Here’s how it works: you give me a prompt, and I’ll turn it into a drabble, a 100-word story for you. The best approach, speaking from personal experience, is to keep the prompt between two and five words long, and to avoid getting too specific. For example, something like “werewolf shampoo” can lead all sorts of directions and gives me something to work with.
With publishing’s gatekeepers now comprising the bulk of short fictions’ readership, I think it reasonable to say that for every story read at least one rejection slip is also read. The rare instances in which writers’ stories are not rejected and to some degree published and possibly read by others are offset by writers’ publishing their rejection slips on public blogs and forums and disseminating them in emails. Similarly, publishers’ returning the same rejection slip to many writers is offset by writers submitting the same story to many publishers. So even ignoring that rejection slips, unlike the stories that inspired them, are almost always read in their entirety, taken to heart and remembered, it all more than cancels out. Ergo rejection slips are the most widely and attentively read short literary genre.
Each convention has it’s own personality, just like how every city has it’s own personality. Stumptown Comics Fest has one of the best personalities of all the conventions I have attended. It has a very do-it-yourself feel to the entire convention, with a strong feeling of optimism. Most of the artists and storytellers are self employed, or a part of a small artist collective. In fact, most of the tables are webcomics.
If you are looking for variety in your Speculative Fiction, Bull Spec is the magazine for you. The stories cover a wide spectrum for fans of all types. The reviews and interviews follow the same pattern. I believe that is wise if the editors are looking for a wide audience. I did see one thing that linked them all together. All the stories, as well as the subject in the chief interview, were a shade on the darker side. Could be it was just a coincidence but I worry it could become common because of the prevailing tastes. Knowing that all the works of fiction carry that same theme would make them predictable over time.
I’ve listened to every single Escape Pod story that’s been published to date, 239 full length episodes and many flash fiction extras. iTunes estimates 6.5 days of audio for all of this. And from all of those stories, I’ve picked my top 10 ranked favorites, along with 6 more that almost made the list. In truth, there were a lot more that I would’ve liked to put on the list, but I really wanted to keep it at a top 10, not a top 100 or 200.
In the last year couple of years I have been writing and submitting to science fiction markets, listening to science fiction story podcasts, and collecting and reading science fiction anthologies. I learned a lot about the about the submission process and a little about publication. What I was most surprised to learn was that there were not as many professional-paying markets as I had expected and that many well-respected markets only paid token amounts. Then there was the controversy this past fall that sprang from John Scalzi’s comments about low-paying markets not respecting the authors, and ‘new authors’ complaining that there were a limited number of professional markets and that they had limited access to them. It certainly appeared that there was room for another professional-paying market.
Having the first issue actually in my hands is a good feeling, but my commitment is to establish Bull Spec as an SFWA market by following up with quarterly issues for at least a few years. I think the “pie in the sky” hope for me is that a first-time author I publish has one of their stories picked up by one of the big anthologies, or nominated for an award. That would be a great feeling, to have been a part of getting them started as an author.
And the winner is: Damon Shaw. I’ll be sending a copy of Bull Spec #1 to the address of his choice. Congratulations, Damon!
Cell is one of King’s weakest books to date. The flaws of this book are different than his usual, so I’ll give him a credit for trying something different. Usually he spends the first three-fourths of a book giving character background before getting to the main plot of the book. This one was very short for him, at only 350 pages, and the action starts right away on page 2, but the characters in Cell are surprisingly lacking in defining features. Each of them is one-dimensional and none of them felt like real people to me.
It is astounding that a contest set up for amateur writers in the very narrow genres of fantasy and science fiction still thrives after 25 years. I bought that first addition, and many others that followed. This contest has spawned the careers of many of the writers you will see gracing the shelves of your favorite bookstore today. I could spend the time listing them but this review isn’t about the writers of past, but of the future.