Sunday, December 23, 2012

Looooonnnnng-ass Titles

Harlan Ellison once titled a story, "The Wine Has Been Left Open Too Long and the Memory Has Gone Flat."  In a collected appearance of it, the author explained that long titles had been "in" that year.  Further, that he had originally wished to title it, "Out Near the Funicular Center of the Universe, the Wine Has Been Left Open Too Long and the Memory Has Gone Flat." 

For some darn reason, the editor demurred.

I have just made my second appearance in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.  I knew I had a good story going that day I sat down on the train (where I do much of my writing) and wrote: "Donny Smirlek decided to kill his wife when he realized she wasn't cheating on him."

Love that opening line.

The title of the story, however, is longer than the opening line.  Is there any kind of rule about that?

It is, "One of Those Plans-the-Perfect-Crime-but-then-Something-Goes-Teddibly-Teddibly-Wrong Stories."

It's available on the newsstands right now.  Looks like this:

EQMM February 2013

Be the first one on your block, etcetera.

And before I go forth with the musings on this specific blog post, which is about long-ass titles (hence, the short-keistered title of the post itself), let me further plug it by inviting all of you who use electronic devices to go to the following links for purchase:

Amazon (Kindle)

Barnes & Noble's Nook

Apple iTunes store




So, long titles.

Why did I do it?

It kills me to write the damn title out.

When the contract from Dell magazines (publishers of EQMM) arrived (by PDF; that's the way the world roles these days), they gave the title as: "ONE OF THOSE PLANS-THE-PERFECT-CRIME-BUT-THEN-SOMETHING-GOES-TERRIBLY WRONG STORIES".

When I read that, I thought they had arbitrarily changed the title on me.  Since they were paying, I didn't kick up a fuss.  But the contract came from their business offices in Norwalk, Connecticut.  The editorial offices in New York either changed it back or had never altered it in the first place.

The EQMM site (shared with its brother publication, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine) says this:

 Tradition is acknowledged in a different way in a darkly humorous story by returning author Eric Cline that plays with some common mystery motifs (“One-of-Those-Plans-the-Perfect-Crime-Then-Something-Goes-Teddibly,-Teddibly-Wrong Stories”) . . .

Very flattering.  Although I'm noticing the dashes start a couple of words early.  That many dashes, you lose control.

What can a long title do?  There's not a one in the modern world that's not ironic. In previous eras, they were deployed without a second thought.  You may not have heard of the book:

Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships

But you've heard of the shorter title that we all insist on calling it by:

Gulliver's Travels

But by the time the 20th century rolled around, long titles were a very self-conscious device.  The terrible 1964 B-movie The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies tried to generate interest from its title, because no other facet of the production was capable of that.

Indeed, the modern world may be in need of some long titles, at least to distinguish unrelated works.  As he neared the end of his career as a headlining actor, Burt Reynolds appeared in a lousy 1986 film called Heat.  Then, in 1995, writer-director Michael Mann released an excellent ensemble film called Heat, no relation.

And far too many autobiographies have been entitled My Life, including ones by Bill Clinton and Leon Trotsky (no, Fox News viewers, they're not the same person), and . . . hey! . . . Burt Reynolds!

Occasionally, some acclaimed works still use long titles.  The 2004 novel (which I have not read) No Matter How Much You Promise to Cook or Pay the Rent You Blew It Cauze Bill Bailey Ain't Never Coming Home Again by Edgardo Vega Yunque, was well-reviewed.

Personally, I generate my own titles on instinct, from what I feel would be best for the story.  Two of my recently published stories are called simply Native and Moonbubble.

But I do have one that is making the rounds called "A Three-Pipe Problem in a No-Smoking Building."  It won't be appearing in Ellery Queen; I offered, they passed.  But I'm sending it out to others, and hopefully it will be published somewhere. . .

Hey, wait a minute.

Can we see that magazine cover again?

EQMM February 2013


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine -- My Second Appearance


Now I know how new fathers of triplets felt in the days before ultrasounds took the surprise out of everything.

One came out.  You were expecting that.  ("Moonbubble," Stupefying Stories, December 2012)

A second one, just after the first?  Oh, okay.  Amazing.  Precious little gift from God and all of that.  ("The Last Listener,", December 2012).

A third?  Oh crap.  ("One of Those Plans-the-Perfect-Crime-but-Then-Something-Goes-Teddibly-Teddibly-Wrong Stories," Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, the February 2013 issue, which is not yet on the newsstands, but whose sample copies arrived in my mailbox on December 8, 2012).

I had long since sold "Moonbubble" and "One of Those Plans...." to the respective magazines.  But due to a miscommunication ( had planned to buy and publish "The Last Listener" but I only understood it to be that it was still under consideration), the final contract with was only signed (electronically) a month before publication online.

I had been told ahead of time that "Moonbubble" would be in the Stupefying Stories out in December.  I learned of "The Last Listener" a month ahead of time, and I learned of the exact publication date of "One of those Plans..." when I opened my mailbox.  (When the issue officially goes on sale, I'll post online links to it).

Don't get me wrong.  I did a fist pump right out there on the street (thank God it was a lazy Saturday afternoon).  I did a mild Howard-Dean-scream: "Yeahhh!"

But still, right now, it's like I'm sitting in the hospital waiting room.  I've got my collar open and I'm running my hands through my hair, trying to figure out how I'm gonna pay for their college.

Other fathers are offering me cigars.

And I don't even smoke.


Monday, December 3, 2012

"The Last Listener" has been published at

My goodness, what an embarrassment of riches.

I have had two stories published this week.

My story of mind-reading (and mind-numbing bureaucracy), "The Last Listener," was published in Issue 21 of  It is available for free at the site. does not have separate URLs for each individual story.  So go there, wander around.  Editor Scott T. Barnes (a fellow Writers of the Future winner) celebrated the fifth anniversary of publishing the free magazine online with this issue.  You'll find a lot of great content, both fiction and non-fiction.

And once you've sampled some of the other delights, you can click on the tab that currently says "Issue 21," on which page you'll find my story linked.  (Once Issue 22 has been published, as I understand it, Issue 21 will then be archived in the "Past Issues" tab.)


Saturday, December 1, 2012

"Moonbubble" has been published in Stupefying Stories. Plus, an untold story related to Stephen King

This blog contains an attempt to promote my story "Moonbubble" ... followed by an unexpected and amazing sidenote!

My novella "Moonbubble," (about 10,000 words of pure excitement) has been published in Bruce Bethke's Stupefying Stories.

It's a milestone for me for a couple of reasons.  First, my name is on the cover, which is a first for my print publications. 

Stupefying Stories: December 2012

Second milestone: it was artistic growth for me. 

I did an inferior early version of this story in which the milieu was the star, and the characters were just afterthoughts.  It got several form rejections.  Then, I decided to do a redraft. 

I am grateful to author Kristine Kathryn Rusch, whose blog dispenses excellent advice to writers.  One of her points that she has made several times is that rewriting from an existing electronic copy of a story is often a bad idea.  Rather, redraft, writing a new version from scratch using the old idea.  I did so, and the results were (to my mind) spectacular.

Stupefying Stories' Editor/publisher Bruce Bethke is an interesting character in his own right.  He is a science fiction writer who, like William Gibson, managed to put a word (and therefore, his own name in citation) into the dictionaries.  Just as Gibson coined "cyberspace" in Neuromancer, Bethke coined the term which became the name of the genre, "cyberpunk," in a story of the same name.  His experience in writing, editing, and production shows in the utterly professional way he (and several associates and friends he names) have managed to roll out a 21st century e-publication. 

(If you think an e-publication is not difficult, have a look at the roll-call of "Fiction markets that have been declared defunct" that gets refreshed weekly at

Bethke's introduction to this issue describes the contents as "great tales of the end of the world. From ecological catastrophes to alien invasions; from tyrannical central governments to unfettered cowboy capitalists."  (The unfettered cowboy capitalists are mine.)

If you have enjoyed my writing in the past, I hope you will consider getting "Moonbubble" in the current issue of Stupefying Stories.  It is available on Amazon's Kindle stores in various countries:

US -
UK -
Germany -
France -
Spain -
Italy -
Japan -
And on Barnes & Noble's Nook

Other e-reader markets (such as Apple's iTunes store) are going to be going live soon as well.

It's a bargain at $1.99 (US edition) and the equivalent price in other editions.  (Someday, I'll reprint it alone for direct e-sale, and I'll be charging you $2.99, minimum.  And that's without the 10 other stories!)

I just got my sample copy (that is, a PDF) this morning, and I'm already smiling over some of my fellow authors' contributions.  For instance, "The Relic," by Lou Antonelli, shows the trivial, incidental creation of the title object and the unsubstantiated interpretations heaped on it later.  I suspect that famed archaeologist Eric Cline (the other Eric Cline, whom I mentioned in a previous post and who kindly commented on this blog earlier) would nod ruefully at the events that unfold.


And now, for an unexpected and amazing sidenote.

When I was composing this blog post, I got an idea -- always a dangerous thing for me.

I looked in The Stephen King Illustrated Companion and discovered that when King's first professional sale, "The Glass Floor" was published in something called Startling Mystery Stories in 1967, his name was not put on the cover, as he was a complete unknown; but Arthur J. Burks, Seabury Quinn, Sterling S. Cramer, Beverly Haaf, and Anna Hunger were on the cover.  Through the miracle of Google, I discovered that most of those folks were dead and two of them (Burks and Quinn) were once pulp authors of some note.  Sic transit gloria mundi, eh? 

I had originally planned some snarky comment about how prominent placement on the cover did not guarantee career success; you know, to segue into the fact that my name is now on a magazine cover.

Something sneering and dismissive.

Then, the second-to-last name I Googled came up with current results.

Beverly Haaf, who published a horror story in the same issue of the same magazine that inaugurated Stephen King's career, is still publishing. 

Not only is she still publishing, she's serving her community.  The title of the May 22, 2012 story says it all: "Local publisher wins historic preservation award."

Mrs. Haaf, former fiction writer, age 75, is publishing the Beverly Bee, a free community newspaper that serves four small towns in her area.

Snarky, sneering, and dismissive all fled back to their junior high school classroom and laid low.

My internet search continued, and yielded contact information.  Within a few minutes, I was on the phone with Beverly Haaf, whose laughing voice and self-deprecating manner were a tonic.

"Magazines like Startling Mystery Stories were the only ones publishing what I was interested in writing at that time," she told me.  She was one of the founders of the Garden State Horror Writers (now called Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers).

She is well-aware that the future publishing behemoth King crossed paths with her, so to speak, in the pages of that now-defunct pulp (cover price for the Fall 1967 issue: 50 cents).  But, to my surprise, she told me no one outside her family and friends had ever asked her about it before.

Her contributor's copy of that issue has long since disappeared.  "Maybe somebody snatched it as a collector's item," she said with a laugh free of bitterness.  (No joke: I found the issue online priced -- because of King's story -- at $600).

The issue's loss complicated her ability to know exactly which of her horror stories appeared in that issue: "Gee what was it," she said. "Perhaps, 'The Perfect Child.' Child in jeopardy, haunted house, that kind of thing. No, wait, that might have been in the Winter 1968 issue ..."

In a long publishing career, being in the same issue with the then-unknown King was far from the most bizarre incident.  "My son once found a British anthology that one of my stories had appeared in, without my knowledge!  I never got paid, but oh well, it would have just been in pounds anyway!"

One thing's for certain; Stephen King can rest easy knowing that he won't be getting further competition from her on the fiction front.  She's strictly a reporter now: "I've given up telling lies, and now I'm trying to stick to the truth!"

I had contacted Beverly Haaf wondering what it had been like to pass, like a ship in the night, the legendary Stephen King.  Considering how full a life Beverly Haaf has had, and her continuing productivity, great attitude, and service to her community, perhaps Stephen King had been the lucky one to have once been in proximity to her.

(Addendum:  Beverly Haaf contacted me after consulting her records; she determined that the story she published alongside the young Stephen King's "The Glass Ceiling" in Startling Mystery Stories was entitled "Aim for Perfection.")

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Yeah, I'm the guy who's doing the writing seminar

For a charity fundraiser, I'm doing a private seminar in my office complex on writing and publishing.  It's only being advertised within my building.

So for anyone who is looking into attending the seminar, if you Googled my name and found this page . . . yeah, I'm the same guy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Second Place Winner: L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest

The day after the 2012 Olympics ended, I took the silver.

I was the second place winner of the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest for the second quarter of 2012.

(For those not familiar with it, here is their site.)

On Monday evening, I received a call from Joni Labaqui, administrator of the contest.  I was on the subway platform at the time, and the train was about to come.

Joni had originally contacted me on July 20 to say I was one of eight finalists, so we had already connected.

On August 13, therefore, I knew I had a one-in-2.66 chance of winning one of the three prizes.

A few moments after we started talking, my train arrived.  It was already a miracle that I was getting a cell signal two stories underground.  I thought about how much I wanted to get home; I have a long commute.  But I let it go.

And we talked.

I knew about the $750 prize for second place.  Joni told me about the week-long workshop (expenses paid).  That was exciting in itself, for my vacation account has been much depleted by rash day trips to luxurious spots such as Walmart and Safeway Grocery.  To get a trip to LA (I've never been there) is a treat in itself. 

More to the point, a full week of talking and networking with the pros of prose is going to be absolutely heavenly!

She asked for my social security number so she could mail me a check.  I looked around the subway platform, walked away from the (certainly honest-looking) people nearby, and told it to her.  Then I told it to her more loudly, because she couldn't hear me otherwise.  Perhaps the other folks heard it as well.

(With the prize money, I will buy credit-report monitoring).

The next train came.  I hesitated.  I thought if we were still connected under two stories of earth and concrete, it must be unbreakable.  Not wanting to delay my journey home any further (I have a three leg commute; if I'm late for the first, I'm later for the second, latest for the third), I got on.

She started telling me about the anthology --

And we were cut off.

Then I emerged from the tunnel.  There was no more underground stuff between me and the end of the line, so I knew I was okay when Joni called back.

"And we'll arrange payment for the anthology," she said.

"Wow, you mean there's an additional fee for my story appearing in the Writers of the Future volume?" I said.  "Didn't even know about that.  A smaller amount than the prize, I assume!  Ha, ha!"

"Ha, ha.  Yes--"

My train went into another tunnel.

Why was my train going into another tunnel?

There were supposed to be no more tunnels between me and the last stop where I hopped onto the bus.

I had been so distracted that I had gotten on the wrong train.

When I pulled into the next underground station, I jumped off, and I got bars again.  Joni called back yet again.  (She is an absolute trooper!)

We hashed out the final details.  "Dave Wolverton will contact you," she said.  "He's editing your story."

"Wow!" I said.  "Doesn't he write under two names, one fantasy and one science fiction?"

"Yes," she said.  "David Farland."

"Yeah!  David Farland!  Er, which one is his real name?"

"Dave Wolverton."

"Oh!  Yeah."

(I had hoped to give future entrants into the contest a sense of what it was like to talk to Joni Labaqui.  Sadly, I think this post gives you more of an alarming sense of what it's like to talk to me!)

Surprisingly, Joni did not revoke the prize on the spot.  After we hung up, I puzzled out which train I had to get on to go home.

I feel the magic.  Do you?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Or tomorrow....

Yeah, actually, tomorrow works. 

Sorry guys, I'm waiting for an official announcement by a certain organization before I say anything!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

NATIVE, son!

This week, my story "Native" was published online in the inaugural issue of James Gunn's Ad Astra.  It was an honor, for a number of reasons.

First off, it was my first sale to a mainly science fiction publication.  (I have been published by Every Day Fiction, the excellent flash fiction site that does a good bit of science fiction, but they are not strictly within that genre).

Second, I got to be associated with a publication that has the imprimatur of James Gunn.  I'm from the greater Kansas City, Missouri, area, and Gunn is considered a local boy made good.  He's a writer, editor, and scholar of science fiction based at the University of Kansas, who has done much to prove to the academic world that the field is worthy of scholarly study.

Third, it is my first published story to be illustrated.  Follow this link to the story to see the full text and the illustration.

Cough, ahem.


Sorry, something stuck in my throat.

Ahem, hem, cough, cough--

--The illustration gives away one of the plot points!!!!

Actually, I'm in good company.  When I was a kid, one of the first SF books I read was Lucky Starr and the Moons of Jupiter by Isaac Asimov.  The cover illustration of the edition I read gave away the major mystery in the book.  Heroic David "Lucky" Starr is searching for an evil robot hidden among some colonists.  Guess who it is?  (There's only one dog in the novel).

But I'm just vamping.  I was thrilled to see the illustration.  And it's a very, very early plot point that is revealed (for "Native," not Lucky Starr and the Book That Was Nothing But A Paycheck for Isaac Asimov, that is.)

Although Mr. Gunn has lent his gravitas to the project, it is being run by several dedicated scholars based at KU.  My thanks to Fiction Editor Douglas McKinney and Issue Editor Isaac Bell and the other various volunteers.  Although I provided a link directly to my own story, I urge you to enjoy some great, free SF stories and non-fiction articles that are available in the entire issue.

Monday, May 28, 2012

"Dead Trees?" Technically, yeah, but c'mon....

Dead trees.
I love electronic publishing.  I have found friends, and readers, on continents I may never visit.  I have found fans for my work in other countries, such as England, India, Australia, Germany, Russia, Italy, Sri Lanka and others.
And I pump my fist in a "Right on!"when the stars of the self-publishing firmament hold forth, the Joe Konraths, the Kris Ruschs, the Dean Wesley Smiths, and so forth.
And yet...
Ack!  There it is again! 
The insult to all paper books that dare to continue to exist in this world.  DEAD TREES. 

Why does the phrase irk me so much?
Perhaps because of the sheer sneering un-necessaryness of it.
And because it reminds me of the SCRAP OF CLOTH argument from an earlier era.
Back in the late 1980s, there was a tempest-in-a-teapot over flag burning.  In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that a guy who had been arrested for burning the American flag outside the Republican convention in 1984 (these cases take longer to work their way through the system in real life than they do in t.v. dramas) had been engaging in free speech.

Then politicians sanctimoniously got into the act.
They tried several times to pass an amendment to the U. S. Constitution banning flag burning.  (The Supreme Court ruled that the arrest of the guy in 1984 had been unconstitutional, as it violated first amendment freedom of speech.  If the amendment was part of the constitution, that little inconvenience would be taken care of).
The hypocrisy of these politicians, who were letting any number of important problems fester for lack of attention, was disgusting.
But, they drew a counter-reaction from the liberal spectrum of American opinion which was, in some ways, even more revolting.
Thus began the "scrap of cloth."
Numerous prominent people began talking about how the American flag was just a "scrap of cloth," and that people should not be prosecuted for burning it.  Scrap of cloth this, scrap of cloth that.
That's my flag, man!

I would never burn the American flag. But I don't believe that attempts to ban flag desecration are just.
I was personally disgusted by the flag burners.  But prosecuting them for visually expressing their opinion would do genuine harm to America. 

If it was constitutionally protected, the nutty conservatives wanted to simply amend the constitution to lessen free speech protection.
Meanwhile, the nutty liberals responded by talking about a scrap of cloth. 
That was a terrible ploy, guys.  Basically, you were saying that the flag wasn't worth anything as a symbol.
Oh yes it was.  And is.
So now we come to the Dead Trees.
I love the smell of books.  I love the feel of paper.  I love old covers with outdated covers (like bloated lettering and bad hair in book covers from the 1970s).
But I also love what electronic distribution has done for me, both as a reader and as a writer.
I love that I can read books that are out of copyright for free.  I love the ability to research (my undergrad years would have been a hell of a lot easier if the internet hadn't been in protean form back then!).
And, I love having fans, and new friends, from all over the world.
So, I am for the electronic world.  And I know it will only continue to grow and grow as the devices get easier on the eyes, cheaper, and more durable.
But please don't refer to my old books as dead trees.
Or … well, actually go ahead. 

After all, I do believe in freedom of speech.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Vanishing Contributor's Copy

Let me take this opportunity to lovingly pat my old carriage horse before she goes out to pasture.

Let me change the vacuum tubes in my radio so I can listen to some of the biggest stars broadcasting out of New York.

Let me....  Nah, you know this is all metaphor.  I'm talking about contributors' copies.

When I used to page through Writer's Market, before there was an internet (okay, now there's a genuine reference to a memory of a time gone by), I used to calculate how much I would make, based on the market's rate (big mistake to focus on that, but that's a subject for another post).  Whatever market listing I was perusing often said this: ". . . And one contributor's copy."  Or 2 or 3.  Sometimes they just said "Pays one contributor's copy."  Not the princely $.05 per word (which has not budged a single penny as the definition of professional payment in decades -- another topic for another day.)

Fast forward to present day. 

Now, I'm getting contributors' copies along with payment.

Feels good.


In the electronic age...

What do contributors' copies actually mean?

(Mean spiritually, that is, not to get too heavy on you.)

I got three contributor's copies when my story "Two Dwarves and Eight Chained Ourang-Outangs" was published by EQMM.  They arrived by regular mail inside a thick, loose-fitting plastic bag.  Felt nice.

More recently, my flash fiction piece, "What is the Difference between Optometrists and Ophthalmologists?" was published in the anthology Flush Fiction, the first all-fiction book by the publishers of the long- running Bathroom Reader books.

(If you remember Jeff Goldblum's People magazine writer from The Big Chill, you know how long each of the stories takes to read.)

Two contributor's copies.

My story.  My name.  First page, even.


I have placed three flash fiction pieces with the estimable Every Day Fiction, an online journal.  You read the story on the web, or you subscribe to the kindle version, or you can sign up to get it emailed to you.  No paper.

And, in recent months, I have self-published my own short works online.  No paper.  and each story with its own cover, designed by me.  One of them with a blurb from a friend who is a novelist (and who would not blurb it unless it was good -- that was our deal.)

So, I've got online work that is more easily accessible, versus printed work that is far less accesible.

Whence now, O thrill of the contributor's copy?

Does print represent professional validation? 

Not necessarily.  My three stories in Every Day Fiction went through a team of wonderful Canadian editors and first readers.  They have always provided thoughtful feedback even on stories they rejected.  (Am I selling them short by attributing their niceness to their Canadian-ness?  Probably. Being Canadian never lent class to Seth Rogen.)

There's something comforting about paper, its permanency.  But those electrons that can be zapped anywhere on Earth… 

It's two different things.

I think that in the long run, print publishing will be dead.  The killer app will be a cheap reader that you can spill orange juice on without ruining it.  Then it will take the place of the breakfast paper.

So, I will be watching for the orange juice-proof e-reader. 

Then I will know that sample copies are at their twilight.  Until then, I will pinch the spine of Flush Fiction in my left hand, flip the pages with my right thumb, hold it up to my nose, and inhale the smell of success.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Very Picture of Success

Hey, aspiring writers!  Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I thought I'd show you a picture of what success looks like:

Now I will explain the picture.

I have submitted stories on and off for over 20 years, but I didn't get serious about writing and publishing until a few years ago.  Since 2007, I have kept the spreadsheet seen above.  The 25th submission since 2007 sold:  Two Dwarves and Eight Chained Ourang-Outangs to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (check out the very perceptive review from Arlene on that page!).

Then it was all rejections until the 38th submitted piece sold.  Then the 64th (again, to Ellery Queen).  Then the 73rd.  Then the 120th.  Then the 190th (an anthology, my single proudest achievement).  Then the 219th.  Some of these places did not pay in pro rates, one did not pay at all.  But they were magazines and sites where people went to enjoy fiction, and my stories were among those they enjoyed, and it is a great feeling.

From the first, to the 219th, I placed seven stories (not all of these have been listed on my web site because they're not published yet).  So:  219 divided by 7 = 31 and change. 

I submit over 31 stories for every one acceptance.

(That doesn't include the stories I have judged to be good enough for publication but didn't sell, which I then self-published.  Check out the Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords links on the sidebar.)

You want to be published?  Do what I did.

Follow Robert Heinlein's famous rules.

If you publish yourself, you must do the work of formatting, proofing, covers, etc. 

Keeping excellent records is both instructive and entertaining:

  • After selling two stories to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, I have gotten six rejections in a row from them.  Not a problem; some of them included very flattering comments from the editor.  But this knowledge is instructive if you think that after you've made the first sale, you'll never be rejected again.  Dude, you'll be rejected by the same places you've previously sold to.

  • On July 8, 2011, I got four rejections in one day: a record.  I had developed a thick enough skin by then to be actually entertained by it.

  • A tab on my spreadsheet called "promising" reproduces all submissions where I got personal notes from the editors, asking me to submit more.  (When they say, "I would like to see your next story," they always mean it.  I know, because I got that comment in some, but not all, rejections from the same editor, meaning that some of my stories, not all, impressed her.)  It tells me who to send the next story in that genre to.

  • Some magazines and web sites are class acts.  Some are not.  There is a well-regarded magazine that sat on my submission for over 200 days.  I thought maybe they were considering it.  But then a follow-up letter (with SASE) was not returned.  I withdrew the story.  On a whim, I submitted a second story and got the same treatment.  They're a high-paying market with visibility on the Barnes & Noble newsstand, but I'll never touch them again.  You won't be able to keep track of such things unless you keep good records.

I hope this helps.  Please leave me a comment if you enjoyed it. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Why "Cruel" Cline?

The question Why are You Eric "Cruel" Cline Instead of Merely Eric Cline? has no easy answer.

Oops.  Wait.  Actually it does.  It's because that *@&#!!! insurance agent Eric Cline stole the URL.  Behold! 

Damn you, Eric Cline, of Seaford, Delaware!  (No relation.)  I hereby order all of my loyal fans to boycott his financial products!  (Yes, I know most of you are homeless drifters, but if you do ever scrape together enough money to buy financial products, promise me you won't buy them from the URL-stealing Eric Cline.)

Oh, I had other dreams, before I became an author.  Dreams of power.  Dreams of influence.  Dreams of a political career.  But they were all shattered when some fancy-pants Canadian sullied the waters for me:  (No relation.)

Yeah, that's right.  THE "Eric Cline" on Wikipedia is the former Health Minister for Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (or is it Saskatchewan, Saskatoon?).  Not only that, but he dared to pursue political goals I don't believe in; I mean, the very idea of promoting a Mineral Sands Processing Facility at the Regina Research Park!

So politics was out.  But at least writing was in.  I had the field all to myself . . .


That's right.  An Eric Lee Cline (no relation) of Kentucky has posted Star Wars fan fiction!

I hereby call down Armageddon on the world!

Whoops, I can't do that either.  Because respected scholar Eric H. Cline, Ph.D (  (no relation) is a world-renowned authority on the Biblical Armageddon.  So he has all the authority over that.

So, the world is littered with semi-famous Eric Clines who are all insurance agents, retired Canadian politicians, fan-fic writers (gasp! choke!), or Indiana Joneses.

There is no room left for me on the web as Eric Cline.

Thus, Cruel Cline was born.

I patterned my nom de sade after my hero, Ambrose "Bitter" Bierce.  All of you reading this are hereby ordered to read his truly perfect story, set during the American Civil War (which, in real life, Bierce fought in), called "A Son of the Gods."  After you read it, you may note some ... similarities to the opening scene in Kevin Costner's movie Dances with Wolves.

The only thing I can do to comfort myself in the situation is to recite the classic German poem:

John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt,
His name is my name, too.
Whenever we go out,
The people always shout,
"There goes John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt!"
Nah nah nah nah nah nuh nah!

The REAL Eric Cline.  Accept no substitutes.