Posts Tagged Anthologies

Some announcements

I was working on today’s post in my head starting about 8:15pm last night, halfway through a fantastic Simpsons episode (a phrase I never again expected to apply to a new episode).  However, the episode doesn’t go live on Hulu until a week from today and I wanted to link to it, so that will have to wait.  Needless to say, if you’re a writer and Tivoed it out of curiosity to see Gaiman…it will not disappoint.

So instead I thought I’d make a couple of announcements that I’ve been holding off on, but feel this is the right time for them.

DL Cruise 2012.  It’s become the thing to do the last few years, offering a cruise special for friends and fans.  I was considering offering one in 2012, with nightly flash fiction marathons and plenty of absinthe at the bars.  Then I realized two important things.  First is that I dislike cruises and what I saw of the cruise industry in general from the one I was on.  Second is that I likely lack the cache to even sell out a stateroom.  Therefore there will not be a DL Cruise is 2012.  Really, I probably shouldn’t have even brought it up.

Anthology.  I’d also like to announce that I will not be doing an anthology.  Oh sure, the thought has crossed my mind, as I’m sure it crosses the minds of most writers.  I know this first hand because I have three writers I follow on Twitter who announced anthologies within days of each other.  However I can’t read stories nearly fast enough to keep up with a slush pile, I can’t edit well enough to send stories back, and I’m not confrontational enough to reject writers who have put their babies into my hands.  It would have been an anthology of science fiction set on Venus, but it won’t, because there isn’t going to be one.

Huh.  This announcement thing isn’t quite going like I’d intended.

Nickajack.  Started, and it feels so good to be back into long form fiction again.  It’s a different process than I’ve done in the past, as this work will be a collaboration between myself and my wife.  We’ve worked together on a few simple spec scripts before, but never on anything quite so long and detailed as a novel.  The first chapter is drafted and in her hands, which reminds me of one thing: I hate the part of collaboration where I’m done with what I can do and have passed it off.  There’s this weird switch in my head that starts coming up with all sorts of new ideas just as soon as I’ve promised not to put anything new into a project.  But that’s good.  I’m taking notes on all of them, and Chapter Two should be a hell of a lot of fun to write.

One other bit of unrelated.  The favorite bit of tech that I created in my very first crack at noveling was a special purpose analytical engine called The Barkeep.  It was programmed by punch cards using codes to state a type of liquor and a quantity.  It wouldn’t always get the drink right, especially as the bottles had to be reloaded by hand, but was only meant to be a flight of fancy from the bar owner.  So I was delighted when I saw this today:

The video is a little dark, but it’s a simple bartending system run by an Android phone and using a scale it can zeroize to mix pre-programmed drinks.  It lacks a lot of the panache of the Barkeep, but it still made me happy to see.  And makes me wonder if there might be room for the Barkeep in either Nickajack or one of its hopeful followups.

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Anthologius Interruptus

Before anyone freaks out, this isn’t about either of the anthologies I’m currently in line for, nor any anthology I currently have a submission off to.  Rather it’s about my first experience with anthology publication, one that rather surprised me.  And one that’s come to mind now that I’ve executed my second ever publishing contract.

This was several years ago, right after my now wife and I moved into our first apartment together.  I know because I was still using the desktop that has now been doubly replaced.  I crafted a short story during a writing exercise called Sleep, an odd little story told entirely through dialogue about someone struggling with insomnia.  It was an oddly quick write for me, the whole thing really just gelled in my head when I got a prompt card that said “insomnia.”  I submitted it to CVS to beta read, and it came back largely clean.

Then someone pointed out an anthology called Until Someone Loses and Eye, looking for dark humor.  It fit, so I sent it off.  Right as I was about to give up on hearing back, I got the word.  The story was accepted.  First short story ever submitted, first short story ever accepted.  I didn’t really know what I was doing at the time.  I saw a bunch of the writers actually had websites, I didn’t.  Heck, I didn’t even know how to get it published under a pseudonym at the time, if it went to print the byline would have been “David Thurston.”  I got a contract in the mail, filled it out and sent it back the same day, I was just that damned excited about the whole thing.  The next step was to be something called edits, but then the unexpected happened.

I never heard back.

I’m not sure exactly what happened to the anthology.  The website for both it and the publisher eventually vanished.  I don’t even remember the name of the publisher, and I’m only about 80% sure I’ve got the anthology name correct (I think even they altered the wording slightly in different places).  The contract specified that after a year the rights would revert back to me, which happened without any real to do.

See, this is something that never occurred to me.  I never realized that an anthology might just evaporate, never come to be.  They were supposed to be these magically guaranteed things, you got accepted, and then a few months to a year later your story would be in print.  It was an odd lesson to learn as a young writer as it’s a lesson I never thought needed learning.

After that I stopped sending short stories out for the longest time.  This wasn’t due to the anthology cancellation being a bad experience, it’s just that I didn’t see myself as a short story writer then, wasn’t working on any, and thus didn’t have any to send out.  I only really had one story older than Sleep, and that’s actually the one that I just signed a contract for, though after many revisions.

I wonder if this will be less of a problem going forward in the digital world, more anthologies are being planned as ebooks with only secondary print publication.  Strikes me that there’s less to go wrong, less to get in the way of publication, but that’s only me looking from the outside of the process.  But it does happen, and often enough that other writers I talked to about the experience weren’t surprised to hear the story.  But I’m telling it again anyway, just because I haven’t in so long, and because perhaps someone out there will read this who operated under the same misconceptions I did years ago.

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State of the Writer: February 2011

People tend to like to really look at themselves at the beginning of every year, making resolutions and the like.  As part of pushing myself to be in more direct touch with my writing, I’m going to start these state of the writer posts every month.  I make them public largely just to make myself do them.  You hear me, five people that Google Analytics says visited my site yesterday, I need to be kept honest.

Novels in Progress:

  • Capsule.
  • End of the Line.

Short Stories in Progress:

  • Back Half.  For the Primogeniture anthology.  Rough draft completed.  Due date April 7th.
  • The Luchador.  For Bad-Ass Faeries 4.  Proposal accepted, and rough draft in progress.  Due date June 2011.

Short Stories Sold:

  • The Rustler.  Woot.

Short Stories Out:

  • Sleep

Short Stories Doing Nothing.  Bad Writer.

  • !Div0
  • Queen of Belmeth

I’ve been falling down on my goal of keeping a certain number of stories circulating at any one time.  In part this is because I lucked out and sold one of my main circulators, but also in part because I’ve been falling down on Duotroping.  On the other hand, my goal of 6 stories written for specific anthologies is doing well, as I’ve got two in progress, even if I’m starting to back off on the notion of sending one to its intended destination.  I’ve been frustrated about the way Primogeniture keeps adding details to the ship, which is really reinforcing my initial fear that submitters had to somehow correctly guess how the editors always planned the ship to operate.  However, it’s still a fun generation ship story that I might clean up and send to anthologies that don’t have nearly so many rules about how a generation ship should work.  I’ll probably give one more try, but if the goalposts move again and make it even harder to tell my story on their ship, then I’ll have to go on my own.

I haven’t forgotten Capsule.  I’ve actually been doing a lot of mental outlining that needs to turn into physical outlining to get me from where I am to where I know this act ends.  There’s a few key scenes, I just need to make sure there’s no more.

People who’ve known my writing for awhile will notice an old favorite on my Novels In Progress list: End of the Line.  I feel like something needs to happen fast with it, since the whole conceit of the story is based around the five lines of what will soon be a six-line DC Metro system.  I’ve had multiple suggestions made, from ignoring the sixth line to inventing a sixth horseman of the apocalypse (I feel like adding a fifth is about the most I can do to stretch that particular concept), to setting the novel in a given pre-Silver Line year.  None of them strikes me as all that fulfilling of an option, with the third the most appealing of an unappealing lot.  So I think instead I’m going to push to get something done with it, even if it ends up on Smashwords (my emergency fallback point to be sure).

I’ve been happy with the first two installments of the Fortnightcap project.  It’s going to keep going for now.

In all, I’m satisfied but not thrilled.  I’m certainly ramping back up from my lost 2010.  I’d probably be doing better if Altair and Ezio didn’t need nearly so much help assassinating people.

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