I am very pleased to report that my short story “Best-Laid Plans” has just been published at Clarkesworld!
This story started at one of the “Idea to Outline in an Hour” workshops I present at science fiction conventions and writers’ workshops. In this workshop I walk the participants through a series of fifteen questions, which I originally got from my instructor Pat Murphy at Clarion West, which I have found reliably guide me from a vague idea to something with characters, setting, and structure that I can actually begin writing.
This particular workshop was at the Foolscap convention in September 2012, and in this case I started with the two-word idea “Space Mice!” and worked through the exercise right along with the participants. I don’t always do that, but in this case I did, and the outline I wound up with struck me as perhaps worth pursuing. But I didn’t get to it right away. In fact, it remained in a folder on my hard disk for over eight years.
As you may know, my wife Kate Yule was diagnosed with brain cancer shortly after I sold my first novel, Arabella of Mars, in 2014. I managed to finish the Arabella trilogy during her illness and death, but I didn’t have much energy left over for short stories. After turning in the third and final Arabella book, I started in on a new novel… but between grief, post-trilogy syndrome, a medical crisis of my own, and a global pandemic I didn’t finish it until late 2020. It wasn’t until February 2021 that I started to consider writing short stories again.
I’d been thinking for some time that the “space mice” idea I’d worked up back in 2012 felt like something compact, self-contained, and fairly lightweight, a good candidate for getting back on the short story horse. So on February 25 I started in on writing it, and by March 14 I had a draft. I sent it off to a couple of friends for their feedback, then after a few small revisions submitted it to Clarkesworld on March 29. On April 10 it was accepted, and after a few more small revisions it was published on May 1. That’s about the fastest I have ever gone from idea to publication! I hope you enjoy it.
The ebook and podcast are also available from Amazon, iTunes, and many other places.