Friday, October 30, 2009

Some story ideas deserve to die

Brokeshell Mountain

The tragic story of misguided snail herders. They ride turtles and drive the snails from the midwest toward the west. They intend to sell the herd to fancy French restaurants in California. But they never make it. A wrong turn sends the herd across the Great Salt Lake.


I received my 25th acceptance of the year earlier today, this time for a 3,400-word confession/romance I submitted on September 30.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I get quoted in the strangest places. From an October 19 blog post titled "When You’re Starting Your Own Business – What Successful Businesswomen Know":

Starting a new business can be hard, and many entrepreneurs quit because finding clients is harder than they thought, they feel discouraged, they lose hope, or they no longer believe in themselves or their product. The longer you persevere, the more you improve your chances of starting a successful business. “A writing career is nothing more than a long series of disappointments punctuated by occasional moments of success,” says Michael Bracken. Successful businesswomen know that this isn’t just true of writing careers!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Story sixty-one

I completed my 61st short story of the year a few minutes ago. It's a 3,600-word confession that begins with a woman being stood up on Valentine's Day and progresses from there. The ms. will go in the mail tomorrow.

I started writing this on February 11 and had about a third of it complete but no clear sense of how to get to the happy-ever-after ending the story needed. Plot Monkey and I spent Saturday evening looking at some of my incomplete manuscripts and she helped me finish plotting this one and a handful of others.

Published x3

My stories "Keeping Secrets" and "Falling in Love" appear in the December issue of True Love. Both are romantic confessions.

And I forgot to post this a few days ago when my contributor copy arrived: "Pussy & the Cat Burglar," a hardboiled erotic mystery, appears in the November issue of Hustler Fantasies.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Story sixty

I finished and submitted my 60th short story this evening. It's a 3,200-word bit of sexually-charged women's fiction. It seems a bit too explicit for the confession magazines and not explicit enough for the erotica market, so I sent it to New Love Stories Magazine.

I started "writing" this story November 25, 2008. Actually, I started dictating the story on that day. I had been unable to write because of my bypass surgery the previous September and the drugs I was taking at the time futzed up my brain. In an effort to overcome the physical and mental challenges I was then facing, by changing how and where I wrote, I purchased a new laptop computer and dictation software and tried to dictate new work.

I dictated about half the story before I stopped. I wrote the rest of the story this week using the conventional method--by typing on the keyboard of my desktop computer--but, amazingly, kept the first half almost word-for-word as I had dictated it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

24 and published

I just received my 24th acceptance of the year, this for a 2,600-word romance/confession I submitted November 8, 2008.

And I received a copy of the Winter True Experience containing my story "The Unwanted Christmas Present."

It's a good day, eh!

Healthy competition

Even though I often think of myself as the poster boy for prolific short story writers, I know I'm not the only highly productive short story writer currently writing, Over the past few years I've developed a strong e-mail relationship with Laird Long, another prolific short story writer. Like me, he writes in many genres under many names, and we regularly sell to the same markets, sometimes even appearing in the same anthology or same issue of a magazine.

We regularly share market information and I'm sure I have a few sales that resulted from information he's shared with me; I can only hope the reverse is also true.

Earlier today we shared year-to-date stats. I've finished and submitted 59 short stories; he's finished and submitted 72. We challenged each other to see who can end the year with the most completed short stories.

He's 13 stories ahead of me and there are 10 weeks left in the year. That's OK. I figure he needs the head start.

(Then again, maybe I'll cheat. I should be able to knock out 13 pieces of Twitterfic between the end of Survivor and bedtime...)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Story fifty-nine

I finished and submitted my 59th short story of the year, a 1,500-word bit of erotica.

I started writing this story in December, 2003, but had managed to write only the opening two paragraphs before setting it aside. I picked it up again earlier today and finished it in time to meet an anthology's impending deadline.

The James Patterson of short fiction

Sometimes I wish I could become the James Patterson of short fiction, generating ideas, farming them out to other writers, and then slapping my byline on the finished manuscripts and taking all or most of the credit.

Why? Because I have far more short story ideas--many of them in some partially written draft form--than I can ever hope to turn into finished manuscripts.

Unfortunately, my short story ideas are often unexplainable until I have a complete draft, and after I've gone to the trouble of doing all that work, there isn't a need for the farm team to enter the game.


Maybe after I die--which I hope is a gazillion years from now--someone will come along and do a V.C. Andrews with my partials, giving me a writing career that continues long after my death.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Story fifty-eight

I finished and submitted my 58th short story of the year a few minutes ago. It's 2,500-words about a gardener, written to the specifications of an anthology's call for submissions.

I started writing this yesterday afternoon, after several weeks spent kicking around possible ideas, and finished it this evening.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Story fifty-seven

I completed and submitted my 57th short story of the year today. It's a 2,200-word Valentine's Day romance.

I began writing it on August 8, 2008, but had completed only the first scene before I picked the story up again a few days ago.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I received a tentative anthology acceptance earlier this evening. The editor is awaiting confirmation of his selections from the publisher before issuing contracts. When that happens--presuming I make the final cut--I'll move this from tentative to actual and give it an acceptance number.

Story fifty-six

I just completed and submitted my 56th short story of the year. This time it's a 3,000-word ghost story.

I don't know exactly when I started writing this story. The oldest piece of paper with a date on it shows March 6, 1999. But the draft shows my address as one I left in 1994, and the oldest draft in the folder is even older than that. So, I've been working on this story for somewhere between 15 and 19 years.

I finally completed a full draft of the story earlier this month in response to an anthology's call for submissions. Then I tore the draft apart and rearranged the order of scenes. Then I revised/rewrote parts of it. The "finished" manuscript has been sitting on my desk all week. Because I've been working on this story for so long, I've completely lost objectivity. Today Plot Monkey read the story and liked it. So, after one last pass to correct a few typos and whatnot, off it went to the anthology editors.

We'll see what they think of it.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Story fifty-five

I finished and submitted my 55th short story of the year today. It's a 3,000-word Valentine's Day romance that starts with the theft of a rose.

I started writing this story on August 1, 2006, and had about half of it completed before I picked it up again earlier this week.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Harlequin vs. Hard Case Crime

While at the grocery store this evening I spotted three novels published by Harlequin that reminded me--in look, feel, and genre--of Hard Case Crime novels.

A little Internet sleuthing revealed this:

Harlequin is reissuing "suspense and adventure" novels they originally published many years ago, with six titles already released.

Are they any good? I can't say. I didn't have enough scratch with me to buy any of them.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Emotion vs. writing

Although I'm loathe to admit it, emotion plays a significant role in my writing process. For example, this month is crunch time for submitting Valentine's Day stories and my personal life is such that the last thing on my mind is happy-ever-after.

I've seen variations of this in the past. Some of my darkest, most violent stories were written when I was angry (at the world, at the people around me, at myself), some of my saddest stories were written when I was in my deepest funks, and some of my best happy-ever-after stories were written when I had hopes of a happy-ever-after for myself.

Of course, market requirements mean that the stories driven by my emotional state and the stories editors want to buy aren't always in synch. Sometimes I just let my emotions spill onto the page and don't worry about placing the resulting manuscript until it's finished; other times, like now, I try to quash my emotions so that I don't miss a window of opportunity.

So, happy-ever-after, here I come!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Story fifty-four

I completed and submitted my 54th short story of the year earlier today. It's a 2,400-word Valentine's Day story I started writing on October 2.

Saturday, October 03, 2009


I received my 23rd acceptance a few minutes ago, for the story I finished writing last night. It's the story of a young man interning at a prestigious firm who is approached by the police to do a little "undercover" work, and it will appear in an anthology scheduled for publication next year.

Query to submission

Last night's query resulted in a request to see my latest story, so off it went this morning.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Story fifty-three and an essay

I finished writing my 53rd short story of the year earlier today and a few minutes ago I completed and submitted an essay.

The story is a 3,300-word bit of crime fiction. I started writing it January 17, 2007, in response to an anthology's call for submissions. I had written about half the story before the deadline for submissions passed. That was OK, I suppose, because the story seemed about to take a turn that would have made it inappropriate for that anthology. A month or so ago I spotted another anthology's call for submissions, realized that this story, after taking its turn, would fit. So, I finished it and sent a query off to the editor because he only wants queries, not full ms. submissions.

I wrote the essay in response to another anthology's call for submissions. I spotted the call on September 29 and the essay rolled out of me this evening. It's about 650 words and went to the editor a few minutes ago.

i enjoy writing essays, wish I had more opportunity to write them, but I have more trouble locating good essay markets than I have locating short story markets.