Monday, September 1, 2014

"Living Rooms" Reprinted in Galaxy's Edge #10

"Living Rooms" is a special story for me.  Part of it is because it was my first professional sale in the hugest way possible.  It won first place for its quarter in the Writers of the Future contest and went on to win the grand prize, which really does things to inspire confidence in a writer.

But I didn't write "Living Rooms" to win a contest.  I actually didn't have many expectations for it at all.

I wrote it while in a local writing workshop simply because I knew I would be too embarrassed to show up empty-handed for class, which required me to come up with somewhere between 500-2000 new words a week.  (Pocket change now, but it wasn't then.)  I didn't have much to start with other than a dream I'd had, where I had come home to find a strange wizard in the dream's version of my living room.

It wasn't my living room, but I knew it was mine and this wizard shouldn't be there.

Anyone who's read "Living Rooms" will recognize this was the opening of the story.  The villain, Morrin (then unnamed), was in the dream, as was James, the embodiment of the living room, though I changed the name of the room from "living room" to "parlor" to better fit with the time period.  I left a callback to it in the to the title though.

From the basic dream fragment, I drew out the rest of the story; why the magician was there, what was this magic house where the parlor came to life?

I had a lot of fun with it, and to my surprise, so did my fellow workshoppers.  It was a mixed group, not all of us were science fiction and fantasy fans, so when I realized that most of them really, really, liked the story, I realized I was on to something.  I had never had such a pleasant reaction from a crowd of strangers before.

Based off the comments from the workshop, I rewrote the story and ended up pretty happy with it.  I thought it was the best thing I'd ever written.  Which meant that I should submit it somewhere.

I noticed that Writers of the Future was going to end its Q4 submission period soon, so I stuffed it in a manila envelope (two quarters later they would allow e-subs) and then dropped it in the mail.

As they say, the rest is history.

From now until the end of October, "Living Rooms" will be available free online in Galaxy's Edge #10.  If you'd like a more permanent copy, it's also available as a stand alone ebook on Amazon, as part of Writers of the Future Vol 26, and as part of Galaxy's Edge #10, which is available both as an ebook and a very nicely printed paperback.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


My brother visited today and we talked about a lot of things as we cleaned up the family home. I enjoy having discussions with him, because he sees things a lot differently from the rest of the family and from my friends. And even though he's my younger brother, he's always looking out for me, making sure I'm taking care of myself; things like that.

Today after we were talking about retirement savings (we're not that old, but we're both in our 30s), he said something that I hadn't really thought about. He said, that what I've done with my life is remarkable. My day job is in the video game industry and I'm a published writer. I'm earning enough to pay for my home and I'm building a nest egg for retirement. I have never taken a job that was just "a job."

Well, he actually said, "a real job," but what he meant is that I didn't do something ordinary like become an accountant, something that might draw a paycheck even if one's heart wasn't in it. (I'm sure there are accountants who love their jobs, but we know one in particular who is definitely doing it just for the paycheck.)

I've been fortunate enough to have always been paid doing something that other people find entertaining and exciting.

Since this is the only life I live, I don't normally think about it, because it's what I do. I work with games in the day, and I write stories in the free time around that. I live in my house, and I diligently kick money into my retirement savings because that's the lesson my dad taught me when I got my first job out of college.

So today might not be anywhere near Thanksgiving, but I'm feeling grateful.

Monday, June 30, 2014

“The Wings The Lungs, The Engine The Heart” Now Available in Galaxy’s Edge #9

A hundred years ago, Europe plunged into a war variously called “The War to End All Wars,” the Great War, and more commonly now, World War I. Thinking about the war tends to conjure up images of the Western Front; men dying in trenches, and maybe a Christmas football game between soldiers of different countries.

But World War I also bought submarines to the seas and planes to the skies. There was still a bit of an old world chivalry to them; stories of submarine captains who still adhered to the old prize rules for the capturing of vessels so civilians would not be harmed, stories of pilots like Oswald Boelcke, who risked enemy fire to deliver a letter from two captured pilots so their families would know they were alive.

World War I, being a hundred years old, has been around long enough now that it feels like a story, and one that isn’t told nearly enough.

A hundred years ago, a newly minted cavalry lieutenant received his deployment orders. Though the cavalry would largely disappear as the war moved on, this lieutenant did not. He became a pilot, quite possibly the most famous pilot of all time. When all other names have vanished from memory, including his own, people will likely remember his sobriquet, the Red Baron.

My story “The Wings The Lungs, The Engine The Heart” is now online in Galaxy’s Edge #9. Would you like to meet him?