Tag Archives: western historical fantasy

A Writer’s Christmas Wish List


Okay, so it’s been a while since I’ve shared what I’m up to. Am I claiming that I was too busy to blog? Bad CB! No cookie!

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been doing, at least in the writing department:

  • I did NaNoWriMo again this year, and got my 50,000 words. I’m not done yet; still working on the exciting climax. You know how it is with ballerinas who are suddenly infected with lycanthropy; they have some serious issues.
  • I finally have my previous novel—a historical fantasy set in 1870s Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska—more or less ready for alpha readers. I hope to have a beta version by spring.
  • I’ve continued submitting short stories to magazines. No acceptances yet, but I made at least editor’s one short list. Still waiting to see how that turns out.
  • And…I’ve decided to apply to some workshops. I’m talking the serious sci-fi/ fantasy workshops where you have to send a writing sample, spend a chunk of money and 1-6 weeks of your life learning whether or not you have what it takes to get your short stories and novels traditionally published. Think workshops like Clarion, Clarion West, Odyssey, Taos Toolbox, and Viable Paradise.

So here’s what I want for Christmas. (You don’t really have to get me anything…)

Help I need in December/January:

  • Read what I what I think are my best short stories (about 20K words total), and vote for your favorite 2 or 3; if you’ve successfully applied to one of the workshops mentioned above tell me which of those stories you think might get me into a competitive workshop
  • Tell me how you got into Clarion, Clarion West, Odyssey, Taos Toolbox, Viable Paradise. Gory details? Trials and tribulations? I’m all over whatever you want to share. If you’re willing to point me to anything you’ve written on the subject of applying to or attending a competitive workshop—or if you’re willing to exchange emails/chat about the experience— I can’t tell you how much I’d love to hear from you.
  • Give me tips on writing an essay about myself that would persuade anyone to give me a shot at one of these workshops. Or read mine (once I’ve written it) and tell me how to make it more convincing.
  • Alpha read my western fantasy novel (about 100K words). This means reading the story and just giving me general impressions, but no need to heavily edit.

Help I may need in March/April

  • Alpha read my novel about the werewolf ballerina (not finished yet, but I think it will be about 100K words)

Help I may need in May/June

  • Beta read my western fantasy. This would happen after alpha readers have checked it out. Most of the major flaws should already be dealt with. You’d be spotting continuity  and other errors, helping me make it read better, stuff like that.

If you’re able to help with any of my above wishes, please comment below or message me via Facebook/ Twitter/Google. And let me know if you need a similar Christmas present…

Letters from NaNoWriMo Land – A Sample of my Novel


Yup…still writing

Don’t have time to write a lot of new blog content right now, because I’m in the thick of novel-writing. I’m adding to my novel from last year, so far titled Dr. Miracle’s Medicine Show. It was missing entire scenes, though in some cases, I needed to completely rewrite scenes. It’s historical fantasy, set in the American West. Our hero is named Slim Holloway. Well, hero is definitely overstating it, but the plan is for the guy to become a better human being eventually.

So, for better or worse, here’s a chunk of first-draftiness from an early scene. Be kind, please!


A portentous cigar…

Slim wondered why the congressman seemed so interested in hiring him. The only thing he could think of was that moment, back at the poker table, when he had looked at the congressman’s cards, using his Gift. The change in Routledge’s eyes had been chilling.

If he was wrong, he might kick himself for it later. On the other hand, how would he ever know? He decided to go with his gut. “Gus, I hate to drink a man’s bourbon and then have to tell him no, but I just don’t see myself in politics.”

“Slim, I’m the one in politics. You wouldn’t have to do much as far as that goes. I have a lot of other business, too.”

That statement really didn’t ring true. Routledge might well have other interests, but why would he try so hard to hire Slim, who was clearly uninterested in a huge part of his work? He hadn’t even said anything along the lines of “how do you know until you try it?”

Slim went from considering to fully decided. “I thank you, sir, but no. Now, I’d better get to bed. As I said, I want to be rested in time for the stage tomorrow.”

Routledge’s hand tightened around his glass, and his smile once again didn’t reach his eyes. “Well, if you’re sure.”

“I am, sir.” 

“You’re staying at the rooming house by the stage depot?” Routledge asked.

It wasn’t as if there was much of anyplace else to stay in this benighted spot. “Yes, sir, I am.”

“I’m headed in that direction myself.” Routledge bolted the rest of his drink.

Slim stifled a sigh, and stood up. It would be too pointed altogether to refuse to walk with the man. He waited as Routledge put some cash on the bar. The bodyguard stood at the door. After looking at the street outside, he held the door open and nodded to Routledge.

“After you, Slim,” said Routledge.

Slim entered the street. The sun had set while they were inside. The night would come on in the slow way of early summer. For now, there was enough light to see their way to the rooming house. The townsfolk all appeared to be inside, most likely at their suppers. A few parlor lamps were lit. Fish Creek clearly closed down as early as most villages of its type.

Routledge joined Slim on the wooden sidewalk. “I do like the quiet of early evening, don’t you?”

“It’s peaceful,” said Slim, just to be agreeable. In truth, little places like this reminded him of the River Glen, the town he’d grown up in. Since he’d left that town as soon as he was old enough, it was unlikely he’d find any other place that resembled it to be at all enticing. Fish Creek didn’t even have the rosy memories of early youth to cast a pleasant glow in Slim’s mind.

“I don’t suppose there’s any way you’ll reconsider my offer?” said Routledge.

Slim had known this was coming, and was ready for it. “No, sir, but I thank you. Of course, if I were to change my mind, you’d be easy to find, being a public figure and all.”

“True enough,” Routledge chuckled.

He took a cigar case from his pocket, opened it, and offered a cigar to Slim. Slim shook his head. He’d tried cigars when he was younger, and had grown violently ill from his first experience. Other boys had tried again, and had come to like them, but once was enough for Slim. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he’d prefer not to take anything else from Routledge since he wasn’t accepting his offer of employment.

Routledge stopped and felt for something else in his pockets, finally producing a box of lucifer matches. He struck one on his boot sole, and lit his cigar. Slim heard something behind him—sudden footsteps. As he turned to look, he caught a glimpse of Routledge’s big bodyguard, Jensen. The man had something in his hand, which he raised towards Slim’s skull.

Slim sidestepped, and eluded most of the blow. Still, his ears rang and he had to fight to keep his footing. Jensen was caught off-balance as well. He went a step past Slim and spun around.

Slim backed up and was just able to see Routledge’s face. No longer jovial, the congressman had set his jaw. Slim had no idea why Routledge had ordered Jensen to attack, but it was obvious that he had. Slim reached for his pistol. He pointed it at Jensen, but when he spoke, he addressed both men. “I don’t know what you want from me, but that’s no way to go about it.”

“I’m sure Mr. Jensen was mistaken about something, Slim,” said Routledge. His customary smile was back. “Maybe he thought you were about to attack me.”

“I’m sure he didn’t,” Slim said. “I think your lighting the cigar was a signal. I wouldn’t move, Mr. Jensen.”

“You want me to shoot him?” Jensen already had his gun out. It was probably what he’d used to hit Slim.

“No, Mr. Jensen,” said Routledge. “Mr. Holloway won’t shoot either of us. He knows how stupid that would be.”

True enough. Even if he were able to get off two lucky shots, the noise would bring attention. And even if he were able to get away after that, enough people had seen him talking with Routledge. The bartender had seen Slim leaving the saloon with him. He’d have to hide the rest of his life, which likely wouldn’t be long.

“What is it you want?” he asked Routledge.

“I’ve told you, Slim. I’d like to employ you. There are young men who’d give their eye teeth for such an opportunity. If you don’t like it, you can always quit.”

“How long do you want me to try it out?”

“I think a month might be fair, don’t you?”

Slim thought he’d rather sleep with a bed full of rattlesnakes than work for Routledge even one day, but if agreement was what it took to get out of this pickle, he’d say whatever the congressman wanted to hear. Once Routledge trusted him, he would find it easier to slip away.

“Seems reasonable,” Slim said.

“Good. Why don’t you put the gun away, son?” said Routledge.

Jensen’s hand still held the pistol even as he put it in his holster. Slim looked at Jensen, and then at Routledge.

“Stand down, Jensen,” Routledge said.

Jensen took his hand away from his Colt.

Slim holstered his own pistol.

“That’s better.” Routledge put his cigar back in his mouth and puffed contentedly. “Look at it this way, Slim. You’ll get to travel, and you’ll save on stagecoach fare.”