Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Patch up at M-Brane SF

I’m honored to be included in M-Brane #27.  It’s a $2 download but you can swing it, can’t you?  Here’s what editor Christopher Fletcher had to say about it:

Court Merrigan’s offering, “The Patch,” is rather funny but also a little bit puzzling. What exactly is it about? Are we to take in stride, at face value, the rather preposterous circumstances depicted here, or is there an obvious layer of allegory and deliberate commentary that we are expected to contemplate? I am not going to offer any commentary of my own other than to say that it’s an odd entry even in the long catalog of oddness that M-Brane has been. Also, I was mildly surprised to learn that this came from an American author, because it struck me as having some of the same sensibility as a lot of the quirky British stuff that I have published over the last couple of years (longtime readers may know that I have an affinity for such).

 I’m particularly fond of this story.  I wrote the first draft a few years back as an ecstatic newlywed living in a two-room apartment by the Gulf of Thailand, deep in the wonderful throes of an extended Nabokov binge, happily pushing a science fiction plot line just as far as it would go while still retaining coherence as a story.

This story was rejected countless times over the years, mainly (as far as I can tell) for the same reasons this editor liked it.

You won’t regret your two shekels – the stories by Kaolin Fire and Ross Gresham are well worth the price of admission as is the little gem of a science fiction fairy tale in Joyce Chng’s “The Bones Shine Through With Light.”

Rejection #136 – Corium

Got a nice (insofar as it can be) personal rejection from Corium.  The editor, Lauren Becker, even suggested another venue which the story might be right for.  I really appreciate the thought, and will almost certainly take her advice.

Remind me to write her a nice thank you note if the venue she suggested takes the story.

Failure, noted

I’ve had a couple acceptances on the writing front as of late.  But I wouldn’t want to give you the impression that this is the normal run of things.

After a four-year hiatus when I was working on a couple novel manuscripts, I started sending short stories out into the world on July 28th, 2010 (thanks to the magic of Duotrope, I know this down to the date).  Since then, I’ve received 135 rejections to 5 acceptances.  That’s a success ratio of 3.6%.

It seems unfair, somehow, to just list the successes, while pretending the failures don’t exist.

So I set up a new page up above: Failure. I created the first draft of the page almost a month ago, when I got my 100th rejection.  But I chickened out on making it live for reasons obscure to myself.  Well, no more.

I’m also going to be posting on each new rejection as it comes in.

I am inspired in this by Roxane Gay and Dan Moreau.  They are very good writers, the both of them.  You should go read some of what they have written.  Also, they have both handled myriad rejections with great public aplomb.  I aim to be like them.

Twenty-Five Grand

I have a story called “Twenty-Five Grand” up at Pulp Metal.  A sampling:

Like the poor everywhere, at whom life has already tossed so much misery and bullshit that nothing’s shocking, the girl seems unsurprised by the scene. She goes over to her father. She put her arms around his shoulder. He takes his hands away from his head and wraps them around her waist. The sons snuggle in closer. They are crying, too.

She’s not. She looks down on these sorry males, for all the world like they’re her brood. She whispers something to them. Then she looks at me. Her eyes are smoldering finely. A few million years of evolution are plainly on her side.

This is one of the first stories I wrote after I moved to Thailand.  The first draft dates back to 2004.  Sometimes you just have to write about bad folks doing bad things, and this story is one of those.

This story was rejected by, I don’t know, twenty or so mags before I gave up and consigned it to hard drive purgatory.  A few months ago I plucked it from a long-unclicked folder, dolled it up a bit, and sent it back out with a quavering lip and a flouncy new spring dress.  It got rejected a few more times before Jason Michel liked what he saw, for which I thank him.

All you can do is keep on sending your stuff out, while bearing mind Vonnegut’s famous first rule of writing: “Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.”  Sooner or later someone will feel you didn’t waste theirs.

“Drinking With Her” is up at Night Train

I have a new story, “Drinking With Her,” up at Night Train:

Drinking with her, long Tokyo nights descended into blissful haze, into shimmering pools of liquor-tinted light. Sometimes they drank until the sun rose and they were encircled by upturned chairs and bleary waiters. The days mushed into a warm mash that stuck to his ribs, stuck to his heart.

She arrived at his one-room apartment in Sangenjaya with a bottle of vodka, three packs of cigarettes, six tallboy beers. The air solidified to silvery blue as they lolled on the floor, legs entangled under the low kotatsu table smoking, talking, drinking, kissing, drinking, talking. He told her how it was to be alone in the strange terrain of a foreign land. She told him how it was to be alone in the familiar terrain of home. He told her how he’d long planned to off himself, how he watched express trains blur by with a calculated interest. She told him about her abortion, how she woke up blurry-eyed and how the near-father smiled and stroked her hand and then looked at his watch.

I wrote the first draft of this story more than eight years ago, in the months following my return from Japan to cold America.  It languished on the hard drive for a long while before being resurrected late last year.  It was also roundly rejected at a number of mags I really respect before Rusty Barnes picked it up.

I hope to remember this little lesson in perseverance in upcoming months when I get discouraged about my writing prospects, as I have been wont to do as of late.

Do check out great entries by Roxane Gay, Sheldon Lee Compton, and Q Lindsey Barrett, as well.  I’m honored to have my name next to theirs.

I’d also like to mention that Night Train has the coolest logo going.

"Drinking With Her" is up at Night Train

I have a new story, “Drinking With Her,” up at Night Train:

Drinking with her, long Tokyo nights descended into blissful haze, into shimmering pools of liquor-tinted light. Sometimes they drank until the sun rose and they were encircled by upturned chairs and bleary waiters. The days mushed into a warm mash that stuck to his ribs, stuck to his heart.

She arrived at his one-room apartment in Sangenjaya with a bottle of vodka, three packs of cigarettes, six tallboy beers. The air solidified to silvery blue as they lolled on the floor, legs entangled under the low kotatsu table smoking, talking, drinking, kissing, drinking, talking. He told her how it was to be alone in the strange terrain of a foreign land. She told him how it was to be alone in the familiar terrain of home. He told her how he’d long planned to off himself, how he watched express trains blur by with a calculated interest. She told him about her abortion, how she woke up blurry-eyed and how the near-father smiled and stroked her hand and then looked at his watch.

I wrote the first draft of this story more than eight years ago, in the months following my return from Japan to cold America.  It languished on the hard drive for a long while before being resurrected late last year.  It was also roundly rejected at a number of mags I really respect before Rusty Barnes picked it up.

I hope to remember this little lesson in perseverance in upcoming months when I get discouraged about my writing prospects, as I have been wont to do as of late.

Do check out great entries by Roxane Gay, Sheldon Lee Compton, and Q Lindsey Barrett, as well.  I’m honored to have my name next to theirs.

I’d also like to mention that Night Train has the coolest logo going.

Climate change, of course, is a myth

From those socialist America-haters The Arbor Day Foundation.  Notice any changes?

Yep, the warm zones are moving north.  Note, also, that this data is five years old.  Unlikely the trend is reversing itself.

It’s purely anecdotal, of course, but it sure does seem like the winters here in eastern Wyoming (I’ve now been through two since we moved back from the tropics) are a lot less harsh than they were when I was a kid.  Sure, it still gets very cold (I believe it hit -30 F this year), but only for short snaps, not weeks and weeks as I remember.  Not that that’s very scientific.

I should note that my salary as a public employee in Wyoming is largely derived from the carbon release business – coal, mainly, as well as natural gas and oil.  Realistically, unless someone figures out cold fusion here in a hurry, that isn’t changing any time very soon, especially given the disaster in Japan.  And sure, I walk to work, but we’re also flying on a jet plane to Thailand next month.  I just think it’s important to own your position in the system.  We didn’t create this First World system, but we live in it.

Climate change is coming.  I don’t think that means the End Of Everything, but we are certainly going to have to make some changes.

It does no one any good to pretend climate change is a fable spun by America-haters, or conversely, that climate change signals the end of civilization, if not humanity itself.