Wednesday, December 31, 2008
2008 was a year of mixed and mostly bad news. For my writing it was fabulous. I had 9 stories accepted or published this year and I wrote one completed book and am working on another. I started a blog and met a bunch of fantastic people. For my family it was horrible. My parents divorced, my father-in-law died unexpectedly and several family friends lost their lives as well.
I guess that I am thankful that the year could have been worse. ('smile, things could be worse,' said the old man to the little boy pouting on the corner. So the little boy smiled and, sure enough, things got worse.)(sorry that is just something my grandpa says.) My father bought a nice little house. My mother kept her house. My mother-in-law gets to travel a little more and see her family more than she used to.
In 2009 I am hoping for the best. I am hoping, and this is not a to do list in the strictest sense of the word, to finish the book I am working on and send it out to a bunch of agents. That is really my goal at this point. I have a couple of short stories that I would like to write and I am sure they will get done but I don't really have a laundry list of stuff to do.
Other than that I wish everyone a safe and productive 2009, and if you are partying tonight, please do so carefully. I don't need to start the new year off with bad news.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
That was all I got done yesterday because I had to run to the doctor. I found out I have had a kidney infection for a week or so. they gave me muscle relaxers but, gosh-darnnit, I have a pretty high tolerance for that type of stuff so they don't throw me for a loop (Actually, that is one of the reasons I have never tried drugs.) My children (one is on break from school) don't let me get a lot done during the day and at night I am too busy to write (my creative juices don't flow well at night anyway, kind of my lag time. I think my mind actually shuts off right after supper.)
I am still debating working on a short story or continuing my novel today. Just as long as I get something on paper, I really don't care I guess. (I am still down to one short story a month. I know- quality not quantity)
Monday, December 29, 2008
I still have not finished my devil's food story. It needs polishing in the worst way. I still have a first draft of a book to finish. It is getting closer but still several thousand words away from done. I have come up with a very likable idea for another YA book (it is actually on the literary side with no horror or fantasy in it, I shall see how it comes together when I start it, hopefully in February)
Aside from that I had a good time with the rejections this last week. I received one from Shroud for my story, The Locker. It had gone to a friend of mine from college (a professor actually and a professional editor) before that to be gone over so I had the best shot with it. I can honestly say it wasn't rejected on its grammatical failings. It failed solely on the story. I sent it on to Shock Totem. At least they are quick with their rejections. I also received a rejection for Open Graves, from Ploughshares. They did take 116 days to do it so I felt pretty good about that. Other than that heard no good news. Maybe yet this year but not so far.
In other waiting news. I am waiting to here back from Apex (61 days), Boston Review (150 days and 'hello Will' in the P.R. dept.), Spinetingler (123 days), and a handful of other magazines that haven't gone over their suggested waiting period. In due time.
Speaking of Apex, and I will throw in Duotrope for that matter. If you haven't ordered a book or something from them in awhile they are in desperate need of money (about 2500 dollars in the next two weeks). I know that I ave gone over this before but this is one of the few professional markets we have to submit to (getting fewer it seems all the time) so a little support would be greatly appreciated (heck old issues of the Apex Digest are half off, I ordered a couple to read as well as a short story collection to pass the time) . Duotrope is also in desperate need of cash right now. They haven't met their goals in a while and they might very well have to move to a subscription service if things don't improve. Again, a couple of bucks would be greatly appriciated.
I have decided this year to spread the wealth (I am using that term loosely, very loosely) this year and I have gotten subscriptions to several small presses this month (Shroud, Sand, and I am seriously considering Bust Down the Doors and Eat All the Chickens)
I hate to sound like a commercial for all of these presses but hey, times are tough for everyone right now and a little free advertising won't hurt anyone.
In other, non commercially news. I got a new printer this weekend. My wife is exstatic with it and I like it so far. I also went deer hunting this weekend for a couple of hours. I didn't see any deer until I was done and driving to get gas in the truck but it was a beautiful walk in the woods. It wasn't so horribly cold that I froze and it wasn't so warm that I was walking in mud either. Just a nice walk. It would have been nicer if I would have at least seen one fuzzy woodland creature. (don't get me wrong all of you people out there who love deer as one of the most graceful creatures that we have in the woods around here but I also hate to hit them with my vehicles. One just about took my wife's car out a couple of weeks ago and I had two hit me in a twenty mile stretch about a year a half ago) I might try to go out again on New Years day.
I am sorry this post is running so long. Guess I had a lot to say. (Or not a lot to say but I just wanted to take up the space.) Until then, have fun writing and good luck with the acceptances.
Monday, December 22, 2008
I am pleased to announce that after 307 days I finally heard back from From the Asylum. It was a hearty and well thought out rejection but at least they got back to me. Luckily I had all but given up hope on them five days earlier and sent the story into Opium magazine. I look forward to hearing from them in about six months.
I suppose I could do a year in review as my first official year where the only thing I did, other than look after my kids, was write (and cook and clean and work on vehicles and replace windows and doors and mow the yard and blah, blah, blah . . .) It was a good year actually. I had 9 stories accepted in the last year. All but four have been published at this point. I felt pretty good about that. I managed to write about 25 or so stories and two book length works which are not ready for a publisher yet, but I am working on them.
My daughter is at Kindergarten now. My boy is home with me full time. My wife changed jobs to an independent pharmacy (she used to manage a local Wal-Mart pharmacy) she is happier and so am I. We managed to go on two mini-vacations. We took one to Minneapolis, MN and anther to Hannibal, MO. they were both fun. We managed, after overheating the engine on one mini-van (faulty radiator cap) to buy anther one right after the Hannibal trip.
The only thing I can say I am regretting this year is that my woodworking has suffered. I was planning on building a full bar (solid walnut with glass doors on the upper cabinets) but alas, I have run out of time this year. Maybe next year. Until then, my liquor will be relegated to a small cabinet above the refrigerator in the kitchen. I can say that I do not regret quitting my job as a subcontractor for a wood manufacturing company.
Here is hoping everyone a fantastic Christmas and a great new year. May our inboxes be filled with acceptances from here on out. :)
Friday, December 19, 2008
In other news, my story nine will be on 52 Stitches website on March 22, if all goes as planned. I am looking forward to the weekly stories there. I think it is a fantastic idea, that and I think flash fiction read so much better than traditional short stories, at least online.
The majority of the icestorm missed us, we ended up with just a little ice and about two inches of sleet with a dusting of snow on that. Needless to say they called off school in most of the state today. (Heck it could be all but I only have a limited grasp on the news I read in the morning) Needless to say I won't be going anywhere today because my wife took the four-wheel drive to work.
If i don't post again, a Merry Christmas to everyone.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
In other news, the ice storm they are predicting for the area hasn't hit yet. In fact it is sunny with blue sky right now but if they are half right by tonight I will be in the thick of it with stinging pellets of frozen water accumulating on everything they come in contact with.
I re-wrote the beginning of "Mr. Calloway's Dirt Farm" yesterday. I am waiting to see which opening my wife likes better (if she likes them at all). Then I managed to get another 750 words into Invasion. It currently sits at around 56000 words although I know some of it needs to be taken out in the editing process.
Well, I will now sit back, watch Jack's Big Music Show with my kid and wait for Barry's address so I can run to town, mail the book and get some milk before the snow flies.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
today is supposed to be the nice day around here. Not too cold. No snow. No wind. A pretty good day for the season. Tomorrow is supposed to turn to crap. Ice accumulations of up to 1 inch and snow on top of that. If that happens it will look like what Tim Deal is dealing with in New Hampshire right now. I hope the forecast is wrong because while it is still really neat to hear a tree snap (and we aren't talking small trees here, we are talking TREES, like the climbing kind) I don't want to break out the chainsaw any time soon.
Guess I don't have a whole lot to say right now. I have to re-write the beginning of my Devil's Food Story (Thank you Aaron, I was kind of thinking the first two pages or so needed to be scrapped but I didn't know what to do with it) Now I have an idea to go with and I am going to run with it. That has been a fun story to write. I do hope it makes it into a format that everyone can get their hands on.
Until tomorrow, when I post who needs to get me their address, have a good day.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
If anyone has any suggestions (I am not buying another Lexmark, the ink doesn't last long enough) I would be happy to hear them.
I received my copy of When Dark Descends yesterday. This copy is mint, a limited edition of 500 and mine is marked as AC (Author copy) very cool.
Speaking of drawings don't forget to go back a couple of posts and sign up for a book just in time for the holidays.
Talk at you all later. I am going to enjoy the sub-zero temperatures and the inches of snow that we are getting right now- from the comfort of my living room.
Monday, December 15, 2008
My contest, not much of a contest more of a drawing, is still going and I want to thank everyone for the reading suggestions. (By the way Aaron, The Things they Carried is an awesome story. I have it in an anthology somewhere. I had almost forgotten about it.) Post your entry here.
I also want everyone to read Cate and Aaron's posts about snarkyness in the writing community, that is, if you haven't already read them. They are very honest about this very real problem in our very small communty.
Now that business is taken care of, my plans for the week involve editing my entry for the Devil's Food Anthology, Mr. Calloway's Dirt Farm. I hope that after re-reading it, it sounds as good as I remember writing it (They rarely do but I can still hope). I am still working on my NaNo book (yes I realize that NaNo has been over for a couple of weeks now but I am fleshing the story out) and I hope to bring it closer to done every day although I have cut my daily production on it in half or more (750 to 1000 words a day instead of 2000-2500) I am still enjoying writing it and I can see the end in sight.
In case any of you missed the post, Tim Deal over at Shroud publications has been socked by the ice storm that made N.H. an iceball and some things are going to be delayed until they get power back. I told him in a comment post that it reminded me of October 1991 when Iowa was nailed by a major ice storm. I was working at a grocery store at the time and it started as all ice storms do, with rain. Soon it changed over to ice and we stood at the back door of the store and listened to trees break under the weight of the ice. It sounded like rifle shots going off. soon the power was out and we were handing out flashlights to customers with markers so they could mark the price of the groceries on whatever they were buying. It was nuts but me and one of my buddies Jared Rickabaugh had a blast. He had a Ford Festiva and we went sliding through town in that thing. If it slid off the road into the ditch I just got out and pushed us out and we would do it all over again. good times. Great memories, althought they actually called off Halloween that year. some people didn't get power back for almost a month but my families house was only out for seven days.
Talk at you all later, this concludes another issue of Jamie's storytime.
Friday, December 12, 2008
I didn't want to feel left out of the whole contest thing and I have multiple copies of some of my books for some odd reason. I am going to give away a beautiful copy of Jonis Agee's chapbook A .38 Special And A Broken Heart. It retails for 10.95 and is worth every penny. It is part of Coffee House publishers Coffee-To-Go Short-Short Stories Series. There is some very cool flash fiction in here and while it is not horror (I don't think Jonis has ever picked up a horror novel in her life) it is some incredible lit fiction. It is also the only paperback I know of that has a dust cover. for those of you who have never heard of Jonis, she is a very well respected lit writer and has won a lot of awards for her novels. She teaches creative writing at The University of Nebraska at Lincoln. She just won a Mark Twain Award this year.
In order to enter all you need to do is put a comment in the post of what your favorite book (or short story) and who wrote it in a catagory that you do not write in. For example, if you write horror your favorite book can't be from Stephen King. If you write YA it can't be Judy Blume- you get the idea. I will draw your name from a little red cowboy hat I got when I was three and will get in touch with you to pick it up. the contest will end on December 17 and I will draw the name on the 18th and try and get it in the mail as soon as I get the winners information. Hopefully that is in time for Christmas.
I am doing this for two reasons.
1. I am curious what everyone else likes to read.
2. I have an extra copy and 'tis the season.
Just to play fair, my favorite book, from a genre that I don't write is Ten Days to Destiny: The Battle For Crete by G.C. Kiriakopoulos (yes I did spell that correctly, thank you.) It is a history of a WWII battle that reads more like a novel than a history book. Fascinating reading. It is also, regretably, out of print and has been for 23 years.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I told you yesterday that the Apex Raffle was ending yesterday and today I found out that I won a copy of the Gary Braunbeck, Charles Grant, and Thomas Monteleone book When Dark Descends. And not just any copy but Gary's copy, autographed by all three writers. I am so looking forward to receiving this. It made my day. I will admit I really wanted the ARC of American Gothic but this is an awesome prize. I have a lot of autographed books but none of them were actually owned by the writers themselves at one point.
Okay, enough of the bragging rights. Now I have to pour myself another cup of coffee and get back to Mr. Calloway's Dirt Farm. I think I am about ready to start to wrap it up. Hope everyone else has a spectacular day.
Oh, and since everyone else is having a contest I am going to have one tomorrow. Stay tuned, free books seem to be everywhere these days.
And one more thing. My wife wants this question asked and perhaps answered: If you have plans to do something and have every intention of doing said plans and then for one reason or another don't get to those plans is it any better or worse than not having the plan at all. (Those of you without children won't understand ;))
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The Apex Digest raffle ends today. They have some really kick butt stuff in there and you too can have a chance at for only a dollar each. they have said that the tickets have been going very s-l-o-w so your chances of winning are better than they should be.
I am pleased to say that I think, kinda, like Carrie Harris at least when it comes to which celebrity is which creature (can we really say that Paul Rubens is a celebrity? At least he was in a Tim Burton film.)
Oh, and I forgot to caption the picture I posted yesterday. It was taken earlier this year about three miles from my house from the window of my van on a gravel road. It was a family drive to look at the fall colors. I thought it turned out rather well.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Okay, a multitude of completely non-related things today.
First off- My daughters school play was last night, she is in kindergarten and was snowflake like the rest of her class. I was amazed that the class, as a whole, could carry a tune. Much better than the first graders but not as good as the third graders. It was a fun and brief time. While we were in the school gymnasium though ice was accumulating on the roads outside so the drive home was slick and very slow. I was thankful that I live on a road that doesn't get a lot of traffic. Meanwhile, this morning, every school around my district called school off or had a two hour late start but we were right on time. The bus slid to stop in front of our house and I haven't heard of any bus accidents yet so they must have made it.
Second- I have seven stories out that have been at their perspective markets for over 100 days (I actually just deleted the word years) one has been out for 337 days and From the Asylum has had a story for 297 days (They still seem to be up and running so I don't know what is going on there) The others have either just hit the 100 day mark or are one 30 or 40 days over that. I think I have hit an editorial black hole. (Yes one of those markets is Boston Review at 130 days now. So much for their average of 57 days.) The rest I didn't expect to hear back from yet so I won't name names here. I knew they had long lead times and I am fine with that. (I have also had one at Apex Digest for 40-some days now. I only mention that because I really like the story I sent them. It received an Honorable Mention, along with one of Cate's stories, in the Return to Luna Antho which I need to order)
Third thing- I am taking a couple of days off from novel writing to work on a short story for the Devil's Food Antho. The story is really starting to go places that I like and despite the antho's title I am not making this story a bloodbath. It is actually coming along quite nicely (well, people are going to die but the story is coming along nicely, although my main characters true colors have yet to show.) I hope I like the end result as much as I like the way it has started. I don't know what it is reminding me of yet. maybe a Mark Twain meets Hemmingway meets Brian Keene. (You figure that one out) Needless to say it is, stylistically, unlike anything I have written before and I am really enjoying the process.
I also want to thank everyone who had an opinion on yesterdays post. I thought it was something that needed saying. I am sorry if it sounded like a lecture by Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Every one right now is worried about the state of the publishing industry. Publishers are cutting back on accounts and new authors are being put on the back burner while established authors are having their expense accounts cut as well. What is a new writer to do.
This isn't the first time. Two hundred years ago the predominant form of publication was, you guessed it, the newspaper. Charles Dickens and even E.A. Poe serialized their stories and sold them to the newspapers. It sold newspapers and it was a cheap medium for the masses. this model also worked for Jules Vern and Victor Hugo as well as many other popular writers. Books were expensive and the library system, as we know it, didn't exist yet.
Let 100 years pass and the magazine picked up the pace. Newspapers decided they could get revenue in other ways and magazines like Saturday Evening Post, Life, Weird Tales and several others started to gain in popularity. In fact, while novels were being written, the popular medium was the short story (oh how readers habits can change). Several writers made a very good living writing just the short story: O'Henry, Lovecraft, Chandler, Hemingway.
This era in publishing lasted about fifty years or so, again with the short story being the most popular. Then the industry changed. In the 1950's or so and into the 60's the novel became more popular with printing technology changing rapidly and the advent of cheaper books and incomes on the rise novels came into vogue. Several short story writers either had to admit that they could no longer make a comfortable living in this new model and either, continued to write short stories and flounder or learn to write longer pieces and flourish. It was the new age in publishing and it seemed to work.
Now to the present age. 1997 or so (these are ballpark facts you can check this stuff on your own time) Stephen King decides to write an online novel called The Plant. He was going to publish it only online and you could pay him what you would (He threatened that if not enough monetary interest was shown he would stop the project.) It went on for a couple of chapters and then abruptly stopped, he claims because for lack of interest in the project. It was the most successful online book ever until over a decade later.
Come 2008. The economy is down (at least that is what all the economist will tell you. Have you been to the mall in the 2.5 weeks until Christmas. Looked pretty packed to me) The online model is looking better all the time. they are cheap to produce. People will buy their own readers (Kindle and the like, but the price needs to come down for the average person yet)
In short the industry will change. It has before and it will again. Nature of the business I guess. The problem is are we willing to change with it. I for one am willing to give it a shot and be part of the next big thing. Incidentally I think we are part of that next big thing already. the online magazine industry is becoming more viable with each each new issue. The formats are easy to read and even if you don't have a Kindle you can read some amazing stuff that looks like the printed page, even if it doesn't have the smell or feel of it.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Cate over at the poisoned Apple did this first and it looked like fun. Mine won' t be near as impressive as hers but I thought, "what the hell." So here it goes:
Age when I decided I wanted to be a writer: 13
Age when I wrote my first story: 13. Although I didn't write anything good until I was 17-18.
Age when I first submitted a short story to a magazine: 21, although I had a short story published in the Omaha World herald when I was 18 that my high school English teacher submitted for me. I have no idea what it was called but it was a vampire type story.
Age when I sold my first short story: 33. It was to Pen Pricks Micro Fiction.
Total number of submissions: hundreds.
Total acceptances: 10
Thickness of file of rejection slips prior to first story sale: about an inch or so.
Approximate number of short stories/novelettes/novellas sold for cash money: 2.
Poems sold: LOL! Even my poetry professor in college cringed when I had to write the stuff.
Age when I started writing my first novel: 33
Age when I started writing my first completed novel: 33
Age I finished that novel: 33
Age I started my second novel: 34
Age I finished my second novel: 34
Age when I sold a first novel: Ha!
Total number of novels written (discounting duds): 3 (2 thriller, 1 YA)
Books sold: 0 (yet)
Books in the process of querying: 0
Short stories in the slush: 13
Short stories written this year: 25
Age when I became a full-time novelist: 36.
Age now: 34 years 9 months and 21 days.
I found another market, gave it another look see and sent it off again. I should hear back by late March. (Ha!)
I just can't believe it is Friday already. The week flew by. I figure I had better make the most of my day and get about fifteen gazillion words written today. Just to be safe I will be happy with 1,500 words.
0n another note, but the same song, I am starting to get the short story bug again. This is really going to throw the novel thing for a loop but at this point I am happy to be writing what I want and when I want to. (except on weekends when my family takes over my life for me :) ) If I don't hear back good news from an editor before then I will wish everyone a happy weekend and see you on Monday.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I am going to make an extra large pot right after I get done writing this. Whatever this is.
I think my goal will be modest today: four pages in Invasion, my NaNo novel that I haven't quite finished (I still think there is about 20,000 words to go) At least at 1000 words a day I should finish it by Christmas. First draft anyway.
State of Fear by Micheal Crichton is pretty good so far. It is about conflicting opinions of global warming and other scientific theory. I don't know how many of you are Crichton fans but I have been reading his stuff long before E.R. was on television and Spielberg butchered Jurassic Park (not that the movie was horrible but it was only vaguely like the book). I guess I have read more of his books than just about any other writer out there. The only exception would be Stephen King. He is the only science fiction writer that my wife will read. I have never read if he put out any short fiction. I only know of his novels.
Now I am babbling. If you want to see something cool that you can draw your own opinion on, check out the pics on J.C. Tabler's blog post today and let him know what you think of the pics from his weekend.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
That sounds vaguely like a plan, either that or I might go read State of Fear from Micheal Crichton and let his ghost try to inspire me into the great writing that I know I have lurking under the surface. Unfortunately that greatness is camera shy and likes chocolate chip cookies while they are still warm with a cold American beer in its hand.
Maybe I will go make some cookies--
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I really don't concern myself a whole lot with what I write, I personally don't care to think about "Okay, today I am going to come up with a 2600 word story on martians invading Des Moines." I am a little more free-form than that. I think my favorite story that I have written, at least in the last six months has been Lullaby and published in Macabre Cadaver (who incidentally has some exciting news on their homepage you should read) I actually just came up with a situation and ran with it. I didn't have a character in mind when I wrote it or a plot for that matter. I didn't know where the story was going to end or if I would finish it. It was just an idea. Not a very original idea but I thought I would run with it. What the character did at the end took me as much by surprise as anyone. I got done writing it, leaned back and actually went "Whoa! I didn't see that coming."
I think this is how I like to write most of my stories. Just an idea with no real clue where it is going but letting the situation or the character take over and do whatever needs to happen.
How do you like to write?
Monday, December 1, 2008
November was--interesting to say the least and not unsatisfying in the least. I managed to write a book for NaNoWriMo. Yippee!. I also managed to write one short story (1600 words) for Dark Jesters which is still pending.
The month of November actually came in the same way it went out. With bookend acceptances. The first one was for the flash piece Nine which was quickly gobbled up by 52 Stitches and the second piece to get accepted was Coffin Nails, which was taken by Night to Dawn. In between those two acceptances I had a total of eight rejections. Which still gives me an acceptable ration for the month of 20% acceptance. I can live with that.
This month I am looking forward to doing more work on two books and if I can get out of noveling mode I am going to write some short stories. I am also looking forward to hearing back from the following markets (they have to be getting close to getting back to me) : Boston Review (out 122 days), Apex (out 34 days), Dark Jesters, (only out 11 days but the deadline for submissions is up), Dogs Anthology (Deadline is up today), Clockwork Pheonix (Deadline is up), and I really hope from From the Asylum (out 289 days so far). I either expect a flurry of acceptances in the next month or I have to find a bunch of new markets. I am hoping for the first one (Oh what a merry Christmas that would be!)
Well I now havo to get my daughter's snowpants and snow boots in to her school because I am an idiot and forgot to pack them with her before she got on the bus.