Damn Fine Story is not a book about writing.
You won’t find tips for writing tighter dialogue, cleaner prose, better transitions. There’s nothing inside its pages about how to make your action scenes sing, improve your descriptions, or increase your word count. It’s not a worldbuilding bible.
It is a book about storytelling.
The art of telling a story.
And, it’s damn fine.
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I’ve recently been talking a lot about my two WIPs—a novella called “The Rose and Honey Soul,” which is nearly complete, and a novel called The Thousand Shattered Gods. The process for writing both of these has been fraught with all the perils that come with working on long-form projects as an unsigned/unpublished writer—including the ever-wavering certainty that you’re balancing on the knife’s edge of brilliance and existential irrelevance. Fun times.
Of course, there’s all the great stuff about writing, too: excitement, possibility, craft, research, discovering your world and characters are so much more than you ever expected or hoped they would be. It’s heady, and I’m constantly reminded why I pursue my writing goals.
Over the years, I’ve written a lot of short fiction, and sold/published a fair bit of it. You can find those stories here. I’ve learned a lot, and though I’m still on a neverending journey of improving my craft and becoming a better storyteller, I feel like I have a good handle on the business side of short fiction. I know when I’ve reached the point where a short story is as good as it’s going to get—when it’ll either sell or it won’t, and further tinkering won’t change that. For me, this is roughly the fourth draft (first draft is the bones of the story, drafts two and three focus on structural/thematic/character issues, draft four focuses on cleaning up language, tightening, copyedit, etc.) I know what to do with my short stories once they’re ready. (Hint: The Submission Grinder is an invaluable tool.) I know how to send a short story out into the world, whether that’s through a publication that’s purchased the rights, or by self-publishing.
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In which I discuss my experience with self publishing SFF short stories.
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Wherein I muse about a particular writing tick, and discuss how I turned it from a flaw into a strength.
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I’m pleased to say that I’ve sold “The Dinosaur Graveyard” to Merc Rustad for their online and physical anthology, ROBOT DINOSAURS!
When I first heard of the anthology a few months ago, as the first stories were hitting the web, I was so enthralled by the theme that I couldn’t help but write a story—despite there being only a glimmer of opportunity for it. I’ve long-admired Merc’s short stories, so I’m beyond thrilled to be able to work alongside them on this new project. One of my main goals as a writer is to produce fun, buoyant, and imaginative SFF, and a project like this—featuring robotic dinosaurs, an anachronistic match made in heaven—was a wonderful playground.
“The Dinosaur Graveyard” is a long flash story (short short story?) about a robotics engineer spending a long night repairing her daughter’s favourite toy.
It’s slated for publication on August 24th, and will be available for free on the ROBOT DINOSAURS! website. I can’t wait to share it with everyone.
If you want to join me as part of the ROBOT DINOSAURS! family, Merc just announced that they’re looking for three more stories, and will be accepting submissions from August 1-15. Get writing!
For updates on the anthology, including weekly stories, check ’em out on Twitter: @robodinofiction.
The contract is signed and delivered, and I have a firm release date, so I’m pleased to say that my Patchwork Priest novelette, “The Red-rimmed Eyes of Tóu M?,” will be appearing in the May, 2018 issue of Nowa Fantastyka. This is the first time any of my stories have been translated into another language, so I’m quite chuffed. Nowa Fantastyka is one of the premier Polish SF magazines, and recent issues have printed stories by Ken Liu and Catherynne M. Valente, which is humbling company to keep.
Here’s the blurb:
To save his friend, Farid Sulayk, the Patchwork Priest, needs to get to O’oa Tsetse before the next full moon. But between here and a range of sky-scraping mountains riddled with danger. Ethereal Tóu M? offers Farid passage, but at a cost: defeat the warlock that holds Tóu M?’s village in her blood-soaked fist. As secrets are revealed and blood is spilled, will Farid’s battle-hardened mechanical arm and djinn magic be enough to see them through alive?
“The Red-rimmed Eyes of Tóu M?” first appeared in Grim Oak Press’s Unfettered II—which is amazing and you should buy it. The Audible audiobook is only $2! That’s nuts.
You can also buy “The Red-rimmed Eyes of Tóu M?” as a standalone eBook on Kindle for a buck. It’s a great introduction to Farid Sulayk, the eponymous Patchwork Priest, and the Steam & Sorcery world of the Sinking Moon Islands.