I hate to bore you with one of those “here’s how many words I did today” sort of blog entries, but I need to see where I am on my 2005 goals list. (Okay, I’d love to be able to update you on how many words I’ve written for whatever novel or short story I’m working on, I just ain’t that organized or productive. I’d probably get more work done on those if I wasn’t doing blog entries or playing on my message board.)

I finished three new short stories (“Trail’s End” and “Dance of Bones” which, along with last year’s “Black Frontiers”, completes my western trilogy. Yes, there were black cowboys. Plus a long flash piece “Happy Endings.” It, uh, came to me in a dream). I’ve declared that by the end of February, I will wrap up all outstanding projects. Namely, the albatross about my neck that I call my romance novel. If I can get that done, maybe I can squeeze in another short story (“Devil’s Marionette”).

Oh, that albatross. You know, once people find out that you’re a writer, one of the top things that you hear is “here’s such-and-such idea. Why don’t you write it and we split the money?” Uh, thanks. If you’re idea’s any good, especially since I have no difficulty generating my own, how about I just take it, write it, and keep all the money? That being said, my barber pitched an idea to me. A black romance (we’re family here, right? I get tired of having to say or type out ‘African-American’ for the sake of political correctness. I’m black, you know I’m black, I’m not gonna get bent out of shape if you say ‘black’). He challenged me to write one, pitching a vague idea for me to run with and us to split the money. I liked the idea of trying to write one, but I wasn’t going to split money with someone who didn’t split the work. My barber, besides being a natural hustler and marketer, has great ideas. We ended up meeting regularly, he’d flesh out the plot, develop the characters, and then describe scene while I taped the sessions. I don’t know how collaborations otherwise worked, but this was how it ended up working for us. Luckily, we’re both secure in our masculinity: there’s nothing like me sitting there listening while he rattles off the details for a sex scene for me to write punctuated by the phrase “can you feel me?”

His other share of work: he’d give me free hair cuts.

I call it my albatross only because I hit a long stretch of writer’s block for a while and so it was agony to work on it. Silly me, I got with him and in one meeting, he helped me flesh out the last eight chapters. He’s already thinking sequel.

March I’m using to shape up my novel proposals. I have a Christian dating book under consideration at a publishing house (the pitch, which another company would have purchased if they didn’t have a dating book already in the works went something like this: who better to write on dating than a horror writer?). The company that would’ve purchased my dating book wanted me to pitch them something else, so I’m putting together one on spirituality and culture, along the lines of examining Christians’ uneasy relationship with art.

After that, I spit and polish my two fiction novels, Strange Fruit and Pantheon of Dreams, as I enter convention season. I’m determined to get an agent or publisher this year.

In April, it’s back to the short stories and a new novel. I have five stories in mind and some research/outlining for the novel done.

Busy, busy, busy. Good thing I’m not planting a church or have a wife and kids to worry about or anything.