Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Surfing the Airwaves

From the Speakers: KASHMIR by Led Zeppelin

Yesterday was a hectic day. I woke up, had a bowl of yogurt, watched Sportscenter and read (easy to do during sports), worked out, and showered. All the time I was thinking about the writing I was going to do that day, especially while exercising and showering--good times for your mind to wander. And I had this idea for a scene that comes later in a longer piece I'm working on, but it was so fresh and so "hot off the presses" that I didn't think I should wait--I sat down at my desk and wrote it practically before drying off.

Who said you had to write a story in order?

This frenzy--this need to get a scene down because you've glimpsed its perfection and are afraid you might forget it or let a great detail slip or confuse the wording later--it's happened to me a few times writing this longer piece. So now I've got all these stepping stone scenes set up, and every day when I sit down to write, I'm just filling in the space between them. Personally I love this because it keeps my momentum; I always know where I'm going when I put fingers to keyboard.

Again, staying ahead of writer's block.

Switching gears from stories in progress to stories published, it seems "Good Business, With Guns" is getting pretty good reviews over at, and better than good exposure. Another fiction hub picked it up: Websites like this are great for writers and readers because they put up all kinds of good fiction in one place, and since they say what magazines each story is published in, it's a great way to discover new places to submit manuscripts.

In addition, and totally unbelievably, a community-supported radio station called WRFR out of Maine contacted me about my story . . . AND THEY WANT TO READ IT ON THE RADIO! I don't know about you but I think that is amazing. The show is called Beam Me Up, and whenever the story airs, fear not--I will inform you here and tell you where to go to listen. As I understand it, if you miss it live you can hear it on a podcast online:

Lots of new developments in my writing world--I'm promoting published work, mailing queries for novels, and writing new stuff all in one day! Phew!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Around the Web

From the Speakers: CONSTELLATIONS by Jack Johnson

I tried to Google my blog today and found some interesting stuff. The link to this page didn't come up, but some other things about me and my writing did.

First, the guys from Ray Gun Revival apparently know how to divvy up their time, because in addition to running a full-time science fiction magazine and slogging through all the submissions for it, they also contribute to a blog called AuthorCulture, which had a link to my story under "Blogs we like". I thought that was pretty cool. Also, there's a site called SF Signal that frequently posts links to some of their favorite free fiction on the web, and "Good Business, With Guns" got a link!

I was really excited when RGR published my story, but I never expected it to get this much exposure. When they were considering it, RGR sent it back to me a few times for requested revisions, and in hindsight I'm really glad I worked hard on it to meet their suggestions--I don't want anything but my best writing to be spread out there on the internet for people to read. I want people to find stories with "by Devin Miller" beneath the title and know it's about to be an entertaining read. So the more exposure the better!

Plus, there's an added amazing bonus exposure coming, which you may know about if you read the comments beneath the story on RGR's page, but I'll save that post for tomorrow.

Spread the word about my blog! I'm a week in now--how am I doing? Remember, constructive criticism is a writer's best friend, even if it hurts.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Storm Surge

From the Speakers: MY FORK IN THE ROAD, YOUR KNIFE IN MY BACK by Atreyu

I really do love a good hurricane.

When Fran and Floyd passed over my house as a kid, school was canceled for a week and trees fell down all over the neighborhood. We had no power and a bath tub full of water so we could flush the toilet. Everyone pitched in with chainsaws, shears, and axes to clear the roads and take apart giant pines that had fallen on people's houses. We couldn't take a bath for days.

It was awesome. 

Hurricane Irene passing through today brought back these good times. I had candles and batteries and flashlights and radios and bottled water--I was prepared for days of power outages. The fact that a slight drizzle and a brisk breeze were the worst I got was almost disappointing. Yeah I know, careful what I wish for.

And, there's nothing like a hurricane to work indoors. I sat on the couch, turned on the storm news on mute, and wrote in a surge of inspiration. Making headway on a short story I've wanted to write for a while was the perfect way to spend a hurricane.

On another note, "Storm Surge" sounds like a good title for a story.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Clownin' Around

From the Speakers: BEAT IT by Michael Jackson

Because I'm too lazy to do it otherwise, every so often I will dedicate a blog post to some writing exercise. I'll try to keep them short enough to be interesting and not overwhelming. All of it will be made up on the spot. Today's exercise is to come up with 5-10 good, engaging, intriguing opening sentences of short stories. My hope is that brainstorming here might produce some seeds that will grow into stories.

Let's "begin."

1. When she ordered the portabella pasta, he gave her a look.
2. I wondered why she was so standoffish, but being a detective, I noticed the paler skin around her ring finger.
3. At the time we assumed we'd be safe once we reached my house.
4. I let the cop pass by before pulling out into traffic; success was all about reducing risks.
5. "I would rather spend a winter naked in Antarctica," he said, "than spend one more minute listening to you."
6. My car smoking is really what began it all.
7. The ancient Romans took a lot of amazing things from the heart of Africa to display in their arenas, but there's one thing they left behind.
8. Life threw me a change-up.
9. When he threw up in her boots, I rolled my eyes and figured it was time to intervene.
10. He carried a long sword. A king's sword.

Okay. Now I ask myself (and you--let me know): Any of those any good? Any have the potential to blossom into a story? Which one catches my attention the strongest?

Since space in my head for new ideas is scare right now, I'll probably come back to these after I knock out the stories I have in mind. That's the beauty of these little exercises: completing them keeps me one step ahead of writer's block.

So that was fun. And speaking of fun, you should check out my friends Stitch and Spaz at They're doing some great things for people who need great things.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Important Roots

From the Speakers: ANA NG by They Might Be Giants
Just Read: THE PARSIFAL MOSAIC by Robert Ludlum--Everything you expect from a Ludlum book: exciting suspense, intrigue, and some badass secret agents!
Reading Now: SOVAY by Celia Rees

Spent the day with my brother's kids--it's good to go back to your strongest roots when you've been away for a long time. It's like coming ashore.

Hanging out with three kids on the last day of their summer didn't leave much time for writing. There's a lot going on in my head right now, story-wise. I have a much longer piece I'm working on regularly, and these ideas for short stories keep popping up before my eyes like weeds, but usually I ignore them to work on the longer piece. Before I knew it, though, my lawn got covered in dandelions. When I get to a good part--and when I KNOW what's going to happen next (an important caveat)--I'm going to break from the longer work and write them all and clear my head. The blank page is a lot like a Pensieve.

One thing about babysitting kids in your family: they can bring you back your writing roots, too. Tonight I read my niece one of my all time favorite books, ONE FISH TWO FISH RED FISH BLUE FISH. I swear Dr. Seuss was possessed of divine stuff. Stumbling through one rhyming, galloping, deceptively deep book of his (so much for adults in there), he somehow made me feel sad and mad and glad.

Why was I sad and mad and glad? I do not know.

Go ask your dad.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011


From the Speakers: HIGH OF '75 by Relient K

Yesterday's big news carries over to today. My tenth story was accepted for publication at Ray Gun Revival Magazine. Here's the link:

Leave a comment! You can even rate it if you want. And you should read the rest of the mag too, it's all good stuff.

Moving into double-digits is eye-opening. I published my first story when I was 17, a senior in high school. It's called Dusk, inspired by a song I played by Steven Bryant:

That's an all-encompassing spread, as far as my writing goes. Seeing my tenth story in print does signify an ending in some ways, even though I'm really just beginning my career. I could be wrong about this, but I feel like when you hit ten published stories, you're more than just a guy who sits down and knocks out a story that's pretty good. It's like this--when you turn the key in your ignition and hear it rev and sputter for a few seconds before going quiet, that's a writer with some talent but not all the rest of the stuff if takes. He'll publish a story, maybe a few, and move on with his life as a gourmet chef . . . or whatever. But if you get ten under your belt, you can hear that ignition catch and come to life, and then you're off and rolling. There's no stopping now; hit the gas with as leaden a foot as your heart desires.

My life seems to be keeping this theme lately. Today was FDOC (First Day of Class) at UNC. I live in Chapel Hill; I room with two students; this is my first FDOC I'm not attending. As of last week, I'm not 21 anymore.

It's the end of something great. That stings. It's the beginning of something greater. That's awesome.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ups and Downs

From the Speakers: SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT by Nirvana

Beginning a writing career is a series of ups and downs. Today was an exaggerated example.

One of the best books on writing is the aptly titled "On Writing" by Stephen King, who's one of my all-time favorites. In it, he describes how he posted his rejection letters on a pin above his writing desk, as a reminder. Eventually, they got to be so numerous that he required a spike to keep them all there.

If this was good enough for one of the best writers, it was good enough for me. Today I added another rejection to my stack (nailed to a bulletin board on my wall)--Scholastic was considering a novel I wrote called "The Duelers" since March, and today they got back to me with a negative.

If it strikes you as odd to display my failures, consider this: the rejection letters are reminders that I'm shopping stories around. You can't make the team if you don't tryout. The letters mean you've taken that all-important step and been brave and put yourself out there. It's a good feeling, even if you don't get accepted--it starts the snowball rolling. And it means that someone in the publishing world is reading your story, maybe even remembering your name. I mean, someone at SCHOLASTIC was reading my book! I feel like that's a win.

Meanwhile, after checking my email I found a letter from the editors of one my favorite magazines, Ray Gun Revival, saying they wanted to publish my short story, "Good Business, With Guns." Whoa! Just the pick-me-up I was looking for! I'll post the link up here when it comes up.

Both those stories were out for months, and both came back today--one positive, one negative. But that's writing. Now that I think about it, I guess that's life.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

First Post!

Just Read: HAUNTED by Chuck Palahniuk--Great! Definitely one of my favorite short-story writers ever.
Reading Now: THE PARSIFAL MOSAIC by Robert Ludlum

Welcome to my blog! It's a brand new undertaking for me--an experiment of sorts--so we'll see how it goes. My plan is to post a few times a week and share my thoughts (mostly about writing) with the world--probably vent a little bit when needed--and see what the world thinks.

Being an amateur writer, I rely on feedback from all sources. I hope you will comment on my blog and let me know what you think--about the blog itself, my posts, and especially my fiction, which I will try to make available. Say what you want to see and I will see what I can say about it. So please comment! And, share with your friends.

Can't wait to see how this goes.

Haul in the ropes. Turn into the wind and hoist the main. Fly the colors! We're out to sea, destination unknown!