Thursday, August 3, 2023


So far this year I’ve written four short stories, and I have two ideas waiting in the wings. I can’t seem to get away from them. The machine in my head I spent my formative years building takes my perceptions, filters them through my imagination, and makes them into short stories. I really don’t have to think about it anymore.

This is because in those early years, I thought I was going to be like Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison, churning out short stories, publishing them all over, collecting them in books. 

Yeah, once upon a time it was possible to make a living writing short fiction. This ended before I started writing.

It didn’t stop me. Never let something being impossible deter you, kiddos . . .

The short story market is no longer a source for viable income, but the short story refuses to die. If you don’t care about money you can publish all over the place. Unfortunately, I need money to survive, and it would be nice to get an additional stream of cash so I could retire from being a hired hand at a library, and spend more of my declining years writing down the monsters growing within my skull and turning them loose on the world.

Somehow, science fiction magazines still exist nearly a century after Hugo Gernsback founded Amazing Stories back in 1926. They also refuse to die. I’m proud to have published in some of them, including Amazing. Too bad they don’t pay more, and their agendas don’t mesh with mine more often . . .

I’m a bit spoiled these days. For a couple of decades now markets have come looking for me. Most of my sales–I think in terms of business and money, sorry–come from an email request from someone putting together an anthology or some other project. (Note: I immediately scan through these messages looking for dollar signs and numbers.) I get published this way as often as I did when I was knocking myself out looking for places to send my work.

Now I’m in the position of having stories without homes again. Argh.

In an ideal world there would be several high paying markets out there that would buy them as soon as I send them out. Unfortunately, I live in this world. The “big” money options usually dry up quick (don’t give me any of that positive-thinking voodoo talk, that shit don’t work, I know, trust me, dammit!) and I end up tin-cupping in the impoverished world of small presses and/or electronic publishing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that I can get stories published. I’ve even done it for free on occasion.

Yes, Harlan, they should pay us writers, but getting published is always better than not getting published.

If you hold out too long for someone who will pay, people start thinking you’re dead. Really. It’s happened to me.

And sometimes a story needs to be published at the right time.

So off I go, grumbling all the way, hoping that someone will make me smile.

I still don’t see why, with our current technology, a humble short story couldn’t go viral, shake the world, change the course of history . . .

Yeah, I am a dreamer.

And just as I was doing the final edit on this, I had one story officially accepted, and got news that my first story collection, Pancho Villa’s Flying Circus, will be happening soon.

Dream hard, my friends.

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