Submitted a Freakin’ Story

Just finished rebuilding the ending to a story and getting it off to a publisher. It has been, I think, six months since I submitted anything, let alone to a pro market. I really like this story but the ending has never been as strong as it is now. I hope.

Over the next couple of days I’ll be getting another story out to an anthology. It’s a story I wasn’t sure would ever find a home, but this might just be its chance.

There’s another very short story I might send over to Piker Press, so they don’t forget me completely, and because it’s fun to share.

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Photo Credit!

Yep, a picture I took found its way to a print publication that people pay to read. The photo is of Harlean Carpenter (who is a fiction), and the publication is Bachelor Pad Magazine. While I can take but a tiny amount of credit for the appeal of the shot (most of it comes from the model, obviously), I’m still pleased to have helped out.

Harlean Carpenter in Bachelor Pad Magazine

My first print photo credit (click to see full-size).


The magazine itself is pretty cool. It’s a small operation, a labor of love, and worth a look – especially if you’re a fan of pinup-style photography. “For Mature Readers” it says on the cover, which is what separates it from Maxim and the rest of that lot. In the most recent issue is an article about Naked Girls Reading, a… show? performance? franchise? in which women with no clothes on read literature out loud.

It’s a bit off-topic but one of the advertisers in this month’s issue features a photo of Shelby, who is “adorable” in the words of the fictitious Harlean, and who also happens to be bicycling a bajillion miles (give or take) in the near future to raise money to fight diabetes. Oddly buried is the fact that donations will be matched by Dignity Memorial Network. Your generosity will be doubled! Currently Shelby is way behind her friends in fundraising – help her catch up!

If that one’s not your cup of tea, Harlean keeps a list of noteworthy charity events at her blog: http://poeticpinup.com/Fundraisers.html.

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Missed it by That Much

I’ve been working on a really cool (in my opinion) story, and for once I knew exactly where I was going to submit it. City Slab is a very pretty quarterly that shows up in major bookstores, and they specialize in urban horror, where the city is almost a character in the story. My story, “Haunted City,” fits that bill nicely. While the pace may be a little slow for some editors, I’m quite pleased with the result.

Last week I was at City Slab’s Web site, and I got all the required information and even wrote my cover letter. There were still a couple of things I wanted to check for the story, however, so I did not submit. Good thing.

Today I went back to the Web site to double-check the address, and this is what I found: http://www.cityslab.com

Bummer. If they’d only held on long enough to publish my story, I’m sure their financial woes would be over. Instead, there is one fewer magazine paying real dollars for quality fiction, and therefore another twent-four good stories will go unbought each year. The best stories (or the ones by recognizeable names) will find a home somewhere else, but life on the bubble just got a little more precarious.

The venerable Weird Tales now has my manuscript. I hope they like it. They published Lovecraft, so a slow pace shouldn’t bother them.

The Importance of Being Paranoid

I realized last night (OK, someone whacked me upside the head for not figuring it out sooner) that I’m on the cover over at Piker Press this week. It’s a story lacking in any sort of nutritive value (to borrow the Piker’s tagline), but I like it. It makes a good April Fool’s sort of story. Check it out!

Project Gutenberg!

Few things have transformed society as much as the moveable-type printing press. By dramatically reducing the cost of reproducing the written word, the press sent shock waves through our civilization. Not long after there was Cervantes, and the novel was born.

Now we have the Internet, enabling new literary forms (and, even more illiterary forms). And, thanks to the folks at Project Gutenberg, not only can we waste our lives searching for the rare gems in the raucous jungles of the blogosphere, we can peruse the classics that got us here. Their goal is pretty straightforward — archive all books that are in public domain and make them available to anyyone with the technology to access them.

I had read about this project, but hadn’t taken the time to drop by until I was doing a search for Ring Lardner, a humorist who is mentioned in The Catcher in the Rye. I downloaded and read The Real Dope, which was, indeed, quite funny.

Then I looked at the “Most popular downloads” page and the biggest movers were textbooks. The most popular authors, with more than a thousand downloads per day, were Mark Twain and Jane Austen. My guess is that this would correspond to writers popular in literature curriculums. Also near the top was Sun Tsu’s Art of War, someone’s Illustrated History of Furniture, and Beowolf. “Beowolf,” thought I, “cool. I should read that.”

So I downloaded the book in a few seconds and after going through the translator’s notes from the 1880’s and a few newer notes about the current digital encoding and choice for what characters to use, I got to the poem. In Old English. Completely unreadable unless you happen to know Old English. I assume the thing’s a top download simply because it’s a top download. It’s hard to imagine that hundreds of people who know Old English and don’t happen to already have at least one copy of Beowolf in Old English are going to be happening by gutenberg.org each day.

Anyway, you can bet your boots I’ll be dropping by from time to time to brush up on the great classics of literature. For instance, right now I’m reading Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Borroughs.

On the Cover at Piker Press

My short story “The Tourist” is on the cover of the Christmas issue over at Piker Press. The story takes place in the world first started with my story “Tin Can“, which appeared over there some time back. Depending on how you count things, this is either the fifth or seventh entry in the series. (There are a couple of stories that take place in the asteroid belt that have a similar voice but which aren’t — yet — connected in any concrete manner.)

Hats off as well to Sand Pilarski for an illustration that really fits the piece. It’s simple, but it really works for me.

I just reread the story, and while I like it quite a lot, there are a couple of places when I needed to pause for a moment, to allow the reader to react before being swept away in the ensuing events. One of those is the second paragraph. I may ask the Piker editors if I can sneak in another sentence there. There are also a couple of sentences I worked really hard on, that present pretty complex ideas, that get a little lost. (How many times did I go over the story? A hundred? I suppose there will always be something that could be made a little bit better.) Overall, though, it’s a not a bad read, if I do say so myself.

This also marks the third anniversary of my Piker Press debut, the story “The Cowboy God” which was on the cover of the Christmas issue in 2004. That debut was a big deal for me, my first real publication. I was in Moravia at the time, unable to get online, and I was going nearly crazy trying to make sure everything had come out right. A lot has happened in the last three years, and I will be forever grateful to the ongoing support of my fellow Pikers.

So Happy Jerry’s Piker Debut Day, or any other holiday you may wish to celebrate today.

Addendum: Thanks to the Piker Press staff for incorporating my edits, not just once, but twice. The story is better now in ways quite possibly visible only to me. Although there is that one missing comma…

Programming Note

Here it is Sunday already and I haven’t mentioned that my sister, Carol Anne Byrnes, is on the cover over at Piker Press this week. Check it out!