Category Archives: Anthology

The Scribe’s Arcanum: Anatomy of a Sale—The Mesomorphic Woman Part 4

With my SF story The Mesomorphic Woman in mothballs and some short fiction sales under my belt, twelve years had elapsed since I’d completed the first draft. 

I noticed an open call for submissions for a new anthology with Pink Narcissus Press. With some strong Google-fu, I’ve been able to locate the original submission call and am posting below.

Daughters of Icarus

A brave new world of feminist science fiction

Pink Narcissus Press seeks short feminist science fiction writing for its “Daughters of Icarus” anthology. Submissions must explore gender roles in society; hard science fiction is not appropriate to this anthology. So long as your submission takes up this challenge, the only other requirement of authors is that the work has an original and creative voice. Authors would do well to acquaint themselves with the likes of Ursula K. LeGuin, Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman to obtain a sound footing in the genre and a better understanding of previous work in the genre. Stories housed in new, unique worlds are preferred, as are those describing fantastical societies. Stories of any length will be considered. Deadline: May 31, 2012

The sentence beginning “(S)tories housed in new, unique worlds are preferred” caught my attention. With its setting of the Audallis biosphere orbiting Venus, The Mesomorphic Woman seemed a perfect fit. It was originally written with an eye toward feminist SF, explored gender roles, all the hard SF had already been removed from a previous draft, and I was already familiar with the authors listed. 

I looked through my stories folder and found the most recent version of the manuscript. Pulling it up I read through.  I could see mistakes in structure and pacing I hadn’t noticed before. Over the intervening years, I had increased my understanding of creating salable fiction. Creating a new file, I went over the story again. With an edited manuscript ready I gave it to my wife for a final edit. 

With the story polished, I figured I had nothing to lose by sending it out to Pink Narcissus Press. My trepidation, however, stemmed from placing a story in a political anthology where only those of the same political persuasion would ever read it. 

I hadn’t written to make a political point. I had written it as entertainment with a subtext the reader could ponder if they so chose.  The readers would be left to decide what they thought about the social issues presented in the story. In that, I meant for the story to encourage thought, not to preach. In that way, the story is ambiguous, allowing the reader to agree or disagree with the main character’s actions. Who is the good guy? Who is the bad guy? It’s never black and white when you’re dealing with human motivation.   

I assuaged these feeling knowing I would most likely receive a rejection anyway. Although, some part of me knew that if I sent the story in it would be accepted. 

I submitted the story and moved on to other things. Four months later I received an acceptance. Despite my previous apprehension, I was over the moon! 

The editor loved the story and asked me to include a 100-word bio with links to my blog, along with some basic information and my Paypal email to send payment. I signed the contract electronically. No further edits were required. My wife had edited me into print once again. 

I was flabbergasted to discover that The Mesomorphic Woman was the lead story. For those not initiated, anthologies usually open and close with their strongest stories. It was an absolute honor to represent Daughter’s of Icarus: New Feminist Science Fiction: Women’s Wings Unfurled. And to date, it is one of my most prestigious anthology sales. We were reviewed by the Library Journal and Publishers Weekly. 

“Strong pieces offer memorable takes on the notion of feminism in speculative fiction.”

—Library Journal 

“…on par with Pamela Sargent’s Women of Wonder Series…” 

—Publisher’s Weekly

Although out of print, Daughter’s of Icarus is still available in ebook format here. 

Next time I’ll talk about how I fixed a rejected story and sold it to another market. 

The Scribe’s Arcanum: Anatomy of a Sale—The Mesomorphic Woman Part 3

When I returned to writing fiction, the first thing I did was pull out the manuscript for Violent Fall and give it a reread. I liked it, but the story was too long for a “beginning” writer to get published and the story itself was incomplete. 

Incomplete as a manuscript. I had the ending sketched out in my mind for years. 

One thing I forgot to mention last time was that in 1996 I had just watched the movie Titanic. In that film, as the story unfolds, fictional characters Rose and Jack brings us on a tour of the whole ship from top to bottom.  

Titanic4

I wanted to do the same thing with Violent Fall. My central character Irina Kira would bring the reader through most of the Audallis sphere from the city of New Boston East to the forest and farmland at the top of the biosphere where she would have a “violent fall” returning to where she started in the narrative. The lower portions, the bowels if you will, remained mainly unexplored and only hinted at in various drafts. 

As I reimagined the story, I also changed the title. I had come across Somatotypes; the ectomorph, the endomorph, and the highly muscular mesomorph.  Somehow I put Mesomorphic with woman and a new title was born: The Mesomorphic Woman. I thought the title sounded like a science fiction story. I worked at erasing subplots, cutting to the heart of the narrative. 

female-body-types

I also wanted the ending to be hard-hitting. This is a secret of good storytelling. The resolution should have some impact. Think Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. With this story, I wanted the ending to have the emotional resonance of Amy Tann’s The Joy Luck Club.

 

When I finished the new draft, I put it away for a while and worked on other projects. After a second draft, I asked my wife to proofread. Then I began the submission process. 

Back in 2000, most magazines, especially the science fiction magazines (the old SF writers had a distrust for technology), required the old method of submission. This meant I had to print out a copy of the manuscript (after putting it in proper manuscript format) along with a cover letter,  clipping a SASE to the package, placing it an 8×10 envelope, and then driving to the post office to send it off.  Then I would wait a week and run to the mailbox every day for months while awaiting a reply. 

Responses came. They were all rejections. One prominent SF mag complimented me on my world-building skills but they didn’t like the story. Eventually, almost everyone began to use email for submissions, the years had gone by without a sale, but another prominent small press SF magazine said the whole editorial staff loved it but had decided not to purchase my story. And so it went over the years. I had some anecdotal evidence that The Mesomorphic Woman was a good story. A tell-it-like-it-is receptionist, who was also a frequent reader where I worked, read it and identified with my major character Irina Kira. Despite positive feedback, I wasn’t able to sell the manuscript.

It wasn’t until six years later in 2006 when my short fiction began to sell. Yet, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why The Mesomorphic Woman wouldn’t sell. I got better at my craft and over the years tweaked the story, tweaked the language, hoping to make the manuscript salable. 

I finally decided I had to put the manuscript away. I could write new stories in the time it took to polish old stories that weren’t selling. I abandoned The Mesomorphic Woman, consoling myself knowing that I might include it in a future short story collection. 

Later, with the manuscript secured in my virtual trunk (my hard drive) an open call for submissions for a new anthology market caught my attention. They were looking for stories just like The Mesomorphic Woman. Was it worth resurrecting the manuscript one last time? I figured I’d give the damn thing one final edit and send it out, but not without some trepidation. 

I’ll talk about this more next time. 

The Scribe’s Arcanum: Anatomy of a  Sale—Malfeasance Part 2

The Scribe’s Arcanum:

Anatomy of a  Sale—Malfeasance Part 2
Two months later, I got word that awaiting publisher approval, Malfeasance had made the cut. I was cautiously ecstatic. The editor didn’t think the publisher would kick anyone out, but she couldn’t officially accept any story without the publishers go-ahead.   
Here’s what she wrote about the story:

I really liked it. It was a great premise, good writing. I love Law and Order SVU and it reminded me of that but with an evil twist. I liked too that the villain really wasn’t in the story till the end yet he was a huge presence. I have to think that’s not easy to do, but you pulled it off.
About 21 days later, she gave me permission to announce the acceptance on social media. Then in August, I signed the contract. Realizing I could take part in my first reading and signing, I committed to attending the inaugural, but now defunct, Anthology Convention (AnthoCon) in New Hampshire. 
I had a fantastic time at the convention. 

After the reading, I took part in my first signing. Epitaphs: The Journal of the New England Horror Writers did well, selling out the 100 copies we had on hand. Then it continued to sell at other conventions and at online retailers. 

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I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that this was my first opportunity to share pages with the late great Rick Hautala (sometimes billed as the other writer from Maine, as he was Stephen King’s roommate in college), one of the authors who inspired me as a teenager during the 1980’s horror boom. 

Here’s some information on the anthology:

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The anthology features 26 stories and poems from the delightfully scary to the deeply macabre. 

Epitaphs, edited by author Tracy L. Carbone, includes an introduction by award-winning author and publisher Peter Crowther, as well as a cover by Danny Evarts. The table of contents in this chilling anthology is as follows: 

Perfect Witness – Rick Hautala 

To Sleep, Perchance to Die – Jeffrey C. Pettengill 

The Christopher Chair – Paul McMahon 

A Case of the Quiets – Kurt Newton 

Build-a-Zombie – Scott T. Goudsward 

Not an Ulcer – John Goodrich 

The Possessor Worm – B. Adrian White 

Make a Choice – John McIlveen 

The Death Room – Michael Allen Todd 

Stoney’s Boneyard – Holly Newstein & Glenn Chadbourne 

Kali’s Promise – Trisha J. Wooldridge 

The Sequel – David Bernard 

Malfeasance – David North-Martino 

Private Beach – Stacey Longo 

All Aboard – Christopher Golden 

Holiday House – LL Soares 

Lines at a Wake – Steven Withrow 

A Deeper Kind of Cold – K. Allen Wood 

Alone – P. Gardner Goldsmith 

Pandora’s Box – Roxanne Dent 

Chuck the Magic Man Says I Can – Michael Arruda 

Burial Board – TT Zuma (Tony Tremblay)

Windblown Shutter – John Grover 

Cheryl Takes a Trip – Stephen Dorato 

The Legend of Wormley Farm – Philip Roberts 

Church of Thunder and Lightening – Peter N. Dudar

Wow! What a talented group! Looking back, I find it humbling to have been part of this project. 

Epitaphs is now out of print, but an ebook version is still available. Since you can still purchase the anthology for the low sum of $2.99, I won’t be publishing Malfeasance on this blog.  Although, I am planning on recreating my reading, a reading that at one point in the narrative initiated a gasp from the crowd. Once I make a video and upload it to Youtube, I’ll link to it on this blog. 

Here’s a mixed review of my story by a reader on Amazon. It’s interesting, I was actually trying to make it feel like the reader was on a train, looking out a window, and seeing that the bridge is out ahead, knows nothing can be done about it, except take the plunge.

Malfeasance by David North-Martino: This was perhaps the most maddening story in the bunch. Just as with the previous story, I knew how it would end very early on. And yet it was crafted so intricately, I kept thinking no, I’m wrong, there’s a twist here I’m not seeing. But then… it ended just how I thought it would. Disappointing in that regard, yes, but it was still very much worth the read.

 Still, it’s good feedback, and I’m always trying to improve. Many times, a mixed or bad review can teach you much more than a fawning one. Check your ego at the door. 

If you’re interested, you can read a sample and get your e-copy here. 

Wicked Tales: The Journal of the New England Horror Writers Volume III

I’m pleased to pass on this announcement from the newsletter of the New England Horror Writers:

NEHW ANNOUNCEMENT!

The New England Horror Writers (NEHW) are pleased to announce their third anthology! Submissions are now Closed!
Wicked Tales will debut at Anthocon (www.anthocon.com) during the annual convention in Portsmouth, NH on 6/6/15.
The book will be an open themed anthology, edited by Scott Goudsward, Daniel Keohane and David Price.
Cover Art by Ogmios

Here’s the Table of Contents:

Introduction by Chet Williamson

Kristin Dearborn Somebody’s Darling

Rob Smales Keepsakes

Christopher Golden The Hiss of Escaping Air

Howard Odentz Handsome

E. A. Black Fog Over Mons

Paul McMahon Bitemarks

Trisha J. Wooldridge Crocodile Below

Bracken MacLeod The Blood and the Body

K. H. Vaughn The Opacity of Saints

Holly Newstein Live With It

Rick Hautala Love on the Rocks

Peter Dudar & L.L. Soares Baby’s Breath

Sam Gafford My Brother’s Keeper

T.T. Zuma The Pawnshop

Matthew Barlett Master of Worms

David North-Martino Sat Down Inside her

John Goodrich Odd Grimson

Timothy P. Flynn A Rythmatic Creation of the Damned (poem)

Michael J. Arruda Created Woman

John Mclveen Eve

***

Free Anthology!!! Limited Time!!!!

Extinct Doesn’t Mean Forever is FREE on Amazon today!  Includes my story, “The Language of Ice.”

The Extinct Anthology will also be free on March 12th and April 10th 2012. Don’t miss out!

http://www.amazon.com/Extinct-Doesnt-Mean-Forever-ebook/dp/B004SUOWMU/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1329306095&sr=1-1

From Amazon:

Echoes of yesterday touch the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary ways in 18 provocative stories by some of the best up-and-coming authors of mainstream and speculative fiction around the world.

1. Jase was her ghost in the machine, a shaded memory captured in synthesized pixels. Near enough to see, too distant to touch. Could they still connect? – LAST SEEN by Amanda le Bas de Plumetot

2. She didn’t realize how deep her loss ran, until a saber-tooth cat helped heal the past and point her toward a future she didn’t know she needed – PAST SURVIVORS by Sarah Adams

3. Vesna discovers from an unexpected source just how old the dance of love truly is – FOOTPRINTS ON THE BEACH by Aleksandar Ziljak

4. John doted on the French touring car he’d lovingly restored. Can his dead wife teach him other things are worthy of his love too? – THE RESTORATION MAN by Simon John Cox

5. When a single mum returns home to Tasmania with her young son, her efforts to settle back in take a strange twist – A DARK FOREST by Jen White

6. Keeping a baby dinosaur secret from prying TV people and scientists is no easy task, except when your family have been keeping sacred traditions secret for generations – MY OWN SECRET DINOSAUR by Jo Antareau

7. When a Neanderthal skeleton arrives at her museum, Cassie learns a woman dead for thousands of years still has something to teach the living – THE LANGUAGE OF ICE by David North-Martino

8. With human hunters closing in, Kerg concocts a desperate plan for survival. Just one problem: he isn’t the only one looking out for family – TWILIGHT OF THE CLAW by Adam Dunsby

9. Lucia doesn’t believe in angels — but she might believe in a little boy cloned from a forgotten race – THE ANGEL GENOME by Chrystalla Thoma

10. Geri’s father finds the remains of an alien culture, proof we’re not alone. But he leaves Geri feeling more alone than ever – IN RING by Scott Thomas Smith

11. Had it been left to protocols rather than human ingenuity, Commander West’s expedition might have overlooked one of Mars’ greatest treasures – BONES OF MARS by D Jason Cooper

12. Endless Power, Inc prepared Angel for the physical dangers of harnessing a new energy source. But no one prepared him for how to cope afterward – HUNTING THE MANTIS by Adam Knight

13. Bridges of meaning built through symbols alienate as much as connect. But the Virtual Bridge Sri plans could reconnect the lost hopes of a dying civilization – CONNECT by Kenneth Burstall

14. Fleeing with the last remnants of the Oshen race, Indigo has only one chance to ensure his people are never forgotten – INDIGO’S GAMBIT by Adam Israel

15. When his pampered world loses the technology it depends on, extinction looms faster than lonely survivor Levo could ever expect – BLOOD FRUIT by Shona Snowden

16. When a new bio-weapon in the wars on drugs and terror gets out of control, can the supplier really be held responsible? – A THORNY DILEMMA by Rory Steves

17. Capturing mammoths was all in a day’s work for Deke. The saber-tooth cat, though, was going to require something bigger than an elephant gun – INVOICE H10901: 3 WOOLY MAMMOTHS by Robert J. Sullivan

18. After George makes a momentous discovery, the distractions start piling up. His wife cooks up a surprise to remind him love is always worth sacrificing for – DISTRACTIONS by Peter Dudley

Guest Author: Chrystalla Thoma

Chrystalla Thoma, author of Rex Rising: Book One of Elei’s Chronicles, a YA Science Fiction e-book, is my guest today. She discusses her new book, and gives us some insight into how she comes up with her story ideas.

Dave: Hi Chrystalla, welcome to my blog. Can you first tell us a few things about yourself?

Chrystalla: Hi dear Dave, thanks for having me over. This is one of those questions that is vital and yet hard to answer – what is important about me? So let’s see… I’m a Sagittarius, and I read somewhere that people born under this sign always travel but give their heart to only one person, and both have been true of me. I am Greek Cypriot but have lived outside Cyprus since I was eighteen, only returning to settle in my old neighborhoods quite recently. I have lived on stories ever since I can remember and writing since I was ten. I love cold beer and hate raw meat. I have a fascination with magic and science, the boundaries of which blur a little in my mind, and am married to a marine biologist. I love the sea but I get seasick on boats, am Greek but write in English, write poetry but also fast-paced action prose, love cats but don’t own one. Strange, you say? Authors can be like that. 🙂

Dave: We have both published short stories in the anthology “Extinct Doesn’t Mean Forever”, edited by Phoenix Sullivan and published by Dare To Dream press. Can you tell us what your story is about?

Chrystalla: The Angel Genome is one of my favorite self-written stories. What if the legends of angels arose from an extinct human branch? Lucia doesn’t believe in angels – but she might believe in the cloned child of a forgotten race.

I wrote the story more than two years ago and it was one of those tales that demand to be written. I’d never imagined a call for stories would come along where this story would fit so snuggly – although I’ve had people hesitate, then tell me, “but angels never existed. So, how is this science fiction?” Aha! 🙂 Although we don’t know whether a human race ever existed which had special traits and which was later remembered as a race of “angels” as we think of them today, many branches of the human tree have been recently discovered, which survived until relatively recently (for example the Homo Floresiensis). What science fiction explores is not only which races could have been brought back to life, but what else science could bring back – what else we don’t know about – and here is where imagination comes in. We had ancient ancestors that were tiny, or huge, or ate only fruit on the trees. What if we also had ancestors who had wings?

Dave: What is your most recent writing project?

Chrystalla: I write sci-fi and fantasy in equal measures, therefore it is only due to the law of probability (or fate?) that my most recent project is a sci-fi as well. Rex Rising is a Young Adult Science Fiction novel about Elei, a young aircar driver in a world where parasites create new human races. He leads a peaceful life — until a mysterious attack on his boss sends him fleeing with a bullet in his side. Pursued for a secret he does not possess and with the fleet at his heels, he has but one thought: to stay alive. His pursuers aren’t inclined to sit down and talk, although that’s not the end of Elei’s troubles. The two powerful parasites inhabiting his body, at a balance until now, choose this moment to bring him down, leaving Elei with no choice but to trust in people he hardly knows in a mad race against time. It won’t be long before he realizes he must find out this deadly secret – a secret that might change the fate of his world and everything he has ever known – or die trying.

 Dave: What inspired this story?

Chrystalla: When I say “parasites”, many people shudder. Yet, when you read sci-fi and paranormal fiction, many “conditions”, even vampirism, being a zombie, or having supernatural abilities, can be (and sometimes are) attributed to parasites, be they viruses or other kinds. Truth is, we humans have many symbionts – we happily (and often unhappily) live together with many other organisms inside our bodies. Our bodies are so used to having parasites, that lack of them has caused certain diseases of our era – auto-immune system diseases (like Crohn’s disease) and allergies, which are due to the fact that the body, finding no parasites to fight as it has used to do for thousands of years, turns upon itself and starts to destroy its own tissues. Recent research has found out that for patients with Crohn’s disease the best therapy is often the introduction of hookworms and other relatively harmless parasites.

I highly recommend a book by Carl Zimmer, called “Parasite Rex” to anyone who would like to read more about this fascinating topic.

Dave: Interesting! Thanks for coming over, Chrystalla. Where can one find you on the internet and read your stories?

Chrystalla: You can follow my ramblings and news about my writing and stories here: http://chrystallathoma.wordpress.com

You can find Rex Rising at the following distributors:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon DE

Smashwords

Watch the book trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-6Gxf8oQas

Chrystalla’s short story “The Angel Genome” can be found in the Extinct Doesn’t Mean Forever anthology (click on image!):

You can also find her short story separately (click on the Image!):

Writer’s Announced for NEHW’s First Anthology

Writer’s Announced for NEHW’s First Anthology.

I’m extremely excited to announce that my story “Malfeasance” will appear in the New England Horror Writer’s inaugural  anthology: Epitaphs. The anthology is slated for release on 11/11/11.

 

Jeffrey C. Pettengill “To Sleep, Perchance to Die”
Paul McMahon “The Christopher Chair”
Kurt Newton “A Case of the Quiets”
Scott T. Goudsward “Build-a-Zombie”
John Goodrich “Not an Ulcer”
B. Adrian White “The Possesor Worm”
John M. McIlveen “Make a Choice”
Michael Allen Todd “The Death Room”
Rick Hautala “Perfect Witness”
Holly Newstein and Glenn Chadbourne “Stoney’s Boneyard”
Trisha J. Wooldridge “Kali’s Promise”
David Bernard “The Sequel”
David North-Martino “Malfeasance”
Stacey Longo “Private Beach”
Christopher Golden “All Aboard”
L.L. Soares “Holiday House”
Steven Withrow “Lines at a Wake”
K. Allen Wood “A Deeper kind of Cold”
P. Gardner Goldsmith “Alone”
Roxanne Dent “Pandora’s Box”
Michael Arruda “Chuck the Magic Man Says I Can”
T.T. Zuma “Burial Board”
John Grover “Windblown Shutter”
Stephen Dorato “Cheryl Takes a Trip”
Philip Roberts “The Legend of Wormley Farm”
Peter N. Dudar “Church of Thunder and Lightning”