Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Podcast of My First Professional Sale!

I have a new podcast in which I read my first professional sale!

My story "Two Dwarves and Eight Chained Ourang-Outangs" appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine in June 2011.  It is a retelling of Poe's "Hop-Frog."  EQMM allows its authors to submit podcasts, so I got a friend who has excellent recording equipment and skills to help me.

It just went live today at:

I hope you'll enjoy my reading.  Please comment on my blog if you like it.
When I was notified of this first sale in 2010, I made a diary entry:  "Today is the day that makes all other days possible."  And I was right.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Writers of the Future: The World is a Village, and "That Guy" will be the Outcast. Plus, belated thanks.

(As a winner of the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future competition, I attended an invaluable workshop in Los Angeles from April 8-16, 2013, taught by some top professionals.  I will discuss a few of the lessons I learned in a series of posts).

In his fine study of the literature  (both fiction and non-fiction) of the American Civil War, Patriotic Gore, Edmund Wilson made this observation about the insular nature of the Southern aristocracy:

"Yet we are struck, as we read these two diaries, Miss Morgan's and Mrs. Chesnut's, as well as other Southern documents of the period, by the recurrence of the same family names.  Sarah Morgan in Baton Rouge is related to and knows the same families as the Chesnuts in Richmond a thousand miles away."  (from Chapter 8, "Three Confederate Ladies: Kate Stone, Sarah Morgan, Mary Chesnut")

Well, that was then.  In the era of stagecoaches on dirt roads, only the rich were well-traveled enough to know a wide circle of acquaintances.  In the modern age, we're all like those "Three Confederate Ladies."  (A disturbing thought.)

During the Writers of the Future workshop, we were urged to, at all times, be professionals.  We could ruin our reputations by being, as instructor Tim Powers put it, "That Guy." 

"That Guy" being (and this is my exposition on the theme rather than Tim's exact words) the jerk, the braggart, the humble-braggart or just overt braggart, the fanny pincher, the mean drunk, the obvious ass-kisser, the me-me-me attention whore, the one who no one at a writer's convention ever forgets, and not in a good way.

Because you will be remembered.  And frozen out.  Of everything.

You don't believe the world's a village now?  Check this out.


During most of the week at Writers of the Future (WotF) one of our other occasional lecturers was a previous winner from Canada named Jordan.  He and I were at dinner many times together.  Near the end, he mentioned his online magazine, Every Day Fiction.  I sat up.

I have published four stories with Every Day Fiction, the last time barely a week before the start of the WotF workshops!  I wrote an encomium of them in a previous post.  I had always dealt with Editor Camille Gooderham Campbell, and thought of it as "her" magazine.  But Jordan Ellinger is, indeed, the publisher.

"Hey, Jordan, man, I've been in Every Day Fiction," I told him.  "Like, at the end of March, man."

"Oh yeah!" he said.  He kinda remembered author Eric Cline, and I guess I had seen the name of publisher Jordan Ellinger, but we hadn't realized it until that moment.

(I don't have a good picture of Jordan at hand, but just do a Google image search for Matthew Perry, and that will suffice.  Seriously, it's like Jordan's his pod person replacement.  Eerie, man.)

My second unplanned encounter with someone who had already bought my fiction was like lightning in comparison.


I attended a breakfast at the hotel sponsored by WotF.  I sat down at a long half-table/half-booth with several others I had already met, including instructor Dave Farland/Dave Wolverton.  The guy to my left was one of the few people at the breakfast I didn't know by sight.  Someone introduced us: "Eric Cline, this is Scott T. Barnes."

Scott and I had automatically clasped hands in polite greeting when I said, "Hey!  Scott!  I think you just published me.  Like, recently!"

"Yeah!" Scott said, equally amazed.  "Last issue!"  Scott is publisher of NewMyths.com, which gave a home to my story, "The Last Listener."

Scott is another alumnus (the WotF weeks are great because several alumni are brought back to recount their own practical experiences to us newbies).  Later, after that moment of genuine and delighted astonishment, we posed for this phony re-enactment:

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT.  One week.  Two online magazine publishers who had bought my work.  No one expected it.  But that's what happens.  It's a small world.

There were other editors there.  People I have never sold to.  And if I had acted like a jerk, I never would. 

This isn't about being phony.  (The above photo notwithstanding).  It's about being professional, which is something different. 

A phony has to try to act like the opposite of what he/she really is, and fools no one in the long run.

A professional strives to be the best version of what he/she is.  A professional strives to embody the most admirable traits of the world he/she really and truly wants to live in.

I believe I was professional at the WotF workshop week.

We'll see, though.  I'm sending stories out now to some of the editors I met that week.  Hopefully, I impressed them.

Oh wait!  I forgot!  You also have to write stories so good that people want to buy them! 




I had prepared an acceptance speech for the Sunday, April 14 awards ceremony, but it was on my laptop.  I had forgotten that I didn't have a printer in my hotel room.  So I sort of winged it when I got to the podium.

When birds wing it, sometimes they hit the occasional power line.  So did I.  I forgot to thank Mr. Daniel Reneau, the talented young artist (and Illustrators of the Future winner) who provided a fantastic illustration for my story:

Sorry I spaced, bro.  Sorry I spaced.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How to Win the Writers of the Future Contest!


I just got back from attending the weeklong workshop and awards ceremony for the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future event.  I was presented with a trophy for my story, "Gonna Reach Out and Grab Ya," which appears in Volume 29.  I am happy, but exhausted.

I will be writing more about this important week in upcoming posts.  But for now, I thought I'd 'pay it forward' by providing advice to aspiring contestants.  I know that thousands of people from all over the world enter it every year, hoping to win one of the generous quarterly cash prizes.
So, with a winner's inside knowledge, I would like to present to you the secret formula for winning!



Try to lose.

The End


Please see my blog another time when I will share some of the pictures from that unforgettable --


You want more?

Oh, all right.



Try to lose.

By writing a lot.

The End

I hope you'll join me at my next post as I discuss…


You don't think that's useful advice?

You want me to expand?



Try to lose.

By writing a lot.

You'll eventually get so good at it that you'll either win the contest, or have a successful career even without winning. 

The End


Don't thank me.  I just wanted to give back.  I….

Damn you.  You want me to expand on this some more?  You still don't get it.

Well brace yourselves, wannabes.  You're about to see how cruel Cruel Cline can be!



Try to lose.

By writing a lot.

You'll eventually get so good at it that you'll either win the contest, or have a successful career even without winning.
Try to write so much, and so well, that you risk losing your amateur status.
I sold two stories to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine before I won.  You get disqualified if you have three professional sales.  If I'd sold one more story at .05 cents a word, I would have been disqualified.  I would not have submitted "Gonna Reach Out and Grab Ya," and would have lost out on $750 in prize money, $500 for anthology rights, and the most valuable part of it, the weeklong seminar.

It would have been a lot to lose.

And yet, I still would have been just fine.  Because I have the habit of writing now.  And I still would have had a career.  (Oh, don't get me wrong.  The seminar week has been invaluable.  I learned things that it would have taken me years to bumble around and discover on my own.  But even before that, I was still heading in the right direction, albeit slowly.)

I push myself to write at least 500 words a day, which is not a lot.  But it's what I can manage on a subway train during my daily commute.  Some days, I have written far more than that, but I always demand that 500 words of myself.

Further, I have a quota to finish a new story once every two weeks.  Two a month.  And if I finish four stories in a month, I just 'reset the clock' you might say, and demand two more stories of myself the next month. 

Now, let's look at the contest.

If you Googled, "how to win writers of the future" and got to this page, you are already familiar with the rules. 

You may enter only once per quarter (beginning of October to end of December, and three more quarters just like that).

You therefore, can only submit four stories to the contest in a single contest year (October 1 through September 30).

If you have written only  stories for the contest -- that is, if you only write one story every three months -- then buddy, you are never going to be a professional writer.

If you have a full-time job and responsibilities at home, you should be able to squeeze out one story a month -- 12 per year, or three per contest quarter.

You should therefore, have more stories than you can submit to the contest.  Exactly two more, right?

You should then submit those two stories elsewhere.

And if you don't, tough.  Move aside.  Plenty of other people want to do this.

Let me rephrase that with better emphasis.

Plenty of other people want to do this.  They want to write and sell stories.

If you don't practice your craft, you won't get good enough to sell.

If you only write four short stories in a single year, you haven't done enough practicing.

You know that wonderful week (actually eight days -- I was there from April 8th through the 16th)?  The one I'm saying was so valuable?

Two of the other winners in volume 29 had to leave a day early because they had to get back to their jobs.  They simply couldn't take even one more day off.  (I maxed out my own leave time as well).

One more had to leave early to be at the bedside of a very ill friend.

All three of them loved the seminar.  We all did.  But they were short on time and other things needed attending to.

And these busy adults still found enough time to practice their writing well enough to win the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest!

You be too.

The End