In which I tip my toe into the noir pool

A recent prompt for the Sudden Fictions podcast was “femme fatale,” so I thought about my time in Los Angeles and came up with this one: “The Mystery Girl of Doheny Boulevard.” Enjoy!


It’s still winter, so I wrote about ice

Actually, it’s warming up a bit here in the Bay Area, but the story prompt at Sudden Fictions was “ice.” So I wrote about Harry.

For your listening pleasure:

Happy (Accidents) and New Year

If you’ve been following along on my fiction journey, you may note my recent appearances on Sudden Fictions, R.B. Wood’s podcast. He likes to toss out a writing prompt every month or so, and ask his fellow writers to contribute.

Well… I saw the prompt (“Celebration”) and came up with I thought was a cool low-key horror story that might work in <1000 words. In reality, I had conflated that word with all the NY Eve prep. The actual prompt was “Champagne.”

champagne cork flying out of bottle


So I threw my original idea into the metaphysical drawer and sat myself down on Jan 1 to write something about that fancy wine. A day later, I had “The Last Year of Champagne.” It was a fun idea to play with. The ever-gracious R.B. bought the piece and recorded it later in the week (despite his, ah, disagreement with la langue française).

Enjoy episode 40 of Sudden Fictions.

2023 in Review

Well, that was certainly a year. Very good and very bad things, indeed. I sold lots of stories and had to go back on unemployment for a while (which is itself a sordid tale I shall spare the reader).

I published more fiction than ever. I wrote and revised a fair amount:

  • Jan – Short fiction class with John Wiswell; finished “The Mala and the Monkey Brain”
  • Feb – “Krishna’s Gift”
  • Mar – “The Walkup Atheneum”
  • Apr – “Lizzie McNeil and the Veil Between Worlds”
  • May – “Sign of the Red Dragon”
  • Jun – “Copper Bright as the Sun” (revised Red Dragon)
  • Jul – “Blood of the Hierophant”
  • Aug – “When the Third Bell Rings”
  • Sep – “Pull the Red Cord”; “Poltergeist of Fastini Crater”
  • Oct – “Buffalo” (revised Week before Xmas)
  • Nov – “Order of Compassionate Death” (revision); “Third Bell” (revision); “Red Cord” (revision)
  • Dec – “A sailor’s tale”

In progress:

  • “Taldin the Thief Faces the Executioner’s Block”

Idea pile:

  • Something something wizard’s duel
  • The multiverse and some guy at a desk?

For this year’s success, I must thank my family, my weekly writing group, my occasional critique partners, and of course my fabulous coach, Cat Rambo. I found an impending deadline for her to be an effective motivation: Get out of your head and write the damn thing. (My words, not hers.)

Next year? If I can hang on to my current DayJob™ and see the scion successfully launched from college, I’d like to finish (and send out) a bunch of revisions, take a few classes, see some folks in person rather than Zoom, and write something so good it knock the socks off a pro editor.

Hey, it could happen.

May your 2024 be creative, fulfilling, and safe.

See you in the word mines,



Eligibility Post 2023

Want to support an underdog writer? Now’s your chance! Here’s a list of everything I published this year:

Short Fiction


Thank you for your consideration. Now I must feed the cats.


Baker’s Dozen


What I Sold in 2023

2023 has been a record-setting year in the word mines. Apparently, if you regularly write lots of stories and send them out, editors will buy some. Who knew?

Sure, the ratio for rejections/sales is still *way* off. For now, let’s focus on the positive.

Flash fiction was king of the hill this year: 6 original stories and 1 reprint.

Short fiction had a very respectable showing: 4 original stories.

You want novelettes? We got 2. And one of those was featured in a three-part podcast voiced by a classically trained British theatre student.

It was also the year of extended holds – 2 of my acceptances came more than a year after the initial submission.

All told: 12 original stories and 1 reprint. A baker’s dozen of spec fic.

Genres were certainly up for grabs. I sold stories involving the military, time travelers, assassins, wizards, mechanics, lost civilizations, ghosts, demonic possession, found family, and a happiness virus.

The last two sales this year are pending final paperwork. Nearly everything else is available online. Links here.

In order of acceptance:

“The USS Copernicus Sixth (Semi-Annual) Contraband Run”
“The Linen Closet Nexus”
“The Antidote for Longing” (print and podcast)
“Ruby Throat and Gold”
“For Better or Worse”
“Krishna’s Gift”
“Come the Waters High (Podcast)
“The Danger of Frequent Flyer Miles”*
“The Poltergeist of Fastini Crater” (podcast)
“Come the Waters High” (Reprint)
“Last Cold Beer for 50 Miles”**

*forthcoming 2024
**Appears 12/13/2023 in Haven Spec

November ghost story and a reboot of NaNoWriMo

My latest story, “The Poltergeist of Fastini Crater,” appeared on Sudden Fictions this week. I wrote the flash story based on a prompt (“haunting”) from the editor, R.B. Wood, in what was then a Halloween-themed submissions call. However, mundane reality™ got involved, delaying the project past the holiday. Still, I set out to write a little ghost story on the moon, and it came together in two quick bursts. It was definitely the most fun I’ve had at the keyboard in a while. (For those keeping score, it’s publication #9 this year. Huzzah!)

Sudden Fictions, Episode 39

Unfortunately, my dayjob situation tool an unexpected downturn (i.e., our project was put on hold and all the writers furloughed), so I decided to revisit the ghosts of Unfinished Short Fiction for my version of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The goal is to complete (or revise) 5 stories by 11-30-2023. It may not be as tough as 50,000 words but it’s enough of a challenge!

Let’s see what happens.

Crazy Eight

Today my flash story, “Ruby Throat and Gold” appeared in Wyldblood, marking my third appearance there and my eighth publication overall for 2023. Wow. Crazy. (Unlike my other work in Wyldblood, “Ruby” contains no demons in its 1,000 words. But there are wizards with agendas.)

This story came to life under the guiding hand of Cat Rambo. The title was suggested by Rosemary Claire Smith, one of my beta readers in the weekly writing group. She writes about dinosaurs and reviews books over at Analog.

And then there were three

Today the final part of my novelette, “The Antidote for Longing,” was released in the wild by the good folks at Metaphorosis.

three digest versions of Metaphorosis magazine
Metaphorosis Issues 91-93

An audio version, read by Thomas Baxter, can be heard here as well.

“Antidote” started out as an awkward 6,000 word story. It was too long for most publications, but rejected by markets like GigaNotoSaurus. Then the editor at Metaphorosis reached out with the idea of lengthening the overall story and breaking it into three mini arcs that all worked together. And was I interested in doing a podcast?

Six revisions later, “Antidote” came in just under 11K words. My daughter, studying at Bath Spa University at the time, introduced me to a fellow theatre major, Thomas Baxter. Thomas brought a welcome British gravitas to the production. Extra kudos to him for rising to the challenge of Scandinavian terms and proper names.


There and Back Again. Again.

So I did something foolish, which was to jump across the pond to spend a mere week in England while my wife participated in a conference. In retrospect, trying to work a few hours on DayJob tasks, rather than just taking unpaid time off was particularly foolish. (What was less foolish was traveling with my daughter since she’s 21 and quite familiar with the area around Bath and Bristol.)

The secondary reason for this sorta-kinda spontaneous trip was the acknowledgement/celebration of the spousal birthdays, which fall a week apart and bracketed the conference schedule. So we went. What $$ we saved on accommodations (we borrowed a friend’s backyard cottage for a few days) was certainly spent on some serious meals, tea, and an afternoon at a day spa.

Definitely a good tradeoff, and an important life lesson. While I’ve been enjoying working with the new DayJob writers, the possibility of another layoff, or “premature contract termination” has been nagging at me. Honestly, I didn’t think it was a wise idea to leave the country. But that created its own difficulties. Hence, the life lesson, which I tried to impart to my daughter:

Your job is important in that you have to pay the bills. However, these opportunities are precious, especially when they involve intimates or family. Don’t dismiss them out of hand.

Sure, the jet lag has killed my brain this week and I had to dig very, very deep to finish a story on deadline. On the plus side, I went to England. I saw Roman ruins. I ate amazing French food (ex-pats are the best); I drank a weird cocktail in a private drinking club on a rainy night. I did a truly cheesy comedy walking tour. I soaked in a giant copper tub.

I had exit row seats. And a cheery flight crew. Go, Virgin Atlantic!

I didn’t get COVID.

The bills will come next month and the entertainment savings account will be emptied. Oh well. For the moment, I am employed and Elizabeth is fully booked and we can save up more money. Maybe Worldcon in Scotland?

See you in the word mines.