Friday, September 22, 2017

30

I received my 30th acceptance of the year this morning, this time for a bit of crime fiction that won't be published until January/February 2019.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Twenty-six

I completed and submitted my twenty-sixth short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 4,400-word bit of crime fiction I started July 19.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Writerboy at 60

Today, I turned 60. This is an unexpected accomplishment. Neither my father nor either of my grandfathers survived their 50s.

A quadruple heart bypass in September 2008 probably added the extra years to my life, but it isn't the only factor in my unexpected longevity. I've set goals for myself over the years, but my overriding objective since bypass surgery has been to be happy.

And I am.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Three new mystery periodicals

At least three new digest-sized mystery magazines launched this year, each with a different editorial focus, but all deserving the support of mystery readers.

Black Cat Mystery Magazine debuted this month. Published by Wildside Press and edited by Carla Coupe, the first issue offers the most diverse selection of fiction among the three magazines, with original stories by Alan Orloff, Art Taylor, Josh Pachter, Barb Goffman, Meg Opperman, Dan Andriacco, John M. Floyd, Jack Halliday, Kaye George, and Michael Bracken; reprints by James Holding and Fletcher Flora; poetry by Josh Pachter; and a single piece of non-fiction, the editorial by publisher John Betancourt and editor Carla Coupe.

The publisher, Wildside Press, is a well-established book and magazine publisher that also publishes Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine.

Order a single issue or a subscription directly from the publisher at http://wildsidepress.com/magazines/BCMM/.

The magazine has not yet posted submission guidelines but expects to soon and should be open to submissions beginning in October. UPDATE: Guidelines are now posted at: http://bcmystery.com/guidelines-for-black-cat-mystery-magazine-epub-kindle-pdf/.

To learn more about Black Cat Mystery Magazine, read contributor Barb Goffman's interview with editor Carla Coupe at Sleuthsayers.org.

(Note: I have not yet seen the physical magazine. However, I'm a contributor and read uncorrected proofs about a month ago.)

Down & Out: The Magazine debuted this summer. Published by Down & Out Books and edited by Rick Ollerman, Down & Out: The Magazine offers original fiction by Reed Farrel Coleman, Eric Beetner, Michael A. Black, Jen Conley, Thomas Pluck, Rick Ollerman, and Terence McCauly; a reprint by Frederick Nebel; non-fiction by J. Kingston Pierce; and an editorial by Rick Ollerman.

The fiction in Down & Out: The Magazine is less diverse than in Black Cat Mystery Magazine, skewing toward hardboiled.

The publisher, Down & Out Books, is an independent publisher founded in 2011.

Subscription packages are not yet available. Order the first issue at Amazon.

Submission guidelines are available at http://downandoutmagazine.com/submissions/.

Mystery Tribune debuted earlier this year, and Ehsan Ehsani serves as both editor and publisher. The second issue, dated Summer 2017, features original fiction by Rob Hart, Dan J. Fiore, Aaron Fox-Lerner, David James Keaton, and Teresa Sweeney; non-fiction by Elena Avanzas Alvarez, Reed Farrel Coleman, Shawn Corridan, Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks, and an interview with Haylen Beck; photo layouts by Tommy Ingberg and Heather Byington; and an editorial by Ehsan Ehsani.

Mystery Tribune offers an experience beyond the text, visually more like art magazines than traditional fiction periodicals, with extensive color photography throughout. The fiction is the least diverse among the three magazines, leaning toward noir.

Order a single issue or a subscription directly from the publisher at https://www.mysterytribune.com/subscribe/.

Submission guidelines are available at https://mysterytribune.submittable.com/submit/79921/guidelines.

***

Note: I have a relationship with Wildside Press that stretches back many years. They have published most of my books, including novels, short story collections, and anthologies. I also have a relationship with Down & Out Books. They have published my stories in two anthologies and I am editing an anthology for them. I do not yet have a relationship with Mystery Tribune. I would love to change that.

Withdrawal symptoms

When editors fail to respond to submissions, and then fail to respond to status queries, it's time to formally withdraw ms. from those editors. I've done it several times over the years, most often withdrawing stories from publications that were new or new to me. A few times lately, I've even withdrawn stories from publications where I suspect the editors never saw my submissions (or my withdrawal letters) because they don't monitor their spam folders.

But last night was different.

Last night I withdrew 15 ms. from a pair of markets that have been exceptionally good to me over the years.

Monthly publications, they haven't published an issue since July, haven't paid for several months, and haven't responded to emails from me or from other writers I know. So, even though the publications might be dead, I went through the process of identifying and withdrawing everything in their slush pile.

The two publications represented the last of a dying genre, and the unpublished stories I wrote for them will be difficult to place elsewhere. So, it is time to move on, to write more in other genres while seeking appropriate places to submit these 15 withdrawn stories, and to move forward rather than look backward.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

29

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

Monday, August 28, 2017

Starred review

Just seen on Bouchercon 2017's Twitter feed: "@PublishersWkly gave #Bcon2017 antho a Starred Review!!"

My story "Montezuma's Revenge" is in this anthology, and I, along with several other contributors, will be signing copies of Passport to Murder at Bouchercon in Toronto this October.

Read the entire review here.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Published: "The Princess and the Swineherd"

My lesbian fairy tale "The Princess and the Swineherd" was released today as a standalone short story. Find it at Amazon and Smashwords.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

28

I received my 28th acceptance of the year today, this time for a bit of crime fiction.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ninety-Eight Years of Fallen Women

Rebecca McCarthy discusses the history of confession magazines in "Ninety-Eight Years of Fallen Women" at The Awl. The timing of the article is, perhaps, ironic given that True Story and True Confessions haven't published an issue since July 2017.

The last paragraph of the article mentions my story "Spring Job Fair."
In “Spring Job Fair” from the March 2017 issue of True Confessions, the heroine is about to finish college and works nights as a waitress at a truck stop. During an interview for an unspecified office job, the interviewer begins to hit on her. In most of the MacFadden confessionals, this would be the start of a great romance; the day she met The Man Who Rescued Her From The Truck Stop. But instead, she leaves feeling anxious, she thinks he’s a creep. And that’s all. She graduates, gets another job, and does not date that guy. It’s an entirely unremarkable story, but it feels like a victory.
I don't know if the story was "entirely unremarkable," but the story summary doesn't describe the story I wrote. And, yes, for the protagonist of that story, graduating college and landing a job working  in the office of a trucking company was a victory.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Published: "The Great Train Robbery"

My story "The Great Little Train Robbery," first published in the June 1985 issue of Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, has been reprinted in the August 19 issue of Kings River Life as "The Great Train Robbery." Read it here.

This story was my seventh published mystery and my fourth story in MSMM.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Twenty-five

I completed and submitted my twenty-fifth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 4,100-word bit of crime fiction I started March 7.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Twenty-four

I finished and submitted my twenty-fourth short story io the year this evening. This one's a 4,900-word bit of crime fiction I started July 17.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Reviewed: "Smoked"

Robert Lopresti reviewed "Smoked," my contribution to Noir at the Salad Bar, at Little Big Crimes, and sums it up:
"The story takes place in modern Texas but it has the feeling of an old-fashioned Western, with the bad guys getting closer and the townsfolk having to decide where they stand. A good story."
Read the entire review here.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Twenty-three

I completed and submitted my twenty-third short story of the year this morning. This one's a 3,800-word bit of holiday crime fiction.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

"Little Spring" Reviewed

I just stumbled across Ben Macnair's Booklore review of Haunted (BooHoo Books), an anthology published in 2014 that contains my story "Little Spring." He had this to say about my story:
Michael Bracken’s Little Spring is a love story that crosses the widest divide of all. Set in America, it follows love-lorn Shelby Paulson, who finds her perfect home and lover after her marriage ends. Unfortunately her new partner is already late.
And he closes the review with this assesment of the collection:
This is a fine collection of stories by a cast of talented writers, and although there is nothing really horrific in the book, the stories can certainly set an atmosphere.
Read the entire review here.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Twenty-two

I completed and submitted my twenty-second short story of the year this evening. This one's a 5,300-word bit of crime fiction.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

14 years and counting

With four short stories published so far this month and another scheduled for release on the 24th, I have now had one or more short stories published each and every month for 168 months. That's 14 years.

I suspect this streak won't last much longer. Though I have stories scheduled for publication in August, September, and October, several of my regular markets have died during the past few years, a few more are displaying unhealthy symptoms, and I've not yet found new publications or anthology editors to replace those I've lost or may be losing.

I have cracked new (or new to me) markets recently, but none have yet shown a desire to publish the volume of material I had been placing previously. So it goes.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Noir at the Salad Bar

The Kindle edition of Noir at the Salad Bar is now available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073ZJ6B8V/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1500332869&sr=1-1

The paperback edition is also available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1548829064/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1500335188&sr=1-1&keywords=noir+at+the+salad+bar

Noir at the Salad Bar, Culinary Tales with a Bite is a crime fiction anthology featuring gastronomic mysteries. Inside are dark and varied tales with a common theme of food and drink. The contributing writers represent a mix of bestselling authors, brand new voices, and seasoned professionals from the crime writing community. Bon App├ętit!

Among the 30 stories is my "Smoked."

Friday, July 14, 2017

26

I received my 26th acceptance of the year today, this time for a private eye story.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Twenty-one

I finished and submitted my twenty-first short story this year. This one's a 7,200-word private eye story I started July 5.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Leo Margulies and the grandchildren of the pulps

Philip Sherman's Leo Margulies: Giant of the Pulps (Altus Press, 2017) is a mixture of biography and history of the pulps that never quite commits to either but is fascinating nonetheless.

What most intrigued me was how writers of my generation owe a debt of gratitude for what Margulies accomplished, even though many of us aren't quite old enough to have written for the pulps. The writers we admired and who, directly or indirectly, served as our mentors had long careers writing for the pulps, and we looked up to them as role models.

When they touched our lives, though, we had a direct connection to the past even if we may not have realized it at the time. Robert Bloch, for example, once wrote a brief article for Knights, a science fiction fanzine I published during my late teens and early twenties.

Dennis Lynds, writing as Michael Collins, contributed "The Horrible, Senseless Murders of Two Elderly Women" to Fedora: Private Eyes and Tough Guys (Wildside Press, 2001), my first anthology. His story was nominated for an Edgar Award, which I believe was his last nomination prior to his death in 2005.

He also passed my name along to Jeff Gelb, who invited me to contribute to his and Max Allan Collins's Flesh and Blood: Guilty as Sin (Mysterious Press, 2003). My story, "Feel the Pain," was selected for inclusion in Maxim Jakubowki's Best New Erotica 4 (Carroll & Graf, 2005), my first ever appearance in a best-of-year anthology; Gelb then invited me to contribute to his and Michael Garrett's Hot Blood: Strange Bedfellows (Kensington, 2004); and "Moe Ron" Boyette, the protagonist of "Feel the Pain," appeared in a handful of additional short stories.

Margulies also indirectly impacted my writing career by founding Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine. Many crime fiction writers of my generation sold their first stories to MSMM before and after his involvement with the publication. My first appearance in MSMM, my third mystery short story sale, came well after Margulies's death. Charles Fritch was editor by the time "Vengeance to Show in the Third" appeared in the October 1983 issue, and I went on to place three more stories (my fourth, fifth, and seventh mysteries) in the magazine before it ceased publication.

So, even though I never wrote for the pulps, I think I can lay claim to being a grandchild of the pulps.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Twenty

I completed and submitted my twentieth short story of the year this evening, a 2,000-word confession I began May 11, 2010.

A glance at my records shows that I'm falling behind in production, but my acceptances for the year are on track.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Digest Enthusiast, Espionage, and Me

The sixth issue of The Digest Enthusiast arrived in yesterday's mail, and I'm looking forward to diving into it soon. I've read almost every word in the first five issues and am expecting to do the same again.

One of the things that has me devouring each issue is the realization that my writing career is entwined with the digests. My first professional short story sale in the late 1970s was to a digest-sized children's magazine (Young World), my third professional mystery sale was to a digest (Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine), and my stories have since appeared in several current and now-defunct digests (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Espionage, and more). I even have a story coming out next year in Weirdbook, a publication I first sold to in 1990 when it was a full-size publication, but which has been resurrected as a digest.

One category of digests not yet covered by The Digest Enthusiast is the sex digests, which I wrote for early in my career, and which provided me with an opportunity to contribute to Espionage.

The sex digests had titles such as Chic Letters, Hustler Fantasies, Letters, Turn-On Letters, Uncensored Letters, and so on. The primary content of these publications were "true" letters from "readers" describing their sexual encounters. Some of these digests were low-budget affairs containing little else but letters and others were more like their full-sized men's magazine counterparts, with photographs and actual short stories and articles. I wrote for both kinds.

Which is how writing for the sex digests gave me an "in" with the editor of Espionage. Jackie Lewis, the editor/publisher of Espionage, and her twin sister Jeri Winston, the associate publisher, are Bob Guccione's sisters. (You should recognize him as the publisher of Penthouse.) Prior to starting Espionage, Jackie and Jeri published a great many sex digests, and Espionage may have been their attempt to go legit.

At that point I had already placed a few mystery short stories in other publications (Mike Shayne, for one), and I was a regular contributor to the sex digests Jackie Lewis edited. Even though I was an unknown--compared to many of Espionage's other contributors--Jackie purchased my stories and splashed my name on the covers as if it meant something.

Well, it did to me.

Learn a little more about Jackie, Jeri, the digests they published, and the start of Espionagehttp://articles.chicagotribune.com/1985-02-22/features/8501100834_1_bimonthly-publication-penthouse-science-fiction


Monday, June 12, 2017

25

I received my 25th acceptance of the year this afternoon. This one's for a reprint of a story first published in Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Published

My story "Wedding Day Disaster" appears in the June issue of True Story. My stories "Baseball Daddy" and "Summer Skeevy" appear in the June True Confessions.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Nineteen

I completed and submitted my nineteenth short story this year. This one's a mere 1,100-word bit of crime fiction, begun September 10, 2016.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Eighteen

I completed and submitted my eighteenth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 3,000-word mystery.

Monday, May 29, 2017

24

I received my 24th acceptance of the year this afternoon, this time for a confession.

Monday, May 22, 2017

23

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Seventeen

I finished and submitted my seventeenth short story this morning. This one's an 1,800-word bit of crime fiction I began writing October 25, 2014.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Sixteen

I completed and submitted my sixteenth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 5,000-word confession I started writing May 4, 2016.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

22

I received my 22nd acceptance of the year this morning, this for a bit of crime fiction.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

21

I received my 21st acceptance of the year this afternoon. This one's for a bit of crime fiction.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Fifteen

I finished and submitted my fifteenth short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 5,300-word confession I started writing on August 4, 2014.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

19, 20

I received my 19th and 20th acceptances of the year this afternoon. Both are for confessions.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

18

I received my 18th acceptance of the year this afternoon. This one's for a story I think is an alternative history mystery. Or, maybe, sword and sorcery with no sorcery.

Friday, April 21, 2017

17

I received my 17th acceptance of the year late last evening. This one's for an erotic fairy tale.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Reviewed

Catherine Dilts reviewed "Atonement" (Mystery Weekly Magazine, April, 2017), and summed up the story this way:
"Atonement begins with a bang, and continues relentlessly to a powerful closing."
Read the entire review here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Published

Coming April 25 from Deep Desires Press:

One Knight with the Swordsmith's Daughter.

All the women of Miriam’s village lust after Sir Humphrey of Fox Glen, newly arrived to attend to his aging uncle, Sir Edmund, Earl of Northwoods Shire. When the young knight commissions a new side arm from her father the swordsmith, Miriam discovers why.

Unable to reveal to anyone that she actually smiths the swords her father sells, and unable to reveal her own carnal desire for the young knight, Miriam listens to the village women’s bawdy comments about Sir Humphrey yet keeps her thoughts to herself, until a chance meeting at the waterfall where she bathes changes her life.

Miriam finds herself keeping more secrets than any woman should. But if she gets too close to Sir Humphrey, it might mean revealing her family’s secret. Does she dare risk her family’s heritage just to quench the fire in her loins?

Order from Amazon, from Smashwords, or the publisher.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Fourteen

I completed and submitted my fourteenth short story of the year this morning. This one's a 6,100-word private eye story I began August 17, 2015.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

16

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

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Thirteen

I completed and submitted my thirteenth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 2,000-word bit of crime fiction begun March 9.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Twelve

I completed and submitted my twelfth short story of the year. This one's a 3,500-word confession I started on March 30.

15

I received my 15th acceptance of the year this afternoon. This one's for a bit of crime fiction.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Eleven

I finished and submitted my eleventh short story of the year this evening. This one's a 3,000-word confession begun July 23, 2015.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Published

My story "Atonement" appears in the April edition of Mystery Weekly Magazine.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Published 3x

My stories "Fashion Disaster" and "My Second Mother" appear in the May True Confessions, and my story "Sibling Rivalry" appears in the May True Story.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

13, 14

I received my 13th and 14th acceptances of the year this evening. Both were for confessions.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

12

I received my 12th acceptance of the year this afternoon, this time for a confession.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Ten

I completed and submitted my tenth short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 2,700-word confession I began on March 9.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Nine

I completed and submitted my ninth short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 2,300-word confession I started August 20, 2016.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

11

I received my 11th acceptance of the year this morning. This one's for a confession.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

10

I received my 10th acceptance of the year last evening. This is for a bit of crime fiction.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Published 4x

My story "Blossoming Romance?" appears in the April True Story. My stories "April Fools' Day?" "Bearded for My Pleasure," and "The Wild Life's Not for Me" appear in the April True Confessions.

Eight

I finished and submitted my eighth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 5,900-word confession I started February 22.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

9

I received my 9th acceptance of the year this evening, this time for a bit of crime fiction.

Monday, February 27, 2017

8

I received my 8th acceptance of the year this afternoon, this time for yet another confession.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

7

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

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Seven

I finished and submitted my seventh short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 3,700-word confession I started writing on February 15.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Six

I finished and submitted by sixth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 5,700-word confession I start writing on February 8.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Reviewed

Robert Lopresti reviews my story "Mr. Private Eye Behind the Motel with a .38" (published in Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea), calls it "a good story," and then uses it as a jumping-off point to discuss anthology building. Read the full review here.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Published 4x

My story "Phony St. Patrick's Day" appears in the March True Story. My stories "Break Up to Make Up," "My Drunk Sister," and "Spring Job Fair" appear in the March True Confessions.

5, 6

I received my 5th and 6th acceptances of the year this afternoon, this time for a pair of confessions

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Reviewed

Jochem Vandersteen reviewed Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea at his blog Sons of Spade. He wrote about my story "Mr. Private Eye Behind the Motel with a .38": "Michael Bracken served up a very noir little tale" and concluded by calling the entire project a "great anthology." Read the complete review here.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Five

I finished, but have not submitted, by fifth short story of the year. This one's a 6,400-word bit of crime fiction started January 19. Alas, I wrote it with no particular market in mind and don't yet know where I'll send it.

4

I received my 4th acceptance of the year this morning, this for a confession.

Monday, January 30, 2017

3

I received my 3rd acceptance of the year this morning, this time for a confession.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Published

My story "Mr. Private Eye Behind the Motel with a .38" appears in the just-released anthology Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea (Down & Out Books) edited by Andrew McAleer & Paul D. Marks. Order yours here.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Four

I finished and submitted my fourth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 2,700-word confession I started on the 17th.

Three

I finished and submitted my third short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 7,300-word P.I. story I started on January 10.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Published 2x

My private eye story "Twink" appears in Heater, Vol. 4, No. 12, and my short mystery "Dead Things" has been reprinted in Big Pulp Annual 2016.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

2

I received my 2nd acceptance of the year, this time for a confession.

Two

I completed and submitted my second short story of the year this morning. This one's a 2,000-word confession I started September 1, 2016.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

1

I received my 1st acceptance of the year this afternoon, this for a historical erotic romance.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Published 2x

My story "Mr. Right" appears in the February True Confessions, and my story "Romance Rejection" appears in the February True Story.

Monday, January 02, 2017

One

2017 is off to a slow start. I haven't sold anything all year!

On the other hand, I did just finish and submit my first short story of the year, a 5,000-word bit of crime fiction I started on December 25, 2016.

2016 in review

45 acceptances (vs. 41 in 2015).

35 rejections (vs. 32 in 2015).

40 original short stories published and two reprinted (vs. 37 in 2015), 4 articles/essays published (vs. 3 in 2015).

I completed 56 short stories (vs. 41 in 2015).

I completed (to final draft) 169,430 words of short fiction (vs. 153,000 in 2015).

That's an average story length of 3,026 words (vs. an average of 3,732); the shortest story was 300 words; the longest was 8,000 words.

I completed and submitted an average of 1.08 short stories each week (vs. an average of .79 each week in 2015).

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

Observations:

1) The increased number of completed stories and the decline in the average length of my stories is partially attributable to a mid-year attempt to crack Woman's World. I failed.

2) Woman's World and a few other publications do not send rejections. Non-responses are not included in the rejection count.

2017 Goals

I have three annual goals, and they remain the same as in previous years.

1) To complete and submit an average of at least one short story each week. This goal is completely within my control.

2) To receive an average of at least one acceptance each week. (Reprints and non-fiction pieces count for this goal.) This goal is under my control to the extent that I control how much I write and how much I submit. I do not, however, have any control over editorial tastes and requirements.

3) To continue to have one or more short stories published each and every month, as I have for several years now. This goal is under my control to the extent that I control how much I write, how much I submit, and how often I write seasonal stories (for example: Valentine's Day stories for February, Thanksgiving stories for November, etc.). I do not, however, have any control over editorial publishing schedules.