I finished a new story last night, "Beks and the Second Note". This is the first story I've completed since returning to work at the end of July. I'd been worried that losing 40 hours of free time a week, plus a few more hours commute time, would be too much of a time and energy drain to keep working on fiction. Looks like it's still possible, though not easy.
Bok Beks, the narrator of the new story, is a character I've written before. He first appeared in "Beks and the Monkey", in a chapbook-size anthology, REQUIEM FOR THE RADIOACTIVE MONKEYS, abut eight or nine years ago. There are a couple more incomplete stories about Beks in my old files, which I may get back to if this new one manages to find a home.
The Beks stories are mysteries, not my usual SF or fantasy. Once you get past the Ellery Queen's and Alfred Hitchcock's magazines, it's harder to find mystery/thriller short fiction markets than for SF/fantasy. For one thing, SF/Fantasy has several sites devoted to listing current markets for short fiction. (Thank you, ralan.com.) There doesn't seem to be a good equivalent for mystery/thriller fiction; a lot of the listings I've found have been out of date and cluttered with dead links. So, while I think the story's good enough to eventually find a home, it may take a while. (I'll run it through the local library's monthly writers' workshop for critique before I actually send it out.)
In related news, the latest submission for "Julius Jeremiah and the Time Machinist", the SF story I finished a few months ago, came back with a personal note saying "This one's so well-crafted that I expect you'll have no trouble finding a home for it." I hope that's just a nice compliment, and not The Kiss of Total Fucking Death.
To explain: Back when I first started trying to write serious fiction in 1980 (1975's "The Return of Captain Nucleus" was written as a joke; I was surprised to get a check.), that first serious story, "Glorypain", eventually went to 45 markets. About half those markets sent back rejections essentially saying "This is a very good story. I don't want to publish it." (One editor wrote a three-page letter telling me how good it was... and then didn't buy it.) It eventually got really frustrating to get that kind of rejection back, to the point where I almost preferred to get a form rejection instead.
(I stopped sending "Glorypain" out after 9/11. A large chunk of the story was set at an airport, and I never worked up the energy to try and revise it to reflect the new security environment at airports.)
I'm enjoying writing (and completing) stories again, after a long time of inactivity occasionally punctuated by fragments, false starts, and dead ends. I'd enjoy it even more if the new stories (and a few older ones I've dusted off and sent out again) actually started selling. (This is me being grumpy.)
(Typewriter image from Wikimedia Commons. Originally appeared in advertisement in Weird Tales magazine.)