Sunday, October 14, 2007

Lethargy, I See That You Torture Me

Torpor. Ennui. Lethargy. Killers for any writer, but thanks to an unknown physical malady, I am now confronted with the specter of inaction. It's interesting how distracting pain can be and in what ways it manifests itself. I have good concentration for proofreading, but as far as creation is concerned, my attention continues to be interrupted with each new wave of discomfort.

For what it's worth, I'm going to the doctor this week. I already have confirmed I have a hernia (from another doctor), but I suspect there's something more profoundly wrong. Typically, I wouldn't disclose any of this, but because it is affecting my writing, I'm including it. Writing is normally a distraction from the mental stresses, but hasn't done a good job with this other problem.

What does all that mean? I wrote a couple of flash pieces this week, started writing a satirical short work for fun and edited some existing work (and that of others). But nothing of major to note this time.

I received a notice to sign up for NaNoWriMo, which I'm still planning on doing, in spite of how I'm feeling. I'd like to get 50,000 words and my first novel completed this year. With all the work on the short story collection and the screenplays, time for the novel hasn't been found. Not complaining, mind you . . . I'm all for overload when it comes to creativity.

And so, I end this short entry with a note to all . . . a tried and true platitude, but still is important . . . guard your health. Without it, much suffers.


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Clean-Up Time

This week was a series of small accomplishments writing-wise.

I printed out and sent Doc On Loan to the Copyright Office. It's a cost-effective way to protect your creation, so I do it even though I already register my scripts with the WGA. Speaking of my screenplay, I had a few online companies check out the logline for my screenplays this week, even had some look at the synopses and my resume, but no one has download the script. It's somewhat maddening . . . I want to find some way to convince them to read the damn things, but the only thing I can do is to make the screenplays sound appealing enough to make them want to read them.

I wrote a couple of flash fiction pieces and a couple of poems (for fun). There are plenty of places that publish the former, I just need to get off my butt and submit them.

As far as outstanding submissions, October 15th is when the Glimmertrain will be announcing their contest winners. I just checked the status on "Macdougal Street" since I hadn't heard from them yet and see that the status is set to "Complete," which means it hasn't been accepted for publication. That's good, because the darn thing has been on Helium since May, back when I thought I could remove any piece I put up there. Glimmertrain demands first publication rights; had I known I couldn't pull it from Helium when I wanted to, I never would've posted it there. Right now, it's #11 of 130 in the category I submitted it in on Helium, so I guess I have nothing to complain about. Next time, read the fine print, Michael!

I've picked up the short stories I've started and plotted out so I can finish them. Right now, I'm continuing with "Bones Under the Bed." At the same time, new ideas for short stories keep popping into my head. I've said it many times before, but if I had the luxury to write all day, every day, I have enough material to do it for at least ten years straight - just with what I have on file to write at the moment.

Nothing more to include this evening. All the best to you and yours in the coming week and happy writings to you!


Sunday, September 30, 2007


I finally finished the final edits on Doc On Loan, my latest screenplay, and I uploaded it on Again, I'm going to see if I can trap lightning in a jar a second time, though this time, I'm not going to remove the lid. And with that comes the work on my next screenplay. I decided to return to Original Idea for my next one, with the plotting scheduled to begin this week. With any luck, I'll be ready to start the actual screenplay itself by 10/15.

I didn't edit my latest short story, "Sweet Freedom," this week due to decision to go back to all of my in progress short stories and plot them out from where I left off with them. There are four in various stages of completion and at least another three in development. My intent is to have no more than a dozen for the book, but it will really probably come down to a page limitation instead of a story count that I'll use to gauge. November 1st is the deadline for completing the stories and begin assembling the book, In The Foothills, for publication.

That's all there is for this week. I hope you have a great first week of October and I look forward to hearing from you.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Melange

This will be a short report this week, mainly because I've been only concentrating on a few writing projects.

First, I finished the first draft of a short story I've tentatively entitled "Sweet Freedom." It's based on a true story from my childhood and I'm hoping to have a working version (after a few key edits sessions) by next weekend. I've also plotted out the rest of my work in progress short story, "The Bing Wong Motel." I started writing that a few weeks ago, but I got sidetracked.

I didn't get a chance to finish updating my screenplay Doc On Loan with my editors suggested changes this week. Too much going on in my 3D life has kept me kind of busy. I need to get this done so I can start my next one. I'd love to get a third one finished in this calendar year.

I started laying out the basics of a couple of longer pieces: "Dark Confessions" and "New Utopia." Both of these could possible go as long as novella length, but I won't know for certain until I finish plotting them out.

More flash pieces this week, too. Always lots of fun with those.

And that's all for the writing update for this week. I wish you all a great last week of September and I'll see you next time.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Relatively Out of Control

This has been a busy week, writing-wise, to say the least. I'd like to say I finished a lot, but the best I can crow about is a did quite a bit of starting . . . new stories, new longer pieces. All this, in conjunction with stories already in progress, and I'm just going crazy writing during every free moment I can eke out of my day.

I did complete one thing of note this week . . . entering one of my more recent stories into the Raymond Carver Short Story contest. Who knows what will happen, I only did it on a lark; really didn't think about it much, actually. Twelve bucks and I'm in by the due date. We'll see if anything ever comes of that.

More flash writing this week, too. Those are difficult not to complete since they're usually so short. As always, they remain useful as an exercise to keep my prose tight, even if there isn't a word limitation for those non-flash pieces. It's all good.

I'm waiting for my editors to give me their final critiques on Doc On Loan before I copyright and submit it to The next one is waiting patiently in my brain to get down on "paper" (so to speak), but I won't start until the other one is completely in the can.

It's that time of year when I should be submitting my stories to the appropriate literary magazines. It would be nice to get just one sold this year . . . good advertising for the book, of course, and a good shot in the arm to motivate me next year.

And that's the end of this report. I hope all of you are well and I look forward to hearing from you if you're so inclined to drop a line.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

Screenplay Finished

After four drafts, Doc On Loan, the screenplay I wrote for Script Frenzy, is now in the hands of my trusty editors, on the way to becoming the latest of my completed scripts (the third, to be precise). I have to admit, it was painful to whittle it down from 155 pages to 131 -- I had to cut whole scenes, some decent gags and removed fat from dialogs -- but it's pretty much as finished as I could get it. Once that has been copyrighted and registered with the WMA, I'll upload it to and once again, see if I can get any decent nibbles. If lightning could only strike twice and I could get this one optioned for real.

So, that means it's time to start the next one. If you've been reading this blog, you know I have a few more screenplays in the queue. The one I'll most likely start back on is entitled Original Idea. I think I'll take the same approach I did with Doc On Loan by laying out all the scene summaries and then writing the first draft in a 4-6 weeks. Stay tuned,

On the short story front . . . I waiting for final feedback on the 5,000 word piece I mentioned last week. Still cranking out flash pieces as the inspiration moves me. I'm still working on another longer piece that probably won't be included in In The Foothills, but one I need to get out of my system.

I've been neglecting my two fiction blogs after a lot of enthusiasm at the start. To some degree, my day job has started to cut into my writing time (long story), but my energy is being sapped from my writing time. I'm hoping that things calm down on the J*O*B soon. Wish me luck.

And on that note, I wish you all a creative and productive week.


Monday, September 3, 2007

Editing Weekend

I finally started editing my screenplay, Doc On Loan, this weekend. As you may recall, I was procrastinating because I didn't know how I was going to trim my 155 page magnum opus down to 120 acceptable pages for a comedy (and that's pushing it, too).

The good news is I've been able to trim it down to 132 pages while maintaining the integrity of the script and most of the gags. The bad news is I don't think I can get it any shorter than this. Version 3 is my current draft and I'm going to sit on it a few days before making a fourth version. After that, I surrender and will turn it over to my trusty editors for spit and polish.

Besides that, I wrote a brand new short story (a little under 5,000 words) that came to me all of a sudden and was based on a real life event that occurred for a friend of mine. I'm currently workshopping it now and hope to have that ready for submission. I also wrote a short piece of 1,000 words based on a sermon I heard at church yesterday. So far, I've received some good feedback from my editors.

Speaking of my editors, they have given feedback on some other recently written short stories and I've implemented those suggestions. Right now, I have more than enough stories to choose from for the book, but I'm going to keep writing them until November 1st. Then, I'll decide what goes in and what doesn't and edit accordingly.

Just a side note, but my story "Macdougal Street" is currently #8 out of 112 in its category on Helium. It never broke the top four in its posting, but it's been up there for a few months now. Every so often, there's a wave of new stories posted and it drops down in the ratings (as low as 28th), but soon it bounces back up again into the top ten.

I'm still writing flash pieces like mad, too. They've been an enjoyable exercise and I've learned a lot when doing them.

No work on the larger pieces, unfortunately, but I'm not complaining. This has been a productive week, including this long weekend.

Until next time, stay creative!


Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Value of Flashing

The value of writing flash fiction, I should've said in the title. This week, I decided to try my hand again with several flash fiction exercises and found I really enjoyed tightening my prose down to the requisite number of words. I think it's an excellent way to improve your writing in the general case as you really don't know how many wasted words you include in your work if you don't care about the word count.

As a result, I've been editing some of my short stories, trying to apply what I've learned from the flash piece editing as well as what some of my loyal reader-critics have been telling me. All this is critical now because when it comes time to start assembling the book (around November 1st), I don't want to spent two months editing again. I'd rather make one final pass through the chosen stories and poems, then spend most of my energy actually creating the book.

I'm still working on my unfinished short stories right now as well as Novel #5. In the latter work, I've started to fill in a calendar so I can better map out the timeline. This way, I won't get confused in the plot nor will the reader (hopefully).

The rest of the time I've been updating my two new fiction blogs. They've been a lot of fun because I've just opened up my mind and let my imagination pour out unto the electronic medium. I'm hoping to get some feedback on both of those to make sure I'm just not writing for myself. This time I'm looking for an audience :-)

And on that note, I'll close out this post for the evening. As always, I hope your week will be a creative one!


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Blogging for Fun

Once again, in the category of "I don't have enough to do, do I?" comes two new blogs I started this past week. Both of them are fictionalized accounts to from the viewpoint of a made-up narrator.

The first one is called "Jimmy's Pizza Connection," the story of a non-existent pizza joint in the non-existent town of Lester, MA as told by Sal Palmeri. The blog description says "Welcome to Jimmy's Pizza Connection©, the friendliest pizza place in all of Lester, Massachusetts!" You can find it at

The second one is entitled "Across the Narrow Divide" and tells the story of Steve Bolin who plans to travel across the USA and tell stories of America and Americans (a la Steinbeck in Travels With Charley, to name one in the genre). The blog description for this one says "
One man's fictional trip across the USA to meet the people, see the sights and discover the hidden treasures of America. You may read this one at

Jimmy's was born of a longing for further tales in this mythical town by a character I enjoyed on an internet forum. The writer had a really good hang of satire for a while, but eventually lost his way. I decided to come up with my own situation to write about.

The travel blog actually started out as an idea I had for a long time for a book. I always loved books such as Blue Highways, but never have been able to take such a long time away from working to actually do it. This blog is the next best thing.

Meanwhile, I'm still working on my latest short story called "Family Obligations." I'm still editing some of my more recent short stories, thanks to input from some very helpful writer friends. Also, I had an idea for a short story this morning that I can't wait to write tentatively titled "A Look Back."

Besides the story writing, I've recently written a few poems that I think are passable (and a couple that were just experiments).

No further work on Novel #5 this past week. I hope to make some headway with it this coming week.

That's all from here. I hope you have a creative week and if you have any thoughts on my new blogs, please feel free to comment on them.



Sunday, August 12, 2007

Scenes from Real Life

I didn't get much writing done at all this past week due to the death of my father-in-law and all the traveling and such that was involved going back to Indiana and returning to LA. Things should be back to normal this week, I hope.

I did collect a large amount of material for future writing, that's for sure. I met a number of interesting characters and saw some very interesting sights which will definitely play a role in something I write.

I did start to write a new short story based on some of my experiences this past month. It's called "Family Obligations" and it promises to be full of many ironic twists and turns (I hope).

Meanwhile, I'm getting fantastic feedback on some of my other short stories from my editors, which is extremely helpful. What I discovered is I write what I like to read, but because I have such unique tastes, I may be writing for an audience of one sometimes. Part of developing as a writer is to write in a manner most appealing for the general reader and accepting you may not be the target audience to whom you're trying to appeal.

One thing I do know is I have a lot more to write and not an infinite amount of time to do it all. I'm hoping my production picks up now that our current family crisis is behind us and the long awaited (and dreaded) family reunion is off the table.

Until next time, I wish you all the creativity you can muster.


Sunday, August 5, 2007


There's not a lot to report this week on the writing front, at least worthwhile enough to blog. I penned a couple of poems to get the juices flowing. I finished edits on my latest three short stories and I now have my trusty editors hacking them to shreds (go, hackers!).

The next editing assignment I'm going to tackle is my screenplay, Doc On Loan. Yes, I'm procrastinating and for "good" reason, too. (sigh) It's never easy killing your darlings (as the saying goes). I have to get through this, though, do I can move on to the next one. They new scripts are chomping at the bit to get written!

Meanwhile, I've been working on Novel #5 and it wasn't until this weekend that the whole thing (sort of) came together for me. Now it's a matter of laying out the scenes and continuing the writing.

On the reading front, I've been consuming Janet Evanovich's "Stephanie Plum" novels. They are breezy reading and have the same tone as I'm trying to capture with Novel #5.

So, this is a short post this week. I have a sofa with my name on it and I'm planning on napping as soon as I finish typing this. Until next week, then, keep being creative!


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Fresh Eyes

I finally settled down to edit the three short stories I wrote a couple of weeks ago. I have to admit, going through them the first time after they sat for a while certainly makes me enjoy the editing process a lot more. Another guilty admission: I like my own stories.

I realize that I may have broken cardinal rule #1 for any artist, which goes something like this: you must HATE anything you create. The more other people like it, the more you should despise it, yourself and even your ancestry (which you wouldn't know anyway because you're a bastard). Now, self-loathing has never been my forte and at 48 years old, I'm going to guess I'm not going to start working on that skill. I may never been a best selling author, but if I even hate this writing thing or myself for what I create, then I'm dropping it altogether. That's not me.

Doc On Loan, my latest screenplay, still sits in first draft status. I'm not looking forward to cutting 30+ pages from it to get it down to "acceptable" size, but I know I have to grow a pair soon and start slicing. I'm only crying on the inside, I swear.

My newest novel, Novel #5, kept me somewhat busy this week, though I'm writing it at the same intensity as I did Doc On Loan. There's definitely a different energy and finesse needed to write both types of work, as I've discovered. I'm enjoying the process, but it's definitely a major change in pacing and technique.

Needless to say, I didn't hear from Bombastic Bob this week. I figured I wouldn't even follow up with him until September 1st. Yes, I can be that patient especially since I'll be going out of town soon and will be FAR away from email.

Okay, back to editing. I hope all of you have a wonderful and creative week. I know I will.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Novel Broke Out The Other Day

I swear, I don't have attention deficit disorder when it comes to most everything else. But while I was in the middle of writing my latest short story "Games of Chance", I had an idea for a novel which I decided to explore. I should be more accurate … it was a idea for a start of a novel because I didn't have a bloody thing planned out, but I just wrote an introduction out of thin air. I won't reveal the title (yet), but this week, the only thing I've been writing is that book. I will say it is a murder mystery, but an amateur ends up being the "detective" … and that it's based in Los Angeles. The book will have many of the components of a traditional mystery with some unique features thrown in. By the way, I'll be referring to this masterpiece as Novel #5, since I have four others in various stages of completion.


I did no editing on any of my first draft stories or Doc on Loan, my latest screenplay, this week. Summertime and this writer is lazy ….

No word from the Bobster, my crack(ed) attorney. I'm not sure, but I'd say that's not the best news in the world. Bombastic Bob, attorney-at-law … maybe he's run away with my option money?

One of my articles written under my real name (which is becoming difficult to keep straight) finally got published in one of the tech industry magazines I write for. It was supposed to be in the July edition, but got bumped. As always, it's great to see your hard work on paper - real paper, not a webzine.

I've decided I will remain on sabbatical from writing for American Chronicle for the rest of the summer. I'm having too much fun with my fiction writing and besides, I have no contract with them.

Helium is an interesting online magazine and my experience with them is a lesson in how you should actually READ the user agreement before you click "I agree." I decided to post one of my short stories there, with the idea I would leave it there for a while to see what kind of reaction I got, then pull it to submit to another magazine. Unfortunately, all articles submitted there remain there in perpetuity, even if you quit the site. They don't insist on exclusivity, but most other publications do … so if you publish on Helium, forget about publishing anywhere else. Bummer, since one of my favorite stories is now locked in there.

That's it from here. A bit of a mélange this week, wouldn't you say?

Until next time, I wish you all well.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Life's A Comedy

I recently joined an online forum (unrelated to writing) for the sole purpose of developing a persona that is a fragment of my own (my wiseass side, to be precise). The idea was that I would push the bounds of written comedy because I have found that that genre requires significant exercise to strengthen its effectiveness.

Well, I can report that I've been having a blast pushing that envelope and establishing this avatar as loony and from what I can tell, humorous. That's not to say I'm going to be hitting the stand-up circuit anytime soon. But now I've created a lot of new material to use in my work (not to mention a method for creating more).

Short Fiction

The "The Bing Wong Motel" still sits waiting for me to return as does "Bones Under The Bed." Instead, this week, I wrote a whole new story called "Terminus" and started another new one, entitled "Games of Chance." My editing still sits waiting for me and eventually I'll get back to it, but while I'm on a roll, I might as well pump it out!


I submitted A Perfect Tenant to the Bluecat screenwriting competition. This one will be judged in November, but I got mine in early because of a few added benefits. I'll write about those down the road should any of them actually come to pass. Meanwhile, I haven't touched Doc On Loan to edit it … soon, I swear.


No word from Bombastic Bob, my MIA attorney. I'm fantasizing he's in meetings with all kinds of producers who are just FIGHTING to get their hands on one of my masterpieces. Yes, I'm delusional. Anyway, I'll follow up with him in a couple of weeks.

Finished all James N. Frey's books I had on writing novels, now I've returned to a book I started a while ago, The Writer's Journey, by Chris Vogler. I also have an audiobook of him presenting on this subject which I will be adding to my playlist very shortly.

Okay, my post ends here, friends. I hope all of you have a fine week and are able to get your projects done or at least moving forward.

Keep writing!


Sunday, July 8, 2007

When Ideas Strike

Did you ever have one of those weeks where you had ideas coming in left and right and you have to write (or paint or sculpt) what's in your head or your brain will explode? Okay, maybe it's just me, but this week was one of those weeks. Carrying on the theme from the last blog post, it was nothing that I planned to work on, either. This time, I decided to ride the wild horse and see where it would take me instead of trying to direct the thing myself. It made for an enjoyable week.

Short Fiction

I temporarily put "The Bing Wong Motel" to the side. Instead, my muse told me to write a story called "Wandering." I was just "musing" (see how that works?) about how I never see anybody hitchhiking around these parts and voila, the germ of a story popped into my head. I start the story off with a quote from William Blake and the sentence "Nobody hitchhikes anymore." The rest of the plot filled in as I wrote. I had the entire 6,500 words written over a three day period.

Once I printed off the first draft of that one, I intended to go back to one of the stories in progress. Instead, I got my hair cut yesterday (I go to a "real" barber instead of a salon). There was this little boy there about to get his first haircut and I had front row seats at the event. As I watched, another story idea popped into my head and I couldn't wait to get home to get it onto my computer. As of this writing, I'm probably another page or two from the end, called "The Deepest Cut."

The goal here is to write more short stories (and poetry) than I'll need for the book so I'll have something to choose from when it's time to pull the book together. I'm going to have twelve stories and six poems in the final manuscript. Right now, I have twelve stories either completed or started, so I should have fourteen or fifteen ready by later this year.


Still waiting to hear from my attorney (I'll call him "Bombastic Bob," a nod to Johnny Carson's own real life attorney, Henry I. "Bombastic" Bushkin). The reason Bob is "bombastic" is because of what he charges me per hour. Oy! Aside from that, Bob is a great guy and I'm hoping he'll be even greater and hook me up with a producer or two. We'll see.

By the way, I've been reading the rest of the books in the James N. Frey "series" of "damn good novel" instruction books. Jim has a lot of good practical advice for novelists and as I've found, no matter what I've learned from my own experiences or other writers, it's always worthwhile to read books and magazines which are geared to helping writers out. I always get something useful out of it. Right now, I'm working out the idea of "premise" (v. theme or moral) and making sure I have a solid one before writing my stories. Very helpful stuff, I'd say.

That's all for today, friends. I hope you're having a creative week and I look forward to hearing from you or at least, reading your own masterpieces.

Until next time, write on!


Sunday, July 1, 2007

Attention Span Issues

I have to admit that when it comes to other facets of my life, I can be very focused. In fact, in a world of significant distractions, I can't think of anyone more single-minded than me. I'm not bragging … in fact, I would call it a curse more than anything else. Writing, however, is a different story. Here is an example of such a week.

Short Fiction

I did nothing this week with "Bones Under the Bed," my current short story in progress. Instead, I started a new one (one that was sort of in the queue) called "The Bing Wong Motel." Simply put, it's an offbeat story of discovery. I've only written a few pages of that one so far.


Doc On Loan remains in the "to be edited" mode, which was intentional because I wanted to look at it with fresh eyes for the second draft. Meanwhile, I didn't make any progress on Original Idea nor did I look at Thirty Years in any significant fashion. Instead, I started outlining the scenes for a new screenplay I had in the queue (Untitled here, for now).

Why this one? It was one of those shower epiphanies I have. I've always seemed to have gotten my most creative ideas while in the shower. I don't know what possessed me to think about this particular screenplay idea I had, but the scenes started dropping into my brain so fast, I couldn't wait to get out to write them down. I'm not done yet with the scene outlining, but I was able to capture all I thought of for now. Untitled is yet another comedy featuring a popular comic actor (in my head, of course). I'm looking forward to writing it.


Nothing on the American Chronicle front again this week. I seemed to have lost my momentum there (for now).


I decided to email my entertainment attorney (the guy I hired last year to review the option contract for The Rebound Guy (which became Ricochet Man) to find out if he had any contacts - producers, literary agents, etc. - that he could hook me up with to look at my two completed screenplays and the reality show treatment my wife and I wrote. Sure enough, he wrote me back and invited me to send him what I had; he will read them and decide whether he will pass any/all of them on to the producers he knows. He claims he's done this for other clients and some have walked away with projects options. I can only hope :-)

Also, I decided to use to turn the cover of my book into postcards, all for just the delivery charge (less than $6.00 … they were having a sale). I got them the other day and they turned out MUCH better than I could've hoped for. I will be using these to help me market the book before I publish In The Foothills next February.

Okay, that's all from hot So Cal to your home. Have a great 4th!

Michael C. Cordell

Sunday, June 24, 2007

20,000 Words in Twenty Days

Script Frenzy.

Nailed it.

Best … contest … ever.

Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not the title claim itself. Made the 20,000 word quote in twenty days, but completed the first draft of Doc On Loan today. It ways in at a heft 27, 885 words (or 155 pages, fully formatted). To give you an idea, the rule of thumb is one page of script for one minute of movie, bringing this bad boy in at two hours and thirty-five minutes of hilarity. WAY too long, especially for a comedy (which are generally recommended to be shorter than two hours).

(Conventional wisdom suggests that scripts be between 110 and 120 pages, with some sources citing 117 pages as an ideal page count … why that number?).

Anyway, I got a certificate for my Script Frenzy accomplishment, suitable for framing or at least keeping hidden in my desk drawer somewhere.

Several things came out of this exercise … first, such a feat can be done (and I proved to myself it could be done and still live my normal life). Second, I really enjoy the self-motivation and challenge to complete the contest. Third, I REALLY love screenwriting. I may be the most successful screenwriter in Hollywood, but I feel confident I could hold my own in the prolificacy department.

What's the future hold for Doc On Loan? I'm taking a two week sabbatical on it and will be working on other projects. Then, I'll be editing the first draft with the goal to cut thirty-five pages by September 30 (I have a vacation in mid-August which will encroach on my editing time for several days). By the end of October, I'll have it posted on

As far as other writing projects, it's back to my short stories … the one in progress is "Bones Under the Bed." I need to complete a few more for the collection and my goal to have all of them edited and ready for inclusion in the book's first draft is by November 1st. February 1st is the target release date.

On the screenwriting front, I still have Original Idea to start outlining as well as Thirty Years, my first drama. I'm trying to decide which one I want to write first, with the goal to write that script's first draft in a month as well … perhaps starting as early as July 7th.

With the non-fiction writing, I need to start writing articles for American Chronicle again. I have to admit I enjoy writing fiction much more, but it's good to do non-fiction, too, if for anything else, the satisfaction of getting something published on a regular basis.

I'd love to go back to outlining some of my novels in progress, with the ideas of writing one of them for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, sponsored by the same people who sponsored Script Frenzy). That will happen in November. If I have a proper outline by then, I think I can churn out 80,000 words in 30 days.

I have a few other ideas on breaking into other genres, too. More on that later.

So, it's no rest for the wicked, I'm afraid … and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Have a creative week, all …


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Writing on the Road

I just returned from four days away, so this will be a fairly short post. Not only that, but I've pretty much eschewed all writing since last weekend except for Doc On Loan for Script Frenzy and the blogs I write. No American Chronicle articles, no "Bones Under the Bed" (my latest short story) … just me facing 20,000 words by June 30th.

I'm happy to report that I have over 12,000 words logged on Doc On Loan, thanks to the long plane trips and time in the hotel waiting for my wife to wake up (she's a heavy duty sleeper, especially when traveling). I credit a lot of this production to spending time in the early part of the week writing out the scenes all the way until the end. As much as I was hoping I could just write it from start to finish from my head, with all the characters I was introducing and the multiple story lines, I was getting confused.

I figure I'll finish this by June 30th, edit it through the month of the July and then post it on by August 1st.

Meanwhile, I came up with a great screenplay idea on my trip and already started writing out key scenes and dialog. After the first draft of Doc On Loan is completed, I may put this new one ahead of Original Idea. Strike while the iron is hot, I always say! Anyway, I'll reveal more about that one sometime down the road, but the working title is Thirty Years.

Nothing more than that to report, folks … have a great week to all of you (including those now residing on one of our islands in the Pacific).


PS Happy Father's Day to all the papas out there.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Working Without a Net

Progress being made on the Script Frenzy front. As of this writing, I have 6,000 words done on Doc on Loan, "only" 14,000 more to go! I'll be traveling this week and I hope to be able to get a lot more done on the long, boring plane flights. I figure I should have four page a day written to stay on track … so what, I'm about twenty-one pages behind, that's all!

My production is a little low anyway this week, thanks to a head cold I got out of the blue the other day. I hope to shake it by Wednesday because I'm flying out of town. If you've never flown while suffering from a cold, consider yourself lucky!

American Chronicle

I'm finished the piece entitled "The Crisis at Walter Reed: Outrage In Absentia." Though I got a decent number of hits on it, I was amused by one piece of feedback. Obviously, the reader took issue with what I wrote, but could hardly express himself coherently. I particularly liked the comment about how he wished my toilet paper would be replaced with sandpaper.

I welcome all points of view and certainly know I'm my opinion is just that, my opinion, but when I use the Army Times as my principal source material, you pretty much have to figure I've gone right to the source for my facts. Anyway, I chose not to respond to the author of the letter because I don't look at this writing as a debate, but rather I'm expressing my point of view. If you disagree, get your own gig and take me on.

I haven't decided on a topic for my next article yet. It will either be an article: criticizing Vladimir Putin for his overreaction to the proposed missile shields in eastern Europe; urging a fresh look on how we interact with Cuba; exploring the death penalty in this millennium. Let's see how many fans I can win with my views on one of these topics.

Short Fiction

"Macdougal Street" continues to do well on Right now, it's #4 of 47 in the "Short Story / Life" category. It hasn't gotten any higher than #4 since I posted it, but I'm pleased it's doing as well as it is.

I made some progress with the first draft of "Bones Under the Bed," but the new screenplay has been taking most of my time.


Out of the blue this week - and probably as an homage to The Sopranos (one of my favorite television shows ever) - I started writing scene summaries for a Mafia novel I'd like to write. It has quite an interesting twist and I'm enjoying preplanning the work. I usually don't have attention deficit issues, but one thing that writing has done for me is to open up my mind to every possibility. As I said in my interview with E.I. Johnson, I'm feel just like a kid in a candy story sometimes!

Thanks for your kind comments, friends. Wherever you are (or on what island you landed), I extend maximum greetings and good things to you.

Michael C. Cordell

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Script Frenzy

It's not like I don't have anything to do or anything. Yesterday (June 2), I heard about Script Frenzy, an event put on by the same people who sponsor National Novel Writing Month (in November). This time, participants have the entire month of June to write an original, complete 20,000 word screenplay (or stage play). No winners, but one gets a certificate of completion if you make it. Naturally, I decided to do it (more below).

American Chronicle

I completed the piece I was working on last week which was published. I originally entitled it "The Follow of Nation-Building," but I found out there was already another article on the Internet by that title. I changed mine to "Iraq - A Misadventure in Nation-Building."

I'm currently working on a new article I hope to get published by the morning, current entitled "The Crisis at Walter Reed: Outrage In Absentia." I hope that this article will get some people reengaged in addressing the scandal at our premier VA hospital.

Short Fiction

After implementing suggestions by my editors, I submitted "Macdougal Street" to GUD Magazine and Glimmertrain. The former already turned down the piece (I love the fact that I got a decision in only a few days), but I'm still waiting to hear from the latter. I also posted it on very briefly, but got very few views and no comments. After that, I decided to post it on, my first piece on there since I joined several weeks ago. So far, it's #6 of 37 in the Short Story / Life section and going up every time I look at the placement! The story is also posted on, but to date, I haven't gotten any feedback. It seems that site's been pretty dead as of late (at least for me).

I'm still writing the first draft of "Bones Under the Bed." This one will be an interesting piece and I hope that the twist appeals to readers.


No progress on Original Idea this week.

As mentioned in the introductory paragraph, I started a brand new screenplay just for Script Frenzy. This one is called Doc On Loan and I describe it as "Doc Hollywood meets Deliverance." The competition website is very interesting … you post your own word count up there during the month, but at some point, you submit the completed work for the official count. Right now, I've completed 782 words and have the basic plot in my head worked out, but unlike my normal approach, I haven't laid the scenes out. No time!


I joined AssociatedContent - The People's Media Company - another online site which accepts writing of all types. I love the fact the Internet has become such a vast marketplace for writers to be read.

That's all for this week, folks. I wish you all a great week and keep writing!

Michael C. Cordell

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day to you all! Today's post will be relatively light, mainly because there's nothing juicy to report.

American Chronicle

I submitted the piece I started last weekend on France's new president, a straight journalism article this time. I think it came out pretty well and even though I didn't get direct feedback, I got a number of hits on it and the count still is climbing. Because of the holiday weekend, though, I only wrote one for AmChron. My next one will be entitled "The Folly of Nation-Building" and I hope to have that submitted for publication by Monday evening.

In Verse

I'm currently working on a new poem entitled "Near Myth." It's a work in progress at the moment.

Short Fiction

I completed my drafts on "Macdougal Street" and now it's in the hands of my loyal editors. I decided to preempt completion of "Death Perception" for a new one that popped into my head called "Bones Under the Bed." That one is going quite well. I should have the first draft done by Wednesday.


No progress on Original Idea this week, but I did get some new play on my three posted works listed on It's hard to get excited by the hits right now, mainly because no one is calling me about them. The farthest they've gotten lately is the synopses are being read. I don't know how much they charge producers and such to read complete works, but it seems no one wants to pull the trigger that way.


The link to the interview I did with E.I. Johnson can be found here.

I decided to join, another site dedicated to writers and providing them a facility to share their work. It is a much better designed site than EditRED, but only time will tell whether it has the same community feel of ER. I like the camaraderie, but I like the quality feedback more. We'll see.

So, in closing, let me say that if you're a veteran or family of one, thank you for your loved one's service to this country. We're lucky to have such brave men and women watching our backs and they should know they're appreciated by all of us.

Michael C. Cordell

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Competition Time?

This has been a busy week outside of the writing world, so I don't have much to show for it in today's blog.

American Chronicle

Only one article this week (so far, anyway) for this online news and opinion site. This time I wrote a scathing retrospective on the Bush Administration's record on global warming. The article, entitled "Washington's Weird Science," shows Bush's record on addressing the crisis. The one I'm writing for tonight's submission is a piece on France's new president and what it means for that country and the world.

In Verse

No poetry this week.

Short Fiction

I finished the first and second drafts of "Macdougal Street" and I'm pleased with how it's turning out so far. The next short story in the queue is called "Death Perception," which I should be starting this weekend.


After not hearing from the producer about A Perfect Tenant, I posted it on I've gotten some activity on it. I'm going to watch it for a while and if it dies on the vine, I may break down and get some coverage. I'm also going to see if I can still enter this script into a contest (need to research this first).

Didn't touch Original Idea this week, I'm sad to say. I'll see how the coming week goes.


I'm continuing to expand my MySpace network, meeting new authors and other artists.

I got an email this week from a writer named E.I. Johnson who has a blog where she interviews writers of different notoriety - and she asked me if she could interview me! I agreed and she sent me questions to answer. The results should be published on her blog on Tuesday. I'll post a link next week.

That's all for this week's entertainment. Until next time, be well!

Michael C. Cordell

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Back on Track

No earth-shattering news this week, but I'm happy to say I got back to my short story "Macdougal Street" and now I'm off and running.

American Chronicle

I wrote another two articles for AmChron this week. The first one, entitled "Reason and the Eternal Abortion Debate," discusses many of the ambiguities and arguable points made by both sides of the abortion issue. The other article I wrote, called "September Showdown - Last Chance for Bush In Iraq?" goes into extended detail about the timeline of the Iraq war and shows how the White House changed the message to fit the circumstances since even before the war. As always, at the very least I hope I'm making my case and raising a few eyebrows in the process.

In Verse

I wrote one poem this week, but I haven't posted it anywhere. As I mentioned last week, I plan to start posting poetry on my site in the very near future. In fact, I have an idea related to that, but I'm not going to mention it until I have the energy to follow through.

Short Fiction

As I mentioned, I made a lot of progress on "Macdougal Street" and I even have an ending set up in my head. All I have to do is finish the first draft and read it.

This week, I bought a book to help me target my stories for the right magazines. It's called The Best Magazine Markets for Writers 2007 and it has great descriptions of all the magazines that I may want to pitch to.


I registered A Perfect Tenant with the WMA and sent it to the US Copyright Office for registration. Also, I sent an email to the producer I spoke to last year to see if she was interested in this new work, but I haven't heard from her. I'm going to wait until next Sunday before giving up and posting it on

No progress on Original Idea this week, but I have been keeping busy.


Still reading Chris Vogel's book, The Writer's Journey. It's not a fast read and my falling asleep when I read anything doesn't help.


My MySpace friend count is now over 700! This is good from a networking perspective. I pity those poor people when I send a bulleting announcement touting my new book come February of next year.

I continue to refine my new submissions tracker I created in Microsoft Excel. Who knows, maybe I'll give it away some day (after I tart it up a bit).

That's all for this installment. Have a wonderful week!

Michael C. Cordell

Monday, May 7, 2007

Fire When Ready, Gridley!

This week's news … I finished A Perfect Tenant, my new screenplay and now I'm ready to peddle it. The other news … I decided to quit As I've mentioned before, editing others' work was taking too big a bite out of my writing time. I found that my production schedule was faltering as a result Now with the completion of my screenplay, I don't have time for much non-writing work. Marketing my script is going to be a large part of my efforts.

American Chronicle

I wrote two articles for AmChron this week. The first one, entitled "In The Aftermath of May 1st," is a piece about one of my strong beliefs, the problems caused by illegal immigration. The other article I wrote, called "Homing In On The Homeless Crisis" discusses my suggestions for addressing a major societal issue. These two pieces show my significant differing views on issues of our day and that one does not have to follow the party line one way or the other. I believe what I believe and don't apologize for it. No one else should, either.

I joined the Yahoo group for AmChron writers. Hopefully I'll be able to make good contacts there, too.

In Verse

No poems this week, though I have an idea about poems that I'm planning to launch on my website in the very near future. As I mentioned, I left EditRED, so I don't know if any of my poetry submittals would've made their anthology, but I didn't want to pay for another quarter to find out.

Short Fiction

I'm still working on "Macdougal Street," but haven't made a lot of progress since last week. That's near the top of my list this week.

I did hear from Glimmertrain about the three short stories I submitted earlier this year - "Baylor," "Shad Fishing in Northern Connecticut" and "Street Life." Unfortunately, none of them made the cut, so I need to accelerate my submissions and spread them around to other magazines. I've been rather lax doing that, I'm afraid.


I completed all four drafts of A Perfect Tenant and like I wrote in the preamble, I'm getting it ready to sell. I'll have it registered with the WMA in the next day or so, then it will be off to the US Copyright Office for registration. Meanwhile, before I put it on, I'm going to see if the producer I worked with last year on The Rebound Guy (now called Ricochet Man) is interested. I've already written several loglines and a tight synopsis to see if I can gain any interest.

Meanwhile, I pulled out the long treatment for my next screenplay, Original Idea. More on that whole process in the coming weeks and months.


Still reading Chris Vogel's book, The Writer's Journey, though admittedly I'm taking my time with it.


I decided to increase my MySpace friends and I'm near 700 as of this writing. I want to make it to 1000 by August. It doesn't hurt to network!

I created a great submissions tracker using Microsoft Excel. It's better than what I used on EditRed and eventually, I hope to include an income tracker with it, too. First, I need to sell something.

That's all for this installment. Have a wonderful week!

Michael C. Cordell

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover

Great news … I decided it was high time I designed the book cover for In The Foothills, the collection of short stories and poetry I'm planning to published next February. I think it came out great (see the topic bar on the right). I'd love to get YOUR feedback, though, so please comment or email me with your thoughts.

American Chronicle

I wrote two articles for AC this week. The first one is called "No Conflict Here," a piece where I defend that one can both be against the war in Iraq and still support the troops. Without presenting my entire premise here, the two concepts are definitely mutually exclusive. The other article, entitled "PC or Not PC - The Scourge of Political Correctness," is fairly self-explanatory.

I enjoy writing for American Chronicle and hope to be able to keep up my level of production with them in consideration of my other projects.

In Verse

I completed three poems this week, but have not published them yet. My self-imposed retreat from uploading work to EditRED continues. As long as I have all these writing commitments, I have no spare time to critique others' writing. No new uploads, no critiques are needed. Also, I'm still waiting to find out if my story "Gennaro's Son" won the City Smells competition (or my other pieces will be published in either of their anthologies).

Short Fiction

I temporarily put aside "Dylan's Prayer" and instead, I've been working on two other pieces. One, called "Macdougal Street" is a story that takes place in NYC. The other, called "Tiny Treasures," is a flash fiction piece based on a challenge I put out to the other EditRED writers. Here it is:

"Here is a flash fiction challenge that may be a bit unique for some of you.

A "MacGuffin" is a plot device that was first cited by Alfred Hitchcock that his studio used to create storylines. It's a person / object / information / place of crucial importance to characters in the work (and often for different reasons). The item isn't important so much as what the characters will do to get the item (different motivations, desires, etc.)

Example: the falcon in The Maltese Falcon.

Challenge: 500 words or less where the MacGuffin is an old toy car made of tin. You must have a minimum of two characters. To make the story interesting, they should want the tin car for different reasons, preferably in contrast with the other(s). Whether any one of them ends up with the car isn't important, but what they do to get it (and the underlying reason why they want it) is.

Anyone interested?"

Unfortunately, it wasn't one that caught the imagination of too many people. Maybe when I post mine …


I'm back to editing A Perfect Tenant and it seems it was a good thing I took time away from it, too. In the pages I reviewed so far, I found errors I can't believe I didn't see in the first round of edits. The experts are right … sometimes you need to put the work away for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes. My goal is to get the second third draft ready for review early this week.


I'm back on Chris Vogel's book, The Writer's Journey, which I had set aside for a while.


In my real life, I completed an article and submitted it for publication. My editor only made a few changes and it will be in the June edition of the magazine. As has been my custom, I'm keeping that part of my writing separate from this one (Michael C. Cordell is my pseudonym). Someday, the real me will reveal the fake me, but that won't be until I have commercial success with the latter and I'm ready to retire from the former's career.

That's all for this week. Thank you for your feedback and encouragement, as always.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

American Chronicler

As I already mentioned last time, I got a new writing gig this week. Okay, it's not a paying one, but it's one that will get my (fake) name out there, this time in the non-fiction world. My wife sent me a link to American Chronicle, an online news/opinion site which said they were looking for writers. I emailed them and soon had my own account. I've already published two articles there and I have ideas for several more. You can find my site at American Chronicle.

In a similar vein, I signed up with Helium, but I have yet to submit an article to them. I'm trying not to over-commit myself, one of my flaws. I get so enthusiastic about things I love that I tend to go overboard.

In Verse

I completed four poems this week, but have not published them yet. A few trusted readers have had a chance to read them, though, and I got some good feedback. This was especially important since I was experimenting quite a bit this time out. Why not? It's not like I can't test some ideas or anything.

I completed pulling all the poetry I had published on EditRed save for the few pieces I mentioned last week. This has been a good way to cut back on my reading / critiquing, too, since I'm not getting new reviews of my own work which oblige me to do the same for others. One method to avoid over-committing.


I put Chris Vogel's book, The Writer's Journey, aside for a while. Instead, I finished reading Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. This was an outstanding book - hell, I wish I wrote it! I emailed Moore to tell him what I thought of his novel and he was kind enough to reply.


This week I finally designed and uploaded my website, I decided to take the easy design way and used the web builder program on's site. Eventually, I hope to be able to post press releases about my books and such (and excerpts, etc.). One step at a time.

As you can see, it was a pretty light week of writing for me, at least compared to previous weeks. I've been a bit under the weather, I'm afraid, and I've been less than enthusiastic about writing as a result. All I can say is appreciate your health when you have it, friends. All too often, it slips away and then you have nothing.

That's all for this week. Thank you for your feedback and encouragement, as always.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

On Tap: Production

This was the week of major crises in the non-writing front (see for details), so good scribbling time has been lost and therefore, some impact on production. Ah yes, production is the word of the day here on this blog.

After outlining "Mexico, NY" and estimating the length - a true novella, I think - I decided to return to "Dylan's Prayer," the piece that was originally supposed to be a flash fiction story, but I decided to take it to the next level. I outlined that one, too, and now I'm writing 'er down. It's going to be a couple more weeks until I have a draft for review. I'm trying to make this one sort of a message piece, but I hope I don't get too tangled up in the details and forget the flow. It's hard for me to be objective about that kind of thing. I'm sure I'm not alone.

In Verse

This was a big week for poetry for me. I completed "Jabberwocky 2007," a political satire based on the poem by Lewis Carroll. This was the only one I uploaded this week for public consumption. All the rest I've kept in "private" mode until I'm ready to trot them out. Other titles include: "Concrete & Cactus," "Tormented Boulevard," "City Slumber," "Genesis Reborn" and "Concrete Silhouette."

I also write a piece in memory of Kurt Vonnegut, one I call "Good Night, Dresden." I didn't make that piece readable by others, either, at least not yet.

In addition, I've been pulling some of my pieces from availability that have been up on EditRed for a while. These are works I completed and either got few critiques, never ended up on anyone's bookshelves or I hadn't submitted them to the EditRED anthologies.


Nothing to report again on On A Gelding's Trail. In fact, I haven't given it too much thought since I was so gung-ho on it a few weeks ago. Part of my production issues (see Editing below), but also I want to write everything I can when I have the time and there is only so much time to write.


Not one blessed edit on A Perfect Tenant this week. Too many personal crises to manage and some lack of ambition in that department. I swear, though, I'll be hitting it hard this week.


I cut back on my reading significantly this week, including turning down several reader requests on EditRED. I found my production was SO down compared to what it was before I joined the site and that wasn't good for my short story collection. As much as I appreciate getting (and giving feedback), there has to be a balance. Spare time is a premium and I don't want to spend it all reading and critiquing the work of others. At the same time, I appreciate the feedback, too, for my own curiosity and self-checking. Anyway, it is what it is.


Still going through Chris Vogel's book, The Writer's Journey, though it's been slow going. The book is very informative and insightful, but it's not a casual read. I'm learning as I go through it, which is good. Meanwhile, for fun reading, I started Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. I love irreverent religious parodies. This one is right up my alley.

Writing for Hire

My wife sent me a link to American Chronicles, an e-zine. They are soliciting contributors for no pay, but an opportunity to get published and get some notoriety. I decided to take a shot at it and sure enough, they emailed me they were interested in adding me to their stable. I don't know how much I'll be talking about that here since I may just end up publishing under my given name, but at the very least, I can describe some of my experiences.


As I mentioned above, Vonnegut died this past week and it makes me sad in a way. Not the kind of sad you feel when a close family member dies, of course, but more like an uncle you see from time to time who always makes you laugh or think long after you part company. I read many, many works of Vonnegut and he wasn't overrated in the least. He was a genuine writing phenomenon, one whose shoes won't be possible to fill. We just need to buy new shoes and make sure someone can occupy them.

So for you, Kurt: you lived; you wrote; you died. So it goes.

That's all for this week. Thank you for your feedback and encouragement, as always.


Sunday, April 8, 2007

A Weak Week

Like many other writers, I'm prone to procrastination. This week, it's been all about that for me when it came to my new short story, "Mexico, NY." I think it's because I know it's going to be complex with all the characters I'm including and it probably won't end up being a short story anyway (more like a novella). I think I'll continue writing the other short story I started ("Dylan's Prayer"), one I started writing for the flash fiction challenge about "omnipotence," but I think I want to make it longer.

With "Mexico, NY," I'm outlining the plot now since it's going to get a bit crazy at some point. I'm only bringing in the characters right now so the reader gets to know them. I will be writing a brief character sketch for the main characters, too, in order to help me along.

In Verse

One poem I wrote, "Slender Island," was about Eleuthera, our favorite island in the Bahamas. I felt experimental and wanted to stretch my alliteration chops in this one (several metaphors and double meanings, too).

"Slender Island" is definitely more complex than the other one I wrote, "Chocolate Jesus." This one was inspired by an article I read about the life size, anatomically correct, Jesus exhibit at some museum that caused a ruckus. This poem has some wryness to it and the feedback I got from my EditRED friends was positive.


Nothing to report with On A Gelding's Trail. It sits like a comatose soldier, waiting patiently for me to awaken it in time of war.


I was able to make some progress editing the second draft of A Perfect Tenant. I consider that to be a good thing in light of all I didn't get done this past week.


I continue enjoying my editing that I'm doing for other EditRed writers (and I appreciate their critique of my work). I've taken to copying the recommended changes to OneNote so I don't forget them. I'm still amazed by the broad base of talent in the amateur writing community.


Still going through Chris Vogel's book, The Writer's Journey. The two other James N. Frey books on writing arrived, so they're in the queue, too.


I decided to break down and buy Alphasmart's NEO, a mini word processor. My tablet, though small, is too big for typing on the bus or in bed, so I decided it was better I get this device and transfer the text to the computer than doing it by hand. I'll still be handwriting ideas and such, but the NEO should give me what I'm looking for in portability and convenience. When it comes, I'll give a more detailed review.

That's all for this week. Thank you for your feedback and encouragement, as always.


Sunday, April 1, 2007

Then There Was a Micro Flash

Lat week I mentioned the joy of writing flash fiction. In fact, not only did I write a 1,000 word piece in answer to another EditRed writer's challenge (I called it "Under His Thumb"), but I decided I wanted to take on a second response in the same vein. The topic: write a story about someone (an average person, it is assumed) who finds himself / herself omnipotent one fine day.

So, what about this micro flash as far as fiction is concerned? I don't know if there are any hard and fast rules, but on the EditRed site, the challenge was to write a piece of fiction in exactly six words. Apparently, Hemingway was an aficionado of the art form (or he downright invented it, not sure), but an example of one of his:

"For sale.
Baby shoes.
Never worn."

These were the ones I came up with:

"Are you sure this is lava?"
"I thought YOU checked the parachutes!"
"Bob, meet Larry. Bob, it's over."
"initiate sequence." "Launch missiles." "It's over.
"Man the lifeboat! Oh no! Leaks!"
They kissed. She sighed. He woke.
"Touché! And me, without my sword.'

Other Short Works

I'm currently in the midst of writing my newest planned short story "Mexico, NY." I decided that this piece will have several cast members and the challenge will be to not have them trip over themselves and still keep the length reasonably short. I tell you this, though … if it turns out to be too long, I just may turn it into a novel or even a treatment for TV show. That would be interesting.

As I mentioned earlier, I started writing another flash fiction story on the same topic of suddenly acquired omnipotence (called "Dylan's Prayer), though I suspect it could go longer than 1,000 words. No worries, though, if it comes out okay, I'll add it to my anthology to be published next February.

Today I wrote a 500 word piece - the limit on this fiction challenge sponsored by the owners of the EditRed site called "Gennaro's Son." The topic was to focus on "city smells." After getting excellent feedback from another EditRed writer, I posted it for review by the court of public opinion.


I wrote three new poems this week: "Dark Silence in Morning Light," "The Girl She Never Was" and "Plastic Metropolis." In this latter poem, I decided to play with structure a bit. As always, I'm enjoying writing poetry and reading the work of others.


Yay! I finally finished typing in the redlines I had one, leaving me with the second draft ready for editing. I'm still debating whether I need to have a professional read and edit it for me. It would be a major step in my development, but would cost me some serious money to do it. We'll see.


I decided to make everything I have on private and concentrate exposing all my new stuff to my readers on EditRed. The problem is that the former site is very sterile (not really a community, probably because they're too big), while the latter includes a number of closely connected writers. Besides, I don't have time as it is to read and edit the works the EditRed writers publish there let alone take on the duties for folks at another site.


Woe is me, I haven't gone back to my novel in a few weeks now. I'm ashamed and I admit, I could be better at time management.

Books I'm Reading

I'm really enjoying Chris Vogel's book, The Writer's Journey. I recommend to anyone who is planning to write long pieces (novels and especially screenplays). It's all about the different archetypes that are found in most good storytelling, beginning with the earliest written epics.

I liked James N. Frey's How To Write A Damn Good Mystery so much that I purchased two other of his books written in a similar vein. I'll be sure to report on them once I read them.

That's all for now from here, folks. I appreciate all your input and love to hear more about your own creative ventures.

For now,


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Flash in a Pan

I've been avoiding writing flash fiction simply because I didn't quite understand the purpose. Even Wikipedia's definition isn't very clear, which basically means it's in the eyes of the beholder … or in the case of contests, in those of the rule-makers.

One of the writers on proposed a flash fiction challenge: in 1000 words or less, write a story about someone who is given omnipotence. That's all, no other rules. So, being the experimental fellow that I am, I wrote a story about a second-grader who suddenly discovers he has the gift of omnipotence and uses (misuses) it against school authorities. I called it "Under His Thumb" (sorry Mick and Keith!).

The funny thing is that I came up with a totally different story for the same flash challenge while showering this morning, so I HAVE to write and post that one, too. I am such an overachiever!

Other Fiction

So, besides the world of flash, I've been continuing on my short story creations for my collection. I'm on the fourth draft of "A Cage Door Swings" and should have that to my editors (aka, my parents) this week, perhaps as early as tonight. I like the way this one concluded, but it's not what I like so much as it is what my readers like. We'll see.

I already started writing the next story, "Mexico, NY." This would will have the largest cast of characters I've had in any of my stories. It's possible that this may be the basis of a television pilot I'll write, but I don't want to jump the gun right now. More on this story later once I publish it.

In Verse

I published a couple of poems this week (plus I have two in progress right now). One poem is really prose written in multi-stanza, four line verse which I call "Dinner Party at 8 P.M." This one was in my head when I woke up last Sunday, almost completely formed. Interestingly, I haven't had many comments from my regular readers. Regardless, this one is my new favorite of mine. The other poem I published is "A Call To Vincent," a poem in honor of my favorite painter, Van Gogh.


I continue to be impressed with some of the other writers on EditRed. There is definitely a lot of talented people in this world and the Internet is such a wonderful vehicle to expose their work. Hopefully, my critiques for others' writing has helped them make their prose better; I know their input to me has helped me in that way.

Books on Writing

I just finished reading How To Write a Damn Good Mystery Novel by James Frey. I want to get some of his other books (he refers to them repeatedly throughout this one, so it seems like if you didn't read those, you missed out on a lot).

Meanwhile, I start to read Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey, long believed to be one of the best instructional books for writing (especially screenplays) that is out there. A number of books and magazine articles I've read have referred to Vogler's book, even going as far as to heap shame upon writers who haven't read it. I'm a good Catholic boy, I respond to guilt very well.

Now the excuses

No time this week to edit my screenplay or continue on my novel. If I could write full time, believe me, I'd be plenty prolific, but life does require met to do other things (like go to a job to pay those bills).

Should I dare to make a promise (let alone eat a peach) that I'll at least get the second draft completed of A Perfect Tenant? Sure, okay, I'll do that.

So, that's all from my desk this week. Thanks for the emails and such, I really appreciate those who have taken the time to read my ramblings.



Saturday, March 17, 2007

Is It a Good Sign When ...?

Is it a good sign when you go back to read the first draft of your own screenplay and find yourself laughing at your own lines? Or is it just a sign of self-absorption to the highest degree?

Yes, I finally made a first pass through A Perfect Tenant - while lying in bed while my wife browsed the Internet for inspirations with our construction project. I have to admit, I enjoyed reading it for the first time. That's not to say I don't have a lot of corrections to make - not at all. The second draft should be ready for another editing session in a week or so.

Poetic Creations

I'm forty-seven years old - no, I'm not confessing that, exactly, though it's still odd hearing / reading that. I never have felt my age before and with any luck, I've inherited the long life and good health genes that both sides of my family have enjoyed. Both of my grandmothers died in their nineties … on maternal grandfather wasn't that far from ninety himself (and his sister lived to be ninety-eight).

No, what I'm confessing is that I could kick myself for wasting so many years eschewing poetry. Perhaps it was uninspired literature teachers who didn't ignite the love of verse in me (though I always did love Shakespeare, even in high school). My only love of poetry when I was younger came in the form of music lyrics … Dylan, Morrison, Lennon and their contemporaries.

But self-flagellation isn't the answer - at least to this question! Reading poetry is what I'm doing and better yet, I'm writing it. From the feedback I've gotten, I think I'm touching people with my verse, which is obviously what I want to do.

Poetry has another purpose for me, though. I find that by writing poems, I am able to reach even more creative places within me that I'm sure I never would've even grazed had I not started writing it.

This week, I uploaded two new poems to and … they're called "Saints in Solitude" and "Paper, Pen & Ink." In addition, I submitted my poem "The Value of Imperfection" to be included in EditRed's next poetry anthology.

Short Story Updates

I finished the first draft of my sixth short story entitled "The Cage Door Swings" this week. I should have that published online in a week or two. Meanwhile, this weekend, I plan to start my seventh short story which is entitled "Mexico, NY." This new one will be a satire and is bound to offend everyone, so stay tuned!

For the EditRed short story anthology, I submitted "Animal Control" for consideration. I think I've gotten a lot of good feedback on that one so far and it's not one I've submitted for publication yet anywhere (unlike the first three which I submitted to Glimmertrain).

I had a couple of my EditRed readers give me feedback on my short story "Baylor" which was both flattering and helpful. I plan to create another draft and republish it this weekend, too.

Other Tidbits

I've been spending quite a bit of time critiquing other EditRed writers' works over the last few weeks, taking extra time with the longer pieces. This website, unlike, seems to consist of a very close-knit group of writers, both experienced and new … very supportive and helpful. I've really enjoyed my time there.

Yes, Lucinda is waiting patiently for me to return to On A Gelding's Trail. I'm hoping to at least get to the character bios this weekend and perhaps further expand the stepsheet.

I got a great idea for a new screenplay, courtesy of my assistant at work. I sketched out the idea enough to be able to expand upon it when I'm ready.

I decided to limit my published works to readers on both EditRed and This way, I won't run into a problem with submitting "already published work" to magazines and such. All of my works now will have a limited online audience, at least to start with.

And that's all there is for today, March 17th, Saint Patty's Day. For you, an Irish Blessing (one of my favorites):

"May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand."


Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Funny Thing That Happened to Me on the Internet

Even as a tech guy, I marvel at how much the world has changed since the advent of the Internet. Whenever I read those articles suggesting that the Web is the final step toward Armageddon, I want to both laugh and scream. Without dusting off my soapbox, ANYTHING good can be misused / abused and people can get hurt. That doesn't mean the world has to stop progressing. Rather, we all have to be smarter.

A Tale of Internet Friendship #1

As I mentioned in my last post, there were a couple of online acquaintances of note from my early days online. I was a regular denizen of AOL chat rooms back then. I was single and thought that would b a good way to meet women without going out to bars (which I hated to do) or anything else that silly.

One person I met seemed nice enough at first. Her named was Carol. She was an accountant, older than me and studied French on her own like I did. She lived in the LA area, so we decided to meet in real life. I forget what we did that first meeting - probably went out to a movie or something.

Anyway, we both realized right away that we weren't going to have anything more than a friendship, which was fine with both of us. We had dinners, saw movies, went to museums - all of that. Eventually she met a nice guy, but still wanted to "hang out" with me even though I was sure her new beau wouldn't be happy.

Long story short, I felt uncomfortable going out with her when her boyfriend was busy with his other friends and slowly started to withdraw from the relationship. Honestly, I think she was taken with the idea of having two steady men friends. She was quite disappointed - hurt, really - that I didn't want to spend any more time with her. No matter how I tried to explain that I didn't want to mess up her real boyfriend relationship, she couldn't understand why she couldn't have both of us in different ways. My only response - I told her to ask her boyfriend how he felt about it. Needless to say, I never heard from her again.

One interesting story about Carol … one day, she called me to tell me her car was stolen. She had driven to a park near her house where she would go to walk/run some laps, then drive home. I felt bad for her as she had to go through that whole insurance mess. Since I had had that happen to me once before, I was able to give her a truly empathetic ear.

Two weeks later, she called me to tell me that the police had found her car. I thought that was great news - until she told me that the car had never moved from where she originally parked it, she just forgot where she parked it! She went through all that trouble with the insurance company and the DMV and in the end, she was just lost!

A Tale of Internet Friendship #2

One evening, I met someone in an AOL chat room called "Divorced Only," a place I frequented nightly simply because I was divorced and was looking to meet a woman who had been through that same rollercoaster. There was one person - new to the room - with whom I had an immediate connection. She wasn't divorced at the time, but had been divorced before her current marriage.

As it turns out, her second marriage was ending and she just happened to go online for the first time EVER. Her business was broken into and the crooks stole their computers. She had to buy new ones - quick, too, since she had clients to attend to. The new computers came with a free AOL account, so she decided to try it. She only went into the chat room on a lark, mostly to distract herself from her marital woes.

The story is rather long, but the upshot is this: we fell for each other online, moved to the phone, then she came to the west coast (from the Midwest) on business. We spent the whole week together and spent the next couple of years flying back and forth to spend time with each other. She moved out here in 1999 when we got married. The rest, as they say, is history.

Writing Contests

One of the ways one can get exposure is by submitting works to writing contests. So far, I've submitted "Ricochet Man" (formerly "The Rebound Guy") to Bluecat and Scriptapalooza. Even though I didn't even come in the quarterfinals in either, I was glad for the experience.

With Bluecat, by the way, you get feedback on your submission regardless of how you do in the contest. Not so with Scriptapalooza … so, if that's what you're looking for, try somewhere else.

I believe I mentioned in a previous blog, but my wife and I got as far as the semifinals in the ScriptapaloozaTV contest for a reality show treatment we submitted. I'm not mentioning that one by name for the time being; we're hoping that it will catch the attention of someone in the business. We're pursuing marketing efforts, though.

Writing Progress

This week, I finished editing "Prized Possession" and after getting feedback from my parents, I posted it online. Even though it's almost 50 pages - 11,200 words - the three people who read it thought it was a fast read and had very nice things to say about it.

I've only made a little progress on "The Cage Door Swings" and I've started a new poem as well (title to be disclosed when complete).

Speaking of poetry, I just posted all my completed poems to a new website called Poetry With Meaning (

This week, I've started writing a character profile for a totally new character. I'm reading a book by James Frey (not THE James Frey of the recent book scandal) called How To Write a Damn Good Mystery Novel. He insists on using this profiling method - both as a third person bio and in the character's void - to learn about your character better. This will help in the backstory as well as the dialog, he claims. I believe him, too. I need to write one up for Lucinda Dreyer, the heroine of my short story, "Animal Control" and my novel (in progress), On a Gelding's Trail.

I admit that I've been procrastinating on starting the edit of my screenplay, "A Perfect Tenant." I SWEAR I'll get through some of it this week.

That’s all from here (no previews right now). May every one of you enjoy your week now that Spring is fast approaching.


Sunday, March 4, 2007

On Feedback

Michael Cordell here, aka SoCalVillaGuy … back at you with another exciting blog post about my life as a writer-in-residence (okay, at my house) and more importantly, a writer who would like to be able to make a few bucks doing it so eventually I can quit my current day job.

This Week

Due to my cold, I didn't write as much this week as I hoped. I definitely was lethargic most of the time and by the time I got home from work, I just wanted to rest, usually going to sleep extra early.

I did make some progress on "The Cage Door Swings," my fifth short story. I also outlined a novel that Leia and I came up with that I hope will come to fruition some day.

In the coming week, I need to make strides in editing "Prized Possession," the fourth short story and A Perfect Tenant, my new screenplay. Also, On A Gelding's Trail, my new novel, has been sitting and waiting a bit impatiently for me to return, too.

So much to write and so little time!

Writing Sites

I've been spending quite a bit of time on a couple of writing sites, notably and, and I've come away with a much deeper respect for those of an artistic bent. I've had the pleasure of "meeting" some very interesting people who are quite talented and inspire me to try to be like them.

On these sites, folks submit their works for public review and critique. As a writer - especially a fledgling one - you are deathly afraid of anyone reading your work for fear of ridicule. The thought of letting a perfect stranger pick apart your scribblings line by line goes against what all of us fear from birth - rejection.

And yet, it's not so bad. I was surprised to find myself so ready to embrace this type of environment because (1) I'm sensitive and fear criticism (2) I'm a perfectionist who hates be caught in a mistake. In the end, the feedback I've gotten has been kind, considerate and helpful and I've abandoned the idea that I have to be perfect before I let anyone else read my work.

How liberating!

So, I send an enthusiastic shout-out to all my friends on both sites and thank all of you for taking the time to give me your input. I hope that my feedback on your work has been equally helpful. I can honestly say I look forward to reading all of your contributions because to see such creative people so diligent about their craft gives my own work a lift.

Epilogue on the Rebuttals

No onslaught of emails came since the rebuttals to my article were published. I'm quite surprised, actually. I would've thought that the anti brigade would've come out in full force once they saw they weren't alone in their decrying of my somewhat heretical stance.

I haven't been motivated to write another article for this magazine, though. I've just been so busy with my fiction, that the non-fiction side has taken a backseat. One of the reasons I chose to start writing the latter was to get my name "out there" and find a stream of income I could add to my regular one. As it turns out, I'm using a pseudonym for my fiction and the magazine I'm writing pays nothing except additional print copies.

The Cone of Silence (Part 2)

Speaking of pseudonyms, one of my writing site friends teased me about using a nom de plume. I wasn't sure if I explained this before, so I apologize if this is a repeat.

I'm using a pseudonym because I work in a small industry, I'm not anonymous amongst my peers. Anything I write, whether it's fiction or a blog, can be used against me. The industry I work in is rife with wonderful and strange anecdotes that will be too tempting for me not to use them in a screenplay or other work someday.

Besides, folks, the reality is people have been fired for blogging about their job and even though I don't really talk much about that aspect of my real life - paranoia can be your friend - I don't want anyone to find an excuse to terminate me. Bottom line, until I'm ready to retire and write, I can't tick anybody off.

Movies of Note

In the last few weeks, I've seen a couple of somewhat obscure movies I'd like to describe here.

"Pi" is a thriller filmed in black and white and it's quite stark in its visuals. It's about a mathematician who is trying to find the right numeric pattern to crack the stock market. In the process, he is pursued by a ruthless Wall Street investment company and zealous Hassidic cabalists who want the secret for their own devices.

"Haiku Tunnel" is to law firms what "Office Space" is to regular office work. This movie is told from the perspective of a neurotic legal secretary who is hired as a permanent employee only to find he is working for attorney that many consider to be Satan incarnate. His inability to complete one of his first major assignments - the mailing of seventeen very important letters - becomes the centerpiece for the shenanigans.

Another Lost Novel

Every time I write about my first lost novel, the next one that followed pops into my brain. Yes, there is a second lost novel out there, again, the electronic and paper copies have gone the way of the four winds. This one was a thriller (the plot of which I won't give away here because I have a suspicion I'll eventually start over again), but the circumstances around why I was writing about it will be briefly described here.

Back in the day, AOL was a hobby of mine. I was newly divorce and not ready to start dating yet. Instead, I would go into chat rooms - very respectable ones, not those that were dedicated to getting folks "hooked up," as the kids say.

In one of the chat rooms, I met a young woman who was a nurse somewhere in Michigan. She had a child out of wedlock (while still in high school) and was living with her mother and her baby. She decided she wanted to become a doctor, so she would do her nursing during the day and go to medical school at night … and still had time for AOL. I admired her for her effort and even though I had no romantic leanings toward her, we became friends, even talking on the phone sometimes.

Anyway, for whatever reason, I started writing a novel - probably to kill time during those nights alone - and decided to integrate her into the plot line. The book was based on a fairly complex mystery with the "I" character being the center of the intrigue.

Long story short, my Internet friend (let's call her Meg) was oddly weirded out by my story - not because she was a character, she actually was flattered by that - but because the story was so true to life (to her, anyway), that she wondered whether I had direct experience with this kind of intrigue.

Needless to say, despite my convincing her otherwise, our friendship sort of went south, mostly because I realized how naïve she was (and figured her attempt to go to medical school was a pipe dream, if anything). To end the story - true enough - she flew to LA with her sister (unexpectedly) and tried to find me. She knew I lived around LAX and had my phone number and kept calling me the whole week she was here, but I ably screened my phone calls throughout after picking up the first time.

Next time

I tell people that is my only Internet stalking experience. However, it's not my only experience with meeting people from the Internet. Next time, I'll discuss two others … one whom I married.

Also, in my next post, I'll discuss writing contests and my direct experience with them.

So, may you all have a creative week and thanks for reading.