Works in Progress—A New First Draft

[Part of a continuing series on where my fiction is at.]

A quick overview of my works in progress and a little about what I’m reading these days.


HTDIKSBam! The big news for this post is that I knocked off a first draft of this story. It’s set in Moscow in the 90s, in the real world with no fantastical or magical elements. Strange, I know. I will send this off to my Beta readers ASAP and do the title reveal soon here on the blog.

The Man with Storms in His Eyes—I’ve collected some Beta reader feedback on this one. I’ve also printed out the 2nd draft and attacked it with my handy red pen. Deleting things here, adding things there, changing the phrasing where it got clunky. All that editing stuff I really don’t like to do.

I plan to take the edited text to the café soon and start laying in these 3rd draft changes. Then, it’s time to save it up and do a final proofreading. After that I will start searching for  markets that like longer horror short stories with a bit of satire woven throughout. If you have any suggestions, let me know in the Comments section below.

AFTA—This horror novella is still with editors and I’m waiting to hear back.

Breakpoint—This SciFi story just got a rejection. So, I got right back on the horse and I sent it off to a new magazine. It’s been there for almost a week now…The waiting game begins anew. 

A Writer Reads: Pedro Páramo.
Also, just finished up reading Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo. It is a novella set in rural Mexico in the 1950’s—I’m guessing the same time it was written. The jacket blurb said it was one of the precursors to magical realism. I’m no expert on that, but it was definitely an interesting read. I’m still turning around the images, the effects, the words that Rulfo used in my head. I think it merits a longer post at some point in the future. I will try to post that here when I have a little time.

On Finding your Editors
And one last thing, Tim W. Burke, horror writer and author of The Flesh Sutra, has a great post over on his blog about “finding your editors.”

You will find an editor who will respond to what you write and give you advice. Keep sending to that editor. If that editor buys what you write, keep sending to that editor. Do not bother to send to others just to see if you can “get in”.

I thought that was a great insight and I’m going follow his advice and not worry about getting in to all the big speculative fiction magazines. Instead, I’m going to focus on sending to those magazines that publish what I like to read. I’m also going to consider re-submitting to those magazines like Fiction Vortex, that have already accepted my stuff.

OK, Gotta run. Until next time,



Works in Progress—Horror Short Title Reveal

Following the new regime on the old blog here of posting every two weeks (see “Write More, Blog  Less), I’m back. The good news is that I’ve been really productive in the last couple of weeks and my fiction writing has moved forward on all fronts. This is exactly what I was hoping for in cutting back a bit on the blog.

So, here’s a quick scan of where I’m at with various writing projects.

TMWSE—This  straight-up horror short is off to my Beta readers. What does that mean? First, it’s time to party (which I will be doing about 2 hours from now). Second, it’s a complete second draft. I usually wait for my Beta readers to weigh in, and then wrap  up the 3rd draft and I’m ready to start

…Oh yeah, the title. The title, Man. This one is called “The Man with Storms in his Eyes.” I hope that title will stick. I enjoyed writing this piece and felt I really started nailing it about half way through. But we’ll have to see what the readers think.

HTDIKS—Just started writing this piece. It will be a short story set in the real world, thus veering dangerously toward literary fiction territory. But don’t worry, I won’t let it get too pedantic. I will let you know what happens.

AFTA—This horror novella is still with a couple of editors and I’m waiting to hear a response. No word yet.

Breakpoint—Status quo here. Still waiting to hear back from the magazine I sent it along to. I will query them shortly if that doesn’t change.

All for now. This post was short and sweet, I know. But I’ve got to get back to life and the writing. For more details on the works above, see my Works in Progress page.

See you next time,


Writing Resolutions for 2015

I’m not a big fan of resolutions, though you wouldn’t know it from this blog. Last year I wrote a post on my writing resolutions. I met some and didn’t meet others, you can be the judge. N year

Anyway, this year I want to keep things simple. And I want to make sure they’re achievable no matter what others do—in other words, do these resolutions pass the Epictetus (as I’ve discussed, Epictetus is the Man) test? Are they achievable no matter what others, or the world, throws at me? Are they something I have control over? I think most of them pass the test, or come darn close. So, here are my resolutions for this year.

1. Write More, Blog Less.
This one is sort of a bummer, but it’s necessary. This blog is a bit of a heavy lift. What with the day job, family, fiction writing, sleep, etc. There’s little time left for other stuff. Unfortunately, this blog is one of them. And every minute I spend blogging is a minute taken away from writing fiction. I’ve mentioned this before, but now is the time to do something about it. So…

…Starting this year, instead of trying to write a new post every week, I’m going to write a new post every two weeks. These may only be brief “Works in Progress” posts, but they will go up. On the off week, or as a special post, I may blog about more substantive things: books I’ve read, the state of publishing, The Craft of writing fiction, Rare B Sides, whatever strikes me. I think, in the end, it can make the blog better by having me write only when I want to. And it will definitely give me more time to write fiction—which is what this blog is supposed to be about anyway.

2. Limit the Analysis and Let It Flow.
I wrote about this recently: The limit of reason in helping to write fiction and in explaining the creative process. This has crept up in my consciousness this past year. There’s lots in the creative process that’s must stay beneath the surface. Like a deep-sea fish, it can’t survive if you bring it up from the depths—it just melts away into nothing like some Lovecraftian beast.

Of course, there are aspects of the writing process I can explain, but the most important things will always remain beyond explanation and, perhaps, beyond comprehension. You simply live the story. As a reader, we’ve all experienced this: being swept up in a narrative and forgetting your subway stop, losing track of time and missing an appointment. It’s only when you’ve been disrupted that you come back to yourself. A strange sort of hypnosis. It’s the same with WRITING fiction. When the prose is really coming, the writer gets swept up, too. You just float along with the characters, like you’re witnessing it, instead of creating it. It’s an odd sensation, very intimate, but it’s one of the best things about writing I’ve ever experienced.

So, this year, I’m going to dial back the analysis. I’m still going to try to learn, but I’m also going to let it go and just let the prose flow. That’s the way it ought to be.

3. Go to 3 “Writing” Cons.
Cons—want to go to more of those as long as they have a strong writing track. After going to RavenCon in 2014, this year I want to go to 3 Cons:

  1. RavenCon. Richmond, Virginia. April.
  2. BaltiCon. Baltimore, Maryland. May.
  3. DragonCon. Atlanta, Georgia. September.

I hope to see you there. Drop me a line if you’re going to any of these—I’d love to meet up. Who knows? I might even buy you a beer.

4. Learn More about Speechwriting and Sinology.
It’s no secret: I write in my day job, too. I’ve been assigned to new projects in the next year. One involves writing speeches and the other involves China. I don’t know much about either.

So, I’m going to use it as an opportunity to learn a little more about each. Maybe pick up a book about Demosthenes and read that book about Chinese history I have on my shelf.

5. Translate a Poem.
I’m been thinking, again, about Russia and Russian stuff. It may just be that it’s come up more in the news lately. I’m not sure. I used to live there and speak some of the language. Anyway, as something new and a sort of exercise, I’d like to translate a Russian poem (it’s number 419 on the link) for you. It’s by Georgy Ivanov and is about a favorite topic of mine: Persian carpets.

Отвлеченной сложностью персидского ковра,
Суетливой роскошью павлиньего хвоста
В небе расцветают и темнеют вечера.
О, совсем бессмысленно и все же неспроста.

Голубая яблоня над кружевом моста
Под прозрачно призрачной верленовской луной
Миллионнолетняя земная красота,
Вечная бессмыслица — она опять со мной.

В общем, это правильно, и я еще дышу.
Подвернулась музыка: ее и запишу.
Синей паутиною (хвоста или моста),
Линией павлиньей. И все же неспроста.

That should be a fun exercise for the coming year. I’ll post it here when it’s done.

Alright, all for now. I’ll post a hard copy of this to my wall and try my best to keep to it. Until next time…

Keep Reading and Keep Writing,