Aphelion Issue 295, Volume 28
June 2024 --
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Flash Writing Challenge
Dan's Promo Page
P&E Top Ten

Welcome to the June 2016 issue of Aphelion!

Right, it is time for me to write my editorial for the new issue, but I feel like crap. Bear with me.

Each of us has undertaken the task of learning how to write good stories that people will enjoy reading. What genre we write in is meaningless compared to the goal of knocking out a good story that someone will like. Could be anything, as long as we entertain the readers. That's the goal, to entertain the readers. Getting paid is gravy on the biscuit, more or less. Getting paid isn't the reward. It is the side effect of writing a story that people like. I realize that for some of us, getting paid for a story is the be all and end all, but it really isn't.

Look at what the market has to offer. Then remember Sturgeon's Law. "99% of everything is crap." Therefore, we work our butts off to join that 1% that isn't crap. We all want to be in that 1%, even if we don't wind up making a sale. I mean really, I'd rather I wrote good stories a reader remembers than to get paid for a crap story that someone accepts because it fits some fad. Not everyone thinks that way, though. For some, getting paid is secondary to writing a good story. That is just sad, but it is real, so we need to face it.

What sells these days? Well, lots of stuff actually gets you paid for writing it. Bodice rippers, historical romances that don't really have much history between their covers but do have lots of politely worded sexy action between the sheets, adventures that read like someone copied a page from a firearms catalog into the text between an action scene where lots of minor characters get killed with as much blood and gore as possible, and a well-written-yet-tastefully-vague porno aimed at teens, and some few stories which challenge the readers to imagine something amazing. I want to write stuff in that last category, and so I imagine do you.

But we all want more, don't we?

We want to tell a tale that transcends the boundaries we thought were limits. We want to give our readers that perfect tightrope walk between action and adventure and romance and humor and philosophy and characters being real people despite their flaws... and that is a challenge worth accepting. Think of all the books written that have made the writer loads of cash, but were utter crap you wouldn't want to read to your goldfish because you have standards, and the goldfish might sue you for cruelty.

Hey, if I can imagine stories that readers enjoy, I can also imagine goldfish with lawyers! I don't recognize limits on my imagination. Neither should you. Your only limits are what your readers will find entertaining. Humor, absurdity, action, adventure, romance? Each of those are elements in your toolbox. If you want to write a romance between an orc and an elf, I want you to have the elf wash dishes after the orc spent all day cooking the elf's favorite meals, and vice versa, of course. Notice I didn't specify what gender the orc and elf happened to be!

Your stories need to be the best you can make them. Create them to live and breathe! Make them real! Make your readers care about them! That is the real challenge. How can you make characters so real that your readers want them to be real? Try everything. Write stuff that doesn't work so that you find out what does work. Live without fear! Read everything you can lay your hands on even if it isn't the sort of thing you want to write.

You will be amazed at what you can learn from stuff you would never write yourself.

Free your mind, and the rest will follow. Read everything, then learn from that how to write what you really want to write. Never be afraid to try new things. Lessons are out there within your reach. All you have to do is open your mind to new ideas.

Oh, and spell check until you are way tired of spell checking, LOL!

Time for me to STFU now... Go read this month's stories. Think about why you like the ones you enjoy. Go to the Forums and offer comments. The mere act of commenting will force you to focus on things you never believed would matter!


Mare Inebrium Anthology


First off, if you do the Facebook thing, feel free to join us on the Aphelion page there. The link is Aphelion Webzine. As an aside, the Editorial Mafia and I have found Facebook to be very useful. Given our different locations and schedules, it's come in handy as a way to discuss production details of new issues. Sometimes there are several of us using Facebook at the same time, so it's almost like the old chat room days.

My first collection of Mare Inebrium spaceport bar short stories was published in February by Dark Oak Press. It is available in both Kindle an Nook e-book formats, paperback, and hardback. I also that thre albums of instrumenal music out throgh the Create Space self-publishing website. If you like, you can click on the photo or the link below to fin all the info you would need to purchase my book in your preferred format, or an e-book of Flash of Aphelion, buy a CD of my music, or listen to tracks off of the albums on my Bandcamp website. Enjoy!

Dan's Promo Page



Crab Nebula: a Dead Star Creates Celestial Havoc

Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, CXC, JPL-Caltech, J. Hester and A. Loll (Arizona State Univ.), R. Gehrz (Univ. Minn.), and  STScI.