Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Last writer on the Titanic

I have been writing confessions almost as long as I've been writing. My first sale to a confession magazine was a poem published in February 1981, the same year I sold my first confession. I have written so many confessions that other confession writers dubbed me the "King of Confessions."

That's why I was dishearted to learn earlier today that two more confession magazines--True Love and True Romance--have ceased publication.

Only two confession magazines remain: True Confessions and True Story.

While I may continue to write for and submit to the two remaining publications, it's time to take a hard look at my fiction production. I need to spend more of my writing energy producing work in other genres.

But first I need to determine which genres offer the greatest opportunities.

By coincidence, I've been working on a series of Rolinda Hay projects, including Spicy Confessions 2 (scheduled for release within 48 hours) and Spicy Confessions 3 (which I hope to release shortly after that). Because I may have a dozen or so publishable but unsold confessions landing back in my lap now that the genre has hit an iceberg, I may be stretching the series into volumes 4, 5, 6, and beyond.

Jim Winter on his Kindle experience

Earlier today Jim Winter blogged about his experience posting a single story on Kindle, and he makes some interesting observations. Check it out here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memories Dying now available for Kindle

Memories Dying, a horror novella I wrote several years ago is now available for Kindle.

Young police officer Mike Morelli expected a routine night shift in the northern California coastal town where he had lived his entire life. Then Patrick Bates, chairman of the Baker High School class of 1974 reunion committee, returned to town. Would his classmates, most of whom died graduation night, soon follow?

Memories Dying was previously published in the U.K. as In the Town of Dreams Unborn and Memories Dying and received some great reviews, including the following:

"A truly terrifying tale in the Stephen King tradition. Michael Bracken is a horror writer to watch out for."-Writers Block

"Nicely understated and atmospheric...."-Science Fiction Chronicle

Order it here.


My erotic noir story "Garden Variety" appears in two anthologies, When a Man Loves A Man and All the Boys. Coffee Time Romance and More reviewed All the Boys and had this to say about my story:
Mr. Bracken knows how to write a tantalizing tale of a forbidden affair between two men. [...] The way the traditional “pool boy” story is twisted to fit the GLBT genre was also brilliantly done. What a red-hot read this turned out to be.
Read the full review and learn what the reviewer thought of the other stories here.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Kindle reality

The Kindle millionaires are quite willing to tout their sales numbers and earnings, but no one else seems willing to share their data. So, how about a little dose of reality from the bottom end?

But first, some background:

I'm an established writer with nearly 900 short story sales.

My stories have been spread across so many genres that I'm not particularly well known in any specific genre.

I have many titles available from many sources in many formats (Kindle, Nook, etc.) but I'm only sharing numbers from my self-published work, and my self-published work is currently available only from Amazon for Kindle.

I uploaded my first title in April 2010, an original sweet romance titled Unbridled Love: A Romance With Horse Sense. As of the end of April 2011, I had sold 38 copies. Mid-April I changed the cover and this month to date I've sold 17 copies.

In August and September 2010 I uploaded three hardboiled crime short stories ("Glass Houses," "Lesser of Two Evils," and "Pick,") and one mystery novella "Dreams Unborn," all previously published. They are offered individually. As of the end of April 2011, I've sold--all four titles combined--23 copies. This month to date: 0.

In April 2010 I uploaded Microchick, a collection of 24 previously published erotic SF, horror, and fantasy short stories. During April I sold 1 copy. This month to date: 3.

In April 2010 I uploaded Sex, Violence, & Half a Million Dollars, a collection of 23 previously published erotic hardboiled and noir crime fiction stories. In April I sold 8 copies. This month to date: 1.

Earlier this month I uploaded Spicy Confessions, a collection of four confession stories as by Rolinda Hay. Sales this month to date: 1.

I've done little promotion--links on my website, links on my blog, occasional mentions on Facebook, and this post, which might serve some promotional purpose.

Most of what I've made available for the Kindle is previously published work, so any income the stories generate is gravy, but the amount of money I'm earning in any particular month is negligible. (I'll clear $40 for May sales, my best month to date.)

I hope having real sales numbers, with real titles you can study (look at the covers, look at the product descriptions, look at the tags, look at the reviews [or lack of reviews]) will help you decide if self-publishing is worth your effort.

For me? Yes, but...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Popular in Japan?

I've recently noticed a series of tweets referencing my books and providing links to them on Amazon.co.jp. I can't read Japanese, so I have no idea what the tweets say. Even so, how cool is it that someone on the other side of the world has taken the time to tweet about my work?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My afternoon as a butt model

Magazine editors do much more than wrestle nouns and verbs. Sometimes we're called upon to utilize our physical assets rather than our mental assets.

Yesterday, after editing a humorous article about Dumpster diving for gardeners that arrived without illustrations or photography, I was selected to Dumpster dive while the magazine's publisher took photographs to accompany the article.

So, there I was around mid-day, head down in a Dumpster, my backside pointed skyward and my legs a kickin', hoping I wouldn't fall in before the editor could get a usable shot.

He took the shot, I didn't fall in, and the selected photo will appear in the July/August issue of Texas Gardener.

And, let me tell you, being a model isn't all its cracked up to be.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I finished writing my twenty-fifth short story of the year this morning, a 5,400-word confession that I started writing on March 1. This one's a bit of a romance without a specific holiday or seasonal theme, and it will go in the mail within the hour.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Never throw any writing away, especially not homework. As friends and long-time readers know, I returned to college as an adult and finally graduated with a B.A. in Professional writing in 2005. I was 48.

Because I'm a writer, I kept every essay and term paper. A couple of the things I wrote for my various classes have since been published, and it's about to happen again.

An argumentative essay I wrote in the form of a letter back in March 2004 just found a home in an anthology of unsent letters, making it my 32nd acceptance of the year.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


I finished and submitted my twenty-fourth story of the year this morning, a 3,200-word crime story written for an anthology to which I was invited to submit. I hope it meets the editor's needs, but if not, there's still time before the deadline to write a different story, and I don't think I'll have any problem finding a different home for this one.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Show me the money

Several short story writers I know have made their short stories available for Kindle and other electronic devices as individual stories, small collections of only a few stories, and larger collections with a dozen or more stories. So, how are we doing?

The writers who seem to doing well with electronic self-publishing all seem to be novelists, or are primarily novelists. Is there any writer earning a significant amount of money electronically self-publishing short stories in any genre?

I've been making work available for Kindle for about 13 months now, dribbling
things out a little at a time. Although a couple of my novels are available for
Kindle and etc., my publishers released them; my electronically self-published
releases have ranged from short stories to novelettes to novellas.

By the end of last year I was earning $10-$20/month--nice pocket change for minimal effort--but not significant. Last month's earnings--after changing one cover and adding a couple of titles--doubled, and I'm on-track this month to again earn $30-$40. Better. Still not significant.

So, are any short story writers who are not primarily known as novelists doing well with electronically self-publishing short stories?

And, if so, in what genre(s) are they writing?

(For comparison: My best-selling title, representing more than half my total sales, is a sweet romance titled Unbridled Love: A Romance with Horse Sense.)

Friday, May 20, 2011


My erotic short story "Secrets" appears in the anthology Best of Both (Xcite, edited by Miranda Forbes). Although the anthology was released several weeks ago, my contributor copy just arrived from London.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Blog update

I've rearranged a few elements on my blog layout and added links to all of the projects I've made available for Kindle. When I next have time to fuss with my blog, I hope to add links to the hardbacks, paperbacks, and Kindle editions of projects released by my various publishers.


Gothic.net asked several dozen horror writers "What was the first movie or book or television show that scared you?" My response is near the tail-end of the page.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Time and place

I've been invited to contribute to an anthology that requires all stories take place within a tightly constrained geographical location, though the stories can be set in the past or the present.

Though I visited this location a few times in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the story I'm writing takes place even earlier. And my protagonist has an occupation with which I have minimal knowledge.

So, I'm having to research both time and place. What did this location look like at that point in time? What was happening in the world that impacted that location? How did my protagonist's occupation fit the time and place? And so on.

I don't write much fiction that requires extensive research because it often isn't cost-effective, and I always find myself traveling down research dead-ends or spending time reading about cool stuff that has nothing to do with the story-in-progress. (Though, I must admit, my ghost story "Pushing Coal" in Specters in Coal Dust, for which I had to research coal mining in the 1950s, turned out pretty good.) This time is no different.

But I'm glad I'm doing it because this is a story I never would have written without the invitation, and I have high hopes for the final draft.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Once upon a time I could write for several different publications without changing my byline. I could have a child-friendly story in a children's magazine and a violent or sexually explicit story in an adult publication the same month and not worry that the readership would overlap.

My how things have changed. Thanks to the Internet and all the search engines and social networking sites, readers can now discover the range of my work.

Unfortunately, a reader who enjoys my YA romance Just in Time for Love or my sweet romance Unbridled Love: A Romance With Horse Sense isn't likely to enjoy my hardboiled private eye novel All White Girls and is even less likely to enjoy the sexually explicit crime fiction in Sex, Violence & Half a Million Dollars.

In a world where branding is important, I've become over-branded, much like the tattooed lady at the carnival who becomes so covered with ink that no particular image stands out.

And, sadly, having "writer" as a brand just isn't specific enough.

Lady Leo defunct

Lady Leo Publishing, publisher of black romances and black confessions after Black Confessions, Jive, etc. ceased publication, has closed shop. The website is gone, most of Lady Leo's titles have disappeared from Amazon and B&N (except those titles written by the publisher), and the Facebook group is filled with authors asking each other if they've heard anything from the publisher. A couple of Lady Leo's other writers have shared word that the publisher reverted all rights to contributors.

This was a nice small press, but it reminds us of the danger of writing for small presses. One-person operations can disappear quickly, for any number of reasons, and when the publisher closes email accounts, shuts down websites, and generally stops communicating, our work may be trapped in limbo.

This problem isn't limited to small publishers, though. Even large publishers can sink, taking our work with them. The difference is that large publishers usually sink more slowly and leave a trail of information behind.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Published in Writing Book

I am one of several contributors to Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction, edited by Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller and just released by Headline Books.

Order your copy here.


My erotic romance story "Creosote Flats and the Big Spread" appears in The Handsome Prince, edited by Neil Plakcy and recently released by Cleis Press.

Sunday, May 08, 2011


I returned home from the annual Oklahoma Writers' Federation Inc. conference to find my 31st acceptance waiting in the mail box, this time for a 2,900-word bit of erotic crime fiction.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Published 2x

My stories "Daddy Dearest" and "Someday He'll Notice Me" appear in the June True Story.


I received my 30th acceptance of the year in today's mail, this time for a 4,600-word confession I submitted in February.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Spicy Confessions coming soon to Kindle

Confessions are a unique form of women's fiction. They aren't romances, though they are often romantic. They aren't erotica, though some are quite sensual. And they aren't chick lit, though they are clearly written for and about contemporary women. What they are, are compelling stories about real women facing real problems.

Rolinda Hay, under her own name and several pseudonyms, has been a leading confession writer for several decades, with more than two hundred confessions published in Black Confessions, Black Romance, Intimate Romances, Intimate Secrets, Intimate Story, Jive, Modern Romances, Secrets, True Confessions, True Experience, True Love, True Romance, True Secrets, and True Story.

The four short stories in Spicy Confessions--“Stolen Rose on Valentine’s Day,” “I Caught My Parents Doing It,” “Is That A Banana In Your Pants?” and “We Fought for Our Love Life”--showcase Hay at her spicy best, featuring four women dealing with love, sex, aging parents having sex, and a bus stop pervert.

5/3/11 UPDATE: Find Spicy Confessions here.

Published 5x

My stories "Picture This" and "A Forgettable Night" appear in the May True Romance and my stories "The Chocolate Lady," "Mother's Day Gift," and "Skateboard Love" appear in the May True Love.