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?


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?


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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 and for iPad through

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


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


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


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


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 Y'all might enjoy "In Praise of Technicians."

Monday, July 11, 2011


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.


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

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

Sunday, July 10, 2011


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


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


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


I received my 40th acceptance of the year this morning, this time 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.