An Actual Thing

At the end of the previous post, I mentioned in passing that an anthology I had a story in was now published.

I got my author’s copy in the mail.

The dramatic movie poster-style blue/orange effect was got by taking a picture in my kitchen on an overcast winter day.

Not pictured is me grinning like several fools, me clapping my hands with pure delight, my wife gazing admiringly upon me, or my son’s wait what how can this be a thing?!? expression when I showed him his old dad’s name in an actual book.

Like this:

I’ll mention here that I very much approve of the type-face choices made by the editor. That’s a good looking page, that.

I’m making a big thing of this because it is, in my life, a big thing. I have never had an author’s copy of a print book before. It rates as a big milestone in my writing career, which by the measure of “correctly making an effort to present stories to paying markets” is not very old.

So, I blow my party horn and wave my achievement around for all to see. I also litter this post with links to where you can get the book for yourself. I get no more money out of it, just the warm glow of offering entertainment to others. It is (ignoring my own splendid gem of deathless prose) a bunch of jolly good stories.

…and I got an author’s copy! {dissolves in giggles}

Extra Seasonal Joy

This is not, alas, a story announcement. I have some suspicion that I’m not going to have something appropriate to the season to roll out this year, having distracted myself with other matters until it’s much too late.

Speaking of too late, I don’t believe item of news comes too late for last minute Christmas present seekers to act upon: I have a story appearing in Creatures in Canada, available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple. It’s an anthology which presents one horrifying monstrosity for each of Canada’s provinces and territories. Yes, I am the contributor of the Saskatchewan story, and yes, it is set in the bleakest depth of winter just to add to the sorrow of the characters. Mon pays c’est l’hiver, y’all.

I have, of course, had a chance to read it already, and I think I can say with some confidence that there should be something for all tastes (as long as those tastes run to horror); it’s a nicely diversified anthology.  I also recommend it in full knowledge that I’m not getting any more money out of it than I have already done– I got paid ages ago, and there’s no royalties involved. Plus, look at this  cover. Don’t you want to know what’s lurking behind that?

This is a link, by the way.

Mouth is Writing Cheques…

October, glorious home of Hallowe’en, dread gateway to Winter’s icy bowels, is about to consume us all.

This is when I’m (almost) actually trying, too.

For some artists, it is also Inktober, a month of drawings. I’m not a graphic artist, as is clearly evident, so this need not affect me. Yep, I can just sit on the sidelines and not worry a bit about Inktober. I enjoy arting, but this is not the arting area I art best at.

But I am also a bit of an idiot.

I should be devoting my efforts to bashing out marketable fictions. I have, as I think I have mentioned once or twice, very little time to devote to my art (say, that does sound pretentious, doesn’t it?) and so I shouldn’t go burning it on silly things.

Except the unsilly life is hardly worth living, so I’m going to do Inktober in my own way. I’m going to write stories. Writing and ink have long association, even if in this particular format there’s not a drop spent.

What inspired me to do this was my favorite place locally for ink (as well as pens and blank journals)  offered a set of prompts, urging local artists to get to work on generating art. I’ve been having some fun on Twitter running up the teeniest flash fictions from one-word prompts, so why not do something similar with this prompt list?

[At this point, you must imagine a brief silence in which some sensible person, were one at hand, would start talking sense]

So, stand by! Either I’m posting a new story here every day– of remarkable brevity and edited hardly at all, but a story all the same– or you can derive some entertainment from watching me tripping over my own big red clown-shoes in failing to do so. I’ll be doing them as posts here, and when the month is done, I’ll digest them into permanent storage in The Back Files. If I don’t pull any serious muscles, perhaps this will become a yearly thing.

Here’s that list of prompts. Stay tuned for stories!

A Swift Kick in the…

This is sort of a story announcement, although at the moment the story remains  in a box which is full of but also entirely devoid of cat fur. It’s a story that will, eventually, become manifest, but in what form and when is a matter as yet uncertain.

It may, and this would be my preference, appear in a print anthology, along with fifteen other stories and (if you can stand the strain!) a poem. This anthology is being put together by Dragon’s Roost Press, and they are running a Kickstarter to underwrite the costs of production.

And this is why I’m posting this; the fate of sixteen stories and a poem rest upon people subscribing to the fund. There’s all sorts of goodies, too, as is common in a Kickstarter offer, so give it a look and see if you can find it in yourself to help collapse the observational wavefront of what promises to be a very entertaining collection of stories.

It’s not just an imformative image, it’s a link!

p.s. The reason I’m making all the fuss about the poem is that poetry is very hard and I think anyone that pursues it with skill is slightly intimidating.

A Thing I Don’t Know

I know that people who follow this site get an email alert that I’ve run out a post like this one here. What I don’t know is whether it does the same when I set up a page with a new story.

Which I just did.

But it’s a secret.

You see, after [inarticulate mumble indicating an uncomfortable timespan] I’m finally following my own procedure for putting up stories on this site. The Correct Procedure includes “give Patreon backers at least a week of advance access.” Since there weren’t any patrons, adhering to that item on the checklist seemed overly pedantic.

But now, possibly through a misunderstanding of how sympathetic magic works, I’ve done it right. So, if you were a patron, you could be reading the new story this very moment. If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably got the link in the sidebar just left of these words, but here it is also.

You’ll see it soon, without shoving money at me. That’s the way things roll here. Likewise everything else I publish her. You’ll see it… eventually. And if you didn’t get a notice of something being published before this post, then…

…my secrets are safe here. I believe I’ll rub my hands and cackle.

A Thing I Have Never Done Before

Therefore, I have no idea how to do it properly. I’m seeing other writers putting up “eligibility posts” and it occurs to me belatedly that:

  1. I’m a member of the Horror Writers Association (and 1b- I should renew soon);
  2. Pseudopod is a market that pays professional rates;
  3.  I had a story published by them in April of this year (which is subjectively seven hundred and five years ago, but objective measures are what count).

So… um… yeah, I guess I should jump up and down and point at myself and shout about my eligibility for the current award season in a way which follows what seems to be a correct pattern:


“Free Balloons for All Good Children”
(1846 Words)
Pseudopod, 27 April 2018
Available for free here


The Path is Long, The Hill is Steep

A while ago I made a rash declaration, and today I actually made good on it, on a day behind the projected schedule.  The first eight pages of what I’m currently calling Impossible Bodies are done, the effort to write a novel has left the dock, and while there’s a slim risk it may sink it isn’t going to stop.

I’ll reiterate what that previous entry said about this enterprise’s relation to NaNoWriMo–  I’m starting now, but I have no illusions about finishing at month’s end.  This will be, at best, a six month voyage, and I anticipate having to pick up more lime juice before the first draft is over.  Today’s initial efforts yielded eight longhand pages, with roughly 18% having lines drawn through it a moment after it landed on the paper.  If I have seventy days like this, I’ll be close to the modern novel length (unlike NaNoWriMo’s traditional goal which would be about 200 printed pages).

None of this, I hope, is going to have much effect on events here.  Tiny objects will appear now and again to amuse.  I may even howl entertainingly about obstacles encountered in the novel or other attempts to be a fully-functional author.  But I thought that I should probably let everyone here know that I was actually making good on that earlier threat.  The world needs more detective novels with non-traditional supernatural stuff in them, right?

Of course it does.

(Nearly) First Published Work!

I’m very very very proud to announce that I have a story appearing on Trigger Warning: Short Fiction with Pictures.  I’m so proud, in fact, that I’ve de-linked the same story from this site for the moment, so if you want to read it, you’ll have to go over there.

I’m proud of this because it’s my first story to be published.  More or less.  During a recent spate of auto-Googling– because, occasionally, one does like to see how much attention the internet is paying– I found a couple of references to an article which was printed in Dragon, the monthly organ of, at the time, TSR Gaming (long since taken up by Wizards of the Coast).  This was not a huge surprise, since it was a high-circulation magazine, even before the dawn of the Nerd Age we currently live in.

More surprising was to find my name popping up on the Internet Science Fiction Database.  I entirely remember the story– the surprise is that anyone else took any notice of it.  It appeared in the ‘zine emitted irregularly and briefly by Regina Speculative Fiction Society, and when I use the contraction, I am speaking of the old version; a physical object, composed of pieces of paper passed through a photocopier and hand-collated (as photocopiers of the day had trouble with that sort of thing) before being stapled together and handed to subscribers.  It was not quite first-generation, as the editors had access to computer printing and so didn’t have to tape together bits of type-written material.  But there was tape involved in the paste-up.

It is a non-professional credit, to be sure, since The Spintrian barely managed to mail out any copies with the available budget.  While this more recent presentation of my work is not by the technical definition applied by the Horror Writers Association or the SWFA appearing in a professional market either, it is actually bringing in some payment.  Semi-pro, we might say.  A step on the path to greater things.

Apart from shouting “Hey, everyone!  LOOKIT WHAT I DONE!” I’m making this post to underline something we all occasionally forget– what we did in the past can be very hard to bury.  Alas, the original file of the story is locked up in Applewriter II formated 5.25-inch floppy discs which I may or may not still have in the house, so I can’t offer a glimpse at that old work of mine.  This is probably a good thing.  I seem to remember using some phonetic dialogue, and we all know how embarrassing that sort of thing can be.

The Imbecile Confession

I am about to repost the majority of an entry from my other blog, because it mainly concerns the future of this one.  The direction of some references will be edited, to keep things from being too confusing:


[I]t all started last Sunday, when I went to a writing workshop under the direction of a Hugo-winning Canadian author.  The workshop had nothing at all to do with how to find a market for what one wrote; it was all about how to lay a solid foundation for a novel, based on notions the fellow had developed in the course of writing a lot of SF, but which apply to most genres as well.  Jolly useful information, too, but what developed out of it was what I can only think of as blindness resulting from a curse or a brain lesion fell away.  On Monday, I found I was able to uncover all sorts of paying markets for the sort of stuff that I write.

Had I looked previously?  Indeed so.  Not only that, but I had looked in basically the very same places I investigated on Monday on those previous attempts.  Having made this startling… I will say “discovery” because it was new to me, even though already well inhabited and supporting thriving cultures, I decided to get properly serious about making some submissions to places that offer money for stories.

Money for stories.  Fancy that!  Exactly what I have been trying to discover the alchemical principles for!

There is a substantial element of regret in this discovery, as over on the fiction site I have been rendering some of what I think of as pretty good stories unappealing, because most markets want stuff that hasn’t appeared anywhere previously.  I knew I was doing this, too, but in my earlier innocence, I saw no real alternatives by way of becoming known at all as a writer of fictions.  Had the blindness lifted six months earlier, I would have a lot more shot in my locker.

The way in which I intend to address this startling discovery of the obvious is probably self-destructive too, although hopefully only in the short term.  I’m going to carry on [at the older blog] much as I have done, intermittently becoming the sort of specialized interesting I once was while mainly just letting the world know that I’m plugging away and still rotating my pens.  Over [here], I’m going to stop being quite so profligate with my new material, which is where the self-destructive comes in– little flash fictions, such as [the] one I did up today, will appear in what I intend to be a pretty regular way (long intervals, though) while longer stories will get driven around the markets in search of a paying audience.  Once they have found a paying audience, and served their time of exclusivity, I will then post them on the fiction side of my online world; I will then be able to include an annotation along the lines of “Originally presented in the Fall 2016 edition of A Rather Splendid Periodical that Pays Good Rates to Authors”, which will be ego-boosting for me and hopefully drive some more eyes in their direction(s) so they may continue to pay the creative types.

Once I’ve got as many stories with of those annotations as not, I may begin to feel less like a great blundering infant.  I hope so.  These diapers look ridiculous.


I realize that this follows pretty briskly on the heels of an earlier announcement regarding the pace of presentations and its reduction.  However, the whole reason for my running this element of my online presence out was to try and supplement the meagre income that my day job provides, and while I’m not without hope in that direction, I have to say that thus far my family is not growing fat on the proceeds of the writing.  I love my readers, but my power to reach enough of them to make an observable income is limited; I have to turn to these suddenly revealed (such a baffling lapse!) markets in hope of being able to provide my son with some shirts that fit.

I will mention that the next story due here, the hinted-at flash fiction, will appear a week hence, because I am sticking to my policy of giving patrons a week’s preview of new stuff.  I’m going to have to examine the whole structure of my presence at Patreon, and pretty damn quick, too; I don’t want to make promises that my change of focus renders impossible to fulfill.

A Day I’m Not Fond Of.

I am, excepting the Bill Murray film, not a fan of Groundhog day. This is a state which stretches back to childhood, when I first realized the stupid joke upon which it is founded and realized that it was propounded by people who come from a latitude where astronomical spring and the local effects of that season actually line up. Winter, in the gross local-effect sense, can start in my little patch of the world as early as the first week of October.  It can last long enough to see the high school seniors struggling to their grad proms through drifts of snow only slightly reduced by the Sun’s power.  All hearing about the power of a rodent to see its shadow or not does is make me want to start punching people.

I was, in fact, unbecomingly pleased to hear that one of the Canadian incarnations of the prognosticating beast had died. One should not, except in the case of specific Hitlers, take joy from the death of a fellow being. Such is the state this day puts me in.

Having said all that– I’m using today to announce something that also displeases me.  I figure that I can’t taint this date in my own mind any more than years of gritted teeth have already managed.  There’s an apology involved, too.

When I began this little effort of mine last fall (and it was, uncharacteristically, autumnal here, but I digress), I had some misgivings about my ability to keep up with an unstated pace of a couple of new stories each month.  These misgivings have borne their unwelcome fruit, for my shot-locker is not bare but it doesn’t have much ammunition left in it.  Having caught the attention of some followers over the past few months, I find I now have to admit that I can’t maintain the pace.

In a desperate bid to garner sympathy, let me explain my writing process.  The first draft is done long-hand; some people will cry out at as being a slow way of doing things, but I find an advantage to it.  I’m not tempted to fiddle away with edits when I should be letting the creative centres of the brain run freely with their tongues lolling.  Also, in this initial phase of the activity, the actual words are coming no faster than the pen can race; images, perhaps, appear more briskly, but not the words to convey them.

Second draft is the point at which things pass through a keyboard.  Since I am at this stage editing and re-working some of the more convoluted stuff the “who’s this ‘syntax’ fellow?” creative centres uttered forth, this is not brisk typing.  A particular brisk patch recently works out to about 20 words per minute.  That’s not a complaint, mind you– I can transcribe faster, but when actually processing the material, I’m quite pleased with that sort of productivity.

Third draft, which is usually what you see in the stories here, waits until a couple of patient readers look through the second, pronounce certain elements of it still gibberish, and point out that I completely forgot a verb somewhere.  This is useful stuff, and I’d hate to do without, but it’s also the work of volunteers, who act only when other demands on their time allow.

Speaking of demands on time– there’s plenty clinging to me, too.  Thanks to job, and a son who really wants his dad to share in all his joys (mainly Thomas and Friends, but with occasional excursions into more sophisticated diversions, plus sleds, swimming, and/or bicycles), I can count on as much as an hour each day to perform the writing task.  Keeping in mind that, as Douglas Adams noted, “as much as” includes the amount none at all, I get absolutely giddy when I can get a moderate-length story shoved through first and second draft in the space of two weeks.  Third draft doesn’t take much work… once the notes come back.

Even leaving aside stories that curdle in the initial draft (usually a result of point-of-view error, but in some cases a more fatal deformity), to get things polished enough that I dare let them see the light of public scrutiny takes not less than three weeks.  Without a substantial change in the household finances letting me set the day job aside, or some kind of compassion blow-out which will allow me to ignore my family completely, that’s not going to change.

I’m not… wait, that’s insufficiently emphatic.  I’ll go again.

I’m not shutting down the operation here.  I’m just letting you know, you who have taken a moment to poke the “follow” button, that there will be a little less action here.  The occasional flash story will still appear, too– those things don’t take more than a week from mere notion to gem of deathless prose (hah!).  I’d rather reduce frequency than polish, and I’m hoping the various readers of my stuff are similarly inclined.