Pete Butler's Publishing Credits
- Chump Change and Lust Unthwarts Herself
Short-short stories to be published in upcoming editions of Escape Pod,
editor Stephen Eley. Steve accepted "Chump Change" back in November of 2005, "Lust Unthwarts Herself" in
December of 2006. He assured me, in a fairly embarrassed manner, that he still does intend to publish them;
he's just behind on his flash fiction. 5*
"Chump Change" is a story I wrote for Diane Turnshek when she was editing Triangulation. She initially declined it on the grounds that it was too good and that I should shop it around a bit before handing it to her. She may have been on to something; thus far, Fantasy and Science Fiction is the only market to reject it.
And "Lust Unthwarts Herself" ... hmm. I confess to being slightly nervous about this one; it's allegory of the Deeply Unsubtle variety, the result of post-2004 election blues combined with a Terry Pratchett binge. I'm concerned that its time may have come and gone. Then again, maybe I'm just gun-shy because my last story with "Lust" in the title at Escape Pod didn't do so well. Eh, there are worse things than writing a story people don't like -- and given how I feel about the topic, it's high time I got a story published that's this unapologetically pro-queer. Maybe it'd be a little more timeless if I could do a last-minute edit working a massive "Fuck You" to Orson Scott Card in there somehow....
- The Price of Two Blades
- Novella accepted for publication in
Black Gate, editor John O'Neill, slated for publication in Issue
14, early 2009. Okay, so dig this timeline:
- 02/20/04: I submit "The Price of Two Blades" to Black Gate.
- 01/02/05: John rejects the piece, but his reaction is otherwise so positive that I ask him if he'd be willing to consider a rewrite. He says yes.
- 02/05/05: I resubmit the the reworked story.
- 02/20/06: John accepts the story!
- Early 2009: The story is scheduled to appear.
I keep saying "Patience Pays," but ... damn. That's a hefty turnaround time.
But you know what? I'm not annoyed. I'm not even mildly grumpy; more than anything else, I'm just amused. Because the check cleared.
Patience Pays. And in my case, it's also for sale.
- Triangulation: Taking Flight
- Editor of anthology of short speculative fiction by various authors, published July 2008 by PARSEC Ink. This is my second
tour of duty as Triangulation's head honcho, and was by far the more challenging. Despite the fact that
I had a much better idea of what I was doing than I did the year before, despite the fact that I smartly recruited
more help in assembling the thing, the time frame was squarely in the emotional nadir of the end of my marriage.
Hell, I wound up quitting my day job just to get my head back together.
But I didn't quit this project, and I'm glad I persevered. This wound up being a strong anthology, comparable to last year's critically-praised effort; you'd love it. Go buy it; it's available as a $4.00 download, or in dead-tree form for $12.00 (plus shipping). And it has the best cover art this series has ever seen, courtesy of Vincent Chong. Seriously, look at that thing. It's sweet. Buy!
- The Hole in the Sky
- Novella published in the first and only issue of Tetragon SF, Dec. 23, 2007, editor Ben Crowell. What a strange
trip this was. So I'm poking around Ralan.com and I find this brand new
market that's expressly looking for genre novellas. I have a few of those sitting around and I figure,
why not? I submit "The Hole in the Sky," a piece I'm very proud of that never found a home due in part
to its 15,000-word length. ("Hole" is also the genesis for the sadly-defunct "One Giant Leap" --
it's basically Odrida's backstory.) Ben digs it, but wants changes -- substantial ones. I'm busy working
on the anthology and am not able to get to them right away, and
all of a sudden my life implodes. Seriously, six weeks *
after I get his request for a rewrite, Melissa dumps me. And then hangs around the house for two more
months. And then things really get unpleasant.
Somehow, I manage to hold my marbles together long enough to address the changes Ben would like to see, including a couple of rounds of back and forth. The story goes up ... and the site goes down. Whatever Ben's very real strengths as an editor, he's even worse at self-promotion than I am; Tetragon attracts almost no attention from readers or prospective contributors and sinks into the icy-cold waters of the Internet, leaving behind only a few ripples in the Wayback Machine.
So, this story killed a market.
But here's the kicker:
It's really really good now.
Ben's comments were right on the money; he made this story so much stronger than it was when I first started sending it out. The characters are better drawn, their arcs are more interesting. The world is clearer, the framing story works so much better. Even the sex scene is hotter. It's one of the best things I've ever written; Ben's guidance alone ** would have made the whole Tegragon experience worth the effort.
But nobody can read it; it wasn't even up long enough to make it into the Internet Archives. And at 33,000 words it's even harder to sell than it was before.
So what do I do with it now?
- Triangulation: End of Time
- Editor of anthology of short speculative fiction by various authors, published July 2007 by PARSEC Ink. My first
experience as an editor. It was exhausting and punishing and exhilerating and taught me great heaping shitloads
about writing. There was just so much more to this experience than I can really put in this little blurb.
And the end product kicked ass. Did I mention that? All the work paid off. People enjoyed the hell out of this thing. Paul DiFilippo at Asimov's -- yes, that Asimov's -- said "This whole volume is equal to any typical issue of your favorite prozine, and will reward your investment," which just doesn't get any less awesome no matter how many times I quote it. Black Gate called us "an enjoyable read." My goal when taking over this anthology was to convert it from regional project to internationally respected market, and I really think I got us going in the right direction. It rocks and you must own it. Go buy it; it's available as a $4.00 download, or in dead-tree form for $12.00 (plus shipping).
- Squonk the Apprentice
- Under the name "P.M. Butler", published as a podcast (audio recording) as Episode 109 of
June 7, 2007, editor Stephen Eley, read by Stephen Eley and Anna Eley.
Squonk got himself a sequel, and
people freakin' adored it. This was especially sweet coming at the heels of the battering my ego took over
"Lust for Learning"; you like me!
You really do like me!
This is the first story I chose not to publish under the name "Pete Butler," instead going with "P.M. Butler". It's because of the whole "Kids' Story" thing. I certainly don't reject the notion that the Squonk stories are for children, but I've never really embraced it, either. They're for kids the same way Bugs Bunny was for kids; truth was, Chuck Jones **** and the rest of the Warner Bros. animation team were trying to make each other laugh -- they just did it in a way that kids could enjoy, too.
So it goes with Squonk. I'm not targeting kids with these stories; I'm targeting my buddies. I'm just trying to write so that young 'uns will get a kick out of them, too.
Anyway. I'm not a children's author, I just happen to have a small series of stories that are kid-safe. So that's what I'm trying to do with the whole "P.M. Butler" thing -- once I attach it to enough Squonk tales, I'm hoping it will be a subtle clue parents that these stories are all right to share with their kids. Now, other "Pete Butler" works? Swearing, explicit sex, grisly acts of dachshund-related carnage ... you takes your chances. But "P.M. Butler" is safe.
And there will be other Squonk stories. Count on it.
- Lust for Learning
- Published as a podcast (audio recording) as Episode 104 of Escape Pod,
May 3, 2007,
editor Stephen Eley, read by Cunning Minx and Stephen Eley. My second trip into Escape Pod's virtual pages,
and ... let's just say it wasn't as successful as the first time 'round. I liked this story. Editor Steve
Eley liked this story. But as fans of this story, we're in a damned lonely club -- the
negative feedback outweighed the positive by a solid 2:1 ratio. Oh, well. To be fair, the piece's
detractors had a point: it was more an idea for a story than a fully-realized story unto itself. Too
expository. Too pedantic. Needs more plot. Kinda porny. ***
But you know what? Even though this story was more poorly received than anything else I've written, even though my ego got smacked around real good, on the balance it was still a positive experience and one that further sold me on the strength of Escape Pod as a market. I mean, look at that discussion forum! People were talking about it! Sure, most of them hated it, but they were still talking about it. When you're used to the crushing silence that greets most semi-pro publications, simply being acknowledged is a welcome change of pace.
Ultimately, I regard "Lust" as an experiment that simply didn't give me the results I hoped it would, which isn't the same as calling it an experiment that failed. I'm a smarter writer for this experience; how can that be a total failure?
- First Draft Theater Presents: The Godfather
- Flash fic published on issue #4 of Son And Foe, editor Jeremiah Sturgill. Ah, more cinematic blasphemy, enabled by Jeremiah. Provide the music in your head!
- Squonk the Dragon
- Published as a podcast (audio recording) as Episode 70 of
Sept. 7, 2006, editor Stephen Eley, read by Stephen Eley and Anna Eley. It started as a game
of Once Upon a Time during a party
for my college graduation. I had control of the story, and I had just introduced a dragon.
The young lady sitting across from me looked at me very intently and said "Where did he live?
Was it in a cave?" My finely-honed gamer reflexes sensed that she was looking to
unload a "Cave" card, so I said "No! He lived ... in a tree! (And, of course, the
chica sitting next to me shouted "Ha!", slammed down a "Tree" card, and swiped the story.)
The image of a dragon who lived in a tree stayed with me for a long time, and a few years back I finally turned it into a story. I didn't set out intending to write a kids' story, but as this one evolved, there was an innocence to it that I enjoyed and did my best to preserve. (So, should I hope that some unsuspecting parent thinks "Rat Dogs" would be a good bedtime story?) This is my second sale to Escape Pod, but the first to actually see publication; Stephen's way behind on the flash fic he meant to run, and "Chump Change" has yet to run. C'est la vie. The longer he waits, the more people will be listening by the time he runs it; this is an exciting market.
- First Draft Theater Presents: Raiders of the Lost Ark
- Flash fic published on issue #3 of Son And Foe, editor Jeremiah Sturgill, posted 2006. Awright, Jeremiah does want more FDT's! So, in addition to this one and Pulp Fiction, three more are in the S&F queue. I think we can safely call First Draft Theater a "Recurring Feature" now.
- The Queen Who Argued Too Much
- Short story published in March 2006 on Anotherealm.com, editor Gary Markette. A fun little euphemism-riffic fairy tale that has its roots in a story I did in college. When I first wrote it, I was worried that it might come off as sexist, seeing as the queen doesn't really have a personality other than "horny." But then I realized that the male figures in this thing aren't exactly "exalted" or "well-drawn" either, and I felt much better. Ah, the joys of making sure you treat all your characters with equal contempt.
- The Clouds Below
- Short story published in the November/December 2005 edition of
Marianne Carus editor-in-chief, Adam Oldaker associate editor who worked with me
The biggest "Whoo-hoo!" of my publishing career to date; my first and
(thus far) only pro-rate sale. Man, was it sweet to see this one in print.
This one took a while to happen; it was nearly two years between the initial submit
and the published mag in my hand. The wheels at Cicada may turn slow, but by Gawd
they turn. Patience pays, kids.
- First Draft Theater Presents: Pulp Fiction
- Flash fic published on issue #1 of Son And Foe, editor Jeremiah Sturgill, posted 11/01/05. This is an intriguing new market, and the editor just might be interested in new entries in the First Draft Theater line. Will he actually publish any of them? Wait and see.
- Rat Dogs of the Apocalypse
- Short story published in
Horror Garage #10, editor Pitch Black. It's a paying
print market, and I'm damn pleased to see this piece
turned loose upon an unsuspecting world. I love this story; it started as a
bored waiting-for-shit-to-compile essay at work, turned into an unfilmed
sketch for The Art Of News, and has at last found its home on the pages of
Horror Garage. It was turning into into a tough sell, neither fish nor fowl;
too tongue-in-cheek for horror, too grisly for comedy, but
Pitch has exactly the splatstick sense of humor needed to appreciate
it. And this is the longest story I've had published yet. I'm excited.
- One More Day
- Flash story published on ScienceFictionFantasyHorror.com, July 26, 2005, editor Dan C. Rinnert. This story got started when brother WorD-ite George Shannon got us all psyched about a contest Flashquake was running. None of us won, but George got a good story out of it, and I was pretty fond of the one I did as well. I was having some trouble selling this one and was contemplating expanding it a bit beyond Flashquake's 500-word limit, but it turns out 500 words is SFFH.com's sweet spot, and boom; story sold. Thanks to Barton Paul Levenson for turning me on to this market in the first place.
- Chump Change
- Short story, published in the Winter 2005 edition of Peridot Books, editor Ty Drago. There aren't many editors willing to consider previously-published works by unknown authors, but Ty is one of them, Gods bless 'im. This was the first story I sent to Peridot; I don't think it will be the last.
- A Word of Horror
- Ultra-short story (one word -- really, one word!) published in the December 2004 edition of Defenestration, editor Andrew Kaye. Though Defenestration and Somewhat.org were both good experiences -- and you gotta love Andrew's acceptance limericks -- I'd sworn-off both of 'em. Neither of them are paying markets, and if I'm going to make the transition from "Flash Fiction Slut" to "Flash Fiction Ho," I have to stop just givin' it away. But I had this little one-word oddity lying around thanks to a conversation with Horror Garage editor Pitch Black, then I saw Defenestration was doing a flash extravaganza, and one "What the hell" later this thing was published.
- The Big Picture
- Short-short story published in the November 2004 edition of Defenestration, editor Andrew Kaye. The other half of my "Flash Fiction Slut" phase, where I abandoned paying markets in favor of just trying to get something published, dammit. Can't complain about where it wound up; Defenestration is a good market, and you have to love an editor who responds to submissions with either "Rejection Haikus" or "Acceptance Limericks."
- How I Spent My Summer Vacation
- Short-short story published in the early-September 2004 edition of Somewhat.org, editor Fred Stutzman. The rejections really do start to get to you after a while -- I submitted stories here and to Defenestration as a result of just saying "Fuckit -- I don't want to be paid, I just want something published!" Mission accomplished, and in a pretty good e-zine to boot. I was particularly frustrated with this story -- I thought it was a pretty good little piece, but it was racking up one form rejection after the other. I guess it really is just a matter of trying until you find the right editor; thanks, Fred. FWIW, it's a true story; I wrote it in 1993 after a summer spent mowing for the town of Dike, Iowa.
- Chump Change
- Short story published in the 2003 edition of
Diane Turnshek. Easiest. Sale. Ever. Also, my first sale! Diane is the founder of
Write or Die, a writers' workshop I've been attending
religiously since late 2002. She liked a lot of my stories, so she asked
me to "write her something" for an anthology she was putting together.
Go buy a copy! Good stuff!
- Guest Letter in Zug's "Outgoing Mail"
- Non-fiction correspondence with a spammer, published on Zug around 1998 or so. It isn't up any more; guess it fell victim to a round of pruning. It can still be found if you poke around the Wayback Machine. The most common response I got to this was "Isn't Bob Saget Canadian?" To which I can now answer, "We wish." Thanks, IMDB! I think.
- Morning on the Job
- First place, 1990-1991 International Future Problem Solvers' Scenario
Contest. I used to be on my high school's Future Problem Solvers' team
back in the day, and 1991 was our big year. Our "A" team (with me, Sarah
Livingston, Kerry Lovell, and Forrest Stowe) won the divisionals, won state, and took second place
at the international round; Karen Peterson, our alternate, took third place in the
Individual competition at internationals; and my "scenario" (a short story
based on one of the topics we researched that year) took first place at
internationals. We whupped ass. This story also got my first-ever Professional
Rejection Letter -- I sent it to Asimov's back in 1991. Would you believe
they're still using the exact same rejection letter? Looks like the only
change is they're making copies with a printer rather than a photocopier.
- Second place, 1990 Youth! Magazine Short-Story Contest, published
in February 1991 edition, editor Christopher B. Hughes. The first time I
ever got paid for my writing; I think I made $50 or so. The magazine's
full name was "The Magazine for Christian Youth!" I'd link to them,
but the magazine seems to be defunct -- much like my Christianity, come to
think of it.