50 Published Stories: What Have I Learned?

I recently sold my 50th story since I started submitting through Duotrope, and because I like stats and data I went back and looked at those 50 stories to see if I could glean any rejectomantic information. Turns out, there are some interesting tidbits to discuss. Now, one caveat: this list ONLY includes stories I’ve submitted through Duotrope and were subsequently published. It does not include any of my media tie-in or gaming fiction, as that’s a completely different animal. I’ll post the entire list of publications at the end of this post, but it’s long, and, well, kind of uninteresting, so we’ll get to the good stuff first.

Published Stories Total Subs Subs Before Acceptance
All Subs 50 232 4.64
Flash Fiction 36 130 3.61
Short Story 11 99 9.00
Microfiction 3 3 1.00

Quick explanation of the numbers above. The first column is the total number of stories published corresponding to that specific length. The second column is the total number of submissions sent for the stories in that category. The final column is how many subs it took, on average, for one of my accepted stories to, uh, well get accepted. Got it? Okay, let’s discuss.

If you look at all subs, it takes me on average about 5 submissions to get a story accepted, but those numbers are skewed because, well, the flash fiction is covering for the short stories. When I sell a piece of flash fiction, it only takes me around 4 submissions, but when I sell a short story it takes me more than twice that number. Microfiction is a small sample size and little more than an anomaly at the moment (though I do like my 1.000 batting average).

So am I just a better flash fiction writer? That’s entirely possible, but I think there may be some other reasons for the disparity in submissions between my flash fiction and longer works. Here are some theories.

  1. More opportunity. Many flash fiction publishers, at least the ones I submit to, publish year-round and frequently. There are quite a few publishers that put out a story a week and some even put out a story a day. In short, they need more stories, so your chances at publication are maybe a little better because of the need for material. That’s not to say these markets are publishing just any old thing, far from it (so says my pile of rejections from markets like Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online), but since they have more slots to fill, there’s maybe a tad less of the “even good stories get rejected” going on. That’s a lot different than say a short story market that published an issue three or four times a year (or less) that contains only six to ten stories per issue.
  2. More pro markets. All my short stories run through a gauntlet of professional markets that are tough to crack. So I tend to pile up rejections from places like The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, and a bunch of others. It’s just a fact of life that when you’re submitting to the big markets. You’re gonna get rejected. A lot. Now, I am happy to report that six of my published short stories were sold to pro markets (either initially or in reprint) and the other five went to good semi-pro markets, so my perseverance paid off. But the point remains: I do seem to have to work harder to publish my shorts.
  3. Luck. Look, a lot of publication comes down to putting the right story in front of the right editor at the right time. Maybe I’m simply doing this more often with flash fiction. Additionally, I think I’ve identified some flash fiction publishers that dig my writing and who have published me multiple times, so chances of publication might be a little better with those markets. I haven’t found similar markets for my short stories (yet).

Of course all of the above is hardcore rejectomancy, but I’ve been doing this long enough I think there might be a few nuggets of truth here. I guess when I sell another fifty stories, I can run the numbers again and see if thing change in any meaningful way. 🙂


As promised (or threatened) here’s the entire list of my 50 published works. I’ve linked to the ones that are free to read online. One thing I should note is the number of submissions for each piece is the total number of sub before its FIRST acceptance. I’ve gone on to submit a number of these stories again as reprints with some acceptances and of course more rejections.

Title Type Subs
A Man of Many Hats 1
A Small Evil 8
At the Seams 8
Bear Necessity 1
Beyond the Block 1
Big Problems 1
Burning Man 9
Ditchers 4
Do Me a Favor 1
Far Shores and Ancient Graves 3
Liquid Courage 1
Little Sister 3
Masks 1
New Arrivals 3
Night Walk 1
Old as the Trees 3
Reunion 4
Scar 7
Second Bite 8
Shadow Can 1
Side Effects 1
Simulacra 2
The Father of Terror 1
The Food Bank 4
The Grove 1
The Inside People 3
The Rarest Cut 6
The Sitting Room 1
The Thing that Came With the Storm 2
Time Waits for One Man 2
Two Legs 6
What Kind of Hero 11
When the Lights Go On 11
Where They Belong 1
An Incident on Dover Street 6
Cowtown 3
Dead Bugs 1
Treed 1
His True Name 1
A Point of Honor 11
Bites 13
Caroline 13
Luck Be a Bullet 4
Night Games 7
One Last Spell, My Love 2
Paint-Eater 9
Paper Cut 16
Reading the Room 6
Scare Tactics 7
The Back-Off 11

 

Micromanagement II: 4 MORE Benefits of Writing Tiny

Almost exactly one year ago I published an article called Micromanagement: 4 Benefits of Writing Tiny. I had just started writing microfiction, and I found a number of tangible benefits from doing so. To quickly recap, those benefits are: better self-editing, a chance to try new genres and styles, great story seed generator, and easy to share. If you’d like to read more about my thoughts on those points, just click the link in the first sentence. Okay, so now a year and some three hundred micros later, I’ve had time to further reflect and recognize other benefits of squeezing a story into a 50-word Tweet. Let’s have a look at four more reasons to write tiny.

  1. New Markets. Believe it or not, there are (many) places to submit your tiny tales. I’ve published two microfictions at such markets in the past year, and I have a third pending. If you expand a bit into drabbles (exactly 100-word stories) and other short forms, there are even MORE markets. Getting published in these markets is pretty great too because most of them share your easily digestible story far and wide, which can bring folks to your blog, get you Twitter followers, and generally get more folks reading your work. It’s certainly worked that way for me.
  2. Warm Up. Often the very first thing I write everyday is my #vss365 Twitter story. It’s challenging enough to get the ol’ creative juices flowing and get me nice and warmed up for the day’s writing. It’s like a good long stretch, really, useful on it’s own and as a complement to writing other things.
  3. Distraction/Validation. Really important at the moment. I’m finding microfiction to be a welcome distraction. It’s a moment I can focus without all the stress, doubt, and worry that comes along with writing longer works, like my novel. Sometimes it’s even cathartic, and I might spin out a microfiction as a way of exorcising the demons to some extent. (I’ve been writing A LOT of post apocalyptic stuff). Additionally, when I complete and post a micro, I get a nice little boost of confidence. Yeah, it’s a small thing, but I wrote it, finished it, and shared it. That’s not a bad way to begin your day.
  4. Community. I mentioned this in the first article, but it wasn’t one of the main points. After a year-plus of writing Twitter microfiction I can definitely say one of my favorite things has been the discovery of a vast community of talented authors who also write tiny. The talent level is pretty staggering, really, and I’ve ended up following a lot of these folks on Twitter, visiting their blogs/websites, and reading their other works. In other words, microfiction is a great way to tap into a wonderful and supportive group of writers.

So there you go, four more reasons you should be writing microfiction. If you’d like to take a gander at my own micro-efforts, follow me on Twitter @Aeryn_Rudel.

Any reasons to write tiny I missed here or in the other article? Tell me about it in the comments.

A Week of Writing: 1/13/20 to 1/19/20

One more week of writing in the books. Let’s see how I did.

Words to Write By

This week’s quote comes from novelist Hallie Ephron.

“Outlining is like putting on training wheels. It gives me the courage to write, but we always go off the outline.”

– Hallie Ephron

Since I’m deep into the outlining stage of my novel, I really like this quote from Hallie Ephron. I outline for a number of reasons, and one of them is it lets me dip my toe into the story before I dive into the deep, cold water of the first draft. It’s that training wheels aspect from the quote. Sure, an outline has a ton of other benefits too. It gives me a roadmap to write the story and lets me work out some of the plot and character issues before I get into the thick of a draft. Still, I do find, as Hallie Ephron says, that the outline gives me the courage to write the book and the courage to stray from it when the novel and its characters need to go off script.

The (New) Novel

I’ve mostly outlined the first act of the novel, and I like where it’s headed. I’ve also done some character plotting, using aspects of my own experiences in certain things for the background of the protagonist. My hope there is her backstory and motivations will ring truer to the reader. My outlines are always three acts and thirty chapters, so I’ve still got a bit of work to do. I hope to finish up by early next week with an outline that clock in between 8,000 and 10,000 words.

Short Stories

A sad week for short story submissions, unfortunately, as I didn’t send a single one.

  • Submissions Sent: 0
  • Rejections: 1
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0

I need three more submission this month to stay on pace for one-hundred for the year. One would think I could do that, but we’ll see. The rejection was a simple standard form rejection of no particular note. I might pad my monthly total with a few reprints, as there’s a few anthologies coming that might work for some of the horror stories I’ve sold in the past.

Microfiction

Here’s this week’s batch of #vss365 microfiction. I’ll admit I struggled a bit with the prompt words this week (a failing entirely my own and not the prompter’s), so it’s not my brightest and best bunch of micros. I do like the last one, though. As usual, you can click the link in the date to go to the specific tweet.

January 13th, 2020

“Look at that beautiful #opaline sky.”

“Opaline? It’s gray. It’s always GRAY.”

“Nah, you just have to learn to appreciate the weather here in Seattle.”

“Weather? WEATHER?! Weather changes, dude. This shit hasn’t budged from morbid murder clouds for six fucking months!”

January 14th, 2020

He found the first growth on his palm. Hers bloomed on one pale cheek. They sat in the warm dark apartment, watching their growths multiply and extend #fibrous tendrils that laced together and intertwined. Soon, they were bound together by malignancy, closer than ever.

January 15th, 2020

“Is that a revolver?” Lucky asked.

Sal drew the old single-action from its holster with a #flourish. “Yep, gonna try something new.”

“What? Like a gunfight?”

“Uh huh. I wanna see how fast I am.”

“Sal, it ain’t a good sign when just murdering folks loses its thrill.”

January 16th, 2020

We had shelter, food and water for a lifetime, but as the immediate danger passed and years mounted, we all felt a terrible #yearning. The grim truth inside our concrete savior loomed over everything, and one by one we chose a quick end over decades of pointless survival.

January 17th, 2020

The ancient ruins on the planet’s equator indicated a #riparian culture. The towering idols and strange domed structures hinted at a deeply religious society. Lastly, the mangled remains of the inhabitants spoke of a people plagued by sins we humans could easily recognize.

January 18th, 2020

All contact guys drink. Unless you’re a psychopath, you gotta quiet the demons. But it makes you sloppy, #muddles your thoughts, puts you in situations that’ll get you killed. The truth is you hope for those situations. The drink just gives you the guts to look for them.

January 19th, 2020

I’m not as #articulate as I once was. The bullet they dug out of my skull makes thoughts and words distant cousins at best. I don’t really need to speak, though. As I thumb back the hammer and point my pistol, the man who tried and failed to kill me understands perfectly.

Goals

Outline, outline, outline. Then, in between outlining, finish a short story or two and submit them. It would be great to finish the outline by the end of the week, but I feel like it might take me a tad longer.


That was my week. How was yours?

The Tiny Adventures of Lucky & Sal

So, as many of you know, I’ve been writing microfiction over on Twitter (@Aeryn_Rudel) under the #vss365 hashtag, and having a lot of fun with it. Much of my microfiction falls into the crime genre, and a while back a created two characters, a pair of hitmen Lucky and Sal. I’ve written a bunch of them, and most are little snippets of conversation between these two killers, usually with a humorous slant. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to collect the ones I’ve written thus far right here. They’re not all winners, of course, but I had fun with them. Hopefully, you will too. Who knows? Maybe there’s a complete short story or even a novel waiting to be written about these two guys. 🙂

Oh, the hashtagged word is the prompt for that day. If you click the date for each entry, it’ll take you directly to the tweet, you know, if you wanna throw me a like or a retweet or something. 😉


March, 2nd 2019

I don’t watch Lucky work. It creeps me out. My job is talking, his is making people receptive to talking. He comes out of the garage, wiping blood from his knuckles, that weird satisfied look on his face. “You’re up.”

“Can he still talk?”

Lucky shrugs. “He can #listen.”

(In this first one, I was still figuring out their voices, hence the first-person).

 

April 15th, 2019

“Hey, Lucky, are we #villains?” Sal asked, wiping blood from his knife.

“Nah, just bad guys,”

“There’s a difference?”

“Sure,” Lucky said. “Bad guys work FOR villains

“Man, it would be great to be a villain.”

Lucky nudged the body with his shoe. “Keep working at it, Sal. You’ll get there.”

 

April 21st, 2019

“And that works?” Sal asked, grimacing.

“Sure does,” Lucky said. “Most guys don’t get past the fingers before they start singing.”

“Jesus, what happens when you run out of fingers?” Sal shuddered, dreading the answer.

Lucky shrugged. “Lots of stuff fits in a vise.”

 

April 26th, 2019

“Gun, knife, or garrote?” Lucky asked.

Sal rolled his eyes. His partner would often #vacillate between tools of the trade.

“What?” Lucky said. “It’s an important decision.”

“And a fuckin’ easy one,” Sal said. “The gun’s too loud, and you wore a white shirt today.”

 

April 27th, 2019

Lucky put his gun away and frowned. “I need a #vacation.”

“Yeah? Where do you want to go?” Sal said.

Lucky pointed to the splatter of blood on the wall behind Mr. Favero’s head. “Hey, what’s that look like?”

“Kind of like Florida.”

Lucky nodded. “Florida it is.”

 

May 5th, 2019

“Sal,” Lucky said. “Little help here.”

“Sorry. You caught me #reminiscing.”

“About what?”

“The first time we, uh, cleaned up.”

Lucky chuckled. “Jesus, we made a mess with that hacksaw.”

“We’re smarter now.” Sal smiled and picked up the chainsaw. “Head or feet first?”

 

May 8th, 2019

“Hey, Lucky, do you #love your job?” Sal said, looking up from an issue of Cosmo.

“I don’t know. Why?” Lucky said.

“This article says if you don’t love your job, you should quit.”

Lucky looked down at the corpse of Joey Fritz, partially wrapped in plastic. “And do what?”

“Something else. Whatever.”

Lucky shook his head. “You ever heard the term institutionalized, Sal?”

 

May 24th, 2019

“What’d this guy do?” Sal asked and stooped to pick up the spent .45 casing.

Lucky rolled the corpse up in the carpet they’d brought with a grunt. “I don’t know. Something #vile, probably.”

“You think?”

Lucky blinked. “What, you think we’re offing guys who do Doctors Without Borders and work at soup kitchens in their spare time?”

 

May 31st, 2019

“He looks kinda peaceful, don’t he?” Lucky said.

Sal nodded. “Yeah, guy looks like he’s lost in #reverie.”

“What?”

“You know, reverie. Daydreaming. Pleasant thoughts.”

Lucky glanced at the hole in Donnie Ranallo’s forehead and chuckled. “I doubt that last one was pleasant.”

 

June 7th, 2019

“Don’t stand too close,” Lucky said. “That #smoke ain’t good for you.”

Sal stepped back from the two-story bonfire consuming Ivan Petrov’s house, lit up a cigarette–Camels, unfiltered–and took a drag. “Thanks, Lucky. I’d hate to get the wrong kind of lung cancer.”

 

June 11th, 2019

“Hey, Lucky, do I lack #empathy?” Sal asked.

Lucky shook his head. “Nah, you’re a real sweetheart as hitters go.”

“You think so?” Sal pulled his knife from the body with a wet squelch.

“Sure. I’ll bet Mr. Luciano there appreciates you only stabbed him the one time.”

 

June 16th, 2019

“What’s around your neck, Lucky?” Sal asked.

Lucky held up a coin on a gold chain. “Magic quarter. Keeps the bullets off me.”

“Uh, you’ve been shot eight times.”

Lucky smiled and showed Sal the lead bullet embedded in the other side of the coin. “But not nine.”

 

June 23rd, 2019

“Sal, what do you want to eat?” Lucky shouted.

Sal shut off the chainsaw and wiped blood from his face. “What?”

“Dinner? When we’re done with Mr. Russo. What are you in the #mood for?”

“Oh. I don’t know. Kinda feelin’ roast beef or steak.”

 

July 1st, 2019

“You run last month’s numbers?” Lucky asked.

“Yep,” Sal replied. “Five hits. Twenty-five Gs.”

“Not bad.”

“Less expenses, we netted only fifteen.”

“What? Why?”

Sal sighed. “The Rosetti job. Clients thought he was a werewolf. Silver bullets cost a #fortune.”

 

July 7th, 2019

“This might #sting,” Lucky says and pours hydrogen peroxide over the bullet hole.

His partner gasps. “Jesus, that hurts.”

“Come on, Sal. Just a little through and through.”

Sal brightens. “You think it’ll scar good?”

“Yep. It’ll be a nice addition to the collection.”

 

July 21st, 2019

“No way. I’m not going unless we drive,” Sal said and crossed his arms.

Lucky sighed. “You’re a goddamn contract killer. You work with some of the scariest motherfuckers on the planet. HOW are you afraid to #fly?”

Sal rolled his eyes. “I can’t shoot a plane, Lucky.”

 

July 23rd, 2019

Sal handed Lucky another #stack of hundreds and sighed. “Getting paid in cash sucks.”

Lucky shrugged. “What do you want? Something like Venmo?”

“Yeah, but for contract guys.” Sal grinned. “Maybe call it Kilmo.”

“Oh, genius. You should take that shit on Shark Tank.”

 

August 18th, 2019

“The gun, the knife, and the garrote?” Lucky said as Sal packed for the job. “How many times you gonna kill this guy?

“I just don’t want to play #favorites.”

“I don’t follow.”

“They’re like my kids, you know?” Sal grinned. “I want them to know I love them all the same.”

 

September 13th, 2019

“This article says killers are triggered by the full moon,” Sal said, tapping his iPhone.

Lucky glanced at the corpse at his feet. “Uh, there’s no moon tonight.”

“Guess we’re doing it wrong.”

“Yep, we’ve just been killing for money like a couple of assholes.”

 

November 14th, 2019

Sal handed Lucky the cordless #drill. “You do it.”

“Me?” Lucky said. “Why the fuck me?”

“I got a code. You know that.”

“Bullshit. I watched you dismember a guy with a hacksaw last week.”

“Sorry, Luck. No kids, no civilians”–Sal shuddered–“and no fuckin’ teeth.”

 

October 4th, 2019

“Damn it, Lucky,” Sal said, “Look what you did.”

“I shot him. He’s dead. That’s our job.”

“Right, but look at your shot placement.”

Lucky shrugged. “So?” “Heart, liver, kidneys.”

Sal flicked the driver’s license at his partner. “Guy’s an #organ donor, asshole.”

 

October 24th, 2019

“He ain’t #invincible,” Lucky said. “Just huge.”

“Bullshit,” Sal replied. “He strangled four hitters AFTER they shot him.”

Lucky closed the cylinder of the .500 S&W Magnum and grinned. “Those guys went after a man.” He patted the giant revolver. “I’m packing for bear.”

 

December 3rd, 2019

“You going to Jonny Fazio’s wedding?” Sal asked.

Lucky picked up shell casings from the ground and nodded. “Yeah, just need a few more of these.”

“What for?”

“You ever been to a hitman’s wedding?” Lucky shook the brass casings in his fist. “You don’t throw #rice.”

 

December 23rd, 2019

“Lucky, what the fuck is on the end of your gun?” Sal said.

“Huh? Oh, #jingle bells. The recoil makes ’em jingle.”

Sal rubbed his eyes. “Why would you do that?”

“It’s Christmas. Everyone deserves a little holiday cheer.”

“Even dead guys?”

“Especially dead guys.”


Well, I hope you enjoyed the exploits of Lucky & Sal. Keep an eye on my Twitter account (@Aeryn-Rudel) for further adventures. 🙂

Micromanagement: 4 Benefits of Writing Tiny

I’ve been writing Twitter microfiction under the #vss365 hashtag for roughly two months. This is my first experience writing at this very limited scale, and I’m finding it both fun and educational. I’m by no means an expert, but there is definite value in trying to cram a story into like 50 words. Here are a few of the benefits, as I see it, from writing microfiction.

  1. Savage self-editing. One of the best parts of writing microfiction, at least for me, is how it forces you to be utterly brutal and precise with word choice and sentence structure. What I mean is it’s largely an exercise of stripping an idea down to its bare bones so that that only the most vital words remain, and when you do it right, there’s a beautiful simplicity to the piece. Depending on the kind of fiction you write (and how you write it), that’s a skill that translates to longer works, from flash fiction to novels. I tend to have a fairly Spartan style anyway, and I find writing microfiction still forces me to knuckle down and make those hard choices (almost always for the better).
  2. Stretching your literary legs. If you’re writing microfiction based on a prompt like I’m doing, I think you’ll find yourself writing outside your comfort zone a lot. Yeah, I still fall back on my favorite horror genre tropes a fair amount, but I also find myself dipping a toe into other genres and even subjects approaching lit-fic (hell, I’ve even written a few limericks). That’s maybe not something I would attempt with a longer piece, but with micro I feel like I can experiment a little.
  3. Story seed generator. Look, it’s pretty difficult to write a complete story in 50 words (it is possible, though), but even if you don’t end up with a perfect micro, you might end up with a pretty solid idea that can be expanded into a longer piece. I’ve written something like fifty or sixty micros over the last few months, and I’m already developing two of them into longer stories. What’s better, they’re both a little different than what I usually write (back to point two) and might let me hit some markets my work normally isn’t a good fit for.
  4. Easy to share. Obviously, I’m writing microfiction on Twitter, so every piece is getting shared to the folks who follow me. That’s a big benefit because it’s an opportunity to potentially let a lot of people see my work in easy bite-sized chunks. It has also introduced me to a fantastic group of writers and THEIR awesome work. Let me tell you, there are some supremely talented folks writing microfiction on Twitter under the #vss365 hashtag (and others), and I strongly urge you to head out there and take a look.

Again, I’m no expert on microfiction, but in just a short amount of time I’ve found the practice of writing tiny to be immensely beneficial. I plan to keep at it on a daily basis, and if you’d like to follow my microfiction journey, follow me on Twitter @Aeryn_Rudel.

Do you write microfiction? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject in the comments.

A Month of Microfiction: March 2019

In late February I started writing daily Twitter microfiction under the #vss365 hashtag (that’s very short stories). I’ve had a real blast writing these things, and the prompts have been fun and challenging. I’ve been a flash fiction writer for a long time, but I’d never attempted micro because, frankly, I was intimidated by the tiny word counts. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to dive in because micro is an excellent exercise in stripping an idea down to the frame so it still makse sense with the bare minimum of words. I think that’s a great skill for any writer to work on.

Anyway, I thought I’d round up my month’s work and put it on the blog. You’ll notice a hashtagged word in each of these stories–it’s just the prompt word we had to use for that day. As for quality, it’s kind of a mixed bag. I think there are some real gems in here, some pretty good ones, and a fair amount of, well, kinda mediocre ones. If you’d like to read my microfiction in real time, just follow me on Twitter @Aeryn_Rudel.

Oh, and on some days I wrote two micros. The first of the two is the one I actually published.


March, 1st 2019

You can’t #escape the past. You can run, sure, but your old life? It’ll catch up, eventually, with names, faces, bodies. When it finds you, it doesn’t give a shit you’ve turned over a new leaf. And when the past speaks, it sounds a lot like a gun cocking in your ear.

March, 2nd 2019

I don’t watch Lucky work. It creeps me out. My job is talking, his is making people receptive to talking.

He comes out of the garage, wiping blood from his knuckles, that weird satisfied look on his face. “You’re up.”

“Can he still talk?”

Lucky shrugs. “He can #listen.”

March, 3rd 2019

I wake next to the ceiling, sigh, and struggle to #orient myself. These out of body experiences are becoming more frequent. I stare down at my body: gray, joints twisted, heart a thready echo of youth long past. I think the old pile of meat is trying to tell me something.

March, 4th 2019

The apocalypse taught me to #improvise, to use brains and instincts I never knew I had. Every tin can is a way to collect rain water, every rusted-out old car potential shelter, and every person I meet . . . Well, let’s just say I can “improvise” the taste of chicken.

March, 5th 2019

Up close, you can’t #overlook the details. The bulge of a Kevlar vest, the way a mark moves if he’s strapped, the wary gait of a man who knows he’s a target. The world is safer through a scope, and at three-hundred yards, it’s just pull the trigger, lights out, get paid.

March, 6th 2019

“Drink, Eva,” Ivan said.

“No, the red stuff is yucky.”

Nadia sighed. “Ivan, for a vampire you are oddly unpersuasive.”

“I’m open to suggestions.” Nadia went outside and returned with a snowball.

“Who wants snowcones?”

“Me! Me!” Eva said.

“Ivan, the cherry #syrup, please.”

March, 7th 2019

1) The catcher smirks as I step into the box. He’s a young guy, his big league dreams still intact. I know what he thinks. Why do I keep playing? The pitch sails in, and the crack of the bat gives me the same answer it has for eleven minor-league seasons. I #belong here.

2) The house didn’t #belong in Miller’s Field. It sat alone, more ruins than home, its broken windows promising darkness and dust. We found the foundations of other houses, almost invisible beneath the weeds, chewed to concrete stumps. The old house loomed over the carcasses.#vss365

March, 8th 2019

I once believed #she needed a shield from the world and its darkness. I was a fool, blind to the scars she bore from past battles hard-fought and hard-won. The mighty have no need of champions. Now I fight beside her, beneath her banner, and I am stronger for it.

March, 9th 2019

Frankie “Ice Cream” was the #epitome of a good guy and a good hitter. He gave his marks Ben & Jerry’s. A sweet end, he called it. But a good guy can be a good hitter only so long. Frankie quit with an empty pint of B&J in his lap and one of his own bullets in his skull.

March, 10th 2019

His letters always ended with an ellipsis. The dates and names before that were things we already knew, horrors we’d already found. We studied them, as we had to, but what kept me awake at night wasn’t the awful details. It was the terrible promise of that dot, dot, #dot.

March, 11th 2019

Cooper called his pearl-handled Colt Peacemaker “Fool’s End.” He’d swagger into a saloon, pick some tough talker with iron on his hip and jostle him, maybe spill his drink. Then Cooper’d smile and wait, hoping the fool would test a #quick temper against quicker hands.

March, 12th 2019

Dr. Keller asked me to draw my nightmares. He said the first #sketch–all whorls and spikes–was good progress. The second, clearer, the face more real, scared him. By the third, he begged me to stop. By the fifth, they took him away. Now I can sleep, and I do not dream.

March, 13th 2019

Most headhunters end up zombie chow in the first month. They go in, guns blazing, and draw the horde down on their heads. I take a different #approach. I follow the rookies with my rifle, wait for ’em to do something stupid, and then make sure the new zombie dies first.

March, 14th 2019

I found a #pocket universe in an old pair of jeans. It ate my iPhone and twenty-six bucks before I realized what it was. When Jack kicked in my door to collect his money, I showed him what I’d found. Now he gets to visit another dimension one pocket-sized bit at a time.

March, 15th 2019

1) People say they #crave adventure, but that’s bullshit. They want the idea of adventure, the Hollywood version of being lost in the jungle or shooting bad guys. When you’re ten days without food in the Amazon or plugging bullet holes with your socks, you just crave home.

2) If you’re human and you #crave BBQ chips or pickles, you just run out to the store and get some. When you’re undead, and you crave the brains of a painter (tastier memories), you have to wait outside art galleries in the dark with a hammer and an ice cream scoop.

March, 16th 2019

When death came for me, I refused to go. So it asked me a #question. “When should I return?” Like a fool, I said never. That was a long, long time ago, and now I spend the endless stretch of years asking my own question. “Where is death?” I’ve yet to get an answer.

March, 17th 2019

He called his fists shock and #awe. He’d ask me which I wanted. I went with awe because his left was weaker. MMA taught me to use my own weapons, and when I came home the last time, he didn’t understand the change. I didn’t ask which he wanted. I just gave him everything.

March, 18th 2019

The deep space probe sent back a series of #cryptic messages, each different than the last. I cracked one weeks later; it was simply the number 10. The next message was 9, then 8, then 7. The messages stopped after number 1. Now we watch the skies, tremble, and wait.

March, 19th 2019

A guy came to the bar with a gun in his belt. He was real nice and offered his services for our #mutual benefit and protection. It sounded like a good idea to me, but Nick packed his bags that same night. When I asked why, he said, “Hey, Joey, who protects us from HIM?”

March, 20th 2019

He does his job under a #pseudonym. Sometimes he goes by cancer, or stroke, or heart attack; other times he’s car accident, killed in action, or simply victim. No matter what he calls himself today, his true name is writ large and bold across each of our frail bodies.

March, 21st 2019

A demon walked into Lucifer’s office with an idea.

“I’ve invented a way to #magnify human evil so it’s easier for them to be terrible to each other,” the demon said.

“Wonderful! What’s it called?”

“That’s the best part. It sounds harmless. I call it ‘social media.'”

March, 22nd 2019

Murder is a #riddle. The blood and bodies are clues to the who and why. Killers always obfuscate their horrors, all except the one we called the Headhunter. He took pride in his work, and he didn’t leave riddles. He left a statement in red, “Come and get me if you dare.”

March, 23rd 2019

1) How do you end a killer’s career without getting killed? A little #sabotage goes a long way. I soldered bullet to casing in that stupid hand cannon Oleg uses. Did it work? I wasn’t around when the gun went boom, but I’m told blind, one-handed hitmen aren’t in high demand.

2) He began his career with a gun. When it got too easy, he used a knife. After that, he just strangled his hits, and we thought we’d seen the pinnacle of the hitman’s art. Then they found Jimmy Moretti, eyes wide, mouth open, not a mark on him, literally scared to death. #satsplat

The second one here was actually a different Twitter microfiction hashtag–#satsplat

March, 24th 2019

I was a #thorn in his side. Only irritating at first, a tiny obstacle he pushed aside to get to my mother. He didn’t fear me for a long time, but the day came when he swung his fist and drew it back slashed and bloody. He’d failed to notice how big and sharp I’d become.

March, 25th 2019

The #frame is cracked, the photo faded, but I can clearly see the family who lived here. What’s left of them shambles toward me through the ruins of their house, and I go to work. When it’s done, I reload, and put the picture on the bodies. I say a prayer and burn it all.

March, 26th 2019

1) I was eight feet tall when the docs installed an implant to #inhibit my growth. When I hit fifteen feet, they tried another. At fifty feet, they started getting nervous. At five hundred feet, the army paid me a visit. I didn’t want to be a monster, but a man’s gotta eat.

2) We tried to #inhibit its growth, but it spread so quickly. We threw science and reason at it, tried to arm the population with facts. They didn’t want facts; they wanted chemtrails and ancient aliens and a flat earth. We watched, helpless, as ignorance devoured the world. #vss365

March, 27th 2019

As a child, I looked through the #keyhole at the door of my grandfather’s study and saw a vast alien world stretching beneath an emerald sky. He told me it was where he came from. After the funeral, the keyhole showed only dust and books. The magic had gone home with him.

March, 28th 2019

He #collects and cultivates misery, sowing dark seeds with targeted vitriol. His foul words take root and spread, tiny flowers of hatred nurtured by dogged malice. For a fleeting moment he has power, malign purpose, and something to fill the yawning abyss in his soul.

March 29th, 2019

“You don’t need your #robe. Just grab the paper,” she said. Why did I listen? I had it coming, of course. Revenge for the Saran Wrap on the toilet seat. Now I stand in front of a locked door, naked, shaking my head and grinning like an idiot. I’ve finally met my match.

March 30th, 2019

1) The #second time we tried to summon the devil, it almost worked. We used the right kind of blood–goat not pig–and Doug got most of the incantation right. But he fucked it up at the end because he still can’t say that one word. Christ, Doug, it’s BLASPHEMY not BLASMEPHY.

2) When it comes to that final decision, most folks can’t pull the trigger, swing the bat, or thrust the knife in the crucial #second. They freeze up, grow a conscience. That’s why I get paid. I’m not the strongest or the toughest, but I can make that decision. Every time.

March 31st, 2019

Some say I have the soul of a #poet. It’s true. I keep it in a jar on a shelf above my desk. It comes in handy when I can’t think of a good word. I just shake the jar like a magic eight ball, and after a short poem about some guy from Nantucket, the perfect word appears.


And that’s my March microfiction. If you have a favorite or two, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. There might be a longer tale in some of these scribbles.

A Week of Writing: 2/18/19 to 2/24/19

Another week in the trenches, and other week of submissions, rejections, and miscellaneous literary endeavors.

Words to Write By

This week’s quotes comes from, uh, *checks notes* Wayne Gretzky?

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

– Wayne Gretzky

This is a quote from the greatest hockey player to put on skates (I know that, and I’m not even a hockey fan), but, damn, does it apply to just about everything, including writing. I send out a lot of submissions–one-hundred and twenty last year–and those are, well, shots I’m taking. They don’t all score, of course, but each time I send a submission I have a chance of acceptance. If I don’t submit, I have zero chance. The writing and submission gig can be a tough one. Rejections are as common as weeds, and some of them have thorns. They WILL get you down, and that’s okay, but you still gotta take those shots. Just ask Wayne Gretzky. His career shooting percentage was 17.6%, so even he missed a few, and, hey, they still call him The Great One.

The Novel

My next revisions of Late Risers is on hold while I finish a novella for Privateer Press. I wrote 8,000 words of it last week, and I’ll bust out another 8,000 to 10,000 this week.

Short Stories

It doesn’t get much slower than this, folks.

  • Submissions Sent: 0
  • Rejections: 1
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0

Yep, no submissions and a single rejection last week. I’m not exactly setting the world on fire in February. I did send a submission yesterday, and I’ll send a few more in the next day or so. That’ll put me up to 10 for the month, which keeps me on pace for 100 submissions for the year.

The Blog

Two blog posts last week.

2/20/19: A Week of Writing: 2/11/18 to 2/17/18

The usual weekly writing update.

2/22/19: The Rejection Archives: Rejection #84 (Personal)

Another entry into my Rejection Archives series. This one covers a personal rejection with excellent feedback.

Goals

I’ll finish up the first draft of my novella for Privateer Press this week, and then I’d like to get some short story submission out.

Very Short Stories

So, I’ve started writing microfiction on a daily basis on Twitter under the prompted hashtag #vss365. It’s a great exercise trying to fit a story into 280 characters and a hell of a lot of fun. I’m gonna start rounding up the weekly crop of scribbles on these updates. If you want to get these tiny tales in real time, follow me on Twitter @Aeryn_Rudel.

February 23rd – Prompt: Lame

They call me a leg breaker, but that ain’t right. Bones hurt, but soft tissue remembers. A guy hears that meaty pop when I shred his ACL, and he knows he’s gonna hobble like a lame horse forever. If that don’t remind him what he’s done wrong, he’s always got another leg.

February 23rd – Prompt: Humble

The men who come for me with crosses and holy books are sinners in pride, Daddy says. He hurts them, and I’m always hungry after. I know it’s wrong to waste the Lord’s bounty, and Daddy makes what he calls humble pie. It’s warm and red and just what a growing girl needs.


How was your writing week? Tell me about it in the comments.