Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Interview with Editor Jonathan Laden


Daily Science Fiction is an online publication specializing in science fiction and fantasy in all their forms. Today, we're honored to have editor Jonathan Laden with us for an insightful interview.
W1S1: First off, how would you describe your role(s) at Daily Science Fiction?
I, Jonathan, spend more time as first reader than anything else. Michele makes most final decisions. I get much of the glory because I then manage all of the communictaions, contracts, proofs, answering five questions from writing clubs, etc. Nope, you can't speak to Michele. She isn't available at this time.
W1S1: Understood! So what are the top three things you look for in a story?
1. Good writing: I don't think we're a literary venue but we're reputed to be on the literary end of the SF spectrum because we try to see even great ideas conveyed well.
2. Engaging and worthwhile reads. Yes, absolutely, this is a nebulous concept. We get many stories that are worthy of publication. The ones we take are the ones we find the most interesting, that stick with us for some reason, the ones that feel to us that they matter.
3. Short short fiction: We're publishing five days a week, 260 or so times a year. About half of those stories are flash, less than 1,000 words. Another 50 or so will be short short fiction, 1,000-2,500 words. We can "only" publish 52 full length short stories each year. This may be related to why we're a market of such interest to W1S1; you can't write novellas every week. If you can, more power to you! I don't know how to measure, but I believe Daily Science Fiction publishes the most--and the best--science fiction flash in the galaxy.
W1S1: Typically, what makes the difference between a story's acceptance or rejection?
If we told you the secret word, we'd have to change it, wouldn't we?
W1S1: I guess so! What fresh story ideas/themes/genres would you like to see submitted to Daily Science Fiction this year?
We'd love to see more well-done alternate history flash. But for the most part we are agnostic on topic or theme. We endeavor to publish great science fiction (By which we mean scifi, fantasy, slipstream, et al.).
W1S1: If you could change anything about the publishing industry today, what would it be?
Heh. We thought launching Daily Science Fiction was our way to change the publishing industry. As quotable people have said, First be the change you want to see from the world.
W1S1:  Thanks, Jonathan!
So for all of you Write1Sub1ers out there who just might have a story to submit, go check out Daily Science Fiction's submission guidelines here.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Week #16 Weigh-in

The end of Week 16 is upon us!

How's it been for you? Have the words been hotter than Fahrenheit 451, or has The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms gotten in the way? Here's your chance to tell everybody about it, whether you're a weekly or monthly (or anything in between) W1S1 participant.

If you've managed to write a story and submit a story, shout it from the rooftops. Yahoo! If you've had something W1S1-related accepted, tell us so we can add you to the Write1Sub1 Hall of Fame. But if stuff has interfered with your writing and every reply has been a rejection, let us know that too so we can commiserate. We're all in this together.

This year, we have cool forms for reporting our acceptances and paid publications. (Thanks to Jeff Chapman for keeping us organized.)

Please report ONLY accepted/published stories that you wrote as part of your participation in W1S1 (2011-2014).

(Please note that reports will not immediately appear, as they must be verified/processed by the weekly moderator) 

While W1S1 continues to encourage all avenues for publication, we want to especially highlight those stories and markets that help to put protein-rich snacks in a writer's fridge. 

Even if you have no acceptance or publication news to report, please update us on your week's progress in the comments. Successes and failures, triumphs and disasters, brilliant ideas and insane dreams: we want to read all about them.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Own Worst Enemy

Have you ever had a story to tell, and you knew it was inside you waiting to burst forth, but you were too afraid you wouldn't be able to do it justice?

This kind of stinkin' thinkin' hit me hard when I came up with the idea for my story "Soulless in His Sight." Who was I to think I could write an homage to Faulkner's As I Lay Dying and McCarthy's The Road with Diogenes (crossbow and hatchet instead of a lamp) tossed in for good measure?

Here's the concept: What if Faulkner's Vardaman didn't know his own strength, and he hurt someone close to him? His father, a violent incarnation of McCarthy's paternal character, believes his son was born without a soul. Like Diogenes on the hunt for an honest man, the father must find a soul for his son so he can go to heaven and see his mother.

On Week #9 of Write1Sub1 2011, I finally decided to give it a go. I wrote, polished, and submitted "Soulless in His Sight" to Shimmer, a market I'd been stalking for over a year. The editor eventually responded, "I've read this story a few times now, and though I like it very much, the ending still makes me hesitate. I think if you were to be more concrete with it, the story would be a home run."

I was definitely open to a rewrite, and after making a few minor edits and overhauling the end, the editor replied, "I like the revisions very much. Fatha and Boy are just great; the story has a genuine voice that shines." In spite of my self-doubt, "Soulless in His Sight" eventually appeared in Shimmer's July 2012 issue, and if that wasn't cool enough, in 2015 a reprint will appear in the Wastelands 2 anthology edited by John Joseph Adams.

"Soulless in His Sight” was a challenge for me to write, but I'm so glad I stuck with it and now have a story I can point to as one I didn't allow to beat me—and an example of my best work.

We don't have to be our own worst critics.

Believe in yourself. Believe in your work. Cool stuff will happen.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Week #15 Weigh-in

The end of Week 15 is upon us!

How's it been for you? Have the words flowed like Dandelion Wine, or has Something Wicked gotten in the way? Here's your chance to tell everybody about it, whether you're a weekly or monthly (or anything in between) W1S1 participant.

If you've managed to write a story and submit a story, shout it from the rooftops. Yahoo! If you've had something W1S1-related accepted, tell us so we can add you to the Write1Sub1 Hall of Fame. But if stuff has interfered with your writing and every reply has been a rejection, let us know that too so we can commiserate. We're all in this together.

This year, we have cool forms for reporting our acceptances and paid publications. (Thanks to Jeff Chapman for keeping us organized.)

Please report ONLY accepted/published stories that you wrote as part of your participation in W1S1 (2011-2014).

(Please note that reports will not immediately appear, as they must be verified/processed by the weekly moderator) 

While W1S1 continues to encourage all avenues for publication, we want to especially highlight those stories and markets that help to put new eBooks on a writer's eReader. 

Even if you have no acceptance or publication news to report, please update us on your week's progress in the comments. Successes and failures, triumphs and disasters, brilliant ideas and insane dreams: we want to read all about them.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Why Write Short Stories?

It's the writer's dream: have an agent, sign a book deal with a big publishing house, see our work on the shelf at the local airport. But writing novels takes time. And revising them takes a whole lot more. We need something along the way to boost our creative energy and remind us why we started writing those 300-page tomes in the first place: to share our work with readers.

For the past four years, I've been writing and submitting short stories for publication. No agent is necessary, you can build your audience and compile publication credits, and you'll get paid for your work. Some novelists think they can't do short fiction, that their stories are too big. But my favorite authors have done it: Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, China Mieville, and Alastair Reynolds. If they can, so can we.

There are so many short fiction venues available now: magazines, anthologies, online 'zines, and eReader publications. Writing and selling short stories is an excellent way to build a portfolio of your published work. Pay varies widely from token to pro, but there are other benefits, such as exposure. Having your story published alongside a well-known author in a themed anthology will introduce new readers to your work. And once the rights revert to you, the story can be republished elsewhere as a reprint, expanding your audience even further.

One of the greatest benefits to writing short fiction is the ability to develop characters from your novels, giving readers some insight into their backstory—or creating characters that will someday appear in their own novels. I wrote 7 stories about Captain Bartholomew Quasar, sold 6 of them, then had a publisher approach me about writing a novel-length adventure. I've sold other tales with recurring characters—Coyote Cal & Big Yap (weird westerns), Mercer the Soul Smuggler (supernatural noir), Charlie Madison, private investigator (future noir), and Brawnstone & Dahlia (urban fantasy)—and it's been a blast to learn more about them with every story I write.

Thanks to Write1Sub1, we're spending 2014 in Ray Bradbury's shadow and growing in our craft along the way. Many of us write novellas and novels in addition to our short fiction, and we've found W1S1 to be a great way to stay on track as we pursue our dreams. I've committed to the monthly challenge again this year (12 or more stories in 12 months), and I'm telling new tales about my recurring characters. Some of them are clamoring for novels, too, but we'll see how that goes.

This is a great time to be a writer. Don't pigeonhole yourself. Branch out, stretch those wings, and see what you can do.