Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I received my 12th acceptance of the year, this time for a bit of crime fiction that's almost noir. I'm slipping: My acceptance average for the year has fallen to one acceptance every 4.917 days...

I also received the copyediting ms. for a bit of supernatural fiction that'll be coming out soon. I OKed all the edits and suggested an alternate word in a place where the copyeditor didn't like one I used. I think the substituted word is better.

Who knew freelancing would tag me as a subversive?

Who knew that leading the life of a freelance writer would cause me to be tagged as a subversive out to undermine the American banking system?

I visit my credit union so often that most of the tellers recognize me on sight and greet me by name even when I'm not visiting their windows. Today, luck of the draw had me at the window of a new teller, a young man who did not recognize me and who apparently had limited authority to use the bank's computer.

How do I know this? Because he could not accept my deposit.

And why couldn't he accept my depost? Because I had made too many of them.

Made too many deposits? Excuse me. Don't banks/credit unions want people to deposit money?

I'm not sure what the magic number is, but I've made eight deposits in the past eight days--or eight deposits in the past six business days--because that's how the money's flowed in from clients, publishers, and other sources.

It's a simple process: I receive money, I deposit money. Apparently, the credit union views this as suspicious behavior because its computer system is programmed to reject an "excessive" number of deposits.

One of the other tellers* had to override the system so that I could make the deposit.

Good grief.

*Interesting side note: The teller who overrode the system is married to a Secret Service agent assigned to the Bush ranch. I guess if you're going to have trouble with the banking system, there's no one better to call for help the the spouse of a Secret Service agent.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

New Review of Old Story

I found this recent review of my story "Partners," a private eye story first published in Hardboiled (1988) and reprinted in Tequila Sunrise (Wildside Press, 2000):

Monday, February 26, 2007

Another Revision

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from an editor requesting a minor revision on a previously accepted story that was about to go to press. I made the revisions this evening and e-mailed the revised story to the editor.


I received my 11th acceptance of the year, this time for a confession with a Mother's Day hook.

And a check for my half of a co-authored private eye story coming up in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. Tom Sweeney is my co-author.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


I just returned from the local ADDY Awards ceremony. (For those unfamiliar with advertising, ADDY awards are presented by the American Advertising Federation for outstanding work in advertising.) I received four awards this evening: a Bronze award for my Web site (, a Silver award for an ad I wrote and designed for the Waco Symphony, a Gold award for a series of ads I created for the Symphony, and a special Judges award for copywriting for work I did for the Symphony.

All-in-all, an outstanding evening.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Today's Mail

Today's mail brought the opposite of yesterday's mail: a rejection, a bill, and no money.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Today's Mail

On the upside, I received payment for four short stories today. On the downside...well, there really wasn't a downside. I didn't receive any rejections or any bills.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Revisions, Copyediting, Etc.

I mentioned sometime last week about receiving two stories back--one with a request for revisions and the other with suggested revisions.

I revised the first story twice, going back-and-forth with the editor over one change before I understood why he wanted it and then figuring out how to incorporate it in a way that flowed with the rest of the story. It's a better, stronger story now. The editor's happy with the changes and I received a tentative acceptance. I won't include this story in my sales-to-date count until I receive a clear acceptance.

I've looked over the editor's suggestions on the other story, think I understand her comments, and have gone over the story once making some of the easier changes. As it's a 27,000-word story, this isn't a revision I'll bang out in a weekend.

Earlier today I received the copyedited version of a story I sold earlier this year, and I approved all the editor's changes. This particular copyeditor has worked on a few of my stories and of all the changes he's made in all the stories, I think I've only rejected/questioned two of them. (And questioning one of the changes brought back the response that the copyeditor's Australian. The Americanism I used didn't make the leap into the other English language.)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Dying to Meet You

I'll be participating in "Dying to Meet You: Speed Dating with Mystery Authors" at the Texas Library Association's 2007 conference in San Antonio on Thursday, April 12, and I received the TLA's conference program in the mail this weekend. The conference a bloody big event!

Sixteen other mystery writers--some of whom I've met--will also be participating in "Dying to Meet You," so there will be 17 of us vying for attention as we move from table to table--or do we stay put and the librarians move from table to table?--discussing our work and what it's like to write myserties and whatever else the librarians might ask us.

This could be fun. It might also sell a few books.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Rant of the Day: Cover Letter vs. Query Letter

It bothers me that many writers don't know the difference between a cover letter and a query letter, and I keep seeing the same misinformation posted in open forums. So, here's my Rant of the Day:

If you include a letter with a manuscript, it isn't a query letter, it's a cover letter.

A query letter is what you send asking an editor if she wants to see your manuscript.

The essential difference between the two is that the query letter is a sales tool and the cover letter is an informational tool. That is, the goal of a query letter is to make your manuscript seem so appealing and so perfectly targeted that an editor asks to see your manuscript. A cover letter is intended to provide some potentially important or useful information about yourself or your manuscript that isn't obvious from looking at the manuscript alone. If the manuscript's enclosed, it had better sell itself.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


One of the two stories I finished this morning--the 3,700-word noir crime fiction story--has already sold. About three hours after I e-mailed it to the magazine I received a contract.

This is one of those right-place-right-time sales because the editor is going to use the story in the issue being put together right now.

This is my 10th acceptance of the year. I'm averaging an acceptance every 4.6 days.

Revision time

Last night and then this morning, I received notes from editors suggesting revisions to submissions.

The note last night--a quite detailed one concerning a 27,000-word story--including the note that the editors wanted to see the story again if I made the revisions. I haven't had time to review all of the comments.

The second note--about a 2,200-word story--gave me the clear impression the editor would take the story after the revisions (and might even take it if I don't do the revisions). But I like a couple of the suggestions and I have to think a little harder about the others.

So, it looks like it's revision time for me.

Growing Up with Writers

I saw Joe Hill on Good Morning America touting his first novel. Joe is author Stephen King's son (and, presumably, though not stated specifically, his mother would be author Tabitha King).

I thought about Hill and I thought about Anne Rice's son (wasn't his father a poet?) and about some of the other writers I've heard about over the years who had one or more parents who wrote. What must it be like to grow up in an environment where writing is "normal"?

I certainly didn't experience that. No one in my family wrote. As far as I ever knew, none of our friends or neighbors wrote. Creative writing wasn't seen as a career choice, but as--at best--a hobby.

In some ways, though, I'm lucky. Creativity was never specifically discouraged. After all, my mother painted (landscapes, mostly, in oils and acrylics) and my step-grandfather was a nature photographer who lectured throughout the Puget Sound area of Washington.

But writing? For a living? Not in my family.


I finished and submitted two new stories this morning, a 3,700-word bit of noir crime fiction and a humorous 2,900-word piece of men's fiction.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Today's mail

Payment for two short stories and an article arrived in today's mail, enough to pay all the bills on my desk, put money aside for quarterly taxes, and restock the refrigerator. Days like these are always good days.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

To Market, To Market

I mailed copies of seven stories published last year to the editor of a best-of-year anthology in the hopes that he'll select one or two for inclusion. I learned a long time ago not to rely on fate or karma or happenstance for best-of-year anthology editors to discover my work and have been diligently (or semi-deligently) sending copies of my stories and copies of the anthologies I've edited to appropriate best-of-year anthology editors for a few years now.

All-in-all, tooting my own horn like this has worked. I've placed one story in a best-of-year anthology and had one story named as among the year's best even though it didn't make the book. I've also had contributors to my anthologies see their stories listed among the year's best, which is great for them and reflects back on my editorial acumen. (OK, OK, I'll stop now. I'm hurting my arm patting myself on the back.)

I also discovered a new publication--only one issue published--and submitted two unsold stories from my files.

Monday, February 12, 2007

7, 8, 9

I received three acceptances this morning, all supernatural stories, all sold to the same market.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


I've had a MySpace page for a few months now, but I didn't do anything with it until this evening. I added a photo and some bio information.

It's at:


I finished a new short story this morning--a 5,400-word confession--and it's ready to drop in a mailbox tomorrow.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Today's Mail

Today's mail included payment for a short story reprint. It isn't a significant amount of money, but checks for reprints are like found money.

Friday, February 09, 2007


I finished a new short story this evening--a 2,600-word bit of noir crime fiction--and e-mailed it to an editor a few minutes ago.

Google Update

When I tried to log-in today, Google "forced" me to upgrade my blog, a decision I've been putting off for the past few weeks. I don't yet know how the upgrade changes my blog, but apparently I now have more ways to maintain and customize. I guess I've just have to play with the settings and see what happens.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Record Keeping

Try as I might, I can't keep track of everything. This evening I discovered that two of my short stories were published last year and I didn't know it. Oh, I received acceptances, cashed the checks when they arrived, and even approved the copy edits; I just didn't realized the stories had been published.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


I finished a new short story this evening. It'll head off to an editor the next time I go to a mail box.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Today's mail/e-mail

Today's mail brought payment for three short stories published last year. In a perfect world we'd all write for pay-on-acceptance publications and in a slightly less pefect world all the pay-on-publication publications actually would pay on publication. Still, the money was enough to bring the bills up-to-date with some left over to set some aside for my quarterly estimated taxes.*

Today's e-mail brought page proofs of an anthology containing one of my short stories. I have five days to proofread my story and note any corrections I'd like.

*Learning to set aside money for taxes has been quite a challenge and marks one of the significant financial differences between being a full-time employee who writes on the side and being a full-time freelancer.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Writer's Disinterest

I don't believe in writer's block. Put me in front of a keyboard and I can write.

But, because I spend my life sitting at a keyboard--writing and editing and creating page layouts, Web sites, and advertising material, and doing other related tasks, and because a good portion of my social interaction comes via e-mail and Yahoo groups and blogs--I sometimes get "writer's disinterest."

Writer's disinterest might best be defined as: I can write; I just don't want to.

I want to be somewhere else doing something else.

So I usually do. I find something else to do until I either must return to the keyboard because of a client- or editor-imposed deadline to meet or I want to return to the keyboard because inspiration struck.

Writer's disinterest doesn't strike often, never lasts long, and is easily cured.