Hey, remember that fascinating blog by that fella who called himself the Improbable Author?

Yeah?  Well, turns out that today I remembered it too.

Sorry for the subscribers and the occasional visitors as well.  I’ve been what those in the MMORPG world term “AFK”, or “Away From Keyboard” (not AFU — that’s something altogether different, but possibly also applicable).  This last month has been one of sound and fury signifying nothing.  I’ve been away doing other things, work, life, family, etc.  As a consequence, I have not blogged nor written hardly a word.

That is not to say that the world of writing has sat still while I did.  In the realms of submissions, I have one bit of news and two bits of non-news.  In news, I got a rejection from Asimov’s magazine for “Bumped”, so that one is now free to re-submit to other markets.  This was a long wait, but unfortunately not unusually long for that market.  In non-news, no word yet on the simultaneous subs for “ILYAMY” and no word on ASID from Baen’s next tier in their approval chain.  The Slushmaster there had my work as the next thing on his plate, but two higher priority manuscripts bumped mine back.  Oh, to have priority . . . but I’ll take what I can get.

Therefore, there is also no new news on the independent/Stealth Books launch of A Sword Into Darkness either.

As far as Echomancer goes, that project has been waylaid by an infuriating bit of writer’s block / malaise.  I’m in a key chapter and I just can’t seem to restore my momentum.  There are . . . other things going on in my life, so I haven’t had the time nor the passion/emotion to devote to that worthy piece of work.  But, it is NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month (November for the uninitiated), and while I’ve never felt compelled to participate, it’s as good an excuse as any to get going again.

In unrelated science fiction news, I went with an outstanding group of enthusiasts for Books-to-Movies and saw the “Ender’s Game” movie.  I thought they did an excellent job translating that masterwork to the screen, though in my ideal version they would have left in a lot of excised content.  Of course, my ideal version would probably end up 2-3 times as long.  As a consequence, I’m re-reading the book and enjoying it again.  Fairly or unfairly, though, Orson Scott Card’s politics have become tied up with his story and the movie, and while my opinion of the story and the esteem I hold the work in were formed well before I ever agreed/disagreed/or was indifferent to his beliefs, I find on rereading it that I am now seeing it through the lens of his current opinions, which somewhat damps my youthful regard for the book.

This is not a political blog, however, so that’s all that I’ll say about my opinions, except for unreservedly recommending the movie to both readers and non-readers.  I don’t think you can or should always divorce the art from the artist, but in this case I think an exception should be made.  The work is that important.

More later (and SOON), I promise.  Take care, all.

Lost in Translation?

That probably could have gone better.

As you may have gleaned from a prior post, I’m starting the networking and marketing and politicking I’m told will be needed for me to ever reach out beyond a close group of friends who’ll perhaps feel obligated to buy A Sword Into Darkness when it finally does go on sale.  Part of that is joining up with the pro and semi-pro writers’ organizations in the local area.  Today I met with Milt, a very nice older gentlemen who’s a fixture among the Hampton Roads Writers circles.  He tried to find out what I was looking for and tried to relay what he and the wider organization could provide.  As part of that, he asked me to send him a sub-assembly of the novel:  First 10 pages, then various pages from three major plot points, pages from the climax, a two-page summary, a logline, and a description of the book in terms of other major books already out there.  Today, we met and he gave his impression.

Yeah.  Not a new fan apparently.

He was very nice and professional about it.  He told me up front that he doesn’t read SF, his forte is more in the John Le Carre spy thriller realm, but he could give general advice and generally his advice is that I halt everything and do a full rewrite.

He liked the plot and thought the writing samples I gave him were great.  He just really didn’t like the flow as related by the synopsis.  He thought it was too jumpy, either accelerating too fast  between scenes or skipping big chunks of time (it’s the latter, which is not apparent from the synopsis, granted).  He loved the scene in Chapter 2 where Nathan’s ship is sunk, he just thought that it didn’t have a need to be in the plot and should probably go in a completely separate book.  He thought Kris coming up with her enhanced photonic reaction drive, the device that drives the latter 2/3’s of the plot, was way too convenient.  And he took issue with the character of Sykes, the SECDEF who is both venal and noble in his interactions with Gordon and Lydia in developing the destroyer, USS SWORD OF LIBERTY.  (Apologies for the unexplained references, you’ll just have to buy the book to find out!)

Me, I think the issues were one (or two) of four possible things:  My synopsis lacked the details that would have assuaged many of his questions–which is my fault–but the book itself is fundamentally sound.  Or, my version of military SF / hard SF / space opera is just not his cup of tea (he, for one, did not know what a wormhole was or why it should mean anything to the plot).  Or, he’s partly right and I’ve got some problems to fix, and I’m not so full of myself to believe otherwise.  Or, I’m a complete hack and editors and agents were right to run from me screaming.

So, tough meeting.  As for me, ASID is what it is at this point.  I’m not of a mind to trash it and try again.  I will take anyone’s edits and tweak the manuscript, especially if you’re a pro-editor and your buy decision rests upon those edits.  And I know not everyone is going to love my work, nor that I’m the greatest writer with the greatest book that ever existed.  But, at this place in the book’s existence, it’s time for it to sink or swim on its own.  If Baen does not revise it or buy it, it’s coming out before the end of the year.  I explained this to Milt and he agreed.  I appreciated the look he gave it.  We shook hands as we parted and I look forward to making use of his insight on future projects, but I wish we had come together closer on our opinion of ASID.

The day approaches soon and the market beckons.  I only hope there’s more readers like me out there than like Milt.

What do YOU think?

Pimping it Forward

So, if you’ve looked around, you may have noticed my link to John Scalzi’s blog, The Whatever. Now, agree with him politically or no, you have to give him credit for his accomplishments as a SF author and pro-blogger.  I enjoy it, and I urge you to enjoy it daily as well (right after visiting The Improbable Author, of course).

One of my favorite features of his is The Big Idea guest posts, in which he invites authors to come down and plug The Big Idea behind their latest book.  A great feature and one that has led me to discover a bunch of new authors (some I loved, some I was more “meh” over).

I’m gonna steal the hell outta that feature.  (Strictly as an homage of course, attorneys for the Scalzi estate.)

Now, where John Scalzi invites primarily traditionally published authors to blog about their baby, since I’m about to enter the micro-indie / self-publishing market myself, I thought I would focus upon that side of things.  Do I have the readership to justify plugging other indie’s books?  Not yet, but it’s growing and free press never hurts.  Don’t some other sites already do this?  I’m sure they do, but I’m Tom Mays and I’m awesome and therefore automatically better (as well as very, very humble don-cha-know).  Do I have some mercenary ulterior motive in this?  Abso-freakin’-lutely.  I hope to garner relationships and readerships with this feature that can only help spread the word about A Sword Into Darkness when it launches here in October from Stealth Books (assuming it is not delayed for a bigger deal from Baen Books).

Therefore, if you are a micro-indie / self-pubbed SF / Fantasy / Military / Adventure author, drop me a contact request in the comments below or e-mail me at amaysingstories@gmail.com.  I’ll be looking for about 5-10 paragraphs about you, your book, how you came up with your idea, and your journey to publication.  Posting schedule depends on inputs, but I’ll probably favor works coming out soon or released recently vice stuff that’s been out there for a year or more.  And I’ll hope for a quid pro quo amongst your own readerships and contacts for ASID once it’s released (I think there’s enough room in the marketplace for all of us, and — as a Naval type — believe a rising tide lifts all boats).

So, who’s up for a little pimpin’?

“ILYAMY” Live For the Next 10 Days (or so) – UPDATED

Here you go, a new story from the Improbable Author:


It’ll be up for the next 10 days or so, and I am actively looking for your comments, critiques, questions, kudos, etc.  You can either e-mail me or post a comment here or on the story (I’m easy, whatever works for you).

After that, I’ll pull it down, polish it, and it’ll make the magazine acceptance/rejection rounds.  Slushpiles ho!

And, again, this story is dedicated to the memory of Jackie Price Dunn.  I’m not sure if I ever shared my stories with her before her tragic accident.  She was a beautiful soul.  I’m sure my work would have been all the better for her input.

Jackie, hope you enjoy it up there on your cloud, between eternal bike rides.


UPDATE:  ILYAMY has expired and is now down.  Thank you all for the many comments and suggestions.  I’m now tweaking it and will be sending it to the various magazines, where I hope it finds a happy, pro-published home.  If you get a hankering to read it before you can see it in a pay setting, just drop me a line.  I’m always looking for feedback!


Well, “DAW”n It. :(

After a great weekend working on la casa, having a patio and porch put in, and then painting and decorating my office/writer’s sanctuary (a future post with pics, to be sure), I both returned to The Job and snuck in a little writing.

Things are progressing well at The Job, in that I am learning the ropes and becoming more of a solver than one whom relies upon others for solutions, but so much of the work there consists of us being a clearinghouse for negativity. And in other locales which report to us at The Job, there was a great deal to feel negative about. This weekend, people were uniformly awful to one another, with many a heinous crime committed upon one another, and we get all the dirty (both literally and figuratively dirty) details.

So, needing a pick-me-up, I turned to fiction, specifically creating my own. I was able to chop quite a few more pages into the re-write of “ILYAMY” and I finally broke ground on the new “Strategic Deployment” script. I’m buoyed by both projects and hope to be able to show something here soon.

Refreshed and optimistic once more, I got home and checked the snail-mail out front.

Yep. Mistake.

I saw my own handwriting on a letter, the self-addressed, stamped envelopes from one of my ASID submissions. That’s never good. I’m pretty sure publishing contracts don’t come in slender business envelopes. Dreading the obvious, I opened it to reveal a lovely form rejection letter from Peter Stampfel of DAW books.

He thanked me for the contribution, it’s very hard for a new writer to get picked up and be successful these days, we don’t feel your manuscript would be a commercial success at the present, but we’ve rejected gold before, so don’t stop trying and remember us when it comes time to submit your next un-sell-able manuscript.

On the good side, that’s a pretty quick turnaround. I submitted the full manuscript to DAW by the regular post on May 1st. Give it a week for mail routing, a ten days to languish in a slushpile, 15 seconds to hate everything about all 116,000 words (or as far into the first page they’re willing to give it), a day to process the rejection letter, and then two to three days for it to show up in my box, then you can obviously see they gave it their full consideration.

Who’s next on the rejection train? Ace? Baen? Pyr? C’mon, I’m ready for it!

Oo-Rah!! Get Some (breakfast)!

One of the little idiosyncrasies of The Job is that they like you to stay in shape. This is a noble goal and standard in and of itself, but being The Job, asking you to maintain a culture of fitness is not enough. Nope, they’re gonna test you.

It does not matter how fit a lifestyle or how much working out you do, the semiannual Physical Readiness test is always a hassle and a blow to the ego, especially if you have a “writer’s physique” like I do. And I don’t mean the physique of the skinny coffeehouse writer always working on his next play. I mean the other side of the stereotype spectrum.

I’m not quite Orson Welles.

I prefer to claim the title Chubby Adonis.

Anyways, we have this little semiannual suckage, for which I usually fast and ramp up the exercise for (completely contrary to the program’s goals) and now it is done for another six months. So now I commit to my own semiannual tradition: the grand breakfast pig-out, for which I am sure to feel guilty over later.

This time, it’s at Charlie’s Cafe on Granby in Norfolk, VA, where I’m having the Granby Plate, recently enjoyed by Tom Hanks as he filmed a movie here.

Mmmmm, chicken fried steak and eggs.

So, I now dig in, followed by some outstanding writing on “ILYAMY” and the “Strategic Deployment” script, then I’m off to run some errands for the day.

Maybe I should have a bacon chaser. . . .

On The Job Writing

My apologies, as I have been a poor new blog host.

Here I am, with a content-filled outpouring of my unfiltered id, and what do I do? After addicting vast numbers to the sweet honey that is every word I write, I abandon you for an unspecified number of days to do something as tawdry and mundane as work The Job. How could I be so cruel?

Ah, well. Though the particulars of The Job matter little, the hours it fills are not insignificant. I work about a 12 hour shift (easy, he’s only working half a day!), tack on an hour for work spillage, then an hour-to-45-minutes each way for my commute from the Outer Banks to the communist enclave, I mean commonwealth of Virginia and you have a lot of time spent Not Writing. Then, of course, you gotta help the kids with homework, watch an hour of “Justified”, and then patiently explain to your wife why it’s not your turn to do the dishes, when any damn fool knows it is. I go to sleep earlyish or latish, depending on which particular 12 hour shift I’m working, then rise to begin the process all over again.

I’m still getting used to the flow of things and working out The Job vs. home-life, but I trust that it will settle out soon. The good thing is that I only have about a four to five day work week, so I will have a chance to catch up.

Until then, I write on my breaks and at lunch, whenever I can. And I HAVE been writing. I’m currently working a new draft of a new short story “ILYAMY”, thinking about how to progress “Echomancer”, and working on some new side projects for stories already written, notably new life for “Strategic Deployment” and “The Falling Sky”. Good things are coming, and I hope to have the chance to have more fresh content in the next post.

Until then, make sure you’re caught up on the stories and chapters included here. Happy Reading! (and back to The Job!)