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.
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!
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.
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.
For you stats nerds out there, here’s how my writing year looks like:
Acceptances: 5 (16% – a new record!)
Form rejections: 17 (55%)
Personal rejections: 9 (29%)
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
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.
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.
P.S. I also published two trunk stories this year in smaller venues:
I’m happy to report that my story, “The Long View,” will be appear next year in a new anthology, Reading 5 X 5. The anthology is organized by the editor of Metaphorosis Magazine, with the proceeds going to support the Jo Clayton Clayton Memorial Medical Fund for SFF writers
The concept behind Reading 5 X 5 is five different genre story seeds (ranging from Hard Science Fiction to Contemporary Fantasy) that would generate a total of 25 stories (five writers per genre). I volunteered to write a story seed, and ended up with Hard Science Fiction. So that meant research.
This represents the second time I’ve been invited to contribute to an anthology, and the first time my work is supporting a charitable (and writerly) cause.
The folks at Viable Paradise Writing Workshop announced a new scholarship today. Good on them! I’ve thrown a few bucks in the jar from my last sale.
The outpouring of support from various graduates reminded me of the oath I swore that chilly day in 2012. I raised my hand and pledged that:
“…I will write
That I will finish what I have written
That I will send it out
To paying markets only
Until Hell won’t have it.”
In that spirit, I’m happy to announce my short story, “The Astrologer of the Fifth Floor,” sold today to the Abandoned Places anthology from Shohola Press. Twenty-one other publications rejected it.
Abandoned Places will be released on 9-Mar-2018 (coinciding with FOGcon).
Looks like Hell doesn’t get this one.
Friday lecture – “Secret History of Publishing,” I think.
Social media reminded me that I flew from San Francisco to Boston five years this morning. I remember that I’d spent the night at an airport hotel, and had dinner with my family and a friend. The kids were going to have a sleepover, but they agreed to see me off before my “grown-up camp.” I might have called it a conference, but I don’t think so.
“Boot camp” is how I described it to my co-workers. “A writing workshop” to my parents.
It turned out to be all of those things, and more: a liminal journey. A rite of passage. An initiation into a cult. A gathering of the faithful.
It was the place where Shit Got Serious. But there was also Mandatory Fun.
I’ve written about the experience in other forums, so on this anniversary, I’ll highlight the main points.
- After >10 years of marriage, my wife was tired of watching me fling myself against the wall with my writing. I had a process, and beta readers, but it wasn’t really working. I hadn’t sold a story in years. So she strongly encouraged me to apply.
- I amputated the tip of the smallest finger on my left hand about a day or so before the flight, so one of the instructors surreptitiously checked my wound dressing for fresh blood in the morning. Also – all my lecture recordings feature the clacking my metal splint against the laptop.
- My roommate was something of a ghost. We had completely different sleep patterns and schedules, and I found myself wandering about at night to debrief with my fellow writers.
- I made friends who are still close to this day.
- Smart instructors who called me on my shit, and encouraged me to stretch.
- I learned a “metric fuck-ton” about the writing process, which made me realize I was damn ignorant and relying on ego rather than insight.
- I wrote the fastest story of my life (to date) – a bit less than 12 hours. Finally sold that bugger, too.
- I was the only passenger on the return commuter flight from Martha’s Vineyard to BOS. On the last flight of the day. I am forever indebted to that blue-collar pilot and her thermos of coffee, who took me on a leisurely tour of the island, politely ignoring my tears.
On this anniversary, I am working hard on two story deadlines, a pile of stories to review for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science fiction, and thinking about my next workshop.
There is an enormous value in finding your tribe, and taking the time to work on your art away from the distractions of mundane reality.
So raise a glass, VP XVI alums (“Fire Wombats!”), and recall fondly The Horror That is Thursday. I miss you.
Silly grin courtesy of sleep deprivation and overclocked frontal lobe.
My flash fiction, “We Who Stay Behind,” appeared today in Fireside Fiction. I’m thrilled that this little story found a home with such a great publication.
Those of you familiar with my work may find this one a little different. It’s very short (650 words) and very serious.
I wrote the first draft in one quick sitting in a coffee joint in San Francisco on Martin Luther King Day a few years ago. I was contracting for Oracle, and rode the ferry to work, thinking about Patricia McKillip’s Moon-Flash. There’s a brief section in that book where we go behind the scenes at an First Contact station. I can’t remember the precise action, but we see some of the nameless technicians who are supporting the Terran scientists who are reaching out to the natives.
Turned out my office was closed for the holiday, and no one had bothered to let me know. So I was stuck there for a couple of hours until the first return ferry of the afternoon. I decided to fortify myself with a pot of tea and fool around with a POV story about those technicians. The ones who stay behind.
It’s one of my favorite efforts, and I hope you like it.