A Week of Writing: 9/3/18 to 9/9/18

It’s Monday, and I’m back on track with weekly, writerly updates.

Words to Write By

Today’s quotes comes from one of my favorite fantasy authors, Robin Hobb.

The challenge is always to find the good place to end the book. The rule I follow with myself is that every book should end where the next book would logically begin. I know that some readers wish that literally all of the threads would be neatly tied off and snipped, but life just doesn’t work that way.

– Robin Hobb

I wholeheartedly agree with Robin Hobb here. To me, there’s something really artificial about an ending that ties everything up neatly, and it always leaves me unsatisfied. Like she says, life doesn’t work that way. I think life is largely a collection of loose threads we spend, well, a lifetime trying to resolve. Although fiction doesn’t have to reflect how the real world works, this is an area where I try to cleave as close to reality as I can. The ending of Late Risers is messy, the resolution of some plot points uncertain, and I’m fine with that. Some of this has to do with my hope there will be a another book, but, even if there is only this one, I think Late Risers works as a standalone novel. (I really just hope it works as a novel, period.)

The Novel

My critique partners have finished my novel Late Risers, and I have their notes. The good news is a lot of the problems are ones I suspected were there, and my critique partners are in agreement on the major issues. That makes my job a lot easier, since we’re all basically on the same page with what is wrong with the book. The other good news is they liked the draft, the story, the concept, and the writing. Yes, there’s work to do on all of those elements, but after getting the notes, I think the first draft went about as well as I could have hoped.

This week I’m going to dive in and start my second round of revisions. I’ll still focus on fixing big-picture problems first, then worry about tightening the prose after that.

Short Stories

Not a whole lot to report on this front. I did get one story back that has had a number of near misses, and I promptly sent it out again. I tinkered with some old stories, and even unearthed an ancient short story from a backup hard drive that has a great concept with some, uh, archaic writing. That’ll be my next short story project. I currently have nine submissions pending with various publishers.

A very slow week for submissions.

  • Submissions Sent: 1
  • Rejections: 2
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0

I have 89 submissions for the year, and I’m still on a very comfortable pace to hit my goal of 100.

The Blog

Here are the blog posts from the last couple of weeks.

8/27/18: A Week of Writing: 8/20/18 to 8/26/18

The usual weekly writing update.

8/31/18: Submission Protocol: Summary Execution

Another entry in the submission protocol series. In this one I discuss summarizing your short story when a publisher asks for a synopsis.

9/4/18: Submission Statement: July & August 2018

I missed the July submission statement, so this is two months of my submission endeavors.

9/7/18: Iron Kingdoms Fiction – Peace of Mind

Another Iron Kingdoms story originally published in the pages of No Quarter magazine.


One major goal for the week: start the second round of revisions on Late Risers. Everything else will take a backseat until that’s finished.

Submission Spotlight

This week I’d like to point you at a brand new pro-paying (.06/word) speculative fiction market called Constellary Tales. Here’s what they’re looking for:

We love SF stories that carry characters from their beginning to their end. That take the reader along on the journey of discovery (or loss, or redemption, or whatever). And of course, they have to be speculative. The name “Constellary” betrays our love for science fiction, but we’re fans of fantasy too.

Note, they’re closed to submissions from September 11th through September 30th–no doubt to sort through the tons of submissions they’ve already received–but they will reopen to submissions on October 1st. Guidelines in the link below.

Constellary Tales Guidelines


That was my week. How was yours?

A Week of Writing: 5/28/18 to 6/3/18

New month, new week, more writing and whatnot.

The Novel

I’m about 20,000 words into my first read-through of my horror novel, Late Risers. I let it sit for almost three weeks before I jumped in, and, as expected, my reactions range from “this is pretty good” to “this is objectively terrible.” That’s about par for the course, I think. It should be noted that what I’m doing in this read-through is fixing the problems that are so obvious they can be seen from space. The more nuanced issues, which I’m likely blind to at this point, will be left to skilled and gracious critique partners.

The question I ask myself a lot lately is did I write a good book? Here’s my honest answer. I think I wrote something that could become a good book after a liberal dose of literary elbow grease. I’m satisfied with that and more than willing to put in the work.

Short Stories

I finished a new flash piece this week, another one born of the one-hour flash challenge. It’s a horror/comedy mashup, and I really dig it. It’ll be going out for submission this week. I also had two short stories come back to me after a number of rejections. I really like both stories, and they received good feedback, but they’re not landing, so my writing group is giving them the once over before I send them out again.

A very, very slow week for submissions.

  • Submissions Sent: 0
  • Rejections: 2
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0

Yep, my first goose egg in the submissions sent column in a long time. That’s due to a combination of factors that include not having any new stories to send out and a greater focus on other projects (the novel, for example). That’ll change this week, as I have one new story and a couple of reinvigorated pieces ready for submission.

The Blog

Two blog posts last week. This week, I’m again aiming for three and some actual content beyond “Hey, look at all my submissions.”

5/30/18: A Week of Writing: 5/21/18 to 5/27/18

The usual weekly writing update.

6/1/18: Submission Statement: May 2018

My submission scorecard for the month of May.


The big goal is to continue my first read-through/revision on the novel. I’d like to get another 20,000 words or so.

Story Spotlight

This week it’s not a story, but an interview. Howard Andrew Jones, editor-in-chief of Tales from the Magician’s Skull and a very accomplished editor and writer to boot, interviewed me for his website in a series called Writer Chat. Check it out below.

Writer Chat: Aeryn Rudel

And that, friends, was my week. How was yours?

A Week of Writing: 5/7/18 to 5/13/18

And the second week of May is in the books. Less progress than I would have liked, but, in all, positive yardage.

Here’s how I did.

The Novel

The novel I’m currently working on is the fourth I’ve written in the last three years. This one is by far the most challenging, but it’s similar to the others in a lot ways. One of those ways goes like this:

  • Starting a novel – Pretty easy
  • Writing to the halfway point in a novel – Challenging but not too bad
  • Finishing a novel, especially the last 10,000 words or so – Head meets brick wall (repeatedly, at high velocity) difficult

So, yeah, I’m currently in the third stage and beating myself bloody trying to wrap everything up. I’m pretty sure I can do it today, but the finale and epilogue of this book have certainly slowed me down. That’s not really a bad thing. I mean, I do want to stick the landing as well as I can. Still, I’m very much ready to be done with the first draft.

Date Day Words Written
5/7/2018 Monday 504
5/8/2018 Tuesday 2031
5/9/2018 Wednesday 0
5/10/2018 Thursday 1082
5/11/2018 Friday 1531
5/12/2018 Saturday 1023
5/13/2018 Sunday 0

So another 6,171 words added to the manuscript for a total just north of 91,000. I think I’ve got another 3,000 or so to go, for a grand total for the first draft around 95,000 words.

Short Stories

Not much to report on this front. Most of my creative energies have gone into the novel. I’ve outlined a few ideas for new stories I want to write once the first draft of the novel is done and I can set it aside for a week or so.


What I’d call slightly above average submission volume for the week.

  • Submissions Sent: 3
  • Rejections: 3
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0

No matter what I’m working on, I try to get at least a few submission out every week. This week I sent submissions #52, #53, and #54 for the year. Still on pace for 100 subs for 2018.

The Blog

For the first time in a while, I didn’t manage three blog posts, but I hope to get back on track this week.

5/7/18: A Week of Writing: 4/30/18 to 5/6/18

Just the usual here.

5/9/18: Submission Protocol: The Unsolicited Rewrite

This is a subject I’ve never covered on the blog, and it’s kind of an “unwritten” submission guideline. Worth a look if you’re unfamiliar with the term.


The primary goal is to finish the novel, which I hope to do today. The secondary goal is to finish up another project with an approaching (but still comfortably distant) deadline.

Story Spotlight

This week I’m gonna point you at a novelette I wrote for Privateer Press a while back called “Blood in the Water.” It’s a pretty good introduction to the Iron Kingdoms, the steam-powered fantasy world that serves as the setting for Privateer’s WARMACHINE and HORDES games. You can check it out on Amazon by clicking the cover below.

That was my week. How was yours?

A Week of Writing: 4/23/18 to 4/29/18

On more week of writing, editing, and submitting in the books.

Getting close to done(ish) on at least one big project.

The Novel

Solid production on the novel for the week, and I passed 80,000 words total. I’m at the climax of the story, and I’m looking at another 10,000 words to wrap up the first draft. I think 90,000 is a solid length for a horror novel, though it’ll likely boil down to 85,000 or so after my first pass and possibly a bit more once my beta readers are done chewing on it. Here’s how the week went.

Date Day Words Written
4/23/2018 Monday 2515
4/24/2018 Tuesday 2529
4/25/2018 Wednesday 0
4/26/2018 Thursday 2531
4/27/2018 Friday 0
4/28/2018 Saturday 0
4/29/2018 Sunday 1262

That’s another 8,837 words. Again, I’d have liked 10,000, but so close to the end I’m writing slower and taking more time to think certain plot points through. I hope next week’s update will be that I’ve finished the first draft.

Short Stories

Last week I tinkered with a bunch of trunk stories and outlined a sci-fi story, but I didn’t finish anything new. That’ll be apparent in my submission numbers. My focus has been on the novel and a few other projects, so less time for short stories.


Only one submission this week, a trunk story I spruced up and sent out.

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

Technically, I only received one rejection last week, but I got three this morning, so it feels like a lot more. Anyway, I’ll account for this morning’s rejections in next week’s update. 🙂

The Blog

I’ve been pretty steady with updating the blog three times a week, and as a result my traffic and followers have increased. Here’s last week’s trio.

4/23/18: A Week of Writing: 4/16/18 to 4/22/18

Pretty self-explanatory, right?

4/25/18: A Day in the Life of a First Draft

One of my goofier posts in a while, I relate what my typical writing day looks like, hour by hour.

4/27/18: Back to Basics: More Cover Letter Components 

A follow up to my post about constructing a basic cover letter. This one details some of the additional elements publishers sometimes ask for in a cover letter.


Finish. The. Novel.

Story Spotlight

This week it’s a story from one of my favorite peddlers of flash fiction, The Molotov CocktailThe following story, “Masks,” took third place in their FlashFear contest.

Read “Masks



And that was my week. How was yours?

A Week of Writing: 3/19/18 to 3/25/18

Starting a new feature here on the ol’ blog. Every Monday or thereabouts, I’ll update you on the writing I did for the week prior. How many words I wrote on which projects, how many stories I competed, how many I submitted, and so on. The purpose of this is partly to keep myself on track and also to explore my, uh, “process.”  So, without further ado, here’s my writing week from Monday, March 19th to Sunday, March 25th.

The Novel

My big project is a horror novel I’ve been working on for a couple of months. The working title is Late Risers, and when it’s a little further along I’ll tell you all about it and maybe share a snippet or two in these updates. For now, I’ll just talk about getting the damn thing on the page.

With big projects I like to get at least 10,000 words a week. I generally set a loftier goal of 15,000 words, and if I hit that, awesome, but I feel like I’ve accomplished something if I can get my 10K. So, here’s the week:

Date Day Words Written
3/19/2018 Monday 2576
3/20/2018 Tuesday 2505
3/21/2018 Wednesday 2500
3/22/2018 Thursday  0
3/23/2018 Friday  0
3/24/2018 Saturday  0
3/25/2018 Sunday 2514

I had a pretty good head of steam going early in the week, knocking out 2,500 words three days in a row. Obviously, Thursday through Saturday were a little rough, mostly because of some plain ol’ life stuff that couldn’t be avoided. I got back on track Sunday and ended my week with 10,095 words. That’s not too shabby. The book now sits at 43,500 words, and I’m in the middle of the second act.

I’m gonna set my sights on 15,000 words again this week, which should put me toward the end of the second act and heading into the home stretch.

Short Stories

I’m always working on short stories, and as I sit here and write this blog post, I have seven of them open on my desktop in various stages of completion. I did finish one piece of flash fiction this week as part of a one-hour flash challenge contest. The story is called “It Makes the Trees Grow,” and it’s a neat little supernatural crime piece. It needs some spit and polish, but it’ll go out for submission this week.


A slightly below-average week for submission volume.

  • Submissions Sent: 1
  • Rejections: 3
  • Shortlist: 1
  • Withdrawal: 1

The shortlist and withdrawal are kind of rare. For some reason, I don’t get a lot of shortlist letters. That may be because I don’t submit to anthologies much, where they’re seem to be more common. Or it might just be editors either like my story enough to accept it or dislike it enough to simply reject it. No middle ground. I sent the withdrawal letter after I sent a submission status query and didn’t hear back for quite some time. That’s usually a clear indicator it’s time to withdraw the story.

I still have ten submissions in rotation at the moment, and a few of them are getting pretty long in the tooth. Here’s the list if you’re into analyzing wait times like me.

Story Date Sent Days Out Avg Response
Caroline1 6/24/17 275 261
A Small Evil 11/9/17 137 65
The Scars You Keep 1/7/18 78 123
Scare Tactics1 1/18/18 67
When the Lights Go On2 1/25/18 60 40
Big Changes 1/30/18 55 39
Bites 2/8/18 46
A Point of Honor 2/18/18 36 10
Old as the Trees 2/28/18 26 24
What Kind of Hero 3/24/18 2 119
  1. Reprint
  2. Shortlisted

As you can see, I should probably hear back on a few of these soon. You always hope that the longer a story goes beyond the average response time, the more chance it has at being accepted, but, in my experience, that’s not always the case. Sometimes editors just fall behind or get more submissions than they expected for a submission window. Still, I feel pretty good about a couple of these.


This week, I’d like to ad another 15,000 words to the novel first and foremost. Then I’d like to finish revising a short story called “Teeth of the Lion Man,” which I’m pretty excited about. I think it’s one of the better shorts I’ve written in some time. If I pull those two things off, everything else–submissions, other shorts, etc.–will just be gravy.

Story Spotlight

This is the part of the post where I ask you to read a thing I wrote. This week, check out a flash fiction story I published with Evil Girlfriend Media a few years ago called “The Rarest Cut.” It’s, uh, a horror story with a culinary theme. 🙂

Read “The Rarest Cut”

And that was my week. Tell me about yours in the comments.