Tag Archives: Rustycon

Path to Indie Publication: Part II–First Sale

My Path to Indie Publication Series is a companion series to Marshall Ryan Maresca’s Path to Publication. I have been avidly reading Marshall’s posts since I discovered his blog. Read Part IPath to Indie Publication.

First Sale *

So after following Kris and Dean to that Rustycon workshop in Tacoma where I learned THE SECRET of breaking through in publishing, I focused on short fiction. It made sense. My pace was somewhat off the mark for one a week, closer to one a month or so. I managed 17 submissions in 1996 and 88 in 1997. In 1998, submission #141, “Shooting Star,” sold to Millennium SF&F. The story was inspired by an off-hand remark by Dean, I still hear his voice when I read the last lines of that story. It took me about 20 minutes to write the first draft. It went on to sell two more times totaling over $30 and let me call myself a published and paid writer. It also helped me believe in Kris and Dean’s suggestion that writing fast was not necessarily writing bad.

I continued to write and submit short fiction while I puttered away at a traditional fantasy novel, which I will publish along with its unwritten, but envisioned sequels at some point. I submitted it to the same slushpiles as the other novel. Again, no luck.

I went to conventions, Worldcons in 96-97 and many other local cons, collected rejections, took workshops, participated in Schrodinger’s Petshop Cyber where I re‘met’ Holly Lisle. Holly was a friend of a friend through the Heinlein Forum and the Galactic Citizen contacts and I bought and loved her first book, Fire in the Mist, and its follow-ups. I participated in the Critters online critique group and attempted to create and fit in with other in-person writer’s groups.

I kept up a steady stream of submissions and discovered Slater’s First Law of Submissions. If one had enough stories in the mail, they didn’t sting much when they come back. Its corollary is when one has gone without seeing or thinking about a story for weeks to months, an honest reading and rewrite is easy when it finally return. [This editing breaks one of the Roberts’ Rules of Writing, but I think fits within the developing yourself as a writer piece.]

The Second of Slater’s Laws of Submissions is more of a guideline or probability—Maybe Slater’s Rule of 12. Whenever I managed to have 12 stories submitted at one time, I would sell one by the time the other 11 came back. [Hhhmmm… 11.]

Over the next few years I sold several more stories, started many more and finished quite a few of them. Was I ready for prime time? No. Not by a far piece of hard road. I had racked up 300+ submissions, gained a pretty thick skin and hated it when people gave me critiques of, “this is good.” I wanted to get better.

My next near-big breakthrough happened the year I managed 101 submissions.


Coming next week: Part III–2003: Breakout year?

* Adapted and expanded from the Foreword to Outward Bound: Science Fiction & Poetry, a collection of some of my published and unpublished works. Top

Path to Indie Publication: Part I–Born a Writer?

My Path to Indie Publication Series is a companion series to Marshall Ryan Maresca’s Path to Publication. I have been avidly reading Marshall’s posts since I discovered his blog.

Born a Writer? *

As I eagerly await the official release of my debut novel, All Is Silence, I’ve taken some time to reflect on my personal path to publication. I’ve been writing short stories, songs, and poetry practically since I could place pen to paper. I am a third generation writer. My mother released a book of poetry that included poems by her, my grandfather, myself and two of my children. I’ve released a CD of my own songs, Some of the someofthepartsParts, and seen some of my plays performed. I’ve had my phases, song lyrics, plays, short fiction and poetry.

Science Fiction and Fantasy have been a huge part of my life since the golden age of 10, but I hadn’t considered writing it. At the age of 23 in 1990, during an all-night study session, I started my first novel. I should have been writing a Research Paper for my Russian Literature in Translation class. The paper got a D. The novel probably deserves a similar grade. Not long after I read a Spider Robinson novel, Time Pressure, and I sat down the next day and wrote my first speculative fiction story.

That first novel, Jack and the Beanstalk set in 2050-something, was a rambling series of events that happened to Jack told in order of occurrence and later reworked so that it started en media res. A kindly local novelist and short-story writer, Rick Gauger, took pity on me and read part of the manuscript. He said it was picaresque. I had to look it up. He also told me some other issues and carefully avoided saying he had read the whole thing! I submitted it to a small press magazine, The Galactic Citizen, edited by Deb Houdek, and she accepted it and serialized the first several chapters. It was a phenomenal feeling to see it in print and even have some talented artists contribute very cool 50s pulp-style illustrations. I shopped the manuscript around in the traditional way: synopsis, first three chapters, Courier New font and tons of $ in postage and handling costs. Thankfully, it did not make it through the slush pile.

At Vikingcon in Bellingham I met Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith and did the young author stalk. I heard them read, I listened to their panels and I bought their signed books. Then I followed them to a Rustycon workshop in Tacoma. I think it was 1996. There I learned THE SECRET of breaking through in publishing. It was so simple. Too simple. Write a short story or a novel chapter each week. When you finish it, edit, then send it off. Lather, rinse and repeat. They promised that if I did that for a year, I would get published.

Coming next week: Part II-First Sale

* Adapted and expanded from the Foreword to Outward Bound: Science Fiction & Poetry, a collection of some of my published and unpublished works. Top