100 story milestone

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At Radcon in February, John Helfers of Tekno Books told me that I had achieved a milestone no other author has hit. I’ve sold 100 short stories to Tekno Books. You may not have heard of them, but Tekno produces theme anthologies. Mystery Date and Wizards Inc. are two examples of Tekno anthologies. I’ve written for science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, and romance anthologies that Tekno has done.

I’m proud of this milestone, although it took me nearly a month to wrap my mind around it.

Why do I write for theme anthologies? First, I love the short story form. It’s my favorite form in all the genres except romance. (Most romance short stories feel incomplete to me, which is why romance usually does novella anthologies, not short story anthologies.) Second, I use the themes Tekno provides to stretch as a writer.

Let me give you an example. A few years ago, Joe Haldeman asked me to write a story for an anthology he was editing with Tekno Books. That anthology, titled Future Weapons of War, was one of the few I almost turned down.

Here’s why: I believe that science fiction often serves as a template for the future. If a writer can imagine the technology, some inventor can create it. I didn’t want to be responsible for creating a “future” weapon.

Then I remembered that the editor was Joe Haldeman, who has written more anti-war stories than anyone else in the sf field. So I knew he would be open to my particular slant.

I decided to write about everything I hated about weaponry, violence, and war. I worked free-form, and I came up with a story called “Craters.” Joe opened the anthology with the story. Gardner Dozois has just picked up “Craters” for his year’s best anthology.

I can guarantee you that “Craters” would not have existed without the prodding provided by a theme anthology. And, ironically, by a topic I would never have considered on my own.

So why do I say yes to theme anthologies? To learn what I’m capable of. To write about things that scare me, things I would normally avoid. To grow as a writer.

I’m currently working on stories 101-105 for Tekno books. I plan to contribute to their theme anthologies as long as they ask me to. I’m honored to do so.

And very, very lucky to even be considered.