As we enter 2017, I have to ponder the literary strangeness of 2016 . . . but good strangeness. All told, I sold 23 works of short fiction last year. This compares with my previous record of10 sales. And I have no clue why. If I had submitted twice as many stories to the editorial world, there would be some sort of correlation. But no, I submitted 90 times in 2016, compared with 140 submissions in 2015. Yet the good news kept flowing in during the year. Moreover, 2016 will also be the gift that keeps on giving. Only12 of the 23 have come out in print during this past calendar year — that’s 11 more yet to appear. As a recap, here’s the list 2016′s publications:
- Sweet Dreams (December 17, 2016) Crossroads in the Dark 2: Urban Legends, Burning Willow Press, LLC
- Rude Awakening (December 16, 2016) After the Happily Ever After: a Collection of Fractured Fairy Tales, Transmundane Press, LLC
- Tears of a Dead God (November 2, 2016) Sword and Sorceress Volume 31, Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Trust
- Phantoms of the Opera (September 25, 2016) Stories from the Near Future, Darkhouse Books
- Greatcloak (August 15, 2016) Visions V: Milky Way, Lillicat Publishers
- Love and Oil (August 13, 2016) Shadows in Salem: Wicked Tales from the Witch City, FunDead Publications
- Scow of Destiny (June 26, 2016) InfectiveInk, online magazine
- Something Wicker This Way Comes (June 9, 2016) Strange Mysteries 7, Whortleberry Press
- Lab Rat (May 17, 2016) What Went Wrong?, Lit Select
- Between Two Heartbeats (May 15, 2016) Hyperpowers (Third Flatiron Anthologies), Third Flatiron Publishing
- Whisper (April 29, 2016) Visions IV: Space Between Stars, Lillicat Publishers
- Pale as the Noonday Sun (January 11, 2016) The Worlds of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, vol. 1, Altair Australia Pty Ltd
Yes, wicked tales from the witch city, also known as Salem, Massachusetts. This anthology, Shadows in Salem: Wicked Tales From the Witch City, features stories of different genres and time periods set in Salem. My story, “Love and Oil,” is a tale of a house museum on Chestnut Street that adds a haunted portrait to its collection — a portrait with issues with the other portraits on display. As an old house person who collects antique portraits and has often docented historic tours, I was basically channeling myself as I wrote this story. It was fun to write and it’s great seeing it in print. Shadows in Salem can found on Amazon and other booksellers.
My futuristic science fiction story “Scow of Destiny” has been posted on the June “End of the World” issue of online magazine InfectiveInk. As you might guess, this story is about the end of the world, or at least the end of a galaxy-spanning star empire. We see that the mighty fall, but the little people go on. In this case, the little person is a garbage collector — as in garbage scow. The word “scow” caused discussion among early readers of the story, a number of whom hadn’t encountered the word before. So what do you think about scows? You can read “Scow of Destiny” free online at http://infectiveink.com/?p=2363.
Strange Mysteries #7 from Whortleberry Press has hit the digital bookstores, and of course I mention this because I have a story in this anthology. The title is — wait for it — “Something Wicker This Way Comes” and is the tale of a potentially cursed wicker plant stand. I say “potentially” because the job of investigators Justin Tyme and Marianna Trench is to figure out the weirdness that accompanies this piece of furniture. This is one of three haunted antiques stories I’ve written with the same investigative characters who live in Asheville, NC, next to the Biltmore estate. So if you like “Something Wicker” (see it here), you may also like the already published “Up On the Housetops Gargoyle Paws” in Strangely Funny II (see it here) and”Tearcatcher” in Strange Mysteries #6 (see it here).
To quote the Amazon blurb: “Everyone’s had THAT day—the one where a spell went south, a glitch ate some code in the doomsday device, and aliens are on the move eat your brains.” This is the theme of the anthology What Went Wrong? My story, “Lab Rat,” follows the an atypical day in the life of an assistant to a modern mad scientist. As events spin out of control, she has to ask herself, “Maybe I have the wrong job.” Truer words were never spoken What Went Wrong can be found at https://www.amazon.com/What-Went-Wrong-Jan-Flynn-ebook/dp/B01FUY9A3S?ie= UTF8&*Version*= 1&*entries*=0.
Also, in the context of bestselling Amazon authors, I broke the Top Ten . . . well, ten-thousand. On June 3, I was up to #6,134, which is an all-time high for the years I’ve been an Amazon Author. But two days later on June 5, I was down #79,733, which only goes to show that Fate is fickle (or in this case, book buyers).
My May was enlivened with three more sales. The first story was my annual submission to Sword and Sorceress, which is on volume 31. This is always a target of my literary year, and I have been included in the past six volumes. But before that, I was rejected for twenty years running, so I never take Sword and Sorceress for granted. The story, “Tears of a Dead God,” is my fifth tale of Jenna the exorcist who lives in a haunted kingdom with much demand for her services. The five stories together are almost half a novel’s worth of words, and I plan some day to assemble them into an aggregate novel.
Story #2 was also to a familiar publisher. Whortleberry Press puts out a number of anthologies each year, and I have been included in five of them in the past. This May, the anthology was Strange Mysteries #7, and the story was “Something Wicker This Way Comes.” This is the third “cursed antiques” story to sell and like the exorcist tales, these may eventually end up as an aggregate novel.
Then there was the third story, a completely different situation. “Love and Oil” with its haunted portrait will appear in Shadows in Salem, an anthology of spooky stories set in Salem. This sale was the tiebreaker. Last year I sold ten stories, an all-time record for me. This year has been even more active, and I sold ten in the first half of the year. “Love and Oil” breaks the tie and sets a new all-time record with eleven sales for the year. And there’s still another six months left.
Hyperpowers from Third Flatiron Anthologies is out and receiving good reviews. It’s a science fiction collection, specifically in the space opera subgenre that concentrates on the rise and fall of star empires with all the attendant ramifications. My story in the anthology is “Between Two Heartbeats,” a tale about smugglers caught in the broad political currents of conspiracy and regime change. Even though the characters are new, one piece of apparel — the powerful Greatcloak — has appeared in several other stories about this same star empire. “Between Two Heartbeats” can be found here on Amazon.
The time from Easter of this year to April 14 was filled with events — and not tax events. During this space of time, I heard back from editor after editor with acceptances, and when the dust cleared, I had sold five stories in three weeks. That’s a new professional best for me. Those sales in order are:
“Between Two Heartbeats” on March 27, Easter morning — this science fiction story is going to the Third Flatiron Anthology themed “hyperpowers.” This is the fourth story I’ve sold to Third Flatiron over the last several years.
“Lady Trap” on April 3 — this fantasy story was picked up by Farstrider Magazine for their second issue. The editor commented how complete the world felt, probably because I’ve used the setting and main character extensively in two of my novels.
“Whisper” on April 5 — the first version of this science fiction story was expanded and revised at the editor’s request, and the changes were accepted for Visions IV: Space Between Stars, which was released today. Very fast runaround from Lillicat Publishers. (For more on “Whisper.” see my previous post.)
“Scow of Destiny” on April 10 — I submitted this science fiction story to INvective INk’s “mistaken identity” issue, but it was accepted for their later “end of the world” June issue. When this was critiqued in my writing group, it came to light that not everyone knows what a scow is, but when you read this story, you’ll understand.
“Lab Rat” on April 14 — This is a mad scientist story that will appear in Lit Select’s anthology Legendary Stories: What Went Wrong. With a mad scientist story, you can safely assume that everything goes wrong.
So five acceptances in three weeks – huzzah! And already they’ve started appearing in print.
Today was the release of Visions IV: Space Between Stars, a sci-fi anthology of deep space events that might go on far away from planets and stars. My contribution to the book was the story “Whisper,” a vampire story. Yes, vampires in outer space sounds like a parody, yet the possibilities are strangely limitless when it’s all night and no dawn. What could happen to the polymorphous vampiric body away from the confines of sunlight and gravity? In “Whisper,” a traditional, planet-bound vampire confronts his deep space brethren and discovers the answer. Visions IV is available on Amazon at this location .
. . . The Worlds of Science, Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, Vol. 2 for my short story “Sanguine.” This is an Australian anthology edited by Robert N. Stephenson, the second in a series of two so far. It all came together very tightly. My copy of Volume 1 (pictured here) had just arrived on my doorstep when I heard back from Robert that he was buying “Sanguine” for Volume 2. So an all-round good day for Worlds of SF, F & H. “Sanguine” itself is a 10,000-word science fiction tale revolving around blood as a nutritional source for two alien hemovore races. Sounds like a vampire story, but it isn’t. Nothing supernatural about this clash of cultures. Because of the way supply-and-demand works, there arise viable employment opportunities for humans to serve as sangreanos — blood donors — on these alien ships. Walking food sources, you might say. However, it’s politically controversial. Rightist, hawkish factions among the local human colonists think selling blood is a pandering to alien tastes — literally — when a good war would be a better solution. So this is the backdrop of the story, and the main character, Venda Senjak, is dumped into the middle of it when she accepts a post as sangreano handler on a hemovore ship. And the situation keeps getting more and more complicated.
The story in Volume 1, “Pale as the Noonday Sun,” is not about hemovores and sangreanos, but it is about a clash of cultures, this time between humans and a dominant saurian senient race. The viewpoint character is a velociraptor-ish species who is very full of himself as the biggest and the baddest. Then he encounters a human on the run from bounty hunters, and the two discover they have more in common than they’d ever dreamed possible. You can find “Pale as the Noonday Sun” here on Amazon.