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Issue 1, Spring 2011

Welcome to our website. We intend to present the finest science fiction and fantasy short stories and serialized fiction we can find. In turn, you expect a website that is visually pleasing and easy to navigate. We will try to provide just that.

Issue 2, Summer 2011

You may have noticed changes to the website this issue. Bowing to popular demand, I have added "hotspots" to the main pages. Hopefully this will make it easier to navigate the site, and give it a more intuitive feel.

We have also added illustrations at the beginning of each story that we hope reflect some aspect of that story. So far, the reaction from the authors has been favorable. We would like to hear what you think as well.

Check out the Links page to find out more about or contact our authors and artists. Links to other websites we feel would be of interest will be added as we discover them.

 This being the second issue, you might reasonably expect to see the contents of the first issue archived under the appropriate category on the Archives page. I am still trying to figure out how to do this in a simple, straightforward (for me) way.

Issue 3, Autumn 2011

October1, 2011

Seems like I' m going to have to explain why this issue is so late. Partly (mostly) my fault, I have to admit.

Anyway, here goes. I had a medical procedure done last week just before FenCon, which was a lot of fun, by the way (FenCon, not the medical procedure). We had three out of the four authors in this issue present, and talked to three future authors and one future Guest Artist.

Inspired by meeting everyone during that hectic weekend, I managed to load the author's stories on the Website so they could look at them, minus the illustrations, before the con was over.

After recovering from FenCon, we worked on the pen-and-ink illustrations for the four stories in this issue. I finished getting those ready for publication Friday night, late.

Saturday I worked on the Guest Artist page, getting the artwork ready and gathering the descriptive and biographical information to go along with it.

Saturday night everything went on the website for a trial run. There are always a few glitches to work out at the end, so I didn't finish that until late.

The last step was to move the previous issue to the archive section of the website and set up the writer and Guest Artist archive links. Time then for a brief moment savoring the Autumn issue before plunging into the next one, Issue 4, Winter 2011.

While searching for your favorite authors and artists in the Archives, it is possible to get lost. When this happens, go up to the address line in your browser and backspace until only www.4starstories.com appears. Touch Enter to take you to the current issue Homepage.

Issue 4, Winter 2011

December 24, 2011

Seems like I'm having to apologize again this issue. Both Mary and I have been sick the last week or so, delaying this issue more than we would like. To compensate, we have four really good stories and a really great artist to present this issue Putting this issue together was a little more routine, thankfully. I don't have the archives updated yet, but we do have all the stories and the Guest Art section up. Updating the archives and the Links page will be taken care of between now and New Years.

Speaking of the New Year, we have some really great stories waiting in the wings for the Spring issue, so stay tuned.

Lastly, we are looking forward to seeing everyone at ConDFW in February of  next year.

Issue 5, Spring 2012

March 24, 2012

Here we are in 2012 and at the one-year anniversary of 4StarStories.com. It's been a wild, exciting ride, meeting authors and artists and reading some really great stories. We're looking forward to even more great things this year, and we hope you will join us.

It was great seeing everyone at ConDFW. Even though the weather was a challenge, we didn't mind because we needed the rain. On one panel at ConDFW, we had at least three 4StarStories authors. All together at ConDFW we had at least six 4StarStories authors and a couple of future contributors. While we were there, we distributed twenty-eight Author's Submission Guidelines to people at panels and others we met at the con. We are still committed to presenting the best in science fiction short stories and guest artists, and we are counting on you to help us do that.

For those in the Dallas area, we will be attending FenCon in late September of this year. As always we look forward to hearing from you and seeing you in person.

April 3, 2012

Some of our regular readers have commented that when accessing the 4StarStories.com Website, they encountered the previous issue, rather than the current issue they were expecting. The problem is that the browser loads previously accessed web pages stored in a cache, rather than going out on the Internet to download the current page. The solution to this problem is to refresh or reload the page. Although generally similar, the ways to refresh or reload the page vary from browser to browser. I have listed directions for some of the commonly used browsers below.

 Internet Explorer

Try using the Refresh button, the F5 soft key, Control+F5, Ctrl+R, Control+Shift+R, or holding down the Control key while clicking the Refresh button.

A more advanced user can press F12 to open the Development Tools, select the Cache menu at the top and then Always refresh from server to bypass the cache.

In other words, Press F12 , then click Cache -> Always Refresh from Server.

The always-refresh option is not a global option, and it will not hinder overall performance in Internet Explorer.

 Firefox

By default there should be a reload/refresh button on the toolbar. On the default theme it looks like a circular arrow to the right of the address line. You can also press the F5 soft key or Ctrl+R to reload the page.

Google Chrome

Depending on how the web page was constructed, you can do one of two things:

Right-click inside the web page and select Reload from the pop-up window. This works for many pages.

In the upper right hand corner of the browser window, select the Wrench icon, then select Clear browsing data... from the drop-down menu. A pop-up window appears. Verify that Empty the cache is checked. If not, click on the empty box. Then select the Clear Browsing Data button at the bottom of the pop-up window. This works for all pages.

Issue 6, Summer 2012

July 2, 2012

Here it is Summer again. See the "In My Opinion" page for our take on Summer.

I'm retaining the Guest Artist from the last issue temporarily. Rocky is fine with that. I have some partial solar eclipse and Venus transit pictures that I took in May that I'm going to put on the Guest Artist page in a week or so.

Someone suggested that we register 4StarStories with Duotrope. We did, and now we are getting a ton of submissions. The first thing we have to do when we get the Summer issue out is to sift through those submissions for stories to use in the next issue. For my part, I am explaining to potential submitters how to save their Word files as .RTF files.

I asked the Programming Chair for Fencon if we can have a panel with 4StarStories writers and Guest Artists at FenCon. Haven't heard back from her yet, but the writers I talked to who are attending FenCon in September are very enthusiastic about the idea. If you are a writer or a Guest Artist published in 4StarStories and are going to be at Fencon, let me know. We need a list of people who want to participate.

July 12, 2012

With the increased visibility of 4 Star Stories comes an increased number of submissions, and we are OK with that. At this point, however, submissions are about evenly divided between those who follow the suggested template and those who don't.

Unfortunately we are reaching the point where I can't take the time to fix format problems in stories that don't follow the template.

Of course, there is always the possibility that the "story of gold" comes in that we just have to publish because it is so good, but doesn't follow the template -- at all. Assuming that does happen at some point, don't be surprised (or insulted) if you get instruction to "rewrite the story following the template this time and resubmit".

If you have any questions about converting to RTF format, for example, send me an email at the Webmaster address on the website.

Issue 7, Autumn 2012

September 27, 2012

Well, here we are at the Autumn issue. Believe me, it seemed like a long time coming. Summer seemed to last forever. We've received a ton of story submissions. Two issues worth, in fact. We have some really good ones to offer you, this issue and next.

Time to reiterate what I said last time. We need people to follow the Submission Guidelines. Something I haven't mentioned before, but needs saying is to provide an accurate word count and signal the end of your story  with "The End", "Finis", or "[30]". We had a story submitted that was corrupted in transmission, and I didn't catch it until the author mentioned that the last 1000 words were missing from my copy. If I had noticed the discrepancy in the word count and the lack of "The End" at the end of the story, I would have been alerted to the problem a lot sooner.

A word to the wise: don't try to put out an issue the weekend of a Science Fiction Convention. Believe me, it doesn't work. Just now getting over the effects. Had a great time seeing everyone, though. Looking forward to ConDFW in February, 2013. So, until the Winter issue, keep those submissions coming.

I f you have submitted a story, but haven't heard back from us, be patient. Now that this issue is out, we'll be getting in touch with those we haven't contacted yet.

Issue 8, Winter 2012

12-30-12

Well, for better or worse, here we are at the end of another year. Unfortunately, we have both been sick the last couple of weeks. It has slowed us down, but hasn’t stopped us. We have 4 more fine stories for you in this issue, and something new – an Artist Retrospective – of one of our favorite artists, Chesley Bonestell, a true space art pioneer. The effect his work had on those of us who grew up in the 1950’s was enormous.

Coming up in February will be our first short-short fiction issue, featuring 4 stories of around 1000 words. It is our salute to February, the shortest month.

Thanks to the number of quality submissions we have had, our March, 2013 issue is already full, so the next openings we have are in the June, 2013 issue.

As always, please be patient if you have submitted a story for consideration and haven’t received a reply. We will reply to your submissions as soon as we are able.

Issue 9, Spring 2013

5-17-13

Wow! Here we are almost halfway through the year. I have a lot of things to catch you up on.

For those who were at ConDFW in February, it was great to see you. For those who missed it, FenCon is coming up this Fall.

We did publish the Short Short Story issue, not in February and not with four, but with six stories. We were able to get some really great stories. Check it out. Click on the icon in the lower right-hand corner of the Home page to access the Short Short Story Issue. Since it was unscheduled, we will leave it up for more than just one issue.

The SSS issue unexpectedly put us behind on the March issue, which is now the Spring issue and came out a couple of days ago. Again we have some really great stories. We are especially proud to feature David A. Cherry as our Guest Artist.

The Summer issue is scheduled to come out the week of the Fourth of July. The Autumn issue is scheduled to come out in time for Halloween, and we are calling it our "Fire and Brimstone" issue.

Issue 11, Autumn 2013

January 5, 2014

Its been over six months since Ive written anything in this space. During that time 4 Star Stories was never far from my mind, although I wasnt able to work on it as much as I would have liked. As for the long awaited fire and brimstone Halloween issue, it is finally here. I wont bore you with the details of why it took so long (which really arent that interesting). Suffice it to say that both Mary and I were (are) sick, and we are still involved in a major house-related crisis, hopefully to be resolved in the next week or so. In any case we have four stories and a Guest Artist revolving around a central netherworld theme for your enjoyment.

For those of you in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, I hope you were able to attend FenCon in October of last year. We always have a great time and really enjoy meeting and talking to people. ConDFW is coming up in February of this year, and we hope to see you there.

Here we are at the beginning of our fourth year publishing 4 Star Stories. Its been an exciting, frustrating, marvelous three years. We have met really wonderful and talented people from all over the world. Whenever my enthusiasm lags, I get an e-mail from one of these people, and I have the will to get back in there and work even harder.

We have more exciting, trailblazing stories to publish in 2014, and I will be making improvements to the website as well. We enjoy serving your literary science fiction/fantasy needs, and we particularly enjoy hearing from you. Happy New Year!

Issue 12, Winter 2013

June 10, 2014

Wow, we're halfway through the year already. This year is really flying by.

We enjoyed being at ConDFW at the end of February. It was great to see old friends and meet new ones. We had a great time talking with everybody and being on panels. We always get fired up during/after a convention, and this one was no exception.

We keep promising ourselves we'll do better, but haven't been able to turn out issues as fast as we would like. We do intend to maintain the quality, and we have some really great stories this issue, as usual. Unusual this time is that all four authors live outside the United States. We have received fine-quality stories from around the world to share with our readers. 

We also have an Artist Retrospective for your enjoyment: Jack Coggins. If you are not familiar with his work, you are in for a real treat. I was tremendously impressed with his work when I was a kid growing up in the 1950's. I think you will agree with me that his work still speaks to us today.

That's it for Issue 12. We are planning another Short, Short Fiction issue to appear sometime near the end of the year. If you have a story less than 1000 words and you think it is 4 Star Stories-worthy, send it along for us to look at. Till next time... keep cool.

Issue 13

October 4, 2014

You may have noticed that, in spite of my protestations to the contrary, we did drop the season from the issue title. We are contractually obligated to leave each issue up on the website for at least three months, so we would never be able to catch up with the seasons. The idea of dropping a season to catch up is not really appealing. The editorial will continue to be season-appropriate because a lot of what we do at 4 Star Stories is influenced by the seasons.

We have four new stories and a bonus story this issue. If a run of two constitutes a trend, the bonus story is a story that we would not normally publish, but for whatever reason, we felt it deserved a place.

We did not change Guest Artist this issue, so the Jack Coggins Art Retrospective is up for another issue. I was able to obtain a good copy of "By Space Ship to the Moon", and our Epson 710 Artisan scanner did a superb job of reproducing the colors of the paintings. If you haven't already done so, check out the Guest Artist page. You're in for a treat.

It's old news now, but Windows XP has gone the way of the dodo bird. We were particularly hard hit because we did most of the computer-related tasks for 4 Star Stories on an old Dell Inspiron laptop running -- you guessed it -- Windows XP. We acquired another Dell computer after XP support ended, but it runs Windows 8.1, None of our old programs are compatible, so we use that one mostly for answering emails. We were really up the proverbial creek until I was able to upgrade a Lenovo Netbook to run Windows 7. That solved part of our problem, but the small screen was a real pain. Finally, I heard that Hewlett Packard was selling computers running Windows 7. We bought an HP laptop, and that is now our main computer. Although that solved part of our problem, we still had XP programs we wanted to run.

Fortunately, someone at work suggested Windows XP Mode in Windows 7, downloadable from Microsoft. Since we now have two Windows 7 computers, that definitely seemed the way to go.

For step-by-step instructions, go to

http://www.wikihow.com/Install-Windows-Xp-Mode-in-Windows-7

For those with more technical savvy, here's the link directly to the Microsoft Windows Virtual PC Download site.

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=3702

This story has a happy ending, sort of. We are now able to run our old XP programs on Windows 7, but Microsoft is already talking about ending support for Windows 7. Go figure.

Issue 14

February 22, 2015

Here we are in the second month of a new year. We attended ConDFW last weekend and had a great time. We never tire of talking to people and promoting 4 Star Stories. We participated in a panel on E-publishing vs. conventional publishing. I was moderator, punishment, I suppose, for suggesting that panel.

Recently I was able provide an archive for the Short Short Story issue we had a couple of years ago. Just a reminder of one of the perks of being a 4 Star Stories author: your story is archived, so you, or anyone else for that matter, can access it anytime.

The last couple of issues I have not been able to give as much editorial attention to the stories as I would have liked. What we have as a result is more the author's flavor than the 4 Star Stories editorial flavor. We hope the content has not suffered as a result. A word of explanation about how we choose stories to go in an issue. We read a story essentially as a reader would read it, not paying a lot of attention to the writing itself when making the first cut. When we make our final selection, we go back over each story with a more critical eye. We make general suggestions, as well as more specific ones when necessary.

A word about our health situation. I have been sick off and on since the middle of December. Mary has also been sick with recurring bronchitis, and most recently the flu. This issue is the result of sheer determination on our part to get it out. We have another issue on its heels, Issue 15, and we will start on it immediately. It should be out about mid-year. The next task will be looking for stories and a Guest Artist to go in Issue 16. We think that issue will be out in the fall. We think we have stories enough, but we really need more Guest Artist candidates.

March 13, 2015

We are considering another Short, Short Story issue. There seemed to be some interest when we talked it up at ConDFW. Pretty much the stories we will consider are either Science Fiction or Fantasy between 500 and 1000 words (two to four pages).

We just sent out the "Official Issue 14 Announcement" by email. Actually, Issue 14 has been out for awhile. Consider that a "shaking-out" period, so we can make sure everything is OK. We have a mailing list, mostly previous contributors and people who have requested to be notified, but we would be glad to include anyone else as well.

If you want to be notified when  a new issue is published, send us an email at webmaster@4starstories.com. If you have already requested to be notified and have not received an email, check your "Junk" folder. If  you still haven't received notification, let us know, and we will investigate.

Issue 15

July 23, 2015

Here we are at Issue 15. This one was a real struggle to get out, but it was worth it because we have five really good stories. We didn't have a Guest Artist lined up this time, so I am offering a "Spaceship Retrospective" in its place. I found some vintage pubic domain images, and I am pleased with the result. I hope you are too.

I had problems with Microsoft FrontPage(R) while creating the new web pages. I eventually found out what was wrong (my fault, of course), but I wasted a lot of time figuring it out. This will probably be the last issue I do using FrontPage. It's just too labor intensive. I do fine tuning with Arachnophilia, an HTML editing program that is free and has been around for a long time. Once they got their problems with Java figured out, I had no problems loading it on all my machines. When you have a small change to make in the HTML code, its easier than using FrontPage.

We picked out and purchased new website-design software, but I haven't switched over yet. I intend to make a few major changes to the website that I have been putting off just because we are locked into the present structure. Dont worry. We will retain the same clunky, vintage look, but with more pages and probably updated features.

We are considering several changes to 4 Star Stories. We are looking at including more stories per issue. For example, if we were to have seven stories per issue, we could increase our throughput from fifteen stories, where it is now, to twenty-one per year. Another thing we are considering is paying more for each story. Since we are actually publishing fewer stories per year, we can afford to pay more per story. Don't know for sure, but $20 US is sounding doable.

If anyone is wondering why they haven't heard from us after sending in a story in the last month or so, be patient. Screening stories pretty much goes out the window when we are trying to get out an issue. Be assured that we will get to you as soon as we can. To update where we are with submissions, we probably have enough stories for Issue 16, which should be out near the end of the year. That means that if you haven't heard from us yet, your story will be considered for Issue 17, which will probably be out in the first half of next year.

 Issues 16 and 17

1-31-17

Here we are starting a new year again. More going on than I care to comment on.

As part of the beginning-of-the-year festivities, I go through all the web pages and update the copyright year, protecting all of us. In addition, I updated the Submissions page. A little overdue, but necessary to bring it in line with what we are actually doing. The highlights: We are now paying $20 US dollars for a published story. Payment is on publication rather than acceptance, a concession to reality as I don't think we ever did pay on acceptance, although that was our intention when we started. We are now requesting that the story title be included in the Subject Line of the submission email. My life is made very much simpler when authors follow that guideline.

We are close to publishing our second Short Short Story issue. I thought it would go quickly and smoothly, but here we are at the end of January and it still isn't out yet. We have some fine stories this issue -- all over the map, actually, including a poem -- a first for us. We hope you enjoy it.

As part of the Short Short Story issue, I am including some of my pen and ink drawings. They are not illustrating stories, but rather are providing art for the Stories and the In My Opinion... pages.

One of the ironies of the Short Short Story issues is the fact that because we have more stories we have to have more original artwork, making our artist have to work harder and taking more time.

It's that time of year again -- time for ConDFW. Unfortunately, we will not be able to attend this year, as it is in Fort Worth. We have had problems with the choice of hotels the last couple of years. This year we are sitting ConDFW out altogether.

We have been receiving many top-notch submissions the last few months. So many, in fact, that Issues 18 and 19 are filled. We just started choosing stories for Issue 20. If you have submitted a story in the last two or three months and have not heard back from us, be patient. We are processing the submissions as fast as we can. Now that we are out of the holiday season, we have more time to devote to "4 Star Stories". After publication of the Short Short Story issue, we intend to eliminate the backlog and reply to all submissions.

Aside from a few minor issues, we are in generally good health, thanks for asking. We can only hope that will continue, and we will be publishing "4 Star Stories" for many years to come.

###

Certain times of the year are especially busy for us, for example, March-April and November-December, so we are going to try to schedule around them. This may result in weirdness like the Winter issue coming out in January, but we would like to be able to say with assurance when a particular issue is coming out. We are going to try to stick with the season motif. That seems to have more than a casual significance to us.

Again I have to apologize for the length of time people who submit stories have to wait to find out if their story has been accepted. We have a large pile of submissions to work through (yes, we print them out), and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

I regret to say that we may not be able to give every story the personal attention it deserves. I have tried in the past to critique the stories that we reject, but as you might imagine it takes a lot of time and effort to do that for stories we are not going to publish. If we have had your story a month or more, and you have not heard from us, you can drop us an email. I know that is not considered professional, but I can try to give you an idea where your story is in the process.

For technical comments and webmasterly things like exchanging links, click on Contact Webmaster to send me an email.

We thank you for your support.

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