Category Archives: Science Fiction

The Scribe’s Arcanum: Anatomy of a First Sale—Part 1

The Scribe’s Arcanum

Anatomy of a First Sale—Part 1

How do you get published traditionally? A lot of newer writers have this question. I can tell you how I did it, giving you some insight into the process. This will be a longer post, probably the longest of the Anatomy of a Sale series since I have to start from the beginning. I’ll try to work though the background information quickly. 

I wrote my real first short stories back in junior high. I had the opportunity to read a story to the class, and once I did, I become known as: The Writer. There was another classmate who was known as: The Artist. I was envious of him as I had wanted to be an artist myself, a comic book illustrator to be exact, but found what I really wanted to do was tell a story. I discovered in short order it was easier to tell a story with words than with pictures——at least it was for me. 

Then in high school I wrote a short story for an English class. At the time, I was trying to sail under the radar. I couldn’t help but take up the challenge, and once my teacher saw I had talent, I lost the ability to remain invisible in that class. There’s a lot more to this story, but I’ll save it for another day. 

Fast forward to late 1996, early 1997. After a couple years of marriage, I felt settled down and focused enough to try my hand at writing again. This time I wanted to see if I could make a fiction sale. I told my wife as much, asking her to buy me a Writer’s Digest Short Story Market  for Christmas/Hanukkah. 

I made her a promise that with that tome by my side, I would write a story and send it out.  If nothing else, I’d get my first rejection letter. 

I had researched enough to know that even top writers like Stephen King had spent a great deal of time collecting rejection slips. I felt that getting a “thanks, but no thanks” letter was an achievable goal, and it kept me from worrying about the results. The worst that could happen was that I would be sent an acceptance letter and not get my goal of a rejection. That would have been a “failure” I could live with. 

I wrote my first story, with an eye towards making a sale, on a Brother word processor, sending out a hard copy in the mail and waiting breathlessly for the post office to send me a response. Instead of a rejection, I was surprised to read a short note informing me that that the magazine had just gone out of business. 

Immediately, I sent the story to a small press magazine. A few months later I received a very nice note written on a form rejection letter stating: “Good story! Just too traditional for this publication.” Not a bad first rejection. In-fact, it’s extremely good. Much better than I realized at the time. 

Most of my rejections were like this. I had immediately received encouraging letters and notes, but no sales. It was a better sign than I could have known. I was close, but life was getting in the way. By the end of 1997 I had transitioned into a  management position in the security industry. Producing reports and policies and procedures manuals kept me writing, and a  24 hour pager and 16 hour shifts kept me exhausted and with little time for anything else. 

In the year 2000 I completed a transition to a human resources position, regaining some of the time I had lost. With extra time came an emptiness I couldn’t seem to fill. I had returned to martial arts over a year earlier (having left my old school in 1997) and even though I loved my training, it wasn’t enough to fill me up. It was only when I returned to writing that I felt whole again. 

That year, I found a message board frequented by horror writers who had been popular in the 1980s. These authors had been my writing heroes, and they inspired me to return to my horror roots. Before that, I had spent most of my time writing science fiction. I figured I understood the horror genre more than SF, and that I would have a publication credit in no time. How wrong I was! 

In 2004 I placed a short story, “Graven Image,” with a webzine called The Swamp. I didn’t get paid for that “sale” but I did get an acceptance, something I sorely needed at the time. 

It wouldn’t be until 2006 when I made my first sale. Yes, It would take me six years to make my first paid sale. Persistance pays off. Persistance and practice. I’ll tell you how that happened next time. Stay tuned. 

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January in Review

In an attempt to keep some sort of momentum going with this blog, I’ve decided to give you an update on what I’ve been working on during the month of January. It’s been a pretty good month. I’m hoping to make a couple videos soon that will show how I go about goal setting and planning my year. Until then, I give you this…

Writing

Short Fiction

  • My SF/Horror story “Sat Down Inside Her” was accepted into the untitled 3rd annual New England Horror Writer’s anthology slated for an early summer release. More information to come.
  • I received a rejection from a top market with a “hope to see more stories from you in the future” from the editor. As one writer commented on FB, “I hope you know that’s a fabulous response.” Some of my non-writer friends don’t understand how a rejection can be a good thing. Suffice it to say that when an editor from a top pro market says he’d like to see more of your work, you know your writing is near or at the level of that market. All that it will take is writing a story that catches the editor’s fancy to get an acceptance letter. Maybe that and a little luck.  As you can well imagine, cracking this market has been put on  the top of my goal list.

Novels

  • Year of the Demon (Conspiracy/Crime Thriller): I began working on the 3rd draft of this 90,000 word novel.
  • The Tower (Paranormal Haunting/Woman in Jeopardy Crime Thriller) : I’m approximately 15,200 words or 61 pages into the first draft of this novel. Currently, I’m projecting that it will run about 90,000 words when completed.
  • Proxy Mate (Dystopian SF) : I’m approximately 11,250 words or 45 pages into what most likely will be a novella. At present, I have no idea how long this story will run.
  • Wolves of Vengeance (Multi-Genre Supernatural Thriller): has had an uptick is sales and borrows this month. Updating the book description, changing the genre descriptors, and gaining a couple more glowing reviews has seemed to help.

Reading

Family & Friends

  • Called my parents at least once per week.
  • Kept in contact with my aunt through email.
  • Celebrated Patty’s birthday.
  • Kept up with friends on social media.
  • Contacted my friend and former Gothic & Arthurian lit professor through email to stay in touch.
  • Lit a candle for my sister on the anniversary of her death.

Martial Arts

  • So many good seminars this month, and I wasn’t able to attend any of them. At least I got plety of training in at home.
  • Five or six rounds of shadowboxing at least 2x per week with Patty using the Bas Rutten MMA Workout audio CDs.
  • Practiced Kali sinawali
  • Continued practicing Naihanchi forms

Fitness & Health

  • Lost a half inch from my waist and about a pound of fat since I began tracking again.
  • Began using myfitnesspal again to track my weightloss and fitness goals.
  • Utilized the original P90X DVDs a few times this month, doing about 30 minutes each (focused on Core Synergistics and Back & Chest).
  • Had my semi-annual dental cleaning.

Cars

  • Had D service on my car, along with an oil change.
  • Had my car inspected and a parking light replaced.

Thing Goals

  • Bought a set of precision screwdrivers at Ace Hardware. I’m going to upgrade the memory in my Mac. That’s the plan, at least.

House

  • General cleaning and maintenance.

Whisky Tasting

  • I’ve enjoyed drinking Glenmorangie The Original and Glenlevit 12. I’m very new to the world of whisky snobbery, but I find that it suits me. Haha! I enjoyed a sample of Glenlevit 15, but didn’t notice much difference from the 12. Tried Talisker at the recomendation of some writer friends and have found it a very acquired taste. I’m not used to the smokey/peaty taste, and not sure I’ll ever like it. All is not lost, though. I’ll be bringing whatever is left to AnthoCon where I will be very happy to share!

General

  • I survived the Blizzard of 2015.
  • I got a haircut. I look almost human again. Almost…

Movies Watched:

  • World War Z ***
  • Escape Plan **
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier ****

I’ll create an addendum if I think of anything else.

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!):

U.S. Writer Saving Tassie Devil

For Immediate Release:

US WRITER SAVING TASSIE DEVIL

It might seem a long way from home, but U.S. author David North-Martino has joined with 18 other writers worldwide in an initiative to help save one of Australia’s most beloved and endangered species, the Tasmanian devil.

From July 1 to 15th, all proceeds from their anthology EXTINCT DOESN’T MEAN FOREVER, published by Dare to Dream Press, are being donated to the Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal.

“We have several Australian writers featured in the anthology and when we were looking for a charity to sponsor, they told us about the plight of the Tasmanian devils,” says Phoenix Sullivan of US-based Dare to Dream Press. “We immediately decided that we had to get involved.”

EXTINCT DOESN’T MEAN FOREVER features 19 provocative stories by some of the best up-and-coming authors of mainstream and speculative fiction around the world. Here is the description of David North-Martino’s story “The Language of Ice”: When a Neanderthal skeleton arrives at her museum, Cassie learns a woman dead for thousands of years still has something to teach the living.

Tasmanian devils are threatened by Devil Facial Tumor Disease, which is passed from devil to devil by biting. According to the Save the Tasmanian Devil program, a partnership between Australian and Tasmanian Governments, there has been an average 80% decline in devil sightings across Tasmania from 1992-95 to 2003-06. The program aims to see the Tasmanian devil again thriving in the wild through population monitoring, disease diagnostics, wild management and an insurance program – building a population of healthy devils that might eventually be released into the wild.

EXTINCT DOESN’T MEAN FOREVER is an e-publication and is available from Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble online. The Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal can be found at: http://www.tassiedevil.com.au/tasdevil.nsf/.