Yeah, I know. Been a while. Rather a weak year for my staying in touch as if I’d just hung it up and gone fishing forever. One missive a quarter, and one of those a resurrection from 20 years ago. But “My Small Story” of 9-11 is important enough to come back around every year.
So, what’s up, Lance? You were better in 2021 and even better in 2020. You just giving up on this?
Nope. Just been extra busy last few months.
Likely excuse, I hear you thinking. So what have you been doing?
Well, it started with KALEIDOCAST: AN AUDIO LITERARY MAGAZINE. You see, back in late June, the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers (BSFW) revived their audio literary magazine Kaleidocast. And they promised to pay professional rates, pair up every story by an unknown writer with one from a well-known writer, produce the audio, then ship it out. I’m thinking, HELL YEAH.
Especially when the theme was Brooklyn. I mean, I live here. I’ve got stuff set in Brooklyn, right?
Well, not really.
So, I looked to The Book of Visions—the story of a divorced father of two from Brooklyn who finds himself in a world where gods still walk the land, full of magic that can kill.
What little I had set in Brooklyn didn’t work as a short story.
But, the opening talks about getting back to Brooklyn, and the scene has a beginning, middle, and end. So, I cleaned it up and sent it off.
Got a very quick no.
Well, it is the opening salvo of a novel. So, yeah, I could see that. Frankly, I was being lazy.
So, I leafed through some short stories from my grad school days, and one looked like it could work. I took out the NC-17 bits and transformed the protagonist’s obsession into magic, keeping the theme of a man looking to feel alive by dancing with death and recast it as “A Siren’s Song.”
That got bumped up to the committee, which chooses the pieces.
While I waited, I returned to working on Walking the Darkmaker’s Way.
A week passed. A second week grew long.
Then, I get the email:
“While the hardboiled voice hits strong out of the gate, this story quickly trips over its sense of style within a couple of pages. Lots of potential here: the parallels between narcotic use and necromancy are interesting, the language is often Chandler-esque in a good way, and it delves into some interesting psychological territory.
Damn! (And I’ve never even read Chandler.)
So, I pick less intense psychological territory to probe and introduce a kid from Ohio traveling to meet someone in Brooklyn, playing on the idea that there is actual magic, but also fake magic like what Crowley practiced, and the boy crashes into this conflict of reality vs. illusion, called “Avenue X.”
I then get this email:
“This is on theme for sure with the horror-occult and clear New York vibes, but it needs some adjusting for me to pass it along the chain.”
“I would consider bringing the story into the next short story critique with BSFW for more detailed examination if you’d like to continue developing it for Kaleidocast.”
But the only critiques at BSFW were when I was traveling—the sound of choosing the wrong door on the Price is Right plays.
Then, while in Barcelona, I got a better idea: “The Many Smiles of My Friend Eric.”
Now, Karina (my wife) doesn’t particularly like Speculative Fiction. But as I was pouring so much effort into this project and talking about it so much, I got her to read it. And she made good comments for improving it. Which I used and tweaked it a bit more, until she approved, liking the story, even with all the magic and Eric’s crazy smile with gemstones embedded in his front two teeth.
Off it went. The best so far.
I get this email on 8/21
“Received. I’ll bump it up the chain, Lance. Thanks for the work you’ve put in, I hope the panelists enjoy it. As usual, we’ll get back to you within 2-3 weeks.”
Then this email 9/6
“I’m sorry to say that the panelists have decided not to accept this story for submission into this coming season of Kaleidocast.”
So close I could taste it….
Then, I decided to cut my losses and devote my time to Walking the Darkmaker’s Way and getting the ebook version of Selecting Ourselves coded, formatted, and available to you—the faithful. Those who have stuck with me through this season of disappointments.
Walking the Darkmaker’s Way
Walking is developing well, with revisions and new material coming along, though not quite in shape for consumption. Yet. Too many rough edges I’m busy smoothing off now. BUT I’m having a blast writing it, so I’m hoping you’ll have a rollicking good time reading it too. (Just have to let me know you want to be an early reader.)
Selecting Ourselves ebook
And yes, I did, finally, complete the Selecting Ourselves ebook. And yes, you can download it. Or read it online. While listening to me reading it to you. Or you can read and then listen, or vice versa. As you wish.
Of course, just working on short stories and CS Sheets for ebooks doesn’t explain the silence fully.
At the same time as those projects, my straight job got super busy. Like busier than it had been since before Covid. I was running around like a madman trying to keep up, leaving me too brain-dead at the end of the day to think of anything else but food, drink, and finding something to stare at on the idiot box while I shut my brain off for a while. This went on for a couple of months.
But things have calmed down to a manageable pace, so I should be able to visit you later this month or early December with more free stuff. You know, like Santa for x-mas.