Today's mail brought contributor copies of the July 2009 Hustler Fantasies containing "Fuck or Fucked?" (not my original title), a hardboiled story about a hitman, retired by a heart attack and subsequent quadruple bypass, who becomes the subject of an open contract.
With publication of this story, I have had one or more pieces of short fiction published each month for 72 consecutive months--that's six years of short fiction. During those six years I survived a divorce and my own quadruple bypass. I also wrote one hell of a lot of short fiction.
The streak started with the August 2003 Hustler Fantasies, which contained two of my stories, and has included short stories in nearly every genre. Excluding those months when I had collections released, my best month was April 2008 when I had nine stories published in four different publications, followed by July 2006 when I had eight stories published in three different publications, and March 2005 when I had seven stories published in four different publications and June 2006 when I had seven stories published in four different publications.
My short stories have appeared under my own byline, under a variety of pseudonyms, and, in the case of confessions, without any byline at all.
Because editors determine which stories to accept and which issues to put them in, this is a publication streak that I don't have much control over. I can not predict how long it will continue, or even if it will continue at all.
On the other hand, there are a few things I have control over. These are things I've done, and will continue to do, that explain the reason for this streak and why it might continue into the future:
Maintain high productivity. The more stories I write and submit, the greater the odds that I will continue getting published with regularity.
Target multiple genres. There don't seem to be enough paying markets in any single genre to support a highly productive short story writer. Therefore, I write in multiple genres.
Target multiple publications. Even within the genres, I spread my work out among multiple publications.
Write themed and seasonal stories. I try to write some stories that are tied to themes or seasons, thus producing stories that are most suitable for specific magazine issues. For example, I've had particularly good luck with Christmas stories (published in December) and Valentine's Day stories (published in February), but have also written St. Patrick's Day stories (March), April Fool's Day stories (April), Back-to-School stories (September), and Diabetes stories (October).
Although I have additional stories scheduled for publication in June and July, I don't have any scheduled for August. It's probably too late to submit anything specifically for August, so if I haven't already put something in an editor's hands that fits an August issue, I may see my streak end.
But I hope I don't.