Writing Words Fantastical and Otherwise

Tag: James Van Pelt

Paperback and E-Book Release of The Best of James Van Pelt

The paperback and e-book version of THE BEST OF JAMES VAN PELT are available now.

Many thanks to those who bought the hardbound, signed and numbered limited edition. If you are interested in that version of the book, a few are still available through Fairwood Press.

If you were waiting for the less-expensive release, now is your chance. The $5.99 Kindle book I think is a real bargain: 300,000 words contained in 63 of my best stories from 30 years (so far) of publishing. The paperback features the same glorious cover art as the collector’s edition.

Remember that reviews matter. If you leave a review at Amazon, or mention the book on social media, that’s how other possibly interested readers will discover the book.

MORE INFORMATION AND ORDERING OF THE BEST OF JAMES VAN PELT

Where Ideas Come From

Fairly frequently someone will ask where I get my ideas, and like most authors I am at a bit of a loss for a good answer. However, a couple days ago, an FB writer friend asked for reasons a teenager might be laid up for weeks but not cause long term damage.

Their question question made me think this at first:”Not totally related, but an anecdote about how medical research can be fraught. For story purposes, I wanted to know if a teenager with bone cancer might have to have both legs amputated. I called my doctor, and he immediately went into a diagnostic mode. “What symptoms do you have? When did you start experiencing discomfort? How long have you been ignoring this condition?” It took quite a bit of talking to convince him that I wasn’t sick myself. I’m pretty sure he worried about me for years after.”

Amazon - The Radio Magician and Other Stories: Van Pelt, James:  9780982073025: Books

I added, “I have written three stories with bed-ridden young people: “The Radio Magician,” about a boy with polio in the 30s, also the story about a boy who had his legs amputated because of bone cancer, “Roller Derby Dan'” and the piece I’m working on now with a boy in the 60s who has both legs in external fixators after surgery to correct severe bow leggedness. I think the antecedent to my interest in this trope is Ray Bradbury’s “The Emissary” from THE OCTOBER COUNTRY.”

The FB friend asked why that situation interested me, and I realized I had a partial answer to where I get ideas, at least this idea.”Besides the awesomeness of the Bradbury story, a friend of mine when I was 12 had both legs broken to correct for extreme pigeon toed alignment of his feet. His legs were casted from ankle to hip. He was miserable but suffered gamely. We pushed him in his wheelchair everywhere we went that summer. I’ve often thought since what his experience must have been like. Also, of interest in this situation, H.G. Wells broke his leg when he was eight. He was bedridden while it healed (they were much less into getting patients on their feet at that time). He spent his convalescence reading. He said that’s what made him H.G. Wells. He became devoted to books and writing.”

That’s where the idea came from.

Catching up with Van Pelt News

So here’s what’s happening lately:

  1. The May/June Asimov’s will be out soon with my story, “The Way Lost Cafe.”
  2. Daily Science Fiction published my latest with them, “NPC.”
  3. Analog Science Fiction bought “Party On” from me. It will appear sometime soon.
  4. I will be attending World Fantasy in New Orleans in November.

In the meantime, I continue my 200-word minimum a day writing streak that started in November of 1999. Right now I’m working on a near-future science fiction about a retiring high school English teacher directing her class through Hamlet for the last time.

ASF_MayJun2022_400x570

A New Horror Story Anthology!

A cool thing about writing is that I get to check off boxes for the stories I’ve always wanted to write (and I can write variations too–checking off the box doesn’t mean I’m done!).


My story in Alternative Deathiness is a haunted house story, but it’s also about the impulse to scare, the trail of trauma an effective horror writer leaves behind, and how the wheel goes round and round.

Alternative Deathiness: Publication Announcement

I have a story in this one entitled “The Thing Underneath.” The first editor to read it said, “It’s slam-dunk Stoker material.”

The publisher says, As the cover to Alternative Deathiness suggests, life is but a dance with death. A topic all of us are familiar with and too often want to avoid. This is not a volume to avoid. Alternative Deathiness is a fantastic selection of short stories and poetry that includes veteran writers such as best selling author Alicia Hilton, James Van Pelt, Larry Hodges and more, as well as up and coming voices such as Jim Wright and K.G. Anderson.

Paperback ($13.13 USD)

Asimov’s and Analog Readers’ Award Ballots for 2021

Analog Science Fiction and Asimov’s Science Fiction magazines do an annual readers’ choice awards. The ballots for stories appearing in 2021 from both are now available.

Science fiction and fantasy have a long and rich history of being responsive to fans, and, of course, the fans have been loud and enthusiastic. Taking part in voting for the awards is one way for you as a reader to be a part of the conversation.

Fortunately for me I had stories in both magazines last year: “The Bahnhoff Drive-in” appeared in Asimov’s and “I Have Loved the Stars too Fondly” in Analog. I’m very proud of those pieces.

You don’t have to be a subscriber to vote (although, why aren’t you?).

Analog Readers Award

Asimov’s Readers Award

Buy Yourself a Birthday Present for an Author!

It’s my birthday tomorrow.

If you want to get yourself a present to celebrate it, order your signed, numbered, limited release, hardbound copy of THE BEST OF JAMES VAN PELT. There aren’t many copies left (remember the “limited release” part?).I really think buying author’s books for yourself or others on the author’s birthday should be a thing.

Hallmark should get involved.

The Best of James Van Pelt

This is the BIG project I’ve been working on for the last few months. Sixty-two stories chosen from almost three decades of publishing, including some previously uncollected work.  Only 200 copies will be released in a signed, numbered, limited edition hardcover with gorgeous wrap-around art. Available at Fairwood Press right now!

Available for preorder now for a November release

Curious Fictions and Keeping the Word Alive

I see I haven’t posted here for a while. Most of my online time is spent at my Facebook page, which is facing a reality: many people use FaceBook and few visit author’s pages, but, still, I like a dedicated website.

I started my online presence at LiveJournal. I still have an account there, although it’s fairly dusty by now. I haven’t done much with other online media. I have a Linkedin account, but I don’t know why, and I post the occasional video at Youtube. Mostly, as I said, I visit Facebook. Lately, I’ve added Curious Fictions to my activity.

I like the idea of Curious Fictions. It’s a place where authors can reprint their backlist of previously published short stories. Readers can read many of the works in their entirety for free. They they can “like” the stories, comment on the stories, follow authors they enjoy, subscribe to an author (pay them monthly, sort of like Patreon), or leave a tip.

This way, authors can keep their words available and, possibly, generate a little more income from them.

I am posting a story a week there. Since I have over 150 stories to choose from, I have almost three years worth of content. Someone asked me if I was worried that publishing the work online might detract from my short story collection book sales. I’m not. Curious Fictions, if anything, may sell a few books. If someone likes my stuff online, they’re much more likely to look for more of it.

That’s why books exist!

At any rate, if you like short fiction, or you would like to see a sampling of my work, visit Curious Fictions. If you do, leave a comment there, or a “like,” or (cough), money.

My New Website

James Van Pelt, Jim Van PeltSo, here’s the deal.  My digital presence on the web so far has been a LiveJournal page, my Facebook account, an author page on Amazon, and a Goodread’s author page.  I used to have a website on SFF.NET, when they gave free space to SFWA members, but that option isn’t there anymore, and my page was an incredibly clunky, self-taught, HTML design mess that made real web designers squint with pre-migraine agony.  Even my sons, who are computer engineers, would look at the page and say, “Make it stop!”

Clearly I needed to up my game, so I finally bought a domain name (which was more of an ordeal than I expected–there is another James Van Pelt who had bought this domain a few years ago, but decided he wasn’t ever going to use it.  He offered to transfer the domain to me, but we both were clueless enough that the process took days).  I’m now the proud owner of jamesvanpelt.com.

In theory, given enough time and the patience of searchbots, this page will be the first one that comes up on search engines if someone is looking for me.  Also, the address is pretty easy to remember, so that may help.

The idea is that my career as a writer will expand, and this website will be useful for readers who are looking for me.  Of course, if the career goes downhill from my current status as a regularly publishing short story writer, then this page will be another of the dusty, never-visited spaces in the world wide web.

We can only hope.

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