Thursday, December 26, 2013

Forty

I completed and submitted my fortieth short story of the year a few minutes ago. This one's a 5,000-word confession I started writing December 18, 2009.

Thirty-nine

I completed and submitted my thirty-ninth short story of the year this morning. This one's a 3,300-word confession I started writing June 6.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Free today

The Kindle version of Deadhead Miles, a horror anthology containing a reprint of my story "Black Mack," is free today. I don't know how long it will remain free. Learn more here.

Monday, December 23, 2013

41

I received my 41st acceptance of the year this afternoon, this time for a Spring Break-themed confession I submitted December 12.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"Because," I said.

Over at SleuthSayers.org there was a recent discussion about dialog tags. I joined in and, I think, summed it up best:
"If a speech tag draws attention to itself, it draws attention AWAY from the dialog, and if a speech tag is used to prop up weak dialog, then the problem isn't the choice of an unusual speech tag, the problem is weak or poorly written dialog. 
"As a writer, then, your goal should be to write dialog so good it doesn't need speech tags to prop it up."

Thirty-eight

I finished and submitted my thirty-eighth short story of the year this evening, a 3,500-word Spring Break confession that I started November 13, 2012.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thirty-seven

I finished and submitted my thirty-seventh short story of the year this evening. This one's a 3,500-word confession I started February 15, 2011.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

40

I received my 40th acceptance of the year today, this time for what may be the world's only erotic story about gay surfing vampires.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Interviewed

There's a brief interview with me on ncreadergirl's blog in conjunction with the publication of Ignite!, an anthology of erotica for mothers. Read it here.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Thirty-six

I finished and submitted my thirty-sixth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 4,000-word confession I started January 9, 2012.

Thirty-five

I finished and submitted my thirty-fifth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 2,000-word confession I started April 18, 2009.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

39

I received my 39th acceptance this evening, this for the confession I submitted on the 11th.

Published 2x

My story "Don't Judge a Book" appears in the January True Confessions, and my story "I Need a New Boss" appears in the January True Story.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

38

I received my 38th acceptance of the year this morning, this time for a 3,500-word confession.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thirty-four

I finished and submitted my thirty-fourth story of the year this morning, a 3,500-word Valentine's Day confession I started writing on February 16.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

37

I received my 37th acceptance of the year this evening, this time for a New Year's Eve confession.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Reviewed

Karielle reviews High Octane Heroes (Cleis Press) at Books a la Mode and has this to say about "Big Guns," my contribution to the anthology:
"Big, brutish Special Agent Howie is THE man of our unnamed narrator's naughty fantasies. When, on her bartending gig, she finds herself in the middle of his undercover assignment, he not only saves her life, but also teaches her exactly what fantasies are made of. I liked the sensuality of this story, and how it leaves a lot to the imagination."
She gives my story and the entire collection eight out of ten hearts. Read the entire review here.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Guest post

Today I take John Floyd's spot at SleuthSayers, a group blog by and for mystery writers, when I write about how to "Market-First, Write-Second." Read my guest post here.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

36

I received my 36th acceptance of the year this evening.

Thirty-Three

I finished and submitted my thirty-third short story of the year this evening. This one's a 4,300-word erotic vampire story.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Published

My erotic story "Feelings" appears in the current issue of Clean Sheets. Read it here.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Random thought

I plan to found a new company called Michael Enterprises, or ME for short, so the next time someone says, "You're not the boss of me!" I can look them squarely in the eye and say, "Actually, I am."

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Published 2x

My story "Memories of Forever" appears in the November True Confessions, and my story "Blinded by Love" appears in the November True Story.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Thirty-two

I finished and submitted my thirty-second story of the year this evening. This one's a 600-word bit of crime fiction I started August 20.

Thirty-one

I finished and submitted my thirty-first short story of the year this morning, a 4,900-word confession I started on September 28, 2011.

Friday, September 20, 2013

35

I received my 35th acceptance of the year this afternoon, this time for an erotic coming-of-age story.

Published

My story "Big Guns"--an erotic crime fiction romance (how's that for blending genres?)--appears in the anthology High Octane Heroes.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

34

I received my 34th acceptance of the year this evening, this time for an erotic mystery/ghost story.

33

I received my 33rd acceptance of the year last evening. This one's for an essay about writing.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Published

"Sporting Wood," an erotic story about lumberjacks, appears in the recently published anthology Team Players.

Published

My erotic short story "Learning Curve" appears in the anthology Daddy Knows Best.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

32

I received my 32nd acceptance of the year this afternoon, this time for an erotic romance story.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Thirty

I finished and submitted my thirtieth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 4,600-word erotic coming-of-age story.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Published

My erotic story "Discovering the Underground" appears in the just-published anthology Big Man on Campus.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

31

I received my 31st acceptance of the year this evening, this time for a Christmas story.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

30

I received my 30th acceptance of the year this evening, this time for an erotic romance story.

Reviewed

Nona Raines reviews High Octane Heroes at The Divas of Desire and has this to say about my contribution:
"I also enjoyed the sassy first-person voice of the heroine in Michael Bracken’s Big Guns and how she fantasizes about a bad man, though she thinks he’s bad news."
Read the entire review and an interview with co-contributor Elle James here.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Five-year anniversary

Three days ago I turned 56. Five years ago today I had quadruple heart bypass surgery. I haven't any words of wisdom to share about either event. I'm just glad I'm still here, still writing, and still getting published.

Life is good.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

I Quit

Last week I was invited to contribute to an anthology. While discussing the theme of the anthology, a friend suggested a setting that I am pretty sure no other contributor will use. I spent a few hours researching the setting, learning enough that I knew it should work.

Yesterday morning I sat down to write. Eight to ten hours later, having put only 1,300 words on the page, and having written and discarded several thousand more, I quit.

No matter how many ways I approached it, I couldn't find a story that fit the setting. All I had was the connective tissue--background bits and pieces that I could weave into a story, if I had a story.

Frustrated, I closed the file, shoved all my research material aside, and took a break from the computer.

When I finally returned, I opened a new file and began typing. Within an hour I had the first 800 words of a new story. Contained within those 800 words are a hook, the genesis of a plot, and three viable characters. The setting's a little sketchy, but if everything else works, I can flesh out the setting as I go.

Lesson learned: Sometimes quitting is more productive than actually writing.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Twenty-nine

I finished and submitted my twenty-ninth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 4,800-word Christmas story.

29

I received my 29th acceptance of the year this evening, this time for a bit of erotic crime fiction.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mixing genres in "Big Guns"

Today I discuss how I came to mix three genres when I wrote "Big Guns" for the anthology High Octane Heroes in my guest post here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Writer's constipation

Except for the three-plus months following my quadruple bypass in 2007, I've never suffered from writer's block, and that wasn't writer's block as it's most commonly defined. Instead, it was a drug-induced block that disappeared as soon as I made my cardiologist aware of the problem and he modified my drug regimen.

I do, however, sometimes suffer from writer's constipation. The stories are still in my head and the words still want to come out, but they don't come easily. Instead of them flowing out in paragraphs and pages, I must squeeze them out one word or one sentence at a time.

There's no perceptible difference in quality between the work I squeeze out and the work that flows out. There is, however, a difference in how I feel during the creative process. I feel frustrated. What I've not determined is if writer's constipation causes my frustration or if something else causes the frustration and writer's constipation is the result.

28

I received my 28th acceptance of the year this afternoon. This one's for a confession.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Light my fire

Whenever I'm asked to discuss how I came to write a particular story, I often have nothing worthwhile to say. So, when I read another writer's long, involved treatise about the creation of a story, I want to shout, "Bullshit!"

I suspect the bulk of those treatises are after-the-fact justifications written to appease readers who don't know any better or written as some sort of delusional marketing attempt. I can't recall story creation ever involving that much angst.

So, where do stories come from?

Let's call it a story spark. Some potentially insignificant thing sparks a story and, like a fire, the story grows from the kindling surrounding it.

For example, the spark might be an editor asking for a mystery set in Times Square, a call for submissions requesting ghost stories involving coal mining, or a magazine's regular use of holiday-themed women's stories.

Sometimes the spark catches fire immediately and I sit down to write. Sometimes it burns like an ember for several days before catching fire. Either way the story grows from that spark in the same way a fire grows: it engulfs the flammable story material around it.

My flammable story material comes from all I have done and all I have read and all I have studied, and it has piled up awaiting a story spark to ignite it. But I don't usually construct the story fire as I would a campfire.

Because my story fires are more like wildfires than campfires, I am often unable to discuss how I wrote any particular story. I just wrote it.

All the material was there waiting for a spark. When the spark came, so did the story.

Published

"I'll Follow the Sun" appears in the October True Story.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

Mentioned

My name pops up in "Hitting All the Reader Buttons: High Octane Heroes," a blog post by Sharon Hamilton about a just-published anthology to which we both contributed.

Reviewed

I'm a Voracious Reader reviewed "Lost Soul" and concluded the "5 bites out of 5" review:
"This short story is very well-written and funny with a great plot. For such a short story it feels like a much longer tale. Not the most observant person, I’m sure there are nuances I missed, but for the most part I think I picked up on them. And I love the ending. Should Bracken write more stories about Mark Cain I would definitely read them."
Read the entire review here.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Crime Square now available for Kindle

Crime Square, which contains my Derringer Award-winning story "Getting Out of the Box," is now available for Kindle. Order it here.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Reviewed

Two Lips Reviews reviewed the anthology All the Boys and had this to say about my contribution, "Garden Variety":
Kyle is the grandson of a wealthy customer Doug gardens for. One day Kyle wants Doug to prune more than the roses. When Doug takes Kyle up on his offer, he finds himself torn between love and power struggles. Which will survive in the game of love? Garden Variety is a very bittersweet story. I felt as if a part of the story was cut off due to its short size. Like instead of making it a romance to making it just a scene from a romance story. I really would have liked to have seen a longer story so I could get more attached to the main characters and for at least one of them to get a happy for now ending out of it. As it stands, it’s not quite my cup of tea. I like happier stories than this one.
Read the entire review here.

Reviewed

Thoughts of a Growing Sub reviews the anthology Past Pleasures and has this to say about my contribution, "Late One Night at the Tourist Court":
Johnny had big plans when he came back from the war in Europe, but nothing was going his way until he robbed the bank in Lufkin, Texas, and hightailed it out of town with his girlfriend. He didn’t realise how much she had learnt while he was away, but she had several lessons to teach Johnny. Some of them were in the bedroom, and he learned them all late one night at the Tourist Court.
Read the entire review here.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

25

I received my 25th acceptance of the year this evening. This time it's to reprint a horror story first published in 2001.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

10 years plus

I have now had one or more short stories published each and every month for 122 consecutive months. That's 10 years and two months. I should have noted this achievement when I hit the 10-year mark, but I missed it.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Twenty-eight

I finished and submitted my twenty-eighth story of the year this morning. This one's a 3,500-word confession I started writing in March 2004.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Published 2x

My story "I Won't be a Surrogate Mother" appears in the September True Confessions and my story "Black" appears in the September True Story.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Published

"Friends and Lovers," an erotic romance, appears in the anthology Lover Boys Forever.

Reviewed

Eric Townsend reviews Resorted to Love, an anthology of erotic paranormal stories. Here's what he had to say about my story "One for the Toad":
"Yes, this story is indeed as weird as it sounds. Multiple toads. Yes, they talk. I honestly don’t have anything else to say about this one, sex scenes meh. Wasn’t bad, wasn’t great, just odd."
Read the entire review here.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Twenty-seven

I completed and submitted my twenty-seventh short story of the year this afternoon. This one's an erotic romance.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Twenty-six

I completed and submitted my twenty-sixth short story of the year. This one's a 2,300-word bit of erotic crime fiction.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Published

My erotic story "Relationships" appears in the just-published anthology Steam Bath.

Monday, July 22, 2013

24

I received my 24th acceptance of the year this evening, this time for a 2,200-word confession.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Guest poster at High Octane Heroes

I'm a contributor to the upcoming erotic romance anthology High Octane Heroes, and I've guest posted about my transition from a writer of erotic fiction to a writer of erotic romance at the High Octane Heroes blog. Read about it here.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Twenty-five

I completed and submitted my twenty-fifth short story of the year this evening. This time it's a 2,200-word bit of erotica that I started writing October 7, 2009.

Friday, July 12, 2013

23

I received my 23rd acceptance of the year yesterday, this time for a bit of erotic crime fiction.

Monday, July 08, 2013

They don't write themselves

I have spent a good part of the past three days reading through 338 of my partially written short stories. (I only read confessions, leaving 662 partially written stories of other genres unread for now.)

As I read, I corrected typos and misspellings, redrafted clumsy sentences, expanded scenes, filled plot holes, and, in general, did something constructive to nearly every story. I threw one barely started story in the trash because it too closely duplicated another story, leaving me with 337 confessions in progress.

The stories ranged from a few that are little more than titles or one-line descriptions to many others that are several thousand words into their creation. Every incomplete story I read has enough information on the page that I should be able to finish writing all of them if I dedicate my available time to doing nothing but writing these stories.

I won't dedicate all my available time to finishing these stories, though, because I keep generating new ideas, and many of the new ideas are for anthologies or for specific issues of the magazines for which I write. But I do dip into the well on occasion, finishing something because it fits an editor's current needs or because I'm between deadlines and am drawn to a particular story in progress.

More importantly, these unfinished stories provide a great deal of comfort. If I ever experience an idea drought, I have a deep well to draw from that could see me through several years of productive writing.

But the damned things don't write themselves. Perhaps it's time to warm up the fingers and see if I can increase my completion rate while I'm still able to generate new ideas.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

22

I received my 22nd acceptance of the year this morning. It was time-stamped midnight, meaning an editor was working late on a weekend, and I noticed the acceptance in my in-box a short time later.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Twenty-four

I finished and submitted my twenty-fourth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 2,000-word story about male breast cancer that I started writing in June 2008.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Published 4x

My stories "End of Summer, Beginning of Life" and "From 1st Date to Wedding Date" appear in the August True Confessions, and my stories "Dumped" and "Pretty Fat" appear in the August True Story.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Twenty-three

I finished and submitted my twenty-third short story of the year this evening. This one is a 3,700-word story about spousal abuse that I started writing on June 20.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Feel free to write crap? No. Never.

Possibly one of the worst pieces of advice I see writers telling beginners is to "feel free to write crap."

This is intended to encourage beginners to turn off their internal editors and internal censors, freeing them to put something--anything!--on the page. The belief is that something on the page can be edited later; a blank page can't be fixed.

This leads to sloppy writing and far too much time spent at the back end of the creative process, trying to turn all that crap into usable compost and then to grow something worthwhile in the compost.

In no other profession is it advisable to do bad work on purpose. Imagine if my cardiac surgeon had approached my bypass surgery with this attitude: "I'll make a couple of cuts and toss in a few stitches. It's only a first draft. I can go back later and clean it up."

I believe writers should always strive to write the best they can when they put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Always striving to produce the best writing means more time spent creating and less time wasted polishing turds.

Do I sometimes write crap? Absolutely, but never on purpose.

When I sit down to write I produce the best work I can at that time on that day. If it turns out to be crap, I deal with it.

But I never "feel free" to write crap.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Untreed Reads short story sale

From now until July 4, Untreed Reads is running a special where readers can purchase any four short stories for $1.00. Just add four short stories (priced $0.99 or less) to the shopping cart, enter coupon code FIREWORKS and presto...only $1.00.

Due to pricing restrictions at Untreed Reads' retailers, this sale is only good in The Untreed Reads Store. Full details of the sale are available at: http://goo.gl/bT4j2.

Three of my short stories are available from Untreed Reads: "Chalkers," "Lost Soul," and "News Flash." Why not order all three and then toss in one from another author to round out your order?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Twenty-two

I finished and submitted my twenty-second short story of the year this evening. This one's a 3,500-word confession I started on June 16.

Doug Danielson

Doug Danielson, a fellow writer I met through the Short Mystery Fiction Society's discussion list, died May 23 in Ventura, CA. According to an email I received earlier today from a mutual friend, he had been battling cancer for sometime.

Doug authored the novels Wet Dreams*, Shore Loser, and Sea-Duction as well as a handful of short stories and several articles.

An active member of the Puerta Vallarta Writers Group, he conceived of their annual writers conference, and he organized the first and several of the subsequent conferences.

We don't often have the opportunity to meet the writers we know from discussion lists, but I had the honor of staying with Doug and his wife Karen while participating in the PVWG conference in 2011. They were kind and generous hosts.

Doug was an experienced yachtsman and I tapped his knowledge for at least one of my short stories.

Though I did not know Doug as well as I would have liked, I will miss him.

----

*Wet Dreams seems to have disappeared from Doug's official bio, but I have a signed copy in my collection.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Quoted

I'm quoted in "Turning a No into a Yes" by Glynis Scrivens, an article about selling stories that have suffered multiple rejections. The article previously appeared in Writers Forum, a magazine published in England.

Show your work

One of the things I disliked most about learning math was the constant requirement that I show my work. If I knew the answer to the math problem, why was I not allowed to simply provide the answer?

As I progressed through school, math became increasingly difficult and I learned that solving some math problems required so many steps that it was no longer possible to do them all in my head and write down the answer. When I later entered the work world and became a typographer, I wrote computer programs using R-DOS, AOS-VS, and Penta Systems' typesetting language to generate typeset material. For example, I wrote programs that figured out how to make a variable amount of text fit a specific shape by either enlarging or reducing the type and the leading in specific increments until the text fit exactly. The formula had to work no matter how much text I input and it had to work no matter what shape I had to fit the text into. In effect, the formula was me showing my work.

Writing successful fiction also involves showing your work.

I've read many short stories by beginning writers where things happen for no apparent reason, where important objects appear out of the blue at the climax of the story, and where characters make important decisions without any of the information necessary for making that decision. These are examples of writers failing to show their work because the information is in the writers' heads and not anywhere on the page.

For example, if our hero pulls out a gun at the end of the story and shoots the villain, where did he get the gun? Somewhere in the early part of the story the writer needs to establish that the hero carries a gun or that the hero keeps a gun in his desk drawer.

If the detective solves the crime because he hears the killer whistling a snippet of Beethoven's Leonore Overture #3, it needs to be established early in the story that the detective has an extensive knowledge of and appreciation for classical music.

If, at the end of the story, the protagonist decides to remove her mother from life support, somewhere early in the story the author needs to establish that the mother has a living will giving her daughter the authority to do this and we need to establish that mother and daughter have, in some way, addressed this issue.

This is, in some sense, the opposite of the advice frequently attributed to Chekov (If there's a shotgun over the mantel in the first act, somebody better fire it by the third act.): If somebody fires a shotgun in the third act, there had better be a shotgun over the mantel in the first act.

In other words: Show your work.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Plot Monkey evolves

For several years a close friend of mine--often identified here as Plot Monkey--helped me plot some of my short stories.

Her help began over a dinner conversation where I described a pair of stories that seemed to have dead-ended halfway through the writing process. I told her what I had written to that point, she thought about it for a moment, and then she outlined in detail how each story should proceed. She was right. I sold both stories using her ideas to finish what I had already started.

Since then she has helped me plot my way out of several deadened stories and has, on occasion, provided complete story plots that I've used.

Throughout much of the time I have known her, and especially once I learned of her gift for plotting, I have encouraged her to write her own stories. She finally has.

Though it took more than a year, Plot Monkey worked her way through several drafts of a short story until she felt satisfied that it was the best it could be. Yesterday she submitted it to an editor.

Then I gave her one of the most cliched pieces of advice any writer will ever give another: Forget about that story and start writing the next one.

I hope she has.

Plot Monkey has evolved and now she's one of us. She's a writer.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Twenty-one

I finished and submitted my twenty-first short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 4,100-word confession I started writing in February 2011.

21

I received my 21st acceptance of the year this afternoon, this time for a back-to-school confession.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Twenty

I finished and submitted my twentieth short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 3,600-word confession I started writing in July 2012.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Death of the first draft

I don't know precisely when I stopped writing first drafts, but I do know I haven't written a first draft in years.

When I started writing as a teenager in the 1970s, I drafted everything on a typewriter. First drafts were horrendous, messy stacks of paper that I wrote all over, cut apart, and taped back together. Second drafts--typed from the Frankenstein's monster that the first draft had become--were much like the first, but not quite so messy.

Each subsequent draft was retyped until I felt I had a submittable manuscript.

I worked much the same way even after acquiring my first personal computer and word processing software. After writing the first draft, I printed a hardcopy and treated it exactly as I had a typewritten first draft, only I didn't have to retype everything.

Decades have passed since I first used a personal computer and a word processing program, and I find that I no longer produce "first drafts." I produce "full drafts."

I write and revise on screen as I work through a story so that by the time I print a hardcopy no revision--or no significant revision--is usually necessary.

I read all or part of the story aloud, listening for rhythm. I look for sound-alike or sound-similar words that I may have misused ("insure" vs. "ensure," for example). I double-check that the blonde on page two isn't a brunette on page seven. By the time I've worked through a typical short story I've marked a half dozen or a dozen things for correction.

I have my final draft once I make those changes to the computer file, and the final draft is then submitted to an editor.

Do I sometimes have a story that requires a second "full draft" or even a third before I have a final draft? Occasionally, yes.

But I haven't produce a true first draft in years.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Nineteen

I finished and submitted my nineteenth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 2,200-word confession I started writing in May 2012.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Eighteen

I finished and submitted my eighteenth story of the year this evening. This one's a 5,200-word back-to-school confession I started writing in December 2007.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

20

I received my 20th acceptance of the year, this time for a confession I submitted in June of last year.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Seventeen

I finished and submitted my seventeenth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 6,200-word back-to-school confession I started in February 2012.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Reviewed

Nichelle reviewed "Cowboy Lust: Erotic Romance for Women" (Cleis Press) at Romancing the Book and had this to say about my contribution, "Drought":
"Amanda is in a sexual drought just like the Texas city she moved to. Until she meets Garrett and her drought is appeased. This had all the right sexual tension and then the perfect ending though I will have to say it made me want to read more. It’s great when you can get pulled into the story by an author and can really see the characters. It was really well developed."
Read the entire review here.

Published 2x

My story "My Musical 4th of July" appears in the July True Confessions and my story "Unexpected Fireworks" appears in the July True Story.

19

I received my 19th acceptance of the year this morning. This one's for yet another confession.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sixteen

I finished and submitted my sixteenth short story of the year a few minutes ago. This one's a 3,700-word bit of erotic crime fiction.

18

I received my 18th acceptance of the year a few minutes ago--apparently there's a magazine editor working late in the evening on a holiday! This one's a confession I submitted on May 12.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fifteen

I finished and submitted my fifteenth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 2,100-word erotic story I started yesterday afternoon and finished this evening.

Published

My erotic romance "Picture Perfect" appears in the just-published anthology Cougars and Jackals. This story previously appeared in an ebook anthology titled Cougar and Kitten.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fourteen

I completed and submitted my fourteenth story of the year this morning. This one's a 5,400-word erotic story involving a knight and a swordsmith's daughter.

Monday, May 20, 2013

17

I received my 17th acceptance of the year, this time for a confession I submitted in May 2012.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Published

My erotic story (erotic with a hint of crime fiction) "In the Closet" appears in the just-published anthology Show-Offs.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Thirteen

I finished and submitted my thirteenth story of the year this evening. This one's a 3,500-word summer confession I started writing in May 2007.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Twelve

I finished and submitted my twelfth short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 3,700-word confession.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Publshed

My erotic story "Landmark Photography" appears in the anthology Indecent Exposures.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Published 2x

My story "Fake Dad" appears in the June True Confessions and my story "Father's Day Gift" appears in the June True Story.

Friday, May 03, 2013

15, 16

I received my 15th and 16th acceptances of the year earlier today, for an erotic story and for an erotic romance.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

14

I received my 14th acceptance of the year today, this time for the erotic lumberjack story I submitted on Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

13

I received my 13th acceptance of the year a few minutes ago, this time for a 4,700-word Independence Day-themed confession.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Eleven

I finished and submitted my eleventh short story of the year this evening. This one's a 4,900-word erotic sports story involving lumberjacks.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Published

My story "Maryjane: Then and Now" appears in Drill Me Sergeant, an anthology of erotic stories published several months ago. I'm mentioning it now because my copy just arrived.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Speed

December 23, 2009, I posted the following in response to Jason Sanford's blog post "How long to write that short story?"
Speed of writing can be, to some extent, related of years of experience. I started writing professionally 35+ years ago (as a teenager). Back then my first drafts were sloppy, ill-conceived, and filled with spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. And I wrote on a typewriter. 
What happened? After years of pounding the keyboard, I learned how to plot and write dialog. I also improved my knowledge of spelling, punctuation, and grammar. And I write on a computer. 
So, after 35+ years, 800+ short stories, a few novels, and a fair bit of other writing, I can produce a publishable short story in far less time than I could way back then. 
It might be interesting to compare your speed of writing today--at whatever stage your career has reached--to your speed of writing when you started. Are you faster now than you were then?
Three-plus years later I ask myself the same question. Am I faster now than I was then?

No, not in the amount of time it takes to write a story. On the other hand, many more of my stories sell on the first or second submission than they did then, which means my ability to write what editors want to publish continues to improve and, therefore, far fewer of my new manuscripts disappear unsold into the filing cabinet.

So, even though I don't seem to be writing faster, I am more productive.

How about you? Are you faster (or more productive) now than you were three years ago?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

12

I received my 12th acceptance of the year. This one's for the Independence Day story I submitted Friday.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Published

My erotic crime story "What a Rush" appears in the just-published anthology Pledges (Cleis Press).

Friday, April 19, 2013

Ten

I finished and submitted my tenth short story of the year a few minutes ago. This one's a 3,100-word Independence Day confession/romance.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

11

I received my 11th acceptance of the year earlier today, this time for a Father's Day story.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Ten-year anniversary

Ten years ago today I became a full-time freelance writer/editor. The irony of the date is not lost on me because it was quite the fool's journey I began back then.

My employer and I had parted company, but within a week one of my former clients hired me to do freelance editing for his publication. The income from this client, who is still a client today, provided the foundation upon which I built my freelance career. For the next few years I juggled a variety of one-off and short-term freelance projects until I ultimately settled into my current routine with my current clients.

During the past ten years I graduated college, divorced, survived quadruple heart bypass surgery, and dealt with all the everyday issues we all deal with. I've written things I never thought I would write, received awards I never expected to receive, and managed to pay all of my bills on time doing what I love most of all.

My dreams came true.

I write. I edit. I love my life.

Here's hoping the next ten years bring at least as much success and happiness as the past ten years.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Nine

I completed and submitted my ninth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 4,700-word Independence Day-themed confession that I began writing last Thursday.

Derringer Award recipient

My story "Getting Out of the Box," published last year in Crime Square (Vantage Point), today received a Derringer Award for Best Short Story from the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Eight

I finished and submitted my eighth short story of the year this morning. Like yesterday, this one's a 2,500-word erotic story for an anthology.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Seven

I completed and submitted my seventh short story of the year a few minutes ago. This one's a 2,500-word bit of erotica for an anthology.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

10

I received my 10th acceptance of the year this morning. This one's for the bit of erotica I finished and submitted on Sunday.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

9

I received my 9th acceptance of the year a little while ago. This one's for a Father's Day story.

Six

I completed and submitted my sixth short story of the year a few minutes ago. This one's a 4,200-word bit of erotica written at the invitation of an anthology editor.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Dan A. Sproul unpublished short story

In 2004 I accepted "Costa Rica? No Thanks," a short story by Dan A. Sproul for an anthology I was editing. Sproul, the author of several short stories published in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and other publications—including two of my anthologies—died in 2007.

Unfortunately, the anthology was cancelled by the publisher. While other contributors have placed their stories elsewhere, Dan's story languishes in my filing cabinet.

I do not know how to contact Dan's surviving relatives and suspect they may be non-writers who have no idea what to do with Dan's unpublished manuscripts. I suspect they have trashed the hardcopies of his manuscripts and/or erased them from his computer drive because they do not understand the value of what he left behind.

I am left with a conundrum. I have a contract with Dan to publish his story, but the contract was tied to a specific anthology. Unless I somehow resurrect the dead anthology, I have no right to publish Dan's story nor do I have the right to see that someone else publishes it.

On the other hand, if I do nothing, the story may never see publication.

If anyone knows Dan's surviving relatives and can connect us, I would greatly appreciate it.

If anyone knows of a loophole in the copyright law that would allow me to shepherd this story into publication without his family's permission, I would greatly appreciate that information as well.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Five

I finished and submitted my fifth short story of the year this morning. This one's a 4,000-word Father's Day story I started writing October 11, 2012.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Monday, March 04, 2013

Four

I finished and submitted my fourth short story of the year this evening, a 2,600-word Father's Day story I started on February 26.

Reviewed

In "Short & Sweet," his column in Mystery Scene #128, Bill Crider reviews the Fall/Winter 2012 Needle Magazine and mentions two stories by name: Jim Winter's "The Heckler" and my "Yellow Ribbon." About my story, Bill writes,
"Michael Bracken's 'Yellow Ribbon' is hardboiled Texas fiction narrated by a guy who's won 207 straight games of solitaire on his computer. You don't want to mess with a guy like that."
To read the entire review, you'll have to buy your own copy of Mystery Scene.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Nominated

My story "Getting Out of the Box," published last year in Crime Square (Vantage Point), has been short-listed for a Derringer Award.

See the complete list of nominees here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Published

My story "Bunny Slippers and Sunrise Service" appears in the April True Story.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Quoted

I am quoted in, and my photograph is included with, "Turing a No into a Yes," an article by Glynis Scrivens in issue #137 of Writers' Forum, a UK magazine for writers.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Three

I finished and submitted my third short story of the year this evening. This one's a 2,000-word bit of cowboy erotica that I started on Friday.

Although I'm off to a slow start this year, I did write twice as many stories this month as last.

Published 2x

"Total Package," a romance, has been reprinted in Best Gay Romance 2013 (Cleis), and "Bareback Rider," an erotic story, has been reprinted in Best Gay Erotica 2013 (Cleis).

Thursday, February 21, 2013

8

I received my 8th acceptance of the year earlier today, this time for a bit of erotic crime fiction.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

7

I received my 7th acceptance of the year this evening. This is for the Mother's Day confession I submitted last week.

Monday, February 18, 2013

6

I received my 6th acceptance of the year late this afternoon, for a woman-in-jeopardy story I submitted in 2011.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

2012 Cash-in-hand from creative writing

Recent discussion with a friend who asked what creative writing genres generated my writing income prompted me to breakdown of last year's writing income. (The following does not include advertising, public relations, and similar work.)

71% Confessions
  8% Erotica*
20% Royalties-Fiction**
 1% Royalties-Non-Fiction

*Includes all forms and includes cross-genre stories (erotic mystery, erotic horror, etc.) **Includes novels, short story collections, and short stories, and represents multiple genres

I don't think 2012 represents a typical year because:
a) a good portion of the confession income represents past-due payments from previous years not received until 2012
b) Though much of the erotica is cross-genre, most years I sell non-erotic stories in those genres
c) Non-fiction sales were non-existent in 2012. Most years I sell one or more essays and/or articles

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Reviewed...sort of

Two of my stories are given a lot of attention in a "review" by Mark Hill of the March 2013 True Story and February 2013 True Confessions. Read the Zug review here.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Published

The print edition of Out of the Gutter 8 arrived today--the electronic edition was released in December--and it contains my lesbian noir story "Family Dynamics."

Two

I completed and submitted my second short story of the year this evening, a 4,400-word Mother's Day confession.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

One, again

I've only written one story so far this year, and it came back for revisions. The revision added 1,100 words, lengthening the story to approx. 3,700 words. I just submitted the revision.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Reviewed

Brian Callaghan reviews Sexy Sailors (Cleis Press) for Edge and has this to say about my contribution:
"In one of the book's stranger contributions, Michael Bracken's 'Let’s Go Down to the Sea,'* two elderly lovers enjoy a final romp in a harbourside bar before Death shows up to take one of them away on his final voyage."
Read the entire review here.

*Note: The actual title of the story is "Let Us Go Down to the Sea."

Published 2x

My story "A Leprechaun in Love" appears in the March True Story and my story "Willie the Worm" appears in the March True Confessions.

Published

The paperback edition of Boys in Bed (Xcite), containing my story "Memories," has been released.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

5

I received my 5th acceptance of the year today, this time for an Earth Day-themed confession.

Published

"Pitching Woo," a short romance, appears in the January 30 issue of Seeds. Read it here.

Reviewed

Rebecca Besser reviews the anthology D.O.A. - Extreme Horror Collection (Blood Bound Books) at varietyreviews and has this to say about my contribution:
Les Sperme Vampire by Michael Bracken: A vampire “tricks” a man into getting what she* wants, and she partakes…greedily.
This was more of an explicit scene than a short story, but was still well written and interesting. I rate it 2Q.
Read the entire review here.

*Note: The character to which she refers is actually male.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

One

I finished and submitted my first short story of the year this afternoon. I'm off to a slow start.

Monday, January 21, 2013

4

I received my 4th acceptance of the year this evening, this time for an Easter-themed confession/romance.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

3

I received my 3rd acceptance of the year today, this time for a short romance.

Monday, January 14, 2013

2

I received my 2nd acceptance of the year earlier today, this time for a reprint.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

2012 in review


61 acceptances (vs. 73 in 2011)

25 rejections (vs. 28 in 2011)

66 short stories published* (vs. 82 in 2011), 0 articles/essays published (vs. 4 in 2011)

I completed 46 short stories (vs. 52 in 2011).

I completed (to final draft) 150,500 words of short fiction (vs. 180,200 in 2011).

That's an average story length of 3,272 words (vs. an average of 3,465); the shortest story was 1,500 words, the longest was 5,200 words.

I completed and submitted an average of .88 of a short story each week (vs. an average of 1 each week in 2010).

(I only track completed short fiction word counts, not words written for incomplete projects, nor words written for other forms of writing.)

Income from
Editing: Up 3.39%
Fiction (not novels): Down 12.66%
Non-Fiction (not books): $0
Royalties from Fiction (from traditionally published and, beginning in 2010, from self-published work): Up 98.49%
Royalties from Non-Fiction: Up from zero
Seminars/Teaching:  $0
Salary: Up 2.69%
Overall gross income: Up 1.85%

Observations:

I should have written more, but my productivity has been erratic.

Even though my gross income increased, expenses also increased so I’m no better off.
___
*I may update this information later; I’m confident that I’ve had additional stories published but have not yet received my contributor copies. Updated 4/28/13.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

1

I received my 1st acceptance of the year today, from an editor working on New Year's Day.