Category Archives: Gregory D. Little

Gregory D. Little

The Submission Sanity Saver

Are you a disorganized person? It’s okay to admit it. We’re friends here, and this is a safe place. Here, I’ll go first. I am extremely disorganized. I don’t keep a calendar. My desk at work is a mess. I consider organizing things to be a hassle, and I detest hassle. I’ve long skated by on a better-than-average memory. That document from last week? It’s in the third pile on the right, the one that’s teetering on the edge of falling.

The problem is, as I’ve gotten older, my brain has gotten more full and, well, older. My once-vaunted memory has begun to fail me. Sooner or later I’m going to have to admit that, and start being more organized like a normal person. But probably not.

Still, there’s one organizational decision I’ve made that I don’t regret in the slightest: surrendering my short story submission process to Duotrope. Duotrope is a one-stop-shop website for submissions. Short and long fiction, nonfiction and poetry, Duotrope has you covered. They currently list over 5,000 markets, and continuously update their list as new markets become available. They feature a robust search engine where you can specify which criteria you are looking for in a market. They list acceptance rates, pay scale (or lack thereof), average response speed (or lack thereof) and each market’s page on Duotrope links to the market’s main site.

Simply put, I would be utterly lost without Duotrope.

Every time you submit, you complete an entry with the name of your story (stored in your account database), the venue and the date of submission. Duotrope starts counting days. When you get a response,  you update the entry, and the site uses your inputs to improve its own venue database. Better still, they keep records of every story you’ve submitted and which markets you’ve submitted it to. They even compare your acceptance rate to others who have submitted to the same market and give you a sense of how you’re doing.

Just this morning I was thinking to myself that I had a story out on submission. I couldn’t remember which venue or, honestly, which story, but I was fairly certain I’d submitted it awhile ago. Surely, I thought, I should have heard something by now. I logged into my account to see if I’d run over the expected amount of time for this market. Turns out my memory just wasn’t so hot (damn you, age!). I’ve still got sixteen days left until the story has been out past this market’s normal response times.

Now for the bad news. While the site was free when I began using it, eventually soliciting donations was apparently not enough to pay their bills. They have since gone to a pay system, which is unfortunate for those without much disposable income, but at $50.oo a year, I consider it a steal and well worth it. They even offer a free trial! If you do a lot of submitting and have been trying to keep track of it all yourself, I strongly suggest you consider giving them a try.

Greg LittleGregory D. Little is the author of the Unwilling Souls, Mutagen
Deception, and the forthcoming Bell Begrudgingly Solves It series. As
a writer, you would think he could find a better way to sugarcoat the
following statement, but you’d be wrong. So, just to say it straight, he
really enjoys tricking people. As such, one of his greatest joys in life is
laughing maniacally whenever he senses a reader has reached That
Part in one of his books. Fantasy, sci-fi, horror, it doesn’t matter. They
all have That Part. You’ll know it when you get to it, promise. Or will
you? He lives in Virginia with his wife, and he is uncommonly fond of

Shifting Tense

Bakker_EyeConsistency is one of the great universally desirable qualities. Think how many times in your life you’ve heard a variant on the phrase “pick an approach and be consistent.” Your leadership style at work? Be consistent. Parenting? Be consistent. In your wacky fantasy world where swords use people as weapons in duels? Hey, as long as it’s internally consistent, you can probably make it work.

And there’s one law of writing consistency few will challenge, the consistency of tense within a given story. Whether an author prefers third or first person, multiple protagonists or just one, they will generally pick either present or past tense and stick with it. And it makes sense to do so. The story’s tense is one of those bedrock elements of a story, so integral that people won’t even notice when it is done properly. But have you ever seen a piece of writing, maybe at work, where the author had trouble sticking to one tense? It’s jarring, right? It screams “bad writing” at you in every way.

But there are ways to make a tense switch work, particularly when your goal is highlighting the inner world of a character. Sometimes you might want to jar the reader and force them to notice the scaffolding of words the story is built upon.

R. Scott Bakker writes primarily epic fantasy in the “grimdark” model. His major work, The Second Apocalypse, is made up of a pair of trilogies, The Prince of Nothing and The Aspect Emperor. Early in The Judging Eye, volume one of The Aspect Emperor, a character named Mimara is introduced as a major POV. Mimara shares major POV duties with three other characters. But while the rest of the POVs (and all the POVs in the first trilogy) are told in past tense, Mimara’s sections are relayed exclusively in present tense.

It’s incredibly jarring the first time you encounter it, and I’ll be honest when I say that I didn’t like the choice initially. It made Mimara’s sections seem as if they came from a different book entirely, which is the big danger in switching tense.

But the further into the series I’ve read, the more I like the decision. While all of Bakker’s characters are haunted by tragic pasts, Mimara’s story is singularly tragic. Sold into slavery as a child, Mimara spent most of her life utterly devoid of hope. Finally free from that slavery in the time of the books, she now does everything she can not to dwell in the past she’s left behind. When I got to thinking about it that way, she was a character who’d never had a future and who dares not dwell in her past. Writing her in the present tense started to seem like the only thing that would make sense.

The choice gives Mimara’s sections an immediacy the other POVs lack. She possesses a lifetime of hard-won instincts attuned to detect the slightest hints of danger, so she is constantly on the lookout for threats to her freedom. Present tense also serves to highlight the mental scarring her past has left her, giving her inner voice a frenzied quality lacked by the other POVs with their more stately past tense voice. Lastly, the choice serves to underline her inherent isolation. For when it turns out she possesses an ability unique in the series else she becomes a character even more apart from the world she lives in.

Whether or not all this was the author’s mindset when he made the choice to go with present tense, I can’t say. But it made me think more about the character and what he was trying to say about her, and so I would call the experiment a success.

It helps that the tense shift was used in a controlled fashion. There is no shifting of tense within the same Mimara’s sections, and since the books are written in third-person limited, there is no shifting of POV within the same section. That’s the internal consistency thing I mentioned back at the top of the post. This demonstrates to the reader that “hey, I’m not doing this because I don’t know how to write, I’m doing this deliberately so maybe you should stop and consider why.”

This example remains the exception and not the rule, and that’s all to the good I think. Shifting tenses within stories remains a technique that should be approached with extreme care. There are more ways to do it wrong than right. But, handled properly, the shocking nature of the shift itself can be used to powerful effect.


I Would Do Anything for Love…


But I won’t do that. You know what I’m talkin’ about, Meatloaf.


Instead, we did all of this:

Victoria Morris Threaded the Tapestry

Gregory D. Little Subverted the Meet Cute

Ace Jordan did the Science of Love to Explain the Murky Middle

Mary reminded us that All You Need is Love

Joshua Essoe gave us advice about Writing Sex ScenesIn two posts!

Clancy showed us the Flip Side: Bad Girls and Anti-Heroes and Why the Guys Love them

Travis Heermann Examined and Bound

Kim May Pleasured us with Pain

Stephan McLeroy no longer Struggles to Define Love

Leigh Galbreath Drew us in with Dysfunctional Relations

Tracy Mangum gave us a master class in Love in Screenplays

Jace Killian showed us the Try and Fail in Love

Matt Jones made Ignorant Secret Troubled Love to us

Tracy Mangum followed up with Sex in Screenplays

Lisa Mangum reminded us that First Comes Like

Frank Morin pushed A Life of Passion

Colette advised us to Let Love Simmer

And RJ Terrell wrote On Love


Sure, this month is over, but we know you’ll be back. If you fall we will catch you, and we’ll be waiting. Time after time.


Monetizing Magic

A Shadow In SummerQuick, name one aspect of life you almost never see dealt with in epic fantasy! Did you say “economics”? No? I don’t blame you. Like many, my eyes tend to glaze over when talk of money or economics starts up. Still, when you get right down to it, money  makes the world go around in many ways. So it’s kind of odd it almost never gets dealt with in a serious way in fantasy. The hero either has a handful of coppers in his or her pocket or doesn’t, and little thought is given toward where the money comes from in a larger sense. And be honest; most people gifted with magical might would neither save nor conquer the world, but would instead use said power to make crazy money.

My friends, let me introduce you to the writings of Daniel Abraham. Maybe you’ve already heard of him through his epic fantasy series The Dagger and the Coin or his work as one half of James S.A. Corey in writing The Expanse. He’s even got a television show in production for that one. But I’m willing to bet even some of his newer fans haven’t checked out his first epic fantasy series, the tragically underrated The Long Price Quartet.

The Long Price Quartet was the first epic fantasy series I ever read that seriously dealt with economics. The second-world fantasy series features a magic system where poet-sorcerers are able to hold perfectly-formed ideas in their minds, breathing life into creatures called andats. Each andat has fantastical powers based upon the idea it represents, and the city states that employ the poets use the andats to retain an economic advantage over any rivals.

Need an example? In A Shadow in Summer, the first volume of the quartet, the poet Heshai controls the andat called Removing-the-part-that-continues (“Seedless” for short). Seedless is used to remove seeds from cotton on a grand scale for the city-state of Saraykeht.

It’s not as simple as that, though. The andats do not want to exist, preferring the abstractness of thought to existence in a concrete reality. If a poet tries to capture one and fail, he or she dies. And even if they are successful, they are bound for life to a creature that wants nothing more than to cease existing. Hence poet and andat are locked in constant mental struggle. Should the poet ever lose the thread of the thought that makes up the andat or die without passing that idea to another poet, the andat vanishes. And any given andat can only be captured once.

The power Seedless wields over cotton is great for Saraykeht. The only trouble is other nations grow cotton too, and there is only one Seedless. Jealous rivals will stop at nothing to remove the advantages an andat provides. But they dare not act openly, because removing seeds from cotton is not all that Seedless can do…

The books of Long Price are a slower read than some. In addition to an interest in economics that carries through to his other writing, Abraham eschews a lot of epic fantasy staples like large-scale battles. Instead he focuses more on intrigue and the human side of conflict. His prose is spare but efficient and filled with evocative imagery, and his books have absolutely no bloat, which will be a relief to many. I remember reading Long Price and thinking that I’d never read anything quite like it before. It immediately made Abraham a must-read author for me and reading his work has taught me a lot about my own writing as well.

So maybe you’ve heard of this Daniel Abraham guy. If you have, but have only read his later Dagger and Coin or his Expanse sci-fi collaboration with Ty Franck, do yourself a favor and pick up A Shadow in Summer*. And if you’ve never read Daniel Abraham, do yourself a favor and jump on the bandwagon of one of the industry’s rising stars.


*Note: The books of Long Price can be purchased individually or you can buy the series in two halves. A Shadow in Summer and A Betrayal in Winter have been merged into Shadow and Betrayal, while An Autumn War and The Price of Spring were merged into The Price of War.