“Bring it on”, said the tortoise to the hare.

I’ve been doing fairly well with my writing schedule. I’ve managed to write every day this week, and all but two days for the month. My pace is slower than I’d like, averaging just under 300 words/day but the key is consistency, not speed.

I’ve been mostly writing in bursts at the end of the day. I’m going to try splitting up my sessions throughout the day — morning, lunch, after work, and late evening. I seem to really hit my stride late in the day so I don’t know if this will be productive or not. One way to find out.

My Tesla story, “Man out of Time”, is at 3,500 words now and at the halfway point. I expect to wrap this up somewhere around 7,000 words, which will make it one of my longer story to date. I should have the first draft finished this week.

The Footprints anthology, edited by Jay Lake and Eric T. Reynolds is open for submissions until November 15th, 2008. The guidelines for this are a little restrictive, clarifying that the human race is gone and the explorers that find out footprints on the moon are not our descendants. This should make for an interesting mix of stories when it’s finished. I have a pretty solid plan for the story I want to write for this. I’ll be starting on this one shortly.

New artwork for the Byzarium Flash Fiction contest has been posted. The image is, as usual, beautiful. The deadline is November 16th. I’m noodling on a few ideas for this one. My last submission to the contest turned out to be a bigger idea than could fit in 500 words — one worth exploring in a longer draft down the road. I’ll probably put something together for this month’s image and see what sticks.

Back in the saddle; this leather is suprisingly comfortable.

September was a difficult month. Fall allergies raged out of control. Legal wrangling related to the divorce and financial stress made sleep a challenge. T minus 30 days and counting.

I’ve been thinking about writing but not actually getting any done. September broke my 2008 streak of one new first draft per month. Sitting down with enough energy to concentrate and be creative wasn’t happening. I thought about writing. I read. I highly recommend The Savage Humanists, edited by Fiona Kelleghan.

“The Savage Humanists” (Red Deer Press)

I also, finally, read Watchmen. Yes, I admit it. I have never read it before now. I’ll probably have more to say about it another time. I’ll just acknowledge that I understand why so many people were moved by it. The movie is coming out in 2009 (pending the ongoing legal battle with Fox).

“Watchmen” (Alan Moore)

I am fairly disorganized and I have a difficult time being productive when my work environment is cluttered. Quite the oxymoron, I know. I write my first (and sometimes second) drafts longhand. I was doing it all in one notebook and flipping back and forth was getting both tedious and ultimately brain-melting. I picked up a couple new spiral notebooks and last night, for the first time in weeks, I got words out. Just shy of a thousand words on the Tesla alt. history story that’s been kicking around since last year’s workshop.

Things aren’t looking any easier in the foreseeable future. October is going to be a busy month. I’ll be attempting to blog on a more regular basis as well as catch up on my writing goals for the year. Final preparation for D-Day, which involves refinancing the house, is ongoing. Then, literally as soon as I’m done at court it’s off to New York City for a tradeshow. NaNoWriMo is also in November. I won’t be officially participating; instead I’ll be attempting to write 50,000 words worth of short story.

Contests and Anthologies

The Weird Tales Spam contest is now closed to submissions. They received 150 submissions, and the winners will be announced on Saturday at WorldCon. The winners of the Return to Luna contest will also be announced on Saturday at 4PM, also at WorldCon. We aren’t able to make the trip to Denver this year but I’ll be keeping an eye out for both announcements. I have a horse in both races.

This was a busy weekend for announcements. Two new contests and two new anthologies are on the horizon, all of which have peaked my interest. Details are below.

Shroud Magazine is holding a Halloween haiku horror contest. Better hurry, though. The deadline is August 8th.

Byzarium announced their latest Flash Fiction contest. The prompt for the contest is “Rebuilding” by Kiriko Moth. It’s a fabulous piece of art and should provide for some interesting stories.

John Joseph Adams, assistant editor of F&SF and editor of several of the anthologies on my bookshelf, has announced his latest project: Federations.

From Star Trek to Star Wars, from Dune to Foundation, science fiction has a rich history of exploring the idea of vast intergalactic societies, and the challenges facing those living in or trying to manage such societies. The stories in Federations will continue that tradition.

I’m fairly excited about this anthology. I have a few ideas bouncing around my head that may fit the theme. The reading period opens on November 1st and ends January 1st, 2009.

Hadley Rille Books has announced Footprints, an anthology to be edited by Jay Lake and Eric T. Reynolds.

Long after our species and all its works have turned to dust, the moon landing sites will still show evidence of our time here on Earth. Imagine future explorers from among the stars interpreting that. The astronauts’ footprints should last longer than the fossils in the Olduvai Gorge have.

Weird Tales contest

Via Cat Rambo, Weird Tales is having a flash fiction contest.

You’ve seen the latest wave of spam — you know, the faux outrageous news headlines: “Osama trains goats for tactical bombing.” “Laika the Russian space dog returns to Earth.” “Children admit to being little shits: Video.” Isn’t it a shame the headline is all we get? So here at Weird Tales we’re inviting YOU to turn this spam into… um… spam-ade!

Write a story under 500 words inspired by spam. If you need some inspiration, I’ve collected spam from a few friends and collated it here. I’ve filtered out some of the noise, like foreign character sets and some of the duplicates, but be warned that there is still a good deal of mature language.

It’s life, but not as we know it.

Work continues to dominate the majority of my free time. We’re in the market to hire another solid PHP programmer. If you know of any, send them my way.

On the personal front, the legal process continues to unfold. Lots of communication back and forth with the divorce lawyer, working out details on a possible settlement. It would be nice if we reach a fair agreement and get off this roller coaster. We’ll go to trial if we must, even if it takes another six or nine months to get to a fair outcome, but I hope cooler heads and reason will prevail.

Things around the homestead of been mostly quiet of late. We celebrated my 33rd birthday last week. Some nagging allergy-related health issues have slowed me down a lot. On top of the usual sinus issues, I’m fighting inflammations in both ears. After dealing with a daily diet of Allegra D for more than a year, I think it’s time to see a specialist and get to the bottom of things.

Writing is slow but steady. I have several stories under revision and a few others in varied states of completion. I feel good about the writing I’m getting done. I just wish it were getting done faster. It’s been a year since the Jim Gunn workshop and I can see the progress I’ve made since then. Now I need to push through, editing to the best of my ability, and get these stories back out the door.
I’ve had good days and bad days, but time goes on and on and on. It’s easy to get disheartened by the weight of stress and frustration, the slow writing progress and the everyday pangs of life. One foot after the other, with an occasional glance over your shoulder to see where you’ve been. There ain’t no way out but through.

Return to Luna

The Return to Luna contest is officially closed.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to get my story finished in time. I wrote the first draft longhand a few weeks ago. I was in the middle of typing that up when work exploded. Between sixteen hour work days and sleeping in four hour shifts I somehow managed to bang out a semi-decent draft.

Friday night I sat down and started some serious revisions. Saturday night I had something close enough to get some feedback on. Thanks again to Adam, Will, and Carolyn for commenting on short notice. Special thanks to Andrea, who suffered through three or four drafts and patiently listened to me babble about the story for weeks.

The results won’t be in until late summer, but best of luck to everyone who submitted.

2008 PARSEC SF&F Short Story Contest Results

The PARSEC Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Story Contest results are in for 2008, at least unofficially. I received my letter today.

There were 89 valid entries this year, of which twenty-one were read by the screeners and twelve passed along to the final judges. My story The Dwarves of Iron Hammer was one of the twenty-one that ultimately fell short of the final round.

The rejection included some wonderful feedback from the screeners. They had no problem with the writing but the story fell short on plot and story arc, and the ending was a bit weak.

…the shallowness of the plot sank an otherwise acceptable story

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit just how close to the deadline I started my story. Even so, I think I’m on the right track. I think the screener’s comments were right on the mark. The lack of world building and the rush to finish the story for the deadline hurt the story as a whole. I’m going to sit down and see if I can fix the plot issues and take the story from acceptable to something remarkable.

Congratulations to the winners and good luck elsewhere to the rest!

To the Moon

I’m making fine progress on my Return to Luna story. It’s not exactly going the way I intended but I’m not unhappy with the results. I’m around 1,600 words in (guesstimate since my first drafts are hand-written) and I suspect I’ll come in close to the 4,000 word limit, if not a little over. This story is a departure from anything I’ve written before. It feels good to stretch beyond the familiar.

My original idea is still rattling around and bugging me enough that I’ll probably tackle that one next.

Scratching away


It’s been all but impossible to do any writing this past week. The day job has been out of control. I worked close to eighty hours. I did manage to sneak in the research I needed to do for my Return to Luna story.

No plans for the weekend, other than mowing the lawn, watching the hockey playoffs and writing. I should be able to finish most if not all of this first draft.


I have four stories out right now, in limbo ranging from ten to thirty-five days. Three to markets I’ve never submitted to before.

I’m a little concerned about my submission to Andromeda Spaceways (ASIM). I’ve heard nothing but positive things about their submission process. Tracking numbers are sent to authors within a week of receiving the submission and you can track your story through the three round reading process.

After thirty-five days I have not received a tracking number nor a response to my query (sent per their guidelines). I know of at least one other person having the same experience. Their submission tracking page hasn’t been updated in more than a month. The only sign of movement came yesterday, with a reported response on Duotrope after a one month lag. I’m still holding out hope that they are just very behind.