If you’re going to begin the year, do so from (almost at) the top. That thing I couldn’t tell you about in December? I was the first runner-up in this year’s The Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest. The winner’s story received publication in the print version of the Post (which still exists, though damned if I can find a physical copy on newsstands), while the five runners-up will appear one-a-week on the website - and for me, that week begins today, with the publication of “Daddy, Play That Babalú”, which you might gather has something to do with a famous television series.

About the Story: If you’re inclined after reading the story to get a peek behind the curtain, I put up some notes about how it came to be in the Story Stash. Not everyone grooves on seeing gearwheels and stitching, but some do, and I find it helpful to lay down the whens and hows for later, because inevitably things go away when you stop considering them. And when you get old. Follow the link to the Story Stash at the top of the page if you’re curious.  

Chapbook Update: The forthcoming chapbook, titled HUNDRED ACRE, is waiting on a final press proof before it goes into the sales pipeline. There are still questions about sales channel and fulfillment to resolve, though I do know there won’t be an ebook. I have nothing against the Ents - I’m just one guy who’s not inclined to reformat fifty pages for the sake of about a buck seventy in earnings. Insert Dirty Harry’s observation on limitations here.


It’s been a busy few weeks - settling into a new tech writing job, adjusting my schedule (sleep, play, and otherwise), and rolling towards the holidays. But it’s also been a more-busy-than-normal writing-related stretch.

New Story Alert: “Our Lady Of Widdershins” got picked up by THE SATURDAY EVENING POST last week for their online New Fiction Friday feature, which previously brought you “Every Hero An Hombre, Every Wolf A Clown” and “Everything In Time Travel has Been Done” - and it’s live THIS MORNING! A gentle family tale about yearning for the past, fighting for the future, and the superstition in between. It might be the closest I’ve come to something in Ray Bradbury county, and that’s okay too. A little more of a time commitment than many of mine (about 3200 words) but I hope you’ll give it a read. Click here to discover “Our Lady Of Widdershins”!

Other New-ish Story Alert: Back on October 30, Factor Four Magazine published a piece of my flash fiction online, “How To Speak To Monkey”, which is also a free read, and short enough for your coffee break. It also appears in their 2022 anthology in print/ebook, which you can find linked on the BUY page if you’re looking for a whole set of short, sharp stories. Click here to to find out “How To Speak To Monkey”.

New Chapbook Coming: A three-story chapbook is in the works with a mystery/crime thread running through it. I’m currently in the proofing stage, and will have more news as it develops. And speaking of…

The Thing I Can’t Tell You Yet: A kind-of big deal is going on in the background, but I am prohibited from speaking of it for a little while longer. But you won’t miss it when I can talk about it, because I’m going to make you sick of hearing about it.

“To Sleep, Perchance…” Published in September by Radon Journal, has been nominated by the magazine’s editors for this year’s Pushcart Prize. Massive nomination pool, so it’s long odds to even get shortlisted, but it’s very nice to be well thought of enough to be submitted. 


How far might intellectual property law someday stretch? The new issue of Radon Journal - the “Anarchist Dystopian Transhuman Science Fiction Prose & Poetry Journal” - offers one opinion in my latest story, “To Sleep, Perchance”; and you can read it for free at their website.  Click here to go to Radon Journal Issue 2. The issue is also available as a downloadable PDF.

Investigating Representation: The first C.T. Robillard novel has gone out the door on its first two agency queries; I expect more to follow because the reality is a peanut butter cup of a mystery novel - set a short but undefined time from now, and thus having SF trappings - is going to be a weird duck for which to locate a pond. But it’s early, and optimism is still high.

Submission Score: As of this morning, six stories are in editorial hands, and a seventh remains in contest. 

In Other Words: I find myself dancing 

from piece to piece: writing, editing, 

researching, transcribing, trying to find a 

DVD with a panel from a long-ago SF con 

for some dialogue inspiration, considering and

then scrapping projects and notions, making 

notes on the keepers. I’m not quite lost; not 

entirely sure I’m making great time, either. 

And there are reasons for this, but you’ll 

have to tune in later this week for greater 


And Finally: There may or may not be a website refresh coming; sometimes, you feel things are stale, or you want to try something a little different, or the fonts begin to rub like a joint missing its cartilage. Home owners know this usually leads to paint swatches and decor shopping. But it’s also not a priority in the grand scheme. But if things suddenly seem different - like that uncle who appears ‘off’ and you realize later the mustache was missing after years - they probably are.  


Head on over to Guilty Crime Story Magazine’s website for my flash fiction story “Down Lovers’ Lane”, live this morning.

Follow this link, even!

Meanwhile, as the machine spins up to start looking for an agent for my mystery series, I took a fine-toothed comb to the existing manuscript for typos, word choices, final tweaks and tuning. Was it more extensive than I expected? Yes, but only because I set the manuscript aside four years ago, and there are a couple of new tools in the box. The prevailing wisdom is the publishing world runs light in August, and September would be a better time to begin this search, so the rest of the month is research and fine-tuning the initial query letter and synopsis.


The first thing you need to do after you die? Choose your new face.

Free Fiction Friday brings the debut of a short haunting, titled “A Boy’s Face”. Click the title or the Story Stash banner up top to go there now.  

7/30/2022 - IT’S NOT THE HEAT

No, actually - it IS the heat. As in ‘crazy from the’.

A week teetering around a hundred degrees or so in July wasn’t in the Oregon playbook when we decided to head here from Texas. But as we come up on the one-year mark, the weather appears to have found us, causing us to develop cooling strategies for an apartment with an old in-wall unit at the opposite end of the apartment from the bedroom and two box fans (I’d include the oscillating fan, but I don’t think it could push a paper boat downhill in a gutter.) It’s all fun and games until you start to stick to the bedding. But you didn’t come for the sweaty weather report…

I’m now armed with a synopsis and a query letter with which I’m satisfied for the first C. T. Robillard mystery, MURDER HOUSE, meaning August is ‘Peddle Your First Novel To Agents’ month, right after a final proof pass. Aaaaand now my website is on a half-dozen Federal watch lists…  Meanwhile, I’ve begun work on Robillard #4

I also continue to catalog Aunt Elaine’s Korean War albums for names, dates, and locations to flesh out the timeline of her two years in Tokyo. Slowly, an outline of a narrative is coming into focus, though I’m still not sure what form it will take.  

There are two stories in the pre-publication pipeline, which I’ll be happy to tell you about as soon as I’m at liberty; others continue to comes and go (right now, five are gone) as new ones advance on the page. The eternally long gestation of “The Effect Of A Monster Under The Bed On The Traveling Salesman Problem” (see work-in-progress excerpt, right) has resulted in a first draft that only took fourteen years (earliest draft start is dated May 25, 2008). Baby steps. The stack of work in progress doesn’t seem to get smaller. (This is not a complaint.) 

There are also possibly a couple of chapbooks on the drawing board for the balance of the year, but whether they arrive or not depends on a variety of factors. More certain is that you’ll find a new piece of flash fiction this week for Free Fiction Friday, right here on this website.

Get Social:

Work In Progress: 

    When she's completed one circuit around him, she reties the neck of the bag and pockets it once more. "My grandmother had a saying: 'Hell is never reaching the end of the book.' I've just torn out the last few pages of yours."

    "I can handle dying without knowing an ending."

    She doesn't look back at him. "Yeah. Grandpa didn't get it either." She bobs her head at the vat. Tells her sons, "Throw him in."

The Story:  


Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz incorporate Lucy's real-life pregnancy into their hit CBS sitcom, a well-orchestrated and calculated risk that drove a ratings bonanza. But what if things had taken an unspeakable turn into horrors both real and supernatural?

What indeed. I’m very proud of how this alternate history Hollywood ghost story  worked out, and I hope you enjoy it!

Click here to read “Daddy, Play That Babalú” at The Saturday Evening Post.

from “Daffydil Cuts Loose”

And Finally… I’m going to park this here as a weird visual visitor measurement device. It’s certainly in the IYKYK vein, but I also think if it’s noticed, there will be questions, so… 

Let the thought 

experiment begin…

Elaine outside Service Club 21,

Tokyo, Japan 1950