Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March in Review

March was a good month. I shall call it the month of ones (and then some) Here we go.

Stories written: 1
acceptances: 1
holds: 1
books finished: 1 (so it was a novella, I still finished writing it, still untitled officially)
Stories published: 1 (Nine on 52 Stitches)
rejections: 9
Stories out in submission land: 15

Okay, so the last two really aren't anywhere close to one, but it is still a much better month than the one I had a year ago, officially the slowest month I have ever had as a writer with a whopping 3 rejections. I am glad my email picked up the pace. Of course last year I didn't have near the friends in cyberspace as I have now. I didn't have anyone to vent my frustrations to.

Here is to a happy April. :)


Hi, I'm Jamie and, um, I'm a writer. It has been three days since I have put any words, creatively, on paper.

Hi Jamie.

I find it amazing how fast life catches up to you. This weekend I spent a good chunk of it framing a new bedroom in the basement of my house (No reason in particular but it will be nice to have a spare bedroom for guests). Yesterday, I went out for supplies to work on it further. Today, I am going to work on a re-write, although I have a nice (pronounced nasty) little story for Knost's Christmas Horror Antho going in my head. I am happy it has a word count of 1-3 K, although I might feel different after I get started on it (can I tell my story in approximately 12 pages?)

I am actually looking forward to posting my March in Review tomorrow. It has been a much better March than last year, when I had only 3 rejections and no acceptances. Although last year in March I wrote many more short stories. I can compare tomorrow, when the official tallies are in. It could happen. I could get some news in the ol' inbox today.

Happy writing/ re-writing.

Friday, March 27, 2009

It is a beautiful thing

I just wrote 'The End' on my novella. I am pretty happy with it and after I get done editing two other books I am going to give it a title and edit the hell out of it as well. After that I will want beta readers. I managed to come in around 23,000 words, which is a little longer than I expected for a first draft, although I expect it to grow in my re-writing phase. I have some pretty flimsy chapters in there. I think I can beef them up.

I got a very nice rejection last night from Murky Depths. They really seemed to like the way I write, but they decided to pass on it anyway due to an storyline they have seen done in their mag too many times. I don't blame them on that one. I reformatted it and sent it off to Niteblade. We'll see what Rhonda Parrish thinks about it.

In other news: I finished reading Twilight yesterday afternoon. It was something that I wouldn't have picked up on my own, but I am glad I read it, if for nothing else, I like to see what is happening with popular fiction these days. I would give it a 3 out of 5. It wasn't so great I would recommend it to friends but I wouldn't say it is horrible. I am pretty neutral on it. I would probably read the remaining books in the series if I find the time, but I won't feel bad if I don't.

Now I am reading Brian Keene's Terminal. I am curious about this one because I have only read his short fiction. So far I am liking it. He has a good premise behind the book, and so far it doesn't appear to be zombie related.

Have a good weekend. Later.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

this is turning into a habit

Had another day where I got practically nothing done. Not completely nothing but only about a page of new material. The climax is halfway done and then the slide to the end of the book (Natalie get your mind out of the gutter :) )

Aaron brought up an interesting question in yesterday's post, he also has an interesting contest today, for which I am completely not qualified but you may be, so go read it. The question he brought up yesterday, at least in my mind is 'At what point would you consider yourself to be sucessful?'

I have thought of this a lot lately. I was, at first, rejoicing that anyone would accept a piece I had written, then they paid me for my work, now I am ready to redefine success as something different. My wife would love it if I could make a living as a writer. She would be ecstatic at this point if I could pay the phone bill every month with my writerly earnings. To be honest, so would I. I guess I have always envisioned a living where I could do nothing but write. Okay, write and maybe make some furniture on the side. If someone could pay me to shoot guns, ride motorcycles, fish and play pool that would be alright as well, but that really isn't going to happen.

I guess I am not planning on becoming rich and famous with my writing. It was not my plan. I would rather make a comfortable living, pay a few bills and do what I like. Eventually, I would like my wife to not have to work as hard as she does (Let's face it, she has a doctorate and I have a bachelors degree, in creative writing no less. She can almost aways make a better living than me, especially considering that construction work isn't as easy to come by as it used to be.) I don't consider my goals to be unrealistic or out of reach. I figure, like everything else, if I work hard and consistently, I will get to where I want to be. I hope to write a couple of books and have them published eventually (although I might have a garage full of unpublished manuscripts before I get there).

Besides, I don't need to get a big publishing contract, I am going to win the lottery well before that happens. :)

Update: I forgot to mention that a story of mine has been shortlisted for Midnight Echoes issue 3. Unfortunately, I won't know any more until late summer about it, unless they drop it before that.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It is turning green around here

It was nasty just to the south and west of my location last night but here it was sort of calm. Just a lot of wind and a little rain. No tornadoes in the immediate area. I love to go out storm chasing but I don't get to do it very often.

I have managed very little writing in the last two days. I got a little done on Sunday and a little less yesterday. I blame the vacuum. Mostly because the one we had been using for the last 10 years died while I was running it on Sunday. Completely dead. My wife went out on Sunday to look for a new one but came up empty handed. Her absence and my boy's short nap did allow me to get about 500 words onto paper that day. Yesterday was a bust, except for the page I wrote while he was still sleeping in the morning. In the afternoon we had to go get a new vacuum, which we did and it works great. The carpet in the bedroom hasn't looked that good in quite a while.

Yesterday, I mentioned this on a twitter feed, that I found out that Tin House had rejected a story of mine. I didn't get an e-mail about it, but instead had to look a the submission manager. I am assuming that the rejection was lost in cyberspace. If it wasn't, that was a really crappy way of finding out they didn't want a story.

I am hoping to get more done today. Lots to do and only 24 hours in a day. I have to start crawling out of bed at 1 in the morning. Think of the things I could get done in a sleep deprived stupor.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


I have a new story today at 52 Stitches called Nine. If you haven't already, check it out, if you have Thank you.

I managed to get no writing done yesterday, today is looking no better. There is good news to come from this, however. My house is almost done. It has been years in the making and I managed to get a good chunk of trim up around the windows and doors yesterday and install a stairwell, properly this time. Today will involve the staining and finishing of more trim and if I feel ambitious I will take on my plumbing once again. I don't think I will feel that ambitious.

For now I am sitting here waiting for the boy to wake, and while it is time I could be using to write I need to re-format a story to send to another market after I got a very nice rejection letter from Shimmer yesterday. I also need to look at a story for a friend, but I want to be able to give it my full attention.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Just to clearify

My wife wanted to let everyone know, she was going to post this last night but I told her I would do it, that the only reason she had me read Twilight (getting more into it the longer I read it) is because she wants me to succeed in writing popular fiction. I don't blame her. She has seen almost two years go by with countless hours pouring over a keyboard doing what I like to do and I have very little to show for it. At least monetarily. She reads much more 'bestselling' fiction than I do and I appreciate her support. There is no 'but' in that sentence.

I am taken back to my first writing class in college and the professor came out, he is a professional writer and a 1983 Playboy writer of the year. He came out and said point blank, 'The average writer only makes nine hundred dollars a year. Some make a lot more and some make nothing. It averages out to nine hundred dollars a year. If you are thinking I will turn you into the next best selling writer, you are in the wrong class.' It was sobering experience. Especially considering how much the class was costing us.

She has also had me read a Nicholas Sparks book (I enjoyed it but I can't write like him) and she got me into the Harry Potter books as well (I really enjoyed them, although I thought book 5 was slow and I was right when I thought it would be a pretty dull movie). to my own end I have tried to get her to read some Stephen King (I think she might like Blaze and Just After Sunset) and she has read some short stories but not all that I recommend to her (she still hasn't read Aaron's story in Monstrous, although I haven't read Steve Alton's story in that one yet.)

I guess in the end I can say that we all have our own tastes, I like Pepsi and beer (I don't mix them). She is more into Jack Daniels and Dr. Pepper (She does mix these two). She reads much more sentimental pieces I go for more visceral ones. Actually, she reads more than I do.

Have a good Friday.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Just another Thursday

Getting closer. I had a pretty good 1500 word day yesterday (and it only took me a little over an hour to get there). I have been thinking, in my spare time, how I am going to flesh out my characters in my spare time (I have quite a bit of thinking time I have found out, just very little time to implement my thoughts) It is looking like a weekend finish is in order. I am supposed to work on my house this weekend, and I will, but when I am done or waiting for stuff to dry or I just run out of material (It is always a possibility, although I don't know how likely) I am planning on working on finishing my book.

Next week I start my most dreaded project. rewriting and edits. I have two books I need to edit before I start editing my current piece and I want to have them all out by mid-summer. I don't know if I can do it (and you will notice how ambiguous mid-summer sounds. Is it the middle of the school's summer vacation or is it the mid-point of summer as determined by the summer solstice? I haven't decided either.)

After the edits I am in the search for an agent. At least for the YA book. I don't think there are many agents that look at novellas so I might have to sub that one on my own.

I should be finished reading Twilight. I know a lot of you are going 'what the hell is he reading that for?' My wife recommended it to me. My sister recommended it to me. As I said. I should be finished reading it but I have a perfectly logical excuse for not having it finished yet (It really is a quick read). I haven't been reading it. I haven't been sucked in (no pun intended) by the characters, although I will give that the story is starting to pick up, now that I have read over half of it. Maybe I will put that on my 'to-do' list as well this weekend. After all, I have Money Shot by Christa Faust to read. Nothing like porn stars that are shot and left for dead only to come back for revenge. That one I am looking forward to reading.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Close, but so far away

I am only 3 or 4 chapters from finishing the first draft of the novella I started last month. I have worked on little else and it still looks like I have done amazingly little. I am hoping that I have very little editing to do (ha!) because of my efforts.

So far I am still liking it. It has kept my attention and I think the characters seem real enough, although a little bit of time away might reveal some huge flaws that I am not seeing now.

I am trying several different things with this book that I haven't done in my other attempts (two of which I am planning on editing when I am done with this draft)
1. I don't think this has anything to do with my writing but formatting. I am using a different word processing program. It is called OpenOffice and it seems to be a pretty good program so far. Before this I was using microsoft Works. It is basic but does the job. At least with the new program I can read .doc files.

2. I am breaking into chapters. I know this sounds weird, or maybe not, but before I just wrote through the breaks. This time I am inserting them. It gives me more flexibility in seeing where I have been.

3. I am not trying to write as much. It is much tighter (it is a novella, I know), but I am leaving stuff to fill in the blanks later. I am not waiting around for inspiration. This has sped up the writing process considerably. It has also made for some very short chapters which I am looking forward to fleshing out later.

This has all made for a very enjoyable writing experience. It has also gone remarkably fast. I still think I can finish this draft this week. Just a few days after my initial self-imposed deadline.

Now, if I am going to finish this beast I had better stop blogging and get to work.

Happy St. Pat's Day! I will be sure to enjoy a brew for all of you that don't drink (I don't know how many that is so I will have to estimate ;) )

Monday, March 16, 2009

Good Weekend

I have to say, in between the kids whining and not sleeping and the housework and everything else we like to call life, I had a good weekend.

I managed to get a window replaced in the boy's bedroom (we still don't know how it broke) and change the oil in the van. We got two year pics taken of the boy and some pretty cute pics of both kids together. We had good pizza (if you are ever in Des Moines you need to go to The Tavern, they have 3 locations) and I visited a bookstore that didn't have the book I was looking for. Talked to a guy who makes pens for a living (they aren't cheap but they sure are pretty) and managed to visit the mother in law where she made us an awesome dinner. To top it all off I got my 3rd acceptance for the year. (Yippee!)

I finally sold Wine For Two. This is a story that Crazyhorse magazine held on to for 9 months (maybe it was ten. I will have to look). It sold to Ruthless People mag. It is an unconventional story with a haunting and a love story and nothing at all like anything else I have ever written. It is also the only story I have written that my wife genuinely likes, if that tells you anything.

Still riding the high and have a lot of work to do this week. Maybe this will be the week that I finish the first draft of my still untitled novella. Have a great Monday.

Friday, March 13, 2009

hello, Its Friday. TGIF

I only managed to edit my little flash piece yesterday and didn't get any other writing done. This weekend is shot as well. I hope I can flesh out my next chapter this afternoon.

K.C. brought up a topic that we delved into a couple of times in my Creative writing class. What are we allowed to write about. The obvious answer is 'anything we want.' but the reality of it is we can't. I mentioned that I was going to write the story of a black albino hermaphrodite living in Iran. It might make for an interesting story although I have no background or experience with any of them. I have never been to Iran. I don't personally know any Iranians. I did know a black albino in college, he was a quiet guy so I never go the chance to talk to him. As far as I know I have never met a hermaphrodite. How could I possibly write the story?

I haven't met any ghosts either, or vampires or zombies (although I can come pretty damn close after a sleepless night) but I still manage to write about them. I have never come across a soldier bent on killing anyone he calls a traitor but I have written about that as well. I don't know the ins and outs of time travel. . .you get the picture. Is it because these people really exist? Are we supposed to be so sensitive to the human condition that we can only write of reality when it is a reality we have taken on ourselves (even then I fear someone will misconstrue it as misguided, thoughtless, or at the least naive)

Or do we continue to write everything that pops into our heads, reguardless of the consequences. (Has anyone seen Salman Rushdie anywhere?)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The need for speed

Yesterday afternoon, after sporting a sinus headache most of the day (I can thank my daughter for giving me the cold. 'Thanks kiddo.') I decided to write a short story. I didn't know how long when I started it. I didn't know where it was going. I just knew I had to write the story based on this image in my head. It wasn't even a complete image.

I managed to hash out he story in 450 words in the first draft (you gotta love flash stories) and my final draft was 525 words or so. I have read it now 8 times and I think it is good enough to send out. Probably not perfect, but what is. Still, I liked it. It spoke to me.

Also managed to get 500 or so words written in the novella yesterday morning. Not much, but it is still trolling along on the sea to almost finished. It won't be this week though. Still too much to say in it and not enough hours in the day. Especially if I keep getting interrupted by the short story/ flash fiction bug.

POV seems to be a big topic right now in blogdom. Multiple POV's and even character's that are a different sex than what you are used to writing (should Mr. King really write from the POV of a woman, or better yet a little girl? I've got my own opinions on that one that I will keep to myself.). Interesting topics with no good, hard and fast answers. Something to think about when you are working on your own story today.

happy Thursday. While you are at it, reach out and give a hobo a hug. It will make him feel good.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Technology

We have a new addition to the technology family in our household. We bought my wife a netbook yesterday. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what a netbook is, it is a very small computer with a smaller keyboard (about 92% of full size) and a smaller monitor (only 7-10 inches) it is made primarily for checking e-mails and surfing the web. They do not have CD or DVD drives although you can attach an external one to it. Sadly, the one we bought has a larger hard drive than the computer I am on right now (80 gig vs 120 gig).

It seems to work great. I spent yesterday afternoon loading the software we like to use on it. Firefox, CCleaner, OpenOffice, her printer. I even loaded her copy of PrintShop on it for fun. It seemed to take it all okay. Kinda cute really.

In between loading stuff I worked on my novella. It is going well. I had the first revelation in the storyline and it should be downhill from here. I managed to get in another 500 words this morning while I was waiting for the boy to wake up. He didn't do it on his own so I had to go wake him. Now it will be thinking of the book until he goes down for a nap. Oh, the joys of parenthood.

Managed to get a rejection yesterday for a story that had been out 127 days. I have since resubmitted it to Tin House magazine. They now accept online submissions so I am looking forward to hearing from them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Now iz ze time on Sprockets ven ve danse

I am doing a jitterbug right now. Not only did I receive a copy of Sand #3 yesterday in the mail (great little mag with a story by our own J.C. Tabler) but I managed to shoot off an order for our very own Felicity Dowker's chapbook "Phantasy Moste Grotesque" this morning. Something tells me if you don't order this thing in the next day or so you will be looking for used copies on ebay after it comes out, at a premium.

See, the postman does bring good news.

The novella is coming along great. At this point I think I am on Chapter 15 which mean I think I have 5 or 6 to go. (maybe I will finish by the end of the week) I managed to get in another 1700 words yesterday which is really good for me. Kind of like reading a book in only a week. I am about to open up a giant turning point in the story and I can't wait to see what my other characters think of the revelation. (Does anyone else find it odd that they become real, at least for the time you are working on them?)

The boy is crawling on me and the fog has lifted, for now, so I better grab a cup of coffee and get going.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The fog is thick

It really is foggy here today. I can barely make out the barn on the other side of the road- although I can hear the creature that lives in it. Terrible sounds; the click of teeth, the pawing of a clawed foot. I think it is hungry but I don't have a sacrifice for it today. Maybe tomorrow, after I find a wayward stranger.

Just kidding. The stranger doesn't need to be wayward. Actually, it doesn't need to be a stranger either.

That reminds me, totally unrelated subject, I am having a coffee hour at my house if anyone wants to come. . .

I really need to stop procrastinating and get to work. I have a lot to do this week and I don't know if the the boy's sleep habits and daylight savings are going to mesh or if he will be a sleepless, crabby zombie attempting to turn me into the same.

I best get to writing before he wakes. The next chapter awaits me.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Little book review

I can't believe I finished another book (reading that is, not writing). Tom Piccirilli's book The Cold Spot was, seriously a' can't put it down' type of book. If you like crime novels, then you should read it. I am a huge fan of the genre myself. If you don't like crime novels, read it anyway.

I am not going to say much of the plot but it reads like an action movie and I think I have figured out why.

This entire book reads like a short story. I think this is quite possibly the first novel I have read that does so, at least in my memory. There is not a wasted paragraph, phrase, or word in the whole book. Any single part, if taken out of it, would have yielded a lesser story. It is no wonder that this book is up for an Edgar this year. I am curious to see how Christina Faust's story, that is also nominated for an Edgar, holds up.

I hope everyone has a good weekend. I am planning on it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

can't think of a title

Actually, the title of this post is two-fold. I couldn't think of anything clever to say about this post (because it isn't going to be much of a post, more like an update) and I still don't have a working title for the book I am working on. I did manage to knock out Chapter 13 yesterday and start 14 so we are chugging along. I also managed to fix a chair, repair and clean my wife's car and look at the basement steps I was supposed to replace. Hopefully today is productive on the writing front. If my dog and boy will cooperate.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Busy week

It looks like I am going to get a lot done this week and very little of it will be writing. I hope to get a couple of hundred words knocked out today before my boy wakes up (although he had me up half the night so he might sleep until noon) I just removed a story from consideration from Coyote Wild because they seem to have gone into hibernation of some sort. I looked the story over and sent it off to Midnight Echoes. Felicity said they were offering quick responses but I have a feeling that her stories get sent to the top of that marketplace and don't linger in the slush for very long.

In other news I said I was going to get a lot done this week and I should probably expand on that. My house isn't finished. I have drywall to hang, stairs I need to re-tread and put risers on. Trim to install and I would like to frame up a bedroom in the basement but I don't know if I will get to that. There is also some wiring to do but I really don't want to start that until all of my framing is done. My wife is home this afternoon (we hope) and this weekend on call so we can't do anything anyway so I just as well work on the house. That and the temps are supposed to be well above freezing so I can set my saws up outside and not make the mess inside (that is the theory).

Well, I have taken up enough time here. I am off to knock out the chapter I am working on and try to get into the next one. I thought up a couple of tangents that could potentially draw this story into novel length. It will also bring in a supernatural element to the story. I look forward to seeing where this road takes me.

Happy Wednesday everybody.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Writing space

Aaron got me thinking today. It hurt my head at first but after I relaxed and had a cup of coffee (or two) I said to myself, 'self, you are making this too hard.'

'Explain myself.'

'Okay, (nitwit) just take some pics of your workspace and post them.'

'That's all I have to do?'


'I can do that.'

'So do it already. (nitwit)'

So without further ado here are the two desks in my house that I throw down the writing gauntlet. I prefer the smaller darker desk as apposed to the big airy behemoth. The first one is a desk that I refinished about ten years ago. It belonged to my father and to an old boss of mine before that. It has an actual typewriter tray that flips up to use and then folds away when not in use. I use it to store extra paper now.

The second desk is actually my writing place of choice. I find the smaller, darker space to be more liberating and and free of distractions. My wife and I bought the desk at an antique store in Carroll, Iowa that was going out of business. The chair came from a different antique store in Walnut, Iowa and was actually a match to the desk we use as an entertainment center (I had to modify that desk to hold video equipment, but no antique was harmed in this process. I don't know where this desk came from but the chair came from a church. As you can see it sits next to my bed, which is handy for those inspirational naps.
The lid of the desk is usually folded up to hide my mess of notebooks and pens and serves as a nightstand most of the time. I think it might be from about 1820-something but I could be wrong on that.

Happy Monday everyone.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

EOM (End of Month) at the beginning of the month

Well. Yeah. My progress for the month was slim but hey, it was a short month. I managed to write absolutely no new short stories but did manage to write half of a crime/thriller novella that I am very excited about. I also managed to edit the hell out of a bunch of stories and thanks to my readers get some new takes on some old stories.

I managed to have one story accepted to Bards and Sages Quarterly for October publication (Beneath the Willows) I really liked how that story started off with the creepy old man.

I also had one story, Premonition, see the light of publication in Flashesinthedark.com

I think I managed at least another 1/2 dozen rejections, and probably more. I do know that Opium magazine threw me a rejection after a nice little hold. Thanks for looking at it anyway guys.

I think this next month will be more of the same. Keep the 16 stories I have out in story land going and try to finish the novella, after which I have some serious editing to do on two other books I have written before I get back to the Novella to polish it for submission.

And to start the month off on a happy note: Cathrine Gardner awarded me a 'Superior Scribbler' award.

Here are the rules:

Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

1. Carrie Harris- If her blog doesn't make you laugh you are obviously dead (undead as she has a thing for zombies and Richard Simmons)

2. Felicity Dowker- Come on, she has had a phenomenal year and it looks like a great career that we can have a front row seat for (just don't kick the back of her chair, she will do nasty things to you)

3. B.T.- Quite possibly the hardest working person I know, either that or he is born from circus folk, as he can juggle an demanding job, family, assignments and his own writing without cracking a sweat.

4. Barry Napier- A man who has managed to turn his keyboard into something that puts bread on the table. It might not be for his creative works but he is working to remedy that.

5. K.C. Shaw- With a love for Elves and all manner of cute fuzzy woodland creatures, especially if they can hold a conversation with you, her writing is second to none and is a real treat to read.

good luck people, and just remember if i didn't mention you it wasn't because you were any less worthy, I just ran out of time and space.