Tag Archives: stories

New Story Published!

My one and only publication for 2019!

Every year on White Day in Japan, Nolan and Dane meet under “their” cherry tree. For just that day, they spend time together. The rules are that they cannot ask anything too personal. Nolan isn’t sure why he continues to go, or what kind of relationship to really hope for. When an accident sends Dane to the hospital, Nolan must make a quick decision: abandon Dane to the care of the doctors or go with him and risk learning more than he’s supposed to.

Please go have a read! Though I will warn potential readers that this one is one of my gay love stories. Nothing explicit, since I don’t write that kind of thing, but if you’re not into guys in love, maybe skip it.

It’s Early But…

I don’t anticipate much happening between now and the end of the year. Which means 2019 was a singularly unproductive year for me in terms of writing. I wrote one story that I have yet to place anywhere. (Lots of places still considering it… Here’s hoping it finds a home.) That means I didn’t publish anything this year. And I’m really no closer to finishing or publishing anything any time soon, either.

What I did accomplish this year: a house move + renovations. That ate up a lot of time and energy. Plus a new routine with the kids as now they are going to three different schools which means juggling a lot of drop-offs and pick-ups. We had a big family vacation, too. And we adopted two rats (one of which passed away) and a python. For the record, that leaves our menagerie at two cats, a rat, and a snake.

In short, my life is largely focused on the domestic these days. On the up side, I read a ton of books this year. My goal was 18, and I’m at something like 76. Of course, a lot of those were manga, but I regret nothing.

I was looking at my personal year for next year. For those who don’t know what that means, in numerology one can calculate a Life Path number using one’s birthdate and then a yearly number using the month and day of your birth plus the year. My Life Path number is 6 and my personal year number for 2020 is also 6, so that should be interesting. A 6 year focuses on (again, some more) domestic concerns. Which means I may not do much writing next year either… If you’re curious about your personal year or Life Path numbers, there are many different calculators online to help you. Just Google “personal year calculator” or “life path number calculator.” It’s entertaining if nothing else.

Yeah, in terms of my “career” 2019 feels like a waste. But I moved myself and my family into a better overall situation, so I think that’s totally worth it. Next year I have a couple vacations to look forward to, and any house stuff will be relatively small by comparison. And while the first half of the year will be more of the crazy juggling of kids’ schedules, the next school year should be much more manageable. The kids will still be at three different schools, but at least one of those schools will be much closer to home, meaning all three schools will be within a 10-minute drive. (Right now, one school is 20 minutes away, meaning I’m in the car at least 80 minutes a day, not counting any other driving.)

The only thing I’m really hoping for as far as my writing goes is to find a place for this story. If all else fails, I suppose I can self-publish it… Maybe combine it with a couple other stories for a mini anthology. Sometimes stories seem more doable than bigger works, though I’ve always found short pieces harder to write in general. Maybe this will be a good exercise for me and help me hone my skill. Who knows? In any case, I don’t plan to push things. Forced writing is usually not very good. Here’s hoping my muse finds my new address soon so we can get back together and get to work.

Just Saying No to Submission Fees

I don’t write many short stories, but as I recently wrote one on commission… only to have that publisher close… I am now searching for a new publisher for this particular story. And I’ve noticed many journals that publish short stories have submission fees. They give varying reasons for this. Some say it’s to “make sure the author is willing to invest in your work.” That is to say, these journals believe that authors are just writing and tossing off half-baked stories, which the journals see as a waste of their own valuable time. Well, I’d argue that 1. the author still spent more time writing it than you will reading it. Particularly if, after a page or so, you already know it’s no good and don’t read all of it. And 2. a lot of these journals are also non-paying. So I’m supposed to pay them for the chance to be published by them… Even though, if I am published by them, I likely won’t see a more than a contributor’s copy? That doesn’t seem right. You’re basically asking me, the author, to pay the cost of your doing business. I don’t see that I get much out of it, unless I like to gamble. (Which I don’t.)

Paying a journal just to submit is a gamble. It’s buying a lottery ticket, more or less. Again, the journals will say that this is how they ensure people send their best work. And while I understand that there are a lot of bad stories out there, I think most authors at least believe they’re doing the best they can. No writer I’ve ever known has said, “Well, it needs more work, but I’m going to send it anyway.” Because we know that if we want to be published, the work needs to be as good as we can possibly make it. Admittedly, not everyone has the ability to make it stellar, but charging a fee isn’t going to change that.

What charging a fee does achieve is cutting down on submissions. And maybe this is the real goal: to not be swamped. Fewer submissions means the journal needs fewer staff members to wade through it all. Meanwhile, the staff can be paid, at least partially, with all those submission fees. It’s a win-win for the journals, maybe, but as an impoverished author, I’ll pass. Not because I don’t believe in my work, not because I didn’t polish it enough to “invest” in it, but because money should trickle down to the author. And because submission fees add up. A few dollars here, a few more there… It can come to quite a lot. And it’s going to the journals who charge fees rather than to the authors who’ve spent all that time and energy writing. No thanks.

Gay or Not Gay? A Handy Guide

It was really only a matter of time that someone would give Faebourne a low-star review because there is a gay romance subplot. I did try to be clear in the book description, and the novel is placed in a gay fiction category besides, but… Ah, well. Not everyone reads the fine print.

Here, then, is a breakdown of my writing in terms of gay/not gay:

My books that feature gay characters:

  • The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller (main character is gay)
  • Manifesting Destiny (one of the main characters is gay)
  • Faebourne (supporting characters are gay)

Gay-free books:

  • The World Ends at Five
  • The K-Pro
  • Brynnde

Where are the Sherlock Holmes stories? Well, while in my stories Holmes and Watson are not gay, there are hints that Mycroft is. So it straddles the fence, I suppose.

I’m considering publishing a short story of mine called “The Zodiac Clock,” and it has gay characters, too. So if that bothers you, don’t read it.

I hope that clears up any potential confusion. Happy reading!

Reflection

I started out writing short stories. I’ll admit they aren’t my strong suit, but at the time they felt like a testing ground and less of a commitment than entire novels. One of my earliest stories was published in Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine (now defunct) in 2004, and that gave me the courage to keep writing.

I put that story in the anthology The World Ends at Five, which I first published in 2008 then republished a few years ago. I think my favorite story in the collection is “Raising the Ruins,” which is told from the point of view of a Jewish-Japanese woman dealing with the loss of her culture because Japan has sunk beneath the waves and her mother is dead. Of course, I am not Japanese, and I’m only Jewish by marriage, so I’m sure some people would find the fact I wrote the story problematic. But I enjoyed exploring the themes of how we connect to our heritages, particularly if and when they are diverse. I myself grew up Creole and . . . Well, I don’t know what to even consider the other side, but my parents came from two very different backgrounds, and I am the result of their struggle to compromise and make something cohesive. Whether they succeeded is still a matter of debate.

I’m not sure why I chose Jewish and Japanese when I wrote “Raising the Ruins” all those years ago except that I very much admire the Japanese culture (what I know of it), and found the touchstones for it and Judaism easier to express in a story than Creole and mutt. I have since started a story called “Voodoo Lessons” that will more explore my Creole heritage; I don’t know yet whether it will be a short story, novella, or novel.

When I look back at The World Ends at Five I both think that the stories are better than I remember, and that they still show the marks of a writer finding her voice and learning her trade. But I’m not ashamed of them. At least one of them found professional publication elsewhere, which is worth being proud of. And I’m able to read the fairy tale “A Tale of Two Queens” to my kids’ classes; it is the only story I’ve written that is suitable for that. (I originally wrote it as a birthday gift for a friend and co-worker.)

Not sure what brought this one to mind today. Guess I was feeling nostalgic.

A Handful of Water

I have a few things going on at the moment. For one, trying to get Faebourne ready for publication in August. For another, I’m waiting on responses to Hamlette from five places that are considering it. And then my short story “The Zodiac Clock” is likewise on submission to four places.

I’ve stopped submitting both Hamlette and “The Zodiac Clock.” If Hamlette doesn’t take, I’ll most likely self-publish it. Probably the same for “TZC” though I’d maybe try to write a few more stories and package it as an anthology.

I’m also waiting to hear from conferences where I’ve been put on lists to possibly be a featured author. I love going to conferences, but I’m at the point that I can’t justify the expense—particularly if there is a lot of travel—unless I’m at least contributing and being acknowledged. Still, I also recognize that I’m not as well known as some authors, and conferences want known names that will draw a crowd. At the same time, it’s a bit like the book marketing and publicity Catch-22: publishers put their marketing dollars behind authors who already sell. You’d think conference-goers would maybe get tired of the same handful of authors at each event and instead look for some new and interesting names? Or not.

I try not to be bitter, but I’ll admit a certain amount of frustration. People will say I should hide that side of me, but I believe in being real and honest about the hardships of being an author. It’s not all glamor. A lot of the time it feels like scraping and elbowing your way through a densely packed crowd.

So why call this post “A Handful of Water”? Because that’s also what it feels like: trying to hold something in your hands that leaks through. It’s fluid, and it’s running everywhere. I’ve got so much going on with submissions and my WIP . . . It’s hard to hold on to it all sometimes. And maybe I don’t have to. Maybe the only person who insists on it is me. I don’t know why I put so much pressure on myself, but . . . I feel worthless otherwise. All I have to offer the world is me and my work. If that’s not enough, then I don’t know why I’m here.

“The Zodiac Clock”

I’m currently trying to find a home for this story I wrote called “The Zodiac Clock.” I don’t write many short stories these days, and I only wrote this one because there was an open call for submissions and I wanted to give that a shot. My story didn’t get picked for the anthology, so now I’m like, Well now what do I do with it? I think it’s a good story (though I’m probably biased), and I’ve been told to maybe write more and put out my own anthology, but before I go through all that, I’m looking for a place that might take the story first.

All this is a very long introduction to what I really meant to write about, which is: How I came up with the idea for the story.

I used to see this ad for a book called The Zodiac Cooks. It’s a cook book based on astrology, I guess? The image with the ad showed this blue cake divided into an astrological wheel/chart. Well, every time I saw this ad—every single time, even though I’d seen it a dozen times before—I’d think it said The Zodiac Clocks. Something about a quick glance at the image, and seeing the words out of the periphery of my vision—the cake looked a little like a clock, and “cooks” at a glance can be read as “clocks.” And I was sort of disappointed that it wasn’t The Zodiac Clocks because to me that sounds like an awesome book.

Well, as they say, if you can’t find the book you want to read, write it.

I didn’t write a whole book though, just the story. It does lend itself to expansion however. There’s potential there. I could either turn the story into a full novel or write more stories in the same world. I just don’t know yet if I want to do that.

Hopefully one of the places I’ve sent the story will want it. Otherwise I’ll shelve it for the time being.

Some stories start with the story and the title comes later. But sometimes you’ve got this great title and just have to find a way to make it happen.