Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Strike Three

In a mind-bogglingly thrilling turn of events that has me leaping around the room excitedly while trying to type, I can anounce my third professional sale, coming hot on the heels of the second.

My short story Travel by Numbers has been accepted by none other than Nature magazine.

This is doubly thrilling for me. I've always worked in the scientific arena where having a paper published in Nature is the ultimate accolade (except for a Nobel prize, of course), so to have a story appearing in that journal is far more exciting than you can beleive!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Illuminations Reviewed

Our flash fiction anthology Illuminations has been reviewed at The Fix.

It's a mixed review that amazingly comments on every story in the book. Here are a couple of comments on my stories:

The “Frozen” scene described in this tale contains intriguing elements. I’m not sure I understand the mechanisms at work, but I’m also unsure that was essential for the story’s effect. The idea of capturing a moment in time seems particularly appropriate for this length of work, and as such, I found it successful.

The “Delayed Reaction” of the “biolithic creature” at the heart of this uber-flashy flash has some far-reaching and unexpected consequences. The creature’s reaction may be delayed, but the reader’s pleasant reaction to this well-realized bit of fiction should be immediate.

I was pleased with those comments - out of all my stories those are probably the two most thoughtful that I've written. They're not necessarily my favourites; others are just fun.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Flash Fiction: Gone With the Window

Gone With the Window will be appearing in the 2011 Daily Flash anthology from Pill Hill Press.

Ok, so the title's a little corny. It gets to the point rather more quickly than its namesake that I once wasted an afternoon watching.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It's A Sign

Yes, you're all wrong. You didn't really have a chance of guessing that I've sold an amended version of It's a Sign, the story I wrote during the Eastercon Flash Fiction Workshop, to VW Camper magazine.

The moral to this tale is: don't limit your markets. My other professional sale was to Cosmsos, a science magazine, so there's no need to stick just to genre magazines. Use your imagination, go and search out new markets, new magazines, and boldly submit where no one has...

Sorry, got carried away. I've submitted to 2 other non-genre magazines that I'm also waiting to hear back from. I'll let you know.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Second Professional Sale

I've made my second short story sale to a professional market! It's not a magazine that would immediately spring to mind though. Actually, it's not listed on Duotropes or Ralans. They don't normally publish fiction, in fact. I emailed them on spec and got an answer the same day.

Leave a comment or send me an email with your guess.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hub 50th Issue

This week, Hub magazine reaches the landmark issue 50. It’s an impressive issue count, and although it’s only one story per week, the work that goes into getting an issue out every week must be phenomenal.

My story Inside Every Successful Man featured in an earlier issue and this week’s issue features a story by fellow Fictioneer Martin McGrath.

Ever Growing Ranks

To the ever growing ranks of the Friday Flash Fictioneers, we add this week a writer going by the name of Phred Serenissma. Welcome aboard!

Meanwhile, the Fictioneers are plotting something wonderfully literate...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Flash Fiction: A Change is as Good as a Rest

A Change is as Good as a Rest
By Gareth D Jones

The respectable-looking man in the dark grey travel suit stalked along the row of display cases, his iron grey hair and pallid complexion giving him the air of somebody perpetually shrouded in fog. His face was lined, but not heavily so. Just enough to make him look learned, or experienced perhaps. He looked decidedly younger than the usual clientele.

“Can I help?” Cassie asked him, years in the business making her cautious about this one. He didn’t fit the profile. Her tone made Dan look up from his figures. Years of marriage had made him sensitive to every nuance of her voice.

“Yes,” the man replied, drawing out the vowel in a way that was somehow sinister. “How soon can you fit me in?”

Cassie glanced at the clock, though she new perfectly well there was plenty of time for a treatment before closing time. Dan nodded at her and came out from behind the counter.

“We’re free this afternoon,” he said. “Did you have anything in particular in mind?” he gestured along the row of cadavers preserved in pristine clear cases. The man pondered a moment as if uncertain, though Cassie could tell he was already committed. Something was driving the man, and whatever it was, it was unlikely to be good.

“We’ve been in the business twenty three years,” she said, “we’re family run, and all work carries a life-time guarantee.” It was a familiar patter to re-assure their usual customers who were normally quite shaken and unsure of themselves. Waking at the end of a long voyage to find that your cryosleep capsule has malfunctioned and you now look a hundred and ten can do that to you.

“I’d like this one,” the man decided, pointing at a rugged looking chap in his thirties with tightly curled black hair and prominent jaw. Convicted murderer, Cassie recalled. Mindwiped and put on ice three weeks earlier.

“A good choice,” she said. “Come through to the waiting room where we can take you through some preliminaries.”

She soon had their new client comfortable in a reclining chair while she asked several pertinent questions about his medical history.

“Have one of these mint soporigums to chew,” she said. “It’ll help you relax.” Dan bustled into the room as she was handing it over.

“No, no,” he said, “the mint is horrid. Take a fruit flavoured gum instead.” The grey man took the proffered sweet and slipped it into his mouth. Cassie moved away slowly.

“I’ll get everything ready,” she said.

Their customer quickly relaxed and fell asleep. His heart slowed, and stopped.

“What was it?” Cassie asked.

“I checked his image on the nets,” Dan replied. “He’s not come in off any flight. He’s an escaped convict. Slavery, torture, multiple murder, over in Istravia.”

“No extradition,” Cassie nodded understanding. “Much better this way.” She turned back to the silent figure in the chair. “Let’s get him sorted then.”


A while later the door to the shop opened and a young man in trendy felt kimono and fur-lined sandals entered.

“Hi mum, hi dad,” he said, walking across the shop to the door at the back that led to their apartment. He paused. “New cadaver? Looks a bit old to me.” He walked on, not giving the new grey resident another glance in it’s gleaming display case.

“To somebody, he’ll look young,” Dan said, thinking of the ill-fortuned passengers that usually entered their shop. Cassie smiled up at him fondly.

The End

I wrote this story for the Aphelion flash fiction challenge in February. It turns out to be much harder to write for somebody else’s guidelines than just to write whatever you want. I don’t know whether it’s noticeable to the casual reader, but to me the prose is slightly awkward where I’ve crammed in all the ingredients required by the challenge. I do like the central concept of the body shop though; I may expand on that in future.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Parallel Languages

One of my first Friday Flash Fiction entries from last summer was Parallels, and I've heard today from Spanish flash fiction webzine Efimeras that it has been accepted for translation and publication in Spanish. It's slated to appear in issue #132 in June.

This will be the fifth story they've accepted from me, and is also the tenth publication I have scheduled for this year. I had eight stories in Illuminations, but I'm counting that as one publication. Last year's total of 14 publications is looking attainable again this year!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Global Statistics

Here's a breakdown of my last 100 visitors as collated by Site Meter. About what I thought, the UK / US split, but with some surprising additions. The strange thing is that these are all genuine visitors from around the world. Welcome, world!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Editors: Ian Redman

Jupiter magazine has this month clocked up its 20th issue and become a veritable mainstay of the small press field in the UK.

I chatted to editor Ian Redman while taking in the sights as we revolved slowly round the London Eye. Or, more correctly, we corresponded by email.

GDJ: Jupiter is approaching its 5th anniversary. Did you expect it to keep going that long?

IR: I didn't really have any expectations. I knew from my days publishing Zest how much time and energy these things take, and figured I could fit that in for the next few years and then just see how long it'd go for.

GDJ: Do you have any special plans for the anniversary?

IR: For issue 21 we're getting a special colour cover designed by Jesse Speak. It's a wrap around cover so the art work flows from the front all the way round to the back. But that's about it.

GDJ: Producing a magazine seems like a lot of hard work. What inspired you to give it a go?

IR: Well, when I started Zest my reasons, were simple. I enjoyed reading science fiction, and getting people to send me fiction to read rather than having to buy books just seemed like a cunning move. I don't think anyone really understands what they're getting themselves in for when they start this sort of thing. For Jupiter it was much simpler. I knew I was going to have more time on my hands, knew that I could do it, and just felt that so many small press SF magazines had folded, it was about time one bucked the trend.

GDJ: How did you decide on the look and feel for Jupiter? Do you have any plans to return to colour covers?

IR: I studied design at university and just set myself a brief. I wanted something that was clean, unobtrusive, I didn't want the look of the magazine getting in the way of the fiction, I needed a font that was readable at a small size (the smaller the font size, the more fiction you get for your pound) and most importantly a design that didn't require me to print with a bleed (basically if the printing doesn't need to go right to the edge of the paper, it's cheaper to print). I then just sat down over the course of a few months and this is what I came up with. Choosing the font was probably the most laborious process; it is after all the most important aspect of any text based work, how readable is it? That probably cost several forests printing out different fonts in different sizes before finally settling with what we have now. There have been a few minor changes over the years, but to be honest, the design still fulfils its purpose, and I'm always in favour of “if it ain't broke, don't fix it!”
As for colour covers, above I mentioned we'll have a colour cover for issue 21. But this is just a special 5th anniversary thing. I constantly think about a colour cover long term, but struggle to see it making financial sense. I'd need to raise the cover price, and just don't see it being something people would feel is worth it. I'd rather raise the cover price to give the authors some form of payment (even if token) – something else which is always on my mind. The great authors Jupiter has are so unrewarded at present, hopefully over the next year or so I can go someway to addressing this, but again, things have to be done in a sustainable/stable way.

GDJ: Unlike many other mixed-genre magazines, you concentrate just on Science Fiction. Are there any advantages or disadvantages to that choice?

IR: To be honest, the only disadvantage I can see is that I've cut my market down. Only those interested in Science Fiction will read Jupiter. But I think the advantages are far greater. Mainly, I don't have to read fantasy/horror/crime/anythingelse. Science Fiction is what I enjoy, so it makes sense to concentrate on what I like. I'd be rubbish at selecting good horror stories, and I wouldn't get the same enjoyment out of publishing. There are people far more capable than me when it comes to anything other than Science Fiction. So I let them do what they're good at, and I do what I'm (hopefully) good at. I also feel that being single genre gives Jupiter a certain focus which mixed genre magazines don't have. You don't have to 'work out' which genre this particular story will be and I don't have to worry about upsetting anyone if I don't publish enough of their favourite genre this time.

GDJ: You’ve mentioned on your blog the frustration of receiving completely inappropriate submissions. What other trials do you have to overcome as an editor?

IR: Publishing Jupiter is a joy. I really enjoy it, the only trials are the writers who don't read the guidelines, or at least, don't follow the guidelines. I don't mean just inappropriate submissions, but simple things like not including a word count in the e-mail or covering letter. This is something which saves me a lot of time in choosing which pieces to read when. You have to realise that fiction doesn't come to me in a nice steady stream. Sometimes I'll get nothing for ages, the suddenly loads will come at once. When I’m struggling to reply to everyone in the 2 months I allow, writers ignoring the simple parts of the guidelines gets to be a trial. To put it simply, if I've found a 15 minute window to do some reading, I'll scan the stories I have and find one I can fit into the one sitting. If a piece doesn't have a word count, I'll skip it and go read something else. I guess this is more of a trial for the author than me, just means it'll take longer for their piece to reach the top of the queue! No, the only real trial is people wasting 20 minutes of my time as I work out a piece isn't science fiction. I don't mind reading bad science fiction; I don't mind reading science fiction not suited to Jupiter. Those are at least things I can give constructive advice on. But if it ain’t science fiction what do you say?

GDJ: Several small press and webzines have come to a finish in the past year, while Jupiter continues on. Do you have the secret to longevity?

IR: I've rewritten this answer several times. But I think I've come to the real reason for Jupiter continuing: I always have something to publish. Every issue of Jupiter has about 30000 words, and somehow, every quarter when I come to put Jupiter together, I have about 30000 words set aside. The small press writers out there have never let me down, some times they've come very close, but I've always had the right number of stories for each issue I've published. Being sent great fiction from writers who don't get a lot back for their efforts is what keeps Jupiter going. I might be a small part of things, but put simply, if no one sent me any fiction, there wouldn't be a Jupiter. So hats off to all the amazing men and women I've had the privilege of working with these last 5 years. Jupiter wouldn't be here today without them, and it won't be here in the future if they're not there too.

GDJ: Thanks for taking part.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Naturaly Optimistic

I've submitted a story to Nature magazine! You can't accuse me of not being optimistic!

That's the way to go, or so I've been told: aim high. If the professionals don't want it, go for the semi-pro markets, and so on. At what point you decide the story is obviously rubbish and decide to give up is difficult to determine.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Flash Fiction: Now You See Me

Now You See Me
By Gareth D Jones

Thi story is now under submission.

Rufus Balikind, whom I think of as a cross between Professor Challenger and Thomas Crown, previously appeared in Shooting Stars.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Roadrider Arrived

My copy of Jupiter #20 arrived yesterday and I managed to read one story last night already. I started with Neil Beynon's The Mine, an engrossing tale of post-apocalyptic mining. I may have mentioned before that I particularly like Jupiter because it is exclusively SF, unlike many mixed-genre magazines that include fantasy and horror which I'm not overly interested in. I'd definately recommend taking out a subscription, and not just because you'll get to read the rest of the Roadmaker saga!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Escape Velocity #2 Review

Escape Velocity is a fledgling magazine from Adventure Books of Seattle and for only its second issue I was highly impressed by the quality of fiction. The stories tend to be quite short and are interspersed with articles and an interview, as well as a few other bits and bobs, making it a nice easy read. At almost 100 A4 pages its pretty sizeable, but the clear font and uncramped layout, with numerous B&W illustrations, mean it never feels heavy going.

Read the rest of my review at Whispers of Wickedness.

Monday, April 07, 2008


Jupiter #20: Taygete is now available and contains the third instalment of my Roadmaker Saga, entitled Roadrider.

Also in this issue is The Mine, a story by fellow Flash Fictioneer Neil Beynon.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Illuminated News

Illuminations has gone out to at least one, and possibly two, reviewers at well-known review sites, so we now wait with baited breath...

Meanwhile, not only can you buy direct from the publisher, or from one of the Fictioneers in person, but you can also order via WHSmiths. How great is that?