Waystations of a Journeyman Writer

The life of a writer can be a thankless one, with rejections peppering a career far more often than acceptances. But it’s the rejections that teach a writer their chops. With any luck you get a bit of feedback with a rejection that helps to improve a story. A writer should continually improve through the practice of writing, and through reading other peoples’ stuff. I do believe that a writer also gets better with every passing year of life experience, with every trial and tribulation giving us more to draw from. Hpoefully, in the end, the acceptances start to outnumber the rejections.

So I thought it worth taking stock of where things stand for me as we start a new year, and how the last year went. I’m very much a journeyman writer – I’m still learning my craft, hopefully improving all the time. I want to sell stories to the best pro markets, I want novels published by the big mainstream publishers. I’d love the recognition of prizes and awards. All these things will help to prove that I’m doing well at my chosen form of artistic expression, that other people are reading my stuff and enjoying it. I want to get better all the time. So, how am I doing?

Well, 2010 saw my novels, RealmShift and MageSign, acquired by Gryphonwood Press in the US, which was a fantastic result for me. I can’t express how pleased I was about that and I hope it’s just the start of my career as a novellist.

As for short fiction, 2010 saw the publication of these short stories:

Trial Not Required in M-Brane SF Issue #13, February 2010;
Strange Death at Flashes In The Dark, March 2010;
Pushed Too Far at House Of Horror, May 2010;
Decennial General Meeting in Best Of Friday Flash Vol. 1 anthology, August 2010;
Jeff Newman’s Headaches in 52 Stitches, August 23, 2010;
The King’s Accord in Flesh & Bone: Rise of The Necromancers anthology from Pill Hill Press, August 2010 (I think this is my best published story last year, I’m really proud of it.);
Idle Chatter at Bosley Gravel’s Cavalcade of Terror, September 2010.

I also scored myself an Honourable Mention in the Writers Of The Future competition in 2010.

So not a bad year for publications. You can read a lot of these via the Dark Shorts page right here on this website – click the link at the top. But I plan to do better. I’ve already started 2011 in much better form. I sold some stories in 2010 that are due for publication this year. Those are:

Stand Off due for publication in Night Mantled: The Best Of Wily Writers Vol. 1 anthology, which should be out any time now. This is a reprint of the story published and podcast by Wily Writers in July 2009.

Mirrorwalk due for publication in Murky Depths #16 – I’m really pleased to have had a story accepted by Murky Depths and I really like Mirrorwalk. It’s a magic story with a twist. Another great thing about Murky Depths is that each story has a piece of artwork commissioned for it, and Mirrorwalk will be accompanied by an illustration by Rick Fairlamb. I’ve never had a story illustrated before and looking at Rick’s site makes me very excited at what might come about, so I’m looking forward to that.

Unexpected Launch in Anywhere But Earth anthology (Coeur De Lion Publishing) – This one is a sci-fi yarn that I won’t say anything else about just now. You’ll have to read the story. But the concept of this anthology is excellent and the list of authors included is really shaping up nicely. I’m honoured to be in this one and really looking forward to it.

My flash fictions Terminal Illness & The Book are going to be reprinted in the Pill Hill Press 365 Flash anthology. These were originally published by Antipodean SF, so it’s good to see those stories get another outing.

I’ve started 2011 with a few sales as well:

Kasma SF will be publishing my urban sci-fi short story Mistaken Identity any time now.

Ticonderoga Publications will be publishing my vampire horror story, Punishment Of The Sun, in their Dead Red Heart anthology – this is another anthology with a stellar cast of writers contributing, so another one I’m very proud to be included in. This is also a great concept antho, with all the stories being specifically Australian vampire yarns, so I can’t wait to see what else comes out in it. I’ve also been a part of a group of about a dozen writers who all contributed a small amount to a story written in news clippings, that will be included in this anthology. So I’ll get my name in it twice!

My story Duty & Sacrifice will be appearing in the Hope anthology from Kayelle Press later this year.

Seven Realms Publishing in the US are putting together an anthology of short stories based on the classic short story The Most Dangerous Game. Each contributing author will present a story inspired by Richard Connell’s classic featuring characters from their published work. My story Running Wild With The Hunt, featuring Isiah, the protagonist from RealmShift and MageSign will be included in that book.

The Red Penny Papers will be publishing my novellette The Darkest Shade Of Grey, but we’ll be waiting a while for that one. It’s due for publication at the start of 2012, but all the contracts and stuff are signed off now. It’ll be worth waiting for as I honestly believe it’s one of the best things I’ve ever written.

On top of all that I have a few other short stories out under consideration in various places, so I’ll hopefully continue to make sales, hopefully to better and better publications all the time. I’ll continue to write short stories, of course, so who knows what else will happen.

And I’m working on my third novel, which is really shaping up nicely. I’ll be on the lookout for a publisher for that one before too long. There’s an open call for submissions by Angry Robot in March, so I might start there.

As you can see, I’m keeping busy. Writing this post is as much for myself as it is for the interest of readers of this blog. It helps me cope with all the rejections when I see a year or two of work laid out like this and see the successes that have come along. My journey as a writer continues. I’ll keep writing, with a bit of perseverance I’ll keep getting better and hopefully people will enjoy reading my work.

Wish me luck! 

This is a reprint from Alan Baxter’s The Word.

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