Best of DailyScienceFiction.com’s January Stories

Daily Science Fiction’s   name is deceiving.  They are an online site that send subscribers a daily short in all varieties of science fiction and fantasy.  The short stories are held online in an archive and some are also published in their anthologies.  When I first came to the North Alabama Writers’ Group, it was one of the first resources suggested to me.  As writers we are encouraged to read others in the genre, stay current, but we are also encouraged to submit, submit, submit!  Daily Science Fiction can help an ambitious writer with both those goals.

 

In my year long relationship with Daily Science Fiction, it has turned into one of the white whales of the North Alabama Writers’ Group.  In a state of constant call for submission, but no matter how many of us offer dribbles, quite a few hand crafted for the medium, none of us have been accepted.  At the same time, we’re reading what feels like a bunch of garbage.  We find ourselves saying “I could do better” or “I have written better”, but we must be missing some quality or reoccurring theme.

 

In an effort to crack the Drabble code, I’m reading all the stories they send me.  Instead of bemoaning the terrible, I thought I’d just offer a monthly round up of what was good and why it worked for me.  These are ordered how I received them (excluding one I’ll get to).

 

“A Villian Considers His Options” by James Beamon—It’s funny and it has an almost meta quality.  Love his use of an acronym to name his A.I.  This is Beamon’s fifth publication to Daily Science Fiction.  I was able to find two previous submissions. One, “17 Amazing Plot Elements… When You See #11, You’ll Be Astounded” was terrible.  I’ve yet to read a list from Daily Science Fiction I like, so I’m thinking that even though there’s an obvious market for this type of writing, it’s just never going to be to my tastes.    The other “Settling Beef” was excellent.  Still sharp and funny like “A Villian Consider’s His Options” but also heavy with a relevant message in today’s world.  Of the three, it was the most successful store, though I still prefer “A Villian Considers His Options” best because is was the most amusing.  All three show a signature humorous voice and style.  Two do so in a way I found successful.  Beamon has a Goodreads page that shows he contributes to themed story collections and has one stand alone short story published, all showing high Goodreads ratings.

 

Emily Post’s Guide to Alien Encounters” by Audrey A. Hollis — excellent story telling.  It gave me a complete and deep arc in very few words.  I’m delighted one of the authors I like is female and I’m following her on twitter https://twitter.com/audreyrhollis.

 

Winged Fold Only” by Mary E. Load—a fun feel good story with a simple moral.  Her bio is just as entertaining as her story, and it gives me a new goal of what I want to aspire to in my own bio.

 

The BEST part about Mary E. Lowd’s work is that she wrote a sequel to “Winged Folk Only” also published this month in Daily Science Fiction called “Go High” —It was also on my list of good reads.  I really like Evben and hope to get more 1000 words on her.  This sequel was probably middle of the road for me.  Still cute and descriptive but with less of an emotional appeal.  What I loved what it’s connection to her earlier story.

 

Mary. E Lowd was published by Daily Science Fiction a total of 4 times this month, and I enjoyed three of her stories and was on the fence about one of them.  In the case of her other two, also connected, stories I wasn’t fond of the first “Queen Doripauli and the Sproutlings”. To me it lacked emotional depth and the action seemed to bland.  However, I loved the follow up “Waking up in the Genie Shop”.  What can I say, I’m a sucker for those sweet little moments in a story, and “Waking up in the Genie Shop” delivers.

 

Mary Lowd finished my January Daily Science Fiction experiment strong, but delivering one more wonderful story.  “Of Starwhals and Spaceships” is a fun short.  It has a childlike innocence and a general wonder for the universe.  It delivers on at least four complex thoughts, ones that would take me more than 1000 words to explain, which gives the work depth and almost mystic quality.

 

I found another 6 stories by Mary E Lowd on Daily Science Fiction, and I intend to read all of them.  For those curious they are “The Empty Empire,” “One Alien’s Wreckage,”  “Crowds on the Crossroad Station,” “Principles Over Profit,” “Inalienable Rights,” and “Cresent Horns and Tall Ears.”  I hope to find Evben in one of them and maybe a better backstory for Sloane and the sproutlings that makes me appreciate Queen Doripauli more.   Lowd is also a novelist, her books appear quirky, for a younger audience, and animal centric with a scifi twist.  Her books don’t seem quite right for me, but they were still neat to look at. Check her page out at Goodreads .

 

I’ve just finished reading “The book of the Unnamed Midwife” by Meg Elison, so when Daily Science Fiction brought me “The Library is Open” by Beth Cato, I had the opening scenes ready to go.  A peaceful bubble in the apocalypse where the normal becomes abnormal.  I liked how Cato played with tension.  Even in humanity’s darkest hour, her short left the reader feeling hopeful.

 

I found 6 other works on Daily Science Fiction for Cato.  They include: “Bear-Bear Speaks,”  “The Quest You Have Chosen Defies Your Fate,” “From the Ashes,” “Hatchlings,”  “10 Things Newly Manifested Wizards Should never do” (because everyone needs a list apparently), and “Measures and Counter Measures”.  She’s got a way with the titles, that make me very excited to find time to read these. Cato is also a prolific writer with a complete novel series and a new one started.  She’s also contributed to many Chicken Soup for the Soul editions.  Goodreads shows middle of the road reviews, but based off of her Daily Science Fiction contribution, I’m intrigued to read more.  I wish she were on kindle unlimited, but since I’d have to pay extra outside of my current book budget, I’ll just have to wait till I see a sale.

 

Maestro” by Neal A. Cline—is an example of a story that just barely makes my list and it’s for purely personal reasons.  First, I love tigers, so much that it caused me to do a lot of research on humanity’s relationship with wild animals and the process of domestication.  All of which lead me to believe that owning any wild animal in a pet like capacity will lead to tragedy 98% of the time.  Second, this story is about a mind link between human and animal, which I’m fascinated by.  Third, Cline brings up modern concerns over conservation of species and whether we can think it’s a success if we can only find some species of animal in a zoo (or in this case genetically modified to provide service for people).  Since I wanted to write a long opinion piece regarding what true conservation is and the value of a being outside of human use was, I decided to include this story.  “Like” is too strong an word for my feelings, but it did make me react, and that’s valuable.

 

Bone White” by Patrick Sullivan is an example of a work trying to blend a lot of working pieces and doing it with partial success.  I like the half of the story told in the past, it has a very “Emperor’s new Clothes” feel if the fairy tale included murder and depravity.  I love dark fairy tales.  The modern part, while possessing a chilling close, generally doesn’t work for me.  How come this cloak still exists?  Why wasn’t it destroyed or kept closely guarded?  It’s too much of a jump for me.   Still, a quick search shows Sullivan is new to publication and perhaps new to writing stories (publication =/= story experience). It’s a promising start and I’ll keep an eye out for more.

 

The Adjunct Professor’s Alien Girlfriend” by Marge Simon —was borderline for me too.  Description wise, there’s some elements about the male/female relationship I found concerning and annoying.  It’s further compounded in my mind because the woman is an alien and some of the “visa” description harkens back to “mail order brides”.  The sweetness of the ending helped me overlook a host of elements I didn’t appreciate.  Like “Maestro” it’s a great conversation starter, but not my favorite.

 

Simon is an accomplished writer.  Her work includes several award winning poems.  They seem to have an element of fantasy or scifi as well as romance.  Her Goodreads profile.  She also has 6 easily searchable publications in Daily Science Fiction.  They include: “The Sinner,” “Serving the Blind Girl,” “The Shutdown,”  “Found in the Wreckage,” The Human Guest,” and “Susan 3342 A.D.

 

Small Sacks of Children” by Andrew Kozma was a work I immediately disliked.  I almost skipped it only to find myself completely taken by the end.  Have to respect a writer who can instill such immediate emotion and then completely change the feeling in 1000 words.

 

I’m following him on Goodreads , though nothing up right now strikes my interest.  I found another 4 of his works in Daily Science Fiction: “Company Man,”  “When We Last Left,” “The Judges,”  and “The Mountain.”

 

That’s 10 out of 23 stories or a 43% success rate.  Do I think other people should subscribe to Daily Science Fiction and read all the stories—maybe?  What I liked, I really liked and introduced me to new writers I want to follow and keep and eye on.  It also gave me access to another 24 short stories to look at.  Will this help me be more brief in my own writing or open publication paths for me—I don’t know.  What I can say was that the process was fun and didn’t take a lot of time.  If you’re trying to get back into reading and not sure who to follow or what to pick up, Daily Science Fiction might be just the place to give you some leads.

Stuff I love About Writer’s Group: Pitch Sessions

No surprise to anyone who knows me, but I love to pitch ideas.  Big details, small details, little repetitive themes no one will ever notice, there’s no thought big or small that I don’t want to throw a million ideas at.  I have more ideas than I have time to write.  Half these ideas are concepts I’d prefer someone else develops.  As much as I love to write, reading is my preference.  If I saw more engaging imagination in print, I’d write a lot less.

 

I go to Writers’ Group foremost as a chance to deliver a bouquet of premises at other writers.  There’s plenty else to enjoy and appreciate at our weekly meetings, but each week I’m most interested in hearing what others are working on and what I can cook up to help increase their narrative.

 

There’s always the worry.  One day, I’ll ask too many questions, throw out too many ideas, or fixate on an idea I like but the writer who owns the story does not.  Got to keep looking for those little tells, but thankfully (and please correct me loudly if this is wrong), it doesn’t seem like my barrage has annoyed anyone yet.

 

What’s best about the pitch is there’s no wrong concept.  Nothing too strange, just a constant flow of ideas until we hit one we like.  Free thought association that slowly develops a narrative.  Sitting in a noisy coffee shop refining an engaging story to its best form.  What isn’t rewarding about that?

New Year’s Resolutions and Writing

Did you set any New Year’s Resolutions?  If you haven’t there’s no time like the present to commit yourself.

 

I love new things.  They’re shiny, unassuming, and a perfect for a fresh start.  You can always “start again” on your journey to improve.  No need to wait till January.  March, November, or any other time of year works too as long as you’re ready to put in the work.  Still, there’s something about the crisp cold dry air paired with scales and exercise equipment hanging out in every retailer that just seems to beg of you to start a project now.

 

If you’re like me and over commit, you’re starting with a spreadsheet of some 30 odd goals to track with the silent prayer all those little measurements will lead to a larger goal down the road.  I was planning for March to see major changes when I wrote my resolutions, but two weeks in and I’m already pushing back to April.

 

Three paragraphs in and finally I’m ready to talk about my writing commitments for 2018.

 

  • Writing Daily.  I’m using 365 Writing Prompts to start each day.  I’d like to write at least 500 words per prompt.  Of this year I’ve missed 3 days so far, but I haven’t given up on writing most my days
  • Taking these prompts and creating at least one edited complete story with them a month.  This is a lot harder for me but is the logical conclusion with the goal being toward churning one full edited story every two weeks.  A June goal at earliest at this rate
  • Reading 36 books this year.  Need to look at the larger writing and publishing world around me.  Also I require full books to research elements of stories I want to write.
  • More consistently reading and providing candid, honest, helpful feedback to my writer’s group.  I want to take part more in collective writing efforts.
  • Starting up our North Alabama Writers  Group Blog.  Pushed the group to set this up over the summer and I’ve let it lay fallow.  No time like the present to force posts.
  • Not so secret yearly goal I’ve no way to measure my progress to: I want to be published and more widely read.  Words can’t contain my burning, heart pounding, chest expanding, all encompassing desire to have a readership—to share my words and know others look at them.  Don’t even care if people like them so long as they read them.

As an impatient person, progress is not going as quickly as I’d like.  Who’d have thought changing 30 points of your lifestyle wouldn’t lead to a seamless transition of success?  But, I am seeing marked progress improvement and I am moving closer to having a life more inline with what I wanted starting January 1st.

 

Our writers’ group also has goals for 2018.  As a group we’ve pledged to:

  • Have a more structured group meeting
  • Have a writing exercise every other week
  • Have monthly write-ins besides our standard weekly meeting
  • Increase our group size
  • Do something with the Group Blog (which I’m taking on as a personal crusade but I expect others to join as they are ready)

What about you, mysterious anonymous reader? We’re 1/24th of the way through the year, and no time like now to come clean regarding your declarations.  Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions?  Did any of them involve writing?  And how are they going?