What’s It Cost?

So my well died sometime in the night.

At least, I assume that’s what happened. We woke up this morning to discover that there was no water pressure. (Nope, the pipes aren’t frozen – it wasn’t that cold last night.) The guy is coming over later today to take a look. He had recommended that we fix something else a while back, and warned that if we didn’t fix the other thing, we’d likely see our well pump die sooner than expected. (It is 25 years old, so it was probably time for it to go anyway, but I digress…) Trouble was that in addition to fixing the thing, there are so many, many other things that demand my money. I need to replace the roof, and my front windows are in dreadful shape. My kitchen floor could use replacing, and the carpet in the great room is way beyond […]

Continue reading What’s It Cost?

An Editor’s Commandments

I stayed up Saturday night live-streaming the Hugo Award ceremony. (Well, okay, technically I watched 2/3 of it, since I was editing stories for The Weird Wild West until past 11 pm) It was an entertaining event – David Gerrold and Tananarive Due were delightful together, and there’s nothing that isn’t made more fun by the inclusion of a Dalek. I can’t imagine that anyone, at this point, hasn’t at least heard the basic results – No Awards for most of the literary categories, and Best Novel going to The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu (and announced by Dr Kjel Lindgren direct from the International Space Station – how cool is that???) Honestly, if you want to hear what more-informed people have to say about the situation, feel free to go search it out on the googlewebs, because Sunday was the Day of the Hugo Post-Game Wrapup, and really, […]

Continue reading An Editor’s Commandments

Inviting A Crowd to the Party

As I’ve mentioned, I’m editing an anthology called The Weird Wild West (coming from eSpec Books in the fall of this year!) and in the course of reading the stories, I’ve learned and relearned many lessons about what makes a great story great. One of the problems I’ve noticed in some stories is with the characters themselves. Not their personalities, but just how very many of them decide to make an appearance.

Have you ever seen those viral news stories about teenagers who post the details of their upcoming birthday parties on Twitter or Facebook? They only mean the information for their friends, but strangers for miles around decide to show up to the party too, leaving the house in a shambles and the local jail full of weeping kids waiting for their parents to come get them. A short story with too many characters can feel just as out […]

Continue reading Inviting A Crowd to the Party

Where’s The Starting Line?

As you’ve probably heard by now, I (along with Emily Leverett and Margaret McGraw) am editing The Weird Wild West, an anthology of speculative fiction from a frontier point-of-view. Lately we’ve been reading all the submissions and choosing the best ones for inclusion in the book. It’s been a real learning experience for me, and I’m going to spend the next few Mondays talking about things I’ve learned (and in many cases, relearned) from doing this job. Today we’re going to start with starting.

Many years ago, I submitted a short story to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine. At the time, it was a highly-regarded publication which paid actual money for accepted work, and I wanted in. I crafted a story I thought would fit perfectly with what she usually published, slapped the stamp on my SASE (those were the day!) and sent it off. A few weeks later, my […]

Continue reading Where’s The Starting Line?

Getting It Right The First Time

I spent the last few days reading submissions for our upcoming anthology, The Weird Wild West. I’m nowhere near finished, of course – we had a marvelous response to our call, so there are a lot of stories to work through. This is a new experience for me, editing. I’ve edited my own work, of course, but choosing stories for an anthology that will have my name on it – this is an entirely different activity. I’ve asked Emily (who has more experience at this sort of thing) a ton of questions. We don’t want anything but the best in this book, and we expect the submissions to be the absolute best the writers could possibly achieve.

I want to repeat something you regular readers of Magical Words have heard all of us say at least a thousand times. Editors are looking for a reason to say “No, thank you.” […]

Continue reading Getting It Right The First Time

Deadlines

So today I want to talk to you about deadlines. A deadline is the date an editor or publisher sets as the last possible moment an assignment is due in their hands. The deadline is usually decided based on the publication schedule, and there’s not often a lot of wiggle room. Writers who meet their deadlines (or turn in their work early) are an editor’s dream.

At the moment, I’m more of the nightmare variety.

I owe a certain editor (who is handsome and charming and delightful and the life of any party and gosh what else can I think of to flatter him with right this second) a story for an upcoming anthology. At this very second, I’m not the last person to turn in a story, and as soon as I finish writing this post, I’m going to work on finalizing my story so I can keep that […]

Continue reading Deadlines

We Did It!

Y’all, I’m so proud and thrilled to say that The Weird Wild West Kickstarter funded successfully! If you were one of the wonderful backers, thank you so very much! We couldn’t have done this without you, and we’re so excited to bring you a book of incredible and thrilling stories soon.

But here’s the really good part…we managed to reach two of our stretch goals, which means that we’ll be opening SIX submission slots! We’re accepting submissions now, so if you have an idea for a great weird western story, now’s the time to write it, polish it, and send it to us.

All submissions should be in Times New Roman, 12 point, in .doc or .docx format. Stories should be between 3,000 and 9,000 words. No multiple or simultaneous submissions, and please, no reprints.

We seek stories of the Wild West in all its glory but with that delicious […]

Continue reading We Did It!