Friday, November 18, 2011

Oh, Rocketman!

It's now official. My short story "Tell Me a Story" will be appearing in Rocket Science, an anthology of hard science fiction.

This story has a rather interesting genesis. I originally wrote it for the September 2001 On the Premises contest prompt. However, I apparently screwed up the submission process, because a completely different story showed up in the listing at Submishmash. Don't ask me how I managed to goof it up that bad. The other story sort of fit the prompt for that contest, but not as well. So I now had a story that needed to find a home.

Meanwhile, I had tried several different story ideas for Rocket Science, and none of them were working out. Worse, all of them seemed to fall into thematic zones that were already well covered by the existing submissions, so I wasn't sure if I wanted to spend a lot of time wrestling a story into shape only to have it rejected because it was too similar to stories already accepted.

In writing "Tell Me a Story" I drew upon my background as both a librarian and a historian, not to mention my own personal experience of being a small child and having my parents read to me. Telling the story through the eyes of successive generations of children gave me an opportunity to take a new look at humanity's future in space, not to mention showing how the historical memory can become confused as events recede into the past.

Rocket Science is scheduled to be released in April, with a big party at the UK convention Eastercon. It will be coinciding fairly closely with ConGlomeration, a convention in Louisville, Kentucky, which I'll be attending, so I may try to do some promotional activity for it there.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Length Problem

After getting a personalized rejection on "The Angry Astronaut Affair" (the first three were form rejects), I'm thinking that I need to give it a serious rewrite to expand it. When I originally wrote it, I was aiming it at a contest with a 4000-word length limit. In order to make it fit, I had to leave out several elements that I really wanted to get in, because I could tell that nips and tucks in the wording wouldn't bring it back down if I added those things.

However, on retrospect, I think that letting them fall by the wayside actually hurt the story more than I realized. Yes, people do miss them, even if they don't know what those specific things were supposed to be. There's still a gap that leaves the reader less than satisfied.

And I'm thinking that I really need more than one POV. Reggie Waite's a difficult character, and in this story he really comes off as a jerk, which is probably making it difficult for him to be the story's protagonist. But if he could be seen through other eyes, so that the reader gets more of a sense of his complexity, it might get past the reader sympathy problem. The Jerkass Hero is a recognized trope, after all, and it's common enough that it obviously does work.

And sometimes a story really does need to be allowed to find its own length, instead of being forcibly crushed down to an arbitrary length.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Well, Drat

I just got a rejection from an anthology I'd really hoped I'd have a chance to get into. It looks like he got a lot of really good stories, to the point that it was really hard to pick between them.

Now I've got yet another story I'm going to need to send through the rounds in hopes of finding someplace it'll stay at. Which is getting harder as I have more and more stories circulating, because most markets don't want you to send more than one at a time. When you've got five or six stories, it's fairly easy to keep them all out at any given time. When you've got thirty or forty, it gets a lot more challenging.