Three-Pronged Writing Update

Several things happening on the fiction writing front.

My story “The Lure of Devouring Light” in the latest Apex Magazine received a very favorable review in Locus Magazine (the SF/Fantasy trade journal) this week.

If you haven’t read “Lure of Devouring Light” yet, and are intrigued enough by the mini-review to give it a look, it’s available to read for free online. Again, I’d like to thank everyone at Apex for making this happen!

Some other things coming soon…

The next issue of Black Static magazine (#34, May 2013) will contain my story “Arches and Pillars.” I’ll have more information about this as May approaches.

The next issue of Lovecraft eZine (#23, April 2013) will include my story “Nectar of Strange Lips.” The issue is not yet available to read, but you can purchase the podcast/audio version now, for just 99 cents!

That’s not 99 cents for just my story, but 99 cents for the entire issue, all the stories and Robert Price’s new nonfiction feature… almost 3 1/2 hours of great stuff!

Control Your Jealousy (For Your Own Good)

I’ve seen a few writers link to this article about professional jealousy. It’s just as applicable to aspiring musicians, artists, ballet dancers, astronauts, athletes and actors. Many of them (us) have lots of friends who are also “the competition,” at least from a certain point of view.

Go read the post, then come back… I’ll wait!

Reflexive envy or jealousy occurs commonly when someone we know, chasing similar goals, finds success that at least momentarily exceeds our own. This sense of “Why not me?” is something everyone must feel at some point.

More than a year ago, I decided to try to stop wallowing in feelings of unfairness or futility related to the struggle against rejection. I’d seen many writers suggest something along the lines of “Forget trying to get published — focus on writing better.” This may seem like the sort of platitude to which the writer replies, “Well, yeah, but…” then returns to obsessing over factors outside their control. But it’s important.

Energy and time spent this way are wasted. Not only are energy and time finite resources, they’re the very stuff out of which our work is built.

To overcome this reflex, to defeat the mindset that someone else’s success means you are now less likely to succeed, is a crucial step toward achieving the resolve, perspective and inward-directedness we need in order to improve.

Imagine if all the energy spent worrying about rejections, fellow writers, unpredictable editors, failing markets, or any other factors outside your control, could be freed-up, reallocated toward fixing plots, strengthening characters, improving voice, refining and improving your writing in every aspect. Not only is this possible, it’s what we all must do.

Next, consider accepting the notion that if we write good enough stories, we will no longer need to worry much about finding places that want to publish them.

For my part, I realized that I was not the best judge of my work’s suitability for publication. That’s something editors get to decide. They don’t have to tell me what they’re looking for, how I fell short, or what to do differently next time. But if I write a story that grabs them and won’t let go, that’s enough. That’s all I have to do.

The “Why not me?” attitude shields the writer from facing the need to improve. Tell yourself the deck is stacked, that it’s all cronyism, and you can’t get published because of race or sex or age or whatever. This absolves you of facing the responsibility to WRITE BETTER STORIES.

I finally let all that go, or at least endeavored to do so, sought that clarity of mind as an ideal, and kept reminding myself whenever backsliding occurred. This allowed me to focus on what really mattered. I improved my writing. I’m still trying to make better stories, all the time, even now that I’ve started finding outlets for my fiction. I work to make myself stronger, rather than worrying about “competition.”

Let go of jealousy. Stop focusing on someone else who got something you wanted. Instead, work harder. You’re not good enough yet to give up trying, put your hands on your hips, and whine about “Why not me?” Really, are you good enough? I know I’m not. We all need to write better stories.

That’s hard enough without worrying about things outside our control.

Weekend Update: Check Out “The Lure of Devouring Light”

Last Tuesday, the new April issue of Apex Magazine appeared, featuring my story “The Lure of Devouring Light.” I’ve already received some nice feedback, from friends, family, fellow writers, and even a NY literary agent. In case you missed my previous post about this, here’s a reminder, and a link to read the story for free, or purchase a PDF or a (Kindle) MOBI or (iPad/Nook) EPUB file of the entire issue for $2.99.

Thanks again to the great and talented people at Apex.

My Story “The Lure of Devouring Light” in Apex Mag

My story “The Lure of Devouring Light” is now available in the April 2013 issue of Apex Magazine. I’m very proud and excited to have a story of mine appearing in such an excellent and prominent periodical.

I’ll have more to say about this magazine and this story, but for now, here’s a link. It’s available to read for free, and you can also purchase a PDF or a (Kindle) MOBI or (iPad/Nook) EPUB file.

My thanks to Editor Lynne Thomas and Publisher Jason Sizemore for featuring my work!

Updated Stories Page

I’ve just updated my list of published and upcoming stories HERE on this blog, and color coded the publication date or “forthcoming” status. As it stands, four of my stories have been published already, and five more are coming soon.

Four of the upcoming stories should appear within roughly a month, starting the first week of April! Most likely the first will be “The Lure of Devouring Light,” appearing in the April issue of Apex Magazine, which should appear the first Tuesday in April.

You Should Write for a Specific Target

When I first started writing again a few years back, I daydreamed about various story ideas, decided which one sounded like the most fun to write, and wrote it.

In the past year and a half, I’ve increasingly written with a specific target in mind. Most of the time, this means I’ve read about an upcoming themed anthology with a deadline, and I’ve prepared an idea to work with the theme, and executed it in time to work with the deadline.

The restriction imposed by the theme, a sort of boundary line within which the concept must work, or touchstone with which the story must make contact, might sound like something that gets in the way. Artistic creation is about freedom, right? Actually, I think an excess of possible options ends up being a problem. Too often I’ve spent months considering wild variations on a story idea, never really moving the story forward as much as zig-zagging back and forth.

The theme isn’t just a restriction. It’s also an inspiration, a nudge off the ground you, as a writer, like to tread. Venture off the path just far enough to encompass the theme. You’ll end up writing something you otherwise wouldn’t have considered.

Also, the theme forces me to focus. Discard superfluous ideas, zero in, and work toward the finish line. The clock is ticking. There’s no time to waste on digressions from the main idea.

Speaking of that ticking clock, a deadline is bad thing, right? Again, I find it narrows my perspective and spurs me to work harder and faster. I’m much more productive when I’m working on something that’s due in less than a month.

The thing you have to accept is that if you write a story specifically for a themed anthology or contest, it will probably be rejected. That might seem like a wasted effort. Why write a Jolly Green Giant riff for that “Weird Beanstalk Talez!” anthology, if it will probably be rejected? What are you supposed to do with a story like that if it doesn’t make it into the intended market?

I’ve written something like ten stories intended for specific markets. I was lucky enough to hit the mark with two of them, “Diamond Dust” which will appear in the Thomas Ligotti tribute anthology The Grimscribe’s Puppets, and “May Dawn Redeem What Night Destroys” which will appear in the Current 93 tribute anthology “Mighty in Sorrow.”

Twice, I wrote a story specifically geared toward a themed anthology, and it was accepted. This doesn’t mean that the other eight, which were rejected by the anthology or contest for which I conceived them, were a waste of effort. I tried to write stories that fit the theme, but loosely enough that if I was rejected, I ended up with a really great story that might work elsewhere.

I have another story, which was rejected for a themed anthology for which I wrote it, which hasn’t been placed yet, but has received extremely favorable notes from 4 of the 5 editors who have seen it since. One of them, perhaps the most prominent and respected of genre fiction magazines, held onto it 4 months longer than usual and told me they very nearly accepted it. I consider that story a success, and I’m sure it will find a place soon.

This month, my story “Nectar of Strange Lips” will appear in Lovecraft eZine. That story, my first effort of this type, was written for a contest – not themed, but with a deadline. I didn’t win the contest, but ended up placing the story in a great online zine, where lots of people will see it.

In April, my story “The Lure of Devouring Light” will appear in Apex Magazine. My first professional sale! I wrote this story for a small-press themed anthology, and received a form rejection. Not a lot of people talk about the anthology, and as it turns out, I’m glad it didn’t make the cut, and found a home at Apex, which was the second place I sent it.

In May, “Arches and Pillars” will appear in Black Static, a great British magazine of horror and dark fantasy. Another high profile sale, for a story form rejected by the anthology for which I crafted it.

I also have a few other stories still under consideration by the editors of anthologies for which I’ve crafted them, so those are still in the “maybe” category.

Overall, I feel this new approach, aiming for themed anthologies with deadlines, has helped me produce more and better work, and to explore areas I might not otherwise have ventured. I plan to continue, though of course every writer hopes eventually to receive invitations to submit by editors who have seen their work. Maybe that will be my next phase.

Upcoming Work (Effective March 2013)

Just updated this chronological list of upcoming work to include the latest news from Black Static.  Of course, these dates are never definite until the publication actually happens, even more so with books than monthly periodicals.

“Nectar of Strange Lips” – Lovecraft eZine, March 2013

“The Lure of Devouring Light” – Apex Magazine, April 2013

“Diamond Dust” – The Grimscribe’s Puppets anthology (Ligotti tribute, Joseph S. Pulver Sr., editor), April 2013

“Arches and Pillars” – Black Static Magazine, May 2013

“May Dawn Redeem What Night Destroys” Mighty in Sorrow anthology (Current 93 tribute, Jordan Krall editor), August 2013

Here Comes the Flood

It’s been a while since any of my new writing appeared, but several items are scheduled to show up very soon.

The March issue of Lovecraft eZine, which should appear in the 2nd half of this month, will include my story “Nectar of Strange Lips.”

The April issue of Apex Magazine, which will appear in the first week of April, will include my story “The Lure of Devouring Light.”

The Grimscribe’s Puppets, a Thomas Ligotti tribute anthology edited by Joseph S. Pulver Sr., should be published by Miskatonic River Press later in April.

I’ll post more specific information, such as links to where you can read or purchase, as soon as I have it.

Addendum to 2012 Summary

Last week I wrote a summary of my writing and publishing activities in 2012 in which I mentioned “one other tentative acceptance.” For some months, I’d kept fingers crossed, hoping that the last couple of submissions to a themed anthology would be short enough in word count to leave room for my conditionally accepted piece.

Just after I wrote that, I received word that my story’s acceptance was official!


The anthology in question is The Grimscribe’s Puppets, a tribute to Thomas Ligotti, a very significant and influential 20th century writer (living, and in fact not very old, but apparently retired) of psychological horror fiction. The editor is Joseph S. Pulver Sr. and the publisher will be Miskatonic River Press, which also published Pulver’s recent anthology A Season in Carcosa (link to my own earlier review).

For a writer still struggling to find outlets for stories, every acceptance is welcome, yet this one feels special for several reasons. I’m a huge fan of Ligotti’s fiction, a big supporter of Pulver and his work, and the roster of writers with whom I’ll be sharing a table of contents includes so much great talent. It’s really flattering just to be included here, to have my story in what must certainly be one of 2013’s most notable horror/weird anthologies.

My story is called “Diamond Dust,” and I can’t wait for it to appear. What’s more, I’m excited to read the whole book. The last date I heard suggested for the release of The Grimscribe’s Puppets was February, 2013. It seems likely that will be delayed, as we haven’t yet seen an officially-released table of contents, and it takes time to compile, edit and proofread books, even in this age of digital media production. When I hear a more exact or certain release date, I’ll mention it here.

Book Release: Carnage: After the End

The anthology Carnage: After the End has been released in two volumes. My story “High Desert, Starless Sky” appears in volume one.

Here there be links!

Carnage: After the End – Volume 1

Amazon US –

Amazon UK –

CreateSpace –

Smashwords –

Carnage: After the End – Volume 2

Amazon US –

Amazon UK –

CreateSpace –

Smashwords –

I’ll have more to say soon about the anthology and my story in it, but wanted to quickly post links and give my thanks to Sirens Call Publications.