Tuesday, November 30, 2010


For every J.A. Konrath there's a Michael Bracken.

I received my first royalty check from Amazon Digital Services Inc. (ADSI) for the five titles I made available for Kindle: $15.

Granted, none of the five titles are novels. Two are novellas; three are short stories. Four have been previously published; one is original. Four are crime fiction; one is romance. The novellas sell for $2.99; the short stories for $.99.

I also have seven titles available from three different publishers (two novels, a short story collection, and four short stories) and have short stories available in two anthologies available in Kindle format. My royalty check from ADSI does not reflect income from these titles.

Although I have mentioned all of these titles here and on my website, I've not been actively promoting them the way some writers promote their work.

I prefer to spend my available time writing new material.

Even so, here's my pitch: If you have a Kindle and want to read some good crime fiction, good romance fiction, or good confessions, try some of my titles. They're all available here: Michael's Kindle Titles.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Brand names

When I first started writing confessions in the 1980s, I quickly realized that editors deftly removed brand names from the stories they published.

"I drove my Rambler to Sambo's and ordered a Royal Crown Cola to drink while studying the menu" became "I drove my car to a chain restaurant and ordered a cola to drink while studying the menu."

In the belief that the less work a manuscript requires prior to publication increases--however minutely--the odds of the manuscript being accepted, I learned to write fiction without using brand names.

During the past few years things have changed. Confession editors are no longer excising all brand names from confessions prior to publication, and I recently read a confession that had so many brand names in it that I thought I was reading a shopping list and not a short story.

So I wonder which serves a story better: frequent use of brand names or complete removal of brand names?

I think use of brand names can be a crutch, a way for writers to create a character using shorthand--after all, a woman who wears Levi's and Polo shirts is quite different than a woman who dresses in Dolce & Gabbana and Manolo Blahnik--instead of making the character come alive through words and actions.

At the same time, use of brand names can date a story. Readers significantly younger than me may not even recognize the three brand names in my example above:

The Rambler was manufactured by American Motors, back when the U.S. had four major automobile manufacturing companies. The last Rambler was manufactured in 1969. American Motors was purchased by Chrysler in 1987 and renamed Eagle.

Sambo's was a chain of 1,200 restaurants that went bankrupt in the early 1980s and, apparently, only the original restaurant, opened in 1957, still exists.

Royal Crown Cola may be better known today as RC Cola.

If it's important to set a story in a particular time and place (pairing that RC cola with a Moonpie would likely set a story in the South in the 1950s), then brand names may be a valuable addition to a story, but if time and place is less important than the story itself, use of brand names would detract from the story and would be especially distracting to future readers unfamiliar with the brand names.

So, even though confession editors seem more open to the use of brand names, may I suggest that brand names be used judiciously and only when their use truly enhances a story.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I completed my 35th short story of the year this evening, a 4,500-word St. Patrick's Day confession I started writing October 14. The final draft is printing now and it'll go in the mail tomorrow.

It's been almost three months since I completed a new short story, an anomaly not indicative of how much writing I've actually been doing. I didn't write much fiction in September--the month began with a family issue to address followed by a week of illness, and a load of other writing and editing filled up the last half of the month. But I returned to the keyboard in October and have been putzing around with various stories, adding bits to this story and that, outlining some new stories, and generating a variety of story ideas that I hope to get to soon. But generating ideas, outlining stories, and writing beginnings and middles don't create finished manuscripts. Only writing complete manuscripts accomplishes that goal.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I received my 56th acceptance earlier today, this time for a 6,200-word confession.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Published 2x

My Christmas stories "Bittersweet Homecoming" and "Fatherless at Christmas" appear in the December issue of True Confessions.

Friday, November 12, 2010


My erotic deal-with-the-devil's-minion story "The Loophole" was published in Men at Noon, Monsters at Midnight (StarBooks Press, Christopher Pierce editor) back in June but my contributor's copy just arrived.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I received my 55th acceptance of the year via email this afternoon, this time for a Valentine's Day romance/confession.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


My Christmas confession "Santa's Little Helper Saves the Day" appears in the December True Story.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


My Thanksgiving confession "Turkey for Two" appears in the just-published December issue of True Love.

Monday, November 01, 2010


My crime fiction story "Tides" appears in the just-released anthology Beautiful Boys (Cleis Press), edited by Richard Labonte.