“A Burial” at Page and Spine and My Online Store

Several months ago, I sold “A Burial” to Page and Spine. When I decided to use the story in my collection, the editor, N.K. Wagner not only agreed to provide a blurb for the back of the book, but also said she would hold off on publishing the story so that its publication would coincide with the release of the book.

“A Burial” is the first story in the All Manner of Dark Things, and I think it provides a good example of the type of literary fiction that I write. If you are looking for a good sample before deciding whether or not to buy the book, it is free and available now.


They deserve your support, regardless. They’ve been extremely cooperative and supportive during the entire submission and publication process.

I’ve also set up an online store through Square. There is a link to it at the top of the page. Living in Kansas, but being from Iowa, I have had a few people who wanted to buy print copies of All Manner of Dark Things but that wanted them signed. That’s awfully hard to do if they are purchased from Amazon.

If you want a signed copy of All Manner of Dark Things, you can purchase one here: http://mkt.com/jack-campbell-jr

It’s the same system that I will be using to sell copies at conventions and appearances. The price is essentially the same as Amazon, but I will sign the book before I personally ship it out to you.The turn around is a bit faster than Amazon, because I have copies on hand and will generally get them sent out the next day.

I appreciate the positive response that I have received from everyone. I can’t tell you how much the support means to me. If you like the book, remember to review it on Amazon, Goodreads, or wherever you regularly do such things.

Additionally, print copies of Rejected from ACA Books, which contains my story “A Simple Device,” are now available. You can find them on Amazon.  Many of the early reviews specifically mention “A Simple Device” as one of the best stories in the book.

Thanks for reading. I should have more news shortly.


A Friendly Reminder to Kill Your Darlings

From http://alex-hurst.com

As far as writing advice goes, “Kill your darlings” (and its variants) is one of the classics. It’s been attributed to Ginsberg, Chekov, Wilde, Faulkner…Stephen King swears by it in On Writing, and according to an article on Slate, it was originated by Arthur Quiller-Couch’s 1914 Cambridge lecture. I’ve seen similar quotes attributed to a variety of writers. You hear it in interviews, see it in books, and try to practice it in workshops. It’s never quit that easy, is it?

Every once in awhile, you need a reminder that as brilliant as you think you are, the story decides what is necessary and what is showing off. I just received that reminder.

For pretty much the entire time that I’ve been writing, I’ve been experimenting with a parallel narrative structure. I stage two events, one present and one past, and develop them both with parallel arcs. The idea is that they climax at the same time and shed light upon each other. It’s a technique that works in film. Being that I started my writing career as a screenwriter, I thought it would be a fun structure for fiction.

During my first fiction writing class, I read Tobias Wolfe’s wonderful story “Bullet in the Brain.” WSU has a copy of it here. It mirrored the sort of structure that I wanted to exploit, although truth be told, its much simpler structurally than the montage type structure I wanted to use. The story essentially takes place while a bullet passes through the protagonist’s brain. I’ve written several stories using the technique. Some have worked. Some haven’t.

“A Burial” was one that I thought worked. It appeared at The Confabulator Cafe and people seemed to like it. Then I submitted it to a literary journal. An editor liked the story but didn’t like the fluctuations between present and past. I had my girlfriend, who is a freelance editor, read it. She said, nicely, that the changes made her dizzy. In the name of rewriting, I went back to the keyboard and untangled the narrative into a more traditional straightforward structure. BANG! A bullet went through the brain of my structural darling.

What’s more, the change mean that my first line needed scrapped. I am all about first lines. They are the basis of my stories. The entire thing sits upon their foundation. My first line: brutal, powerful, and provocative in my mind, had to go. BANG! Another bullet. Another casualty. My second darling fell.

One by one the casualties amassed as I dramatically changed the story structure. When the smoke cleared and the losses could be counted, I found that the reaping had made the story better. The final story was purchased and will appear in Page and Spine literary journal on an unknown date.

I’ve preached killing your darlings countless times in workshops. It’s a lesson I should have remembered when rewriting my own story. Sometimes, though, you need that little reminder. The story works much better, my darlings be damned.

One of these days, though, I will make that parallel structure work.