Monthly Archives: October 2013

Challenges to writing…

I don’t know if anyone noticed, but I alluded to it in my author note for the collection, 14 DARK WINDOWS:  A lot of the short stories I have published so far were written a few years back.  There are some items contained within those stories that are sort of anachronistic today.  For example, how many college kids move into their dorm rooms with “killer stereo systems”?  Answer:  Very few, I’d venture a guess.  They have computers with speakers and iPods and such.  Entire music collections are digital.  Even this dinosaur has around ten thousand songs in digital format, with a handful of iPods scattered between family members, office, automobiles, and various rooms.  (But I still like CDs and DVD/Blu-Rays!)

I do in fact have some newer short stories.  Three are almost ready for publication.  Two are pretty well edited, and I think that eventually I’ll publish the two of them as a pair.  One is straightforward horror; the other is more of a twisty fantasy.  The third needs a couple of editing passes, a title, and some tightening.  I’ve also got a 45K novella (is 45K a little long for a novella?), a 35K novella, and a 28K novella finished (and all but the first need a lot of editing and work before they’re ready to go), and I’m about 18,500 words into a horror story that’s looking like another novella-length project.  Then there’s the two YA projects, one around 15 or 16K, and the other around 8K (I think), that I work on when the mood strikes.  (Right now the mood is struck for that horror story.)

But the newer stuff is slow going.  I hardly get any time on weekends to write, not with family making demands on my time.  It was all I could do to eke out enough time to publish 14 DARK WINDOWS last weekend.  So I write at work.  But that has its own challenges.  See, as a dentist, I write when I get breaks and over lunch.  And sometimes I have a bunch of momentum, but sometimes I have almost none.  I sit here in front of the laptop and think about writing, but not knowing where to go.  And often when I do have momentum, when the story is hot in my head, needing to get out, I get interrupted by patients in either my or the hygiene schedule, or by phone calls, or by mail that needs my attention.

So the long and short of it is that it’s been very difficult to finish stories.  When I do, I’m elated.  I’m on cloud 9, and most of the time my wife doesn’t even know why.

Currently I feel like I’m getting into one of those lags.  My horror story is losing momentum.  I got to a spot where I’m not sure how to write the next scenes.  The YA stuff just doesn’t have my interest right now, and neither do any of the many other projects I have on my flash drive.  And editing and formatting are just not something I can do much of at work.  That seems to require a different part of my brain, a part that isn’t available when I’m at the office.  Not for writing projects, anyway.

So I’m going to keep trying, keep writing when I can, and keep publishing as I get things done.

Thanks for reading!


Hugh Howey is a Nice Guy!

Hugh Howey, author of the WOOL series (WOOL, SHIFT and DUST) has always been reputed to be a really nice guy and very generous with his time and help.

Well, now I can attest to that very fact.

It wasn’t much, really.  I know that others have written stories in the Silo Universe that Mr. Howey created, and I know that he has allowed this work to be published with his blessing.  That in itself should speak to the kind of person he is.  But somewhere, I wondered:  Is this just another experiment?  After all, if someone is interested in Patrice Fitzgerald’s stories about other silos not featured in Howey’s work, would it not follow that they might then want to read the source material?  Might this not lead to increased sales for the WOOL saga?  Is it a clever, new marketing ploy?

I’ve always been interested in the moment when the “world ends”; I read a fair amount of post-apocalyptic, end-of-the-world fiction.  My interest in Howey’s world focused on what happened to the people who WEREN’T in the silos.  I had an idea to follow some young smart people who might learn about the coming genocide and try to figure out a way to ride it out.  So I started writing the story of Paul, who meets up with Rebecca, a beautiful rich girl whose father is connected in the Beltway and who gets some vague information about what is coming their way.  Rebecca enlists Paul’s help to somehow try to isolate themselves from the coming disaster.

Then I got thinking.  I needed some information, to make it consistent with Howey’s universe.  How was the infection spread, and how long would it last?  I had the idea from reading SHIFT that the agent for genocide was spread by drones on the day of the Convention (you’ll have to read SHIFT if you want to know what I’m referring to).  I wanted to know how long it would be around.  How long would my main characters need to isolate themselves for?

So I wrote to Hugh Howey, via email.  I asked my questions, and even though he was out of the country, he answered promptly.  Twice!  (My follow-up email asked a couple more questions for clarification.)  His answers made my story doomed for failure, at least as a Silo Universe story.  But that’s beside the point.  Can you imagine writing to Stephen King these days (or even in the past) and getting a personal response within 24 hours?  I can’t.

Mr. Howey deserves props for the way he treats his fans, even when (especially when) those fans are writers themselves.  I just wanted to give him some.  Thank you, Hugh Howey, for your great stories but also for being so generous with your time and attention!


14 Dark Windows to be released soon!

My short story collection, 14 DARK WINDOWS, is almost ready for release.  I thought that now would be as good a time as any to reveal the cover:


If it looks familiar, it might be because I’m using a different version of my SOLE OCCUPANT cover, also done by the talented Mr. Rich Siegle.

The collection should be out by this time next week!


Two inspirational blogs (for me)…

I remember when I first started thinking about self-publishing a couple years ago.  An online friend of mine, Annetta Ribken, was preparing to publish a collection of flash fiction and her first novel, titled Athena’s Promise, and she had decided to self-publish. When I asked her about her experiences, she pointed me in the direction of two blogs:

These two blogs were different in that they took different approaches to motivating writers and wannabe writers (like me).  Konrath’s blog was more inspirational, like, “Look at what I’ve done!  You can do it too!  Just learn how, put in the work, write a lot of books, and put in more work!”  Dean Wesley Smith’s blog took a more nuts-and-bolts approach with various blog series, like “Think Like A Publisher” and “Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing”.

Recently Konrath has been having a bunch of authors guest-post (if they make a donation to Alzheimer’s Disease research), and I’ve continued to be inspired and informed by many of these posts.

Smith has been doing an ongoing series of posts “Writing in Public” where he details exactly what he gets done on each day with respect to fiction writing, blog entries, email, non-fiction writing, and book covers.  I have found this series to be inspirational in its own way.  The way he writes is inspirational because it works for him, and it likely wouldn’t work for a LOT of other writers.  Yet he’s prolific and makes a good living from his writing and is somewhat of a role model for many writers in this new world of self-publishing.  It inspired me to begin tracking what I’m actually getting done.  Even if I don’t finish something, it’s cool to see that progress on some project or another is happening.

Thanks to both of these blogs (and to Annetta’s blog also!) for the inspiration they provided to me to get moving!


Something New Is Coming…

I’m going to be putting out an anthology of short fiction very soon!

It will contain all the stories from the four shorter releases:  Sole Occupant, The Only Solution, Odd Man Out, The House At The Bend In The Road, Jack’O’Lantern, The Moment, Sarah’s Puppy, The Gateway, America’s Pastime, and Hot Spot.

It will also contain four more short stories:  Grandpa, The Best Man, Soldier, and Ghost of Love.

The longest is Sole Occupant at about 2400 words.  The shortest is probably The Only Solution at a little under 700 words.  Fourteen tales in all.

It will be called Fourteen Dark Windows.

Look for cover art here soon.