Sort of like reading the diary you kept as a teenage or running across old videos of yourself as a kid and not recognizing the person at all.

Jarring.

 

Wednesday
May032017

My Unreal Month(s)

In keeping with the feast or famine nature of publication, April-May has seen quite a few of my stories pop up online and in print after a relative dearth in the first few months of 2017. That may sound detached, but trust me, I'm about to bite my thumbs off in excitement.

Allow me to explain:

You see, while I buy a lot of genre mags and anthologies, I don't really read many of them, at least on the regular. I mean, I'd love to, but I just don't have the time to devour tens of thousands of words of fiction every month?

There are three publications I read every time they drop an issue. Not just because the fiction is top-notch, but because I can count on an enjoyable and thought-provoking read just about every time. What are these three magical 'zines? Well…Apex, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and F&SF.

So, imagine my delight when the last few weeks saw my work appear in not one but TWO of these august publications. Beneath Ceaseless Skies published my second-world fantasy: "When We Go," and Apex Issue 96 featured my post-apocalytpic weird tale: "How Lovely is the Silence of Growing Things." Add to this the fact that Apex also did a podcast of my work, interviewed me, and picked a cover that complements my story (shown on the right). Oh, and did I mention my tongue-in-cheek post-modern Star Trek-themed satire "The Redshirt's Daughter" appeared in Daily Science Fiction?

Cue thumb biting. 

Thursday
Mar232017

Tiny Terrors: Victory!

I'm equal parts baffled, humbled, and delighted to have won DarkFuse's Tiny Terrors Contest. It was certainly an experience to write so much microfiction in such a short time. It's still something of a surprise that I managed to outlast so many other talented authors. If you've got a few moments (and it won't take more than a few since the stories are only 50 words, each) I'd highly suggest slipping on over to the DarkFuse website and checking a few out. Here are some of my absolute favorites:

"Metastasis," by Larry Hinkle

"The Web," by Adrian Ludens

"The Man with the Crooked Head," by Jennifer Loring 

"This Week's Challenge: Swing," by Adrian Ludens

"Night Stories," by Kevin Bufton

"Night-Night," by Renee Miller

Wednesday
Feb152017

Tiny Terrors: Round One!

I've been a big fan of DarkFuse for a while, now. Not only does Shane Staley run an incredibly slick and professional operation (royalty payments are always on time, even when they're only a few cents, and he's an absolute pleasure to work with), but the horror fiction they publish is pretty solid as well (Nick Kill's ongoing absurdist series "Cult of a Kill," and Nicole Cushing's "The Orchard of Hanging Trees" being two of my most favorite examples).

So, when they opened up the Tiny Terrors microfiction competition, I jumped at the chance to participate. As nerve-wracking as the single-elimination format is, it's been pretty fun. Not to mention I've found some author's whose other work I will most certainly be seeking out (Adrian Ludens, Jennifer Loring, and Larry Hinkle, thus far).

In any case, the stories are short (less than 50 words) and you can vote without a subscription to DarkFuse. Even if you don't vote for my work, please do read what my colleagues have offered up, the breadth and creepiness of their fiction is just…well…creepy.

Friday
Jan062017

My Semi-Charmed Life: 2016 Writing Income

Honestly, 2016 has been an absolutely amazing year for me--15 short story sales (six of them to professional markets, the rest to semi-pros and tokens), about a dozen short stories written, and one novella finished just in time to get in some beta-reads and rewrites before the 1/12/17 Tor.com deadline.

Also, I had a son. Well actually, I should say I was there when my wife had our son.

Looking back, it still seems kind of surreal--both the story sales and the birth. Having blown away my wildest expectations for the year, I can't help but feel like I'm at the top of some bizarre wave and that any moment it'll all come crashing down. So here I am, a somewhat successful semi-pro author who has had a pretty damn good year publication-wise.

But what does that really mean?

I've always been really interested in authors (both John Scalzi and Jim Hines) who do a yearly breakdown of fiction-related income. Firstly, it gives us a good idea of what it's like for someone who has ostensibly "made it" as a professional author. Secondly, we get to see that a view from the top isn't necessarily so rosy. From my own limited experience, (even marginal) success comes with a whole new crop of anxieties--but that's neither here nor there.

I thought it would be fun to provide another data point for would be authors--a "view from the bottom," if you will. For me, writing is a hobby--any money I make goes to offset the various costs I incur. My financial goal (inasmuch as I have a financial goal) is to break even. Some years I do, most years I don't. Once or twice, I've actually made money--which I donate to various charities.

But hey, let's take a look at what has, by all measures, been my best year ever.

Income: Total income includes all payments and royalties received 1/1/2016-12/31/2016. Note: this doesn't necessarily include all the pieces I've sold in 2016, just the ones I've been paid for.

Source Income
Royalties (Total) $1.15
Story Sales (First Rights) $1,309.83
Sales (Reprints and Audio Rights) $196.89
Total Income $1,507.87

 

Expenses: This table includes all travel, registration, professional, and promotional expenses I've racked up in 2016. I've also included about half my genre magazine subscriptions (I have many, many more) as well as a small allowance for books and research (I spend much, much more).

Source Expenses
Subscription (F&SF) $36.97
Subscription (BCS) $15.99
Subscription (Apex) $19.95
Subscription (Grimdark Magazine) $9.99
Subscription (CR&ES) $12.00
SFWA Dues (Active Member) $100.00
Website Hosting (GoDaddy) $15.17
Squarespace (Basic Package) $144.00
Imaginarium (Hotel 3-Nights) $344.52
Imaginarium (Food) $100.00
Imaginarium (Gas and Travel) $62.46
World Fantasy Registration $225.00
Origins Convention $60.00
Duotrope Subscription $50.00
Book/Research Allowance $100.00
Total Expenses $1,296.05

 

So, here's my year in review. 

Income: $1,507.87

Expenses: $1,296.05

Net Total: +$211.82

Could I have cut costs? ABSOLUTELY--Submission Grinder provides free (if not as comprehensive) publication tracking and searches; I could move my site from Squarespace to Wordpress or some other free blogging site; I could not attend conventions, buy books, or subscribe to various magazines--but for me, all of those costs are inherent to the hobby. On the flip side, I only attended three conventions this year, two of which were in driving distance of my house. So my "promotion" expenses were lower than average (I usually attend between 4-6 conventions a year). Again, my experience isn't necessarily indicative of the norm--I've never published a novel or a story collection, so my royalties are (understandably) miniscule. 

Hopefully, this provides some additional insight into the write-life.