I’ve been bundled!

Well, one of my stories has been bundled.

The story is The Curse of the Soiled Doves, about a magical mystery that magically mystifies a frustrated bureaucrat in California’s Department of Thaumaturgy.

It’s new.

Really new.

So new that it isn’t even officially released yet.

But you can get your very own electronic copy of The Curse of the Soiled Doves right this very minute as part of an awesome bundle called The Fantasy in the City Bundle.

Fantasy in the City

So now you’re wondering: What the heck is a bundle?

A bundle is a small collection of books that you can buy all together at a low, low price.

How low?

Crazy low.

Check this out: For $2.99—the list price of my not-even-officially-released-yet short story—you get not only The Curse of the Soiled Doves, but also seven other stories. All by terrific writers.

That’s 37.375¢ per short story! You can’t even get a pack of Beemans Gum for 37.375¢!

Now, that’s what I call value.

But that’s not all!

For only 50¢ more, you get another four stories. By four other terrific writers! That’s 12 short stories for $3.49!

And that’s a marginal cost of 12.5¢ for each of the additional four short stories. So that’s, like, wicked logical, economically-wise.

But wait! There’s more!

For one more slim Kennedy half dollar, you get yet another eight stories. All—you guessed it—by terrific writers! That’s 20 short stories for $3.99!

I can’t even tell you the marginal cost of these additional eight stories, because my calculator doesn’t go that low!

And here’s the truly amazing thing: There is no upper limit to how much you can pay for The Fantasy in the City Bundle!

Uh… hmmm. Maybe that’s not a great selling point.

But here’s something: At a click of a button, you can donate a percentage of your payment to Doctors Without Borders and the Humane Society. That right there is a great selling point. And it’s good for your karma. Not that that’s why you’d do it. Doing stuff because it’s good for your karma is not good for your karma.

Anyway, if you like my stories, The Fantasy in the City Bundle is a great way to grab my so-new-it’s-not-even-new-yet story and discover a whole bunch of other writers you will surely like.

They would like you, too, I bet. I’m pretty sure about that.

If you don’t like my stories, buy The Fantasy in the City Bundle anyway. Because these are terrific writers! Also that karma thing.

Not that that’s why you’d do it.


May 18, 2015 | Tags:

Ten months ago, I was writing a short story and quite enjoying it. As I started writing the final scene, the character did something that annoyed me greatly.

He solved the problem.

Not only that, he solved it in a way that was ridiculously simple and obvious. So obvious (I suddenly realized) that of course he would have done it at the very start of the story. And then there would have been no story.


Over the next few days, I kinda thought of a way to change the problem. It meant sifting my way through the story, changing the details every time this problem showed up. There were a lot of places like that. And that sort of work seems like work. And my heart was no longer in the story.

So I left the story untouched for ten months.

One night last week, as I fell asleep, I pondered the problem again. When I woke up, I realized something marvelous: There was a ridiculously simple and obvious solution, a simple and obvious way to keep the character’s simple and obvious solution from working.

And all I had to do was change one paragraph and write a few more. Changing one paragraph is hard work, as you well know, but it’s not much work. And writing new paragraphs is no work at all.

As I wrote the new paragraphs, a somewhat mystical thing happened. A silly throwaway object, which I had planted in the second paragraph ten months ago to add a bit of flavoring to the story, suddenly became the key to my problem. Someone in the story notices the object, recognizes my main character, and prevents him from doing the simple and obvious thing.

This somewhat mystical thing happens a lot. I write a silly throwaway thing to add a little flavor. Ron Carlson, in his book Ron Carlson Writes a Story, calls this kind of throwaway thing “inventory.” As Ron promised, these little bits of inventory have a way (somehow, mystically) of becoming really important.


April 26, 2015 | Tags:

I was buying groceries this morning and heard a cover version of “I Want You to Want Me.”

It immediately struck me that the cover version had thrown an already unbalanced universe even further out of balance.

In September 1977, Cheap Trick released their second album, In Color, which included the original studio version of the song. At that moment, the set of versions of “I Want You to Want Me” was exactly in balance with the universe’s needs.

In October 1978, the band released Cheap Trick at Bodokan, which included a live version of the song. At that moment, by some force of nature I do not understand, the universe’s need for versions of “I Want You to Want Me” expanded to include this live version. And again the universe was in perfect balance.

I would like recording artists everywhere to understand that those two versions of the song are all the universe will ever need. Even more importantly: Recording new versions will throw the universe further out of balance.

Please stop.

Anyway, this got me thinking about covers.

A little more than a year ago, I began watching The Voice. Having now watched just under three seasons of the show, I have discovered what I think are two undeniable laws of the universe:

  1. If you sing “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” you will be compared to Otis Redding.
  2. Being compared to Otis Redding will harm your career.

I don’t know why this is so. What is so special about Otis Redding, or about his version of that song?

I don’t know of another song that is so dangerous to sing. I don’t know another singer who is so dangerous to be compared to. (Maybe Janis Joplin. Maybe. See below.)

Even Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston are not as dangerous to emulate. I’ve heard singers on The Voice, either amateurs or early professionals, sing jaw-droppingly beautiful, powerful versions Aretha and Whitney songs. A few singers can pull those off. Very, very few.

But never “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” If you sing that song on The Voice, you are doomed to be compared to Otis Redding, and you are doomed to come up way, way short.

As for Janis Joplin, I have never heard anyone on The Voice help themselves by singing a Janis Joplin song.

In fifty-six years on the planet, I have heard only one singer who can pull off a Janis Joplin song. Her name is Jody Gourlay, and she is flat out amazing.

To put this in context: I once saw Melissa Etheridge open for Little Feat. Her first album had just been released, and at that moment I had no idea who she ws. Her 45-minute set was the most powerful vocal performance I have ever seen, from any singer.

Except for Jody.

Jody sings “I’m the Only One” better than Melissa does.

You don’t believe me. If you haven’t heard Jody sing it, I don’t blame you.

Anyway, if you are not Jody Gourlay, you cannot do a Janis Joplin song justice.

Tailor’s Tears (Kindle Edition) is now available on Amazon.com and other Amazon sites around the world.

To see my current and upcoming books, visit my book page.

Watch my author page on Amazon.com for upcoming Kindle editions and paperbacks.

To connect with me on the internet:

Refund (Kindle Edition) is now available on Amazon.com

To see my current and upcoming books, visit my book page.

Watch my author page on Amazon.com for upcoming Kindle editions and paperbacks.

To connect with me on the internet: