Saturday, April 18, 2009

Back Catalog Shuffle

Over the past few weeks I've been locked in YA novel mode (either revising Rock Gods and Scary Monsters or cramming revisions down the gullet of The House Eaters). Short story mode has sort of slipped away. So this afternoon, a rather rainy and grey day anyway, I've decided to till the soil in some of my "back catalog"--stories that haven't sold or need revisions.

The following tales have been marked as dead:

"Hollis Jones Transformed" (250 words)
"Field Trip" (900 words)
"Dumpster Diving" (950 words)
"Monster Needs a New Pair of Shoes" (1100 words)
"Red Light" (2100 words)
"Replacement Parts" (2200)
"Flesh and Blood" (3800 words)

Around 11300 words. Rest in peace. Your ideas were ill-conceived, ill-executed, or just not that interesting in the first place.

Then I have stories in need of revision:

"Come Out and Play"
"Heroes Live Forever"
"The Qualifying Run"
(all with teen aged boys as protagonists)

"The Things in the Wall"
(in desperate need of a more interesting title)

...and a few more loose bits and pieces.

Speaking of protagonists, I have have enough stories published or sold with teenage/preteen boys as main characters to fill a collection. What would my therapist say about that? (If I had a therapist...)

I'm not really sad to let those stories go to the graveyard. Once upon a time, I would have tried "one more time", but they need to go, now. I've grown as a writer since most of them were written, and they just don't reflect my current voice.

Which led me to the following thought/question/quandary: what are my personal favorites? As long as I'm dreaming, maybe I could put together a top ten...these are the stories I'm proud to have written. So here goes, in no particular order (with a reason why I picked it):

"Catalog Sales" (Necrotic Tissue, October 2008)
  • I worked hard on this one to make it "just right"
  • it was my qualifying sale for the HWA as an affiliate (I know some folks are lukewarm on the HWA, but Momma always taught me to join professional organizations and old habits die hard)

"The Ox-Cart Man" (Northern Haunts, 2009)

  • this story haunts me when I read it, not spooky but sad
"Scavengers Lying in Wait" (Harvest Hill, TBR)
  • because they do...because they do

"Dancing Lessons" (Triangulation: Dark Glass, TBR)

  • another story that took soooo much work to make right

"Fed by Other Than the Sun" (out in submission land)

  • creepy as hell, and the last scene actually scares me

"Tommy of the Flood" (out in submission land)

  • another haunting story and Mom actually liked this one

"Homecoming" (Reflection's Edge, March 2008)

  • I have some very personal connections with this piece

"Little Fingers" (Arkham Tales, TBR)

  • one of those ideas that only comes around once in a while
  • plus, the title nails it..."waiting for those little fingers to pull him under" (shivers)

"Spider and I" (The Devil's Food, TBR)

  • another highly personal tale
  • I worked this one over and over until it found a home, even rewriting for that

...and, for number ten, the next story I write. Sorry, but I have to believe it's going to be good or else I won't write it.

I've procrastinated enough. What are your favorite stories penned by you...published or unpublished. Can you pick? Do you love them all the same?


Fox Lee said...

There are stories you love, and then there are stories you love so much it hurts. My top ten would be:

1. Losing Face in Kwai Chung - Necrotic Tissue. My first love letter to Hong Kong and still my favorite character (Little Dragon).

2. Fish Balls and Mushrooms- the Tainted anthology

3. The Extra - Tales from the Moonlit Path.

4. The Second Cousin of the Monkey King - Expanded Horizons. The story I thought was too weird for anyone but me to love.

5. Truly - Strange Weird and Wonderful

6. Relentless Sodomy: The Musical! - Next issue of The Monsters Next Door. This story tickles me : )

7. The Good Friend (not published)

8. The Boy Band - Future issue of Reflection's Edge

9. One Too Many - Future issue of Expanded Horizons

10. Problem at the Lake (not published)

Cate Gardner said...

Ooh, I like this post. I have a mound of rejected stories in my inbox (like you, I've been concentrating on my books) that I need to kill. Plus, I think I'll steal your post and list my own later. :)

Jamie Eyberg said...

nice list. I have a slew of stories that are on their final leg of the journey as well. Next time I hear back from them will be it for almost half of the stories I have out.

Katey said...

Man, I cannot wait to see some of those TBR ones.

This is an awesome post, and inspiring. I'm not the quickest with the short fiction, but seeing this makes me hope I actually have, I don't know, more than ten to pick from some day. So awesome.

I have have enough stories published or sold with teenage/preteen boys as main characters to fill a collection.Hey, now that's a good idea!

No, I mean it. You know we all have a 13 year old boy inside us, man. We can all connect! ;)

K.C. Shaw said...

I think you've just retired more stories than I've written in the last year or two!

I'm proud of "Sand-Skin Man" (that appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies #7), and "Snow Magic" (that appeared in Fictitious Force #6). I think those are my best two "grown-up" stories. Mostly I write silly stories, though, and I'm inordinately fond of "Gaming Real Life" (which appeared in the winter 2008 MindFlights) and "The King's Messenger" (Reynard's Menagerie #5).

I need to go through and decide which of my unsold stories need to be reworked, which need to be retired, and which need to be sent back out into the world. That's a perfect task for a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Danielle Birch said...

I love top 10's. I have a top 5 of my favourite characters.