Flotsam of 2017

It has been over two months since I’ve posted anything here, so I suppose I ought to collect all the detritus that has been jostling about the shores of procrastination.  Call it a year end post, if you like, but mostly it is just an overdue post, filled with the things I should have told you during the preceding two months.

I will start with the recent news that my story “Spooky Action” made the Tangent Online 2017 Recommended Reading List.  It not only made the list, but received the list’s highest distinction as a three star recommendation.  I am the sort of writer who alternates between seeing my literary babies as adorable one day, and abominations that should be locked away in a closet the next.  So this sort of recognition helps.

Third Flatiron, publishers of the Cat’s Breakfast anthology, has produced a podcast of “Spooky Action” that you can listen to here.  You will also find a Q&A in which I discuss the genesis of the story, among other things.

“Toasterpocalypse” was published in November in Edward Bryant’s Sphere of Influence.  There appears to be two different print versions of this anthology available, 0974161977 & 0974161985.  I honestly don’t know the difference between the two other than that they are sometimes priced differently.  If you are looking to buy a copy, I suggest checking both to see which offers the better price at the time.  There is also a digital edition.

As for 2018, expect more frequent story announcements.  I have decided to dedicate myself to writing fiction this year.  This means that some other endeavors (like Scide Splitters & Retro Hugo reviews) will have to sit this one out.  It is high time I got serious about my writing and I hope the added focus will yield a very fruitful year.


Reading at MileHiCon

MileHiCon49I will be reading from my latest story, “Toasterpocalypse,” at MileHiCon 49 this Saturday night at 11pm (Oct. 28th).  Why so late?  To honor Ed Bryant’s propensity for conducting late night readings at MileHiCons of yore.  The story will be published in Edward Bryant’s Sphere Of Influence, due out in November.  The anthology is comprised of stories critiqued by Ed Bryant during his decades of running writer’s workshops.  Other authors appearing in the volume include: Connie Willis, Steve Rasnic Tem, Kevin J. Anderson, Bruce Holland Rogers, and more.  A portion of the proceeds will go to charity.  So, come on up to the 12th floor at 11pm Saturday night to meet the authors, listen to readings, and discuss the legacy of Ed Bryant.

Whom the Gods Would Make Mad They First Misspell

MakeMadBefore I Indulge your curiosity about the subject alluded to in the post title, I want to give you an update on some writing related goings-on.  One of my stories, “Toasterpocalypse,” will be coming out next month in an anthology tentatively titled Children of Edward Bryant.  If you don’t know anything about Ed, you can check out his Wikipedia page.  The publisher is trying to have the book ready ahead of schedule for MileHiCon 49 at the end of October (Ed had been Toast Master for MileHiCon more than a dozen times, in addition to being Guest of Honor twice).  Regardless of whether or not it will be ready, many of the authors involved will be doing readings from the anthology, myself included.

My summer hiatus from Amazing Stories is over.  Scide Splitters returns with a review of Unidentified Funny Objects 6.  In my estimation, this is the best volume in the series so far.

Now back to the heading subject, because the title no doubt has you on the edge of your seat.  It is a thrilling tale of bureaucracy and misspelling!  How can you resist?

Upon publication of Cat’s Breakfast, the Vonnegut tribute anthology with my story “Spooky Action,” I noticed that the Amazon.com page for the Kindle version had my name misspelled with an extra L, resulting in Killman, thereby preventing the listing from linking with my author page at Amazon.  A simple enough problem, or so one would think.  I contacted Amazon customer service to explain the situation.

They responded that the problem would be taken care of and that I should give the correction a day or two to manifest.  It did not.  I contacted them again and was told that the issue was being transferred to Author Central.  Now we are getting somewhere, I thought.  Surely with a name like Author Central, a misspelling would be a mere trifle.  They promptly informed me that there was nothing they could do about it.

Surprised by this unexpected result, I wrote back thinking that additional evidence might help my cause.  I explained that the trade paper listing for the same book had my name correctly spelled.  And if they cared for further proof of my claim, so as not to fall victim to whatever devious plot they feared that I might have planned, they could use the Look Inside feature to see that Kilman was indeed the spelling in all instances inside the book.

This attempt did at least yield a clue as to why they would not fix the mistake.  Only the publisher, they said, has the authorization to make such corrections.  It sounded sensible enough, though I wondered why it had taken them three responses to impart this wisdom.

I emailed Juli Rew, the editor/publisher, only to learn that she had already made multiple attempts at a correction resulting in no more success than I had.  From Juli I learned more about the nature of the quagmire that had ensnared my story and my name.

As a matter of policy, software limitations, or what-have-you, publishers are limited to ten contributing authors when they create a book listing at Amazon. Additional author listings can be achieved through contacting customer service, which Juli had done when the listing was created. But somewhere in that process, the extra L was entered, and there it remained. The reason Juli could not fix it was because she only had access to the first ten names. So the issue went round and round with customer service claiming to be powerless to do anything and repeatedly suggesting that the publisher make the fix.

Finally, I decided to write a long and detailed explanation of the nature of this bureaucratic black hole, so that the problem could be understood and escalated to someone of sufficient authority to remove one L from my name. I was not sure how high up Mount Olympus this would have to go to reach god-like powers necessary for correcting a spelling error, but I was sure such nearly omnipotent beings must exist.

I received a response from a demigod, or maybe it was a supervisor, who said that I had indeed identified the exact nature of this catch-22 and that it was clear that I was entirely correct. The extra L was no doubt in error—but I would have to contact the publisher and have her explain this all over again to customer service.

Remembering the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, I decided to retain my sanity and drop the matter.  Eventually, however, Juli managed, through persistence and perhaps some sacrifice of her mental stability, to succeed in getting the correction.  Thanks, Juli.

Waiting for the Sun

Time and SunAs some of you may know, my years as a homeschool teacher are coming to a close.  My youngest daughter graduates at the end of May, and then…  Well, then one of my other daughters gets married in June, so that will be busy, but then…  Daylight?  More time to write?  Is it really possible to have more time available in my schedule?

I’ve gotten so used to having less and less time over the last few decades, it is hard to believe that such a thing is possible.  I imagine that it might be like a prisoner scheduled for release after a twenty-five year sentence.  There is something surreal about it.  Not that I am trying to directly compare responsibilities as a father and teacher to being in prison.  It is just that for decades I have, one by one, had to kill off most of my hobbies and personal interests.  I fear that something will come along, laughing, “Ah, stupid boy, don’t you know that fate forbids such things.  Enjoy the following unexpected screwing!”

Well, anyway, I can at least hope.

In the meantime, I have posted a couple of Scide Splitters since my last post here.  The first was a combination appreciation and short story review for Ed Bryant: Scide Splitters: Bean Bag Cats & Bad German by Ed Bryant.  The second, posted today, is a review of a humorous SF anthology: Scide Splitters: Little Green Men—Attack! – edited by Robin Wayne Bailey & Bryan Thomas Schmidt.

Ed Bryant, Mentor

Ed Bryant died in his sleep last night (Locus obituary).  He will be remembered as a great writer and a much loved member of fandom.  To many of us, he was also a mentor.  He selflessly gave his time to developing writers in groups like the Northern Colorado Writers Workshop, which he formed in 1972 and remained active in right up to the end.

Thank you for your guidance and encouragement.  We have a meeting tomorrow and it is hard to believe you won’t be there.