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10 Years Ago

Hard to believe it's been a decade since I started submitting my short stories for publication. The adventure began when I sold "Hero for Hire" in the fall of 2009. It wasn't published until January 2010, but that first sale really got my blood pumping. And thanks to all the sales that followed, I've been energized to write, submit, and sell my work ever since.

I started writing fiction when I was twelve, but submitting work for publication was never a goal during those early years. As I grew up, got a job, and made less time for my writing, I figured pursuing publication might be something I'd do when I was old (like...forty), or when I retired from teaching. Someday far, far away.

It wasn't until I met my wife, and she encouraged me to submit my work, that I ventured down this path. In 2007 and 2008, I submitted a slew of queries to agents and publishers. I had three novels ready to go, but alas, there were no takers. Then a couple years later, a parent of one of my students suggested the short story market as a way to establish myself as a writer and accumulate some publication credits along the way. I figured I had nothing to lose.

Since then, 120 of my short stories have been published along with a plethora of haiku and microfiction. The success of my short fiction has motivated me to never give up on my longer work. If there's one thing I've learned over the past decade, it's this: somewhere out there is an editor or publisher who will want to share my stories with the world; I just have to find them.

And that goes for my novels, too.

Spirits of the Earth Trilogy - Update

Thanks to my recent 2K/day writing regimen, I finished the first draft of Book 3 in my Spirits of the Earth trilogy this week. 129,000 words in two months is a personal record; the closest I've ever come before was 80,000 in three months, and that was five years ago. In that case as well as this one, I had a publisher already lined up, so I'm thinking that makes a big difference motivation-wise.

As far as genre, this trilogy is a supernatural, post-apocalyptic homage to John Milton's Paradise Lost. There's a lot of action and adventure, plenty of conflict between survivors, and the world expands with each book to include new locations and characters. There's time-jumping without time travel. There are mutants and superpowers but no superheroes. It's the end of the world but the beginning of something exciting and unpredictable.

Redemption is a major theme as characters come to grips with who they are after devastating loss. Stewardship over the earth and its creatures, as well as good overcoming evil, are also central. After the darkness and violence of Book 2, I wanted Book 3 to leave readers on a high note, satisfied with the journey I've taken them on and pleased with the way things turn out for these characters they've been rooting for along the way.

After a few months of revisions, rewrites, and edits, I'll have it all polished up and ready to send to my publisher. Until then, I'm giving it a little space while I figure out a few ways to really make it shine. As a reader, I know what it's like to be disappointed by the final book in a series, and I'm determined not to let that happen with Spirits of the Earth.

40 Stories - 13 Narrators - 1 Audiobook

Now Available:    Amazon    Audible    iTunes

When I found out Unreal Encounters would have thirteen narrators, I had high hopes for an incredible production. Once the mp3 files were ready to review, it took me a couple weeks to listen to them all, and I've got to say, there wasn't a badly produced apple in the bunch. These voice actors are so talented, and they really went the extra mile in bringing this collection of stories to life. It's been an honor to hear them read my work, and I'm so glad I can share it with you now.

New Story Published: "Monochromatic Mandate"


Back in May of last year, I set a goal for myself: write a new short story each day, based on one of the haiku included in my Maikro collection. On day 2, I tackled this one:

monochrome vision | no gray areas allowed | spectrum enforcers 

In "Monochromatic Mandate," I poke fun at politics and social media as well as a potential construction project rumored to break ground in our town for years now. The latest issue of Factor Four Magazine is available to subscribers or can be purchased via Amazon. I hope you enjoy it.

All Aboard the 2K/Day Train

Over the past ten years of this writing adventure, I've had both good days and bad wordcount-wise. I'll never forget the two days I drafted Immaterial Evidence; somehow I managed to write 10K/day! But that's as rare an occurrence as finding a native San Diegan in the city of San Diego.

When I'm in the zone, I can consistently write 1K/day. But I haven't really been in the zone for the past few years. Back in December, I committed to writing daily, even if that was only 300 words per day. I stuck to it, often reaching 500 words on particularly good days. Then I signed my trilogy deal with Aethon. Once I finished polishing up the first two books, it was time to write the third. With After the Sky scheduled to be released in November and Tomorrow's Children a month later, we set December 1 as my due date for Book 3. I would need to write, revise, and edit a 125K novel in 6 months. 1K/day would take four months to complete the draft...but 2K/day would take only two. And then I'd have four months to make it the best it could be prior to my editor's perusal.

How's it going? Well, for the past three weeks, I've managed to schedule a morning 1K writing session followed by an afternoon 1K session. And thanks to that 2K/day regimen, I've got 60K down with only 65K to go! Will I be able to keep it up, going forward? We'll see. One day at a time...

New Story Published: "Absolute Magnitude"


Back in May of last year, I set a goal for myself: write a new short story each day, based on one of the haiku (or scifaiku) included in my Maikro collection. On day 4, I tackled this one:

shipyards on the moon | unexpected holiday | bright supernova

While writing "Absolute Magnitude," I wanted to try something that's a big no-no in flash fiction: cramming it full of too much story. In breaking the rules, I found all the worldbuilding fade into the background behind the real story: the magnificent Ophylia, our devoted anonymous narrator, someone's impending death, and someone else's self-sacrifice. You might even find some political commentary along the way...

I hope you enjoy it.

Two Short Story Sales

I've finally found homes for two of my StoryADay 2018 tales: "Monochromatic Mandate" will be published by Factor Four Magazine this summer, and "Absolute Magnitude" will be available to read at the end of the week, courtesy of Theme of Absence.

"Monochromatic Mandate" is a satirical look at politics and social media in the near future while "Absolute Magnitude" is my attempt at doing what you're never supposed to do in flash fiction: cram a novel's worth of story into four pages. So maybe it's anti-flash fiction...

Besides being extra-short, what qualifies as flash? It tells a story with a beginning, middle, and end; there is some sort of character development; every word counts; and the focus is on one scene. To make things interesting, I usually try to keep my flash-sized stories at exactly 1,000 words, adding and cutting as necessary. 

It's a great exercise for writers, and as an added bonus, flash fiction is an engaging way to capture the imagination of new readers. Who doesn't have four minutes to spare?

Spring Writing Update

The first draft of the Captain Quasar sequel is finished! The Mass-Exodus Reversal picks up shortly after The Space-Time Conundrum and introduces new characters and locations while bringing back all the favorites. After a few rounds of edits, the 80K word count will undoubtedly change, but my goal is to keep it as close as possible to the length of the original. Good news: I signed a second contract with Aethon Books, and they're already in the process of preparing the first Quasar novel for re-release. Once the sequel is ready, they might be publishing that one as well. 

In other noveling news, I'm over halfway through polishing up the second book in my Spirits of the Earth trilogy. It's been a chore to rewrite the POV in first-person/present tense instead of third-person/past tense, but I'm glad it will match the first book. The audio versions will be produced by the same voice actor, so it'll be good to have all three books in the same POV. And now that I'm planning the third book, I know I'll be writing it in first-person/present tense.

BackTracker is still with Baen Books. It's been four years now since I sent them that manuscript. But like I've said before, if I eventually get a book deal with Baen, it will be worth the wait. And it's not like I have nothing else to work on in the meantime.

In short story news, I still have 12 tales out on submission, and two of them are currently on short lists. Yes, these are the same dozen stories I wrote during StoryADay last year. No, I haven't sold a single one yet. But it's been encouraging to see so many of them shortlisted, and for one story to receive positive editorial feedback from both Asimov's and Pseudopod. Hoping to break into those publications someday soon!

4 Future Noir Novellas - 1 Audiobook

Now Available:    Amazon    Audible    iTunes

The audio version of The Suprahuman Secret is out, and Robert Rossmann put all of his stage acting skills to good use bringing world-weary private eye Charlie Madison to life. Most of my audiobooks have been well-produced, but this one is the best of the best. It collects Girl of Great Price, Immaterial Evidence, Yakuza Territory, and Chimera Effect. One reader called it "a futuristic detective series...part Terminator and part Maltese Falcon." Yep. Or Blade Runner meets X-Men.

An Epic Hero Returns

"Captain Quasar and the Insurmountable Barrier of Space Junk" greets a fresh audience today, courtesy of the fine folks at The New Accelerator.

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