The Biter Bit

Snow-Jan-2014There was a time when I considered myself primarily a short story writer. I mean, other than the occasional review, that was mostly what I did and what I was, above all else and proud of it. This despite the fact that I had written over ten novels at the time, which of course I did not consider a contradiction. A story was a story, and some were longer than others. That was all there was to it, so far as I was concerned. However, I did have clear ideas about what was and was not a short story, none of which would fit into any academic definition. I knew one when I read one, contrariwise I knew when one wasn’t and tended to get a little miffed when I read a story in a magazine or collection, said story not living up to my own personal definition. “That’s not a short story, it’s an excerpt from a novel!” was my rallying cry.

So how did I know this? I didn’t, really. It was just something that seemed obvious to me. Someone clipped out a section of a novel, maybe smoothed the edges over a bit, emphasized the self-contained elements and downplayed those which implied matters outside itself in a cynical ploy to pick up a quick check and possibly some free advertising for the eventual book. Sometimes I’d give them a break because I knew the writer was primarily a novelist and probably couldn’t write a proper short story with a gun to their head. Ahem. As I said, it used to annoy me a little. I mean, if you’re in a short story market, write an actual short story, not this patchwork pretender!

Yeah, about that… Continue reading

Surfing for Survival

FoxMaybe not literally, but as far as visibility and career are concerned. I’ve been thinking about the question of career survival because it finally occurred to me that I’ve been shifting gears a bit lately when it comes to my own writing, in that I’m doing more novels these days, and fewer short stories. Now, for many cases that’s just considered par for the course, and was once considered the only course—you started off writing short stories, with the intention of getting good enough to sell them to the major magazines, of which there were several. If you were planning any sort of career, then part of the plan was to build up your name recognition through short fiction and then use that visibility to transition to novels. Short stories were never considered to be an end in themselves in that scenario. Sure there were probably as many exceptions as not, and writers who started with novels from day one and were either barely or sometimes not at all aware that the magazines even existed. I wasn’t one of those. I discovered the magazines at about the same time that I started to write in the first place, and I began with short stories, and the first novel I ever wrote I thought was going to be another short story, until an editor took pity on me and informed me that what I had submitted was not a short story, but the opening chapter to a novel, and so it later proved. Regardless, the short story was my go-to form. Continue reading

Time Mis-Management

Bkack Kath's Daughter-2I finished the second draft of The War God’s Son late Friday night. Sometimes projects need a third or more drafts before I dare show them to First Reader, but in this case I can’t think of anything else the book needs, so once I have it printed out the manuscript goes to First Reader for one of the more perilous phases of the project. Yes, I know, but First Reader is Old School, and wants a physical object to tear into. You can’t scribble or hack through paragraphs in phosphors…well, actually you can, but it’s just not as satisfying. So there will be a paper copy, which I will—hopefully—convert back into a finished book once she’s had her way with it. This, naturally, will not happen overnight. So right now I’ve got a little free time–by which I mean writing time not already spoken for–and thus my next problem.

I need to decide how to spend that time. I left the sequel to Black Kath’s Daughter hanging fire because the above project got its priority upgraded. But, to be clear, BKD+ is a personal project and so there are no actual deadlines on it. There are a few people waiting on it, and I do hate to keep them waiting, so I could get back to that while First Reader has her say on TWGS. On the other hand I haven’t written a short story in over six months while I was drafting TWGS. I think I’m getting withdrawal twinges, and I wouldn’t mind using the time to satisfy my short fiction jones.

Must think about this, but not too long since I don’t have all the time in the world and I could end up doing neither. If anyone reading this has an opinion, I’d like to hear it.

Friday PSA

Okay, so it’s more of a self-serving announcement. Maybe we need a new desgination for that. Maybe SSA? Anyway, here’s the deal–Scott Andrews at Beneath Ceaseless Skies has just released The Best of BCS, Year 3. Here’s the ToC:

  1. The Ghost of Shinoda Forest · Richard Parks
  2. Dying on the Elephant Road · Steve Rasnic Tem
  3. Bread and Circuses · Genevieve Valentine
  4. Walls of Paper, Soft as Skin · Adam Callaway
  5. Mr Morrow Becomes Acquainted with the Delicate Art of Squid Keeping · Geoffrey Maloney
  6. Butterfly · Garth Upshaw
  7. Red Dirt · Ian McHugh
  8. The Nine-Tailed Cat · Michael J. DeLuca
  9. Letters of Fire · Margaret Ronald
  10. Fleurs du Mal · J. Kathleen Cheney
  11. Gone Sleeping · Heather Clitheroe
  12. Dirt Witch · Eljay Daly
  13. Silent, Cold, and Still · Kris Dikeman
  14. The Angel Azrael Rode into the Town of Burnt Church on a Dead Horse · Peter Darbyshire
  15. Playing for Amarante · A.B. Treadwell
  16. The Suffering Gallery · Matthew Kressel
  17. In the Gardens of the Night · Siobhan Carroll
  18. Beloved of the Sun · Ann Leckie

 From the BCS web site: “The Best of BCS, Year Three  features such authors as Richard Parks, Garth Upshaw, Margaret Ronald, Matthew Kressel, Geoffrey Maloney, and World Fantasy Award-winner Steve Rasnic Tem.

It includes “Walls of Paper, Soft as Skin” by Adam Callaway, named to Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2012, edited by Paula Guran, as well as three stories named to the Million Writers Award Notable Stories of 2011 and four given Honorable Mention in Year’s Best Science Fiction 29, edited by Gardner Dozois.”


Special offer going on– buy The Best of BCS, Year Three from Weightless Books between now and Oct. 19 and get a free copy of Best of BCS, Year One or Best of BCS, Year Two.

You can also pick it up at all the usual places, Amazon, B&N, Smashwords…’s the thing–proceeds from the sale of The Best of BCS, Year Three go to pay BCS authors and artists for their work and keep the magazine going. Two subjects near and dear to my heart, it has to be understood.

Okay, commercial over. Thanks for your patience.