New Story: SWEETEN THE DEAL
Updated: May 2
This was the first of my 2021 submissions (fifty-four and counting...) to be accepted, and I'm pleased that it's all come together and been published so quickly. And even more so to have it featured on such a vital site as Little Blue Marble. If you're not yet familiar with their content, you should be, as they're a great source for the latest climate fiction, and also for articles and links on various aspects of anthropogenic climate change.
'Sweeten the Deal' takes place in a not-too-distant future in which a dependence on localised agriculture and food distribution has become the norm in urban centres, and looks at some possible implications of that. I drafted it initially in response to a couple of anthology calls/competitions last year, but it was in a much shorter format (about half the size), and while I always felt the idea was relevant, I can admit now that it was too simplistic at that length; it didn't engage as much as I needed it to with the protagonist's situation, or the key tensions of this scenario. As soon as I'd rewritten it, however, I had one venue at the top of my list, and was fortunate they wanted to give it a home.
Here's how it starts:
Her first days in the city, Jeanette had been jealous of Rhodri’s tomatoes and Michaela’s zucchinis with their shiny green skin. Also of Angelo’s chillies and lemongrass. And Dominic’s flourishing plot of begonias—in spite of the fact they weren’t really allowed; the block’s rooftop biodome was for edibles only.
Still, she would have gladly grown flowers as well. She would have grown anything. She had to grow something, to cover her rent. But with all of the packing and stress of the move, she had forgotten to bring any seeds.
If this has whetted your appetite *ahem*, then please do read the rest. And maybe stay around a while and read other stories on there. Or just bookmark them for later. Then, if you like any, and are able, please consider donating to Little Blue Marble's Patreon, which helps them keep going and pay writers a pro-rate.
Process notes: I really appreciated working with the Editor, Katrina Archer, during the copyediting phase. Her high standards and attention to detail are clear from the LBM site, but it also feels important to acknowledge her patience. As I mentioned earlier, this all came together very quickly (from submission to publication in under two months), and so I'll admit I was caught slightly cold when the first round of edits came back a couple of weeks ago - not least because I was neck-deep with sorting four other stories for end-of-month deadlines (I made three of them, in the end). This being the case, I was a bit unprepared for the amount of small amendments and notes, when I at last got around to looking properly at the file. My brain needed rest, but I had to push on, as the proposed publication schedule had been outlined in the email, and, well, time doesn't ever seem to take a day off.
Fortunately, the notes weren't about anything structural, just a few cosmetic, stylistic issues, and were all so clear regarding the changes required that I was able to get back on track after the slight delay. Regarding which Katrina was, mercifully, very understanding. Also, she caught a couple of absolute clunkers, sentence-wise, that I was mortified to have let slip through into my submission draft, and so I was able to rectify those! (No, you may not see them. Sorry. All pages featuring the offending articles have been taken out back and burnt and the ashes scattered to the winds - of which there have been a lot here this week, at quite high velocities, so good luck with chasing any particles down!)
I'm always very grateful when I receive such thorough editorial feedback, and this was certainly no exception. Every day is a learning experience in this racket, and the great thing about having small faults pointed out prior to publication, and being otherwise reminded about one's problematic writing tics (lots of people have them, but there are times when I feel like I've got more than most...) is that not only do readers get spared them, but you can also watch more keenly for them in other current projects, so hopefully no other editors have to deal with them either. Or at least deal with fewer. Either way, there are big positives all round!
Anyway, if you can spare the time to read it, thank you - I really hope you enjoy the end result, as well as the other stories on Little Blue Marble. (Also, if you enjoy my writing, I would greatly appreciate any support you are able to give, either through Ko-fi, Curious Fictions, or simply by sharing my stories with others.)