New Story by me in this month’s Fantasy Magazine!

Just out today, check out a new flash story by me in this month’s Fantasy Magazine!

Although I primarily publish Science Fiction these days, as I reader I was always more of a Fantasy guy. So I am very excited to grace the pages of Fantasy magazine!

So. Fucking. Metal.

by SHANE HALBACH

Baron Samedi pounds the drums and the whole floor shakes. That’s his thing, earthquakes. I heard the Skull Suckers played Santa Monica and the Baron literally brought the whole place down during a blistering solo of “The Devil May Ride.”

Hopefully you know me well enough by now to know that the story has more heart than it first appears!

I believe the story will be available online later this month, but if you can’t wait that long to get it into your hot little hands (or if you just enjoy great content from a great magazine, you can subscribe here!

Fiction Podcasts Part II – The Rest

Continuing on with the great “best of” audio podcast lists from Diabolical Plots, I’m now going to delve into the smaller, or less well known audio podcasts. As is often the case with things like this, these ones are definitely diamonds in the rough and deserve some coverage!

Drabble Cast – Horror-ish? (best of lists here and here)

Drabble Cast bills itself as “strange stories by strange authors for strange listeners (such as yourself)”. Well, I must be strange, because I think this is my favorite of all of the podcasts (and I’m not even through the whole list yet)! I don’t know if it is because these stories are even shorter (the longest pieces are “flash fiction”, and there is also a “drabble” (a story of exactly 100 words) and “twit-fic” (a story of exactly 100 characters). I can usually finish an episode of each leg of my commute. You can check out some of my favorites, such as Teddy Bears and Tea Parties (NOT as nice as it sounds! Very creepy!), or the science-fictional Mongoose (part I, partII). Note that this podcast is very produced, almost more like a radio drama than a simple reading of a story. At first this was distracting to me, but after I got used to it, I kind of liked it.

StarShipSofa  – Science Fiction (best of list here)

This podcast can only be described as adorable. It is so clearly by the people, for the people and the host is such a nice guy, that you can’t help but love it. However, I would definitely not recommend this for everyone. It’s a lot more than just audio fiction. Although they do include at least one story in every episode, it’s more like one feature among many, instead of the main event. The very, very long episodes contain author interviews, genre news, genre history, upcoming book releases, etc. If you’re really into science fiction in general, then there is a lot to offer here. If you just want to hear some fiction, you’re probably better off with something else. But if you’re going to listen to any random episode, why not start off with the one containing the fantastic Pump Six by Paolo Bacigalupi (if this podcast has done nothing else for me, it has at least taught me how to pronounce Bacigalupi!)

Beneath Ceaseless Skies – Fantasy (best of list here)

Beneath Ceaseless Skies describes itself as “the best in literary adventure fantasy”. I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant until I listened to some of the stories. It’s fantasy, but it’s sort of more unique fantasy. Again, we’re not talking about traditional sword and sorcery here. It’s more equivalent to high fantasy meets…strangeness or something. Sort of lyrical world building in a non-traditional setting. For example, check out Mamafield, a story from the point of view of a sentient plant, or Father’s Kill (what can I say, I’m just always a sucker for the dark ones!)

Cast Macabre – Horror (best of list here)

Maybe I’m running out of steam here, but I don’t have much to say about this one. The stories were good and I enjoyed all the ones I listened to. Definitely worth checking out.

Clarkesworld – Science Fiction and Fantasy (best of list here)

I haven’t actually listened to any of these yet, so I can’t say much about it. But there was a best of list, so I will make it there eventually.

Anybody else have any good fiction podcasts? Anybody listen to any of these and have some comments to share? Which were your favorites? Let us know in the comments!

Fiction Podcasts Part I – The Big 3

I spend a lot of time listening to audio fiction. I mostly download full length audio books from the library, but it later I discovered that there are a lot of sites and podcasts out there that do weekly episodes of short fiction.

I have always enjoyed short fiction, but it seems to work especially well in this format. It usually takes me a couple of weeks to listen to a novel, but I can do a piece of short fiction in a day or two, maximum. There are advantages to each length, but I really have been enjoying getting in the car and anticipating a totally new story. It provides great variety.

Most of these have been going for a long time, so there are hundreds of episodes out there. So, you can go browse these sites yourself, or you can do what I did: go off one of the “best of” lists out there on the Internet. I’ve been using the lists over at Diabolical Plots (Get it? Plots? Diabolical Plots?) to get a run-down of where to start. Now certainly my tastes aren’t exactly the same, and I’m sure I’m missing out on some great stories, and on the other hand I don’t always love the stories selected, but it gives me a pretty good flavor of what’s going on there.

When it comes to speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, and/or horror) podcasts, there are three that sort of stand out from the rest as being especially well known and high quality, one for each genre. I don’t think you can really go wrong with any of these, so just pick the appropriate one for the genre you like (or pick all three if you can’t choose, like I did). Again, all of these feature really good short fiction, which can be downloaded totally free. What’s not to love?

Escape Pod – Science Fiction (best of lists here and here).

My super, super condensed list of favorites include stories that vary from hilarious (Connie, Maybe, or The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake) to poignant and sad (Barnaby in Exile). Anybody who thinks science fiction can’t be moving should really check the last one out!

PodCastle – Fantasy (best of lists here and here).

This one really runs the gamut of fantasy, from the more traditional fantasy (Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again) to other, very dark fantasy (The Mermaid’s Tea Party). Note that fantasy here doesn’t necessarily mean traditional sword and sorcery, but many other things in between (take Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz up there…very interesting and non-traditional).

Pseudopod – Horror (best of here and here).

Horror is a genre that I just can’t help but come back to. I love it! So I have a lot of personal favorites here: Hometown HorribleThe Evil-EaterSuicide Notes, Written by an Alien MindThe Button Bin,  and Bottle Babies, to name a few. Particularly, you should stick with Hometown Horrible. It starts slow, but wow does it finish strong!

Stay tuned for tomorrow when I cover some of the smaller fiction podcasts!

Useful Links for Publishing Speculative Fiction Short Stories

As you can tell from the title, I am already going back on my promise about not putting links about publishing up on the web. However, the fact is that I use these links very frequently from multiple locations and part of the reason for this blog was a convenient place for me to keep links that I didn’t want to lose.  I will update this from time to time with new links, but I don’t guarantee anything. So, without further ado, in no particular order:

General Info

  • The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Association – Many, many good links about the business of publishing, specifically those links on this page.
  • Manuscript preparation
  • How to arrive at a publishing word count (which is different than what your computer says it is)
  • The Black Hole – response times for different markets.
  • Several articles that form Old Uncle Orson (Scott Card)’s writing class.
  • Clichéd plot devices, and also for horror.
  • Dean Wesley Smith‘s blog, which contains so, so many great tips on writing. He is also the originator of the Race score:
    • You get one point for every short story in the mail.
    • You get three points for every novel proposal or chapters and outline you have out. (Only three points per book, not per submission )
    • You get eight points for every full novel manuscript you have out to market.
    • Those destined to become known authors achieve a Race score of more than 10 (somewhere more in the neighborhood of 50 – 70)
  • You must immediately sign up for David Farland (a.k.a. Dave Wolverton)’s Daily Kick in the Pants email. Much the same type of stuff as what’s on Dean Wesley Smith’s blog, I would be hard pressed to pick between them.
  • The forums at AbsoluteWrite – absolutely staggering in size. I challenge you to find any publishing question that has not been asked at least 3 times on there somewhere.
  • Miss Snark – this was really for novels and it is now defunct, but there is still a lot of good information about publishing there and also a lot of hooks and such, so you can get an idea about how fresh your concept is. Sort of replaced by Query Shark.
  • The Newbie’s Guide to Publishing a Book – Comprehensive (751 pages!), free, and humorous this has numerous tips and tricks both about writing, publishing and promoting yourself (of which I haven’t found a lot of other resources). I personally take some of it with a grain of salt, and it tends to get repetitive, but it’s still a worthwhile read.
  • Story length
    • <= 500 words – Flash Fiction
    • 500 – 1000 words – Short Short
    • 1000 – 15,000 words – Short Story
    • 17,500 – 25,000 words – Novella
    • 25,000 – 40,000 words – Novelette
    • >= 40,000 words – Novel
  • Heinlein’s Rules For Writing
    • 1. You must write.
    • 2. You must finish what you write.
    • 3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
    • 4. You must put the work on the market.
    • 5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.

Research

  • God Checker – Information on any god you could care to name

Finding Markets

Magazine / Anthology / Contest links

The Big Three

Contests

Magazines / Anthologies