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I finished a book about 2 days ago. It wasn’t the book mentioned in the last post. I worked on that book until I realized there were some fairly significant character flaws, so I put it aside. I decided not to work on it for a couple of years, until my memory of the characters had softened a bit, so instead I wrote something else. Turned out to be about 90,000 words. I believe I started it about 8 months ago, but I forgot precisely when.

That second book, which I called Lisette after the main character (I suck at titles), was an exercise in writing in first person, which I’d never done before, and in story structure. I’d been reading a lot about story structure and wanted to try properly structuring a story before I wrote it. And, more or less, it worked.

So now I’m working on yet another book, tentatively titled Joana, in which I’ll be practicing proper character structure. She’s a secondary character from previous books, so I know a little bit about her, but I don’t know much except that everyone who alpha-read Lisette really liked her. I like her too. I’m going to try to really nail down the characters before I write her book. And if that works, then I’ll go back to the first book, restructure the characters, story, and plot, and write it. Again. (It’ll be something like Draft 7 for that book.)

After I have 3 books in the bag, so to speak, I’ll reassess how I feel about publication. See, the thing is, I’m not ready for publication. My writing isn’t good enough yet. Lisette’s climax was weak. I didn’t properly structure the first 12%, which I’ll be doing upon revision. I’m not satisfied with it. I don’t feel I gave the secondary characters enough time for all the relationships to develop properly. And, frankly, the paragraph and sentence structure, and word choices, are crap. Better than they used to be, but crap.

About this blog: I started it upon the advice of my tax man. He said, “if you want to be considered a small business instead of a hobby, you need a Twitter account, a Facebook page, and a website/blog.” So I made those things. And I deducted my expenses for 3 straight years. I’m glad I’m done setting up my writing business, because if that new tax bill becomes a law I won’t be able to deduct anything ever again. But, if I’m not going to bother trying to convince the government that I’m serious about writing, I don’t really need the blog. Or any of the rest of it. I’m years from needing a platform and no one gives a damn about wanna-be writers anyway, so I can write whatever I want here because no one reads it. Like, literally, no one reads this blog. (Waves at the Russian spam-bots who leave me comments.)

That’s kind of freeing, because it means I can write about whatever I want. Like, earlier today I spent some time plucking random unwanted beard hairs. It’s funny how they grow wherever they want. And irritating. More irritating than funny, to be honest.

Well, back to the grindstone.

I’m working on a novel, projected to be about 90,000 words (350 pages), set in the same universe as my short story “Sacrifice.” I’ve been working on it for 2.5 years and have gotten about 5 drafts into it. Each draft is quite different than the one before it.

Finally I sat down to outline it. I’m a pantser, not a plotter, but it does seem to help to do some basic outlining. My “basic” outline is 4500 words long, which I suppose isn’t bad for a 350 page book.

My next challenge will be sticking to the outline. I’m not very good at that.

I published a short story called “Sacrifice” in At Hell’s Gate 3: Bound by Blood. The short story takes place around 100 BCE near Samarkand, which is a city in Central Asia. The main characters are Persian and Roman.

The piece is set in the same “urban fantasy” world as my novel, and the characters in this piece are half-vampires. In my novel there’s a taboo against half-vampires getting pregnant, so I wrote this story to determine why. What was so bad about pregnancy? How would it affect half-vampires? What sort of infant could two half-vampires produce?

I also spell out a bit of the mythology of the Order of vampire hunters, including what the name of the Order is. That was really hard. I’m not good at naming thing. I probably spent more than a year trying to figure out the Order’s full name.

I liked writing this story. I also had a lot of help writing it. I ran it through a local writer’s group (shout-out to Missy Kirtley) and through a bunch of critiquers over at, plus S.G. Lee beta read it for me and offered a number of useful corrections. Amanda Shore of By The Shore Editing and my friend Jennifer Fisch-Ferguson, who wrote Enter the Moon and who edits in her copious spare time, to edit it before I submitted it and then S. Kay Nash of The Bookie Monster edited it again after it was accepted for publication. They did great work. In total we probably spent over 100 hours writing, revising, editing, and talking about this story. I hope readers enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

This volume of At Hell’s Gates is the largest yet. It comes in at over 500 pages. Family must be a hot topic for horror novelists. The e-book version is currently $2.99 and the print version will come along within the week. I donated the story to the anthology because the anthology’s purpose is to raise money for a charity called the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which is a charity devoted to helping US veterans with traumatic brain injury and/or post traumatic stress disorder. So far the anthology series has raised over $1000 for this charity. I know several vets with TBI or PTSD, so I’m happy to be doing something to help.


Mike V. at Amazon wrote:

“Lockdown by TM Caldwell: A school teacher tries her best to protect her students amid a school lockdown that quickly proves to be something far beyond a student with a knife. There’s a slight twist on the typical zombie behavior that is novel, and the story’s pacing, language, and plot are good. Not quite a standout from other zombie stories, it is still entertaining.”

This is my first review ever. I’m really happy with it. It’s not overly-enthusiastic, which makes me trust it more. He says it’s good and entertaining, which is what I could reasonably hope for, this being my first “sale.” He rated the anthology itself with five stars.

At Hell’s Gates: Origins of Evil came out today and I have to say it’s really a thrill to see my name on a book’s cover. I hope readers like my story.

AHG2 cover


Once I finish all this grading I’ll write another story. 🙂

It appears my short story “Lockdown” was selected for inclusion in the At Hell’s Gates: Origins of Evil anthology (their second) and will be published January 31, 2015. Hooray!

I wrote and submitted a short story called “Lockdown” to the At Hell’s Gates anthology for their second round, which is subtitled “Source of Evil.” I should hear back around New Year’s Day about whether the story is accepted for publication.