Thursday, December 30, 2010


I finished writing my 42nd short story of the year this afternoon, a 3,700-word heist story that I started writing on January 17, 2007. Unfortunately, I don't know where to send it.

This happens sometimes. Most of the stories I write, I write with a specific market in mind. Some of the stories I start writing without having a market in mind, but do have one in mind before I finish writing. A few--a very few--are like this story: born homeless.

I'll put the manuscript on top of my to-submit pile and do a little market research later.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I completed and submitted my 41st short story of the year this evening. This time it's a 1,200-word bit of erotica started on June 8.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


This evening I finished and submitted my 40th short story of the year, a 5,400-word Mother's Day confession I started writing December 2.

Published 2x

I received contributor copies of two anthologies today: Video Boys, containing my private eye story "Watching Kyle," and Rock & Roll Over, containing my story "One Hit Wonder."


"Southern Comfort," a bit of crime fiction featuring a private eye with a dark family secret, appears in the Winter 2010 issue of Big Pulp. I don't have my contributor copy yet, but the publication just went on sale. Learn more and order here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

I was framed

James Reasoner writes about receiving his first check for a professional fiction sale 34 years ago today in "I Remember It Well."

I received payment for my first professional fiction sale on November 9, 1978, almost two years after James, but I don't remember it all that well. What I do remember is framing the check stub and one crisp new dollar bill, and for many years that little frame hung in my office. I just went digging through the plastic storage bins under my bed and found it. Now that I've found it, I think I'm going to put it up in my office again.

I also framed a copy of the story ("The Magic Stone") along with the cover of that issue of the magazine (Young World, November, 1978). Alas, that frame seems to have been lost during one of the many times I've moved since 1978.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I completed and submitted my 39th short story of the year this evening, a 1,000-word bit of erotica I started yesterday.

Friday, December 24, 2010


I received my 60th acceptance of the year a few minutes ago, this time for a hardboiled private eye story featuring my reoccurring character Morris Ronald "Moe Ron" Boyette.

A textbook case

I'm pleased to announce that I am one of 60 contributors to Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction, a writing textbook edited by Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller scheduled for publication by Headline Books in 2011.

Learn more about the book, the editors, and the contributors at the Many Genres blog.

Meet me in Mexico

Banderas News has a short article about the Puerto Vallarta Writers Conference this coming February, "Puerto Vallarta Writers Conference February 25-27, 2011." (There's more about the conference at the Puerto Vallarta Writers Group website.)

I'm one of the scheduled speakers, so if you want to say "howdy," why not do it in Mexico two months from now?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Do I need a social network?

Earlier this evening I deleted my MySpace account and I stared hard at my Facebook account, wondering if it deserved the same fate. Not yet, I decided, but maybe soon.

The MySpace account had stopped being useful several years ago. I realized this a few months back and started deleting my friends, most of whom were other writers who had apparently joined MySpace, just as I had, thinking it would be a good way to market ourselves and our books. It wasn't. At least, it wasn't for me. And not one of my former MySpace friends noticed or cared that they had been defriended.

I joined Facebook a bit later, while I was in college (to bring latecomers up-to-date: I graduated in December 2005, at the age of 48), because that's what college students were doing. My current Facebook friends are a mix of family, friends, and other writers, and I rarely post anything on Facebook. There are few intimate details of my life that I'm willing to share in a public forum--and with Facebook's woefully inadequate privacy protection it is very much a public forum--and I don't feel comfortable inflicting writing news on family and friends who mostly don't care that I've sold another story or had one published. I'm not even sure that more than a select few of my fellow writers care about my successes and failures because they are rightfully more concerned with their own.

So, if I rarely share information via Facebook and I don't follow anyone else's updates, what value does membership offer for me?

I'm still trying to answer that question. But, unless I convince myself that it has absolutely no value, I'll keep my Facebook account.

And keep posting my writing successes and failures here where anyone who reads my blog posts is doing so by choice.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I received my 59th acceptance of the year a few minutes ago, this time for an erotic ghost story.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I finished writing my 38th story of the year, a 5,000-word Mother's Day confession that I began writing December 7. The final draft is printing now and it'll go in the mail this afternoon.

Friday, December 17, 2010

How long ago?

Any writer who's known me for long knows I abhor the word "got." (To recap: Frequent use of "got" is the sign of a sloppy writer. In almost every instance "got" can be replaced by a better, more accurate, more descriptive word or phrase.)

Lately, there's another word that's been bothering me almost as much: ago.

Unfortunately, many writers, editors, and readers don't understand its proper use in a time sequence and bollix up their stories unnecessarily.

For example:
At the end of a long, hot summer, Little Tony finally had had enough. He pulled a snub-nose .38 from the holster attached to his belt at the small of his back and drilled a pair into the little prick who'd been riding him the entire time. He had never intended to harm his wife's younger brother, but three days ago the simpering fop had pushed his last button and Little Tony only had to wait until the two of them were alone to scrape that pimple off the world's ass.
Whoa! Wait a minute! When did the simpering little fop push Little Tony's last button?

Grammatically, the simpering fop pushed Little Tony's last button three days before this story was told, which might be--because this is written in past tense--days, weeks, months, or years after the shooting.

What the author meant is that the simpering fop pushed Little Tony's last button three days prior to the shooting.

Therefore, the author should have written:
He had never intended to harm his wife's younger brother, but three days earlier the simpering fop had pushed his last button and Little Tony only had to wait until the two of them were alone to scrape that pimple off the world's ass.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I received my 58th acceptance today, this time for an 800-word romance I wrote in January 2009.

The acceptance is a bit of a cheat because I'm accepting it for a newsletter I edit, but if I won't accept my own work, why should I expect other editors to?

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I finished and submitted my 37th short story of the year, a 5,700-word confession that I began writing November 19.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I finished and submitted my 36th story of the year, this time a confession with an Earth Day theme. I started writing this story November 18 and worked on it in fits and starts while working on a couple of other stories that I hope to complete within the next few days.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Top five

At Chris Rhatigan's Death By Killing blog, guest blogger Sandra Seamans lists her five favorite flash stories of 2010 in today's post "Top Five of 2010: Sandra Seamans."

Included in her top five is my story "Dead Things," published by Big Pulp. She says:
"Michael’s story is as old as time, but the pov he chose to tell the story pumped fresh life into the tale."

Monday, December 06, 2010


I received my 57th acceptance earlier today, this time for a private eye story I wrote back in 2003.

I also learned that three stories previously accepted by the same publisher have now been scheduled for publication.

Friday, December 03, 2010


I don't track my nonfiction and other writing the way I track my fiction production, but I did finish and submit a 450-word essay this evening. A writer I've known for many years (one of several Internet friends I've never met in person) is putting together a collection of essays about bad dates and on Tuesday sent me the call for submissions.

I guess I've been lucky because I've never had a truly bad date, but there is one that has haunted me for nearly 40 years. So I wrote about it.