Classics, self-doubt, and encouragement

I’m part of a FB group that sells used F/SF books. Sometimes they have books by famous authors (e.g. Poul Anderson, C.J. Cherryh, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert) that I’ve never heard of. It started me thinking about the yardstick that I measure myself against as a writer.

I’ve read a lot of SF masterpieces over the years, books that have more or less survived the passage of time and become ‘classics’. Some of them are very, very good (even with time taking a toll). That’s the kind of books I want to write.

But it’s worth remembering that Nancy Kress and Asimov and Philip K. Dick and many other admirable writers didn’t just write classics. They wrote ordinary books as well–good or mediocre books that resonated with fewer readers.

When I get the crazy notion that I must write the next Dune or be the next f a i l u r e, I try to remember that the making of classics are beyond my ability to control. All I can do is write the best story I know.

That’s what my older idols did: They wrote. They grew as writers. And when that perfect story came along, the one that really made all the ideas gel into a masterpiece, they were ready for it.

Write? I can do that. And if I write something that’s less-than-classic along the way, then I’ll only be following in the footsteps of past masters.  

Read a few Issues – Daily Science Fiction

I’m constantly trying to figure out what kind of science fiction and fantasy stories are published right now, and which magazines would be a good match for my stories. For that purpose, I’ve been reading a lot of short stories. It seems a good idea to know your markets, and a lot of magazines have this sage advice in their guidelines: Read our magazine to find out what we’re publishing.

For this article, I’ve delved into one of my all-time favorite markets, Daily Science Fiction. DSF delivers free short stories to your inbox every weekday – five days a week, all year. Michele and Jonathan have kept the magazine going for many, many years, and I’ve read memorable stories there from old SF names and newcomers to the genre. I’ve even been lucky enough to publish two stories with them, Monsters Big and Small and Spores of Freedom.

In the beginning they published short stories up to 10,000 words, but right now they’ve put in a word cap at 1,500 words. I believe that the choice is at least partly financial. Recently, they sent out a call for more subscribers to keep the magazine going, and if there’s a magazine around that’s worth $15 a year, it’s DSF. Sure, you can get it for free, but then it may not be around for long. And really, fifteen United States Thalers for around 240 stories is a bargain. Go subscribe!

What they say about themselves

Rule number one about what to submit to a magazine is, follow the guidelines. DSF doesn’t say much, though:

Daily Science Fiction (DSF) is a market accepting speculative fiction stories from 100 to 1,500 words in length. By this we mean science fiction, fantasy, slipstream, etc. We will consider flash series–three or more flash tales built around a common theme.

This is the broadest possible invitation to submit, and I suspect the editors like it that way. This interview goes a bit deeper but it’s from 2011, and things have changed. The magazine started out publishing longer stories, but with the current word cap at 1,500 words, looking at what they actually publish seems a good idea.

What I’ve read

I’ve moved in the past month and not had much time for reading or writing, so it’s been nice to grab a piece of flash fiction from time to time.  I’ve looked closely at the DSF stories in September and October, but I recall reading many others over the years. The stories mentioned here were picked by random from days when I could find the time.

I’ve also discovered that it’s hard to accurately sum up very short stories. I’ll aim to keep the description vague rather than spoilerish, but the mission is still to capture the tone and gist of the story in a sentence or three.

The stories

The Modern Woman’s Guide to Navigating Your Transformation Into an Eldritch Horror of the Deep by Caroline Diorio

The story is just that: a guide to women transforming into eldritch horrors. How to sleep better, how to manage eating while you have strange cravings, what to do about sex. Advice column meets Lovecraftian fiction.  

Iron Priest by Marie Vibbert

The priest in question blesses killbots condemned to recycling. However, not all killbots are the carefree, unquestioning selves they used to be. The resulting story is an interesting look at free will and the consequences of choice. This one’s recommended.

Literary Cocktails by Preston Grassmann

In this bar, you get a book with your drink — good for easing newly erased minds. The world hinted at in this story is dystopian, and the hints themselves drive the story forward. The literary quotes add a certain bookish charm if you’re into that sort of thing.

Choices by Mari Ness

Would you rather have a beautiful bride in the light of day and hideous at night or the other way round? A classic fairy tale question. The answer depends on the man faced with the question, and that provides the new angle to an old dilemma.

Ten Secret Things You Don’t Know About Closet Monster by Susan Taitel

This story is what the title says it is. However, the list isn’t just comments on closet monsters, but on the world in general. The list also presents both a situation, a problem, and a resolution of sorts. In short, it’s a progressing story disguised as a list. This approach to list stories is typical of DSF, but I hadn’t quite read one like this one before.

Mothers and Sons by George Nikolopoulos

A future resistance movement sends the mother of a dictator back in time to kill her son. There are special rules for time travel, and those rules set the story a little apart from others of the same subgenre.

Out, Damned Virus by Henry Herz

This story about the current pandemic takes a page out of Macbeth.

Useful Guinevere and the Bio-Mechanical Dragons of Neptunias by Tina Connolly

Guinevere deNeptunias hunts dragons for a living on a planet set up by her ancestors to resemble the fairy tales of forgotten times. Usually things go as planned, but this time, of course, there’s a snag… The story comments on a lot of dragon hunting/princess/dark lord tropes. The story has a lot more worldbuilding than many of the other stories.

Intergalactic Negotiations by Joshua Fagan

The trouble of negotiating with an aggressive species when you don’t know what they want. Our MC has to find a solution. A classic science fiction setup with a problem and a solution.

By the Power of My Swipe by Laila Amado

When the setting is a stormy castle, my associations to the word ‘swipe’ in the title were those of a swinging blow or an animal claw. Well, in this case, it’s an evil wizard who has been doing the swiping of his own kind. A fantasy comment on… well, let’s not spoil that. But that comment is the charm of the story. (This is not a review, of course, but I recommend this story.)

Familiar Ground by Shannon Fay

Family expectations can be tough to handle. In this case, the main character, Rina, has a magical reaction to the problem.

Crash Test Dummy by M. Thomas Lumby

The main character looks back on mistakes in their relationships, muses about being human, or near enough, or not near enough. It’s the kind of story where the context is only revealed in the last paragraph, shining a light on the rest of the story.

How to be a Hero by Rosanna Griffin

This is a humorous take on the ‘hero’ trope. Rather than being a story with a plot, it’s a kind of how to/pep talk to would-be heroes on how to follow tradition. DSF likes this kind of stories that subvert tropes, so it’s quite typical for them.

The Judas Goat by K.S. O’Neill

This SF story starts out with the information that people used tame goats to locate wild goats on the Galapagos islands. The story itself hinges on the context of this information.

Reduce, Reuse… by Mike Blackwelder

The author says about this story: “I was watching caterpillars eating my basil […] and wondered what my backyard would look like hundreds of years after a comet strike.” It’s a classically constructed story that presents a main character with a problem, how they tackle it, and what the consequences are. It’s also short (less than a page), so brevity does not automatically equate experimentation at DSF. (I recommend reading this story.)

Chronicle of the Mender by Alex Shvartsman

The Mender can repair anything. We follow the routines of his project, both in his work and in his personal life. The magic in this story is of a symbolic kind connected to the people in the story, and it pulls at the reader’s heartstrings.  

Arrows of Conquest by Marcus Vance

A praise of the soldiers we sent into interstellar combat. This story is carried by the worldbuilding and special circumstances of conducting war across vast distances.

The Capes We Wear by Avra Margariti

A superhero story, but the story is really about letting the world know who we really are. The focus is on socio-psychological implications for the main character.

Evacuation: Earth by Andrew Dunn

What to do when Earth is too poisonous to live on? How do we get away? There’s a solution, but this is quite a pessimistic take on the future. (Goes well with Lampshades on Fire by Modest Mouse.)

The Apple by Marlaina Cockcroft

A retelling of Snow White with a focus on the dysfunctional relationship between Snow White and the Queen.

Empy by Melissa Mead

A science fiction tale of Empy, Magic Pot, who cooks for the starship travelers. What happens, though, when a new planet and environment starts influencing Empy? How will Empy continue serving the Travelers? Science fiction with a conscious machine and a very down-to-earth problem – worth the read. 

Narcoleptic Fruit by Paul Jessup

This is, most of all, an idea story: What happens when you eat the narcoleptic fruit? The ideas explored here are interesting; both the opportunities and the risks.

Assisted Suicide by Brian Wells

Keith is phoned up by his credit card app, which infers, based on his recent purchases, that he’s about to murder his wife. The science of financial monitoring provides a premise for this SF tale, but it reads more like a thriller/mystery kind of story to me.

Glitch by Wendy Nikel

The story’s main character teleports people for a living. It’s a mind-numbing, undemanding job until one day there’s a glitch that forces the main character to rethink her life.

Enchanted Objects: Buy-Sell-Trade Group, YOU MUST BE APPROVED TO JOIN by Tina Connolly

Fairy tale heroines/villains try to get rid of enchanted or cursed objects online. The group takes on a life of its own as the posts and discussions influence the posters.

What are their stories like?

DSF has always been a hard magazine for me to pinpoint. It’s hard to say exactly what kind of stories they want, what tone they prefer, and what topics, tropes, and themes the editors go for.  

Part of this is because they publish flash fiction. Flash is a really good way to experiment with form as well as content, and their stories often do that. There are list stories (Ten Secret Things You Don’t Know About Closet Monster), comments on Shakespeare/the pandemic (Out, damned virus), Advice columns (The Modern Woman’s Guide…). Narcoleptic Fruit and The Judas Goat focus much more on exploring an idea than they do on action, even though things happen in both stories.

In the fantasy department DSF have a penchant for new takes on old tropes (How to be a Hero, Choices and Useful Guinevere and the Bio-Mechanical Dragons of Neptunias) work on tropes, while both Enchanted Objects… and The Apple give us a new take on known stories.

Fantasy takes on modern phenomena are also popular at DSF, not just in this selection but in general. The best example is By the Power of My Swipe, while Familiar Ground shows us magic appearing in a family drama. The Capes We Wear is an identity story for our age.

The short form also lends itself well to stories that only come fully into focus in the last line or paragraph, and which either explains or twists our understanding of the story until that point. Crash Test Dummy, Chronicle of the Mender, Literary Cocktails and Arrows of Conquest all fall under that headline.

Finally, quite a lot of stories run relatively straight with a beginning, middle and end. This goes for some of the stories mentioned above, but also for stories like Glitch, Assisted Suicide, Empy, Evacuation: Earth, Iron Priest, Mothers and Sons and Intergalactic Negotiations. While these stories don’t exactly experiment with form, they are nevertheless very different in theme, tone and content.

The Secret Handshake?

“So how to get a story into Daily Science Fiction?” you ask. I wish I could tell you, but the truth is that after reading a lot of stories, the editors’ selection criteria still elude me.

Your story could easily be a comment on life and society today, or it could be the exploration of new ideas. Found an interesting form for your story? Send it to DSF. Got one with a beginning, middle, and ending? Send that along as well. (Just not right away – they ask for one story at a time only.)

In general, I suspect there’s a fair bit of ‘we know it when we see it’ about Michele and Jonathan’s acceptance policies. But after reading their stories on and off for many years, I’m willing to bet they’re aiming to get as wide a mix of stories as possible. If you read the magazine and send them a kind of story they haven’t published yet, I believe they’ll take that over a type they’re familiar with. But again, certain themes and forms come up time and again, so if you can find a new take on a familiar variation (list stories, for example), you might find your story under serious consideration. Either way, you’ll probably have to read the magazine yourself. It’s by no means a chore, though, as you’ll be sure to find lots of stories to your liking and get to know the magazine along the way.

Read a Few Issues – Deep Magic

A friend of mine is a stage actor and as such a freelancer by nature. He’s been talking to a business coach, whose raison d’etre is to help people make the most of their careers. When the talk fell on how to put together a play for the public, she wasn’t impressed. 

“What I don’t understand about theaters,” she said, “is why they spend an enormous amount of resources putting on a show without finding out what people really want to see.”

She’s got a point. You won’t find a professional business putting thousands of dollars into a product without scrutinizing the market first and asking: is there a market for a new product, or can we create one?

Which is why I’m now committing myself to writing a series about short story magazines. About what kind of fiction each magazine prints, which tone it has, if they have a specific focus on plot, worldbuilding, characters, politics, etc. Every editor has a vision for their magazine, and if your writing fits that vision, you have a better chance of hitting the sweet spot. In theory, at least. You’re still competing against hundreds of stories every month, so there are no guarantees, but margins count.

Deep Magic

For this episode, I’ve been reading Deep Magic. And as it happens, they just reopened for submissions.

The magazine’s About Us page says the Board consists of Brendon Taylor, Charlie N. Holmberg, Dan Hilton, Jeff Wheeler, Kristin J. Dawson and Steve R. Yeager. I’ve been reading the Spring and Summer 2020 issues, which have Brendon Taylor and Jeff Wheeler respectively signing the editorials. I suppose other editors might have picked other stories, but the stories in the two issues share enough similarities for me to pinpoint some tendencies.

What they say about themselves

“The name Deep Magic pays homage to C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. From June 2002 to June of 2006, Deep Magic was a monthly e-zine operated by a nonprofit organization founded by three friends who had a mutual love of SFF and a desire to promote clean writing within those genres. Deep Magic is now a quarterly publication that pays professional rates for SFF short fiction, relaunched by the same three friends, with help of other industry professionals who join in Deep Magic’s mission to create a safe place for minds to wander. If submitting a story, please see our submission guidelines. We will consider stories within any sub genre (epic, paranormal, steampunk, etc). The best way to get our attention with your submissions is to create great tension in your story.”


‘Clean writing’ and ‘a safe place for minds to wander’ stand out, since they differ from the description of other magazines. The homage to C.S. Lewis made me wonder if that means Deep Magic publishes Christian fiction, but the contents of the stories aren’t biblical. And in the words of Brendon Taylor in this interview, clean mean stories that are free of graphic violence, sex and vulgarity.

It’s clear from the stories that the editors adhere to these guidelines. There are stabbings and fights, but no-one’s guts are spilled at agonizing length. There’s no sex or swearing in any of the stories either.

The submission guidelines also link to an article with input from Deep Magic editors and first readers. The topics here are hooks, tension, and endings, and though the comments are short, it’s clear from the two interviews that Deep Magic wants stories where something happens and the tension is high. Both links are worth following if you submit stories anywhere, not just at Deep Magic.

What did I read?

Each issue contains original short stories and novelettes as well as novel excerpts. Since the topic of this series is short stories, I’m going to leave out the novel excerpts, but they generally match the magazine’s style anyway.

Spring issue 2020 contains five original stories:

Before the Journey by AC Cobble

Seb Dreams of Reincarnation by Aimee Ogden

The Space Between by Larry Hinkle

Mama Cascade by Samantha Mills

Sorieul’s Eyes by Jeff Wheeler

Before the Journey by AC Cobble is a prequel to the author’s series about Benjamin Ashwood (which I haven’t read). I use the word ‘traditional fantasy’ elsewhere in this overview, but high fantasy doesn’t get much more traditional than this. The story starts in a tavern with a cast of a magician, a rogue, a swordsman and a princess/future magician’s apprentice. They even get a quest at the inn (slay the demon that’s harassing the nearby village). The story also offers an insight into the politics of the world and the use of magic, so the themes of this story are clashing empires as well as demon fighting and sword & sorcery. The story’s driven both by plot and the world it takes place in.

Seb Dreams of Reincarnation by Aimee Ogden is a science fiction story about a retired starship. That is, Seb used to be plugged into a starship with full control over everything, so when he returns to a life of not being connected to a ship, his world seems empty. So, what does Seb do next? The story has a clear plot – starts at the beginning and ends somewhere I didn’t quite predict. Since the plot is about the way Seb changes, the story was also the most clearly character-driven story of the selection. I’m not doing a review, but I definitely recommend this story, simply because I cared a lot about Seb.

The Space Between by Larry Hinkle is a short science fiction story with horror elements that takes us on an almost Uber ride into the unknown. Along the way it unfolds the rules of a world that isn’t quite ours. There’s a clear plot that goes hand in hand with scientific explanations of this particular world. There’s less focus on the characters, but then again, this is quite a short story that accomplishes a lot on only a few pages.

Mama Cascade by Samantha Mills most definitely doesn’t take us on a river cruise. Rather, it’s the story about a young woman and her relationship with the river goddess, shaped by the appearance of foreign (European?) invaders. The main character, Arwa, must learn from Mama Cascade in order to hold back the invaders and defend her people. I’m not spoiling the story by saying that things do not go as planned, and that’s part of the charm of the story – the world changes, the people change, and there’s no survival in staying the same.

Sorieul’s Eyes by Jeff Wheeler is a novelette set in his Muirwood world. Jeff Wheeler is the founder of Deep Magic, and delivers a plot-driven story in a world that isn’t explained in depth, but is obviously a world of empires, warlords, assassins and magic and as such another example of ‘traditional fantasy’. The main character is a kishion, a slave assassin, who’s forgotten his past after a magical ritual. He’s adept at killing, but when he meets Sorieul, a healer who knew him in his earlier life, new emotions start to wake in him. I have a feeling that there’s more of this awakening to be found in Wheeler’s novel, but in the short story it’s not explored in depth. 

Summer issue 2020 also contains five stories:

Shackles by Michael Wisehart

One Way by Gerri Leen

A Tale of Two Thieves by Sarah C. Roethe

Blackheart by David VonAllmen

Standing with Centaurs by Jennifer L. Hilty

Shackles by Michael Wisehart is a fantasy novella set in a universe already established in one of Wiseharts series of novels. We follow Ferrin, a blacksmith, whose magic abilities are about to get him into trouble with a group called the Black Watch. The story is told as it unfolds, from the smithy via the local society of magic users, and Ferrin’s subsequent dealings with the Black Watch. It’s plot oriented rather than focused on the character’s journey, but we get to know Ferrin quite well along the way. 

The story is pretty traditional, both in the way it’s constructed – we start at A and go on to the ending – and in its themes. Magic is a thing in this world – some people, like Ferrin, use magic in their everyday tasks, and others seek to use people like Ferrin for their own purposes. The technological level in the story is horses and blacksmithing, so the world should be familiar to readers of high fantasy.

One Way by Gerri Leen is a science fiction short story which dares to experiment with form. The main character, Lydia, is on an exploration mission, and her life support is failing. She has a deep understanding with the spaceship’s AI, Vesta, and she seems to be going to her death voluntarily. The rest of the story is played out in reverse, telling us what happened weeks and months prior to the first scene, and how Lydia and Vesta came to be where they are.

A Tale of Two Thieves by Sarah C. Roethe brings to life Anna and Kai. Anna is a thief and sometime mercenary, who rescues Kai at the beginning of the story, and Kai turns out to be 1) a decent chap with a lot of integrity and 2) not quite up to surviving in the wild on his own. Kai’s good heart gets them into trouble when they come across a band of ruffians, who have abducted a bunch of women to sell into slavery.

The worldbuilding, again, is traditional – a rural setting, a roguish character and her moral counterpoint, and a quest. Things go from A to B and the focus in the story is on the action rather than the characters. The author, however, manages to show us quite about her character through their actions, bringing out their different natures in a way that benefits the story. 

Blackheart by David VonAllmen is a swashbuckler, no doubt about it. A lively pirate plot on the high seas to steal the storm magic from Lord Buckworth’s fleet. The writing and dialogue is snappy and the pirates are as piratey as can be expected. A good story embedded firmly within the pirate genre.

Standing with Centaurs by Jennifer L. Hilty takes us to a university in a future, where aliens go to college with human students. It’s a story about prejudice and overcoming it, and as such it’s in the vein of traditional YA stories in high school or university, only with aliens playing the role of the outsiders taking the brunt of prejudice.

What to make of it all?

The stories all live up to the mission statements listed by the editors above. They’re clean; there’s killing and violence in several stories, but none of it is visceral. The single horror story isn’t a blood’n’guts tale either, working through buildup rather than jump scares. The pirates in Blackheart are all short a limb or five, but it’s described with humor and exaggeration instead of pain.

It’s also clear that there’s a focus on plot in every story. Characters change in some stories, in others they pretty much stay the same, but they all have a problem that they solve (or not) by the end of the story. Something happens to the characters.  

As for genres and sub-genres, four of the ten stories are set in what I’d call high fantasy worlds, where swords, rogues, magic, and powerful kingdoms play a role. But while the worlds all have a medieval feel to them, they’re set apart by how magic works in each world.

In ‘Before the Journey’, the magic we see is traditional fire magic (though there may be other kinds in that world). In ‘Shackles’ the main character has the ability to control metal, while other people can do other things. And in Sorieul’s Eyes, magic is used to heal and change emotions. ‘Mama Cascade’ isn’t high fantasy as such, but it has magic too, divine and transformative and part of nature. In ‘Blackheart’, magic’s a power to be hoarded and used by anyone who has access to it. Only ‘A Tale of Two Thieves’ doesn’t have magic.

With the ‘Magic’ in the title, it isn’t a big surprise that magic plays such a big part in the fantasy stories. My takeaway from this is that ‘Deep Magic’ editors love magic, and that they prefer stories about powers that goes beyond what you’ll find in a D&D spellbook.

Four of the stories are science fiction, in two of which scientific concepts are an inescapable part of the worldbuilding. The other two science fiction stories are a little different, in that one is a horror story examining multiverse theory, and the last one is basically a college story with an alien cast. None of these stories are examinations of scientific principles, so if you have a hard science fiction story, you’d probably have better luck sending it to Analog. But if your SF story has science, plot and character, it might find a home here.

To sum up

If you want to sell a story to Deep Magic, it would be a good idea to be inventive with your magic. Build a good plot, keep up the tension and make sure the story come to a logical end. Don’t make the story contingent on blood and guts, but don’t be afraid of putting in both action and major consequences for the characters either. Finally, a sweepingly grand story is probably better than one with a narrow scope.

I hope this will be of help to someone else out there. If so, you can also find my article on Beneath Ceaseless Skies here.  

“World Domination” wins the Niels Klim Award for best short story

A very nice statuette

I’m happy to report that my story ‘Verdensherredømme’ (World Domination) tied for first place for the 2018 Niels Klim Award in the short story category. The other winner was ‘Sortskørt’ (Blackskirt) by Kenneth Krabat.

It’s the first award I’ve ever won, and though it’s neither huge or prestigeous, it was still a great honor to take the trophy home.

Woo! First ever award! Author Bingo Checkmark!

Probability Cruise

My short story ‘Sandsynlighedskrydstogt’ (Probability Cruise in English) will be out in the annual Danish SF Anthology ‘Lige under overfladen 14’ this autumn. The editor even picked the story’s title to name the anthology, so I’m extra thrilled to see this story in print.

“Room Special”

I’m very happy to share the news that I’ll have a story in the anthology ‘Five Minutes at Hotel Stormcove’. The story is called Room Special, and I wrote it with this anthology in mind. Or to be precise, I couldn’t help writing it. The premise made several ideas pop into my mind, and I ended up writing a romantic caper.

The Hotel is a very special place with a history that stretches into the past and far into the future, so there are going to be a wide variety of stories. I know a lot of the other authors from an online writing group, so it’s safe to say I’m really excited to read this one.

‘Five Minutes at Hotel Stormcove’ will be out in May 2019. You can preorder here.

New Book Sent to Publisher

A book comes to town, a book leaves town, a book is sent off to a publisher.

I’m super excited about finishing this project, because it’s a book my daughter wanted me to write — something she could read in our own language. She got to read the first draft (and shoot holes in it) over a year ago. I patched up those holes, let the story rest while another bunch of kids and grown-ups read it, and patched some more holes before doing language sweeps. Deleted about 200 instances of ‘just’ and soooo much other sloppy language. And now it’s done, ready for the world, or as ready as I can make it. 

The Danish market works a bit differently than the American or English. We don’t need agents — although some of the bigger names have them — so I’ve done what new writers do around here and sent a finished manuscript directly to a publisher. 

The market is also smaller, with fewer books being published and fewer established publishing houses (about 10 reputable ones and a tangled undergrowth of semi-self-pubs). The waiting game is the same, though. Two months to an answer from this particular publisher, and no simsubs allowed. The competition is fierce, of course, with every corner of the market saturated with books and established authors. But at least I have a good book to send out. 

So I’ll be waiting, fretting, and probably writing a couple of English short stories in the meantime now that the big project is out testing its wings. 

Work in Progress

I’m currently working on two novels, and I thought I’d share a bit about them here.

The first is a collaboration with another writer, and that’s progressing steadily – we meet once or twice a week to plot and draft, and we aim to have draft one ready by New Year’s Eve. It’s becoming increasingly clear that this isn’t going to happen, but we haven’t set a new goal yet, so New Year’s Eve it is 🙂

This one is urban fantasy/detective type novel, featuring a new species of humans. The novel’s set in Denmark and Bialowieza in Poland, so we’re both on our home turf and out to sea writing this, since none of us have been to Poland. Fortunately we’ve had good help from one of my collaborator’s friends, who comes from Warsaw.

The second novel is an old monster with which I’ve been in an abusive relationship since 2009. It’s been locked down on a hard drive, it’s been revised, it’s been read by my writing group, it’s been shelved, and it’s been rewritten again and again.

Recently I figured out what to do with it, though. The main character never really had a voice of his own before, but lately I’ve been able to hear him speak in my head, and that has made his story much easier to write. So round about now, the book is becoming readable, page by page, and I even think it’s exciting to write it again.

I have two additional novel projects lying around, but I’m not working on them at the moment.

One of them is a YA novel in Danish, for which I just got a favorable batch of notes from beta readers. I’m still waiting for two sets of comments, but sometime this year I’m going to do a relatively quick revision and send it to a Danish publisher. An average publisher in Denmark receives about 800 manuscripts a year, and some of them publish only a handful or two. I’ll brave the odds and post about progress when there’s more news.

The fourth novel is thoroughly on standby for now, but it’s a new and dear friend whom I’m looking forward to spending more time with. I’ve only met this story twice, during NaNoWriMo in 2015 and 2017, but we’re getting along really well. And once I’m done with the other three projects, I’m going to finish the tale of how three very different people deal with being enslaved by a race of aliens who are also saving us from annihilation.