Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mixing genres in "Big Guns"

Today I discuss how I came to mix three genres when I wrote "Big Guns" for the anthology High Octane Heroes in my guest post here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Writer's constipation

Except for the three-plus months following my quadruple bypass in 2008, I've never suffered from writer's block, and that wasn't writer's block as it's most commonly defined. Instead, it was a drug-induced block that disappeared as soon as I made my cardiologist aware of the problem and he modified my drug regimen.

I do, however, sometimes suffer from writer's constipation. The stories are still in my head and the words still want to come out, but they don't come easily. Instead of them flowing out in paragraphs and pages, I must squeeze them out one word or one sentence at a time.

There's no perceptible difference in quality between the work I squeeze out and the work that flows out. There is, however, a difference in how I feel during the creative process. I feel frustrated. What I've not determined is if writer's constipation causes my frustration or if something else causes the frustration and writer's constipation is the result.


I received my 28th acceptance of the year this afternoon. This one's for a confession.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Light my fire

Whenever I'm asked to discuss how I came to write a particular story, I often have nothing worthwhile to say. So, when I read another writer's long, involved treatise about the creation of a story, I want to shout, "Bullshit!"

I suspect the bulk of those treatises are after-the-fact justifications written to appease readers who don't know any better or written as some sort of delusional marketing attempt. I can't recall story creation ever involving that much angst.

So, where do stories come from?

Let's call it a story spark. Some potentially insignificant thing sparks a story and, like a fire, the story grows from the kindling surrounding it.

For example, the spark might be an editor asking for a mystery set in Times Square, a call for submissions requesting ghost stories involving coal mining, or a magazine's regular use of holiday-themed women's stories.

Sometimes the spark catches fire immediately and I sit down to write. Sometimes it burns like an ember for several days before catching fire. Either way the story grows from that spark in the same way a fire grows: it engulfs the flammable story material around it.

My flammable story material comes from all I have done and all I have read and all I have studied, and it has piled up awaiting a story spark to ignite it. But I don't usually construct the story fire as I would a campfire.

Because my story fires are more like wildfires than campfires, I am often unable to discuss how I wrote any particular story. I just wrote it.

All the material was there waiting for a spark. When the spark came, so did the story.


"I'll Follow the Sun" appears in the October True Story.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


I received my 27th acceptance of the year this evening. This one's for a confession.


I received my 26th acceptance of the year this morning.

Friday, August 16, 2013


My name pops up in "Hitting All the Reader Buttons: High Octane Heroes," a blog post by Sharon Hamilton about a just-published anthology to which we both contributed.


I'm a Voracious Reader reviewed "Lost Soul" and concluded the "5 bites out of 5" review:
"This short story is very well-written and funny with a great plot. For such a short story it feels like a much longer tale. Not the most observant person, I’m sure there are nuances I missed, but for the most part I think I picked up on them. And I love the ending. Should Bracken write more stories about Mark Cain I would definitely read them."
Read the entire review here.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Crime Square now available for Kindle

Crime Square, which contains my Derringer Award-winning story "Getting Out of the Box," is now available for Kindle. Order it here.

Friday, August 09, 2013


Two Lips Reviews reviewed the anthology All the Boys and had this to say about my contribution, "Garden Variety":
Kyle is the grandson of a wealthy customer Doug gardens for. One day Kyle wants Doug to prune more than the roses. When Doug takes Kyle up on his offer, he finds himself torn between love and power struggles. Which will survive in the game of love? Garden Variety is a very bittersweet story. I felt as if a part of the story was cut off due to its short size. Like instead of making it a romance to making it just a scene from a romance story. I really would have liked to have seen a longer story so I could get more attached to the main characters and for at least one of them to get a happy for now ending out of it. As it stands, it’s not quite my cup of tea. I like happier stories than this one.
Read the entire review here.


Thoughts of a Growing Sub reviews the anthology Past Pleasures and has this to say about my contribution, "Late One Night at the Tourist Court":
Johnny had big plans when he came back from the war in Europe, but nothing was going his way until he robbed the bank in Lufkin, Texas, and hightailed it out of town with his girlfriend. He didn’t realise how much she had learnt while he was away, but she had several lessons to teach Johnny. Some of them were in the bedroom, and he learned them all late one night at the Tourist Court.
Read the entire review here.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013


I received my 25th acceptance of the year this evening. This time it's to reprint a horror story first published in 2001.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

10 years plus

I have now had one or more short stories published each and every month for 122 consecutive months. That's 10 years and two months. I should have noted this achievement when I hit the 10-year mark, but I missed it.

Monday, August 05, 2013


I finished and submitted my twenty-eighth story of the year this morning. This one's a 3,500-word confession I started writing in March 2004.