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2021: SF Writing Year in Review

January 6, 2022 by

larry-capclave2021-lgBut for me, it was a pretty good year. I sold 15 stories and had ten published. Strange thing about the ten published is that two were in November and five in December, so it was a bottom-heavy year. (Altogether, I’ve sold 124 short stories, including an even 40 at SFWA “pro” markets, six of them last year.) One nice breakthrough – for some reason, I’d never been able to sell anything to Daily Science Fiction. But I ended the year with two consecutive sales to them, in Nov. and Dec., which should come out sometime this year. Here are the stories I sold or published 2021, with the word count in parenthesis:

  1. Global Warming is a Hoax Said the Alien in the Spare Bedroom (3200) to Galaxy’s Edge
  2. Prototype Solar System with Strings Attached (1100) to Galaxy’s Edge
  3. Soul Testing in Major League Baseball (1300) to Daily Science Fiction
  4. Four Score and Seven Years of the End of America: A Bibliography (350) to Daily Science Fiction
  5. Madam Hitler (6900) to New Myths
  6. Love Drops (1100) New Myths; published Dec 2021
  7. The Annual Times Square Paint Dry (150) to Stupefying Stories; published Dec 2021
  8. The Devil’s Backbone (7000) to Alternative Deathiness; published Dec 2021
  9. Space Force: First Victory (900) to Alternative Space Forces; published Dec 2021
  10. Space Force: The Poem (300) to Alternative Space Forces; published Dec 2021
  11. The Purple Rose of Retribution (5500) to Utopia Science Fiction; published Nov 2021
  12. Ninety-Nine Sextillion Souls in a Ball (3600) to Dark Matter; published Nov 2021
  13. Nanogod (4600) to Dark Matter; published May 2021
  14. Galactic He-Men and Cheating Camels (100) to Martian Magazine; published May 2021
  15. The Pushovers of Galactic Baseball Fame (1000) to Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction; published Feb 2021

I had another story coming out in 2021, “The Vampire on the Tesseract Wall (3900), at Amazing Stories, but they went into limbo. They paid me a $116 “kill” fee, and the story is back on the market. (What happens when 4-D beings import living creatures from Earth as decorations for their wall – but mistakenly take a vampire? It’s a mixture of SF and fantasy.)

I am pretty prolific. On Jan. 1, when a number of markets opened, I submitted a bunch of stories. My current count is 42 stories in submission (some markets allow multiple submissions); 45 stories on hold waiting for markets; ten stories that are “finalized” but waiting to be critiqued at critters.org and/or TNEO (which I’ll be attending this summer for the 14th time, including eleven years in a row); and 16 stories that I’ve started, some almost done, some I might not get back to.

But I spend a LOT of time on each of these stories. Each goes through multiple drafts. I’ll spend a lot of time writing it, then put it aside. Later, I’ll go over it again with a fresh mind, and do major rewriting. Then I put it aside again, and come back to it later with a fresh mind, and then “finalize” it. Then I send it in for critiquing at critters.org, along with three that go to TNEO.

I attended one workshop and only two SF conventions in 2021, the least I’ve been to since 2005.

  • Balticon (May 28-30)
  • Capclave (Oct. 1-3)
  • TNEO workshop (July 23-31)

It’s been a busy year outside SF as well. As some may know, I’m also a professional table tennis coach and writer. (Of my 17 books, nine are on table tennis, one is a travel book, the rest F&SF. As I often jokingly tell people, I’m the best table tennis player in SFWA, and the best SF writer in USATT!) I did a lot of traveling for table tennis last year, including coaching USA Junior Teams in major events in Ecuador and Jordan:

  • 29-30: Coached Maryland Junior Team at the Ohio Open.
  • 12-14: Coached Maryland Junior Team at the Wasserman Ohio Junior Championships.
  • 16-18: Coached Maryland Junior Team at the Cary Open in Cary, NC.
  • June 3-6: Coached Maryland Junior Team at the USA Under 15 and Under 19 Junior Team Trials in Milpitas, CA.
  • June 18-20: Coached Maryland Junior Team at the USA Under 11, Under 13, and Under 17 Junior Team Trials in Westchester, NY.
  • July 4-9: Coached Maryland Junior Team at the USA Nationals in Las Vegas.
  • 5: Coached Maryland Junior Team at the Westchester Teams in NY.
  • 10-28: Coached USA Junior Team in Cuenca, Ecuador, at an international camp and three tournaments in 19 days. The first event was the Pan Am Hopes Championships, for the best players in North and Latin America under age 12. The player I coached, Ryan Lin, was seeded sixth but came in second! This qualified him for the World Hopes in Jordan. I also coached the Under 13 Boys’ team at the Pan Am Youth Championships and the ITTF Contender Open, where they won a bunch of medals.
  • 26-28: Coached the Maryland Junior Team at the North American Team Championships in Washington DC.
  • 8-15: Coached USA Junior Team in Amman, Jordan, at the World Hopes Camp and Tournament (for the best players in the world under age 12). The player I coached, Ryan Lin, finished 7th – in the world – and is now on the World Hopes Team (top ten in the world).
  • 17-22: Coached Maryland Team at the US Open in Las Vegas. Also played in Hardbat Singles, where (shockingly for my age) I made the final (I’ve won it twice), and winning Hardbat Doubles for the 14th time. (Most events are with “sponge” rackets; hardbat is a separate event where players use old-style pimpled rubber without sponge. I normally play and coach with sponge but do hardbat as well.)

The most irritating to happen to me in 2021 (besides the obvious) was that the World Science Fiction Convention was held right next door to me in Washington DC (30 min away), Dec. 15-19, but I had to miss it as I was coaching, back to back, in Amman, Jordan and then Las Vegas – and trying to adjust to the ten-hour time difference!!!

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