Anyone playing along at home might have noticed that I’ve had a recent run on stories getting picked up for publication. As of a few weeks ago, I’ve hit six for this year. A not-inconsiderable chunk of the credit for that sits with my writing group, the Wayward Writers. Not that we have a name, or matching satin bowling jackets. But most of them are doing this Write 1, Sub 1 challenge. And I’m not that good at keeping on top of checking markets and getting stories out in circulation. Through their peer pressure and the dedicated efforts of Dawn Vogel who, on request, poked me every time I saw her to ask if I’d submitted recently, I racked up 9 stories out there in circulation.
And as any pro will tell you, if you want to sell stories, you have to submit. I mean, you have to write and polish the hell out of them, too. But a good story sitting on your computer will not publish itself. And taking care of that business end of it can’t be neglected.
A little over a week ago, I sold three stories to hit my half-dozen mark. I’m super pleased for all three stories, because from inception to completion, they couldn’t be more dissimilar. And that’s even accepting that two of them are horror. Sort of.
“Cold Comfort of Silver Lake” is the oldest of the three. I’ve been working on that, getting it into some kind of reasonable shape for a few years. It’s the only contemporary story of the trio, and was spawned by an unfortunate incident in my own life and a nightmare that woke me up hard several years back. It has some difficult subject matter, and I’ve had to tone back some of it over the course of revisions. Even then, I knew it was going to take a certain publisher to accept a story that dark. Thankfully the fine folks at Blood Bound Books liked it. They had previously published my story “The Invitation” in their superlative Rock ‘n’ Roll is Dead anthology. Really. Superlative. Four honorable mentions in Ellen Datlow’s Year’s Best Horror. “Cold Comfort of Silver Lake” will be in their upcoming Invitation to Horror anthology, and I’ll be sure to let y’all know when it’s about to come out.
“Mahrut’s Road” is an entirely different beast. This story was sparked by a discussion about how I wanted to see more strong female fantasy characters, and some settings that weren’t so Euro-centric. So between panels at the Foolscap convention in 2010, I started jotting down what became the beginning of a story about Siri Viraj, a priestess of Mahrut, the Inside-Out God of Madness and Rage. This self-proclaimed “delicate little flower” just wanted to be a dancer until fate chose a different path for her, and the story that she inspired was full on sword & sorcery. At the time, it didn’t really occur to me that there wasn’t much of a market for good, old fashioned S&S, especially with a female protagonist in an India-styled setting. But it didn’t matter. I needed to write what I wanted to read. It’s always been as simple as that for me. So I’m pleased beyond all the capacity for rational thought that her adventure, “Mahrut’s Road,” has been chosen to appear in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress 27 this fall.
The third story, “Absolution of the Fallen Star” was written in the past month specifically for consideration in an anthology called Dangers Untold. The premise of the anthology was to tell horror stories using non-traditional monsters. And this story almost didn’t happen. Originally, I was going to write a story about finger puppets, but I couldn’t get past a few story/plot obstacles (the primary being that it was too mean, which is an odd thing for me to admit). Then I was going to submit another story that fit the bill. I just had to polish it up a bit. But once polished, I realized that it was significantly too short for the submission call and there was no good way to stretch it. So I sent that story out somewhere else and was left with less than a week to find something that worked. What clicked, suddenly, was a story I’ve been meaning to write since Foolscap in 2011 (funny how inspirational that little con has been, and how much it has done for my writing!). Combining some personal passions, “Absolution of the Fallen Star” dives into Medieval Arabic history, Morocco, and secret knowledge for a story that is pure horror…and a few other surprising things as well. I’m delighted that it was selected to appear, as it’s a story I’ve been wanting to tell for a while. I tried writing the story two other times for other anthology calls, and the time just wasn’t right. It appears the stars were right for it to appear here, in this form. And who am I to argue with the stars?
And now that you’ve gotten a look behind the scenes, it’s time for me to get back to novel edits/revisions.
No rest for the wicked, and whatnot.