Year2023

Four Ways to Strengthen Non-Fiction Writing

This post introduces an essay on improving the clarity and power of blogs, essays, and articles. 

My go-to resources for writing advice include books such as The Elements of Style by Strunk and White and On Writing by Steven King. (My two-phrase summary of The Elements of Style would be “Omit needless words; let every word tell!”)

In this 700-word essay, I summarize years of reading, writing, revising, and editing into four guidelines intended to help you strengthen the sharing of your ideas and analysis, through the written word, with others. The ultimate aim is to dispense with the garnish and deliver the meat. Clear writing communicates clarified thinking. 

Click here to read the essay.

Brooks Writes Stories: How Did It Go in 2022?

In mid-2017, I started submitting and tracking my fiction writing, and have since posted updates in 201820192020 and 2021. How did it go in 2022?

  • In 2022, I submitted versions and revisions of 26 stories 74 times to 46 different outlets. This included three contests.
  • Between January 1 and December 31, 2022, I received 64 rejections (including seven for stories submitted in 2021) and nine acceptances (12.3%, which includes one acceptance for a story submitted in 2020). 
  • Select comments from editors included:
    • “I liked the ease of the dialogue. However, I wasn’t convinced of the significance of the…”
    • “…we would encourage you to submit your piece to another journal…”
    • “Though quirky and funny…the story is trying to tackle too much in flash…”
    • “The family relationship here — everything feels so natural and real. I’m sorry to say no, but it’s not quite right for [us].”
    • “Love the title.” 🙂

Stories Published in 2022

Eight stories were published by six different venues in 2022.

On January 13th365tomorrows published “Aliens and Leftovers” (273 words, 2 minute read). The story, inspired by a true event, combines a brief ode to composting with the pull of suburbia.

On February 6thAphelion published “Protecting the Bean Farmers” (341 words, 2 minute read).  An interview with the late and prolific writer Harlan Ellison sparked the idea for this story (which survived 16 rejections and revisions). He said unless you spend most of your days “living life…You’re nothing but a beanfield hand.”

On March 25thThe Rye Whiskey Review published “No One Told Me” (227 words, 1 minute read). This knockout of people who talk cheap shit about people and cultures of which they know nothing, holds my record (to date) for rejections and revisions before finding a home (25).  My experience in college as a cast member of Children of a Lesser God, which included hearing and deaf actors, inspired this story.

On March 31stThe RavensPerch published “Tip Jar” (221 words, 1 minute read). Inspired by a trip to the Athens Farmer’s Market and my older daughter’s volunteering at ESP.

On April 18thMystery Tribune published “Family Picture” (689 words, 3 minute read). The mother in this story, her life spent betraying and abusing others, finally pushes her daughter too far.

On May 11th, Maudlin House published “Aliens at Rest” (531 words, 3 minute read). The editor accepted it with, “We love it and would like to publish it…” Thank you, Ms. Smart!

On September 5thAphelion published “Aliens Have Dads, Too” (285 words, 2 minute read). Accepted on the first try, this is also the first time I “made the cover” of a magazine with a story.

On December 1st365tomorrows published “Birthday Apples” (273 words, 2 minute read), a story I salvaged from the slush pile and revised with a new twist.

Finally, I would like to thank Michele-Lee Barasso and Jonathan Laden, the founders, publishers and editors of Daily Science Fiction (DSF), the source of my first professional sale, “Water Carrier” (2018). On August 11th, Michele and Jonathan announced that, after more than 12 years, DSF “will go on a hiatus, either temporary or somewhat longer.” Thank you for the support and encouragement you provided to me and other writers, and for the fun, diverse, and touching stories you chose for us as readers. While selfishly hoping your hiatus is temporary, I send to you the best and warmest of wishes.

Happy New You to everyone, and thank you for reading!