Saturday, 6 January 2018

Taking Stock at the Two Year Milestone

January 7th, on the Australian side of the dateline, is the anniversary of my beginning my campaign of submission to the short fiction market, and it’s an interesting exercise to compare figures with the first year.

After 730 days I have made a total of 750 submissions, 449 in the second year. I have a total of 41 placements, 32 falling in the second year. Currently I have 76 stories on submission, my record being 81. I have 633 rejections (392 in the last year), therefore my ratio of rejections to acceptances is running at 15.44:1 across the board, or a 6.47% acceptance factor from the beginning. For year two alone, the ratio is 12.25:1 or 8.16%. Both of these figures are way up from data one year ago (3.73%).

Averages can be misleading, but are interesting to consider. Average time between acceptances in the first year was 40.5 days. Given that there was only one acceptance in the first eight months of effort, you can see how meaningless this figure really is; in the last four months of the year, considered separately, it drops to 15.25. In the second year it ran at 11.4 days per acceptance, while both years taken together return a value of 18.8. That long dead spell in year one constantly skews the data. In absolute figures, during this last year time has varied between a maximum of 38 days to a minimum of less than one day.
I have scored four Honourable Mentions in the Writers of the Future Contest before becoming ineligible by qualifying as a professional – I now have seven placements paying US 6c/word or better.

Productivity has risen in some ways at a corresponding rate, while falling in others. In calendar year 2017 I completed 62 stories, ten more than the previous year, for a total annual word count of 247, 782 words (49, 999 words less than in 2016). I currently have 147 stories registered at The Submission Grinder.

As with last year, I can say the future holds a lot more of the same, maintaining pressure in every possible way, perhaps including some screen writing work, journalism and other areas, plus developing my presence with a number of titles – I have appeared twice with Flame Tree Publishing, twice with Compelling Science Fiction, twice with Phantaxis, and three times with Lovecraftiana, and improving on those numbers would be an excellent goal. I have penetrated the pro end of the market more successfully than I dared hope a year ago, and the third year will be an intensification of every aspect. There are times this is a seven-day-a-week job. My one thousandth submission will occur later this year, a milestone in its own right.

Stay tuned for developments!

Cheers, Mike Adamson

Friday, 5 January 2018

In Print, January 2018 (and Progress)

Here’s one that’s been in the works a long time. I placed my SF short Critical Need with the UK magazine Kzine on October 20th 2016 – it was my fourth sale. They said at the time it was a long lead-time situation, but that was fine, and here it is at last, in their twentieth edition, releasing on January 27th for Kindle and POD.

Will update with direct links when the issue comes available.

Also, my SF short "Colour Therapy" has been shortlisted with NewMyths -- I should know in the months ahead if I have a placement.

A further update: my "Middle Stars" story The One that is All has been accepted by Outposts of Beyond for their July edition – links when they come available!

And my "Middle Stars" piece "The Lost Empire" has passed third-readers at Andromeda Spaceways and entered the short-list pile – again, news in the proverbial couple of months.

Updating with the latest: my horror piece "If Thine Eye Offend Thee" is shortlisted with Binge Watching Cure: Horror Edition, and my "Middle Stars" story One Shot Kill has placed with the anthology series Spring Into SciFi 2018.

Cheers, Mike Adamson

Sunday, 31 December 2017

A Nice Start to the Year

January 1st, staring a whole new calendar year, and it’s seven days until I hit the two year milestone for this writing enterprise. What better way to kick off the New Year than a nice pro placement?

I’ve been angling for a slot with Daily SF, one of the well-respected professional markets, for a long time, and I’m delighted to say they’ve picked up a flash piece I wrote just recently, Revelations. Not sure when it’ll be scheduled, there are some formalities to square away as always, but I couldn’t be happier – here’s a market I’ve long had great respect for, and I’ll be featuring in their listings in the not too distant future.

Access info when it becomes available!

Cheers, Mike

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Building a “Brag Shelf” (and Progress)

Nobody likes a braggart, but sometime you just can’t help it, and given the difficulty of finding your way into print a writer is forgiven a certain pride in the finished product. So when your placed stories see print and the contributor copies come in (or you buy them, depending on the contract) you find the collection expanding a book at a time.

And yes, there is a great deal of personal satisfaction to be had when you look at the shelf and know your work is in each title from there to there, and more to come. The photo shows my current print anthologies and magazines, and there are more on their way – three volumes of Lovecraftiana, Phantaxis #7, a second Flame Tree anthology due I think in April, Mind Candy Vol. 1, an annual-best-of from Misfit Stories, and doubtless others as time goes by. I’ll update the brag shelf here as it gets more impressive!

In latest news, my current submission to Andromeda Spaceways has passed first readers, so I’ll be watching in a few weeks in the hopes it passes second readers and joins the short-list pool.

And today I scored a placement with Kferrin for my fantasy flash piece The Cursed Throne, one of my “Avestium” stories, the third to place. This is full pro, on a very generous rate.

Season’s cheer to all, and here’s hoping for a great New Year!


Sunday, 10 December 2017

What the Heck is a Pecamoid?

Language drifts over time, spellings alter, expressions change their meaning, but some words leave the vocabulary altogether and sometimes we come across words whose meaning is not at all clear.

I was recently researching for an historical – a straight adventure yarn set in Holmesian London, 1900, late in the Victorian age, full of peasoup fog, horse traction, pollution and gaslight, and was lucky enough to come across the holy grail of locational research tools, “georeferenced maps” in the collection of the National Library of Scotland. Researchers turned up a highly detailed survey of London produced in the middle years of the last decade of the 19th century, and the charts were digitally cleaned up and stitched together to form a continuous scrolling map of unprecedented detail.

This is the Limehouse region of the East End, as it looked when Holmes and Watson were at large.

This amazing resource offers London as it was, surveyed between 1893 and 1896, at the enormous scale of five feet to the mile – fine enough to chart individual trees and the stair cases of large buildings. The real value is that it is a glimpse of the London that no longer exists, because when this period map is overlaid on a modern map to the same scale (which the online tool provides, with a slider bar to move between then and now as degrees of transparency) the redevelopments of the last hundred years, including rebuilding after the Blitz, are all too apparent. Whole streets and section are relaid – ancient street names still exist and main thoroughfares remain, but side streets, whole blocks, are gone, and names reappear on streets moved significantly from their historic location. The appalling terrace houses where labourers lived are gone utterly, as are the industries in which they worked, where lead smelters and iron foundries, rubber and other chemical works lay, literally, across the street from schools and homes. There was no notion of the effects of pollution, or, if there was, it was dismissed as the lot of the poor compelled to endure it.

            I selected the locality for my story in Limehouse – there had to be a Far East connection – and walked the area by scrolling the map. Amazing to see every street, house, shop, factory, church and pub, barely a stone of which still exists! But there, fronting the Regent Canal, one factory among many, close to the “Salvation Army Barracks,” is marked on the map: “Pecamoid Works.” The term is baldly given, as if an every day term everyone should know.
            I have a pretty wide vocabulary, and at least one obscure term suggested itself to me, but I did it the usual way and Googled the word – no hits. The word seemed to be gone from the language, and it took a more detailed search to find even oblique reference in the texts of volumes. One reference was in fact back to the map, therefore of no use, but another was to an agricultural trade publication of 1921 – not the volume itself, but an online archiving of a crude and uncorrected optical character recognition pass of it. The word appeared in the context of “Naval pecamoid coats” in association with supplies for pig farmers, and that was the clue.
            “Pecarry” is an old word for some species of pig, and it would appear that “pecamoid” was a 19th century term for pigskin treated to become waterproof. Therefore that factory was a specialist tannery. I’m pretty sure of the deductive pathway, but the paucity of information leaves room for doubt, and as the merest passing mention in the narrative it warrants no further attention. Maybe one day I’ll confirm or refute this curious bit of fluff.
            It’s interesting what old documents turn up; it certainly underlines the difference 120 years can make, even in a modern metropolis whose great landmarks have been unchanging for centuries. The small details are in constant flux, and over time whole regions shift in character. All the filthy industry of the old East End is gone as if it never was, the docklands have become trendy marinas for up-market types who work in towers in The City, and the character of London has evolved as surely as the language.
            For those seeking the hard facts of the topography of London in the era of Conan Doyle, HG Wells and their contemporaries, this map is a go-to source. I used it for a number of details in the current project, and fully expect to use it in future to chart the course of action on streets that once were, but are long gone to the march of progress.

Here are some period photos of the Limehouse dock region as it was around the turn of the last century, the sort of world I'm trying to evoke in prose. The picture at top is an aerial view taken around 1928 of the Regent Docks, with the Regent Canal heading off obliquely at upper left – that's where the action happens.

Cheers, Mike Adamson

Friday, 1 December 2017

In Print, December 2017 (and Progress)

Another post in quick succession, this is feeling like the old days in 2016!

My story Hostile Intent is now available as Compelling Science Fiction #10 goes live at Kindle for purchase, and here’s a direct read link for the site.

This is my second story with the magazine and my fourth pro placement. It’s wonderful to see material go out on the upper end of the market!

The situation with Alban Lake re Stalking Nemesis is under review, it may have been a simple admin glitch. Plus, they’re also looking at a novella from me, so fingers crossed there.

74 stories out at the moment, and over the last three days I have written a “flash triptych,” three short stories which, despite standing alone individually, describe an arc of events for their protagonist. I’m hopeful of selling them all of a piece at some point, maybe to Daily SF.

Updates as they happen,

Cheers, Mike Adamson

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

In Print, November 2017 (and Progress)

It seem a bit late in the month to be doing a what’s-in-print piece, but there are a couple of announcements to make.

First up, my “Middle Stars” short story The Eternals is now available in Phantaxis #7, this is my second placement with this excellent title from Canada. Click the link to go to their Amazon page for ebook or print editions.

Uprising Review published a third short from me, Naevus, which you can read online here.

A third piece was due out this month, my vampire story Stalking Nemesis in the Alban Lake title Bloodbond, but the edition (released just before the Thanksgiving break) does not seem to feature my piece – I have inquired with the publishers as to the situation and will pass on any news as it comes available.

Further, I just received the go-ahead to promote my second placement with Flame Tree Publishing in London, the anthology Endless Apocalypse features my hard SF story Flight of the Storm God. This is another of my “Post-Habitable Earth” group of stories, one of which appeared in the anthology Ecotastrophe II. Click the link for their blog entry announcing the contents. I’m totally thrilled with this, as the Flame Tree product is truly spectacular, and of course at full pro level.

I have a couple of short-listings in play, my story “Salazar’s Flying Emporium” is short-listed at Pulp Literature, a pro market, while “The Value of Meaningless Malaise” is short-listed with The Overcast, my fourth such hold/pending with that title.

Compelling Science Fiction (pro) have picked up a second story from me, Hostile Intent, which is due out in December – news as it breaks!

I currently have 39 placements. I have written seven stories in the month of November – who knows, I may write an extra flash today to round it up to eight!

Cheers,  Mike Adamson