Category Archives: Writing

Just Published: The Boy Who Drew Cats!

“The Boy Who Drew Cats” is featured here!

Halloween is just around the corner, and on that note, Golden Fleece Press published a poem of mine in HalloWEEn Tales magazine! As you might guess, HalloWEEn Tales is a Halloween-themed journal aimed toward grade school kids, and the poem I wrote is “The Boy Who Drew Cats.”

“The Boy Who Drew Cats” is actually a Japanese folktale that I put into verse. While the original tale doesn’t have anything to do with the Western Halloween holiday, it is a spooky story that involves a demonic rat. At any rate, I’m thrilled that it’s in print and hope you’ll venture to the Golden Fleece Press site to check it out!


New on the shelves: the Mysterion anthology!

It’s out! My  sixth short story “Yuki and The Seven Oni” is now available in Enigmatic Mirror Press Mysterion.  The Christian spec fic anthology is comprised of twenty stories that include dragon infestations, aliens, a 17th century automaton, and my own Snow White retelling. You can find Mysterion on Amazon, iBooks, and Kobo.   Please check it out!

Coming soon: Yuki and the Seven Oni!

Now some exciting news on the writing front: my sixth short story “Yuki and The Seven Oni” will published in the Christian spec fic anthology Mysterion! Mysterion is the first publication of Enigmatic Mirror Press and will be available next week on Amazon, iBooks, and Kobo. However, you can find an exceprt of “Yuki and The Seven Oni,” which is a Snow White retelling, here.  Please check it out!

Just Published: Shifting Fortunes!

Now some exciting news on the writing front: my fifth short story Shifting Fortunes was published in Issues in Earth Science (IES)! For those unfamiliar with IES, it’s a website that provides resources pertaining to Earth and Space Sciences for writers and teachers.

IES has a feature called “Eww, There’s some Geology in my Fiction!” It consists of short stories for middle and high school students that illustrate  Earth Science concepts, and Shifting Fortunes was chosen for their fifth issue. Like all the stories in that series, Shifting Fortunes has an illustration and a science lesson to go with it, and it’s all free!


Aki and Kageyama Inn from Shifting Fortunes. Illustration by Erin Colson

Shifting Fortunes differed from my previous projects in many respects. For one, this was my first time writing fiction specifically intended to educate. For another, it was my first middle grade work. I don’t usually write for that audience, but the concepts of Shifting Fortunes most naturally fell into that age group. This was also the first story where my engineering background came in handy. An added bonus was that a writer in my current critique group is a hydrogeologist at the sister agency of the place I once worked at. So in addition to the group’s feedback on plot and language, I had Yemia to vet out the technical aspects of the story.

Shifting Fortunes wound up taking more time and effort than I anticipated to get just right, but I am quite satisfied with the results. I hope you will be also!

Writing Contest Alert: 19th GLA “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest!

For those with finished YA manuscripts,  the Guide to Literary Agents (GLA) blog is holding its 19th (free!) “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest. The judging agent, by the way, is Eric Smith with P.S. Literary.


E-mail entries to Paste everything. No attachments.


The first 150-250 words (i.e., your first double-spaced page) of your unpublished, completed book-length work of young adult fiction (all categories of YA are acceptable). You must include a contact e-mail address with your entry and use your real name. Also, submit the title of the work and a logline (one-sentence description of the work) with each entry.

Please note: To be eligible to submit, you must mention this contest twice through any social media. Please provide a social media link or Twitter handle or screenshot or blog post URL, etc. and notes with your entry.


Top 3 winners all get: 1) A critique of the first 10 double-spaced pages of your work, by your agent judge. 2) A free one-year subscription to ($50 value)! 3) Their choice of any of Chuck Sambuchino’s 3 new books.

For more details about the contest, go to the GLA website!

Spear Among Spindles Now Available in Twice Upon A Time!

Spear Among Spindles was my very first published work, and it’s now available once more in The Bearded Scribe Press fairy tale retelling anthology, Twice Upon a Time!


Fairytales don’t always happen once upon a time. Fables don’t always have a happy ending. Sometimes the stories we love are too dark for nightmares. What if waking Sleeping Beauty was the worse thing the Prince could have done? What if Rapunzel wasn’t in that tower for her own protection—but for everyone else’s?

Assembled by The Bearded Scribe Press, Twice Upon A Time combines classics and modern lore in peculiar and spectacular ways. From Rapunzel to Rumpelstiltskin, this unique collection showcases childhood favorites unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

This collection features 43 short stories from the following cast of talented writers:

Bo Balder, AJ Bauers, Carina Bissett, Rose Blackthorn, S.M. Blooding, Rick Chiantaretto, Richard Chizmar, Liz DeJesus, Court Ellyn, S.Q. Eries, Steven Anthony George, Dale W. Glaser, Jax Goss, K.R. Green, Kelly Hale, Tonia Marie Harris, Brian T. Hodges, Tarran Jones, Jason Kimble, Shari L. Klase, Alethea Kontis, Hannah Lesniak, Wayne Ligon, RS McCoy, Joshua Allen Mercier, Robert D. Moores, Diana Murdock, Nick Nafpliotis, Elizabeth J. Norton, Bobbie Palmer, William Petersen, Rebekah Phillips, Asa Powers, Joe Powers, Brian Rathbone, Julianne Snow, Tracy Arthur Soldan, C.L. Stegall, Brian W. Taylor, Kenechi Udogu, Onser von Fullon, Deborah Walker, Angela Wallace, and Cynthia Ward.

Edited by Joshua Allen Mercier. Cover art by Luke Spooner.

Excerpt from Fire & Ash by Joshua Allen Mercier, a dark fantasy retelling of Little Red Riding Hood:

THE cold, autumn gusts ripped across Salem’s port, stirring the angry waters, stirring the angry spectators gathered before the gallows—gallows which had not, until this day, been used since the Trials several years back. Men, women, children—all bore hateful eyes and twisted faces. All bore a deep-seeded fear of the woman before them; they watched and seethed, anger building like fire fed by the winds, waiting for answers, for closure, for justice—for the devil’s death.

Constance Archer stared at the sea of faces; she despised all of them, save two—two faces that weren’t supposed to be there. Her daughters, Rhiannon and Rowan, hid in the small grove of trees, but she could still see their watery, green eyes piercing through the shadows, their stares stabbing their fear and pain and confusion into her. They weren’t supposed to see her like this. With the gag still tightly secured about her mouth, however, her muffled pleas for them to leave went unheard.

Where was their grandmother?

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Watch the [Extended] Book Trailer:

New on the shelves: Winter’s Regret!

Winters regret comp 2 (440x640)It’s finally out! My fourth short story is now available in the Winter’s Regret anthology.

The final volume in Elephant’s Bookshelf Press’s “Seasons Series,” this anthology explores that very human tendency to question decisions, even doubt our own abilities and capacities. Whether it’s because of a path not taken or a decision made for selfish or – perhaps worse – unselfish reasons, we all have had moments and decisions we regret.

My contribution, One Hundred Nights, features the legendary Japanese poet, Lady Ono-no-Komachi. But though the Heian era setting may seem far removed from our modern world, Komachi’s inner conflict between ambition and love is one anyone can relate to. Please check it out!

Winter’s Regret anthology cover release!

Winters regret comp 2 (440x640)As I mentioned in December, my fourth short story, One Hundred Nights, will be published in Elephant’s Bookshelf Press‘s Winter’s Regret anthology. The book is on track to be published at the end of this month. Until then, please enjoy this glimpse of the cover designed by Charlee Hoffman!

New Short Story in 2014!

Writing is a long process. It’s not just putting words to page but includes editing, querying, and more rejection than anyone cares to think about. That’s why writers have to celebrate victories when they come by, and I’m very happy to announce that my fourth short story will be published in Elephant’s Bookshelf Press‘s Winter Anthology!

The theme of the anthology is regret. My own contribution is a historical set in Heian Era Japan. The approximate release date is February 2014, and I’ll post more details when I get them. Until then, please look forward to it!

Writing Historical Fiction and Adjusting History

Research is an important part of writing historical fiction. This is because getting the details correct makes settings authentic. Things like tomatoes in ancient Egypt or European units of measurement in ancient China drive me nuts, and I do my best to keep things accurate as possible. But I’ve learned since writing in this genre that sometimes accuracy must be sacrificed in the name of clarity. Because in the end, the goal is to write a compelling story, not a textbook.

I don’t like making that kind of compromise. Still, I found myself tweaking a historical fact last month due to a pacing issue.

Basically, my manuscript’s problem was that the conflict that sets everything into motion was not only complicated, it didn’t directly involve my main character. The conflict in question was the dispute over the Spartan throne after King Agis’ death. The two possible contenders were his half-brother Agesilaus and his son Latychides. Latychides, though, was rumored to be a bastard, and not just any bastard. He was supposedly the product of an affair Agis’ wife had with an Athenian defector. As for Agesilaus, no one questioned his bloodlines, but he was short and congenitally lame – not the type of guy the military minded Spartans were eager to see in charge.

It was stuff worthy of modern tabloids. It even involved an ominous oracle. In the end, Agesilaus came out on top, but the controversy didn’t die down (well, at least it didn’t in my story). And opposition to the lame king’s reign was what spurred his sister Cynisca (my main character) to action.

Unfortunately, up until her brother becomes king, she’s largely an observer. It’s not until Chapter 4 that she’s really making things happen.

So I was struggling for a way to shorten that backstory and get Cynisca into the action sooner when a new critique partner made a suggestion: cut out the bastard son and focus on the lame king controversy. After all, given what we know of them, Spartans probably would have objected to Agesilaus even without a rival.

I didn’t like the idea of cutting out Latychides, especially since he was such a juicy detail. But it had the potential to solve my problem so I gave it a try.

It worked.

Without having to explain the queen’s affair, I got from King Agis’ death to Agesilaus’s inauguration sooner. I also managed to repurpose the ominous prophecy in a way that gave Cynisca a part to play even before Agesilaus is crowned. And there was an additional benefit.

Something that I’ve learned in my critique groups is that unless a name is an American standard or something super famous like Cleopatra, it’s not going to stick quickly or easily. And the more unfamiliar names you throw out, the harder it is for people to keep track. My previous draft introduced six characters with Greek names in the first chapter, which turned out to be a stumbling block for my critique partners. After the change, I cut four characters, and the number of characters introduced in the first chapter went down to a much more manageable three.

So far everyone in my critique group approves of the changes, and I, too, think it makes for a more streamlined story. Still, the stickler inside me wishes Latychides could have stayed, and if this novel gets published, I’m fully prepared to get that email that says, “You left out the part about the bastard prince…”