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My once and future fan

(Warning: longish)

I recently received some copies of Metaphorosis magazine’s annual anthology (which features one of my trunk stories). As usual, I’ll put one copy on the brag shelf and mail another to my old partner-in-crime, John, a retired professor of American History.

We met in grad school. We worked in the same campus office, both of us sweating through our classes and research, trying to make it to the finish line before our tuition credits evaporated. Our boss, the University Librarian, was a former Ambassador to England, former history professor, and all-around blowhard.

Hard work but good times. John introduced me to photography, beat poetry, and decaf espresso. I shared my love of science fiction and British humor.

After graduation, John took a job at a low-budget publishing house, and I joined him for a bit. When the parent company was bought by another, bigger publisher, we all got fired and sought our fortunes elsewhere. John went on to teach in Bakersfield and I disappeared into IT.

A few years later, John re-married, and invited me to photograph the ceremony (a task he performed at my own wedding). Years passed, and we fell out of touch, even with that new-fangled interweb.

When I began selling my stories on a more regular basis, I tried to reconnect with John. But he stopped responding to his old university email account. I mail the occasional letter or story to his house, but heard nothing for years.

Finally, John’s wife Lori sent me an email. She told me that my old friend—a great bear of a man, a keen researcher, a talented writer, and generous soul—was now living in a full-time care facility due to the effects of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. He could no longer read or write without great difficulty.

Now, John is not an old man; he’s perhaps 15 years my senior. I can only imagine how hard it must be for him.

His short-term memory is pretty bad, but he can cast back 30 years without straining himself. And that’s about the time we were working side by side.

So when Lori gets one of my packages, she brings it to John and reads it to him. He closes his eyes and hears that brash young man in the words, and smiles, and talks about how much he appreciates my work.

We all need such fans.

The miracle of life

(Note: I’ve been buried lately under new Day Job responsibilities and some life coaching. More on that in another post.)

Tribe,

I’m going to borrow a situation from my best friend, and talk a moment about life. Specifically, the miracle of life.

My best friend is an IT guy for a Big Insurance Company, and part of his job is monitoring servers. He noticed that a server managed in Omaha had dropped off the network, so he discretely emailed the sysadmin there to deal with the problem.

Well. Turns out the Omaha sysadmin had died the day before. My friend then saw that his daily calendar from The Onion had this story:

“WASHINGTON—Saying that despite the possibility you may have briefly been able to distract yourself from the incontrovertible fact by browsing the internet, hanging out with friends, reading, working out, or via some other diversion, sources confirmed Friday that you are still going to die one day and there is nothing you can do to prevent it.”

That reminded me of a line from the stage version of Peter Brooks’ The Mahabharata, where a character is asked about the miracle of life. He replies, “Each day death beats at our door yet we live as if we were immortal.”

So, yeah, you can get caught up political tomfoolery, financial scandals, trash pandas climbing office buildings, or servers going offline. But death is beating at our door.

Maybe we should take note of that and act accordingly.

March Madness ends

Sportsball fans like stats, so here are mine for the month:

  • Publications – 3 (a new record)
    • “The Astrologer of the Fifth Floor”
    • “The Long View”
    • “Just Another Night on Telegraph”
  • Publications in premier issues – 3* (again, a record)
    • Abandoned Places – the first imprint of Shohola Press (“Astrologer”)
    • Reading 5×5 – first fundraising anthology from Metaphorosis Publishing (“The Long View”)
    • Factor Four Magazine – Issue 1 (“Just Another Night”)
  • Number of stories out for submission – 1 (lowest number in 10 years)
  • Number of stories in progress – 3
  • Number of stories in the trunk – 2
  • Number of stories that have at least some notes but aren’t really in progress – 8

Thanks to all of my tribe who helped me achieve these milestones. You folks are the best.

Coming up next month: Futurescapes in Utah and the Leprechaun Mafia!

*”The Long View” also appeared in an expanded “Writing” edition of Reading 5X5, published simultaneously.

March Madness continues

It’s been a busy month here on the island: new kittens, two anthology publications, and now, one of my favorite stories sold to a new anthology.

“Supply and Demand Among the Sidhe” is going to be in Strange Economics. This is my first sale to a Kickstarter-backed project, so I can tick that box on the Writer Bingo card™.

By the way, the Reading 5×5 fundraiser comes in two flavors: Readers and Writers. The Writers’ version has extra stories and exercises. Just so you know.

 

 

Throwback Thursday

This week I received my pre-release copy of Abandoned Places, an impressive new anthology that features Ray Bradbury, Edgar Allen Poe, and a lot of younger, more active writers like myself. (You’ll find my story, “The Astrologer of the Fifth Floor,” on page 101.)

A day later, I opened the mail to discover a copy of Town & Country Creative Breads,  the first book I edited for a client. I’d picked up the job through a referral from my doctor. He had another patient who was putting together a book of family recipes and health information and needed an editor. I was working part-time as an English teacher, so of course I took the gig. The writer, Ferne Chapman, was a lovely older woman from North Dakota, and we had a pretty good time on the project.

That was back in 1992. I moved from Seattle to the Bay Area a few years later and forgot about the book. Probably have lost my copy during the subsequent moves.

Last weekend, I was updating my author page on Amazon and did a search on my birth name, Karl Schlosser. Town & Country Creative Breads popped up on a used bookstore page, so I ordered it. Happy to say it’s now on my publication shelf with the new kid.

 

It was bound to happen

I have an Amazon author page. Check it out:  www.amazon.com/author/karldandenell

The Reading 5 X 5 anthology is available today! I contributed a story seed for the Hard SF section, plus some original fiction, “The Long View.”

Finally, I’ll be reading next Monday, March 12, 2018 at 6 PM at Book Passage in San Francisco, along with my editor, Chris Cornell. Come and hear the madness of Abandoned Places!

Fuzzy gets his day (AKA The Thursday Story)

This week my story, “On the Snark Watch,” appeared in Perihelion SF. I’m thrilled that it’s found a home.

Without breaking certain oaths, I can say that I wrote this story on a short deadline, and I had to follow a writing prompt (Military SF on a space base) and include a toy. That toy was a pen. Its name is “Fuzzy.”

Now, I’d a read a bit of Military SF, but I’d never attempted to write anything like that. Too bad. Here was my chance.

The actual writing process took about 12 hours, and included a panicked late-night visit to my writing instructor (who was himself a vet) to ask, “What do you call that place on the ship where you keep the munitions?” He also suggested I add a lot more cursing (which, sadly, I toned  down for various editors).

In the end, I drew upon conversations with friends and family who’d done their time in uniform, stirred in a bit of handwavium, and added a hint of Bug Eyed Monsters.

Enjoy.

The holidays are a wrap

Our traditional holiday season ends with my daughter’s birthday party (she’s a January baby), and 2018 was no exception. This morning, things are quiet as I recycle paper confetti and wash all the glasses.

The Yule tree branches are composted, and the trunk drying out for firewood.

It’s a cold, clear day, with a weather front developing, so I’ll be covering the outdoor furniture  and sweeping up the last few leaves.

I also buried Mr. Lukas’ ashes in the front, under the Emperor Japanese maple. Our neighbor asked for a portion of the cremains for her own yard. As a kitten,  Lukas liked to wander into their house and curl up on their couch. Later, when they acquired a Jack Russell terrier, Lukas would roll around on their sidewalk, ensuring the dog could watch from the window.

The ground was damp and cold. I covered him with handfuls of mulch and half-decayed leaves. In the spring, the tree will burst into crimson, and across the street, a frustrated Jack Russell will bark at nothing.

But we know better.

Some 2017 writing numbers

For you stats nerds out there, here’s how my writing year looks like:

Submissions:

Total: 31

Acceptances: 5 (16% – a new record!)
Form rejections: 17 (55%)
Personal rejections: 9 (29%)

Sales breakdown

Pro: 1
Semi-pro: 3
Donation: 1

Anthologies:

Two of my sales resulted from personal solicitations from editors. One of those is a fundraiser (see Another anthology achievement unlocked), so that’s another milestone for me.

Works in progress:

Short stories: 8
Novella: 1

Overall, it’s been a pretty successful year. For 2018, I’d like to see more submissions, more exercise, better sleep, and less anxiety.

Guess I have some homework.

Awards Eligibility 2017

For 2017, I have exactly one professional publication, a flash fiction story, and it was one of the easiest things the Muse ever dropped on me.

If  you’re an Active, Lifetime Active, Active Family, or Associate member of SFWA you are eligible to submit a nomination ballot for the Nebula Awards (hint, hint). Not that I expect to win anything, but a few recommendations would do wonders to lift my spirits in these trying times.

https://www.sfwa.org/forum/ballots (remember to log in first!)

Besides, it’s a really good story. Trust me.