Publication: “Gifts of Prometheus” in Nature

February 20, 2019

My flash fiction SF story “Gifts of Prometheus” is live and free to read at Nature. Enjoy!



Publication: The Goddess of Birds and Wind in Gorgon: Stories of Emergence

February 16, 2019

My short story “The Goddess of Birds and Wind” appears in the latest anthology from Pantheon Magazine, edited by Sarah Read. Check it out!



No UFO volume in 2019

February 9, 2019

I will not be editing and publishing Unidentified Funny Objects 8 this year.

There are a number of factors that led to this decision. First and foremost among them are the health setbacks I’d experienced in the latter half of 2018. Things are pretty much back on track now, health-wise, but two surgeries and months of recovery time put a significant dent in my writing and editing schedule, creating a deficit I’m yet to recover from. Rather than to push even harder and overload myself with responsibilities, I’ve looked to reduce the number of projects on my plate, and between crowdfunding, reading submissions, editing, and marketing, UFO is the most time-consuming editing project I engage in every year.

The second contributing factor is my work on Future SF — a quarterly magazine is about as involved and complex an undertaking as one might expect, and I felt it was only fair to give it a proper amount of attention and care, especially over the course of the early issues, while I establish the ‘zine and build staff. By this time next year I hope to have content inventory levels that will allow me to focus on UFO submissions exclusively for six weeks; right now I’m still buying stories for issues 2 and 3 with pretty much nothing “banked” in my coffers yet.

Finally, there are other projects across writing, translation, and editing fields. There are some exciting things happening on the latter two fronts and I hope to be able to share something about that relatively soon, but my primary focus is on writing; I hope to complete my third novel by summer, while my agent is shopping around the first two.

UFO series is far from canceled. I expect to release UFO6 and UFO7 in audio book format this year. UFO6 is almost done and I’m waiting on my voice narrator partners to finish editing their narration so we can announce and release it. I will also feature some humorous science fiction in Future SF to tide UFO fans over. I’ll be reaching out to series regulars to solicit material for this.

Looking ahead, I hope to resume the series in 2020. I would also consider teaming up with another publisher for future volumes, which would allow me to focus on the creative work of putting the anthology together and not so much on marketing and other business aspects of the project.

Until then, and as always, happy reading.




SFWA Raises Pro Rate for Short Fiction to Eight Cents per Word

January 17, 2019

Science Fiction Writers of America just announced that they’re raising what they consider to be a minimum professional per-word rate from $0.06 to $0.08 per word, as of September 1st, 2019. The full announcement can be read here. I was excited about this change, just like I was excited to see them raise the rate from $0.05 to $0.06 back in 2014. The way I see it, SFWA is an advocacy group for writers and part of its mandate is to encourage publishers to pay a fair rate for genre fiction. But not everyone was as excited as I am. A writers forum I frequent on Facebook was filled with anguished comments about how SFWA keeps moving the goal post, and how this will only make it more difficult for the new writers to qualify for membership. So are they right? Am I now an out-of-touch elite, resting on my qualification laurels? I don’t think so. Let’s examine the arguments I’ve encountered against this change and then look at the list of affected markets.

  • Will this change will make it too difficult for new writers to qualify for SFWA membership?

Compared to 2018? Maybe. Historically? Definitely not. Thanks to the internet and print-on-demand technologies making publishing cheaper, there are more magazines and anthologies paying $0.08+ today than there were magazines paying $0.03 per word back in 2003. (SFWA raised the qualification rate from $0.03 to $0.05 in 2004.) SFWA has also made it easier to qualify for membership via other means in recent years, welcoming self-published authors and game writers.

  • Can magazines can’t afford to pay the princely sum of $0.08 per word, or will they just ignore the SFWA guidelines going forward?

Inflation is a thing. Everything goes up over time, and we can’t expect writers’ wages to remain the same. Back in the pulp days writers were paid at $0.01 per word, but guess what? $0.01 in 1954 money is an equivalent of $0.08 today. It’s true that some venues will ignore the SFWA guidelines, but that was already true at $0.06/word. Interzone still pays a British penny (roughly $0.015 per word) today. But you hardly ever see venues offer $0.05/word now because the goalpost is so close. I think we will see many, though not all, pro paying venues adjust upward a little.

Here’s the list of qualifying short fiction venues that appears on the SFWA qualification page. Keep in mind that ANY market not listed here that pays the minimum rate will also help qualify an applicant for SFWA, so this is not an exhaustive list. Also for the purpose of this list I’m disregarding venues that are defunct or at least have not sought submissions in the past 1+ year.

Venues that already pay $0.08+, for at least some of the fiction they acquire:

Daily Science Fiction
Diabolical Plots
Flash Fiction Online (* flat rate per story; some will fall under $0.08/word under current rates)
Future Affairs Administration
Strange Horizons
Unidentified Funny Objects anthologies

Venues currently paying $0.06 or $0.07 per word

Arc Manor/Galaxy’s Edge Magazine
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Dreaming Robot Press
Cast of Wonders
Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores
Escape Pod
Flame Tree Publishing
Grantville Gazette
MZB (Sword & Sorceress)
OSC’s Intergalactic Medicine Show
Zombies Need Brains anthologies

Not specified in guidelines

Grim Oak Press
Star Citizen Jump Point Magazine

That’s 20 markets currently paying $0.08+ and 16 markets at $0.06-$0.07, with three more I couldn’t find pay rate data for. It will be interesting to see if and how the pay rate landscape changes based on SFWA’s announcement.


January 2019 Story Sales

January 14, 2019

Although I haven’t been focusing on short fiction in recent months, 2019 is already off to a great start with two pro sales this week.

My translation of “The Slave” by Andrej Kokoulin will be published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. “The Slave” won the FantLab contest in Russia, where I was one of the judges. Some readers and participants took issue with the relatively minor amount of fantastical elements in this story (it’s a really good and disturbing mix of magical realism and psychological horror), but I insisted the story fell firmly within the bounds of genre, and the other judges agreed. I suppose nothing vindicates our decision like the English translation of it selling to the magazine whose title is literally F&SF.

My second sale is a science fiction flash story “Gifts of Prometheus” — a throwback to Golden Age sci-fi which also manages to critique golden age SF tropes in a roundabout way — which will appear in Nature Futures. This will be my 12th story published in this excellent magazine.

My short fiction sales are bound to slow down in coming months. I’m not writing a lot of short stories, and I don’t currently owe stories to any invitation anthologies — a position I find myself in for the first time in a few years. So if you’re editing a pro paying anthology, this may be a good time to reach out. 🙂 I continue to focus on editing Future SF and on my novels in the meantime.



Publication: “The Coffee Corps” in Release the Virgins anthology

January 4, 2019

I’m kicking off 2019 right with publication of what might be the most Shvartsman story ever. It has Lovecraftian humor, coffee, tech geekery, secret history, Dunkin’ Donuts fan fiction, and loads of snark. If you enjoy my humor stories, I highly recommend you don’t miss this one. It’s part of the Release the Virgins anthology, alongside fiction by David Gerrold, Allen Steele, Sharon Lee, Jody Lynn Nye, and many other excellent authors. (And no, it’s not as racy as the book title might suggest.)

Although this story introduces the Coffee Corps universe in which I’ve now written several stories, it is actually the second Coffee Corps story to be published and the third to be sold. So if you like it, be sure to also read:

“The Hunt for the Vigilant” in Oceans anthology, out now

“The Gilga-Mess” in Intergalactic Medicine Show, forthcoming this Spring.






Reviewing Collections and Anthologies – Guest Post by Andrea Johnson

December 27, 2018

Hi!  My name is Andrea Johnson, and I’ve been running the book review site Little Red Reviewer since 2010. I review books, interview authors, talk about books I’m excited about, and more!  My work has never existed outside of a computer screen.  Until now!  In January, I’ll be kickstarting The Best of Little Red Reviewer,  a print book of my best book reviews – science fiction, fantasy, weird fiction, novels, short stories, everything in between.  Can a book review blog exist outside of the internet?  Let’s find out!  In the meantime, you can learn more here.

Reviewing a novel is fairly straight forward right?  It’s pretty easy to talk about the characters, and the plot, and what your favorite scene was, and if you were satisfied with the ending, and if you thought it was a thrilling page turner, etc. Not too hard, right?

Ok, but how do you review an anthology? The art of the limitation of short stories is that there might not be a ton of characterization, there might not be a ton of world building, and what if the entire story is only one scene or one conversation? And even scarier, if you’re planning to review an anthology that contains twelve stories, does that mean you need to write twelve reviews?

The good news is that no, you do not have to write a review for every single story in the collection (but you can if you want to!). While the “rules” for reviewing an anthology or single author short story collection might be different, that doesn’t mean writing the review will be any harder.

I used to be afraid of anthologies. I felt like I just didn’t get it. I’d get themed anthologies out of the library, read a few stories, get bored, and never go back to it. I thought maybe anthologies just weren’t for me? Maybe I was just reading ones that didn’t do it for me. I was also under the impression that there was some requirement to read the stories in order. Yes, yes, I know editors spend hours (Days? Weeks?) trying to determine the best order for the Table of Contents.  The thing that got me over my mental mind block around anthologies? Skipping around the Table of Contents. Once I realized I could read my favorite authors first, or read the shortest stories first, or read the one with the silly title first, a whole new world of reading enjoyment opened up to me!

When I’m reading an anthology for review, I do my best to take notes on each story while reading. Once I’m done reading, it’s pretty easy to look at my handwritten notes page and see which stories I have a lot to say about. And it isn’t always my favorites that I want to talk about – sometimes it is a story that made me angry, or made me curious, or took a boring subject matter and make it interesting, or it was a story that I just plain didn’t understand. If you’re going to review an anthology, don’t just talk about your favorite stories. Talk about the ones you liked, the ones that made you think, the ones that make you google the author to learn more about them.  Use an anthology to grow your curiosity.

Many of today’s best authors write primarily short stories. If you’re only reading novels you might never find these folks. A few who come to mind right away include Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Ted Chiang, C.S.E. Cooney, Ken Liu, and Carlos Hernandez.

On the flip side, some of your favorite novel writing authors also write short fiction, much of which you’ll never find in their novels. I’m talking people like George R. R. Martin, Catherynne Valente, Neal Asher, Peter Watts, and Yoon Ha Lee, just to name a few.

Not sure where to start with anthologies or short story collections?  Here are my favorites:

Bone Swans by C.S.E. Cooney

Beyond the Rift by Peter Watts

The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem

The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santaria by Carlos Hernandez

The Melancholy of Mechagirl by Catherynne Valente

Clockwork Phoenix Volume 5 edited by Mike Allen

If you’ve not had good luck with anthologies or short stories, you’re not alone. Sometimes it takes a while to find anthology editors that speak your language. And that’s ok!

Happy reading!

If you like what you read in this blog post, check out my blog, Little Red Reviewer and my twitter feed, where I’m @redhead5318.