J.D. Moyer

beat maker, sci-fi writer, self-experimenter

First Published Story! (“The Beef”)

The auroch-like Heck cattle breed.

The auroch-like Heck cattle breed.

Popped a champagne cork tonight after seeing that my short story “The Beef” had gone live on Strange Horizons. It was accepted a couple months ago but I didn’t want to announce anything until I could actually give people a way to read it. Strange Horizons produced a podcast as well, and I really enjoyed Anaea Lay’s reading (and short interpretation afterwards).

The story touches on a few topics I’ve written about before on this blog, such as scenarios around human depopulation, and the moral and power dynamics of conscious-aware animals eating other conscious-aware animals. But the main theme is the migration impulse, or lack thereof (human and animal).

Heinlein’s Rules for Writing

  1. You must write.
  2. You must finish what you write.
  3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
  4. You must put the work on the market.
  5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.

I currently have nine stories out for submission. I’ve been using Heinlein’s Rules, more or less, except that whenever a story is rejected, I reread it and change anything that jumps out as needing changing (and I don’t send anything out in the first place until after at least two revisions, sometimes many more). Strange Horizons read a better story than the first two magazines that rejected The Beef. I always try to send out a finished, polished story in the first place, but if I reread it and notice something can be improved, I’ll try to improve it. Technically this is a violation of Heinlein’s Rule#3, but according to this io9 article, even Heinlein sometimes revised his work.

I like to think that Heinlein simply meant that you shouldn’t obsessively rewrite and revise when your story isn’t broken in the first place. But maybe he meant it literally — just send out the first draft. Big difference: when Heinlein was submitting short stories, it was a seller’s market. Editors might look for a gem in the rough. Editors today expect to read a polished story, and if that’s not what you send them they have a 1000 more in the slush pile to try.

I hope you read and enjoy The BeefPlease leave a comment at strangehorizons.com if you have some thoughts. And thank you for the many words of encouragement I’ve received from readers, in terms of taking up a new artistic endeavor and keeping at it.

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14 Comments

  1. So happy for you! You have manifested this through hard work and dedication. Congratulations. There’s a yearly contest at sfreader you should check out and submit to. My hubby runs the site so I am partial to it 🙂

  2. R Diane Richards

    Congratulations, JD! Will check it out this weekend. You are such a terrific writer (you remind me of Greg Klerkx–did you read his novel?) I scratched my head at rule 3 as well–although I submit to a different market, I started out writing short fiction and poetry–had some poems published, but have mostly shopped out non-fiction mag articles and I think the same rules apply. It could be 3 is a caution to writers who stagnate in rewrite. Write, submit rewrite submit again is probably the norm for most of us. Again, congratulations!

    • Thanks Diane! I haven’t checked out Greg’s novel — I will look it up. Good luck with your own writing too.

  3. Hi J.D. – Janet’s husband here. We also (try to) publish a monthly fiction features. Doesn’t pay as much as winning or second place in the annual contest ($25). Also, if you ever want to pass along any reviews….

    Some links (is that allowed?)

    Fiction Feature: http://sfreader.com/fiction-submissions.asp

    Annual Contest: http://sfreader.com/story-contest.asp

    Reviews: http://sfreader.com/write-for-sfreader.asp

    Thanks and congrats on your story in SH, I enjoyed it!

    • Thanks Dave! Yes, links allowed, though wordpress makes me approve link comments manually.

  4. By “refrain from rewriting” do you mean you send out unpolished first drafts? I think I might need an exclamation point or two after that question mark.

  5. Oh, oops, I forgot to say, so happy for you, good job, congratulations. You should have a big cake!

  6. *Being a Texan guy, I kinda like cattle-ranching science fiction stories. It’s refreshing that it’s not all rural and hand-wringy and folkloristic. It’s got real-deal modern concepts and you did a good job with it. Good luck with the next ones.

  7. solver

    Anyone know where Art De Vany is these days? I cannot even find his websites any longer. I’d be keen to know. I like the guy. He has a lot to offer.

  8. “Harriet looked at me in a way that gave me chills” This actually gave me a chill down my spine. Really good writing!

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