“Ray of Light” now appearing in the December 2011 issue of Analog magazine

Way back in 1992, when I first conceived of becoming a professional science fiction writer, it seemed obvious that there would be important benchmarks. The first rejection from a professional editor. The first personalized rejection from a professional editor. The first sale. The first publication — book or short work. The first magazine cover….

That the very first cover would be an Analog Science Fiction & Fact cover, and that the artist doing the work would be award-winner Bob Eggleton, and that I’d get to share the cover with one of my mentors and friends, Kris Rusch, are all stupendously exciting for me. Because this is an ‘arrival’ moment. If breaking in with Writers of the Future established my capability to be a pro, getting the cover for the December 2011 issue of Analog establishes my bona fides as a pro. Dilettante no more.

Stan Schmidt, editor, is saying to the world: this is my new guy, he’s worth my time, and he’s worth your time too. That cover with my name on it is now going into the great repository of covers stretching back across Analog’s vast history.

I’d known this was going to happen since Bob Eggleton facebooked me in April to let me know he was doing the cover art for my novelette, “Ray of Light,” which was a workshop story I’d done for one of Kris Rusch’s and Dean Smith’s workshops up in Lincoln City, Oregon. I’d sold the story in March, but hadn’t dared dream of a cover until Bob let the cat out of the bag. Since then I’ve been quietly anticipating the moment I can walk into my local Barnes & Noble store, and see copies of Analog on store shelves — with my name and story displayed prominently for the world to see.

A lot of very successful and prominent authors have been in the pages of Analog, and/or seen their names grace the covers, including Kevin J. Anderson, Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, David Brin, Lois McMaster Bujold, Orson Scott Card, Michael F. Flynn, Frank Herbert, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Robert J. Sawyer, and Vernor Vinge. Being able to count myself among these names — as an Analog Man — ranks as one of the highlights of my writing life. Perhaps one of the highlights of my life, period? These are serious names, and this is a serious magazine, and if early reviews are any indication, I’ve acquitted myself well with, “Ray of Light.”

I won’t spoil the story. Those of you with subscriptions will have a chance to read it — have had a chance to read it? — for yourselves. Everyone else is cordially invited to pay a visit to their local Barnes & Noble sometime this month and pick up a copy. The cover is a beautiful cover. And not just because it’s “my” cover. Bob’s done marvelous work — the same caliber as displayed in Juliette Wade’s magnificent cover for her story, “At Cross Purposes,” from January of this year.


“The Bullfrog Radio Astronomy Project” now appearing in the October 2011 issue of Analog

I’m pleased to announce that the October 2011 issue of Analog — containing my story, “The Bullfrog Radio Astronomy Project” — is now available for general public purchase. Barnes & Noble tends to have paper copies on the magazine racks, though you can always grab a Kindle or Nook issue electronically.

This story was a treat to sell, if only because it had such a long genesis. Its roots go all the way back to 2002 when I was noodling around with the (not terribly new) idea that maybe the problem with SETI (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) is that we’re spending all of our time listening, when what we maybe ought to be doing is talking?

I won’t spill any more beans, because I’m inviting you to grab the issue and take a look. Though I will say up front that this is one story that Stan Schmidt, in his acceptance letter, said tacitly implied a sequel. And so I shall write it, though probably not for a month or so yet. I’ve got other writing work piled up to my eyeballs — nice problem — and there is WorldCon starting tomorrow.

ETA: I should also mention that award-winner Mike Resnick and I sold our collaboration, “Guard Dog,” to Bryan Thomas Schmidt, who is editing the SPACE WARS anthology for Flying Pen Press. Big thanks Bryan, I am glad — we are glad! — that you enjoyed the story. Hopefully the readers will too.

“The Chaplain’s Assistant” now available in the September 2011 issue of Analog magazine!

It seems my stories always come out in Analog magazine when I am away on a trip. Last time I appeared in Analog’s pages, I was in Los Angeles for the Writers of the Future workshop. This time, I was doing 30+ days of Army duty at lovely Fort Dix, New Jersey. Nevertheless, I am proud to announce that my short science fiction story, “The Chaplain’s Assistant,” is currently in the September 2011 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact.

If you haven’t gotten your paper copy via mail yet, it should be on store shelves very soon. Or you can go grab an Analog e-scription via Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble Nook.

Several people have already written me mail about this story, a couple of them asking me where they can find more. For those who want to browse through some of my previous stories, I invite you to take a look at some of the items below — especially my AnLab Readers’ Choice award winner, from Analog’s November 2010 issue. Many of these have been available via Kindle for over a month, but they’re also available via Nook as well. Each story or novelette is only 99 cents!

Buy via Barnes & Noble Nook or Amazon Kindle

Buy via Barnes & Noble Nook or Amazon.com Kindle

(Crime fiction)
Buy via Barnes & Noble Nook or Amazon.com Kindle

(Fantasy fiction)
Buy via Barnes & Noble Nook or Amazon.com Kindle

(Fantasy fiction)
Buy via Barnes & Noble Nook or Amazon Kindle

I also have my story, “Exiles of Eden,” available in Issue 22 of Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. October’s Analog should have my story, “The Bullfrog Radio Astronomy Project,” and then the year in Analog will wrap up with my (cover story!) novelette, “Ray of Light.”

Two new novelettes available via Kindle

I’ve got an additional two new novelettes out on the Kindle platform now. Some of you have asked if these are going to be available via Nook, and the answer is yes. I will take some time this week to look at Nook specifications. Hopefully converting the .html over to .epub for Nook isn’t too much work. Because I’ll be honest, converting .doc to .html so that it looks right in the Kindle format… is a chore! Still it’s a lot of fun doing covers for these. I get to unleash my inner graphic artist.

Thanks in advance for the buys, gang! At 99 cents US it’s a steal for your e-reader or mobile device, or the Kindle app if you have it installed to your PC or laptop like I do.

Story up at Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show

This weekend I debuted in a new market: “Exiles of Eden” is appearing in Issue 22 of Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show! I won’t divulge too much about the story here, though I did talk about it a bit in a guest blog for Edmund Schubert, which will be appearing some time this month. Suffice it to say that in fiction writing, you never throw anything away. Because everything old can be made new again, and you never know when inspiration may strike. Anyway, it’s a real gas to be appearing in IGMS — my third professional venue. Many thanks to junior editor Eric James Stone, for encouraging me to keep submitting to this particular market, and to Edmund Schubert for liking “Exiles of Eden” and doing some wonderful line edits and making a very good suggestion that turned what I thought was an already good story, into an even better story.

“Outbound” now available in the November 2010 issue of Analog Science Fiction & Fact magazine!

I am proud to announce that my novelette, “Outbound,” is now available in print and in electronic format, both in stores and on the web, in the November 2010 issue of Analog Science Fiction & Fact magazine!

November 2010 issue of Analog Science Fiction & Fact magazine

“Outbound” is a story with a bit of history to it. Having tinkered with and scrapped several opening scenes, I put the piece away in the Fall of 2008 and didn’t come back to it until several months later. With the Q1 deadline for Writers of the Future looming, I pulled it back out and combined it with another, somewhat different story, which had also suffered a series of aborted beginnings. But together, the two half-formed story concepts gelled wonderfully, and I was able to rapidly complete “Outbound” in the space of a few days, leading up to Christmastime, 2008.

I had a good feeling about “Outbound” when I popped it in the mail, and was overjoyed when Joni Labaqui called to tell me that “Outbound” was a Finalist for L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future, vol. XXVI.

This is it, I thought to myself. This would finally be The One.

Which is why I was rather crushed when I found out a few months later that “Outbound” had not Placed with the Contest. Having gotten a lot of rejections over the years, that one punched me in the stomach the most, precisely because I’d felt like I was so very, very close, and I was crestfallen to learn that the judges for that quarter had not liked “Outbound” enough to give it a home.

Dave Wolverton, however, had seen the story, and was kind enough to offer me some feedback. He didn’t think it was a perfect story, there were things he would have liked to see me do differently, but he felt it was a very emotionally strong story, and this perked me up enough to keep plugging away on new work, in spite of the setback.

Flash forward to my (surprise!) win with “Exanastasis,” for Q3 of the Contest. I never expected “Exanastasis” to win. I put it out to the Contest in June of 2009 because I literally had nothing else to send. It had not been workshopped or alpha-read, and I was very unsure of it, but it was what I had on-hand at the time, so I sent it, it won, and suddenly life turned improbably happy again.

Well, with “Exanastasis” winning, what to do with “Outbound,” a story that had been technically in reserve with the Contest for potential published Finalist material? I looked to the first prestige market I could think of — a market I’d been submitting to for many, many years, never having sold to it, but it was the one market above perhaps all the rest I most esteemed to crack: Analog. So I put “Outbound” back into the mail, this time addressed to New York instead of Los Angeles, and I waited.

My SASE for the story came back in January of this year. Perhaps 60 days after I’d sent it. Feeling sad, I opened the SASE assuming it was another rejection, since the envelope contained the standard Analog half-page stationary on which Dr. Schmidt usually pens personalized rejections. Lo and behold, Dr. Schmidt said he liked the story, the contract was on the way, and would I please take a look at some fine-tooth-comb problems he wanted to see fixed before the story reached print.

Even now, with the issue in my hand, I can’t quite believe it. I have more rejections from Analog than I do just about any other publication. I’ve also read more issues of Analog than just about any of the other digests. Is it a thrill to finally be numbered among the list of Analog authors, like my writing friend Eric James Stone? Absolutely. Thrilling and gratifying, as much or maybe even moreso than winning Writers of the Future. Because selling to Analog was the first time I went head-to-head with pro talent for space, and won! And not just any win, a ‘feature’ win. “Outbound” is the final story in the November 2010 issue, with gorgeous two-page artwork from Mark Evans. I am told by several pros that the last position on the pole in any magazine is a choice spot: it means the editor thinks your story is a strong “anchor” for that issue.

Huge thanks to Dr. Schmidt and Company for not only buying “Outbound” but also for featuring it so prominently in such an august publication. Along with Placing in Writers of the Future, I feel overwhelming satisfaction at finally being able to chisel my name into the edifices of the Science Fiction establishment — joining the ranks of all those currently working professionally in the business, as well as all of those hallowed folk who have gone before.

A marvelous thing, this writing and publishing racket. As Dean Wesley Smith says in his writing article, “Standing Up,” in the WOTF vol. 26 volume, writing (“Sitting in a room and making things up”) is the greatest job ever invented. Truly, more fun that human beings should be allowed to have.

EDIT TO ADD: readers will probably detect many similarities in theme and subject matter, between “Outbound” and “Exanastasis.” This is because they were written literally back-to-back, when I was exploring several ideas at once — ideas I wanted to approach from at least a couple of different angles, which suggested at least a couple of different stories. Now that I am re-reading both in print, they are suggesting to me, in turn, still more stories. So, will there be sequels? Perhaps!

“Exanastasis” now available in Writers of the Future, vol. 26!!

This is it! Tonight is the big chance for all 12 of us winners of Writers of the Future, vol. XXVI to put on the ritz! We’ve got a very brief time on the stage to thank people and say words, and I am discovering there are far more people I want to thank than I can possible name in 30 seconds, so I am going to try to do it here.

Exanastasis (illustration) Jingxuan Hu

Thanks to Kendall Jackman and Scott Howard and everyone else who was with Searcher & Stallion back in 1992. It was while working with these gentleman on this local Utah science fiction audio production that I got a first taste of being able to write “for real” and get in front of an audience, and I am grateful these guys let me have my shot when I was super brand new.

Thanks to (the late) Chris Bunch and his writing partner Allan Cole. Mr. Bunch was a Vietnam veteran and respected military science fiction author, who along with Mr. Cole produced some my most favorite books from my teenaged years, including the epic STEN series and also the Pulitzer-nominated, A Reckoning For Kings. Allan especially was very kind in the 90s for taking time to encourage a hopefully child. It took me awhile to ramp up to take-off speed, but now that the wheels are leaving the tarmac, I like to give Allan a lot of credit.

Speaking of credit, huge thanks to Kristine Kathryn Rusch and her husband Dean Wesley Smith. Since I first entered the Strange New Worlds anthology contest in 1996, Dean has been an encourager. And when in 2007 the Strange New Worlds line ended, Dean’s direct advice was: don’t be a chump, send your work to Writers of the Future! Well, it’s paid off. And will hopefully keep paying off. And I can’t thank Kris and Dean enough for their advice and encouragement and guidance over the last three years. Truly excellent writers, and excellent people. ETA: following the gala event there was a massive book signing event in the Roosevelt hotel lobby. When it was all said and done, I wiped the sweat off my brown — apologies in advance to everyone who got a book signed and who can’t read my craptastic handwriting — and picked up a copy of the volume. My story appears roughly amidships, and is directly preceeding the writing advice article by none other than… Dean Wesley Smith. Holy shit. Dean and I are shoulder-to-shoulder in the book! I’m just… I’m just…. Oh my goodness.

Thanks to Eric James Stone, Dave Wolverton, Tim Powers, and Kathy Wentworth, all writers and all judges or winners (or both) who have taken their time over the past two years — and during the last week especially — to impart wisdom, insight, and drive home the idea that while publishing can be a rough, tough enterprise, for those with the mettle and the drive to go the distance, it really is the most fun you can have and still get paid for it.

Thanks to Larry Correia and John Brown, Paul Genesse and Howard Tayler, Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells, Dan Willis and Tracy Hickman and everyone else who composes the robust, thriving Utah science fiction and fantasy writing community. When I moved back to Utah in 2007 I had no idea at all that there were so many top-notch, world-class writers working and living in the state. It’s a humbling honor to be able to join them on the Utah totem pole, and along with (the above mentioned) Dave Wolverton and Eric James Stone, help keep the Utah end up in the SF&F publishing universe.

Thanks to Amanda McCarter, Laurie Gailunas, Dave Stephen, Jeff Lyman, Alastair Mayer, and Annie Bellet, people who aren’t just my Alpha Readers, but who have also become my friends. Much obliged to you all for your help and for lending an ear when I’ve need to not only celebrate, but commiserate.

Thanks to Dr. Stanley Schmidt, editor of Analog Science Fiction & Fact, who enthusiastically purchased my other Writers of the Future Finalist, “Outbound.” I was crushed when that story didn’t win for 1st Quarter of vol. 26, but it became a double win for me when Dr. Schmidt liked it and took it, after Dave Wolverton said he liked it and thought it was winner material all the way. Now, I have a double debut! Eric James Stone brought his subscriber’s copy of Analog, November 2010, and I was able to see (literally) both stories in print, and gorgeously illustrated, at the same moment. Astounding and wonderful.

Thanks to all the other contest winners and judges who have been here in Hollywood this week to help us newbies along our way. Including, but not limited to, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Doug Beason, Eric Kotani, Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Robert Sawyer, Eric Flint, Mike Resnick, Steven Savile, and Jordan Lapp. The amount of information and wisdom packed into these final three days is worth every lick of effort it took over several years to win. It’s been like the best of a super-panel at a convention mixed with the best of a super-workshop, and all I had to “pay” for this was time, effort, and never quitting. Having experienced the past week I cannot express enough to all potential WOTF entrants was a tremendous thing this Contest is. I will post next week about the content and experience itself, suffice to say that I think this has been a marvelous time for all participating winning writers, and it’s something I’m damned sure going to remember as a huge milestone in my (nascent) career as a writer.

Thanks (huge!) to Jingxuan Hu of Singapore. Her artwork was… Well, what can I say? “Exanastasis” began as a single image. No story, just a picture in my head. Jingxuan pulled out that image and incorporated it into the artwork in a very impressive way that I did not expect, and the resultant final graphic is so startlingly emotional and has such impact — okay, I am biased, but still I think this piece of artwork is incredibly — that I just had to gush with thanks and gosh-wow, over and over, upon the unveiling of the artwork for all of us authors. ETA: Jingxuan wasn’t the only one who pulled out that image from my story! The dance choreographers for the night all pulled out the same image, and I got to see that image rendered on the stage during the pre-show and after the gala, and I was speechless. It’s one thing to see an image in your mind, write a story about it. Okay. It’s another to have a superb visual arts person render that same image from her imagination, then have half a dozen dance artists render that same image again in physical movement form. Just… Oh my goodness. So gratifying. Not sure I will ever get to have a one-two punch like that in my entire writing life.

It’s almost time to get my duds on. Hope everyone who hasn’t won yet, is getting material in for the latest quarter. Again, it’s worth it, every bit.

Oh, and check out the webcast if you’re so inclined!