Monday, September 29, 2008

What to do?

let me see. To recap the weekend.
1. Got form rejection from Asimov's Science Fiction. Didn't feel to bad about it. Figured it was their loss.
2. Went to zoo in Omaha. Saw cool animals doing cool animal things (the giraffes were mating, tee hee).
3. Went to birthday party for daughter (age 6) and niece (age 1) at my mothers place. Met my brand new niece. Ate good food. Talked to family. Had a good time.
4. Drove home.
5. Tried to sleep. Thunderstorms, dogs and children kept me awake.

Now that we have that out of the way.
I hope hope everyone else had a good weekend. I am once again hoping that my boy and Mark are with me today in the re-write thing. I have big plans this week and if I don't get them accomplished they will be sent back to next week and if that doesn't happen then I am getting really behind. (did you know that if you survived the event horizon in a black hole and looked forward you would see the back of your own head. just a little something I took away from an astronomy class at Iowa state. I pretty much learned that and Drake's equation but that can be for another day)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Must have been the wrong sacrifice

Mark didn't stay with me for very long yesterday. For those of you who didn't read my post yesterday, Mark is the god I have determined to be in charge of re-writes. I think he likes chicken. he only hung around for about 300 words and then it was gone. Actually, the phone rang and I lost my train of thought. When that happened I went to watch the latest episode of The Shield.

Won't be able to find if Mark is around this weekend. Today am taking my kids to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha and tomorrow will be traveling to southwest Iowa to visit my folks.

I want to thank Catherine Gardner for letting me know that I have something to look forward to in theaters in 2010 with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp getting together again (my daughter will be so excited) for Alice in Wonderland.

Hope everyone has a good weekend and may only acceptances light in your mailbox.

Friday, September 26, 2008

somethings going on

got an email from Macabre Cadaver that my flash piece, Lullaby, made it into issue three. Pretty stoked to see who else is in it. If I got three more acceptances this week I would feel like Felicity or Aaron.

Just kidding. Still I feel pretty good to get two good things and no bad things in the old e-mail this week, even though the week isn't over.

The re-writing god was on my side yesterday. I think I will call that god Mark. Mark is a good name for a re-write god. Managed to get quite a bit of Chapter 3 re-written in my YA book. I know it will need another 5 or 6 (7, 8, 9) re-writes after this but so far it is going well. I told my wife that at the rate this is going my original 90 page manuscript is going to turn into 400 pages. Thankfully I have a laser printer (to those of you still using inkjet printers I am truly sorry).

Well hopefully Mark will stick around today and we can get more done.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Let the day begin

I started this morning looking at markets. I often do this, trying to figure out which ones I will hear back from next and I have narrowed it down to three markets that I should hear back from in the near future (two weeks or so) I figure at this point I should be hearing back from Susurrus: the literature of madness (Glass Jar, 1000 words, 123 days). Hobart (Open Graves, 5200 words, 65 days). Ninth Letter (Wine for Two, 2200 words, 10 days) These markets I have found are pretty predictable on their response times.

Some other stories I have given up waiting on and figure they will get back to me sometime (I hope) In particular I am having little hope for From the Asylum. They said they were going to get back to normal in August and it is, well it isn't August anymore. I could be wrong. The story I have out to Ploughshares that I sent out last month I don't plan on hearing back from them until May. That is just the way they are. I hope they prove me wrong.

I am feeling a good writing vibe today. I hope it translates into a good re-writing vibe but I will see.

In other news. I am reading a book by Lisa Gardner, Alone. Pretty well done and a fairly fast read. I am not the fastest reader in the world by any stretch of the imagination but in the little time I have to plow through a book I am making pretty good progress. It probably doesn't help that I like to pick up anthology books when I read novels and read several short stories in between chapters.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

so you want to hire a publicist?

click to enlarge.

Like I had nothing else to do today.

Had to run to Omaha today. yes the one in Nebraska to pick up a window I had ordered for my mother-in-law's place. It is the second time, since they screwed up the window order the first time. Had a good time. Took my boy out to eat (he made a mess at The Spaghetti Works but at least he didn't have sauce on him. I have a nice olive oil stain on my shirt however.) then I took him to the Bass Pro Shop because he can get up close and personal to the dead animals they have all over the place. He liked it.

Now I am back home. I should be working on re-writes but the inspiration for the day has passed. Maybe I will get twice as much done tomorrow. LOL;)

Oh and in response to a couple of posts that were out today.
1. Aaron- I think you have a pretty good support crew in most of us out here in blogger world. go ahead and use us for NaNoWriMo.
2. Cathrine- I would e-mail Cathy over at Potters Field and ask about your story. It is unusual that it has been out for a month in that market. She will understand, it is in her guidelines to email her after two weeks.

can't think of anything else.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sun does shine on a dog's rear

there is good news occasionally in the old mailbox. Just received word that I would be included in the Demon Minds print edition. Looks like I am some pretty good company with Felicity Dowker at least. I don't know of the others included yet. Just wanted to share the joy. Now back to the election story, think I have a runnable idea. Will know once I am done if it actually has legs.

apex contest

I don't know how many of you know about this one so I am actually pasting the body of the page into this post. Apex is hosting their annual Halloween contest, deadline is October 15. Here are the details.

Annual Apex Halloween Contest Information

Halloween is just around the corner, so you should know what that means–the annual Apex Halloween short fiction contest!

This year’s theme is: ELECTION HORROR

Your story must incorporate the theme of ELECTION HORROR.
Word count maximum is 1,000.
Your story must have first rights available.
Submit your story to
Submissions are open NOW.
Deadline is 11:59 PM, October 15th, EST.

This year’s celebrity judge is noted SF author Jay Lake!

Winner receives payment of 10 cents per word and publication in Apex Digest Online.
Second place receives payment of 5 cents per word and publication in Apex Digest Online.
Third place receives a free Apex Book Company hardcover.
Fourth place receives a free Apex Book Company trade paperback.

Winning and second place story will be published on November 4th (election day).

Good luck and have fun writing some election horror!

Good luck. I don't know what I am going to write about yet but this should be a good distraction from those pesky novels we all seem to have going on right now.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Working on re-writes today, reading blogs and being a bum in general. All this while waiting for my wife to get home from work. Not that we can do anything because she is on call this weekend. Oh, well.

I re-wrote my short story Lullaby (572 words) the re-write is 860 words and I don't know if I like it any better. I started it over from scratch using a little bit of conversation from the original and the idea but I don't know if I like it as well . It seems to be missing something that the first one had. I don't know if it was the spontaneity or the meter and rhythm to it but it seems off. Might have to set it in a file and look at it in a couple of days.

Best of luck to everyone this weekend.

What a day!

It has been a crazy day in the old mailbox. Over the last twenty-four hours I have heard back from 5 publishers. Four were rejections, three form, one personal and a quasi-invitational rewrite request. I believe I will take the editor up on his offer to re-read if I choose to re-write it. It sounds like a fair trade.

This just leaves eight or so more markets to hear from at this point. I figure I should hear back from them any time now. Most have been out for awhile although some seem to have sporadic response times.

Better get to re-reading my story so I can figure out where I can make it stronger.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Indecent exposure

Not what it sounds like but I got your attention. I have had in mind for awhile a collection of short stories and since flash fiction seems to be my strong suit I want to call the collection. Indecent Exposure: flash fiction and other indiscretions. I thought it sounded like a cool title, witty at first and kind of a groaner as you keep reading it.

Now what I started to write about in the first place, (darn a.d.d., not really but it sounds better than just being off-track for most of my life) I wrote a nice (I don't know if I would really call it nice so much as I don't know. Hopefully an editor will pick it up and you can decide for yourself) piece about a man who who hadn't slept for months. Literally no sleep and the madness that ensued. I managed to get it into 570 words and I think it came out pretty well, especially after the edits. (I find I don't usually need to put as much work into edits on my shorter pieces. There is less to go wrong with them)

Anyway, it came up as a very short story and was sent off to a market that will hopefully think that my effort is worth reading. It was the first story that I have come up with this month and I must say that I liked doing it.

Now. . .what can I come up with for tomorrow?

I've always sucked at tag

I guess that Natalie Sin has tagged me. (I'll play along, just for fun)
I would like to tag Carrie and Ransom Noble.

1. What are your nicknames?

I've been called Jim a couple of times.

2. What game show and/or reality show would you like to be on?

I am not a fan of reality programming. I think it ruined the last vestiges of good scripted shows on network television.

3. What was the first movie you bought in VHS or DVD?

I think it was The Crow. I am a Lee fan and so his last show was a must have.

4. What is your favorite scent?
Chocolate Chip Cookies. I can't pass them up.

5. If you had a million dollars that you could only spend on yourself, what would you do with it?

I think I would buy a fur coat but not a real fur coat that's cruel (sorry I had to go to that 90's song.) I think I would really just buy a lot of wooded land and put up a little shack to run to whenever I wanted.

6. What one place have you visited that you can't forget and want to go back to?

I really haven't traveled all that extensively. Maybe Idaho.

7. Do you trust easily?

I may trust more easily than my wife but I have a very skeptical eye for detail.

8. Do you generally think before you act, or act before you think?

act first apologize later.

9. Is there anything that has made you unhappy lately?

my writing habits have sucked of late but I am working on it.

10. Do you have a good body image?


11. What is your favorite fruit?

Is the cocoa bean a fruit?

12. What websites do you visit daily?

Drudgereport, duotrope, blogs.

13. What have you been seriously addicted to lately?

Trying to catch up on sleep. Been very unsuccessful. (zzzzz. . .)

14. What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?

Nice person and quite a writer.

15. What's the last song that got stuck in your head?

Something by. . .oh crud, I can't even remember the name of the band.

16. What's your favorite item of clothing?

comfortable jeans.

17. Do you think Rice Krispies are yummy?

When mixed with peanut butter or covered in sugar anything can be edible.

18. What would you do if you saw $100 lying on the ground?

This happened at a store I worked at, i turned it in and got it back a month later.

19. What items could you not go without during the day?

Computer, my wife and the news.

20. What should you be doing right now?

Greeting my daughter home from school. see ya.

I must admit

Okay, I know a few of you might think that I am a horror writer. It is true, I do like horror. I read every 'scary' book I could get my hands on as a child (this worried my mother, and I don't know what my father thought of it). King, Clegg, Koonzt (the early stuff), Bloch, the list could go on. But I have to admit it, there can be no more denying it.

I am not a horror writer. I don't really call myself a speculative fiction writer although I was ecstatic to come in as an honorable mention in the Return to Luna Anthology (I am sure they butchered my name when they read the honorable mentions but that is okay.) I am a writer, pure and simple. I have had pieces published that I called westerns but got put into literary journals (The Life, Cerulean Rain issue 1), and experimental pieces that could have taken place on any street you've been down (Life in Vignettes, Literary Chaos print issue #1).

I've written two books. One an adult thriller that will probably never see the light of day unless I rewrite it from a different point of view. I am working on a children's novel that I am re-writing from a different characters perspective (that's a load of fun, let me tell you).

I guess I don't want to be pigeonholed. I like to write whatever my mind comes up with and I want to be able to run with it. Heck I even have a children's picture book out for consideration with Tricycle press.

Does this make me a bad writer? Good grief I hope not. I hope that it makes me a better writer.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Now the real reason I got on this morning

I finally heard back from Tom Moran over at Black Ink Horror yesterday afternoon. As is his style it was personalized, commenting on what he thought worked well and what needed some work. I didn't feel too bad. I had sent him one of the first stories that I had written when I got back in the groove of things and he seemed to like it just fine. Just not enough to take for the mag. Somewhere between when I sent him the story and he sent a response the response got lost in the black hole of the internet (I think that yahoo mail and gmail are incompatible species) so he claims to have sent it too me much earlier than yesterday but I couldn't find hide nor hair of it in my account.

Not the first time. Won't be the last.

Anyway, He isn't accepting new stories until October 1 and then he opens back up for submissions again. Good editor, nasty drawings to go along with the stories.

hope to hear some good news in the next couple of weeks. hopefully and acceptance to something, anything.

It is here that I was going to post a Calvin and Hobbs cartoon but I began to think about copywrites and thought better of it so I will just post the link

Thank You!

I just want to thank Natalie L. Sin and Cathrine Gardner for nominating me for an I Love You Blog award. I am sure I am undeserving but I will take it anyway. It is better than a sharp stick in the eye.

Now it is time to return the favor to those that are more deserving than I. To nominate those that inspire me, make me laugh or just have a kick-butt blog to begin with. (drumroll please)
I would like to nominate for the 'I Love Your Blog' award-
1. Here There Be Tygers- Felicity Dowker's blog is just flat out cool. The little gal from down under has had the best string of luck that anyone could wish for as a writer and I wish her all the best.
2. Carrie Harris-This novel writer from up north has a skewed view of the world and she her observations make me laugh. I look forward to reading her book when it finally comes out.
3. Aaron Polson- A fellow midwesterner and writer who must just scare the hell out of his students. Either that or he is the coolest teacher in the world.
4. J.C.Tabler-A good writer all his own. What can I say. I just like his writing.
5. Gabriel Beyers-This is possibly one of the best looking blogs that I have ever seen. Uncluttered and just intrinsically beautiful.
6. Of course I love Natalie Sin's blog and Catherines as well but they already have the award otherwise they wouldn't have sent it one to me.

And now the rules of the game.
1) Add the logo of your award to your blog.

2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.

3) Nominate at least seven other blogs.

4) Add links to those blogs on your blogs.

5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A rejection done right

I mentioned on Sunday how I finally got a rejection from Crazyhorse magazine after 265 days. It truly was one of the best rejections that I had ever received (even better than the one I got ten years ago from Fantasy and Science Fiction that was personally noted and signed by Gordon Van Gelder, even though he called me Ms. Eyberg) I thought I would share it with everyone, because I don't know how many of you would submit a story to Crazyhorse although I know all of you are capable and probably more likely to succede in the market than me.

Here is the opening paragraph of the rejection and I do realize that it is a form letter, but a beautiful one at that.

Thank you for sending your manuscript "Wine For Two" to us here at Crazyhorse via the online submission manager. We are sorry this particular manuscript (with emphasis on "this particular") was not selected for publication in Crazyhorse. We hope you will send us another soon, though. We could not publish Crazyhorse without the fine writing we receive. And while we regret that the large number of submissions we receive makes it difficult for the editors to respond personally, we want to stress that an editor personally read your manuscript. Devoted reading is part of the Crazyhorse editorial mission; it is also our own personal one.

There was more to it but it was related to a contest that I did not enter and was not relevent to my situation.

It certainly made me feel welcome and like my efforts and time were not wasted and was a breath of less pungent air to suck in compared to many of them that I have gotten.

I went on to submit the story to The Ninth Letter, who kindly rejected one of my earlier stories.

Now, I am off to read one of Natalie Sin's stories.

Monday, September 15, 2008


I hate it when I can actually watch my money lose value. Darn institutional bankers this morning. Nothing to do but wait for a rebound. This is way scarier than anything that I could write about. Sorry, just had to silently scream into cyberspace.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


It turned into one of those days. A tractor (1946 Farmall M) that we were going to get rid of blew an oil line just hours before the guy was supposed to pick it up. I thought I had blown a head gasket and it just went from a farm tractor to a parts tractor in the blink of an eye. Luckily I was wrong and the line got fixed.

I finally heard back from Crazyhorse magazine. It only took them 265 days to get back to me but they offered the nicest form rejection that I have ever received. Kind of like telling me to go to hell and making me feel good about the trip.

Looking forward to starting the week off with another round of edit and rewrites on my YA project.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Looking for work?

I don't know how other writers work. I don't really know how my own mind works (rarely, is what my wife would tell me) but I watched the creepy little movie that is linked to on The Poison Apple blog today (Thanks Cate!) and it inspired me. I have wanted to write a screenplay for awhile. I have studied the form and know most of the language. I often watch movies and try to 'write' (in my head) a story that would follow the movie. Often times my mind can come up with a better story than the movie but sometimes the screenplay is actually better than any story I can come up with. This movie was one of those times. It's not often that I will intentionally try to start a story specifically for a market either. I try to find a market after I write the story. I don't know what everyone else does but as long as you are getting published, who cares.

I don't know if it has to do with the richness or sparsity of the scene and setting or the actor(tress) that is playing the roles, but some things are actually better left to the screenplay form. The short little movie was borderline genius and I encourage everyone to watch it ALL THE WAY TO THE END.

I mentioned in my post that it reminded me of something that Robert Bloch would do. Now Bloch has been dead since the early 90's and is probably best known for his work on the Hitchcock movie Psycho but his short stories (very hard to come by) were masterful in their suspense. He had several collections of short stories, put out in the 60's after he became known as the Psycho guy, that would honestly put Stephen King to shame, and I like Kings short stories.

Anyway, the only Bloch book out there right now is a paperback from Hard Case Crime books that is a two-fer in the pulp category, if you are interested you should check it out. They are good reads.

This post has rambled on long enough. Anyone else have a favorite obscure short story writer out there? Please let me know.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Here there be Bears!

Okay, so I live in Iowa. Not much goes on here to tell you the truth. We have two pretty good football teams (Go 'Clones) and occationally I see a bobcat across the road from where I live but we have had some visitors to the state that have been getting some press of late.

Bears. Black bears coming up from the Ozarks in Missouri and black bears coming down from Minnesota. There have been six sighting this year and the latest one was only about twenty miles from where I live.

Now the problem that I have is that they are not a protected species in Iowa because, well, you don't need to protect something that doesn't live there. Right?


Anyway. We have the same problem with mountain lion (I have seen one of those in the state about ten years ago) in that they are not protected and god forbid we let any animal go where it wants.

I realize this is off the writing topic that I try to stick to in this post but it struck me as something I needed to get off my chest and most of the local hunters don't feel the same way about it as I do (I am a local hunter) so my ramblings would be falling on deaf ears.

Now to the writing. My children's novel "Big Chief's Gold" is actually going well when I find the opportunity to work on it. I have greatly expanded the narrative on the bones that I had laid out. The first four pages have blown up into thirteen pages and at that rate my little ninety page story will be about a 250 page book. I don't know if it will turn out like that or not but I am happy with the progress so far.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I just read J.C. Tabler's last post on his muddled rejection from 'Potters Field' and I was just wondering what kind of rejection you like to recieve. I know that no one likes to recieve a rejection letter but they are inevitable (like my wife says, 'if I had your proficiency rating where I work I would be fired but you are actually doing pretty good.' She is a pharmacist and they aren't allowed to make mistakes very often.)

I was just wondering, do you prefer the form letter that bluntly but politely tells you that you weren't accepted or do you prefer the often wordy personal rejection that tells you everything that was wrong with your piece and then politely tells you good luck getting it placed in the future.

I am still up in the air myself. I would think that a personal rejection is better because the editor took the time to personally tell you why he didn't like your story (if he didn't like it at least why it wasn't right for them.) On the other hand the form rejection is nice to because it can be taken so openly. Your piece could have stunk on ice or maybe they just had enough pieces that were that length. Maybe they had just accepted a zombie story and are looking for something in early European werewolf.

I still prefer the acceptance letter hands down, rejections just suck.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I'm an uncle again

I just received word that my sister has given birth to a girl, Lannah. I am excited but I will have to wait to meet her for three weeks. Just the way it goes.

It was fun to read everyone's first lines. It was a fun project, although I did have to dig through the filing cabinet to find them all. It becomes hard when I only started writing again last July and I have written two books in that time, although they are rough drafts and have a third novel half finished sitting in a file where it will probably die a slow death. Yes, I must admit that I didn't have time in the ten years from getting a degree in fiction writing (yes they do offer that at some places) to do much else than jot ideas down and file them away, getting to do little more with them than let them grow or die in the plain manila folder they were relegated to. But now that I have kids and naptime avails me I have had much more time to sit and relax, be contemplative and grow the ideas that once were mere seeds of words on scraps of paper.

I have to take the kid to the doctor now, hopefully he can figure out why my kid is only letting me sleep a couple of hours a night.

Friday, September 5, 2008

First lines

I am going with Cathy Gardner on this one. First lines of the last 20 stories you have written.

1. I watched it from the corner of my eye. 'Burnt Offering'
2. The trees moved, bare branches gently pushed by an invisible breeze. 'Open Graves'
3. It was especially cold that winter, although none of us seemed to mind. 'Winter Solstice'
4. Ever since I was a small boy I had asked for a midget of my very own. 'My Birthday Present'
5. Tony turned off his backhoe and leaned out the door. 'Coffin Nails'
6. He looked out onto the empty street and tipped the sign in the window like every morning. 'Wine for two'
7. I guess you could say that I am penning this from prison, if you can call an industrial size pickle jar prison. 'The Glass Jar'
8. the woman lay on the bed of spikes, tiny pressure points that stretched at the flesh of her scantily clad body. 'Circus Freaks'
9. The razor ground claw of the hammer poked at the tender flesh around Dave's mouth. 'Beer Run'
10. It had been a basic church. 'Fire and Brimstone'
11. I never liked Lindsey. 'Solitaire, and Other Games Children Play'
12. It is dark. 'Life In Vignettes'
13. "What is a life, if it is not expendable." 'The Life'
14. He hung the hook out of the water, a piece of cheese attached. 'Fishing Expedition'
15. John O'neal sat and listened to the voice from across the campus. 'Naj Tunich'
16. The bell rang at Southwest Junior High School to signal the beginning of the day. 'Big Chief's Gold' children's novel, WIP
17. The war was hell on everybody. 'western' WIP
18. The shears lopped off another piece of the girls finger. 'lost'
19. It all began on a bad day. 'The bad word' childrens picture book
20. She was dark, like earth that had been turned. 'The passenger'

Day in

My boy, cutting teeth, managed to keep me up most of the night so I don't know how productive today will be. Hopefully I will be able to rewrite the first 2 chapters of the children's book I am working on. I managed to start the re-write the other day but was sidetracked yesterday installing windows and painting barns at my mother-in-laws place.

I am kind of surprised that I have not heard, good or bad, from any publisher in over a week. I guess I shouldn't complain but I know my e-mail works. I also know what the first couple of weeks of school is like at the college run mags. (If anyone hasn't had the opportunity to work at a mag they really should. Just reading the slush pile will do wonders for your self esteem.)

Boy is getting up (probably for the day) better go get him.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


It is official. I have three stories that have been out for at least 200 days, with another one edging in on it quickly. I am currently waiting for responses from Crazyhorse(I am pretty excited that they have held my piece this long at 253 days), Another Sky press, and From the Asylum (just hit the 200 day mark today). In another two weeks we can add Black Ink Horror to that list.

Worked on my children's novel yesterday afternoon, I am still breaking it up into usable chapters so I can conquer it on small piece at a time. I might be able to finish that project today.

The boy is waking up, better go get him.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Another Month

Well, September is upon us and it has ushered into the gulf coast states with a bang. As I write this my children are playing nicely (for the moment) upstairs and Hurricane Gustav is pounding N.O. I am thankful that all I have to worry about where I live are lightening storms and the occational tornado.

On Friday Cindy Crosmus of Yellow Mama e-mailed me and told me my short story, Fire and Brimstone, would be in the Christmas issue #11. It is a dark story about a would-be suicide and the aftermath that plague the man who tried. I hope everyone will check it out.

In other news I received a very short rejection letter for my story, Wine for Two. I will not link to those that rejected me, but I am assuming that it was not what they had in mind when they were looking for thought provoking literary fiction.

I hope everyone in the states enjoys the Labor day holiday and those of you outside of them will enjoy your Monday in spite of the date.