Today I sent off two stories to Lightspeed and Nightmare magazines and in the process, broke my standing record for number of short story submissions in one year. These two additions bring the total to 53 for 2012. That tops 2010 when I submitted 52 times. I find that 52 is a good goal in general because submitting one story per week keeps you targeted on marketing as well as writing throughout the year. But don’t assume that these 53 stories are all new this year — that would be a feat of prolific writing. I typically produce five or six new stories a year (while continuing to write novels) to add to the 103 existing stories and novellas that I submit and resubmit to various markets. Twenty-eight of these have already sold once but may still go out to a reprint market now and then. The real question, of course, is how many stories actually sell out of all these submissions. And the answer is that the greater the number of submissions, the more possibilities exist for sales. Beyond that, there’s no predicting.
Strange Halloween, the sci-fi fantasy anthology from Whortleberry Press is now available. My story in this collection is “Black and Silver,” referring to the SS in World War II. But this is not a war story by any means. It’s a cooking story. Yes, there is a bit of raising the dead in keeping with the season, but the protagonist of this tale is an elderly cook . . . who finds herself at odds with the SS (as many people did at the time). This story takes place in the same alternate WWII reality as Reichsblood, the 150,000-word manuscript that Baen Books is currently considering for publlication (see prior post). There is also some character overlap — this same cook has a brief appearance in the novel.
A preview of the anthology and the ability to order it can be found at:
I heard back from New Work science fiction publisher Baen Books that my manuscript has made it out of the slush pile of unsolicited manuscripts and is being held for further consideration. Since most submissions in the slush pile are rejected, this is incredibly good news, but the road ahead is still long and perilous. As I understand the process, my manuscript is now in the queue to be looked at by the editor-in-chief, who will make the final decision. Unfortunately, that may take years — literally, years — and the answer could still be no. As I said, long and perilous. The manuscript is Reichsblood, a 150-word occult thriller set in 1938 Germany. An Oxford student infiltrates the SS with the help of his witchy English aunt in order to stop Nazi sorcery. They have no clue how much darkness they are challenging. Two short stories from this same world have already been published (“Fire and Stone” in the 2010 anthology The Four Horsemen and “Helping Hand” in the 2011 anthology It Came From Her Purse). A third occult Nazi story, “Black and Silver” is due out in October in Whortleberry Press’s Strange Halloween book.
So maybe this time next year I’ll have sold my first novel . . . one can only hope.
This weekend I received an acceptance from Whortleberry Press for their annual Halloween anthology. Whortleberry does a series of holiday anthologies, and I sold the scifi-ish “We Three Kindreds” to the Christmas book last fall. This story is called “Black and Silver” and is set in Nazi Germany before the war. The essential problem is that the SS has taken over a medieval castle with a strong mystical heritage, killed off the rightful owners, and is now trying to force the castle to give up its secrets. But the last of the old staff, the cook, is determined to thwart the SS by calling upon the dead when the time is right. And the right time for calling on the dead, of course, is All-Hallows Eve. The editor enjoyed the “intriguing and careful detail” of the tale, which should be out for Halloween 2012. This is my fifth short story to sell in 2012. One is already in print (“Death Crone” in Night Terrors anthology), and the other four are scheduled for fall releases.
Trust and Treachery Interview:
Presenting Trust & Treachery Author Jonathan Shipley
June 18, 2012
By Day Al-Mohamed
One of the things we want to do here at Trust & Treachery is give you a chance to get to meet our authors. Over the next few weeks, you will see bios and Q&As for our amazing contributors. Although we continue to run behind in our posting schedule, today is Jonathan Shipley. Stay tuned as additional authors are added every Monday.
Editors, Trust & Treachery
Fort Worth writer Jonathan Shipley has never bought into “newer is better.” Old houses, old furniture, and old portraits are his way of life, and like many collectors, he cohabits with more antiques than strictly fit into his house. He has had fantasy, horror, and science fiction stories published in magazines and a dozen plus recent anthologies, including the last two volumes of Sword & Sorceress. However, he is actually a novel writer at heart and spends most of his writing time on a vast story arc that ranges from Nazi occultism to vampires to futuristic space opera. The Cadre of Excellenzi, of which the protagonist of “Perfect Memory” is a member, has a major presence at the space opera end of the spectrum, and various Excellenzi have appeared in other short stories. A half dozen novel manuscripts also track these preternaturally long-lived characters.
While some writers follow the “million-word rule” for mastering the craft, Shipley defines it as writing ten novels and a hundred short stories. At the moment, he’s close with nine and ninety-four. For more information on Shipley or the Excellenzi, go to Wikipedia, Facebook or www.shipleyscifi.com.
Do you have any recent events to announce (of publications or anything else exciting)?
With several other SFWA writers, I participated in an experimental Kindle anthology entitled Past Future Present 2011. The goal is to provide live links to the authors’ works and web pages for the reader to follow if they like that author’s writing. We are thinking that this approach will make it easier for readers to track down writers they want to read. Especially if you are a short story writer with stories scattered over dozens of anthologies in various formats, it’s hard to be found.
What inspired you to write this story?
This is one of four short stories I’ve sold that follow the adventures of the Imperial Excellenzi, the futuristic knights-errant who serve as diplomats, assassins, reformers, or whatever is required for the completion of a mission. “Perfect Memory” was something of a command performance. I had previously written a sequel story called “Last of the Best,” which raised questions about what had happened earlier to the protagonist Anton for him to arrive at such a grim fate. “Perfect Memory” fills in that missing segment of information. In truth, I don’t need much of an excuse to write about Anton, who supplies interesting thoughts and actions to any storyline.
What books and/or authors have most influenced you?
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series was formative on my writing, as was Frank Herbert’s Dune, as well as a wealth of High Fantasy sources. The result has been fantasy and space opera coming together into a melded genre in much of my writing.
What are you reading now?
Nothing, I’m sorry to say. When I’m in writing mode, I can’t relax into reading mode, and I’ve been in writing mode for the better part of a year. It’s been creatively productive, but I haven’t sat back with a good book in a while.
What are your current projects?
In addition to on-going short stories, I’m trying to finish Novel Number 9, which has been stalled half-finished for years now. In fact, I stopped and wrote Novel Number 10 while still in the midst of Number 9. Sometimes an idea grabs you and you have to write it, despite all other plans.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Persistence. Those who keep writing — despite all obstacles — eventually arrive somewhere. Also all of us are in the middle of trying to figure out the pBook/ eBook transition, so on that front I would advise trying a little of everything while publishing is so fluid.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
It’s all about life, specifically your life. No matter how far-fetched or exotic, a well-crafted science fiction or fantasy story should always resonate with your own experiences.
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
“Heal the wound and cure the illness, but let the dying spirit go”‘ This is from the Wizard of Earthsea trilogy by Ursula LeGuin, and sums up for me the essence of decision-making, especially regarding painful decisions.
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?
I seek to create a legacy that endures beyond me. This encompasses my writing, my efforts in historical preservation, and my personal interactions with younger generations. This goal is by no means complete, but there is progress in all three of those areas. Maybe this isn’t really pride of accomplishment, more an accounting of where I’m investing my energy, but it’s what comes to mind with this question.
What inspires you to write and why?
Everything inspires me to write, or at least generate scenes in my head. It’s like a non-stop movie and I write to flush out existing scenes to make room for new ones. I have so many novels pending that I could write a book a year for decades.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
In the days when I was still struggling to get something, anything, published, I had a student — an excellent student whom I enjoyed teaching — ask me in all sincerity, “Why do you keep writing stories that no one wants to read?” He didn’t have a clue what a cruel question that was. Decades later with dozens of publications, it still echoes with me.
What has been the best compliment?
Sometimes a reader of one of my novel manuscripts reports back that he stayed up until the wee hours because he “couldn’t put the book down.” I consider that to be the definitive statement that a story works.
Tell us something unusual (or fun) about you.
I have a weakness for antique chairs — and not just any antiques chairs, but really good, upscale specimens of the 18th century styles. What does this mean? That I have a house full of more chairs than I know what to do with. Does this stop me from acquiring more? Not at all.
This week I sold another short story — “Like a Bat Out of Hell” — to a forthcoming anthology entitled After Death. Unlike many of the short stories, this one has no connection with the Sharlverse where I usually write. This takes place, quite literally, in Hell — Dante’s Hell, in fact, that is populated with creatures out of Greek/Roman mythology in addition to tormented souls of the Christian era. The main character is one of these pagan holdovers who deeply resents being stuck in Hell strictly because of heritage. One challenge in writing this story was how to keep a trip to Hell from becoming grim and depressing for the reader, so there is quirky humor throughout. People who have read “Bat” in manuscript form have enjoyed it; I hope it meets with an equally good reception in published form.
Yesterday my main Wikipedia page spawned stub pages about my universe. Now that there are multiple short stories in print referring to Excellenzi and Highborn, it was possible to generate encyclopedic articles about these two fictional groups. What are Excellenzi, you may be asking yourself. Well, bedevil yourself no further — the answer is only a click away. Seeing these new pages for the first time was as if the characters had somehow entered into reality, bridging the gap between my imagination and the world at large. Check out these pages at Excellenzi and Highborn.
I was pleased to receive the news back from SWORD & SORCERESS #27 that I’ve had a third story accepted for this annual fantasy anthology. The story this year is “Grave Gold,” a tale of a barmaid who works in an inn at the bottom of hill that also hosts a notorious barrow. The barrow is known for two things — hidden treasure and unquiet dead. So treasure hunters go up the hill and never come down. That’s the background situation for this story. The anthology should be out this fall.
I’ve added Facebook functionality to the blog. Let’s see what happens.