Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My latest release is now available!


Daisy Cooper's fellow secretary likes to think of herself as a bad girl, but she'd be shocked to discover her unassuming co-worker's secret pastime. Every weekend Daisy sheds her mild demeanor and conservative image to revel in the hedonistic pleasures of the notorious Soixante-Neuf sex club. She knows exactly what she wants from the men there--and she isn't shy about getting it.

She also knows what she doesn't want--emotional entanglements. But when a new co-worker stumbles upon her secret, Daisy knows things will never be the same. Her only choice is how to deal with the changes.

To read an excerpt, or to purchase a digital version, click here.

For more titles from Gail Roark, click here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Signals From My Subconscious

No, you aren't seeing double. That's the title of both this post and my blog. The blog title is taken from this post. The blog title's been "Gail Roarke's Blog" since I first created it. Not terribly novel, but it had virtue of being true. I always figured I'd change it when I came up with a name I liked, and this was it.

The origin of the post title was my experience this week working on a new short story. It started out very well, but as I got deeper into it, I started to bog down. It got tougher and tougher to pull the story together into finished form. Today I realized what the problem was.

In short, I was finding it difficult to finish the story because I didn't believe it. I couldn't convince myself that the heroine (call her Patricia) would act as I was trying to have her act. It just didn't make logical sense for that character to behave as I wanted her to.

So I swapped out my heroine for someone else, another character I've had in my stable for a long while. Rachel, we'll call her. She's always been a bit player before: the sidekick, the best friend. She's always played second banana to Leah, who has starred in two published stories to date and will appear in a third early next year.

Today Rachel got promoted to star of her own story. Leah will be making a supporting appearance in Rachel's story this time. That change has worked wonderfully--some of the character "bits" and personality traits I'd added to "Patricia" turned out to be far more appropriate for Rachel, as did some of her backstory. The story is humming along now and should be finished in a day or so.

So where do the "signals from my subconscious" come in? The difficulty with finishing the story, my inability to believe my own plot, were (in retrospect) signals from my subconscious that I was going down the wrong path. Writing the story should be fun. I get to sit in front of my computer and make shit up and get paid for it. If that's not fun, I'm doing something wrong. I just need to remember that, and learn to recognize it as a clue to re-examine my story when that happens.

So, Rachel gets a promotion to star. As for Patricia? She'll get a story of her own eventually. Just not this one.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Writing Life

I wrote a novel in November. Not a great novel, but a novel nonetheless. From now on I can speak of the next novel, because now I've written one. It was a interesting (and sometimes uncomfortable) experience. While I knew, intellectually, that writing a novel is simply a matter of eating the elephant one bite at a time, emotionally it was a much bigger deal. I was anxious before and during the Nanowrimo project, at least for the first few days. At some point it really sank in that, yes, if I simply sit down and write on it every day, I can and will eventually reach the finish line.

And I did, on the eighteenth of November, a little over halfway through the month--an average of 2,777 words a day. Not that I wrote every day. Some days I didn't write at all, most days I did 3,000 words or more. At that pace, a full month's work would net me roughly 83,000 words--and that's in the ballpark for an actual, publishable novel. Fifty thousand words isn't really long enough for a novel. But 80,000 words? Now we're talking.

On the flip side, I haven't done any writing to speak of since the week of Thanksgiving. Little or none prior to Thanksgiving, then none during Orycon, and none this week while I've been dealing with con crud. (Although, in retrospect, I suspect I picked up this bug from the grandbaby on Thanksgiving rather than at the convention. I started feeling puny on Sunday, which would have been fast work for a bug I picked up Friday or Saturday.)

I got an email last night from Cobblestone Press. They've accepted a fourth story--Three On A Rooftop. That's the working title, which I'm not entirely happy with, but unless I come up with one I like better, and soon, it's probably what we'll stick with. I just signed and emailed back the contract for that one.

I also learned that "Queen Bee", which I figured would come out in late December at best, or more likely in January, will be published in December 16th as part of their Twelve Days of Christmas--a story a day for twelve days leading up to Christmas. Go me!

But lest I get too full of myself, I got an emailed rejection for "Ink" from Shock Totem today. But I've already turned it around and sent it out to the next market on the marketing list. A hint from the workshop I attended in September with Kris Rush & Dean Wesley Smith in Lincoln City, Oregon has been very useful.

To wit: when a story is ready to mail, sit down and make a list of the top ten markets you want to send it to. Send it to the first one. When and if it gets rejected, just send it to the next one on the list. Lather, rinse, repeat. If necessary, when you get thru that list, list the next ten markets and keep going.

It's not quite that simple, in practice. I always check to make sure the market in question is a) still active, b) accepting submissions (a lot of electronic publications, in particular, have "windows" when they're accepting and when they're not), and c) hasn't changed their focus so they're no longer an appropriate market for the story. But once that's done, I send the story out. And it really does make it easier than researching potential markets for each story every time it comes back.

And speaking of stories in circulation, I've taken one story ("Unconventional") out of circulation. I've exhausted the markets for it in its current form, but I think with a little reworking, it would likely find a home elsewhere. So that's on my to-do list, along with getting back to writing every day. I have several story ideas I need to write (or finish) and get out there, several for Cobblestone Press, who seem to like my stuff.

Oh! And I got a review for each of my first two stories at the Got Erotic Romance website. Four and a half diamonds for Flying High, four for Bound by Convention. You can see the reviews for Flying High and Bound by Convention at these links.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

From one Romance Diva to Another...

A fellow Romance Diva is being published today. Congratulations, to R. F. Long.

"The Scroll Thief: a Tale of Ithian" by R. F. Long

Love is the wiliest thief of all.

A Tale of Ithian

Malachy and his sister rely on his talents as a thief to survive the dangerous streets of Klathport, former capital of the once-great kingdom of Ithian. Stealing a few papers should have been a simple job. Instead, it nearly costs their lives and throws them into an improbable alliance with a shape-shifting official, a desert tribeswoman, and a healer of enchanting beauty.

Cerys is far more than a simple healer—and the roots of her mission go deeper into the past than anyone can know. She needs Malachy’s skills to recover a stolen scroll, one that can be used to rewrite history and, in the wrong hands, release the dark powers of the Demon Realm.

Her mission was supposed to atone for a dreadful, long-ago act. Instead, it unleashes a chain of events which sees them pursued through city and desert by the fearsome Dune Witch and a killer known only as His Lordship. Romance, tragedy, and adventure blend in a tale of a magical land on the brink of war, and five unlikely allies who, by putting their lives—and their hearts—on the line, have the opportunity to finally set things right.

But at a terrible cost.

Warning: Contains scenes of graphic violence and torture, captivating magic and beauty, two dashing heroes, three gutsy heroines, several love stories and a heartbreaking sacrifice.

Read an excerpt HERE

Another fellow Romance Diva is being published this week. Let's take a look at what Jennifer Leeland has to say about her latest work:

"The Christmas She Rules"
Control is her kink…and she’s losing it.

It’s another gloomy Christmas for Pamela Dane. Not only is it the anniversary of a dark period in her life, but all her friends had the nerve to hook up. It’s not easy for a female Domme to find a playmate. Maybe The Cage in San Francisco will be the perfect place to escape—and find a willing man to chase away the memories.

Christian Nolan is at the BDSM club for the hell of it. Yet the minute Mistress Dane takes control of him, she not only stuns him with her talent, he stuns himself with his willingness to surrender. Her offer to meet him there for another night is intriguing—and frightening.

Pamela’s session with Chris shakes her to the core, resurrecting memories she’s afraid to face. But Chris isn’t willing to let her past haunt her…even if it leaves his heart in tatters.

Warning: Hot, strong man on his knees, which will bring you to yours. Strap-on action, anal play, lots of leather and tons of tension. Alpha male who likes to do whatever the right woman tells him to do, including another woman.

Want a taste? Read an excerpt HERE

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you all have a happy and pleasurable holiday weekend.

I'm still a relative newbie to being published. My first story went live in September, my second earlier this month. A third has been contracted, but won't see the light of day until January, most likely. So I'm still learning how to best promote my writing.

To that end, I've been trying to participate as a guest blooger, or in contests. You know, just getting my name and my work out there for potential readers to stumble across. So, if you've found this page by following a link from elsewhere, I'd really appreciate it if you'd leave a comment telling me where you saw it. It'll help me, and it'll show whose blogs are being read.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

We're All Genre Writers On This Bus

If you've been a reader (or a writer) of genre fiction for any length of time, I'm sure you've heard it. "Science fiction--or fantasy, or mystery, or romance, or [insert genre here]--isn't real literature."

But what is real literature? I think most people would agree that Shakespeare qualifies--and Shakespeare was writing for a living, and that meant keeping the crowd entertained. It also meant keeping the powerful people of his day happy. That meant writing plays that wouldn't offend or insult powerful people who could make trouble for him, and it meant writing plays that would keep the crowds entertained--crowds who were paying good money to be entertained and expected their money's worth.

Was he writing for the ages? Hardly. Charles Dickens, another literary great, wrote serial stories for publication. He wrote fast and he wrote voluminously. There was no time to ponder the literary merits of his stories. He had to concern himself with making sure the customers who bought newspapers containing his tales felt satisfied with their purchase day after day.

Another point to consider is that what is often viewed as "literature" is really simply another genre. If you're writing "slice of life" stories about tortured English professors having mid-life crises and affairs with their students, or vignettes that eschew plot as a middle-brow contrivance...I hate to tell you, but you are not creating literature. You're writing in a genre as specific, as structured, as anything in science fiction, fantasy, mystery or romance.

Real literature, great literature, can emerge from any genre--and does. Science fiction and horror novelist Dean Koontz wrote once that "Not all popular novelists are great, but all great novelists are--sooner or later--popular." He's right. Before your fiction can entertain generations to come, it has to entertain today's readers. Shakespeare, Dickens and other greats produced classics of literature--but they wrote to entertain their readers first and foremost. If you can't do that, your works won't last to be discovered.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

From one Romance Diva to Another...

Triad of Hope

Triad of Hope

Contemporary, Inspirational, Interracial/Multicultural

Juliana, Rosa, and Shani--three very different women with a common bond: all are on a journey of healing, self-discovery, and hope. Join them as they conquer fears, forgive past wrongs, and come to terms with their inner selves. Do difficulties in life really make one stronger? Can a shattered heart ever heal enough to love again? When one's life seems hopeless, what lengths will one go to find hope?


Celebrate my release with me at Author Island Cyber Launch PARTY HERE

November 19th All Day!

LOTS of prizes to giveaway!

Adelle Laudan

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A little birdie told me...

Authors, a heads up. just relaunched, sporting a full site makeover and a contest to celebrate the new look. They’re offering up $450 worth of advertising as prizes. If you write romance, mystery or thrillers you should head over and check out.

Monday, November 16, 2009

From one Romance Diva to Another...

Stephanie Adkins new contemporary erotic romance suspense novella, Between Heaven and Hell, is now available from Liquid Silver Books!

Blurb: Somewhere between Heaven and Hell … there are nightmares. After being forced to confront an abusive ex-lover in court, Elaina Richmond wanted nothing more than to get away from the trial and the nightmares that came with it. Escaping to her Aunt and Uncle's vineyard in the rolling hills of Sonoma, California, she is reunited with her first love, Caden Russell. An old flame is rekindled. Though Heaven is found in his arms once again, Elaina soon discovers that the Devil has a way of finding you … especially when there's hope to destroy.

Click here to read an excerpt.

Click here to purchase.

Visit Stephanie at

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My latest release is now available!


After defeating an obsessed opponent with some decidedly kinky plans for her, Leah Wright--Iron Maiden--finds herself intrigued by the idea of bondage. She's been in charge all her life and giving up control even for an evening sounds heavenly. Problem is, when you're as strong as Leah, who can possibly restrain you?

But Leah has underestimated fellow hero--and lover--Victor Kruger, the Black Knight. He knows just what to do. It's a simple matter of applying the correct leverage. The game they play is as much mental as physical--and win or lose, Leah's going to have an experience she'll never forget.

To read an excerpt, or to purchase a digital version, click here.

For more titles from Gail Roark, click here.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Another week gone by...

And I'm busy, busy, busy!

I've been writing on my NaNoWriMo novel for just over a week now. I've written 22,415 words so far, which puts me well ahead of schedule. Tomorrow (Day 9) I should reach the halfway point of 25,000 words. At that rate, I'll be done by the 18th.

I'm very pleased by this. I started NaNoWriMo with much fear and trepidation. I have no difficulty with short stories. I can write them without much fear, but the idea of tackling a novel was quite alarming. This past week has put to rest a lot of my fears in that regard. I am quite certain now that I can sustain the effort of writing a single story for 50,000 words or more.

It isn't the story I started out to tell. I swapped out my hero and heroine on day two. It's morphed from science fiction into fantasy, and the events of the story from day to day are as much as surprise to me as they would be to any reader. Which just proves that I'm a seat-of-the-pants writer, I guess. I've tried plotting before writing and it really just never seems to work.

But that's okay. Lots of successful writers write with little or no idea of where the story will go when they start, or maybe with an end point in mind, but no roadmap for the journey. If it works for you, that's all that matters.

In other news, my second published story will be available from Cobblestone Press this Friday (November 13), AND I sold a third one this past week. It will probably be published sometime in January if the timing from sale to publication on the first two are anything to go by. I'll certainly tell you more as it moves through the pipeline.

Monday, November 2, 2009

NaNoWriMo Day 2

Wrote 3,239 words on my NaNo novel today. Or 3,184 if you go by the word counter on the NaNoWriMo site rather than the word count in OpenOffice Writer. But either way, I'm at over 5,000 words for day 2. Which pleases me mightily.

It's not the same novel I started yesterday. I mean, it is--I didn't scrap anything. But hard as I tried to push it in the direction I originally intended, I just couldn't get it to gel. But that's okay. I'm going in an entirely different direction, striking out into uncharted territory.

While stewing about this issue last night (I didn't get the brainstorm and/or give myself permission to change the novel concept until this morning), I assembled bits and pieces of another story I've been thinking of turning into a novel for some time. All told, that story is already at around 14,000 words of previous work. I thought about using that as my backup story.

I might still work on it some this month, but not as a last-minute swap-in. Just as another story to be finished eventually.

Borrowing a page from the Book In A Month workbook, I started a companion document for keeping notes on the novel. I noted that I needed to change the description of the opening setting (a moderately large house) to something different (a small apartment), I've swapped out the heroine's name, personality and talents for someone entirely different, but who will suit the new direction.

Which means, of course, that the original character(s) remain available to me for some other story.

In other news (already shared on Facebook), I got a rejection letter from The Atlantic. No surprise there. I haven't seen the story out again yet, but I will. I've been busy writing til now.

And I got the first monthly royalty check from Cobblestone Press for "Flying High" ( It's tiny, but it's a check! I hope to do better in the future, since a) this check covers only September and the story only went live on the 25th, and b) I aim to do more promotion. Plus, as of the 13th of this month, I'll have TWO stories to promote.

Anyhow, that's it for now.

Stories in Circulation: 13
Rejections: 20
Stories Accepted: TWO!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Sharing the love--a fellow romance writer's latest offering!

Unleashed Temptation – Available Today from Ellora’s Cave

After finding out her boyfriend has been cheating on her with her boss, Carly decides her life needs a makeover. She trades in her winter coat for a bikini and heads south to Miami, Florida. Almost as soon as she arrives, she falls in lust with the sexiest man she’s ever laid eyes on. Too bad he’s her new boss.

Alpha werewolf Nick gave up hope of finding his mate a century ago. When sexy redhead Carly comes to work for him, she disrupts his entire world. Although he desperately wants to come clean about what he is, he keeps running into problems. Like the fact that an ancient enemy has set his sights on Carly. Nick discovers he’ll go to any lengths to keep her safe. Even if it means losing her in the process.

Read excerpt here.

Purchase digital version here.

For more titles from Savannah Stuart, click here.

For a chance to win a copy of Unleashed Temptation, visit Sarai J’s Blog here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wow. Two weeks? NaNoWriMo jitters

Times flies when you're having fun. Or busy. Or busy having fun!

I've been writing. Trying to write a story a week, and succeeding more often than not. I'm also gearing up for National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it's often called. The object, for those of you who don't already know, is to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days--in November, specifically.

I've not attempted a novel before. But it's time. I've been writing short stories, and I've sold a couple, but novels are where it's at if you want to be a professional fiction writer, or so I'm told. It may be technically possible to make a real living writing short fiction, but it's going to be a tougher row to hoe than writing novels.

Short stories appear in one issue of a magazine, or an anthology, and then they're gone. Oh, it's possible that they can be resold--and they often will be, especially if you are (or become) a big name writer. But they're more ephemeral than novels. This may not be quite so true in th e-publishing world, where even shorts remain available for purchase for two or three years, maybe more. But in traditional publishing? There it is.

Novels, on the other hand, can remain in print for as long as they're selling. They can be sold to foreign markets. They can be resold and reprinted if they go out of print. (Again, this is easier if you're a name author, but if a publisher thinks they can make money from a previously published novel, they'll buy it.)

So. Novels. I'm still hammering out exactly what my novel will be, but I intend to write it this coming November. It's a little frightening to contemplate. A whole novel? Am I insane! But as has been pointed out by others, you can't eat an elephant all in one bite--but a bite at a time is quite doable. That's what I have to remember. I don't have to pour out a whole novel's worth of words (and characters and plots and settings and conflicts and dialogue and action) all in one go.

A mere 1,667 words each day for 30 days will generate 50,000 words at the end of the month. If I write only five days a week, taking weekends off, that's 2,380 words a day. Also eminently doable. I can do this. I will do this!

I'll just keep reciting my mantra: "I'm not nervous, I'm excited!"

Monday, October 12, 2009

Zombies & Cover Art

Two great things that go great togeth--no, wait. They don't. Never mind.

Anyhow, I got pinged in IM the other day. The artist who was assigned the cover art for my second Cobblestone Press story, Bound by Submission, happened to see me online. She'd finished the first draft of it and sent me a link so I could look at it. I had one minor quibble, which she was going to fix. Other than that, it's ready to go--and it looks pretty neat! I should be getting the official email packet fairly soon.

In other news, I saw Zombieland this weekend. It was damned funny. Gory as heck, but funny! If you don't mind gore, I highly recommend this movie.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I can haz grandchild?

Yes I can!

Freya (little sister of Odin) came into the world today via c-section. She's 7lbs. 2oz. and 19 inches long. Mother and child doing well at last report. Will be heading down the highway to see them shortly.

Forecast for today: little to no writing.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Long day today...

I spent quite a long while today finishing another Iron Maiden story to send to Cobblestone Press. (They seem to like them, and I like writing them, so....) The main reason I spent so much time on it today, though, was to reach my goal of getting two stories completed and in the mail this week--and that was the second one.

The first story, "Reunion", is a short short. About 1900 words. Not a flashfic, but much shorter than most of the stuff I've written of late. I like it. My lovely and talented wife likes it.

Tomorrow the cycle starts all over again, with a goal of getting two stories written. However, November is now less than a month away. I'm going to participate in Nanowrimo this year--for the first time ever--so next month I'll be scaling back to one short story a week plus work on the novel.

I'll be guest blogging tomorrow (well, today now, actually...) at Rebecca Going's blog. I've been invited to guest blog elsewhere this week as well. More details later.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New Sale!

Woohoo! I watched Glee with my lovely and talented spouse tonight, then wandered over to my computer to check my email. I usually keep Gmail open in Firefox so I can see at a glance if I've gotten any mail, just in case sometime wants to buy one of my stories. Most days it doesn't happen.


Tonight I found a contract offer for "Bound by Convention" from Cobblestone Press. It's my second sale, and a sequel to my first. The editor wrote, and I quote, "You sure make 'super heroines' fun to read about. Enjoyed revisiting the Black Knight and his Iron Maiden." I'm glad to hear that, 'cause I like writing about them--one of the stories I'm working on this week is still another in that series. Needless to say, I'm very pleased.

Friday, September 25, 2009

My story is available now!

Hurrah! "Flying High" is now on sale at It's my first fiction sale--but only the first of many, I hope! Click on the image to the right to go to the sale page.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Weekend Writing Workshop

My lovely and talented spouse and I spent four days at the coast this past weekend. We drove down on Friday morning and enjoyed lunch at Kyllo's, a great seafood restaurant there. We enjoyed the beach for a while, then checked into the inn where the workshop was to be held. The workshop was all day Saturday and Sunday, with extra bonus activities on Saturday evening. While I was workshopping, my lovely and talented spouse was busy enjoying the coast. We ate lots of good food all weekend and had a wonderful time. We even stayed over Sunday night to spend the next morning on the beach and eat lunch (Kyllo's again) before heading home.

So. The workshop. It was a two day introduction to life as a professional fiction writer, aka The Kris & Dean Show, taught by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Katherine Rusch. With nearly a couple hundred published novels and hundreds of short stories between them, to say nothing of experience as editors and publishers at one time or another, they had a lot to convey. There were nine students there, including myself.

First thing they brought up was Heinlein's Rules for Writers:
1. You must write.
2. You must finish what you write.
3. You must not rewrite except to editorial demand. (Harlan Ellison's addition: and only if you agree.)
4. You must mail your story to an editor who will pay you for it.
5. You must keep your story in the mail until it sells.

That's it. That's the whole secret of being a successful fiction writer. Simple in theory, but hard to do in practice. Fear will stop you in many, many ways--Heinlein's rules are largely designed (intentionally or otherwise) to circumvent those fears. If you follow the rules faithfully, you'll do what you need to do even if you fear rejection or failure. Afraid you're no good? Write anyhow. Afraid your story sucks? Finish it anyhow. Afraid it needs rewriting--an excellent way to avoid sending it out? Mail it. Afraid a rejection means you're a failure, an awful person? Keep sending it out. Just because one editor (or a hundred) rejected it, doesn't mean the next one will.

Kris Rusch mentioned that she'd recently just sold a story that's been circulating for TEN YEARS. Sometimes you let a story rest--when you've tried all the markets you can find--but when you discover a new potential market, out it goes again. Never say die.

They spent time busting some of the myths that have grown up around writing. Myths like "Good writing takes a long time.*" Lots of classics of modern literature were written very quickly. Many if not most successful fiction writers write quickly. Writing quickly helps keep your internal editor out of your way.

Myths like "You must rewrite to write well." Again, many successful writers do no substantive rewriting*. That is, they write a first draft, spellcheck it, have a trust first reader look it over, make any minor changes the reader suggests (assuming they agree) and then sent it out. Rewriting (actually changing character actions, plot points, and so forth) generally doesn't help-- it does, however, allow you to sand off the sharp edges and rawness that gives your work your distinctive voice.

Myths like "You need an agent to sell your story." No, you need an agent to negotiate a contract once you have an offer on the table. And to play attack dog for you when you need one to shake loose overdue checks, maybe. But that's it. You don't need an agent to submit your story to a publisher, no matter what the publishers tell you. And you never, ever, ever submit stories to an agent, or listen to any agent who wants to tell you how to improve your manuscript. Agents don't buy stories. Editors buy stories. See Heinlein's Rule #4 again. If the editor is paying for the privilege, HE gets to suggest changes. Nobody else.

Myths like "Nobody but a handful of big name writers can make any real money writing fiction." That's just not so. They went into a lot of detail about this one, explaining just how you can make a very good living writing fiction. I may go into the details in another post. But suffice it to say for now, that making a living as a writer of fiction is not only very possible, hundreds of thousands of people do it very comfortably. It only requires that you write a lot (so writing fast is good), and that you keep your work circulating.

They also had lots of practical advice on writing--physically writing, I mean. You can't spend hours every day sitting at a desk wiggling your fingers over a keyboard without serious physical issues if you don't a) make sure your desk, chair and computer are aligned properly, and b) get up and move around regularly, including lots of exercise. Writing is a sedentary job, but you have to take care of your body all the same.

They also gave us advice on other issues--tracking your manuscript submissions, making sure your stories and documents are safely and redundantly backed up in case the worst happens (Dean's house burned down many years ago and he lost a lot of his early manuscripts in that fire), and other practical issues.

I'd heard much of this before, of course. I read both of their blogs. But a good part of the material was also new to me. And it was all very inspiring. I came home with a renewed desire to write, write, write--and get my stories out in the mail (or e-mail, as the case may be).

My goal for at least the next few months is to write and mail two short stories (or one novelette or novella) a week. The more stories I can get in circulation, the better.

*A caveat: there is no one Right Way to write. Some writers DO write slowly, and some do rewrite extensively. If that works for you, go for it. But at least as often as not, and maybe more often than not, that's not the case.

Friday, September 11, 2009


So I'm watching Glee! this season. They ran the pilot last spring, then again last week. The first new episode aired this week. I enjoyed it all very much.

I didn't think I would. When I first heard about the show and its premise I figured, "Pass!"

But then I stumbled into the first episode last spring and it was...surreal. Crazy obsessed people, music and dancing, weird relationships, high school as hell redux. It was fascinating.

And the second episode gives me confidence that it will continue to be a fascinating, slightly surreal world peopled with oddballs. And as the spouse and I discussed on our drive to the coast today, almost everyone on the show is Crazy!

Our hero, Will, teacher and glee club facilitator? Crazy.
Will's wife, self-absorbed housewife and crafter? Crazy!
The cash-flow obsessed Principal? Seriously crazy!
OCD Guidance Counselor in love with Will? Crazy.
Football Coach pining for OCD Girl? Crazy.
Butch Nazi-esque Cheerios Coach? Dangerous Crazy.
Cheerios? Run-of-the-mill celibacy club Crazy.
Rachel, would-be superstar? Crazy.
About the only character who isn't clearly crazy is the football quarterback Will had to mousetrap into joining Glee...until he admitted to himself that he liked it and chose to stay.

The first episode introduced us to everyone and sketched out the relationships. This second episode dug a little deeper--and there's been movement on some storyline fronts already, a very good sign.

Football Coach's speech to OCD Girl was heartfelt and made some valid points. I was pleased when she changed her mind to accept his date and backed off a little from her daydreamy pursuit of (the married) Will.

Cheerio Coach was simply growling at Will in the first episode. She was protective of her turf but didn't feel seriously threateneed. Now that she's had her funds reduced slightly--and lost face in a couple of showdowns with Will in front of the Principal--she's definitely out for blood. Will, of course, is clueless about this. He really doesn't grok--yet--just how seriously she takes this threat to the Cheerios' supremacy in school. But he'll learn...the hard way, probably.

There was lots of good stuff in this episode. The only real flaw, in my view, was when Will's wife learned that she wasn't really pregnant...but didn't admit it to him. Yes, she's self-absorbed. She's materialistic. She's a social climber. She shamelessly manipulates him emotionally. But I was really hoping she'd come clean--that we'd see that there was some line she wouldn't cross.

Alas, they went for the easy--and predictable--plot point of having her lie to him. Instead of telling Will she'd learned she wasn't pregnant after all, she told him she'd learned that it was a boy at her appointment that day. Sigh. So far there is nothing to suggest what Will ever saw in her besides her looks. I was hoping for better.

She did back off on the new house, agreeing that they could stay in the apartment they've got. Which, as my spouse pointed out to me, was some growth for her. But not much--and giving her some much needed humanity would strength the love triangle subplot. At this point, Will's choice is between his (self-absorbed, greedy, materialistic, manipulative and now deceitful) wife and OCD girl, who clearly has her own problems but at least sees him as something more than a meal ticket and fashion accessory. Were she more sympathetic, Will might have a genuine dilemma...if he ever sees the truth.

Will is almost painfully naive. He doesn't see his wife's flaws. He's the ONLY person in the entire school (including the students) who doesn't see OCD Girl pining for him, and he has no clue the Cheerios Coach has him in her mostly-metaphorical gunsights.

But overall I'm really enjoying this show a lot. I recommend it!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

I got no writing done so far this weekend, but then I didn't intend to. Tomorrow I'll get back to writing, despite it being the actual holiday in question. My spouse has the day off but as a self-employed writer, I don't get paid days off. So it's back to the grindstone for me. What I have been doing is reading. A partial list of the books I'm currently reading or have just finished would include:

Class by Paul Fussell, an exploration of class and status in American society. It's from 1983 so some of the details are dated, but the principals he teases out are as valid as ever.

Galatea in 2D by Aaron Allston. Allston is known primarily as a writer of gaming materials, but he's published several novels. His novels are always entertaining and well thought out. His characters are smart; they think things through, try all things the reader--or at least this reader--would want to try, and generally avoid the dreaded idiot plot at every turn. I recommend them all.

The Last Hot Time by John M. Ford. I've not gotten far into it yet, but I'm enjoying it very much.

Redesigning Humans by Gregory Stock, nonfiction about the possibilities (for good or ill) occasioned by our rapidly approaching power to redesign the human genome.

In addition to reading, I spent a good part of today working with the spousal unit to thoroughly clean our bedroom. Since my spouse has suffered from increasing allergy and asthma issues lately, and went to see a specialist about them, we've buckled down to try to get our sleeping area as allergen-free as humanly possible. So we pulled everything out that we could reasonably move, dusted the walls and ceiling, the bookcase, the bedside tables, --everything, basically. Then we vacuumed the curtains, vacuumed the floor, stripped and washed all the bedding, and then put it all back together again.

Tomorrow--back to writing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Story Away! Plus, Publication Date Revealed!

Today was a good day in writing. I printed out the first draft of my most recent story and edited it in the waiting room while my spouse was being tormented treated by the dentist. When I got home I made the revisions to the story, hammered it into the proper form for an electronic submission, wrote the cover letter--and emailed it to Cobblestone Press.

I also did the final edits on Flying High and emailed them to my editor. (I have an editor--squee!)

And I got an email from the publisher's announcements list--Flying High will be published on September 25th! No wonder my editor told me we were on a tight schedule for the edits. (It wouldn't have been quite so tight, but the first time they emailed me the manuscript to edit, it went to the wrong email address. It didn't bounce, so apparently that address exists--it just isn't mine. So we were late getting started once the snafu was straightened out.

But it's done, and on track for publication on schedule. Yay!

So--tomorrow. That's when I decide which story to finish next. I have several in various stages, from a fuzzy idea in the back of my mind to those with several thousand words written, but no real structure yet. I'll pick the most promising and start on it tomorrow.

Monday, August 31, 2009

End of August Report

I'd hoped to get several stories in the mail this month. I managed one. A second is nearly done, but won't be ready until tomorrow at the earliest, so it won't qualify. I've done considerable writing, but not much has jelled this month. I hope to do better in September.

On the other hand, I'm now into the third round of edits for Flying High with Cobblestone Press. This is the final round, and then I assume I'll be slotted into the publication schedule and get a date certain for its release. I will, of course, let all and sundry know the moment I hear anything.

The editing process has been interesting. We've been sending drafts back and forth using Microsoft Word's Track Changes and commenting feature. Or they have, anyhow. I've been using either Word (on the laptop) or OpenOffice (on my primary PC). OpenOffice can handle Word's formatting, so it works--but either a) the translation is not 100 percent, or b) my unfamiliarity with the Track Changes and Style features of these programs is causing me trouble.

I've almost never used the Styles or Formatting features of Word or OpenOffice. We never made much use of it in my late, lamented day job, and I never used it at home. Any formatting I did I generally did by simply inserting italic or bold coding where needed, or justifying the text, or changing the font size on an ad hoc basis. Which was all I needed at work OR at home 99 percent of the time. Plus, mostly I formatted things to be printed, not electronically published.

That's a whole 'nother kettle of fish. I'll master it in the end, but it make take a couple of days of reading up on it and practicing. It'll do me good in the end. It'll add to my skills with Word, which won't hurt when job hunting, and since I fully intend to sell more stories to epublishers, knowing how to use these features to write and edit my manuscripts won't hurt in that arena either.

So. On to other things. My goal for September: to get at least three stories finished and submitted for publication. I'll also be attending the Kris and Dean Show in Lincoln City two weekends from now. I hope to learn a lot there. I will report on how it went.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Round Two!

And the winner is...everyone! Or so I hope.

Yesterday I got the second set of editor's comments and changes to my story. I went over them, accepted or commented on the changes and emailed it back. I also added a dedication and a bio for myself. One more round of edits and we'll be ready to publish. At that point I think I'll get a publication date. As soon as I know it, fear not--I'll let all and sundry know when my deathless prose will be unleashed on the world.

Meanwhile, I'm currently working on another Wicked submission to Cobblestone Press. I'd hoped to have it done by now, but it's coming along more slowly than I'd hoped. I'm making steady progress, mind you, but more slowly than I'd planned. Still, it should be ready to send out in a day or two.

Other than that, I've got half a dozen other stories simmering in the back of my mind. Some are partial drafts, some are mostly just ideas at this point. I was hoping to have finished and sent out several stories this month, but it hasn't happened. Such is life. I'll try to do better in September.

September will also see me attending a writer's workshop in Lincoln City, Oregon. I'll be attending the "Kris and Dean Show" put on by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Katheryn Rusch, two successful writers who, both separately and together, have published many, many books and make their living as novelists. They've also both been editors, among other things, and have a lot of useful information to impart. I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Defying Gravity--and Relativity

I've been watching Defying Gravity since it premiered a few weeks ago. I'm a science fiction fan, so I decided to give it a try despite hearing it described as "Grey's Astronomy". Which is true enough--there's plenty of soap opera stuff in the show. They do lots of flashbacks to the astronauts' training, and to a Mars Mission that went wrong when two of the protagonists had to abandon two fellow astronauts on Mars when they left.

There's angst aplenty, plus lots of hookups (drunken or otherwise) among the astronauts and astronaut wannabes during training, and some aboard the ship. There's also a mysterious alien maguffin (a Martian, I suspect) secreted aboard the ship and using weird alien mind whammy powers to impose its will--causing a couple of astronauts to be grounded at the last minute so two others took their places, among other things.

It's fairly realistic as television science fiction goes. The ship has "personal quarters" modules on rotating booms to provide gravity in the living quarters. There's no "torch drive"--the ship uses a reaction drive (no magical reactionless propulsion) and thus isn't under continuous acceleration. The ship is as spacious as tv spaceships always are, but I'm willing to cut them some slack on that. The rationale for the "artificial gravity in the non-rotating parts of the ship is harder to swallow: some kind magical "magnetic" nanotech fabric in their uniforms which is attracted to the floors, thereby providing "gravity" of a sort. Yeah, right.

But the biggest blunder (or decision to simply ignore reality in favor of drama) is the fact that they are constantly having real-time conversations via (crystal clear) video phone with people at Mission Control on Earth. That's a problem for my suspension of disbelief. Here's why:

This most recent episode had a character state explicitly that the ship was about 30,000,000 kilometers from Earth. The speed of light is (very roughly) 300,000 kilometers per second. The ship is 100 times that distance from earth--which means it would take 100 seconds (over a minute and a half) for someone on the ship to receive the words spoken by someone on earth, and vice versa. More than THREE minutes are required for a character to ask a question and get a response.

Yet they're still having real-time conversations. Therefore, they appear to possess FTL communication. You'd think they might have mentioned that....


I received a marked up copy of my story "Flying High" by email today from my editor at Cobblestone Press, along with the CP style guide and a "how to" document for using Word's "track changes" feature. I went over the edits this afternoon. I accepted most of them, suggested different edits for a couple, and made a couple of comments. Then I emailed it back.

I did the editing on my laptop, which runs Windows XP, because my primary PC runs linux and I use OpenOffice instead of Microsoft word. I didn't think OpenOffice could read or work with the track changes feature so I used Word on the laptop instead. But just a few minutes ago opened the emailed copy of my story (the one with the editor's changes rather than my own) in OpenOffice and discovered that I could, in fact, read and work with the changes in OpenOffice.

That's good. It means I don't have to depend on the laptop do my editing. In any case, that ends round 1 of three rounds of edits before it's ready to be published. I still don't know when it'll be published, but we're moving toward publication. Hurray!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cover Art--Again!

Now that I've signed off on the cover proof (metaphorically speaking--no actual signature, just an email exchange), I've received the whole art package. Several images of the cover in various sizes, a banner and a half-banner, and a cropped image from the cover to use as a "button" or icon for promotional purposes.

So if you look to the right, you'll see one of them. That's the cover of my forthcoming Wicked story from Cobblestone Press. I'm very excited!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cover Proof!

I got an email today from one of the artists at Cobblestone Press with an cover proof for my story. It looks good! Still don't know when it'll actually be published, but it's moving forward. Yay!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Highs...and Lows

The postman brought me two rejection letters yesterday. Both form rejections. After selling 'Flying High' to Cobblestone Press, I'm unsurprisingly disappointed.

And this after getting a personal email from the same editor for my first submission to her magazine. She rejected that one too, but the email told me exactly why and said that otherwise I was definitely in the right zone for tone, style and whatnot. So I had high hopes for these other two stories I'd sent her. Alas, my hopes have been dashed.

However, the Ancient Art of Rejectomancy requires me to frame these rejections in the best possible light. So, I'll point out that they consisted of a form with various checkboxes for the different reasons why a story might be rejected, ranging from writing in the wrong 'person' to the situations not being credible to a simple but crushing statement that the writing wasn't of sufficient quality (ouch, that one would hurt!), or simply being oversold in a particular category.

In my case, the reason checked was "other", with a handwritten sentence detailing what was lacking. So I now have three data points on what works in my writing and what doesn't--at least for that market. So this week I'll be working on a new story to send out to them. And, of course, looking for another market to send the rejected stories to (but, given the format and content--non-romantic erotica, i.e., porn, basically*) the number of markets is rather limited. These stories may end up in my 'dead story file' or trunk fairly soon.

Friday, July 24, 2009

In Which Our Heroine Takes The Plunge

As mentioned above below, I sold my first story recently. I've been writing since I was a kid, though for a long time I wrote fanfic and participating online "role playing games" that were really more like long, involved collaborative stories. I wasn't trying to get published, I was writing for my own amusement and the amusement of my friends and fellow fanfic readers and writers and fellow gamers.

Periodically I'd feel the urge to try to write for publication. Usually when I attended Orycon (the local SF convention, which is heavy on the literature, not so heavy on media stuff), where I saw and heard from and interacted with lots of writers and editors. Then I'd come home, get back to the grind and the urge would fade. I'd go back to writing fanfic or participating in RPGs.

But I found myself writing less fanfic, and even as the RPGs were drying up (online RPGs seldom last long--the most white-bearded game I ever participated in lasted a little over two years), I was writing more and more sidebar stories about my characters. I began to think that maybe I wanted to write something original for publication after all. Or again. Or something.

So I started writing stories and sending them out. About a month after I started seriously writing and submitting stories, I lost my job of fifteen years to the recession. I got a nice severance package, and my lovely and talented spouse continued to be gainfully employed, so we're not in financial trouble. But it left us with a choice, and after discussing it, we decided I'd spend the next six months to a year (depending on how long we can manage financially) with me working at writing as my job.

If I become the next Stephen King (or J. K. Rowling) that would great! If I become a moderately successful midlist author that would be good too. If I can earn at least as much from writing as I was getting as a wage slave at a nonprofit agency that would be acceptable. Failing that, I may eventually have to go back to work--though perhaps only part-time or as a temp.

So selling a story recently was a big thrill. With luck I'll sell more--and then more! Short stories aren't likely to feed the metaphorical bulldog, however. So I'm going to have to stretch myself and work toward writing longer stories, working up to novels eventually.

Wish me luck!

Victory is Mine!

I've been offered a contract to publish my short story "Flying High" by Cobbestone Press. Hurrah! I got an email two weeks ago saying that they were thinking about making the offer if the story was still available. It was, of course, as I don't do simultaneous submissions. But I emailed back that it was indeed still available.

I've spent the intervening two weeks axiously awaiting further developments. Said developments, uh, developed early this week when I received the contract by email. Go me! Now I just have to fill out the details, sign it and send it back. And fill out various other forms. Author bio, artists' information for the cover they'll produce, and so forth.

Needless to say, I'm very, very pleased!