New Stuff

Well, I’ve had two stories come out in the last month or so that I’ve been meaning to make note of here. Funnily enough, the too-do list just kept getting longer instead of shorter. :) I’m blaming the puppies. At just shy of two months old, they’re mobile… all power cords and people toes beware.

The first story is a reprint of A Concert of Flowers appearing in Fantasy Scroll Magazine Issue #2. Concert was the first story I sold and it’s a lot of fun to see it out again. It’s a nice boost to look at how far I’ve come since I sold this one to Daily Science Fiction a bit over three years ago. Go little story, go!

The second is Salt and Sand in Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show Issue #39Salt and Sand is a story for my father. As such, I figured it was entirely too close to home to ever sell. I’m very glad I was wrong. I wrote a longer post for the IGMS blog about the story, where the ideas came from, and how it came together.

Incidentally, this was also my third SFWA qualifying sale. I paid my dues, got my membership packet, and promptly wasted way too much writing time on the forum. I’m now officially official. Or some such.

Baby Writer Checklist: COMPLETE

Now, on with the business of the actual writing career… just as soon as I pull the puppies out from under the sofa.

How I Became a Pilot: A Cautionary Tale

Been thinking a lot today about how I ended up where I am…

When I graduated high school at 18, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had good grades in everything, a few good extra-curriculars, but nothing that I wanted to start a career with. Much to my parents’ chagrin, I decided to take a year off. The plan was to live at home and find a job. That idea lasted all of about three weeks before we (me and my parents) decided it wasn’t going to work out. (I was bored.)

My father’s answer to this was to start bringing home career ideas – the crazier the better – to try to tempt me into college. Every evening, he would return from work with a list. He would read it aloud at dinner and the entire family would have a great chuckle commenting on the likelihood of his choices.

One night, he arrived, not with a list, but with a sheet of air traffic controller jokes that he had gotten from a pilot friend. He announced that this must be the right job because the salary was such that I would be able to keep him comfortable in his old age. We all laughed a lot, but it got me to thinking.

Sitting in a tower all day didn’t sound like much fun, but flying did. I walked downstairs the next morning and told my family that I wanted to be a pilot. That afternoon, Dad took me with him to work and introduced me to the chair of the flight department. He, in turn, set me up with a practice lesson at the flight school.

I went and chatted with the chief flight instructor. He said it sounded like I was pretty interested and asked if I wanted to take up the Super Decathlon instead of one of the C-152s. Presented with a shiny little red aircraft with white lighting decals, I agreed on the spot. It was way more bad-ass looking than the scrawny little Cessnas, which very much mattered to me at that age. :)

For the record, the D-Cat is commonly used as an aerobatic trainer – i.e. a stunt plane.

I strapped on a parachute (my parents were blissfully ignorant of this change in plans, as they had let me borrow the car to take myself to the airport) and off we went. When I didn’t freak out or get sick, he let me fly. The first aerial maneuver he taught me to fly was a roll and the second was a loop. Serious Gs and total conviction that I was meant to be at the stick.

Needless to say, I went home and told my poor parents to get out their checkbook because I was signing up for Spring classes.

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If you happen to be a parent, the moral of the story is: Be careful what you suggest to your children. They may just take you up on it. :P

If you’re the kid: Jump when you get the chance. It’ll earn you serious bad-ass points and you’ll have great things to write about when you decide later on that you want to be an author too.

Release Day – Heart of Joy

I started a writing project a little while ago with the idea of re-imaging folk/fairy tales using a science fiction twist. Though the lessons the old stories teach are still relevant to a modern world, they can get lost in archaic language and setting or prettied up to the point where they no longer have much meaning. I was hoping that by updating them, they might be more engaging without being the same old Disney-themed thing everybody’s heard a million times.

“Mermaid” was the first of those. “Heart of Joy” (out today for Daily Science Fiction subscribers and available for one and all on their website on April 19th) is the latest. Admittedly, I wandered a bit off track with “Godmother Death” and it ended up being fantasy instead of science fiction. Oops. :) Frankly, all of them have been fun to write.

“Heart of Joy” started with Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Nightingale.” It has always been one of my favorites. At its heart, it is a story about learning to see one another and to appreciate the ways in which relationships make us stretch. The themes weren’t hard to fit into a science fiction world, though the story itself wasn’t easy to get on paper. It went through three of the most radically different drafts I’ve ever written. Exactly one scene from the first draft made it into the final.

Old fairy tales generally carry heavy messages. They often speak to the darkness in the world as well as to the perseverance, luck, and faith it takes to overcome life’s trials. To my mind “Happily Ever After” is what happens when the character has come through the hardest thing they could ever have to live through and nothing in life will be that much of a big deal again.

Statistics in the Known Universe

It’s been an excellent week in the writing department. I’ve sold two short stories: one to Daily Science Fiction and the second to The Colored Lens. The dual sale has provided yet more evidence that being a writer requires a certain sense of irony. I’m reasonably decent at math in general and statistics in particular. That said, my writing career obviously operates under different rules than the rest of the known universe.

In spite of submitting stories at fairly regular intervals (I average around four a month) to widely varying markets, I never seem to sell one at a time. I have been writing for a little over two years and have sold six short stories and a novella. All together, they have gone to six different markets. The first year, I sold two stories within two week of each other. I didn’t sell anything else until more than a year later…at which point I sold three within a month.

It’s possible that there is an underlying pattern that I’ve missed here. So far I have ruled out time of year, pay rates, story genre, story length, number of times a piece has been submitted, and theme of the story or magazine. The good news is that there is nothing (mathematically speaking) to stop me from continuing to write what I want and submit it where I want.

The bad news is that I am no closer to finding the magical formula for success in writing. Nothing for it, I suppose, but to continue writing as much as I can and submitting it as often as possible. :)

Day One…

New website, new blog…now I just have to figure out what to do with them.

I’m probably too young to be admitting this (for the record, I just turned thirty), but blogging is an entirely unexplored frontier for me. I don’t read other peoples’ blogs, haven’t ever done one of my own prior to this, etc., etc. Same with Twitter and I think I may check my Facebook account once a month or so. I’ve spent enough time flying airplanes to gravitate towards tech that is immediately useful. As in, pull back on stick, plane pitches up, and ain’t it great how a beautifully tuned piece of machinery responds. New nav tech makes me happiest. Anybody out there flying who actually misses NDB approaches to minimums in IMC?

I thought not.

Anyhow, tossing my ideas out into the internet seems significantly more nebulous than that. Which leads to the ‘why bother?’ part of the equation.

Couple of reasons, really.

First, it’s on the new authors checklist – right after signing the contract and immediately before (apparently) developing your own marketing firm to launch your work. And I’m all about checklists. And rules. If you were on the flight team with me, stop laughing. I’m sure there are some people on the planet who don’t know that about me. Somewhere.

Secondly, I’m curious. I have no idea how blogging/Twitter/Facebook relate to developing a readership and I’d like to find out if it makes any difference at all. Personally, I’ve never bought a book because of an author’s website. The books I buy are recommended to me by friends, because I liked the blurb when I was browsing, or I read something else by the author and wanted more. That said, I’m totally willing to admit that I would be the wrong person to e-market to.

So, on with the experiment…