Posts Tagged Rustler

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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The year that wasn’t, the year that will be

Over on Unleaded, I took a look ahead at 2011 today.  So here I’m going to take a look back on 2010.

I had two main goals this past year.  I wanted to get Capsule finished by Balticon, and I wanted to start the search for literary representation.  Unfortunately as many who know me are aware, this ended up being the year that I battled a few months of health issues in the form of a rather drawn out case of GERD.  It created a lot of insomnia, which left me tired, and which in the end left me not writing.  By the time I started feeling better my momentum on Capsule was dead in the water, and I’m still trying to get it back now, almost exactly a year after the condition started.

So yeah.  Cry cry cry woe is me.  I recognize that I failed to meet a lot of my 2010 goals, and I can blame that on anything I want and look back in despair, or I can look ahead to 2011 and what I hope to accomplish.  For this purpose, I have outlined a set of four goals that I hope aren’t too lofty, but are still enough of a stretch that I have to work at achieving them.

1)  Finish the first draft of Capsule.  I could give myself any number of deadlines for this.  Balticon, Capclave, Ravencon, but really I’ll be happy if by this time next year I’ve started the editing process.  I don’t want to rush it, but I don’t want the momentum to carry me into the doldrums any further than it already has.

2)  Have at least three short stories out for consideration at all times.  I currently have four that I really consider submission ready: Sleep, Rustler, Div 0, and Queen of Belmeth.  With the Queen getting passed over for the Commonplace Book of Lovecraft, that mean I currently have just two stories out.  This goal includes having more stories that I feel could be submitted as well as keeping a constant eye on target markets for those stories.  I can’t sell any story that I don’t actively try to sell, and I need to be a hell of a lot better about that than I currently am.

3)  Find at least six anthologies that I would have to write a story for scratch for, and do so.  I’m going to count Primogeniture as the first of those six, because it’s my goal, damn it, and I can do what I want with it.  There are several that have already come and gone that I meant to work up stories for.  Historical Lovecraft’s deadline is just 5 days away, too soon for me to finish anything at this point, and that upsets me.  Plus this will help my goal #2.

4)  Start my Fortnight Caps project.  This will be a every-other-week posting of a flash piece, either one that I’ve already written or one that I’m freshly inspired to write, here on the blog.  It’s an effort to increase eyeballs and maybe, just maybe, my profile as a writer.  Even if just a tiny bit.

An ancillary goal that needs to be included with both #2 and #3 is to better track where my short stories are and have been.  I realized the other day I couldn’t remember the name of the audio anthology I’d sent Sleep off to, for example.  That’s something I really should be able to look up.  Also, I’m going to stop using my Hotmail to send submissions and switch over to my @DLThurston.com email addresses.

So best of luck to everyone with the new year, with your writing if you choose to write, or any other venture you choose to undertake.

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