Monday, August 31, 2009

I would like to thank Cate for giving me something to post about today

While I wait for the end of the month to roll around Cate Gardener, the writer of the beautifully written chapbook The Sour Aftertaste of Olive Lemon, tagged me. Here is the take:
From the biggest bookcase you have, pick out one book whose author’s last name starts with each letter of your last name. If you have no books by an author whose last name starts with a particular letter, go to the next letter. If you have two of the same letter in your last name, get two separate authors, not two books by the same author. Bonus: If you can, pick the first book you haven’t read off your shelf, unless you’re one of those people who’s read all the books you own.

- Post the first sentence of each book, along with the author and title. Feel free to skip prefaces and such, especially if they’re by a different writer.

I was glad I have a rather large bookcase to choose from because there aren't many books with authors whose last names start with E I found out. G was rather difficult as well. So without further interruption here we go.

E: Beulah by Augusta Jane Evens. A January sun had passed the zenith, and the slanting rays flamed over the window-panes of a large brick building, bearing on its front in golden letters the inscription, "Orphan Asylum." This was a book leftover from one of my college literature classes.

Y: Yeager, an autobiography by Chuck Yeager. I never knew when I might be taking my last ride. Actually a very interesting autobiography. I recommend it.

B: Spiderweb by Robert Bloch. The door was of blonde wood, highly waxed. Admittedly, not the best first line of a book. The rest was much better. Really.

E: Timepiece by Richard Paul Evans. I find myself astonished at mankind's persistent yet vain attempts to escape the certainty of oblivion; expressed in nothing less than the ancient pyramids and by nothing more than a stick in a child's hand, etching a name into a freshly poured sidewalk. My wife and I share the bookshelves and this is one of hers. I have yet to read it.

R: Servant of the Bones by Anne Rice. This is Azriel's tale as he told it to me, as he begged me to bear witness and to record his words. I have never read this book, yet.

G: Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Modern Tales For Our Life & Times by James Finn Garner. There once was a young person named Red Riding Hood who lived with her mother on the edge of a large wood. His take on the classic stories is well worth the read. Very funny.

I am not going to tag anyone in this post except everyone who wants to do it. It is actually a challenge to find books that represent the letters in your name. Have fun. See you tomorrow.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Winter Solstice

I know, it is August 29th. I am well aware that this is the end of summer and no where near the Winter Solstice, but my story of that title is up at M-Brane SF, issue #8. It is the fastest I have ever written that many words (it came in at 4800 words and I had it written, first draft, in just over two hours.) It is available as a .pdf, dead tree, or Kindle versions through the website. He has had some great writers in his magazine in the past year including Cat Rambo, Cate Gardener and some other pretty heavy hitters. Mr. Fletcher also does an incredible job with the layout of the magazine. It looks fantastic. The covers alone are worth buying the magazine for.

enough pimping, time to get to writing. Have a great day. My next post will be the end of the month round-up. (sheesh, it is the end of the month already.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Out of my hands, for now

Last night my lovely and talented wife, Ann, finished looking through my manuscript for Big Chief's Gold. This morning I went over her suggestion (and the obvious typing errors, more about that in a minute) and sent it off to my lovely and talented beta-readers. Thanks guys *waves*.

Now a thing I figured out about my word processing program. I had a character named Pat. Pat is a boring name and I needed to change it. I hit the select all button, changed the name (it was supposed to use exact case only) and it changed every word with Pat in it, like PATh, aPAThy. . .not good. I didn't think anything of it. I told it to use exact case, nothing else. I will never do that again, nor will I ever name a character Pat again. I was glad my wife caught it. Although she said it confused her at first to have a proper name in the middle of random letters like aDerrickhy, that made no sense in the context of the sentence. Lucky for me my wife is smarter than I am.

Now I am going to go off and continue writing other things. Happy weekend everyone.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It was a dark and stormy morning

it really is kind of dark and it really is stormy here in West Central Iowa right now. Lots of inspiration. I think I will draw the blinds shut and get to typing.

I would also like everyone to meet my old college roommate. Carmen is a copy-editor for a newspaper and also one of the best artists that I know. He has an entire blog devoted to the miniatures that he paints for fun. You know the ones, from the d&d sets that let you set up little battles. He is better than your average miniature painter though. Well, go see for yourself. Carmen's Painty Fun Time is up for your amusement. Tell him I sent you. Who knows, he might just give you a little inspiration.

In other news. I was planning on jotting notes yesterday, but instead found myself with an hour of uninterrupted writing time so I started that book I was telling you about yesterday. I shall see how it goes. I am about 1/30th of the way through it if you use the 60K marker for a novel.

Hope everyone has a good day. talk at you later.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Like a hammer in the back of the head

So I was outside working in my shop last night, painting the last of my trim (most of the trim in my house is stained but we decided for a brighter look in the basement and went with paint). As I was brushing with long strokes to keep it all even and thinking of some short stories that I had started but was having a hard time keeping going. I think the ideas were too big for a short story. It helps that I could incorporate several of them into one longer narrative. This actually got me excited that I might be thinking of another book idea (I am a little mad that it is only months away from NaNo at this point, because I am still doing the dark romance for my NaNo project) I am wondering if I can hash out a first draft of this idea before November starts and if I will be burned out by then.

Am I the only one having a hard time keeping a short narrative in my head?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday :P

So I got in about an hours worth of writing this morning and I think it was all for nothing. I don't think I can use any of it. Garbage in, garbage out.

The good news is that I might have a new angle on the story to work out. I will see how that pans out over the next couple of days.

After I take my wife's suggestions (I have already taken her up on the character's names thing) I would be wondering if any of you would like to beta read a 26K MG story. It is not horror but adventure. If you liked My Side Of the Mountain and just about anything by Gary Paulson then you might be interested. You can e-mail me at I would be happy to have all the input I can get before I start sending it out to agents and publishers.

I know, a lot of you are already looking at that and going "26K. that is way too short. There is no way you are getting a publisher for a book like that." I beg to differ. Because of Winn-Dixie came in at a very short 110 pages (about 25K) for the same age group. It was a Newbery honor book for 2001. I believe all you need is for the story to be complete. I hope mine is. I believe it is. I would like a second (or 25th) opinion.

hope everyone is having a more productive Monday than I am. Until next time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

WIP Wednesday

I have started a new story for Horsemen of the Apocalypse antho from Pill house press and I have to say I am really enjoying it. I am only about 1K into it so far. I will post a segment of it below. It is a combination of Famine and War (they seem to go together quite nicely in my story, one bringing about the other.)

In other news, I am still editing Chief's Gold. I had a nice discussion with my wife about character names yesterday and she gave me some good ideas (I didn't like the generic names I had given 50% of my characters) For some reason, when I wrote it I switched back and forth between 3rd person and 1st person. I didn't intend to. I guess that is what edits are for. To catch crap like that.

I kind of doubt if I get any writing done today, other than this blog post. My boy is sick with a virus of some sort (it is in the throat and head. I know this because I have the same thing.) and I am dead tired from being up most of the night with him. We did manage to go on a nice drive until 2 in the morning.

Now for a glimpse of unfinished story:
I turned from him, aware of what would happen next. Behind me I could hear him start to convulse, gurgle and paw at the ground with his boots that he had stuffed with the cover of a burned book to replace the worn out sole. I tried not to think of the misery he was going through and if I would go the same way as the sounds shuffled to a stop.
I could hear his corpse leak into the soil. That slow sucking sound of moisture in a parched land that no man should hear. Ashes to ashes as they say.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I love productive weekends

It really was a productive weekend. I finished reading one book, read Cate's chapbook (pure awesomeness!) did some sawing and some hammering, a little bit of painting, some thinking and even managed to go out on a short date with my wife (who else would I go out with?). The only writing that got done was in my head, which worked for me.

I have been plotting my NaNoWriMo story out, trying to figure out my cast of characters and the natural progression of the story. I think it is going to be interesting.It is a story I thought of at the beginning of the year but haven't gotten around to starting yet. I can hold out for a couple more months. I think this one needs the brain time. It isn't going to be a horror either. More of a literary love story. I won't say romance because I believe it deals with more of the inner turmoil of the character, that and the love doesn't go both ways. Not completely.

Anyway, I thought it sounded like fun and the rest of you can pick your jaws off the floor now and move on with your day. Have a good one.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Not a Sour aftertaste at all

I just got done reading Cate's chapbook The Sour Aftertaste of Olive Lemon and I have to say I believe it is the best thing I have ever read by Cate. I am having a hard time figuring out how best to review it without giving the ending away and do the book justice at the same time.

In a small town with set rules that seem just for Olive Lemon she goes forth to break them and find out the reality of it all.

I think that is the best I can do. If you haven't ordered it yet I urge you to do so at Bucket O'Guts Press.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pleasant surprises

Opened the mailbox yesterday and, much to my surprise, I found a copy of Catherine Gardner's chapbook "The Sour Aftertaste of Olive Lemon." Now, I won't get to reading it until next week because I am this close (holding my thumb and forefinger about a quarter inch apart) to finishing reading another book and I can't hold multiple storylines in my head anymore, but I am looking forward to reading it and posting a review of it when I do.

I am now over 60% of the way through my edits in my MG book. (It might be YA, I am really not sure. It is a matter of introspection in the character and I don't know if I have too much for an MG book or too little for a YA book.) Anyone have any insight into this?

I haven't started any short stories this week, but I have gotten a ton of stuff (sorry Aaron) done around the house. I also haven't heard back from any editors this week, save for a couple of proofs. (*Sigh* maybe next week I will hear back from an editor.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Nature of the Con

What do the rest of you do when you have written a story that is obviously for a certain market or anthology and they reject it? Does it get thrown into the dead story file? Does it get changed and sent back out or does it just get sent back out, unchanged?

I have several stories like that right now. Okay, not all of them have been rejected- yet. The story I wrote for The First Line last month was kicked back to me yesterday. It is a flash piece and I had fun writing it, but since crime confessional flash isn't exactly a thriving market I will post it below.

The Nature of the Con

“My life is a sham.”

“What do you mean?” He looked at me with probing eyes and stuffed a cigarette into his mouth. I watched him light it with a match and inhale deeply. He offered me one through the steel bars that separated us.

“Nothing I have done has been real,” I said as he continued to hold out the butt end for me. “Everything is a show. Even this con that got me into here.”

He smiled through the smoke. “I thought that was the nature of the con,” he said.

I took the cigarette from him, he offered me the lit end of his and I breathed deeply as the tobacco started to smolder. “Can I tell you a story?”

The stranger shrugged his shoulders. “You have as captive an audience as you'll ever have.”

I smiled weakly at the joke, exhaled the smog from my lungs and started. “I shouldn't be in here, not for what I am in here for. I should have been in here much earlier if you had asked me. I probably should have been gunned down in some back alley if you ask the right people. Course, no one knows who I am. Even the records they had when they booked me in aren't right. They think I'm Peter Richardson.”

The stranger interrupted and smiled, “So you're telling me you're a dick?”

“Something like that. In Tampa I'm Richard Peterson and in Oklahoma City they only know me as Thomas Gunderman.”

I watched him smash the remnants of his smoke under his heel and pull out another. He offered me another one. I refused this one. I don't really like to smoke, but I hate to refuse hospitality Another con.

“So what should you be in here for?”

“I killed a man. Broke his neck. Not too worried about it. Catfish have probably taken car of the body by now anyway.” I watched and waited for the flash of fear in his eyes that most men had with their own mortality.

He didn't blink. “So, what are you in here for?”

“Stole a piece of a car. Engine block gave out before the cops even radioed for backup.”

“Tough break,” he said and took a long drag.

The metal door at the end of the hall opened with a squeal and we watched them half drag a drunk down the hall. We heard the cell door slam shut and the familiar cough and gag of what too much drink will do, followed by a watery spatter on the concrete floor. We both looked into the hall for a moment but the officer continued to make his way back to the exit. The door shut hard behind him.

“Don't envy his job in the morning,” the man with the cigarettes said to me.

I smiled and continued my story. “I don't like to steal cars, too risky and the profit isn't there. Too many alarms and lo-jack systems. I thought I was doing good. I just needed a ride across town so I borrowed a twenty year old Honda. Easy to wire and good on gas. I thought the owner probably wouldn't miss it for a couple of days and by then another guy would have lifted it. Especially where I was going to leave it.”

Now it was his turn to smile. “I like the way you think.”

“Can I ask what you are in here for?”

He snuffed out the cigarette on the floor under a well worn shoe. “Protection,” he said.

I raised an eyebrow at him.

“I'm undercover.” He raised his shirt and flashed a badge at me. “Guess my life is a sham as well. How much more you want to tell me about the guy you killed. It will clear your conscience.”

I closed my eyes. This was one con I was going to have a hell of a time talking my way out of.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Another no writing day

This will probably be the only writing I get done today. Such is the life of a stay at home dad.

With only one week (10 days really) to go before school starts again, we have invited one of my daughters classmates over for. There will be pizza and giggling and the little brother will feel left out. Summer must have a good week going out as far as I am concerned. The local pool will be visited as often as the weather allows.

Unfortunately, this means the writing will suffer. Still, I might be able to get in a couple of pages of edits today, in between lulls in activity (yeah, right).

And now I must be going. Have a good day.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday Post

Got a little reading done and a little editing done over the weekend. Managed to order Catherine Gardner's New chapbook "The Sour Taste of Olive Lemon" over the weekend over at the Bucket O'Guts Press for a measly $6.00 American (including shipping, thank you very much). Now I will be waiting patiently by the mailbox for its arrival.

Friday, August 7, 2009


it is already Friday and it is supposed to be a real hot one this weekend. Probably the hottest days of the summer so far. At least I won't be working outside in it. I will probably be doing what I have been doing all week. Editing.

I haven't started any new stories this week although I did manage one rejection from Shimmer (my longest rejection time from them yet) I re-worked the story a little and sent it on to the Mo-con antho from Apex. We will see what Mr. Broaddus thinks of it. Probably not what he is looking for either, but we will see.

In the meantime I have looked at a friends book and discovered a new author I really want to read (will be ordering his new book coming out in October I believe) and have been started editing my MG book again. it isn't as bad as I thought it might be and I have certainly been away from it long enough to be objective. I think the third re-write may have been the charm for this book. Still, when I am done I will be taking anyone up on reading it and telling me what is wrong with it. This could be awhile yet. Don't worry, I will let you know when I am ready for that.

I can't believe that summer is drawing to an end and soon my daughter will be starting school again. It will be a change in the writing schedule, again. I am hoping for a good change that will allow me more time at the keyboard or with pen in hand. Summer is not good for my productivity. It is good for the kids. I just wish I could teach my 2 year old the finer points of a good fishing hole but he doesn't have the patience for it like his sister.

Hope everyone has a good weekend. See you on Monday, unless I hear some amazing news in the interim.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Getting closer

Sony launched two new e-readers today. The $299 model with a 6 inch touchscreen and the one I am excited about for $199 with a five inch screen. They are getting closer to where I might actually spend money on one, just another 50-100 dollars to go (I don't know if they will ever get that cheap but a man can dream, can't he?) I am also excited that they plan on actually selling them in stores (you mean I get to see, touch, read them before I buy? What is up with that?)

All of this makes me almost giddy with excitement as it opens up a whole other world of possibilities for publishers and writers alike. What do you think. Are you excited about the new technology?

See, I told you I was going to be a better blogger. Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Read Vs. Write

I don't read enough books. I am sure I have said it before. If I make it through a book a month I consider it to be a good month. Granted I read a lot of material that is not on paper (e-zines, blogs) and I have no good way to quantify that amount of material because it varies. Still, I don't read enough. And what I do read is so often outside of the genre that I write that I don't feel like I can give justice to those that put far more effort into the craft than I do. Still, what I write, while often being in different parts of the spectrum than what I read, benefits from the exposure.

Does this make me a well rounded writer, or a hypocrite?

Monday, August 3, 2009

July in Review

I know it is August 3, already. this last month flew by and I do have some progress to show for. I managed to edit 20 percent of my MG book (although it was all done in one day.) and write several shorts. Here are the stats for the month.

Rejections: 2
Acceptances: 1 (This Candle Won't Last Forever, 215 words for the Letters From the Dead Antho) dang that was long.
new stories written: 4
Monday Morning (2800 words) ghost story
The Bone Munchers (6900 words) creature horror
The Nature of the Con (660 words) crime
This Candle Won't last Forever (215 words) end of days story
Stories out in Sub land: 13
Known shortlist stories: 2

Not a bad month. More productive on the short story front than the rest of the year has been. Maybe I am getting out of that slump. On the bad side, my book writing has taken a nosedive in productivity.

In August I am planning on getting a slew of responses from editors and really getting down to business on that MG manuscript. It will happen. Stop laughing, really I am planning on getting to it.

I am also planning on being a better blogger than I was last week. It was a very busy week and the progress I made on many of my house projects (many of them done) are proof that I wasn't just sitting around.

Until then, have a good and productive day.