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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 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 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 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.


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


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


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

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

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 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


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.

Issue 18


Here we are looking at the end of 2017. Another exciting year for us. Issue 18 ready to go with Issue 19 coming up right behind it. We have been quite pleased with the quality of the submissions we have been receiving this year, and we hope you see that reflected in the quality of the issue.

We have noticed some people are submitting more than one story, and that is fine. However, I don't always notice at first. that I have seen something from the same author before. We do get a lot of submissions, and if the name is not familiar, I may sound like I don't realize you have submitted before. We do treat each submission as a standalone, unless it is part of a series. Hopefully, it is a sign that you would like to have us publish your story, not that you are too lazy to send it somewhere else. We do try not to publish the same author twice in the same or consecutive issues. We aren't always able to stick to that policy, but we do try.

We are publishing Issue 18 without original art at this time. As you might imagine, coming up with six or more pieces of original art for each issue is a formidable task. We will try to remedy the situation as soon as possible, so please be patient.

A word about the Science Fiction Convention attendance situation. We have stopped attending cons for the present. We both have significant health problems, and I don'' feel as comfortable taking long trips as I used to, especially places I haven't been before. We miss seeing everybody, but we are having to sit conventions out for now.

We have been including special features to enrich the writing experience, especially articles to expand the writer's technical background. If there is something you would like to see that we haven't been doing, let us know, and we will try to come up with something for you.

Issue 19


Starting a new year with a new issue. Hope it's better than the last one, year, that is, not issue. So far, we've been disappointed. Hoping it is going to get better soon.

I have finally retired. At age 75, I am due. I'm still working, but part time and on contract. Retirement brings new situations and new problems. But enough about me. Issue 19 turned out to be quite special. Five really good stories for you this issue. I hope you think so too.

We are going back to the Guest Artist format, at least for this issue. We are featuring the cell phone art of Matt Grey. When I saw what he had done with a cell phone art app, I was astounded. It was hard picking only a few images out of over fifty to showcase the versatility of this app.

We are caught up on our submissions backlog now. We have two full issues in the pipeline that will take us to the end of the year. We are looking at a half dozen or so more stories that are good enough for the issue after, which would be Issue 22. It should come out in early 2019.

We haven't changed the Submission Guidelines yet, but I can see that the optimum story length for us is about 3000 words. Much longer than that brings problems that we really don't want to deal with. Speaking of story length, we are also looking for Short Short Story submissions. This will be issue number three, and we will put it together when we have enough submissions. We are looking for a total of six to eight stories under a thousand words each. A little known fact is that everyone who submits gets published. The rate will be either $10 or $20 USD.

Bottom line is, regardless of story length, we are still committed to bringing you the best of science fiction and fantasy short stories in 4 Star Stories,

Issue 20

August 25, 2018

Well, here we are at Issue 20. Maybe we should have some sort of celebration, big "2"... "0", and all, but we're so busy, it will have to wait.

Big developments behind the scenes. We have gone from "ordinary" web hosting to "Deluxe" web hosting. We got a break on the rates by paying several years in advance, so it didn't end up costing a lot more. You may be seeing the result of the "Deluxe" service in the future. From my point of view, some of the enhanced features sound promising. We will be able to set up "mini-websites" within the main one without spending more money.

Along with the upgrade we were also switched to a new email service. Since I, as a matter of principle, refuse to pay for Microsoft(R) software by the month, we were not able to take advantage of the Office 365 features. Instead we are using Thunderbird as our email client. Not really pleased with that, since it is kind of clunky. Major downside is that we were not able to archive my existing "Sent" emails, of which there are some two thousand before transitioning to the new system. It seems that only emails in the Inbox were copied to the new email service. At the present time I am attempting to move my "Sent" email messages off the old email client and hope to complete this task before they shut down the old account. The upside is that our email correspondence should be more reliable in the future with the new email server.

We think Issue 20 is going to be well worth your time. We have a lineup of superior stories we hope you will enjoy and a non-fiction article as well. Hopefully, we will have the kind of artwork you have come to expect from us as well.

In other news, we do not have any plans to attend FenCon at this time, although that may change as the con grows closer. In any event, we will be there as attendees, not as Panelists.

So, try to stay cool, enjoy Issue 20, and we will be back in three months or so with more Webmaster news.

October 14, 2018

Wow, what a difference a month and a half makes. Here we are at the middle of October. The big news is that the Stories Archive web page is operational again. Several months ago all the Issue Archive folders disappeared off the web server, leaving no stories archive information on the website. Suffice it to say that someone who has access to the hosting server is responsible. Unfortunately, they failed to notify me that the folders had been deleted. I, along with an eagle-eyed contributor, discovered the problem. Since archiving all the published stories is a considerable perk for our authors, I was very upset, as you might imagine. Luckily I had backed up the entire website in 2016, and I was able to find the later issue archive folders with the help of a couple of my recent issue thumb drives. So, except for a few broken links, which hopefully I will fix soon, everything is once again as it was.

The other significant news is that we have a large backlog of accepted stories for upcoming issues. Since we only publish five stories per issue and we publish between three and four issues a year, it doesn't take a large number of accepted stories to produce a backlog. What this means is that writer's stories that are accepted today will not be published before the middle of next year. We have discussed several remedies, such as having more stories per issue (requires technical changes to the website) and inaugurating a new magazine within the 4 Star Stories website) attractive, but involving even more work than publishing more stories per issue), so the backlog is not likely to decrease in the near future. Bottom line is that we have even more fabulous stories for you the reader. Anyway you look at it, that has to be a plus.

Issue 21

December 18, 2018

Here we are at Issue 21 and the end of the year. In addition to the new issue, we are working on some special things for next year.

For the first time we will be  featuring stories translated from another language, in this case Spanish, into English. By necessity, we are dealing mostly with the translator, not the author. This has proved to be an interesting experience and promises to produce some unique stories.

Early next year we will be publishing our third Short Short Story issue featuring six or seven new stories, including an aforementioned translated story. Original artwork will be featured as well. As usual we are looking forward to publishing a superb issue that will live up to your expectations.

So for now, have a happy holiday season and new year, and we will be in touch.

February 10, 2020

Well, here we are in 2020. A lot of things have happened. Issue 21 is out, and we have a new Short Short Story Isse, number three. We are trying something new this time. We have always strived to bring you the best stories from around the world, as well as domestic stories. We are now publishing translated stories. We and you only see the translated versions, but we do our best to make the translation seamless. Our premiere effort appears in Short Short Story Issue 3. We are planning more for the future.

We are about to try something I have been thinking about for a long time: a new publication called "Rogue Star Stories". I have felt that we needed an edgier publication to complement "4 Star Stories". From time to time we receive submissions that, although good stories, are not suitable for 4 Star Stories for editorial reasons. I have designed a website, snd we already have a few submissions for the premiere issue. In addition to broadening our editorial scope, it could provide space for up to twenty more stories a year, reducing our story backlog considerably. I was hoping to have both Issue 22 and "Rogue Star Stories" published by the end of the year, but it was not to be. The best we can hope for is in the first quarter of 2020. In addition, we are soliciting stories under 1000 words for another Short Short Story Issue. I hope you readers like them because the contributors love them.

We try our best to please everybody we can. In this case, people who want to sell stories to our publication. We recommend anyone who has a story to submit to do so through the Submissions page. All the submission rules are intended to make the process as painless as possible. In this case a potential contributer became frustrated when he wassssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss (sorry, I dozed off for a few seconds) was unable to find a link to the Submissions page. Those who use the service Duotrope can click on another button and go directly to the Submissions page. I understand from a potential contributor that we are listed on "The Submission Grinder". Others are not so lucky. They have to search manually.

We have compromised to keep the reader portion of the website separate from the contributing author side. Most of the links facilitate the reader experience, with only a few assisting the contributing writer. The gateway so to speak is through the "Contact Us" link. There you will find everything you need to know.

We are working diligently on Issue 22 and will get it out as soon as possible. Till then, enjoy Issue 21.

Issue 22

December 18, 2018

Here we are at Issue 21 and the end of the year. In addition to the new issue, we are working on some special things for next year.

April 2020

Notes on Traveling Cross Country

We were a bit apprehensive coming back to Texas from Kentucky, especially since an adjacent county closed down restaurants and bars the day before we left. The state of Kentucky went to a stay-at-home policy 24 hours after we left. Our first stop was at  the Land between the Lakes in Kentucky where we stopped for gas and snacks. MacDonald's had only drive-through service, so we got chicken nuggets and fries, both almost too hot to eat when we first got them. That became our modus operandi on the road: order from fast food restaurants and fried foods only.

We stopped for the night in Dyersburg, TN. We have a favorite Japanese steak house there that we always visit when we are in town. In Tennessee, to our surprise, they were partying like it was 1999 -- all restaurants open. We had a wonderful dine-in meal -- our last as it turned out.

Tennessee shut down soon after we left, but Arkansas may be still open as far as we know. In Arkadelphia, AR we got take out at the Crackerbarrel and microwaved it when we got back to the room. The next day we stopped in Greenville, TX and ate Crackerbarrel takeout again, this time in the car. It was great.


Observations on Sheltering in Place

We are back from Kentucky and have been sheltering in place for a week and a half now. We spend a lot of time outdoors, but only left home once to go to the post office. We have a lot of time to think about things, like what could happen to us. We are in the most susceptible group, so if we get it, it could be fatal. Speculating that "Legal Zoom" is getting a lot of extra business these days. We are now Amazon Prime members and get a package from them every couple of days. We have to place packages in "quarantine" for a day or so to be safe.  Hear on the TV that younger people are having trouble coping with the extra time at home together. Being older and more mature :-0, we count more on our inner resources we suspect other people haven't cultivated to cope. We have time to do things we had to put off before -- like getting out the next issue of 4 Star Stories. We feel an extra impetus these days because we want to provide that extra level of entertainment -- distraction if you please -- to make the wait less onerous. The new issue should be ready in the next week or two. Also looking ahead to the premier issue of Rogue Star Stories.

We look forward to eating out again, but are enjoying the home cooked meals for now.


People occasionally experience problems saving their stories  to .RTF. I thought helpful information on saving to .RTF appears in the "Webmaster's Rant" found at  Index -> Contact Us -> Webmaster, but it just says to contact the Webmaster.

Basically, you open your story file in MS Word, and from the File dropdown menu select Save as. Where it says Save as type, scroll down to Rich Text format .RTF, then save as usual.  The exact wording varies with the version of MS Word. It isn't a bad idea to change the file name, but it doesn't matter. MS Word saves the file with the .
rtf. extension. Submit that file as an attachment to your cover letter for consideration.


You would think that "Sheltering in Place" would give one a lot of time to indulge in one's favorite pursuit, namely, publishing 4 Star Stories ;-). Unfortunately, that did not turn out to be the case. A combination of around-the-house chores and domestic emergencies like the air conditioner leaking water, cuts the available time to a minimum. However, we keep plugging along, keeping 4 Star Stories alive for our writers and readers.


Had a real scare tonight. I checked the website and ended up in the archive of Issue 2. I'll admit to occasionally getting lost inside the website, but this was a real heart stopper. When something like that happens, the first step is always to type CTRL R  to refresh the screen. In this case that did not improve the situation. Next step is to open up the website in another browser, in my case "Opera". To my intense relief, the current Issue appeared.

Sometimes a sharp-eyed reader will alert me to a problem with the website. That is a comforting reminder that people out there are actually looking at the website and they care enough to let me know when there is a problem.

Issue 23

February 10, 2021

Here we are at Issue 23. In addition to the new issue, we are working on some special things for this year, including our fourth Short Short Story issue and a new publication Rogue Star Stories.

I never really paid much attention to browsers. I've used Firefox forever and never thought much about it. Recently though, I have begun to notice the new browsers on the block.

We've gone through a lot of browsers: Netscape, Internet Explorer by Microsoft and Opera, to name just a few. Netscape I barely remember. Of course, Internet Explorer was the Microsoft 800 pound gorilla in the room with over 95 per cent of the browser market. Opera is a personal favorite of mine. It confirms my personal belief that Scandinavians have entirely too much spare time on their hands (See Linux.). When I was using it, I liked it because it was fast and made my websites look good. 

Lately we got Google Chrome, which seems to work on some websites when Firefox doesn't, and lastly, we have Edge, the supposed browser-to-end-all-browsers, like Windows 10 is the operating system-to-end-all operating  systems. I vowed to boycott Edge for reasons that I no longer remember. I have the same problem with some people: I don't like them, but can't remember why. A blessing/curse of old age, I suppose.

Anyway, it all started when I was trying to get my Epson inkjet printer to work. It doesn't like it when you go out of town for three months. I went to Google to find out how to fix it, of course, and was getting instructions like "... go to the Status bar and click on the Printers pulldown menu." I suddenly realized that I had no idea how to access the Status bar. I did vaguely remember some headings at the top of the browser window like File, Edit and Tools, but couldn't find them at the top of my browser window and had no idea how to access them. The illustration in Google didn't resemble my browser window, which confused me even more. Going to the settings window, usually helpful, was not helpful in this case. Finally in desperation, I right clicked on the home icon (in Firefox) and lo and behold, there was a checklist for the Tool bar and Menu bar. The best thing by far is the Customize option at the bottom of the pulldown menu that allows you to put whatever tools you like on the Tool bar. Turned out what I remembered was the Menu bar, which you can toggle off and on from the pulldown menu accessible by right clicking anywhere at the top of the browsing window. [After going to Firefox (Mozilla) Support, I found out that "the status bar is now called the add-ons bar, it can be turned on/off via the View menu, but it has its own keyboard shortcut to toggle it on/off as well ("Ctrl+/")". After going to Firefox and trying both fixes, I was unable to access the add-ons-bar. (Webmaster)]

At that point I began to think that I might not be the only one with this problem, and I started doing a little checking. I already had Chrome installed, thanks to my grandnephew, who takes pity on his poor granduncle and installs such things as he thinks I might need. The home icon was disappointing in that there was no associated pulldown menu. On the other hand, Chrome has an extensive suite of web developer tools that you may want to look into.

Edge seems to be a little thin in what we would call "tools". Even Edge Support admits that it lacks the more common web tools, although it intimates that development may not yet be complete.

Personally, I would stick with Firefox or Chrome, depending on your physical and/or cultural age, and leave Edge for the Microsofties.

As for the printer, I downloaded the latest printer driver, replaced a couple of ink cartridges, and cleaned and aligned the heads. It turns out the easiest way to set up your printer is through your operating system, not your browser. One odd note concerning the Epson printer: the Epson Printer Finder app was unable to find my printer, even though it was obviously communicating with the computer.

March 28, 2021

After not updating the Submission Guidelines in ... forever, we recently decided to do just that. The biggest change is reducing the maximum acceptable length of submitted stories to 7500 words instead of 10,000. Our preferred length is around 3000 words. Stories of that length are easier to read and edit. Longer stories require more time and commitment from the editors. The other changes deal with how long you should wait before enquiring as to the status of a submission and acknowledgment that we also publish a Short Short Story issue a couple of times a year.

January 17, 2022

Every once in awhile it is brought home to me what a privilege it is to read so many fine science fiction and fantasy stories in the course of choosing stories for 4 Star Stories, Rogue Star Stories and Short Short Story issues. Lately we have had more excellent submissions than we can possibly use. Part of the bounty seems to be the result of the listing of 4 Star Stories on an as yet unknown listing service. I base this on the fact that for a period of weeks we had as many as several submissions a day. Our normal number of submissions is more like fewer than a half dozen per week. The level of quality also has been uniformly good. Although we would like to give every deserving story a slot, we have a firm maximum of twenty stories a year for 4 Star Stories, making more than that impossible. Bottom Line: Prospective authors should note that even though we turn down a story, that does not mean that the story is bad. It may just be that it is not be what we need at the time or that we simply don't have the space.

March 8, 2022

You may have noticed that we have published fewer issues in the last couple of years. We regret that, but circumstances have slowed output drastically. We recently moved from Texas to Kentucky. Believe me, that was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Now all we have to do is build our new house. :-0 We are hoping that 2022 will be a different story. I have done considerable maintenance to the website, including updating the copyright and adding Short Short Story Issue 4. Issue 24 will be next in a couple of months. Please stay tuned.

April 10, 2022

Duotrope, a help website for authors, recently pointed out that Issue 23 had been up for over a year. In order to maintain our standing with them, we have to adhere to our stated publication schedule or change it to something more closely resembling reality. We have had a long and fruitful relationship with Duotrope, and we did not want to risk damaging that relationship. We are, therefore, modifying our publication schedule to a more reasonable one. We hope this is temporary, of course, because it pleases us to continue bringing you, the reader, the absolute best in science fiction and fantasy stories and because we have a lot of really great stories waiting in the wings to be published. When we are able, we will return to our our original publication schedule.

Editorial Update, May 2, 2022

Suspension of Acceptance of Manuscripts for Publication

At this time we.cannot guarantee prospective authors a spot in an upcoming issue within a reasonable length of time.
In order to be fair to authors whose work has already been accepted for publication, as well as those wanting their work to appear in future issues, we are suspending acceptance of manuscripts for publication until further notice.
Watch the Submissions and In My Opinion  web pages for submission policy updates.
Thank you for thinking of 4 Star Stories, and we look forward to again being able to accept submissions.
Best regards,

David Gray
4 Star Stories

Mary Gearhart-Gray
4 Star Stories

May 3, 2022
Word on the street is that we have stopped accepting manuscripts for publication.  Word on the street is correct. About two days ago it dawned on me that we cannot put out a magazine and continue screening manuscripts as they come in. There are just too many of them. What we always did before was read your story and decide to reject it or not. If your story didn't get rejected immediately, you sometimes had  to wait an inordinate length of time to learn if it had been accepted or not. The luckiest stories of all only received the coveted acceptance letter. The only exceptions were some stories I expressed interest in, but typically made no promises to publish.  Some submittors were told to either submit to other venues or wait whatever time elapsed until their story came up in the to-be-published queue. The alternative to that system was to let manuscripts accumulate without reading them until some future time and evaluate them all at once. Prospective authors who wanted a quick turnaround on their stories should see the flaw in that argument immediately. Frankly, that was never a serious alternative. Everyone deserves a fair shot, and those unlucky enough to be considered when I was tired or in a really bad mood would not get a fair shot. The last straw came when I checked my alternate computer for accepted stories.  If you have more than one computer and don't synchronize them, the stored emails on each may not be the same. People who wrote and couldn't understand why I couldn't find their email should be able to sympathize. I remembered stories that I had promised a slot. but could not find. Turns out they were on the other computer.  Addition of those stories almost doubled the number I had promised to publish. I was looking at 30-40 stories, enough to fill almost two years of issues. The odd thing is that there are still stories I remember, but can't find. What to do? the only thing I could do: put my finger in the dike and stop accepting submissions. I got in touch with the Duotrope people, letting them know what I was going to do. A few hours deciding on the text of the announcement, and the next thing to do was update the website. That is now done. All to do now is sit back and wait for the reaction. OK, how are we going to do this? Issue 24 be will be published as soon as possible -- by the end of the week if possible. Issues 25 and 26 are filled, although the contents of each may change. After that, issues will be filled, as much as possible, in the order in which their stories were received. Issues are "published" a minimum of three months apart. After that, they are stored in the Story Archives, available for anyone to access them. I believe the cutoff date was either 4-30 or 5-1-22.  Anyone submitting after that date should receive a return email stating that manuscripts are no longer being accepted. I am attempting to notify the rest of the authors (from the other computer) that their stories will be published. Anyone who submitted before the cutoff date, but has not received either a rejection or acceptance email, should write me at or to inquire about the status of their manuscript. I will attempt to reply in a timely manner. 

February 2, 2023
Not too long ago, I was in contact with Go Daddy, our website support company, on an issue and was informed that had been flagged for "malicious software". I was unaware of that, although I had heard from them in the past about foreign software on the website. I checked out some of the programs online and found out that they were low threat. I would expect that our readers would notify me if they found malicious software on our website. Nevertheless I spent a considerable amount of money to have the website "cleaned". One result is that now the site loads faster. In addition, I loaded on the web browsers that I have loaded on my computers. In general, that is a good thing for a webmaster to do on a regular basis because people who visit our website use more than one browser. You may not know this, but I am interested in browsers and have a lot of them loaded on my computer. I myself have six loaded on my website computer. As promised the website loaded and performed well on each. Recently, while I was cleaning out junk files and fixing the registry on my computers, I became aware of another web browser, the CCleaner browser. I loaded the CClean browser on one of my computers and can report that it seems to work fine. Remember to uncheck the "Make CClean my default browser." checkbox if you do not want to do that. It advertises privacy settings and other features that make it attractive to have. I loaded on it and was quite pleased with the result. It also has some web developer tools that may prove quite useful. Overall, I think it is worth looking at. We are hard at work on Issue 26 and hope to have it ready to publish soon. As usual this issue is up to our high standards of excellence that you have come to expect. We also hope to have an update on the C. Dean Andersson Memorial Page in Issue 26. If you have any comments, contact me at

March 2, 2023
I promised myself that I would revisit the CClean browser. Also known as the Avast Secure browser, the browser is part of the Chromium open-source project, as well as "Google Chrome", with which you may already be familiar. Its objective is to build a safer, faster and more stable browser to surf the web. It takes advantage of open-source code from other browsers to make the CClean layout familiar and intuitive. Downloading was not a problem. Remember to uncheck the "Make CClean my default browser." checkbox if you do not want that. You have the option to make CClean your default browser, but that is not necessary to enjoy its many security features. It is a good idea to check for the latest version immediately after download. If you desire, you can import bookmarks from other browsers, making the transition seamless. You can direct CClean to open a window every time you turn on your computer. Look under "On Startup" to enable that feature. When I first used CCheck, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that a lot of the security features were already turned on, not the case when transitioning to the Windows 10 operating system, unfortunately. Click on the "Privacy and Security" tab to customize your settings. You have the option of choosing your own default search engine. I prefer "Duck Duck Go" because of its search privacy features; other choices are available. One feature I had not seen before is the option to open a side panel on either the left or right side to show bookmarks or your "reading list". I didn't try the Print function, but it seems similar to my FireFox browser. I'm not familiar with the "Cast" feature, but it appears to let you stream video in your browser. I'm familiar with the Taskmanager function of Microsoft operating systems that enables you to terminate any process, but this browser has one as well. The various features are accessible from more than one location on the browser, handy, if like me, you have said to yourself "Where did I enable that feature?" The developer tools seem quite extensive. I would like to say I know how to use them all, but I don't. The History feature is useful for returning to previously visited sites. The Privacy Cleaner allows you to clear browsing histories, cookies, and cached files and images for the time range you desire. That's an overview of the CClean browser. Features I did not cover include appearance (I went with the default "Same as Windows"), but you have other choices, as well as a wide variety of serif and sanserif fonts and continuously variable font size for text. Whether you are a new user or an old hand like me, I think the CClean browser has a lot to offer. If you have any comments, contact me at


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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