Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I received my third acceptance of the year this morning, for a Mother's Day-themed confession I submitted on February 7.

Why you can't find your magazines

In mid-February, Anderson News, one of the four largest magazine distribution companies in the U.S., halted operations and has, since then, terminated about 2,500 employees.

Because of the way magazines are distributed, this means magazines that are available in one region may not be available in another. How soon will the remaining magazine distribution companies step up to fill in the holes left by the demise of Anderson News? Your guess is as good as anyone else's.

Because I feel grouchy today, here's tip for y'all: If you're going to write for magazines, you need to understand the business of magazine publishing. For example, writers constantly bitch about being the last paid by a magazine, but did you know that only a small fraction of the money you spend on a magazine at the store today even gets to the publisher...and it may be six months or more before the publisher receives that money? When a magazine distributor goes out of business, it can kill magazines.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Revisions r us

Sometimes revisions are more difficult to do than writing new material. Tuesday evening I received e-mail from an editor who wanted me to add 400 words to a story. No big deal. I can spit out 400 words in a jiffy. 400 new words. Not 400 words woven into an existing scene or story.

It took three days to add the 400 words. That's a paltry 133 words a day.

But I did it and I just e-mailed the revision to the editor.

Now my fingers are crossed. If he likes the revision, this will be my second sale to this market.

Writing opportunity for gardeners/essayists

I edit a weekly e-newsletter for Texas gardeners. Read back issues here:

I'm always looking for brief (500 words+/-) essays about gardening--serious or humorous--that I can use. Alas, there is no pay. Rights: one-time use and each issue is archived on-line after it's distributed via e-mail. Readership exceeds 2,200.

The essays must either be clearly Texas-centric or be "universal." (That is, essays about growing specific plants in Maine that clearly won't grow in Texas will be rejected.)

Reprints are welcome. Or dust off those rejected Chicken Soup for the Gardener's Soul and Cup of Comfort for Gardeners essays.

Send submissions (and questions) to me at Michael AT as attached Word files. Do not send submissions to my personal e-mail.

The editorship is a part-time gig so I'm only in the office for a few hours at a time a couple of days a week. Don't expect an immediate response from me, but if I haven't responded within two weeks, check with me. Sometimes submissions get caught in the spam filter and I have to go digging for them.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I received a contract today, for a confession I submitted January 16. This is only my second sale of the year, so I'm five sales behind schedule. Although I'm a bit dismayed that I'm behind schedule, I'm not surprised. I wrote and submitted very little between early September and Christmas, and it will probably take several months of high productivity to overcome a 3.5-month gap in productivity.

Birds of a feather

I actively participate in two Yahoo groups for writers and I regularly read, but rarely participate, in a third. I see a significant membership overlap among these three Yahoo groups and, for a time, I worried that there were only a dozen or so truely active short story writers in the world.

I know that isn't true because the three groups I'm involved with are for people who write mysteries and women's fiction. I also write in other genres, but I don't participate in any Yahoo groups or message boards for those genres.

Why not? What draws us to participate in one Yahoo group or discussion board rather than another? Is it the subjects we discuss, or is it the people participating?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Day forty-eight, story nineteen

I finished my 19th short story of the year a few minutes ago. It's an 800-word romance about two pianists, and was written entirely today. The manuscript will go into the mail tomorrow.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Day forty-six, story eighteen

I completed my 18th short story of the year earlier today, a 6,100-word confession/romance about a woman who meets the love of her life at a garage sale where she's unloading the things her ex-husband left behind.

I started writing this story in July, 2005, and had worked on it in fits and starts ever since. I had about 3,300 words written before I picked the manuscript up again earlier this week and was finally able to put all the plot pieces together so that I could finish writing the story.

It's already on its way to an editor.

Random thought

I swallowed a bee yesterday. Now I have hives.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Day forty-three, story seventeen

I just completed and submitted my 17th story of the year, a 5,300-word love story that I began working on back on September 2, a week before my bypass surgery. I wrote the first three pages and then the partial ms. sat untouched until earlier this week when I picked it up again.

It's the story of a soldier who returns home from Iraq to discover that her husband has drained their savings account, emptied their apartment, and disappeared. And, yes, it really is a love story. Of a sort.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Six words

Smith magazine at asked for six word memoirs and the result was Not Quite What I Was Planning, a collection of six-word memoirs. Reading some of these had me thinking: Could I describe my writing career in six words? Can you?

It turns out I can:

Wrote much. Sold much. Earned little.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Still day thirty-nine, story sixteen

I finished and submitted my 16th story of the year a few minutes ago. It's a 2,100-word Mother's Day story. I wrote the first paragraph on January 16 and wrote the rest of the story today.

Day thirty-nine, story fifteen

I finished my 15th story of the year a few minutes ago. It's a 1,600-word, Mother's Day-themed confession. My plot monkey (a non-writing friend who occasionally helps me plot stories) gave me the idea a week ago, and the story bounced around in the back of my mind while I finished other projects. I wrote the story yesterday, proofread it this morning, and e-mailed it to an editor I know is looking for Mother's Day-themed confessions.

Saturday, February 07, 2009


My story "Figure Drawing" appears in the March True Love.

Day thirty-eight, story fourteen

I completed my 14th story of the year earlier this morning, a 2,500-word vampire story. I started work on this January 22, wrote the first two-thirds and the last paragraph, and then stopped to work on the story I finished two days ago. I returned to work on this story yesterday and wrote the missing section last night. I proofread the ms. this morning and now it's packaged and ready to go into the mail.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Day thirty-six, story thirteen

I finished my 13th story of the year earlier this evening. I started writing it in July, 2007, when I saw a call for an anthology titled Hardboiled Horror, but I all I wrote at the time was the opening scene. I picked the unfinished manuscript up a few weeks ago when I thought I knew what I wanted to do with the story. At that point, I had no clear idea of what market I might target. I'd already roughed out a draft when, on January 27, I saw the call for submissions to the MWA's latest anthology and had an Aha! moment. I had my target market. And that's where the 4,000-word manuscript is headed as soon I finished printing all six copies.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The tease

I belong to a Yahoo group for writers of a particular sub-genre of women's fiction, and we all write for the same small group of publications. Many members post their acceptances as soon as they receive them, and there will be a little wave of posted acceptances--two, three, four, and sometimes more, acceptances posted in a two-day period.

I've noticed an odd trend: If I happen to have sold something to the same issue of the same publication, my contract arrives a couple of days after the wave of acceptances posted to the group by other writers.

So I'm left sitting on the edge of my seat. I know the contracts have been mailed. I know mine seem to arrive after everyone else's. Will I have something in this issue, or not?

Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.

But for a couple of days I feel like I'm being teased.

Maybe I should stop monitoring the postings so closely and spend more time with my fingers on the keyboard.