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The Cover for Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions!

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Campaign 2100 Front FinalHere’s the cover! The novel will be out on March 8, from World Weaver Press. It’s also up on Goodreads, where we’ll have a Giveaway – more info on that soon. It’ll be available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Books-a-Million, and Omnilit.

Here’s what Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Quantum Night, wrote: “Larry Hodges is an insightful political commentator and a kick-ass science-fiction writer. A dynamite novel full of twists and turns; this futuristic House of Cards is both entertaining and thought-provoking.”

Back Cover Text

It is the year 2100, and the world has adopted the American two-party electoral system. The cutthroat father-daughter team of Toby and Lara Platt ran the successful 2095 campaign of the Frenchman Corbin Dubois for president of Earth. Toby soon realizes it was a horrible mistake.

An alien ambassador lands outside the United Nations, sparking a crisis. Inspired by the ambassador, Toby resigns from the campaign in protest of Dubois’s corrupt politics—but his daughter Lara takes over. Toby decides to challenge the two major parties—one conservative, one liberal—and run for president himself with a third-party moderate challenge. He vows to put his daughter out of a job.

The alien ambassador tags along on the campaign trail as she learns the violent history and eye-opening politics of 2100 Earth. The campaign for president of Earth takes us to every continent as father and daughter battle for electoral votes and clash over the ideas and issues facing the world of 2100 in this bare-knuckle, fight-to-the-finish political campaign.

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Cover Reveal in Two Days!

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larry1_sm2I normally blog here every Monday, but I’m going to postpone it two days until Wednesday – that’s when we’ll have the big cover reveal for Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions

!!! It’s gone through many variations and iterations, but we’ve pretty much finalized it now. See you in 48 hours!

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Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions – Press Release

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larry1_sm2The following press release just went out to 382 media outlets. (Side note – the cover is almost ready, and will likely be unveiled next week. Here’s the World Weaver Press page for the novel.)

“CAMPAIGN 2100: GAME OF SCORPIONS”
BY LARRY HODGES

Alpena, MI (February 4, 2016) – World Weaver Press has announced Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions, a satirical drama by Larry Hodges that covers the election for president of Earth in the year 2100, will be available in trade paperback and ebook Tuesday, March 8, 2016. 

Praise for Campaign 2100:

“Larry Hodges is an insightful political commentator and a kick-ass science-fiction writer. A dynamite novel full of twists and turns; this futuristic House of Cards is both entertaining and thought-provoking.”

— Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Quantum Night

 Platt ran the successful 2095 campaign of the Frenchman Corbin Dubois for president of Earth. Toby soon realizes it was a horrible mistake.

An alien ambassador lands outside the United Nations, sparking a crisis. Inspired by the ambassador, Toby resigns from the campaign in protest of Dubois’s corrupt politics—but his daughter Lara takes over. Toby decides to challenge the two major parties—one conservative, one liberal—and run for president himself with a third-party moderate challenge. He vows to put his daughter out of a job.

The alien ambassador tags along on the campaign trail as she learns the violent history and eye-opening politics of 2100 Earth. The campaign for president of Earth takes us to every continent as father and daughter battle for electoral votes and clash over the ideas and issues facing the world of 2100 in this bare-knuckle, fight-to-the-finish political campaign.

Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions will be available in trade paperback and ebook via Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Kobo.com, WorldWeaverPress.com, and other online retailers, and for wholesale through Ingram.

Larry Hodges, from Germantown, MD, was going to be a math professor (bachelor’s in math), but science fiction writing and table tennis (yes, ping-pong) sidetracked him, and now he writes (and coaches the latter) for a living. He is an active member of Science Fiction Writers of America with over 70 short story sales. Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions is his third novel, and combines three of his favorite things: science fiction, politics, and table tennis. He’s a graduate of the six-week 2006 Odyssey Writers Workshop and the 2008 Taos Toolbox Writers Workshop, and is a member of Codexwriters.com. His story “The Awakening” was the unanimous grand prize winner at the 2010 Garden State Horror Writers Short Story Competition. He’s a full-time writer with eleven books and over 1600 published articles in over 150 different publications. He also writes about and coaches the Olympic Sport of Table Tennis, is a member of the USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame (Google it!), and once beat someone using an ice cube as a racket. Visit him at larryhodges.org.

World Weaver Press is an independently owned publisher of fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction. We believe in great storytelling.

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Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions – Release Date March 8

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larry1_sm2Last week in my blog I wrote about the release of the novel on Jan. 26 (yesterday), and the mysterious “Top Secret” cover for the novel. And now the truth has come out – not just for you, but for me as well.

Why was I so mysterious about the cover last week? Because I hadn’t seen it, and had no clue what would be on the cover, despite the fact that at that point, the novel was supposed to have already been at the printer, with copies available two days later for the Confusion SF Convention in Michigan. However, all was not as it seemed.

I’d been emailing with the publisher for many weeks, asking about the cover, and couldn’t get an answer. So you can imagine how my frustration grew daily as the release day approached and the publisher simply wouldn’t discuss the cover with me. I finally resigned myself to the idea that I, the writer, wasn’t to be “in the loop” regarding the cover, and that I wouldn’t see the cover of my own novel until after it was published. You can imagine my thoughts on that. I was also frustrated by the lack of any pre-release publicity – not even a press release. I was told that would go out after publication, i.e. there would be no attempt at building up buzz. Again, I was not happy. There was also an “Upcoming Books” listing at the publisher’s page, but my novel wasn’t on it – neither were any others – it was blank.

Then, late on Thursday night, Jan. 21, five days before the scheduled release, I got that email no author wants to hear – the publisher was closing down!!! Finally I learned why there had been no cover or publicity – since the publisher was closing, the novel wasn’t to be published.(I was asked not to go public with this info until the end of the week, so we’re well past that.)

Or was it?

One day later I received an email from one of the assistant editors, who was negotiating to buy the company. And lo and behold, it looks like that’s happening, and so World Weaver Press will continue! And they still want to publish my novel. However, it’ll have to be postponed. The publication date is now March 8, assuming all goes well.

Hip Hip Hooray!!!

The down side is that the novel was long planned to come out in the middle of the presidential election, since it’s a political novel that covers the race for president of Earth in the year 2100. (With a third-party moderate challenge, a father pitted against a daughter, and an alien ambassador observing and often participating.) The plan was to have it out before the Iowa caucuses, which will be held Feb. 1 (next Monday). So we’ll lose some of that. In an ideal world, of course, the plan is that I’ll be interviewed on all the news shows along with all the candidates, and of course Trump will attack it, calling me a “hack writer,” and that’ll make it a best seller.

Or perhaps Trump will sue me, because he’s in the novel – sort of. I wrote the novel long before he entered the race for president, so I wasn’t taking advantage of that. One of the four main characters is a professional table tennis player who drops out of the pro circuit to run the worldwide third-party challenge for the presidency. He is sponsored by Trump Sports, and uses Trump table tennis equipment! Yep, I decided to make the imaginary Trump Sports a big company in the year 2100, where it’s mentioned six times – the pro table tennis player uses a Trump Maestro Prime racket, wears Trump table tennis shoes, and at one point browses over a pack of Trump sports cards, where the best table tennis players in the world are featured. (He’s disgusted because he’s not included. That Trump is such a hack!)

Of course, Trump does play table tennis, right? (Yeah, I put that graphic together. Please, Mr. Trump, sue me!!!)

The upside to all of this is that now we’ll have time to build up buzz, and we’ll still get the novel out during the height of the presidential race. So . . . should I wear makeup when I get interviewed on CNN?

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One Week to the Launch of Campaign 2100!

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C2100-vanilla-cover-smMy novel, “Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions,” will be released by World Weaver Press on Tuesday, Jan. 26, one week from today! (And no, the image to the left is not the actual cover – see the “Final Cover To Come” note, and note below.)

The novel covers the election for president of Earth in the year 2100. It’s “West Wing meets the 22nd Century.” It features a third-party moderate challenge to the reigning conservative and liberal parties – some may read it as a Moderate Manifesto. There’s also an alien ambassador observing, so readers learn our future politics and history as he does.

Here’s the updated back cover text:

The year is 2100, and when it comes to the planet-wide presidential election, the father-daughter team of Toby and Lara Platt are the cutthroat campaign directors who get candidates elected by any means necessary—including the current president of Earth, the Frenchman Corbin Dubois. But when an alien ambassador lands outside the United Nations, Dubois goes to war with her. In protest, Toby resigns.

When Lara takes over the campaign, Toby vows to put his daughter out of a job. He challenges the two major parties—one conservative, one liberal—and runs for president himself with a third-party moderate challenge.

Amid rising tensions and chants of “Alien go home!” the campaign trail crisscrosses continents as father and daughter battle for electoral votes and clash over ideas and issues facing the world of 2100 in this bare-knuckle, fight-to-the-finish political campaign. The world is watching. And so is the alien.

Now you are probably wondering about the cover. You can see the “current” cover over at Goodreads (and above). As you can see, it says, “Final Cover to Come.” And, here’s where things get mysterious. For top-secret reasons – TOP SECRET!!! – I can’t show the cover to you now. Why can’t I show you? Hah, you’ll just have to wait for the unveiling for the explanation! So let the buzz begin – what is on the cover of Campaign 2100??? What is so secret about it that Larry can’t show it to us? Will this truly be the greatest book cover ever, as rumored? Stay tuned as we live out this clandestine drama that, 77 years ago, Winston Churchill (who is quoted in the novel) described as a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. (Or was that Russia? Which goes to war with China and Japan during the novel?)

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Reading Recommendations from World Weaver Press, and the Odyssey Writing Workshop

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larry1_sm2Reading Recommendations from World Weaver Press, and the Odyssey Writing Workshop

You are probably counting the days or perhaps the minutes until the next episode or book comes out in the Game of Thrones series. But if you really like the writing of George R.R. Martin, here’s a shocker: he’s written other novels! Over at World Weaver Press, they’ve put up reading recommendations for their writers and staff, and mine is “Tuf Voyaging,” published in 1986 by, you guessed it, George R.R. Martin. Here’s what I wrote of it:

“Anyone not in a coma the last few years has heard of A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, but many have not stopped to consider that maybe, just maybe, he might have written previous novels. I recently read one of his best, Tuf Voyaging. Originally published in 1986, it’s basically a series of related short stories that cover the adventures of the highly eccentric Haviland Tuf, a giant, overweight, pale, vegetarian food-loving, cat-loving, hyper-honest genius who becomes the owner of the Ark, a 30-kilometer ancient ship with incredible ecological engineering capabilities. Tuf’s do-goodism is constantly misunderstood as he travels the galaxy, alone other than his feline companions, solving planetary problems and righting wrongs, often with controversial solutions and over the objections of those he is helping. It’s both a fascinating character study and an environmental satire, and a hoot to read.”

So why don’t you head over to World Weaver Press and read the recommendations and reviews from the others? They include:

  • “Hand of Fire” by Judith Starkston
  • “Life Without Harry” by Sara Dobie Bauer
  • “Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales told by Virginia Hamilton and illustrated” by Leo & Diane Dillon
  • “Sparrow Hill Road” by Seanan McGuire
  • “A Darker Shade of Magic” by V. E. Schwab
  • “Monster” by Naoki Urasawa (manga)
  • “Hawkeye” comic by Matt Fraction
  • “Juliet’s Nurse” by Lois Leveen
  • “Jason Crane” series by Richard Gleaves
  • “Karen Memory” by Elizabeth Bear
  • “Cinnamon and Gunpowder” by Eli Brown
  • “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik
  • “Superposition” by David Walton
  • “The Best of Connie Willis: Award-Winning Stories”
  • “Hiding from the Reaper and Other Horror Poems” by Michael Potts
  • “Blood Chimera” by Jenn Lyons
  • “Sing Me Your Scars” by Damien Angelica Walters
  • “Far Orbit Apogee” edited by Bascomb James

Note – World Weaver Press will be publishing my novel, “Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions,” on Jan. 26. More on that in the coming weeks!

Odyssey Writing Workshop

If you are an aspiring writer, have you considered applying for the six-week Odyssey Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop? It would be a life-changing experience for you! I went in 2006. It also qualifies you to be a part of “The Never-Ending Odyssey,” where graduates get together once a year for nine days and run our own writing workshop. (I’ll blog more about this later on.)

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More Pings and Pongs

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More Pings and Pongmore-pings-and-pongs-front-cover-sms is out, in both print and kindle formats! This is the second anthology of my short stories, and includes the 25 best stories I’ve sold and published since 2012. The first one, “Pings and Pongs,” came out in 2012. From God getting Earth critiqued in a workshop, to a dragon landing on the U.S. Capitol, from a dead kid on a high school track team battling the Mile Mafia, to the first ten U.S. presidents battling each other and alien vacationers on an alien computer, here are more stories from the feverish mind of Larry Hodges!

Many of these stories were critiqued in writing workshops, such as at the “The Never-Ending Odyssey” (an annual nine-day workshop by graduates of the six-week Odyssey Science Fiction & Fantasy Writing Workshop – I’m class of 2006), and others at Codexwriters.com, an online community for experienced Science Fiction & Fantasy writers.

Ironically, the very first story in the anthology is “Workshop Gods,” a satire on writing workshops. What happens when a very nervous God gets bad critiques for the planet Earth in his workshop for planetary creation, and he decides to cheat in order to qualify for SFWA (Supernatural Formation of Worlds Association)? The opening line is “God fidgeted.”

Here’s the Introduction to More Pings and Pongs, which also explains the title:

In 2012 I published “Pings and Pongs,” an anthology of the 30 best short stories I’d sold at that time. Since then I’ve been typing and selling away – and here are 25 more!

I’ve divided them into three sections: Fantasy (6 stories); Science Fiction (8); and Short Stuff (11). I’m told I tend to write with a light touch, and many of the stories are humorous. However, a few are a bit darker, such as the award-winning stories “Rationalized” and “The Awakening.” Read over the story descriptions in the Table of Contents to see which stories interest you, or just read it straight through from the start!

You may be wondering about the title, “Pings and Pongs.” In the real world, I make my living as a professional table tennis writer and coach. Really! Ping-Pong, or its more proper name table tennis, do make their way into a few of these stories, in particular in “Ping-Pong Ambition.” You can read about my table tennis exploits at www.TableTennisCoaching.com, or see my science fiction & fantasy page at www.larryhodges.org.

Here’s the text from the back cover:

Here are 25 stories from the feverish mind of Larry Hodges. God cheats to save Earth from a bad critique and annihilation in a planetary workshop…An English professor and a supercomputer battles a muse who turns all writing into masterpieces…A dead kid joins the high school track team and battles his killer and the Mile Mafia…A wizard and a warrior battle in the belly of a dragon…William Shakespeare has ten trillion typing chimpanzees in his basement…A city of lost souls lives in the backbone of the Devil…An underground society battles to hide their secret – their emotions weren’t surgically removed at age 13…A man becomes a universe and battles his vengeful tendencies…A 4-D artists messes with a 3-D fly and ends up at war…The first ten U.S. presidents battle each other and alien vacationers in an alien computer…The U.S. president gets sucked into the Galaxy Girding Grid…A huge dragon swoops out of the sky and lands on the U.S. Capitol – what’s the president to do?…and many more!

So let me very crassly ask you to buy your copy today – or I’ll sic Shakespeare’s chimpanzees, the mile mafia, and that fly mentioned above on you. You don’t want to mess with the fly.

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Political Campaign SF – a New Sub-Genre?

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larry1_sm2

Presidential politics has dominated the news for years. Few stories are more compelling than a bare-knuckle, fight-to-the-finish political campaign. And yet, where are the SF stories that cover this?

I’m sure there are some out there, but I must have missed them. Sure, there are SF novels about presidents and other leaders, but they generally cover things that happen while they are leaders, not the titanic election campaigns that got them there. Or they cover coups or revolutions that create leaders. But what about the drama of the ballot box?

It’s sort of a puzzle to me. What has trumped (!) the U.S. news for months, and does so every four years? The race for president. It’s like the number one story everywhere, with a cast of characters – and I do mean characters! – seemingly right out of character development 101: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Carly Fiorina, and so on. George R.R. Martin couldn’t have done better! And we haven’t even gotten into the other cast of characters, the numerous people in conflict with these people. (Or at least with Trump.)

It has natural conflict – think of all the one-on-one battles going on this year, and the somewhat inevitable at this point battle between Hillary and Trump. Or in past years – Obama vs. Romney and McCain; Bush vs. Kerry and Gore; Clinton vs. Dole and Bush Sr.; Bush Sr. vs. Dukakis; Reagan vs. Mondale and Carter; Carter vs. Ford; Nixon vs. Humphrey; Johnson vs. Goldwater; Kennedy vs. Nixon; and Eisenhower vs. Stevenson. (And don’t forget the subplots – the primaries.) Each of these was a proverbial war between good and evil (which was which?), with huge resources on each side battling to the bitter end, with a bitterly divided audience in the hundreds of millions. Wouldn’t that be a nice audience for a novel?

My upcoming novel, “Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions,” dramatizes and satirizes presidential politics in creating this new sub-genre, campaign science fiction. It is West Wing in the 22nd Century. The underlying theme of the novel is moderation in politics; some will read it as a Moderate Manifesto. It comes out in late January from World Weaver Press. Here’s a short description:

It is the year 2100, and the world has adopted the American two-party electoral system. The father-daughter team of Toby and Lara Platt ran the successful 2095 campaign of Corbin Dubois for president of Earth. Toby soon realizes it was a horrible mistake.

Early in the 2100 re-election campaign, an alien ambassador lands outside the United Nations, sparking a crisis. Inspired by the ambassador, Toby finally resigns from the campaign in protest of Dubois’s extreme policies. Daughter Lara takes over the campaign. Toby decides to challenge the two major parties–one conservative, one liberal–and run for president himself with a third-party moderate challenge. He vows to put his daughter out of a job.

The campaign for president of Earth takes us to every continent as father and daughter battle for electoral votes and clash over the ideas and issues facing the world of 2100.

On a side note, I’ll be away from Dec. 12-27, and then will be busy doing various holiday stuff, and so my next blog won’t be until Monday, January 4. See you all then!

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Odyssey and Odyssey Online Workshop

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larry1_sm2

Odyssey is offering three online workshops early next year, with registration deadlines coming up – two of them have deadlines on Monday and Wednesday, Dec. 7 and 9. Odyssey is a science fiction writing workshop, with the main focus the six-week annual class held each summer. I went in 2006 – here’s the class photo! (I’m on the far left, middle row. Writer-in-Residence that week was Robert J. Sawyer, in the middle, with Director/Teacher Jeanne Cavelos – in red shirt – to his immediate left. Yes, Jeanne is a surviving redshirt.) It was at Odyssey that I learned the foundation of my SF writing. I go back nearly every year to The Never-Ending Odyssey (TNEO), a nine-day workshop for graduates also held each summer – I’ve been to that six times now.

Here are the three online courses coming up:

Monday, Dec. 7 is the deadline to register for the first one, “Three-Act Structure in Fantastic Fiction,” taught by Odyssey director Jeanne Cavelos. The course meets Jan. 4 – Feb. 2, 2016. If you are having any type of plotting problems and want to strengthen your story structure, I strongly recommend this. This is likely similar to what was taught in the six-week Odyssey workshop I went to with Jeanne in 2006, and yet I’m tempted to take the course as a refresher. (Alas, I don’t have time right now.) Here’s an excerpt describing the class:

“Does your story or novel lack momentum, suspense, and escalation? Do you feel you’re making plot decisions randomly? Are you missing crisis points of impact and emotion? Do readers say “ho hum” or “hunh?” to your climax? One of the greatest weaknesses of developing writers is plot. One of the best tools for strengthening plot is the act. Plotting in acts creates a more suspenseful, unpredictable, and emotionally satisfying experience for the reader. This course will start by defining key units of structure–the scene, chapter, and act–and explore why we need acts. We’ll discuss the effect of acts, the importance of acts, how acts work in short fiction and novels, and how acts are used in science fiction, fantasy, and horror. How does one identify an act? When are three acts appropriate? Why are three acts so popular and powerful? We’ll learn how to plot in three acts. What makes a strong three-act plot and what makes a weak three-act plot? We’ll look at powerful methods and weak methods of ending an act. We’ll explore how to create a causal chain that generates escalations and leads to a strong climax, the qualities of a strong climax, how subplots work within three-act structure, the unifying role of theme, and the critical connection between structure and character transformation. With a strong act structure, the protagonist will face challenges that will put him, and the reader, through an experience they will never forget.”

Wednesday, Dec. 9 is the deadline to register for the second one, “Getting the Big Picture: The Key to Revising Your Novel.” I’ll let you go there for the description – but if you are currently revising your novel, or think you might be doing so at some point, jump in there!

You have a little more time for the third, “Point of View: The Intersection of Character and Plot,” with the deadline on Dec. 26, 2015. But that’s the day after Christmas, and some might forget about it that day, so I suggest registering early.

Of course, if you really want an inundation workshop where you can completely jumpstart your SF and fantasy writing, and have a memorable experience that you’ll never forgot while making lifelong writing friends – consider applying for the six-week workshop. I absolutely guarantee you won’t regret it, and then we can meet each year at TNEO!

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Short Story Submissions – Business or Hobby?

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larry1_sm2

A long time ago in an idealistic frame of mind far, far from the current more pragmatic state I began submitting stories to science fiction and fantasy markets. I was more or less in the Snoopy frame of mind when it all began, and just couldn’t wait for all the acceptances and checks to arrive.

1326 rejections later I’m a little more realistic about the markets out there. I’ve made a total of 1399 submissions (excluding current ones) and sold 73 stories, a 5.2% acceptance rate. Sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it?

Actually, much of this is apples and oranges. Mixing the submission rates of the top markets with those at the lower levels is like comparing a player’s batting average against major league vs. little league pitching. The top markets are inundated with submissions, and have acceptance rates something like 1 in 500 or so. It’s actually even worse for most of us since they have spots reserved for “name” authors (who have earned that right and consistently write great stories), but it means that for the rest of us, the acceptance rate might be 1 in 1000. Yeah, about 0.1%.

At the lower levels, the acceptance rate might be as high as 1 in 10, or 10%. Some “for the luv” markets (i.e. no payment) have rates something like 1 in 3. There’s a wide variance here, but the basic idea is that if you write pretty well, and are persistent in submitting, it’s not hard to get published at the lower levels.

At what point is all this submitting change from hobby to business? That’s a tough call. I like to think of myself as a professional, even though I don’t get nearly enough money from SF writing to make a living. (I actually get lots of money from writing about the Olympic sport of table tennis – yep, enough to make a living, with seven books and 1400+ published articles on the sport, and a daily table tennis blog, along with professional coaching.) So I try to keep the stories out there in the markets, relentlessly sending them out to new markets the same day they are rejected by foolish well-meaning editors. I currently have 18 short stories in submission, with 12 other stories in abeyance, i.e. waiting for an appropriate market to open up. (Often this is because I have a story in submission to a market, and so can’t submit until I get the result of that one.)

There was a time when I’d keep sending stories out, from the highest to the lowest markets, until it sold. These days I’m a bit pickier, as I’m more interested in making “good” sales than just making a sale at sub-minimum wage level. So if a story doesn’t sell to the better markets, but I believe in the story, I’ll hold back and see if perhaps an anthology opens up that it might fit, or a new high-level market. They come and go regularly. It means that even though my writing has hopefully improved, my acceptance rates are probably about the same, since I’m going for more difficult markets.

Meanwhile, I keep writing news ones – I have five in various stages of progress. However, recently I’ve moved up another level in the professional scale as I sold a SF novel to World Weaver Press, “Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions.” And so I need to focus more on novels, including the sequel to this one, which I’m now 17,000 words into. But I still like to do short stories even if they aren’t particularly profitable. There are a few pro markets out there that I’m determined to break into – call it a professional challenge – and so I’ll continue to write short stories along with novels.

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