Monday, January 30, 2006


Dink ( ) threw down the following challenge on her blog. It has something to do with being tagged with a "meme." Not quite sure what that is. Or in a more articulate vein: Huh? Anyway, Dink, I thought it would be fun (and possibly a learning experience for me) to look at my own writing. So below are the Ten Signs a Piece of Fiction was written (and/or mangled) by me.

1. The story can be set in the past, the present, the future, or occasionally in a time that never existed.

2. The main female and male characters have an established relationship going on when the story begins (I rarely use the "meet cute" scenario).

3. The main character will have something absolutely terrible happen to them physically during the story.

4. The villain truly believes their goal is righteous and will never be redeemed or turned, only overcome.

5. A very likeable character will be destroyed by the villain.

6. Someone will get naked.

7. The adventure the main characters are on will test to the max their moral fiber and beliefs.

8. There will be an attempt to get "inside" the characters' heads even if the tale is written in third person.

9. Never tell the story in second person.

10. Attempt will be made not to use movies or other novels to reveal character. (Attempt usually fails.)

That was interesting. Now I need to get back to writing on the new screenplay. I need to kill someone and maim someone else while all are naked and watching a movie. That could work.

(What does the picture up top have to do with all this you ask? Nothing. I just liked it)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

I'm back. I was trying to catch up on some news and ran across this. I had to share it. The American Dialect Society has selected the "word" of the year. While the word has been around since 1824, it became more well-known when Stephen Colbert started using it on his show The Colbert Report. I like it.
The word:
Meaning: preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true
Time for a Mark Twain quote. "Familiarity breeds contempt. How accurate that is. The reason we hold truth in such respect is because we have so little opportunity to get familiar with it."
Truthiness. I like it. I'll use it. When you ask? Elections are coming soon. Politicians and truthiness are conjoined twins. But I think there's enough room for a lot of others to join the party, too.


My friends and I decided to get away for a day or so. No special reason except to unwind and have a little fun. Decided on Las Vegas. I hadn’t been there in about six years and was curious to see some landmarks I hadn’t seen before. There were four of us going but, at least, one another friend wanted to go but found out too late to get off work. I think if we plan further ahead next time we could take a crowd.

Got to our hotel at Stateline around seven. Drove into Las Vegas the next day. A lotta changes. A lot. When I first went to Las Vegas years and years ago, the Tropicana was one of the big hotels. Now it’s a dwarf. Jeez, some of those new hotel-casinos must cost more to operate than a small country’s annual budget.

The Silverton Casino Lodge is attached to the largest sporting goods store I’ve ever seen. Pro Bass. Could’ve easily spent a day there. If you think I’m crazy, check it out. Next time I think I’ll make hotel reservations there. Two-story high aquariums and indoor waterfall with live ducks among other attractions. Very cool. The cocktail servers wear pants that at first glance you think are bell-bottoms until you realize they’re mermaid outfits. Fun.

We checked out the Flamingo, Mandalay Bay, and the Luxor. We strolled inside the Paris. Nice but the outside with the Eiffel Tower all lit up is way cool. I actually took pictures. Yes, I did. The Bellagio was decorated for Chinese New Year and was breathtaking. And the water show out front was impressive. (Sidebar. I couldn’t tell you the last time I drank a Tequila Sunrise but that’s what I did this trip. The Bellagio’s sunrise was one of the best drinks I’ve had anywhere. End of Sidebar.) Cruised Caesar’s Palace. At one of the shops there, I saw a desk box for papers. It was six hundred dollars! I kept my hands in my pockets while we were there. We ended the day having burgers at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. Good damn burger. Then we headed back to our hotel

We left at noon the next day for home. Getting away for a day plus was relaxing. I needed it. Oh, yeah, nothing big time in the gambling arena. My friend, Jenny, hit two hundred on a slot machine. That was the biggest win during the stay. But, at one point, I sat down at a two-dollar blackjack table with ten bucks. I left with eighty. Nothing major. Except for a short while I was one of my boyhood heroes. I was Maverick.

Now it’s back to the real world. End of Period weekend. Inventory and the monthly reports. Found a Jury Duty summons in the mail when I got home. Tax time, too. Y'know real world stuff.

Wahhhh!!! I wanna be Maverick again!!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2006


January 22nd is the birthday of Robert E. Howard (pulp author of Conan the Barbarian), poet Lord Byron, and policeman-turned-author Joseph Wambaugh.

Also on this day – President Lyndon Baines Johnson passed away. So did Queen Victoria.

In 1879, Zulu warriors defeated British troops at Islandlwana. In 1941, the British recaptured Tobruk from Nazi forces. In 1947, KTLA became the first broadcasting TV station east of the Mississippi. In 1973, the Supreme Court handed down its Roe v. Wade decision.

US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, on behest of the Bush administration, has asked a federal judge to order Google deliver a list of all requests entered into Google’s search engine during an unspecified single week that could conceivably include tens of millions of queries. The request also seeks one million randomly selected web addresses from various Google databases.
Google has refused to comply.
Oh, boy. I write thrillers and horror stories. The FBI is going to freak when they see the topics I’ve searched. I figure I’ll freak when they knock on my front door. Just kidding. (Figured I needed to add that in case anyone was listening.)
A new college study reports that half of university graduates and three-quarters of two-year college graduates cannot balance their checkbooks, estimate if they have enough gas to reach a service station, understand a newspaper editorial and other common literacy and mathematical skills.
Duh. I work with mostly college students. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been called to the cash register to help because the computer burped and didn’t tell them how much change to give the customer. I gently suggested to one young law student that she really needed to learn basic addition and subtraction – not for the job but so she’d know when people were giving her the correct change. She responded by saying she never went shopping alone. I never suggested that to anyone again.
Received the contracts from Carnifex Press for To the Mountain of the Beast. Two authors have responded with nice quotes that we can use for the novella. Big smile and a big thank you.
More updates later.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


I just finished up some long days at work. I’ve been checking my in-box quickly as of late. Checking to see if loved ones and friends had sent something to me and looking for responses to submissions and queries I’d emailed to editors and writers. Looking for the good stuff.

Normally I delete the junk mail file without even looking. I hadn’t deleted any in a couple of days and was amazed at the amount that had accumulated. After a quick division in my head, I figure that I’m receiving at least one junk mailer per hour. That’s a lot of people and/or companies sending me stuff. I’ve never bought a single item from an email advertisement that I can recall. Okay, small clarification here. I do look at advertisements that writers send out (usually in their newsletters but sometimes not) and the latest sale at Discount DVD but these aren’t in my junk file. I don’t mind these and I usually know they’re coming.

But who are all these other folks and what are they selling? I got curious so today I looked. Second clarification. I didn’t open any of them. I looked at who sent it and at the subject line. Here’s what I found:

Four companies wanted to consolidate my debts, one wanted to refinance my loans, and four more wanted to offer me loans even if I had Bad Credit. Thanks for thinking of me but I’m doing okay. Didn’t guys who loaned money to people with bad credit used to be called loan sharks? Just wondering.

Toyota wanted to offer me parts and service with special benefits. That’s cool … except I don’t own a Toyota.

Seven emails were for health and medical benefits. One came four times with the same subject line: “You’ll have them soon.” Maybe I should’ve opened one of those. Because I know, as soon as my head hits the pillow tonight, my brain will start asking, ‘What will you have soon?’ Were they talking about the bird flu pandemic, the black plague or toe jam? I’m in for another restless night. I know it.

Hydroderm wants me to have smoother, softer skin. Why am I always the last to know? I swear I didn’t realize I had a smooth, soft skin issue.

Then eDiets sent me two emails. One to tell me about the Cheater’s Diet and the other offering Butt Exercises. First, there is only one diet that really works. Consume less food and exercise more. Second, I know I’m a little heavier than I should be but highlighting my butt as a major problem is downright mean. Hey, my feelings are hurt.

A bunch of places are having merchandise sales. Thanks for letting me know you have a lotta stuff left over from Christmas that didn’t sell but I’m still broke from buying stuff at Christmas that you managed to sell. To me. Even if I wasn’t, why would I want a Rolex replica? I am wondering why Target, eBay, and Limited Too want me to know they’re having sales on women’s attire? Okay, there was that one time when the little one was spending the night at a friend’s and we were in a playful mood and she asked and I obliged … never mind, I’m going off on a tangent here.

Someone named Mary wants to give me a “Free Ring Tone.” I must’ve got the deluxe model cell phone. Ring tones were included. Jessica needs to know if I “wanna do it.” Do what? A Greek person named viagsecreterectus emailed me but I have no idea what they wanted because the subject line was blank. Sherry sent two invites but didn’t say what for. Don’t know anyone named Sherry. Must’ve had the wrong address. I was also invited to an Adult Webcam Party. Darn, I’d already made plans for that night. Wish you’d contacted me sooner. Maybe next time. Adult Fun wanted me to know they had “wowsers.” I’ll take odds that they don’t.

The last one was the most troubling and anxiety inducing. From: Your-f*ck-buddy. Subject: I need it now. Of course, you do. Losing a vowel in your name has to be devastating. Oh, my gosh, if my name read Chr*st*ph*r I’d need it now, too. Wish I could help. I don’t even know a good vowel hunter. Try the Yellow Pages. Good luck on your hunt.

There were others but that’s enough. Tonight will already be a long tossing-and-turning one as I ponder my butt, softer skin, having them soon, and vowels suddenly falling off my name. From now on, it’s straight to the delete button on junk mail. I think it’s safer. And remember: Don't try this at home. I am a professional stunt junker.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Maybe it’s a weird way to collaborate but it seems to work. My buddy and I are working on two new screenplays. One’s scifi horror and the other is a thriller. We spitball several ideas until one seems to gel more than the others. Then one does the writing while the other reads the pages as they’re produced and makes edits and suggestions and rewrites scenes that could be fine-tuned. Sometimes we disagree; sometimes it all comes together. But, and this is the major thing, it works for us.

Currently my buddy is working on a scifi horror idea we tossed around. He’s written a good opening and created a solid main character.

I’m fumbling as I usually do, through the opening of a thriller idea we spit-balled. I’ve got twenty-plus pages done. Reached an up-the-stakes moment that I think works. We’ll see. I write short stories and novels. My buddy keeps reminding me that screenplays are for a visual medium. My characters tend to talk too much. Especially in the first draft. I’m trying to get them right and when they talk I get to know them better. I know we’ll end up cutting half to three-quarters of the dialogue because it’s unnecessary but I need it in the first draft to find their center.

I do a lot of research when I work whether it’s a short story, novel, or screenplay. I love Goggle and Dogpile. Type in something and here comes a bunch of sites dealing with that topic. Today I was working on a small moment when Hannah, the main character, has the villain’s cell phone. There are no numbers in the cell’s address list but three numbers are on the call list. She dials them. With the first two she hears an automated voice say that the number is no longer in service. The third is a suspense hook. What I came up with is serviceable but I hope my buddy or I can come up with a better one. Maybe not. But as I was rereading this scene, I wondered if I’d done all I could with it. Was there something that might twist it a little more. Minor moment in the first twenty pages. Really isn’t that important. But I keep playing it over and over in my mind. Then. Light bulb. Off I go to Google. Will this be a highlight in the story arc? No. But it added the right element for me. My buddy may like it, not notice, or hate it. It may end up being cut out of the final draft. Don’t know. What did I do? Hannah calls the first number and gets the “no longer in service” recording. She dials the second and gets a “no longer in service” recording but it is in German. Thanks to a site I found with Google I got the line translated. I think it’s cool. At least I do today. Tomorrow? Who knows?

More research. I’ll look over some Elmore Leonard novels I own and, probably, glance through William Goldman’s Marathon Man. It’s one of my favorite novels. “Is it safe?”

I also watch some movie thrillers. We are writing a screenplay after all. I just saw Red Eye the other day. A little over-the-top at the end but a decent nail-biter. I liked it. From my DVD library, I’ll look at Breakdown, Cellular, In the Line of Fire, Absolute Power and, of course, Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. I also picked up three new DVDs to add to my collection. All thrillers and I can’t believe I hadn’t bought them before today – Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Chinatown, and 3 Days of the Condor.

Okay, back to writing. The villain’s chasing Hannah and he’s pissed. What does he do? What does she do? Something unique. Avoid clichés. Avoid ripping off scenes I’ve loved in other movies. Ripping off is the word wrong. Homage is the right word.


Monday, January 16, 2006


John Enright did the artwork above. It is called Enigma. I really like his work. One day I hope that the Powers-That-Be hire him to do the cover art for one of my novels. (I can dream, can’t I?) More of John’s incredible paintings and drawings can be seen at:


Some new bad guys have adopted the infamous Nigerian email scam. A Russian billionaire is in jail. His "wife," "secretary," and "prison bunkmate" discovered “your” email address in his business directory. Can you help? She/she/who knows has access to the billionaire’s money but need your bank account number to email the money out of the country before corrupt officials steal it all. Do people really fall for this crap? I guess so or they still wouldn’t be running the con.

MSNBC News has an article about this at:


I have been reading Elmore Leonard’s novels for years. For writers studying his dialogue alone should be a requirement. I have seven of his novels in hard cover including Get Shorty, Killshot, and Freaky Deaky. I just picked up a First Edition copy of The Hot Kid. It’s about a cool US Marshal facing Depression Era gangsters. I intended to just read the first chapter and ended up reading a hundred pages. Should finish it in the next day or so. Good stuff, Maynard.

Tangent: A Favorite Genre Moment. In Elmore Leonard’s Hombre, outlaws have a group of stagecoach passengers trapped in a mining shack atop a steep hill. The bad guys want the gold the passengers have. The outlaw leader, Grimes (Richard Boone), walks half way up the hill to give the passengers an ultimatum. This is what they’re going to do or they’re all going to die. You’ve seen this kind of scene a thousand times.

But then the kicker comes. John Russell (Paul Newman) looks at Grimes and says:

“Hey. I got a question. How are you planning to get back down that hill?”

Classic moment. Love it.


My desk has a high cubby-holed back to it. Stuff is lined across the top shelf. This is what I have. From left to right: copies of my novels Rebel Nation and The Inheritance and the anthologies I’ve been a part of ; a Mayan face mask that I got when Annie and I were on our honeymoon in Playa del Carmen; a glass paperweight with a picture of my father and me (I had to have been about one); a can of Story House’s Earthy Beans Coffee with my tale "Seeds of Evil" on the back, a full-size replica of the Maltese Falcon statuette that my late Aunt Lou and my cousin Scott gave me; a small Egyptian Cat figurine from the British Museum that my nephew Brian got for me; two God of Money tikis from Hawaii; a dwarf souvenir mug from Disneyland (yes, the dwarf is Grumpy – who else would I have); a key chain from Hong Kong also from Brian, my Dream Realm Award for The Inheritance; and a porcelain old-time desk ornament. Don’t know why I shared that but I did.


Splurged this week and bought the Sam Peckinpah’s The Legendary Western Collection. I’ve been up to my butt in trail dust and blood all weekend. There’re four movies in this boxed set.

The Wild Bunch is a deservedly classic. One of my favorites. William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson and an unrecognizable Edmund O’Brien give pitch-perfect performances in the tale of outlaws on their final raid. Strother Martin and L.Q. Jones are incredible as two members of the railroad posse.

Ride the High Country is a mostly forgotten gem. A final film for Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea before Hollywood retirement. A simple tale of two former lawmen transporting gold from a high country mining camp to the bank. It is cool. Warren Oates, L.Q. Jones, John Anderson, John Chandler, and James Drury are the redneck, peckerwood Southern trash Hammond brothers. “All I want is to enter my house justified,” says Steve Judd (McCrea). Yeah, we all would like that.

The Ballad of Cable Hogue. Not great, not terrible. Jason Robards plays the title character who discovers a waterhole in the desert and becomes rich. Has it’s moments. Okay, Stella Stevens looks great in the buff. I said it, now leave me alone.

Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid. This should’ve been much better. Had all the elements and almost every western character actor alive in 1973 must be in bit parts in this film. Some good gunfights and James Coburn does well as Garrett but Kris Kristofferson looks too old to be the Kid (among other problems) and who-in-the-hell thought Bob Dylan could play a western adventurer. If you remember the Guns ‘n’ Roses song, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” this movie features the original version of the song. By Dylan. Who never could sing.

Buy The Wild Bunch and Ride the High Country. Rent Cable Hogue. Catch PG&BtK on TV some night when nothing else but Law and Order reruns are on. Okay watch the featured L&O episode for the tenth time instead.

That’s it for now. In the words of Pike Bishop (William Holden) in The Wild Bunch:

“Let’s go.”

Friday, January 13, 2006


First, my novella, Starbeast, finally has a new title. It will be called To the Mountain of the Beast.

Now to the other matter. I sent out 16 email requests to editors and writers to read my novella and give quotes or blurbs that could be used for the cover and/or promotional materials. If they liked it, of course.

As of this evening, I have received 13 responses. Not too shabby.

My friends Wendy, Raymond, and Mark—all writers, and all teachers now that I think of it—said yes. Thank you, folks, I really appreciate it.

Six other editors and writers said yes, too. Cool. Thank you very much.

Three writers passed. Two stated they were too busy. The other, well, he passed let us say. He was very polite and cordial in his letter. Wished me good luck. Enough said.

One came back as undeliverable. I don’t know whether his email address changed or AOL just doesn’t like stuff sent from MSN. I’ve had several emails bounce back from friends that have AOL accounts so I don’t know.

The last three have not yet responded. We’ll see if anything happens with them.

I’m very fortunate. I do appreciate the time all these individuals are taking to help a struggling writer. If I wore a hat, I’d tip it to you all.

I’ll report any further developments if they occur.
(About the picture up top, that’s me sailing toward the hurricane. I mean, what if these nice people read my novella and hate it. Okay, now I’m being insecure. Yeah. Okay. I’m a writer and my imagination spins scenarios whether I want it to or not. I’m done now. For the moment.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Queries to Editors & Other Authors for Cover Blurb

Received an email from Armand Rosamilia at Carnifex Press, which is going to publish my novella, Starbeast. (Gotta find a new title.)

He asked for an author’s bio, a Word attachment of the novella, a cover blurb suggestion, a dedication and/or acknowledgments and, the big one, “could I collect some blurbs from editors and writers I know for the jacket and/or promotion?”.

Okay. I hate doing my bio but I got that done. Didn’t turn out too dreadful or pompous. Did another run through on the novella. Pretty clean manuscript. My Spellcheck hates the slang I use however. Wrote then rewrote then rewrote again a blurb regarding the plot of the novel. I hate this even more than doing my bio. It’s turned out okay. Serviceable is a good word for it. Dedication done. This one will be dedicated to Mom. He also wanted a photo. Forgot to send that. The only one I have on my computer is about five years old. Haven’t changed much except my hair’s shorter … and grayer … a few more wrinkles. Stop. Don’t go off on that tangent.


Ask editors and authors I know to read my novella and send a blurb. Well, what if they don’t like it? Never mind that. Who could I send this request to? I know three writers personally – authors Wendy Hornsby and Raymond Obstfeld and screenwriter Mark Sevi. They’ll get emails.

I’ve corresponded with Greg Gifune, author of Drago Descending and Night Work. I’ve known him since he was the editor/publisher of the now-defunct magazines The Edge: Tales of Suspense and Burning Sky: Adventures in Science Fiction Terror. Good guy. I’ll try him.

Simon Wood, author of Accidents Waiting to Happen, and I have passed a few emails and I receive his newsletter. I’ll try him.

I’ve had a good relationship with editors (and writers themselves) Dan Blackston, SFReader and Pitch Black Books; Dave Felts, SFReader; Howard Jones, Flashing Swords; and Jason Sizemore, Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest. I’ll ask them, too.

Okay. That pretty much uses up my personal database. But wait. I have had some minor correspondence, and I mean minor, with some other writers. Should I try them? A couple have been on the best-seller lists and a couple others are award winners. What the hey. What’s the worse that could happen? They probably won’t respond or won’t have time for a small press novella. But some might—a really big word might—say yes. Don’t know if you don’t try. So off email requests go to Douglas Clegg, Jeffrey Deaver, Geoffrey Landis, Brad Meltzer, Scott Nicholson, Allen Steele, and Stuart Woods.
I’ll let you happen what happens. I’m curious myself.
(Oh, the picture up top. I feel like the guy on the surfboard. All I'm looking for is a cool ride but underneath is ... and something could happen but might not ... now I'm rambling. Bye for now.)

Sunday, January 08, 2006


My novella, Starbeast, has been accepted by Armand Rosamilia at Carnifex Press. I am thrilled.

A novella, by the way, is either a really long short story or a very short novel.

Starbeast (a title that will be changed before publication) is a tale that combines my two favorite genres -- science-fiction horror and the western. Alien meets Lonesome Dove. An alien spacecraft crash lands in the high country of Wyoming in 1895. The only survivors of the crash are the pilot's predator pets. The beasts establish their hunting ground and, when they start devouring cattle from the local ranch, a group of cowhands with an old Army scout go after the creatures. This story was really fun to write and I truly enjoyed being in the company of the story's characters -- Hugh Preston, Laci McCulloh, Reno Gallen, Willard Eberhart, Henry Pratt, and others.

I hope that when it's published readers will enjoy it too.

As a kid, I dreamed of being a writer when I grew up. And I am. Lightning has struck again to prove it.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Submission Pile
(This nonfiction article originally appeared on SFReader in December 2003. Some of the print zines and web zines have gone out of business since then. Some of the editors quoted are no longer at the publication. For example no longer accepts fiction but I thought some of the material was still relevant so I've reprinted it here. It was my first nonfiction sale. Enjoy.)

The prose and dialogue have been polished. So have the characterizations and setting. Grammar and spelling have been triple—no, quadruple—checked. The opening is a grabber and the ending is inevitable but not in the least bit predictable.
Yes. Story is done.
Now select the appropriate ‘zine. Reread their guidelines. Then print a fresh, crisp copy of the story. Write a dazzling but humble cover letter. Attach Self-Addressed-Stamped Envelope. Slide into 9” by 12” brown envelope and head to the post office.
Attach RTF file or WORD doc or HTML text to dazzling but humble e-mail cover letter (or embed in the body of the letter if the ‘zine has had virus problems) and click SEND button.
Story is now winging its way by snail mail or the Internet highway to a ‘zine office where an editor will cheer its arrival and accept it within hours. Later it will be reprinted as the lead in Datlow’s Year’s Best in Fantasy and Horror. It will win the Asimov, Edgar, and Pulitzer. Cameron and Drew will duke it out to play the female protagonist and Kurt is the only one who can play the loner hero properly. And … wait a sec—
An editor will cheer its arrival?
How many submissions arrived at the ‘zine office this month? Ten? Twenty? A thousand?
Quick, where’s my old, beat-up copy of the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market? Let’s see. Seventeen receives 200 submissions each month and Tattoo Review gets twenty. Woman’s World Magazine receives a staggering 2500 romance and mystery submissions every month and all are under 1500 words. Okay, that’s nice to know but those aren’t my markets. I write horror, fantasy, science fiction, hard-boiled thrillers and an occasional mainstream piece. Why aren’t those submission rates listed?
To the computer then and on to Ralan’s (, for those who don’t know, is Ralan Conley’s incredible speculative fiction market web-site). No submission data is listed there either. But there is the next-best thing – email addresses. I’ll ask the editors themselves.
And I did.
“A few hundred per month,” answered Ellen Datlow, fiction editor at

Brett Alexander Savory, editor-in-chief, of The Chiaroscuro wrote, “We receive about 100 fiction submissions per month at ChiZine. However since we raised our rates from three cents to five cents per word (USD) on September 1st, we’ve received about 60 submissions in the first four days. So only time will tell how much the pay increase will up our submissions log.”
“It’s hard to say. We’re not keeping a log of every submission, so I can only guestimate,” responded Lou Anders, senior editor of Argosy. “I would guess around 400 a month at present … we could easily hit the 1000 to 2000 mark once our first issue is out and people see it.”
Eric M. Heideman, editor-in-chief of Tales of the Unanticipated wrote, “We’re only open for submissions for a month once a year. During that month we get 200 – 250 submissions.”
“Currently in the database are 2265 entries for submissions … the 2265 perhaps reflects a year,” said Carina Gonzalez, assistant editor of Realms of Fantasy. “Obviously some months are more than others. People write more in the winter when they can’t go out. And whenever a big genre movie comes out, they get inspired and there’s a new wave. But it’s about 200 submissions a month. Twenty or so is comprised mostly of artwork, letters to the editor, requests for guidelines, article submissions, incorrectly submitted material etc.”
Christopher Rowe, fiction editor of Say… stated, “I don’t actually keep track. Any number I gave you would be purely a guess, and even then, our publishing history and model don’t match up with a quantitative analysis very well. We’ve only been accepting unsolicited submissions for about a year and a half, we have reading periods, and the number has steadily increased with each (open) month.”
“We opened our doors to submissions January '03,” replied Shar O’Brien, editor-in-chief of NFG, “and we're topping the 4,000 mark to date {September 2003}.”
Elizabeth Bear, managing editor of Abyss & Apex, responded, “It varies pretty heavily, actually. I would say we receive about 150 submissions a month--on an average, a little more than three a day. Which means about 300 per issue (we publish bimonthly). So odds of acceptance on any given story are around one percent.”
Planet Relish’s editor-in-chief, Mark Rapacioli, wrote, “Planet Relish is a strange case, as our hiatus during 2002 has brought the number submissions down substantially. In 2001, right before the hiatus, we were receiving about 200 submissions per month. Right now, nine months into our glorious comeback, we are at around 50 submissions per month. As we do more promotion (such as the recent reading session at TorCon3), I expect the number to rise again.”
Jed Hartman, senior fiction editor of Strange Horizons wrote, “…often when people ask me about number of submissions {we receive} they then go on to talk about the ‘chances’ of being published in a given venue as a function of number of submissions -- at SH we publish four stories a month, so in one sense the odds are one in 50, while at Asimov’s it’s more like one in 125 … I’m not sure the odds/chances approach is really a good way of thinking about it, because no editor chooses stories randomly from a slush pile; if a writer sends us a story that we love, the chances are close to 100% that we’ll publish it, while for a story that we hate, the chances are zero per cent. It’s more complicated that that, of course…”
Thanks to all the editors who kindly took time to respond to my query. Below are the monthly submission rates I accumulated. All are paying markets (at least a small stipend). Some are print magazines, others are web-zines. They are listed from smallest amount of submissions per month to most.

Chaos Theory: Tales Askew 4 – 10
Anotherrealm 20 – 30
Oceans of the Mind 25 - 50
Albedo One 30 – 40
3-Lobed Burning Eye 30 - 45
Full Unit Hookup 35
Quantum Muse 35 – 40
Challenging Destiny 40
Naked Snake Online 40
Planet Relish 50
Aoife's Kiss 50 - 55
Horror Garage 50 – 200
Fortean Bureau 60
Paradox 70 – 100
Vestal Review 80 – 100
Amazing Journeys 100
Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 100
Chiaroscuro 100
Would That It Were 100
Artemis 100- 200
Far Sector SFFH 120
On Spec 120
Abyss & Apex 150
Agony in Black 150
Flesh & Blood 150
Space & Time 150 - 200
Indy Men’s Magazine 150 – 240
Weird Tales 180 - 360
Brutarian 200
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine 200
EOTU 200
Realms of Fantasy 200
Strange Horizons 200
Talebones 200
Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine 200 – 400
Happy 200 – 500
Cemetery Dance 300
The Third Alternative (US office) 300
Argosy 400
NFG 445
The Pedestal Magazine 500
Absolute Magnitude 500
(The Magazine of) Fantasy & Science Fiction 600
Analog 800
Asimov’s Science Fiction 800 – 850

That’s a lot of stories going out into the world each month.
I think all writers, whether their stories are accepted or not, should be commended for having the courage to put their work out there to be judged.
And the editors should be commended for all the reading they do and the selection of the best for their own ‘zine. Old tale: A visitor at a New York magazine stared in stunned amazement at the huge mound of envelopes piled in the slush reader’s office. “Do all those tell a story?” the visitor asked. The reader replied sadly, “I wish they did.”
Now, as for me, do I send this article out snail mail or as an email attachment?

Friday, January 06, 2006


My day (and sometime night and sometime all-day-and-night) job is the general manager of a little coffee house. It is part of a California-based chain that is expanding into other states. Most of the time I enjoy the job and, hey, it pays the bills.

The other day I answer the phone. The woman identifies herself as a representative of our credit card supply company. She asks if all our credit card machines are working properly. Yes, I reply. She then informs me that our credit card supplies are increasing in price at the end of the month and would I like to order now before the increase. No, I answer. End of conversation.

Sounds innocent enough, doesn’t it?

The woman was lying from the get-go. We don’t have a credit card supply company and, if we did, they’d be calling the corporate office not little ol’ me. This supposedly company calls every business they can dial and gives them the same speech. They are hoping that people won’t know who they actually deal with and order supplies from them. The order when it arrives will be the cheapest paper supplies ever seen on the planet and the price will be astronomical. They record every conversation so if they do in up in court they can prove you “ordered” the supplies.

First, I left a note in our log for my shift supervisors. I have or will talk to each of them personally. They know who our suppliers are, there aren’t that many, and if they don’t the name of the company on the line then the answer will always be the same. The person has to talk to me.

Most, but not all, of my shift leads are college students. They haven’t run into people like this before. They don’t know.

Second, I emailed my District Manager to alert her and I asked if I could be a little more blunt and forceful if they called again. I had in mind using George Carlin’s “The Seven Words You can Never Say on Television.” Okay, the word “tits” is on George’s list and I wouldn’t have used that term. If you can see laughing in an email I did when my DM replied. Basically she said to stay professional and not sink to their level. Hey, I’m not above sinking a little when it’s called for.

The shift leads I talked to today had never heard of this scam. I forget how trusting and naïve you are at that age. For the most part anyway.

I remember when I was younger and I fell for a couple of scams. I was, briefly, part of a pyramid ladder until I realized how many people have to become involved before you seen your windfall. Think about it, you only have to bring in two people. Only two. One = two = four = eight = sixteen and by the time your name moves to the top of the pyramid the entire population of the planet has to be involved. I also contributed to a group supporting the families of Highway Patrol officers killed in the line of duty. Donate and you get a supporter sticker to proudly display on your car or in your business’s window. Yeah, only the real Highway Patrol had never heard of this group. I keep reading about the Nigerian scam. In this one you’re contacted by a former general or something from Nigeria. Why they picked you is never explained. The general needs to get his funds out of Nigeria before the bad-guy rebels get them. All he needs his an American bank account to put the money into for safekeeping. He will give you a percentage for helping him. Yeah, go ahead, send some complete stranger your bank account number and see what happens. Can we all say “Bank account cleaned out”? All these scams are still being run because they get people to fall for them. Be alert.

Okay, I’m finished with the soapbox. Anybody else want to borrow it?

In closing, I have just one thing to say to these scammers and it ain’t:

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Richard Wheeler is an award-winning author of over fifty novels including Masterson, Seven Miles to Sundown, Obituary for Major Reno and his latest Fire in the Hole. He has a blog called Richard Wheeler's Observations
For writers it is a must read. He talks about writing, the publishing industry and his vanishing genre -- the Western. Terrific insights.
Check it out.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I am well known at my work for telling groaners. I always keep them clean--have to maintain that PC motif--but most of my staff moan after I tell a joke. Okay, sometimes they stare at me with a blank expression then ask for an explanation. Anyway, I'm going to share my latest:
A little boy was looking at his mother and noticed she had a few white hairs among her dark curls. He asked, "Why do you have some white hairs?"
Mom looked over at him. "I get white hairs every time you scare or upset me."
He nodded, accepting the answer, then suddenly his eyes grew large. "What did you do to Grandma?"

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Last year, AFI announced its top 100 Movie Quotes of all time. In my monthly newsletter I’ve been including movie lines that weren’t on the list. But should’ve been. Listed below are some of my favorites:

“What's the point? I mean by the time it takes to get there, you'll ... they'll know if it's a warning or not, yes?" -- Alien

“Rules? In a knife fight? No rules.” -- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

“I’m gonna make you squeal like a pig. Weeee!” – Deliverance
“Wax on, wax off.” – The Karate Kid
“I never shake hands with a left-handed draw.” -- Johnny Guitar

“You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you!” – The Last of the Mohicans

“The worst. I was aiming at the horse.” – The Magnificent Seven

“This is the west, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” -- The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

“There’ll be no locks or bolts between us, Mary Kate … except those in your own mercenary little heart!” – The Quiet Man

“All I want is to enter my house justified.” – Ride the High Country

“Do you know how fine are you to me, Mary McGregor?” – Rob Roy

“Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passing.” -- To Kill a Mockingbird

“Abby Normal.” – Young Frankenstein

The title is a line, of course, from probably a thousand thriller and horror movies. Even I’ve used it in my stories.
My New Year's resolution is to stop smoking. I'd quit for three years but last September, for a variety of supposedly good reasons, I started again. It was a stupid mistake. Decided that on January 1st I'd quit cold turkey. That was how I quit last time. The gum, pills, and patches didn't work (plus the patches are so difficult to light --haha). Cold turkey. As of the third day of the new year and I'm still smoking. I've cut down considerably but still lighting up. I will beat this addiction. I will win. Promise to post my progress.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

My Stuff

My alternate history thriller, Rebel Nation, was released by Zumaya Publications and received some terrific reviews. I did three book-signings for it. (The library signing/talk had two people in attendance -- thanks again Jenny and Kent, I would've been very lonely without you.)

Two screenplays that were co-written with Mark Sevi, The Nest, and, Darkfall, were optioned by movie producers. Actually received money for one.

Two stories, "Human Resources" and "New World, Old World" appeared in a terrific new magazine, Apex Science Fiction & Horror Digest. "Blood Alley" was reprinted in the Monster's Ink anthology. "The Covenant" (my first Crusader tale) was reprinted in Flashing Swords. My flash story, "Before Me," appeared on the webzine

My nonfiction article on fictional bad guys and gals, "Villains," appeared on SFReader. Received trade paperback copy of Tales from the Asylum: Year Two -- which contains my nonfiction article "The Top Ten Movies in Outer Space."

My fourth Crusader tale, “The Beast of Lyoness,” was sold to the Clash of Swords #3: Demons anthology. My flash piece, “Love Letter,” was accepted by the new web-zine Devil’s Work. The French magazine Borderline accepted “Black Moon Night” and the new editor of Finland's Spin reaccepted "The Killing Moon." The editor of the French magazine Phenix confirmed that he still wants to print “The Hunters” but he is having publishing issues.

I did interviews with EpicSFF and SpecFicWorld.

Under my pseudonym, A.M. Norman, my erotic tale, "The Gardener," appeared in Midnight Showcase: Erotic-ahh Digest. Justus Roux’s Erotic Tales accepted my short story, “The Ice Queen.”

Currently I have eight stories and reprints in the pipeline and one novella.

I wrote another screenplay with Mark Sevi, a supernatural horror tale, called Deadlyville. I also penned a screenplay on my own, an updated version of Poe’s “The Masque of the Read Death” called Chill. Poe probably wouldn’t be happy with me.

And, last but not least, I started this blog.

Happy New Year to all.
The joker up top, attempting to look cool, is me.