Thursday, May 29, 2014


I finished and submitted my twenty-ninth short story of the year a few minutes ago. This story is a 4,200-word bit of noirish crime fiction.

Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!

Brian Thornton provides some great advice to writers about social media in "How Not to Be the Guy Biting the Heads Off of Chickens in the (Virtual) Carnival Sideshow," his post today at SleuthSayers. (And, yes, he mentions me.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

11 years and counting

Effective with the just-published July issues of True Confessions and True Story magazines, I have had one or more short stories published each and every month for 132 consecutive months. That's 11 years.

While I know a handful of short story writers who are at least as productive as I am, I don't know any living short story writers who have been published in as many consecutive months as I have.

Published 3x

My stories "Safe at Home" and "Seeing Double" appear in the July True Confessions, and my story "Desperate for Fireworks" appears in the July True Story.

Friday, May 23, 2014


I received my 16th acceptance of the year this morning, this time for a confession.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


I finished and submitted my twenty-eighth short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 3,700-word confession.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


I finished and submitted my twenty-seventh short story of the year a few minutes ago. This one's a 2,500-word erotic romance.


I finished and submitted my twenty-sixth short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 3,800-word erotic Viking romance. This was a third-track challenge story, and my challenge was to successfully write a story set in a time period about which I knew little. I spent quite a bit of time doing research for this story--for the Viking parts, not for the erotic or romance parts--and now need to determine what I want my next challenge story to be.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Writing fiction

"Writing fiction is, in many ways, like a religion. It is a daily practice, a way of life, a set of rituals, an orientation toward the universe. It is a communion with the intangible, a bridge between the finite and infinite. There’s a reason religions use stories to communicate, and it’s the same reason religions persecute storytellers: Stories are powerful. They are how we make sense of what cannot be known."
--Mohsin Hamid
The New York Times Sunday Book Review

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


I finished and submitted my twenty-fifth short story of the year this evening, a 3,600-erotic romance written in response to an anthology's open call.

I violated my triple-tracking system to write this story, but couldn't have finished it in time otherwise. I don't know how long the open call has been out, but I've had a printout of it on my desk for at least a month and the deadline is May 15. Each time I looked at the open call, I knew I wanted to write a story. Unfortunately, no idea came to me.

Tuesday afternoon I thought I had an idea, but two paragraphs into it I realized I had an opening but no story. Then another idea came to me, one that arrived with an opening and a rough plot.

I made some notes. That afternoon I started writing. Client work and social engagements interrupted my writing plans, but I wrote feverishly during the bits of time I had Tuesday afternoon, late Tuesday night, this morning, and this afternoon. I completed a full draft this afternoon and, after returning home this evening, I edited the draft, proofread the manuscript after entering all the editing changes, and emailed it to the editor on the eve of the deadline.

Tomorrow I'll return to triple-tracking and pick up where I left off on the stories in each track.

Monday, May 12, 2014


I finished and submitted my twenty-fourth short story of the year this evening. This one's a 2,400-word bit of magical realism that blends erotica with gardening.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Twenty-two, Twenty-three

I finished and submitted my twenty-second and twenty-third short stories of the year this evening. Both confessions, one is 2,400 words and the other is 3,200 words.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Write different

I have been writing fiction for more than 40 years and writing it professionally for at least 35. Over time I have developed several writing habits--some good and some not--that impact everything from what I write to how I write to when I write.

For a variety of reasons, not all of them related to the actual process, my productivity dropped a few years ago and, for each of the past few years, I've missed my target of producing at least 52 short stories per year.

Earlier this year I made some changes to what, how, and when I write. I wrote about some of the changes in a January 18 blog post, but I have made several additional changes since then.

The most interesting change wasn't one I made on purpose, but it has become a significant reason for a dramatic uptick in productivity. I've started triple-tracking.

During a typical weekday, I have three periods of time I can devote to writing fiction: First thing in the morning, late afternoon/early evening after I finish with work for clients, and mid-/late evening.

Though I did not initially set out to do this, I found myself using each track differently and realized that it had brought new vigor to my writing.

Track One

Each morning I have 30-60 minutes between waking and leaving the house that I can devote to writing. I use this time to write confessions, a genre I have been writing in for much of my career and in which I sell approximately two stories each month.

I have been writing confessions for so long that I know the three basic story types, the chatting-with-friends conversational style, and the must-do/must-not-do elements without any deep thought. Though I still must envision a suitable narrative hook and appropriate plot, once I do, these stories roll off my fingertips.

For me, the ideal length of a confession is 3,500 words and if I write 300+ words each weekday morning, I can finish a new confession approximately every two weeks.

This I've been doing.

Track Two

When I return home each afternoon, I have time before--and sometimes after--dinner when I can again write. Because I had been invited to contribute to some erotica anthologies, I initially spent this time, and have continued to spend this time, writing erotica.

Erotica is another genre in which I've been writing for much of my career and, though the style can vary significantly depending on editorial requirements, the essence of an erotic story remains the same: get the protagonist in a sexual situation.

Erotica is also open to cross-genre stories, so I write erotica, erotic romance, erotic horror, erotic crime fiction, and so on. Incorporating cross-genre elements sometimes means these stories don't always flow from my fingertips as easily as confessions, but I can still produce 300+ words each weekday, and can complete a new erotic story approximately every two weeks.

Track Three

Mid-/late evening, usually after a dinner break or after watching one of the few television programs I still follow, I switch gears and work on what I've been calling my challenge stories. These are stories that require something different from me.

For example, I might work on a story that has no known market, a story that requires extensive research, a story in a genre in which I've not previously or only rarely written, or a story in which the actual process is unlike my usual approach.

For example, I'm not usually a detailed plotter, but I wrote one story that I had completely plotted using the "Save the Cat!" beat sheet before I wrote a single word of the story. I wrote one that required me to research Puerto Vallarta (which I had visited years before to speak at a writing conference). I wrote a fairy tale, which involved extensive research into what made a story a fairy tale and not just fantasy, and then had to plot extensively to ensure that I incorporated all the elements into the story. I'm currently working on a story that has involved extensive research into the daily lives of Vikings, and I've been tinkering with a ghost story I started several years ago that has no known market.

I'm not setting myself productivity goals with my challenge stories because my goal isn't to produce a certain number of them. My goal is to find new ways to write that--if successful--I may be able to incorporate into my writing routine.


Weekends are not as structured as weekdays, so they have become productivity free-for-alls. If I have a story from any track that's almost finished, I may concentrate my efforts on that story. If I have a complete draft of a story written earlier in the week, I may use time during the weekend to edit and/or proofread the story prior to submission. If I'm working on a story that requires extensive research, I may spend time during the weekend doing that research.


My productivity is on the rise. I have produced more than one story each week since the beginning of the year, and I have several stories lined up to write in all three tracks to avoid lag time in any track.

How long I will continue triple-tracking, I don't know. For now, though, it's really helped increase my fiction productivity.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

14, 15

I received my 14th and 15th acceptances of the year this evening, this time for a pair of confessions.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Published 3x

My story "Chasing Love" appears in the June True Confessions and my stories "Pregnant on Father's Day and "Prom Rescue" appear in the June True Story.

Thursday, May 01, 2014


I finished and submitted my twenty-first short story of the year this evening. This one's a 2,500-word bit of erotica.