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.

 

 

 

 

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. 

Wednesday
Aug172016

Stupefying Satisfaction

Well, check another one off the old bucket list--I just landed a cover story at the inestimable Stupefying Stories, a market for which I have very, very much love. Bruce Bethke, the editor, was the first person to take a chance on my fiction--not the first to publish one of my stories, but certainly the first to actually pay for it.

The sale came at a time when I was very much considering backing away from writing altogether. I'd been scrawling out stories for, well, decades, and trying to publish for several years with very little response. It got to the point where I'd started numbering my rejections, deciding that, after 200, I would finally acknowledge the obvious and turn my energies to something else. I'd reached 142 when Mr. Bethke's acceptance letter came rattling into my inbox.

 I don't think I've ever felt so….relieved. Even more so when the first issue of Stupefying Stories popped up on my Kindle and I saw that the other stories in were actually good, better than good, actually. Mine was certainly the worst of the bunch.

 It's a feeling I've become much acquainted with over the years. But still, I couldn't argue with a solid publication. More, it was like something in me had unwound, like a cable around my chest that had been drawing tighter and tighter with each rejection. It was…well…absolutely wonderful.

For that, Stupefying Stories will always have a special place in my heart. There aren't many publications that I buy and read every issue, but SS is on the short list.

 So, check out the cover, check out my story (once again, the rest of the offerings are better), and if you like what you read, pick up a couple back issues. They'll keep you entertained, perhaps even stupefied, I promise.     

Thursday
Jun022016

Ode to an Ungrateful Author

It's strange how we people get used to anything.

In all regards 2016 has been a banner year for me: I've made a solid fistful of professional sales (more to come on that); stretched my literary fingers into fantasy, and horror, military sci-fi, and even magical realism; and learned I'm going to be a father.

I remember, just a few years ago (2012 or thereabouts), feeling sick to my stomach over the prospect of not having one of my flash pieces published in the, now sadly defunct, 10Flash Quarterly--a fine semi-pro ezine. They put out a themed issue every month, and every month I would write a flash story and collect my rejection. This went on for almost a year until, at last, I wore down the editors' resolve and they deigned to publish one of my stories.

I literally jumped up and down with joy, dancing through the house (and scaring the shit out of my poor dog)--that's it, I've made it.

A year or two later, I'm publishing flash and short stories in semi-pro markets with reasonable success, but instead of feeling confident, I'm looking to the SFWA requirements. Three pro sales.

THREE PRO SALES.

It became a mantra to me. I bought issues of Analog, F&SF, Apex, BCS, and a host of other markets on SFWA's pro list, the read them cover-to-cover in the hopes of mapping the geographies of editorial taste. I wrote and submitted dozens of stories, and eventually, three of them found homes.

I joined SFWA.

I thought I would feel different.

I didn't.

I wondered what was wrong with me. 

Yes, I recognize how ungrateful I am. Yes, I am embarrassed. There are authors out there who would figuratively KILL for even the small measure of publishing success I've achieved. If it makes you feel any better, all the money I make writing goes back into the community--buying books directly from small-press publishers, helping to fund authors' kickstarters, donating to eZines or the SFWA medical fund. It's not much, but I like to think it helps.

Yes, I recognize that too smacks of tremendous privilege. I'm lucky enough to have a job that pays my bills so I can give all my writing money away instead of using it to make rent.

My point is, things that would've blown off the top of my head just a few years ago seem almost normal, now. Writing and publishing has become an addiction of sorts, I have published professionally, now I must publish professionally to prove I haven't lost what little talent I have.

It's a trap, and one I've walked into gladly. Talking to other authors at conventions and panels, I get a sense we're all chasing that high, but we've got publish more and more in better and better markets to recapture it. The older I get, the more I realize  that's the way with pretty much everything. There is no amount of fame, success, money, happiness, etc. that we can't become used to. Still, it's this same ungrateful impulse that keeps us striving to be bigger, better, smarter, and--at least insofar as writing is concerned--that's a good thing.