My Book is Available for Pre-order Now

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“Forty-Five Minutes of Unstoppable Rock, my collection of short stories published by Tortoise Books out of Chicago Illinois, is now available for pre-order through Amazon.

You can find it at Amazon’s Canadian website Here

You can find it at Amazon’s US website Here 

You can find it at Amazon’s UK website Here

The book contains some updated/re-edited versions of previously-published fiction as well as one original, never-seen-before story: “Shirlena” – about a good man, a bad woman, a sweet El Camino … and Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness.

Great cover art, great stories, and very attractively priced (especially for Amazon prime subscribers). Order it now and be remembered forever as young and cool, and not as one of the sad outcasts that didn’t pick up a copy.

Thanks,

Steve

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Five Fights

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I don’t know where Across the Margin gets their cover art from, but I like it. 

My short story “Five Fights” is up at Across the Margin today. You can read it Here.

This story is one of the few (maybe the only one) I’ve written from a writing prompt provided by another person. Mostly I write about shady deals with girls and the sublime terror of creation, and I do it on my own, because I have lots of materiel about the terror of creation and I can imagine lots about shady deals with girls even if I actually only know two or three in real-life because I’m originally from a tiny hamlet and am otherwise mostly a shut-in. However, in this case my youngest – who fancies himself a bit of a combo Clive Barker/Jim Thompson, (only gorier, much, much gorier,) – wanted me to write him a story about “a guy in high school who gets paid to collect drug debts.”

Spoiler: This story is in no way about a “a guy in high school who gets paid to collect drug debts.”

Anyways, I hope you enjoy the story. I’m off to take the kid to therapy and then, if therapy proves insufficient, the evangelicals have a revival tent at the county fair we’ll visit.

Stay Cool,

Steve

The Three Genres I Write In

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Ah, the writing life

I have reviewed my archive of materiel and I now realize that in spite of my claims to write only “General Literary Fiction” (as opposed to horror, science fiction/fantasy, crime etc.) I actually write very specifically in three distinct sub-genres:

  1. Chicks man.
  2. Bad dogs, worse people
  3. Antinatalist screed

There you have it.

Thanks for reading.

I wish I was posting more links to my published work but in that “Publication Pending” pile I now have one piece that still hasn’t appeared roughly 60 days after the publication said it would and another is at 15+ now. So this is what you get. I feel a sense of duty towards my blog readers reader. Thanks for keeping me working.

Rock on,

Steve

D.H. Lawrence, Stats and Rejection

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“I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.” – D.H. Lawrence

Not-True Story: D.H. Lawrence fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down and never once felt sorry for himself.

In this age of social media I see lots of posts about rejection – and by rejection I mean the literary type, where you submit a piece to a magazine or publisher of some sort and they say “thanks, but no thanks.” This has led to there being more think-pieces and inspirational quotes on how to handle rejection than there are actual pieces submitted.

I don’t know how it is for other would-be writers but here’s my stats – and keep in mind I have only ever written/submitted short fiction and poetry. I started submitting in late 2012.

  • Fiction Pieces Completed: 62
  • Fiction Pieces Accepted: 37
  • Poetry Pieces Completed: 51
  • Poetry Pieces Accepted: 33

When I say “completed” I mean that the piece is past the first draft stage and at a point where I’d send them out for publication. I have not yet sent out all my pieces, I think I have submitted (at least once) 49 poems and 60 stories. I have had pieces (both poetry and prose) accepted without ever having been rejected and I have had as many as 21 (and counting) rejections on individual pieces. I no longer think there is any objective reason why anything I submit gets rejected – it’s all a manner of subjective “fit” for the publication’s issue-planning. 21 rejections might seem like a lot but I keep reading numbers from more experienced writers who don’t seem to think so. A flash-fiction powerhouse I follow on Twitter mentioned one her pieces as having garnered 40 before placing with a top-tier journal and I seem to remember reading something about Elmore Leonard noting that one of his hit 105 before running. Alice Munro supposedly submitted to the New Yorker for twenty years before having something accepted. I don’t have comparative numbers to back this up but I think some genre writers (Science Fiction/Fantasy) seem to have very high acceptance rates while the general literary writers, (most of what I write could be called general or “literary” fiction,) and especially poets, have much higher rejection rates.

So, 70 pieces accepted for print/publication? Whoo hoo right? Well, for sure, but there was a whole heapin’ helpin’ of rejection along the way. My Submittable Stats (Submittable is an on-line submission management program used by many publishers/organizations) run like this:

  • Accepted: 18
  • Declined: 205

If that seems disproportionate to the number of total pieces published remember that some publishers take multiple submissions (meaning you can have more than one piece in the submission) so that a single acceptance can net you more than one accepted piece. For example, 11 of my published poems are in a single e-chapbook – “The Coachella Madrigals” – found under the “Press” tab on Firefly Magazine’s website.

Those rejection #’s are just via Submittable – many publishers/organizations use different software or just have you email your piece(s) to them in via a submission email. I have had around 100 rejections outside of Submittable, and of course a few more acceptances. You can see most pieces I’ve had accepted and their publication place/date on the “Publication Credits” page of this blog – which you should visit more often because I update it a lot. Like, a lot. (Shameless self-promotion is another of my debatable strengths.) That thin-looking “accepted” column also represents a much fatter and happier sounding (roughly) 60% placement ratio in terms of my entire output. 

Should I feel bad about my percentages? I don’t think so. I am sure there are writers out there who have placed every single piece they drafted without ever having to edit. I am also sure there are writers out there who have ten times the rejection slips I have. That said, I am also pretty sure that when that bird froze to death upon that bough, and plummeted to shatter against the hard rocks beneath it, it felt a little sorry for itself. It’s not merely that I have been rejected by the finest publications in the land, I have been rejected by the worst. Places that folded without getting the issue/anthology they planned into print. I’ve been punted by them all.

In regards to the rejection slips: I have never once received a malicious one. A great many have been personal and encouraging. I don’t keep track of form vs. personal rejections, and I never respond except to keep submitting.

How do I keep my chin up, in spite of the overwhelming evidence as to the reject-ability of my work? Well, I was an ugly child and am used to rejection. And mobs with torches and pitchforks. Just kidding – What I try to do is to think about the successes. I have had three successes.

  1. The first story I ever wrote, then submitted, was accepted without ever being rejected.
  2. The first poem I ever wrote, then submitted, was accepted without ever being rejected.
  3. The first collection of short stories I assembled, then pitched, was accepted without ever having being rejected.

I did not include reprints in my little stat summary above but with the publication of my collection I’ll will have at least 16 fiction pieces reprinted at least once and 2 poetry.

Other than that I’m a miserable failure. One who needs to get to work on his novel. I think if I submit more, I’ll publish more. That is what rejection has taught me.

Stay cool young ‘uns, and amuse yourself by throwing .22-caliber longs into the burning barrel like we did when we were kids. You’ll look cool with an eye patch – if all you lose is an eye.

Steve

Your Daily Horoscope, by Hillbilly Hare

Hillbilly Hare

The greatest cartoon of all time – OF ALL TIME – came out on August 12, 1950. As August 12th is a Saturday and posting anything on a blog on a weekend guarantees that it won’t be read I’m posting this here, now, and calling it an anniversary celebration for that most august of hand-painted animation cel achievements.

I’d cooked this up a couple of days ago and submitted it to a very well-known humor website (“humour” if you prefer) and it was rejected – the editor professed to love it but was worried that the source materiel would be too obscure for a modern audience.

He is probably right – but I like it no matter what.  Now bow to your partner …

Your Daily Horoscope, by Hillbilly Hare

Aries:

Three hands up and round you go, break it up with a dosey do. Chicken in the bread pan kicking out dough. Skip to the Lou my darling.

Leo:

The old lady out, you pretty little thing, promenade around the ring. Big foot up and little foot down, make that big foot jar the ground.

Sagittarius:

Lady step back and two gents in, back you go and forward again. Step right up with an elbow swing.

Taurus:

Allemande left with the old left hand; follow through with a right-left grand. Meet your honey with a great big smile.

 Virgo:

Promenade across the floor. Sashay right on out the door. Out of the door and into the glade. Everybody promenade.

Capricorn:

 Step right up, you’re doing fine. You pull their beard they’ll pull thine. Yank it again like you did before, and then break it up with a tug o’ war.

Gemini:

Get into the brook and fish for the trout. Dive right in and splash about. Trout, trout, pretty little trout. One more splash then come right out.

Libra:

Shake like a hound dog, shake again. Wallow around in the ol’ pig pen. Wallow some more, y’all know how. Roll around like an ol’ fat sow.

Aquarius:

Allemande left with your left hand. Follow through with a right-left grand. Leave your partner, the dirty ol’ thing. Follow through with an elbow swing.

Cancer:

Grab a fence post, hold it tight. Womp your partner with all your might. Hit him in the chin. Hit him in the head. Hit him again, that critter ain’t dead.

Scorpio:

Womp him low and womp him high. Stick your finger in his eye. Pretty little rhythm, pretty little sound, bang your head against the ground.

Pisces:

Whirl, whirl, twist and twirl. Jump around like a flying squirrel. Don’t you cuss and don’t you swear. Just come out and form a square

There it is – your daily horoscope, by Hillbilly Hare.

Stay cool readers reader – I’ll be back soon enough. You know, in a sad attempt to keep my blog alive I was considering telling the story about how I ordered a large black coffee at the McDonald’s inside of the Walmart here the other day but they were out of large cups so they gave me an extra-large at no additional charge – a 25-cent savings to me – but then I thought about the Hillbilly Hare piece.

Hare-piece. Say it fast.

That’s awesome.

Think of this is your 25-cents!

Steve

 

 

 

 

Set on Fire and Thrown off an Overpass onto the I-10 …

Marigolds Copy for Coachella Madrigals
Sunshine on Marigolds June 2016

…  and run over by eight hours of traffic, while people watched and laughed.

If you have ever driven the I-10 in SoCal you’ll understand how the combination of the above can be both fatal and very, very painful. Also, I don’t think anyone watches and laughs – this type of thing isn’t exactly news in SoCal.

My e-chapbook “The Coachella Madrigals”, about love and loss in a hot, dry place, is now available to read at Firefly Magazine/Luminous Press. You can read it Here.

I wrote these poems some time ago and submitted them as a chapbook to a conventional print publisher who had indicated that they would accept them but that they were having some issues and needed to defer publication to a later date. I was free to submit elsewhere if I needed to. (If that seems … odd … let me tell you that this happens in the minor leagues of publishing.) They subsequently ceased to operate, leaving a few small chapbooks out there (not this one) and a few new enemies who spoke ill of them on Twitter. I then submitted to the Firefly/Luminous people who graciously accepted. It took a while to format for print/get the project going but here they are.

The picture used with the chapbook is mine – it really is “Marigolds on my Front Doorstep, June 2016”. I have always liked it. I do not live in/near Coachella but let me tell you this about the Coachella Valley: It’s hot. I’m not sure Marigolds would last on a doorstep in the Coachella Valley. I’m not sure anything lasts on doorsteps in the Coachella Valley. If you ever do get to that neck of the woods you owe to yourself to take the tram to the top of Mt. Jacinto and look down into the valley and watch all of those people roasting slowly in the heat.

I’ll be back with some more writing soon. In the interim y’all stay off of people’s doorsteps. It’s weird. You should stay at home, crank up Cheap Trick’s “Never Had a Lot To Lose” (The live version on the “Silver” recording is my go-to version)  and read The Coachella Madrigals.

Rock On,

Steve

A Dog Story

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Eddie as a puppy

It has been a hot summer here, much hotter than normal, with temps consistently in to the 30’s (That’s in the mid 90’s Fahrenheit for my American friends – roughly 15% warmer than normal) and very dry. The sky has been the color of smoke from the distant fires in BC. Every day has been oppressive in a way that it hasn’t before. My dog, Eddie the Wonder Schnauzer, passed away yesterday after a very short but very serious illness. I won’t go onto the details, they are not exceptional, and I know that anyone who has ever had a good dog goes through this.

He was an assertive little dude who liked everyone and thought that he should be running the show. I managed to teach him how to sit and how to shake a paw but that’s it. I am not a dog whisperer. Mostly, I’d try to figure out what he needed and get it done. My Dad always said that Eddie was “smart about figuring out how to get what he wants” and the following story illustrates the point:

It was my habit to give Eddie a treat first thing in the morning and then, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we’d boot to the gym. I train 50k away from home in a “key club” that caters to competitive powerlifters – the gym is affectionately known as “The Dungeon.” I’d drop Eddie off at my parent’s place while I trained – they have an acreage with a large dog run – he’d run around and bark and my mother doted on him and my parents would give him a treat or two.

Not too terribly long ago my girlfriend moved in. She gets up a bit later than I do and she too would give Eddie a treat when she got up. Not long after this started Eddie started to refuse the invitation to hop in the car after I’d given him his treat. It was easy enough to figure out that he wasn’t leaving that house until he got his second treat. Eddie could do all the math he needed. She doted on him too, and would take him along for the ride when taking her daughter to/from school. Full of cookies and confidence, he’d ride shotgun and make sure no ne’er-do-wells thought they could just come up and kidnap anyone right out of the van.

While I think of it, any time one of the kids entered the house after being out for a time he’d bark and lead them to his mat/bowls and attempt to extort a treat from them too. In this he was invariably successful. Between the two of us we have four children and all are soft touches – easily manipulated by their Schnauzer Major Domo.

His groomer phoned and cried when she was told he’d passed away. I wondered how many treats he’d bullied her into.

I knew in my heart that it was over two days before he passed when he wouldn’t eat a treat.

RIP Eddie, you were a good boy. I am sure that when we meet again it will be as if no time has passed, and I’ll bring a treat for you.

It has been too hot this summer, and the air is full of smoke. It is sometimes hard to see and sometimes even hard to breathe.