Monday, February 1, 2021

In Print, February 2021 (and Progress)

I should have got this post up before the end of January, but real life intervened in a couple of ways, including a bush fire only about five miles from us last week—talk about heart in your mouth, as you look around at the things of a life and find yourself picturing what that life might be like if the wind changed. And January was a busy writing month too, with some deadlines to meet, especially a Sherlock Holmes anthology to which I provided my eighth SH story, and which drew a very favourable reaction from the editor in a matter of hours—fingers crossed for that one!

New in print at this moment is the January-February edition of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, beginning their eightieth year. This is their annual Sherlock Holmes tribute issue, and features my story “The Shadow of the New.” You can pick it up in either print or digital format, here.

I scored three placements in January. At the beginning of the month, Storyhack picked up “Third Time Lucky,” my second World War II flying adventure, and my third piece placed with the title. It was a lot of fun to write, and I see further outings for my young RAF fighter pilot in future. At mid-month, my Middle Stars/Colonial War story “Elusive Target” gained a home with Spring Into SciFi 2021, and at the end of the month Mythaxis bought my fantasy piece “Zamalek, by the Evening Light.” That's both my “Zamalek” stories in print, the other appearing in Dim Shores Presents Vol. 2, which is going on release any time now. You can pore-order it right here. I must write some more!

I'm currently doing a beta-pass on a novel for a fellow writer, and have a couple of writing tasks for this month, including getting back to my own novel-in-the-wings, so more news at a later date!


Mike Adamson

Thursday, January 7, 2021

The View From the Five Year Mark


As with last year, this review post is coming a day late, as it seems life always has a way of intervening. Last year it was the chaos surrounding the bushfires sweeping Australia, and this year—well, 2020 speaks for itself with a very foul tongue. The world is not improving, to paraphrase Professor Henry Jones Snr.

So, from the five-year-and-one-day milestone, here's the outlook on my pursuit of a writing career!

Overall: In five years, I have 1953 submissions, 122 placements (16.008:1 submission/acceptance ratio), 90 stories on submission at this time (my record is now 101), thus 1741 rejections (14.27:1 rejection/acceptance ratio, slightly improved from last year, though it really doesn't feel like it!). These ratios continue to reflect a down-turn in the activity of the market, which, given the pandemic, is only to be expected

In calendar year 2020, I made 404 submissions (28 less than last year), receiving 31 placements, one less than 2017, my best year (13.46:1 submissions/placements, considerably improved form last year.) This is an acceptance rate of 7.67%, up from last year's 5.78%, and better than 2018’s 7.36%, second only to 2017’s 8.16%). If this is a any sort of measure of market viability, it would seem things are in fact recovering, despite the turmoil of the world at this time.

Average time between acceptances in Year Five was 11.7 days, appreciably better than last year (25 acceptances/14.6 days per).

Professional placements picked up in 2020, five since January last, which is good for the bottom line; I've done okay in the first half of the financial year against previous years and obviously hope the trend will continue.

Productivity is fair, 36 stories this year (down from 43 last year, and miles behind my grand total of 62 in 2017), totalling 186, 585 words, down from 214, 998 words last year.) I have over 230 stories registered at Submission Grinder, and 270 in my personal list.

The general effects of the pandemic and the craziness in the US in the run up to and aftermath of the federal election has more than likely affected the publishing field. Markets have continued to close, some of them professional-paying, while new markets have sprung up to take their place, some of them for-the-love-of-it mom-and-pop ventures, others ambitious pro-paying projects originating in the mainstream of the industry. There seems an indomitable spirit at work, that no matter how bad things get, the need to read and write escapist fiction will always endure, and the darker the days the more people need and want such stories to both ease the gloom, and speak plainly of better ones to come. That is one of the great strengths of speculative fiction, its nature as a pointer of the way.

My record of 101 submissions in hand at one time is a fairly erroneous figure, as there would have been a fair few older submissions either dead or in limbo. I went through and tidied up old subs and guess ten or twelve panned out as deceased—this was three or four months ago and the stories were redirected to other markets. In the last few days I've sent our twelve or fifteen queries against more old subs, and am giving them a week or two grace. Given the chaos in the US at this time—the Capital Building invasion was yesterday—I'm not looking for prompt attention to inquiries.

High points of 2020: My story Sky Tears not only won the Editor's Choice award from Alien Dimensions in 2019, but was nominated for the 2020 Aurealis Awards, in which it progressed to one of the five finalists—that's as close as I've come to a trophy so far! I picked up a second Hugo Awards long-list nomination too. My mystery writing has embraced Sherlock Holmes this year, with seven stories completed and more to come. I placed a Holmesian piece with Ellery Queen Mystery Magaizine, one of America's grand old mystery publications (since 1941) and scored a berth in their annual Sherlock Holmes tribute issue, due out at this time.

If I can maintain my productivity and marketing rates, I would hope to see 150+ placements by the end of this year. Also, I'm working on novels at this time, with a historical adventure in note form and a sci-fi/fantasy noir with three chapters on paper. With eighteen pro placements to date, I would hope a literary agent would be eager to take me on—that's the plan for the future.

Right, let's see what year six brings!

Cheers, Mike Adamson

Monday, December 14, 2020

In Print, December 2020 (and Progress)

Once again, a while has gone by since the last post, which I can only attribute to the general slow-down in the market. That and the fact I'm writing heavens-hard these days, and don't seem to have the time or inclination to produce essays about writing, as I used to in the early days of this blog. I'll be posting my yearly roundup of stats in a few weeks, but for now I wanted to round out the calendar year with a few observations of progress.

First some good news—the cover above is for the new Jay Henge anthology Sunshine Superhighway which is themed on bright tidings for the future, combating the avalanche of misery which seems to characterise today. In this one you'll find my short story “The Gentle Art of Ghosting,” in which I explore the technology required to perform surgery on whales—to save the lives of the most critically endangered creatures in desperate future decades.

To buy on Kindle:

And Amazon UK:

Since I last posted I've had just a few placements. The pro market Abyss and Apex took my SF flash “Meteor Man,” and Mythic picked up my fantasy “The Headsman of Garth,” both in November. This latter piece is one of my “Avestium” stories, the fifth to find a berth. Then, a few days ago, Jay Henge accepted a reprint of my time travel story “The Winds of Time,” to appear in their forthcoming collection The Chorochronos Archives. It was only the third story I ever placed, back in September 2016, with an anthology titled The Chronos Chronicles, from Indie Authors Press.

Fresh on release today, my “Lemuria” short story “Lord of All Seas” has appeared online, in New Myths #53, which has just gone live. You can find the story here:

Lots of projects are in hand, including new Sherlock Holmes features, and stories spanning the SF, fantasy and horror genres. I can also say with no small delight that I seem to be working on a novel at last, a cycle of tales which I thought were going to be an ongoing arc of short stories, but which morphed very readily into a contiguous long-form narrative. More news later!

Cheers from Down Under, and have a safe and happy festive break,

Mike Adamson

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Tough Times for Writers

It's been quite a while since I posted, months in fact, and that's a barometer of how far down things have been. After a really good start to the year, and a good start to the new half-year as well, at least in terms of earnings from prior placements, the wheels seemed to fall off a few months ago.

I noticed the market went very flat in September 2018, for six or more months I was placing in dribs and drabs and I wondered if the global publishing situation was reacting to wider forces. Things improved in 2019, but have gone very flat once again this year. One might readily suggest the pandemic is behind it, but the indications are that people are turning to reading in greater numbers than before as a direct result of isolation strategies... Maybe publishers are being more cautious, or people are reading more for free online, but magazines are both going under and opening on a constant basis.

I recently had my first ever “kill fee” situation—when a story has placed with a market but the market goes under before they can get the edition out. This is a great shame as the market paid very nicely indeed, and will honour their contributors with a 10% gratuity. It's better than nothing, but I'd much sooner have had a healthy market, where publishers, writers and readers all win.

I have just emerged from my second-longest ever dry spell, 59 rejections in 51 days, and this was after two longish periods between drinks immediately previous. Three placements in 110 days is not a lot for a short story writer, and only one of them was with a pro market (which paid nicely, to be sure). In the same period I had 98 rejections, and that does get real old, yet overall, all submission against all acceptances, my figures are still pretty good.

What brought me out of the drought was a story placed with an online pro market being selected to feature in their yearly anthology—not actually a new placement, but a welcome second outing for an existing success.

The industry feels rather precarious at the moment, yet there is plenty of activity, new markets opening up, others forging ahead with new plans and ongoing successes. So I guess one can only stay on the horse, believe in one's own skill and integrity, and do the very best one can.

Normal service will resume shortly—I hope!

Cheers, Mike Adamson

Friday, July 31, 2020

In Print, May, June and July, 2020 (and Progress)

I can hardly believe it's been months since I posted! I'm not sure what happened, though the caveat of “I've been busy” certainly applies.

Picking up from my hundredth placement, reported a post or two below, I can say I'm currently on 115, seventeen at pro rates. Now, several of these are non-paying reprints in a series of anthologies from the Australian outfit Black Hare, the “Lockdown” series created to provide a wealth of reading material for fans of the speculative genres in this time of global pandemic. Folks need something to read while they're indoors, and though in many parts of Australia the lockdown has eased, there are others where the reverse is very much true and the series of anthologies is continuing apace. Here is the sales page for all the Black Hare volumes:

Back on April 21st, three of my pieces were accepted for Lock Down Sci-Fi, these being reprints of Rex, Dreamworld and North of 25, the latter two being “Middle Stars” stories, and the first appearing in the third volume (not yet out). Then a week later, my Victorian mystery The White Calf and the Wind was picked up by the pro market Hybrid Fiction (due for publication in September), bringing me to four for the month.

May opened with my flash The View from Dystopia being picked up by Shelter of Daylight from Hiraeth Books, formerly Alban Lake, edition still forthcoming. Then I promptly placed two more reprints with Black Hare, this time for the Horror series, The Forgotten Supremo and Fury Never Dies. Toward the end of the month I placed an extra with their Sci-Fi series, Dreamlogger. This was another four placement month in a row.

June turned out to be my best month ever, with six placements. The month kicked off with the pro market Little Blue Marble picking up my flash Solitude, in Silent Sun, and asking for a rewrite which almost doubled its length. The story went live on July 17th, read it free here: . Ten days later, No Sleep Podcast picked up a reprint of my SF/horror piece Fear of the Dark, which will be assembled as an audio recording. Then I had placements every couple of days, first Andromeda Spaceways picked up my “Middle Stars” piece Strangers on the Shore, which was published today, August 1st 2020. Click here to find the sales page . Next, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly closed the deal on my fantasy piece The Silver Light of Forever, which had gone through a couple of rounds of rewriting with them and is due to appear in their 47th edition, in February next year. One day later the anthology Unbound IV picked up The Purslane Menace, my John Wyndham tribute piece, and a few days later an SF piece on a pseudonym found a berth with a US outlet, these latter still to appear

July was quiet, to balance out all that action, just a single score, my Lovecraftian piece A Dream of Swords and Blossoms was taken on by Lovecraftiana for the Walpurgisnacht edition next year.

Deep Sea, from Black Hare, which took my story Prophecy of the Beast on March 1st, has also been released, you can find the order page here:

Pole To Pole's anthology Twenty Thousand Leagues Remembered also released in July, with my story The Silent Agenda, you can find the volume here:

And last but not least, Eldritch Dream Realms, from Hiraeth was released in July, featuring my story The Golden Land, placed in October last year. Here's the sales link:

After all that momentum it feel a bit like “the wheels have fallen off” again, but I'm sure the situation is temporary. I've not written as much this years as I would have liked, and the emphasis is starting to shift toward novels, to take this enterprise to a new level. I'll still be marketing the short stories and inevitably contributing to the ongoing arcs I've established, but long-form work is overdue!

Stay tuned for developments!


Thursday, April 2, 2020

In Print, April 2020

My first item going on release in a while, my adventure story Rakes and the Pirates of Malabar has the cover of Storyhack #6. It’s the opening of a proposed series of adventures for a soldier-of-fortune out of the Sharpe mold, swordplay and musketry in the exotic east, the umbrella title being Rakes of India. I look forward to writing the next outing—this one flowed from the keyboard with ease! Think Rudyard Kipling, Talbot Mundy or Robert E. Howard, and you get the picture, though I’m writing at an earlier date than them.

The electronic edition is now available, the print edition is still in preparation.

Kindle: click here.

Paperback: click here.

I have several new stories to show Storyhack when they’re reading again, and hope to contribute for many years to come!


Mike Adamson

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Big One Hundred

I have to smile—my last post talked about a long dry spell, not a single placement in February, which was my worst February since 2016, before I had placed anything at all! But I just had my best March ever, four placements. And three of them at pro rates! The last is my one hundredth placement and you can bet I’m feeling very chuffed about that!

On March 1st my horror piece Prophecy of the Beast was picked up by the anthology Deep Sea, from the Australian publisher Black Hare Press, my second story with them. The following day my SF short Moongrove by Earthlight found a home with Selene Quarterly: I wrote it for them a year ago but missed their submission window by a couple of days, so am very glad it was right up their alley. They’re still paying the older pro rate, but I’m happy to count it as such.

Three days later, I had an amazing windfall placement: I sent my Sherlock Holmes piece The Mystery of the Perspicacious Waif to Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, and they bought it promptly, but, as the story driver introduces an occult element, the editor suggested it appear in another title from their stable—nothing less than the grand old lady of American Horror fiction, Weird Tales! WT pays right up in the pro range, so I couldn’t be happier.

Then I had a three week drought. The pandemic was starting to bite in that period and I wondered if the flow-on effects would mean an especially long time between drinks, but yesterday I scored a pro placement with the Colorado publisher Third Flatiron, for an upcoming SF anthology, with my short The First Day of Winter. I was particularly pleased to score a proper pay rate for my hundredth, and can currently say 15% of my placements pay professionally!

I have around ninety submissions in play and several more stories to write for upcoming deadlines—so I better get busy!

Cheers, Mike Adamson

Header image from a royalty-free source.