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Category: Science Fiction

Keeping multiple works going at the same time

Posted in Buntel Mayit, Monsters, Science Fiction, Second Sight, and There's a Sword for That

Short stories are more like molehills than mountains
Short stories are more like molehills than mountains

I find that long-form works like novels seem to match well with the sorts of stories I like to tell — multiple characters, various sub-plots, threads to be woven together. I wouldn’t dare try to keep two novels going in draft simultaneously. It would be like listening to two engrossing conversations at once, and impossible to keep track of.

But sometimes you just want a break. For me, that means writing short stories. Any shorts I write for my ongoing series will probably go straight to publication, but I’m also beginning to produce stand-alone short stories. Since the current series are in the fantasy genre, I’m doing the shorts mostly as science fiction, just for a little variety. Some are truly stand-alone (Second Sight), but others (Buntel Mayit, Monsters) are intended for a story collection called There’s a Sword for That, all of the stories for which will involve some sort of edged weapon. (Since swords are usually associated with fantasy, I thought it would be a challenge to produce science-fiction sword stories instead. That involves a wee bit more than just declaring, say, dragons to be aliens and getting on with it.)

You won’t see these stories for a while, since each one is going through the magazine submission process, and that takes quite a bit of elapsed time (more than a year, maybe two). But I expect to put a dozen or more stories out this year, and I entertain myself prior to publication with getting their covers done as I write them, so that there won’t be anything left to do after they come back unbought or their rights expire, if bought. At least I get to put the covers and blurbs up that way. And if I keep this up every year, there will soon be a regular stream of submissions coming back for publication — I’m just filling the pipeline this year to reap in the future.

Paring it down

Aiming for a certain size in a short story is not something I can control. They’re as long as they need to be, seems to me, and each one is different. Monsters, the latest story destined for the sword collection, surprised me by being only three pages long (1000 words), just two scenes, what they call “flash fiction”. My beta reader wanted to know what happens next, and perhaps you could spin a long story or novella out of it, or it could be the start of a longer character-based novel — sure, I could see that.

But sometimes a molehill is just a molehill, not a mountain. If the characters come back and start explaining their life story to me, well, maybe there will be a followup. Meanwhile, I like the unanswered questions that spin off from the brief encounter. Gives it a concentrated flavor, like a wound-up spring.

New short stories for a science fiction collection

Posted in Adaptability, Artwork, Monsters, Monsters, And More, Science Fiction, Short Story, The Visitor, The Visitor, And More, There's a Sword for That, and Your Every Wish

Over the next year or so I will be writing a dozen stories or more for a science fiction collection called There's a Sword for That. It will feature bladed weapons, one per story, in unusual contexts, tied together by the shop that houses (and sells them) aboard a space station

The first story is Buntel Mayit, a tale of an ancient and famous keris (kris) cursed by the shaman/smith who was its first victim. Far in the future, it is still seeking revenge on dynastic opportunists. Captain Frans Krajenbrink, Keris Mpu Gandring, and the freighter Ken Arok out of New Java have a fateful encounter with an ambitious alien.

Each story will go through the submission process for magazines before being published by Perkunas Press, so it will be a while before you can read them. I'll keep everyone posted as soon as any story becomes available in either magazine or Perkunas Press versions.

Meanwhile, here's a look at the very first draft sketch for the cover of the collection, featuring the sword shop, from artist Jake Bullock who provided the cover for The Affinities of Magic.
Initial draft sketch - no sword

Submitting stories to magazines

Posted in Science Fiction, and Second Sight

Second Sight - Full Front Cover - WidgetI recently finished a science fiction short story that I haven't told you all about because, for the first time, I'm submitting it to magazines and online periodicals to see if someone would like to buy it. If I'm successful you'll hear all about it. If no one has a place for it at this time, Perkunas Press will publish it. You can find out more about it here.

Either way, it will take several months. In general you can only submit to one venue at a time, so it can take many weeks or months before you reach a venue that wants it. Then they will not publish it right away, and when they do they will want exclusivity for it for a few months. If I am not successful with the submission, Perkunas Press will publish the story in the usual way and I'll announce it here, otherwise I'll let people know where they can buy it, and then Perkunas Press will publish it after the exclusivity period runs out.

I'll be doing more of this over time, especially for short stories that are either not part of a series or that can stand alone. It's a new experience for me. Short stories don't sell in great quantity, but if a magazine buys one, that changes the financial result dramatically. It's also just about the only way that an author-publisher can be part of the consideration for the genre and category awards that are such a major part of fantasy and science fiction. Finding out exactly what the magazine editors want will be a learning exercise all by itself.