Sanctuary Receives 2Q21 WOTF Honorable Mention

I know.

You’re first question is, “Why are you telling us a year after the fact, Joseph?”

Simple answer: I received the award yesterday.

 
I received notification back in 2Q21. Various things got in the way of it being mailed and so on.

Hey, I’m happy to receive any award. Especially while I’m alive to enjoy it.

I originally wrote Sanctuary in June 1991. It’s a 920 word flash piece which has had little to no revision since the original version.

I workshopped the piece several times. The universal (I’m not kidding. Creatures in the Magellanic Clouds love it) response was extremely positive. One critiquer stood out with “I wouldn’t change a f?cking thing. This is abso-f?cking-lutely brilliant.” Another said, “I hate it. I hate what happens in it. I hate the outcome, and I never want to read anything like this ever again.” (pause) “And the fact you could get me this pissed off in nine-hundred words shows me you are a really good writer. You’re really good to get me this pissed off in nine-hundred words.”

Okay.

I’ve read Sanctuary publicly several times and always received enthusiastic applause. People come up and ask me the story’s origin and meaning. Some are weeping because the story so moves them.

And nobody wanted to publish it until Harvey Duckman Presents Volume 8 picked it up in July 2021.

 
Go figure, huh?

And now it received an WOTF Honorable Mention.

The times, they are a’changin’.

For the better, I hope.

The Augmented Man “In” – 1 April 2053 Surface available on Bewildering Stories #954

Hello again.

Mani He had a successful serialization on Bewildering Stories Issues #947-952, and the wonderful folks there are sharing the first chapter of The Augmented Man, “In” 1 April 2053 Surface.

You can get some of The Augmented Man‘s backstory at 31 Years to Publication.

Enjoy!

 

First Rejections

I received a rejection on Meteor Man last week. The editor wrote

I can appreciate the attention to detail in your world, but without knowing about the world or characters or what’s going on, the terminology bogs me down a bit too much.

The comment intrigued me because no first reader commented anything similar. Even first first readers – those unfamiliar with my work – didn’t make similar comments. I often gets comments about my world-building but they tend to be more like “Amazing!”, “Rich!”, “Vividly detailed!”, and “Immersive!” (one of my personal favorites).

When I do live readings of works-in-progress, I sometimes get a comment along the lines of “You do more world-building in ten pages than most authors do in the first hundred” and I should spread things out.

I ask in return, “Would you continue reading? Do you want to find out more?”

Unanimous yeses often accompanied by listeners leaning forward in their seats and sometimes by outstretched hands seeking a copy.

All of which tells me I did an excellent job world-building. If people were overwhelmed to the point of being numb, they’d back away rather than continue forward.

Two Recent Classes…
I’ve long suspected that storycrafting and storytelling aren’t the paramount reasons work is accepted or rejected.

Sadly, this was confirmed by two different classes I took over the past few weeks. The classes were from different sources and a little over a week apart. One class had an agent and a publisher, the other had two magazine editors.

I take such classes because I want to understand what got Story A accepted and Story B rejected. A con panel with editors explaining what stood out pro and con in stories from their slushpiles would be gold to me. I’d pay serious dollars to attend such a panel session.

Me, I look for common threads in everything from character to theme, action to plot, … Sometimes the common thread is obvious, other times…?

And always it comes down to “How come this and not that? Give me a list of what works and what doesn’t so I’ll have a better idea how to perfect my own work for publication.” (by the way, two books that do a great job of this are Barry Longyear’s “Science Fiction Writer’s Workshop – I: An Introduction to Fiction Mechanics” and On Writing Science Fiction: The Editors Strike Back).

Want to know what I found out?


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My Wife’s An Alien

Last week I offered Grandpa’s Pasta Sauce and this week a slightly longer flash piece, My Wife’s An Alien, a bit of a break from a steady diet of Tag.

My Wife’s An Alien comes from a family joke; my Mediterranean blood makes me a furnace compared to most people. Susan offers me to people she sees shivering. “Hold his hand, you’ll warm up fast.”

The contrast to this is, compared to me, she’s the arctic. She once walked up to a fellow worker and put her hands on the back of the coworker’s neck and the coworker (no kidding) jumped about a foot in the air. “Good god, woman. Have the courtesy of staying in the ground when you’re dead!”

The scene here about cold feet? Yeah, it happened. A lot. Took me a while.


My Wife’s An Alien

My wife’s an alien. I found out on our wedding night. You see, I’m old school. None of that heavy breathing stuff until the rings are on the fingers. She didn’t seem to mind. I offered to…umm…pleasure…her in other ways. You know? If she wanted.

“No. I can wait.”

I can make a joke out of it. One of those “My wife’s so frigid…” but that’s just the point. She is.

We’re lying in bed that first night together and she lets out this heavy sigh. I mean, long, deep; it sounded like an airline ruptured in the honeymoon suite, but what’s pneumatically driven in a honeymoon suite?

“You okay?”

She smiles, her eyes on the mirrored ceiling. “Yes. Just relaxing.”

“Do you want to…you know…?”

“If you’d like.”

But just then I’m noticing the bed is getting cold. “Are you getting chilly? Let me adjust the temperature before we start anything.”

“It won’t matter.”

“Huh?”

She’s still staring at our reflections in the ceiling mirror, smiling, and her foot slides over towards mine under the covers.

Except her foot’s a good five, six inches away and I’m feeling like I’m Luke Skywalker on the ice planet Hoth. She touches me with just her toes and I swear to God my skin turns blue up to eyeballs and my nose hairs twitch.

“Holy Mother of…are you alright? You need a doctor?”


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Members and Subscribers can LogIn. Non members can join. Non-protected posts (there are several) are available to everyone.
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From the Casebook of Ima Flush, HDP Certified Space Plumber, Quadrant 6E now in Harvey Duckman Present V9

Yes, it’s true…the long awaited and no longer a special plumber’s issue of Harvey Duckman (Volume 9) is now available for your reading pleasure.

 
Many writers contributed (including Peter James @Brennan_and_Riz Martin, Kate @KateBaucherel Baucherel, Liz @LizTuckwell1 Tuckwell, Robin @robinmoonwrites Moon, Will @will_nett Nett, Mark @DarrackMark Hayes, A L @ALBuxton2 Buxton, and Craig @CKRoebuck Roebuck). My offering is From the Casebook of Ima Flush, HDP Certified Space Plumber, Quadrant 6E.

This story has a strange history.

But then again, what story of mine doesn’t?

The special plumbers issue – which this story was written for – never came about. Kind of. The issue had been talked about for several years. It was on again off again and the seesawing (frankly) became tiring. I hadn’t written anything for it yet so no worries.

Then I drove to a master telescope maker to have our telescope repaired (it’s a beautiful Schmidt–Cassegrain I originally purchased back in the 1990s to learn astral-photography. finally getting back into it). I’m driving along and listening to music (must listen to music) when the protagonist, Ima Flush, appeared in front of me.

Naturally, I swerved.

After people stopped honking their horns and getting back on the highway, I listened to what Ima told me.

Even had to turn down the music. A bit.

Turns out Ima likes classic rock, too!

She had an amazing story to tell.

Here…let me share just the title. I thought Ima was changing her mind. No, she was sharing her genesis with me.

And an amazing genesis it is…

“From the Casebook of Ima Flush, HDP Certified Space Plumber, Quadrant 6E”

[no, that was true when we started, not any more]

“Choices made Manifest Through Self-Awareness”?

[too wordy and obscure]

“The Opening of Ima Flush”?

[no, nobody’ll remember the reference]

“The Silver Ring”?

[no, ditto… ah, I have it. how about…?]

Breaking Through

(Yes! That’s it!)

Hope you enjoy.