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.")