That Pesky Writing Thing

I’m a very effective, efficient and highly competent procrastinator, especially when it comes to writing. Oh yes, I have had long periods of drought, brought on by something very specific: the lack of sitting down to write.

Yes, I go for extended periods of time when I’d rather poke my eyes out than sit down and write something. And WHY would I do that? Because I’m a writer, of course.

Writers have written about their lack of productivity, or conversely, have crowed about their systematic and highly organized daily writing habits, for all of us to read. Heck, I’ve even quoted some of those folks on this very blog.

Since I haven’t been writing short stories, I look to other areas where I am writing and give myself a big ol’ pat on the back. Hey, I’m writing a blog entry right now! Look at me, I’m writing something!

And I’ve also gone back to writing my personal journal on a more regular basis. Not quite everyday, but with a regularity that keeps me satisfied. Sure, I say to myself when I’ve finished a hand written entry, you just wrote something.

It’s true too. Writing my blog entries and my personal journal entries are writing. Some of you (thank you, yet again) are actually coming here and reading it too … which, I gotta tell you, IS gratifying. Knowing there is an audience for these blog posts keeps me motivated to continue maintaining the blog. And, as an aside, I have been maintaining this blog for years now. And I’ve met a lot of really nice readers along the way, from all over the world. The world of blogging is pretty amazing, in my opinion.

Okay, I just distracted myself (but not you, dear reader) from what I was admonishing myself for, my lack of “real” output.

And over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about where I left off with my writing. I mean to say I’d been quite organized when I was submitting my short stories to online journals, and so I went back to the list I kept to see what I’d been doing.

Boy, that was shocking to me. I realized, in looking at my list of submissions, that I’d only submitted work to journals six times during all of 2014. Compared to what I’d been doing in 2013, this was the literary equivalent of letting my work fall off a cliff into an abyss.

But that’s not all. The facts are the facts – I had not submitted ANY short stories for consideration in 2015.




Here was harsh reality staring me in the face. I had produced no new short stories in 2014, and I had submitted no short stories in 2015.

So how important is this pesky writing thing to me? I asked myself.

I don’t have a real answer for that right now, except to say, it’s of some importance to me. “How much” is – as of this writing – an unknown quantity.

By delving into my “state of affairs,” I was able to go back to a story I’d written in 2013 and which I’d barely tried to get published in 2014. That story has accumulated only two rejections, which I know from my own experiences, is nothing in the overall process of getting a story published.

And so I dusted off the story and re-edited it. I liked the more tightened version, and have since sent it off to two more potential markets where it could be published. Or not. But I’m giving it a try.

Looking at words on a page, rearranging them, removing a few, adding one here and then moving that sentence there all feels good. It feels right. There’s a comfort in it.

I’m unwilling to give myself any more credit than “feeling good” about submitting a dusted off story to two editors for their consideration. It is what it is, nothing more. If I’m going to go any further, there’s work ahead to be done.

Short Stories – Submit It or Quit It Presentation and Press Coverage

A few weeks ago I gave a presentation at the Jersey City Writers group titled Submit It or Quit It: Short Stories, followed by a panel discussion with two other writers, Nancy Mendez-Booth and Meg Merriet. The panel was hosted by Adriana Rambay Fernandez.

L - R, panelists include: Meg Merriet, Nancy Mendez-Booth and me

L – R, panelists include: Meg Merriet, Nancy Mendez-Booth and me

Our panel moderator, Adriana Rambay Fernandez

Our panel moderator, Adriana Rambay Fernandez


We were lucky enough to get press coverage for the event, and The Hudson Reporter published us on the front page yesterday under the article title A Gathering of Scribes.–Jersey-City-Writers-talk-about-how-to-get-published–?instance=latest_story

To begin my presentation, I did a reading from Etgar Keret’s Suddenly A Knock On the Door; specifically I chose to read The Story Victorious, which was well received and got the laughs it deserved.

Making a funny face while reading The Story Victorious by Etgar Keret

Me making a funny face while reading The Story Victorious by Etgar Keret


Me hugging Rachel Poy, the co-organizer of Jersey City Writers for all her help on setting up the event

Me hugging Rachel Poy, the co-organizer of Jersey City Writers for all her help on setting up the event

Then we had an excellent panel discussion facilitated by Adriana, followed by questions from the audience.

My message on submitting short stories was simple … if you work at your craft and are persistent and put in the time to submit to journals, you will be rewarded by getting published eventually.

I offered suggestions on how to stay organized by maintaining a spreadsheet / submission tracker. I mentioned Duotrope and Poets & Writers as places people can go to search for potential journals where work can be submitted. And I also told folks that many journals use Submittable, and that setting up a Submittable account is easy and free for writer-submitters.

None of this is rocket science, but it does take time and effort to cultivate a pipeline of finished pieces you want to submit, then select multiple markets, read submission guidelines and send your work around… then track all the results.

I’d been meaning to put up a posting covering the event, and now that we’ve gotten local press coverage I realized the time is now to post a few photos and to say thank you again to Rachel, Jim, Adriana, Nancy and Meg for all of their support in getting this event together and participating.

My talk on short story submissions – 4/30/14

Hi everyone,

If you are a “local” reader in the Jersey City area, I wanted to let you know I will be giving a talk at the Jersey City Writer’s group ( on 4/30/14 at our “IndieGrove” location. (

The presentation is called Submit It or Quit It – Short Stories. It’s an encouragement and challenge to the writer participants of our group to commit to submitting their work this year.

I’ll be discussing my journey as a published short story writer, sharing information on how to find markets to submit your stories, and providing materials to help keep you organized during the submission process from pre-submission, through response and post-submission.

After my presentation, there will be a panel discussion with 3 or 4 writers and a moderator. The panel participants haven’t been finalized yet, but from what I’m seeing so far, it should be a very exciting group of people.

To attend the Submit It or Quit It presentation, you can go onto the MeetUp website, and sign up. There are lots of events hosted by Jersey City Writers, so if you are a writer in JC… please join us!

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Gotham’s Very Short Story Contest 2014

Gotham Writer’s Workshop is an institution in New York City offering writing seminars on different topics like short story writing, novel writing, etc.

This year, once again, they are holding A Very Short Story Contest, with no entry fee. The deadline to enter is May 5, 2014. The winner will be notified on June 3rd.

The guidelines are simple: write a 10 word story, and those 10 words includes the title if you have one.

Here is the link if you are interested:


Enjoy and good luck!

New Story – The Temple Maiden – Live on Gone Lawn!

My new flash story, The Temple Maiden, is now live on Gone Lawn, Issue 13.

Please read it by clicking here:

Once again, many thanks to Yarrow Paisley for her editorial encouragement and acceptance of this piece.

Fyi – many of the details in this story are based on a trip I took to Oaxaca, Mexico in 2011. Photos of this trip are here:

I saw, and photographed, many of the items mentioned: black pottery specialized to that region; the turquoise encrusted skull in the museum highlighting artifacts from Monte Alban. Also, I personally climbed the pyramid mentioned in the story and visited the church at the top.

A permanent link to this story is on the Published Stories page of this blog, so you can easily find it and read it again if you like!

New Story Accepted by Gone Lawn!

I got some wonderful news today from Yarrow Paisley, one of the editors of Gone Lawn. They have accepted my flash fiction piece The Temple Maiden for publication in Gone Lawn, #13.

And in my acceptance note, Ms. Paisley wrote, “The writing is lovely and mysterious, withholding as much as it offers to view, and it’s just the sort of piece we enjoy featuring in our little mag!”

Wow, thank you! Yes, you better believe I’m proud enough of a comment like that to want to share it. 🙂

As with all stories, when it goes live I will post an announcement with a link here, and then the permanent link will go on the Published Stories page.

Finally, this piece is a milestone for me. It is the 30th item I’ve had published since I began re-investing in my writing 3 years ago. It’s humbling to even think of all the editors who have supported me to get to this place.



Ozone is coming and other news

  • Camroc Press Review editor Barry Basden has reached out to let me know “Ozone,” a story he accepted a while ago, has been assigned a publication date of October 16th. When the story goes live I will post the link.
  • In other news, I had the opportunity to revisit the work of Goran Djurovic and will be creating a second blog post dedicated to additional images from his show Prime Time, along with an explanation of how I came to acquire the images. Stay tuned that will be coming out shortly.
  • A good friend of mine is visiting his family in Europe, finalizing a novel mss he’s been working on for a while and which I have been helping him edit. I’m on tenterhooks now that we’re in the end stages with the mss. I can see a time in the near future when the book will be published. I’ve been working alongside him on this project for a few years now and I’m ready for it to be completed.
  • Also, while in California recently I had the opportunity to visit the bookstore in the Ferry Building in San Francisco. That building is probably the least tourist oriented building on the waterfront, thank goodness. The store is called Book Passages, and I purchased a short story collection by Joan Wickersham called The News From Spain based on a recommendation from one of the staff. I’m about halfway through it. One thing I like about it is that every single story is titled “The News From Spain” and it manages to work that idea into the story.
  • But I wanted to mention the bookstore too, Book Passages, because it is so well curated from both a selection and staff perspective. I want to talk to someone who is reading a lot, and knows what I’m talking about when I say I like “Lahiri but not Proulx so much.” Bookstores like that are hard to find anymore. We all know Powell’s in Portland, OR is a national treasure, and The Strand in NYC too. These are established places of literary worship and we’re losing them to hand-held backlit screen devices that can deliver the content of a novel, but that cannot deliver the experience of reading an actual book and those devices definitely cannot replace the encyclopedic knowledge of an amazing bookstore staff. Nuh-uh.
  • Call me old fashioned if you want; but I consider myself a “Gutenberg-ist.” (Yes, I just coined the word.)

New Story: Ozone, accepted by Camroc Press Review!

I’m extremely pleased to announce that my short fiction work, Ozone, has been accepted by Barry Basden, the editor of the Camroc Press. This is the very first appearance of any of my work in Camroc, although I’ve been trying for quite some time.

Camroc Press is especially known for intense emotional work, and for me Ozone was an attempt at a level of emotional honesty made public that I find uncomfortable. It was not an easy piece to write, and bit by bit I’m coming to terms with how to “reveal” this part of myself to readers.

Barry has told me the publishing que is backed up about six months, so the publication date on this piece is tbd; it’ll be much later this year. When the piece comes out, I’ll put up a post with the link so you can see what I attempted. In the meantime, a placeholder will go on my Published Stories page as a reminder it’s on the way.


P.S. As a follow up to my previous post, I’m nearly over my second terrible cold in two months, although I admit my appetite hasn’t returned yet… I fly west today and have already packed all my vitamins!

New Story: For Art’s Sake Accepted by Word Riot!


My flash fiction work, For Art’s Sake, has just been accepted by Kevin O’Cuinn, fiction editor at Word Riot.

This is a new milestone for me, a third piece of flash being pubbed in the same journal: Woo Hoo! (Deep endebted thankfulness to Kevin, as always.)

The pub date has not yet been determined but when it’s published I’ll let you all know with a joyous announcement and link for your reading pleasure. For now, a placeholder will go on the Published Stories page…


Gotham’s “A Very Short Story” Contest – Free Entry

Gotham Writer’s Workshop is an institution in New York City offering writing seminars on different topics like short story writing, novel writing, etc.

This year they are holding A Very Short Story Contest, with no entry fee. The deadline to enter is April 23rd.

The winner of the contest will get a free 10 week Gotham class, which is pretty sweet. (They offer in person classes and online, so don’t worry if you don’t live in the NYC metro area.)

The guidelines are simple: write a 10 word story, and those 10 words includes the title if you have one.

Here is the link if you are interested:


Enjoy and good luck!


New Story: Recyclables Now Live on Pure Slush!

Hi everyone,

I’m so excited! Matt Potter, Editor of Pure Slush, (a literary journal based in Australia) has sent the good word over the wires. My story Recyclables is now live on the Pure Slush website, within this month’s theme issue “The Office.”


CLICK HERE to read this new piece of flash fiction!

Matt has asked me to let readers know there is a comments feature on the site. All comments posted to the story will become part of its history…so, write on people! Feel free to leave a comment if you like. 🙂


As I usually do a permanent link to this story will always be available on my Published Stories page so you can easily find it, and my “back catalogue.” 😉


Special Free Bonus! Pure Slush also publishes the Hue Questionnaire. It’s a “what’s your favorite color” on steroids, or in my case…maybe asteroids. Curious?

Click here and navigate to my name to read my answers:


The Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest

Normally I do not pay attention to short story contests. However, The Kenyon Review has just opened their electronic submissions link today, Feb 1st for anyone who wishes to enter their short fiction contest and they do not charge a reading or entry fee.

What I love about this contest is that it skews towards flash fiction writing, with an upper limit of 1200 words.

All you talented flash fiction writers who read my blog regularly… please consider clicking on the link below and submitting your best work to The Kenyon Review. You will have until Feb 28th to submit.






Information about the contest:

The contest is open to all writers who have not yet published a book of fiction. Submissions must be 1200 words or fewer. There is no entry fee.

Katharine Weber, the Richard L. Thomas Chair in Creative Writing at Kenyon College and author of five critically-acclaimed novels, including Triangle and True Confections, will be the final judge.

The Kenyon Review will publish the winning short story in the Winter 2014 issue, and the author will be awarded a scholarship to attend the 2013 Writers Workshop, June 15th-22nd, in Gambier, Ohio.