Monday, December 22, 2014

42

I received my 42nd acceptance of the year this evening, this time for a confession.

41

I received my 41st acceptance of the year late this afternoon, surpassing last year's 40 acceptances with several days left in the year to nudge the total up another acceptance or two.

Published

My erotic crime fiction story "Mutable Memories" appears in the anthology Men of the Manor, which was published in October, though my copies didn't arrive until today.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Reviewed

Lirtle reviews Men of the Manor at Prism Book Alliance and has this to say about "Mutable Memories," my contribution to the anthology:
This is raunchy and irreverent and I love it. Young men all around, behaving like the free sexual beings they’re fortunate enough to be able to express themselves as, thanks to the lives they lead. This is rife with straight-faced tongue-in-cheek humor. This definitely qualifies as more Downton Abbey erotica for your dining pleasure. Enjoy it. I know I did. This is another author of which I want to read more of his work. And the title, yeah, it fits. Nicely plotted short story. 
4.25 stars
Read the entire review here.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

40

I received my 40th acceptance of the year today, this time for a story I submitted to an anthology in May 2013.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Fifty-three

I finished and submitted my fifty-third short story of the year this evening. This one's a 4,600-word confession I started writing February 1, 2009. Until I picked it up again a few weeks ago, all I had written was the opening scene.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Interviewed

I'm interviewed today on the Boo Books blog about "Little Spring," my contribution to the anthology Haunted, which they released last month. Read the interview here: http://boobooks.net/boo-blog/.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Fifty-two

I finished and submitted my fifty-second short story of the year this evening. This one's a 5,000-word private eye story.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Published 3x

"My Quirky & Strange Son" appears in the January True Story, "The End of the Year" appears in the January True Confessions, and "High-Rise Hook-Up" appears in the just-published anthology Hired Hands.

Friday, November 21, 2014

39

I received my 39th acceptance of the year this afternoon, this time for a 3,000-word confession.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fifty-one

I finished and submitted my fifty-first short story of the year this evening. This one's a 3,300-word confession.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fifty

I completed and submitted my fiftieth short story of the year a few minutes ago. This one's a 10,000-word private eye story, the longest non-novel story I've completed since I began tracking word counts in 2009.

This one was written by invitation, but I have concerns about it. While I'm confident I've written a good story, I think it's a little left of the bull's eye upon rereading the submission guidelines. Luckily, there's time to write a new story if necessary.

So, fingers crossed and all that.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Forty-Nine

I finished and submitted my forty-ninth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 4,600-word confession.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The seeds of "Seed"

Today on Charlotte Howard's blog I have a guest post about the three elements that came together when I wrote "Seed,"  my contribution to the anthology Fifty Shades of Green. Following my post is an excerpt from the story. Read "The Seeds of 'Seed'" here.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Forty-eight

I finished my forty-eighth short story of the year this evening, a 1,700-word Valentine's Day story.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

38

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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Seed" excerpt

An excerpt of my story "Seed" accompanies "Dirty Hands, Dirty Minds," a guest post by the Fifty Shades of Green anthology publisher Sandra Knauf at Erotica for All. Read it here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pre-order Haunted

Haunted, a limited-edition hardcover anthology containing my story "Little Spring," is available for pre-order at http://boobooks.net/bookshop/haunted-pre-order/. The anthology is being published by Boo Books in England--official release date November 12--and I don't know if shipment to addresses outside the U.K. is an option.


Published 3x

My story "Under the Tree" appears in the December True Confessions and my stories "The Feast of Faith" and "Dad's Sexy Main Squeeze" appear in the December True Story.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

37

I received my 37th acceptance of the year a few minutes ago. This one's for a 6,300-word confession.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Unexpected consequences

One unexpected consequence of using a new email program on a new computer after my old computer became unreliable is that I have unsubscribed from many email lists.

On the G5 I had established various rules that moved certain newsletters to one inbox and email from certain sources to another inbox and so on. Over several years, I had created dozens of rules to filter and sort my incoming email. Some of those emails I had either stopped reading or only scanned on a sporadic basis.

Because I have not yet established any rules to filter and sort incoming emails, I have realized how many non-spam but also non-essential emails I'd been receiving. Now, as I receive each daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and sporadic email from all the mailing lists I had joined, I examine each one closely to determine why I subscribed (or if someone else subscribed me, the dirty rat!) and if being only the mailing list still holds value. Alas, many of them no longer do. So, I've unsubscribed from more than a dozen mailing lists during the past week and suspect there are several more unsubscriptions to come.

Eliminating unnecessary email means I should have fewer distractions when I'm at the computer. With luck, that will translate into increased productivity.

We'll see.

Forty-seven

I finished and submitted my forty-seventh short story of the year this morning. This one's a 2,000-word confession.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Forty-six

I finished and submitted my forty-sixth short story of the year a few minutes ago, a 5,200-word confession. On Columbus Day, using notes from February 2011, I wrote the bulk of the story. My computer bit the big one the following day, and only yesterday was I able to begin writing again. I completed the full draft yesterday evening and this afternoon gave it a final edit before submitting it.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Forty-five

I finished and submitted my forty-fifth story of the year a few minutes ago. This one's a 3,100-word confession that I had completed before the computer debacle and had only to do a final proofreading pass before sending it along.

The end of life as I know it

Two Fridays ago, my primary computer--a Macintosh G5 that has been a true workhouse ever since I purchased it in May 2005--died. It failed to boot up. I knew I would some day need to upgrade and had purchased an iMac last December with the intent of slowly porting everything over to the new computer. Of course, I'd transferred very little to the iMac.

I took the G5 to Best Buy where a member of the Geek Squad found nothing wrong. My computer booted up every time he tried. He suggested a thorough cleaning--I live in a house with cats and dogs and the inside of the G5 was a dusty, hairy mess--which I did with two cans of compressed air once I returned home.

The G5 worked fine all weekend--a three day weekend, and Columbus Day turned out to be one of my best writing days in several months--but refused to boot up again Tuesday morning.

I had backed up all my writing files as soon as the computer booted up Friday evening but had not backed up anything I had done during the three-day weekend. I had also never backed up all the other files on the G5, which ranged from my accounting software to editing projects for clients to personal photos. I knew then that I had no choice but to port everything over to the iMac if I could ever bring the G5 back to life.

Many hours of sleuthing on the web led me to several possible reasons for my G5's demise and potential solutions to resurrecting it. I brought it back to life--several times, much like using a defibrillator on a heart patient--and have copied from it all, or nearly all, of my important files.

Unfortunately, I have also been forced to upgrade software because what I was using was so old that it would not, or was unlikely to, run on the iMac.

So, in addition to the unplanned expense of purchasing new software, I've also consumed a great deal of time installing, configuring, and attempting to learn how to operate it.

This could have been an absolute disaster. As it is, it's mostly a serious irritation. I have not written anything since last Monday and I've done only a negligible amount of work for one of my key editing clients during this ordeal, which means I'll have to work extra-hard to catch up once I have all my software in order.

The biggest unresolved irritation is that I have found no way to port the contact list from my old email software to my new email software. So, it could be quite some time before I rebuild that list. I may have to wait until people contact me so that I can add them to the list and, thus, continue whatever level of communication we'd had before.

I'm certain there are many lessons to be learned here, especially about the value of regular system backups--an external drive for backing up the iMac is the next purchase on my list--but I'm too close to the action right now to know what they all are.

And maybe soon I can return to work, secure in the knowledge that I've weathered a storm.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Forty-Four

I finished and submitted my forty-fourth story of the year. This one's a 3,000-word confession.

Monday, October 06, 2014

36

I received my 36th acceptance of the year a few minutes ago. This one's for a bit of pulpish crime fiction.

35

I received my 35th acceptance of the year today, this time for a ghost story that will be included in an anthology of ghost stories published in England.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

When writing takes a left turn

I write short fiction in many genres, and I often know before I commit the first word to the page in which genre a new story will fit. On the few occasions when I don't know before I begin writing, I know before I've completed the first page. Every so often, though, a story takes a left turn on me.

I often write just enough of a story--a few hundred to a few thousand words--to know where a story is headed, and then set it aside if it is seasonally inappropriate or if there is no market for it. An example would be the setting aside of a Christmas story in January, when it is far too soon to submit, in favor of working on an April Fool's Day story or a Mother's Day story.

When I return to work on the set-aside stories, I can usually pick up where I left off and finish them as originally intended, and that was my intent with a story I recently finished.

I had written the first 1,500 words of a confession about a woman who discovers that her deceased father had a long-term relationship with a woman who wasn't her mother, and my intent was to have the first-person narrator learn that she had a half-sister that she'd never known.

When I resumed work on the partially written story, I realized the narrator's father's secret was much deeper and darker than an affair and a second child. As I continued writing, my confession became a mystery, and, by the time I finished a complete draft, I had a great story poorly told.

I had to work my way through the initial draft to ensure that all of the clues fell into place properly, that the confession style of the first third was rewritten to conform to the mystery style of the last two-thirds, and I had to research some historical information to ensure that what I claimed happened in the story either did or, at least, could have happened when I said it did.

The finished story doesn't much resemble its confession rootstock, but it does retain two key elements of confession: The story is written in first-person by a female narrator.

The story is now sitting in the electronic slush pile of a mystery magazine, and I'm eager to learn if my letting the story take a left turn was a trip worth taking.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

34

I received my 34th acceptance of the year this evening, this time for a confession.

Forty-three

I finished and submitted my forty-third short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 4,100-word mystery.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Published

My story "I Tried to Help" appears in the November issue of True Confessions.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

32, 33

I received my 32nd and 33rd acceptances of the year this evening, both for confessions.

Forty-two

I finished and submitted my forty-second short story of the year this evening. This one's a 5,700-word confession.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Published

My erotic romance "Homecoming" appears in the anthology Rookies. Though the anthology was released in July, my copies didn't arrive until this afternoon.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Published 4x

Today's mail brought two anthologies and a magazine, all containing my stories.

"Dancehall Cowboy" and "The Hoarder at Halloween" appear in the October True Confessions.

My erotic romance "Soaring" appears in the anthology Active Duty.

And my erotic gardening story "Seed," mentioned earlier when it was released as a stand-alone story for Kindle, appears in the anthology Fifty Shades of Green.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Forty-one

I finished and submitted my forty-first short story of the year, a 2,700-word confession I started writing in July 2005.

Monday, August 25, 2014

31

I received my 31st acceptance of the year today. This one's for the essay I submitted Saturday.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Essay

I completed and submitted a short essay today. I don't count and track these the way I do short stories, but I think it's my second of the year.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Forty

I finished and submitted my fortieth short story of the year this evening, a 3,800-word confession.

Last year I was not as productive as I strive to be, only producing forty short stories the entire year. With this story I have matched last year's total output, and I've exceeded last year's total word count by 500 words.

My goal each year is to receive 52 acceptances (an average of one each week), and most years I have to produce slightly more than 52 stories to achieve that goal. As August winds down, I seem to be on track with both production and sales.

Published

My story "Becoming a Survivor" appears in the October issue of True Story.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

29

Another acceptance arrived a few minutes ago, my 29th of the year.

27, 28

I woke this morning to find two acceptances awaiting me, both for an erotica anthology to be published in England.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Published

My short romance "The Thief of Hearts" appears in the August 21 issue of the Australian magazine That's Life! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Published

My story "Moon Doggie and the Nightsurfers at Hammerhead Beach," an erotic story about gay surfing vampires, appears in the just-published anthology Until the Sun Rises.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Published

My story "Seed," scheduled for publication in the anthology Fifty Shades of Green, has been released as a stand-alone short story for Kindle. Check it out here.

Thirty-nine

I finished and submitted my thirty-ninth short story this morning, a 2,400-word bit of crime fiction.

I met an editor at ArmadilloCon a few weeks ago and he asked if I'd send something his direction. This story is the result.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Thirty-six, thirty-seven, thirty-eight

I finished and submitted my thirty-sixth, thirty-seventh, and thirty-eighth stories of the year this evening. All were Christmas confessions.

26

I received my 26th acceptance of the year this morning, this time for a confession.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Radio Interview

Yesterday, I was interviewed on a radio program. The interview was recorded and is now available here:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/attunemagazineradio/2014/07/31/personal-empowerment-with-michael-bracken

I've not yet listened to it, so I've no idea how well I did, but it certainly was fun.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

25

I received my 25th acceptance of the year this morning. An Australian women's magazine accepted a short romance I wrote back in 2009.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Published 2x

My story "Hot for the Teacher" appears in the September True Confessions, and my story "Resisting Temptation" appears in the September True Story.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

24

I received my 24th acceptance of the year this morning while I was still at ArmadilloCon. Announcing a sale that very morning while introducing myself at an 11 a.m. panel was kinda cool. This one's for a confession.

Friday, July 25, 2014

23

I received my 23rd acceptance of the year today. This one's for a bit of hardboiled crime fiction.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Reviewed

Lucy at Hearts on Fire reviews Active Duty and has this to say about my contribution to the anthology:
"Soaring – Michael Bracken Rated 4.5 Probably my favorite of the anthology and one of the sweetest. Wedding! This one is sweet and light. I loved that it begins with their wedding, gives insight on their courtship (a bookstore where he’s reading gay mystery anthology, awesome!) and then ends with their honeymoon. It was lovely."
Read the entire review here.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Saturday, July 19, 2014

21

I received my 21st acceptance of the year this evening, this time for a confession.

Convention appearance

I’ll be at ArmadilloCon in Austin, Texas, this weekend (July 25-27), participating in three panels about writing:

Sa1000E Watch Out for that Plothole!
Sat 10:00 AM-11:00 AM
Our panelists give you tips and advice on fixing the plotholes in your works.

Sa1400F Before You Edit
Sat 2:00 PM-3:00 PM
This is a discussion of minor edits you can make before you really dig in. Find/Replace is your friend.

Su1100F Overhauling a Character
Sun 11:00 AM-Noon
Now that you have written a book, go back and rewrite your main character.

If you’re there, say howdy.

For more info about the convention, visit http://www.armadillocon.org/

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Guest post

My guest post at The Novel Approach, "How 'Soaring' Took Off," discusses how I came to write "Soaring" for Active Duty and includes an except from the beginning of the story.

If you leave a reply to my guest post, you will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Active Duty.

Reviewed

Brandilyn reviews Active Duty at Prism Book Alliance and has this to say about "Soaring," my contribution to the anthology:
"Soaring is the story of a wedding made possible because of the repeal of DADT. An airman and his banker lover meet under the restrictions of DADT and have to find a way to make their relationship work. We start and end on the wedding day and look at the beginnings of the relationship in between. It was an interesting and sweet tale."
 Read the entire review here.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Thirty-five

I finished and submitted my thirty-fifth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 5,400-word bit of crime fiction.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Upcoming radio interview

At 1 p.m. Eastern time (noon Central time, etc.) Thursday, July 31, I'll be interviewed by Jean Maurie and Maggie Lukowski during their Personal Empowerment program on Attune Magazine Radio. I'll be discussing my writing career with an emphasis on writing confessions. Learn more, and learn how you can hear the program, at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/attunemagazineradio/2014/07/31/personal-empowerment-with-michael-bracken

Friday, July 04, 2014

Thirty-four

I finished and submitted my thirty-fourth story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 3,600-word confession.

Reviewed

Kristy at 3 Chicks After Dark reviewed Active Duty and had this to say about "Soaring," my contribution to the anthology:
Captain Hunter and Scott began their relationship when it was not safe for Captain Hunter to be out and proud. His career was on the line and he wasn’t willing to give it up so close to retirement. After a stolen weekend together they knew they had something special. Captain Hunter just couldn’t take the chance and walks away. The distance doesn’t last long and finally they both agree to hide their love and be very discreet. The short story is their wedding day! They didn’t waste any time tying the knot and declaring their love once they could with the repeal of DADT! The end is so sweet it will leave you verklempt! Husband, my husband?!
Read the entire review here.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

20

I received my 20th acceptance of the year today, for one of the stories I mentioned in yesterday's post.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Like a virgin

"Submit it and forget it" was one of the best pieces of advice I received as a beginning writer, and, though it was difficult to do in the beginning when I only had a handful of manuscripts floating around, it became easier as time went on. When I had dozens of manuscripts under submission I could barely remember them all and, later, when I improved both my writing skill and my marketing abilities, I didn't fret much because nearly everything sold on first or second submission.

For the past several years I have been writing most of my short stories on assignment, on invitation, or for markets where I've already placed multiple stories. Life has been good.

On the other hand, it had been a long time since I wrote anything just for me or that really stretched my abilities in some way. At the beginning of the year, I decided to change that.

In an earlier post, I described how I've been triple-tracking my writing. During the first writing session of the day, I write stories for a pair of magazines that have published one or more of my stories each month for a bloody long time. During my second writing session of the day, I write stories in a genre where I've had long-term success, and much of what I write is sent to a handful of anthology editors who have each published several of my stories.  During my third writing session of the day I work on stretch-stories or just-for-me-stories.

One unexpected outcome from this is that I've created a few stories for markets to which I've never previously sold and a few stories for which I had no specific market in mind during the writing. So, like a beginning writer, I'm following the time-tested, time-proven theory of submitting to the best market and working my way down until I receive an acceptance or run out of places to submit.

An even more unexpected outcome is that, despite having more than three-dozen manuscripts under submission, I am acutely aware of only a few. I find myself unable to "submit and forget" them, which causes this:

The editor of one anthology, an editor to whom I had never previously submitted, mentioned in her blog that she had made decisions on all submissions and would be notifying writers this week. It's Wednesday already and I haven't heard a thing. Is that good news or bad?

A fellow writer mentioned in a Yahoo group that she had received a polite rejection from the top magazine in that genre after only three weeks. My story's been there five weeks already. Is that good news or bad?

I'm nervous and tingly all over, just as I was back in the day when I was sending out my first few manuscripts.

It's nice to know that I'm not really the jaded old writer I thought I had become and that I can still feel like a virgin writer submitting for the very first time.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Thirty-three

I finished and submitted my thirty-third short story of the year this evening. This one's a 2,500-word erotic story.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Published 2x

My story "Duped By a Con Man" appears in the August True Confessions, and my story "Trapped By a Tornado" appears in the August True Story.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Thirty-two

I finished and submitted my thirty-second short story of the year, a 5,300-word confession.

Monday, June 16, 2014

19

I received my 19th acceptance of the year this afternoon, this time for a confession.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

18

I received my 18th acceptance of the year this morning. This one's for a confession.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Thirty-one

I finished and submitted my thirty-first short story this morning. It's a 3,400-word confession.

Monday, June 02, 2014

17

I received my 17th acceptance of the year this morning, this time for a confession.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Thirty

Earlier today I finished, but I have not yet submitted, my thirtieth short story of the year. This one's 5,200 words and might be generally classified as a ghost story. I've not done this in a long, long time, but I wrote this story with no particular market in mind, and now I have no idea where to submit it.

Too many ideas, not enough time

There isn't enough time to write every story I want to write. I have several hundred stories-in-progress and each day I seem to add to the list. In an effort to become more efficient without quashing my flow of ideas, I recently reviewed many of my stories-in-progress, with an emphasis on confessions.

I found 52 confessions that I felt I could finish without undue stress. In each case I had written at least 1,000 words or had written a rough plot outline. Now, when I sit down each morning to write confessions, I select a story from the list and work on it until it is complete rather than bounce from story-to-story as I often used to do. Confessions are written for a specific market, so I know where to submit each one as I complete it, and I've already completed and submitted five of the stories on the list.

I also found three stories that have no specific known market--a noir story, a ghost story, and a fantasy--and I've been doing the same thing with this much-shorter list during my evening writing sessions. I've finished the noir story, am about to complete the ghost story, and will work on the fantasy next.

Most of the erotica I write during my mid-day writing session is written for specific projects, so I don't have a list of stories-in-progress that I dip into. Rather, I write erotica based on the due date of whichever anthology is up next.

So, now, when I sit down to write--regardless of which of the day's three writing sessions it happens to be--I know what I'm going to work on. This has eliminated a lot of fumbling around and helped to increase my productivity.

At the same time, I keep myself open to new story ideas. I jot them down whenever I have them, but I only jot down enough to remind me what I hoped to write. Then I return to the work-in-progress.

At some point, I'll have to create new lists to work from, and that's a good thing because it means I've finished writing everything on the existing lists.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Twenty-nine

I finished and submitted my twenty-ninth short story of the year a few minutes ago. This story is a 4,200-word bit of noirish crime fiction.

Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!

Brian Thornton provides some great advice to writers about social media in "How Not to Be the Guy Biting the Heads Off of Chickens in the (Virtual) Carnival Sideshow," his post today at SleuthSayers. (And, yes, he mentions me.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

11 years and counting

Effective with the just-published July issues of True Confessions and True Story magazines, I have had one or more short stories published each and every month for 132 consecutive months. That's 11 years.

While I know a handful of short story writers who are at least as productive as I am, I don't know any living short story writers who have been published in as many consecutive months as I have.

Published 3x

My stories "Safe at Home" and "Seeing Double" appear in the July True Confessions, and my story "Desperate for Fireworks" appears in the July True Story.

Friday, May 23, 2014

16

I received my 16th acceptance of the year this morning, this time for a confession.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Twenty-eight

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

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Twenty-seven

I finished and submitted my twenty-seventh short story of the year a few minutes ago. This one's a 2,500-word erotic romance.

Twenty-six

I finished and submitted my twenty-sixth short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 3,800-word erotic Viking romance. This was a third-track challenge story, and my challenge was to successfully write a story set in a time period about which I knew little. I spent quite a bit of time doing research for this story--for the Viking parts, not for the erotic or romance parts--and now need to determine what I want my next challenge story to be.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Writing fiction

"Writing fiction is, in many ways, like a religion. It is a daily practice, a way of life, a set of rituals, an orientation toward the universe. It is a communion with the intangible, a bridge between the finite and infinite. There’s a reason religions use stories to communicate, and it’s the same reason religions persecute storytellers: Stories are powerful. They are how we make sense of what cannot be known."
--Mohsin Hamid
The New York Times Sunday Book Review

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Twenty-five

I finished and submitted my twenty-fifth short story of the year this evening, a 3,600-erotic romance written in response to an anthology's open call.

I violated my triple-tracking system to write this story, but couldn't have finished it in time otherwise. I don't know how long the open call has been out, but I've had a printout of it on my desk for at least a month and the deadline is May 15. Each time I looked at the open call, I knew I wanted to write a story. Unfortunately, no idea came to me.

Tuesday afternoon I thought I had an idea, but two paragraphs into it I realized I had an opening but no story. Then another idea came to me, one that arrived with an opening and a rough plot.

I made some notes. That afternoon I started writing. Client work and social engagements interrupted my writing plans, but I wrote feverishly during the bits of time I had Tuesday afternoon, late Tuesday night, this morning, and this afternoon. I completed a full draft this afternoon and, after returning home this evening, I edited the draft, proofread the manuscript after entering all the editing changes, and emailed it to the editor on the eve of the deadline.

Tomorrow I'll return to triple-tracking and pick up where I left off on the stories in each track.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Twenty-four

I finished and submitted my twenty-fourth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 2,400-word bit of magical realism that blends erotica with gardening.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Twenty-two, Twenty-three

I finished and submitted my twenty-second and twenty-third short stories of the year this evening. Both confessions, one is 2,400 words and the other is 3,200 words.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Write different

I have been writing fiction for more than 40 years and writing it professionally for at least 35. Over time I have developed several writing habits--some good and some not--that impact everything from what I write to how I write to when I write.

For a variety of reasons, not all of them related to the actual process, my productivity dropped a few years ago and, for each of the past few years, I've missed my target of producing at least 52 short stories per year.

Earlier this year I made some changes to what, how, and when I write. I wrote about some of the changes in a January 18 blog post, but I have made several additional changes since then.

The most interesting change wasn't one I made on purpose, but it has become a significant reason for a dramatic uptick in productivity. I've started triple-tracking.

During a typical weekday, I have three periods of time I can devote to writing fiction: First thing in the morning, late afternoon/early evening after I finish with work for clients, and mid-/late evening.

Though I did not initially set out to do this, I found myself using each track differently and realized that it had brought new vigor to my writing.

Track One

Each morning I have 30-60 minutes between waking and leaving the house that I can devote to writing. I use this time to write confessions, a genre I have been writing in for much of my career and in which I sell approximately two stories each month.

I have been writing confessions for so long that I know the three basic story types, the chatting-with-friends conversational style, and the must-do/must-not-do elements without any deep thought. Though I still must envision a suitable narrative hook and appropriate plot, once I do, these stories roll off my fingertips.

For me, the ideal length of a confession is 3,500 words and if I write 300+ words each weekday morning, I can finish a new confession approximately every two weeks.

This I've been doing.

Track Two

When I return home each afternoon, I have time before--and sometimes after--dinner when I can again write. Because I had been invited to contribute to some erotica anthologies, I initially spent this time, and have continued to spend this time, writing erotica.

Erotica is another genre in which I've been writing for much of my career and, though the style can vary significantly depending on editorial requirements, the essence of an erotic story remains the same: get the protagonist in a sexual situation.

Erotica is also open to cross-genre stories, so I write erotica, erotic romance, erotic horror, erotic crime fiction, and so on. Incorporating cross-genre elements sometimes means these stories don't always flow from my fingertips as easily as confessions, but I can still produce 300+ words each weekday, and can complete a new erotic story approximately every two weeks.

Track Three

Mid-/late evening, usually after a dinner break or after watching one of the few television programs I still follow, I switch gears and work on what I've been calling my challenge stories. These are stories that require something different from me.

For example, I might work on a story that has no known market, a story that requires extensive research, a story in a genre in which I've not previously or only rarely written, or a story in which the actual process is unlike my usual approach.

For example, I'm not usually a detailed plotter, but I wrote one story that I had completely plotted using the "Save the Cat!" beat sheet before I wrote a single word of the story. I wrote one that required me to research Puerto Vallarta (which I had visited years before to speak at a writing conference). I wrote a fairy tale, which involved extensive research into what made a story a fairy tale and not just fantasy, and then had to plot extensively to ensure that I incorporated all the elements into the story. I'm currently working on a story that has involved extensive research into the daily lives of Vikings, and I've been tinkering with a ghost story I started several years ago that has no known market.

I'm not setting myself productivity goals with my challenge stories because my goal isn't to produce a certain number of them. My goal is to find new ways to write that--if successful--I may be able to incorporate into my writing routine.

Weekends

Weekends are not as structured as weekdays, so they have become productivity free-for-alls. If I have a story from any track that's almost finished, I may concentrate my efforts on that story. If I have a complete draft of a story written earlier in the week, I may use time during the weekend to edit and/or proofread the story prior to submission. If I'm working on a story that requires extensive research, I may spend time during the weekend doing that research.

Result

My productivity is on the rise. I have produced more than one story each week since the beginning of the year, and I have several stories lined up to write in all three tracks to avoid lag time in any track.

How long I will continue triple-tracking, I don't know. For now, though, it's really helped increase my fiction productivity.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

14, 15

I received my 14th and 15th acceptances of the year this evening, this time for a pair of confessions.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Published 3x

My story "Chasing Love" appears in the June True Confessions and my stories "Pregnant on Father's Day and "Prom Rescue" appear in the June True Story.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Twenty-one

I finished and submitted my twenty-first short story of the year this evening. This one's a 2,500-word bit of erotica.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Twenty

This has been quite a productive weekend. I finished and submitted my twentieth short story of the year a few minutes ago. This one's a 3,000-word bit of erotica.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Nineteen

I finished and submitted my nineteenth short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 2,000-word Halloween confession.

Eighteen

I finished and submitted my eighteenth short story of the year this morning. This one's a 5,200-word confession.

Monday, April 21, 2014

13

I received my 13th acceptance of the year this evening, for a 4,200-word confession.

Seventeen

I finished and submitted my seventeenth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 2,500-word bit of erotcia.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Sixteen

I finished and submitted my sixteenth short story of the year. This one's a 2,600-word bit of erotica.

Published

My essay "Eat Fresh" appears in the May/June 2014 issue of Texas Gardener.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fifteen

I finished and submitted my fifteenth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 6,000-word erotic lesbian fairy tale, written to meet the requirements of an anthology's open call for submissions...and because I've never before written a fairy tale.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

12

I received my 12th acceptance of the year this evening, this time for a 5,800-word summer confession.

Fourteen

I finished and submitted my fourteenth short story of the year this morning. This one's a 4,200-word confession I started writing on April 28, 2012.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

11

I received my 11th acceptance this morning. This is for the erotic story I submitted a few days ago.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Thirteen

I finished and submitted my thirteenth story of the year. This one's a 1,700-word erotic romance.

Twelve

I completed and submitted my twelfth short story of the year this morning. This one's a 4,900-word erotic story written for an anthology.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Published 2x

Today I received copies of The Mammoth Book of Urban Erotic Confessions (Running Press), an anthology edited by Barbara Cardy that contains two of my stories.

9, 10

I received my 9th and 10th acceptances of the year this morning. Both were for confessions.

Friday, March 21, 2014

8

I received my 8th acceptance of the year a few minutes ago, this for the brief essay I submitted this afternoon.

Essay

I completed and submitted a 550-word essay this afternoon.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Eleven

I completed and submitted my eleventh short story of the year this evening, a 5,800-word confession.

This is the first story I've written using The Save the Cat! Beat Sheet. I actually outlined the story on January 16, and then I let the outline sit until last week because I don't usually write from tight outlines. I used this outline because it was for a confession set during the summer months and it's time to submit summer confessions.

The final story more-or-less follows the plot I created in January, but I did find myself taking a few liberties as the writing progressed.

Back in January, I outlined two other stories using The Save the Cat! Beat Sheet. At some point in the future, I will probably write those stories, too.

 Will I outline any more stories using The Save the Cat! Beat Sheet? It's too soon to tell.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

"Cowboy Adonis"

I'm one of the contributors to Cowboy Heat, a collection of erotic cowboy romances scheduled for release later this month.

Today I posted a little about my inspiration for the story and a brief except from the beginning of the story at  http://cowboyheat.delilahscollections.com/2014/03/15/cowboy-adonis-by-michael-bracken/.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Reviewed

Michelle at MsRomanticReads reviewed Cowboy Heat and had this to say about "Cowboy Adonis," my contribution to the anthology:
"The shortest story thus far but no less hot. I enjoyed their flirtatious banter and mature confidence."
Read the entire review here.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Ten

I finished and submitted my tenth short story of the year this morning. This one's a 2,200-word bit of crime fiction.

I dictated the entire story on January 26, corrected some formatting problems, printed it out, and let it sit. Today I reread it, made some minor changes, and submitted it.

This is one of the few stories I've dictated start-to-finish. I'm still not comfortable with the process, but will try it again soon with another story.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Nine

I finished and submitted my ninth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 4,700-word confession set in Mexico that I began writing February 28, 2011.

Unlike many of my stories, this one has an origin tale.

I travelled to Mexico to speak at the Puerto Vallarta Writers Conference February 25-27, 2011. I led two workshops, titled "Sin, Suffer, Cash the Checks," about writing and selling confessions. When I lead confession-writing workshops, one of the things we do as a group is to plot several stories.

During the first workshop of the conference, the group plotted a story that I liked so much I told the attendees I would write the story. I finally did, and the end result sticks pretty close to the plot we outlined.


Thursday, March 06, 2014

Nominated

I have stories in two anthologies nominated for Lambda Literary Awards: Richard Labonte's Show-Offs (Cleis Press) and Winston Gieseke's Team Players (Bruno Gmuender).

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Published

My story "All-American Male" appears in the just-published anthology Blowing Off Class.

7

I received my 7th acceptance of the year late this afternoon, this time for a confession.

Monday, March 03, 2014

6

I received my 6th acceptance of the year this evening, this time for an erotic romance story.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Eight

I finished and submitted my eighth story of the year a few minutes ago. This one's a 6,000-word Father's Day story I started February 20, 2013.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Reviewed

Vanessa Clark reviewed Big Man on Campus on her blog and thought "Discovering the Underground," my contribution to the anthology, was "a solid story, not amazing but I did enjoy it." Read the entire review here.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Published 2x

My story "A Knight for a Night" appears in the April True Confessions and my story "Easter Lilies" appears in the April True Story.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Seven

I finished and submitted my seventh short story of the year this evening, a 1,700-word Father's Day story.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

5

I received my 5th acceptance of the year this afternoon, this time for a 4,700-word Mother's Day story.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Six

I finished and submitted my sixth short story of the year this morning. This one's a 5,800-word confession that I began on February 1 after seeing a cowboy sitting alone at at dance hall.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

4

I received my 4th acceptance of the year this evening, this time for a 2,000-word light-hearted confession submitted in December.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Reviewed

V.C. reviewed Nasty Boys and had this to say about "Dicked," my contribution to the anthology:
"This one is an undercover cop story. No surprises really. This one left me underwhelmed for some reason. [...] This story overall was just okay. It didn't wow me."
Read the complete review here.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Published 3x + 1

"Stealing Roses to Save a Friend" appears in the February True Confessions, "I Dumped Him but He Won't Get Out of My Life!" appears in the February True Story, and "The Girl Who Had it All" appears in the March True Story.

My Derringer Award-winning story "Getting Out of the Box," appears in a new edition of Crime Square, edited by Robert J. Randisi. The original publisher went out of business and the anthology has been reprinted by Perfect Crime Books.

Reviewed

My short story "Total Package" is reviewed by N.S. Beranek at her website, and she sums up the story:
"An examination of the loneliness and isolation one feels living in a world built around secrets and silence, the hyper-awareness of people forced to find one another in hostile environs, and the joy inherent in discovering, at last, that you are not as alone as you feared."
Read the entire review here.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Five

I finished but have not submitted by fifth short story of the year. I've been looking for an appropriate market, but haven't found one yet. This is what happens when I write a story without a specific market in mind.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Published

"Dicked," a bit of erotic crime fiction, appears in the anthology Nasty Boys (Cleis Press).

Monday, January 20, 2014

Writing: What we do to get rich

I received a royalty payment today via PayPal from a Canadian publisher for a story published in an anthology: $.82 (Can). After conversion to U.S. currency and after PayPal deducted their fee, my net: $.43.

Sigh.

3

I received my 3rd acceptance of the year this afternoon, this time for an Easter confession.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Write different


My writing process has remained essentially unchanged for many years. How I do what I do has proven reasonably successful. But when does habit become rut?

I've recently attempted to change my process to see if I can improve the process.

I rarely outline my stories prior to writing, and even then my outlines are nothing more than a sentence or two. So, I studied the "Save the Cat!" beat sheet, which is a general outline for successful movies, to see if it could be used to outline short stories.

Though many of the "beats" in "Save the Cat!" match the beats I use instinctively when writing fiction, there are additional beats I can add to flesh out stories. After a few false starts, I've successfully outlined three short stories using every beat in "Save the Cat!"

I have not yet written any of the stories I outlined this way, but it's clear this method can produce valid plots. And, though I have yet to write these specific stories, I have a greater appreciation for and understanding of my own method of plotting.

I have also reached the point where I'm starting to worry about carpal tunnel syndrome, among other things, and desire a less manual method of putting words on paper.

After I had my quadruple bypass surgery in 2008, when I couldn't sit upright for long stretches of time, I purchased dictation software for my computer. I attempted to write stories with it, but found the process cumbersome and frustrating.

Shortly before Christmas I purchased a new computer and installed new dictation software. Two of the four stories I've submitted this year were dictated, one successfully and one not.

The first draft of the first story I dictated was a garbled mess. Though the software usually correctly interpreted what I said--a vast improvement over the software I used in 2008--I attempted to dictate the same way I write.

My process is sometimes chaotic. I may write the first scene and then follow with part of the third scene, jump back to make notes for the second scene, and then write a rough draft of the last scene, jumping back and forth until I've created a full draft. This did not work while dictating and I found scenes out of order and parts of scenes stuck in the middle of other scenes.

The first story required extensive editing prior to submission, and I found myself rewriting entire sections. In short, dictating added work rather than saved it.

On the other hand, my second dictated story was successful. I thought more about the story before I began dictating, I had a better grasp of the plot and the characters in my head before I began, and I was able to dictate each scene in order so that I had little editing or rewriting to do after I had a complete draft.

I suspect studying "Save the Cat!" helped with dictating my second story because I was thinking more about plot prior to dictating than I usually do before I sit down to write.

I doubt I will use "Save the Cat!" to plot all of my stories, and I doubt I will dictate all of my stories from this point forward, but I do know I've added new tools to my writer tool chest and, perhaps, will be a little more productive in the future.

Four

I finished and submitted my fourth short story of the year this morning. This one's a 3,200-word erotic romance I started on January 4.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Life without email

My email provider's server crashed at approximately 1 p.m. yesterday. I have been unable to send or receive email since then. My two biggest clients use the same email provider, so I am unable to use those email accounts.

Life without email, even as short a time as it's been, is interesting. Luckily, I have nothing that I absolutely must send. On the other hand, I have several submissions under consideration and am expecting responses this month.

If an editor sends an email that bounces, will they bother to pick up the telephone? Past experience says they won't, even though my telephone number is on every manuscript I send. So, I'm left wondering: am I missing sales?

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

2

I received my 2nd acceptance of the year this evening, this time for an erotic romance I submitted last January and revised at the editor's request last February.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Three

I finished and submitted my third short story of the year this evening. This one's a bit of erotic crime fiction that I started yesterday in response to an anthology's call for submissions.

1

I received my 1st acceptance of the year this afternoon, this for an erotic romance submitted to an anthology back in July.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Two

I completed and submitted my second short story of the year this morning. This one's a 4,700-word confession I started in January 2012.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

One

I completed and submitted my first short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 3,700-word Easter story I started in November 2009.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

2013 in review


41 acceptances (vs. 63 in 2012)

8 rejections (vs. 25 in 2012)

45 short stories published* (vs. 66 in 2012), 0 articles/essays published (vs. 0 in 2012)

I completed 40 short stories (vs. 46 in 2012).

I completed (to final draft) 142,500 words of short fiction (vs. 150,500 in 2012).

That's an average story length of 3,563 words (vs. an average of 3,272); the shortest story was 600 words, the longest was 6,200 words.

I completed and submitted an average of .77 of a short story each week (vs. an average of .88 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 1.55%
Fiction (not novels): Down 3.3%
Non-Fiction (not books): $0
Royalties from Fiction (from traditionally published and, beginning in 2010, from self-published work): Down 61.47%%
Royalties from Non-Fiction: Up 13.14%
Seminars/Teaching/Tutoring:  Up from $0
Salary: Up 1.31%
Overall gross income: Down .75%

Observations:

My short story productivity has diminished for the second year in a row and is the lowest it's been for the five years I've been tracking it.

I continue to sell more than I write, which in past years has been thanks to a large number of previously written stories finding homes. That stockpile is rapidly diminishing. This year I've sold more than I've written thanks to placement of a few reprints.

My fiction income, though down, was an insignificant change. My income from royalties, however, was significant and attributable primarily to diminished sales of self-published material offered through Amazon. The majority of this material is reprints for which I have previously been paid so any extra it earns is icing on the cake. Even so, that sales dropped so far is disheartening. (I'll explore this more later in the year after I have my December reports from Amazon.)
___
*Updated 1/21/14. I may update this information later; I may have had additional stories published but have not yet received my contributor copies.