Tuesday, June 11, 2013

On Writing: A Story’s Story

This week I have a story running in Fiction Vortex, a new publication interested in SF and fantasy of a “literary” bent. They’re nice folks, and I like the (twice-weekly) stories they’ve published thus far.
My story is called A Feeble Gleam of Stars, and it’s been around a while. I dug through my flash drive and Google Doc files to try to figure out how long. Note: To avoid the possibility of spoilers, read the story before you continue this post.

Feeble Gleam started out as an homage to Ed Wood and his worst-movie-ever-made Plan 9 from Outer Space.  The director’s middle name is Davis, and that’s where I got the name for the main character, police detective/amateur astronomer Davis Wood. I outlined the thing in the early spring of 2010, and presented the outline to my Creative Writing class to show them how a three-act outline worked. The story was meant as a tribute to pulp, filled with violence and gore thwarted by a hard-boiled, hard-drinking sleuth.
I had time that spring to write up about half the story and used it (plus the first few chapters of a NaNoWriMo novel) to apply to grad school. The half story, at the time titled Cloud Nine from Outer Space, were the first pages I’d ever had workshopped.
I finished the story that fall, and rejection followed. I posted it to Critters in October 2010. I took the Critters feedback, cut the hell out of the story, and gave it a new title: Zombie Hackers from Outer Space. Rejection followed.
A friend of mine (soon to be Viking celeb Pratima Cranse) in the MFA program I got into gave it a looksee in November 2010, and, based on her suggestion, I changed the title to A Feeble Gleam of Stars. Rejection followed.
Back to Critters in March 2011. I restored much of the original content and revised it again. A year later, Feeble Gleam took an honorable mention in The Writers of the Future contest. That April, I sent it to another MFA colleague, Jason Korolenko, for a once over. He advised me to take some of the coffee out of it (among other things). Rejection followed, including one that allowed the story was “technically perfect.”
In November 2012, Feeble Gleam netted a personal rejection from Gordon Van Gelder at Fantasy & Science Fiction. I posted the story to the Online Writers Workshop in January 2013 and, based on the excellent feedback I received, revised it again.
Fiction Vortex accepted it last month, and it also was accepted to Miseria’s Chorale, a horror anthology to be published in the fall.
So, there you go -- a story three years in the making. (Granted, I also wrote a novel and eighteen more short stories in that time.) I’m glad it finally found a home.


  1. I'm going to start referring to myself as both a lady and a celebrity.

  2. Congrats on getting your story published, Rob!

  3. That is a great story, BTW. Read it Friday and was blown away. Very well done!

    1. Thank you much, cAp. I'm glad you liked it.