2009 How it Went

In emulation of the inimitable Christopher Green, I thought I’d post some stats on how I did toward my writing goals in 2009.

I sent out 27 submissions this year.  Pretty modest compared to Mr. Green’s 75, but a personal best for me.  (In previous years I sent out no more than 20 subs.) The increase is mostly because I kept my New Year’s resolution to keep my completed stories in circulation. The rejections came in and I sent them back out – amazing how that helps to keep things rolling along!

I sold five stories – three new stories and two reprints.  Given that in 2007 and 2008, I sold, um, one story per year, this is definitely a record for me.  My acceptance rate was about 18% if you count the reprints, or 12% if you only count the new ones.  Either way, that’s ridiculously high for me considering my rate has been 0-5% up until now.  I think this is mostly because I had a streak of good luck, with several stories hitting the right markets at the right time.  I doubt I’ll be able to keep up that kind of streak in 2010. But, hey, very cool that I met my secret goal of selling five stories this year, even if I had to cheat a bit by counting reprints.

Of the stories I sold this year, on average they were rejected by 5.3 markets before they found a home.  There’s a widely quoted stat out there that the average story is rejected something like 20 times before it sells.  If that’s true (and it seems about right), 5.3 seems pretty good.  Either way, like Chris said, the clear lesson is not to be demoralized by a rejection or two.

In terms of actual writing, my goal was to finish five stories and I finished three.  I have a fourth one that’s close to done and another that I finished a draft of this year, so I was sort of close on this one. I had also hoped to finish the first half of my novel, and finished maybe a quarter of it.  All in all I’m not going quite as fast as I’d like, but I’m definitely doing slow but steady productivity, which I feel pretty good about considering what a hectic year it was and that my day job demands way more than 40 hours a week. 

Just to finish the rundown of how I did on my New Year’s resolutions:

  • Reading on subway: I kept this one, mostly, and did a lot more reading this year than last year. My unwritten goal was to read three books per month, and I came pretty close to that – it looks like I’ll be at about 34 books at the end of the year. 
  • Blog posting: My goal was 100 blog posts, and it looks like I’ll hit 54 or so.  Very hard to do any blogging when things get intense at work, and then so often when I do have free time I think I should be writing fiction instead of blogging.  I may just have to accept that I’m not going to be a super-active blogger any time soon.
  • Swimming: Totally flunked this one.  Really do need to get back to it, though – hopefully in 2010…

So all in all, of seven 2009 goals, I largely hit three, made decent progress on a couple others, and totally missed two.  Not too bad all in all…

More 2009 wrap-up and 2010 goals soon to come!

Another Story Coming Soon

I recently got word that a story of mine will be published in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, a very cool zine published by Gavin Grant and Kelly Link at Small Beer Press.   LCRW is like the sacred madre patria for writers of weird stuff, so I’m pretty geeked out to have a story published with them.

I first wrote this particular story at Clarion in response to my mates’ saying that I needed to write more concrete, sensory details. “Ha!” I said, “I’ll write a story so filled with concrete details that it can only be titled ‘Concrete!'”  Alas, the story ended up being a surrealist story that demanded to be re-titled “This is Not Concrete.”  Ah, well…

Will post more when I know when the story will find its way into the wild.

Story Coming Soon in The Tangled Bank

I recently got the news that my short story, “On the Entropy of Species,” will be appearing in The Tangled Bank, an e-anthology of stories on Charles Darwin and evolution coming out in just a few weeks.  The anthology commemorates Darwin’s 200th birthday as well as the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species.  I’m very excited to be part of such a cool project, and to have a story published in the theme-anthology that inspired the story – a first for me.

When I first saw the call for stories on evolution from editor Chris Lynch, nothing immediately came to me.  But then I started reading excerpts from Darwin’s journal, particularly from the time of his voyage on the Beagle, and found both his voice and personality inspiring.  I loved the unabashedness of his excitement in exploring new terrain and observing new species  – e.g., “The day has past delightfully. Delight itself, however, is a weak term to express the feelings of a naturalist who, for the first time, has been wandering by himself in a Brazilian forest.”  He was a totally glamorous geek-adventurer.  That was the initial springboard for “On the Entropy of Species,” the story of another geek-adventurer, on a voyage of exploration in a world where evolution doesn’t seem to work quite the way we’re used to.

Wilde Stories

I recently got news that my story “Tío Gilberto and the Twenty-Seven Ghosts” will be reprinted in next year’s Wilde Stories, an annual year’s best anthology of LGBT speculative literature.  The series is published by Lethe Press, an independent press publishing all sorts of stuff at the fun nexus of the queer and the speculative.   This year’s edition of Wilde Stories is out now and features cool queer science fiction and fantasy stories by Lee Thomas, Hal Duncan, and others.  The Best Gay Stories series is also worth checking out (though not exclusively speculative), with fiction by Richard Bowes, David Levithan, and others.

Review at IROSF

Over at the Internet Review of Science Fiction (IROSF), Lois Tilton has done her latest round-up of recent short speculative fiction, including a review of the latest issue of Realms of Fantasy.  She gives my story a not-easily-handed-out “Recommended” and has some nice things to say about it, e.g.: “Light humored tale of the importance of human connections, with a memorable character in Gilberto.”

Warning: it’s vaguely spoiler-y, in case you haven’t read the story yet, and are the extreme spoiler-avoiding sort.

Tio Gilberto is Getting Around

I’ve recently gotten a couple of bits of good news about my short story, “Tio Gilberto and the Twenty-Seven Ghosts,” which is still out on bookstores in the current issue of Realms of Fantasy

The first bit of news is that the story will be reprinted in PodCastle, the online fantasy podcast magazine.  This will be the first time that one of my stories will be published in audio form, so I’m pretty psyched to hear it performed. 

The other bit of news is that “Tio Gilberto” seems to have made its way on to SFWA’s Nebula Suggested Reading List.  It’s a long list, of course, with 30+ stories just in the short story category, but, hey, it’s nice to be “suggested!”

Had a very hectic couple weeks at work, hence the recent radio silence. But things are starting to calm down a bit now, so hopefully I should be getting back to the usual semi-regular posting rhythm….

Story Out in Realms of Fantasy

I got my contributor copy of the latest issue of Realms of Fantasy, which includes my story, “Tío Gilberto and the Twenty-Seven Ghosts.”  First thing I have to say is, it’s so cool to see this story in print!  Especially in such a great magazine, and especially after that long couple months where Realms had closed and it seemed like the story would need to find a new home. I’m really glad that Realms seems be having such a successful re-launch.

Second thing I have to say is, I *love* John Kaiine’s illustration for the story. I look at that gorgeous painting and think to myself, that is a gorgeous work of art.  And then I think, whoa, something I wrote was the original inspiration for that work of art.  Sort of mind-boggling.  And, I have to admit, I thought it would be a hard story to illustrate, what with 27 out of 30 significant characters being invisible.  But Kaiine did it masterfully, showing a scene where the protagonist is performing in front of his uncle Gilberto and a room full of ghosts.  The empty mismatched chairs (a feather boa flung over one of them), the piano and the black and white television in the background, the wisps of smoke from Gilberto’s cigarette giving the entire painting an ethereal feel…. He’s managed to cram in so many little details from the story, but, more importantly, I think he captured the feel of it – a sense of lighthearted fun, but with something haunting just beneath the surface. 

Last thing I have to say is, I’m honored to be in some pretty amazing company on this table of contents: Kristine Kathryn Rusch, William R Eakin, S.E. Ward, and Jay Lake.   I have a feeling I’ll be up late tonight reading their stories….

Coming to a Bookstore Near You

ROF Oct 2009It looks like my short story, “Tio Gilberto and the Twenty-Seven Ghosts,” will be appearing in the next issue of Realms of Fantasy.  You can go ahead and subscribe now to make sure you don’t miss it.

This is a story that’s close to my heart, so I’m especially excited to see it in print.  And I can’t wait to see John Kaiine’s illustration for it!  I think it should be out by early September.

A Few Bits of Good News

I’ve gotten a couple of bits of good news in the past few weeks. Shimmer has accepted one of my stories, “Crepuscular.”  Shimmer is one of my favorite zines, and they’ve been publishing some great stuff, especially in the magic realism/slipstream territory, so I”m honored to be part of it. “Crepuscular” is part love story about a wannabe rock star and a public health official, part tragic tale of a magical Francophile snowman, but more than anything it’s a sort of dialogue with The Little Prince, one of my favorite books ever, both as a kid and an adult.  The story should be out some time in the fall–you can subscribe now to make sure you get your copy.

In other news, the latest Year’s Best Science Fiction collection, edited by Gardner Dozois, came out a couple weeks ago.  “This is My Blood,” which I co-wrote with Chris Lynch, was listed in the honorable mentions.  I was pleased to see a bunch of stories by other Clarion-mates in the list as well.

Obviously I haven’t been too active here the past couple months.  Life has been intruding on blogging in a number of ways, including running a huge event, multiple crises at work and home, and moving. It looks like things are quieting down a bit now….

Right now I’m enjoying the nostalgic childhood ritual of watching Saturday morning  cartoons.  The Batman Brave and the Bold cartoon is awesome – so fun to see a lighter side of Batman amidst all the ultra-serious Dark Knight  interpretations that dominate lately.

Realms is Back!

It looks like Realms of Fantasy is not closing after all.  I’m thrilled not only because it means we get to see more stories from one of our strongest Fantasy publications (especially for magic realism), but also because it means my story “Tio Gilberto and the Twenty-Seven Ghosts” will be able to be published in Realms after all.  (I had sold the story to them before it closed.)  

Warren Lapine is my new hero for buying the mag and bringing it back to life.  And many thanks to Doug Cohen, ROF’s assistant editor for being helpful and patient with all us antsy writers during the month or so when our stories were in an odd state of limbo.

To make sure you get all the good stuff to come from Realms, you can subscribe at the new web site, here.