Bards and Sages Quarterly have just published their July 2010 issue in which you can find my short story “Jennifer Weary’s Legacy”.

This was a fun piece to write. It originated in a writing prompt from the Internet Movie Database horror forum’s short story competition. The theme was “darkness“, so I decided to just take it literally and make darkness the main character – bored, depressed, and obsessed with it’s relegation to the lonely hours.

It’s probably the fastest story I ever wrote, all coming together in a single draft in about 30 minutes of writing, with only minimal rewrites needed. I wish they all came this easily…

The anthology can be purchased on Amazon here.

~CGW

Craig Watson Waiting for Red
My short story “Waiting for Red” was recently re-published in SHALLA magazine – Volume 5.

It’s appearing in the Edgar Allan Poe issue nestled amongst a number of works by the master himself. Way to make my story seem inferior! But nonetheless I’m grateful for the honor. You can purchase the magazine on Amazon for $14.99.

Waiting for Red was conceived from a writing exercise prompt at the Milwaukee Writers Workshop. The prompt was to write a story that took place while waiting for a red light, and involved one character that was several hundred years old, blind, and obsessive compulsive. It was first published in Reflection’s Edge Magazine – August 2008 Issue.

~CGW

Words on the air

May 14, 2010

I’m currently reading Neil Gaiman’s 2006 collection of short stories and poems entitled Fragile Things. I make no secret that I’m a huge fan of Gaiman. His imagination is peerless and his writing is, in my opinion, exquisite. His mastery over words is almost as pure and perfect as that of the king of all storytellers – Ray Bradbury.

I wanted to share an excerpt from the introduction of Fragile Things that brought tears to my eyes and made me once again, feel value and purpose as a storyteller…

As I write this now, it occurs to me that the peculiarity of most things we think of as fragile is how tough they truly are. There were tricks we did with eggs, as children, to show how they were, in reality, tiny load-bearing marble halls; while the beat of the wings of a butterfly in the right place, we are told, can create a hurricane across an ocean. Hearts may break, but hearts are the toughest of muscles, able to pump for a lifetime, seventy times a minute, and scarcely falter along the way. Even dreams, the most delicate and intangible of things, can prove remarkably difficult to kill.

Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds’ eggs and human hearts and dreams, are also fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks. Or they are words on the air, composed of sounds and ideas – abstract, invisible, gone once they’ve been spoken – and what could be more frail than that? But some stories, small, simple ones about setting out on adventures or people doing wonders, tales of miracles and monsters, have outlasted all the people who told them, and some of them have outlasted the lands in which they were created.

~Neil Gaiman

I strongly recommend Fragile Things – it’s one of the most diverse and entertaining collections of short stories I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

~CGW

What’s your status?

December 24, 2009

Before they write a scene, a lot of authors carefully consider components like setting, goal, obstacle, conflict, and resolution, but how many think about status?

Today Mayor Tom Barrett visited my workplace for a short Q&A session for his upcoming 2010 gubernatorial race. He seemed like a nice guy but I found myself wondering how I would act if the two of us were alone in a room having a direct, one-on-one conversation together.

In terms of social status, he’s the Mayor of the City of Milwaukee, and potential future Governor of the State – practically a couple of steps away from the Presidency; and me – well, I’m a couple of runs of bad luck from bedding down beneath a cardboard box in a back-alley.

But on the flip side of the coin I’m not a U.S. Citizen, and I don’t have voting rights, so his political power has little consequence for me. I’ve had the experience of living in two countries (and on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line) while to the best of my knowledge he’s only lived in one state his entire life – and, for the most part, only one city.

If this were a game of Top Trumps, his career experience would quash mine, while my world experience might quash his. So, in a one-on-one conversation with this influential man, would I be calm or flustered? Assertive or nervous? Would I maintain eye contact or shuffle around looking at my feet? Would I have something to say or would I be lost for words?

Who would control the scene?

It was my wife that got me thinking about the element of status in fiction. Status is a commonly used tool in improvisational comedy. During scene sketches, the comedians tend to play to a particular status on stage – a “pecking order” if you will, where each characters’ sense of self-worth determines how they will act and how they will influence the events of the scene. A skit might have a number of status “transfers” or “inversions”, where dominance is passed back and forth between characters, making it more dynamic and interesting for the audience.

Aside from the fact that us fiction writers have the luxury of taking our time and revising our decisions, we’re really not that much different from improv comics. Sure, they can devise a coherent scene in real-time while it takes us days of hair-pulling, cussing and excessive caffeine consumption to get one right, but the techniques are similar. Status can be just as versatile a tool for the writer as it can for the improviser.

Think of strong scenes from your favorite books or movies and you’ll probably discover they contain a heavy element of status competition or some kind of riveting status reversal. Right now I’m thinking of one of my favorite movie moments – the scene in “A Few Good Men” where the powerful Colonel Jessop arrogantly tries to leave the court stand only to be told by Kaffee, an inexperienced lawyer, to sit down because he hasn’t finished with him yet – a brilliant and subtle reversal of power and the start of a scene so suspenseful that went down in motion picture history.

So how can we utilize status in a written scene?

Going back to my hypothetical one-on-one meeting with the Mayor, you can see that status in a scene isn’t necessarily defined by social position. While the social rank might be crystal clear (e.g. judge and plaintiff, manager and employee, warden and prisoner, king and subject, teacher and student etc.) the person of highest status isn’t necessarily the one with the highest social rank but instead the one who dominates the events regardless of social rank. For example, an employee might hold sway over his boss because he knows something the boss wants to keep secret; a kings’ consult might be the real influence on the realm while the king is just a puppet ruler; a strong-willed waitress might be condescending to a customer… it’s all about the underlying, sometimes unconscious, power struggle in everyday situations.

In writing, the status of a character can come through in a number of words and actions. The Improv Wiki has a wonderful list of behavioral traits that show if a character is high status or low status. Here are a few examples…

High Status Behaviours

    Calm and collected body language
    Maintaining eye contact
    Speaking directly and with certainty
    Not caring about other characters’ reactions
    Making leadership decisions
    Ignoring other characters

Low Status Behaviors

    Nervous and awkward body language
    Not maintaining eye contact
    Speaking in halting, indirect sentences
    Asking permission or explaining ones actions
    Looking for approval
    Avoiding leadership decisions

I’d suggest if you want to use the tool of status in a scene, ask yourself three questions:

1) What is the status of each character as the scene begins?
2) What do I need the status of each character to be when the scene ends?
3) Is there a moment where an interesting reversal of power can take place?

These three questions can lead you down interesting pathways.

One final word on the balance of power. I have a theory (entirely unproven) that the very best power struggles are those that are subtle and close contests. There’s not much tension or suspense in a scene where one character clearly has unbeatable power over another, but if two characters are almost equally weighted, and the reader knows that the balance of power could shift at any moment, well there’s a page-turner for you!

~CGW

A sense of ease

September 1, 2009

When I was in my early twenties I had a brief love affair with golf. I would spend hours at the driving range, hitting my basket of Titleist feverishly towards the furthest flags (and sometimes at the ball retrieval vehicle).

I even took a few lessons with the local pro, and it was during those lessons I learned something amazing: the furthest, most accurate hits are the ones that feel the easiest.

Golfers talk of a “sweet spot” and boy do you know when you’ve hit it. You feel nothing at all – no impact vibration in the club, barely any sound even – it’s like you just swung through thin air, and yet there goes that ball, into the distance, in a beautiful, arrow-straight arc.

By comparison, there are those shots where you think too hard, spend long minutes lining yourself up, adjusting your grip, angling the club head, thinking about your posture, and the end result is a horrific clang that leaves your wrists feeling like you just hit an Abrams tank with a baseball bat.

I never could master that sweet spot, so I gave up golf.

As I read and study the works of professional authors I admire, I get the same feeling that I did when I used to watch the pro swing effortlessly through the ball. There’s the same strange sense of ease in their work. It doesn’t matter if the style is chatty and loose or crisp and polished, the ease is still present.

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples, the first from Stephen King’s epic tale of the apocalypse, The Stand:

She walked very slowly, even more slowly than she felt she had to, because even at eight-thirty the sun was fat and powerful. She didn’t sweat much — there wasn’t enough excess flesh on her bones to wring the sweat out of — but by the time she’d reached the Goodella’s mailbox, she had to rest a bit. She sat in the shade of their pepper tree and ate a few fig bars. Not an eagle or taxicab in sight, either. She cackled a little at that, got up, brushed the crumbs off her dress, and went on. Nope, no taxicabs. The Lord helped those that helped themselves. All the same, she could feel her joints tuning up; tonight there would be a concert.

And here’s another from The Screaming Woman by the inimitable Ray Bradbury:

My name is Margaret Leary and I’m ten years old and in the fifth grade at Central School. I haven’t any brothers or sisters, but I’ve got a nice father and mother except they don’t pay much attention to me. And anyway, we never thought we’d have anything to do with a murdered woman.
When you’re just living on a street like we live on, you don’t think awful things are going to happen, like shooting or stabbing or burying people under the ground, practically in your back yard. And when it does happen, you don’t believe it. You just go on buttering your toast or baking a cake.

Regardless of content, did you feel how easy that was? I don’t know about you, but personally I didn’t stop reading once to consider the mechanics of the writing. There were no clever turns of phrase that yanked me out of the flow, no uncommon words that had me reaching for the dictionary, no places where an awkward sentence forced me go back to reread. But style issues aside, there’s something else there too – a feeling that the authors didn’t have to work too hard to achieve the words. Almost a feeling that they relaxed, took faith in innate storytelling skill, and let the pen do the rest of the work.

I constantly find myself amazed by this almost indefinable sense of ease I see in the work of the best authors. I wonder what us amateurs can do to to foster it in our own work?

Perhaps it’s just a case of writing so much, for so many years, that it becomes possible to tell a story without having to go back for too many re-writes. I’ve found that I can definitely re-work a story to death if I go at it for too long. As terrible as first drafts usually are – they are also often the most fluid, natural and honest version of the story you’re trying to tell. Maybe the sense of ease that the pros display is nothing more than the ability to almost nail it first time round – so they get to keep most of that magic. Maybe it’s being so familiar with the tools of the trade that they really don’t have to work too hard. Maybe it’s something else entirely.

Please comment and let me know your thoughts…

~CGW

“Said bookisms”

August 20, 2009

Here’s an instant tip for improving every story you ever write.

At the end of your first draft, run a search on quotation marks (“). Somewhere near each quotation mark in your story, you’ll likely have placed a dialogue tag, like this:

“I’m almost out of ideas,” said John.

Here’s the tip. Every time that dialogue tag is something other than the word ‘said’, replace it with ‘said’ instead.

‘Said’ is a beautiful word. It’s like a good makeup – you can’t see it but it smooths away all the wrinkles anyway. Your reader now knows who is saying what, except they don’t really know that they know. This is because ‘said’ is an invisible word. Psychological studies show that when we read a story we gloss over ‘said’ without even realizing it. It’s a quiet, discreet word that doesn’t yank the reader violently out of the story.

A couple of others that are passable are ‘asked‘ and, very rarely, ‘shouted‘ or ‘whispered‘.

On the other hand, try these on for size:

“I’m almost out of ideas,” hollered John.

“I’m almost out of ideas,” shrieked John.

“I’m almost out of ideas,” commented John.

“I’m almost out of ideas,” hissed John.

“I’m almost out of ideas,” exclaimed John.

Without being too blunt, they’re all crap. Big, horrible, smelly horsecrap. Horsecrap with fat blue flies buzzing around it. The same goes for shouted, demanded, declared, murmured, inquired, queried, replied, implied, barked, laughed, and sneered and all such similar words. They reek of amateur writing and I think I’m speaking the truth when I say most editors, if bombarded with enough of them, will throw your story straight onto the rejection pile.

The actual term for such words is “said bookisms“, and we’re all guilty of them to some degree. Sometimes they slip out without us realizing it in the fervor of typing; sometimes we put them in intentionally because we feel like we’re using the word ‘said’ too much and we’ve forgotten that it’s actually invisible. Whatever the reason, don’t. Just… don’t.

~CGW

To spin a poor simile, writing fiction is a little bit like cooking. You take your ingredients – usually a variety of characters – you marinade them overnight in something juicy to give them flavor, then you toss them into a pot (or plot, as the case may be) with a number of literary devices sprinkled in for good measure. You stir like crazy, hoping you’ve achieved the right temperature and cooking time, then you give it to someone else to taste and hope they don’t spit it back in your face.

But what of those ingredients? What if you’ve used an ingredient that your diners have eaten so much of in the past that they don’t care for it anymore? Or what if you missed an ingredient that they were expecting so they send the dish back with a complaint?

I’m speaking of course of tropes and clichés.

I think before we go much further we should define the terms. We could argue semantics all day but here’s my take:

Trope: A commonly used theme, motif, or convention of a given genre that is still considered effective or useful as a plot device (e.g. a spacecraft crash-lands on an alien planet and…)

Cliché: A theme, motif, or convention of a given genre that has been overused so much it makes readers want to tear their own eyes out (e.g. buff guy and hot girl defeat the menace and then kiss. Sun sets, roll credits…)

(note to linguistics nerds: I’m fully aware I’m not using the term trope correctly here, and that the word is generally misused. A trope is in fact a rhetorical figure of speech, and what I really mean here by “trope” is “topos” (plural: “topoi”) – a commonplace convention in literature. I choose to use the word trope instead because, well, everyone else is doing it. And also because no one I’ve ever met has heard of Topos before and they usually think it means something tasty you spread on a pita bread…)

I think the key to successful genre fiction (and by successful I mean stories that your target readers will willingly pay for) is to get your tropes in place – hopefully in a fresh and rewarding way – without tipping the balance over into cliché. In other words, use the ingredients they want and expect, but throw out the ones they’ve become tired of.

But how do we tell if we’re writing a trope or a cliché?

We might start by thinking about how a trope becomes a cliché. They are, after all, the same animal in different stages of cultural development. Here’s what I think…

A cliche is a trope that got famous.

That’s right. I believe that an innocent and once interesting convention, when bathed in enough limelight and adored by enough eyes, becomes culturally jaded. This can happen in two ways:

1) A trope finds itself in single work of exceptional magnitude – one that changes the face of a culture and becomes hailed as a “timeless classic”. This is how, for example, Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings took a simple premise – the ragtag band of underdogs on a quest across a dangerous landscape – and turned it into possibly the most overused plot device in modern fantasy fiction.

2) A trope, while not brought to stardom by a single seminal work, may instead find itself used in a multitude of smaller works to the same effect – reaching such a large audience through so many mediums that it becomes jaded. This is perhaps why we are constantly subjected to the alcoholic suicidal private detective, the cop who refuses to draw his gun, or the hooker who’s just in it to make money for college dammit!

So what to do, what to do?

I’ll go with the power of three here…

1) Don’t worry too much. Certainly too many clichés can destroy a good story, but it’s unlikely we’ll ever achieve a completely cliché-free work, no matter how hard we try.

2 ) Get your initial drafts read by as many people as possible, especially editors of small press magazines and ezines. These folks have seen every cliché in the book a hundred times over and they won’t hesitate to tell you if you inadvertently included a whopping big one in your piece. More importantly listen to them when they tell you so.

3) Know your genre and your culture. Keep an eye on what’s currently selling through publications such as Writer’s Digest. Find your genre’s top pro-zines through websites like Duotrope or Ralan and read them voraciously. Watch TV, watch movies, and of course read, read, read. The best defense against the accidental cliché is a good offense.

With all this said, there are some writers for whom cliché is a strength rather than a weakness. A writer who knows his or her genre well enough to poke innocent fun at such conventions can become very commercially successful. A writer aware and talented enough to turn a cliché on it’s head at the last moment can surprise and delight a reader. I’d cite screenwriter Joss Whedon as a good example of this talent. In an episode of Whedon’s Firefly, protagonist Malcolm Reynolds says to his crew “If I’m not back in one hour… you come down there and you get me!” (the quote is from memory so if there are any hardcore Browncoats out there, I apologize if it’s slightly off.) It’s a wonderful, humorous moment that defines the character perfectly and re-engages the viewer through the unexpected twist of a common phrase. Clichés usually aren’t our best friends, but they aren’t always the enemy either…

~CGW

Wearing masks

August 15, 2009

Question for you…

When you write. Should you write as yourself?

Before you read further into this post I’ll warn you that I’m not the one with the answer.

The question came to my mind yesterday as I was writing a scene in a new short story. The story involves the abduction of a woman by a sexually deviant sociopath and by its very nature it requires some disturbing narrative. You may find this amusing, but as a budding horror writer, I’m often a little ashamed to put down on paper some of the heinous imaginings that go through my head. That’s normally why I deal in supernatural events – because I don’t usually find realistic human-on-human violence entertaining and I’m a little concerned about attaching my name to a bloody knife blade.

But now and then, as I think most horror writers would testify, a story requires – or even demands – human violence and you can do nothing about it but meekly write it down, a humble and obedient servant of the living word.

I was talking briefly to comedian a couple of weeks ago and he mentioned that he’s never afraid onstage because he’s playing a character – wearing a mask – and if the audience doesn’t approve then it’s not him they don’t approve of, but his character instead. This explained to me how many of the comedians I know can appear bold and brash on stage yet introverted and even sometimes insecure offstage.

Stage magicians too, I think, often display their art from behind masks… some of them literally of course, but even someone who appears to be just a Regular Joe may put on a subtle veneer of charm and extroversion so their patter and distraction can function as well as it needs to.

And of course we see it in politicians all the time. I might go as far as to say politics is the professional practice of donning the right mask at the right time.

So my thought for the day is this: can we writers afford the same dissociation from our own personalities in order to write things we normally wouldn’t be comfortable with? Or does our art require a level of honesty that prevents such psychological trickery?

Can we wear masks, and indeed, should we?

~CGW

A matter of control

August 3, 2009

Because my wife is a stand-up comedian, I spend a great deal of time sitting in shows watching comics do their thing. Sometimes, though, I watch the audience instead of the comics. While doing just this a few days ago I came to a realization. Here I was, sitting in a room full of people who had willingly paid to sit in the dark, to sink into anonymity, and to listen to the opinions of a spotlit individual standing on a raised pedestal, holding an electronic tube designed to make their voice heard above all others.

This struck me as a little strange. Most of the time our basic human nature is to try to stand out from the crowd, to be noticed and remembered. Why then this willingness to pay for a night of obscurity and anonymity beneath the shadow of a stage entertainer?

After mulling this around in the old noggin’ for a while, I came to a possible conclusion:

I think we all like to be controlled once in a while.

I’m no psychologist, and Freud would probably play twister in his grave if he heard me say this, but it seems to make sense. Most of us are raised under a mantle of parental control; we have fond (or sometimes not so fond) memories of our parent’s authority. From an evolutionary standpoint, the offspring of our ancestors that were hardwired to at least pay a little heed to parental control were probably the most likely to survive, right? Maybe not, but it sounds rational to me.

It’s easy to think those people sitting wreathed in smoke and darkness in the comedy bar had paid to be entertained. But did they really? If we dig on a deeper – perhaps subconscious – level, is it possible they were really there to be manipulated?

As with most of the cultural arts, the theory can easily be extended and transferred to the world of writing too. If I’m perfectly honest with myself, when I sit down with a new novel, yes certainly I’m looking for entertainment, and yes, I’m probably hoping to learn a thing or two; but most of all – I’m prostrating myself, opening and offering myself up for manipulation. The authors I come back to again and again are those who have successfully controlled my thoughts and engaged my emotions in the past. They are the master puppeteers, architects of false affecting circumstances. The longer and more effectively they control me, the quicker I will pick up their next work and willingly pay for the contrivance.

In our society today, manipulative and controlling are largely negative terms. People to whom those words are applied are typically avoided; works of art to which they are applied are viewed as base, unsophisticated, and worthless.

But I would argue otherwise. I would argue that the very best literature is that which has the means to control us in the most subtle and powerful ways possible.

~CGW

For the love of fantasy

July 27, 2009

More than a little miffed that I couldn’t get to COMIC-CON this year, I consoled myself instead with a visit to the Bristol Renaissance Faire down on the Illinois border. The Bristol Renfaire is one of the more highly regarded Renfaires in the country (or so I’m told). It truly is a fun day out, and particularly amusing one to me because it’s really a warped version of what America thinks historical Europe was like.

But I’m not going to be a history snob about that and here’s why…

…because fantasy is where it’s really at.

And to see this many people gathered in the name of fantasy truly does the ailing heart of a speculative fiction writer some good!

Costume Contest at the Bristol Renfaire 2009

I got around to seeing Watchmen last night.

I’m not a big comic book reader and although I read the novel back in my teens, it didn’t make much of an impact on me back then and I’d basically forgotten the story by the time I saw the movie. I gave the cinema release a miss too, citing too many negative IMDB reviews and the unfavorable expense-ratio of cinema tickets to my measly paycheck.

So let me get this off my chest for a moment. Ahem…

Curse you IMDB haters! And curse me for listening to you and hence missing this excellent tale on the big screen!

That’s better. Thanks.

I suppose I should mention that I don’t intend to talk about movies a whole lot in this journal, but I’m going to make an exception for Watchmen, not because I enjoyed it so much but because it taught me a valuable lesson about storytelling.

I’m currently working on a novel called Wick that has been growing and reforming in my mind for the past four or five years. Wick is both my baby and my curse. It’s had so many false starts that my wife even remarked a few weeks ago that I seem somehow scared of it.

She’s not far wrong.

The reason I haven’t finished Wick, and indeed the reason I’m a little scared of it, is because I’ve always wanted it to have two faces: first and foremost I wanted it to be fun and entertaining – a memorable ride through an unusual land; but I also saw in it the capacity for dense social commentary and the examination of some heady philosophical constructs. My problem was that for the longest time I wondered if the two elements were mutually exclusive.

It certainly seemed that way… Every time I sat down to write Wick, the more action I worked in, the more faded the thematic elements seemed to become. The story always ended up slipping off the fence one way or another, either into garden variety fantasy adventure or into self-important social commentary instead. I almost lost faith that the two could be merged successfully.

But in Watchmen, we have exactly such a successful convergence. It’s a wonderful marriage of style and substance: on the one hand it’s a densely-layered, intellectual deconstruction of the superhero mythos; on the other – a violent, sexy, action ride. Its characters are complex and fascinating, each living by their own twisted moral code. It’s full of enough allegory and symbolism to spur conversation for days afterward. Best of all, it’s all, it’s fun and pretty to look at too.

Of course this is my own subjective opinion. One only has to browse through the IMDB reviews to see the massive polarization of opinions on this movie: “Narrative bankruptcy” one review writes… “Rich, perverse, and resonant” says another. That reality echoes the post I made a couple of days back about the function of a story being essentially out of the hands of the author – especially when it reaches a wide audience. In this case, though, I have to profusely thank original writer Alan Moore and director Zack Snyder for proving (to me at least) that style and substance can peacefully co-exist after all.

~CGW

A friend and I had an interesting discussion last night about what sort of story is easier to sell – those written to enlighten, or those written to entertain. By ‘enlighten’ I mean those stories that intend to bear witness to some fundamental truth of the human condition; by ‘entertain’ I mean those that were written to captivate or titillate without real consideration given to what commentary they might provide.

Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Lottery’ might be considered enlightening – inspiring meditation on a fundamental truth of human behavior, while Stephen King’s ‘A Very Tight Place’ – about a man trapped in an overturned portable toilet – might be considered merely entertaining. (Note that we weren’t discussing if one type of story was somehow superior to the other, only which was an easier sale).

I thought about this all night.

I reached an odd conclusion… our initial premise was flawed. The question of which story is easier to sell is moot.

The more I think about it, the less I believe you can separate entertainment and enlightenment. Both the writing and the reading experience are incredibly subjective. Enlightenment is in where and how you look for it, and what one man finds mindless and entertaining, another might see as a profound revelation. To some folks, King’s ‘A Very Tight Place’ may be the deepest exploration of mankind’s will to survive ever written.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the function of story is somewhat beyond the author, whether we like it or not. All we can do is send our creations out into the countryside and hope they don’t hurt too many of the peasants.

So, to enlighten or to entertain? You can set out with the intention of doing one or the other, but if your story reaches a large enough audience, I think it will inevitably achieve both, or neither as the case may be…

~CGW

Welcome, Dear Readers!

July 20, 2009

Dear Readers, that’s what I’m going to call you, because anyone willing to fork over a little time – that most precious of currencies – in exchange for the oddities and illusions that live between my ears, is dear to me indeed. I sincerely hope you find the transaction worthwhile.

Being a bit of a Luddite, I’ll admit I’m new to the online journaling scene, but with the upcoming release of one of my stories (Epitaph in Oak) into a publication of higher esteem than I was expecting at this stage in my writing career, I figured it was time to suck it up and get an online presence at last.

Please let me know gently if I’m doing something wrong.

I’ll endeavor to keep all the pages on this site current. On the Published Works page you’ll find a list of my stories that have grown up and ventured out into the world on their own. The What’s Next? page lists the buns I have baking in my oven. The About Craig page is where I allowed my ego to take over for a moment (the Buddha would be most disappointed). The Links page is a list of that which I deem worthy, and last but not least, there’s a Contact section from whence you can bug me royally if you want to.

In this journal section (You kids can call it a ‘blog’ if you like, I don’t mind) I intend to keep you up to date on news such as what I’m working on; in what awesome publication my next story will be available; and when, if ever, I earn enough from the sale of a piece of work to actually buy something.

Truly, thanks for stopping by. I hope you find it in your heart to bookmark the site and check back often. Above all, dear readers, I hope my stories carry you away – at least for a little while – from the trials and tribulations of this big scary world we live in and into a smaller, more manageable, scary world instead…

~CGW