Saturday, August 01, 2015

I get knocked down

John Floyd's blog post at, "Now, That's a Different Story," posed the questions "Do you always have certain markets in mind when you craft your stories? Do you write them and only then think of where they might be sent?"

I responded to John's question in the comments secetion following his post, but though the response might be appropriate to duplicate here:

Much of my short crime fiction has appeared in non-mystery publications. Unfortunately, many of those publications have disappeared or have reduced the amount of fiction they publish.

For several years (details in the guest post I wrote for you a while back), nearly every piece of fiction I wrote was for a specific market, either by invitation of an editor, or to fit a specific call for submission, or because the editor had previously purchased several stories from me.

That changed a bit early last year for two reasons: 1) Publishing was shifting, causing some of my regular markets to dry up, and 2) I had several unfinished stories for which there was no obvious market.

I'm still writing most of my short fiction for specific markets, but I've also been finishing those unfinished stories that have no obvious markets. I've learned two things from doing this: 1) Some of the joy of writing has returned because I am not constrained by market limitations, and 2) My ratio of submissions to sales is turning to shit.

I'm writing in genres I've not touched in several years, submitting to editors and publications with which I have no pre-existing connections, and I'm back to the tried-and-true submission process of best market first and work down. This is a humbling experience. While I've received a few incredibly nice rejection letters of the "almost, but not quite" variety, I've also received a fair number of form rejections. And I'm not accustomed to seeing form rejections.

What's that Chumbawumba song? I get knocked down, but I get up again. That's what writers with long careers do.

Friday, July 31, 2015


I finished and submitted my twenty-fifth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 4,600-word fantasy I started writing May 13, 2010.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


I finished and submitted my twenty-fourth short story this evening. This one's a 5,900-word Christmas confession I started July 15, 2011.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


I finished and submitted my twenty-third short story of the year earlier this evening. This one's a 3,900-word confession, told from a male POV, that I started writing on July 21, 2011.

Monday, July 20, 2015


I will be at ArmadilloCon in Austin July 24-26, speaking about erotic fiction and story prompts, and reading "Seeds" from Fifty Shades of Green. All of my events are on Saturday, and one-day passes are available. Learn more about the convention at

If you're there, find me and say howdy.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


I completed, but did not submit, my twenty-second short story of the year this evening. This one is a 3,000-word bit of crime fiction I started August 31, 2014, and apparently wrote as a trunk story because there is no appropriate market for it at this time. I hope a new market will open soon or an existing market will open for submissions in the near future. Until then...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


George Carlin once said, "Your house is just a place for your stuff. If you didn't have so much God damned stuff, you wouldn't need a house. You could just walk around all the time. That's all your house is, it's a pile of stuff with a cover on it."

After 21 years in the same home, my pile of stuff is daunting. My second wife died in this house and a significant amount of the stuff was hers before we married. My third wife spent more than 10 years in this house and added a layer of her stuff to the pile. One of my sons lived here for several years, my daughter lived here for a couple of years, and my other sons have visited. Some of the stuff in this house once belonged to them.

About a year after my third wife and I divorced and my son moved into his own place, I went through every room, clearing away the unwanted, unneeded, or no-longer-useful things that had accumulated. I filled the trash can several times and took many carloads of stuff to Goodwill.

I thought I had done a thorough job. I hadn't. I went through the entire house again several years later and discovered stuff tucked away in places I had not thought to examine--drawers that had gone unopened, boxes not thoroughly rifled through, files of paperwork no longer of value. I eliminated even more stuff during that purge.

A few days ago, I started another purge, one that I anticipate will take much longer because I have already eliminated the stuff of least consequence. Much of what remains has value, either real or emotional, and decisions about what to keep and what to discard will be difficult.

The stuff I hold most dear can be the physical confirmation of treasured memories (photographs of my children), proof of my creative accomplishments (books and periodicals containing my writing), or simply things previously owned by, given to me by, or jointly purchased with a loved one.

This last category of stuff is by far the most difficult. This is the stuff that serves as a lifeline to the past or as an anchor that prevents me from facing the future. Too often I've insisted it was a lifeline while those around me insisted it was an anchor.

Do I have what it takes to weigh the anchor?

The purge I have just begun will answer that question.