Sunday, 11 September 2016

Short Story News, September 2016

I remember thinking a few weeks back that nowhere near enough had happened on the short story front to warrant another of these posts.  Somehow, by the time I reconsidered, far too much had happened to reasonably cram in.  But I'm going to anyway, it's been a rotten week and a post full of good news might be just what I need to remind myself that 2016 hasn't been altogether a horror.

Firstly, I have books out!  At least, there are anthologies out with my stories in - a whole three of them, in fact.  Two of those are from Digital Fiction Publishing, making my total number of DFP anthologies out now a number bigger than I can be bothered to work out right now, but certainly no less than six.  And the reason I keep submitting to these things, other I suppose than that I keep getting accepted, is that they're really good.  I get the impression, as well, that readers are increasingly waking up to that fact: they've been pulling down some pretty tremendous reviews, one or two of which come from readers who've liked one book enough to try another, which is a heck of an achievement for a still relatively new small press.  Anyway, gushing aside, this time around I have Black Horticulture in the fantasy collection Uncommon Senses and Passive Resistance in the SF collection Operative Sequence.  That particularly story also recently got its own individual e-book release, as all these collected tales do: you can find it here.

Nextly, the Mysterion anthology that I seem to have gone on about quite a lot over the last few months is finally out to buy.  You can pick it up on from Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.  It only really occurred to me as I was thumbing through my contributor copy that perhaps it's strange that I, an avowed atheist, would have a story in a collection subtitled "rediscovering the mysteries of the Christian faith."  And to my eyes, Golgotha is a story upon the topic of religion clearly written by a non-believer, albeit one who's always found the subject fascinating.  But honestly, I think that's why (asides from the gorgeous cover) I've been so enthused about this project from day one: Donald and Kristin have put together exactly the book that they promised, one that digs about in those weird and fascinating corners of Christianity that normally get politely overlooked.  This spirit is nicely summed up in a comment from Kristin's introduction: "Mysterion is about Christianity.  But we're not sure it is Christian."  From what I've seen, I'd agree, and for that reason among others, I do hope this book gets the attention it deserves: it's a genuinely interesting project upon a genuinely unique topic, which is more than many anthologies can claim.  And Golgotha is among the top tier of short fiction that I'm proudest of, a nasty, wriggling thing full of difficult questions and uneasy answers.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, I've been selling more stories.  What's particularly unusual this time around is that fully half my sales from the last couple of months were effectively commissions; that's definitely never happened before.  A couple of those I can't talk about yet - I wish I could, they're exciting! - but the other two I probably can.  In perhaps my most surreal sale ever, Alasdair Stuart and Marguerite Kenner, respectively owner and editor of Cast of Wonders, happened to be in the audience when I was reading from The Sign in the Moonlight and Other Stories.  And they enjoyed the story that I read - the deeply screwed up My Friend Fishfinger by Daisy Aged 7 - enough that they decided they'd like to podcast it.  Would that all readings went that way!  Meanwhile, at around the same time, one of my favourite editors pushed new publisher Great Jones Street my way, and they picked up both Jenny's Sick and Great Black Wave, with possibly - finger's crossed! - a couple more to follow.  (Great Jones Street, by the way, I'm sure I'll be talking about more, as they're up to some rather interesting and exciting things.)

The traditional sales front hasn't been going so shoddy either.  Br(other) is down for the middle volume of the three volume Let Us In anthology from Time Alone Press, which is due to start appearing next month.  And I enjoyed last year's Gaia: Shadow and Breath anthology enough that I thought I'd try for this year's entry in the series; as such, they'll be publishing my Feet of Clay, Mind of Coal, which I probably do no favours by referring to as my golem sex story.  (Hey ... I see an overlooked niche and I jump on it!)  Finally, I overhauled one of my earliest publications and gave it the title I realised it should have had approximately the moment after it saw print, and now Old Skin for the New Ceremony will be appearing in the sci-fi issue of Creepy Campfire Stories (for Grownups).

I'll finish up by noting that my slush reading for Digital Fantasy Fiction has come to a temporary halt, as they're closed to subs for a few weeks, but it was fun while it lasted.  Now I'm getting excited for the fact that at some point there's going to be an anthology coming out where I picked most or all of the stories, which is certainly as close as I've ever come to wearing an editor's hat.  And as much I may have grumbled at points, we did get a few really good subs, along with a couple of absolute stunners; if both of those make it into the same volume then I'll be very excited indeed, and probably pushing it a lot harder than I ever do my own stuff!

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