I’m happy to report that my fantasy short story, “Men Are Not Dragons” has been published over at Fiction Vortex. The editors were great to work with, and I heartily recommend submitting good work to them.
As for the story, it has quite a history. I wrote the first draft of this story, then titled “The First Man” for James Gunn’s Intensive Workshop in Writing Science Fiction. This would have been around 2002. Kij Johnson liked the boldness of the opening scene, and the overall structure, but pointed out that I was missing a transitional scene in the relationship between boy and dragon. I tried a quick fix and subbed the story to a couple places, then filed it away. Every year or two, I would pull it out and tinker, but that missing scene just would not come.
In 2008 we moved to New Castle and I took up literary flash fiction. I found a niche there, but the dragon would never quite leave me. I’d find myself thinking about this concept at the oddest times, reading through the story in between writing projects. I knew it could work. I knew I had the talent to pull it off. And yet…
Fade to 2013, when I became aware of Fiction Vortex. My friend and Triangulation co-editor, Jamie Lackey, had published a story there and I liked it. I also liked the submission guidelines:
There’s a long-standing belief that science fiction and fantasy stories aren’t as good as purely literary fare. We want you to prove that mindset wrong (not just wrong, but a steaming pile of griffin dung wrong) with every story you submit.
The dragon came roaring back to me in that moment. I took the story out of hibernation, polished it hard, added the missing scene, which came easily this time (why?), and sent it off. The editors liked the story overall, but had problems with the scene I added. Too much information dump. So I polished it hard, and sent it back, and you can read the result if you care to at http://www.fictionvortex.com/2014/02/men-are-not-dragons/
Please let me know what you think, and let Fiction Vortex know as well.
So, what was the lesson here? Never give up, never surrender? Don’t send in a scene before you let it sit a while? You can’t sell what you don’t send out? All of these, I suppose, but the main lesson for me is that Fiction Vortex rocks. It deserves your support.