Friday, February 27, 2009

In four days time

The school that my daughter is in has the next four days off. Today, which is friday because the teachers worked late at parent/teacher conferences. They have the weekend off because it is, well, the weekend. then they get Monday off as well. It isn't a holiday or anything. None of the other schools around us get the day off, but we do. The reason. The high school girls basketball team made state so they are giving everyone the day off so we can all go to Des Moines and watch them play. I am not going. This is also the (1, 2, 3) Third time this year they have done so. They got out when the football team went to state and when the wrestlers went to state as well. I don't remember getting out when the volleyball team went to state (which they did). Granted this is an unprecidented year athletically for the school but this is getting a little ridiculous. To top it off, on Wednesday they get out early for a teacher in-service. ARGH!

This means I get the joy of watching both of my children (I would have been watching one already) when she should be in school. I don't even want to think about what is going to happen if the girls win their match and they need to take another day so we can go support them.

Needless to say, my craft is going to suffer the next four days at least. I might be able to crunch in a couple of hundred words here and there but actually sitting down and relaxing isn't going to happen. I think I might play a lot more pool though, my kids both enjoy that and they don't fight while they do.

Have a fantastic weekend. (now to try a trick from Barry's blog, if I mention it they will come. I haven't heard from an editor in 6 days. Hocus Pocus)

UPDATE: since this post I have received two rejections. Wow! this magic stuff really works!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

My take on:

Just After Sunset by Stephen King. I have to say, after finishing this book last night, I am torn. It is either his best book ever, or one of his worst. I will tell you why. The style of writing in this book is a far cry from his early short story collections such as Night Shift. It is, stylistically, different than his last collection of short stories, Everything's Eventual. If you are looking for the King of old you will be disappointed. If you are willing to go into this with an open mind you might be pleasantly surprised.

He is willing to admit that he hadn't thought much of the short story in a while, until he was asked to edit the Best Of series Short Fiction. He did and spent the next year reading a great deal of short stories, mostly from literary journals. He went one to describe how he had never thought of his early works to be 'literature' in any form, but a paycheck if they sold (and sometimes they didn't sell) He took this collection as a personal challenge and there are several very memorable stories in this collection.

After reading it I was struck that he wrote this because he wanted to, not because he had to. Not unlike when Eric Clapton put out a blues album after much success in pop music. He said he did it because he had made his money and he was going to do what he wanted to. If the fans wanted to follow him, that was great, and if they didn't that was their choice.

Now I am on to read Tom Piccirilli's Edgar nominated book, The Cold Spot, which after reading the opening chapter (opening paragraph actually) I am excited to read.

In other news, I am still working on Chapter 10. I came to a spot that needed more thought than forcing myself to type at a keyboard did justice to so I took a break after 750 words yesterday. I hope to finish 10 today and get a wet edge on 11, if my children allow me. Still no word on the editor front this week. Must just be a slow week for them. I think a lot of people are having this problem.

Have a great Thursday.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

First time for everything

Check out my story Premonition on today.

So I was perusing some of the mags that I have sent stories to lately and I came across something I have never come across in a literary mag, ever. You know the ones who have the really cool submission systems that have become pretty common lately. Most literary mags actually use the same one. I understand it is a subscription thing (I think it costs them $300 a year to use it) but it standardizes things and makes it easy on the writers. They only have to log into the system to see that they did indeed get the story. No need to bug the editors because it is in the system, although I have a feeling that this doesn't stop some people.

Now usually these things will have a message on there, something like *pending* or something else *declined*. I have never seen anything other than these two things until last night when I went to Opium Mag's and it read *recommended for publication* Now I understand this is a hold and will probably go through a couple more editors (if it makes it past the next one) before I hear from them, good or bad. I was still flabbergasted. I didn't think the process would allow it to say anything other than *pending* or *declined* although I have heard that, when the wind blows from the northern plains and you are holding your tongue just right it will read *accepted*.

In other news, Chapter 9 knocked out, cold. Starting Chapter 10 today. Officially in Novella length territory.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

That's it, I'm getting rid of my Chainsaw

I was looking up something to show BT for his blog post today and came across this clip.

all I have to say is "Me want!"

Now that we have all enjoyed the pointless destruction and carnage lets get down to it. I managed to get chapter 7 roughed out (I only had a little bit to go) and then knocked out Chapter 8 and started on 9 while I was just sitting around. I feel pretty accomplished. I hope to finish 9 today and I will feel really good.

I have no hard and fast arbitrary word counts for this piece. I am just writing until it is done. However long that takes.

Now it is time to consume copious amounts of coffee and get on with the day, which also happens to be my wife's birthday. Sancho's and rice crispy treats for dinner and dessert tonight.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Just another manic monday

Now that I have cheesy 80's pop songs in my head and probably yours as well if you were born before 1981 let us move on to what this week will entail.

this week will probably be a bummer of a week. My daugher, who is now apparently out of school more than she is in school gets out early two days and is completely off of school one day this week. I don't know why they are bothering to have it at all. This will undoubtedly throw off my writing schedule and put me weeks behind on my current work. (feel free to scratch your head as you figure out how 3 days equates into weeks)

Other than that I am working out the kinks in some of my shorter works. Playing with verbs and tense as I get ready to send them back out into the world.

Speaking of that, I had sent out one of my shorts to Fissure magazine. Good people over there, quick turn-around but they only pay in copy. I thought I would try one story on them that has gotten good responses but no takers as of yet. She sent back the best response I have seen yet, although still a rejection. It was the most concrete criticism I have received on this story to date and I think she is right. It was an early piece, not horror, but has some speculative qualities to it. She said something that I knew was wrong but couldn't put my finger on (just a matter of verb). She said much of the tone was too passive and offered me some suggestions to make it more active. This was something I had struggled with in much of my earlier writing. I was glad to finally hear it from someone. I have since changed many of my 'that's and 'had's with much more active language and I hope a much stronger piece. Now to see what other editors think of my newest version.

Damn, that was a long paragraph. Sorry for that.

On to put the boy down and write.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Much needed day from home

Yesterday I took the day off from being at home. It was a pleasant vacation from the surrounding that I seem to have fused with since being a stay-at-home father. I used to get out more. Of course I used to write less. I felt yesterday was a good opportunity to get out. I had a friend who wanted me to look at a plumbing issue he has in a house he rents (I keep trying to get him to involve his landlord but he refuses to do that for some reason) . I thought 'what the hell. He just wants to tear a wall apart. I can do that.' So I did. I managed to have the offending piece of wall out of there in in under ten minutes and the rest of the time we talked guns and went out for pizza with my boy. It was a welcome break.

Today that means I need to double down and get at least chap 7 down and possibly get a start on 8 as well. A wet edge as the term has been floated around this week. While I needed the break I look just as forward to getting back to routine. (Aren't we all creatures of habit?)

I have now heard back from 3 of 4 editors that I was looking for this week. Just one to go and I have until Sunday to hear from him. (If I do not it will not be the end of the world but it sure will screw up my record for the week.) I still stand with 1 acceptance and 3 rejections, 1 being from Clarkesworld which wasn't on my original list, for the week.

Time to get going. Kid to wash, story to write, house to vacuum, and dishes to do.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Damn, I'm good (at guessing)

I said on Monday that I expected to hear back from 4 editors this week. So far I have heard back from two of those four. One was good, One- meh. What is it they say. (who the hell are they anyway? Let's go out and play.) Two down, two to go.

I did pound out chapter 5 yesterday and started in on Chapter 6 before the boy woke up. It is going to need some fleshing out when I am done. The settings are generic, the dialog is wooden, but I am getting the overall idea down which was my goal. I hope to be done with it by this time next month. Hold me to that people. I have extra lengths of steel pipe and ax handles out in my shop that are just taking up space so you can travel light.

Good discussion going on over at Jameson's blog today on inspiration and where it comes from. While you are over there wish him a happy birthday.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday. My family got me "The Great Muppet Caper" as a gift so we sat around and watched that last night. Good times. The chicken was good, finger lickin' good you might say.

I did manage to rough out part of chapter 5 of my new piece yesterday. At the rate I am going (about a chapter a day) it shouldn't take too long to get this pounded out in a first draft.

I am using new software for this project, OpenOffice 3.0 from Java. It is free and I am all about the free. I had been using Abiword as my reader for Word (.doc) files but I am switching over. Both are free programs but I am finding the Java program to be far superior. Previously, I had used Microsoft works word processor, which is fine. It types, it has spell checker, it is easy to use but I am liking the sophistication of this new software. It reminds me of the old days in college when I used Correll's Wordperfect as my writing software. I guess I am just too cheap to buy Word.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Outlook for the week

I think this should be a pretty good week, aside from today where getting another year older just sucks. The good news is that my wife should be bringing home chicken for dinner which mean a) I get chicken for dinner and b) I don't have to cook.

I am planning on working on my current project, full steam ahead, until I blow a head gasket and sputter to a stop.

I also expect to hear back, good or bad, from about four markets this week. I am right in their average response time or well beyond. If this year is like last year this will be a dry period with March getting drier (I only heard back from one market last March, my inbox was incredibly quiet)

In case you aren't signed up with Michael Knost for his newsletter (He is an editor at Shroud as well as a good guy) he has a book coming out with articles written by some of the biggest names in horror. It looks pretty interesting. More information here.

Now, go forth and conquer the English language (Or butcher it as I am prone to do) but enjoy it either way.

P.S. I am serious, if anyone wants my recipe for Brownie Pudding just flit me an e-mail at jeyberg74 @ gmail (dot) com. All I have to do is paste it into a reply for you.

UPDATE: just sold a story, Beneath the Willows, to Bards and Sages for their October issue. Maybe this day won't suck too much after all.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

this one is for Jeremy

I don't know how many of you had a bust of a Valentines day yesterday (crowded restaurants, flowers that showed up wilted, ect.) I will have to admit mine was pretty good. Now before I sit down to read a pile of papers I have been wanting to get to here is a recipe that I made for my family last night. It only has five ingredients and takes two pans. It is a linguine with sausage and onions in a light sauce.

1 pound Linguine
1 pound Italian sausage
1 medium onion (white or yellow)
1 cup half and half
some grated Parmesan cheese

Cook your Linguine (You can make a pound because this recipe actually reheats well) While you are waiting for the water to boil start to brown a pound of Italian sausage and one medium onion sliced (not diced) in a medium skillet. When the water starts to boil throw in your linguine and put in about 1/2 to 1 cup half and half and some Parmesan cheese (whatever you think, it is your taste buds here. I don't use measuring cups or anything) You are not wanting a paste just a nice light sauce to simmer the sausage and onions in. When the pasta is ready drain the water and pour the sauce on top and mix in. It is really easy and even with the water boiling it only takes about 25-30 minutes. Even my kids (well, the unpicky one) will eat it.

In other news, now that I am done dispensing recipes through my writing blog. (maybe one day I will do my recipe for brownie pudding. Yeah you heard me right, it is a brownie and it is pudding.) I have a pile of reading that I would like to get done today. Including some stories I need to go over for a friend and some personal reading I would like to finish. I would also like to write a little on chapter 4 of my yet unnamed book.

Have a happy Sunday and I hope everyone's weekend is going well.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A quasi holiday and a question

Happy Valentines Day for all you lovers out there in blogworld.

Now that we have that out of the way, a question.

Which is worse, waiting on a submission with a known long out time or waiting on one with an expected short time out?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Long night

So I have pretty much been up since 2:30 when my boy got me up and didn't go back down until 5:30. Unfortunately the dog didn't cooperate and neither did my weather radio (we are in a winter storm warning apparently) for letting me get back to sleep until my normal out of bed time at 6:30 so, while the boy is still sleeping, I am doing something I haven't done in a while. I am writing fiction in the morning.

It is nice actually. I have over a 1000 words in so far today and with any luck I will have an afternoon nap (the boy not me) to write on.

I am noticing that, even though I chose not to outline this particular story, my characters seem more complex and real to me than anything else I have written. I don't know why and it could be an illusion caused by sleep deprivation. I also think that the first draft of this is going to be much smoother than the last book I wrote. Just a hunch. I have actually dreamed about these characters and what happens next. And I don't usually remember my dreams, not unless they are really graphic. I hope I can keep this up.

In other news: I have six subs out to anthologies right now. Two of them I am pretty excited about the stories (okay I like all of the stories I have out but these two stand out). One is to the Return of the Raven Antho (a tribute to Poe) When I wrote the story originally it was not for any particular market and it was intentionally in the model of Poe's psychological stories. The only problem with this market is they will only contact you if the story is accepted. (I know, what the hell?) The other is for Devil's Food but I don't know what is going on with that one yet. I just know I haven't been rejected yet so I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Being prodded by Cate to write this

I mentioned in my twitter feed that since I finished the first draft of Invasion yesterday I had an idea that seems worth pursuing. It is not a supernatural novel (it might end up being novella length. I am not sure at this point. However long it takes to get the idea down.) but it is a thriller. I am going to go for a pulp feel to it. I will be curious to see how long it takes to pound this one out. Something about having your house invaded by a previous tenant is a scary prospect to me.

I have also managed to rack up three rejections from some pro- markets this week. At least I am consistent.

If anyone here doesn't read Aaron's blog he and Ed over at Strange publications are donating the proceeds of the remaining Tainted books (very excellent reading. I give it a two thumbs way up on the spookiness and readability meter) to the Red Cross for the Australian fires that are tearing up Victoria as we speak. If you don't have a copy, please order. You will be doing your library some good and for a good cause. (If you ask nicely he might even sign it for you. Sorry Aaron but I had to throw that in)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

We can thank K.C. for today's post

My earliest childhood memories with a book would involve the book Johnny and the Tool Chest. It had very few pictures but my dad would read that too me over and over as a child (when we weren't watching professional wrestling). Eventually I could read parts of it myself. My parents said I could read when I was four so it must have worked. I still have the book sitting on my bookshelf now. I haven't read it in years. I wonder if it is still as good as I remember it.

My other favorite books that I read over and over in my grammar school years were action adventure books like The Sign of the Beaver and My Side Of the Mountain. I think I have owned three copies of Mountain through the years.

Monday, February 9, 2009

One project done

Yippee! Break out the kegs! Hide the women and children! I have just finished the first draft of my longest piece to date. Invasion is done at 263 pages of crap I am sure, but it is done. Now to let it sit while I finish the second draft of my YA book, Big Chief's Gold.

In other news- I just received my copy of Monstrous in the mail today. It looks awesome and features our very own Aaron A. Polson (He did have the A. in the byline) It also features a great modern master, Steve Alton, of Meg fame. (Just so you all feel a little better, his first book Meg took him ten years to write but he has written like ten books since then, which has been about 10 years.)

Now I think I can relax a little and focus more. I just feels good to get another project crossed off the list. Kind of like the plumbing project I did yesterday.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday funnies

If only all stories were that successful in driving home the point. I think you can click on it to enlarge it in a different window.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A quick note on 2012 AD

I noticed on Severed Press's website that they were temporarily closed to submissions on their 2012 AD antho. I shot off a quick e-mail to the editors asking what was going on and that I would post their response here.

Here is what they said: We have temporarily closed 2012 AD to restructure the submission guidelines. The description we provided is too broad and the submissions we received so far are barely, if it all, related to the Maya. This is our own fault, and hopefully by relaying our expectations more clearly, we will be able to get 2012 AD back on track. The concept of the Maya predictions are both interesting and timely. We still believe it would make a great Anthology. I apologize if you have started an original piece specifically for 2012 AD, but feel free to submit it anyway and we'll keep you posted.

I still haven't heard back from them so I don't know what that means for my piece or anyone else who may have sent them something and hasn't heard back.

Until later, have a good weekend.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Holy Crap! Its Friday.

I can't believe how fast this first week of February has gone by. Only three more of these weeks to go and we are in March. I have to get crackin' if I am going to get anything done this month. I still have a slew of stories to edit. I have books to finish. I have an outline I need to make before that idea slips out of my head. I think I more than made up for my one a month story last month so I am not too worried about the short. So where has the time gone?

Enough of the blogging, I have to get some work done around here. Everyone have a great weekend. May nothing but acceptances fill your inbox. I'm outta here for now.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

So Long Gone

How long is too long to wait for a response from an editor. That is the question posed by K.C. today. With a book I can see waiting up to a year for a response. I mean, it is a book. Lots of pages and yours isn't the only one out there so literally thousands of pages get sent in every day to some of these publishers.

I am sure some of the literary markets have the same problems. I can't imagine the slush that Crazyhorse (I know they get over 1000 stories a month) and Fantasy and Science Fiction (at least they are quick about weeding out what they don't want) get every day. It can't be healthy. I don't know what a smaller market would get, although we could ask Aaron about Sand and their slush pile. I guess the question remains, how long is too long to wait. I can understand a five month wait. Not a problem, I can handle that. Eight months? Okay, we are pushing it. Ten months? A year?

Aaron brought up an interesting point. K.C.'s book has been out 431 days. I have a short out 392-ish days. Aaron says he has one that is right up there (I wonder if it is to the same market). Since I subbed out to that market my writing has evolved. A lot. Once it comes back, if it is a rejection and at this point I am counting on it, it is going into my dead story file. It was a bad story. The line was sloppy, the characters unbelievable, the dialog craptacular. The description was pretty good but that does not a good story make. There was no plot to go off of. It was just a rambling description. Not unlike this post.

Wwhat do we expect out of our editors and does it have anything to do with what the story could pay if it is accepted? It does with me. I waited eight months with Crazyhorse because they are a prestigous market and I know they get a lot of submissions from the best in the country. I wasn't going to piss that chance down my leg by bothering the editor. Now if a non-paying or token market is going to try the same thing I am going to inquire. There is no reason for it. (For all I know the response got lost in cyberspace somewhere, as what happened with a tale I sent to Black Ink Horror.)

Sorry to ramble on. Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lost arts

How many of us have been asked if you have written a novel and seem to disappoint the askee when you tell them you write short stories or flash fiction. "Oh sure," you tell them, sometimes to appease their prying stares, "I am working on a novel." you watch as their eyes light up. It is then you realize that they have no clue what an art form the short story actually is.

You think about it a minute as they ask the inevitable question, "What is your book about?" They don't bother to ask about the shorts. They don't care about the flashes of brilliance that they could actually read because they have been picked up, and paid for, by some editor. They want to know about the novel. The work that will be a labor of love because, chances are, no publisher will ever touch it because it was written by a short story writer.

Do these people understand the depths that go into writing a piece shorter than 10,000 words or even 50,000 words. The novel writers do. I have heard many a novelist who marveled at the expediency of the short story, they themselves unable to lay down a tale in under 85,000 words.

I just wonder when the rest of the world will catch on.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It happened again!

So, I submitted a story (one of my older ones that has gone through about 50 re-writes as is. What can I say, I like the story.) The editor, bless their soul, asked me for a re-write in one of the oddest letters I have ever received from an editor. (Mind you this is a new one, different from the post earlier this week) It read:

Dear Jamie—

You absolute !ӣ$!

I was totally charmed and loving it and then you botched the ending.

Would you care to revise? The opening 2½ pages are wonderful.

Kind regards

I won't say who the editor or the magazine are but I was a little flabbergasted. The entire story is only 4 pages in length and now I am torn. Do I rework a piece that looks nothing like my original story and pull it even further down a different road and risk it getting published, or do I sub it off to someone else and risk further rejection (or possible publication somewhere down the road)?

I just thought this was kinda funny

My Uncle is good for sending me stuff and this was one he sent yesterday. Just to remind you that global warming effects all of us.

The caption it had was "Thousands protest global warming"

I didn't have too much else to say.

Monday, February 2, 2009

does everyone have this problem?

I seem to get more re-write requests than the average writer. I don't know why, but they all say the same thing. "We are willing to look at it again but you need to expand on -" one idea or another in the story. I know a lot of people overwrite their stories and I seem to underwrite them. I don't know if it is the flash fiction writer in me or the lazy writer in me. Editor's are asking questions of my characters that I thought were pretty obvious or I didn't think I needed to waste valuable words on.

That being said, I do think that most of my stories come out for the better once they are re-written, it usually only takes a line or two to clear things up but I was just wondering, is this a problem I am alone on or does this happen to everyone on occasion? I know that Stephen King said in his book "On Writing" (wonderful book, if you haven't read it I recommend it.) To cut out at least 10% after you are done, just to make it less convoluted. I seem to have the opposite problem. I need to add another 10%. My problem is I don't know what 10% to add.

Have a great rest of the day. At least it isn't snowing here!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Month 2, Day 1, Jamie 0

February is upon us and the warm air that my place was blessed with yesterday is gone. It did not get warm enough to melt all of the snow despite getting close to 60 degrees (I still have 30 inch piles of, now dirty, white stuff all over the yard). It is supposed to warm a little later on this week. Just as long as we don't get any more snow I will be happy. My snowthrower has operated more than it should have this year.

Now it is is time for *January in Review*-

January was actually a pretty good month, by my estimation. I wrote 2 flash pieces and two short stories. One of the flash pieces was accepted by Flashes in the Dark and will be on the website the 25th of this month. I had eight stories rejected and I have 17 stories out in sub land (the longest being to Another Sky Horror Antho at 388 days, the shortest being to Necrotic Tissue from last week) I have two stories, should they get rejected, will be retired. I managed to write a couple of thousand words in my book, Invasion.

I also managed to read or finish or start: Deep and Dark and Dangerous (YA book but a very good ghost story), The Poisoned Apple (Hello Cate!), and I am half-way through Just After Sunset by Mr. King. I have also been reading through Shroud #4 (Much different than I though it would be but I am enjoying it immensely).

I don't know what my plans for this month are yet, other than editing the hell out of my short stories and possibly finishing draft #1 of Invasion. I have a slew of books to start on if I want to (Money Shot, Return to Luna, Zombie Haiku-and that is just to start) and I will be turning another year older this month, to be celebrated by opening up a well chilled can or bottle of beer (hell, you could tap a Keg. I won't argue, just be sure to invite me over) and drinking with a medium rare steak and fried potato and onions.

Hope the weekend is going well and I look forward to seeing the progress we all make in the next month.