Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

A Prolific Problem

I Spent Many Hours Today Looking For One of My Own Stories…

Not kidding. You see, I write so many short stories, no chance I can even begin to remember a small number of them. But today I wanted to put together a brand new Poker Boy collection to premier in a new Storybundle coming out in two weeks. Kris has a brand new novella in it, never seen before as well.

So this Storybundle will have Sorcery and Steam themed books in it and I remembered clearly writing a Poker Boy story where a goddess in fighting armor has to deal with Poker Boy. So I wanted that in the collection to be in the bundle.

I could not remember the title of the story, so WMG sent me a list of all regularly published Poker Boy stories through them and also a spreadsheet of all the Poker Boy stories in Smith’s Monthly over the 44 issues.

It wasn’t any of those thirty-plus Poker Boy stories.

So then I started looking through my writing computer files.

I found three Thunder Mountain stories that have never seen print that are great novel starts and stand alone as short stories, seven more unpublished Poker Boy stories that have never seen print anywhere, and about forty other stories that are unpublished because I wrote them in this last year and will get them in Smith’s Monthly when it fires back up here shortly.

That’s right, I found well over fifty unpublished short stories (I suckl at Heinlein’s Rule #4) all written in the last 18 months. But I could not find that one story I wanted.

I had finally given up and wrote Allyson to see if she could remember the story from the plot. Kris could remember it. But the story didn’t seem to exist. I didn’t feel sick anymore, so I was sure I wasn’t hallucinating the story. Although, it was a Poker Boy story, so anything was possible.

Then as I was about to call it a night, after hours of chastising myself for being so bad at rule #4, it dawned on me that in the last numbers of years I had written a lot of short stories for invite anthologies. Usually quickly and to a deadline.

So to my brag shelf I went and there it was, in a Baen anthology edited by Esther Friesner back in 2015. So with the title in hand, I was able to search through my old writing computer and find the story. It will be in the new collection, now, and in Smith’s Monthly sometime this next year.

But what a strange few hours. I am so prolific, even on a bad year, I can’t keep track of all my work. I lose published stories and find over fifty unpublished. Got a hunch I will find more.

See what happens when you just enjoy writing?


  • Harvey Stanbrough

    Great post, Dean. Glad you shook off the bug.

    Honestly, I halfway expected you to say you finally gave up and decided to write the story again like you did with the very first Jukebox story. You got what, four stories out of that one initial idea? Then you’d have all those others plus one. (grin)

    I feel your pain. HR4 is also my least favorite and the one I fall off of all the time. But I’ve come up with a new way to both get back to writing short stories (as I continue writing novels) and not have to stop what I’m doing to publish them. We’ll see how it works out.

  • Rob Vagle

    Hey Dean, with writing a stories for the great challenge, even after twelve stories I have trouble remembering them all. Could imagine what it’ll be like after 26 or 52!

    And I need to be better at sending them out to markets because those will add up quickly.

  • Kate Pavelle

    Funny you should mention this. I guess I’m in good company, because I’ve been chipping away at building an inventory and a Submisison Tracker for short stories. The novels are no problem, I have only 36 so I haven’t lost any yet, and they come in series. BUT THE SHORTS. They’re like socks in the laundry, one is always missing. I had to go through online archives of a magazine to account for all that were published (because I forgot two) and I keep discovering all these unpublished short stories in various and sundry folders. Plus the Great Challenge is likely to double the ranks of the sad, unpublished stories so I better submit more than just one or two a month!
    The whole rule of “keep submitting for a year and if nobody bites, publish it indie” is a real PITA. Not all of these will fit into easy categories and I have no idea how I’ll classify them all! It’s not that I’m that eager to launch them and make a buck, it’s more that now that I’m aware of the chaos, I feel the urge to get them out there NOW, preferably YESTERDAY.
    I’ll reach out to a local university and see if I can offer an internship to someone who wants to learn publishing in exchange for proof-reading and doing some of the mechanics of uploading files.

    • dwsmith

      Local University is a great idea, Kate. Kris and I have been talking about that for a while now.

      And try finding stories when you have been publishing them consistently since 1982, and not consistently since 1974. I have no idea how many stories over the decades I have lost. No idea.

  • Laura Ware

    What a great problem to have! I feel it when it comes to my column – I’ve written a column for the local paper for over 20 years. It was every two weeks at first, but soon switched to weekly.

    Sometimes I have trouble remembering what I wrote last WEEK, much less last year!

    I need to figure out how to compile the columns by topic, because there are collections begging to be published, if I can find the time…

  • Sean McLachlan

    I average about 20,000 words a week but I’m mostly a novelist rather than a short story writer, so keeping track of it all is not as big of a deal for me as it is for you. (plus you’ve been at this way longer). I have gotten everything organized, though, because the list of completed projects just keeps getting longer.
    I remember a blog post you did on organization a while back that inspired me. Now I know where to go to find my final published draft, the info about the cover art, etc. No way I’m going to remember all that stuff a few years from now.
    And all this is backed up, of course. Computers die. You don’t want your art dying with it.

    • Mike

      Sean—as someone still in the early stages right now, would love to hear more about how you organize everything. It’s one of my next items to tackle on the publishing to-do list.

      Have you written about your org process anywhere?

      Also, for anybody else in the same boat, I believe there is a WMG Lecture about this that Alyson did.

      • dwsmith

        Yup, Allyson has managed to keep track of everything and seldom lose anything with over a thousand different titles, including all the different forms, art, blurbs, and you name it. Stunning levels of organization.

      • Sean McLachlan

        Nothing too clever, just clearly labeled folders and files. A folder for each series, and inside that a folder for each book in the series. In the book folder there are separate text and art folders. I also label every document clearly, so I know if it’s the final published draft, a 250 pixel cover images etc. And of course a separate folder for taxes. The trick is to maintain it and not let things get sloppy.