Category Archives: writing

2023 in Review

Well, that was certainly a year. Very good and very bad things, indeed. I sold lots of stories and had to go back on unemployment for a while (which is itself a sordid tale I shall spare the reader).

I published more fiction than ever. I wrote and revised a fair amount:

  • Jan – Short fiction class with John Wiswell; finished “The Mala and the Monkey Brain”
  • Feb – “Krishna’s Gift”
  • Mar – “The Walkup Atheneum”
  • Apr – “Lizzie McNeil and the Veil Between Worlds”
  • May – “Sign of the Red Dragon”
  • Jun – “Copper Bright as the Sun” (revised Red Dragon)
  • Jul – “Blood of the Hierophant”
  • Aug – “When the Third Bell Rings”
  • Sep – “Pull the Red Cord”; “Poltergeist of Fastini Crater”
  • Oct – “Buffalo” (revised Week before Xmas)
  • Nov – “Order of Compassionate Death” (revision); “Third Bell” (revision); “Red Cord” (revision)
  • Dec – “A sailor’s tale”

In progress:

  • “Taldin the Thief Faces the Executioner’s Block”

Idea pile:

  • Something something wizard’s duel
  • The multiverse and some guy at a desk?

For this year’s success, I must thank my family, my weekly writing group, my occasional critique partners, and of course my fabulous coach, Cat Rambo. I found an impending deadline for her to be an effective motivation: Get out of your head and write the damn thing. (My words, not hers.)

Next year? If I can hang on to my current DayJob™ and see the scion successfully launched from college, I’d like to finish (and send out) a bunch of revisions, take a few classes, see some folks in person rather than Zoom, and write something so good it knock the socks off a pro editor.

Hey, it could happen.

May your 2024 be creative, fulfilling, and safe.

See you in the word mines,

Karl

 

Eligibility Post 2023

Want to support an underdog writer? Now’s your chance! Here’s a list of everything I published this year:

Short Fiction

Novelette

Thank you for your consideration. Now I must feed the cats.

 

Baker’s Dozen

or

What I Sold in 2023

2023 has been a record-setting year in the word mines. Apparently, if you regularly write lots of stories and send them out, editors will buy some. Who knew?

Sure, the ratio for rejections/sales is still *way* off. For now, let’s focus on the positive.

Flash fiction was king of the hill this year: 6 original stories and 1 reprint.

Short fiction had a very respectable showing: 4 original stories.

You want novelettes? We got 2. And one of those was featured in a three-part podcast voiced by a classically trained British theatre student.

It was also the year of extended holds – 2 of my acceptances came more than a year after the initial submission.

All told: 12 original stories and 1 reprint. A baker’s dozen of spec fic.

Genres were certainly up for grabs. I sold stories involving the military, time travelers, assassins, wizards, mechanics, lost civilizations, ghosts, demonic possession, found family, and a happiness virus.

The last two sales this year are pending final paperwork. Nearly everything else is available online. Links here.

In order of acceptance:

“The USS Copernicus Sixth (Semi-Annual) Contraband Run”
“The Linen Closet Nexus”
“The Antidote for Longing” (print and podcast)
“Ruby Throat and Gold”
“For Better or Worse”
“Krishna’s Gift”
“Come the Waters High (Podcast)
“The Danger of Frequent Flyer Miles”*
“The Poltergeist of Fastini Crater” (podcast)
“Come the Waters High” (Reprint)
“Last Cold Beer for 50 Miles”**

*forthcoming 2024
**Appears 12/13/2023 in Haven Spec

November ghost story and a reboot of NaNoWriMo

My latest story, “The Poltergeist of Fastini Crater,” appeared on Sudden Fictions this week. I wrote the flash story based on a prompt (“haunting”) from the editor, R.B. Wood, in what was then a Halloween-themed submissions call. However, mundane reality™ got involved, delaying the project past the holiday. Still, I set out to write a little ghost story on the moon, and it came together in two quick bursts. It was definitely the most fun I’ve had at the keyboard in a while. (For those keeping score, it’s publication #9 this year. Huzzah!)

Sudden Fictions, Episode 39

Unfortunately, my dayjob situation tool an unexpected downturn (i.e., our project was put on hold and all the writers furloughed), so I decided to revisit the ghosts of Unfinished Short Fiction for my version of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The goal is to complete (or revise) 5 stories by 11-30-2023. It may not be as tough as 50,000 words but it’s enough of a challenge!

Let’s see what happens.

Crazy Eight

Today my flash story, “Ruby Throat and Gold” appeared in Wyldblood, marking my third appearance there and my eighth publication overall for 2023. Wow. Crazy. (Unlike my other work in Wyldblood, “Ruby” contains no demons in its 1,000 words. But there are wizards with agendas.)

This story came to life under the guiding hand of Cat Rambo. The title was suggested by Rosemary Claire Smith, one of my beta readers in the weekly writing group. She writes about dinosaurs and reviews books over at Analog.

Things are heating up

Cover of Stupefying Stories #24

No, this isn’t the Southwest, or the Midwest, or anywhere else suffering ridiculous summer heat. It’s just the cool, er hot cover for Stupefying Stories #24. And look there – a familiar name!

The editor/publisher, Bruce Bethke, has been an absolute gem, publishing my work no fewer than six times. That’s a happy record for me, and I look forward to continuing our relationship.

The latest story is “Krishna’s Gift” – a near-future SF tale about difficult family relationships and the cost of actual happiness. It’s more expensive than you might think.

Back to work, you

Karl Dandenell by Richard Man
Hey, wanna buy some fiction?

For those of you following my employment interregnum, the saga takes a new turn next week. Pending final paperwork, I’ll be jumping into a short-term contract at a large utility company. Technical writing! Documentation! Manuals! This should be a regular 40-hour gig (as opposed to the piecemeal stuff I’ve been doing since April).

May marks five (5) months of active searching and interviews. In fact, I had an interview the afternoon I returned from the Nebula Awards conference. (See teaser photo above.) While that role didn’t materialize, I received a firm (and better) offer from another company. Huzzah!

I’ll admit it’s been a while since I’ve taken on a serious project. Let’s just say that my last quarter at Previous Gig were not the most intellectually challenging. They didn’t really grok my skill set (and were struggling with their own internal processes, but that’s a much longer story).

The conference, BTW, was the first in-person SFWA event I’ve attended since the Before Times. It was held in Southern California, right across the Disneyland. Talk about cognitive dissonance. Attendance was about half as many (physical) attendees, although there the usual plethora of excellent panels. Perhaps I can watch the recordings for those I missed. As always, the time went by too quickly and just saying hi to folks proved to be a challenge.

The event did give me a chance to spend time with an old friend and give him a signed copy of The Science Fiction Tarot. I’m particularly pleased with my contribution, “The Schadenfreuders,” and will be joining other authors this weekend to read selections from the anthology. If you decide to buy a paper copy, ping me and I’ll send you a signed book plate.

Writing continues. Naps may have to be curtailed for a while. The cats will not be happy.

Catching up after a week of SNAFUs

There is a great irony in being Between Gigs. You have no money but lots of time. Then Tasks and Urgent Matters dance on stage, blowing trumpets and hauling your ass out of bed. You need to look for work and you want to write. Then, hey, the physical objects in your previously employed and relatively comfortable life begin cracking, groaning, and downright breaking.

Some of it was inevitable: an 12-year-old iMac that couldn’t support recent software updates and therefore, could not run critical web-based software; an electric kettle (3 years) with a worn power switch; a printer (5 years) with an intermittent power glitch; a router (8 years) that kept losing Wi-Fi connections; and another iMac (5 years, but upgraded) with a bad microphone and a hairline crack in the display. Plus, the Pocket Panther was behind on his regular vaccinations because the reminder notices were caught in the Spam filter.

We are replacing things (thank Buddha for emergency savings), the cat is healthy, and the lovely folks at the state Employment Development Department (i.e., Unemployment) have released some overdue benefits after I convinced them that I was not, in fact, part of an organized crime heist to plunder California.

I have been writing. And submitting. Which means more rejections. And a few sales! In fact I was able to add a new square to my Writer Bingo: 2 sales in one day. Both were flash stories and you can find them at Stupefying Stories here and here.

There are two lengthy Revise & Resubmit projects underway, and I’ve completed final edits on my contribution to Kickstarter project: The Science Fiction Tarot. I’m very excited for this project, first because it’s a cool concept and second, the preliminary was, well, very cool.

I continue to work with Cat Rambo, whose insights and gentle ass-kicking keeps me on deadline. I’m also trying to beef up my reading of contemporary fiction (so much good stuff!) and re-visit some old friends. Kurt Vonnegut’s prose still delights. Ursula Le Guin is a master. Daniel Keys Moran reminds me that very good books are too often derailed by publishing travails and general life challenges. And so it goes.

Thanks again to the small but merry band of writers who join me in the Interwebs. Some days I don’t know how we manage to light the headlamps and ride the creaky elevator down into the word mines, but we do.

Looking back at 2022’s writing

My previous post talked about the things I published this year. Today, I wanted to look back at what I wrote — or tried to write — in 2022.

In 2021, I started working one-on-one with Cat Rambo (in addition to participating in her classes). When my kinda-sorta surprise bonus showed up, I decided to channel that cash into more coaching time in 2022. And then I added a goal: draft a new complete story every month. And write every day during November (the dread time of NaNoWriMo). No problem.

Narrator: It was a problem.

It wasn’t a complete bust, though. Thanks in part to hosting twice-weekly writing sessions on Zoom, I was able to draft and finish 10 stories. (There is, of course, the small chance I’ll finish something new this month but I’m going in for foot surgery soon and then the holidays descend. Let’s go with ten.)

Here’s what it looked like:

Stories completed in 2022:

  • Jan – Ruby Throat and Gold
  • Feb – The Antidote for Longing
  • Mar – The Great Contraband Race
  • Apr – For Better or Worse
  • May – Take a Leaf from the Bodhi Tree
  • Jun – Petition the Order of Compassionate Death
  • Jul – Last Cold Beer for 50 Miles
  • Aug – The Four Noble Truths/Monkey Brain
  • Sep – Lizzie McNeil and the Veil Between Worlds
  • Oct – (Classes)
  • Nov – Small Pleasures /NaNoNotSoMuch – WRITING EVERY DAY NO MATTER WHAT!
  • Dec – TBD (Classes)

Cat was in Spain for a month and there was a serious amount of fusterclucks going on at DayJob starting in October, so the year hasn’t ended strong. Oh well. But hey, there’s still stuff on the stove:

WIP:

  • Duel
  • The Third Bell
  • Parley

Don’t forget revisions!

  • The Machine Mage of Umea
  • Petition the Order of Compassionate Death
  • The Four Noble Truths/Monkey Brain
  • Lizzie McNeil and the Veil Between Worlds

or leftovers – scraps and fragments

  • Pull the Red Cord
  • Not Sleeping Beauty
  • The Bone Fetcher of Alijah

Bonus section – future good news?

Antidote for Longing–Rewrite Request

Bodhi Tree —Second Round consideration

Between the Stars—Sent 10K sample; editor asked for the entire novella

Last Cold Beer for 50 Miles–Second Round consideration

Overall, I got stuff done.

(Now I just need a new DayJob.)

To everyone who’s come to the writing hangout, followed me on social media, and read my beta drafts. THANK YOU. Couldn’t do it without you folks.

December 2022


Eligibility Post 2022

It’s already that time again?

While there’s still a chance that something might appear in the wild, it’s safe to say everything that can be published this year is out there. So here goes:

I also had a reprint this year – “Burial Detail” (Strange Wars) – Not eligible for anything but a fine story and homage to a dear, departed friend.