Category Archives: Short Stories

Hard copy short story out! (#SFWApro)

I love having hard copy versions of my story so I was delighted to receive a contributor copy of CRIMSON STREETS: A Story a Week and Other Tales (cover art by John Waltrip, all rights remain with current holder). This was the first collection of stories from the Crimson Street neo-pulp web magazine, and it included my No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. So obviously it’s the most awesome anthology you will read this year.

I read it while I was down in Florida earlier this month, and I enjoyed it. But I do think it would have been better read at a slower pace, instead of sitting and paging through it in that period before my fellow Mensans arrived (I’ve found this true of a number of anthologies over the year) Read as a clump, there are a few too many Tough PIs Backstabbed By Beautiful but Dangerous Broads stories — individually fine, but not so much one after the other. And I feel a little guilty to realize that my PI story (they’re not all in that genre) had a tough white male protagonist like all the others. Next time I submit, I won’t default to that template.

As individual stories, though, there were a number I really liked:

The Worst Gift by Jordan King-Lacroix is the best of the Backstabbed PI stories, if only for how convoluted the doublecrossing gets.

Ghost Boss by Jamie Mason is a well-done urban fantasy. A federal investigator discovers the mess created by some crooked occultists is more tangled than expected.

Seducing the Angel by Garry Kilworth has a Regency rake set out to prove he can seduce even an angel. Hilarity does not ensue.”

She’s a Knockout by Bruce Harris is a boxing story — there were a lot of those in the old pulps — and does a good job with a familiar set up. There’s a fighter who refuses to take a dive and the manager who has to explain this to the mob, and it doesn’t look good for either of them. I’m curious to people who’ve never seen this kind of story (it was used in more than a few movies and TV shows too, back when boxing was several degrees cooler than I think it is now) make of it.

A Story a Week by Trevor Boeltor was a lot of fun. A writer’s new agent demands he deliver a short story a week. It’s a struggle at first but then the ideas come to him. But it turns out there’s a drawback to his new profession …

King’s Ransom by Don Katnik may have been my favorite in the collection (well, not counting my own work). A group of hoods put the snatch on their small town’s famous writer. But he doesn’t have any money, and he’s not worth enough to his publisher or his agent … so he works out a plan with them to turn himself into a cash cow.

Like I said, this is probably best read slowly. But it is worth reading. So if you want to

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Filed under Reading, Short Stories

Pretty good for a four-day week (#SFWApro)

Due to taking yesterday off for cleaning, I only had four days of writing this week, but I think I did well with them.

The high point was finishing another draft of Trouble and Glass, which I think I’m renaming, No One Can Kill Her. This is a quantum leap beyond the first draft in both plot and the character arcs, and setting it in the 1950s works much better. And I like one of the new settings (an abandoned movie studio) much better than I do the setting of the climax. With a little tinkering, I think I can relocate the climax for the better. I still have some problems to fix though, like one supporting character trailing off into nothing. Still, I’m quite pleased with my work.

I finished my next Screen Rant (15 Things You Don’t Know About the Sinister Six), and some more articles for Leaf. I have my proposal for the new movie book ready to go and I picked out a cover for the Atlas Shagged anthology. However, I’m going to get some feedback from friends before I do any cover reveals.

I also did some more research reading for Undead Sexist Cliches and my ideas for the next draft are starting to take shape.

And my day of isolation yesterday really did make me feel much more comfortable with the pups today.

I’ll wrap up with a shot from my Screen Rant, of Spider-Man delivering the smackdown on Electro. Art by Steve Ditko, all rights to current holder.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Screen Rant, Short Stories, The Dog Ate My Homework, Writing

Goals for June (#SFWApro)

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been on vacation, so there won’t be a “week in review” post this afternoon (can you soldier on?). Details of my week’s fun will come some time next week.

I came out with 48 percent of my goals accomplished, which I’m reasonably happy with. A lot of the stuff that didn’t get done was due to being full-time doggy daddy five days a week with no break (due, as I’ve mentioned before, to an outbreak of canine flu in the area). That affected lots of little things — the extra bicycling I normally do on daycare days, juggling practice (I’m a lousy juggler but I do enjoy practice. Only not when the balls can land on the dogs), cleaning time (dogs + cleaning chemicals is a suboptimal mix). Plus our surprisingly busy weekends kept me from some of the little activities I might have done during the same period. That suits my fine — social events are way preferable to ticking off stuff on my lists.

I finished a draft of Southern Discomfort, which is a big check mark for me. I did not, however, make it to the after-writer’s group bar to hang with everyone. Next month, for sure! I accomplished several other writing goals though with the Leaf project I worked on, didn’t get much in the short story vein done (but paying gigs are paying gigs). I caught up with a friend of mine whose health I was concerned about and kept up a reasonable exercise schedule. Though it’s possible the health benefits were neutralized by all my anniversary chocolate.

With things back to normal this month, I’m hoping to do better. And I’ve had a week of vacation to contemplate what I want to do and how to organize my time. We’ll see if that helps.

For illustration, here’s a Madonna by Titian, from the North Carolina Museum of Art’s Venice exhibit. Photo by me.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Writing

On the plus side, I slept well (#SFWApro)

And I did finish Southern Discomfort, which is a big win. I also got more articles in for the Leaf project, which will put a little more money in the bank. And as usual, submitted a Screen Rant, 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Spider-Girl (cover by Pat Olliffe, all rights remain with current holder). I even found a little time to work on a short story, though it got squished between talking to a contractor and taking care of the dogs.

And sleeping well is a very sweet thing. I’ve found that if I wake up in the middle of the night, I’ll go back to sleep once I lie on the couch. This hasn’t always worked in the past and may wear off at some point, but for the moment it’s great.

Unfortunately, I’m still spending lots and lots more time than usual with the puppies, and as I said last week, my sense of personal space has evaporated. It’s not affecting the way I treat them, thank goodness — I still have no trouble cuddling and petting them, etcetera. But they leave me with zero space and zero privacy, and that leaves me feeling very uncomfortable a lot of the time (I can’t quite describe it, but it’s a very physical sensation). And that cuts into my ability to work and concentrate. Fortunately Screen Rant and Leaf don’t require as much creativity as working on a short story.

It doesn’t help that they’re really demanding of attention when I’m done for the day (I think it’s because they’re used to TYG coming home to play, and so if she’s out late, I’m the designated petter). So I can’t really do anything that gets away from puppy care. I’ve been compromising this week by putting in a movie so I have my hands free for petting and playing.

Another bright moment, there was an identity theft incident (someone took out a Verizon account in my name) and I got it successfully resolved this week. Kudos to Verizon’s fraud department and the Durham PD for being so helpful.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Writing

The week in which the effects of various things caught up with me (#SFWApro)

One of them being last week’s lack of sleep. This week I actually slept well. Unfortunately as my sleep got more normal, I started to get tired — as I’ve noticed in the past, it’s like my body wants to make up for the sleepless periods I was doing without slumber. So that slowed things down.

The other being the constant puppy care. After two weeks without the usual day off, I feel like my personal space is nonexistent (when I was at my writer’s group Tuesday night it felt incredibly crowded — which it is, but that doesn’t normally bother me). You might not think that would make such a distraction, but it really lowers my ability to concentrate. I got some help this week, though, by finally getting Plushie to take longer walks. He’s been unenthused (to put it mildly), but it seems if I feed them lunch before going out, then simply stand and wait when he gets stubborn, he’ll walk. That means less time to write, but getting outside for thirty minutes or so really reduces some of the stress of being stuck in the living room most of the day. Though I don’t know if we’ll be able to keep it up into the summer — it was really uncomfortable for us today.

(Plushie practices his flirtatious head toss)

So after Wednesday’s day off, I found it very hard to get back in the swing of things. I couldn’t get my brain to work on Southern Discomfort at all, but I’ve still got enough time this month to finish it. I finished a second Screen Rant (not out yet) and clarified some questions before starting on a new book proposal (details to follow). I did get a couple of thousand words done on Discomfort earlier in the week. And I corrected the proofs of my Atlas Shagged short story collection, so it should be out next month.

And as another Leaf Media gig opened up, I jumped on it — writing informational articles for the Career Trend website. It’s another temporary gig, so I’d hoped to squeeze several in this week. I managed two, but that’s still money I didn’t have, so yay.

I wound up putting in more hours than I’d planned, but more of them were research reading or blogging than I would have preferred. Useful things, yes, but more actual writing would have been good.

Hopefully I will back up to full strength next week. Positive thoughts welcome.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Screen Rant, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Writing

It’s all about me, me, me, me, me — and Wonder Woman. And the Wandering Jew (#SFWApro)

For the Wonder Woman opening weekend, we have my new Screen Rant column on WW’s 17 Most WTF Alternative Versions. Including the funny-animal Wonder Wabbit (above, art by Scott Shaw!, all rights remain with current holder), several male versions, and the homicidal maniac of Flashpoint.

My short story No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, which sold to Crimson Streets last year, is now out in their first paperback collection. I already have my copy, and I’m thrilled. It’s so much more fun when I have something I’ve created in print, rather than just online. This was my second story of the Wandering Jew, a prequel to Where Angels Fear to Lunch, now out from Digital Fantasy.

And my previous WW piece, 22 WTF moments from Wonder Woman comics, has now topped a million page views. I feel very pleased.

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Filed under Comics, Screen Rant, Short Stories

Defying gravity! Will I fall off the cliff? (#SFWApro)

This was a good writing week.

I wrote last Friday that I was nervous about Southern Discomfort because I didn’t have a clear path, plotwise, as I progressed through the book. Surprisingly, that wasn’t even slightly a problem this week. If anything, writing was easy. I finished one chapter, asked myself “Okay, what next?” and presto, I got the answer. That’s surprising — I very rarely get into that kind of flow state — but it’s really enjoyable.

However I know from experience, that’s not a guarantee I’m on the right path (though it certainly feels like I am). Hence the use of the Fool of the Tarot’s Major Arcana (Arthur Waite version). According to one interpretation of the card, it represents the quester passing through the spiritual stages of the other Arcana. Walking to the edge of the cliff, he may be the naive, beginning quester who doesn’t realize the danger he’s in. Then again, he may be the enlightened quester who knows that if he walks off the cliff, he’ll land safely.

And it’s possible I’m either one. If it keeps going this well, I’m the enlightened quester. But it’s possible that 10,000 words from now I’ll discover everything I wrote this week has steered me into a dead end. One potential problem is that several key events, while they flow much better in this draft, now take place about 15,000 words earlier. If I don’t make up the 15,000, I’d end up about 68,000 words, which is way too short.

Nevertheless, writing the book this week felt very good.

That consumed most of my writing week. I also got off one query (as And magazine stopped using my columns, I’m hitting other markets), worked some on Undead Sexist Cliches—the Book, and started a new draft of the short story Trouble in Glass. I also tackled various paperwork issues (taxes and other financial stuff) I needed to catch up on.

I’d planned to take about four hours off to use up some of the extra hours I’d built up, but I just didn’t get around to it. Still with Memorial Day coming up, if TYG takes time off, maybe I’ll use it then.

 

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Filed under Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, Story Problems, Time management and goals, Writing