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.






And So it Continues...

Well, the upgrades have started--as you can no doubt tell from the awesome banner Mr. George Foster Esquire hand-wove for the site. There will be more to come in the near future, as he continues to make improvements, and I continue to unwittingly undermine them.

I've had some luck with short story sales in recent days, having pieces accepted by Heroic Fantasy Quarterly (a personal favorite of mine) and Toasted Cake Podcast (another personal favorite). The first is a Mezoamerican sword-and-mythos story set in the late Aztec Empire, and the second, a flash piece about leaving behind childhood friends during an apocalypse. Other than that, I've been up to my elbows in rewrite requests on previous sales, changing this and that to better fit with the tenor of the publication, which I'm more than happy to do.

I'm still waiting on all the publications I listed in my last update. Not that I'm getting pushy, any editor that was generous enough to accept one of my stories can expect nothing short of my full support...okay, maybe not my full support, but close enough as to make no difference.

On the reading front, I've been alternating chapters of R. Scott Bakker's The Warrior Prophet, with Aliette de Boddard's Servant of the Underworld, and  Iain M. Banks' The Algebraist. It's an interesting combination of wild historical fantasy from Bakker and Boddard and sheer post-singularity weirdness from Banks. Come to think of it, I should tandem-read more authors alphabetically.  


The Waiting is the Hardest Part, Although Not Really...

The latter half of 2013 was consumed by writing and waiting--the first I enjoy, the second I'm learning to tolerate. Still, there's a lot to look forward to if you're Evan Dicken, which I am. Unfortunately, none of it is happening precisely now, which, being an American with a presumably finite lifespan, is when I want it.

First, I'd like to wax prosaic about the impending upgrade to this site. While perusing the web one day, my good friend George Foster--graphic artist, grandmaster cradle-stacker, ever-punctual prince among men--was scandalized to discover my inept attempts at web design, and offered, perhaps out of sympathy, to turn this site into something I wouldn't be embarrassed to have my name attached to. And so it will be, soon.

Second, I have a number of stories burning holes in various 'zines and anthologies--Andromeda Spaceways, Stupefying Stories, Chaosium's: Mark of the Beast anthology, Escape Pod, Alternate Hilarities, Tales of the Unanticipated and Legends of the Buckeye State to name a few…okay, most. The tables of contents for all the aforementioned publications make me feel like a little boy that has somehow wandered onto a featured panel at WorldCon. Pay no attention to that child next to Gary Braunbeck, Ken Liu, W.H. Pugmire, and Lucy Snyder!

Lastly, my novel: Beyond the Deshima Gate, being about as good as I can make it, is making the rounds to publishers and agents--one at a time, of course. It did well in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest, losing out in the semi-finals to the wonderful horror novel Poe by J. Lincoln Fenn, and ultimately to Timebound, a young-adult novel about a teenage girl who discovers she can travel through time, and must, in fact, do so to save the world. I've read excerpts of each, and must say that I'm honored to have been beaten by both.

Hopefully, in the coming months I'll have more to report, but until then. Thank you for reading, it means a lot to me.  


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

It's no secret that Autumn is my favorite time of the year, and this one is shaping up to be a busy one, writing-wise. I had the good fortune of being solicited for The Lovecraft eZine's annual "Night in the Lonesome October" issue. If you haven't taken a peek at the eZine, I can't recommend it highly enough. The time and attention Mike Davis lavishes on the publication has me coming back both as a contributor and a reader. With stories, art, live chat, articles, and a podcast, the eZine site is easily the equal of many so-called "professional" publications, and superior (at least in my mind) to more than a few.

I should also have stories in upcoming issues of Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine, Stupefying Stories, and Spaceways and Spidersilk--which should all drop in October or thereabouts. Word on the street is the art is almost finished for "Legends of the Buckeye State," and Shelby Rhodes has just about finished the editing and story order. It's a real honor to have my humble scribblings in an anthology with such horror luminaries as Gary Braunbeck and Lucy Snyder.

The novel is plugging along as well. I've gotten notes back from most of my beta-readers, and am waiting on just a few holdouts. Then it's another rewrite, and off to the agents. If anyone knows of any god, spirit, demon, or alien intelligence capable of assuring literary success at reasonable rates, please refer my name to them. I would regard it as a personal favor, to be returned, in kind, at your earliest convenience.

Lastly, enjoy Autumn, I know I will.   



In keeping with the feast or famine nature of publishing, after a double fistful of months with no new stories in print I'm delighted to report a veritable cavalcade of publications—most of which can be read online or downloaded at no cost (beyond time and bandwidth, of course). Here's where you can find them:

  • The Bicentennial Itch: Breaking up is hard to do, especially when you're a galactic republic. A short, humorous flash piece read by Nebula Award nominated author Tina Connolly, available for free at Toasted Cake Podcast.

  • And They Did Live By Watchfires: Paying homage to two of my favorite authors—H.P. Lovecraft and Lord George Gordon Byron—this story is my most recent step into Scifi Horror (a genre that I dearly love and can't seem to find enough of). You can read it at The Lovecraft eZine, not to mention feast your eyes on the amazing illustration by Dominic Black. The eZine is free, and one of the best mythos magazines out there. Mike Davis runs the site mostly on donations and a lot of hard work. So if you like what you see, please toss a couple bucks his way.

  • Cottage Industry: Detective Mike Martinez thought the FBI had turned its back on him, but when an old friend shows up with a chance for Mike to get his old life back, it's too good to pass up. What starts as a simple investigation turns into, well....I don't want to give it away. Urban fantasy in the vein of the Dresden and X-files, you can check out "Cottage Industry" (along with a slew of other fine stories) in the July Issue of Stupefying Stories for the criminally low price of $2.99.          

...and there's more on the horizon. My story: "When it Was Ripe," is slated to appear in the next issue of Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine, and I have horror pieces in Chaosium's Mark of the Beast, and Woodland Press' Legends of the Buckeye State anthologies later this year. As always, I'd love to hear what you think of them all...good or bad (especially bad). Don't be afraid to comment, or even drop me a line.  

Other than that, I'm still neck-deep in rewrites for Beyond the Deshima Gate, my historical fantasy novel set in early 19th century Japan. I've gotten some great feedback from my beta readers, and I'm hoping to have a third draft done by early August. After that it's off to agents, and I can start climbing the walls again.


Are You One Of Me?

    Writers write, and writers write about writing. I'm not conceited enough to believe that I could tell you anything about the craft that someone else hasn't already said better. In every sense, I'm still at the beginning of my "career," hoping I'll succeed against mountains of evidence to the contrary.

    I could wallpaper my apartment with form rejections.

    If you're one of me, writing is a manic-depressive endeavor. There are periods of nervous joy--like when you receive word that one of your stories is being held, or when you're neck deep in a draft and everything just seems to click. But the majority of time is a literary slog, forcing yourself to the keyboard again and again while narratives unravel before your eyes and rejections hammer your ego to pulp. This is all done with the understanding that it may be years or even decades (if ever) before your story sees print. For me, the question is often not what to write, but how to keep writing.

    I have a lot to learn about the craft, but I like to think I have a handle on rejection. In the years I've spent collecting little slips of paper and terse form-emails, I've developed some techniques to inoculate myself against inevitable disappointment. These strategies have helped me to keep my fingers on the keys and my eyes on the monitor. If you're one of me, I hope they help you as well.

 1) Celebrate Failure: If you're one of me, you write not only for the joy of it, but also the rush of excitement (or relief) when an editor decides he or she likes a story enough to include it in their publication. Success is its own reward.

    But what about all the other times?

    I've found it's better to view rejections not as failures, but as evidence that I'm doing exactly what I should be. Every ten rejections, I give myself a little reward--a doughnut with breakfast, skipping a workout to watch TV or play video games, a beer with friends--whatever, you know what you like. Every hundredth rejection equates to larger reward--dinner at a nice restaurant, purchasing a book I've had my eye on, a lazy Sunday of Xbox--again, it's up to you. The trick is to incentivize yourself for continuing to write and submit--because that's the only thing you can control.

2) Turnaround is Key: If you're one of me, it's hard not to get angry and depressed when you get a story back, especially one that you think is perfect for the market you sent it to. You tried not to get your hopes up, but all the cool calculation in the world isn't going to trump that fluttery, expectant feeling you get whenever an editor holds your story a microsecond longer than the rest. You let yourself dream, you're a writer, you can't help it, and that makes the rejection all the worse. So what now?

    Don't sit on it. Getting your work back on the market takes a lot of the sting out of rejection. You didn't send the story out because you felt it wasn't ready for publication, right? In the absence of any editor critique, there's no need to second-guess yourself. By all means, read the thing over once or twice and tighten up the prose, but don't think for a moment just because your story didn't make the cut there's something wrong with it. Get it back out there! I promise you'll feel better.

 3) There's No Such Thing as Slumming: If you're one of me, you get rejected by pro markets constantly. Never underestimate the power of seeing your work in print. There's a pernicious assumption in the genre community that anything below semi-pro rates doesn't really count as publication. I prefer to take a broader view: if your work goes before an editor and he or she accepts it for print, it's a publication. It doesn't matter if you receive a "token" payment or even no payment, as long as you didn't pay for the privilege you should be proud of yourself. While your goal should always be the "pro" markets, a little encouragement goes a long way, and nothing is more encouraging seeing you own work in print.

 4) Be the Author: If you're one of me, you're shy about self-promotion and scared of coming off as pathetic or condescending with other authors. Go to conventions, attend panels and workshops, make friends, and get a taste of what it's like. I started visiting conventions long before I published my first story. I was worried that everyone would know I wasn't a real author, but no one ever asked me where I was published. Rather, the most common question was: "What do you write?"

   It's a rare author who doesn't like to talk about writing, especially with someone who's interested in their work. You'll also meet other up-and-comers (like yourself), and most likely make some good contacts in the process. If you're earnest and friendly, you can't go far wrong. I never feel so good about my prospects as a writer or more full of ideas then when I come back from a convention. If you're nervous, start small and work your way up to the bigger ones.

 5) Don't Compare: If you're one of me, you get a little green-eyed reading facebook updates from your friends and colleagues touting their newest publications. Just don't do it. There are always going to be more successful writers than you, and there are always going to be less successful ones.

    If you're one of me, you got into writing not only because you read something beautiful and thought: "Damn, I want to do this," but also because you read something horrible and thought: "Damn, I can do better than this." Art is subjective. The only person you should be comparing your work to is the only one that matters: your past self. Seriously, that guy/girl couldn't spin a metaphor to save his/her life. You're a way better writer than he/she was…and you always will be.   

6) Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: If you're one of me, you may be tempted to focus on your own work to the exclusion of everything else. Don't just read fiction, buy it. Publishing is a zero-sum game, there are only a certain number of markets with a certain number of publications, but this number can grow, making more room for your work. If you're published, don't just promote yourself, toss everything into the mix. If you read a good story or novel, get the word out, loan it to your friends and family. At the very least you feel good about sharing something you love, and maybe, just maybe you'll make a fan for life.


    As John Scalzi puts it: "The hardest part of writing is getting your butt in the chair." It isn't always going to be easy, in fact, it's going to most likely be very hard…forever. These are the things that work for me, but I'm always looking for more insights. I'd very much like to hear what you do when plots slip through your fingers and rejections choke your hopes like a gutter full of wet leaves. Remember, you're not in this alone.

If you're one of me, I'm also one of you.