Over the last few years I’ve railed against the terms and conditions of the Sunday Star Times short story contest – where they effectively retain the right to publish any entry without paying the author. I have been in touch directly with them, and had a positive response, indicating that they will look again at those terms and conditions should they run the contest again.
In the meantime, there’s another contest open for New Zealand writers – the Sargeson Prize, run through the University of Waikato. The contest is named for celebrated New Zealand writer Frank Sargeson.
Under the terms of this contest, writers retain the rights to their story, win, lose or place. That’s fair. There is no entry fee (my advice, avoid contests that charge a fee: money flows to authors, not from).
There’s a nice prize too.
You can enter here. Entries are restricted to residents of New Zealand.
Entries close on June 30th, so there’s still a little time to get something in. You could write it tonight and send it in tomorrow, if you’re really keen.
I have a story the new New Zealand speculative fiction anthology Te Kōrero Ahi Kā – To Speak of the Home Fires Burning. Edited by Grace Bridges, Lee Murray and Aaron Compton.
This is a wonderful collection, and I’m thrilled to be included. There are familiar names, and some new names, which is always good.
The publisher, SpecFicNZ, exists to promote and support speculative writers in New Zealand.
I haven’t read all the stories yet, but I do like Mark English’s story especially. Despite having been writing for, well, many years now, this is the first time I’ve been in an anthology with so many people I actually know and have met in person, and consider friends.
My own story, “Dance, Tiny Particles, Dance” had an interesting genesis, dating back a couple of years when I went to enter the Gernsback Amazing Stories contest. I wrote the story, then went back to the contest guidelines and realized that, happy as I was with the story, I’d strayed significantly. (I wrote another story, which actually co-won the contest – it’s available to read for free here: “Penny of Tharsis Montes” at the Amazing Stories site).
I’m pleased that the story has found a home, especially pleased that it’s here in New Zealand too. That’s kind of cool.
Te Kōrero Ahi Kā is available directly from Amazon, and other online retailers, and should show up in local bookshops pretty soon.
My story “If You’re Listening, We’re Going to Try Something” will appear in the May 12th issue of Perihelion. “If You’re Listening…” features characters from my novel Asteroid Jumpers. (Which has a fabulous cover by Innovari/Luca Oleastri)
I’ve had a story set in a novel universe come out before (“Scour” in New Myths, is set in the world of my Karnish River Navigations novels), but “If You’re Listening…” is the first to include characters from the actual novel.
Trapped aboard the Zadie Captain Arlon Stoddard and navigator Eva Strong must make instant decisions if they’re going to get to safety.
The story is free to read at Perihelion.
My science fiction short story “Blood Relation” has just come out in the January issue of Outposts of Beyond. Sally’s waiting on her brother Bevan to decide whether to donate a kidney. On an asteroid belt-based space station running on limited resources it’s not an easy call for either kid. I’m still waiting on my copy, but it looks like a bunch of interesting stories in there. It’s available in print from the Alban Lake Store for $8.
My dieselpunk story “Memory Book” has just come out in the online speculative magazine Fiction Vortex. It’s been a while since I’ve published any ‘punk’ – mostly I’ve been writing straight sci-fi and literary pieces.
This one’s got a giant seaplane, an invading army and a little piece of ancient, lost technology.
Candace watched the big plane arc around the outside of the bay. Up on Rothan Promontory, the highest point overlooking the village, the breeze carried to her the heady sweet smell of pollen from the ocean of flowers that covered the hill between the rocky crest and the sand of the beach below. Spring had come in warm and bountiful; the flowers were blooming and the orchards, if the weather kept up like this, were going to bear a vast crop of fruit.
It’s worth sticking with it. I’ve lost count of the rejection slips I’ve received this year. Give me a second, I’ll go check…
… back now, thanks for waiting. It’s fifty-four. 54 rejections so far in 2012. That’s from around 25 stories out and circulating. I’ve had a few acceptances, but mostly for non-pay* or token pay anthologies/magazines. Most days when I get a rejection, the story goes out to another publisher the same day. I love these days of email submissions: so much easier than back in the dark ages of envelope, stamp, return envelope and postage, printed cover letter, fresh print of the ms because the last publisher crumpled their copy.
Why send it out again ever? Well, publishers have different opinions, different needs and different expectations. On occasion some particularly generous (ie who has the time?) editors give some feedback… and the feedback can be wildly different: the aspects of the story they found didn’t work will be entirely different. I also keep trying to remember that last of Heinlein’s rules – keep it on the market until it is sold.
The new acceptance is from a New Zealand literary magazine – Takahe – who’ve published stories of mine before. It will be nice to be in print again.
*Why take no money for a story? That’s kind of contradictory to good business sense, no? Well I guess part of it is my ego is still tangled up in there. Another part of it is that when I come to self-publish the story through Triple V as an ebook (and possibly print), then the rights revert to me immediately.
I’m a finalist in the Writers of the Future contest. There’s a press release about the current finalists, and that’s my name right there amongst them. Me. Wow. I’m feeling stunned by the news. There is still that next big hurdle – to actually win one of the prizes (and I’m not holding my breath; so often I have been “the bridesmaid and never the bride”) – but it feels very encouraging. It’s as if I’m on the right track. Kind of like how excited I was to get a personal rejection from Asimov’s. It wasn’t an acceptance, but I got a sense of having jumped up a notch.
If I don’t win one of the top prizes, I’ll enter again, and keep entering until I’m no longer eligible* Writing fiction at this level has been a long time goal and it’s good to see that I’m going in the right direction.
In other news, my current total word count for the year is just about to hit the quarter million mark. 249,224. I’m coming to the end of this round of tutoring, which does slow the writing a little. My regular daily goal is 1000 words (you can see I average more), but during tutoring that’s slowed to an average of just under 300 (lowest day: 132, but I did get through a bunch of marking). You know what, though? Today, even with tutoring, I’m going to do at least 776 words and hit that quarter million word milestone.
Best of luck to the other finalists. (and thanks for your message, Martin).
*From the rules: the Contest is open only to those who have not professionally published a novel or short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short stories, in any medium. Professional publication is deemed to be payment, and at least 5,000 copies, or 5,000 hits. Despite my string of publications, I only have one at that professional level – a children’s radio story broadcast in New Zealand many years ago. Believe me, I’m working hard at getting more and, while I’d love to win Writers of the Future, I’d love to become ineligible too.
December 31st, 2010
I’ve published a lot of stories this year, as you can see from my bibliography. They’re all, for one reason or another, personal favourites, though some I might have thought a little less of have proven more engaging for some readers. I’ve tried a variety of styles and genres this year, from hard sci-fi to humourous horror and been published both in print and online.
Anyway, this selection is my favourite five online stories from the year:
Fledgling (The New Flesh)
Sunset Photographer (365Tomorrows)
Jacob’s Naked Aquarium (Bewildering Stories – selected for best of quarterly review, 3rd quarter 2010)
Zemogorgon (Pulp Metal Magazine)
Zombie-Eyed Girl (Flashes in The Dark)
Overall, it’s been a good year, a banner year in fact – I’ve published more this year than all previous years combined – exceeding my own ridiculous goal (lesson: aim high). I still have so much more to work on and a set of new goals that will push me and challenge me – I will publish far fewer pieces, but look for longer stories, and different approaches.
See you in 2011.
Trunk Stories is another print anthology from Static Movement and editor Chris Bartholomew – an anthology of lost and forgotten stories.
My story – one of the longest I’ve ever had published at around 8000 words – was written about five years ago, went to a few publishers, and didn’t make it to print. I still like the story – about an older stepbrother visiting a blended family, initially grating on everyone, but eventually enthrally his younger stepsisters with an adventure story – and I’m stoked to see it in print.
Trunk stories is available from Amazon and also (at a discount, with reduced shipping for $ break spending) from the Pill Hill bookstore.
The November issue of Static Movement is out, with another excellent cover by Lee Kuruganti. The issue includes my story Lizard Brain.
I often wonder what part of our brain has us do behaviours that are detrimental, even destructive, and wonder if there is some post-human approach we might take to reduce the impact of those desires. Would we still be human, though?