Friday, December 29, 2006

The End Is Nigh

As 2006 draws to close, it's inevitable to look back and see where we've been and where we're heading. 2005 saw the first and only issue of IGMS, and much attendant excitement. 2006 saw only two issues released, one in March - the final one edited personally by Orson Scott Card - and one in October, my first as editor. I have to admit that I was immensely gratified to see issue three received so well by the readers.

2007 will see all four issues of IGMS that a quarterly schedule promises. Issue four is already together and just waiitng for art and one or two other finishing touches. We're looking to release #4 some time during the first week of February. Issue five is also nearly complete. This magazine will get onto a regular schedule and stay there. Period. That's what Scott hired me to do and I'll make it happen.

There are still a handful of authors waitng for final replies, but we've largely dug out from under the backlog of submissions. Of the several thousand stories that came in between June of 2005 and Dec. 2006, there are perhaps a hundred left that need a reply. So if you haven't heard yet, my apologies for the wait. On the other hand, realize that if you haven't heard back, that puts you in the top 5% of subs. For me that's the trickiest part because there's only room for about 1%. That means I'll have to reject(and already have rejected) some pretty darn good stories. I wish it were otherwise, but that's reality.

Right now I'm about to head out the door; we're visiting some family in the Baltimore area. And yes, I'm taking stories with me to read while we drive. I don't leave the house any more without a pile of stories printed out and ready to go with. In the mean time, happy reading and writing to you all. Thank you, every one of you, for your support, your encouragement, and your patience. I'll see you next year.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The True Meaning of Boxing Day

Happy Boxing Day to all. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas if you celebrate that holiday, and a great (_______ insert holiday of your choice here) if you don't. Christmas here was a pleasure, with extended family visiting just long enough for it to be fun and not a minute longer. The kids were, as always, what Christmas is all about, and I had a great time watching them tear into the entire day with gusto.

I also got a few nice toys myself. Near the top of the list was a boxed DVD set of Firefly , which I am looking forward to seeing for the first time, and the first season of the old, animated TV series, The Tick, which I look forward to revisiting from days long ago. Everybody say, "Roof pig! Most unexpected!"

I am also enjoying a book my wife gave me called Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies, the basic sentiment of which I whole-heartedly agree with. If you're a reader or a writer then you've got a leg up on many folks when it comes to grammar, spelling, and vocabulary, and - especially if you are a writer - you do want to do everything you can to get these things right. On the other hand, if you're fond out pointing out that someone used "who" when "whom" would have been the proper usage, or if you tell people they just used "laid" when they should have used "lain" I'm going to tell you to get a life. When the government decides to form the Punctuation Police and the Grammar Gestapo we'll give you a call; in the mean time, give it a rest before the rest of us decide to come find you and teach you the true meaning of Boxing Day.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Absolutlely Nothing

Yup, that's what I have to report (or I'd have reported it sooner). Working on web-site content for a landscape architect (yawn), the new issue of NCCNM (aka that darn business magazine) is out and I don't have to think about that until January. I haven't done any Christmas shopping yet.

Bought a few stories in the past few weeks for IGMS and have a couple rewrites in the works with some other authors. The good news, I guess, is that we are 100% caught up on the first reads (meaning everything submitted before Dec. 1 has been read at least once). There are still about 100 + stories that are in the 'read again' pile (and some of those folks still have to be notified that they are in the 'read again' pile), and about 25 people in the old 'read again' pile. But we are getting more and more up-to-date on the submissions with each passing month. This is taking longer than I thought it would, but then you don't get caught up on a year's worth of backlog (with new stuff continuing to pour in every week) overnight either.

On a vaguely related note, I have a few conventions that I am now officially scheduled to attend. RavenCon is late April in Richmond, VA, and ConCarolinas is mid-June in Charlotte NC. I'll mention them again when it gets closer to time to go.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Less Good Titles

I'm not saying they're bad titles, but they are, in my humble (but accurate) opionion, less good...

He Likes Dead Things
Vita Nova Ex Stellis Veniet
To Dream Of Hungry Elephants
Come To Me My Love, The Fireman Cried
Healing Pain(t)
Girl With One Green Eye and Cat

'nuff said.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Titles n' Personal Tidbit

Been reading a lot of slush this weekend (as you can see from my rant in the last post). Came across a couple of titles that I liked enough to share with you. Some stories made the cut and moved on to a second reading, some did not. But I thought these were all good titles.

Rhymes With Ihotep
Bed and Basalisk
The Bone Truck
An Alien Warmth
The Perils of Government Cheese
Dreaming of Mercy

The personal news is that I just an e-mail from Bruce Gehweiler, who is editing a cryptozoology-themed anthology (say that ten times fast) called Crypto-Critters II. The first Crypto anthology was successful enough that the publisher (Padwolf Publishing) asked him to do another, and Bruce's e-mail was to say that my story "Lair of the Ice Rat" will be in it. I don't know when the book is due out (some time in 2007, I'm pretty sure), so I'll have to get back to you with specifics when I have them.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Verification Rant

"My spam filter requires verification of your email address"

I am now officially sick of getting this message when trying to repsond to submissions. If you have submitted a story to IGMS, or plan to submit a story to IGMS in the future, or plan to contact me about anything IGMS-related, add igmseditor(at)yahoo(dot)com and igmstwo(at)yahoo(dot)com (symbols have been replaced with words for the obvious reasons; I know you know how to fix that) to your e-mail address book. I am not filling out any more verifications just for the privilege of contacting you about something you sent to me.

End of rant. You may now resume your regularly scheduled surfing.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Old News, But News To Me

This has to be an old review, but a friend just pointed it out to me today, so it's news to me. It's a review of a story that was published a year or two ago in Fusing Horizons, a British magazine edited by Gary Fry.

"Jeannie in a Bottle is apparently one of Edmund Schubert’s first ever stories, and if so is remarkably good. Jeanne is a nurse working in a centre for the mentally retarded. But then a new patient arrives… and turns out to be a [psychic] idiot savant with a vengeance! ... The ending is particularly well written, as Jeanne learns (but with no time to digest the thought) why you cannot ‘hold an ocean in a thimble’."

The reviewer (Steve Redwood) closed by saying this about the magazine in general:

"When Fusing Horizons was first announced, I thought ‘Oh no, here we go again, yet another horror mag, can’t someone come up with something different just for once?’ – so I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, both by this and earlier issues. OK, there are a few typical ‘horror’ scenarios here, but even they are often handled with a satisfying freshness, and other stories completely transcend the genre – or, to be more accurate, what many people think of as the genre. Highly recommended."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Rare and Beautiful Thing

I've commented in the past how I knew that I was lucky to have assistant editors weeding out the really bad stuff before passing the rest on to me. I am now, however, beginning to question that logic. You see, even as we brought in another assistant editor to help wrestle the pile of submissions into manageable size, I have also thrown myself hip-deep into the submission pile and been reading some of the first-round subs, too. And, oh, the joy I have deprived myself of. You see, there are not that many truly great stories. I wish it were otherwise, but anyone who reads or writes will tell you that truly great stories are just not common. Nor, it turns out, are truly dreadful one. Which does not stop me from enjoying them, mind you - the great and the dreadful?. Who knew reading slush could bring such wicked glee...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

General News

I got my first look at the next issue of NCCNM and must say that the new graphic designer has definitely moved it forward in terms of the look and feel of the magazine. There were any number of little things I wanted tweaked and adjusted, but overall it looks very good and I am quite pleased. Optimistic, even.

In IGMS news, I've just about got the line up for issues four and five set (just about) and Kathleen (managing editor) and I are looking at having issue four out around the first of February. That date isn't set in stone, but it's the target we're shooting for. It's four months from the release date of the last issue and to be truly quarterly we'll need to get it down to three, but it's good progress in the right direction.

I also just found out that the December issue of Locus magazine is going to have a review of issue three. I have no idea what the overall review will be, but I did get an e-mail from the reviewer, Rich Horton, a little while back, saying how much he enjoyed the cover story (Tim Pratt's "Dream Engine"). We shall see, shan't we?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Why I Love Being A Writer

Well, there are a lot of reasons, really... but in the past couple days I've gotten to take advantage of one of the best of them. Being a writer, you see, is a great reason (okay, excuse) to start conversations with people you would otherwise have next to no chance of getting time with. Specifically, in this case, I have, in the name of research, begun e-mail correspondence with the only two people to ever trek to the North Pole during the summer. It's research for the new novel I've just started, and I have to tell you when these guys answered my e-mails and said they'd be happy to help me out, I was as excited a ten year old at Christmas who just found out that the biggest present under the tree had his name on it.

I get to talk with guys who have been to the North Pole. Why? Because I'm a writer. I'm still pinching myself.

Have a happy Thanksgiving. (I know what I'm thankful for...)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Paper vs. Electronic (and a diatribe about style)

I was trading e-mails the other day with Doug Cohen, assistant editor over at Realms of Fantasy, about preferences for reading submissions on a computer screen vs. printing them out. It’s a very different kind of reading experience, paper vs. electronic, and even though the stories I’m reading (the ones I buy anyway) are going to be published on-line, I still have a major preference for judging them the old fashioned way. I believe I get a better feel for the flow of the story when reading it on paper, and flow is a big thing with me. I want everything about a story – from plot, character, and word choice, to seemingly little things like punctuation – to flow in a way that keeps me lost in the story. Anything that pulls me up and reminds me that I am reading a story is bad. Frankly, that’s why I hate pretentious, writerly writing. It tells me the author thinks he or she is more important than the story they are telling. A lot of people misinterpret me when I say this, thinking I don’t appreciate a fine writing style. Nothing could be further form the truth: I love a great writing style. I also see a tremendous difference between writing that has style, and writing that is about style. It’s the second I have no patience for.

(Now look what you’ve done; you’ve got me up on my soap box, preaching again.) (Get back to the point, Edmund…) (What was the point?) (Right, paper vs. electronic submissions...)

But anyway…

I have to admit that I had not anticipated the time, ink, and paper that would be required for this job. I'm beginning to understand why so many publishers won't accept e-subs: it shifts the burden from the writer to the editor. When you ask 500 writers to each print their own story out, it's not that big a deal. One editor printing out 500 stories is a very different cup of tea. But IGMS’s policy is and will remain: electronic subs. It does have some advantages, such as transferring them and editing them. C'est la vie. You can’t have it all. You really can’t even have most if it; where would you keep it?

Have a good Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 17, 2006

My new friend, Edgar

Twilight Times Books, the publishers of Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine has been added to the Mystery Writers of America list of approved publishers. This means (among other things) that they are now eligible to nominate stories to the preliminary ballot for the Edgar Award (the Mystery Writers version of the Nebula Award).

All of which is a lot of preamble to say that I just got an e-mail from the publisher/owner of Twilight times Books telling me that they are nominating my story “Good With Directions” (one of the featured stories in the May/June ’06 issue of Futures) for the Edgar in the category of best short story. It’s just a preliminary nomination, but it’s my first brush with a major award and I’m pretty excited.

(Insert picture of me with big dumb grin here: _____________;-))

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

That Darn Business Magazine

Yes, it's that time again. Time to get the next issue of NC Career Network Magazine together, which means (sadly) that things on IGMS slow down a bit. On the other hand, we've temporarily brought in a new assistamt editor to help whittle down the submission pile. Recently retired Air Force officer and former OSC Literary Boot Camper (apparently he didn't get enough Boot Camp in the military) Gray Rinehart has taken on a portion of the submissions that come in via the web-site and is diligently chipping away at the pile and forwarding survivors to me. One I get things in shape with NCCNM (hopefully by the end of this week), I'll be able to get to the rest of the IGMS goodies. If you find yourself getting impatient, just remember that I've now got someone sending out rejections who has been trained and authorized by the U.S. government to kill.

For those of you keeping score at home, if you recall the problems we had with the graphic designer during the layout of the last issue of NCCNM, we have hired a new designer. The only problem at the moment is that the designer the publisher decided to use is in Charlotte, NC, and 100 miles from where I am. So if things go wrong, I can't just pop into the graphic designer's office and beat him with a stick. Now I have to drive and hour and half first.

Or I could just send Gray...

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Rat Beneath The Ice

It occured to me today that since I'm now judging other writer's work, it would only be fair to occasionally put my own neck on the chopping block and let you all see some of what I write. I mentioned in a previous post that I'm working on a story for an anthology with a cryptozoology theme (Crypto-Critters II, published by Padwolf Publishing). The following is the opening that I wrote and then abandoned. I like it well enough (for an early draft), but it wasn't leading in the direction I wanted to go, so I wrote a new opening. But this is a prologue of sorts, it sort of has an ending (it doesn't just trail off or leave you hanging), so I figured I'd throw it out there for your entertainment.

(It's that or hear me bitch about that business magazine, which is mainly what I've been working on this week.)

The Rat Beneath Ice

It was January, 1932, and under a gray sky that hurt his eyes Nikolai Truyev knelt on the frozen ground to examine the bizarre treasure he had just unearthed. Nikolai and his fellow zeks – inmates at the Siberian Gulag – were digging a trench next to the Kolyma River, and he had just discovered a giant salamander frozen in an ice lens. Never in his life had Nikolai seen such an odd creature. It was half a meter long, with mottled bluish-green skin, a bulbous body, and eyes as black as a Siberian winter night.

What jumped out at Nikolai though, was as much where he had found it. The trench was three meters deep. A salamander, three meters down? Digging this trench was taking forever precisely because the Siberian tundra never thawed that deep. Never.

Nikolai was neither zoologist nor geologist, but he had learned enough at the university to know that this salamander must have been frozen here for hundreds of years. Maybe thousands.

From behind him, Sergei Solztnr startled Nikolai by swinging his pick axe into the lens where the salamander rested, and they both winced as ice chips sprayed. A series of cracks appeared where the pick struck, including a large dark line. Sergei swung again, his experienced hand guiding the pick precisely to the small dent his first blow had made.

Half a dozen swings later, Sergei had freed a hunk of salamander-filled ice.

“Hey,” Nikolai cried, “I found that!”

“Yes,” Sergei said, “you did. Congratulations.”

Nikolai started after them. “We have to figure out what it is. Where it came from. It could be important.”

Sergei whirled back and stuck his pick axe in Nikolai’s face. “Quiet, you damn fool, or you get nothing. If you want a share of your discovery, follow me.” And without another word, he dropped his pick to the ground and tucked the piece of ice under his coat. Nikolai followed Sergei and they trooped down the ever-widening trench to the edge of the Kolyma River.

At some point one of the officers running the Gulag had the brilliant idea that if they could divert the river, it would simplify their gold mining operation in the summer months. Whether it would work or not, no one knew, but even Nikolai, who had only been interred here for a little over a week, had learned that if the officers or guards said to do something, you did it – quickly - with no questions asked.

There were too many new prisoners being shipped to Siberia every day for one to be missed if anything happened to them – and in Siberia things “happened” all the time.

Puffing a small cloud with every breath he took, Nikolai followed Sergei along the bank of the ice-locked Kolyma, wondering what he was up to. Now that he wasn’t working anymore, Nikola was suddenly, painfully, reminded of how cold it was. Trying to dig through the frozen tundra was an exercise in futility, but at least it was an exercise that kept him warm.

About forty meters from the mouth of the trench, Sergei turned and clamored up the steep river bank, and when Nikolai climbed up behind him, he saw where the man was heading. By following the curve of the river, they had positioned themselves on the far side of the bonfire the guards had built. And at the moment all three guards had their backs to it.

Moving as stealthily as he could, Sergei crept up to the fire and held out his salamander. As he did so, he turned to Nikolai and put a finger to his lips, directing him to be silent as he crept up.

This made no sense. Given how unusual this creature was, Nikolai it they must be an important discovery. He had assumed they would turn it over to the guards, who in turn would turn it over to scientists who would study it. He didn’t see what difference it made if it was frozen or not. In fact, it occurred to him that it might travel better if it was still encased in ice.

Sergei, however, seemed to be in a race to thaw the specimen. Soon Sergei was thawing the salamander head first.

Suddenly Nikolai grew irritated with himself. Sergei’s salamander? He had found the salamander. He. Nikolai. Sergei had taken it away form him. Yet here he was, thinking of this thing as Sergei’s.

He was a bout to speak when Sergei took the salamander’s head between his thumb and forefinger and wiggled it up and down. It had thawed sufficiently to move, and the flesh was surprisingly pliable. Nikolai watched with fascination as the creature’s head bobbed up and down between Sergei’s fingers, as if saying, Yes, yes, very nice to meet you, too.

Then Sergei pushed the salamander’s head to one side and bit into its neck.
Nikolai could only watch in mute astonishment as Sergei clenched his teeth together, tore a chunk of meat from above the thing’s left shoulder, and gulped it down. He thought he was about to vomit, but suppressed the reaction through sheer force of will because he knew he couldn’t afford to lose the calories.

As Sergei went for a second bite, Nikolai shook himself free of his trance-like state and shouted, “No!”

Sergei stopped. Slowly, he turned to face him… just as the three guards did, too. An expression of horror washed over Sergei’s face.

“Well, well, well,” said the first guard. “What have we here?” He strolled around the perimeter of the fire, stopping in front of Sergei. His rifle was slung over his shoulder, but the other two guards had theirs in hand. As if the zeks needed yet another reminder who was in charge…

Nikolai stood tall and said, “I found this salamander and thought it might be important. I was going to bring it to you, but this lunatic took it and tried to eat it.”

Sergei did not respond. He simply crouched by the fire, looking like a caveman gnawing on bones he would not readily give up. His defiant expression melted the instant one of the guards cocked his rifle.

“Very interesting indeed,” said the first guard as he studied what Sergei held.
Nikolai took a step toward the guard. “Based on where I found it, I think it might be very old - ”

One of the guards swung the butt of his rifle into Nikolai’s stomach, dropping him to his knees. As he gasped for air, he was vaguely aware of the sound of laughter around him. When he looked up, he saw the laughter was coming not only from the guards, but from Sergei as well.

The guard snatched the salamander away from Sergei and then hunkered down next to Nikolai. He said softly, “This is a valuable thing, tovarisch. I promise we will examine it thoroughly.” He then stood back up and said loudly, “Now get back to work, all of you.”

The two zeks trudged back toward the trench, but Nikolai allowed himself a smile, comforted by the guard’s promise. He may have alienated his comrade, but it would be worth it if that salamander was as ancient as he believed it to be.

But as Nikolai climbed back into the frozen ground to resume his work, he spotted the guards rigging something over the fire with tree branches and their rifles and immediately realized what a naïve fool he had been.

Examine it thoroughly? In this era of Soviet double-talk, where prison camps were “corrective labor colonies” designed for the “re-education of class enemies,” he should have known what the guard meant.

But just as quickly, he saw it would have changed nothing. In Siberia, where the difference between guards and zeks was simply that guards got to cook their thousand year-old salamanders before they ate them, Nikolai knew he had to adapt – quickly - or die.

* * *

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Channeling Harlan Ellison at WFC in Austin TX

Okay, so what I meant to say was that I ran in Gordon Van Gelder in the restroom and ended up talking with him for a while, despite convention con wisdom that you don’t try to engage editors and agents and such in conversation in the restroom. What I actually said, however – in an elevator stuffed to overflowing with 150 people, was, “Hey, I know I’m not supposed to, but I grabbed Gordon Van Gelder in the restroom…”

The crowd in the elevator went silent and they all took a half-step backward.

And this was but one moment in what was undeniably the best, the most fun convention I have ever attended.

Mary Robinette Kowal, art director for the wonderful small press magazine, Shimmer, (and a professional puppeteer working in Iceland (how cool is that?)) had a side-splitting story about a marionette show gone wrong that we couldn’t get enough of. We dragged her around the con and made her tell it to everyone we could pin down. It doesn’t translate to print nearly as well, though, so you’ll have to grab her yourself at a con and get her to tell it.

The staff of Shimmer (Mary (who also performed the audio bonus for the second issue of IGMS) and editor-in-chief Beth Wodzinski) threw a fantastic pirate party to promote their upcoming pirate-themed issue (guest edited by John Joseph Adams – book reviewer for IGMS (in addition to work he does for that other mag)). And agent Lori Perkins threw a great party for Jennie Rae Rappaport, who writes an amine column for IGMS. So it was an IGMS con, whether folks knew it or not.

I also met Carol Pinchefsky, who I didn’t know was at WFC until an author at the pirate party told me she had just been interviewed by someone who wrote for IGMS – “a Carol Pinch-somebody” according to that author (who had had a little too much of an Icelandic schnapps Mary brought called “Black Death”).

I met a few new folks (new to me anyway), ranging from authors like Julie Wright and Katie Murphy (who writes under C.E. Murphy) to some up-and-comers with a lot of promise like Peter S. Beagle and Joe Lansdale. I also had some interesting conversation with Jay Lake, who said my wardrobe selection was subtler than his “the same way that a car wreck was subtler than a train wreck.” Jay's analogy went on to include explosions and flying cows and such. You know, the usual.

Friends Alethea Kontis and Eric James Stone, who I hung with at DragonCon (okay, tagged along with – they are so much cooler than I’ll ever hope to be), were kind enough to allow me to do so again. And Rick Fischer, who lives not far from me in Greensboro, NC, never missed a chance to tell my “grabbed-Gordon Van Gelder” story.

I got to meet Gavin Grant and Kelly Link, who do the Year’s Best Fantasy for St. Martin’s, Patrick Swenson of Fairwood Press and Tale Bones magazine, and James Van Pelt. I picked up one of Jim’s short story collections (The Last of The O-Forms) on the recommendation of the aforementioned Eric James Stone and have been thoroughly enjoying that. I also bought Ken Scholes new novella, Last Flight of the Goddess (another Fairwood Press title) and am looking forward to reading that. Ken and his lovely wife Jen were a real pleasure, and if you ever meet Ken, be sure to ask him to perform some of his magic tricks; they are spectacular.

All in all, it was by far the most fun I have ever had at a convention. My only regret was not getting out to see more of Austin TX; a group of us had plans to go to a blues club called Antones, but we had to cancel that at the last minute and everyone was quite disappointed. I’m sure there were panels and other things of great import going on, but you’ll have to check somebody else’s con report for info on that. This is already getting to be a lengthy entry and I promised a long time ago that I would never become one of those people who posts twenty page con reports.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Shameless... in, shameless self-promotion. But I'm gonna do it anyway, because if I don't, who will?

I'm pleased to you all that I've come to a final agreement with LBF Books, a small-press operating out of Pittsburg, PA.

LBF will be publishing my novel, The Legend of Dreaming Creek, next summer, with an official launch date most likely in June or July. LBF is on Preditors & Editors list of recomended publishers and they use Baker & Taylor as their primary distributor. For a brief synopsis of TLoDC, you can visit my website:

Also, I am leaving this Thursday for World Fantasy in Austin TX. I'll be back early next week and will give you a full report then.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

More On Titles

Okay, then… before we were swarmed upon by the authors published in the latest issue of IGMS, we were talking about titles. Had a nice little chat about good titles, with the promise of then taking up the subject of bad titles, and it’s time to pick up that topic and run with it.

Honestly, I don’t see a lot of titles that I would describe as being outright terrible. The biggest problem is usually one-word titles that are completely lacking in distinction. Not bad, so much as feeble. Titles like:

“The Cure “
“The Talent”/“Talented”

I’ve seen multiple stories with these one-word titles, or else variations that are quite similar. Now, a bad title doesn’t automatically mean a bad story. One of the three – yes, three – stories submitted in the last six months with the title “Expectations” is going to be published in an up-coming issue of IGMS. It’s just not going to appear with that title (I’ll leave it to the author in question to decide if he or she wants to publicly confess to this title in the next installment if “Stories Behind The Stories,” but I’m not going to be the one to out him/her.) Heck, I’ll even admit to having a story with a working title of “Expectations;” I just made sure when it went out the door it had a better one.

The problem with these one-worders is that they don’t do anything to grab a reader. Titles are like first lines; you want them to grab the readers attention, raise a question in the reader’s mind, and compel them to read the story. At the very least they should convey something of what the story is about.

Occasionally I do get a few titles that are just plain old bad titles. Usually this happens when the author is trying to be cute, and let me tell you in no uncertain terms that cute is never going to score any points. With anybody. Ever.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Stories - Dale

Oliver Dale

Xoco's Fire - Story behind the story

I didn't write a glamorous story, and I'm afraid the story behind the story
bears no more sparkle. It didn't strike me with a bolt of inspiration. It
didn't pop like a greek goddess fully-formed from my forehead. That's not
how stories ever work with me. And, between you and me, I hate writers that
have it so easy. Pure jealousy, you understand.

So let's see....

I like dark fantasy. I always have. And I like to write it even more. It
probably originates with me watching my mother read an early story of mine
(I haven't been doing this for so long -- perhaps they're all still early
stories) and cringing. Such a primal reaction. I mean, they're just words
on a piece of paper, people. Black specks of burned toner that stuck to a
pressed and bleached slice of tree carcass. Nothing magical. Yet by
looking at them, you can convey an entire mood, a feeling, a story, an
emotion. You can creep people out, make them giggle, scream, cry, have
nightmares. I love that. Don't you? And that's pretty much all I
ever aim for when I write a story. As it turns out, giving nightmares has
always been easier for me than being sentimental. Whenever I try, I end up
writing the evil lovechild of a Hallmark card and a Lifetime movie. So I
stick with the blood, and the guts, the smoke, the crushed desires, the
sacrilegious pain.

"Xoco's Fire" started like most of mine do. It was a single, incomplete
idea at first. I pictured fire from the sky -- an omen. I thought of a
daughter born of privilege, but that privilege came with a burden, one that
no one would ask for. Then, like many writers, I asked why. And why, and
why, and why? Until I had a character I liked. Until I had a story I
didn't hate, and a bad guy I really did.

When I finished, it was 900 words long. For those of you not familiar with
this sort of thing, 900 words is like a freakin' fortune cookie. It's
nothing. Just a wisp of a story. And it wasn't very good. So what did I
do? That's right, I submitted it. And it got rejected. Oh yes, my
friends. Your surprise matches my own. Of course I realized then that my
why questions all got boring answers and that I didn't ask enough of them.
So I started over, and suddenly 900 words became 9000.

It took a year to write. It took another year to sell. Then it took half a
year to get published. This ain't a business for the impatient or the

And that's the process. Totally glamorous, right? I'll be in my trailer
getting powdered if you need me.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Stories - Kontis

The Princess with Butterfly Wings
by Alethea Kontis

Do you ever play “Traceback”?

You’ve let your mind wander, and suddenly, you’re thinking about something totally bizarre and not at all what you were pondering in the first place. Or you’re having a conversation that takes an interesting turn…and you wonder just how you came around to that topic. So you stop and try to recall exactly what steps took you from hot-air balloons to Kevin Bacon.

I call it Traceback. It’s one of those games that people with busy brains play all the time. (The sad part is, we actually find it entertaining.)

Sometimes I play Traceback with my life, just to be perverse. How exactly did I get to where I am today? If I was making an Academy Award speech, who would I thank? The icing on my Destiny Cake is full of fingerprints: great teachers and horrible bosses, neighbors and enemies, co-workers and ex-boyfriends, distant relatives and friends closer than blood. Like every great production, my life wouldn’t be what it is without a countless number of people influencing it just the way they did, exactly when they did it.

The Butterfly Effect.


Now I know why many people at the Oscars thank their parents, and God.
I suppose if you’re going to start, it’s wise to start at the beginning.

One of the most popular interview questions asked is “When did you start writing?”

I have an answer to that question that reels to the surface a perfect memory of 8-year-old Alethea staring at a poem she had just written and smiling as the world clicked around her.

But the stories started with Casey.

My father, fairy tales, and Casey.

In a family steeped in oral tradition, my father is the consummate storyteller. He tells tales of our ancestors, his childhood, his friends, his trips around the world. So inevitably, the first stories I ever wrote in school were essays about my crazy life—or the crazy, magical life of the girl I could have been—but they were always about me.

Sometime around the age of eleven, I was moping around the house (as eleven-year-olds do). I slumped at my mother’s feet and whined, “Tell me what to write.”

“Go write me a fairy tale,” she said. “A new one.”

I suppose if I hadn’t been moping quite so loudly, I would have heard the world click again. Like it did later that year, when I met Casey.

She was a bit of a misfit, like me. She had thick glasses, a mouth full of braces, a mop of long, curly champagne blonde hair, and a soul like sunshine. She was affectionately called “Beaker” by the popular kids, but she would just smile at them and retreat back into her own little world…her own little world full of books and princesses and unicorns and notepads and pencils. A little world very much like my own. We didn’t pass notes in class—we passed a notebook. Whenever we got bored of one world, we’d just make up a new one.

She was my first heroine.

We started a novel, about the adventures of a silly blonde princess named Casey and a dark-haired Queen of Thieves. We spent days at my house on the dock writing paragraph by paragraph, scene by scene, each page switching between Casey’s fat, round scrawl and my neat and tiny letters. We spent nights at her house, playing Super Mario Brothers and eating pizza and lying on the trampoline and wishing on stars. I stayed up ‘til the wee hours one night teaching her how to count to ten in Greek (which she still doesn’t remember). I spent ages one morning painstakingly untangling the rats’ nest in the back of her head that had appeared out of nowhere in the middle of the night.

When my first love broke my heart and I cried myself hysterical, she brought me pansies unceremoniously ripped from the bed in her front garden. We got jobs at the same movie theatre and spent the hours between shows behind the concession stand composing ridiculous odes to popcorn. When I was lonely at college in South Carolina, she invited me up to UT Knoxville for the weekend and arranged a gathering with all her friends. When she got married she asked me to be a bridesmaid, and I wrote a rehearsal dinner speech that left the guests in happy tears.

I had a nervous breakdown and moved to Tennessee to work in a library.

Casey got her PhD in Victorian Literature and moved to Virginia to be a Professor of Women’s Studies at William and Mary.

When I attended Uncle Orson’s Literary Boot Camp in the summer of 2003, Casey went with me. Not in the physical sense, of course, but in the age of computers and cell phones anything is possible. Thank goodness, too.

Because I was scared.

I had warned her to be available at all hours of the day or night—especially when we were assigned the inevitable 24-hour story. I had never attempted anything so bold in my entire life. And I knew I would never be able to do it without Casey. I had her on speed dial.

My lifeline was available at the push of a button.

Our 24-hour story had to be based on one of the story notecards we had done for homework the night before. Like a dutiful student, I had completed all seven. I had a young woman who lived in the Black Forest region of Germany in World War Two, a Victorian Royal Society of Lady Etchers and an alchemist, a man with incredibly bad luck who took it out on his wife…right before she found a winning lottery ticket in his pocket while doing the laundry and decided not to share—and four other stories unremarkable enough to be similarly unmemorable.

The World War Two story was by far the best, but despite Mr. Stafford’s conscientious tutelage for two years in high school, my knowledge of both the world and the war was sketchy at best. The Bad Luck Man was fun, but cliché. The Lady Etchers were an interesting concept but the story was weak, and once again my disturbing lack of history reared its ugly head.

Which might have been a problem…for someone whose best friend didn’t have a PhD in Victorian Literature.

I pushed the button.
It was roughly 11pm on Tuesday night.
I felt like I was cheating…but I was too scared to care.

Casey and I stayed on the phone for at least three hours, hashing out the details of the story while I frantically scribbled down every bit of Victorian minutiae Casey deemed important.

The words “good-bye” that night were heavy with reluctance, and I forced myself to sleep.

When I got up the next morning, I didn’t leave the bed. I crossed my legs, pulled the laptop onto the pillow, and opened up a new document. I had a fascinating idea and a rich world…I just needed the perfect character.

Human instinct is to regress in times of great desperation.


So I started with my princess. My first heroine.

I started with Casey.

Only this time, her name was Minna.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Stories - Maxey

Maxey - To Know All Things That Are In The Earth

Blog article: warning, it's long and full of spoilers.

Sometimes, writing involves a certain amount of time travel. My first
published novel, Nobody Gets the Girl, was the fourth novel I had
written. The next book I have coming out, Bitterwood, was the third novel I
wrote. So, my first novel is my fourth novel, my second novel is my
third novel, and, should I be fortunate enough to publish a third novel,
it will probably be my sixth. My career is a walking time paradox.

Similarly, when I wrote "To Know All Things That Are In The Earth," I
hadn't yet understood the life lesson that rests at the heart of the
story. I penned the first draft of this story last February, as part of
the "Codexian Idol" contest. It was an odd story
to write in some ways. Bluntly, I'm an atheist--anyone who has followed
my career to any extent at all has no doubt noticed a strong vein of
nihilism running though my stories. So, what am I doing writing about
the Rapture?

I confess: I miss the Rapture. I was raised a Christian and deeply
anticipated the rapture through much of my childhood. I spent many, many
hours imagining it. I could see it quite clearly in my childish
mind... the skies ripping open with an earth-shaking roar, heavenly light
flooding every shadow as angel bands poured down to gather the chosen. I
fervently prayed for the rapture to happen during tough times...
getting raptured up before gym glass would have been quite a relief to my
twelve-year-old self. Even after I stopped labeling myself a Christian, I
would find myself having little Rapture fantasies about what I'd do in
case I was wrong. I figured, in case of Rapture, I would run off into
the woods and hide for seven years to avoid the Mark of the Beast. My
dad had a good collection of hunting and fishing equipment. I felt
pretty sure I could make it. One night, when I was about 18, I was in bed
on a silent winter night. It was snowing. This was one of those dark,
introspective nights when newly minted atheists sometimes lie awake
contemplating the consequences of being wrong. It was about four in the
morning. Suddenly, the bed began to shudder. Then the whole house
shook as a terrible rumble broke the stillness. Bright lights cast shadows
on my wall as they approached the house. I sat up, sweat popping from
every pore. The Rapture! But, no, it was only a snowplow, getting an
early morning start on the roads.

So, I can trace specific moments of this story back two decades to my
close call with the Rapture. But, the central epiphany of the story is
something that I learned much more recently... after I wrote it.

When I wrote this story, my girlfriend Laura Herrmann was dying from
cancer. He had breast cancer that had spread to her lungs and liver; the
radiation reports described the tumors as "innumerable." And yet, it
was very difficult for me to understand what was killing her. The
tumors were tiny. They were tracking things two millimeters long and making
a big deal when they grew to three millimeters. Three millimeters
isn't very big. So why couldn't she breathe? I'm a science fiction geek,
I know a thing or two about biology, but I still found myself
completely at a loss to understand how she was dying. I never asked why. Why,
I knew. She had cancer. But, how was cancer killing her? Was there
anyway to fight it? Why wasn't surgery an option? What did it matter
if she had things smaller than houseflies growing in her lungs? Lungs
are big things right?

Wrong. On Labor Day weekend, four months after Laura passed away, I
went to the Atlanta Civic Center and saw "Bodies: The Exhibition." This
is a show where actual human cadavers have been treated with plastic to
preserve them. They are then flayed to various stages and posed to
reveal the inner workings of the body. It's a morbid idea, so, of course,
there was no way I could pass up a chance to see it. Finally, I saw an
actual human lung. The cadaver it was attached to was a woman whose
facial muscles were hauntingly similar to Laura's. It was easy to
imagine flesh over them once more. And, beneath the face and neck, I finally
saw the size of adult female lungs. They're not big at all. I
imagined them filling up all the space under the rib cage. In fact, they are
actually squashed up rather high in the chest. I could easily have
held them in one hand. Suddenly, the tiny tumors made more sense. There
isn't a lot of space to start with. This was further driven home when
I saw a lung actually riddled with cancer. While Laura struggled with
her disease, I would have given anything to have x-ray vision; I wanted
to know what was happening inside her. Here, I could see it. I had
been imagining the tumors as distinct objects, not really a part of her.
Instead, the preserved tumors looked like the bodies own tissues
knotting and knitting themselves. There isn't a clearly visible break
between the diseased cells and the healthy ones.

Finally, I saw a body where red plastic had been pumped into the
circulatory system, preserving it, before the rest of the body was dissolved
away. What remained was a ghost of blood. The shadows of the organs
were clearly visible in the highways of veins. Nowhere was more rich in
blood vessels than the lungs. Laura passed away from bleeding in these
tissues. Again, I suddenly understood how this was almost inevitable.
With all the blood passing through the lungs, it's understandable that
diseased cells will eventually damage the tiny network of delicate

When I left the exhibit, I felt as if the unanswered questions I'd had
about Laura's death had been answered. And, it occurred to me that,
I'd written about this moment months ago; the moment when being able to
answer "How?" provides a measure of comfort and relief that will forever
elude us if we only ask, "Why?"

I didn't consciously set down to write this story about losing Laura.
But, looking back, I identify with my protagonist strongly when, in his
frustration to understand, he plunges his hands inside the cherub's
corpse and begins to root around for answers. I wanted so badly to know
what was going on inside Laura; I think this is how those feelings made
it to the page.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Stories - Dolton

Brian Dolton

The Box Of Beautiful Things:

1 - The Title

Titles come from all kinds of places. There's a Scottish singer-songwriter called Jackie Leven who has some really great song titles (and some really great songs, though the two don't always match up). On one of his albums is a song called "Burning The Box Of Beautiful Things", which I just thought was a great image. So I decided to write a story about the box. I just didn't quite know what the story was...

2 - The Story

On-line, I hang at a writing group called Liberty Hall, run by the wonderful Mike Munsil. There are weekly writing challenges; you get ninety minutes to write a story, kicked off by a trigger, which may be a word, a quote, a song lyric, a picture... anything. It's a great way to get butt in chair and actually produce stories. Back last year, the trigger was a picture of a doll, with a porcelain mask and a vivid purple robe. I looked at the trigger and, as I usually do, I just started writing; and what I started writing began "There was only beauty in the great box.." Under 90 minutes later, I had the story, and I sat back, and for once (and this is a very rare thing for me) I said to myself "I've just written something bloody good". Critiques by other members of the site helped me hone it down a little, but it really didn't get changed much. Mostly, it's there, just the way it was in that 90-minute period of intense inspiration.

3 - The Character

Heh. That's another story. Indeed, that's a lot of other stories. I'm really hopeful that everyone's going to be seeing a lot more of Yi Qin.


There you go.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Stories - Mojica

Jose Mojica

“Fat Town”

I was writing computer-programming books three years ago when I decided that I wanted to write the kind of books my mom, wife and kids could read, especially my kids. I found out about Uncle Orson's Boot Camp and I decided to attend to work on my craft. One of the assignments was to walk around town and get a story idea from looking at the surroundings. Almost every house I passed had kids' toys in the backyards and front lawns, but I never saw a single kid. My mind started generating ideas for where the kids could be. Then I walked by a school. Actually, I wasn't sure it was a school. It looked more like a prison. (I hope I don't offend anyone with this.) I thought, 'What if all the kids from town are actually being held captive by an evil school principal? She lets them out once a year and they get to choose their families for the summer. On the last day of school, parents stand by the sidewalk waving toys and candy...' I pictured people waving huge cakes, ice cream, donuts, etc, in an attempt to lure children into their homes. Luring kids with candy reminded me of Hansel and Gretel, and that's how Fat Town was born. The next day I read my story idea in class, Mr. Card was enthusiastic and helped me shape some of the characters. Then, I reread Hansel and Gretel before writing the story and made sure to sprinkle mine with a few details from the original. Some are pretty obvious but some aren't -- I hope people discover them as they read the story.

One of my favorite characters in the story is Fran. She's the older sister of the main character, Herb. Her whole goal in life was to be a cheerleader and to torment her younger brother. Originally I had meant for her to be there only to make Herb's life a living hell. But she surprised me at the end.

I like writing young adult fiction, because high school was one of the hardest times of my life. My family moved from Puerto Rico to Michigan when I started 9th grade. I didn't speak English, and I had never lived in weather below 70 degrees, and of course we moved in the middle of winter. It was very difficult, and when I write I gravitate towards that time in my life. Although to the best of my knowledge I don't remember my principal being a witch.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Stories - Continued - Novy

Continuing the stories behind the stories in issue three of IGMS, here's Rick Novy, author of "The Adjoa Gambit."


I live in Arizona near Phoenix. There are three Indian reservations in the Phoenix metropolitan area: Fort McDowell, Salt River Maricopa, and Gila River. One day, I started thinking about how in many cases, the indigenous Americans were pushed out of their ancestral homes by invaders who intended to settle on their land. Then, they were given the crappiest land available--land that these people were ill-adapted to live on.

As a speculative fiction writer, I took that a step further. What if the entire earth were invaded, and we were all pushed off our land. Where would our reservation be? Obviously, the reservation had to go on the worst possible land on the planet, the only place we don't already live, Antarctica.

This story starts well after the reservation is up and running so I avoided all the problems with infrastructure. It already exists when the story begins. Some of that infrastructure is primitive, like the ice mines.

The three reservations in the Phoenix area all have something in common: casinos. In fact, "Casino" was the working title for this story. Taking the parallel one step further, I had envisioned humans buying luxuries with Proc money they made with casinos. For that to work, the casinos needed patrons, and thus was born the Proc penchant for gambling. It became part of who they are, a part of their culture, or at least the subculture stuck minding the store at ARIP.

I ended up eliminating the casinos, but kept the gambling as a Proc nuisance trait, but it's a trait that can be very dangerous to the unwary.

The main concept of the story, that of the Olympio family losing their dome, was easy to come up with. This falls back to the gambling. What is the worst thing you can lose in a harsh environment like the Antarctic? Your shelter.

The story was not the easiest to write. At this stage, I made a first stab, but only got as far as Shannon meeting the new family in the rations line, then I got stuck because I really didn't know where the story was going yet. Usually, I need to know the beginning and the end before I can write. The fun part for me is watching the characters figure out how to get from beginning to end. The problem here was that I didn't really know the end. I envisioned Shannon liberating the earth and owning the Procs with orbital casinos. That was far too ambitious for a short story, and probably not plausible anyway.

It was only after I started wondering who this strange family was that the true plot began to emerge. When I discovered that the still-unnamed eldest child was the only one that could communicate with Shannon, I knew she was going to be a major force in the story.

I wanted this family to be from somewhere remote and different from the western world, and became Africa. At the time, I had a co-worker from Togo, so I spent some time with him learning enough about the culture to write the story.

He also gave me a list of names. Koffi and Kossi you might recognize from the current leader of the U.N. For the women, he gave me a list, and I used the one I liked most for this pivotal girl, Adjoa.

As to the actual writing, it was fairly difficult to write. Several false starts dogged me, but I finally ended up with about the first half written in stolen moments on my little pocket PC, an HP iPAQ. The second half was written on my regular computer. I often move partials off my iPAQ to finish them more efficiently.

During the critique cycle, I had many suggestions. It left me unsure of the story, and so it sat on my hard drive for six months before I reread the story and decided to submit the story without revision.

There were two suggestions in particular that nagged at me, and they are inter-related. The first suggestion was to use Adjoa's point of view, the second was that Adjoa's taunting worked too well.

I ultimately decided to stay with Shannon's point of view because the story really is about her willingness to sacrifice herself to help others. To me, the climax of the story is her decision to wager her own dome to try winning back the dome the Olympio family lost. The blackjack game is really just a long denouement. While Adjoa's point of view would have made an interesting story, it would have been a completely different story.

Adjoa's taunting to win the blackjack hands is meant to indicate that this is not about the gambling at all. It's about power and intimidation, and Adjoa succeeds because she turns the Proc against himself. Would it work for her again? Probably not.

One interesting sidebar is that this story is one of the few I've written with very little male population. The Procs don't count because they're aliens. Larry, the preacher, is really just a token man. He fills an important role, but he also demonstrates that some men are in the reservation. Still, most of the male population at ARIP are children.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Stories Behind The Stories - Tim Pratt

Introduction: The Story Behind the Stories

When it comes to short story collections, one of my all-time favorite authors has always been Isaac Asimov. Why? Not because he wrote such great stories (though he did write great ones); rather, it was because he took the time to write anywhere from a few lines to a few paragraphs about each story. The story behind the stories. Sometimes I’d go through his collections and read all introductions before I read any of the stories.

To get a glimpse into the author’s mind about what he was trying to accomplish, or how the story was born, or the assorted trials and tribulations the story caused or endured – that fascinated me. I think anyone who has ever uttered the phrase, “I would loved to have been a fly on the wall when…” can appreciate that. And given how much I love stories - long, short, printed, on the big screen, it doesn’t matter; I just love stories – the opportunity to be a fly on Isaac Asimov’s wall was a real treat. Maybe it was that secret part of my soul that, even then, longed to be a writer. On the other hand, maybe it was nothing more than that fundamental aspect in all of us, that thing in our basic human nature which simply relishes feeling like we’re “in” on someone’s secrets. Or maybe it was, C) all of the above. Didn’t much matter. I loved those introductions.

Well, for the next few weeks I'm going to be bringing you the stories behind the stories published in issue three of InterGalactic Medicine Show. I'll post two a week until all our authors have been heard from, and we'll kick it off with a few words from the author of our cover story:

Tim Pratt

"Dream Engine" is something of a hodgepodge story, combining various free-floating ideas I've had for years.

I've always liked weird cities -- from Edward Bryant's Cinnabar to M. John Harrison's Viriconium to China Miéville's New Crobuzon, and I've long wanted to create my own bizarre urban setting. I came up with the idea of a city at the center of a multiverse, a big messy organic sprawl built up on the spinning axis of the great wheel of the multiverse, with whole discrete universes whirling around it on all sides. Conceiving of such a place raised obvious questions. How would such a linchpin city be populated? How would they feed and shelter themselves, how would they trade, etc.? At some point, reading about the collapse of the former Soviet Union, I came across the word "Kleptocracy," to describe a state ruled by thieves. That seemed perfect. The denizens of my city -- which I called "Nexington-on-Axis" -- are magpies of the multiverse, snatching buildings, people, animals, and even hunks of land from passing planets, planes, and dimensions. I knew I'd hit upon a great setting, one where I could do almost anything. I wanted the city to have weirdly alien rulers and a Regent with a hidden agenda, and so I created them.

But a setting isn't a story.

The notion of a man who kills people in his dreams -- and the question of whether he would bear responsibility for those murders -- has fascinated me since high school, and I made a few attempts at writing that story over the years, without success. I realized how I could apply that old idea to my new setting, so I decided to give it a try. At that point, there was a setting, and something that could easily become a plot. All I needed was a protagonist.

I like detectives, from literary ones like Auguste Dupin, Sherlock Holmes, Sam Spade, and Hercule Poirot to newer media detectives like Veronica Mars and Adrian Monk. (I'm also fond of fictional bounty hunters, assassins, and secret agents.) A weird city like Nexington-on-Axis would need some kind of detective/enforcer, and who better than Howlaa Moor, a shapeshifting rogue of no fixed gender, who serves the state because the only alternative is death or imprisonment? (The no-fixed-gender thing did provide an interesting challenge when it came to pronouns, so I chose to use one of the several invented gender-neutral sets of terms: "zim" instead of him or her; "zir" instead of "his" or "hers"; "zie" instead of "he" or "she," etc.)

I'm a big fan of sidekicks, so it seemed natural to give Howlaa zir own Dr. Watson, in this case, the bodiless tattletale know-it-all Wisp. They seemed like perfect foils -- Howlaa can transform into virtually any living shape, while Wisp has no physical body at all, just a charged field of floating motes.

Once I had setting, plot, and characters in mind, the story was remarkably easy to write, and it's a world I expect to explore further. Howlaa and Wisp have a lot more adventures in them, I think.

You can link to my blog at

best, Tim

"Dream Engine" is now available at

IGMS Issue Three Live

Issue three is live.

Congrats to all the writers.

We've actually been ready to go for a while now, except for some of the art work. We finally made the decision to go ahead anyway with what we had. All that missing at this point is the piece to accompany James Maxey's story (which the artist has promised us will be done very soon).

Obviously I'm very pleased. I hope when you read it you will be too.


Sunday, October 01, 2006


My interview with author Steve Savile about the Horror Writers Association mentoring program (originally published in The Horror Library and recently reprinted in Dark Recesses) has been permanently added to the HWA website (,

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Story Titles

Story titles are frequent topics of conversation with readers and writers of all kinds, though I do think science ficiton and fantasy and horror lend themselves to more interesting titles. And readers and writers (and editors) ask a lot from titles; we want them to to convey some essense of what the story is about, to intrigue the reader (hopefully enough that they want to read the story), and to do so in a way that verges on the poetic. That's not easy.

Here is a short, randomly arranged list of titles I have seen lately in the IGMS submission pile. These are titles that I liked, or was at least intrigued by.

The Shadowman's Heir
When I Kissed The Learned Astronomer
A Congregation of Casseroles
Skyscraper Dance
The Frankenstein Diaries
Bonpo of Bees
Joe Halo
Mermaids Don't Drown
Dark Vegas
Tides of Moon and Bone
The Most Stubborn of Tears

That last one ("The Most Stubborn of Tears") is an interesting case. I thought "Tears" meant those salty things that flow from your eyes when you're sad, but reading the story made it clear the author meant "Tears" to be what happens to your shirt when it get caught on a fence and you keep going anyway or what you do to a piece of paper to turn it from one piece into two. Just goes to show that you have to pick your words carefully and use them in a context that makes it clear what you mean. I ultimately rejected that story, not because of the title, but I will say that having expectations of one kind get turned into something completely different doesn't help an author's cause either.

As a writer, the title that always got the best response was from one of the first stories I ever wrote. It was called "The Trouble With Eating Clouds." I still like that one; if I'm ever fortunate enough to publish a collection of my own short stories, that will be the title of the book, too.

On the other end of the spectrum are bad titles. I'll get into that next time.

Monday, September 25, 2006

General Update

The good news is that issue three of IGMS should - and I say should because you never know what last-minute glitches will rear their vile heads - should be out in the next week or so.

For those writers who are waiting on a reply to their submissions, that, unfortunately, is going to take a bit longer. I've just started putting the next issue of NC Career Network Magazine together, I've got a short story for an anthology due by the end of this month, I signed a contract to edit a non-fiction book, and I also took on a project to write the web-content for an advertising firm's client. Not as glamorouos as working on IGMS, but projects that all come with decent paychecks. Since I've yet to figure out how to eat the glamour associated with being an editor, I have to do these other things, too.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Apex Alert

If you love to read SF the way I do, you'll know why I say that I don't want to see any science fiction magazine fold. Unfortunately that's the possibility Apex Digest is now facing, which is why today I'm directing you to go here for details:

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


I've noticed my last few posts have been getting a little on the long side, so this one will be brief. I just wanted to let you know that the interview I did with Mur Lafferty for her podcast "I Should Be Writing" is now live: it's her entry for September 14th. My sending you there is a something of a leap of faith, as technical difficulties have prevented me from hearing it myself. Someone drop me a note if I sound like too much of a fool...

Sunday, September 17, 2006


When Doug Cohen, assistant editor over at Realms of Fantasy, interviewed me a few months ago for his blog, he asked if I thought being editor of IGMS had helped my writing. I told him I absolutely thought that it had, primarily because it let me see how much good writing was out there, and that I now understood that “good” was no where near good enough. What I hadn’t yet realized was that this new perspective was a double-edged sword. I now also see all of my own writing through the eyes of an editor, and it makes writing anything a real challenge because it has to live up to a higher standard. And this "editor" thing that is growing in my brain is not shy about saying, Hey, you're going to have to do better than that.

That’s not a bad thing, mind you. Just a lot more work.

Take for instance the short story I’m working on right now (the one I mentioned in my last entry here (Thrusday). It’s called “The Rat Beneath the Ice" and it's due in thirteen days. I was chugging along pretty well until I came to the conclusion that the writing was okay, but the pacing was too slow. I was on page 12 or 13 before I finally showed the “creature” the story was about, so I boiled the opening down from six pages to one, thus moving the main action closer to the beginning.

But in rewriting my beginning I also lost my “hook,” so now I had to re-write the opening so there would be something to catch and hold the reader’s attention. Okay, so I did that and got back to work, writing, writing, writing.

Then, right before I went to bed last night, I re-read my story again, and came to the painful conclusion that although the pacing was better, I was relying too heavily on the curiosity factor without giving the story’s characters compelling reasons to do the things they were doing. And if there’s nothing compelling the characters to act, there’s usually also nothing compelling the reader to read.

So now I’ve devised what I believe will be significantly more compelling actions and motivations for the characters. And, again, the story will be better for the time and effort of yet another major revision.

But God help me, I hope that’s going to satisfy once and for all this fiend inside me called “editor,” because he is making it awfully difficult for me to get any writing done.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Another Day, Another Deadline

I wish I had something new to report with IGMS, but we’re still waiting for the final pieces to be put in place, and still aiming for a release date around the end of this month.

I've also set my own novel aside for the moment. Several reason for that, mostly coming out of DragonCon. One is that I talked at DragonCon with an editor from Penguin and she told me that 'historical' pieces don't really sell that well, and even a genre story set in the 1930's would be considered historical fiction. So I'm trying to work out a way to make my new novel (working title: Waxing Human) contemporary. I have a few ideas, but need to do some more research before I start writing. No point in writing something a NY editor tells you ahead of time is going to be a tough sell.

Also, at DragonCon I got invited to submit a story for an anthology called Crypto-Critters. It's an anthology using creatures from cryptozoology, including mythological creatures like unicorns and mermaids, 'mystery' creatures like Nessie and Big Foot, and appearances of creatures thought long extinct. The first antho is out and is doing so well they're already working on the next one. I told the editor I had read and enjoyed Crypto I, and he told me he had an author cancel on him last minute for Crypto II and offered me a slot in the book. Only now I have to come up with a finished, polished story by the end of this month. It's supposed to be about 5,000 words long, and I'm up to almost half that now. I was further along, but then I realized the opening I had written was slow and could be boiled from six pages down to one. Doing so made the story read better, but it also set me back about 1,200 words. Such is the life of a writer, I suppose.

And lastly, I also just made a deal with someone to edit a non-fiction book for them before they send it to their agent. It's not an exciting or glamorous job, but the pay is decent and I'm going to have to get that done as quickly as possible, too.

So that's what happening in my world. What's new in yours?

Monday, September 11, 2006

My First Resume

Many folks today are talking about the events of 9/11/01, which is only natural, given that this is the 5th anniversary of those horrific events. But for better or for worse, I'm not going to. I grew up in New York, and although I moved away a long time ago, it will always be home. I have an old childhood friend who worked in one of the Towers who was supposed to get married two days after the attack. She got out alive, but too many others didn't. The wedding went on, but you can imagine what a somber event it was. Because of that (I suppose), the events of 9/11 are still too painful for me to confront head on. I have made a studious point of avoiding the TV today because I know it will be innundated with images from that day.

Instead (as with so very many things in my life), I'm going to go in the opposite direction from the masses; I'm going to tell you a little anecdote from my days in NYC. Folks have asked what path lead me to become an editor, so I'm sharing this bit of personal history. This was step one on my road to editorial fame and fortune:

My First Resume, or
(Good God, y’all – what is it good for…)

I’m not sure which yet, but the world is full of either poetic cosmic signs, or random, meaningless coincidences. Let’s assume for a moment that the poetic-cosmic-sign theory has some validity and I’ll tell you about the first thing I ever did with my resume. This story goes back nearly twenty years now, but I remember the details as vividly as if it happened only two decades ago. It’s one of my best drunken party stories, though, and it’s high time I committed it to paper.

I lived in New York at the time, and when I first began job hunting after graduation, I answered a help wanted ad in the New York Times that brought me to one of the multitude of employment agencies around Fifth Avenue and Fortieth Street.

In the agency’s office, I took a seat, along with fourteen other Recent College Graduates, and waited breathlessly until the powers-that-be called me to meet my “career counselor,” who eventually told me I was not only qualified to interview for a human resources position they were trying to fill for the famed auction house Sotheby’s, but that she could get me into Sotheby’s for an interview that same day.

This, however, turned out to be something of a mixed blessing. The good news was that I had my resume with me: it was concise, impressive, type-set and printed on heavy, tan paper. The problem was that I had folded it up in quarters and stuck it in my jacket’s breast pocket. This, my counselor informed me, was no way to treat a document so sacred as a resume.

Determined to save the day, my career counselor so she photocopied a half dozen copies of my poor, abused resume and then sang Allah’s praises when the creases didn’t show.

With my resume now safely protected from further harm by a manila envelope, I made my way on foot through the streets of New York to my first-ever job interview. Unfortunately, the closer I got to Sotheby’s, the more it became clear if I didn’t find a restroom, and find one soon, I was going to have to skip the interview for reasons of personal hygiene.

Miraculously – and if you’ve ever looked for a public restroom in New York City, you know the order of magnitude of miracle we’re talking about here - I found a fast food restaurant with functioning facilities, went into a stall, threw my pants down around my ankles, and did what I had to do.

Close call averted.

It was only after my great relief that I became aware, with even greater dismay, that something vital was conspicuously absent.

There was not a shred of toilet paper. Anywhere. Not in my stall, not in the adjacent stall; not nowhere. I stood on tiptoe and peered over the divider, confirming with a growing sense of panic that there weren’t even paper towels in the dispenser next to the sink.

I was, if you’ll pardon an unpardonable pun, in deep do-do.

It was at this point that my eyes fell on the manila envelope with my photocopied resumes…

And it really wasn’t a tough decision to make.

I sat back, crumpled and uncrumpled the pages several times to make them as soft as possible - and ended up at my interview with a smile on my face that no one could figure out, and only one copy of my resume. It was folded neatly in quarters.

Did I get the job?

Are you kidding me?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Parting Plug

Returning to the subject of DragonCon, I do want to talk briefly about meeting Jason Sizemore, the editor in chief of Apex Digest, and Jetse de Vries, one of the editors of Interzone. They shared a table in one of the dealers’ rooms, so I bought a couple issues of their respective magazines, and got to chat with them.

I mainly talked with Jetse at the dealer’s table, and the big Dutchman is quite a character. Later I had several opportunities to talk with Jason (over lunch one day, and dinner another). Though both meals were with groups, I got to know Jason a bit better. I’m not going to go into detail about what we discussed, but suffice it to say that both Jason and Jetse impressed me as knowledgeable, passionate people, who love what they do and are committed to doing it very well. And their work reflects their commitment. Both magazines are excellent reads, and look gorgeous, too. If you haven’t tried one or the other, find a copy of Apex or Interzone; I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Dragon On Home

And a good time was had by all.

Let's see... DragonCon 2006...

Got to plug InterGalactic Medicine Show here and there (which was kind of the point of going).

Got to hang out with a good group of writers.

Got to meet a few editors, including book editors from Tor and one from Penguin, as well as Jason Sizemore of Apex Digest and Jetse de Vries of Interzone.

Got to see some crazy people in crazy costumes (they tell me one woman was wearing a bikini made entirely of duct tape, though I never saw her myself). I did see somethings I could have lived without seeing, but they that one room full of 25 to 30 Princess Leia's in slave girl outfits more than made up for it.

Got interviewed for a podcast called "I Should Be Writing," produced by Mur Lafferty (I'll tell you when and where to find that as soon as I know myself).

Got invited to have a story in an upcoming anthology called Crypto-Critters II (I ran into the editor of the first Crypto-Critters antho (cryptozoology - the study of 'unknown' creatures, which, yeah, is really quite the oxymoron when you think about it)) and mentioned to said editor that I had read and enjoyed Crypto I. He told me it was such a success that he was doing another, but one of the writers had had to cancel out, so he gave me that guy's slot. That didn't suck.

What else...?

Here's a fun moment: I'm sitting in a dinner with a group of people, waiting for a table to open up. We've been waiting a while, so I start reading poetry to the group (and anyone else unfortunate enough to be sitting near by)(one of our group is in grad school and happened to have a bunch of poetry with her (this is why hanging out with writers is so much fun)(okay, okay, enough parenthetical enclosures already; on with the story...))) anyway... my cell phone rings. I see that it's from another one from our group, Alethea, who we've been trying to reach, so I answer the phone saying, "Ed's dinner and poetry reading corner, how may I help you?" Only it wasn't Alethea; it was Kevin J. Anderson (the Kevin J. Anderson who's written a gazillion books, you ask? The one whose next Dune novel is set to debut at #3 on the New York Best Sellers List when it comes out in a few weeks? Why yes, that's the one...) Apparently he had dinner with Alethea the night before and had her cell phone. It’s somewhat embarrassing to get your first call from someone like that and answer the phone that way, but embarrassing stories are the best ones, so the next time I see Alethea (and ask her if she'd gotten her cell phone back), I tell her this story. She tells me she's already heard it. Apparently Mr. Anderson was telling it, too. I haven’t decided yet if I’m amused or mortified (which, you’ll note does not prevent me from telling it again here).

I’m sure there’s more, but as I’ve said before, I despise con reports that go on for 20 pages. DragonCon was DragonCon (if you’ve ever been, you know what I mean; if you haven’t ever been, you’ll just have to go see for yourself). Special thanks to my con partners in crime, Alethea Kontis, Steve Saville, James Maxey, Eric James Stone, Jason Sizemore, Oliver Hanson (m-bop), Ada Brown, Gary Rinehart, Helena Bell, and Allen Moore, who made a good weekend great.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I'm Off To See The Wizard

Well, I'm packing and getting myself ready to leave for Atanta and DragonCon this afternoon.

I'm making headway on the pile of stories for IGMS, learning a lot in the process. I've winnowed the last year's worth of submissions down to a final 40 (not counting the 8 or 10 I've already accepted) and have to decide how many more I want to accept. I don't think I'll take more than about 15 or so, otherwise it would take me a year or more to get them all published. After waiting so long for some of these stories to be read, I don't want to ask authors to wait another year to be published. I don't think that's fair.

And although I'm nearly caught up on my pile, the asst. editor still has over 300 more stories sitting on her computer, so the work is far from over. In fact, maybe it's time to ask for a raise.

The artwork for issue three is starting to trickle in. We're now announcing that the issue will be ready by late September. I think we've got some great stories, stories that people will enjoy reading. And that had been my goal all along - bringing people stories that are a pleasure to read. Fun and funny; cool and thought-provoking; stories that are about something. I think that's what people want, and I think that's something that, to be blunt, has been missing from a lot of short fiction that's been published lately. Literary 'artistry' be damned, I just want someone to tell me a good story.

I'll be back from DragonCon on 9/5/06. See you then.

Monday, August 28, 2006


I got an e-mail from a writer recently who said something about submitting a story to IGMS "before the gates closed." When I e-mailed back and asked what he meant by that comment, he said he thought he had seen or heard something about IGMS closing to submissions. I'm not sure if this writer misconstrued something I said earlier, or if he simply got bad info from other sources, but let me be very clear: I don't ever intend to close IGMS to submissions. Period.

I think it's a bad editorial decision to close a publication to submissions, and here's why: if you close for submissions, eventually you have to reopen to them again. And when you do, you will - guaranteed - find yourself inundated with stories that have already been sent to - and rejected by - a host of other magazines. Sure, you'll get a few new stories, but you'll also get a pile of leftovers. I don't want leftovers. I want the best, and I want them first. That's how you produce a top-quality magazine. IGMS will never be anything less than a top-quality magazine. Not on my watch.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Dragon On

A week from today I'll be at DragonCon (look me up if you're in Atlanta). Issue three of IGMS won't be available before DragonCon, but with a little luck we'll be close enough to it that when I get there I can make a formal announcement as to when it will be. We are veeeery close...

Also, while I'm there I'll be doing an interview with Mur Lafferty for her podcast, I Should Be Writing. When I have details as to when it will be available, I'll let you know. Mur told me one of her listeners is an IGMS fan who knew I would be at DragonCon and suggested she do the interview. Many thanks to the mystery IGMS fan.

Since Kevin Anderson is a Guest of Honor a DragonCon, I'm reading (devouring is more like it) his (and Doug Beason's) novel, Ill Wind. How did I miss this one before? I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic stories and this is one of the best I've read in a long time.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Something To Loook Forward To

As we get closer to the publication of the next issue of IGMS, I've asked all the current group of contributors to give me a write up about their thoughts, ideas, hopes - whatever they wanted to say - about the stories they wrote. Call it The Stories Behind The Stories. So when the next issue of IGMS goes up live, I'll start running those stories here on Side-Show Freaks, one every couple of days.

It'll be loads of fun - or at least pretty freaky...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hi Honey, I'm Home...

I told you I was going away on vacation; vacation means no computers. I went on a friend's computer once to check some baseball scores, but that was it. No blog, no web-site, no e-mails. The only "work" I did was a bit of reading - which I always do while we drive around - so that doesn't really count. (It's read, or talk to my wife and kids - you do the math.)

I read 26 stories while we were on the road, clearing out everything that has been passed on to me by the assistant editor, Sara Ellis. Last I heard she had read everything submitted through early May, so once I send out this last batch of rejection (or not) e-mails to these 26 authors, I will have done at least one reading of everything submitted through the web-site and passed on by the assistant editor. There's still a smaller pile submitted directly to OSC by people who have been invited to do so (mainly Boot Camp grads and a handful of other, established authors), but that is a smaller pile and shouldn't take more than another week or two at the most.

Issue three has been filled already (I'm pretty sure I mentioned that recently) and I've bought the first few for issue four, too. Right now I'm thinking that I will buy no more than enough stories to fill through issue five and then after that cut everything else loose. That will book IGMS through next spring's issue and frankly I don't want to hold anyone's story for any longer than that. I don't think it's fair to authors to make them wait a year or more to see their work published, so for better or for worse, that's the plan.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

That Darn Business Mag Again

Well, it's either that darn business mag again or I can rant about the organizers at DragonCon, who decided I was not important enough to merit guest status at their little soiree. And who wants to hear me rant...?

On the other hand, I did just get word from the publisher of North Carolina Career Network Magazine that between the new bookstore sales, subscriptions, and other mailings, we are increasing our production this issue to somewhere around 15,000 issues. It's nice to know we're making that kind of progress. I look forward to the day when IGMS has those kinds of numbers, too. Soon, soon. (Then those dogs at DragonCon will rue this day... )

P.S. Just got a pile of print-outs from IGMS's managing editor Kathleen Bellamy. It's the stories from issue two, which I'll be mailing out to the various Year's Best editors. Best of luck to authors Brad Beaulieu, David Farland, Ty Franck, William Saxton, Scott Danielson, Al Sarrantonio, Eric James Stone, and, of course, our own Orson Scott Card.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Years Best?

Just got an e-mail from Gavin Grant giving me his and Ellen Datlow's mailing addresses. He wants me to make sure I send him (and Ellen) copies of everything we publish each year to be considered for their Year's Best Fantasy and Horror anthology. It was nice to know IGMS is not only on their radar, but enough so that they sought us out.

Submissions Update

Just so you know, the reading progresses at a good rate and we're hoping to get as caught up as a magazine can be. Getting caught up on submissions is a little bit like getting caught up on the washing the dishes though: no matter how much you do, people are always making more. However, all the stories have been selected for issue three and are in the process of being sent out to the artists who will illustrate them. I won't put a specific date to it, but know that we are very close to having the next issue ready. If things go as planned, by time the end of September gets here you'll already have a new issue of IGMS in hand (your virtual, digital hands), and we'll be entirely caught up on the backlog of story submissions.

At this point I'm now about 65% of the way through the second round of readings, and still expect to be done within the next month. I'm going on vacation for a bit, but I'll take a pile of stories along to read while we drive (well, while my wife drives; slushing and driving can be hazardous to your health). I also told Sara (assistant editor and first-round reader) that once I get caught up on my own pile, I'll dive in and help her knock hers down, too.

My ultimate goal is to have one of the fastest turn-around times in the genre. I know what it's like to wait and wait and wait for a response, and I want people who submit to IGMS to know they'll hear something quickly; either that their story is going to be published or that they're free to move on to other markets. I want IGMS to be fast because I want a lot of submissions coming in. The more stories we have here to choose from, the better stories we're going to be able to publish. That's just the simple law of averages. And my bottom line is that I want the best stories for IGMS.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Issue Three Cover Story

The cover story for issue three of IGMS has been sent to the artist who is scheduled to provide a full-color painting to accompany it. The story, "Dream Engine," is by Tim Pratt (author of a multitude of popular short stories and novels), who said this about having his story appear in InterGalactic Medicine Show:

"I think it's one of the best stories I've ever written, and I'm very pleased to have it appearing in your (and Scott's!) magazine. Scott was one of my earliest teachers (I did a workshop with him way back in 1996 -- a decade ago!) and it means a lot to have something of mine appearing in the magazine that bears his name."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


The next issue of NC Career Network Magazine gets uploaded to the printing company today - finally. What a change this was from the last issue. Last time we put the whole thing together in a 4-day blitz that nearly killed me, and I swore it would never be that way again. This time the process managed to string out over 5 weeks and you know what? I'll take the 4-day blitz over this Chinese water-torture every time. But it's done. It has to be; it's off the printers. Thank God.

That means now I can focus a lot more of my time and attention on the IGMS pile of stories. I've been chipping away at them all along, and I'm about 40% of the way through the pile. Of those stories I've read so far (for those of you keeping score at home), I've rejected about 2/3 of them, and contacted the authors of the other 1/3 letting them know I liked their story enough to put it in my "read again" pile. I've bought 5 stories, had Scott buy 1 more, and am working with one author on rewrites of a story I think is very close to being ready. I've got enough stories to fill one issue of IGMS and am working on filling the next one. We are still waiting on some of the art for issue #3, as well as Scott's new Ender story, but hopefully that will all be done soon.

P.S. For the record, Yes, the "read again" people are being notified.

In unrelated news, here's a link to my monthly non-fiction column for the Horror Library:

It's an interview with author Steven Savile about the HWA Mentoring Program.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Querying After Short Stories

The subject of querying about short stories came up recently and I thought I share the gist of my answer, since it seems relevant.

I think it's perfectly reasonable to query approximately 30 days past the publisher's guideline-stated period. I also think it's in the writer's best interest to keep said query as brief and polite as possible because whether they admit it or not, editors with an overwhelming workload will seize upon an excuse to reject a story and make the stack that much shorter. If it really is a case of a sub getting lost or overlooked, I believe editors will do their best to rectify the situation, but beyond that... I'm not saying don't go there; merely sugesting that if you do, tread lightly.

As far as IGMS is concerned, I am trying to strike a balance that reflects the fact that there are stories that have been out there for almost a year, and a smart editor knows that without stories he has no product to offer. So I’m trying my best to be helpful. I’m a writer, too, and I know what it’s like to be on that side of the equation. If you have a story that you’ve submitted to IGMS and you haven’t gotten an answer yet, pretend you submitted it in June (when OSC hired me), and base your decision to queries from that point forward.

The best advice I have for you is that after you submit a short story to a market - any market - forget it exists and go write a new one.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Writing Advice I Strongly Agree With

1) In what is believed to be the last essay ever written by Frank Herbert, he responded to a question about the most important piece of writing advice he ever got.

“The single most important piece if advice I ever got was to concentrate on story. What is “story”? It’s the quality that keeps the reader following the narrative. A good story makes interesting things happen to a character with whom the reader can identify. And it keeps them happening, so that the character progresses and grows in stature.

A writer’s job is to do whatever is necessary to make the reader want to read the next line. That’s what you’re supposed to be thinking about when you write a story.”

2) Known for his brevity, Larry Niven simply said, “Your reader has his rights. Tell him a story and make him understand it, or you’re fired.”

In a more long-winded moment, he said:

“Start with a story. Tell yourself a story. Are you in this to show off your stylistic skills? They’ll show best if you use them to shape the story. Calling attention to the lurking author hurts the story.

A good stylist really can turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse; and he’ll be forgotten in favor of the average yokel who had just brains enough to start with silk.”

Other advice:

Gene Wolf:

“When you write a story of your own, you start with a good idea. You work hard because you notice the harder you work, the better the story gets. Then you discovered the story doesn’t have the effect on others that you know it should and you don’t know why. I’m going to tell you – watch my lips.

You didn’t do much with your idea. You unconsciously assumed that because it was such a fine strong, sleek and even potentially dangerous idea, it could run the story by itself.

If I could give you one piece of advice…, it would be this: Think of yourself as a wild beast trainer, and your idea a s a big cat in a show; walking out onto stage and saying, “Hey, look at my lion,” isn’t going to cut it. Is your idea going to jump through a hoop of flame? Is it going to climb onto the shoulders of two other ideas and roar?

You’ve got an idea…, and that’s good; now let’s see you put your head in the idea’s mouth.”

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Thirty-Six Hours

Getting lots done, which is good since there's lots and lots and lots to do. But I feel so good about my progress that I had to share. Kids went up to my folks for three days which certainly helps.

Let's see, I finally finished my editorial for NCCNM (which I've been struggling with for 5 or 6 weeks), edited a piece Sheila (publisher of NCCNM) sent me at the very last minute (after telling me we had to cut the current issue from 60 to 52 pages because of increased costs from our printer), got my newspaper article postponed until next week (does that count as getting something done?), edited a humor column for a friend, and wrote the best non-fic article for the that I've done yet (I've only been writing them for a few months now, but I think this one is particularly good. I'll post a link when it goes live in next month's issue).

On top of that, I figured out some important things about my new novel (working title: Waxing Human) and used that info to write a pair of three page prologues (Prologue The First and Prologue The Second) that I think really crank up the tension. I’m excited about the direction things are going with that.

And last but not least, I traded a bunch of e-mails with Kathleen Bellamy today (OSC’s assistant). I recently sent him the complete list of the stories scheduled to appear in the next issue of IGMS. Unfortunately he is, in Kathleen’s words, “utterly buried trying to finish this novel." This is a problem because we’re all hoping to get a new Ender-universe story out of him for IGMS before we post the next issue, so it’s looking like we’ll have to wait a bit longer than originally planned before that issue goes out. C’est la vie. (She also sent me almost as many new stories as I’ve read this week. I think it’s a plot…)

All in all, though, not to shabby for a thirty-six hour span. I guess busy people do get things done. Tomorrow is dentists chair, then graphic designer's office for the rest of the day. I told my wife if I got done at a reasonable time I'd take her out to dinner in the evening since we'll both be in town anyway. Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, July 24, 2006

One and a half panels

TrinocCon: the short version. (I hate con reports that go on for twenty pages and vow never to post one.) (For the record, I was not a guest at this one; I just went to hang out.)

Hysterical roast of David Drake Friday night; moving but not too somber memorial for Jim Baen Saturday night. Somewhere in between there were panels, I’m sure, but I missed most of them. This was partly due to the fact that the panels were weak in subject matter when they could have been great if they had been designed to let the amazing line-up of guests shine. But they wasted writers like Gene Wolfe, John Kessel and Dave Drake, as well as a host of editorial visitors from Tor and Baen on weak panels like “Humor in SF” and “Violence in SF” and "Do You Really Need An Agent?"etc. etc. On the other hand, I was having such a great time talking with a wide variety of folks that I can’t say for sure I would have attended a lot of panels anyway.

As I already mentioned, Alethea and Steve stayed at my house Thursday night. It was the second time I had ever met her and the first time I had ever met him. But they’re both writers and editors and they needed a place to stay, so I put them up. Then Friday night the three of us stayed at author James Maxey's (we’re all writers and editors and we needed a place to stay, so he put us up).

Saturday Oliver Hanson and a friend, Helena Bell (spec fic poet), also came to Raleigh for the con. So we had three of the authors (Alethea, James, and Oliver) scheduled to appear in the next issue of IGMS in one place. We had a great time. Oliver was the posterboy for patience because he got abused more than any man since Job (as well as being a great source of interest to our she-male waiter at dinner Saturday night (which, naturally, only got Oliver more abused). Helena was the class photographer and I expect her to send numerous pictures, which I will post as soon as possible. And I got to chop and hack large hunks of meat and bone with a real sword, so I was a very happy boy. Nothing makes an editor happier than a big, heavy, sharp sword. You want to submit something? Go ahead, punk, make my day.

From Thursday through Saturday night, I don't think I ever went to be before 2 a.m., so it was a great con. Even if I only attended one and a half panels…