July, 2018 Update

Hi, Everyone,

Summer’s here and the time is right … for sitting inside in the air conditioning and writing!  At least that’s how the song goes inside of my head.

I’d like to hope that I’m finally getting my act together to get back to writing.  This weekend, for instance, I’ve written a couple thousand words on a short story I’ve been planning for a while, I’ve finally finished the migration of our family site, stephanieandmatt.com, to a new hosting company, one who will hopefully notify me when I have a bill due, as opposed to relying on my noticing that the site has vanished from the ‘net because I didn’t pay my annual fee, which is how it was with the previous jokers I was hosting with.  Seriously, I owe you money.  Don’t you think you could at least send me an e-mail with that fact?

I’ve also sent out what I’ve been calling my monthly update but has actually been bi-monthly so far this year.  I’m caught up with all the correspondence regarding the writers group that I moderate, and I updated some software on Stephie’s PC.  Not bad for a weekend!  I just need to keep this momentum going.

Because of other commitments, the next THC Reading Series night I will be attending will be Saturday, September 15, and I will be reading chapter 10 of Barnstormers.  If you want to catch up on the story, you can read chapter 9 on my Barnstormers page,  but the best way to follow the story of Kiki and Bridget is to join my mailing list.  I send out an e-mail once a month with information about my writing and any literary events I might be at, and I include the next chapter of the Barnstormers story with each one.  I do post each chapter here after I read it, but subscribers to my e-mail list are already ahead of the game, as in May they will be reading chapter ten, which I won’t be reading at THC until maybe September.  And it’s all for free!  Join today!

Thanks for reading!

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March, 2018 update

Hi, Everyone,

If you’re wondering what happened to February, so am I!  Extra stress at work plus a lingering head cold plus the strange weather we’ve been having all contributed to a mid-winter funk that was not really the best state for me to do much creative work.  I got some writing done, but other things like this e-mail slipped away from me.

The good news is that it’s a sunny March morning and I feel like I’m starting to get my creative drive back.  I’ve been struggling with a little writer’s block since the Christmas holidays, and while the writing is still not flowing like I would like, I have been writing, and I like what’s coming out.  I’m getting excited about the story again, and I hope it shows in the published results.

I have only a few items to pass along to you this month:

  • I’m well into chapter 10 of Barnstormers, and expect to have it done in the next day or two.  The jump in the story line seems to have thrown me a bit, plot-wise, but I feel I’m back on track.  You will see it in April if you’re on my mailing list.
  • The next THC Reading Series night will be on Saturday, March 17, and I’ll be reading an abbreviated version of chapter 7 of the Barnstormers story. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and listen to some interesting stories! There’s free parking, no admission, the tamales are excellent, and it’s BYOB.  We start at 7pm.
  • I finally have a hook for the next “Danny” story, and as crazy as it sounds considering the struggle I’ve been having making time to write, I’m thinking of trying to write it during April as part of the “Camp NaNoWriMo” challenge.  I always write best with a deadline, and the “Camp” part means that I can set my own word count goals, so I’ll shoot for a 10-15K novelette for the month.

Thanks for reading!

January, 2018 update

Happy New Year, everyone,

I hope everyone had as good a Christmas and New Year break as I had, and now I’m ready to get back to work.

Looking back on my writing output from last year, I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t write as much as I had hoped. I’m very happy with the eight chapters of the Barnstormers story that I’ve completed, and I think The Lost Ticket is the strongest of the three “Danny” stories I’ve written so far, but I have so many other stories I’d like to tell, and I’ve not been making the time to do that.

So I’m working on some goals for the next calendar year. Not “New Year’s Resolutions”, but goals. I want to get ahead on the Barnstormers story so I’m not scrambling at the last minute when I need a chapter for a writer’s group or to send to my mailing list. I want to write at least one more “Danny” story before starting on my next Sleep Detectives novel.

This year, I want to try to write a one-act play. I heard a guest on a podcast who is working in television talk about how he’d been writing one-act plays, and he put them together as a free e-book on Kindle that he uses as a kind of a resume. I downloaded it and thought the stories were awful, but I’m intrigued by the format. I really enjoyed converting the Sleep Detectives chapters for multi-person reading at the book releases (which you can hear on my Audio page), and I think I’d like to try writing something specifically for that format, rather than adapting something existing.

Finally, I’m going to try to submit a short story for publication somewhere, either in a magazine or an on-line publication. I have a couple of stories that most people haven’t seen, because they’re too long for a reading night and because I’m not happy with the endings. Maybe I’ll try to fix the ending and send them out into the world. Or maybe I’ll write something new. Either way, my goal is not necessarily to be published (which would be great, but not something under my control) but simply to submit.

Whatever I do, I plan to share it with you, and I hope you are entertained by it. If you have any comments, on the Barnstormers story or anything, please let me know.

I do have a few specific items to pass along to you this month:

  • I’ve been invited by one of my THC Reading Series pals to participate in an Open Mic event in Northbrook. While that’s pretty far from home, it’s only ten minutes from work, so I’m planning to go. It will be Tuesday night, January 23 at the Book Bin Northbrook,1151 Church St in Northbrook. The event starts at 7pm, and I think I might read an excerpt from one of the “Danny” stories, possibly the bar scene from The Lost Girl. I don’t know what to expect there, but I’m sure I’ll have fun. If you’re in the Northbrook area, join me there. There are worse places you can spend a cold January evening than at a book store listening to writers reading their work.
  • The next THC Reading Series night will be on Saturday, January 20, and I’ll be reading an abbreviated version of chapter 6 of the Barnstormers story. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and listen to some interesting stories! There’s free parking, no admission, the tamales are excellent, and it’s BYOB. We start at 7pm.
  • I’m well into chapter 9 of Barnstormers, and expect to have it done soon

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a great year!

November, 2018 update

The big news this month has nothing to do with my writing. My lovely and talented wife Stephanie is the next artist to display her work at the Tamale Hut Café.  Details are on my home page.

I do have a few writing-related items to pass along to you this month:

  • The story I read at the October reading series night is now posted on the Writing Group blog at https://thcreadingseries.wordpress.com/. You can also read it on my web site on the Short Stories page.
  • Free time was at a premium in October, but with several major projects at work finishing in the next few weeks, I expect to have more writing time, so I will be back at the Barnstormers.  I plan to begin writing chapter 8 later today.

The next THC Reading Series night will be on Saturday, November 18, and I will be reading an abbreviated version of chapter 5 of the Barnstormers story. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and listen to some interesting stories! There’s free parking, no admission, the tamales are excellent, and it’s BYOB.  We start at 7pm.

Thanks for reading!

October, 2018 Update

This month started with my pals and I attending the annual Chicago Book Expo on Sunday, October 1st, and it hasn’t let up.  I’ve been working extra hours almost every day and have so far worked two of the Saturdays this month, with more extra work next weekend (all without the benefit of overtime.)  I don’t mean to complain, especially because I’m better off than I was a year ago, when my severance money was running out and few job offers were coming my way.  I only mention this as an explanation as to why this e-mail is so late, why I haven’t written much lately, and why I don’t have a Barnstormers chapter for you this month.
I do have a few writing-related items to pass along to you this month:

  • Next week, October 28, the members of the writers group I coordinate will be the featured readers at the Tamale Hut Cafe Reading Series in North Riverside.  We’ve all written stories that start with the same sentence, and the stories veer off in all kinds of directions.  Details of the event can be found at the Reading Series web site at https://thcreadingseries.wordpress.com/.
  • I need to make a few changes to chapter 7 of Barnstormers this month, so I’m not including it in this message.  I promise to have it for you next month, and while I haven’t started writing chapter 8, I have been working through the plot in my head in the scant free time I’ve had.

As mentioned above, the next THC Reading Series night will be on Saturday, October 28, and I will be reading a short story I wrote for the project, something that is in a different style than what I usually write. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and listen to some entertaining stories, many with the same opening sentence! There’s free parking, no admission, the tamales are excellent, and it’s BYOB.  We start at 7pm.

Thanks for reading!

September, 2017 Update

The big news this month is that I will again have a table at the annual Chicago Book Expo at Columbia College in downtown Chicago. This will be my fourth year at this “celebration of Chicago independent presses and authors”, and I will be there with some of my THC Writers Group friends to promote our work, as well as to promote the various arts-related offerings at the Tamale Hut Café. I’ve sold a few books there in previous years, but on top of making some contacts in the Chicago literary world, we’ve always have fun. If you’re anywhere near the Loop area on Sunday, October 1st, please stop by this free event and say hello. You might catch me after I slip into my “carnival barker” mode, which I’ve been told is quite entertaining to see.

I have a few writing items to tell you about this month:

  • I’ve just completed chapter 7 of Barnstormers, and am taking a short break before moving into Chapter 8. If you’ve been reading along, as I hope you have, you’ll know that I’ve moved the story out of the Flying Circus and have set my young aviatrices on the road. I’ve felt that this was the point that the story would really take off, but in the early chapters, I’d tried to keep the details as true to life as possible. Now I’m starting to bog myself down with details like figuring out, for instance, if they can easily get from point A to point B with the limited roads and travel options available to them in 1925. I need to stop sweating the small stuff so much and get back into the action. The writing is going really well through the action sequences!
  • I mentioned last month that members of the writers group I coordinate will be the featured readers at the Tamale Hut in October, and that we were all writing our stories with the same opening sentence. At this point, I’ve seen a half-dozen of the stories (with four more to read before this month’s meeting) and I’ve loved all that I’ve read. Plan to be at the Tamale Hut on October 28 to hear many of them read by their authors.

The next THC Reading Series night will be on Saturday, September 30, and I will be attending to see the featured reader, but will be leaving shortly afterward so I won’t be reading any Barnstormers this month. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and listen to some entertaining stories! There’s free parking, no admission, the tamales are excellent, and it’s BYOB. We start at 7pm.

Thanks for reading!

August, 2017 Update

Big news this month is that I had a positive review of my most recent novel, The Sleep Detectives Go To Washington.

One of my writing heroes is Ron Fortier, one of the guys behind Airship 27, a leading publisher of New Pulp fiction.  I first met Ron at the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention in (I think) 2009, well before I wrote anything longer than some documentation at work.  The following year at the show, I asked him a general question about how to get started writing a story, and he took the time to explain in detail the genesis of a story he had just finished.  That conversation, and Ron’s enthusiasm about the writing process, was key in giving me the motivation to try my hand at writing fiction.

This year at Windy City, I gave Ron a copy of my latest novel and he said he’d review it.  He now has, and liked it, and has posted the review on his site.  You can read what he thinks at this link.  (Previously, he also reviewed my first Sleep Detectives novel.)

I’m a big fan of pulp fiction (the genre, not the movie) and I aspire to eventually write something in that vein. Maybe someday I’ll be good enough to get something published by Airship 27.

I have a few writing items to tell you about this month:

  • I’ve completed chapter 6 of the Barnstormers story, and am already working on Chapter 7.  I’ve worked out the resolution of the cliffhanger in chapter 6, and as my two main characters are now on their way across the country, I need to decide what their next destination will be.  As I mentioned in previous updates, there are currently three ways that you can follow the Barnstormers:
    • I read an abbreviated version of each chapter at the THC Reading Series.  (I need to shorten it because  to time limitations.)  I will be reading chapter 4 at the next Reading Series night on August 26th.
    • I post each chapter here on Barnstormers page after I read it.    Currently, the page contains chapter 3, and I will post chapter 4 after I read it in August.
    • If you want to read each entire, uncut chapter, you can subscribe to my mailing list.   I send out a monthly e-mail containing information about my writing projects, any open mic events or book shows I might be seen and heard at during the month, and anything new I might have going on in my life.  It’s pretty much what you read here, except you also get a link to a PDF of the next uncut chapter of Barnstormers.  And did I mention it’s free?  Sign up today!
  • The writers group that I coordinate will be the featured readers at the Tamale Hut in October, and as we did last year, we have been working on a group project for our feature.  The idea this year is that we all start our stories with the same sentence.  I’ve seen submissions from three of our group members, and the resulting stories could not be more different from each other.  I’ve already written one story and have an idea for another.  It’s been a lot of fun (as the writers group usually is) and I can’t wait to share with the Tamale Hut on October 28.

The next THC Reading Series night will be on Saturday, August 26, and as mentioned above, I will be reading a shortened version of chapter 4 of the Barnstormers story. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and listen to some interesting stories! There’s free parking, no admission, the tamales are excellent, and it’s BYOB.  We start at 7pm.

Thanks for reading!