Novel Submitted!


Five years after beginning to write a novel, I finally sent it off to a publisher tonight.

Why in the world did it take so long, you ask? I actually had the thing written two and a half years ago, but then I spent six months or so editing it. By the end of that process I had this dim realization that it might be a good idea to get some formal training in writing.

So I took the next year off to take some very excellent writing classes. I learned a lot, including that my previous writing skills left something to be desired (okay, a lot of somethings).

I took the year off after that to focus on writing short stories and getting some published.

That brings us to this year. I started editing again some months ago, and it took far longer to complete than I had guessed. After getting used to a short story length, it was somewhat mind-boggling to return to the novel length. And then there was this pesky business of having to rewrite almost every single line, because dang, whoever wrote this rag really could have used some writing classes…

To give you an idea of what this process was like, the story went from 122,000 words to 112,000 words, all without removing any plot or character elements. I even added some stuff. Those ten thousand words got chopped out one sentence at a time as I streamlined, tightened, and generally embettered (*new word alert*) it.

So anyway, I’m relieved to finally have it “out there.” I’m actually about a fifth of the way though the sequel, so hopefully I can make some good progress by the time I hear back on my submission.

Bottom Line: I believe in this story again, love it, and hope that someone else will too.

So how about you? Do you have any slow writing stories?

Land of the Beast


My flash fiction story “Land of the Beast” came out today in issue 18 at

This story began as a project in a creative writing class last year, and evolved into its present form. The editor of this ezine said he found it “deeply unsettling,” and I think that sums it up pretty well. If you could use some unsettling, give it a read.

Photo: by Darryl Smith, freelance photographer

Review: Full Dark, No Stars

In the old days, I never cared for short stories. It seemed like just as I was getting into the characters and plot, it was over. This changed when I read George R.R. Martin’s Dreamsongs collections, and I realized that short form was actually a great way of exploring themes and situations without the full blown commitment of a novel (for either writer or reader).

Full Dark, No Stars only serves to demonstrate the punch that short stories can carry (although not all of the collection are true short stories–one at least is novella length or longer). Here we have five or six stories that, by King’s own admission, explore the depths of darkness and evil. The title is apt indeed. While many of King’s stories are dark, these push even further. I can’t think of anything I’ve read that that so clearly portrays the reality of depravity and evil. Yet at the same time that darkness is not glorified, for which I am thankful, and there seems to be a line of hope in most of these stories.

King’s effective characterization shines. From the farmer who reads the Greek classics, to to the writer who imagines and projects the voice of her cat, King’s characters ring with a peculiar believable quality. Combine this with good research about time periods and occupations (1922, advertising, coin-collecting), and these stories ring true.

My only serious complaint has to do with the ending of the story Fair Extension. It has a great premise and development, yet to me, the ending fails to deliver.

Rating: 8.8 out of 10.

Content: R, at least. As all the above implies, Full Dark, No Stars pulls no punches in its depiction of evil. It contains graphic violence and sexuality, and is not for the faint of heart. Reader, be ye warned.