Friday, December 30, 2011

Short year

One of my goals this year was to limit my fiction reading to short stories, including all variations of less than novel length. With only two exceptions--the final proofread of my novel Stud and a rereading of William Goldman's The Princess Bride--I accomplished my goal.

I started the year reading mostly crime fiction because I had several back issues of AHMM and EQMM and several crime fiction anthologies in my to-be-read pile. As the year progressed, I added fiction from other genres, including fantasy, horror, literary fiction, and science fiction.

I read books and magazines; anthologies and single-author collections; stories written by male and female writers; stories written by gay, straight, and lesbian writers; stories written by black, white, and hispanic writers, as well as stories by writers of other ethnicities; stories by young, middle-aged, old, and long-deceased writers; stories by new and long-established writers; stories that were funny and stories that were sad; stories that turned me on and stories that turned me off; and all manner of other stories.

My original goal grew out of the realization that the bulk of my fiction reading consisted of novels, yet the bulk of my fiction writing consisted of short stories. I was becoming insular, my knowledge of the current state of short fiction increasingly limited to what I was selling and not what other writers were creating.

As the year ends, I find myself having learned one important lesson:

There is no single correct way to write a short story.

Will I continue to limit my fiction reading to short stories in 2012? No.

Will I include more short fiction in my reading mix than I did prior to this year? Yes.

Will I continue to concentrate on writing short stories rather than novels? Absolutely.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I'll be away from computers for the next few days, celebrating Christmas with family and friends, so I'm taking a few minutes now to wish all of you a Merry Christmas.

This blog is primarily a public journal where I track my writing progress--sales, publications, and occasional thoughts about the process of writing and publishing--and I appreciate the comments y'all leave on the blog and in personal emails.

So this holiday season I wish you all health, happiness, and increasing success.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

73

I received my 73rd acceptance of the year this evening, this time for an erotic crime story.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

71, 72

I received two acceptances today, my 71st and 72nd of the year. One is for a story about a pickpocket and the other is a romance.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Published 6x

My stories "Dance Partner for Life," "Just My Type," and "Love in Aisle 6" appear in the January 2012 True Story.

My stories "Kissed and Dismissed," "When New Year's Eve Came Twice," and "Heartbreak in the Homeland: Is My Son a Killer?" appear in the January 2012 True Confessions.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Published

My short crime story "Woman in White" appears in the December issue of Big Pulp.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

70

I received my 70th acceptance of the year in today's mail, this time for a Valentine's Day-themed confession.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Published 2x

My short mystery "Chalkers" is now available from Untreed Reads (read an excerpt and order a copy through the The Untreed Reads Store http://bit.ly/v85k5W.

When eleven men return to their college alma mater for homecoming forty years after graduation, do they dare reveal the long-held secret that binds them to one another?

From the publisher: "We are also running a special in The Untreed Reads Store that if a reader adds both Chalkers and News Flash" -- my previous release from Untreed Reads -- "to their cart, they'll save 30% on News Flash. That's good through December 31st."

Also published: The November issue of Bohemia includes a reprint of my ghost story "Pushing Coal."

Monday, November 21, 2011

66, 67, 68, 69

I received four acceptances in today's mail, all for confessions. Three were written this year and sold on first submission; one was written in 2004 and sold on fifth submission, to the magazine that originally rejected it in 2004!

There have only been three years since 1976 when I recorded more acceptances--71 in 2004; 77 in 1995; and 84 in 1991--and there's still more than a month left in the year!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Free "News Flash"

November 20-November 26th is National Puzzle Week, and Untreed Reads is offering all mysteries (novels, collections, short stories, novellas, series) are 30% off all this week. Some titles, including my short story "News Flash," featuring Waco, Texas, private eye Morris Ronald "Moe Ron" Boyette, are free.

Read an excerpt and order your free copy of "News Flash" here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Published

My story “The Bear Family Christmas Project” appears in the anthology Christmas Warmth (XoXo Publishing) edited by Cynthia MacGregor.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fifty-two

I finished and submitted my fifty-second short story of the year this evening, a 3,700-word Valentine's Day confession that I started writing on August 18.

Published

My story "Mother's Christmas Gift" appears in the December issue of True Confessions.

Friday, November 11, 2011

63, 64, 65

I received three acceptances yesterday, my 63rd, 64th, and 65th acceptances of the year. All were for confessions scheduled for January publication.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Published

My story "Woman in White," scheduled for the Winter 2001 issue of Big Pulp, is temporarily posted at their website: http://bigpulp.com/issues/2011_12/bracken_womaninwhite.html.

Published

My Christmas story "Bright Lights, Big Hearts" appears in the December True Story, on newsstands now.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Recognition for Many Genres, One Craft

From the editors of Many Genres, One Craft, a writing textbook to which I contributed, this news:
First, the book was an Award-Winning Finalist in the Business: Writing and Publishing category of The USA Best Books 2011 Awards, sponsored by USA Book News.

Second, it was named #5 in 10 of This Year's Terrific Writing Books by The Writer Magazine in their December 2011 issue!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

210

No, this isn't the number of stories I've written this year or the number of acceptances I've received. This is a different, but equally important number.

This morning I weighed 210 lbs. This is my lowest weight in 20+ years.

Mid-summer 2006 I was near my peak weight in the mid-230s (my peak was 239 several years earlier). Through a combination of circumstance and intent, I slowly took weight off until I was in my mid-220s when I had my quadruple heart bypass in September 2008. The cardiologist wanted (and still wants) me to lose more weight.

Ever since then, my weight has bounced around. I would work to pull it down to the mid-210s, only to see it climb back up to the mid-220s. And it's always easier to gain weight than lose weight.

This summer, again through a combination of circumstance and intent, I began losing weight again. Only this time my weight has continued to drop; I've not yet had it bounce back up.

I've lost weight through a combination of smaller portions, better food choices, and a modest increase in exercise. If I could kick my worst habit--the over-consumption of Mountain Dew--I would probably lose weight faster.

Why am I posting this news in my writing blog? Because I suffer from the same malady as many writers: Too much time with my ass in a chair, mindlessly munching on snacks as I write.

If you suffer from this same malady, perhaps it's time to make some changes in your life.

Get up, get moving, and get healthy.

I know I'm better off for having done so.

Friday, November 04, 2011

62

I received my 62nd acceptance of the year this evening, this time for a fantasy involving a dragon.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

61

I received my 61st acceptance of the year Sunday, for a story about love and death, but I've been so overwhelmed with work that I'm only now able to post the news.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fifty-one

I finished and submitted my fifty-first story of the year this evening, a 1,900-word confession about finding love on St. Patrick's Day. I started writing this story on November 16, 2008.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Published

My essay "Don't They Come in Pairs?" appears in the just-published anthology Wait a Minute, I Have to Take Off My Bra (Inkspotter Publishing).

My grandmother owned a corset shop that specialized in treating mastectomy patients in the days before reconstructive surgery was much of an option, and, at different times, both my mother and my aunt were employed there. I also did odd jobs around the shop and my essay is about what I learned from the experience.

A portion of the profits from the sale of the anthology will be donated to the Breast Cancer Society of Canada.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Model

This is one of the photos taken by Joshua Schnizer at Saturday's photo shoot for Bohemia magazine.

59, 60

I received my 59th and 60th acceptances today. One is for a 3,300-word Christmas-themed confession I wrote back in 2009; the other is for a 4,600-word erotic romance I wrote this summer.

With these two acceptances, I now have more acceptances than last year's 59 and must look all the way back to 2006, when I had 66 acceptances, before I find a better year.

Of course, there are still 2.5 months left in 2011. There's still a chance to best 2006!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Keeping abreast of my publishing news

I have an essay scheduled for this upcoming anthology, about my experience as a young man working in my grandmother's corset shop, where she specialized in fitting mastectomy patients long before reconstructive surgery was a real option.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fifty

I completed and submitted my fiftieth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 4,500-word Valentine's Day confession I started writing October 10, 2010.

58

I received my 58th acceptance of the year, this time for a reprint.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Forty-nine

I finished and submitted my forty-ninth short story of the year this evening, a 4,600-word confession I started July 19.

Poser

I spent several hours late this afternoon and early this evening posing for a magazine photo shoot. The other two models: a pair of beautiful young women, one a high school senior and the other a college junior.

We visited various locations around Waco, posed for dozens of photos, and will wait to see which photos are selected for publication.

Published

My story "A Friend in Need" appears in the November issue of True Confessions.

Forty-eight

I completed and submitted my forty-eighth story of the year this morning. This one's a 3,300-word bit of erotica I started writing December 13, 2007. I originally intended the story to be a confession, but the theme was too sexual for the current confession magazines. So, I amped up the sex and turned it into erotica.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Reviewed

Lisa Watts reviews the anthology I Like to Watch at Fresh Fiction and has this to say about my story:
"If you're looking to catch someone in a private moment try 'Reprieve' by Michael Bracken in which a contract killer spies more than just business as usual through his high-powered rifle."
Read the entire review here.

Reviewed

Rubyyy Jones reviewed the anthology Dark Desires at For Books' Sake and had this to say about my story:
"I also loved 'House Of Seven Inches,' written by Michael Bracken; a lovely gay erotic f*ck from beyond the grave, what more does a girl need? I loved the inclusion of the paranormal element, it was seamless and easy, some of the concepts I found a bit distracting so I really appreciated Bracken’s elegant and dirty style."
Elegant and dirty, huh?

Read the entire review here.

Forty-seven

I finished and submitted my 47th short story of the year, an 1,800-word erotic crime story that I started writing August 10.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

57 and published

I received my 57th acceptance of the year, this time for an erotic short story.

I also received a copy of Explicit Encounters, a paperback anthology that contains my story "MILF and Cookies," which previously appeared in an electronic anthology titled MILF and Cookies.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wounded

While proofreading a short story this evening, I came across a line of dialog with a typo, a w where an s should be:

"She wounds like a good friend."

Wow. That's a great line, though totally wrong for the story, because who can wound you better than a lover or a close friend?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hoist a Guinness for me

Earlier this evening I sent an application to Guinness World Records to determine if consecutive months of short story publication is a valid category for a world record and if my having had one or more short stories published each month for 100 consecutive months is, indeed, the record.

It may be several weeks before they respond, and I have no idea what proof I'll need to provide if they wish to validate my claim.

Poor mental health makes better bloggers

Read Susannah Breslin's "Why Crazy People Make Better Bloggers" to understand why.

She may be right.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Everybody needs a little romance

I've written three romances--a YA romance, a sweet contemporary romance, and an erotic romance. Because everybody needs a little romance in their lives, following are the opening pages of each of the three.

JUST IN TIME FOR LOVE

CHAPTER 1

Mrs. Webster called out our names. Finally, she came to mine.

"Justin Tyme."

A tough-looking, broad-shouldered guy snickered. "Just in time for what?"

I slumped in my seat. At every school I attended, somebody made a wisecrack about my name.

Mrs. Webster waited for the laughter to subside. Then she said, "That's enough, Mark," and finished calling the roll.

The first class of the new school year passed quickly.

When I got lost on my way to second period, I wasn't surprised. I'd attended the orientation session during the summer, but I'd forgotten most of what I'd been shown. I stopped at the intersection of two halls. I looked down one, then down another. Then I looked back where I'd come from. All the halls looked the same.

A teacher in gym shorts tapped me on the shoulder. "May I help you?"

I uncrumpled my class schedule and read him my room number.

"Down that hall to the end. Turn left. Second door on the left." He pointed.

I hurried through the slow-moving crowd of high school students. A moment later I squeezed into my next class. I'd just dropped my notebook on the first empty desk when the bell rang.

A girl's voice from behind me said, "You're just in time, aren't you?"

I flushed, then turned to see who had spoken, expecting to find someone from first period. I swallowed a smart remark when it wasn't.

I found myself staring into the prettiest pair of pale blue eyes I'd ever seen. "Yes," I said, trying to get the lump out of my throat. "I got lost."

"Me, too," she said. "I was ten minutes late for homeroom. When we came in from the stable, my mother dropped me off at the wrong door and ittook forever to figure out where I was." Her blonde hair hung in loose curls to her softly rounded shoulders and she twirled one curl around her slender fingers as she spoke. Her fingernail polish was chipped.

"I don't remember you from last year," she said. "What's your name?"

"Jay," I told her. I always told people my name was Jay. "What's yours?"

Just in Time for Love is available in print, and in various electronic forms


UNBRIDLED LOVE: A ROMANCE WITH HORSE SENSE

CHAPTER 1

If I had it to do all over again, I would do many things differently and hope that the end result remained the same. I was young when I first met Hans Edelmann and had never truly been in love. I barely understood my own emotional turmoil, and I can only blame the stupidity of my youth for nearly driving him away.

The afternoon we first met, I sat astride Hershey, my chocolate-brown mare, and stared in bewilderment at the new riding instructor.

He stood in the center of the dusty arena, a well-used riding crop jutting from the top of his black knee-high right boot. “I have never, ever, seen such sloppy horsemanship,” he shouted at us. The louder he spoke, the thicker his German accent became. “I can see that we have a lot of work to do if any of you expect to compete at Stallion Stables in August.”

He paused, glared at each student individually, then said, “Class dismissed.”

I glanced at the other women in my riding class and noticed that many of my classmates were fighting back tears. No previous instructor at Rocking Horse Stables had ever been so harsh in his assessment of our riding abilities. My own chin had trembled a bit when Hans started his tirade, but I had forced myself not to succumb to his ranting. At twenty-five, I was the oldest student in the class and I felt as if I had to be the group’s pillar of strength.

Swinging my right leg over the horse’s broad back, I dropped to the arena’s dirt floor. I took the mare’s reins in my hand and led her around the arena. After Hershey cooled off, I led her out of the arena, across the dusty gravel parking lot, and into the massive white barn. Once I had Hershey in her stall, I stripped off her tack.

I heard two of my classmates talking in the next stall.

“Mr. Edelmann is an ogre,” the first said.

“He isn’t anything like the instructor I used to have,” came the response.

“Did you see what he did to Bertha when she missed the second jump?”

“He even criticized Melissa, and she’s the best rider we have!”

I nodded in agreement with the young woman’s assessment of Hans Edelmann as I brushed Hershey’s coat. He had criticized me, but his comments were nothing compared to the things he told other riders. The two girls hadn’t been exaggerating when they classified Hans as an ogre. Based on his performance during class, I thought he was that or worse. I shook my head, almost ashamed of myself for the tingle of excitement I’d felt when I’d first met him the day Mr. Harriman gave him the two-minute tour of Rocking Horse Stables.

Hershey stood sixteen hands tall, each hand equaling four inches, and I could just see over her withers when I stretched up to brush her mane. As I did, I could see down the long corridor between the stalls and out through the open barn doors. Hans strode across the parking lot past the open doors, his riding crop tucked under his muscular triceps, his bearing military in its precision.

Watching Hans march past brought my blood to a boil. Who did he think he was to be yelling at us the way he had? He’d only been at the stable a week and already he’d brought tears to the eyes of most of the younger girls. I didn’t think anyone deserved the kind of treatment Hans had been dishing out.

After I finished grooming Hershey, I cleaned the horse’s tack, including the saddle, bridle, reins, and other accessories. Finally, I hoisted the heavy leather saddle over my shoulder, gathered the rest of my tack in my arms, and carried the entire bundle to the tack room where most of the private owners had specially-built cubbyholes.

I stored everything, then wiped the sweat off my forehead. The barn had become uncomfortably warm.

By then, I had worked myself into an emotional lather. I was determined to speak to the new instructor about his teaching methods. Cleaning my tack had kept my hands busy, but my mind had been free to continuously relive the worst moment of my class.

I searched the stalls in the barn, scanned the two practice fields and the pasture as I crossed the parking lot, then walked to the arena. Hans’ apartment was at the far end, above the glass-enclosed observation room. When I didn’t see him in the arena, I hurried toward his apartment. I strode across the room, then took the stairs two at a time, my boot heels clicking against the worn wood of the stairs.

I rapped on the door once, then shoved it open without thinking. “Mr. Edelmann,” I said as I stepped through the open doorway. I stopped when I caught sight of him standing in the middle of his small living room, stripped to the waist.

He turned to stare at me. “Yes?”

Unbridled Love: A Romance With Horse Sense is available in various electronic formats

STUD

CHAPTER 1

“Another livestock magazine?” Christiana Kern slumped in her chair. She was the best and most overworked customer service representative at Wett, Inc., the country’s largest printer of special interest magazines. “Special interest,” as far as Christiana was concerned, meant magazines that nobody she knew personally was interested in reading. “If I have to handle another magazine about pigs or turkeys or chickens, I’ll go crazy!”

Erma Harrison attempted to calm her. “Horses,” the account supervisor drawled, “Great big fancy thoroughbreds.”

It was meant to tempt. Christiana was not swayed. “Why me? What happened to Carlisle? I thought this was his account.”

“Carlisle jumped ship this morning and the client’s due here within the hour.”

The news about Carlisle Morris surprised her, and Christiana knew she’d want more details later, but right then she was more concerned about her new title.

“I don’t suppose I have time to run home and change out of this eyesore.” Christiana pulled at the fresh coffee stain on her blouse and took in the sour expression on Erma’s face. “No? Well, where’s the file? Who’s the sales rep?”

“You’re going to love this. Handley out of Nashville met this guy—name’s Bobby Ray Cartwright—at the racetrack and they became buddies. Anyway, this Bobby Ray’s got a passel of male horses he’s been itching to hire out for stud. Problem was he didn’t know how to get his message out, so Handley tells him to print up a bunch of ads and send them out to people who might be interested. Well, now he’s got so many people interested that he can’t keep up with the fliers so he’s decided to make a magazine out of the ads. Makes you wonder how the horses are keeping up.”

“A rookie?” Christiana groaned, pulled the file to her chest, and headed out the door. “He doesn’t know anything about magazine production? I knew I should have stayed in bed this morning.”

The first thing to do was to get organized. Christiana always felt she could fumble her way through just about any customer’s visit as long as she was organized. The customer’s name and company name had to be posted at the plant entrance, and the customer room had to be cleaned and filled with fresh coffee, snacks and sodas. Other plant supervisors had to be notified that a customer was coming to visit.

Accomplishing everything in record time, Christiana let voice mail catch her calls while she pored over the scant little file that that ingrate Erma had dumped on her. The new magazine had already received credit approval—an amazing accomplishment considering the glacial speed at which corporate handled these things—and Handley had already faxed a signed copy of the contract.

Christiana’s phone rang once, signaling an inside call, and she lifted the receiver to her ear. Erma said, “Our client’s here. He’s in the customer room.”

After dropping the phone receiver back in its cradle, Christiana stood, smoothed her skirt into place, and took a deep breath. She’d met with many clients over the years, but the first time was always a little scary. She never knew quite what to expect—especially after the time she met the gnome from New York who talked a mile a minute and then keeled over from a heart attack—so she always took a moment to prepare herself before walking down the hall and entering the customer room. This time she needed more than one deep breath because she’d worked late the night before. After she’d finally gotten home and in bed, the bindery had woken her four times, asking questions they could have answered themselves if they’d just bothered to look at the instructions she’d left them. First impressions counted a lot, and she always wanted to make a good one. With one last rueful glance at the coffee stain on her blouse, Christiana tucked some stray strands of ebony hair back into place at her nape and headed down the hall.

When she first caught sight of Bobby Ray Cartwright, Christiana stopped dead in her tracks. He was leaning over the conference table with his back to her, rummaging through a briefcase, and she saw the best set of buns that ever graced denim. Then she noticed his mud-caked cowboy boots, and the smile that had started to cross her face disappeared completely. Christiana had a very deep sense of cleanliness and Bobby Ray was anything but clean.

“Here’s the magazine,” Bobby Ray said to Handley as he handed the sales rep a disorganized stack of papers and photographs. He had a nice drawling baritone, Christiana mused before snapping herself back to business when he saw her.

He smiled and his deep blue eyes twinkled. “And who’s this little filly?”

Stud is currently only available for Kindle

Forty-six

I completed and submitted my forty-sixth short story of the year, a 3,300-word confession I started writing on August 9.

I was surprised to realize it's been almost two months since I completed a new story. There's no single reason I haven't completed a new story in two months. Though editing clients and family matters have kept me busy, I have been writing.

I suppose the seeming drought is the result of writing too many beginnings and middles and not writing enough endings!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Who benefits by fewer books at B&N

Like many writers, I am distressed by the ever decreasing number of books at my local Barnes & Noble. Tonight, though, I realized that many of the authors whose books remain for sale are benefitting by this, especially authors whose books have attractive covers.

Why? Because many more books are now shelved face out rather than spine out.

Quoted

I was quoted in Dawn Copeman's article "Using Pseudonyms" at Writing-World.com. Read the entire article here.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Release party

This evening I attended a release party for Bohemia's second issue. I read my story "Where the Cold Wind Blows." Several other contributors also read their work.

I've read at conferences and conventions, and I've done stand-up comedy in nightclubs, but this was an odd combination of the two.

Much of the audience was not paying attention to the people on stage. They were eating, fussing with crying babies, talking with each other and on cell phones, and generally not paying attention. Yet, each of the writers and poets read their work as if the audience members were paying rapt attention.

Weird.

Published

My story "Where the Cold Wind Blows" was just published in the October issue of Bohemia.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Coming March 1, 2012: Crime Square

They call it the “crossroads of the world,” and from its inception Times Square has been the pulsing heartbeat of a city filled with life. Now, in this eclectic and electrifying collection, twenty acclaimed mystery writers take readers into the past history of Times Square, where danger lurked around every corner, and where characters walked its streets with the easy confidence of a con man. Spanning over one hundred years—from its christening on April 19, 1904 to the contemporary “Disney-ized” version, Crime Square is filled with guys, dolls, booze, and bullets. With contributions by such award-winning authors like Parnell Hall, John Lutz--and a host of others--CRIME SQUARE is the ultimate collection of crime stories, set in the world’s ultimate destination.

Edited by Robert J. Randisi and containing stories by 20 top crime fiction writers, this is a not-to-be-missed anthology.

See the full line up at Amazon.

(And, oh yeah, if you squint at the cover you'll see my name included at the bottom right as: "And 15 others.")

Friday, September 30, 2011

100 consecutive months

I normally only post this information when I reach an annual milestone, but with publication of two stories in the November issue of True Story ("Thanksgiving Bombshell" and "Learning From Past Mistakes"), I have now had one or more short stories published each month for 100 consecutive months.

Published 2x

My stories "Thanksgiving Bombshell" and "Learning From Past Mistakes" appear in the November True Story.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Reviewed

My story "Garden Variety" was reviewed by Tina as part of her review of the anthology All the Boys. I find the review particularly interesting because the reviewer gets two pieces of information wrong but still grasps the overall emotional impact of the story.

For example, she wrote, "Kyle is the grandson of a wealthy customer Doug gardens for." Actually, Kyle's the young lover of the wealthy customer.

And the reviewer is disappointed by the short length in part because the story isn't a romance: "instead of making it a romance to making it just a scene from a romance story." The story was never intended to be a romance.

Though all the characters in the story are gay, the story has a classic noir set-up: The protagonist falls for and has a relationship with the beautiful lover of a powerful rich man. If you read enough noir, you know the story won't end well.

The review does note that "'Garden Variety' is a very bittersweet story." And that's exactly the emotional impact I intended.

Just to be clear, I'm not complaining about, nor am I arguing with the reviewer's assessment of the story. It is what it is.

What interests me is that either I failed to make certain details clear or the reviewer didn't pay close enough attention, yet the emotional weight of the story is strong enough that the details don't matter.

Anyhow, read the entire review of All the Boys here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

56

I received my 56th acceptance of the year this morning, for a 2,900-word erotic story about a young man who, in the early 1970s, has a crush on the host of the local UHF station's Saturday-night monster movie triple feature. The editor in his acceptance email referred to it as "the most inventive tale" submitted.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

55

I received my 55th acceptance of the year in yesterday's mail, this time for a 3,300-word Christmas-themed confession.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Published

My erotic story "MILF and Cookies" appears in the just-published anthology MILF and Cookies (Xcite Books), edited by Elizabeth Coldwell.

Monday, September 12, 2011

54

I received my 54th acceptance of the year in today's mail, this time for a 2,700-word Thanksgiving-themed confession.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Published

"Anybody Seen My Shorts?" a revised and updated version of a previously published essay about writing short fiction, appears in the September issue of SPAWNews.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Published 2x

My stories "In Sickness and in Health" and "Behind the Mask" appear in the October True Story.

Friday, August 26, 2011

53

I received my 53rd acceptance of the year today. I think. In lieu of an actual acceptance, I received a request from the publication's editor for a photo to include in the contributors section.

This acceptance is for a 1,000-word horror story based on an old Appalachian folk song that I originally wrote for an anthology. Unfortunately, the anthology was cancelled because the editor did not receive enough quality submissions. So now the story will appear in a regional literary magazine.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Money flows...where?

I posted this is response to a blog post by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, "The Business Rusch: Common Sense and the Writer," and thought I should post it here, as well:

The “money flows to the writer” mantra doesn’t apply with self-publishing. Once a writer self-publishes, he stops being a writer and becomes a publisher. And if you’re a publisher, money flows to everybody: writers, editors, designers, illustrators, photographers, typesetters, printers, distributors, and on and on and on.

Friday, August 19, 2011

52

I received my 52nd acceptance of the year this evening. I revised and updated an essay on writing that I'd written for Sleuths' Ink a few years ago. "Anybody Seen My Shorts?" will appear in next month's SPAWNews.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Forty-five

I finished and submitted my forty-fifth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 4,600-word erotic romance written in response to an anthology's open call for submissions. I started writing this on August 4 and finished it a few minutes ago.

Monday, August 15, 2011

50, 51

I received my 50th and 51st acceptances of the year in today's mail, both for confessions. One's tied to Thanksgiving, the other to National Diabetes Month.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Forty-four

I completed and submitted my forty-fourth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 2,600-word erotic crime story about an experienced pickpocket who catches an amateur pickpocket trying to lift his wallet.

I started writing this story on August 9 in response to an open anthology submissions call. I've placed several stories with this editor during the past few years, so I hope that I'll do it again.

49

I received my 49th acceptance of the year a few minutes ago, this time for a bit of erotica to be published in an anthology.

"Dark Promptings"

As part of Michael Arnzen's on-going series of story prompts for horror writers called "Dark Promptings," I contributed six story-starters under the heading "If you can't write about your family, who can you write about?"

See my prompts here.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Forty-three

I completed and submitted my forty-third short story of the year today. This one's a 5,300-word confession with a New Year's Eve theme.

I started writing the story August 2, 2010, and had reached 4,000+ words. I had forgotten about the story until yesterday when I was looking for New Year's Eve stories (it's that time of year on editorial calendars!). I read what I had written, read the notes I had made about how the story should conclude, and then wrote the final 1,300 words. I let the story sit overnight, proofread it this morning, and then submitted it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

48

I received my 48th acceptance of the year earlier today, this time for an erotic crime fiction story about two kidnappers who are outwitted by just about everyone.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Forty-two

I finished and submitted my forty-second short story of the year this evening, a 4,200-word Christmas-themed confession.

I started this story on November 23, 2009, but only wrote a one-paragraph rough outline. Although I noodled with the story a little bit earlier this summer, I wrote the bulk of it this week, interrupting work on this one long enough to write my forty-first story.

With this story I have now written as many as I wrote all of last year, which was, admittedly, a slow year. The year before that I wrote 75 short stories. At this pace, I might come close to producing as much as I produced in 2009.

Published

My story "Jumpers" appears in The Big Book of Bizarro, now available from Burning Bulb Publishing.

I dream in sentences

I don't understand this, and I don't know for certain when it changed. I used to dream in moving pictures, just like everyone else seems to, but now I dream in sentences. Rather than seeing events unfold while I dream, I see words on a page describing the events unfolding. And I don't hear dialog; I see it written on a page with quotation marks and dialog tags. I suppose this is a good thing as a writer--sometimes when I rise I'm able to transcribe parts of my dreams directly from memory because the writing's already been done--but I don't understand why I now dream like this.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Forty-one

I finished and submitted my forty-first short story of the year a few minutes ago, a 3,000-erotic story with paranormal elements.

In May I received a call for submissions from an anthology editor for whom I've previously written. I had a pair of stillborn ideas right away but didn't have a workable idea until July 29. I wrote the opening couple of paragraphs that day and wrote enough additional material that I knew the protagonist/narrator and the setting, and vaguely knew the two other key characters and the plot.

I returned to the story yesterday, realized in looking at what I'd written that my original idea for the ending didn't work, and headed in a different--and much better!--direction.

It's in the editor's hands now.

Reviewed

"WildAboutBones" reviewed Dark Desires, an anthology of paranormal erotica in which I have a story, at the Bitten By Romance Blog, and writes, "Overall I enjoyed this book. There are some very creative paranormal stories here. I think paranormal fans will enjoy most of the book."

Each story was reviewed separately, leading up to that conclusion, and my story "The House of Seven Inches," was rated 4/Hot. I'd quote the review itself, but it provides a major plot spoiler.

Order the paperback of Dark Desires here and the Kindle edition here.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Forty

I finished and submitted my fortieth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 2,400-word erotic fantasy for an anthology with an open submissions call.

The deadline in the original call for submissions had expired before I had an appropriate idea. Then a revised call with a new deadline appeared in my in-box. An appropriate idea and some free time soon followed.

I started this story on Monday and finished it today.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Questions come and questions go

This morning Patti Abbott posted 13 questions for short story writers on her blog, pattinase. After I answered them in the comments section, she changed the original post and eliminated 12 of the questions!

So here are her original questions and my responses:

1. How often do you finish the rough draft of a story in one sitting?

I don't write rough drafts, but I do occasionally write a complete story in one sitting.

2. What is the average length of time it takes you to finish a polished story?

Actual writing time? From a few hours up to about 10 hours, Rarely more. Rarely less. However, years may pass between the time I make notes for a story I'd like to write and when I actually write it.

3. Do you outline your stories?

Rarely, and never in detail.

4. Do most of your story ideas come from your own life, stories you read about, a flash of an idea? What?

They come from everywhere. Lately I've been writing for a lot of anthologies so calls for submission are sparking many of my new story ideas.

4. How do you know when a story is truly done?

When it gets published.

5. Do you have someone read it before sending it out?

Never.

6. Do you take suggestions seriously or are you your own best critic?

I am my own best critic. But if an editor with the power to accept a story suggests a change I'll certainly try to accommodate the suggestion.

7. Do you let it sit or send it out immediately?

Immediately, if there's a market. Occasionally I write a story and have to wait for the market to find me.

8. Do you read your story aloud?

Often.

9. Do you simultaneously submit if there are no restrictions?

No.

10. How do you decide where to send it? What is the most unusual place you have placed a story?

These days I usually write-to-market so I know where I'm sending the story before I ever write it.

11. Do you often rewrite a story months later, suddenly seeing what was wrong with it?

Rarely these days, but I did when I was a beginning writer.

12. Do you like reading your stories once they appear in print or do you get the queasy feeling you could have done better?

A published story is the best I could write at the time I wrote it. Even if I could do better now, I can't change the story. So, I find it better to look forward and strive to improve rather than look backward and fret about what could have been.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

47

I received my 47th acceptance of the year today, this time for a heart-warming Christmas story scheduled for a Christmas anthology.

Thirty-nine

I completed and submitted my thirty-ninth short story of the year a few minutes ago. This is an erotic story written in response to a call for submissions I received on July 22. Although the anthology has an open call, the editor sent an advance call to writers he's previously worked with, "all of whom I admire as writers," and how can I not try to write something when I've been buttered up?

Anyhow, 2,900 words written over eight days.

Published 2x

My stories "Coach" and "Two Weeks In Paradise" appear in the September True Confessions.

Bios reveal more than you think

Because my fiction reading goal for this year is to avoid novels and to read short stories only, I've been reading more short fiction than usual. Because of this concentration, I've noticed an interesting correlation between author bios and the stories they accompany.

For example, if I read the bios in an anthology and I notice that some are written in first-person and some are written in third-person, I'm reasonably confident that no professional copy editor has touched the book. (One thing a copy editor does is ensure consistency.)

In the cases where it appears no copy editor has touched an anthology, I have noticed an additional correlation: a well-written bio often accompanies a well-written story and a poorly written bio often accompanies a poorly written story.

This correlation--and it's only anecdotal evidence at this point--might make my purchasing decisions easier. After picking up an interesting anthology I might be best served by glancing at the author bios than by reading any of the fiction before making a decision to purchase or not to purchase.

After all, if the writers can't present the details of their own lives without spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors, what's the likelihood that their fiction will be any better?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Man or machine?

From Kevin R. Tipple's blog, Kevin's Corner, this:
"I have long thought that the prolific Michael Bracken is some sort of writing robot sent from the future. The man is a machine generating stuff constantly and selling left and right."
Make of that what you will.

Reviewed

Earlier today Jim Winter reviewed Sex, Violence & Half A Million Dollars on his blog Edged in Blue. He has many good things to say and selects three stories for in-depth discussion, including the first story, "Adam's Rib" ("The ending, however, comes straight out of a Stephen King short story when the husband finds a lurid solution to his situation. Talk about starting with a bang.") and his favorite, "How to Pick Up Beautiful Women":
"Of all the stories in this collection, though, I liked 'How to Pick Up Beautiful Women,' wherein a man in the bar hustles fellow bar rats by bragging about how he can pick up a woman on any given night with his 'system.' His partner in crime will either leave you laughing or thinking, 'Ew!'"
Read the entire review here, purchase the collection here or purchase Jim's "A Walk in the Rain" here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

46

I received my 46th acceptance this morning, and this is one I feel particularly good about.

Earlier this year I was invited to contribute to a themed crime fiction anthology by a well-known, respected writer/editor, and the list of other invitees includes several writers I have admired for years.

I delivered my 3,200-word story in late May, learned that mine was the first in, but I wasn't certain the story was accepted until this morning when I received a request for an accompanying bio.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I am the center of the universe

After I purchased my home in 1994 I learned that my house is one that the U.S. Census Bureau visits every two years. So, since 1994, all that interesting statistical data the Census Bureau compiles during the years between the complete censuses likely includes information gleaned from me.

And now I've become a source of data for another large survey. The University of Michigan produces a Health and Retirement Study of people age 50 and older that they update every two to three years. Last year I was invited to participate, apparently met the qualifications, and this evening sat through my first survey interview. Unlike the Census Bureau, which targets a specific residence, the U. of M. study follows the individual. So, for the rest of my life, they will be tracking me down wherever I go.

Unlike the U.S. Census Bureau, which I'm expected to participate in as a good citizen, the U. of M. pays for my time. And they pay pretty good, all things considered.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Thirty-eight

I finished writing my thirty-eighth short story of the year this afternoon, a 2,000-word bit of erotica I started July 17, and it's already been submitted to an anthology with an open call for submissions.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Published 2x

My stories "Back to School Blues" and "The Passionate Professor" appear in the September True Story.

Thirty-seven

I finished writing my thirty-seventh short story of the year a little while ago. This one's a 3,300-word Christmas-themed confession I started writing May 3, 2010. It'll go in the mail the next time I leave the house.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On June 6 I uploaded Unbridled Love: A Romance with Horse Sense to Smashwords. Since then it has slowly filtered out to other booksellers and is now available for Nook through Barnesandnoble.com and for iPad through iTunes.apple.com.

I don't know how many copies it's selling in these other formats because Smashwords reports and pays royalties on a quarterly basis, but it's already my bestselling title in any format at B&N. At the same time, it continues to be my bestselling title in any format at Amazon.

Watching the steady sales of Unbridled Love and comparing them to the hit-or-miss sales of the other titles I've self-published makes me think I should consider writing another sweet romance involving horses.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Thirty-six

I completed and submitted my thirty-sixth short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 2,000-word bit of erotica I started writing Friday evening.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Thirty-five

I completed my thirty-fifth short story of the year today, a 4,000-word confession set at Thanksgiving that I started writing July 18, 2007. It'll go in the mail the next time I leave the house.

Friday, July 15, 2011

44, 45

I received my 44th and 45th acceptances of the year today, both for confessions.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Published

My erotic ghost story "House of Seven Inches" appears in Dark Desires, now available from Xcite Books.

Thirty-four

I completed by thirty-fourth short story of the year today, a 2,700-word confession for Thanksgiving. This is a one-day project, conceived this morning, written this afternoon, and in the mail in a few minutes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Published 2x

My stories "Getting Into Trouble" and "My Daughter's Wedding" appear in the August True Confessions, on newsstands now.

I'm a guest blogger today

I'm today's guest blogger at CriminalBrief.com. Y'all might enjoy "In Praise of Technicians."

Monday, July 11, 2011

43

I just received my 43rd acceptance of the year, this time for an erotic romance that will appear in an anthology published in the U.K.

42

I received my 42nd acceptance of the year this morning, this time for "In Praise of Technicians," an essay on writing that will appear Wednesday at CriminalBrief.com.

If you're not already a regular reader of this wonderful group blog, why not become one starting Wednesday?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Thirty-three

I finished writing my thirty-third short story of the year this afternoon, a 4,300-word confession that I began writing November 23, 2010. It'll go in the mail tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Thirty-two

I finished and submitted my thirty-second short story of the year this evening, a 3,800-word Halloween-themed confession I started writing May 24, 2010.

41 and published 3x

I discovered my 41st acceptance of the year by accident when I picked up a copy of the August issue of True Story, which contains my confession "Stumbling into Love." This made it to print without my receiving a contract, something that has happened a few times in the past and is quickly corrected once I notify the editor of the oversight.

Also published: two pieces of erotica in the anthology Brief Encounters.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Thirty-one

I finished writing my thirty-first short story today, a 4,300-word confession that I started writing in April 2008. This one deals with breast cancer.

Friday, July 01, 2011

40

I received my 40th acceptance of the year this morning, this time for...um...er...I don't know what it is but the anthology I sold it to has the working title The Big Book of Bizarro if that helps classify the story.

This is one of the rare stories I've written the past several years where I had no clue what my potential market would be but I wrote anyhow because I thought the idea was too cool to let sit in my ideas folder. The payoff came when I saw this anthology's call for submissions and had this story already finished and ready to submit.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stud now available for Kindle

Stud by Rolinda Hay is now available for Kindle.

Christiana Kern is already overworked as the top customer service representative at Wett, Inc., the country’s largest printer of special interest magazines, when her boss assigns her a new title. She isn’t eager to accept the additional responsibility...until she meets Bobby Ray Cartwright, the sexy rancher publishing the start-up magazine. It isn’t long before business and pleasure mix and Christiana learns that STUD isn’t just the title of Bobby Ray’s new publication. Soon Christiana is having the best sex ever and is facing life-altering decisions in and out of the bedroom.

Order your copy here.

37, 38, 39

I received three acceptances in today's mail, my 37th, 38th, and 39th acceptances of the year. All were for confessions.

Published

My hardboiled erotic crime story "Payback" appears in the August Hustler Fantasies. I like the tag line the editor gave it: "This story has everything: Sex, guns, money, the mob, more sex..."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

36

I received my 36th acceptance of the year earlier today, this time for a confession submitted earlier this month.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

ApolloCon

I'll be on five panels at ApolloCon in Houston this weekend. If any of y'all write science fiction/fantasy/horror and happen to be there, say howdy.

Thirty

I wrote and submitted my thirtieth short story of the year this evening. This time it's a 2,000-word bit of erotic crime fiction.

I had three anthology calls for submissions with deadlines of June 30 or July 1 and, after completing my previous story, I reread the guidelines for these three anthologies.

This afternoon I had an idea for an opening paragraph that could have led to a story for either of two of the anthologies. As I added a few more sentences, I realized it fit one anthology better than the other and then went full bore into writing the story.

According to the time stamp on my Word file, I started writing this at 5:54 p.m. and finished at 11:04 p.m., or about five hours from first word to last. That's a pathetic 400 words-per-hour, but if they're the right words and the editor buys the story I won't complain too much.

And, besides, I did other things, too, such as walking the dogs several times.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Twenty-nine

I just finished and submitted my twenty-ninth short story of the year. This one's a 1,400-word story involving magic.

I've had an anthology's open call for submissions in my binder for several months but had not had any appropriate story ideas for it. (I put anthology guidelines in my binder by deadline date, writing and submitting stories in deadline order or discarding guidelines if I don't make the deadlines.)

This anthology's guidelines reached the front of the binder earlier this week and I read them repeatedly, trying to force myself to have an idea. Nothing happened. Until yesterday.

Last evening, on my way home from spending Father's Day with Plot Monkey, the story title, story structure, and primary characters came to me. I couldn't get home fast enough, and I immediately keyed everything into a Word file.

But making notes isn't writing and the words didn't come right then.

I woke up this morning and the first two pages flowed out. Around mid-morning, after an interruption to work on other tasks, the next two pages flowed out. This evening, though the words didn't flow as easily as earlier in the day, I wrote the rest of the story, proofread it, and sent it off.

Published

My erotic caper "Seven-Inch Stretch" appears in In Plain View (Bold Strokes Books), an anthology scheduled for release in August.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dash

There's a discussion thread on the Kindleboards about the use of hyphens, en-dashes, and em-dashes, and several of the people who posted clearly do not understand punctuation and typography. Here's what I posted (or attempted to post; it hasn't shown up yet):

The comments in this thread are indicative of why self-publishing gets a bad rap.

Failing to properly use the tools of the trade (in this case hyphens, en-dashes, and em-dashes) announces to a knowledgeable reader that the author/publisher lacks the ability to do a professional job.

It's like calling a plumber to unstop your toilet. Instead of bringing a plunger and a pipe wrench, he shows up with a table saw and a tire swing. He might still get the job done, but you'll know he's not a professional.

Although there are several style books available, the two most commonly used are The Chicago Manual of Style (primarily used by book publishers) and The Associated Press Stylebook (primarily used by newspaper and magazine publishers). Buy them. Read them. Keep them next to your computer and reference them often.

The 15th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style, which I believe is the most current edition, spends five pages explaining the difference between the hyphen, the en-dash, and the em-dash. The Associated Press Stylebook offers a much shorter explanation of the use of the dash, but the two agree about what constitutes proper usage.

Their key point of disagreement? The Associate Press Stylebook advocates the use of a space on each side of the em-dash when used within text and The Chicago Manual of Style advocates against the use of a space on each side of the em-dash when used within text. And if you know anything about typography, you'll understand why they differ on this point.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Twenty-eight

I finished and submitted my twenty-eighth short story of the year a few minutes ago. This one's a 1,600-word bit of erotica that I started June 9, 2010.

I only had the title and the opening paragraph when I received an email last week from an anthology editor seeking additional submissions for a project already weeks past the submission deadline. I nosed around my files, found this, realized the basic concept fit within the anthology's guidelines, and wrote the story a little at a time while wrapping up some other projects.

It's up to the editor now.

Monday, June 13, 2011

35

I received my 35th acceptance of the year this evening, this time for a 2,100-word bit of crime fiction I wrote last year.

Twenty-seven

I finished writing my twenty-seventh short story of the year, a 6,100-word confession that I started writing April 29, 2010. I'm printing the final draft now and it'll go in tomorrow's mail.

Published

My erotic ghost story "House of Seven Inches" appears in the just-published anthology The Call of the Night, edited by Miranda Forbes and published Xcite.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Twenty-six

I finished writing my 26th short story of the year this evening. It's a 3,000-word confession with a back-to-school theme that I started April 29, 2010, and it'll go in the mail tomorrow.

Spicy Confessions 3 now available for Kindle


Confessions are a unique form of women's fiction. They aren't romances, though they are often romantic. They aren't erotica, though some are quite sensual. And they aren't chick lit, though they are clearly written for and about contemporary women. What they are, are compelling stories about real women facing real problems.

The five short stories in Spicy Confessions 3--"And Miles to Do Before I Sleep," "Caribbean Surprise," "My Husband is a Big Boob," "I Slept With My Sister's Husband" and "Christmas Guest"--showcase Rolinda Hay at her spicy best, featuring five women dealing with what men see first, a sexy vacation getaway, body image, a cheating sister, and an unexpected Christmas surprise.

Order your copy here.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Kindle corrections / Smashwords

Last week I discovered a formatting error common to all of the titles I released in Kindle format. Over the weekend I corrected every title but one--Microchick, which Amazon won't let me update--and the corrected versions should now be or should soon be available.

If you purchased one of my self-published Kindle titles, please update your file so that you can read the corrected version.

Also, yesterday I uploaded Unbridled Love: A Romance with Horse Sense, which continues to be my best-selling self-published title, to Smashwords. It is now available in multiple formats through Smashwords and should soon be available for purchase from all the sites that Smashwords serves.

34

I received my 34th acceptance of the year this afternoon, this for a confession submitted in January.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Published every month for eight years

With publication of "Sparks Fly on Independence Day" in the July 2011 True Confessions, I have now had one (or more!) short stories published each month for 96 consecutive months.

Spicy Confessions 2 now available for Kindle

Confessions are a unique form of women's fiction. They aren't romances, though they are often romantic. They aren't erotica, though some are quite sensual. And they aren't chick lit, though they are clearly written for and about contemporary women. What they are, are compelling stories about real women facing real problems.

The four short stories in Spicy Confessions 2--"An Engaging New Year," "My Lover's Secret," "I Was a Topless Waitress" and "The Secret Lives of Teachers"--showcase Rolinda Hay at her spicy best, featuring four women dealing with a stranger's kiss at midnight on New Year's Eve, a new lover's sexual secret, job loss during a recession, and the sexual escapades of small-town teachers during Spring Break.

Order your copy here.

And be on the lookout for two more Rolinda Hay titles coming soon.

Friday, June 03, 2011

My path to publication

As part of the promotional efforts for Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction, the editors are posting a series of brief essays titled "Paths to Publication," written by the book's contributors.

Here's mine.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

More Kindle reality

A few days ago I posted my Kindle sales numbers, sharing my experience near the bottom of the market because I hadn't seen anyone else do that.

Today I discovered a topic thread on the Kindleboards where other electronic self-publishers share their sales figures, and the figures--the good, the bad, and the ugly--are enlightening.

Read the thread here.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

33

Apparently, the band's still playing on the Titanic. Earlier today I received an acceptance from one of the two remaining confession magazines, this time for a rare male-narrated confession I submitted in February.

This is my 33rd acceptance of the year.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Last writer on the Titanic

I have been writing confessions almost as long as I've been writing. My first sale to a confession magazine was a poem published in February 1981, the same year I sold my first confession. I have written so many confessions that other confession writers dubbed me the "King of Confessions."

That's why I was dishearted to learn earlier today that two more confession magazines--True Love and True Romance--have ceased publication.

Only two confession magazines remain: True Confessions and True Story.

While I may continue to write for and submit to the two remaining publications, it's time to take a hard look at my fiction production. I need to spend more of my writing energy producing work in other genres.

But first I need to determine which genres offer the greatest opportunities.

By coincidence, I've been working on a series of Rolinda Hay projects, including Spicy Confessions 2 (scheduled for release within 48 hours) and Spicy Confessions 3 (which I hope to release shortly after that). Because I may have a dozen or so publishable but unsold confessions landing back in my lap now that the genre has hit an iceberg, I may be stretching the series into volumes 4, 5, 6, and beyond.

Jim Winter on his Kindle experience

Earlier today Jim Winter blogged about his experience posting a single story on Kindle, and he makes some interesting observations. Check it out here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memories Dying now available for Kindle

Memories Dying, a horror novella I wrote several years ago is now available for Kindle.

Young police officer Mike Morelli expected a routine night shift in the northern California coastal town where he had lived his entire life. Then Patrick Bates, chairman of the Baker High School class of 1974 reunion committee, returned to town. Would his classmates, most of whom died graduation night, soon follow?

Memories Dying was previously published in the U.K. as In the Town of Dreams Unborn and Memories Dying and received some great reviews, including the following:

"A truly terrifying tale in the Stephen King tradition. Michael Bracken is a horror writer to watch out for."-Writers Block

"Nicely understated and atmospheric...."-Science Fiction Chronicle

Order it here.

Reviewed

My erotic noir story "Garden Variety" appears in two anthologies, When a Man Loves A Man and All the Boys. Coffee Time Romance and More reviewed All the Boys and had this to say about my story:
Mr. Bracken knows how to write a tantalizing tale of a forbidden affair between two men. [...] The way the traditional “pool boy” story is twisted to fit the GLBT genre was also brilliantly done. What a red-hot read this turned out to be.
Read the full review and learn what the reviewer thought of the other stories here.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Kindle reality

The Kindle millionaires are quite willing to tout their sales numbers and earnings, but no one else seems willing to share their data. So, how about a little dose of reality from the bottom end?

But first, some background:

I'm an established writer with nearly 900 short story sales.

My stories have been spread across so many genres that I'm not particularly well known in any specific genre.

I have many titles available from many sources in many formats (Kindle, Nook, etc.) but I'm only sharing numbers from my self-published work, and my self-published work is currently available only from Amazon for Kindle.

I uploaded my first title in April 2010, an original sweet romance titled Unbridled Love: A Romance With Horse Sense. As of the end of April 2011, I had sold 38 copies. Mid-April I changed the cover and this month to date I've sold 17 copies.

In August and September 2010 I uploaded three hardboiled crime short stories ("Glass Houses," "Lesser of Two Evils," and "Pick,") and one mystery novella "Dreams Unborn," all previously published. They are offered individually. As of the end of April 2011, I've sold--all four titles combined--23 copies. This month to date: 0.

In April 2010 I uploaded Microchick, a collection of 24 previously published erotic SF, horror, and fantasy short stories. During April I sold 1 copy. This month to date: 3.

In April 2010 I uploaded Sex, Violence, & Half a Million Dollars, a collection of 23 previously published erotic hardboiled and noir crime fiction stories. In April I sold 8 copies. This month to date: 1.

Earlier this month I uploaded Spicy Confessions, a collection of four confession stories as by Rolinda Hay. Sales this month to date: 1.

I've done little promotion--links on my website, links on my blog, occasional mentions on Facebook, and this post, which might serve some promotional purpose.

Most of what I've made available for the Kindle is previously published work, so any income the stories generate is gravy, but the amount of money I'm earning in any particular month is negligible. (I'll clear $40 for May sales, my best month to date.)

I hope having real sales numbers, with real titles you can study (look at the covers, look at the product descriptions, look at the tags, look at the reviews [or lack of reviews]) will help you decide if self-publishing is worth your effort.

For me? Yes, but...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Popular in Japan?

I've recently noticed a series of tweets referencing my books and providing links to them on Amazon.co.jp. I can't read Japanese, so I have no idea what the tweets say. Even so, how cool is it that someone on the other side of the world has taken the time to tweet about my work?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My afternoon as a butt model

Magazine editors do much more than wrestle nouns and verbs. Sometimes we're called upon to utilize our physical assets rather than our mental assets.

Yesterday, after editing a humorous article about Dumpster diving for gardeners that arrived without illustrations or photography, I was selected to Dumpster dive while the magazine's publisher took photographs to accompany the article.

So, there I was around mid-day, head down in a Dumpster, my backside pointed skyward and my legs a kickin', hoping I wouldn't fall in before the editor could get a usable shot.

He took the shot, I didn't fall in, and the selected photo will appear in the July/August issue of Texas Gardener.

And, let me tell you, being a model isn't all its cracked up to be.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Twenty-five

I finished writing my twenty-fifth short story of the year this morning, a 5,400-word confession that I started writing on March 1. This one's a bit of a romance without a specific holiday or seasonal theme, and it will go in the mail within the hour.

Monday, May 23, 2011

32

Never throw any writing away, especially not homework. As friends and long-time readers know, I returned to college as an adult and finally graduated with a B.A. in Professional writing in 2005. I was 48.

Because I'm a writer, I kept every essay and term paper. A couple of the things I wrote for my various classes have since been published, and it's about to happen again.

An argumentative essay I wrote in the form of a letter back in March 2004 just found a home in an anthology of unsent letters, making it my 32nd acceptance of the year.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Twenty-four

I finished and submitted my twenty-fourth story of the year this morning, a 3,200-word crime story written for an anthology to which I was invited to submit. I hope it meets the editor's needs, but if not, there's still time before the deadline to write a different story, and I don't think I'll have any problem finding a different home for this one.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Show me the money

Several short story writers I know have made their short stories available for Kindle and other electronic devices as individual stories, small collections of only a few stories, and larger collections with a dozen or more stories. So, how are we doing?

The writers who seem to doing well with electronic self-publishing all seem to be novelists, or are primarily novelists. Is there any writer earning a significant amount of money electronically self-publishing short stories in any genre?

I've been making work available for Kindle for about 13 months now, dribbling
things out a little at a time. Although a couple of my novels are available for
Kindle and etc., my publishers released them; my electronically self-published
releases have ranged from short stories to novelettes to novellas.

By the end of last year I was earning $10-$20/month--nice pocket change for minimal effort--but not significant. Last month's earnings--after changing one cover and adding a couple of titles--doubled, and I'm on-track this month to again earn $30-$40. Better. Still not significant.

So, are any short story writers who are not primarily known as novelists doing well with electronically self-publishing short stories?

And, if so, in what genre(s) are they writing?

(For comparison: My best-selling title, representing more than half my total sales, is a sweet romance titled Unbridled Love: A Romance with Horse Sense.)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Published

My erotic short story "Secrets" appears in the anthology Best of Both (Xcite, edited by Miranda Forbes). Although the anthology was released several weeks ago, my contributor copy just arrived from London.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Blog update

I've rearranged a few elements on my blog layout and added links to all of the projects I've made available for Kindle. When I next have time to fuss with my blog, I hope to add links to the hardbacks, paperbacks, and Kindle editions of projects released by my various publishers.

Quoted

Gothic.net asked several dozen horror writers "What was the first movie or book or television show that scared you?" My response is near the tail-end of the page.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Time and place

I've been invited to contribute to an anthology that requires all stories take place within a tightly constrained geographical location, though the stories can be set in the past or the present.

Though I visited this location a few times in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the story I'm writing takes place even earlier. And my protagonist has an occupation with which I have minimal knowledge.

So, I'm having to research both time and place. What did this location look like at that point in time? What was happening in the world that impacted that location? How did my protagonist's occupation fit the time and place? And so on.

I don't write much fiction that requires extensive research because it often isn't cost-effective, and I always find myself traveling down research dead-ends or spending time reading about cool stuff that has nothing to do with the story-in-progress. (Though, I must admit, my ghost story "Pushing Coal" in Specters in Coal Dust, for which I had to research coal mining in the 1950s, turned out pretty good.) This time is no different.

But I'm glad I'm doing it because this is a story I never would have written without the invitation, and I have high hopes for the final draft.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Branded

Once upon a time I could write for several different publications without changing my byline. I could have a child-friendly story in a children's magazine and a violent or sexually explicit story in an adult publication the same month and not worry that the readership would overlap.

My how things have changed. Thanks to the Internet and all the search engines and social networking sites, readers can now discover the range of my work.

Unfortunately, a reader who enjoys my YA romance Just in Time for Love or my sweet romance Unbridled Love: A Romance With Horse Sense isn't likely to enjoy my hardboiled private eye novel All White Girls and is even less likely to enjoy the sexually explicit crime fiction in Sex, Violence & Half a Million Dollars.

In a world where branding is important, I've become over-branded, much like the tattooed lady at the carnival who becomes so covered with ink that no particular image stands out.

And, sadly, having "writer" as a brand just isn't specific enough.

Lady Leo defunct

Lady Leo Publishing, publisher of black romances and black confessions after Black Confessions, Jive, etc. ceased publication, has closed shop. The website is gone, most of Lady Leo's titles have disappeared from Amazon and B&N (except those titles written by the publisher), and the Facebook group is filled with authors asking each other if they've heard anything from the publisher. A couple of Lady Leo's other writers have shared word that the publisher reverted all rights to contributors.

This was a nice small press, but it reminds us of the danger of writing for small presses. One-person operations can disappear quickly, for any number of reasons, and when the publisher closes email accounts, shuts down websites, and generally stops communicating, our work may be trapped in limbo.

This problem isn't limited to small publishers, though. Even large publishers can sink, taking our work with them. The difference is that large publishers usually sink more slowly and leave a trail of information behind.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Published in Writing Book

I am one of several contributors to Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction, edited by Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller and just released by Headline Books.

Order your copy here.

Published

My erotic romance story "Creosote Flats and the Big Spread" appears in The Handsome Prince, edited by Neil Plakcy and recently released by Cleis Press.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

31

I returned home from the annual Oklahoma Writers' Federation Inc. conference to find my 31st acceptance waiting in the mail box, this time for a 2,900-word bit of erotic crime fiction.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Published 2x

My stories "Daddy Dearest" and "Someday He'll Notice Me" appear in the June True Story.

30

I received my 30th acceptance of the year in today's mail, this time for a 4,600-word confession I submitted in February.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Spicy Confessions coming soon to Kindle

Confessions are a unique form of women's fiction. They aren't romances, though they are often romantic. They aren't erotica, though some are quite sensual. And they aren't chick lit, though they are clearly written for and about contemporary women. What they are, are compelling stories about real women facing real problems.

Rolinda Hay, under her own name and several pseudonyms, has been a leading confession writer for several decades, with more than two hundred confessions published in Black Confessions, Black Romance, Intimate Romances, Intimate Secrets, Intimate Story, Jive, Modern Romances, Secrets, True Confessions, True Experience, True Love, True Romance, True Secrets, and True Story.

The four short stories in Spicy Confessions--“Stolen Rose on Valentine’s Day,” “I Caught My Parents Doing It,” “Is That A Banana In Your Pants?” and “We Fought for Our Love Life”--showcase Hay at her spicy best, featuring four women dealing with love, sex, aging parents having sex, and a bus stop pervert.

5/3/11 UPDATE: Find Spicy Confessions here.

Published 5x

My stories "Picture This" and "A Forgettable Night" appear in the May True Romance and my stories "The Chocolate Lady," "Mother's Day Gift," and "Skateboard Love" appear in the May True Love.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Twenty-three

I finished and submitted my twenty-third short story of the year, a 2,000-word bit of erotica that I started Wednesday. This one's for an anthology with an open call for submissions.

29

I received my 29th acceptance of the year this afternoon, this time for a 1,600-word bit of crime fiction submitted March 3.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

28

I received my 28th acceptance of the year this afternoon, this time for a 2,600-word confession that mostly takes place on Independence Day.

Monday, April 25, 2011

#1 Bestselling horse romance


I don't understand how titles get ranked at Amazon, though I'm certainly trying to figure it out.

Search for "horse romance" in Amazon's Kindle store and my Unbridled Love: A Romance With Horse Sense is #1, but search for "romance horse" and it falls to #6.

Search for "hardboiled" and you'll find four of my titles in the top 101: three short stories--"Glass Houses" at #35, "Pick" at #94, and "Lesser of Two Evils" at #101--and one collection--Sex, Lies & Half A Million Dollars at #40. But search for "hard-boiled" and none of my titles break the top 150, which is where I stopped searching.

4/26/11 UPDATE: I've confused "bestselling" with "relevance." Unbridled Love isn't the #1 bestselling "horse romance." It is, instead, the #1 title relevant to a search for the words "horse romance."

Sigh.

So much to learn. And too eager to share what I thought was good news.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Reality bites

Almost two weeks ago my truck was totaled in a traffic accident. I stopped at a red light with one car in front of me. Two cars collided in the intersection and one of the them spun around the car in front of me and hit my truck. Of the three vehicles involved, mine was the only one towed from the scene. (I'm fine.)

I had only one payment remaining on the truck and was looking forward to the decrease in monthly expenses and the potential increase in savings.

So, I've spent much of the past 10 days dealing with the aftermath of the accident--dealing with insurance companies and shopping for a new vehicle being the most time-consuming. I had several editing and non-fiction projects in progress at the time of the accident and I kept all but one of them on-schedule throughout the past ten days. The other isn't due for two weeks and I expect to deliver it on time by giving it some concentrated attention in the coming weeks.

The impact of all this reality is that I've not written much fiction. It is difficult to be creative when reality bites you in the butt.

I learned years ago to deal with reality first and then return to writing. Sometimes I am refreshed by the break and sometimes I'm so glad to have whatever happened behind me that writing feels like a godsend.

So, it's time to look through my editorial calendar and the anthology calls that drifted in when I wasn't paying attention and start churning out the words again.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Reviewed

I contributed two stories to the erotic anthology When A Man Loves A Man, a private eye story and a noirish story. Mandi reviewed the anthology at Goodreads and had this to say about my contributions:
"My favorite stories were 'Stand By Your Man' and 'Garden Variety' by Michael Bracken. No happy end in sight on those, but I really enjoyed the writing."

Microchick coming soon to Kindle


Microchick’s 24 erotic science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories are throwbacks to the paranormal fiction published in men's magazines during the late 20th Century, and feature demons, ghosts, mermaids, and hot, out-of-this-world sex.

I uploaded the collection this morning and it should be available for purchase within a day.

4/17/11 Update: Find it here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sex, Violence & Half A Million Dollars now available for Kindle


Hard men and busty babes dominate the 23 erotic crime fiction stories included in Sex, Violence & Half A Million Dollars. These stories, throwbacks to the hardboiled and noir mystery fiction published in men's magazines during the late 20th Century, feature clever crimes and smokin' hot sex.

Order your copy here.

New cover for Unbridled Love

Last year I uploaded Unbridled Love: A Romance With Horse Sense to Amazon for Kindle distribution. It had a truly awful cover--yellow type on a red background and no photo or graphic image--but has been selling a few copies each month despite the bad cover. Today I finally improved the cover and I'm hoping the new cover will attract more readers.

Unbridled Love is a romance novella that attracted the attention of some magazine editors, but was deemed too long for publication. As a novella, it's too short to publish as a traditional book.

Rather than bore you with my Kindle sales experience, how about I tell you about the book:

Melissa Grant, the 25-year-old owner of a tack shop, is disgusted with the way the new riding instructor at Rocking Horse Stables treats her classmates during their first lesson, and her attempt to confront him is thwarted when she bursts into his apartment over the observation room and finds him half-undressed.

Will an escalating series of attractions and repulsions set against the backdrop of the riding stable where Hans Edelmann teaches and the narrator has her shop--including their preparations for the annual competition at Stallion Stables, the pending sale of Rocking Horse Stables, and the narrator’s mistaken belief that Edelmann is interested in an older woman--lead to true love?
If you enjoy sweet romances or you enjoy stories with horses, you'll enjoy Unbridled Love: A Romance With Horse Sense.

27

I received my 27th acceptance of the year shortly before midnight, this time for a 2,100-word hardboiled/noir crime story submitted April 6.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Why the world confuses me

I am not good at idle chit-chat, perhaps because I over-think the questions I'm asked and find myself stumped as to how to respond.

Three examples:

1. There's a common question asked to determine if the responder is an optimist or a pessimist: "Do you see the glass as half full or half empty?"

I see the question as fundamentally flawed. The glass is always 100% full. It is partially filled with a liquid and partially filled with a gas.

My response makes me neither optimist nor pessimist but an irritating nit-picker.

2. I took a multiple-choice test once that asked "Which of these three do not belong: the sun, the moon, and a candle?"

Everyone I've spoken to insists the candle does not belong. I say because the question is multiple choice, it lacks sufficient information to determine the proper response.

I can make a reasonable argument to exclude any one of the three choices.

For example:

The sun and the moon are heavenly bodies. A candle is not. Therefore, the candle does not belong.

The sun and a candle give off heat and light. The moon only reflects light. Therefore, the moon does not belong.

The moon and a candle have been touched by man. The sun has not been touched by man. Therefore, the sun does not belong.

Because the test was multiple choice, there was no opportunity to justify whichever choice I selected and no way to determine the answer the test creator intended.

3. In a college-level grammar class the instructor wrote "He ate Wednesday" on the blackboard and insisted there was only one correct way to read this sentence:

He (a man) ate (consumed a meal of some sort) Wednesday (on a specific day of the week).

I say that without context there is no way to know exactly what that sentence means.

For example:

"He" may or may not refer to a human male and, in addition to being the name of a day of the week, "Wednesday" is also a woman's name.

Therefore, in a story about cannibalism, "He ate Wednesday" could describe the consumption of a woman.

In an erotic story, "He ate Wednesday" could refer to a sexual act.

In a fantasy, "He ate Wednesday" could refer to a mythical being that actually consumes time.*

Therefore, I say the meaning of the sentence is determined by context, not by the sentence itself standing alone.

Alas, because I over-think these questions/situations, and because these questions/situations occur on a daily basis, I regularly find myself stumped by things that the person I'm with sees as black-and-white/yes-or-no questions/situations and I see as lacking sufficient information to answer or as having so many shades of gray that the response requires an essay and not a multiple choice selection from an overly simplistic list of options.

Sigh.

____

*Note: I'm actually trying to write this story.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Reviewed

"News Flash," a short story featuring P.I Morris Ronald Boyette and published by Untreed Reads, received 4.5 stars at Night Owl Reviews. Read the entire review here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The cover of Munchies


The cover of Jack Bludis's latest book Munchies and Other Tales of Guys, Gals & Guns, a collection of 13 short stories, seems to have multiple versions. This is the version I like best, perhaps because my name's on it, too.

What I said, in case it's too small to read, is:
"Jack Bludis is one smokin' hot crime fiction writer. When you finish reading this collection, you'll be hungry for more."
I'm proud to say that two of the stories in Jack's collection--"Munchies" and "Truth or Lie"--were first published in anthologies I edited.

And if you've ever read "Munchies," you'll appreciate my blurb even more.

Order a Kindle edition here.

Published

"Secrets," an erotic short story, appears in Best of Both, edited by Miranda Forbes and just published by Xcite.

Published 2x

"Opening My Heart to Love" appears in the May True Story and "Memories to Last a Lifetime" appears in the May True Confessions.

26

I received my 26th acceptance of the year in today's mail, for a Father's Day-themed confession I submitted February 13.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Twenty-two

I finished and submitted my twenty-second story of the year this evening. This one's a 2,600-word confession set on Independence Day. I started writing it on March 10, completed only the first few hundred words, and picked it up again yesterday afternoon.

After a little on-line research to ensure that two plot points were factually correct and not created whole cloth from some fever dream, I finished writing the story yesterday. Today I had to revise/cut the last few pages because I'd written way past the actual end of the story. And then it was on its way to an editor.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Twenty-one

I finished and submitted my twenty-first short story of the year. This one's a 3,900-word confession I started writing March 25, 2010. I had written less than two pages back then and the story sat until I was looking for a summer-based story. I picked it up again a few days ago, worked out a plot twist that hadn't been evident in my original rough pages, and finished writing it today.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Twenty

I finished and submitted my twentieth short story of the year this evening. This one, a 2,800-word ghost story, much like the two previous stories, owes its existence to Left Coast Crime.

During the drive to LCC I told Rebecca about two anthologies with open calls. Plot Monkey went into action and together we created detailed outlines for two stories, one for each anthology.

One written, one to write.

25, published

My 25th acceptance of the year is an erotica reprint. Originally scheduled for a paperback anthology, the story's also being included in an e-anthology. The story, "Secrets," appears in A Fantasy Threesome, edited by Miranda Forbes and released by Xcite.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Nineteen

I finished and submitted my nineteenth story of the year this morning, a 4,300-word confession. This story also owes its existence, in part, to Left Coast Crime.

Rebecca and I stopped in Amarillo on our way to Santa Fe and had dinner in a Mexican restaurant. I wondered aloud, "What about a confession where the narrator is a waitress in a Mexican restaurant?"

That isn't a story. That's barely even a complete thought.

While we were kicking around ways that the narrator might meet a customer, we noticed that the restaurant had a small, glass-topped freezer and every so often a little kid would reach into it and pull out a single-serving ice cream cup.

That's when we knew the narrator's love interest would have a child. Many children. Then her love interest morphed into a T-ball coach who accidently leaves one of his young players behind in the restaurant.

We had the set-up.

I wrote the first 2,000 words in various hotel rooms in Texas and Santa Fe, but put it aside to write story eighteen when I returned home. On Wednesday, while sitting through a power failure at one of my clients' offices, I plotted the last half of the story on a scrap of paper. Yesterday I returned to the manuscript and, between other chores and deadlines, wrote the last 2,300-words.