Find it here!
A 4,000 word short story (approximately 30 pages in paper).
Eliza Wall was the most space-happy young lady on the Moon. She spent all her time studying to become a great explorer. Then on one fateful expedition, she must put all of her skills to the test. Can she save herself… and her father?
This one started with a desire to sell to Redstone Science Fiction. I like the market, I like their stories, and I like their attitude; but they have a firm 4,000 word limit, and my stories usually start at twice that length. So I sat down to write a 4,000 word story; and more, I sat down and studied their magazine hard, so I would know exactly what sort of stories appealed to them. Magazine editors always say: “Read some issues so you know what we like.” And so I did that, and I found they liked hard science fiction stories very much like I like to read – and write.
And so I sat down and I wrote, carefully holding back my usual wide-ranging style to focus on a very small story. The end result came in at 3,996 words on the first draft; and I seldom do second drafts beyond a little cleanup work, so I just sent it off. The result was… Well, it was ironic, and I laughed:
Your speculation about living on the Moon is touching, but the subject is quite similar to some stories we have already published, making it not quite what we are currently looking to add to Redstone SF.
“Read our magazine,” my ass! I didn’t hold it against them, but I did start taking that particular advice with a large grain of salt. (And I haven’t sent them anything since, but not because of this rejection. I just can’t get under 4,000 words that often, and they only accept stories during limited periods and on limited themes. But someday…)
But the story had more luck at Writers of the Future, where it received an Honorable Mention; and it had even more luck at Digital Science Fiction, where it became the cover story for Heir Apparent – Digital Science Fiction Anthology 4:
I started with an idea from an old Alternity adventure that I ran at PentaCon one year. That idea was way, way, way too large for a 4,000 word story (it might become a novel someday); but there was one challenge I could lift from it and turn into a story. None of the same characters would make sense in this version, so I decided to recast it entirely as an Old Town Tale. Instead of a team of explorers escaping an international conspiracy, it became a young girl trying to save her father; and though I didn’t know it at the time, the young girl became Eliza, who would later grow up to own and run the Old Town.
Eliza has appeared in other Old Town Tales, and she’ll appear in more. This one is dedicated to Virginia and Ayanna, two young ladies who helped me figure out Eliza’s personality. My niece Virginia inspired Eliza’s sense of exploration and curiosity (and shoes!). And my friend’s daughter Ayanna helped me see the view of a young lady trying to both take on the world and hold tight to the family she loves.