Spawn of Mars
Don't worry. If you like your religion, you can keep your religion.
Sundry & Motley
As of September
Sunday, September 6, 2020 6:59 pm
So I finished the fourth Hamlin Becker story, that epilogue of sorts to An Uncommon Day at the Lake. I had hoped to make it a succinct 4K words. As it is, it's 5.3K. That's still shorter than the last two (which are ~10K each) and below the pulp standard of 6K (which I regularly exceed). I think it is also fairly succinct in any event. It is entitled His Own Ends.

This means I might have two stories in StoryHack in 2021. Assuming there are enough issues planned. And that the editor likes them both. Which he will. Because they're great.

What annoys me about my writing "process," such as it is, are the numerous, unproductive periods. 

I finished Uncommon Day at the end of April. I found it impossible to make headway on His Own until July. Then, somehow, I started writing; but even then, I didn't finish until August was gone. Two months down; two months up. Four months to get out 5K words.

The horrible thing is, the down times seem necessary. They are, at least, inevitable. No, I am not "recuperating" or "recharging." I'm just lounging. And my will is empty. Until it's not. And then... not suddenly, but with a certain useful steadiness, I manage to write a complete tale.

So now, having finished His Own Ends, do I have months of nothing ahead? Probably.

Since Cirsova is apparently not an option for 2021, and I've already got two possibilities for StoryHack, and Stupefying Stories seems to be dying (and my two stories, already accepted by them, may revert to me unpublished), I don't precisely have any successful markets to target in the short term. Not having to write for specific markets, I am going to let my next story be rather... whatever I want. Just some idyllic SF. No pulp, no action, no thrills, no nothing but what pleases me. This is a kind of freedom, to be sure. I'm looking forward to it.

The drag of it is, I still have to do some planning and such. I really would like to free-form it and just write. But I decided decades ago that, whatever stream of thought I might indulge, there still has to be a story of some sort. A plot. Or at least a point. Hence the tedious preliminaries...

It should be cool, though. It's about a man who decides to produce some good, like maple syrup, except not that. His community resides above the surface of a neutron star. The inhabitants of the star, akin to spirits, maintain the livable fragments above. The story is a kind of journal, about his not-maple-syrup endeavors and his benign clashes with his neighbors and local government. It's idyllic. A summer in the life of his family.

I don't expect to sell it to anyone. I just want to write it.

I haven't done a very good job avoiding Twitter. It's not so much that I want something to read (however piecemeal), although there is that; it's more that I am so bored. If nothing else, Twitter provides stimulus. Still, I've been cold turkey for a day. Ha! I may avoid it for a time...

Sundry & Motley
As of August
Friday, August 7, 2020 1:40 pm
I wrote to Alex, the editor of Cirsova, and confirmed that Cirsova's plans and budget for 2021 leave no room for my story The Impossible Footprint. I wouldn't have asked Alex so pointedly, except he had tweeted that he was only going to invite contributors — no open submissions, that is — and I needed to know my chances. What a shame! I still think it's perfect for Cirsova.

So now I am going to send it through the rejection mill. Maybe Cirsova will take it for 2022. Or maybe it will be a little masterpiece kept in a drawer. 

Submissions for StoryHack will likely open, as I expected, in the fall. I've got An Uncommon Day at the Lake, the third Hamlin Becker tale, ready to go. It's funny how much I am presuming my story will be accepted. I don't usually operate with such hope. But having had two Becker tales published in StoryHack, my hope is not unwarranted.

As I have mentioned, my productivity of late has been contemptible. In the past couple of weeks I have finally started writing again. It's another Becker tale, but pithier. I am targeting no more than 4,000 words, in four tight chapters. One thrilling fight and out. The sisters Day are not even in it, except as troubles in Becker's thoughts. It's a kind of epilogue to Uncommon Day and a transition to another, perhaps too ambitious, Becker novella — or novel, should I dare!

Anyhow, this new short, as yet untitled, might be finished before StoryHack's fall submissions close. That is, maybe I can get two Becker tales published in 2021.

It's true what they say. Reading Twitter agitates and depresses the reader. At first I was getting that nice flow of thoughts that even busy blogs can't match. But the times are far too infuriating. I have been mourning the Republic and my people for years, but now I am certain we are truly finished. We are passing through the greatest history. And I don't need Twitter to remind me of the coming end.

I'm retaining my Twitter account but, like many people, I am stepping away. I'll use it for announcements only (and maybe to carefully track Cirsova and StoryHack).

One frustrating aspect of my (now ended) recourse to the Twitter Timeline was that I just wanted something to read. Gads, it has been hard to find good fiction. I've been enjoying the pulp magazines well enough, but stories are hit and miss, even in good mags like Cirsova and StoryHack. Besides, I really wanted a book.

I have a lot of samples on my Kindle. The other night I brutally started reading through them. If I didn't like a thing right away, I erased it (from device and cloud). In some ways that's unfair. I never forget that I was initially bored by Crime and Punishment and had to give it another, later attempt. But then I was young. Wow me now, because I will be dead soon!

Anyhow, I found something that may be really good. We'll see. If nothing else, a nice read surely helps with my mood. Even my will to write is increased.

Cirsova Summer Special 2020 Is Out!
Read My Story in It!
Thursday, May 14, 2020 3:53 pm
The annual Summer Special of Cirsova Magazine is here!

Buy it on Amazon (to give the publisher money). Review it on Amazon (to increase its rank). Read my story The Fourth Gift and be amazed by my wonderfullestness. Go, now!

P.S. From Twitter, here's a gratifying review of my story.
Rarely does one come across a story both intellectually brilliant and artistically beautiful. The Fourth Gift by DAVID SKINNER is absolutely one of that. A meditation on immortality, humanity, science, and struggle, it’s both a dense read and one utterly worthwhile.
StoryHack #6 Is Out
Read My Story in It!
Wednesday, April 1, 2020 1:53 pm
The latest issue of StoryHack is here! And it contains the second Hamlin Becker tale!

Buy it on Amazon (to give the publisher money). Review it on Amazon (to increase its rank). Read my story Due a Hanging and be amazed by my excellentivity. Go, now!

P.S. Canada speaks! A reader from Canada, in reviewing this issue of StoryHack, has this to say about my offering:
David Skinner wrote a punchy and brilliant story in Due a Hanging. Giving the reader just enough information to tug them along and explain his world, you get a strong feeling for the web of revenge closing in, and the tension of the events. A terrific example of show don't tell.
Thanks, Canada!
A Happy Year, Indeed
News of Story Submissions
Sunday, December 1, 2019 5:10 pm
Cirsova Magazine has accepted my outstanding story The Fourth Gift, which will appear in the 2020 Summer Special. I really wanted to get into Cirsova, just as I wanted to get into StoryHack and Stupefying Stories. Hurrah!

With this, I have sold every story I have written since I retired from my day job three years ago. Yes, that is only seven stories; but none of them will die in my drawer, unread. And considering that I sold zero stories in all the years before 2017, those seven will do nicely. (To be sure I had some success with juvenile books in the 1990s; but only now are my grown-up stories succeeding.)

Now to finish An Uncommon Day at the Lake (the 3rd Hamlin Becker tale). And after that? I have some ideas...
Christmas Greetings from People I Don't Know
Antique Postcards, a Century On
Saturday, November 30, 2019 5:56 pm
As I mentioned in a post in 2017, for Christmas I decorate my mantle with antique postcards. I bought these from boxes in antique shops. Since it is now properly after Thanksgiving, I have now placed my Christmas decorations; and for fun I present to you a couple of those postcards. 

Postmarked December 27, 1915

Master Charles Schoonover, Argosy, Ind., P.O.B. 82.

Dear Buddie; We arrived here in Chicago alright last night. We are going down town today[.] Am going to buy you your muff[.] Maybe[.] Love Helen

Happy New Year

You must be a good boy Buddie, + Helen will bring you some things + your muff. Best Love + Kisses to Mama + Papa

Postmarked December 23, 1920

Mr. and Mrs. Ernest C. Stiles, Milan, N.H. R.F.D. #1

Well folks how do you do this Winter and how is Dwight? Does he walk alone yet? I would like to see all of you very much[.] Do you have a Xmas tree at the school house this year? Hasn't this been a fine Winter so far? A good many are going with autos yet. Suppose you are just as busy as ever, on the jump all the time. Would like to hear some selections on the piano tonight, it would sound pretty good to me. With love from Ina


It's amusing how Helen is focused on a muff for Buddie. A muff she may or may not purchase! Was Helen Buddie's big sister? An aunt?

Ina has more to say than Helen. I'm not sure what she means by "A good many are going with autos yet." I think I'm missing a meaning of "yet." Is she saying that a lot of people are driving cars? Or not driving, because of the winter weather? I really like the phrase "on the jump all the time." Ina's thoughts are appropriately scattered for a missive on a postcard. I'd like to hear some selections on a piano myself; and I enjoy the image of little Dwight walking alone at last.

Planetary Pluto Is Out
Read My Story in It!
Friday, November 29, 2019 4:33 pm
After an unfortunate delay (which even included a change in publisher), the Pluto anthology is finally out.

Buy it on Amazon (to give me and the publisher money). Review it on Amazon (to increase its rank). Read my story Ambit of Charon and be amazed by my geniusness. Go, now!

P.S. Sadly there's a "typesetting" problem, in that all my italics are shown as underlines. This was caught in proof but not corrected. A proper version should come out someday, but over that I have no control. For now please infer italics.
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