Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Compliment

Tigana: I just wanted to say, I forget how smart you are sometimes.

Me: What?

Tigana: I mean, of course you're smart, but it's not always obvious the way it is with Mom.

Me: What?

Tigana: I was reading your story and I forgot that you had written it.

Me: Okay?

Tigana: I was reading your story and enjoying it; not, you know, because my dad-had-written-it-enjoying, but actually enjoying it, and I thought, "this guy writes kind of like Terry Pratchett." Well, not as good as Terry Pratchett, of course, because--Terry Pratchett--but you know, kind of like that. So I just wanted to tell you that.

I'll take 'kind of like Terry Pratchett'.

Earlier this week an editor said a different story of mine had reminded her of Connie Willis.

But know I will never be in the same league as "mom".

Monday, July 23, 2018

A Good month for my fiction

After coming in second in the Hummingbird Prize, I got more good news today: my time travel story, "Sermon on the Mount" was selected by On Spec Magazine to showcase the magazine in Alberta Unbound, the Alberta Magazine Publications Association online exhibit. The exhibit only lasts a couple of months, but you're welcome to read my story for free while it lasts.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Visit from a Ghost

Exhausted this morning because dogs going crazy all night with a particularly scary thunderstorm. So half asleep in the shower this morning, which may explain why I was visited by the ghost of one of my old professors, who told me I was the only person left with a copy of class notes from his lectures, and would I please publish them because he hadn't had a chance to get his theory out to the public before passing over. And I thought, well, that's odd, I'm being visited by a ghost in the shower and it's not even freaking me out. And he said, well, it's not the shower so much as you're asleep right now. And I said, 'right' and woke up, finished showering, and had breakfast.

Finding it odd that I should think of this professor some 43 years since I last spoke to him--well, not counting in the shower this morning. Perhaps it's because I am finishing up on the novel I started the same time I was taking his course; or perhaps my subconscious trying to distract me from working on my novel yet again, by suggesting this other project; or perhaps it's because I'm coming up on the scene in the town square where I had originally envisaged placing a statue to said professor, but that version had never made it to paper; or, you know, perhaps it was his ghost asking me to publish his notes. And he's right, I DO still have a copy of those notes, even after all these years. His course had a profound influence on my thinking from then on, even more than my mentor Dr. Pannu, because his theory covered EVERYTHING, not just my specialization(s). So it is a little tempting.

I am aware, for example, that John Dewey, the great American philosopher and educator, founder of the progressive movement in education and politics, never actually wrote any books--they were compiled by his graduate students who pooled their class notes to come up with a coherent copy. So it's not without precedent that one's student writes up one's book. So I am a little tempted. But am going to finish the novel first, damn it.

Then we'll see.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Runner-Up for Pulp Literature's Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize

The Current Issue of Pulp Literature

Very pleased that "Day Three", my second-ever piece of flash fiction, came in second in Pulp Fiction's Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize. I don't know what the actual field I was up against was, but the contest is said to be limited to 300 entries, the longlist had 27 stories, the shortlist 10, so...even the second-best out of 50 or so would feel validating when we're talking a publication the quality of Pulp Literature.

I am particularly pleased because getting published in Pulp Literature was one of the five writing goals I set myself for this year. Getting X number of stories written for the year was goal one, of course, and two was to see if I could get something published/sold each month (so far, four out of six, but still time to catch up), and the third was to finish polishing the novel and approaching agents—I'm lined up for a session with an agent in three weeks—fourth was selling to Pulp Literature; and fifth was writing an article for University Affairs, which I'll probably get to as soon as I finish teaching for the year.

So, what writing goals have you set yourself for 2018?

The Hummingbird Contest was an exception to my general rule not to enter contests that charge admission fees, since some of those are scams and others are just too expensive for the odds of being the winner. I generally don't mind fees under $3 because I understand that small press magazines have to support contest costs somehow, but when it's $20 or $30 or $50 to enter, not so much 'support' as a tax on the egotistical and the desperate. But having fallen in love with Pulp Literature the moment I saw it (I mean, even just the covers—wow!) and having already gone through four single issues, I had gone to their webpage with the intention to buy a subscription when I saw the contest. The contest fee included (i.e., was for) an e-subscription, so two birds with one stone seemed like a plan to me. And now I'm $50 up on the deal. Pretty pleased how that turned out.

Looking forward to reading the winning story in Winter 2019. I know I have to up my game when it comes to flash fiction—I'm generally pretty verbose, with most of my short fiction coming in at the 6,000-10,000 wordmark, so need to focus more on short, sharp writing, which in turn will help me tighten the writing in my longer stories. Judge Bob Thurber said of the winning story: "The language of “The Angler” blisters like sunburn. The edges of this very short (under 600 words) story are prickly bright and they’ll leave blind spots on your eyes for days." Yeah, I need to learn how to do that.