Saturday, January 31, 2009

Screeching halt?

Having completed 12 stories in the first 22 days of the month and none in the final nine days, it appears as if my productivity came to a screeching halt. Actually, I'm wrapped up in a new short story that is requiring multiple drafts and significant (for me) research. It seems each time I write a scene I find that I'm missing some bit of knowledge to make the scene work the way I want it to. Then, once I have the necessary knowledge, I must revise what I've already written to make the factual bits fit with the fictional bits.

If this story works the way I want it to, it'll represent something new for me. If not, it'll still be a pretty good story.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Bad blog habits

I have a bad habit of rereading my old blog posts. And not just reading, but proofreading and then correcting any errors I find. I suppose I could have worse habits, but, really, don't I have more to do than reread my own blog?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What writers talk about

I don't know if this holds true across the entire spectrum of writers because I don't often hang out with writers in the real world, but I have noticed some similarities in what writers talk about when they get together.

Beginning writers talk about the process--where they get their ideas, how many times they revise, what time of day they write, and so on.

Established and moderately successful writers talk about the business--who's buying, what they're paying, and so on.

Well-established writers talk about everything except writing.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Thank you

From the date of my quadruple bypass in September until I finally recovered enough to quit bitching and moaning about it in December, fellow writers--many of whom I've never met and know only through e-mail and exchanges on various Yahoo groups--sent me a variety of good wishes, advice, and inspirational messages.

Some of you commented here while others e-mailed me directly, but no matter how you contacted me: Thank you.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The downside of increased productivity

Yesterday I received three rejections--three! It's been a long time since I received three rejections in one day. It's a good thing I already had plans that would keep me away from the keyboard the rest of the day, or I might have sat at the computer, brooding and not writing.

All three rejections came from a group of magazines I've been selling to on a fairly regular basis since 1993. They've changed their editorial focus and are seeking a different type of fiction than what I've been selling to them all these years.


I haven't anything in progress that would fit their new requirements, and I haven't decided yet if I even want to write the type of fiction they're now seeking. That's a decision for another day.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Day twenty-two, story twelve

I just finished printing a new bit of crime fiction, the story of a burglar, an amorous couple who unknowingly trap him in a closet, and what happens next. I started work on this story in August of 2007 and finished the 3,600-word final draft earlier this evening. It'll go into the mail tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Seeking an attention span

One of the problems I had pre-surgery, and one that's returned now that I'm no longer taking Metoprolol, is an inability to concentrate on writing one story at a time. I'll start working on a story, get an idea for another story and stop to work on it, and then stop work on that to work on a third story. Having so many stories in progress means never having to say I have nothing to work on, but it does get frustrating sometimes to realize how many completed manuscripts I might have if I wrote each story start-to-finish.

Today's amusing copyediting error

From page 314 of Fifty-to-One by Charles Ardai: In the midst of a gunfight aboard a ship, "[b]oth fell to the ground moaning."

To the deck? Sure. To the floor? Maybe? To the ground? No.

Interesting note: "Ground," in nautical terms, means "the bottom of a body of water." So, if these two fell to the "ground," they most likely were drowning. Moaning and drowning.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I don't plan to note every rejection I receive this year, but thought I would mention the first, from Ellery Queen, which arrived in today's mail.

So that's one sale and one rejection so far this year, putting me two acceptances behind my goal of a one-per-week average.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Still day seventeen, story eleven

I just submitted a new 4,600-word confession. I had the idea for this story mid-day Thursday when the opening line of dialog popped into my head, followed shortly by the next two lines of dialog and a tentative story-line. I worked on it Thursday evening and Friday evening, alternating with work on two other stories, and finished it late this afternoon.


My story "Dead Flowers on Valentine's Day" appears in the February True Love.

Day seventeen, story ten

I completed a short--800 word--romance this morning, one that I actually started working on in April of 2008. I had, maybe, 600 words written. I finished writing it yesterday when I realized how the story should end* and proofread it this morning before preparing it for the mail.

*It's a romance, so it ends with an H.E.A. Of course. But with an 800-word story, those last few lines have to be just right.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Day sixteen, story nine

The problem with setting a goal--even facetiously--of writing a publishable short story every day for a year is that it's damn near impossible to catch up if you fall behind.

Earlier this evening I finished and submitted my ninth story of the year, a 6,200-word confession that I began writing in April of 2008. I've worked on it sporadically since then and had about half of it written before I picked it up again a few days ago.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I received my first acceptance of the year today, for an April Fool's Day-themed confession I submitted on January 7. Not only is it my first acceptance of the year, it's my first acceptance of something written (mostly) this year.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Day thirteen, story eight

I don't know why Christmas stories are pouring out of me, but this morning while walking the dogs I had an idea for a short-short Christmas mystery. I made a few notes at the time and this evening wrote the story. It clocks in at a mere 700 words, which is what the target market wants, and will go into the mail tomorrow.

Monday, January 12, 2009


My story "Single on Valentine's Day" appears in the February True Romance.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Here's my damn epiphany

On September 17, seven days after my quadruple bypass, I posted this under the heading "Where's my damn epiphany?":

"If I were writing a story based on the recent events in my life, this would be the point where my protagonist has an epiphany--that character-altering moment when he vows to be a better person and save the world from injustice. So where's my damn epiphany?"

Here's my damn epiphany:

I used to take writing for granted. I never had writers block (which is a lazy writer's excuse for not writing) and I could write almost anywhere under almost any conditions. Then I spent 3.5 months essentially NOT writing. My head was empty. Now I'm writing again and I don't take it for granted. I'm overflowing with story ideas and things I want to write about. I'm even having trouble sleeping because I have so many stories zipping through my head. But take it for granted when I've learned how easily it can disappear? Not now.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Day ten, story seven

I finished writing my seventh short story of the year a few minutes ago, a bit of crime fiction that takes place during the Christmas season. I began work on this a few years ago when I was having a particularly bad Christmas, and the first few hundred words describe an apparent suicide. That's all I had until yesterday, when I picked up the story and figured out what the story was really about. I worked on it yesterday evening and this morning, and the final draft, which clocks in at 2,500 words, will hit the mail the next time I leave the house.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Day nine, story six

Yesterday I woke early with three lines of dialog in my head. I immediately booted up my computer and those three lines of dialog became three of the first four sentences of a new story. I spent much of the day away from home, but I had access to e-mail and every so often I e-mailed myself a snippet of dialog, a sentence of description, or a note about what a scene should contain. When I returned home yesterday evening I copied everything into my Word file, put all the pieces in the correct order, and wrote the connective tissue that tied all the pieces together. By the time I went to bed I had a new 2,100-word story.

I proofread/edited it this morning. After correcting a few typos and adding a few words, it'll be ready to submit.

I don't expect a prompt response, however, because this is just about the worst time of year to submit a Christmas story...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Day seven, story five

When I posted yesterday about the challenge of writing a short story a day for a year, I didn't actually think it was doable. But here it is January 7 and I just finished my fifth story.

The final draft clocks in at 4,300 words. Like three of the four previous stories, this one was started pre-surgery. Unlike the other stories, all I had written was the first 200 or so words. Finishing it was a much bigger challenge than finishing any of the others.

"Sin, Suffer, Cash the Checks"

My brief article about writing confessions--"Sin, Suffer, Cash the Checks"--was posted today at

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Every day for a year

During 2008 James Reasoner wrote more than a million words for publication ( That's about 2,800 words a day, every day, for 365 days. In his case the result was 13 novels.

If I produced that many words for publication during any given year I would generate--give or take a few--365 short stories.

Imagine writing a short story a day, every day, for 365 days.

Now imagine finding markets for them. Real markets. Paying markets.

The markets are there. I already write for some of them. I've often had two stories in the same issue of a magazine, and have occasionally had three stories in the same issue, but to place 365 short stories in a year would mean filling some publications cover-to-cover several months in a row.

Now that's a challenge.


One of my pseudonyms had a story published yesterday.

Monday, January 05, 2009

14 hours and then I drop

I've been going non-stop for 14 hours now--cardiac rehab this morning followed by a couple of hours revising a radio commercial and a newspaper ad, and then several hours of editing with brief writing interludes.

And I finished another short story. This is another I had started pre-surgery, about a missing husband. I'd written the set-up, but I didn't know why he was missing or where he'd gone. Yesterday I figured it out. I had somewhere between 1,000 and 1,200 words written before I picked the manuscript up yesterday, and the final draft clocks it at 2,600 words.

I also revised three short-shorts that I had written several years ago, cutting words to make them appropriate for a different market.

I e-mailed the new story to an editor a few minutes ago; the three revised stories go in the mail tomorrow.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Another day, another short story

This weekend I'm ass-deep in an editing project due on the fifth (one of the monthly publications I edit) and I'm behind schedule because of the holidays and because of my own procrastination.

One cannot edit for several hours straight without going nuts so I also worked on a new short story. The final draft is printing now and will go into the mail tomorrow.

It's a bit of crime fiction that I began shortly after my surgery, about a hitman forced into retirement by a quadruple bypass who has a zipper tattooed over the ten-inch scar on his chest. I wrote the first 900 words back in September and set it aside. At that point writing was as difficult as wrestling mountain lions and I had no idea where the story was going. Yesterday I "knew" what needed to happen and the final draft clocks in at 2,700 words.

And today I have much more editing to do if I'm to meet tomorrow's deadline.

Friday, January 02, 2009

2008 in review

Here's what happened in 2008:

52 acceptances

28 rejections

30 ms. published

My gross income from freelancing decreased 29.17%. Much of the decrease is the result of a key client ending my independent contractor status by putting me on payroll as a part-time employee. Income from all sources was up 4.93%.*

Income from
Advertising & Public Relations: down 63.90% (see above)
Editing: up 2.18%
Fiction (not books/novels): down 11.73%
Non-fiction (not books): down 96.97%
Royalties (from all books): down 69.40%
Seminars/teaching: down 69.40%

Last January, when I summed up 2007, I had a lot to say. This year, not so much. This year was what it was, and I'm just damned lucky to be here to sum it up.
*Updated 1/15/09.

Another new story

I finished another new story a few minutes ago. This time it's a short-short of 1,100 words that I started pre-surgery. I'd written about half the story but had made no notes about what I intended--if anything--to do with the rest of it. I reread the manuscript last night, and when I woke this morning I wrote the last half before I did anything else. I let the story sit all day while I did other things, and this evening I proofread/edited the manuscript. In a few minutes I'll slip it into an envelope so it can go into the mail tomorrow.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Slow start

2009 is off to a slow start. It's almost 3:00 and I haven't sold a thing.

On the other hand, I did just finish a new short story, and it'll go into the mail tomorrow.

It's a story I started pre-surgery. I had written the first 1,800 words or so and had made notes about possible directions the story could go from there, along with a note about how it might end. I wrote the last half of the story Tuesday and Wednesday and did a final edit/proofread this afternoon. The final draft clocks in at 3,500 words and the last half only vaguely resembles the notes I'd made.

That makes two stories finished since Christmas.