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Thursday, September 24, 2009


Professional short story markets are disappearing at an alarming rate. Soon there won’t be any professional publications left that publish short stories.
Sound familiar? I’ve been hearing variations of this refrain for several decades. Every generation of short story writers complains that the previous generation of writers had it easy.
Guess what? It’s never been easy. Yet short story writers with only a moderate amount of talent have been able to overcome the odds against them by applying a great deal of hard work and dogged determination to their efforts.
How do I know? I have only a moderate amount of talent, yet I’ve sold more than 800 short stories, and I’ve had one or more short stories published every month for the past 74 consecutive months.
Here’s how you can duplicate my success:

1. Develop an intimate relationship with the English language. You don’t need to become a grammarian, but you do need to know how to spell the words you use and how to punctuate the sentences you write.

2. Develop an understanding of what constitutes a story. Read widely and voraciously and study every story you read.

3. Don’t allow another writer’s blinders to become your blinders. If another writer convinces you that there are only a few markets for short stories in your genre, you won’t make an effort to find the hidden markets.

4. Don’t allow your love for a particular genre to limit you. Write in multiple genres and you may find, as I did, that you are more successful writing outside your favorite genre.

5. Volunteer to read submissions for a small press, literary publication, or Webzine so that you can see the manuscripts other writers are submitting, and learn why some of the best submissions are not accepted.

6. Develop a familiarity with the publishing process. Understand why submitting a Christmas story in December is a waste of everyone’s time.

7. Study the magazines to which you are submitting. Pay particular attention to the advertising because it will tell you a great deal about the magazine’s readers.

8. Always, always, always, look for new markets. If you see a magazine, pick it up and study it. Some of the best short story sales I’ve made were to publications that weren’t listed in Writer’s Market and didn’t post their submission requirements on their Web site.

9. Write. Write until your fingers bleed, then continue writing.

10. Submit. Keep submitting. If your short story manuscript is rejected, send it out again. And again. And again. One of my stories sold for $150 to the twenty-third editor to see it, 17 years after the first editor rejected it.

11. Stop fretting. Writers with a single manuscript under submission tend to obsess about that submission. Writers like me who have dozens of manuscripts under submissions often forget what’s where and are pleasantly surprised every time an editor responds.

12. Set a goal. Some writers advocate writing a set number of words or pages per day. I prefer a goal that advocates finished manuscripts. For example, some short story writers I know advocate the “Rule of 12.” That means having 12 short story manuscripts under submission at all times. During the first year, write one short story each month. That’s half-a-page a day or less. At the end of a year you’ll have 12 manuscripts making the rounds. If you sell a story or if you retire one to your filing cabinet, you must write and submit a new story. My goal is to write and sell a short story every week. That’s 52 short stories every year.

13. Keep good records. Know where your manuscripts are, when they were submitted, and what the editors’ responses were. Keep copies of all contracts you sign. Keep a copy of every publication containing one of your stories. If your career lasts as long as mine, you’ll have multiple opportunities to sell reprint rights and may even find a publisher to release one or more of your short story collections.

Follow my advice and you probably won’t become rich and famous. You will, however, have a long career as a short story writer.
Learn more about Michael Bracken at http://www.CrimeFictionWriter.com. Follow his progress and see if he meets his goal of writing and selling a story a week at http://crimefictionwriter.blogspot.com.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Michael Bracken Guest Blogs on Thursday, Sept. 24th

Michael Bracken is the author of 11 books, including All White Girls, Bad Girls, Deadly Campaign, Tequila Sunrise, and Yesterday in Blood and Bone, and nearly 1,200 shorter works published in more than 150 anthologies and periodicals.

More than 800 of Bracken’s short stories have appeared in literary, small press, and commercial publications worldwide. Bracken’s “Dreams Unborn” was named one of the best mystery short stories of the year by the editors of The Best American Mystery Stories 2005, “All My Yesterdays” received a Derringer Award, “Cuts Like a Knife” was short-listed for the Derringer Award, and “Of Dreams Unborn” appeared on the preliminary ballot for the Nebula Award. “Snowbirds,” co-authored with Tom Sweeney, was named fourth best story of the year in the Ellery Queen reader’s poll. His short stories have appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Espionage Magazine, Fantastic, Flesh & Blood: Guilty as Sin, Hot Blood: Strange Bedfellows, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 4, Midnight, Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, Northern Horror, Sun, True Story, Young World, and in many other anthologies and periodicals.

Bracken is the editor of five crime fiction anthologies, Fedora, Fedora II, Fedora III, Hardbroiled, and Small Crimes. Stories from Bracken’s anthologies have been short-listed for the Anthony, Derringer, Edgar, and Shamus awards.

In addition to writing and editing fiction, Bracken is editor of Senior News, a monthly newspaper distributed throughout Texas; managing editor of Texas Gardener, a bi-monthly consumer magazine; editor of Seeds, a weekly newsletter; and editor of Symphony Notes, a monthly newsletter. His non-fiction has appeared in Atlanta Parent, Inside Higher Ed, MAMM, Mothering, Mystery Scene, SFWA Bulletin, Teaching Miracles, The Writer, and other anthologies and periodicals. He has edited corporate and organization newsletters, and has received local, regional, and national awards for advertising copywriting, including a Silver ADDY Award presented by the American Advertising Federation.

Bracken served as vice president of the Private Eye Writers of America, served three terms as vice president of the Mystery Writers of America’s Southwest Chapter, and has served as chair of the Best First Novel committee for the Private Eye Writers of America’s Shamus Awards. He has held many elected positions in the Waco Advertising Federation, a chapter of the American Advertising Federation, including president. He is also an active member of the Horror Writers Association and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

He regularly speaks about writing, editing, and publishing to audiences across the U.S. The many writing conferences he’s spoken at include Hardboiled Heroes & Cozy Cats, Harriet Austin Writers’ Conference, The Journey Conference (sponsored by The Writer), The Langdon Weekend, McKendree Writers’ Conference, Pennwriters, Seton Hill University’s In Your Write Mind conference, and Woodlands Writers’ Guild’s annual conference. He’s taught non-credit writing classes at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and guest lectured in writing classes at Baylor University, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and others.

Bracken received his Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing from Baylor University and currently serves clients from his office in Waco, Texas.

Additional information about Bracken, including a selected bibliography and his speaking schedule, is available at: www.CrimeFictionWriter.com.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Writers Make Life Interesting/Mystery is the Spice

Hi, Glad to receive the invite.
The story I just finished, STORM SURPRISE!
Got sent in an open e-mail. I want to thank all of
you for the instruction on how to get it from the word
processor to the e-mail. Special Thanks to Shirley McCann
for the several e-mails on what to do after that.
3500 words was 13 printed pages. It took awhile to get it
lined out after getting it to the correct location. Now the
wait for the winner to be chosen in December 09.
I hope Good Housekeeping likes my First Online Submission!
Elsie, Betty Jo, Claudette and I had a wonderful time at the
Sleuth's Ink meeting last Saturday. We appriciate everyone
being so outgoing, welcoming and your willingness to help us.
We are learning new things each time we meet with you.
Congratulation to Pat on winning the Blog Contest. Loved that
Story. Betty Jo and I are preparing our stories to submit to
Ellery Queen, Department of First Stories. The encouragement
you give,spurs us to the action needed to follow our dreams.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Contest Photo

Congratulations to Pat Woodward for winning the Mystery Photo Contest. And also, a big congratulations to the other entries. It was a tough choice since all stories were awesome.

Now submit, submit, submit!!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Guns, Gams and Gumshoes (Site by PI's)

Sleuths, if you're writing a mystery, suspense or crime novel, check out this website: www.writingpis.wordpress.com

Guns, Gams and Gumshoes is a site written by two PI's who enjoy writing. And that's not all--they address writers' questions. Below is a sampling of the categories. Go to their site, click on the category and they'll give you an official PI answer! How cool is this? It'll be a great resource for all of us. Enjoy.

Admissible Evidence
Be Your Own Investigator
Cell Phone Hacking
Disguises, Guns, Bounty Hunters
Pet Detectives
PI Topics
Private Eyes and Crime Scenes
Public vs Private Investigators
Sleuthing Gadgets
Surveillance v Stalking
Writing About PIs