Bill provides one of Rocket Science‘s five non-fiction pieces, ‘A Ray of Sunshine’. But that’s not what he originally submitted…
I didn’t start out writing non-fiction. I just knew that the story I submitted to Ian Sales was so good that he would take it, and all would be well. But it wasn’t, and I was seriously stuck.
Maybe some history is in order. In 2010, I wrote a most excellent novella for the 3 Day Novel Contest. Well, I thought it was good. The judges, less so. Fortunately, when it came limping home, I had seen a contest that would take a twenty-thousand word story in the same genre. The novella was thirty thousand, so out came the knives. I got it down to nineteen thousand and change, submitted it, and ducked as it sailed back even faster. Fortunately, by that time, I saw another contest where the size limit was twelve thousand words. I made Honorable Mention and publication in Ninety Minutes to Live, but alas, no pay.
There was still that eight thousand I cut out. I could reform it into yet another story, which is a good thing, for I had found Rocket Science!
So, when Ian wrote back to me that my story just didn’t clear the bar, it was already too late to submit another – that’s what I get for sending in a story a day before the deadline. I went to this very same blog that you are reading, only to discover that Ian had extended the deadline for non-fiction by two weeks.
Well! I should be able to do something about that! But I was already deep into National Novel Writing Month, cranking out 3333 words or more per day, and running the Central NJ region besides. I queried Ian about a possible topic, and he suggested linking it to various SF stories. I squeezed in the research during lunch, and ransacked my bookshelf at night. It took me far longer than I thought to write ‘A Ray of Sunshine’, but Ian accepted it. My first professional sale. My face hurt from grinning all day.
That’s how I got in Rocket Science. But what comes next?
I’m currently working on a comedy about demons. An agent is tapping her foot, for it was due 1 March. When I deliver that, JournalStone, the publisher of Ninety Minutes To Live, is expecting a full novel from that 12k short story, which I call Riddled Space. I will be writing other novels in the Riddled Space universe for NaNoWriMo, as well as participating in 3 Day Novel again this year. It keeps me off the streets, and somewhere where my wife of 28 years, Barbara, can keep an eye on me.