My Top 5 2013 Blog Posts

December 31, 2013

I’ve been moderately good about updating the blog this year — lots of publication and story sale news, but also an occasional interesting post about other things. As the year winds down, I went over my blog posts of 2013 and picked out my favorites. That is, the five favorite entries that I wrote, not the 5 best I read on the Internet


#5: It Came from the Slush Pile

I was posting regular slush updates during the UFO2 reading period, and at some point came up with the following bit of wisdom:  “This doesn’t mean that you can’t sell us a zombie reality TV story about a road trip in space. But it won’t be easy.” I suppose I shouldn’t have been at all surprised to find a flash story that used all those tropes in my inbox shortly thereafter! I couldn’t include it in UFO2, but I offered the author, Rachel Winchester, an opportunity to publish it on my blog (and paid her for it. You all know how I feel about 4-the-luv markets by now).

#4: Getting Short Fiction Published

I’m kind of cheating here. This was linked from my blog, but actually posted at SF Signal. They interviewed me about all sorts of submission-related things, including what kind of bribes I accept (for the record: coffee, chocolate, and flattery.) The interview came out really well and is easily one of my favorite blog posts this year. I would also like to give a shout-out to SF Signal, who don’t only provide an amazing service to the SF/F community, but have been incredibly generous and helpful to me as a publisher, in promoting UFO books.

#3: Hijacking the Space Marines

There was an outcry earlier this year about Games Workshop bullying indie author M.C.A. Hogarth over the use of the term “space marine.” They claimed ownership of it as part of their miniatures game, despite the term enjoying a healthy and consistent usage in a variety of science fiction stories that predate their company. Fortunately mine was but one voice of many, M.C.A.’s books were restored on Amazon, and GW hasn’t taken any action against her, to my knowledge.

#2: How I Spent My WorldCon: An Illustrated Report

A lengthy post about what it was like to attend my very first WorldCon, and to go on stage to pick up Ken Liu’s Hugo. With pictures!

#1: 5 Practical Tips on Writing Humor

Once again, I leave my own blog to find my favorite article of 2013. I wrote this as a guest-post for the Dark Cargo blog, and was very pleased with the result. There are precious few articles that deal with humor writing in any sort of practical way (since it is even more difficult to try and teach someone to be funny than it is to teach someone to be a good writer), but I hope that my advice will be of some use to those interested in writing humorous SF/F in particular.

New Publication: In the Wake of the Storm

October 22, 2013

This October is flying by faster than any month has a right to.  I’ve been incredibly swamped with a variety of projects, but wanted to pop in and post a quick update.

New Publications:

“In the Wake of the Storm” is live today at

This is a modern fantasy story about the aftermath of super-storm Sandy in NYC.  The opening scene was inspired by my own experience helping my stepfather deal with the flood damage while trying to get around in the borough deprived of electricity and gasoline.  This is the actual photo I took inside of his house:

Water surge flooded most basements or even ground floors in Rockaway. The high-water line in this photo is at nearly six feet.

Water surge flooded most basements or even ground floors in Rockaway. The high-water line in this photo is at nearly six feet.

I loved playing with the voice and tone of this story, but the best part was that publishers at Buzzy were kind enough to schedule it to go live just before the one year anniversary of Sandy! I hope it will be well-received.

#SFWApro“A Man in an Angel Costume” is live at Horror d’oeuvres.

This one is behind a pay wall but may be well worth for horror fans, as they provide lots of content including a weekly flash story. I read a handful and enjoyed most of them, even though I am not typically a horror reader.

“A Man in an Angel Costume” is one of my oldest stories that haven’t sold previously. But I never gave up on it — I love the prose poetry opening that transitions into a more traditional narrative as the story develops. Some editors really hated this format while for others it came very close, but I never gave up and kept submitting it, until the story found a right home.

New Sales

If I had to choose one signature story to represent my writing, I would definitely go with “Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma,” a humor fantasy piece about a magic pawn shop which was published at InterGalactic Medicine Show earlier this year. I’m extraordinarily pleased that IGMS also picked up its sequel, “High-Tech Fairies and the Pandora Perplexity.” It will appear in an upcoming issue, though I don’t have the exact time frame yet.

There are also a handful of reprint sales (two instances of markets taking three reprint stories each!) One is a printed magazine and another a mobile platform. I will be able to talk more about both sometime in the near future, but I’m glad to find more ways to share my stories with readers.


I had a wonderful time at CapClave and hope to return next year. My next convention will be PhilCon in November and I will post my panel schedule once I have it.

Unidentified Funny Objects 2

The book launched on October 7 and the sales are solid. In fact, we’ve sold more copies of UFO2 so far than we did copies of UFO1 in its first month! So definitely moving in the right direction.


I’m woefully behind on this project, but the good news is that the stories have been copy-edited and should go out to book designers for e-book and physical layout later this week. It’ll be really tough to meet the November goal, but I still expect to have them out to all Kickstarter backers before Christmas.

Dark Expanse

This project is chugging along on schedule, and the anthology should release in the first quarter of 2014.

Unidentified Funny Objects 3

I am already laying some groundwork for the third volume of the series, such as inviting headliners, lining up a cover artist, etc. So far I have two stories in already from two Big Name authors. But I won’t tell you more until I’m ready to make an official announcement, because I am mean and I like to tease people.


And that’s all the updates I have for now. Back to the pixel mines for me!

Hugo Noms and Adventures in Self Publishing

March 30, 2013

The Hugo Awards nominations were announced earlier today, and there is some great reading material on that list (and a number of things I haven’t yet read as well). The complete list of nominated works and publications is posted here.

I was especially pleased to see John Scazi’s “Redshirts” on the list, which I enjoyed and which was on my Nebula ballot but did not make the final cut there. I was disappointed not to see Ken Liu’s “The Waves” which remains the best thing I’ve read in 2012, but Ken is on the ballot with the excellent “Mono No Aware,” one of only three short stories to make the ballot this year.

And, of course, I’m disappointed not to have made the Campbell ballot. I never felt like I had a great shot, but a number of fellow writers and editors told me that I was on their ballots, and so I allowed myself to hope, at least a little. And even though I didn’t make it, those nominations mean a great deal to me, and I thank those of you who made room for me on your ballots from the bottom of my heart.

The Dragon Ships of Tycho

At the beginning of the month I made my first foray into the world of self-publishing.  I chose 3 stories that are sufficiently similar in length, style and content, and made each of them available on the Kindle for $0.99 each. At the end of each story there are plugs and pictures of the cover for the other two. I figured that the readers who bought one and liked it, would then snap up the other two. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of sales, but figured that the numbers — good or bad — would be similar across the three stories. Boy, was I wrong.

Here are the actual sales of the three stories, between March 5 and March 30, according to Amazon:

A Better Tomorrow – 1 sale

Price of Allegiance – 3 sales

The Dragon Ships of Tycho – 36 sales (35 in the US and 1 in France)

I dearly wish I knew what set “Dragon Ships” apart from the other two stories, so I could figure out a way to replicate its success. Is it a more evocative name? A more engaging description of the story? Something else entirely? Or just blind luck?

My next step is to try other venues. Last night I uploaded the stories to B&N, Kobo, and Smashwords. My experience with UFO suggests that the sales in those venues are tiny compared to Amazon. but I’m very curious to see if “Dragon Ships” will continue to outperform the other two stories across platforms.