Just because I haven’t published a new book recently doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned writing. Far from it. Finding myself at a creative crossroads, I’ve explored new genres and formats in an effort to further develop my craft. My self-development paid off: for the first time ever, I had a story accepted in a literary publication!
Australia-based Cicerone Journal, taking its name from the antiquated term for a learned tour guide, “seeks to encourage an open curiosity about the world in a socio-political climate of disconnection and disenchantment. We aim to publish writing that is exploratory and thoughtful, and new and unusual.” Its first speculative fiction issue, Curious Worlds, received more than 200 submissions. Only nine were selected, including my short story Rocket Man.
The title sounds familiar for a reason. Elton John’s iconic song is one of my favorites, and I never tire of banging out my mediocre-but-soulful piano interpretation. One day, halfway through the piece, my brain’s storytelling subroutines ignited with an unusual interpretation of the lyrics. I jotted it down and promptly forgot it until a writer friend Down Under tipped me about the Cicerone opportunity mere days before deadline. Scavenging my notes for material I could use on short notice, I unearthed the Rocket Man concept (another reason to save your old writing).
A week of writing sprints converted the sketch into a narrative that, despite its brevity, might be one of the best pieces I’ve written yet. All the signature elements of my fiction—climate change, quirky romances, and unexpected twists—are concentrated in a 1,000-word burst as bittersweet as the E-flat chord in its namesake song. At least I think so, but you can decide that for yourself! Rocket Man and eight other speculative stories are free to read on Cicerone Journal’s website. I hope you’ll check it out. Let me know what you think in the comments below!