In Which I Announce Unidentified Funny Objects, Volume 8!

In May, I had a short story accepted to the annual science fiction and fantasy humor anthology, Unidentified Funny Objects. Currently in its eighth year, UFO has featured a lot of famous writers, and this year it features such luminaries as David Gerrold (he created the Tribbles for Star Trek) Jodie Lynn Nye (who’s published more than 50 books) and of course Esther Friesner, who has probably written more humorous short stories than Alexander Hamilton wrote essays.

When I submitted the story, I wasn’t expecting to have my story be the first one in the book. But there it is, doing its duty to make a first impression. “The 10:40 Appointment at the NYC Department of Superhero Registration” starts the volume off, followed by 23 more lighthearted romps. There’s grandmotherly golems, cybernetic cats, a daring quest inside the living room couch, and more.

The book is now available in print and Kindle, and it seems to be getting a bit of acclaim on Goodreads (for some reason, there aren’t nearly as many Amazon reviews as of this writing).

From my desk to yours. (The cyber-cat-burglars are on page 133.)

“The 10:40 Appointment” follows the hapless Dr. Amir al-Madani, a newly-empowered vigilante who gave up his job in the United Arab Emirates and moved to New York to fight crime. Problem is, New York is full of superheroes, so the Department of Superhero Registration is basically that cantina in Star Wars except with more teenage deities and nuclear-powered mutants. Amir’s only superpower is regeneration, which is really the worst power to bring to the heroic equivalent of the DMV.

Why? Because to register his super-ness, he’s got to demonstrate its capabilities in a road test… which, for regeneration, means a proctor in power armor beats the living snot out of him.

Amir triumphs… but not in the way you might expect. The story is goofy, but it also tries to encapsulate a lesson about what makes a real hero. I’m pretty proud of the story, so by all means, check it out here:

Unidentified Funny Objects, vol. 8, on Amazon.

“The 10:40 Appointment” is not my only light-and-fluffy superhero short story. Keen-eyed observers of this site may note that I’ve had heroes on the brain for a few months. I’ve actually got five or six stories in the works, all in the same universe as “The 10:40 Appointment.” None are quite ready for prime time yet: they’re all in various stages of creation, editing, and submission to various magazines and markets. If any of them score a bullseye, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, check out the book for a laugh, and if you like it, feel free to leave a review. And kids, remember to drink your milk, because someday your superpowers might depend on it.

Excelsior!

In Which I Announce Something New For a Change

After about six months of unemployment and about seven months of no new writing-related news, I felt like I was hitting a wall. I fully expected my wife to break into that song from the School of Rock musical, “Give Up Your Dreams,” but of course she stayed super supportive. Then, finally, in the same week, I got two bits of good news.

The first bit of news is that I have another video game gig. It’s slated to take 8-10 weeks, so by the time you read this, I will hopefully be shaved, dressed, and reporting in to a source of gainful employment. I don’t think I’m free to talk about the details yet, but hey, maybe this game will go somewhere, and take us along for the ride.

The second bit of news has been cleared by the publisher as good to go for social media announcement. I’ve got a short story accepted by the comedy science fiction and fantasy anthology series “Unidentified Funny Objects.”

UFO is an anthology with a nice pedigree. Apparently it has had stories from George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and (to my complete lack of surprise) the Hamster Queen herself, Esther Friesner. I don’t know if any of those three are in this year’s volume (the submissions are still being edited), but I’m stoked about it nonetheless.

The story that got accepted was “The 10:40 Appointment at the NYC Department of Superhero Registration,” which is a brief look into one story at the hero equivalent of the Department of Motor Vehicles, because frankly there’s so many of them nowadays that they can take a number. It makes a strong argument why regeneration is the worst superpower to have… and also, the best.

Unidentified Funny Objects #8 has a theoretical launch date of sometime in October. When I know more, I’ll tell you.

Until then… up, up, and away.

In Which I Succumb to Capitalism but Not Despair

I’ve been holding off on this announcement for a while, but it’s really past time. My employer, Seasun Inc., had a bad quarter with one of its flagship products not doing as well as expected. That meant that upper management had to cut costs to show they were doing something, and that meant layoffs. I am now out on the street and looking for a day job.

It hasn’t been too rough a ride so far. I managed to score a contract gig for about a week with Otherside Entertainment, which took the edge off. I’ve also had lots of interviews and writing tests. This has led me to revise my Writing Tour page to include samples, since I’ve applied to everything from RPGs to interactive romance novels to trivia quiz games.

I’ve got a little routine going — during the day I search for a main job, and at night I write and submit short stories. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve got a few I’m sending out, with the intention being that the proceeds get put in a separate pot dedicated to financing the self-publishing of Civil Blood‘s sequel. Great plan, right?

Well, as with all plans, this one hasn’t really survived first contact with the enemy.

Selling short stories, to misquote Han Solo, ain’t like dusting crops. Many markets are closed to submissions except for certain times of the year. Then there’s the matter of taste, and the fact that I’m not bringing a bajillion readers to the table like some of my competition is. The long and short of it is, the stories haven’t sold yet.

So, what’s a writer to do? Well, the first step is to keep writing. I’ve got that down. Besides the three pieces I wrote about last time, I’m working on a story called “The Needs of the Client” which is meant to be more lighthearted superhero fare in the vein of “The 10:40 Appointment.” I could use some positivity about now, and I bet you could, too.

For the second step, I’m finally joining all the other pro freelancers who have set up a Ko-Fi button on their webpage. Ko-Fi is a service where a reader can effectively buy a writer a coffee via PayPal. It takes small donations of about $3.00 each. And since the website offers a spot to create goals, I hit upon the idea of trying to use Ko-Fi to finance my short story habit.

If I can raise enough money — not much, say, $50, a token payment of about $0.01 a word — through Ko-Fi, I’ll publish one of the short stories here on my website rather than continuing to submit it in the longer, slower process of traditional publishing. You get a story, I get closer to my goal, my website gets more content — everyone wins.

To recap, the stories I have kicking around are:

  • “Stopping the Bleeding,” an election-year story in the Civil Blood universe with a new protagonist.
  • “Infection in Everything,” a Civil Blood universe story about Infinity and the woman who taught her jiujutsu.
  • “The 10:40 Appointment at the NYC Department of Superhero Registration,” a lighthearted story about a would-be superhero fighting bureaucracy and enduring one heck of a road test.
  • “The Needs of the Client,” a story about what it’s like to work in an IT department when your client is a superhero group similar to the Justice League.

I should emphasize that I’m not on the brink of starvation over here, as many artists are. My immediate family are in decent health so far (knock on wood here until my hand breaks off). Honestly, if anything, I might survive the Coronapocalypse longer than some of the publications I’m submitting stories to, since some of their staff may have day jobs that can’t be done remotely. That’s no slam on them — it’s just part of the scary world we live in now.

But since the plan is to hunker down and never go outside, this seems like an opportune moment to get more writing done. And in case you’re a fan and want to see more of my work, I’ve now made it a bit easier to do so.

That’s all. I’m sure I’ll post more about the Black Plague of the 2000s in detail soon enough. Stay safe out there.