Spawn of Mars
Blog of Fictioneer David Skinner
Characters and a situation are a story only if by the end something changes or something is revealed.
Mermaids & Termites
As of July
Monday, July 15, 2024 3:40 pm
Finally, an update. 

Last July, after I finished Motive of Man for Cirsova, I fell into my usual post-partum inactivity. And I'll be honest, when Motive of Man was rejected I was a tad demoralized, even if it was rejected for reasons practical, not aesthetic.

Still, the sheer duration of my subsequent inactivity was a little unusual. I simply, emphatically did not want to write.

Only the nearing of the next Cirsova cycle charged me up at all. Luckily, I had a manageable short I could write in time. I started it in June (maybe late May). It's done. I'm down to the scattered, word-level tweaks.

It's called 'Twas Bato Did It. Stylistically it's the same old me, and it's hardly realism (unless the gods are real), but it is empty of all science fiction. Hardly unprecedented for me, but rare.

It's lighthearted but not a comedy or spoof. It is set in the Roman Empire. Thankfully it's only 4.5K words, so there should be no practical barriers this time.

To say I've been "inactive" these past months, while true as regards "production of new fiction," is untrue as regards my "career." You may have heard I had a Kickstarter this past June. Then again, given the response to it, maybe you didn't hear.

It was my first and I really misjudged and miscalculated a lot. I had been monitoring other Kickstarters and thought I had some handle on what I should do and how it would play out.

Not so much.

In the end I fell just short of breaking even. One could call that "not a failure," in that, without the Kickstarter, I would have been even more in the red on Volume 3 of Stellar Stories. But of course the Kickstarter created its own costs, which would not have otherwise existed.

What was most disappointing is that, even with wonderful boosts from significant Twitter friends, I only got 15 backers (17 if you count two relatives). I didn't expect 100. But 15 is sad.

The only consolation is that, contrary to my expectations, the majority of sales were for the Omnibus hardcover. Not the most profitable item for me, but it's a wonderful product (not least in its content, of course), and 10 people will henceforth possess it.

And I am grateful for those 15 backers.

I am unlikely to do another Kickstarter. While I surely have no data on why people passed me over, I am confident that my lack of a following as an author is to blame.

You can do all you can in the writing and the marketing, but if no one already likes you as an author — as a guy shitposting on the internet — your books will not be of interest.

And I am never going to get a following. It's not in my nature to cultivate an internet presence. The whole business makes me anxious, just as does cultivating my real-life presence. There's a reason I have no wife and no friends and no following. I am what I am.

Volume 3 of Stellar Stories, though it sold no copies through my Kickstarter, will still be released some time soon; likely in September. It's really good with a nifty cover. It's visible under My Works.

It contains Motive of Man, by the way, and one of my best Chandlers in Space: Hamlin Becker #5, A Devil's Intuition.

Yes, I am still planning Hamlin Becker #6, the untitled novella (or novel!). That's next. Assuming my post-partum period after 'Twas Bato Did It does not last indefinitely.

And if you're curious about there ever being a Volume 4 of Stellar Stories... Nothing is planned. I literally have nothing worthy that isn't now collected. What of 'Twas? Not sure. I write so slowly that to get the ~eight stories for another volume will take me four or five years minimum.

Like and subscribe and we'll see what happens together.

Silence & Starsong Fall 2023 Is Out!
Read My Story in It!
Friday, December 1, 2023 2:40 pm
The latest issue of Silence & Starsong Magazine is here! And it contains a story by me!

Buy it on Amazon (to give the publisher money). Review it on Amazon (to increase its rank). Read my story "Lament for a Sister" and be amazed by my creatitude.

Go, now!
Mermaids & Termites
As of September
Wednesday, September 6, 2023 11:28 am
So Motive of Man was rejected by Cirsova. Turns out that its length (twice normal maximum) was disqualifying after all. That's OK. I was presuming on Alex in the first place and he is always on the edge regarding space and budget.

I'm still sad. I like Cirsova and it would have been nice to be published by them for a fifth year. 

Since Motive of Man is unsuitable for most other magazines and most magazines are not expeditious like Cirsova, I'm not going to mire Motive of Man in submission purgatory.

So a little remaking of plans!

I'm going to include Motive of Man in Stellar Stories Vol. 3. And I'm not just channeling my inner Pollyana when I say this will make the volume even better.

Thus I will not be including Motive of Man as a bonus story in the final Hamlin Becker book. I was looking forward to that. I was imagining an Ace Double, as of old!

But making the Becker tale solitary has prompted me to go full novel on it. I don't know if I'll manage that length. It will likely still end up being a novella. Either way, I'm not going to approach it as a "long-short" story.

In general I'm not going to bother submitting stuff in the coming months. If StoryHack revives, sure. But otherwise I'll just concentrate on Becker.

That said, Silence & Starsong has opened for their Fall issue and, somewhat on a lark, I have submitted Lament for a Sister. That one's an odd one. Strictly speaking it has a tragic ending, but the import (I think) is not nihilistic. Silence & Starsong hates nihilism and loves God. Since Lament for a Sister is pro-God, maybe its essence as a lament will not be disqualifying!

Silence & Starsong is not a paying venue yet. Normally I want to be paid, because an author should get paid. But I support Silence & Starsong and publication by them will be nice on my curriculum vitae.

My gaming computer was originally built in 2011, using hardware that had released in 2010. Within the past few years I upgraded modestly with an SSD and a 2019 video card. I was still running Windows 7.

This year, however, I officially dropped below the minimum requirements for all upcoming games, most especially regarding my OS. I've been so indifferent to most new games that I really didn't care, but all of a sudden too many alluring games are out there and, well, time to rebuild!

The rebuild was both exciting — it's neat to finally have an on-board M.2 SSD! — and terrifying — I chose a CPU cooling tower, not just a stock fan, and I had to apply my own thermal paste and construct the tower and it's so easy to wrack my nerves...

Anyhow, it all worked out. I'm on Windows 11 with a current board and CPU, as well as more and faster RAM. I had already future-proofed my PSU (850W), and my original card and case are still good.

My internet speed is still atrocious, however: literally ~1GB an hour. Luckily all the games I want are through Steam and with Steam you can install on one PC and easily transfer to another, so my nephew (his home having proper internet speed) is installing my games on his PC and I'll port them back to my home with a pocket SSD.

So what games prompted my rebuild? Warhammer 40K Boltgun; Shadow Gambit; Remnant II; and... yes, Starfield. I know Starfield will be janky and woke, but honestly, I so enjoy the Skyrim and Fallout games that I'm just taking the plunge. I think I will pretend that I am not exploring a future humanity but some sort of conglomeration of alien and distasteful worlds. I will imagine myself a rogue, an outsider, a curmudgeon, a representative of some forgotten realm. I will ally with no one and steal everyone's stuff. Haha!

I'm also looking forward to getting Space Marine 2 in December and STALKER 2 next spring. I may be too old to play all these games to completion but, hey. Onward I go.

Despite my earlier statement about submitting stuff, and granting my honest disinclination to re-enter the submission grind, I think I might write something for Stupefying Stories #28. They're looking for hard-hard SF. I probably won't get in before they fill up, but I haven't written hard SF in forever, if ever, and it might be an amusing exercise. I'm somehow not ready for the Becker book anyhow, and a quick short story might slot in well with all my vidya these coming weeks.

Mermaids & Termites
As of August
Saturday, August 5, 2023 2:45 pm
Hoorah! I finished the second Hak Iri story Motive of Man and submitted it to Cirsova.

I started it near the start of 2022 and stalled at 1k words. I wrote little more until this past May. I had hoped to keep it to a reasonable length of 10k words, but I ended at 14.5k. Cirsova does publish novelettes, so I haven't disqualified myself. 

I'm very happy with it. I managed to give it a decent love element, even if it's primarily an adventure. There's a touch of my usual discursive philosophy, too. The varied aspects do account for its length!

There's even a complete poem (one that uses the rhyme scheme I learned from Pushkin's Eugene Onegin). Including the poem may have been a terrible self-indulgence, but the narrator is ostensibly a poet, so hey. It serves the love story in a hefty way, I think.

Fear not. There are mecha-men with blastors, too.

As I've mentioned before, whether or not Cirsova accepts it, Motive of Man will find its final publication paired with the sixth and ultimate Hamlin Becker tale, in a sort of postscript book to the Stellar Stories trilogy.

My first Hak Iri story was, of course, The Impossible Footprint, published by Cirsova and re-published in my Stellar Stories Vol. 2. When I first thought to continue Nictzin Dyalhis's Venhez stories (see here), I didn't know how far I'd get. Two is more than zero and maybe a third will happen.

I've had fun developing the mythology (the Lords & Ladies stuff is mine, not Dyalhis's) and I've especially enjoyed fleshing out the characters.

The precedent of Dyalhis's purple prose has also allowed me to employ a rather purple style of my own. It's a shame I need the excuse of "precedence," though. Purple is pleasing. But I guess I'll be more restrained in other stories, haha!

While I have an idea for a third Hak Iri story, of course my priority is the sixth Hamlin Becker story. Since that already has the weight of at least a novella, I'm going to write it a little differently.

Thus far the Becker stories have been rather from Becker's POV. There is some divergence from this, but not a lot. In the new story, while I won't be doing explicit POV changes, I will be narrating things that Becker is not a part of. It will mostly be a step up to 3rd-person omniscient, I guess.

I need to do this because so many threads are coming together and situating Becker in every thread would be impossible.

Now I just have to get over my postpartum lassitude from Motive of Man...

From the get-go I've wanted to use different artists for the covers of Stellar Stories. For a while I had a hard time finding the right artist for Volume 3. This week I got lucky. The Fiverr search presented an artist I hadn't seen before. He took the gig and the art is done!

When I got the final art for Volume 2, I didn't have to contain my excitement for very long. I was able to share the art right away, since Volume 2 came out right away. The release of Volume 3 is, for various reasons, months away. You'll have to wait! But trust me: You'll like it.

If you're here you've probably already bought Volume 2 of Stellar Stories. If not, why don't you grab it now? It's really good! Go here...

Mermaids & Termites
As of March
Saturday, March 25, 2023 4:56 pm
Milestones aplenty! And a direction set?

Cirsova Spring 2023 has been published with my story "The Unshrouded Stars." Sidearm & Sorcery Vol. 2 has been published with my story "The Baron of Nevada & His Branded Broads." My own Stellar Stories Vol. 2 has been published with... well, a bunch of my own stories.

I've created eBooks and paperbacks for my other previously released books, variously at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Lulu. You can check out My Works page for all of those.

The contents of Stellar Stories Vol. 3 have been set. It will not be released for a while. First, I just released Vol. 2. Second, I have to get a cover illustration. Third, two of the stories are under exclusivity clauses. Fourth, I hope to get one or two more of them published (please, StoryHack, arise!), and that will create more exclusivity delays.

The real significance of Vol. 3 is that, with it, all my extant SF&W stories will have a home. There is nothing for a Vol. 4.

So what are my plans?

I will probably someday publish versions of my two juvenile novellas, The Wrecker and Noah, Penny. I regained my rights to The Wrecker last year. But these are not a priority.

Short-term I am going to finish Motive of Man for Cirsova's upcoming August submission window. Simultaneously I will be ramping up to write the ultimate Hamlin Becker novella, what will technically be #6 in the series. It might even achieve novel length. Either way, this work — and not a Vol. 4 — will be my next book. It is likely that Motive of Man, whether or not it ends up in Cirsova, will be a "bonus" tale in the Hamlin Becker book. To give it a home, you see, since a Vol. 4 will not exist.

It is not impossible that an opportunity for writing another short for somebody will come up and extra bonus tales will manifest. But Motive of Man and Hamlin Becker #6 are my only goals for now.

Long-term fans know that I have an unfinished novel called The Remnant. This has been idle for years, apart from an occasional enhancement. In a hopeful frame of mind I have listed it under my "Other Works" in all my published books. However, it may not be finished before I pass from this vale. Sad, I guess. But who knows? In any event, it is officially not a priority.

Long-term fans also know that my plans never seem to hold, precisely. Yet the completionist feel to Vol. 3 has truly focused me, somehow.

Stay tuned, as they say.
Stellar Stories Vol.2 Is Out
Read It Now!
Friday, March 24, 2023 11:55 am
The second volume of my collected science fiction & wonder stories has been released! Some stories are new. Some have been previously published in, for example, StoryHack and Cirsova.

Available in different formats at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Lulu. Synopses, samples, and links are here.

P.S. Hey, buy the ebook and the paperback. They're not expensive, as these things go. Buy, read, and be amazed by my masterfulosity!
Sidearm & Sorcery Vol.2 Is Out
Read My Story in It!
Wednesday, March 22, 2023 6:26 pm
The second volume of Sidearm & Sorcery is here! And it contains a story by me!

Buy it to give me and the publisher money. Review it to increase its rank. Read my story "The Baron of Nevada & His Branded Broads" and be amazed by my greatillousness.

Go, now!
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Silence & Starsong #2
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