Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Read "Item Not As Described" in Kasma Magazine


In 2013, I sold Item Not As Described to UFO Publishing for the second entry in their Unidentified Funny Objects anthology series. This was my first short story sale at pro rates, and as such, it will always hold a special place in my heart. So I'm happy to report that it's now been reprinted by Kasma Magazine.

Item Not As Described is a humorous fantasy story. The basic premise is: if an online auction site like Ebay existed in an epic fantasy world, what would the customer support emails look like? Read the story here (for free) to find out. And check out that illustration by José Baetas. Isn't that awesome? I hope I never fail to get a kick out of seeing art based on my work. Such a cool feeling.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Read "Möbius" in Nature's Futures

The latest issue of Nature is out, and if you turn to the "Futures" page, you'll find a story of mine called Möbius. You can also read it for free online, along with all the other science fiction stories in the Futures series. As a science enthusiast, I'm thrilled to have my work featured in one of the most respected science journals in the world. Getting into Nature's Futures has been a goal for a long time.

Normally with these heads up posts, I like to write a little about the story behind the story. This time, however, I was invited to write a guest post about Möbius on the Futures blog, so if you'd like to learn a little about the inspiration behind my time travel tale, head over there and give it a read.

In this post, I thought I'd give a glimpse into the actual writing process. I wrote Möbius last year at Odyssey Writing Workshop. This was a few weeks in, and I had a fair amount of lead time before I had to turn in a new story for critique. Unfortunately, the story I'd been working on wasn't going well. The whirlwind experience of Odyssey had wreaked havoc on my creative process (mostly in a good way), and the wheels just weren't turning smoothly. Burnout was setting in. Eventually, I threw my hands up and did something crazy. The night before my due date, I tossed the story I'd been toiling at all week and stayed up into the wee hours of the morning writing something entirely new (this would later come to be known as "pulling a J.W. Alden" by my Odyssey classmates). Möbius was the end result.

I should also mention that this sale came with a lesson. I actually wrote Möbius with Nature in mind. But by the time I'd finished it, its word count had swelled to the point that it was too long for them. At first, rather than following my gut and trimming the story down, I stubbornly put off sending it to the market I'd written it for. After a couple of "close but no cigar" rejections, I finally put my ego aside and killed my darlings. I made the necessary cuts to get under Nature's word requirements. And what do you know? It sold. So follow your gut, writers. Even when it means making those tough cuts. There's nothing more satisfying than seeing a story end up in its intended home.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Read "The Dragon Weeps" in Sorcerous Signals (and Mystic Signals)

The Dragon Weeps is one of the first short stories I ever cobbled together when I started taking this writing thing seriously. Looking back now, it seems so long ago. When I think back to those fabled days of yore (aka 2012), I think, "Man . . . a baby wrote that." I'm such a different writer now. My entire process has changed, from the way I approach ideas, to the way I shape the stories themselves. What a difference two years makes.

But The Dragon Weeps has a special place in my heart. It was my first real attempt at fantasy, and it ended up spawning an entire world that I still like to play in from time to time. And it was the story that made me fall in love with writing short fiction.

That's why I'm proud that The Dragon Weeps has found a new home. You can read it for free today in the current issue of Sorcerous Signals, along with stories by Laura J. Underwood, Margaret L. Carter, and many more. If you'd rather read from the page than the screen, you can also purchase the current issue of Mystic Signals. In fact, because you're all awesome (and because Wolfsinger Publications is awesome), you can use this code for a 25% discount on the issue: 9HW5GHYR. Tell 'em J.W. Alden sent ya.

This is the third time The Dragon Weeps has been published. I was planning to retire it after this one, but then Deborah Walker challenged me to sell it three more times. Well, I've never been one to back down from a challenge.