Rejoice, ye turkey-addled American masses and folk of various other climes! Ruined Cities is now released!

Ruined Cities Cover
Ruined Cities, including my story “In the City of No God”

Available at Amazon, B&N, and Kobo.

It’s January 2. Am I too late to get in on the year in review parties? Did you already tear down the decorations and put away the confetti? Really? What about the rum punch?

Well, never mind. I guess I’ll have to drink my own rum.

So what actually happened this year writing-wise?

  • I finished my second draft of The Wedding of Earth and Sky and had it reviewed by two writer friends. Final draft will come out in 2013.
  • I finished a total of eight short stories.
  • I sold two short stories: The Typographer’s Folly and the The Suffragette’s Election. Both of these are going to appear in the early months of 2013.

This was hardly a breakout year, but it was decent, steady progress. The most remarkable event of the year was the fact that The Suffragette’s Election sold on its first submission, after lingering for four years in my pile of unfinished stories.

For 2013, the biggest thing that I regret is the fact that it takes me so long to finish a novel. Consider that Wedding was drafted first in 2011, second-drafted in 2012, and won’t be considered finished until 2013… which seems a little slow. In 2012 I pushed myself to finish at least 6 short stories (a target which I exceeded), and I think in 2013 I’ll be focusing on getting novels done in a reasonable time. I’m going to push Wedding through its final draft and start sending it to agents, and then I’m going to work on getting my next WIP all the way to a final draft in the same year.

The next thing that I intend to write is a novella rather than a full-sized novel, so this should be doable. We’ll see how it comes out.

Oh, and additionally, I joined Twitter just today. Content will be random and possibly nonexistent.

Here’s to 2013!

I wrote the following story when I was in the fourth grade. It won the school-wide Christmas story contest, and I received a twelve-inch-wide giant frosted cookie as my prize. It’s not the most valuable payment that I’ve ever received for my writing, but it was certainly the most delicious.


The Best Christmas Ever

It was the day before Christmas Eve, and I was doing my last minute shopping. In my hand I carried a Christmas list my son had given me. I had checked off everything on the list except for a few items that were too expensive, and one I had bought before recieving the list. I was about to look for my daughter’s list, when I remembered I had no list from her. My daughter, Rachel, who is five, insisted on writing a list to Santa, but I refused to let her. I remembered the details of the scene.

“Daddy, will you give this list to Santa at the mall?” Rachel had asked.

“Rachel, how many times have I told you there is no Santa Claus!” I yelled. “No I will not give your list to Santa.”

“But he’s real,” Rachel insisted.

“No he’s not!” I shouted, “and that’s final!” I stormed out of the house.

Now as I walked down the hall in the mall, I thought about my wife, Mary. She had died in a car wreck two years ago, on Christmas eve. Since then eeach year had been worse. This year I just about had it with Rachel’s constant pestering and all.

By the time I got home, both my kids had put themselves to bed. I sighed. I hadn’t gotten anythnig for Rachel because I didn’t want to get her something she didn’t want. Finally I climbed into bed and fell asleep. The next day was Christmas Eve. I was up first and eating breakfast before Paul, my son, was up. I then proceeded to make breakfast for Paul and Rachel, who was also up by that time. Rachel looked as if something was on her mind.

“Are you thinking about Santa Claus again?” I asked.

“Yes,” Rachel replied honestly.

“Well you’re not writing to him,” I said.

“All right, Daddy, I won’t write a letter to him,” she said. But she had an uneasy look in her eye. The rest of the day was spent wrapping presents and putting them under the tree. Rachel didn’t say anything else about Santa Claus.

That night I heard a noise downstairs about midnight. I got up to investigate. When I got there, there were cookies and milk set by the fireplace. By it was a short note that read:

Dear Santa Claus,

Plees bring me a china dol, a new dres, and help my daddy to be niser. from: Rachel.

At first I wanted to tear it up, but I paused. Instead I went to an old trunk, where I kept my favorite memoirs. I knew that I had an old doll there that my Grandmother had given me. When I found it I hurriedly wrapped it up and put it under the tree. I also had a dress that was Mary’s when she was little. I put that under the tree too. “And I’ll work on the third thing,” I vowed. I then took two blank cards and wrote “To: Rachel, From:…” I was about to sign my name, but I stopped. Instead I wrote: “From: Santa Claus.”

Before dawn the next morning I was awoken by shouts of joy from downstairs. There, Rachel was cradling her doll and admiring the dress. She looked up and yelled, “Look, Daddy, what Santa Claus brought me!”

I looked at her and smiled.

Adoration of the Magi

Two weeks ago Duotrope announced that it is becoming a paid service. This is pretty big news for those of us who depend heavily on Duotrope for tracking our submissions.

If you’re one of the last three writers in America who doesn’t know, Duotrope is a website which has the most comprehensive listing of fiction markets on the web, together with features to allow you to record your submissions and responses. It then tracks your submission and response history, and aggregates those reported submissions into some very nice statistics about response times and acceptance rates.

As you might expect, this caused a lot of wailing and breast-beating among the impoverished writer set. Their Facebook page is filled to the brim with comments right now, some of them positive, some negative, and some downright nasty. There has also been rioting.. My personal take runs as follows:

  • $5/month or $50/year does seem a little steep. It seems like they could probably get away with $5/bimonthly and $25/year… though of course I haven’t seen their expenses and am totally making these numbers up.
  • Either way it’s a win for me, since I’ve had a recurring donation of $5/month set up for Duotrope for years now. I’ll probably go to a yearly subscription, though, which means that Duotrope will now be getting $10/year less from me than they did before.
  • People are rightly concerned about the quality of the stats, since many fewer people will now be adding their reports to the mix. Duotrope has some interesting counterpoints to this.

Overall, I wish Duotrope the best of luck. They evidently were never able to make ends meet with the "begging" model, and I suspect that the "charging" model will work better for them. It all depends on how many subscribers they actually get, but their early reports seem encouraging.

Good luck to them in the new year.

So I changed plans (again). As a result of falling sick the week before Thanksgiving and the usual holiday madness, I fell significantly behind on getting my last story done. Even more difficult, though I made some progress in discovering what my planned story was about, I still didn’t have an actual plot, or a main character. That’s no way to operate when you’re under pressure for NaNoWriMo.

So I moved the goal posts again, and pulled out one of my unfinished drafts, this time for a story called George and Mr. Drake (an adaptation of the legend of St. George and the Dragon). And I got it finished! So now I’ve met my goal of finishing four short story first drafts.

Throws a little party.

I didn’t meet the word-count requirements of NaNo, of course, but that was never really an option. I met my self-imposed goal.

But there are still three days left, and a little story idea has wormed its way into my brain. It’s called What Yuri Gagarin Saw. I think it’s a flash fiction piece, only about a thousand words long, so it’s easily completable before the end of the month. This’ll be my bonus story, and I’m gonna get it done.

That’s why this update is short. I have writing to do.