Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hopeful notes

My year ends on a pair of hopeful notes. A few minutes ago I learned that one of my essays has been tentatively accepted for an anthology, and yesterday I learned that one of my short stories is being held for further consideration by a magazine that has published my work in the past.

While neither will count as an acceptance for this year (alas, "maybe" isn't "yes"), perhaps they'll count in next year's total.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Published 2x

My story "Chance Encounter" appears in the February True Story and "Total Package" appears in Best Gay Romance 2010, edited by Richard Labonte and just out from Cleis Press.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Story seventy-five

I just finished and will tomorrow submit my 75th short story of the year. This time it's a 4,500-word Memorial Day confession. Plot Monkey and I came up with the idea for this story and roughed out the plot on November 7. We were sitting on the bench in my front yard and we challenged ourselves to come up with a story based on something we could see in my neighborhood. What we saw, about a block away, was a group of bikers--motorcycle riders, not bicyclists--and that became the impetus for the story. Because the plot was fully formed I was able to write the entire story yesterday and today and still enjoy my third Christmas celebration, an evening out at the movies, and a couple of extra hours of sleep this morning.

Story seventy-four

I'm about to submit my 74th short story of the year, a 4,100-word Easter confession I started writing December 18. I finished writing it yesterday but didn't have a chance to proofread/edit the manuscript until this afternoon. It'll go into the mail tomorrow.


At, Gummy has this to say about my 2005 crime fiction collection Yesterday in Blood and Bone:
The stories are sometimes short to the point of being abrupt. One author called him this era's Mickey Spillane. He may be better, actually.

Cool, huh?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

36, 37

One of my Christmas wishes has already been partially granted. A few minutes ago I received my 36th and 37th acceptances of the year. One is for a St. Patrick's Day confession submitted November 3; the other is for a Spring Break confession submitted December 6.

All I want for Christmas... for editors to respond to my submissions (acceptances preferred).

...publishers to pay me what they agreed to pay me, when they agreed to pay it.

...and the opportunity to keep writing for another year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Published 3x

My story "Love After Death" appears in the February issue of True Love and my stories "Games" and "Snub Nose Love" appear in issue #6 of Out of the Gutter.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I miss rejection slips

When I started writing in the early 1970s, photocopiers were not ubiquitous. Not every publishing office had a photocopier, so multiple copies of generic rejection slips were often printed on the office mimeograph or on a printing press using hot metal type. Later, photocopiers mostly replaced mimeographs in the office and offset printing mostly replaced letterpress in print shops.

But rejection slips remained slips of paper that accompanied unwanted manuscripts home from the slush pile.

Over time we learned how to read those rejections slips. No, not the generic copy printed on them that said, in one way or another, "Thanks, but no thanks." We learn to read the implied messages.

A poorly photocopied rejection slip? Didn't make it past the intern who's being punished for accidentally insulting a senior editor's spouse.

A crisp, photocopied rejection slip? The intern actually read the first page of the manuscript.

An original, printed rejection slip--not a photocopy? The intern kicked the manuscript up to an assistant editor.

An original, printed rejection slip with one or two words indecipherably scrawled at the bottom? The assistant editor read a few pages.

An original, printed rejection slip with "Not for us" or "Try again" scrawled at the bottom? The assistant editor read the entire manuscript.

An original, printed rejection slip with the editor's name scrawled at the bottom? The assistant editor kicked the manuscript up to the editor, who read a page or two.

An original, printed rejection slip with "Not for us" or "Try again" scrawled at the bottom, followed by the editor's name? The editor read the entire manuscript.

An original, printed rejection slip with any comment related to the story--"weak plot" or "unbelievable characters," for example --scrawled at the bottom, followed by the editor's name? The editor read the entire manuscript and liked it enough to offer a few thoughts.

A personalized rejection letter that the editor took the time to type? That's almost a sale. Or the editor had too much free time, in which case the publication didn't have much of a slush pile.

Beyond that are responses that aren't actual rejections; suggestions for revision, requests for revision, acceptances contingent upon revision, and acceptances.

Today, though, all that implied information is lost to writers. With manuscripts submitted via e-mail, and responses, when they come, also arriving by e-mail, it isn't possible to easily suss out who may or may not have looked at the manuscript and what they may or may not have thought of what they read. Rejections are often cut-and-paste blocks of type with no personal touches added, and when personal touches are added, they may be nothing more than dropping the writer's name into a space reserved in the salutation and the story title dropped into another spot in the opening sentence.

And a sig line isn't a signature. It's just another cut-and-paste block of type.


Although I don't receive nearly as many rejections as I did back in the early 1970s, I miss rejection slips.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

If writers worked the drive-through

So that's one novel, extra plot. Do want a short story with that?


I received my 35th acceptance yesterday, this time from an anthology for the story of a mafioso and what he does to move up in the organization. I submitted the story on December 4.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Story seventy-three

I finished and submitted my 73rd short story of the year this afternoon. This one is a 2,700-word Easter-themed confession. I began writing it on November 27.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Story seventy-two

I finished and submitted my 72nd short story of the year, a 5,500-word Spring Break-themed confession that I started writing October 16, 2008.


I received my 34th acceptance of the year a few minutes ago, this time for a 3,800-word confession I submitted on November 8.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


A few days ago, an agent asked her readers which conferences they would recommend to other writers, but in her example listed both conferences and conventions as examples. It bothers me that people who should know the difference, don't. My response:

Although there is some overlapping of programming and opportunity for writers between the two, there is a significant difference between conferences and conventions.

Conventions--such as Bouchercon, mentioned in your post--are FOR the readers/fans while conferences--such as Pennwriters, mentioned by a previous poster--are FOR the writers.

At a convention you're most likely to hear a well-known writer give the "and then I wrote" speech to a roomful of fans. At a conference, that same writer is more likely to give the "here's how I wrote" speech to a roomful of writers and would-be writers.

While attendence at both conferences and conventions can be beneficial to a writer, it's in the writer's best interest to understand the difference and to understand what they should bring to the event (if a speaker or panelist) or take from the event (if an attendee). Having appropriate expectations will play a significant factor in evaluating the experience post-event.

This morning I read a pair of blog posts by a writer assembling his first collection of short stories, where he continually refers to it as an anthology. It isn't. A collection contains the work of a single author. An anthology contains the work of several authors.

I frequently read blog posts and articles by authors who claim to have received galleys of their work, but have probably never seen a galley in their lives. The advent of desktop publishing programs such as Pagemaker, QuarkXPress, and InDesign virtually eliminated the need to produce galleys because these programs allow you to skip that production step and produce page proofs instead.

Why do these errors bother me this morning? Because if we, as writers, can not be trusted to properly use the terminology appropriate for our own industry, how can be be trusted to write about anything else?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Story seventy-one

I finished writing my 71st short story of the year earlier this evening, and the manuscript will go into the mail tomorrow. This is a 3,500-word Spring Break-themed confession that I started writing on October 27.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Published 2x

My story "My New Year's Casanova" appears in the January True Confessions, and my story "A Big Scoop of Love" appears in the January True Love.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Story seventy

I finished and submitted my 70th short story of the year this evening. This time it's a 2,600-word bit of crime fiction about a mobster angling to move up. I started writing the story on November 24, almost four months after seeing an anthology's call for submissions.


My story "Hot New Year" appears in the January issue of True Story, which just hit newsstands in central Texas.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Google Books and my work

I am not a fan of Google Books and am even less so now that I've discovered significant portions of nearly every book I've written and anthology I've edited available via Google Books. Because many of my books are short story collections, this means many of my short stories are available for free, eliminating much of the incentive for readers to purchase the collections.

This, however, is an opportunity for you. If you've ever had any desire to read some of my short stories or portions of my novels, go here.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tiger troubles

Tiger Woods is rumored to have had an affair with a woman in Las Vegas.

Apparently, he wasn't satisifed with a hole in one.