New Story “Her Very Shape…” Now Online

I’m pleased to report that my story “Her Very Shape and the Way She Says My Words” is featured in the September 2013 issue, number 24, of newmyths.com.

This is actually a very short flash piece, by far the shortest thing I’ve ever published. It’s just 800 words, for those who keep track of such things.

Here’s the site: newmyths.com

Click on the “Issue 24” link (at present that’s at the top, though if you see this link later, it will be under “Past Issues”) and scroll down for the Table of Contents.

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Recent Past and Near Future Activities

After yesterday’s post about my story “No Mask to Conceal Her Voice” being accepted for the King in Yellow themed issue of Lovecraft eZine, I realized I may have created some confusion. Last week I posted about being cheered-up about having received word of a story acceptance I couldn’t talk about yet. These are actually two separate stories.

I thought this might be a good time to recap some of my recent publications, and also talk a bit about some of the things I’ve been working on, and a few things that may be coming up.

Just recently I made this post, If You Want to Read My Work, which summarized some of my recent publications. Read that for basic information about (and links to) four things I had published in April, May and June.

I have three things presently accepted, but not yet published.

1. The story I announced this morning, “No Mask to Conceal Her Voice,” is bound for Lovecraft eZine in the next few months.

2. The acceptance I hinted about last week. I don’t want to name the story or venue until I hear back from them about when that will occur.

3. My story “May Dawn Redeem What Night Destroys” is upcoming in the Current 93 tribute anthology Mighty in Sorrow, edited by Jordan Krall and to be published by Copeland Valley Press. It’s been a while since I heard an update on this one, so I can’t speculate on a publication date. The book should include some really cool stuff.

I’m still at the stage of this writing endeavor where much of what I write is “on spec,” and may or may not wind up being published, depending on the whim of the slush pile gods and goddesses. What I’m working on is a question distinct from what I’ve published, or will publish soon.

I’ve spent the past 5 weeks working on “No Mask to Conceal Her Voice,” which was written in response to an invitation from editor Joseph S. Pulver Sr., for the special King in Yellow themed issue of Lovecraft eZine. The way such invitations work is somewhat variable.

A writer always hopes an invitation means “I know what a good writer you are, and if you send me something as good as I expect from you, I will accept it.” Sometimes, that’s what the editor actually means.

Other times, an invitation actually means, “I believe you’re good enough that I don’t mind getting something from you, which I will add to a pool of stories, basically a slightly more exclusive slush pile.”

Writers hope the invitations they receive are more of the former, less of the latter. Most of the time, we don’t really know until you get the acceptance, or the rejection.

Sometimes, the invitation is something in between. Maybe the editor invited 50 people to submit for 20 slots, and 40 of the 50 actually submitted something. So the editor has to reject about half of what he received — far better than slush pile odds, but still not close to a sure thing. In this case, your story has to be above the average for that pile. Again, you don’t really know until you get the YES or the SORRY.

Before the King in Yellow thing just finished, submitted, and accepted the same day, my nine most recently finished stories had met so far only with rejection. I mention this in case it’s of interest to writers coming up, seeing a writer seeming to find a bit of success. That writer may have a bunch of acceptances to crow about, and several books and magazines appearing with their work in it. That writer might also still be receiving far more rejections than acceptances.

Before the acceptance for “No Mask to Conceal Her Voice,” finished yesterday, the most recent “finish” date of any of the stories I’ve had accepted is 14 months ago! In other words, everything I’ve written since last summer has met with nothing but rejection so far.

So far in 2013 I have made about 55 submissions:

2 acceptances (‘Arches and Pillars’ which I finished in June 2012, and ‘No Mask to Conceal Her Voice’ which I finished yesterday)
43 rejections
10 submissions still pending

I consider myself lucky that I’ve had so many people interested lately in my work, so I don’t intend this post’s focus on rejections to seem negative. I thought it might be of interest to other writers to see that someone whose work is starting to appear in some nice books and magazines still continues to get quite a few rejections.

“No Mask to Conceal Her Voice” Coming to Lovecraft eZine

My latest story “No Mask to Conceal Her Voice” has just been accepted by Joseph S. Pulver Sr. to appear in the special King in Yellow themed issue he’s guest editing for Lovecraft eZine. This issue should appear in a few months, perhaps December or January.

This is my second time working with both Pulver (who edited The Grimscribe’s Puppets, in which my story “Diamond Dust” appeared) and Lovecraft eZine (my “Nectar of Strange Lips” appeared in the April 2013 issue).

I especially loved Pulver’s King in Yellow themed anthology, A Season in Carcosa, which I reviewed HERE. Though I missed out on a chance to appear in that book, I’m very pleased to have this opportunity to submit my take on Carcosa and the King in Yellow to an editor with such a special love of that mythos.

I’ll have more information about this as publication approaches. It occurs to me that this story is also noteworthy in that it’s my longest piece of fiction to be accepted for publication. I’ve written longer before, and am about to tackle a hefty novella, but at 6,900 words this will be the first thing I’ve published over 5,000 words.

My thanks to Joe Pulver and Mike Davis of Lovecraft eZine for providing this opportunity!

The Fundamental Units of Story

For a long time, scientists believed the atom was the fundamental building block of matter, until they realized even the atom could be broken down into something smaller.

My writing improved significantly a couple years ago when I made the conceptual adjustment from the practice of asking of each story, “What is this story trying to say?” to instead looking at each scene separately, and asking, “What is this scene trying to say?”

A story isn’t a unilateral movement, or a single tone. Looking at a story in aggregate, it can be difficult to answer the question “What is this? What am I trying to accomplish with it?” Breaking it into scenes makes this easier, and that change in approach really helped me to write more effective fiction.

Increasingly I believe the fundamental unit of story is not the scene, but a “sub-scene” unit I refer to as the “beat” or “movement.”

When I break my stories down into scenes (working in Scrivener makes this simple), it’s easier to make sense of what each scene is meant to accomplish — where it’s headed, what kind of emotional tenor would work. Even then, a scene might contain two or three separate movements, each with a distinct impetus and effect, or a different tone.

I’d like to write more about this, possibly give examples of how breaking up stories into “beats” or sub-scenes has helped make my writing more effective. Yes, it’s possible to look at smaller blocks of text within a conventional word processor, but it’s harder to view them as distinct units of story, separate from what comes before and after. For me, this is the primary advantage of working in Scrivener.

Black Static 35 is Really Real

I mentioned a few weeks ago that Black Static issue 35, containing my story “Arches and Pillars,” would appear imminently.

Since then I’ve seen a number of people, mostly located nearer the UK headquarters of TTA Press (which publishes not only Black Static but the science fiction focused InterZone and crime-focused Crimewave magazines) have received their copies. It didn’t seem quite like a real thing until my own contributor’s copy arrived.

It’s real!

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bs35int

bs35rear

This isn’t my first publication, or my first print publication, or my first publication in a venue of prestige, or my first publication with an illustration. It’s especially wonderful, though. I have a very high regard for this periodical, and this is the first time I’ve held a copy in my hand (after buying several Kindle issues). It’s beautifully designed and well-produced, on nice, white paper. I think I’m going to have to get a proper subscription.

If you haven’t seen Black Static before, you might consider picking it up.

My story is “Arches and Pillars,” and it appears along with work by Steve Rasnic Tem, Daniel Mills and others. I mean to read all of these and write at least a brief report. My thanks to editor Andy Cox for picking up my story.

“Arches and Pillars” in Black Static 35

My story “Arches and Pillars” is set to appear in issue 35 of Black Static, the July/August 2013 issue. I’m very proud and excited to have my work appearing in a magazine Ellen Datlow described as: “The most consistently excellent horror magazine published.”

Black Static 35

In addition to my story, the issue also includes fiction by Steve Rasnic Tem, Daniel Mills and others.

Also, during July, Black Static is offering free copies of issue 35 to all new subscribers. More information about the offer HERE.

Writing Activity, Recent and Upcoming

After an extremely busy blogging schedule during and after the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival last month, I’ve taken a bit of a blog break, despite a lot happening on the writing and publishing fronts. Here’s a bit of a summary.

APRIL
“The Lure of Devouring Light” appeared in Apex Magazine, my first professional publication.

MAY
“Nectar of Strange Lips” appeared in Lovecraft eZine.

JUNE
“Diamond Dust” appeared in the Thomas Ligotti tribute anthology, The Grimscribe’s Puppets.

JULY
“Arches and Pillars” will appear in Black Static Magazine.

AUGUST
“May Dawn Redeem What Night Destroys” is scheduled to appear in Mighty in Sorrow, a Current 93 tribute anthology.

Also in August, my wife Lena and I will be attending NecronomiCon Providence in Rhode Island. This will be a chance to revisit good friends, and meet new ones. Can’t wait!

The Grimscribe’s Puppets – Now Available

I’ve mentioned several times before my excitement about this upcoming book, The Grimscribe’s Puppets, a Thomas Ligotti tribute anthology edited by Joseph S. Pulver Sr.

grimscribespuppets

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Livia Llewellyn “Furnace”
Daniel Mills “The Lord Came at Twilight”
Michael Cisco “The Secrets of the Universe”
Kaaron Warren “The Human Moth”
Joel Lane “Basement Angels”
Darrell Schweitzer “No Signal”
Robin Spriggs “The Xenambulist: A Fable in Four Acts”
Nicole Cushing “The Company Town”
Cody Goodfellow “The Man Who Escaped This Story”
Michael Kelly “Pieces of Blackness”
Eddie M. Angerhuber “The Blue Star”
Jon Padgett “20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism”
Robert M. Price “The Holiness of Desolation”
Michael Griffin “Diamond Dust”
Richard Gavin “After the Final”
Scott Nicolay “Eyes Exchange Bank”
Simon Strantzas “By Invisible Hands”
Paul Tremblay “Where We Will All Be”
Allyson Bird “Gailestis”
Jeffrey Thomas “The Prosthesis”
John Langan “Into the Darkness, Fearlessly”
Gemma Files “Oubliette”

I’m very excited to appear alongside so many great writers! Now that the book is finally available to purchase, here are some links to the various places to order.

MISKATONIC RIVER PRESS (the publisher – direct from the source)
http://www.miskatonicriverpress.com/products/gp.shtml

AMAZON (often cheapest, depending on ever-changing discount percentage)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1937408019

BOOK DEPOSITORY (free shipping anywhere in the world, probably cheapest for buyers outside North America)
http://www.bookdepository.com/Grimscribes-Puppets-Joe-Pulver/9781937408015

BARNES AND NOBLE
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-grimscribes-puppets-joseph-s-pulver-sr/1111377514

The Lure of Devouring Light Endorsed Again

Another nice review of my story “The Lure of Devouring Light,” which appeared in the latest April 2013 issue of Apex Magazine.

Last week, a Locus reviewed that issue of Apex, and singled out my story for the “RECOMMENDED” stamp of approval. That recommendation is hard to come by.

More recently, an English reviews site called SF Crows Nest did a similar review of that issue of Apex, and came to a similar conclusion.

Very encouraging!

Lovecraft eZine Issue #23

The Kindle edition of Lovecraft eZine, issue #23, is now available!

lovecraftezine23

This includes my story “Nectar of Strange Lips,” as well as stories by Joe Pulver and Edward Morris, Samantha Henderson and Andrew Nicolle, Douglas Wynne, Wendy Wagner, Cora Pop, and non-fiction by Robert M. Price.

Kindle version – Lovecraft eZine Issue #23

You can also follow this link to obtain a FREE (at least for now) download of the audio/podcast version of this issue.