Wednesday, August 24, 2016


My story "An Unhealthy Death," which appears in this month's Mystery Weekly Magazine, was yesterday's free story of the week, emailed to everyone on the magazine's email list. If you'd like to receive a mystery every Tuesday, join their email list:

Monday, August 22, 2016


I finished and submitted my forty-third short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 5,300-word confession I started August 18.


I completed and submitted my forty-second short story of the year this afternoon. This one's a 2,300-word Christmas story I started December 24, 2015.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

31, 32

I received my 31st and 32nd acceptances this morning, this time for a pair of confessions.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


I finished and submitted my forty-first short story of the year this evening. This one's a 1,000-word horror story that I started yesterday.

With this story, I have now completed as many stories as I wrote all of last year and one more than I wrote in 2013. On the flip side, my word count is lower than either of those years because I wrote a handful of short romances earlier this year intended for a high-paying woman's magazine. (I'm still waiting to see if that effort paid off.)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Collecting rejections

One of my favorite blogs is Aeryn Rudel's Rejectomancy. Aeryn is a novelist and short story writer who previously worked as publications manager for Privateer Press, so he has experience on both sides of the editorial desk. He suggests that "[t]he skill of rejectomancy is largely derived from understanding what rejection, in its various forms, actually means, because it’s not all bad. Rejection is a chance to grow, to develop your craft, and to acquire the thick skin you absolutely need if you want to make writing your career."

When I stumbled upon Aeryn's blog several months ago, the first post I read intrigued me so much that I scrolled back to the beginning and read every post. I still read every post and sometimes add my two cents in the comments section.

In the comments section of his August 1 post titled "July 2016 Submission Statement," Jessica Snell mentioned Laura Maylene Walter's Kenyon Review blog post "Doubling the Rejection Goal: How I Received 215 Rejections in 2015," which was a commentary on Kim Liao's post at Literary Hub "Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections This Year," and I found myself shaking my head in bewilderment. Why would anyone seek 215 rejections in a year?

The gist of the argument, followed back through the various blog posts, is that anyone receiving that many rejections must surely receive a few acceptances as well. Proving the theory has some validity, Laura received 12 acceptances in 2015.

215 rejections. 12 acceptances.

Those kind of numbers make me shake my head in bewilderment. If my acceptance to rejection rate was that low, I might just cut off my fingers and stop writing.

In 2015, I received 32 rejections and 42 acceptances.

I don't collect rejections. I collect acceptances.

Rejections are the temporary barriers I must overcome in order to reach my goal. Much like Aeryn, I use rejections to help me grow as a writer, whether it means improving my craft or learning to better target my submissions.

But even though Laura's approach is the antithesis of mine, the conclusion she draws is very much one I learned long ago: "Submit again, submit again, submit again." If you never risk rejection, you will never receive acceptance.

Sunday, August 07, 2016


I completed by fortieth short story of the year this morning, a 3,600-word bit of crime fiction. I have not yet submitted it because the publication I think it might best fit is not currently open for submissions.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Published 3x

My story "Teacher with a Bad Rep" appears in the September True Story, and my stories "A Cheater Brought Us Together" and "The Way to a Heart" appear in the September True Confessions.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

External motivation

While participating in a panel discussion at this past weekend's ArmadilloCon in Austin, Texas, I had an epiphany about the role of external motivation.

Matt Cardin, Carrie Clevenger, Amanda Downum, Kirk Lynn, Ari Marmell, Jessica Reisman, and I were discussing "How to Deal with Writer's Block." Having never experienced writer's block, I, of course, claimed it didn't exist. The other panelists begged to differ.

My co-panelists are primarily long-form writers (novelists, non-fiction books, etc.), while I am primarily a short-form writer (short stories, articles, etc.), and our discussion of ways to overcome those periods when one does not feel motivated to put words on paper (regardless which term one uses to identify those moments) included a discussion of internal and external motivation.

Long-form writers require, and struggle with, internal motivation to drive them through the long slog of producing several hundred pages of publishable prose. The paucity of external motivation drives them to seek it from spouses, critique groups, beta readers, and others.

I realized that I don't struggle with internal motivation in part because, as a short-form writer, I am deluged with external motivation. For example, in the week leading up to ArmadilloCon, I received contracts for three short stories, responded to an editor's request for a bio to accompany a story in an upcoming anthology, received an update from another anthology editor, received payments for two short stories, and received royalty reports regarding contributions to four already published anthologies. (And, yes, my spouse also provided external motivation by asking when I'll finish another story for her to read.)

All of this activity represents a fairly typical week. In short, I receive external motivation on a frequent and on-going basis, so I rarely rely on internal motivation to drive myself to the keyboard.

This may explain why I concentrate on short-form writing. Early in my writing career I wrote a few novels (all of which were published), but short fiction provided greater and more frequent external motivation. That external motivation contributed to a feedback loop. The more I wrote, the more external motivation I received. The more external motivation I received, the more I wrote.

Would I experience "writer's block" were it not for this deluge of external motivation?

I don't know, and I hope I never have to find out.