Friday, December 19, 2008

One Day Late, But A Dollar More

A belated Birthday gift...

Sand has accepted "Crib Death", a 716 word piece, for inclusion in Issue #3, due out in February of 2009.

I'm happy. More later.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Busy, but...

Just wanted to take a break from editing to pass out a novel website I came across (pun intended).

Paperbackswap is a website that allows users to trade books for the cost of postage. You send a book out, they mark it received, you get a credit to order a book from another user, who then has to pay postage to get it to you. As a writer and bibliophile, I believe no book should go unread, and this is a great way to send off those old ones you've read hundreds of time. Share the joy, people! If I ever were to get famous, man oh man, I'd be using this site to send off stuff just for the heck of it.

Anyhow, back to the grindstone.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Our Ghostly Encounter

Well, I promised a ghostly encounter from our trip to PA, and here we go.

My wife's family lives about 15-20 minutes away from Jim Thorpe, PA. This used to be known as Mauck Chunk, and was a location of miner's labor movements in the 1870's, most well known among them being the Molly Maguires. The Mollies were miners, Irish descent, who rebeled against the company and their foremen due to the unsafe working conditions, deadly job status, and low pay. Ire raised by being treated more like dogs than men, they began to meet and organize with deadly results.

These men were pinpointed as the murderers and conspirators behind the deaths of mine foremen, and after being penetrated by a Pinkerton were convicted and sentenced to be hung. Four of these men were held in the Carbon County Jail, a structure that at the time was recent, but torturous as many small American jails were during that time. Innocence was protested, and even today there remains a debate about the actual guilt of the Molly Maguires, but it didn't stop them from being hung. Among these, and the most notable for folklore, was Alexander Campbell, who purportedly placed his hand against his jail wall, stating an innocent man was being hung and his mark would remain there forever as a stain on the record of the county, state, and country for their grave injustice. The handprint, accoridng to legend, remains.

I recently began working on a few stories using an Irish Immigrant sort of background, sci-fi stuff, nothing scary or hard. However, the Molly Maguires serve a huge role in one of the three stories, and I decided to visit Jim Thorpe to get a feel for the place while I was up there. Unfortunately the jail itself was closed to tours that day, so I had to satisfy myself taking pictures. After a few good shots of jail, which really primed the pump inspiration wise, we clambered back in the car to head downhill. Turning around in a gravel lot beside the jail, where a stone wall that was obviously once part of some structure stood, our car died. The brand new car.

The funny thing is, our van never "dies". Even when the engine is off, the radio continues to play for three-four minutes. This time it went dead, as did all the electrical. Luckily, gravity was on my side as we were headed down a steep hill, and through muscle (power-steering was a no go) while riding our brake I made it to an alley, and turned the key. Van started right up...

Big things on this, because I'm never comfortable saying I met a ghost and it played auto mechanic on my car. The van was checked out, completely, before we left with no problems in the electrical system or under the hood being found. It started with no problem, and went to a mechanic upon our return, once more with no problems to explain the sudden stop. Still, it was a steep hill, and this van was used to the relative flatlands of northern Kentucky. Could be a fluke, right?

Then my wife showed me a couple pictures from the jail, pointing out something she found. Could just be a glare, but you be the judge, eh?

Here's the picture:

Don't see it? Here's a more close-up version. Look at the second column of bars, about four up from the bottom...

Let's go a little closer...

Is it just me, or is anyone else making out a face?

Not sure I believe,
J.C. Tabler

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Of Travel and Children

So, here I sit at a HoJo in PA. We've driven up to coal country to visit my wife's parents for the Turkey Day festivities, and are now on our way back home. I've gotten a few things done, finishing the first drafts of a couple stories over the past couple days and getting the inklings done for a couple more to be finished in the next couple weeks.


Still have a few stories out at Space & Time , The New Yorker , Saint Anne's Review , Guigonol (Sp?), Fantasy & Science Fiction , and Underground Voices . Looking to polish a few turds and get them out before the Ho-Ho-Holidays.

Personal news, not so good. See, let's go in depth about why writing has become a little more difficult to find time for. My oldest was recently diagnosed with high-functioning...yes, you see it coming...autism. Not a surprise, but still disheartening. On top of that, though it's a positive, I'm doing more at work than before as I'm helping with training classes and becoming a walking policy manual on the center's floor. Then the babies, who are fine by the way, but I'm still worrying they'll stop breathing in the middle of the night, and since these worries started about the same time I was reading Stephen King's new short story collection, Just After Sunset (Wonderful, as always. Look for more this week) and child death was a big theme, I'm freaking out.

Weight of the world, won't bore you with it. Just know, I am trying to get back in the game and back into play with all of you prolific, talented, and successful people. Considering what a hack I am, I'm not sure if that should scare you or not. Just with figuring out what school to send Sophie to next year, and, consequently, how the hell I'm going to afford it, along with everything else...something has to go on hold until things calm down, and right now I seem to be shoving writing aside in order to keep my family sane and healthy. Not a hard choice to make, but I'm still in the game...just a few moves behind.

On the bright side, I think we met a ghost in PA. More on that tomorrow night. Now, I'm curling up with my wife and children in a motel bed. Hope everyone had a good Turkey Day, and I'll be talking to you all soon.

Best Wishes,
J.C. Tabler

Friday, November 14, 2008

Of NaNo, Shorts, and other things

First off, I am now the embarrassed owner of a minivan.

Yes, my old, beloved, beat up Jeep went the way of the dinosaurs on Wednesday when we purchased a Luxury model minivan with a Ford logo on the front. Leather seats, cup holders, automatic locks and doors, seperate climate controls, and an ass warmer. I'm not sure what I can do with an ass warmer, or why I need one. But rest assured, if my ass gets chilly, I will be able to warm it.

"Deep Dark Hellhole", a short I was working on prior to NaNo (of which I am slacking...I know), has evolved. No longer is it a horror story. It's becoming a sci-fi piece about a union struggle on an offworld mining colony mirroring that of the Molly Maguires in Pennsylvania. I'm going to work on it afer getting back to my NaNo word count (flagging, always do) tomorrow. Thinking it may be good for anything that looks at stories for almost identical events happenign across far spaces of time.

"Good Neighbors" is also evolving, this time into a bit of a horror piece, that is next on my plate after finishing "Hellhole", which is going to get done, either prior to or during my trip to Pennsylvania to visit the in-laws for Thanksgiving.

Got a story out 67 days at Strange Horizons , "Ain't Gonna Dig No More". Nothing heard back yet.

Another story is out with Space and Time again, this time the rejected World is Dead submission "Rock a Bye Baby", with 8 days on its count.

Still haven't heard back from a couple of big literary markets on some stories I have out there. I will eventually sell "Tribe of Harry", but most likely not to any market near as recognizable as the one I submitted it to.

Now, to other things. I was talking today with someone about writing, and how I just need to get on my horse and spur it to a trot again. I'll do it. I know I can. But it's getting damn hard to even force in the time to write. 10 hour shifts at work, Des is suffering from...well, let's say MS and post-partum don't make for a relaxing home environment. I keep obsessing over the kids not breathing in their sleep (they do, but I randomly wake up frightened they're not). There may be a story in the last, but the topic seems mildly repulsive to me and would be difficult to even imagine a situation like that.

Reading Stephen King's new short story collection. Expect a review sometime this weekend after I finish it.

Still climbing up that hill,
J.C. Tabler

Saturday, November 1, 2008


So I started NaNoWriMo at 12:00 a.m. Nov. 1st, 2008. To this time, 6:49 P.M., I have 4,561 words done on the story, into the beginning of the second chapter.

What is it that's caught my attention?

I'm calling it "One Year Prior", and unfortunately it's about zombies...sort of.

Alright, here goes my synopsis.

In January Sheriff Ben Jenkins of Colton County was called to the scene of a suicide in the woods. The result is wo missing brothers and an angry county in the town of Riverview, Kentucky demanding answers. Answers come soon enough in the form of government broadcasts, and Riverview must pull together to hold up against a river of the undead with Sheriff Jenkins leading the charge.

Basically, this is less about zombies and more about people at this point. The entire town of Riverview belongs to the church of Fenton Brock, an Independent Baptist preacher whose corruption is one of Riverview's many secrets. Even after the town itself is secured, even as things deteriorate in the outside, humanity turns on itself in the microcosm of a small town hidden in coal country. Law and Order versus Faith and Justice, not to mention a world falling down around their ears, drives this story so far.

I'm interested in seeing how it turns out. so far I'm shooting for 24 chapters, each one being one day of a month. Each month gets two chapters, plotting the progression of the town and of Sheriff Jenkins, how people deal with the undead, and what happens when civilization fails. I'm also thinking a wrap-up epilogue, but we'll see.

Anyhow, that's where I stand at this point on Day One.

J.C. Tabler

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blood On Bluegrass

I finally broke the writer's block, and it isn't on a story. Not exactly.

I'm working on a story about a true suicide that happened here in Kentucky, at least they thought it was a suicide, and it may have actually been. I want to play it close to the vest right now, but it has homosexuality, a love triangle, felonies, embezzlement, a coverup...all the makings of sensational psuedo-news.


I realized I should post some more.

Alright, so here goes. Work has picked up, and as a result I have four 1/4 finished stories sitting on my hard drive. It isn't about substance right now, just getting the starts down on paper. If I can muscle through that, and get a flow going, I can always go back to rewrite the beginning.

In other news, the whole family got sick last week, babies and all. This meant my 7-day vacation from work for writing purposes turned into 7 days of sniffling and sneezing, turning into a couple of days handlingt he babies myself as my poor wife passed out and had to be hospitalized. She's alright now, but with her condition (MS), both her M.D. and I are in agreement that she has to take better care of herself.

As for the stories...well...

"Norton Is Watching" has been rebirthed, and "The Parting Glass" has come into development stages for the basic idea, clocking in at 958 words for an intro and atmosphere. "Deep Dark Hellhole" is starting to bud into the real meat of a short, short piece, and I've started outlining the NANOWRIMO idea.

I swear I'm going to try and finish that this year.

As for everything else...well, I have no excuse. See, I know I can write, and I know I do a decent enough job, but I'm seeing a serious lacking quality to my recent work. Chalk it up to stress, time constraints, family...whatever. It's no real excuse. I've got to get my feet under me, in a literary sense. I started out this year piss and vinegar and went strong up until July. After that...well. We only have to look back at my blog to see what happened.

So here's the plan...get one story finished prior to NANOWRIMO. Complete a draft of a novel, even if it does turn out to be as rancid as my son's last diaper, during November. Do two more stories in December. Rest for half of January, then kick my big rear back into gear. Luckily, I now have three days off a week, working 4 days a week, 10 hours a day. My wife and I have agreed the extra day is a no-kids, no-distractions writing day, 8 hours from rising to resting in front of the P.C., 4,000 words a day. That...well, honestly shouldn't be a problem for me. My normal daily limit for 2-3 hours is 1,000 words, and that's counting distractions.

I'm counting on you fine folks, then, to harass me every Wednesday on whether I've finished my work or not. Beat him, harangue me, cajole me. Hell, get my phone number and call me incessantly to ask if I'm at the computer.

As for the project above...right now it's research and trying to secure interviews. I have to get the family, coworkers, cops, and journalists to talk to me, secure 15 year old case files, get audit reports, find friends/witnesses willing to talk to me, and secure a photographer. I also have to turn my coal room into a kid-proof lair where I can tack up crime scene photos in all their gory details. It isn't horror, but damned if what I have (just in two interviews and news clippings) doesn't lead me to believe there's a story there.

For now, though, I have to help train a class of new hires tomorrow, so off to bed I go.

J.C. Tabler

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ay yi yi

So, I've been away a bit again. This time I have a good reason. Recently I was struck with what has been a recent blog topic: writer's block. Yes, the block. It isn't that I don't have ideas. I do. The problem is that I every time I sit down to work on these ideas I get my nightly limit (1,000 words) out, then read over what I wrote the next day. After making retching noises, I promptly do the electronic version of balling up the sheet of paper and tossing it in a wastebin.

When something is flowing well, however, there are interruptions. Work, family, a squalling child with enough chemical weaponry stockpiled in their Huggies to elicit UN sanctions...take your pick. After dealing with these minor crises, I end up sitting back down to realize I no longer have any clue where to go with the story, and once again the highlight and delete functions are employed.

So, procrastination or block? Not sure really. I have an outline for my NANOWRIMO project, and look forward to writing for the sheer joy of it. In the meantime, I'm abstaining from anything distracting that isn't absolutely necessary until I get at least one of these ideas crowding my head onto paper in some form. This means no television, no bars, no internet surfing, no good books...just typing reading, walking the block, and more typing. Nothing's flowing easily right now.

So, there we stand a storyless month in September, well below my goal of four stories, and it's shaping up to be a pretty barren October. Through willpower and coffee alone will I force November into being productive for 50,000 words. I can assure that much. Until then, I will be the invisible author attempting to finish a story with a baby in one arm and a coffee cup in the other.

J.C. Tabler

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pushing my stuff

Yes, it's been a while. Explanations are coming, I promise. Best I can say is the twins decided not to sleep through the night, a Dia de los Muertos submission is whipping my rear, and I'm trying to get back on a sleep schedule since it was thrown off by a doctor's appointment this week. So why am I here when I should be shaving? Why, to pimp my work.

"Poppa Bear" went up over on Underground Voices. The direct link is here. Of course, I'd love for everyone to give it a read, but hell. If you can't, you can't.

Now, to take care of the Three S morning routine.

J.C. Tabler

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A long wait ended

Shit. Lost my last post. It was long, here's a short recap.

Two rejections, "Colburn Men" from McSweeney's and "Geoffrey's Pizza" from Neon. Going o get some writing done before heading to bed. Important work stuff tomorrow.

J.C. Tabler

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's not a Stoker, but I'll take it.

So, here I am, minding my own business in the dark over the past two days, when out of nowhere this guy comes along and slaps me with an award. The drive-by nomination came from Jeremy Kelly over at Join the Birdies. So, with tears in my eyes and the lights finally back on, here we go.
I have to say that Cate was the first regular visitor I ever got over here. It was fun. She's been a good buddy, a great writer, and an amazing proofreader. Not a week has gone by lately without there being an acceptance from her, and we're loving it! Besides, for a supportive soul, she is one who can both do and cheer. Looking at her daily habit of writing, the constant pursuit of perfection, should serve as an inspiration for any aspiring writer.
This is a fellow with an amazing writing style, I know because I've read his work. Never an unhelpful word, Mike has a blog that gives you a stare into the daily life of a published author. To get a look into the industry, you can't beat Mike Stone.

Join The Birdies by Jeremy Kelly

Sure, it seems like a bit of a cop, I admit it. The man nominates me, I nominate him. Well, here's the truth. This guy captures the stress of family, working, and writing perfectly. If there's something to be said about struggling, well, he's said it. For the empathy factor, among other things, I really do enjoy reading his blog.

The Other Aaron by Aaron Polson
I just want the chance to refer to him as Mr. Polson once in my life.

Written by Sin by Natalie Sin
Alright, let's just accept the fact right now that Jeremy put the reasons I like this woman's work far better than I ever could. Now, go get me some coffee.

What's that? I still have two more?


Ghosts in Parantheses by Barry Napier
Barry is a prolific fellow, even if he doesn't think so right now. Among everything else, he finds the time to work on novels. See, I don't write novels. I wish I could, but I can't. So I very much enjoy reading over his trials and tribulations when I feel bad my tiny little short story isn't falling into place.

Gospel of the Living Dead by Kim Paffenroth
Yeah, so I'm in a maybe pile for one of his anthologies. That does not mean I'm sucking up. I promise.

Okay, so, now the rules as they were given to me:

If nominated (and not insanely busy):
1)Add the logo of your award to your blog.
2)Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3)Nominate at least seven other blogs.
4)Add links to those blogs on your blogs.
5)Leave a message for your nominees on your blogs.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

One Slice or Two?

Well, in forty minutes tonight I wrote a flash piece, edited it in an hour, did a re-write over the next hour, and sent it out to Neon Magazine

There are several reasons I'm like "Geoffrey's Pizza", 835 words. First, and foremost, it made my wife cry. No joke. Honest to God tears over the ending of this story. I had guests tonight and let them read it, and not one of them looked happy afterwards, which tells me it punches in just the right place.

The second, and selfish, reason is that it is the first piece I've both began and finished since the birth of my children. I was starting to worry there were no good ideas left in my head what with all the work around the house and at the office, not to mention the recent pressure. So I have a new goal, now. A story a week. Not a finished, complete product, but something. Be it good or bad, short or long, one finished first draft of something every week. Length is not an issue. Taste is not an issue. Just something to keep me in practice until the kids sleep through the night and the house settles down.

The last time I stopped writing regularly, I ended up spending three years repairing the paddlewheel on a 100 year old steamboat.

So, back to it. Tomorrow I start trying to find my story for that week, and by next Saturday I resolve to have the first draft finished.

In the meantime, let's see what happens with my pizza order, eh?

On a different note, we took the babies and Sophie to the market today grocery shopping. There were nuns there. I have decided nothing I can ever write is scarier than a nun cooing over the baby strapped to your chest. I was squirming the whole time, expecting rulers to flash through the air and smakc my palms.

Plus, it's just a little uncomfortable to have a Bride of Christ looking at your personal Product of Lust.

Speaking of uncomfortable, this song kickstarted another story idea. It's a song about lynching, extremely haunting.

J.C. Tabler

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A More Definite Response

Arkham Tales has just accepted "The Simple Account of Sergeant Shea, Immediately Prior to the End of the World" for publication.

More later, bedtime now.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Rejection letter, what art thou?


Alright, I never post rejection letters. I prefer to file them away...but this one has me scratching my head. The more I read it, themore I'm not sure what it is. Is it a rejection politely worded and pointing things out to cut any argument before it can grow? Is it a letter intending for me to rewrite and resubmit the piece? Is it an "almost, let's see what you can do" letter? Or is it just letting me down gently.

Normally I can pick these out on my own, but the more I read this one the more confused I become over what it is and what was intended. I've sent an e-mail out politely asking for clarification, but to be honest the editors are probably very busy and the only email I have is the submission email. I'm thinking rejection, but if I don't get a definite, firm confirmation by tomorrow night I think I'll flash a query over to the other editor's email to see if I'm right. That is, if none of you think I shouldn't.

Anyhow, the letter is below. It's the rejection, I think, for "Ain't Gonna Dig No More", which I sent a half-proofed manuscript of off. I know, beat me with noodles. I was juggling my kids when I submitted it...quite literally, as we were thinking Des would go into labor the night I sent it off and was understandably shaken a bit.

Dear J. C. Tabler:

Thanks for your interest in the Potter's Field anthology, and for submitting a unique story for my consideration. While I quite enjoyed this tall tale, I do believe it needs considerable work so that it will be the best it can be upon publication.

I rest my case, by pointing out just a few of the errors within:

(Insert a few examples of my horrendous proofing)

The above are just a few of the sentences that require work. This story is worth the effort it would take to go over the entire manuscript. Take the time. Ain't Gonna Dig No More has the makings of a great story.


I should mention that the examples given were all grammatical/typos. No mention of the story or writing style itself. Just...typos and grammar.

What do you folks think? I confuses me.

C'mon, let me have it.

-J.C. Tabler

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The First Line

Well, I'll join the band wagon. Here, in no order, are the first lines from the last 20 stories I've written.

1. Lantern light off tombstones cast an absurd glow onto browning grass. (Ain't Gonna Dig No More)
2. I was born in a small county hospital on a December night that was warmer than most around that time of the year. (The Ignoble Birth of Tucker Talbott)
3. Jeanette didn’t cry the first time Kitty scratched her, not until Mommy started screaming. (Beautiful Little Rubies)
4. Some folks say snakes aren’t smart, just do what comes natural. (Big Jim Can Wait)
5. “It’s ten in the morning here in the Derby City, and if there’s anyone out there still listening they’re listening to 89.1 WKBS, BS Radio with Mad Mike Stevens and his Midnight Mayhem." (Dead Air)
6. They found Old Man Jenkins’s face behind the radio cabinet, staring up blankly from the floor. (Demon Whiskey)
7. To be face to face with a legend, a man whose name had been tossed around the office since the first time you wrote up a police report for the back page, was more intimidating than you would think. (A Dream of England)
8. Hundreds of glass eyes stared blindly into the basement. (Fragile Obsession)
9. You have this theory that there are two tribes in the city, the Day People and the Night People. (The Tribe of Harry)
10. Poppa Bear knew history often repeated itself, and it was this knowledge alone that kept him working hard to prevent a circular flow of unforgiving time. (Poppa Bear)
11. Twenty dollars a night or ten dollars an hour for a room, an extra five if you want clean sheets, three if you want soap, fifteen dollar deposit for a remote that isn’t fastened to the beside table. (No Tell Hotel)
12. I don’t read newspapers anymore, and haven’t since I was a child. (Many Comforting Words)
13. I never stopped believing in him. (Sacrifice of Man and Cloth)
14. Welcome to Historic Innsmouth, Where America’s Dark Past Comes to Life! (The Simple Account of Sergean Shea, Immediately Prior to the End of the World)
15. “We do not cover amputations unless they are completely and totally unnecessary." (No Deductible)
16. I went to law school in Boston in the late seventies, though I won’t say which school or exactly when. (Winter Wonderland)
17. “Do you think we could work it out?” she asked (Rock A Bye Baby)
18. The first time David heard “Presbyterian Guitar” by John Hartford he was beside his father’s coffin in the Markham Funeral Home down on Main. (Colburn Men)
19. “Is it the undead?” Dr. Lance questioned as sausage fingers tugged unkempt beard. (Linguistic Prescription)
20. “Was that a dead emu?” Richard asked, examining the rearview with fervor. (Weekend Trip)

Alright, there we go. Not in order of being written or anything, mainly because I can't remember the order the were written in, but the last twety stories I wrote and their opening lines!

J.C. Tabler

Monday, September 1, 2008

Here ya go!

Hi. We've hijacked Daddy's blog. We were getting tired of the Alien references about facehuggers and chestbursters, so we've beat him up. To be honest, it wasn't much of a challenge. He's put on quite a bit of weight since Mommy got pregnant, and gets winded very easily. We've got him tied up in the basement right now. Don't worry, we'll feed him...maybe.

Now, bow before your new overlords:

Meet Maggie (Left) and Henry (Right)

Let's cover August.

Well, I am loathe to admit this, but I only finished a single complete work of fiction during the month of August. I had finished several things during July, got them sent out and such, but August was mostly work and pregnancy. So, as a result, only one piece of writing got finished. That was:

"Ain't Gonna Dig No More" - Submitted to Potter's Field 3

Outside of that, I started on several things only to have them fall by the wayside throughout the month, among them being:

"One Lump or Two, Balgaraog the Eviscerator" - a possible Dead Jesters story. This was started, and about halfway through set aside because I wasn't certain of the story's thread or where it was going. I had Balgarog, the demon from Hell forced to have a tea party with a little girl whose bed he slept under, down pat. As for the plot, the girl, her family...not so much past the first couple scenes. I'm working on this one still, and someday hope to read over what I have and churn out a definite story, but for now it's on hold.

"Mitchell Hill Road" - A calling from the world of Harvest Hill. I've started it, and have decided in a few hours of writing that it will be much longer than the simple one-shot I wanted to do as a work-up for my own amusement. This'll be on hold for definite development until I get the anthology in my hands and see what history has already been developed for the town outside of my own story. It may be a possible submission to some future anthology or project set in that tiny Tennessee town.

"The Coal Room" - Not really on hold, just having a few false starts. Everytime I found the thread, my wife (still pregnant then) needed something done, and by the time I was finished the story would have fled. The basics are still there, just waiting for me to sit down and type the story.

"Rex Storm, Large Vermin Exterminator" - A longtime project finally began, that saw a good amount of work on the outline for it over the month. Between this one and the babies, I have a decent excuse not to get many short stories done over August.

September will hopefully see a lot more work being done, both on "Rex Storm" (which may end up being that 'someday' novel I keep talking about, depending on how the outlines tickle my fancy) and on the short story scene. Now that the kids are here, believe it or not, I'll have a little more time to write because I'm going to be up half the night anyhow. Might as well make some use of those midnight hours. Plus, I tend to be prolific when I'm stressed out.

Well, back to the children, then back to the grindstone. By the way, remember to read Catherine Gardner's new story over at Allegory. It is, very simply, another wonderful piece from this talented writer.

J.C. Tabler

Friday, August 29, 2008

Now introducing....

As of 5:58 and 5:59 (17:58 and 17:59 for you limey readers ;) ) On August 28, 2008, we can now introduce...

Margaret Beatrice Tabler - 19 inches, 5 lbs 9 ozs


Henry Billingsley Tabler - 20 inches, 6 lbs 1/2 oz

Now, to get some sleep and get back up to the hospital with the new big sister.

Daddy J.C.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm a lemming

Because Natalie L. Sin and Catherine Gardner did it, here's my top 10 world-creating writer moments:

10. Dismembered a Prohibition Agent
9. Killed a zombie baby
8. Murdered a maniacal, meglomanical politician's son
7. Stalked a comedian with a dead, sex-crazed hooker
6. Dropped a nuclear bomb on Nashville, TN.
5. Had a radio DJ commit Suicide-By-Zombie
4. Crucified a feminine, gay antique dealer
3. Had a father display his love by cutting off his own arm
2. Depicted the Pope as being worse than Cthulhu

and my #1 moment....

1. Sold insurance policies that only cover horrible deaths.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Working 9 to 5...

Alright, not exactly, but a post is in order before I head to work. I found a song by Dave Matthews yesterday, then found a Willie Nelson cover of it on Youtube. The result after a couple listens was a decent piece of imagery that led to an all day writing session after mowing my lawn.

So now, adding to my works I have:

"Ain't Gonna Dig No More" - 3,535 words - Submitted to Potters Field.

Not scary, but I like it. I guess the best way to put it would be "Supernatural literature".

And below...find the video that got me writing on it in the first place.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Get Yourself a Sweet Madonna!

I hit the Hat Trick! As of today I have three stories in the Northern Haunts anthology, upcoming from Shroud Press.

"Many Comforting Words" was accepted back in June, and today I got a couple emails informing me both:

"Big Jim Can Wait" was accepted.


"Winter Wonderland" was accepted.

YES! A trifecta for this anthology. Three submissions, three acceptances.

I'm really loving August.

In other news, finally heard back from Aberrant Dreams concerning "Dead Air". The new Horror editor over there was apologetic for the long wait, understandable considering the backlog they apparently had. Kave Catheson is, as an editor, very congenial even in rejection. Made the statement that the story was rejected, most likely, due to space concerns, and in review it is a bit long even after revisions.

Statements were encouraging, that it is a good story both in structure and style, needs little to no revision, and shouldn't be shoved in a deep, dark trunk. So I'll find a market that wants long zombie-centric stories about a trapped, suicidal radio disc jockey, gay intern, and burly sound tech trying to keep the airwaves alive as the world slowly dies.

Now, to update Duotrope!

J.C. Tabler

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I like August

Underground Voices has contacted me about publishing my submission, "Poppa Bear", in their October issue. As if I would say no.

Alright, Dinner time!

J.C. Tabler

Friday, August 8, 2008

A non-writing post (yeah right)

Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to another edition of my Weekend Update. This is comign on the heels of my previous post, an announcement of acceptance. To warn you, this post has nothing to do with writing in the beginning, and only a little at the end.

Today we hit the floor. Yes, I have joined the rank of Corporate Cubicle Cretins, assisting the elderly with their insurance policies. It's official. I have my own desk, a window view of the river, and easy access to the printer/coffee machine. Can life get better?

No, but it CAN get worse. This morning my wife told me she thought her water had broken. Thankfully, it seemed to be a reaction to some food she an my daughter had the night before. I escaped only by my refusal to eat bagged veggies, I believe. Considering she is 8 months along, though, she agreed to call her doctor. The doc had her go to the hospital, and my father was gracious enough to postpone his weekend trip with my mother to Michigan to get her there. This led, as my team and I were strolling down main street for our 2-hour celebration luncheon, to him calling me.

He then erroneously informed me her water had, indeed, broken. What he meant is the octor said that MIGHT be the case. We still have two weeks to go at the least, according to the doc, and that relaxed me. After two hours of sitting at work thinking my wife was in labor.

From that to Sunday when...I found out I need glasses. I'd been getting horrible headaches after squinting all day, trying to read the computer screen at work. My eyes were tired an bloodshot every night. So, while getting my daughter her checkup for school, I got my eyes checked as well. I now wear glasses, and am not happy about it.

Now for the writing mention:

Tomorrow, after mwoing the lawn, I'll be starting on another story for the Dark Jesters anthology.

See, told you it wasn't much.

J.C. Tabler

A Ticket To Ride

"Demon Whiskey" is one of the 31 stories of Halloween to appear in the upcoming Harvest Hill Anthology from Graveside Tales. That is just...just... AWESOME!

Now, since we've covered that and got it out of the way, I feel much better.

Waiting on the rest of them, still.

J.C. Tabler

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Quick Turnarounds

Two of my most recent submissions have already been judged on the scales, weighed against a feather:

"Linguistic Prescription" was rejected by Dark Jesters . Although it was "pretty funny", the poor editors are suffering from a common ailment - too many zombie stories floating around. I grieve for this piece, mainly because every rejection has said the same thing...good, interesting, funny, but there are too many zombie stories in the slush piles to make it stand out on its own. I may end up just making a collection of this story's rejection letters.

"Rock A Bye Baby" has been put on the "maybe" pile over at The World Is Dead a scant four days after it was sent. Not a shortlist, but it means the piece is getting some consideration. I'm happy.

Now, to wait for the rest of my long list.

J.C. Tabler

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Four-Legged Editor

I have a little friend now when I write. A few weeks back we were given a stray kitten, and my daughter fell in love with it. Now we have two cats, our Maine Coon, Ambrose, and a little orange tabby kitten named "Capote" for his funny walk and high meow.

Capote, true to his name, has taken to sitting on my lap while I'm writing. He the screen. Then, when revising, he does what every writer wants o do. He falls asleep.

Right now he's doign it again. I don't know how to handle this...

Alright, update

"Poppa Bear" got its rejection from Cause and Effect , and "The Simple Account of Sergeant got a rejection from Allegory .

Other than that, the end of the month wrap up goes like this:

New Stories

There were only two this month, really:

"Rock A Bye Baby" subbed to The World is Dead
"No Deductible" subbed to Malpractice

An extension of "Linguistic Prescription" was done for Dead Jesters

Stories Still Out :

"Dead Air" at Aberrant Dreams
"Colburn Men" at McSweeney's Quarterly
"The Tribe of Harry" at The New Yorker
"Poppa Bear" at Underground Voices
"Linguistic Prescription" at both Postcards from Hell (original flash version) and Dead Jesters (special director's cut)
"Sacrifice of Man and Cloth" at Saint Anne's
"Big Jim Can Wait" and "Winter Wonderland" at Northern Haunts
"No Tell Motel" at OG's Speculative Fiction
"Fragile Obsession" at Ghost in the Machine
"Demon Whiskey" at Harvest Hill
"The Simple Account of Sergeant Shea" at Theaker's
"No Deductible" at Malpractice
"Rock A Bye Baby" at The World Is Dead

Let's hope I get some good responses in the next week or so, eh?

J.C. Tabler

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Would you like to upgrade your policy?

Finished the Malpractice submissions first draft. Not a bad one, but I need to set it aside for a couple days before doing the revisions.

Basically, it's about an insurance salesman who sells "special" policies for those entering Bloom Memorial for treatment. I like it, as the entire story is basically told in description and one-sided conversation with a restrained, ball-gagged patient.

Clocked in the first draft at 2,268 words. I wanted it to be longer, it just didn't want to cooperate. Oh well.

As always, my call goes out for proofers if anyone's interested, thoguh I'll probably have it revised by the time any replies could get back to me.

J.C. Tabler

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wow, A mid-week post!

Started on a new story tonight, and this one is rolling well. Description and one-sided conversation with a patient bound and gagged on a hospital bed. I like it so far, bout halfway done, and I'll probably finish the first draft tomorrow.

Now, stolen from Cate Gardner:

The Big Read, an initiative by the National Endowment for the Arts, has estimated that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed. How do you do?
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM
Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

31...I think...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Doing science and I'm still alive

Woke up this morning, got myself a gun. Actually, we went to church only to find out our pastor is leaving the congregation. I don't like this, not one bit. I like this preacher.

Anyhow, on the writing front. Started another zombie piece as a World is Dead backup, but only have a general outline done. I'll be writing on it next week in between setting up the nursery, this week just got away from me a little. I wrote every night, but mainly just fluff to make sure the pump is still primed. I'd hear a line on the radio or T.V. and write a few apragraphs of a story flash based around that idea. Make sure I'm good to go.

Starting tomorrow, however, I'm getting back into my old routine of spending an hour every night at the computer, even if I'm writing a sentence and deleting it over and over again. I've discovered one thing in my life, and it's if that first line doesn't lead to a second line right away, then there's nothing to it.

I should explain my writing process a little. I don't plan. I have an idea, and I'll mull it over for a while, then I'll start writing. Once I start, I stop only at predetermined points and let the story sit for a few days. I'll then go back, reread the last couple of paragraphs, and get back to work on the story where I left off. A short story can take two writing days, with three/four days of thinking in between. A flash piece is normally done in a marathon sitting, a couple of hours writing and an hour of revision. If a piece really catches my fancy, like a recent zombie story did, it gets written without another thought, tossed in the air, sliced into little bits, and revised. Those are the ngihts I go through an entire pack of cigarettes and a bottle of whiskey.

Planning seems futile to me. Like going on a good roadtrip, a story should change as you make it. I can't force a dramatic piece to be funny, a comedy to be scary, or horror into romance. I have to let the story go where it wants and hope my fingers can keep up with the flow. I used to call it "finding the thread", but I now call it "tuning in". Good stories are like watching television shows with rabbit have to keep them pointed a certain way to have a clear picture. Move around too much, and you end up watching Spanish soap operas and ER flashing in and out through a screen of static, then spend a long time bringing it all clear again.

That said, here's the lowdown on the writing front:

I'm restarting my submission for Malpractice . I think I know what I want to do, mixing it with my dead story "Norton is Watching" to make a creepy little stalker bit about an abortionist and an insurance representative.

"Guilty in God's Court", my outlined piece for World of the Dead is this week's project following a day of rest tomorrow.

I still have about a dozen pieces out, and am once more questioning my e-mail's accuracy in reporting incoming messages. As a result, I'm going to start submitting from my Graveside Tales e-mail.

other than that, not much to report. Hoping to "tune in" tomorrow night and get a big chunk of a first draft knocked out.

If not, then I'll start writing and deleting openign lines again.

J.C. Tabler

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Back to the grindstone

Another week of work over. We'e doing alright, taking calls from people who need help with their health insurance. I've already informed my boss I'm coming after her job after I hit the floor, and next week we get trained in on the last of the basic systems we need to be cut loose from our training bonds. That'll stop us from transferring calls to folks who have the same skill set we have, and it'll stop us from being a general pain for the rest of the Specialists.

Finished up "Rock A Bye Baby" this morning, with only minor changes to it. I was amazed that, in one two hour sitting, I wrote what was basically a finished story. The response is that I'm now working on another Zombie piece because I want to have a backup for The World is Dead . I think it may work out alright, but we'll see.

Other than that, I've just read the amazing Miss Gardner's first draft of her story. I'll have to give it a few moer reads to give feedback, but I'm liking what I see already.

Still waiting on Harvest Hill , and I've decided that, someday, I want to write a novel. Not right now...don't have the time what with kids and all. I'll stick to short stories for a bit. Besides, as Ambrose Bierce (my cat's namesake) once said "A novel is a short story, padded." and "The covers of this book are too far apart".

Dinner party tonight, but before that, let me say one thing about a certain woman in Maine. Check the news, I'm too lazy to link, but this lady found an 8 foot PYTHON in her WASHING MACHINE!

...I'm never doing laundry again.

J.C. Tabler

Friday, July 18, 2008

You know what peeves me?

I know, it's a common complaint but...

...I'm getting sick of editors.

This isn't because of a rejection. I take rejections in stride. This is more because I haven't recieved a rejection in a while. See, there are several pieces (not Harvest Hill ) that are out there right now to certain anthologies (once again, not Harvest Hill ...I love those guys). My problem isn't even these people are still doing considerations.

My problem is that they have stated, several times, that they're evaluating every piece, giving feedback (nice on both), then...apparently...holding every single piece until they're ready to send out all the letters.

This would be fine and dandy, but in a couple of instances the editors are way past the deadline for submission. Look, if I'm going to get a rejection, and if you know you're going to reject me, send out the letter. Please, send out the damn letter. Do you know how stressful it is, long after deadlines have passed, to be sitting around waiting on an editor to "let you down gently"? I've got things to do, stories to write and rewrite, and if you've decided to send me a rejection, send it already! Let me get back to work.

This doesn't apply to those poor souls who have stories on hold...or those fellows with gigantic slush piles to weed through. They get a pass, because it takes them far much more time to evaluate than it did for me to write...all I ask, though, is some simple courtesy. If something is going to take much longer than your projected response date to send, then have the courtesy to give us a mass email and say so.

In a world where projects seem to fold daily, having no news is definitely not good news. It leaves the writer wondering if their work is still viable with a market, or if it should be sent to find another home. I'm not asking for special treatment, just to be updated occassionally on delays that might occur. Considering the deadlines we're given, and the ranting editors do when something is far out of bounds, there needs to be some general courtesy extended to those who submit in relation to timelines.

Alright, I'm done venting. Back to the edge of my seat, waiting for my rejections to come in.

J.C. Tabler

Thursday, July 17, 2008

In the treetop...

So I have some choices. I have a rather long zombie piece, that I'm thinking will never really work as a short story, that I started writing for the World is Dead anthology. tonight, though, I started on something else, a short piece.

It's...I don't know. I'm going to need a critique of the first draft to see what I need to do to it. The zombie thing..well...I came in with an image that was meant to be a background shot, and turned into a 2,027 word short story. I'm not sure what I think of it. I like it, it hints at a world but never goes into strict detail. The ending seems somewhat expected, though. I'm thinking I need some feedback before my edits.

In short, I finished the story I think I'm going to be submitting to World is Dead , the first draft at least, in one two hour sitting tonight. I like the plot, but I may have to expand it. Any volunteer readers out there to tell me this stinks and really needs to be rewritten from the ground up?

I'm thinking of the title "Rock A Bye Baby".


Still waiting on that Harvest Hill rejection letter...

J.C. Tabler

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I Now Declare Crap Month...

Officially closed. I think tonight I managed to break my writer's block with an image of a decomposing corpse reflected in a bar mirror. After that I started another piece, a bartender narrating a ghost story to a patron, with the reader as the patron. No, there's no expected dialogue to be imagined. I just kinda wanted to put the reader into the position of being the guy on the other side of a wooden bar with a talkative (and bored) bartender.

I checked my submission list the other day and came up with:

"Dead Air" at Aberrant Dreams I'm thinking this one either got lost, or was a rejection that never got sent out, or some other such thing. It's been well over 100 days. I had heard stories about slow response times...but man oh man...

"Tribe of Harry" at The New Yorker All I want this year is a rejection on their letterhead and a bit of personalization. That'd be almost as good as an acceptance from anywhere else.

"Demon Whiskey" at Harvest Hill I have no illusions of this one getting accepted, but I am looking forward to the comments when that rejection finally comes in.

"Poppa Bear" at Cause and Effect This piece has been called interesting but too sentimental, strong characters that turn into caricature, etc. The general consensus was that it needed some story work, which got done and got it resubmitted somewhere else.

"The Simple Account of Sergeant Shea, Immediately Prior to the End of the World" at Allegory Ezine , a piece that I had fun writing and submitted after a rewrite only at the urging of the undeniable Ms. Gardner, who insisted it could be found a home somewhere. I don't really mind, it was written for me.

"Big Jim Can Wait" and "Winter Wonderland" at Northern Haunts Anthology , if for no other reason than I had so much fun writing my accepted piece, "Many Comforting Words", that I wanted to write two more.

"Linguistic Prescription" at Postcards from Hell , a surefire rejection in waiting, but I'll be honest, I'm starting to get a kick out of reading the rejection letters for this piece, so I'm going to keep sending it out there.

"Sacrifice of Man and Cloth" at Saint Ann's Review , because, like the New Yorker, I want a rejection from these people.

"No Tell Motel" at OG's Speculative Fiction Magazine . Ever since it got shortlisted and then cut from Voices Anthology , this sucker has been making the rounds, racking up two form rejections in less than a month and a half.

In addition to this, I have a basic idea for the Malpractice anthology if I can get it running, the aforementioned Bar Story got it's first two intro paragraphs done tonight (my writing time must be fit into a busy schedule, don't harp on me), and a developing idea for a serious piece after I finally finish "Norton's Watching".

On other fronts, work is going well. A couple more weeks and I'll be shifting calls without supervision, the pay is good, and even on a tight budget we manage to live a decent life. Worrying now about Christmas, what with three kids and all.'re you all doing?

J.C. Tabler

Friday, July 4, 2008

A post for y'all

Because I have to mow the lawn and go buy fireworks, I don't really have time to do a nice, long update. Instead, I present something from my crap pile, a scene from a story that never got finished and probably never will. without any further pause, here's the introduction to Stranger in My Homeland.

The first Saturday in May, as written about by Hunter S. all those years ago with his limey friend in tow, was decadent and depraved. It lacked the civil or social value that was inherent in every other high class society meeting this town threw. Instead of string quartets and cocktail conversations about recent pieces of art, there were garish hats and strong mint juleps that stained the white linen suits of the men on the way down, then on the way back up as they hunched over a toilet. Meanwhile, from their boxes in the bandstands, those wealthy few watched the teeming masses on a sea of green surrounded by brown track, a mob of humanity that was circled sporadically by the rumble and pound of hooves on mud as thoroughbreds strained by. High society watching low society as the sport of kings separated the two into their proper social standings. It always seemed strangely appropriate to me.
“Damn tourists,” I mutter, stirring tea and staring into the roiling crush of bodies.
A crowd has moved into town in their bright suits and ties, fat men with faces reddened by muggy air and liquor. Their voices bray through the air, calling to one another in an intense mixture of affectionate curses and amounts of lost money. The tongues curl with accents that sound as foreign as Arabic. Clipped words and missing r’s drown out the lazy drawl that normally fills the street. My knuckles turn white against the cool glass.
“One mint julep,” a portly man in a lime green suit yells out, “and make it good this time.”
The green man wraps one fleshy arm around the waist of a blonde haired faux-southern belle. He whispers something in her ear and she laughs, a harsh nasal noise. Her hands flutter weakly in the air to catch the sun on the gold rings that line her fingers, and she licks his ear as she mumbles something back. Judging from the hungry look that crosses the green man’s face, I guess her response was a lewd suggestion that almost overrode the desire to watch horses run.
I watch the crowd mill about in front of Churchhill Downs. Down the street come the raucous catcalls and hoots of the local revelers. Adopted locals, every one of them, as no self respecting Louisvillian would actually attend the Derby. It was an unwritten rule, like nodding to complete strangers on the street when meeting their eyes. The actual citizens, those born and bred on the too-small streets of Kentucky’s largest city, were at home watching the race on TV, placing their bets in small pools, drawing horse names from a hat as they drank heavily with close friends and not in close quarters with heavy people.
“Heigh-ho Silver, away!” the man in the green suit brays a foot away my steps, flinging his arms into the air so violently that his julep splashes over the side of the silver cup and smacks wetly onto the sidewalk, a mixture of booze and crushed ice.
The suit is glaring in this crowd, a beacon of poor taste and too much money. Lime green, so bright that it looks as if it belongs in the window of a seedy bar advertising a second-rate beer in flashing neon, it’s the sore thumb of a gaudy circus. The color isn’t found in nature, isn’t found anywhere down here except on tiny, old black men headed to church or on the backs of pimps down in Portland. It’s a hustler’s suit, a hustler’s color, what money would look like if a madman with a box of markers designed it, and this guy thinks it makes him fit in. What he doesn’t want to say, the loathing and superiority that brought him south to view the sport of kings in a neighborhood of peasants, is shouted by that garish color. It says, very simply, that he has the money and ability to dress this way anytime he wants, that his status lets him pull it off.
“Jackass,” I mumble, taking another sip of iced tea.
The horses would run later in the afternoon carrying their miniature riders. Every breath would be held as the first leg of the Triple Crown played out in a town that, the rest of the year, was considered a backwater city in a backwater state. By the end of the week these people would be in their homes telling tales of rednecks and hillbillies as they dined over tiny portions of overpriced food. While swigging martinis and ignoring strangers they would laugh uproariously at the simple folk of the south, of Kentucky, and swear that they would never come back.
What I’ve never understood is why they even bother to make a pilgrimage down here. Was it to bask in the decadence of a city they knew nothing about, or just to get drunk like the green suit and his whore? They could just have easily stayed home, these two invaders, watched the race on television and placed their bets with some high class bookie in a quiet little bar where a she-he that looked like Marilyn Monroe crooned Ella Fitzgerald in front of a small jazz trio. If they hate us, our city, our people, our way of life the rest of the year, then I don’t see why they should embrace the worst of the state for a few days in May before going back to treating us like the redheaded stepchild of America.
His face goes blank as the julep is swigged, then twists into a mixture of disgust and perverse delight at tasting something that, no doubt, he thinks is a true delicacy of a backwards people. His whore laughs again, a nasal sound that slices into the very core of the skull and dances on the bone. She wants a drink, tugging the cup from his hands and spilling a mixture that no Kentuckian ever really touches down the front of her dress. Even from here I can see her makeup, placed so carefully on cleavage, start to run down the fabric. Any self-respecting woman would have started crying, screaming at the injustice done to such an obviously expensive outfit. Her response is to grab the green man and force his face between her breasts, to lick the offending alcohol off her body. He goes to work at his new job with vigor and determination, sliding his tongue furiously over exposed skin.
Now the mob continues in its movement, pushing along the man in the green suit and his painted bride-for-a-night, a rolling river of decadence surging through the gates of the Downs. I sip the last of my tea, set it on the rusted metal porch table. In an hour it would be time to go to the bar and settle onto a corner stool before the race was run. Once the drunks had lost their money and gone to draw out more they would flood the Rose Bar with their foreign accents and noxious, whiskey-fumed breath. Any longer than an hour’s wait and it would be impossible to find a seat after these invaders on my peace found out there was a bar within walking distance. I heft myself out of the chair, slip my hat over a balding scalp, and decide to brave the crowd in favor of a quiet drink away from this madness.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Replacement Therapy

Abotu half-done with my first draft of a new story, violating the basic rules for "CRAP PILE MONTH" by producing a new and original work. After polishing it I'll be going back to nothing but pure crap, but for now I want to finish this one.

Work is going well. Quitting smoking, not so much. I've slipped a couple times, but the patch keeps me good on nicotine. My problem now is I've started sucking on toothpicks throughout the day as a replacement for constantly having a cigarette hanging from my lower lip.

This means I will have to institute a monthly "toothpick budget".

Waiting on a few subs, Harvest Hill and all that, to come back into my hands. Other than that, not much else to say. Started riding public transit again today, and had a flash or two for a story while doing so. Might flesh it out some, might not, not sure. I do know that after this one piece is done I'm going back to polishing up another turd I have with some potential.

J.C. Tabler

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Snuffed Out

Grab your ass, folks. I quit smoking. This is day one of "no cigarettes for Daddy", and it's been a doozy. What keeps me from flying off the handle? That small, flesh-colored patch on my arm delivering a constant stream of nicotine to my blood.

CRAP PILE MONTH has already resulted in one "gem", or rather a kernel of corn. Polished up (sorta) and sent off "Poppa Bear", a literary piece with a hopeless sort of dark ending to it (it made my wife ask what the hell was wrong with me). Johnny America got back to me in three days, sending a response that read:

"A good read, but just not right for us. Please remember us in the future."

That's not exact, but the gist. It was short and sweet, but obviously personal, so I view it as a good sign. Anytime a personal rejection has no real...well...criticism, I take heart.

CRAP PILE MONTH is continuing, but at the same time I'm working on a possible submission for the Necrotic Tissue Malpractice anthology. It concerns Medicare Providers and insurance companies. I'm enjoying it, working on it after work and some turd-polishing.

Yes, I really am that crude without a cigarette between my lips.

Anyhow, off to put my daughter to bed, get a bath, and change out this nicotine patch before bed. Christ, I want a cigarette BAD!

Peace (but not for me),
J.C. Tabler

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Weekend Update, with J.C. Tabler

Week one of the job over. Last night was my sister's wedding. Sitting down today to start outlining an idea or two.

Here's the thing: writing is, unfortunately, taking a back seat until I get this house in order and settle into my job. Let's call it a month long hiatus. Instead of coming up with new stuff, I'm spending weekends in June and most of July re-working old pieces that I didn't like after the first draft. Some of them have a lot of promise when read later, others (I was surprised to find) are almost complete stories that I just got distracted from by something else. So, I hereby name Mid-June to Mid-July "CRAP PILE MONTH"

Got a rejection back from Unspeakable Horrors the other day, with good criticism in it, which was nice. I don't think I'll rework that story. Reading back over it, I saw it was written for one anthology, and probably wouldn't fit anywhere else. So, there we go.

Now, to take a bath, get my tux back to the rental store, and come home to figure out dinner before doing some more revisions.

BTW, congrats to Cate Gardner.

She's been having a spectacular 2008 so far, with acceptances into some very, very good areas, most recently with SAND. If you haven't read her work yet, hop to it. We're gonna see a lot more form her.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Busy Days

Alright, so we got moved in. Sorta. We still have some things to move from the apartment to our house, but that's really it.

Got a rejection from Necrology Magazine the other day for "No Tell Motel", so I packaged it up and sent it, in Snail Mail, over to Weird Tales for another rejection. Other than that, there's not much going on in the writing front. I started my new job at Humana on Monday, so I need to get used to the routine before I can sit down and get back to work on stories again.

Still got about ten subs out there just waiting on a response. Should be a few coming in any day now.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Slay Bells Ring...

Yes, I know, it's a misspelling of "Sleigh". It's a pun. I apologize.

Finding out there was still room in the Northern Haunts anthology over at Shroud Press, I decided to submit another piece. Once again, my father served as a bit of inspiration. For those who don't know (all two of you), my dad went to Harvard Law up in Boston. As a kid, we would hear stories about the winters up there every time we complained about the cold, and one in particular about how once a big snow settled in. A snow plow, according to my father, had piled snow at roadside to create a wall blocking the sidewalk from view. On the other side of the walk, snow had been shovelled or blown into another wall. He talked about how, walking to his classes, he was in a tunnel almost the entire way, and that tunnel was made completely of snow.

So I wrote a story featuring a law school student, tunnels of snow, and a certain red tinge that coats those tunnels.

Revised and sent it in less than two hours. Now I play the waiting game again. I think I'll just make a submission for each of the anthology sections as long as it's still open, and if I can think of another campfire story idea.

In other news, we now have a house. Nice little 3-bedroom, big backyard, two car garage, full basement. Water and power are on now, Cable guy comes on Tuesday. Rent is reasonable, about $750 a month, and my new job lets employees ride the TARC (our public transit bus system) for free. So, I'll have to get up at 5 a.m. to catch the 6:30 bus and be at work by 8:00 , but I'll save a good amount of money in gas and parking.

We're moving this week, Desi and Sophie (and friends) packing while I move stuff after work, and then Saturday we plan on moving the rest of the furniture with a rental truck. We hope to be moved in, if not unpacked, but Saturday night, and unpacked by my sister's wedding next Friday.

J.C. Tabler

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Northern Haunts

Well, got a letter from Tim Deal, editor of Shroud's Northern Haunts anthology the other day. It was a request for a rewrite on my story "It Wonder Me". I rewrote, sent it back to him with the changes noted in an e-mail. Today, I heard back.

"Many Comforting Words", a ghost story set in Eastern Connecticut (formerly "It Wonder Me", a ghost story set in Pennsylvania Dutch country) will be published in the Northern Haunts anthology. Considering that, almost two years ago, my grandmother (who was the glue in my family and the namesake of my unborn youngest daughter) died of cancer, I'm very happy to be involved with this anthology.


J.C. Tabler

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Calling for help

This is gonna sound dumb, but...

Anyone out there willing to give "The Simple Account of Sergeant Shea, Immediately Prior to the End of the World" a read for me, let me know if it's even mildly entertaining? Finished up the first draft edits tonight, wanted to get someone new's opinion on it.

J.C. Tabler

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Heading out of character

It is very rare that I write anything without an eye on markets it could go in, but the Mythos piece was one of those. Of course, after finishing the first round of revisions, I find it nearly impossible to place it with any market. The narrative, the perspective, the light-hearted approach, and the short length seem to set it firmly outside of the boundaries established by most publications normally interested in Mythos sort of work. Instead, I have decided to do something else with it, and after final revisions will make a gift of it to a friend of mine who has a love of all things Lovecraft, as well as a strange sense of humor.

Knowing this, I decided concise titlings can go to hell. I have decided to name it:
"The Simple Account of Sergeant Shea, Immediately Prior to the End of the World."

So there. After revisions, I may just make it generally available to anyone who wants a chuckle of some sort, either at me or at the piece itself.


J.C. Tabler

Monday, June 2, 2008

Strange Days

I dreamed a dream again last night.

It was a strange night. First up was a dream placed in a zombie story, I think. not really sure. There were survivors, infected folks, lots of zombies, and a religious slant on it all that made it a bit frightening. What bothered me the most, though, was one particular image of a zombie attacking a pregnant hooker on the run, ripping off the lady's face from the nose down, and holding her while other friends ripped open her stomach to make a travel snack of the fetus.

I gotta work that into something somewhere.

After awakening and drifting off, I found myself on a train platform where my wife has been palced in a quarantine zone destined for destruction to prevent viral spread. Then it went to a funeral for a family member where beheadings were involved.

I'm never eating pie before bed again.


J.C. Tabler

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Little Known Stuff

Stephen King's less exciting book: "Pet Seminary"

Alright, that's out of my system. Started work on the Mythos story today. Had to find a way around Lovecraft's destruction of Innsmouth, but I managed alright. Like how it's working, especially the narrative style right now. I know, I'm breaking a few standards of new Lovecraft stuff, but this isn't really's comedy with a Mythos slant on it. For it to work I had to have a familiar Lovecraft setting known pretty widely, and Innsmouth was the best one. So...I rebuilt Innsmouth.

That's my project this week, to finish and revise this piece, then get started on the revenge story.

Plus, to start a new thing, my daughter's quote of the day.

Sophie: "I broke your fan to make all my chocolate chips!"

My babygirl is weird.

J.C. Tabler

Friday, May 30, 2008

And it's done

Because I knew I would never get it finished otherwise, I found a quiet spot today to finish the Grinder story. Revised, slapped the title "Beautiful Little Rubies" on it, and sent it out to The Black Garden (no linkage this time, see a couple posts down).

Now, to sleep and then to get up tomorrow and start work on this Mythos piece.

J.C. Tabler

Delays, Delays, Delays

I will finish the Grinder story, damn it. I swear it. I just have to find two seconds to do it in. Yesterday I took the day off intending to sit down and get it out, start on revising, and start on a comedic Mythos piece that popped in my head the other day. What happened, as I was staring at the T.V. in the A.M. hours, was my friend and his wife called to tell me their car had died downtown in a parking garage after a job interview. Since Desi and I are the only friends they have that don't live in the suburbs, it was up to us. So I packed up my pregnant wife and five year old, thinking it would be a quick jump and then we could have a family lunch somewhere before I went home to work on that story.

Eight hours later, we finally had his battery replaced. Seems my buddy had dozed off listening to the radio while his wife was in her interview. It was drained flat, not even enough juice to hook tiny jumper cables up to a mouse's nipples and coax out intimate secrets. So we have to get the battery off...but it was under a stress bar and in an awkward place, and assuming it would be a jump I hadn't brought my toolbox. Back home go I, to return and find out the terminal posts are stripped, so I had to wander downtown in search of channel lock pliers. Finding and purchasing them was easy, but then the batery had to be charged by a local auto parts store, then replaced. Eight hours after setting out to give them a jump, we finally got home. I was tired, and after giving Sophie a bath went straight to bed.

So tonight, while the wife and kiddo are out at my sister's wedding shower, I'll be finishing up the Grinder story and starting revisions on it...or finishing it, setting it aside to get revised over the weekend, and leaping into the first draft of my Mythos story, as I have another story being outlined right now, and the Truck Stop Story is waiting to be written still. I can't slow down now, I'm already a week behind schedule.

Oh, yeah, as a sidenote, I got a job with Humana Insurance in their Medicare Customer Service department. I can't talk about the pay, but I can say it's enough that "We ain't po' no mo'."

Now, to devour my McDonald's.

J.C. Tabler

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Parents say the darndest things

Tonight, while putting my daughter to bed, I think I summarized fiction very well.

"You're a farmer," she insisted while wriggling out from beneath Snow White blankets.

"No baby, Daddy's not a farmer," I answered, trying desperately to keep my cigarette smoke from drifting over her. I had thought of putting it out, but only briefly because a draft was winking at me from my laptop and only the constant, cutting criticism of my wife had dragged me from a cocoon of Alice Cooper and Bing Crosby and into harsh lighting. Daddy would have to go back to his writing once a story was read and a song sang, and so Daddy's cancer stick stayed clenched firmly between yellowing molars.

"You're a farmer, Daddy," she insisted again, wrapping tiny arms around my neck.

"No, Daddy's a writer," I explained, reeling for a simpler way of explaining why we didn't live on her grandparents' farm in Pennsylvania, "Writers like Daddy don't make any money, so Daddy has to have another job, and there aren't any jobs like that where Grandma and Pap live. So we live in Kentucky."

"Oh," she answered in sweet little tones, deceptively sweet, "I understand."

"So why can't we live in Pennsylvania?" my wife asked from the doorway.

Sophie screwed her face up and sighed. Her smile was dazzling, cuteness and insolence in a wrapper of innocence.

"Because Daddy's a bad writer," she answered as I choked on cigarette smoke and tried to get my wife to stop laughing.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Fedora Wearing Hero

Saw the new Indiana Jones movie tonight, coupled with Iron Man, at the only drive-in left in town. My sister, her husband, and my nephews came along with us, and much fun was had by all. After that, we went home...where we just now arrived. Sophie is conked on her bed, and I'm sitting at my makeshift work station typing this before her mother and I follow suit in our own room.

Started on the story I plan on submitting to The Black Garden today, got 1,200 words done on a first draft in a little under an hour. After solving my machinery dilemma it came pretty quick and easy thanks to the cat scratching me last night. If you've never seen a Maine Coon, they are huge cats with a good amount of claw spacing. On my knee are three deep, bloody furrows about an inch apart from where he fell off the couch during a movie last night and tried to get purchase on my bare leg. It started the engine and got me rolling on how to start the story and this little girl's obsession.

I have to say I'm having fun with it, which I'm calling the Grinder at this stage. Third person close narrative style, with the narration done as if they are thoughts of a young child. We get a lot of "and Mommy and Daddy and Papaw" type of sentences, but I think it adds to it right now. I'm going to shoot for having the first draft done by Sunday, then spend Memorial Day (after my trip to Zachary Taylor National Cemetery to visit some guys I used to know) revising prior to the family picnic. Everything goes according to schedule, I should have the final draft ready to go out by Tuesday evening...but a schedule is more of a suggestion with me.

Found a few amazingly creepy things today that I like the vibe to. Alice Cooper's song "Steven" has become a top one on my gives me the damn chills. A few pictures and posters, and tomorrow we're heading to the flea market where I hope to find something else disturbing to decorate my desk. I'm a happy-go-lucky guy, but I like to set an atmosphere when I write to keep me on track.

My wife has already banned severed heads from the living room, so no worries there.

Speaking of her Pregnant Majesty, she's telling me it is time to stop typing and head to bed, so off I must go. I'll update with a word count and status on the Grinder tomorrow...hopefully.

J.C. Tabler

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bit of an update

Well, got my rejection back last night for The Age of Blood and Snow. Wasn't unexpected, though the letter was personal and nice. It more or less said exactly what I thought it was going to, well-written but not strange enough for the anthology. I have to say, it was nothing unexpected, and the fast turnaround time was a really impressive feat. I don't think I've ever had an anthology that has obviously been submitted to that much respond within a day. Kudos to the crew over at Morrigan Books.

Not much else has gone on today. Doing a bit of research for the Grinder story, trying to figure out what I could use that seems realistic. Considering I only want one fantastic element to this story, it would suffer if I had to make up the machine. The little girl needs to be the only creepy thing around, and I don't want to detract from her "vibe".

Resubmitted "Sacrifice of Man and Cloth" to a pie-in-the-sky market while I try to find a more down-to-earth home for it. Started fleshing out an idea for something that could be a bit of a companion to "Weekend Trip". I discovered I like that tiny town and it's Stoker-esque preacher a bit more than I thought I did. Still waiting to heard back from Unspeakable Horrors on the status of "Weekend Trip" with them, though.

Alright, I should probably eat my lunch. A little work, and then a haircut today for my interview next week. After that, my stepdaughter gets to meet her new cousins.

J.C. Tabler

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Age of Blood and Snow

Well, I did the revision on "The Parable of Judas" this morning and submitted it to The Age of Blood and Snow. Changed the title to "Sacrifice of Man and Cloth", taken out of one of the gospels I don't believe in that I read after finding out I was mirroring a concept with a couple religions. I don't think the story itself is what they're looking for, but with that deadline coming up fast I figured it couldn't hurt to submit and get a little criticism back.

Tonight I'm going to start on the idea I have brewing for The Black Garden. That is, if I can get a few hours to myself to type in. I like where the story idea is going, especially with the little girl character that's influenced by my stepdaughter. The problem is going to be getting a few minutes alone to type on the sucker after setting up a bed and cooking dinner.

Well, looks like I'm off to update Duotrope.


J.C. Tabler

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Curiosity Killed the Hog

Updates, updates everywhere...

Alright, let's see...doing the final edit on "Parable of Judas" tonight and getting it sent off to garner a rejection from Age of Blood and Snow. After that, I have this idea of a little girl and homemade, highpowered "hog grinder" (not sure what would work for that...) that I want to get on paper, edit, and submit to Black Garden. I should be hearing back this week on my Unspeakable Horrors submission, though I'm leaning towards another rejection. Once all this is done, I want to start fleshing out an idea I had not too long ago, see if there's a story or something longer behind it.

After this rush is done, I'm going back to work on the Long One again for a bit. I can't juggle two projects at once, not with the kiddo and wife and job search. On that front, I have a face-to-face interview next week with Humana for a call center, Medicare customer service slot. Not the best job in the world, but it'd pay the bills for now and the benefits package up there is great.

Let's see, things still out....

"Colburn Men"
"Dead Air"
"No Tell Motel"
"Tribe of Harry"
"Demon Whiskey"
"Weekend Trip"
"It Wonder Me"
"Fragile Obsession"
"Linquistic Prescription"

Also, there's a truck stop story outlined and just waiting to see page that'll start after I write on these anthology submissions.

Now, to head over to KFC and pick up dinner, cause I don't feel like cooking tonight.


J.C. Tabler

-Oh yeah, almost forgot. Picked up a Maine Coon last night from a rescue operation. Named him Ambrose, as in Ambrose Bierce. I'll get a picture of him, Hemingway, and the rest of our zoo up as soon as I can figure out how to work my camera. Technology, though art not my friend.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

On the road

Well, it has beena time of misadventures, though none quite zany. We left out of Louisville on Thursday afternoon, stopping in the town of Hurricane, WV for a hotel stay before hitting the road again early Friday. Around 7 p.m. we made it into Schuylkill County and met up with the in-laws, hugs and handshakes, checked into a no tell motel, and ate dinner. Later that night I made a run to a gas station for juice along a dark and windy road, missed the turn into a gas station, and wound up in a drainage pond. I'm okay, car's okay except for a dent caused by the tow man when he dragged it out. The problem is I borrowed my father's car for the trip because my old jeep wouldn't have made it.

The next day was spent cleaning up the car, fixing a slightly dented hubcap, and literally making myself sick. I contacted the old man, who wasn't thrilled to hear the news but didn't start screaming. We went out to dinner with the in-laws after that, then I headed back to the room and got a little sleep I hadn't gotten the night before.

This morning we packed up my car with Sophie's things and loaded her in, hitting the road at about 1 p.m. after visiting and saying goodbye to Pap. Taking off, we made it roughly to Cumberland, Maryland before deciding to put up for the night and finish the trip tomorrow. So we hit Red Roof Inn there, and here I am. We should hit Louisville around 6 or 7 tomorrow, with the most grueling driving ahead of me still. It'll be....interesting.

Waiting to hear back from Unspeakable Horrors for the story "Weekend Trip". Finished "The Parable of Judas" for my submission to Age of Blood and Snow. My trip to Hell has been booked, but Mom found my rough in the Jeep the other day, read it, and called to ask if she could send it to a friend of hers. I very reluctantly said yes, as it's still a draft and will stay one for a couple more days until we get home and get unpacked so I have revision time.

Came up with a basic idea for a story to submit to The First Line before August 1, as well as reading that there's been a new anthology announced by Catherine on her blog at . I like the idea, and I think I'll see if I can get two stories going side-by-side for once if a decent idea hits me. Sophie is running in circles around a hotel room, I'm tired from driving, and Her Pregnant Majesty has some seriously frayed nerves.

This is going to be a fun couple days.

J.C. Tabler

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Oh Hai!

Going to Pennsylvania.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Heresy, Thy Name is Tabler

According to the almost-finished first draft of this story, Jesus was a good-natured guy with his eye on the prize and Judas really wasn't that horrible of a fellow. I've gotten up to the climactic scene, which I plan on finishing up tonight. Looks like it'll come in either a hair over or a hair under 4,000 words, depending on whether I decide to go with a crucifixion or not. I would finish the whole thing tonight, except no work was done on it last night.

Yesterday, after calling police departments all over the state of Ohio looking for a year old accident report (piecemeal work for my father doesn't pay amazingly well, but it never has a dull moment attached to it), I was sitting at the office watching an episode of "Law and Order" when my phone rang. It was my upstairs neighbors, good friends of ours, who had just gotten back from a family reunion in Eastern Tennessee (No, there were no zombie Dolly Partons there). I answered, thinking they were asking where we left their key as we fed the animals, to find out my wife was in the hospital.

Nothing's wrong. Apparently she's a lil anemic thanks to the multiple gestation pregnancy. For the guys like me, it means her blood pressure fluctuates because she's got more than one baby in her. She passed out while talking to our neighbors, and they rushed her to the hospital. The doctors decided to keep her overnight for observation, but everything came back alright and both she and the babies are fine. I responded by sleeping alone on the couch, staring at the Dawn of the Dead poster over the T.V., and rushing back up there this morning. She was released with orders to take extra iron supplements and be more careful around the house.

Today, while she was napping, I sat down to muscle through this story. I don't want to give a lot of plot off, just that the narrator is one of the original 12 disciples, and it shifts between first person present and first person past tense. It also rejects most of what I learned about the last days of Christ's life. I was a little disappointed, in my research, to learn that one of, if not the, main idea is a major principle of the Coptic and Gnostic belief systems, but hey. I can at least write an old idea well and see what it gets me.

Alright, time to fix dinner, eat it, and cuddle with my wife before finishing up this scene. Take'er easy, folks!

EDIT 5/13/08 - 22:56

Finished the first draft of my heresy tonight. Wife's going to read it over after she gets done talking to her brother, tomorrow I'll start the edit on it, should finish around dinner time. This is one that I'm actually gonna look for a proofreader on, so if there's anyone out there who wants to read this sucker over, I'd be happy to send it out. Will, bless him, just isn't that into religion and is definitely gonna be bored to tears within two paragraphs.

J.C. Tabler