Thursday, December 31, 2015

Published 4x

My stories "Mistaken Identity: Will this Ruin Valentine's Day?" and "A Blind Date: Can This be Real Love?" appear in the February True Confessions; "Mardi Gras Mistakes: Regret in the Bayou" appears in the February True Story; and "Writing Dialog," mentioned earlier today, appears in the January WritersTalk.

Forty-one

I finished writing my forty-first short story of the year this evening. It's a 3,800-word confession I started writing on January 15, 2007. I'll submit it tomorrow. Right now, I plan to celebrate the coming of the New Year.

"Writing Dialog"

A few years back I wrote "Writing Dialog," a lesson in writing dialog written as a short romance. I don't think many people saw it, but "Writing Dialog" has been reprinted in the January issue of WritersTalk, the newsletter of the South Bay Writers Club. You can read it on page 6:

http://southbaywriters.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/SmallJan2016WT.pdf

Forty

I completed and submitted my fortieth short story of the year a few minutes ago. I started writing this story February 24, 2010 and, because it doesn't fit neatly into any specific genre, I'm referring to it as an alternative history mystery.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

41

I received my 41st acceptance of the year this afternoon.

Apparently, another writer failed to return a contract in time and the editor needed something at the last minute to fill the hole. Luckily, I had a story that was the right length waiting in the slush pile.

Of course, I signed and returned the contract immediately.

Thirty-nine

I finished and submitted my thirty-ninth short story of the year this morning. This one's a 3,100-word confession I started writing September 19, 2009.

40

I received my 40th acceptance of the year this morning, this time for an erotic mystery.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Thirty-eight

I finished and submitted my thirty-eighth short story of the year this morning. This one's a 2,000-word confession I started writing December 11, 2012.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

38, 39

I received my 38th and 39th acceptances this evening. Both stories are confessions.

Thirty-seven

I finished and submitted my thirty-seventh story of the year. This one's a 4,500-word confession I began writing on May 24 of this year.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Thirty-six

I finished and submitted my thirty-sixth short story of the year this morning. This one's another confession, started November 25, 2010.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Thirty-five

I completed and submitted my thirty-fifth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 3,100-word confession I started writing August 4, 2013.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Thirty-four

I finished and submitted my thirty-fourth story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 4,400-word confession I started October 27, 2011.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Will it go 'round in circles? Uh-huh!

Many years ago, when I was in my early 20s, one of my first expensive purchases was a component stereo system from JCPenny that included a receiver, turntable and cassette tape player. During subsequent decades, the receiver failed and was replaced, two different CD players were added, and I blew out of one the original speakers. (I later blew out one of the replacement speakers and now have a mismatched set. Alas, the remaining original speaker now needs to be replaced.)

For the past ten years or so, the system had been stored in a bedroom closet, in part because the turntable belt had broken and I had a small self-contained CD player I could use to listen to music. My LPs, 45s, and cassette tapes were also hidden away because without the stereo I had no way to play them.

A few years back I attempted to purchase a new belt for the turntable, and either purchased the wrong one or installed it incorrectly because the turntable still didn't work. I shoved the stereo system back into the closet.

My recent move resurrected the system and there is a place in my new office where it fits perfectly. So, I once again went in search of a new belt for the turntable. This attempt was a success, and I've since been listening to LPs I had forgotten I owned. (For example: That's Freddie Bell and the Bellboys playing in the picture. Remember them? Neither do I.)

There's an entirely different vibe in my office when LPs are on the turntable than when CDs are playing. I'm wondering what it'll be like after I've worked my way through all the albums and 45s and start playing my cassette tapes.

36, 37

I received my 36th and 37th acceptances this morning, these for a pair of Valentine's Day romances.

Friday, December 04, 2015

35

I received my 35th acceptance of the year this morning, this time for a romance I wrote in 2012.

Published 2x

"Taking Down the Lights" appears in the January issue of True Story, and "Missed Kiss at Midnight" appears in the January True Confessions.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Workshop covered in newsletter

WritersTalk, the newsletter of the South Bay Writers Club, includes "Building Saleable Short Fiction," Chess Desalls' front-page article about my recent seminar "Write Short Fiction for Fun & Profit." If you flip to the end of the article on page 6, you'll find a photograph of me standing with Andrew MacRae, Darkhouse Books editor/publisher. See for yourself at http://southbaywriters.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Small.Dec2015WT.pdf.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Sunday, November 29, 2015

34

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

Sunday, November 22, 2015

33

I received my 33rd acceptance of the year this afternoon. This one's for a reprint.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Do you know the way to San Jose?

I spent Saturday in San Jose, Calif., leading "Write Short Fiction for Fun & Profit," a one-day writing workshop for South Bay Writers, a branch of the California Writers Club. Not everyone had arrived yet when I took the somewhat blurry photograph of the venue from my position behind the podium.

Though I didn't have a chance to count the number of attendees, there were 36 pre-registered, a handful of walk-ins, and the organizers, so I'm guessing about 44 writers participated.

We worked our way through plotting, characterization, description and dialog, and wrapped up the day with random writing tips, a discussion of copyright, and a participant-driven Q-and-A.

Andrew MacRae, editor/publisher of Darkhouse Books, provided a copy of And All Our Yesterdays, an anthology containing my story "Beneath Still Waters," and a coffee mug with the anthology cover printed on it as door prizes. He joined us toward the end of the day with calls for submissions for two anthologies he's currently working on, so participants learned the basics of writing short stories and met an editor actively seeking stories to publish.

Brian Evankovich, whose first story I published in Fedora II and who now writes as Brian Drake, was one of the participants. Also participating was Madeline McEwen, a writer I know from the Short Mystery Fiction Society. Dick Yaeger first contacted me about leading the workshop, Vice-President Jenni Everidge negotiated the details with me, and she, President Patrick McQueen, and his wife Jennifer welcomed me at the airport the evening before the workshop.

I had a chance to speak with all—or nearly all—of the participants one-on-one before, after, or during the lunch break, and I wish I could remember all of their names so I could list them here.

I hope the participants enjoyed themselves and learned something about writing short fiction.

I certainly enjoyed myself, and I look forward to the next time I have the opportunity to lead a writing workshop.




Monday, November 09, 2015

Thirty-three

I finished and submitted my thirty-third short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 2,900-word Valentine's Day story I started writing February 15, 2011.

Unaccepted

Last year I had a story accepted by a new publication, and I was looking forward to its publication this year. Unfortunately, earlier this afternoon I learned from the editor that the magazine didn't survive past its first issue. Sigh. Sometimes I think an unacceptance is worse than a rejection.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Published 2x

"Scratch-Off Christmas" appears in the December True Confessions and "Drunk at Christmas" appears in the December True Story.

Friday, October 30, 2015

31, 32

I received my 31st and 32nd acceptances today, for a 2,100-word confession and for a 3,300-word confession.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Thirty-two

I finished and submitted my thirty-second story of the year this evening. This one's a 2,400-word confession I started writing February 19, 2012.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Thirty-one

I finished and submitted my thirty-first short story this afternoon. Though I started this 2,900-word confession on January 17, 2014, it's the first story I've completed in my new office.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Friday, October 16, 2015

Write Short Fiction for Fun & Profit

I will be presenting "Write Short Fiction for Fun & Profit," a one-day, hands-on workshop, in San Jose, California, from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 14, 2015. Registration fee ranges from a low of $30 to a high of $80.

More information and registration information is here: http://southbaywriters.com/wordpress/.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Thirty

I finished and submitted my thirtieth short story this evening. This one's a 3,300-word confession I started writing December 19, 2013.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Published 2x

"Trapped at Thanksgiving" appears in the November True Confessions, and "Our Cheesy Relationship" appears in the November True Story.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Twenty-nine

I completed and submitted my twenty-ninth short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 2,100-word relationship story that begins at midnight on New Year's Eve.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Saturday, September 19, 2015

30

I received my 30th acceptance of the year this morning, this time for a 3,700-word Christmas story.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Reviewed

Brian Bromberger reviewed Take This Man: Gay Romance Stories for The Bay Area Reporter and had this to say about my contribution to the anthology:
"A few tales have special appeal, acknowledging that maintaining a long-term partnership involves hard work and compromise. I especially enjoyed Michael Bracken's 'Blue Heart,' about the evolving relationship of two undergraduates who met at the University of Texas in 2001, and how a gray chest hair sparks old memories."
Read the entire review here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

29

I just received my 29th acceptance of the year. This one's for a 3,800-word erotic viking story.

28

I received my 28th acceptance of the year this afternoon, this time for a 5,900-word Christmas story.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

27

I received my 27th acceptance of the year this evening, this time for a 3,000-word mystery.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Overheard while shopping

Mother and son. Mom says, "What's that?"

Son: "A pen."

"What do you do with it?"

"Write."

Friday, August 28, 2015

Published 2x

"A Shelter Dog's Love" appears in the October True Confessions and "Halloween Hookup" appears in the October True Story.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Twenty-eight

I finished and submitted my twenty-eighth short story this evening. This one's a 3,700-word Christmas story I started writing August 26, 2013.

Friday, August 21, 2015

26

I received my 26th acceptance of the year this morning, this time for a 3,300-word mystery. This is my first acceptance from a publication that has long been on my bucket list of sell-to publications.

Monday, August 17, 2015

25

I received my 25th acceptance this evening, this time for a 7,000-word Weird Menace/Men's Adventure Magazine-type of story that's very much a throwback to the type of stories published in the late-'30s/early-40s.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

24

I just had my 24th acceptance of the year, this time for a 5,200-word Thanksgiving story.

23

I received my 23rd acceptance a few minutes ago, this for a 2,000-word confession.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

22

I received my 22nd acceptance of the year this morning, this time for a 700-word bit of flash fiction.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Writing short fiction for fun & profit

I will be presenting "Writing Short Fiction for Fun & Profit," a one-day, hands-on workshop in San Jose, California, from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 14, 2015. Registration fee ranges from a low of $30 to a high of $80, depending on various factors explained on the flyer.

More information and registration information is here: http://southbaywriters.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/151114-Michael-Bracken_2.pdf.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Twenty-seven

I completed and submitted my twenty-seventh short story of the year this evening. This one's a 1,500-word Christmas story I started December 30, 2013.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Twenty-six

I finished and submitted my twenty-sixth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 1,400-word Christmas story I started July 31, 2012.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Published 2x

My story "There's a Woman in My Nightie" appears in the September True Confessions, and my story "Reflections of Pain" appears in the September True Story.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

I get knocked down

John Floyd's blog post at SleuthSayers.org, "Now, That's a Different Story," posed the questions "Do you always have certain markets in mind when you craft your stories? Do you write them and only then think of where they might be sent?"

I responded to John's question in the comments secetion following his post, but thought the response might be appropriate to duplicate here:

Much of my short crime fiction has appeared in non-mystery publications. Unfortunately, many of those publications have disappeared or have reduced the amount of fiction they publish.

For several years (details in the guest post I wrote for you a while back), nearly every piece of fiction I wrote was for a specific market, either by invitation of an editor, or to fit a specific call for submission, or because the editor had previously purchased several stories from me.

That changed a bit early last year for two reasons: 1) Publishing was shifting, causing some of my regular markets to dry up, and 2) I had several unfinished stories for which there was no obvious market.

I'm still writing most of my short fiction for specific markets, but I've also been finishing those unfinished stories that have no obvious markets. I've learned two things from doing this: 1) Some of the joy of writing has returned because I am not constrained by market limitations, and 2) My ratio of submissions to sales is turning to shit.

I'm writing in genres I've not touched in several years, submitting to editors and publications with which I have no pre-existing connections, and I'm back to the tried-and-true submission process of best market first and work down. This is a humbling experience. While I've received a few incredibly nice rejection letters of the "almost, but not quite" variety, I've also received a fair number of form rejections. And I'm not accustomed to seeing form rejections.

What's that Chumbawumba song? I get knocked down, but I get up again. That's what writers with long careers do.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Twenty-five

I finished and submitted my twenty-fifth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 4,600-word fantasy I started writing May 13, 2010.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Twenty-four

I finished and submitted my twenty-fourth short story this evening. This one's a 5,900-word Christmas confession I started July 15, 2011.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Twenty-three

I finished and submitted my twenty-third short story of the year earlier this evening. This one's a 3,900-word confession, told from a male POV, that I started writing on July 21, 2011.

Monday, July 20, 2015

ArmadilloCon

I will be at ArmadilloCon in Austin July 24-26, speaking about erotic fiction and story prompts, and reading "Seeds" from Fifty Shades of Green. All of my events are on Saturday, and one-day passes are available. Learn more about the convention at http://2015.armadillocon.org.

If you're there, find me and say howdy.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Twenty-two

I completed, but did not submit, my twenty-second short story of the year this evening. This one is a 3,000-word bit of crime fiction I started August 31, 2014, and apparently wrote as a trunk story because there is no appropriate market for it at this time. I hope a new market will open soon or an existing market will open for submissions in the near future. Until then...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Stuff

George Carlin once said, "Your house is just a place for your stuff. If you didn't have so much God damned stuff, you wouldn't need a house. You could just walk around all the time. That's all your house is, it's a pile of stuff with a cover on it."

After 21 years in the same home, my pile of stuff is daunting. My second wife died in this house and a significant amount of the stuff was hers before we married. My third wife spent more than 10 years in this house and added a layer of her stuff to the pile. One of my sons lived here for several years, my daughter lived here for a couple of years, and my other sons have visited. Some of the stuff in this house once belonged to them.

About a year after my third wife and I divorced and my son moved into his own place, I went through every room, clearing away the unwanted, unneeded, or no-longer-useful things that had accumulated. I filled the trash can several times and took many carloads of stuff to Goodwill.

I thought I had done a thorough job. I hadn't. I went through the entire house again several years later and discovered stuff tucked away in places I had not thought to examine--drawers that had gone unopened, boxes not thoroughly rifled through, files of paperwork no longer of value. I eliminated even more stuff during that purge.

A few days ago, I started another purge, one that I anticipate will take much longer because I have already eliminated the stuff of least consequence. Much of what remains has value, either real or emotional, and decisions about what to keep and what to discard will be difficult.

The stuff I hold most dear can be the physical confirmation of treasured memories (photographs of my children), proof of my creative accomplishments (books and periodicals containing my writing), or simply things previously owned by, given to me by, or jointly purchased with a loved one.

This last category of stuff is by far the most difficult. This is the stuff that serves as a lifeline to the past or as an anchor that prevents me from facing the future. Too often I've insisted it was a lifeline while those around me insisted it was an anchor.

Do I have what it takes to weigh the anchor?

The purge I have just begun will answer that question.

Monday, July 13, 2015

21

A few minutes after receiving my 20th acceptance of the year, I received my 21st. This one's a story about love and friendship.

20

I received my 20th acceptance of the year a few minutes ago, this time for a Halloween romance.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Twenty-one

I completed and submitted my twenty-first short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 2,700-word confession I started writing May 16, 2014.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

18, 19, and published

I overlooked a brief non-fiction acceptance earlier this year, and I had another non-fiction acceptance and publication today. The first was a brief essay in Writers' Forum #162, and today's acceptance and publication is "Good Writing, In Short," in the July issue of First Draft.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

16, 17

I was gone most of the afternoon and evening and returned home to find my 16th and 17th acceptances of the year. Both are for confessions.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Twenty

I completed and submitted my twentieth short story of the year this morning. This one's a 2,600-word Thanksgiving story I started writing April 9, 2014.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Published 4x

The August issue of True Confessions contains my stories "Crippled Date" and "Sand Castle Rescue." The August issue of True Story contains my stories "My Only Secret" and "Summer Before College."

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Nineteen

I finished and submitted my nineteenth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 5,200-word confession I started on July 18, 2007.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

International Scam Day

Apparently it's International Scam Day.

I've been touched by two different scams today. The first is a pair of messages on my answering machine telling me the IRS is filing a lawsuit against me and that I need to call a specific number immediately.

I haven't called.

The second has been a bit more fun.

I received an email today purportedly from a well-known crime fiction writer. We've swapped a few emails over the years and, more importantly, he recently accepted a story for a reprint anthology he's editing. I know his computer crashed a few days ago because he contacted me for some information about the story that he already had but had lost when his computer crashed.

So, I didn't think too much about it when I received an email from him today with the subject line "Emergency."

It read:
I haven't received any response from you. I need a favor ASAP. 
Thank you, 
Ed 
My response:
I sent publication info and word count for "City Desk" a few days ago. Is this something different?
His response:
Good to hear from you. I hope everything is well with you. I've been out of town for a family emergency, I am presently in Mexico City, Mexico. My apologies for not contacting you sooner. Please forgive me to Mexico to see my ill cousin who lives here. He is seriously ill and needs support from family. He was diagnosed with (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) He has been going to chemo for about year, it pretty bad because his chemo treatments with medicare is $1000 per Every two weeks. The chemotherapy treatment was going well until last week, when the doctor noticed that the dangerous disease has relapsed and the only way it can survive is to undergo a bone marrow transplant (Bone Marrow Transplantation). We have seen someone whose bone marrow matched his has agreed to be the donor and should be submitted to the registry soon in Mexico Medical Center Hospital for early Dx and Rx Consultation for Dangerous Diseases. The estimate of the graft is $10,000 I've already spent about $7000 toward his treatment, I need you to help me with a quick loan of $3000 to make the necessary treatment. as I don't know your financial situation at the moment, I'll really appreciate whatever amount you can come up with, if not all will be deeply appreciated and reimbursed after the surgery. Your help and support will give him a chance to live a normal life. Please let me know how much you can lend so that i can provide you the transfer information to obtain the money and I'll repay you back as soon as I return. 
Thank you, 
Ed
My response:
Sorry I didn’t back to you sooner, Ed, but I had to run this past Guido. He says you still owe him the 25 large he fronted you last month when you swore the fix was in at Churchill Downs. Now that he knows where you are, he’s going to send a couple of guys to collect the money. You’d better have it. Remember the last guy who missed paying the vig on time? Everybody calls him Seven-Finger Jack. You can probably figure out why.
I have not received a response from the scammer, but I'll update this if I do.

Update: I tried to contact the crime fiction writer at his real email address to tell him about this. Both of my emails have been rejected by his email provider. Does he know what's happening in his name? And if he can't receive my emails, how will this impact our working relationship as the reprint anthology moves forward?

June 27, 2015

Today's email from the scammer:
How are you, Sorry for any inconvenience, I'm in a terrible situation. Am stranded here in Manila, Philippines since last night. I was hurt and robbed on my way to the hotel I stayed and my luggage is still in custody of the hotel management pending when I make payment on outstanding bills I owe. Am waiting for my colleagues to send me money to get back home but they have not responded and my return flight will be leaving soon. Please let me know if you can help and I will refund the money back to you as soon as I get back home.
Please let me know if you can help..
Best, Ed
I won't be sending a response, but here's the one I thought of sending:

Guido's upset that you slipped out of Mexico before his guys could get there, Ed, but the beatdown you received there in Manila is just a taste of what you can expect if Guido doesn't receive repayment soon. Count your fingers now, Ed. This may be your last chance to count to ten.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Eighteen

I finished and submitted my eighteenth short story of the year this evening. It's a 3,400-word confession I wrote during the last several days based on a two-word title I dreamed up on June 26, 2012.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Seventeen

I finished and submitted my seventeenth short story of the year a few minutes ago. This one's a 4,700-word bit of crime fiction that I roughed out on a paper towel May 24 while sitting at a winery awaiting the performance of a local musical duo. Unlike my usual process, this time I made a diagram of how several characters were associated and a flowchart of how what each one does impacts the other. The initial flowchart included a twist, but I added additional twists during the writing.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Now on Twitter

Yesterday I joined Twitter. I don't know that I will ever have much to say there that I can't say at more length here, but if you're of a mind to, find me and follow me https://twitter.com/CrimeFicWriter.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Sixteen

I completed and submitted my sixteenth short story this afternoon. This one's a 2,400-word confession I started May 26.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Austin this summer, California in the fall

I'll be a panelist at ArmadilloCon in Austin, Texas, July 24-26, but I don't yet know my panel assignments.

I've also entered discussions with an organization to lead a writing workshop in or near San Jose, Calif., sometime this fall.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Mentioned

One of my stories is quoted in Scott Dagostino's "Reading with one hand," an article about the current state of erotic fiction published in DailyXtra.
One busy Cleis editor is novelist Rob Rosen, who’s put together not only Best Gay Erotica 2015 but also Men of the Manor, a book of porn stories inspired by Downton Abbey, featuring randy aristocrats and naughty footmen galore, with one story by Michael Bracken including this hilarious line from a butler’s employer: “‘You’ve been serving us all evening, Stephens,’ Carnegie said as he dropped to his knees in front of me. ‘It’s about time someone served you.’”
Read the entire article here.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

15

I received my 15th acceptance of the year this afternoon, for a story I submitted in December.

This sale was a case of being in the right place at the right time. A magazine editor was faced with an unexpected hole in an issue that was already in production and I happened to have a story under submission that fit her needs and fit the available space.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Reviewed

My story "Blue Heart," published in Take This Man (Cleis Press; Neil Plakcy, editor), received a nice mention in a Publishers Weekly review:
"Both Brent Archer's 'A Ride Home' and Michael Bracken's 'Blue Heart' reflect on memories of first meetings segueing into loving appreciations of aging bodies."
Read the entire review here.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Fifteen

I completed and submitted my fifteenth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 7,000-word weird menace story I started yesterday morning.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

12 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 144 consecutive months (that's 12 years). Including the stories sold before this streak began, I've placed more than 1,100 short stories since I made my first professional sale as a teenager in the late 1970s.

Published 3x

My story "Kissing Booth Fundraiser" appears in the July True Story, and my stories "The Maid of Dishonor Led Me to Love" and "Unrequited Love" appear in the July True Confessions.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

14

I received my 14th acceptance of the year this evening.

Published: "Blue Heart"

My romance story "Blue Heart" appears in the just-published anthology Take This Man (Cleis Press), edited by Neil Plakcy,

Fourteen

I finished and submitted my fourteenth short story of the year this morning, a 2,700-word confession I began Sunday after learning of the biker shootout less than five miles from my home.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thirteen

I finished and submitted my thirteenth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 6,300-word confession I began writing June 5, 2012.

Twelve

I wrote and submitted my twelfth short story today, a 1,600-word confession based on something I read in an advice column this morning. It's been quite awhile since I wrote a complete story in a single day, so this feels like a small and pleasant accomplishment.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Eleven

I finished and submitted my eleventh short story of the year this evening. It's a 6,900-word confession I started April 26, 2013.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

"Chalkers" on sale

In honor of Short Story Month, Untreed Reads has all of their short stories on sale. Pick up a copy of my crime fiction story "Chalkers" for only 25 cents:
http://store.untreedreads.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=7_48_698&products_id=268.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Proofreading failure

No matter how good we are at proofreading our mss. before sending them to editors, sooner or later we make an error that embarrasses us such that we feel we should hide under the blankets, curled in a fetal position, until the beginning of the next calendar year. I have done just that, but rather than hide away, I will share my embarrassment with y'all.

I recently had a story published in which an important character's name changes halfway through the story. I didn't notice it before I submitted the ms. and the editor didn't notice before publishing the story. I only know about it because an astute reader pointed it out.

This is a classic rookie mistake, and I haven't been a rookie since Jimmy Carter was president. Sigh.

Not long ago I developed a trick that helps me prevent making this mistake. Unfortunately, this story was written long before I discovered my trick.

Each time I name a character in a short story I'm writing, I scroll to the end of the file, type that character's name and add a brief description. Then I refer to the list each time I identify a character by name to ensure that I'm using the correct name.

Ex.
John Bobsey--protagonist
Sarah Stuffinmister--love interest
Lt. Earl Warner--police officer, antagonist
Joe "Bags" Banaboo--John's sidekick

I leave the list on the ms. through the final proofread. Each time I come across a character's name during proofreading, I check my list to ensure that I have used the correct name and have spelled it correctly. If I come across a name in the ms. not on my end-of-file list, I determine why and then correct the error.

This trick might help others avoid the public embarrassment of Proofreading Failure. It's been working for me.

If only I had started doing this sooner...

(And, no, I'm not going to identify the story by name.)

Monday, May 04, 2015

Published 2x

My story "The Man I Thought I Loved" appears in the June issue of True Confessions, and my story "30 & Living with My Daddy" appears in the June issue of True Story.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Ten

I completed and submitted my tenth short story of the year a few minutes ago. This one's a 5,500-word confession I started writing March 25, 2014.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Published: "Danny"

My story "Danny" appears in the just-published anthology Shotgun Honey Presents: Locked and Loaded (Both Barrels) (Volume 3). Learn more here.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Nine

I completed and submitted my ninth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 4,600-word confession I started March 1, 2011.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

Eight

I completed and submitted my eighth short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 4,800-word confession I started writing March 26, 2010.

10, 11

My 10th and 11th acceptances of the year were sitting in my inbox when I awoke this morning.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Seven

I just finished and submitted my seventh short story of the year, a 2,900-word confession I started writing August 16, 2012.

Six

Earlier this evening I finished and submitted a 5,400-word confession I started writing April 5, 2013.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

A matter of style

Crime fiction, historical fiction, and other fiction that has characters reading newspaper articles as part of the story's plot run a high risk of making stylistic errors that can bounce a knowledgeable reader out of the story, much like a affixing a silencer to a revolver bounces out readers familiar with firearms.

Newspaper articles are typically written to conform to the dictates of the Associated Press Stylebook. Therefore, the author and the copyeditor should put down their copy of The Chicago Manual of Style when writing and editing sections of a story purported to be newspaper articles.

For example, a novel I am currently reading quotes a fictitious newspaper article from 2004 using the phrase "near Conroe, TX," immediately signaling to an astute reader that no real newspaper article is being quoted.

Texas is one of eight state names never abbreviated in a newspaper article, and no properly written newspaper article uses the two-letter USPS state postal code to refer to a state unless it is part of a complete mailing address that includes a ZIP code.

A writer who has never been a journalist might not know this, but no good copyeditor should be excused for allowing this error to pass into print. A good copyeditor knows which stylebook to follow and when.

Monday, March 30, 2015

-1

I had a story unaccepted today when a publisher cancelled a line of books, so now I'm back to only 8 acceptances for the year.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Published 2x

My story "Alone on Mother's Day" appears in the May True Confessions, and my story "Can Mom Remember?" appears in the May True Story.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Reviewed: "Quarryville, Texas"

Jochem Vandersteen at Sons of Spade reviewed The Private Eye Writers of America Presents: 50 Shades of Grey Fedora. Though my story--"Quarryville, Texas"--wasn't mentioned by title, it was mentioned:
"Some tales are a bit raunchier than others, Bracken's probably the more hardcore one. If you don't like that kind of stuff, don't worry, it is at the beginning but not indicative to the rest."
Read the entire review here.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Monday, March 16, 2015

One of six

Glynis Scrivens asked six writers which writing how-to books they thought most influenced their short story writing, and she included their responses in "The Best Books for short stories," published in Writers' Forum #162.

I discussed How to Write and Sell Confessions by Susan C. Feldhake and Confession Writers' Handbook by Florence K. Palmer and Marguerite McClain. Without the jumpstart these two books gave me, I might never have become a confession writer.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

7

I received my 7th acceptance of the year this morning, this time for a reprint written by one of my pseudonyms.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Published: "Beneath Still Waters"

My short mystery "Beneath Still Waters" appears in the just-published anthology And All Our Yesterdays (Darkhouse Books).

Learn more at Amazon.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Published

My story "Flyboy" appears in the recently released anthology Best Gay Romance 2015 (Cleis Press).

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Monday, February 23, 2015

Published 3x

My stories "Cum Bumps," "Backdoorman," and "A Cock & Bull Story" appear in The Mammoth Book of Uniform Erotica (Robinson/Running Press). The the official release date apparently is next month, my copies arrived today.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Five

I finished and submitted my fifth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 4,900-word confession I started writing January 13, 2002.

Four

I finished and submitted by fourth short story of the year this morning. It's a 3,500-word confession I started writing October 20, 2012.

Friday, February 20, 2015

6

I received my 6th acceptance of the year a few days ago, but I forgot to post the news at the time.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Published: "Quarryville, Texas"



My erotic private eye story "Quarryville, Texas" appears in the just-published anthology The Private Eye Writers of America Presents: 50 Shades of Grey Fedora.

Learn more here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

5

I received my 5th acceptance of the year this evening, this time for reprint rights to a story first published in 1983.

3,4

I received my 3rd and 4th acceptances of the year. Both were for Mother's Day stories.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Three

I finished and submitted my third short story of the year this evening. This one's a 5,400-word Father's Day story I started writing on February 20, 2012.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Published 2x

My story "Love Lost and Love Gained" appears in the March True Story, and my story "Turning Trash into Treasure" appears in the March True Confessions.

Monday, February 02, 2015

The best thing I wrote today

I was replying to a letter from a Professional Writing student at my alma mater, and I wrapped up my many words of advice with:

No one will ever hand you a writing career. You have to earn it one word at a time.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Two

I finished writing and submitted my second story of the year. This one's a 1,700-word Mother's Day story.

Monday, January 19, 2015

One

I finished and submitted my first short story of the year this evening. This one's a 2,100-word Mother's Day story I started writing February 8, 2013.

Reviewed: "Mutable Memories"

My story "Mutable Memories" is one of many mentioned in Lloyd A. Meeker's review of the anthology Men of the Manor at the website Out in Print. He says:
"The most chilling, however, was Michael Bracken’s tale of a butler’s calculated theft and blackmail, Mutable Memories."
Read the entire review here.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

2

I received my second acceptance of the year, this time for a 1,700-word confession.

2014 in review

42 acceptances (vs. 40 in 2013).

21 rejections (vs. 8 in 2013).

36 short stories published (vs. 45 in 2013), 1 article/essay published (vs. 0 in 2013).

I completed 53 short stories (vs. 40 in 2013).

I completed (to final draft) 198,000 words of short fiction (vs. 142,500 in 2013).

That's an average story length of 3,735 words (vs. an average of 3,563); the shortest story was 300 words; the longest was 10,000 words.

I completed and submitted an average of 1.02 short stories each week (vs. an average of .77 each week in 2013).

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

Observations:

My productivity increased last year while my rejections increased and my sales decreased. There are at least two reasons for this:

1) I wrote a handful of stories just for me rather than for specific markets. Though I have already found homes for a few of them, these stories tend to be difficult to place because they don't clearly fit the needs of existing markets with which I am already familiar. They tend to collect rejections while I work my way through potential markets.

2) I attempted to crack new markets, and I put some effort into writing for markets to which I have not sold anything in several years and had not submitted anything to in quite some time. I had limited success with these efforts, though I collected some really nice personal rejections.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Published

Today's mail also brought good news: My story "Kiss of Life at Midnight" appears in the February True Confessions.

1

2015 began with depressing news: My first rejection of the year was waiting in my inbox when I logged on January 1.

Today's acceptance--my first of year--more than makes up for yesterday. This acceptance was for a mystery to be published in a small press anthology.