Monday, June 26, 2017

New post on TheMillionWords.Net: Exploding the small moments

There are lots of ways to think about descriptive writing. I like the idea of "exploding the small moments"...

So I talked about it on my latest blog post on is a shared blog about our journey to become great writers. Join us as we talk about writing advice and our own experiences. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Prompt: City super powers

Boston speaks to me in dreams. Washington is wary, worn out by lies and broken promises. New York has never said a word, but she can be such a bitch--guiding hopes for one and crushing dreams for another. Paris really is the city of love.

Every city has a super power, a spirit imbued by the human lives that built them, live in them, give their last breaths in them.

But they're becoming quiet. Ordinary. They don't speak to me, and I can't feel them any more.

Someone is stealing their souls.


And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Con Report: ConCarolinas 2017 Art of the Short Story

I moderated this panel on Saturday afternoon, with panelists: 
  • Bobby Nash
  • Robert Bevan
  • JD Blackrose (Joelle Riezes)
  • Melissa Gilbert
  • Tonia Brown 
These are mostly my prep notes.

Hemingway said it was no accident that the Gettysburg Address was so short.

Mario Puzo said, "If I'd had longer, this would have been shorter."

Panel Introductions

I asked the audience: are you all writers or readers?
If all readers, we'll talk more about examples of good writing than how to

What do you see as the critical differences between writing short stories vs longer works?

How do you think about short story structure?
  • Plot has a beginning, middle, end
  • Reversals (backstory), recognitions
  • Tension/pacing
  • Setting
  • Characterization
  • Motivation
Strong opening is even more important than for a novel!
Set the tone
Grab the reader and pull them in
Build curiosity

Roberto BolaƱo, Chilean author, said "It is best to write short stories three or five at a time. If one has the energy, write them nine or fifteen at a time."
I asked the panelists: Do you write stand alone or related stories? Do you write several at once, or one here and there?

Let's talk about the short story market 
Can you make any money - significant income - with short stories?

Lots of themed anthologies recently:

Magazines like Asimov's, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and so many more

4-5 or 10 cents a word - not going to get rich, but you *can* get published and get recognition

Look for anthology calls
Examples of great short stories in the genre

Master: Edgar Alan Poe
Gardner Dozois' "The Year's Best science fiction" collections
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, James Tiptree Jr (Alice Sheldon)
Isaac Asimov
Nine Billion Names of GodArthur C Clarke 

Google "speculative fiction short stories" for links to lists


Short Story Writing, Charles Raymond Barrett, 1898