Category Archives: writing

The Constant Struggle To Improve

Coursera, bless them, is presenting a series of courses on writing.  Given by Wesleyan University, 4 modules cover 4 approaches to writing stories: Character, Plot, Style, and Setting.  (More formally: The Craft of: Character, Settings and Descriptions, Plot, Style.)

Linky:  Coursera Writing Specialization from Wesleyan

I’m auditing, which means a. free and b. no certificate, but they do have a certificate program ($50/mo, ouch) if’n you need one for the CV.  I am treating this as a self-paced seminar.

One of my favorite takeaways so far isn’t so much about the arts and crafts of writing as about the guest authors/teacher authors.  I’d heard of MADONNAS OF ECHO PARK (never read it) and one segment is taught by its author, Brandon Skyhorse.  Amy Bloom, Maria Venegas, author of the wonderful memoir, Bulletproof Vest, and, um, lots of others.  With my head down in the genre writing community, I don’t get a lot of outside-the-genre exposure, damn it.  (Though I did read ‘The Girl On The Train’ before it was popular, and did I mention that my favorite read last year was Joe Ide’s IQ?)  But I do like reading off the top 10 list.

What I need now is a seminar on self-editing.


A Superlative For Goodbye

James Gunn’s AD ASTRA has kindly decided to publish my extremely short piece of flash, A Superlative For Goodbye, in their Spring 2016 issue.


This is a second-person narration about being an astronaut.  And decisions made, ah yes, by space agencies, governments, public opinion, and the astronaut herself.

I’ll post again when it’s published.

Pro sales

I have discovered that I am just one pro sale away from qualifying for SFWA membership, which requires 3 pro sales.  I *am* qualified for associate membership (the gate for that is one pro sale.)  I’ve read about the controversies and the do it vs. don’t bother arguments and honestly… I’d like to be part of the organization.  I’d like to be one of the in crowd.  I’d like to check out the blogs that are behind the firewall and participate in the inner-circle discussions.  When I first started writing, SFWA membership was one of my metrics.

So why am I hesitating?

I’m not much of a joiner.  I don’t even maintain membership in Broad Universe (A highly-useful and professional group) because of a philosophical difference.  When I join SFWA it will be for the perks and not because I’m a blogger that everyone follows.

I’m not a firebrand/rabble rouser/debater.  When people I consider friends hassle me on Facebook, I walk away.  People don’t debate on blogs and facebook, as a matter of my observation.  They go straight to the nuclear options of insult and negation.  And I can’t stand for that.

I think that an organization like SFWA needs the firebrands and pushy people.  I think that’s needed for evolution of the genre and the way our professional organization addresses issues.  And I’m not up to that, really, beyond espousing someone else’s stand.

Oh, I’ll get the membership, at least partially because it’s a club that doesn’t really want me. (To paraphrase a certain comedian.)

Stats and News

Since I moved to San Diego, I haven’t been submitting (writing, or completing) many stories.  Too busy, too stressed, too dry.  I got back into the groove in June. 

In June, I sent out 15 stories.  In July, I sold 3. 

ORTHOGONAL TO THE ASTRAL PLANE will be appearing in Trysts of Fate.  This is a reprint.  The story was originally printed by Quantum Kiss, an online magazine that is sadly no longer extant.   It was then reprinted by Insatiable in their inaugural and only issue.  I’m pleased that this quirky paranormal romance will be available reading again!

CHOICE will be appearing in Tales of the Talisman.  This is a difficult story that mixes magic and space opera.  I think you’ll like it.

NOTES FROM INTERSTELLAR VOYAGE AQUARIA 51 FOUND IN ABANDONED MACHINERY will be published by Freeze Frame Flash Fiction.  This is a space-faring hopeless romance.

I’m not sure when any of these will be appearing but I will link to them when they do.

And as a bonus, so far in August I’ve sold one story!

SPARROW AND g.d:SHRIKE will appear in Strange Constellations.  This is a reprint, originally published in M-Brane #24.  This is a story about RFID technology and moral literalists.

For every 10 subs, I might sell 1 story.  But I’ll also have 9 rejections.  So I just keep sending them out.

Potlatch 23 Writers Workshop  Potlatch 23, February 21-23, 2014

Welcome to the Writers’ Workshop! The workshop is open to all speculative fiction writers, regardless of experience. It’s a place to get feedback on your writing and decide what you need to work on next. You’ll have the chance to hear a professional writer critique your work, along with several of your peers. Critiques will be done in a round-robin Clarion West style. This workshop style allows all the participants to read and critique everyone’s work.

Hugo-winner David D. Levine has volunteered to be the guest professional for our workshop.

Please submit a 2,000 to 8,000 word story in .rtf or .doc format to by midnight PST on February 1, 2014. You may send your story ahead of time. Formatting for your story should follow the guidelines at

The stories will be rounded up and emailed to the participants. Please let me know if you would prefer hard copy mailings. Please bring hard copy notes or marked-up manuscripts to the workshop.

The workshop will be held Saturday during the lunch break. Lunch will be provided. Please let me know of any dietary restrictions.

Check the website for updates as the convention approaches. To attend the workshop, you must purchase a membership to Potlatch.

While it’s not mandatory, consider getting a ticket to the banquet.  You’ll rub elbows with Potlatch’s attending guests, famous (and not-so-famous) writers, and other folk interested in the genre community.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Any questions?  Send me questions!

Morning Glories

Flying close to the sun. The word “Perihelion” means: (and I quote)

The perihelion is the point in the orbit of a planet, asteroid or comet where it is nearest to the sun.

The word perihelion stems from the Greek words “peri,” meaning near, and “helios,” meaning the Greek god of the sun.

So I guess that means I’ll be flying close to the sun when my story, “MORNING GLORIES,” is published by Perihelion Magazine on October 12, 2013!

MORNING GLORIES is about an out-of-control science experiment that goes gloriously right. It’s based on something real, real science of flower genetics. And for those of you who’ve been forced to read my drafts, think “yams.”

Perihelion Science Fiction

n.b.: this was my Clarion West 2010 submission story.

Quantum Visions

My writers group, Orange County Science Fiction Writers Orbit, has wanted to showcase their writing for some years now.  After the success of my WFC chapbook, Travels Elsewhere, (see previous post) I volunteered to edit our first chapbook.

A month later I had accepted 9 stories, designed a cover, written an introduction, crossed my fingers, and used the room party at LosCon my daughter set up as a memorial to Jim Young to hold a release party for Quantum Visions.

Quantum Visions

A production of

Orange CountyScience Fiction Writers Orbit

Table of Contents




Writers And Friends


Jude-Marie Green, Editor



Spamhead Jim Young 1
The Enchanted Hatrack Jamie Cassidy-Curtis 5
Again, The Last Step Robin Walton 8
Event Camden Parish 11
Farewell To The Master Chrome Oxide 13
Colorado River Redeemed Timothy Cassidy-Curtis 16
Naked Prey David R. Moore 21
Honey From

Rube Engill’s Apiary


Will Morton





Reflected In Dewdrops


Shauna Roberts



Author Biographies Appendix

And it was a stunning success!  Lots of happy writers and readers (plus a continuous loop showing of Nazis At The Center of The Earth, Jim’s last movie) combined for many chapbook sales.

And now I have here, exclusively for you, some few remaining hard copies of the chapbook before we publish this electronically.  For a $5 payment you can own your own 44 page copy, gorgeously-designed, thick with stories.

Here’s the cover:


Travels Elsewhere

As part of my World Fantasy Convention project in Toronto this year, I put together a chapbook of 3 stories:  Slim and Benny-Be-Damned Take It On The Lam, Compass Rose, and Hellbend For Leather. 

My idea was to have something to sign at the autographing  session at WFC.  And people bought them!  And asked me to sign them!  And even paid me for them!  I am very pleased.  I mean, I love my stories, but that doesn’t mean anyone else would.

Slim and Benny-Be-Damned Take It On The Lam was originally published in K.C. Ball’s 10Flash Quarterly.  This is a very short zombie story contemplating the differences between slow zombies and fast zombies.

Compass Rose is a previously unpublished short story about physics, pirates, and parenthood.

Hellbend For Leather is a fun longer story originally published on Defenestration.  As I see it, if you can’t make fun of the devil, who can you make fun of?

So there you have it.  If you’d like a copy, you can contact me and I’ll send you one for a minimal payment of $5; or you can wait until I have the energy to create an electronic version.

Travels Elsewhere

Deadlines and the Writer Brain

I have a monthly writers’ group meeting on Sunday.  Once again, I don’t have a story ready.

I tried.  I have half a story (admittedly it was written in May.)  Clarion West taught me that I can write a story ending in the few hours I’ll have available before Sunday.  There’s just one problem: we send in the stories ahead of time via email so everyone has a chance to read and edit and form intelligent comments.  I like this method.  I just have trouble with deadlines.

I love Duotrope.  I love Duotrope’s calendar of upcoming anthology calls and themed submissions.  I sometimes write up a story to order.  But invariably I miss the deadline.  Or actually, sometimes I don’t miss.  I write up until the last minute and then paste on the last words: THE END, and in a month or so I receive a polite form rejection that doesn’t (but should) say, “Why did you waste our time with this potentially good but obviously rushed piece? Where’s the respect?”

I am glad they don’t pull out the stops on the rejections.  Deadlines deserve my polished best, not my “what can I finish in this last hour?”

Many of my writer friends put down a set amount of words per day.  I’ve never been able to do this.  I use blocks of time for different tasks: a few hours to outline, a few hours to write.  I can brainstorm and jot ideas, phrases, character bits, in short periods of time, but I haven’t successfully trained myself to write for, say, an  hour and an hour only a day.  Or to a set word limit.

But you say, “There’s always 30 days in an open submission call!  That’s plenty of large tracts of time to write a good story!”  And… yeeesssss, there would be.  Except for the brain change.

I need quite a bit of time to switch from workaday brain to writer brain.

Gotta wake up the guys in the basement.  Gotta make my cheeks tingle with potential.  Gotta close my eyes and open my mind and grab a story from the ether.

A long time ago I learned that my muse leaves me alone if I leave her alone, but if I bother her she bombards me.  I carry pen and paper at all times because (even though I seldom use the jots that spring out of the air) I want to reinforce the muse’s involvement.  And I love what she says.  My editors do too; I sell stories that come from who the heck knows where, but I do: my muse.

Then I sleep and then I wake and work and my muse is stunned into silence.

And I gotta wake her up all over again.

The words call me, though.  Perhaps the muse dreams!  I feel the stories in there, just out of reach, so I do, I reach, I put in the effort and the hours to wake up and dream.

Because I like story.