Publication: True Love at Daily Science Fiction

June 14, 2013

dsf

True Love” is now live at the Daily Science Fiction web site. This is a very short, sweet science fiction story that seems to have been well received by the readers so far. I hope you enjoy it as well!

#SFWApro

 


Conrad Brent e-Books Are Live

June 8, 2013

My signature urban fantasy series combining gritty noir and corny humor are now available as e-books, with an amazing cover (art by Dixon Leavitt and layout by Emerson Matsuuchi). Check them out:

A Shard Glows in Brooklyn

Requiem for a Druid

The books are currently live on Shashwords and will be going live on Amazon and B&N over the next day or two. I will post the other links once they’re live.

If you enjoy my writing, these stories are essential, because they form a prelude to my novel! I will be working on a much longer Conrad Brent story later this summer.

A Shard Glows in Brooklyn at Smashwords

Requiem for a Druid at Smashwords

#SFWApro

 


Publication: “Things We Leave Behind” in Daily Science Fiction

May 10, 2013

dsf

“Things We Leave Behind,” which was e-mailed out by Daily Science Fiction a week ago and premiered tonight on their web site, is the most personal story I’ve ever written.

As I pointed out in the story notes, much of it is autobiographical. Like the protagonist/narrator of this tale, I was born in the Soviet Union and my family ended up immigrating to America, after much debate between my headstrong mother and bookish father.  Just like the protagonist’s father, my dad collected books — which involved buying and selling them on the black market. And although the protective magic created by the books in this story stems from my imagination, every avid reader will agree that there is an undeniable and unique brand of magic in books, no matter what language they’re written in.

Read the story here.

 


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

alien

IT CAME FROM THE SLUSH PILE

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.

“ZOMBIES.

“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.

 END

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.


UFO2 Kickstarter Campaign Ending Soon

May 2, 2013

Just over four hours remaining in the UFO2 Kickstarter campaign. We raised nearly $6500 so far, with $1500 to go! Over 200 people backed this project already, and if you haven’t yet, please do, and help us reach our goal.

I added my short story ebooks as an extra reward for everyone who pledges $25 or more. So, on top of the signed copy of UFO2 (or whatever else you select), you will get $5+ worth of eBooks (everything I release in 2013). This is the preview of the cover for the ebook version of “A Shard Glows in Brooklyn,” which I will release as an e-book along with “Requiem for a Druid” in early June:

shard

I should also add that we received around 100 submissions in the last 36 hours! Associate editors and I are reading furiously and will begin sending out responses in another day or two.

So please pledge to the UFO2 campaign and spread the word of it to others!

 


Five Practical Tips on Writing Humor

April 29, 2013

I wrote a very long, very detailed post on how to incorporate humor into your writing.

You can’t teach someone to be funny. However, most people are already funny; funnier than they believe themselves to be. Some of that can be harnessed and translated onto the page.  Check out this essay, which is posted as a guest-blog post at Dark Cargo.


Two Funny Stories Published in April

April 26, 2013
Artwork by Andres Mossa

Artwork by Andres Mossa

 

I’ve been so busy with UFO2 Kickstarter and submissions that I’ve neglected to announce several of my recent publications (which I will gleefully catch up on in this post!)

Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma at Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show

This is easily the funniest story I’ve had published to date. One day I was loitering on Twitter and saw friend and fellow writer Sylvia Spruck Wrigley complain about the difficulty she was having explaining Cthulhu to grandma.

“That would make a great story title,” I told her. She agreed, and said that she would try to come up with something that fit.

A few weeks passed and the title stuck with me, so I followed up with Sylvia to see if she had made any progress. She said that she hadn’t and I asked if I could use the title myself. She said yes, and I wrote the story within a couple of days — which is super fast, for me. I named the protagonist Sylvia and named her character’s grandmother and gran-grandmother after Sylvia’s own mom and grandma.

This story is about a magic pawn shop. Somebody trades in Cthulhu on pawn (it’s stored in a handy pocket dimension which looks like a snow globe) and all sorts of wackiness ensues. I have since written a sequel where a Pandora’s box finds its way into the magic pawn shop, and plan on writing more stories in this setting.

IGMS is a great home for this story. They published it today in issue #33, and while you have to subscribe to read the entire story, you can read an excerpt and see the awesome original artwork by Andres Mossa in full size by clicking this link.

The Epistolary History at The Journal of Nature

theepistolaryhistory

This is a flash fiction story about a hapless time traveler I wrote in February. In honor of the letter-writing month it’s told entirely through letters. Since this one is available online for free, I will direct you to read it rather than telling you too much more about it.

Amusingly I received e-mail acceptances for these two stories within a *minute* of each other, making that pretty much the best minute of my writing career, ever. It’s fitting that they were published within 24 hours of each other, too.

The Field Trip at Cast of Wonders

The Field Trip is now my most cosmopolitan story yet. It was originally printed in the In Situ anthology from Dagan Books. It has been translated into Polish and was accepted to be translated and published in Romanian. And now it’s been podcast by a UK audio magazine. You can listen to it here. This is the first time this story is available online for free.

Putting it All Together at Toasted Cake

This story is the only one of the four that isn’t humorous. Instead, it’s very lyrical — which is well outside of my normal writing comfort zone. And Tina Connolly was the perfect performer to read it! The story was originally published at Nine Magazine, which is sadly defunct. It’s not currently available anywhere online in print form,  but you can listen and enjoy the podcast.

And that’s my recap for April. Next month I have stories coming out in Daily Science Fiction, One Sentence Stories anthology, and Buzzy Magazine. Stay tuned!

 

 


Market Report: Neverland’s Library

April 25, 2013

This is the first installment of a new irregular column on my blog where I will highlight promising new short fiction markets that are open or soon opening to submissions

Neverland’s Library – A Crowdfunded Fantasy Anthology

Click here for detailed Guidelines

Submission period: March 5 through June 30, 2013

Genres: Fantasy

Length: 2000-8000 words (somewhat flexible)

Pay rate: $0.03/word  + copy

Rights: First rights, 6 month exclusivity after release

Estimated response time: 2 weeks

Editors: Roger Bellini and Rebecca Lovatt

Rebecca and Roger are both fantasy book reviews who blog at the Arched Doorway and A Daily Dose of R&R respectively. Their goal in creating this anthology is twofold – to introduce new readers to the genre of fantasy, and to support a worthy cause. The theme for this book, as defined by the editors, is “the rediscovery of the fantastic.”

In addition to the open submission call, some of the authors invited to contribute to this book include Mark Lawrence, William Meikle, and Marie Brennan. The introduction will be written by Tad Williams.

###

Why rediscovery of the fantastic? What made you select this theme to build the anthology around?

Originally we chose the theme of rediscovery because we wanted people who might have thought they were too old for fantasy. It’s a chance for them to rediscover that passion they once had for imaginative works. We then stuck with it because it worked perfectly with the non-profit organization we wanted to partner with for the project.


What sort of stories are you looking to collect for this project? Are there any genre restrictions? Would you consider urban fantasy, horror, or slipstream, if the story fits the theme of rediscovery?
We’re looking for stories in the fantasy genre, and sub-genres that fit within the perimeters of our theme, which we’ve left very open to individual interpretation. While we’ve opened this to all sub-genres, we’re both more of traditional fantasy fans and that can tend to show up sometimes in our selections. However, occasionally there’s a story that stretches the bounds of what we thought the anthology would entail and we’re compelled to accept it because it’s just “that good!” A great example of this is a Lovecraftian story we recently accepted from a name that you’ll soon be familiar with, Peter Rawlik.

That’s just one example. So in conclusion, we’ll consider horror, urban fantasy, steampunk. We’re very open. If your story is good enough to make us stop and take notice, then we’ll be glad to consider it for inclusion.

What are you seeing too much of in the slush? Have any trends surprised you (in a good way or bad)?

Stories regarding or containing dragons seem to be the most common. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it is nice to see a change every now and then. Many of these stories contain a lot of similar elements and can be repetitive at times.

As for things that have surprised us…  I’d have to say it’s the lack of stories submitted with female leads. I’m not an advocate for the necessity of the genders being balanced perfectly, but I would definitely love to read a few more well written stories featuring characters that female readers can relate with.
Will you be looking to include humorous stories into NL? What sort of humor works/doesn’t work for your editorial tastes?
In this particular anthology, we are not including humorous stories. However, we’ve not ruled out potentially doing a future volume featuring that type of story.

Roger: I personally enjoy a very dry sarcastic humor. I’d liken my tastes to that which you might see in Indie comedy films such as “Little Miss Sunshine” or “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Rebecca: Is this some kind of joke? I find nothing funny. Literally, ever. I am not amused.

What is the First Book charity and how are you hoping to support it via this project?
First Book is a non-profit organization that aims to reduce illiteracy by providing educational texts and books for children of low-income families who may not have access to them otherwise.

We’re hoping to support them through Neverland’s Library in a couple of ways. First, through raising awareness about who they are and what their organization’s goal is. Second, we’ll be splitting all profits from this anthology 50/50 between First Book and the funding of future installments. After having raised enough for the next installments, we’ll then begin donating the entirety of the profits to First Book.
Our goal in this project was never to make a personal profit. We’ll not be personally receiving a dime from this, and that’s the way we want it to be.  Our newest update goes into a bit more detail about First Book.

###

Like so many quality projects this day, Neverland’s Library relies on the generosity of its readers to help get this project off the ground. They recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo. Please back their project by following the link below. You’ll be supporting both a creative writing endeavor and a worthy charity.

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/neverland-s-library-anthology

If you’re launching a new speculative fiction magazine or anthology that is open to submissions and is paying at least semi-pro rates, and wish to be interviewed on this blog, please feel free to contact 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.

 


Publication: A Thousand Cuts in One Buck Horror 6

March 10, 2013

OBH6

After a fairly long hiatus, a new installment of the highly acclaimed horror series has been released, and it includes my short story “A Thousand Cuts.”

Each edition of One Buck Horror featured 4-6 horror stories, and the previous volumes have been very well received by critics and readers alike. OBH6 features a strong lineup:

“Blood Sisters” by Jamie Lackey
“A Thousand Cuts” by Alex Shvartsman
“Per Una Selva Oscura” by Michael Matheson
“Little Man” by W. P. Johnson
“Pretend” by Michael Wehunt
“The Dead Apple Tree” by Leslianne Wilder

You can purchase it here for only $0.99

Those of you familiar with my writing know that I don’t generally write horror. However, I occasionally write science fiction or fantasy so dark that it can easily feel at home in a horror publication. Spidersong and Nuclear Family are both solid examples. A Thousand Cuts is another such story. It’s a tale of a Russian woman who married an American and transplanted to an unfamiliar life in Greenwich, CT.  This story is about relationships, mental health, the yearning for home, and it features a domovoi — a mischievous Russian house spirit. It was written in 2011 and accepted at OBH over a year ago, so I’m thrilled that the readers will finally get a chance to check it out.