The City of the Future

CityoftheFuture_KindleFinalHey, will you look at this. SciFutures, an award-winning science fiction prototyping company–go look at their site, they explain it more easily than I could– have released their first anthology of sci-fi stories, The City of the Future. Even better, It features a tale by none other than yours truly! “L.A. Loves You” is my contribution to this terrific little collection of near-future speculative shorts. Once again, I’ll let SciFutures themselves set the scene:

Change is coming and it’s going to affect humans right where we live. By 2050, city living is going to look very different from what we know today. Across the globe, cities are going green and getting smarter. Artificial intelligence is playing a bigger role in our lives every day and the nomad generation is redefining what ‘home’ is.

This was a fun project and I’m proud to be a part of it. Check it out and let me know what you think. And be sure to check the Unreliable Narrators site within the next few days for an interview with the editor, Trina Marie Phillips, about the anthology and also her role with the company.

It’s out now on just about every device and in every conceivable format, as evinced below:


Three tomatoes (ketchup), Part XXXVII

Lots going on in these here parts as of late. I just received word of a story acceptance for an upcoming anthology about cities of the future. The contract is still in progress, so I’ll leave it at that for now. Meanwhile, over in Unreliable Narrators land, we’ve been on a tear with workshop reviews and author interviews with the likes of Walter Jon Williams and Elizabeth Bear. Turns out podcasting is immense fun. What’s more, we’re preparing to hoist the sail on our first joint writing and performing venture, a serial audio drama called E’ville. I’ll have lots more to say on that once the first episode arrives in early March. And I continue work on the new book even as I become distracted by new shinies. Mush!

And hey, congrats to all the newly-minted Nebula Award nominees. A solid list that includes many friends and personal favorites. Not bad, genre bunnies.

The horror!

A brief but most excellent update:  Cruentus Libri Press has picked up my flash piece “White Collar Necropolis” as part of their upcoming anthology, Another 100 Horrors.  It’s a sequel to 100 Horrors: Tales of Horror in the Blink of An Eye and, like its predecessor, will be available in both paperback and e-book formats.

It’s a fun project and it’s due mid-April-ish. I will of course post more details as they are made available.

At length

Word count.  Everything begins and ends with this little detail of writing. Is your story a short? A novelette? A flash piece, maybe? These designations are mostly a product of word count, which determines when and where you can find a home for your work. I’m a big proponent of the rule, “as long as it needs to be”; give your story the space it needs, no more or less. And the answer is different for every piece. But the subject of word count has come up a lot for me lately.

I discovered a deadline for an anthology with a theme that seems to fit one of my stories like a glove. Unfortunately, they are imposing a limit of 3,000 words.  The story is currently around 5,000 words. I’m all for tight editing, but I don’t think I can trim almost half the words and still tell the same story. So, that’s out. Bummer.

I’m also preparing an excerpt from my current work in progress to submit for critiques at Paradise Lost in April.  They ask for 5,000 words or less, which is respectable. But I’m struggling with what to submit.  Should I just submit the first 5k and receive a critique on the opening? Perhaps provide a couple of shorter excerpts to receive feedback on the introduction of main characters? Submit a complete short story instead?

Limits exist in every artistic medium: pop songs should weight in at between 3 and 4 minutes; feature films target 90-120 minutes; an episodic drama on network TV has about 42 minutes to work with each week; tweets are limited to 140 characters,  URLs excepted. It can be very productive to work within known boundaries.

To what extent do these limits shape the creative process? For now, I suppose it means flipping a coin for my excerpt and finding a new home for that story. And so it goes.  Meanwhile, I believe I’ve exceeded my rambling limit for the day.


Keep your audience wanting more

Received an interesting rejection email from the editor of a short story anthology today. At least, I’m considering it a rejection, because All Signs Point to No.  Thing is, there’s nothing in the reply that actually says it’s a rejection.  It’s all very boilerplate, thanking me for submitting my story, talking about what a difficult decision was involved, asking me to please submit to future anthologies.  And that’s it.  Of course, that means my story was not accepted.  But I do find it amusing that the editor never actually states that it didn’t make the cut.

A humorous omission, but not really a surprise. I suspected after sending it off that the piece had some pacing problems, and a friend subsequently confirmed as much. So now I’m free to dissect a few paragraphs, tighten the whole thing up, and ship it off again. And again.

Kickstarter alert: Fearful Symmetries

Editor extraordinaire Ellen Datlow’s Kickstarter campaign for Fearful Symmetries, a proposed new horror anthology, is sitting at just over 90% funded, with only a couple of days to go. If a new, non-themed horror anthology doesn’t entice you, consider some of the most interesting and unusual pledge offers out there, including editing/publishing face time and a selection of ChiZine ebooks.  There’s also that whole “support supposed niche markets” thing going on, too.  Almost there!  Help them out!  And get some worthwhile goods in the process.