Category Archives: Writing

Entries where I talk about my writing: stories, novels, general creativity.

Being an Ambitious Writer

A dragon writing on a typewriter
Here’s a dragon writing on a typewriter

I asked on social media and in several of the writing Discord servers that I belong to the following question:

Do you consider yourself an ambitious writer? And if you do, what does that mean to you?

So I am interested in whether my writer acquaintances and friends consider themselves ambitious in their writing. I got plenty of answers, ranging from those who don’t consider themselves ambitious at all to those who write 3-4 novels a year and plan on making a living with their writing within just a couple of years. One respondent said they plan to “redefine the genre”, which is definitely ambitious.

I think about some ambitious writers in history: J. R. R. Tolkien was definitely ambitious, in that he redefined how people read high fantasy fiction. C. S. Lewis as well. Neil Gaiman expanded fantasy again, and though he is modest he definitely “redefined the genre”.

In general, the answers I got as to what ambition means in writing means pushing boundaries, doing things that other writers haven’t done, and so on. In short, having an original vision and putting that vision out into the world.

Of course, the definition of “ambitious” is different for different people. Other writers defined ambition in writing as aiming for awards (in genre writing, such awards include the Hugo, the Nebula, and so on) or higher pay for their work.

I don’t think I’m very ambitious at work. When asked in the interview for my current job where I see myself in five years I answered, very honestly, that I had no management or supervisory ambitions; my only ambition is to get better at what I currently do.

As far as writing goes, my ambitions are to write better than I used to be: to constantly improve my craft and writing ability. Of course I’d like money, recognition and awards as well, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I set goals for myself and do my best to achieve them, but I can only control my own output; I can’t control my sales or whether I get awards or not. I think that’s fine too.

Any thoughts, readers, on what ambition and writing mean to you? I have a lot more to think about on this, and probably at least one more blot post to write.

Today I’m recommending my friend Paul’s Fenway Stevenson series, a mystery/thriller series which begins with The Reluctant Coroner.

Cover of The Reluctant Coroner by Paul Ardoin
This is the book I was telling you about just now!

Paul is an excellent writer, and I find this series compelling and engrossing, even though I don’t often read thrillers or mysteries. Paul is also in my writing group, so I get to read early drafts of these novels, and I consider myself very fortunate.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

NaNoWriMo 2023: How’d I do?

Covid virus
THIS is what I’ve been fighting all week!

Warning: This post is utterly unstructured. It’s rambly. Unfocused. Incoherent. Enjoy.

The first thing I want to say is that my short story “The Apocalypses of Cheryl Dean” has been published by Inner Worlds magazine, and can be found online. It’s one of my favorite stories, and I am so glad it found a good home. The other stories in that issue are all wonderful as well. Check it out!

Well, I didn’t “win” NaNoWriMo this year, by which I mean I did not reach 50,000 words in my novel before November 30. Just after mid-November, I altered my goal, since I was sick, so I aimed for 25,000 words by November 30. I did not reach that goal either. I ended up with about 23,000 words on Witness to the Scourge because, well, I was sick. With COVID. Yes, it’s still out there, people. I’m glad I am fully vaccinated with all kinds of boosters, since I’d hate to think of how badly off I’d be otherwise. Instead it just settled in my lungs like a cold, and filled up my sinuses, and only gave me one night of shivering fever. I’m reasonably sure that I won’t end up with long COVID.

So, Witness to the Scourge will have to wait until I feel better.

My family celebrates Thanksgiving today, as well as my mom’s birthday. Unfortunately, I can’t make it, because, as I already said, COVID. This makes me unutterably sad. I am, of course, grateful for a number of things: COVID vaccines and boosters, modern medicine in general, and so on. My pulmonologist in particular has been very helpful. I have a birthday present to send to my mom, or to deliver on Christmas Eve, but I won’t say what it is here.

On writing in general, I wonder if I should strive to be a more ambitious writer, meaning that I should aim to write better, write more, write faster, and really push that publication agenda. I mean, I already write quite a bit, I submit manuscripts twice a week, but I tend to trunk my novels before actually finishing them (see my previous post on that, “The Trunkening“). I need to go in with a solid vision of the story, and, you know, actually finish them. I’ll come up with an agenda, suggested by my friend Theresa, and see what happens.

I suppose that’s all I’ve got this time around. I promise my next post with be more coherent.

So this time I’m going to recommend the Penelope Standing Mysteries by my friend T. M. Baumgartner, writing as Tess Baytree. I don’t read many cozy mysteries, but this series is a lot of fun, and I highly recommend them. Start, of course, with the first one, Death Walks a Dog, and go from there.

Death Walks a Dog
Death Walks a Dog by Tess Baytree

It’s Holidailies Time, but this year I have no penguin adventures to share with you. My deepest apologiest.

On the Trunkening

Terry Pratchett's Luggage
An illustration of the luggage from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels

I’ve been thinking about novels I’ve written and abandoned over the years, just as a sort of exercise in self-torture. I’ve written most of these for National Novel-Writing Month, but not all. Here is a list, probably somewhat incomplete:

2001: Unfallen. This was a novelization of a World of Darkness game I ran in late 1999/early 2000. Status: Trunked.

2003: The Outer Darkness. A space opera. Status: Trunked.

2004: The Road to Gilead. A post-apocalyptic cowboy novel. Status: Trunked.

2005: Fred Again. Some sort of contemporary fantasy with elements of cosmic horror and humor. I’ve worked and worked on this one, but I haven’t touched it for a couple of years. I did retitle it The Solitude of the Tentacled Space Monster, though. Status: In progress. Sort of.

2006: Code Monkey! A Love Story with Occasional Monsters. Another contemporary fantasy. Status: Trunked.

2007: The Return of Deacon Dread. Not sure how to describe this one. Contemporary fantasy with horror elements. Status: Trunked.

2008: The Lord of Nightmares. A sequel to The Return of Deacon Dread. Never finished. Status: Trunked.

2009: Iron Horse Apocalypse. A cosmic horror western set entirely on a moving train. Status: Trunked.

2010: Brought to Life. I felt like writing a modern-day Frankenstein novel set in America, with supernatural elements. Status: Trunked.

2011: Toymaker, Part One. A story about a Boston mage in the 18th century. Status: Trunked.

2012: Toymaker, Part Two: A sequel to Toymaker, Part One. Status: Trunked.

2013: Love in the Time in Cthulhu. A contemporary fantasy love story set in a world where Cthulhu has risen up and the world has fallen to the Old Ones. Status: Trunked.

2014: The Book of Jonah. A retelling of the Biblical story of Jonah, set in modern day America. Status: Trunked.

2015: Hashtag M for Murder. A sequel to Fred Again. Status: Trunked.

2016: Padma. A horror/fantasy/sci fi novel about a medical student facing the end of the world. Status: Trunked. For now.

2017: And the Devil Will Drag You Under. Status: In Progress.

2019: A Plague of Ghosts. A space opera historical novel, set in both a distant galaxy and on Earth during the First World War. Status: Trunked.

2021: The Afghan Code. A spoof of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Status: Trunked.

2022: The Outer Darkness I: Genesis. A re-envisioning of The Outer Darkness from 2003. Status: Trunked.

There are more, but those are the ones I wrote for National Novel Writing Month events. And even though I haven’t “won” NaNoWriMo since 2016, it still holds a place in my heart.

So why the trunkening? Why do I end up giving up on so many of my novels? I don’t know, but it is frustrating. Now, there’s nothing wrong with putting a project on “pause”, as several of my writer friends have pointed out to me, while you regroup and put together some more ideas for the project. So some of these projects might show up, emerge from the trunk like ghosts, but I somehow doubt it. Each time I finish something but don’t revisit it to revise/submit, I feel like a failure somehow. And if I give up on my current projects — Witness to the Scourge and And the Devil Will Drag You Under — I’ll feel like even more of a failure.

There’s certainly a part of me, that I can’t seem to shut up, that tells me I have to complete something before I die. I wanted to have a lot of completed, published novels under my belt by this point in my life, but that hasn’t happened, despite me wanting to be a writer and novelist pretty much all my life. So what’s the deal? Fear of failure? Of success? Laziness? I don’t think I’m a lazy person, for reasons I won’t go into here, so maybe it’s one of the other two reasons. Or maybe something altogether else.

Probably fear of failure, though. Each of these novels represented the best that I could write at the time I wrote them — this is important, because most of them were written during November, during National Novel Writing Month. But whenever I looked back at them, I saw nothing but imperfections and annoyances, and I got too overwhelmed to rework them and submit them. I didn’t want to face the fact that I could rework and rewrite them, only to end up with them still being imperfect and bad.

So for accountability’s sake, here’s what I plan on doing for the next few months:

  • Finish revisions to And the Devil Will Drag You Under. Then maybe shoot it off to some beta readers, and then query it.
  • Write and finish Witness to the Scourge. That’s my NaNo project for this year, as I’ve mentioned before.

Maybe after November is done, I will revisit some of the trunked novels I’ve listed above and see whether I can salvage them.

If you’ve read any of the novels I’ve listed here as part of one of my critique groups in the past or because I posted it online while writing it, let me know and tell me what you thought!

Today I recommend Wonderbook, a book on the craft of writing by Jeff VanderMeer. It’s got plenty of tips and ideas and essays and examples, is lavishly illustrated, and contains sidebars and essays by writers such as Neil Gaiman, Tobias Buckell, and more! I love this book, and I am always inspired whenever I read it.

Cover of "Wonderbook" by Jaff VanderMeer
THE best writing book I’ve found, bar none!

You can buy it here, or from Amazon.

So It Goes…

I swear I had the best of intentions when I said I was going to blog every day in August, but then… that did not happen. I’m not sure why not. Maybe I burned out on blogging. Maybe I was abducted by the Fair Folk and only now, four centuries later, returned to the mortal world (seems unlikely). Most likely, other things got in the way.

So how are you?

Banner image for National Novel Writing Month 2023
NaNoWriMo 2023 is coming all. Buckle up!

Anyway, I’ve decided to once again participate in National Novel Writing Month! I’ve committed to that before, but honestly my heart hasn’t really been in it since I wrote up the first few chapters of the first draft of my current work-in-progress, And the Devil Will Drag You Under (status of that, by the way, is that I’ve completed revisions on paper, now just need to input them into the document in Scrivener).

This year, I plan to write the first draft of Witness To the Scourge, a novel about refugees from the destroyed world of the Fae and the danger facing them in the mortal world. I plan on it being a little dark, a little funny, and a little bit hopeful. And, of course, very good, as most of my fiction is. Or so I like to think.

I’m not the regional Municipal Liaison for NaNoWriMo. I burned out on that back in  2017 after doing it for eleven years. I am, however, helping coordinate write-ins and what-not on the site for the Sacramento region since we currently have no ML, and that makes me sad.

That’s all I’ve got for now. If you’re going to be participating in National Novel Writing Month this year, I wish you glory!

This time I’m recommending this book:

Cover of the book "How to Be an Antiracist" by Ibfram X. Kendi

I’m about 50% of the way through it, and it’s blowing my mind. It’s about how overcoming racist ideas, thoughts, tropes, and feelings is a life-long process of overcoming a lifetime of living in a racist society. I suspect I will have much more to say about this book when I am done with it.

Dreams and Writing

Rare photograph of my brain while I’m dreaming

This topic was suggested by Lynne de Bie. Hi Lynne!

Like most people, I don’t remember all my dreams, but I do remember plenty of them. And the ones I do remember are often pretty intense, both in imagery and in emotion. I remember one dream I had before I was ten years old which featured an evil floating carrot. I remember a dream I had a few years ago which featured time traveling pirates constantly asking, “What era of human history is this?” Last night I dreamed of a cafe I used to work at and the people there (more on that some other time).

Sometimes I have hypnogogic hallucinations, which are weird brain events that happen while you’re drifting off to sleep but haven’t quite made it there yet. Usually, I just hear three knocks on the wall behind me or at the door. I did a little research into this, and it turns out this is pretty common; so common that there’s folklore and superstition surrounding it. If you hear three knocks as you’re drifting off to sleep, it’s an omen that someone is going to die. I don’t believe in omens, but I do find it interesting.

Sometimes I have hypnopompic hallucinations, which are the opposite: weird brain events that happen as you’re waking up but haven’t quite exited the dream state and your body is still paralyzed from sleep. In these events, scary things can happen; I remember vividly having a ghost with a mirror for a face climb into the bed next to me and terrifying me. Usually when these happen, I spend a few seconds trying to talk but being unable to, until I’m finally able to let out a scream or incoherent words and startling both Jennifer and the cats awake. I don’t think they’re impressed.

Sometimes I will post my more vivid dreams on Facebook, recreating the people, places, and events to the best of my recollection (which isn’t always very accurate). Usually, a friend suggests that these dreams would make a great story or novel or at least a twist in my work in progress. And often I agree.

But it rarely happens. I mean, I’ve never written a story that features an evil floating giant carrot, I’ve never written about time-traveling pirates, and I’ve certainly never written about a ghost with a mirror for a face. I’m sitting here now and trying to figure out why I don’t do this.

Time Bandits with a map of the universe and its wormholes
Fry, Bender, and Farnsworth in a time machine

Part of this is that dreams are often derivative. Time traveling pirates who ask at each destination “What era of human history is this?” reminds me of Terry Gilliam’s fantastic 1981 movie Time Bandits crossed with the Futurama episode “The Late Philip J. Fry”.

I have occasionally dreamed of writing itself, though such dreams usually involve being unable to find a particularly brilliant story that I have written. How tragic! And some of those stories have magical abilities, too, such as being able to heal diseases in the people who read them.

So all in all… There isn’t much of a connection between my writing and my dreams that I am consciously aware of, though I am sure one exists.

Today’s recommendation is a television show, and it is a Korean action series called “Zombieverse.” It is about a bunch of reality TV stars who are trapped in a zombie apocalypse in Seoul and have to survive. It can be annoying at times, but on the whole I enjoyed it. Currently it is streaming on Netflix.

Gaming and Writing

Polyhedral Dice
Many-sided dice for funsies

Another topic suggested by Brian C. E. Buhl! Hello again, Brian!

First of all, a big welcome to the readers who came here from the Just Keep Writing podcast newsletter! And a huge thanks to the hosts of Just Keep Writing for linking to my blog! This podcast, in case you aren’t aware, is a great one for writers, with a diverse set of hosts and a wide array of topics. A few months ago, they did a read-along of Charlie Jane Anders’s wonderful Never Say You Can’t Survive; currently, they are reading along in Matt Bell’s Refuse to be Done.

You may have noticed that I don’t necessarily blog about writing every single day. Yesterday’s post on my favorite sandwich wasn’t about writing. I’ll do better at finding ways to bring writing into the day’s topic.

In today’s post, I use a lot of terms familiar to old-timey gamers, like Player Character and Non-Player Character, that may not be familiar to non-gamers. If you find yourself faced with one of these terms and want to know what it means, just ask me here or on Facebook, and I’ll do my best to enlighten you.

Gaming, when I was in high school and college all those years ago, meant primarily table-top role-playing games, such as Twilight: 2000Call of CthulhuBoot Hill, and, of course, the giant in the playground, Dungeons and Dragons. If you were a gamer, you probably played one of these, or maybe you played a Steve Jackson card game like Car Wars. These days, if you’re a gamer, you probably play video games, either on your PC or on your console of choice.

I use the first definition. I’m an old-time gamer. I started playing Dungeons and Dragons in my junior year of high school, occasionally DMing a game, occasionally playing, but none of us really knew what we were doing. I really got into it in 1986 in my first year of college, with a couple of friends who were also heavy duty gamers. I started my first campaign in 1987, and ran it for many years; I’ve run several campaigns in Dungeons and Dragons, and later Pathfinder, since. Most of them were in the same campaign setting which I detailed in meticulous notes that I still have a thick black binder. My current game is set in the 18th century Caribbean and features pirates.

So, that’s the perspective I think of when I think of gaming and writing.

I know that lots of writers credit role-playing games (RPGs, or TTRPGs — Table Top Role-Playing Games) with learning the craft of writing. Playing a character in someone’s campaign can give you deep insight into that character and how characters in general are created and how they work, while running a campaign can give you the same insight (since you’re probably playing a bunch of NPCs —Non-Player Characters), as well as a deep dive into worldbuilding and story generation, especially if you run a homebrew campaign instead of a pre-made module.

For me, though, things were a little different.

My DMing style is what like to call “Reactionary Improvisational”, which means that I pretty much make up the storyline and the ongoing world in reaction to what the players do during the game and the questions they ask. I may create a puzzle without a solution, for example, and simply trust when I’m running the game that there would be fix or six smart players who would come up with a solution that I think works. Or, as my friend Dezzy once put it, I might have an orc in a battle with a halberd, and when questioned about it I would not only give a detailed and interesting answer, but I would by the next session have a detailed culture built for the orcs that includes their using their halberds as weapons of honor in certain types of battle.

It’s all improvisational, in other words. I mean, I learned much about worldbuilding, and happily created worlds and scenarios for games of all sorts. Did I learn about plotting and character? That’s a difficult question for me to answer, since everything I’ve ever done was pretty much improvisational. My games were led, plotwise, primarily by player actions, instead of having the plot guide the characters (but never forcing them onto a particular path, which is anathema to DMs). Thus, in my stories and novels, I tended, for a long time, to have passive characters who reacted to events around them rather than initiate them. I’ve definitely gotten better at this since it’s been pointed out to me by members of various writers’ groups and other readers and editors, but it’s something I still struggle with.

This is not to say that I regret in any way all that time I spent playing TTRPGs. I have friends I’ve known since high school that I wouldn’t have made without gaming, and I know that most people who played my games had a grand time (you can’t please everyone of course, and some people didn’t like them, which was always fine with me). And, of course, I have plenty of dear friends of over twenty years that I bonded with over our love of Dungeons and Dragons1, and I regret none of that. It’s also been pointed out to me that some of the puzzles I created for my sessions were deeply philosophical or moral ones, and the players really enjoyed solving them and learning from them.

So. Worldbuilding, yes. I learned a lot about that from my years playing TTRPGs. Characters with agency and plotting? Probably not so much.

Today I finished reading Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death, and Art, by Rebecca Wragg Sykes. I’ve always had a fondness for our Neanderthal cousins, whose DNA many of us share, and what the world was like for them. At many points it a dry read, and somewhat slow, but I recommend it highly if you’re at all interested in that sort of thing.

The Best Writing Advice I’ve Ever Recieved

Chekhov on “Show Don’t Tell”

This blog topic was suggested by Brian C. E. Buhl. Hi Brian!

I hesitate to dispense writing advice on this blog, since I’m not the most widely-known and widely-quoted of writers myself. Plenty of writers are out there, giving plenty of writing advice, and who am I to add my voice to the chaos?

And writing advice is so subjective as well. Chuck Wendig says that all writing advice is bullshit, after all. Though he’s written plenty of books on the craft of writing, it all, he says, boils down to two things: Writers write, and they finish what they write. So I guess that counts as the best writing advice I’ve received: Writers write, and they finish what they write. All the rest is bullshit and dross.

Nevertheless, there’s other advice out there that’s good and that’s bad, so let’s look at a couple of those pieces of advice.

Show, don’t tell. This piece of advice basically says that you should always show what’s going on in your story, showing the characters and their feelings, and so on, rather than simply saying it. So, for example, instead of saying, “Rob felt angry,” you should write, “Rob felt hot rage stir through his body” or something like that. But is this always the best approach? I argue that it is not. There are times when it’s best to simply state what’s going on in a scene, and move on. To show in detail every single aspect of a scene can become laborious and difficult for the reader.

Write what you know. This piece of advice is a cliche, and a dangerous one at that. It’s also a cliche to hate on this piece of advice, and to dismiss it entirely. When I was a kid, I was told I should pass on writing my epic fantasy trilogy and stick to writing “what I know”, but I wasn’t sure what that was supposed to be. I was in junior high at the time; should I have therefore written about junior high kids and the struggles they went through? I didn’t think so, because what I was going through at the time was pretty dull, in my opinion, and didn’t make for interesting reading.

In short: if we only write what we know, we won’t have stories about spaceships, elves, talking trees, and so on. Lord knows that snippet of advice stopped me from writing my story about a mad scientist who traveled in time in a time machine created in a VW bug, twenty years before Back to the Future.

Still, I think it’s worthwhile to unpack this bit of advice. Write what you know. Does it make sense to write about a serial killer when you’ve never been one? Well… We’ve all felt the sort of anger and rage that have led us to hate someone, even if that anger and rage haven’t extended to the desire to kill that person. Could we extrapolate, though, from our own experience and emotions to something entirely outside of our own experience? I think we can. I think it’s possible. And I think it’s important, as writers, that we do so.

So there you have it. The best advice I’ve gotten, and the worst.

I’ve only had twenty minutes to write this blog post. Let’s hope tomorrow’s is more coherent.

Today’s book recommendation is Station Eternity by Mur Lafferty. I loved this book, and Mur is an excellent writer and mentor. This novel, which is touted as Murder, She Wrote meets Babylon Five, is a genuine delight. Get your copy now!

Cover of Station Eternity by Mur Lafferty

Why I Write

1960s manual typewriter
My first typewriter. Maybe. I don’t know.

This topic was suggested by Kat Templeton. Hi Kat!

Why do I write?


For the glamour, the fame, the money, the groupies!

And now that you’ve taken a moment to stop laughing, I can tell you that I don’t really know why I write. I don’t remember not wanting to be a writer. As a kid, I wrote a lot of stories, sometimes involving the detective Fizziwinker (was that his first or last name? No one knows!), or monsters, or weird aerial phenomena. I know that my mom has at least one of my first “books” in her cedar chest at home. And I don’t remember how old I was, but I’m pretty sure I was in junior high school that my mom gave me a typewriter of my own to write my stories with. Said typewriter looked something like the one above.

I know why I write what I write, which is “contemporary comedic fantasy with elements of cosmic horror”. I wrote a blog post all about it a few years ago, in which I basically said that I write these stories to help me come to grips with the trauma of having seen too many scary movies when I was a kid.  That’s not the only genre I write in, though; I’ve written straight horror (as in “Who Remembers Molly”) and what I think of as mind-benders (as in “Trying to Stay Dead”) and a genre I like to call “Northern California Gothic” (as in “Burying Uncle Albert”).

I guess I write because it comes naturally to me. I like to read books and stories, and I like to write them. (I used to draw comic strips too, but we won’t talk about that any longer.) I’m never going to get rich as a writer (hardly anyone does), and Jennifer’s enough groupie for me. I am of the opinion that I am a pretty good writer, and I certainly want my efforts to be known and recognized, as most writers do, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Anyway. On to the next topic!

Today’s book is The Repossessed Ghost by Brian C. E. Buhl. I’ve already talked about it in my BayCon report, but I wanted to re-recommend it. I had the opportunity to read an earlier draft, which was very well-written, and this final version is excellent. Go forth and read!

Cover of The Repossessed Ghost
The Repossessed Ghsot by Brian C. E. Buhl

No One Asked For It…

Writer with dragon
Me, writing, under close supervision from a dragon

…but here is my May writing update. I ought to write about something other than… uh… writing, but I’m hard-pressed to find a topic. Suggest something to me? I’m not very interested in discussing politics here anymore. It’s not that I’m avoiding the news and political discussions, which is a very privileged position; it’s just that I know I’m not going to change the minds of anyone who has already made their minds up on issues and who have strong opinions that are just WRONG.


In April I submitted eight manuscripts, and most of them were rejected. Others are still waiting for a response.  I worked pretty extensively on my revisions for And the Devil Will Drag You Under, which I’m pleased with, and made significant progress on a new short story. I’m pleased with that too.

I’ve also sort of planned out what I’m going to work on next. First is the full-novel-length version of Witness to the Scourge, which was originally a short story that morphed into a novella. People generally liked it, but had questions about the main character’s narrative arc, and several said it has too much worldbuilding for one wee story. So I’m going to expand on it. It will require research into monster folklore from around the world, and that’s always fun.

The project after that will, thanks to comment a friend of mine made to me over brunch yesterday, probably be an actual middle-grade novel featuring cosmic horror and it will be specifically for kids with depression and anxiety. I was such a kid myself, and I was fond of scary stuff, so I this is right up my alley. It will require plenty of research, though, into subjects such as child psychology, depression and anxiety in children, and so on, and, of course, how to write middle grade fiction. One of my writing friends asked me whether the depression in the kids in the novel would be rooted in some sort of trauma, and I don’t think it will. Some kids suffer free-floating depression and anxiety, and I want to acknowledge that.

So there’s that.

My goals for May are:

  • Finish up revisions of And the Devil Will Drag You Under (my self-imposed deadline for this is June 21)
  • Finish up my short story “Little Old People”
  • Start writing my next short story, “Feast of the Forgotten”
  • Submit another nine manuscripts (I submit every Monday and Thursday, so this is very doable)

Even though I did not get into the prestigious Odyssey Writers’ Workshop this year, I’m excited for what the year ahead holds writing-wise. Excelsior!

Writing: A 1st-Quarter o’ 2023 Update

Three-headed dragon at a typewriter
A three-headed dragon tapping away at a typewriter

I know you’re all about my writing, oh ye who come regularly to my blog, so here’s an update:

First, since January, I’ve submitted twenty-six manuscripts to various markets; my goal for 2023, as it has been since 2021, is 100 submissions per year. I’ve gotten plenty of rejections, some personal with actionable feedback, some personal without actionable feedback, and some form rejections. Mostly form rejections. Editors are a busy lot, so they don’t tend to send personal rejections unless they are really impressed by the story, so I’m pleased with the ones I got.

Right now, I have eight outstanding submissions. I haven’t sold any stories to any pro markets, but I have high hopes for the rest of the year.

BUT! My sale to LOLCraft last year was enough to qualify me for membership in both Codex, an online writers’ group, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA). Getting into both of these organizations has been on my bucket list for quite some time, and I honestly had gotten to the point where I didn’t think I’d ever get into them. But lo and behold, I did! Yay me!


Work continues apace on revisions to my novel And the Devil Will Drag You Under, which I hope to have done by the end of June. After that I am planning to revise The Solitude of the Tentacled Space Monster, that bane of my existence since 2005. After that, I have an idea for a novel called Witness to the Scourge, an urban fantasy novel that has grown out of my short story of the same title (earlier titled “The BIM” for reasons which I can no longer recall). That’ll be fun. I’m enjoying all these projects, but the vastness of revising a novel is… well, it’s intimidating, even if I’ve taken a class from Cat Rambo on novel revision and read a couple of articles and a book about the process.

Ah, well. The words continue to spew forth.

In other news, I went to a dermatologist on Wednesday to have a suspicious growth on my leg looked at. Did you know that there are over 3,000 diagnoses that can be associated with dermal conditions? I didn’t. But that’s the kind of small talk you get into when you chat with a dermatologist while he’s injecting anesthetic into your skin, slicing off a growth, and cauterizing the wound. I also hadn’t realized that the skin on the shin is so thin that wounds there can’t be stitched closed, so cauterization is necessary. Interesting.

I’ve also been attacked by kobolds the past week… and if you haven’t been around here long, kobolds are my chosen representative of depression. Winston Churchill had his Black Dog. I have my kobolds. Nothing major happened. I’ve been sick with a cold, though that’s lessened, and that always exacerbates things.

Kobold Playing a Lute
A Kobold playing a lute. Because why not?

But I’m feeling fine now. A little bit wheezy and short of breath, but the kobolds have moved on and I’m feeling better.

I hope you’re all doing well. Until we meet again.