Not that I've any right to moan, what with the book deal and all, but it's been a rubbish few months for short fiction sales. And not just rubbish but shockingly and confusingly rubbish, since asides from a couple of random slow patches, I was shifting work on a fairly regular basis for quite a while there. Since July of last year, however, I've sold one tale - and that was to the now defunct Northern Frights Fallen anthology. When you've got, on average, twenty pieces out at any given time, that's not such a great track record.
Well now I really haven't got any right to moan.
The good news started with new pro-rate market Digital Science Fiction picking up my story Black Sun, a bleak and vicious bit of Lovecraftian sci-fi / horror. Actually, I say Lovecraftian, because that was the obvious jumping off point, but the biggest influence on this one was M. John Harrison - an undeniably great writer who blows me away and irritates the hell out of me by turns. Black Sun was basically, "What if M. John Harrison wrote a Lovecraftian sci-fi horror story and left at home all the bits of his style that really wind me up, and then what if instead of it being M. John Harrison it was actually me?"
Now, obviously I'm no more capable of writing as well as M. John Harrison as I am of writing as well as H. P. Lovecraft - and less obviously, I don't think anyone would even realise I'd tried if I didn't tell them. Still, it was worth a go, and I'm plenty happy with the results, even if they only read like David Tallerman.
Anyway. It's always a bit dicey taking a chance on a new market, pro-rate or no. But I've been stupidly lucky on this front in the past, what with Flash Fiction Online, Lightspeed and Bull Spec all picking up my work when they were barely out of diapers, and everything I've seen of Digital Science Fiction makes me think they'll be around for a long time to come. They've been brilliantly professional in their dealings with me, and the developments on their website suggest they're putting together a quality product that'll make the world of sci-fi a wee bit more sexy and exciting.
Just as I was calming down from that one, I got another e-mail to say that Shadowcast are going to produce my story Caretaker in the Garden of Dreams, as previously published in the recently closed print magazine Necrotic Tissue. And that was great, because I like Shadowcast, I always get a bit giddy about having stuff podcast, and it's nice to have things out in a format people can access for free, because it's not like anyone's got any money these days.
Then - and this was the point where it all got a bit silly - I got another e-mail from R. Scott McCoy, former editor of Necrotic Tissue, to say he's putting together a best-of anthology and would I be okay with Caretaker being a part of it? Having never been in a best-of anything before, it's probably not even worth pointing out that I said yes. And then maybe did a little dance in my writing chair.
So maybe where I've been going wrong for ten months is trying to sell any story other than Caretaker in the Garden of Dreams? It's a lesson learned, all right.