I have a story that needs a home.
Which is a story in itself.
"The Principles" was published by ASIMOV'S SF, April/May 2014. The novella was pulled from a much larger work--a rambling, shamelessly episodic alternate history written for no good reason but that I wanted to write it. The reviews were...well, responses were mixed. Some of my enthusiastic champions saw nothing good. But on the other hand, "The Principles" was nominated for the Sidewise Award. If you're interested, check out my acceptance speech posted on this blog's sister--The Difficult Art of Tomorrow. (My story didn't win. But I won with the nomination.)
Critics are right, or they are wrong. But I have to do my work regardless of what distant, vaguely real voices declare.
"Steel Dog" was pulled from the same source material. An earlier version was submitted to ASIMOV'S, but Sheila Williams thought it was too much of a work yanked from a bigger book. She had a point, and I took that to heart and began doing a rewrite. I probably would have submitted the next version to her, except that early on in the process--in the first few pages, as it happens--I decided to forget markets and stop censoring myself. This is a story of a healthy young male in a society dominated by women. The boy has a penis. And this is as much part of the story as the fact that the world is divided into two warring camps, or that the Christian prophet happened to be a pretty Jewish lady named Rebecca.
The published version of "Principles" was not intact, some of the sex and one explicit image of the female Christ on the cross being dropped. Sheila is a friend and she has a job that I wouldn't want and that I couldn't do. I willingly agreed to the changes at the time. But "Steel Dog" has a rather different attitude.
Now where does an aging SF writer sell a novella with this kind of pedigree?
I did send a copy to the Amazon Singles website. Last year. Heard nothing since, and I consider that good news.
I could publish it myself on Amazon, probably today, if I can make myself sign the contract and do the easy-enough formatting.
Because through my agent, I'm making a deal to bring out the full novel next year. It still lacks a title, although I have a variety of candidates. INEVITABLE LIFE, for example. QUENTIN MAURUS. Or the in-your-face: PUSSY WORLD.
Well, probably not the last one. But that does bring up the need to find a title that will pop to the top of any Google search.
Suppose I tried to sell "Steel Dog" to a publisher. Nobody would want it. Most of the markets like their tales under 10,000 words. The sex would force the hand of the other main markets. And maybe worse, the novella would be working at odds with next year's novel. (To be published in four volumes, with professional cover art but inadequate copy editing.) No, the best solution is to put this novella out as a stand-alone event, as a kind of loss-leader for those interested in my work. A section every few days, perhaps. Get some real interest generated prior to the full four-part unveiling.
And with that in mind, I give you fair warning.
There will be sex, now and again and rather explicit. And rough language. And people acting on ancient instincts.
The central ingredients of the Internet, of course.
So watch here, and in another day or two, the Dog appears.