Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

May 14, 2014

Where are the short stories and stuff?

In the comments of the previous entry, Marco asked “Where are the short stories and stuff?”

I thank the Honourable Member for his question and for the opportunity to detail exactly what the Government of Lexifabricogristan is doing to support and enhance the worldwide glut of speculative short fiction of questionable cultural, dramatic and grammatical value.

Ahem. The short stories are churning along. I’ve been holding to my minimum wordcount of 400 new words of fiction per day for…hm, 18 days now. That doesn’t sound like much, I admit, but it’s decent chunk of wordcount that didn’t exist before, so I am more than happy with it. I’ve also been diving deep on critiquing novels and short stories and drafting outlines for various projects so that I always have something new on the boil.

That’s probably not what you were really asking. You were *probably* asking why I haven’t been putting any fiction up here on the blog lately. The answer is that I’m being selfish and greedy (or career-minded, if you prefer the apirational/positive spin). I am working with as much dedication as I can muster towards having a published body of work, so I haven’t posted any new fiction on the website since January last year. Most fiction markets pay for first publication rights, which means that a work of fiction cannot have been published anywhere prior to acceptance. That includes even blogs like this one, with its nigh-subterranean reader numbers.

Anything I finish to an adequate level of polish, I have been submitting to professional and semi-professional short fiction markets – mainly online publications and print anthologies. Typically what happens then is that they sit in slush piles for weeks or months on end, until a commissioning editor reads it and either rejects it (likely) or decides they like it enough to pay me, pending edits (unlikely but possible and highly desired). As soon as a story is rejected – and I should note that rejections from professional short story editors can happen *very* quickly, my personal best being a four-hour wait from ‘hit send’ to ‘no thanks’ – I repackage it with a new cover letter and send it straight back out again to the next market.

Sometimes, though not every time, the rejection will come back with some feedback about why it was not accepted. I always take a look at the feedback, see if I agree with any advice on how to strengthen the story, and then either apply some edits or not. Sometimes the feedback amounts to “this story is not a good fit for our publication”, which is what it is. So far I’ve been lucky enough not to get feedback to the effect that “this is a bunch of unmitigated dog faeces that if published would bankrupt us and ruin lives”, so that’s nice. Either way, unless I feel I’ve run out of places that I could send it, the story goes back out into the wild again to earn its keep. I have yet to hit the limit of potential markets for any particular story; I submitted one story thirteen times before it was accepted somewhere. True story – I was pretty close to giving up on it, in which case I would have posted it here for everyone to read. Sorry about that, I guess.

So what’s my publication hit count? I still have one (1) published story: ‘Imported Goods – Aisle Nine’ in Next. That came out over a year ago. Whee, doesn’t time fly?

I’ve got four stories out in circulation at the moment – one has been accepted pending a space in a publication schedule (that’s the thirteenth-time-lucky one), and the other three are in submission queues (aka ‘slushpiles’). At least one of those is in a second round of reading, which means that at least one person at the publishing entity liked it enough not to reject it outright.

I’ve got two more stories in preparation. One is a first draft awaiting revision, the other is a half-draft. I’ve set myself a goal of finishing at least ten stories this year to what I consider a submittable standard, of which I have so far completed one. Miles to go there.

Apart from Step 1 – Completing the things I start, I have some other goals. The first is that I want to be published in a notable Australian speculative fiction market. Apart from the CSfG anthology (it opens for submissions in a few weeks, but I haven’t come up with an idea yet), there are various spec fic journals (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Aurealis, SQ Magazine) as well as regular anthologies from publishers like Ticonderoga and Fablecroft. I’m loving what Brisbane-based Tiny Owl Workshop are doing at the moment – I’d love to work with them. There are many others.

My second goal is that I want to break into overseas markets that publish stuff I like to read, like Clarkesworld and Beneath Ceaseless Skies (to name just a couple). That’s a little more ambitious, but I’m confident that it’s within reach or almost so.

Either of those goals could happen literally any time now. When it does, and when I’m allowed to say anything because of contracts or whatever, you can bet your favourite phalanges I will trumpet it here and on Twitter and over a beer if you happen to pass within my gravitational vicinity. Damn, but I am looking forward to my next celebratory Beer of Publication.

In the meantime, I wait patiently, I keep writing and I turn out new stories.

May 28, 2013

More shilling! Next at Smashwords

A very quick one: the CSfG Next anthology is now available for purchase from Smashwords for the utterly reasonable $4.99 US.

Obviously I recommend it, but then I would, wouldn’t I? I like to think of it this way – for five bucks you get a completely readable, diligently proofread story by me, along with more than twenty separate opportunities to scrub that story from your brain.

What’s not to like?

May 14, 2013

Next anthology available

Filed under: books of 2013,wordsmithery — Tags: , , — lexifab @ 11:47 am

Proud as I am to be a part of the Next anthology, I don’t want to belabour it too much. On the other hand I want everyone I know to buy it, and now they can: the hardcopy is now available for sale at the CSfG website.

It is well worth looking at the other publications on offer and perhaps picking one of those up at half price along with Next.  I can particularly recommend the ones I have read, which are Winds of Change, The CSFG Gastronomicon or (if your tastes run to the upsetting and/or the gruesome) Kaaron Warren’s collection The Grinding House.

No word yet on the release of the ebook version of Next. I will update this post when it goes on sale.

May 6, 2013

Conflux Roundup – The Next Launch

Conflux is beginning to recede further into the dust-swept depths of my notoriously terrible memory. But one thing that will stay with me for life was Friday night’s launch of the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild’s 2013 anthology, Next.

Shauna O'Meara's cover has a robot dog and a monkey in a topper. All criticism is invalid.

Check it out!

Every year the CSfG puts together a themed anthology intended to showcase the strength of the Australian (and in particular Canberran) speculative fiction scene. It also gives a few lucky individuals a rare opportunity to put themselves through the grinding ordeal of editing a themed short fiction anthology. We honour our fearless editors for their noble if inexplicable sacrifices.

Obviously I would like to add a personal note of thanks in particular to the editors of this specific volume, Simon Petrie and Rob Porteous, who demonstrated laudable (if again inexplicable) judgment in including my story ‘Imported Goods – Aisle Nine’ in the anthology. As it was my first ever short story sale, I was doubly excited to be able to attend the launch in person.

I think I may now have formed unreasonable expectations about the glamour and excitement of a standard book launch, because this was a doozy. The epic scale of the launch party might just have taken the venue slightly by surprise, because there was a bit of a crush going. I guesstimated the crowd to be somewhere between 150 and 200 people, crammed into a reception area next to the Rydges hotel lobby. Perhaps that not surprising – with 30 contributing authors (of whom about 20 were present) there’s plenty of scope to swell the usual crowds with friends and family. I certainly had a decent entourage there wishing me well [1].

Noted steampunk author and enthusiast Richard Harland MC’ed the affair, looking dapper in his fine, sensible hat. He reflected on the fine tradition, now over a decade old if I am not mistaken, of CSfG anthologies. They do seem to have become rather an institution, and more to the point have been a launching point for a number of emerging writers. This year, for example there were six authors whose first sales were in Next (myself included)

In related news, my phone's camera has baffling night-time settings which I have clearly yet to master

This man’s hat reflects the gravity of the occasion

Then it was time for the editors, who embraced not only the love of the Australian spec-fic scene but also the con’s steampunk theme. I don’t know that my photography does justice to the magnificent insanity of their costumes:

Yes, I believe that is a propellor on his head. Why do you ask?

Simon is resplendent with decadent savoir-faire.

The robot parrot is watching you

Rob’s militaristic colonial attire is let down only by a complete lack of peripheral vision.

Simon, who has quite a few editing credits up his sleeve, gave an eloquent speech praising the contributors and everyone that worked on the volume. Rob accepted the heavy burden of discharging tawdry promotional duties, and gave one of the finest works of crass hucksterism this side of a wild west snake oil salesman. At this point, you might begin to have some idea of why I was so excited to be part of this particular anthology. Yes, it’s because the editors are both bonkers. But charming and brilliant with it, so we forgive them their mild eccentricities…

Rik Lagarto and Leife Shallcross bravely gave readings from their respective stories (better them than me). They were great! I think it’s likely that between the two of them sales were subsequently driven through the roof.  And finally Janeen Webb, who has sold the odd story or so over the years, and has another in Next, launched the book with a virtual bottle of bubbly across its hypothetical prow.

There followed a frenzy of buying and author signing. There were so many authors present that the three tables set aside for signing were not enough to seat us all. There were a few of us standing at the back, passing books back and forth all over the place. The chaos settled into a rhythm pretty quickly though. Since I have nothing to compare the experience to [2] I will just note that I could get used to the whole fame and adulation thing. Especially if it is followed by drinks and revelry, as happened on this occasion.

I would put in a link for anyone who might have been overcome with intrigue and want to read the book, but I don’t think the virtual shop has been updated yet. I’ll attach a link to that when it goes live so if you somehow survived the disaster of not being able to attend the launch in person, you can still belatedly obtain your own personal memento of the occasion.[3]

I’ll even sign it for you if you like. No, really, it’d be no trouble at all…

 

[1] Hi guys, thanks for coming! I hope the booze was to your satisfaction. (Fi, Jaks, Evan, Simon, Sarah, Gavin, Emma. I love youse all).

[2] Well, the standing in one place for an hour or so part was quite familiar, but the rest of it was dazzling and new.

[3] And I believe the ebook version will also be released in the next few weeks. I’ll keep you posted.

April 29, 2013

Conflux 9/NatCon 52 – The Wrap-up

Filed under: news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: , , , — lexifab @ 4:34 pm

I’m still coming down from the unrelenting funfest of four consecutive days of congoing preceded by ten or so days’ travel with small children. And by “I’m still coming down” I mean I am crashing harder than a laptop in a blender. So hard that my analogies make no sense whatsoever.

The 52nd Australian National Science Fiction Convention, attached this year to the Canberra Conflux 9 con, was held over the Anzac Day extra-long weekend. By world standards it was, I’m sure, pretty small peanuts, but for me it was an overwhelming celebration of Australia’s wonderful and vibrant speculative fiction community.

Too much happened for me to summarise in one post, so I’m going to do a series of short posts to hit all my personal highlights, from the launch of the Next anthology, the fun and informative program of panels (some of which included me due to my extensive qualification of having agreed to be on panels), the new books I snaffled, the Ditmar awards and various other things as I they come to mind. The blogs will be necessarily short because, having lost a fortnight of productivity to travel and con-going, I’m massively behind schedule on both writing my novel and critiquing someone else’s. [1]

[1] Don’t worry Leife – I’ll get there!

April 5, 2013

Cover Up

Filed under: wordsmithery — Tags: , , , — lexifab @ 10:25 pm

It’s now exactly three weeks until the launch of CSfG’s anthology Next, at which point I will become (a) a published author and (b) at least a very little bit tipsy. But not too tipsy because apparently I will be doing a panel the following morning. Well, after all I will have responsibilities. What with being a published author and all, I’ll have a brand to protect [1].

Anyway, the cover and table of contents have been posted up at the CSfG website and they are both pretty damn exciting. For one thing, I love Shauna O’Meara’s cover art, which is cartoonish and whimsical but also sharp and absolutely elegant. The spare cover design is unfussy and iconic and makes me rather gleeful.

And imagine it wrapped around a big fat chunk of book [2], because it will be. Just look at the *size* of the collection – 30 stories! Even allowing for the outside possibility that my story “Aisle Nine – Imported Goods” is somehow not to your taste, there’s quite likely something else in there for everyone. Both the editors are fond of humour [3] so there’s bound to be at least a few gags, and I know that there are authors who specialise in romance, fairytale fantasy, hard SF and dark fantasy/horror among the contributors.

I’ll post the purchase details when I know them, in case anyone wants to pick up a copy. I highly recommend that you do, of course – one day an original Next will be worth a mint. Shauna O’Meara’s going to be a big hit some day…

 

[1] Joking. The only brand I would ever intentionally fight to preserve is Streets’ Golden Gaytime. I can’t really see them asking.

[2] Unless you go digital, I guess, which I understand will be an option after about a month or so.

[3] Okay, well actually they are hopelessly addicted to the worst puns imaginable, but let’s not hold that against them, eh? They also have many commendable qualities.

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