Thursday, June 28, 2012

June Goal Wrap-Up and July Goal Setting

With June rapidly coming to a close and July 1st just around the corner, it's time for me to review my goals for this month and see how I did. It's also time to set my goals for July.

Oh, and speaking of July 1st, that's the day when submissions officially open for Unidentified Funny Objects, the anthology I'm helping read submissions for. If you have a funny speculative fiction story, I'd encourage you to submit it for the editorial team's consideration.

1) Keep all my writing routines -- Daily Writing Chain, blogging schedule, etc. - So far, so good. Barring something unexpected happening in the next few days with my daily writing chain, I'm in good shape. My daily writing chain stands at over 300 days now. Some days have been better than others, but it would be silly of me to complain.

2) Write and submit one or more short stories for the first time. - Done. I've written several short stories this month and also submitted at least one for the first time.

3) Make revisions to my non-fiction project based on feedback and my own editing of it. - Done.

4) Write 7,500 words of new fiction. - I'm over 12,500 for the month at this point.

5) On 6/30, have two non-time-sensitive blog posts written and ready for future use on a day when I'm not able to post something "new." - I've dipped into my reserve a couple of times this month, so I only have one such post at the moment. I may or may not get caught back up to two by Saturday.

6) Launch at least one new eBook. - Done. "Write Every Day: Hints & Tips Towards a Daily Writing Routine" launched Monday and I'm very pleased with the first two reviews it's received.

7) Schedule another "revising day." - I defined this goal strictly as scheduling the day, not holding it. I've booked July 6th for this day, so this goal is met.

As far as my goals for July itself, they are...

1) Keep all my writing routines -- Daily Writing Chain, blogging schedule, etc. - This includes my daily blogging for my new "Write Every Day" blog.

2) Write at least one new story.

3) Submit at least four stories for the first time. - I've mentioned having let things get a bit backlogged on the editing front. Well, this is a way to hopefully resolve this issue. I hope to put in a fair number of writing sessions on revising in general this coming month along with my July 6th revising day.

4) Write 7,500 words of new fiction. - I considered dropping this in light of my revising goals, but 7,500 words really isn't that many and I do want to encourage myself to keep producing new fiction as well.

5) On 7/31, have two non-time-sensitive blog posts written and ready for future use on a day when I'm not able to post something "new."

6) Launch at least one new eBook.

Monday, June 25, 2012

"Write Every Day" is Live on

(Cross-posted at my "Write Every Day" blog.)

My eBook "Write Every Day: Hints & Tips Towards a Daily Writing Routine" is live now on and other Amazon sites.

From Chapter 1:
"How much writing do you think you could get accomplished if you had an entire year to spend on just that and nothing else?
And when you think of that year, don't think of several hours a day. Think of every single minute. That you've got the special ability to not require time to sleep or do anything else at all. You wouldn't get fatigued or burned out.
Think you could write a lot in that year? Then consider this: Anything you spend twenty minutes a day on every day is something that you'll spend more than a year of your life doing.
Increase that to an hour a day and you'll spend a year on that activity over the course of only 24 years. That's the amazing power of doing something every day. The time, bit by bit, adds up to a tremendous opportunity to accomplish things that excite us."

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Links: June 24, 2012 Edition

First off, a quick update on "Write Every Day." It's been submitted to Amazon and is available for purchase on their site and other European sites. However, it's not yet available on for some reason; I've got an email in to Amazon's support site and I'll let everyone know as soon as it's available on

I've decided to discontinue adding the #storyeachnight and #poemeachnight information to this Sunday Links post. With adding #poemeachnight it has become a big chunk of text and the most recent week or so of everyone's #storyeachnight and #poemeachnight tweets should usually be available to review on Twitter.

So, for now, let's head to the links:

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Short Story Sale: "Present Company" to Every Day Fiction

I just received word that my mystery flash fiction "Present Company" will be published by Every Day Fiction. This will be my first story for EDF and I'm very much looking forward to this story being published there.

"Present Company" arose from a stray comment a coworker made during a lunch conversation one day. It began as a slightly-longer story, about 1600 words. Over time I trimmed a bit here and a bit there and the last set of cuts made it just short enough for EDF.

I'll update everyone when it's live and ready to read on their site.

"Sequence" is Live on the Grand Science Fiction site

My story "Sequence" is up today on the Grand Science Fiction site. It's a flash story, exactly 1000 words (per the market's guidelines -- they only run stories of exactly 100 or exactly 1000 words). I wrote this one earlier this year and am pleased that it is available for others to read now.

I hope you enjoy reading it!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Finishing What You Start

An easy bad habit to fall into as a writer is not finishing what you start. On the whole, I do decently at staying out of that particular trap. But at the moment, I'm feeling like I've let a few too many unfinished things pile up. I've got a half-dozen or so stories that I've finished drafts of but never gotten to a point that I was happy enough with to kick out the door. I've got a novelette that I received beta reader feedback on that I really need to get working on the next draft of since one of the people who will be reading my next draft of it is working with a small time window. I've got two beginnings to stories that I wrote over Memorial Day weekend when I was too brain-fried to do anything other than work from a blank page. And I've got an idea I love and am dying to work on where all I have are a few notes in an email.

That's a whole lot of things that need attention. The only way I'm going to be able to get through them, though, is to chip away at the stack a bit at a time. Even with having a revising-party day in the near future, there's no way I can tackle all of those things at once.

When I've got a whole pile of stuff to deal with like this, in any area of my life, the best thing I can do is prioritize the items inside it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Short Story Sales to IGMS, Book of Pulp Heroes, Kzine

I mentioned a few days ago being on a kind of amazing run of short fiction acceptances. That's continued since then. Yesterday and today, I received a total of three more story acceptances. I'm thrilled beyond belief -- particularly the "beyond belief" part!

The three sales are:
  • "The Flower of Memory" to Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show - This sale was especially exciting since IGMS is a particularly tough market to crack. It's a SFWA-qualifying market but since this is a very short story (about 650 words) I don't expect this to be my third sale to qualify for Active membership in SFWA.
  • "No Way But the Hard Way" to The Alchemy Book of Pulp Heroes - This is one of the earliest stories I wrote when I returned to writing last summer and I'm very pleased that it will be appearing in print (literally) in this publication. One of the highlights of my year is a convention named Pulpfest so the aesthetic they're going for in this publication is one that appeals to me. And the "appearing in print" really appeals to me. There's a good chance this will be the first of my recent stories to actually show up on paper in my hands, depending on publication timelines.
  • "Taking Chances" to Kzine. - I've finally sold a mystery story! This is one I wrote in 2007, the first time I tried to develop a daily writing chain. I went through and revised it last year and sent it out several places. I'm glad that it's found a home and tickled to say that I've sold a mystery now, as well as my speculative fiction sales.
I'll be sure to post information when these stories become available in their respective publications.

Announcing "Write Every Day" by Michael Haynes

(Cross-posted from the "Write Every Day" blog.)

Late last summer I started a daily writing routine, based on motivational techniques described by Jerry Seinfeld. One of my first blog posts was about starting this routine, or chain, and it's still one of my most popular posts. The central concept is quite simple:
You get a big wall calendar (or some other visible equivalent) and a bold marker. Commit to some goal which you will achieve every day. Then, when you've met each day's goal, put an "X" in the calendar for the day. Quickly, you'll have a chain of "X"s and then all you have to do, in Seinfeld's words, is "Don't Break the Chain."
I've been writing every day since I started my daily writing chain and I'm quickly coming up on a year since I started my daily writing chain. Along the way, I've learned quite a few things about how I write and ways to help keep myself into this daily routine.

Earlier this year, Australian author Valerie Parv asked me when I was going to develop my thoughts around this way of establishing a daily writing routine into a something larger than several blog entries. I hadn't thought about that seriously before her suggestion, but soon afterwards I started working on the outline of a short book around the idea of writing every day and the tools I've used to help make it possible.

And now, that book is (almost) here. Next Monday, June 25th, I'll be launching "Write Every Day" on Amazon for the Kindle. You don't have to wait for the 25th, though!  I'll select five people who sign up for my Write Every Day mailing list between now and 11:59 PM (EDT) on Thursday June 21st and send them a free pre-release review PDF.

Along with the release of "Write Every Day" I'll be publishing daily blog posts relating to helping keep your daily writing routine going. Most of these will be very short, such as a writing prompt or two for writers who are feeling stuck, but there will be at least one longer post each week.

Thanks for stopping by to read my announcement!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Savor Successes

Writing for publication can come with a lot of rejection. Most beginning writers who are trying to sell their stories to paying markets will receive dozens of rejection letters for every acceptance they receive. I just did a quick scan through my submission tracking stats on Duotrope. There was a stretch of about three months where I had almost exactly 100 fiction submission responses and ONE sale. And, yes, I'm not going to lie -- it was somewhat miserable.

Since then, to steal a phrase from poker, the deck's been hitting me in the face. (Thinking about that phrase, it's not obvious that this is a good thing. Well, it is.) I counted 89 submission responses starting with the sale that broke that drought, which was also my first pro sale. I've had 13 acceptances in those responses. Which is phenomenal. (Now, realize, that also means I've had 76 rejections. Still, that's a ridiculously good rate for someone at this stage of a writing career.)

And there are two thoughts I have about this. One is that I really, really need to enjoy this now while I can. I think that where I really stand today as a writer is somewhere in-between the 1-in-100 acceptance ratio and the 13-in-89.

The other is that for people who haven't gotten there yet, who are still struggling with those huge piles of rejections relative to acceptances, or who maybe even haven't gotten their first acceptance yet... If you keep at it and keep working at your craft, acceptances are very likely to come in time. And when they do... Oh, my goodness! Be prepared to feel like a million bucks (even if the story payment might only be for $10). And treasure those early acceptances as much as you can, because no matter how great later sales feel, it's hard for them to compare to those first acceptances after so many rejections.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday Links and the Week in #storyeachnight/#poemeachnight: June 17th, 2012 Edition

And another week has come and gone. Where does the time go?

Here are the stories and (starting on Saturday June 9th) poems from this week. Putting this together, I realize it's gotten to be a fairly large block of text. I'll have to give some consideration to whether I keep creating this summary every Sunday. The most recent week or so of everyone's #storyeachnight and #poemeachnight tweets should usually be available to review on Twitter.

6/10 - Story: "Immersion" by Aliette de Bodard from CLARKESWORLD #69. Intricate story of culture and the lengths some choose to go to so they can feel like they belong. Poem: "I Know A Man" by Robert Creeley from THE VINTAGE BOOK OF CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN POETRY. A very short poem and sort of fascinating. Four terse verses, each of which short enough that they could be a tweet. Also includes word reductions such as "sd" for "said" and "yr" for "you're." This poem is ~ 50 years old, best as I can tell but if you showed it to me and told me someone had just tweeted it, I wouldn't have batted an eye. Utterly fascinating.
6/11 - Story: "Spring-Fingered Jack" by Susan Casper from 100 HAIR-RAISING LITTLE HORROR STORIES. A story of video-game violence which seems as if it must have been ahead of its time (1983), predicting future hyper-violent games. Poem: "Early Elegy: Smallpox" by Claudia Emerson from the June 2012 issue of POETRY MAGAZINE.
6/12 - Story: "Light in the Darkness" by Sir Andrew Caldecott from NOT EXACTLY GHOSTS. A nicely atmospheric tale of skepticism and curses in a foreign land. I'm looking forward to reading more of these stories by Sir Caldecott. Poem: "Onions" by William Matthews from VBOCAP. This is the type of poem that makes me feel like I don't understand poems. Some interesting imagery near the end around how onion smell lingers on the skin but overall I felt like I missed his point.
6/13 - Story: "The Magician of Words" by Ruth Nestvold from DAILY SCIENCE FICTION. Wonderful poetic story with great imagery. Poem: "On the Ice Planet" by Julia Rios from NEW MYTHS Issue #19. Paints its setting & character well.
6/14 - Story: "Her Words Make It Go Away" by Michael Penkas from ONE BUCK HORROR Issue #5. Well written flash horror story. Poem: "The Physics of Age and Baseball" by Greg Beatty from STAR*LINE 34.4. Nicely done with astronomical effects of gravity used as metaphor for the effects of aging on an athlete's body. Plus -- baseball poetry!
6/15 - Story: "Heaven's Touch" by Jason Sanford from the 8/12 ASIMOV'S. A fantastic story, strong narrative voice and characters. A well-crafted and involving plot, too. One of the best stories I've read recently. Poem: "My House of the Future" by G. O. Clark, also from the 8/12 ASIMOV'S. Fun, whimsical verse about just what the title suggests.
6/16 - Story: "Chinvat" by Sunny Moraine from SHIMMER #14. A ruined Golden Gate bridge and the beings who visit it are key. Poem: "The Night Mirror" by John Hollander from VBOCAP. Vivid images in this poem -- glimpses of an unbalanced mind?

And now, the links:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Short Story Sale: "ReFormed" to Buzzy Mag

My science fiction short story "ReFormed" has sold to Buzzy Mag. This is the longest story I've sold to date, coming in at about 4200 words. It also represents my fourth pro-rate sale. For the moment, it won't add to my list of SFWA-qualifying sales since markets have to publish regularly for a year before they can be added to the SFWA list. From what I've seen of this market, I'd say they have a better than average chance of making it to that point, but only time will tell.

Either way, I'm very pleased to have this story coming to "print" and I'm looking forward to when it's available for others to read.

I have to give lots of thanks to Brenda Stokes Barron for her input on this story as I took it through several iterations. She urged me to keep going back and deepening the emotional aspects of the story. It ended up a much better story for the effort.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What You'd Call "Guidelines"

I've mentioned before that I really enjoyed the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Much more than I liked any of the later three movies, though each of them had their own individual moments which were enjoyable. Part of that may have been the fact that it was unexpectedly entertaining. Come on, a movie based on a theme park ride? It sounded like a disaster waiting to happen.
But I also think that one thing that was present in large doses in the first movie and got kind of lost in the later movies was a sense of fun and whimsy. The first one never really felt too serious, the latter ones did and their attempts at being fun sometimes felt forced in a way that the first movie's humor rarely did.

I'm not really looking to talk about fun in stories today, though that certainly would be a good topic. But I was thinking about guidelines and that word makes me think of Geoffrey Rush's character Barbossa bantering with Keira Knightley's Elizabeth Swann. At one point, she appeals to his honor as a pirate and the rules of the Pirate Code. But Barbossa points out that not only is she not a pirate and therefore not entitled to the protections of the Code but that the Code is also really more of "guidelines" than actual rules.

Well, that attitude might work if you're captaining the Black Pearl. But it's not a good one to take if you're a writer looking to submit your fiction to a publisher. They may call their guidelines "guidelines" but if you don't want to shoot yourself in the foot, then it's best to treat them like hard and fast rules.

Monday, June 11, 2012

"Special Ops" is Live on the Ray Gun Revival Site

My short story "Special Ops" was posted today on the Ray Gun Revival website. This was one of the first stories I wrote when I returned to writing fiction last summer. As I recall, it was inspired in part by having listened to a collection of Ian Fleming's James Bond short stories on audiobook and thinking about how a Bond-esque story might play out in science fiction.

Earlier this year RGR sent me a response to the version of the story I had sent to them saying that they liked certain aspects of the story but didn't like certain other aspects as well. If I'd give it a rewrite, they would take a second look at it.

The rewrite ended up being fairly involved but (as I so often say about my stories) I have a fondness for this story and I was more than happy to take another crack at it. The revised version struck me as being better and, fortunately, the editorial staff of RGR agreed.

I hope you enjoy reading "Special Ops." If you read it, you can comment on their site and/or here -- either way, I'll make sure to check out your comments.

While I'm here, since it's getting close to mid-month, I'm going to do a quick June Goal status check.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Links and the Week in #storyeachnight: June 10th, 2012 Edition

Before I get to anything else, here are two short fiction-related links I hope lots of people see.

First, I've got a new gig! I'm one of the associate editors for UFO - Unidentified Funny Objects -- an Anthology of Humorous Science Fiction and Fantasy. Submissions open on July 1st; the guidelines are here. I'm hoping to see a lot of fantastic stories come through for consideration.

Second (and more time critical), there is this Kickstarter for Fireside Magazine. I read the first issue, which had stories by Ken Liu, Tobias Buckell, Chuck Wendig, and Christie Yant. I enjoyed it quite a bit and I'm looking forward to reading the second issue, which is in fact what is being Kickstarted. Fireside is aiming to pay its writers substantially better than the minimum pro rate for short fiction. Conceptually, that should be good for both writers and readers of the magazine since, over time, Fireside should see a very high caliber of stories being submitted if they can pay those rates. I really hope to see this magazine succeed -- again, both as a writer and as a reader.

Along with #storyeachnight, I've started #poemeachnight on Twitter. (This all sprang from Ray Bradbury's advice to writers that they read a story, a poem, and an essay each day. Nicole Cushing got the ball rolling with #storyeachnight and I've added the poems.)

Here are the stories and (starting on Saturday June 9th) poems from this week.  Below the jump will be writing-related links for the week.

6/3 - "The Princess and the Monster" by Ryan Creel from DAILY SCIENCE FICTION (@dailysf). The beginning of the story didn't exactly win me over but the end totally surprised me and brought a grin to my face. Glad I stuck with it.
6/4 - "An Open Letter in Defense of Our Alien Overlords" by Katherine Heath Shaeffer from DAILY SCIENCE FICTION. I had some trouble getting into it, maybe due to not much sense of POV "character." Ending wasn't really satisfying either, to me.
6/5 - "One-Way Ticket" by Nigel Brown from INTERZONE 239. An interesting twist on a familiar trope. Well done.
6/6 - "Kaleidoscope" from THE VINTAGE BRADBURY. Interesting study of characters in a hopeless situation. I was dumbfounded by the similarities to the end of John Carpenter's 1974 movie DARK STAR. (RB's story is from 1951.)
6/7 - "The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse" by Ray Bradbury from THE VINTAGE BRADBURY. This is a seriously weird, tripped-out story. I liked it though it was nothing like I expected.
6/8 - "Grand Tour" by Chris Willrich from the 5-6/12 F&SF. Family dynamics, independence and travel are major themes.
6/9 - Story: "Immersion" by Aliette de Bodard from CLARKESWORLD #69. Intricate story of culture and the lengths some choose to go to so they can feel like they belong. Poem: "Brazil, January 1, 1502" by Elizabeth Bishop from THE VINTAGE BOOK OF CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN POETRY (hereafter, VBOCAP). The title alludes to the Portuguese landing at Rio de Janeiro.

And now, the links:

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Reading What You Write

In many of my recent Sunday Links posts I've talked about #storyeverynight, a Twitter hashtag that Nicole Cushing started and I picked up on. The concept is very simple. Read a short story every day/night and tweet about what you read. From talking to Nicole, this was inspired by a statement of Ray Bradbury's that a writer should read a poem, a story, and an essay every day. For now, I'm "just" trying to fit in the story. I could definitely see trying to add the poems at some point. It's been a long time since I read any poems (quite possibly since I was last assigned to do so for a class) and it's a form that I'd like to reacquaint myself with. Maybe I'll find that it resonates with now-Me. Maybe not.

Getting back to the daily story-reading... I'm a firm believer that reading, particularly within the genres you want to write, is an important input into the writing process. This could either be a genre that you already have a reasonable amount of familiarity with or a genre which you want to write in, even though you're not particularly familiar with it. I think there's also benefit to branching out and reading things that are beyond what you're specifically interested in writing. There are slightly different benefits from each of those.

Short Story Sale: "Scraps" to Daily Science Fiction

I received word earlier today that Daily Science Fiction has accepted my story "Scraps" for publication. I'm very excited about this for a number of reasons.

One is that I feel like "Scraps" is among the best of my stories so far and I'm thrilled that it will be seeing publication. This is a story which literally kept me up at night. I wrote about half of it late one evening and was so tired that I thought I'd have to finish it in the morning. But after 45 minutes or so of tossing and turning (and occasionally sending myself an email from my phone so I wouldn't forget some detail I wanted to add to the story "in the morning") I finally conceded to the story's pull. I got back out of bed and wrote the rest of it. The muse satisfied, I then slept well (if for a briefer time than I might have liked).

Also, the venue is one that I'm really excited to be published by. DSF is among the first places I started submitting stories to when I returned to writing last year and it's nice to "crack" the market in that sense. Plus, the story will get broad exposure when it's released. (If you're not familiar with DSF, they are a SFWA-qualifying professional short fiction market which publishes a story every day Monday through Friday. The stories go out by email and then are posted on their website a week later.)

Finally, there is the previously-mentioned SFWA-qualifying aspect. This makes two of the three sales I will need to be able to become an Active member of SFWA. Since that's something I literally first contemplated wanting to achieve over 20 years ago, reaching that point will be quite a life achievement.

The acceptance was easily one of the most exciting writing-related emails I've received. I look forward to sharing the story with you when it's released. (No dates available yet, but I expect Fall 2012 based on what I understand their usual lead times to be.)

Lastly, I want to thank all of the people who helped critique this story: Leah Cypess, Alex Shvartsman, Brenda Stokes Barron, Robert Lowell Russell, Kelly Stiles, Greg Wachausen, and Ronald Ferguson. Each of your input was valued.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Writing Through a Rough Patch

The past week or so has not been anywhere near my most productive writing-wise. By far the biggest problem has been a lack of mental energy/focus. I attribute a lot of that to the fact that I spent Memorial Day weekend simultaneously trying to help run a medium-size convention (classic film, not science fiction) and trying to help an elderly relative deal with issues which temporarily forced this relative out of their home.

Combine that with the fact that I had post-convention duties which became more urgent than usual this year and our oldest child was in the midst of graduating from high school... Well, most nights recently when it's been "writing time" the clock has already rolled over past midnight and I've been feeling fried.

Nevertheless, I've been able to keep up my Daily Writing Chain and make bits of progress here and there. Some of those days it's been a bit challenging to get those 500 words. I've managed, though, through a combination of tactics.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Links: June 3rd, 2012 Edition

I'm not going to include #storyeachnight comments this week since I haven't done a good job of keeping up with reading a new story on a regular basis the past two weeks. However, I'm looking to try to get back in the habit of doing so -- maybe that should have been one of my monthly goals! -- and I intend to add that back into the Sunday mix next week.

Below are links which I've come across since my most recent Sunday Links post (two weeks ago) which I think could be of use to fellow writers. Have you come across any particularly interesting links in the last week or so? I'd be interested to see them!