Publication and Convention Announcement

It’s been a busy summer, and it keeps getting busier. Today, I’m happy to announce that Itty Bitty Writing Space, the anthology of flash fiction containing my story “Jalopy Racer”, is available for purchase on Amazon! I should be receiving my contributor’s copies soon, and three copies are on their way to libraries as part of the Kickstarter early backer perk. The link to purchase a copy is at left.

If you happen to pick up a copy of IBWS, please consider writing a short Amazon or Goodreads review. It really helps us authors with product visibility on the Amazon website!

My other announcement is that I’ll once again be participating in Myths and Legends Con on August 9-11, 2019, as a panelist, writer, and musician. This may very well be the final MALCon, so please try to make it!

The location for MALCon has changed this year. It will be held at the Radisson Denver-Aurora, located near the intersection of I-225 and Parker Road, 3155 South Vaughn Way, Aurora, CO 80014.

My panelist schedule is preliminary and subject to change, so please check this link for any last minute changes. Without further adieu, here’s my schedule:

Friday, 8/9/2019
Fri, 5:30 PM-6:20 PM, Musical performance by Stace Johnson (Arapahoe Room)
Fri, 9:00 PM-9:50 PM, So Charming, Not Creepy (Golden)

Saturday, 8/10/2019
Sat, 12:00 PM-12:50 PM, Intro to Filk (Pikes Peak A)
Sat, 2:00 PM-2:50 PM, Verse in the ‘Verse: Poetry and the Firefly Universe (Golden)
Sat, 3:00 PM-3:50 PM, Author Autograph Mega-Session (Arapahoe Room)
Sat, 5:00 PM-5:50 PM, Geek Songwriting (Pikes Peak A)
Sat, 7:00 PM-7:50 PM, Storytelling via Songwriting (Golden)
Sat, 8:00 PM-10:50 PM, Open Filking (Pikes Peak A)

Sunday, 8/11/2019
Sun, 10:00 AM-10:50 AM, Polyamory and Non-monogamy in Science Fiction and Fantasy (Evergreen)
Sun, 12:00 PM-12:50 PM, Author Readings – Ritchey, Berger, Johnson (Mt Evans)
Sun, 2:00 PM-2:50 PM, MALCon Farewell Session (Golden)

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A Few Words About “Jalopy Racer”

I mentioned last week that I had sold my story called “Jalopy Racer” to the Itty Bitty Writing Space anthology, which is currently rocking its Kickstarter campaign. At the time of this writing, it is 355% funded, with 17 days to go. During the first 48 hours of the Kickstarter, backers earmarked 256 copies of the book to go to libraries during a special promotion! Jason Brick, the Publisher/Editor, has done a good job of providing perks for backers, and I’m excited that the more the Kickstarter earns, the more perks they will receive. The most recent addition to the perks is that every backer will get a copy of the inaugural issue of Flash Fiction Aficionado magazine when it comes out! (Also, the more the project funds, the more the story authors get paid for their work, and that’s a good thing!) If you have already backed the anthology, thank you! If not, please consider supporting it. Who knows what Jason will come up with to reward you?

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A Good News Post

I’m really excited to announce two pieces of news. First, I received an informal acceptance notice from Itty Bitty Writing Space, an upcoming Kickstarter anthology of flash fiction edited by Jason Brick. The Kickstarter opens on January 29th, and this is Jason’s third Kickstarter flash anthology. Both of his prior anthologies funded successfully, so I’m optimistic that my story “Jalopy Racer” has found a good home.

“Jalopy Racer” is one of those stories that just needed to come out. It doesn’t really have a genre, unless you count it as adventure fiction, I guess. It’s inspired by my dad’s tales of being a stock car racer in southern New Mexico in the 1950s, and it basically told itself. I’m glad it has found a home in IBWS. I find it interesting that two of my last three fiction sales (“Chesterfield Gray” and “Jalopy Racer”) were inspired by family members, and neither are science fiction, my first love in writing. I guess that just goes to show that the words decide on their own what path they will take.

The other piece of news is music-related, and I’ve been bouncing off the walls waiting to share it. Thanks to the efforts of my friend Wulf Moon, I will be performing music at the Superstars writing seminar in Colorado Springs on Game Night next month! This is a private event, and only people who are Superstars participants will be able to attend, but if it goes well, there’s a chance it may become a regular event in the future. Moon and I plan to perform some songs together and I’ll do some solo performing, in a sort of filk/folk mix. I’ll bring lyric sheets for those who want to sing along, too. My thanks to Moon and Chris Mandeville for making this happen!

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Reflections on 2018

When I look back at 2018, I have a generally good feeling. A couple of difficult personal events happened toward the end of the year, but overall, it was a good year, and a year of firsts for me. Let’s dig in.

Challenges

We’ll get the rough stuff out of the way first. November was definitely the most challenging month, with a storage unit fire early and the passing of a longtime pet near the end.

The remains of the storage unit fire (L), and Sophia, the Bewilderbeast (R)
(Like you couldn’t tell.)

About half my possessions were in the storage unit, and most burned up or were damaged beyond repair from fire and water, including a number of family heirlooms. Every few days, I think about something that I haven’t seen for a while, and realize I’ll probably never see it again. That stings a little, but it’s actually fairly easy to acknowledge that feeling and move on, since there’s no chance of recovering anything. As time goes on and the fire becomes more distant, it’s actually becoming something of a positive, because some of the items in that storage unit triggered painful memories, and resolving them through fire seems appropriate.

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Life Cycle of a Drabble

On July 23, 2018, Martian Magazine published my piece entitled “To Be Human,” along with an author spotlight about me. Martian publishes drabbles (100 word short stories) exclusively, so it’s right up my alley. I’m in good company, too, with authors like Lou J. Berger and Steve Rasnic Tem also making sales to that market. Working with editor Eric Fomley was a good experience; he even worked with me to resolve a misunderstanding about my submission, for which I’m grateful.

“To Be Human” has always been microfiction, but it has both grown and shrunk over the years. The names and genders of the characters have changed, as did the nature of the relationship between them. I originally wrote it in 2005; the first version was about 500 words and written for a different magazine, which rejected it. I tried a couple of other markets, unsuccessfully, and then shelved it.

In 2010, I revised it and sent it to a different magazine for a flash fiction submission call. This time, I got a more personal rejection and compliments on it, but it was still rejected. A couple of months later, I tried the original market again, since I had revised the story, but they still didn’t want it. Back on the shelf it went.

In 2016, I revised it up to about 1,000 words and sent it to a flash fiction contest. Same story; the editors liked it, but it didn’t win. In 2017, I tried again, this time for an anthology with very specific requirements that fit the story well, but apparently it didn’t fit the editor’s needs as well as I thought. Back on the shelf, permanently this time. If half a dozen markets didn’t like it, I figured there must be something wrong with it, and I should stop wasting time on it.

Then, in June of this year, I heard about Martian Magazine’s call for submissions, shortly before the end of their submission period. I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of time to come up with something, so I looked through the archives in my Google Drive (my “shelf”) and found “To Be Human.” It was still in its heavyweight 1,000 word form, but I’m pretty good at revising to reduce word count, so I figured I’d give it a shot. (Revision is actually my favorite part of writing. It’s creating the content in the first place that slows me down.)

It wasn’t easy to cull 90% of the story and still keep the core intact, but it was fun. It was similar to revising poetry, actually, with my brain performing mental gymnastics to find just the right word, or to figure out how to change the context so I could use fewer words. In the end, the story is very tight, and I’m proud of it.

So far, my favorite interaction with readers is this one, from Twitter user Marc Criley:

Yes. Yes indeed, Marc.

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