Publication: The Sgovari Stratagem in Intersteallar Fiction

August 1, 2013


Interstellar Fiction is a semi-pro online magazine edited by Adam Crouse which launched in August of 2012. The inaugural issue included my story “A Better Tomorrow,” and I’m happy to return to the virtual pages of IF with another tale for its one year anniversary issue.

“The Sgovari Stratagem” is a sequel to “The Dragon Ships of Tycho.” Both are stories about a team of human diplomats whose job it is to secure alliances with various alien species to help humans prevail in a galaxy-wide war. The complication? Pretty much the entire universe already hates our guts.

You can pick up a copy of “The Dragon Ships of Tycho” for your favorite e-reader or buy the Galactic Creatures anthology it originally appeared in.

The Sgovari Stratagem” is available to be read for free on the Interstellar Fiction web site.


The COFFEE Anthology Launches, Seeks Submissions & Funding

June 23, 2013


UFO Publishing launches COFFEE: Caffeinated Tales of the Fantastic.

We’re seeking to collect 40-50,000 words of fiction where coffee or tea is an integral part of the plot in some way. For the moment we’re considering reprint stories, but will be able to purchase some original fiction if the anthology is fully funded via Kickstarter.

The Kickstarter campaign launched tonight to help fund this anthology. We’re offering great rewards such as copies of the three released and upcoming UFO Publishing titles (UFO, UFO2, and COFFEE), posters of Maggie McFee’s “Boom” artwork (pictured below), and other cool items.

Please help us by spreading the word of this campaign via social media, and pre-ordering copies for yourself and all the coffee addicts in your life!



"Boom" by M. McFee. Get a poster as one of the Kickstarter backer rewards!

“Boom” by M. McFee. Get a poster as one of the Kickstarter backer rewards!


UFO2 Table of Contents

June 19, 2013

The following stories will appear in Unidentified Funny Objects 2, tentatively scheduled for a September release:

Mike Resnick – On Safari
Robert Silverberg – Hannibal’s Elephants
Ken Liu – The MSG Golem
Jim Hines – Stranger vs. the Malevolent Malignancy
Matt Mikalatos – A Stiff Bargain
Fran Wilde – How to Feed Your Pyrokinetic Toddler
James Beamon – Class Action Orc
Jody Lynn Nye – Insider Information
Esther Friesner – Service Charge
Tim Pratt – The Retgun
Josh Vogt – The Girl with a Dagon Tattoo
Konstantine Paradias – How You Ruined Everything
Desmond Warzel – One Thing Leads to Your Mother
MCA Hogarth – Improved Cubicle Door
Wade Albert White – The Wiggy Turpin Affair
Michelle Ann King – Congratulations on Your Apotheosis
JW Alden – Item Not As Described
K.G. Jewell – The Haunted Blender
Heather Lindsley – The Diplomat’s Holiday

There are 19 stories total (compared to 29 in UFO1) but most of them are longer, with only a few very short (flash) pieces included this time. The two books are roughly the same length.

Arnie Swekel is currently working on the cover. I hope to have a sketch to share in a few weeks.

But wait, there’s more! Nine of the stories in UFO2 will feature unique illustrations by Barry Munden (and he will draw a tenth piece to use as a header for all the stories). Here’s a preview sample, the illustration for Ken Liu’s “The MSG Golem:”


COFFEE Anthology Submission Guidelines

June 17, 2013



I’m moving forward with the COFFEE anthology  (See the cool preliminary cover above, designed by Emerson Matsuuchi).

Each story must somehow involve coffee as a major plot element. It’s not enough if an unrelated story is set in a coffee shop. I will also consider a few TEA stories as well. These stories must feature an element of the fantastic (fantasy, SF, light horror). No literary fiction please.

For the moment, I will only consider reprints.  If you published a story that you feel might fit the theme, please e-mail it to me at ufopublishing at gmail dot com. Please include information as to where and when it was first published, and confirm that the rights have reverted to you.

Pay: $0.01 per word plus one contributor copy of trade paperback and ebook

Rights:  Non-exclusive English worldwide print and electronic publishing rights.

Length: Up to 4000 words. Flash (500-1000 words) especially welcome.

Policies: Simultaneous and multiple submissions are both OK. Since these are reprints, I may take several months to respond as I won’t be holding the stories hostage and away from being considered elsewhere. I will be reading submissions until the book is filled, but no later than until end of summer. I will post a more detailed time frame soon.

There is some possibility that I’ll solicit 0riginal material for this book in the future. However, at the moment please send reprints only.




Father’s Day Fiction

June 16, 2013


Happy father’s day to all the dads out there!

It occurs to me that I write a fair amount of fiction centered around a father-child relationship. Undoubtedly, being a father myself has much to do with that (that’s my son Josh in the photo above). I selected a few of my favorite father’s day stories which are posted online:

Nuclear Family at Kasma SF – Very short. Caution: this is not a festive story.

Things We Leave Behind – Daily SF – This story is dedicated to my own father and largely inspired by my experiences of emigrating from the former Soviet Union.

The Tinker Bell Problem – Buzzy – A humorous take on the subjects of faith and family.  Family ties aren’t exclusive to humans!

Enjoy, and please share links to your favorite father’s day stories in the comments!



Market Report: Betwixt Magazine

June 2, 2013

Click here for detailed guidelines.

Genres: Speculative fiction

Length: 1000 to 30,0000 (4000-7000 preferred)

Pay rate: $0.02/word up to $150

Rights: First worldwide English-language serial, electronic, and print rights. 3 months exclusivity from the date of publication.

Editor: Joy Crelin

Betwixt is a new magazine, open to all kinds of speculative fiction, which is launching its premier issue this fall.  Ms. Crelin was kind enough to answer additional questions about her publication:


Will Betwixt stories be published for the readers to enjoy on the web for free, or will they be behind a pay wall?

Stories will be free to read online, but ebook and print-on-demand issues will also be available for purchase.

How large do you anticipate each quarterly issue to be? How many stories and/or words?

We’re officially planning to include four stories in each issue, but we may go up to five or six if some of the stories are particularly short.

What niche/role do you hope for Betwixt to fill among the speculative fiction markets? How would you describe an ideal Betwixt submission?

I envision Betwixt as a magazine that publishes a little bit of everything, is always eclectic but never wishy-washy, and introduces readers to genres, styles, and themes they never knew they liked.

The ideal Betwixt submission is well written, thought provoking, and entertaining. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a story, not simply a showcase for a particular character, setting, piece of technology, alien species, system of magic, political ideology, or what have you. Those things are all great, but they don’t constitute a story on their own.

Your guidelines are quite welcoming of various genres. Are there any themes, styles, or tropes that you do *not* want to see, or that are “hard sells” for you?

I’m reluctant to say that I definitely don’t want to see something, because if a writer can take tropes or themes I’m sick of and make them into something fresh and compelling, I want that story! That said, there are a few kinds of stories that are hard sells for me. I’m unlikely to buy horror stories that don’t have any fantastic or otherworldly elements, stories with child protagonists, or stories that rely heavily on flashbacks–unless they’re absolutely killer. Apocalyptic/postapocalyptic, zombie, and fairytale-influenced stories are relatively common, so submissions will need to have something special in order to stand out. I’m also generally not interested in stories that take place within fandom or the publishing industry.
Oh, and I don’t take kindly to stories that are racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise terrible, but that really ought to go without saying.

How about humor? Will you publish lighter, or outright humorous stories? What sort of humor works or doesn’t work for your tastes?

I love humorous stories and would be delighted to publish some in Betwixt. As both an editor and a reader, I don’t have the energy to be serious all the time—it’s exhausting! However, humorous stories will probably be another hard sell, simply because humor is extraordinarily subjective, and I’m picky. Writers interested in submitting to Betwixt should avoid puns and “random” humor, but otherwise, try me!

What prompted your decision not to consider flash fiction (stories under 1000 words) for publication in Betwixt?

Honestly, flash fiction just isn’t my area of expertise.

What is your internal process? Do you have slush readers or are you reading and considering submissions on your own?

I have a first reader who helps me log and sort submissions, but I make all the final decisions and send out rejection and acceptance emails myself.

Why did you decide to launch a new magazine? Do you or the members of your team have any previous previous editorial experience or publishing credits?

I had several reasons for starting Betwixt, some better than others. I suppose the simplest reason is that I love speculative fiction and want to play a more active role in and contribute more to the field.

I’ve been editing in one way or another since 2007. I joined Circlet Press in 2009 and have edited several anthologies of erotic speculative fiction, most recently the forthcoming Wired Hard 5, as well as various single-author works and other odds and ends. At my day job, I edit proprietary nonfiction content for an educational/reference publisher. I also freelance from time to time and previously served as a convention intern for the science fiction and horror magazine New Genre.

The first issue launches in October. What is the deadline to submit for those who hope to have their accepted stories appear in this issue?

That really depends on the submissions I receive. If I get four excellent stories tomorrow, then I’ll accept them for issue 1 and move on to accepting stories for issue 2. If it takes me a while to fill the issue, though, then there will be more time to submit. I’m tentatively planning to close to submissions for the month of September, so I suppose we could consider that a deadline.

UFO2 Update

June 1, 2013


Submissions are now closed for UFO2. We received well over 600 unsolicited submissions in addition to the stories from authors whom I asked directly to contribute to the book.

Most of the round 1 submissions have been read and responded to. All, or almost all will be responded to in the next 48 hours. At that point I’ll take about a week and reconsider all final-round stories, re-read comments and suggestions made by the associate editors, and send out the rest of the acceptances.

Once all the contracts have been signed and the TOC finalized, I will post the final line-up here.


My 2013 BaltiCon Schedule

May 21, 2013


I am going to spend four fun and very busy days at BaltiCon this weekend. My schedule is full of fantastic events, panels, and even an author gala. Here’s where I’ll be:


W-4 Broadening Horizons
Friday, 4pm, Salon C (50 minutes)
Moderator: Joy Ward
Panelists: Alex Shvartsman, Walt Boyes
How can writers reach potential readers outside of their immediate science fiction markets?

Author Gala
Friday, 5pm, Con Suite (2 hours)
Meet and greet with over 20 SFWA authors, including BaltiCon guest of honor Joe Haldeman

LE-4 Editor’s Pet Peeves
Saturday, 9am, Salon C (50 minutes)
Moderator: Michael A.Ventrella
Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Alex Shvartsman, Leona Wisoker, Walt Boyes
A head’s up for writers on what editors don’t like to see or deal with from their authors. Headaches they’ve encountered in publishing.

G-5 Portable/Pocket Games
Saturday, 1pm, Parlor 1041 (50 minutes)
Moderator: Donna Dearborn;
Panelists: Eric Hymowitz, Alex Shvartsman, Krystina Lynch
All about games for entertainment anywhere!

P-11 Saturday, 10pm, Salon B (50 minutes)
Moderator: Alex Shvartsman
Panelists: Christine Norris , Eric V. Hardenbrook
A discussion about new magazine s that have come and gone, new zines that seem to have staying power, and short-lived publishing houses.

W-17 Writing, Selling and Publishing Humorous SF/F Fiction
Sunday, 9am, Salon B (50 minutes)
Moderator: Alex Shvartsman
Panelists: Stephanie Burke, Collin Earl, Phil Giunta, Sarah Pinsker
Panelist discuss how writing humor differs from “straight stuff”, both in the writing process and in the submission/marketing process.

P-10 From Slush to sale
Sunday, 1pm, Salon B (50 minutes)
Moderator: Sarah Pinsker;
Panelists: Scott H. Andrews, Damien Walters Grintalis, Alex Shvartsman, Christine Norris, Hildy Silverman
A detailed discussion on every aspect of the process of creating and publishing a professional and semi-pro magazine.

G-12. You Have Gaming in My Fiction
Sunday, 2:30 PM, Parlor 1041 (1 hour, 20 minutes)
Moderator: Neal Levin;
Panelists: Mike McPhail, Alex Shvartsman, Michael A. Ventrella, Jagi Lamplighter, Jon Sprunk
All about how to write media tie-in fiction for games

BL-2 The Dark Quest Books Mega-Launch
Sunday, 7pm, Frankie & Vinnies
Dark Quest Books launches their Spring 2013 titles with guest editors and authors:
Danielle Ackley-McPhail (“The Eternal Cycle”), Danny Birt, Jack Campbell (“The Lost Fleet series”), Myke Cole, Judi Fleming, Charles E. Gannon, Elektra Hammond, Eric V. Hardenbrook,
C.J. Henderson (“Teddy London”), Mike McPhail) , Bernie Mojzes, Christine Norris, KT Pinto, James Daniel Ross (“Radiation Angels”), Alex Shvartsman, Maria V. Snyder, Jim Stratton, Patrick Thomas (“Murphy’s Lore”, Robert E. Waters, and John C. Wright (“Chronicles of Chaos”), Jeff Young

R-47 Plotters vs Pantsers
Monday, 10am, Parlor 1041 (50 minutes)
Moderator: Michael A. Ventrella
Panelists: Jack Campbell (Hemry), Doc Coleman, Kat Otis, Jennifer Povey, Alex Shvartsman, Leona Wisoker
Do You Plan your Story or Write by the seat of your Pants? Panelists share the quirks and foibles of their working method with
readers. A Round Table discussion.

R-42 Is Science Fiction Giving Up on the Future
Monday, 11am, Salon B (50 minutes)
Moderator: Carl Cipra
Panelists: Michael D’Ambrosio, Darrell Schweitzer, Alex Shvartsmaon, Eric V. Hardenbrook
It seems ironic, in a time of such technical progress, and when we are confirming that the galaxy really does contain billions of planets, but a lot of science fiction seems to turn away from the future, as if, post-Singularity, it will be impossible to describe. Are alternate history and steampunk merely symptoms of a more general evasion of the future?

There are many other exciting panels and events at this excellent convention. You can download the complete listing here.

UFO2 Submissions Update – May 17

May 17, 2013


We read just over 350 submissions to date.  Everyone who submitted prior to 5/12 should have heard from us by now. If you haven’t, please query ASAP.

I accepted seven stories so far, totaling 35,000 words. There are three more invited headliners who haven’t turned in their stories yet (they aren’t late; they have two more weeks) so that’s up to 18,000 more words. That means the competition for the remaining space in the book is going to be very, very tough. We are holding on to nine more stories in the final round of consideration so far, and more are sure to be added to that list. Already had to turn down some truly excellent stories and there’s a long road to travel yet.

Any reasonably good anthology, magazine issue, or contest gets far more quality submissions than they can use. It’s the nature of our field — supply always greatly outpaces demand. So if you got a rejection from us, or from anyplace else, please don’t take it personally. The editors aren’t merely looking for a good story — they’re looking for stories they can fall in love with. And that’s a very tough act to pull off, especially since tastes are highly subjective. Just keep sending it out there, until the story finds the editor who will think it’s perfect.



It Came from the Slush Pile

May 6, 2013

It was only yesterday that I wrote a blog post about the UFO slush pile and had this to say:

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.

Challenge accepted! Less than 24 hours later, this story showed up in the UFO inbox.

Unfortunately I can’t include it in UFO2. A certain level of familiarity with the slush process is necessary to appreciate it. And reading the previous blog post is a must for an even better experience. But I thought it would make a perfect blog post, and also serve as a warning to all those who would submit real zombie/alien/reality TV stories to our slush pile, or any other. So I offered to buy the non-exclusive rights to post the story on this blog.

This is the author’s first story sale, and I’m thrilled to be a part of that.

Without further ado, presenting



By Rachel Winchester

“Thank you for seeing me on such short notice, Dr. Rostrum.  It’s hard to find a psychiatrist who’s taking on new patie… — of course, I can call you Bob. No problem.

“But, this gets a little personal, and if I could call you Doc– right, yes, I guess you’re used to hearing personal stuff. OK. Bob it is.

“Right, 50 minutes. So…it all began when I was reading submissions for a short story anthology. Science fiction stuff, supposed to be funny. You wouldn’t think there would be that many people willing to put in that kind of work for a shot at $100 or so, but there were thousands of submissions.

“I drank coffee and read manuscripts and drank more coffee and read more manuscripts until my eyelids felt like thresher blades and my eyeballs throbbed with each of their harvesting passes. I divided the stories into piles: FUNNY and NOT FUNNY. Then, to my horror, I realized I had to add another pile.


“I mean, I like some zombie movies, but I don’t get why they’re a thing, you know? They’ve got to be a symbol for something. Maybe because no one owns zombies. I mean, Lucas, or I guess Disney, isn’t going to sue anyone over zombies.

“And the submissions kept coming. Story after unfunny story about zombies, Bob. ‘I Was Married to a Zombie’, ‘Road Trip with a Zombie’, ‘We Can Zombie It For You Wholesale’, and ‘Do Zombies Dream of Electric Brains.’ And the worst part, Bob?  The absolute. Worst. Part? The zombie stories with bonus-gratuitous-rape.

“It was a veritable Penthouse Forum for Zombies.

“But I’d promised the editor I’d read them all. I didn’t even consider stopping.

“Then I got one in Comic Sans.

“What? No, I’m okay, I’m good…it’s just that…thinking about that font…I can see it…and…

“I’m good, seriously. Right here. Right here on the couch, Bob. See? Breathing normally. But thank you for the water. I think I’m ready to continue.

“Yes, there’s more. I know, you’d think it couldn’t get any worse than Com…that font. But it did. It did.

“Something about seeing a manuscript sent in looking like second-grade teacher’s syllabus jerked me awake, that’s the only way I can explain it. It made me realize how completely irrational it was to be living on coffee and Luna bars, reading slush. It made me realize that I’d been a total bitch to my partner every time she came in to suggest I take a shower or change my clothes. It made me realize that in the background, I’d been vaguely aware she was talking to a camera crew in the other room. About me.

“I know, I know, it sounds like paranoid delusions. But trust me, it wasn’t. It was much worse. You see, I realized then that I was on a reality show.

“Something called True Lives of Starving Writers. They were inter-cutting shots of authors slaving over pirated copies of Scrivener on refurbed laptops, voiceovers about how one guy had to switch to generic beer because he couldn’t afford MGD anymore, not until some magazine accepts his zombie porn story. Then they’d show me just shredding the submissions, and, God, they would even show my relationship coming apart. As you probably know, Bob, my partner had been telling the viewing audience about how she was trapped in this totally loveless marriage.

“I was mortified. I would never…I mean, sometimes I get into my writing, but I never thought I’d cut into our time together, and certainly not for slush.

“Also, and I have to explain this, the inner workings of the slush pile are sacrosanct. I’m doing this to pay my dues too, and learn from the submissions to make me a better writer. I would never go on a reality show and talk about it. And Darla…Darla would never go on one either.

“That’s when I knew something was really wrong. I knew it like I knew the sensation in my a–… my posterior–wasn’t from too much coffee and Luna bars. And I know you’re going to think I’m crazy, but–

“Heh, yeah, I guess you would hear that a lot, Bob. But really, the pain in my…posterior, what I thought was the pain of reading a story with too many zombies and a vampire thrown in for good measure? That pain was actually a probe. An alien anal probe.

“Aliens had kidnapped me, beamed me up, and were making me believe I was on a reality TV show about science fiction writers, and they were doing it because they were on a road trip and they were bored.

“You got that, Bob? I was a goddamn travel game some alien teenagers had picked up during a road trip pit stop on Earth.

“As I realized my plight, a gizmo on the aliens’ space-van dashboard started to beep. It got louder and louder…the aliens started to run around the van, tentacles flailing over their heads.  But I knew that sound. I sat straight up in bed, my alarm clock beeping at top volume. I was in my own bed, and whole thing was a dream!

“But, Bob…waiting for me, on the desk in the corner, were all those unread submissions.  And there, on the floor next to the desk, were three piles of manuscripts:  FUNNY, UNFUNNY…and ZOMBIES.


Rachel Winchester (@RaqWinchester) was born in Roswell, NM, and believes her love for science fiction was inevitable.  She has lived and worked around the world, including in Bucharest, Kuala Lumpur, Sana’a, Athens, Caracas, and Los Angeles. She now works as a government consultant.  This is her first story sale.