We Are All Thieves of Somebody’s Future Available

Hey there. Just swinging by to let you know We Are All Thieves of Somebody’s Future—the anthology that has a neat little sci-fi story by me in it—is now available. Remember, this is a limited print run, so if you want one of these beauties gracing your eyeballs and then your bookshelf, order one before they’re sold out. Future you will be delighted.

My story is called “Starlight Vigil,” and it’s a funky one in which time moves both ways as we follow the story of an engineer on a generation ship bound for the stars in search of a new home for humanity. I hope you check it out and it doesn’t completely baffle you like most of the people who read the first draft.


The cover of this anthology depicts a young person in the foreground gazing in wonder at a large deer with antlers before a foreground of mountains.

New Story Coming From Air and Nothingness Press

I’m just dropping by here quickly to record for whoever reads these things that I will have a short story in the upcoming anthology, We Are All Thieves of Somebody’s Future, from Air and Nothingness Press. Right now, it’s scheduled for a May 2024 launch, and I think there will be a limited number of copies printed and available only from the publisher, so be on the lookout for more to ensure you can get yours.

My story is called “Starlight Vigil,” and it has a special place in my heart because I was experimenting with time’s role in storytelling structure. If you’ve ever heard me get nerdy about fiction-writing craft, you might know I have a thing for nonlinear storytelling. It’s something of a faux pas and goes against the grain of conventional wisdom, but I don’t care. Extended flashbacks? Love them. Time dilation? Yes please. Chronology distortion? Uh huh.

In “Starlight Vigil,” I wanted to tell a simple story with a heart rooted in one heroic character’s sacrifice, and I wanted to present the story in such a way that we focus not on the fact that a character has died (not a spoiler; it’s the opening lines of the story), but why, the effect their life has on the others who continue, and the legacy their sacrifice creates.

My hope is that, because of the perspective and the presentation given to the events in this story through a nonlinear, multidirectional timeline, readers might see a tragic story through a lens of hope.

The non-nerdy description of my story is that a micrometeorite punches a hole in a generation ship carrying the last of humanity, and an engineer sacrifices herself to save the vessel—presented out of order and in reverse as well as forward.

Anyway, I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy of this anthology when it’s available, and I hope you enjoy my story as well as the pieces by the other authors. I’m eager to read them, myself.

2023 Year-End Wrap-Up and Glance Forward

This year was a bit slow on the publishing front, but I did have two short stories get out there in the world. The first was a post-apocalyptic tale about unlimited power over finite resources, good intentions, and robots, appearing in Haven Speculative’s June issue. Read “Touch of Ruin” here

The second is a more personal story about grief, loss, and brotherhood, and it won the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival Short Story contest in September. This was a bit of a milestone for me, and I was touched and honored the story won the contest. Read “A Winter Bloom” here.

Aside from those two publications, this year has been another one chock full of rejection. So it goes, right, Kurt? However, I did finish my next novel, titled American Spirits, and I’m seeking representation for this one. If you know any agents who might be interested, send them my way.

My Favorite stories of 2023

This time of year, I see a lot of favorite lists getting passed around, and I thought it was high time to do that myself. After all, I’m nothing if not a fan of other storytellers’ work.

Continue reading “2023 Year-End Wrap-Up and Glance Forward”

So … I Started a Substack, Let Me into Your Email Inbox!

For years, I’ve been meaning to get a email newsletter thingy going, but I’ve struggled to find a satisfactory service and the requisite amount of gumption to do that. I’ve finally settled on Substack, so if you’re tired of mashing the refresh button on this website or searching through your social media feed for my lovely face (both of which are likely to leave you profoundly disappointed), you now can let me into your email inbox once a month and get all of my news, updates, announcements, essays, reviews, bonus content, and more where you’re sure you won’t miss it.

But, Tim, I already subscribe to tons of Substacks. Why is yours different?

I’ve found most fiction writers’ Substacks lean toward writers or readers in their audience. My aim is to have something for both readers and writers in each issue. If you do both things, great! But if you’re a reader who doesn’t care about fiction writing craft, don’t worry. I won’t only be talking about the nuts and bolts of fiction. Conversely, if you’re a writer who doesn’t care about my thoughts on literature, you can look forward to monthly tips, tricks, insight, inspiration, and exercises. Or, if you just want to support a fiction writer and keep tabs on what I’m up to, that’s going to happen, too. Whatever the case, I just want to help people continue their passion for storytelling and keep moving forward in their endeavors. I have some fun stuff planned for the next few months or so as I experiment with it, so exciting times!

To subscribe to my shiny new Substack, click here. As always, if you prefer to connect with me on social media, the links are in the footer of this website and elsewhere. Click to your heart’s content. Don’t be reckless, though. There’s ne’er-do-wells afoot!

If She Floats…

A small row boat floats on calm water with a colorful sunset in the background
Photo by Nuno Obey

Please indulge me in some personal blogging.

A friend once told me writing a book is like building a boat, and sometimes, you just have to put it on water and see if it floats.

I’m reflecting on that today. For almost four years, I’ve been working on a boat, and I know every wooden plank, every nut and bolt, every ounce of sealant, every length of canvas. I’ve plugged every hole, smoothed every edge, finished every surface. I’ve obsessed over the details that will never matter in its sea-worthiness, that no one will ever care about, but I will. I’ve neglected my relationships, my career, my well-being. I’ve learned and grown through my dedication to the craft alongside others who were similarly consumed by the idea that they had to make something because there was a voice within them screaming that this thing, this vessel, has to exist. I’ve watched other ships set sail and wept with joy for their buoyancy, and I’ve hoped that one day, the tide might come in, raise my ship from its stand, and carry her out to sea where she just might mingle with all of the others.

My next novel, currently titled American Spirits, is going out to agents now, and if this one sinks, I’ll at least know I did everything I could so that she might sail on the glittering calm waters and ride the swelling waves.

But, oh, if she floats…

Traditional publishing is an intricate apparatus, some processes resembling a Rube Goldberg machine, others reminiscent of a grotesque Clive Barker nightmare, chains and hooks, but alas the gatekeepers are there and serve many purposes. I could digress into a discussion of the values of traditional, indie, and self publishing, but my aim with this one is deliberate. Spend four years on anything, and no one should suggest you’re being frivolous.

Anyway, it’s likely to be a long time before I hear any news regarding an interested agent and then an interested publishing company, if ever. Even if this book gets to that stage, traditional publishing companies have a very long pipeline, so I’m expecting years before knowing if this one floats or sinks. It seems strange to ask anyone to stay tuned because I’m likely to be quiet for a while yet.

In the meantime, there are other stories to tell. I’ll be around. Keep in touch.

A Circuit Closes and Feels Like Completion

Tim reading an excerpt of his story behind a podium and beside a cutout of F. Scott Fitzgerald looking especially dapper
Scott and I hanging out and similarly stylish, though his hair was way better

Last night, I gathered with other members of the DC-Baltimore-area literary community at the Rockville Memorial Library to celebrate the winners, runners up, and honorable mentions of the 2023 F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival Short Story Contest. It was refreshingly wonderful and an all-too-rare reminder why I sit alone and confront blank pages.

Contest Judge Nate Brown said many inspiring and kind things, but one of the sentiments I know I’ll keep with me is the idea that, after everything, what matters most is the writer and the page. There is a lot of good in everything surrounding what writers do, and last night’s celebration was a testament to that. Nate also spoke about the baggage of doing this writing thing, such as all of the rejection many of us face. Most important, though, is that we keep sitting down with the pages.

I like that idea because it so often feels like success in writing is entirely beyond our control, but doing the work is something we can absolutely control. Yes, writers are people, and every person has much to contend with (jobs, families, relationships, illnesses, disabilities, etc.), but because we have control over whether we sit down and write, it’s something we can lose without accountability. It’s easy to do it tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

But if we do it today and today and today, success—however we define it—comes.

This today, I’m riding a high and feeling good because, last night, alongside some very impressive and brilliant writers whom I was grateful to meet, my story, “A Winter Bloom,” was recognized as the contest winner.

Continue reading “A Circuit Closes and Feels Like Completion”

‘A Winter Bloom’ Wins F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival Contest

I was overjoyed to learn my story, “A Winter Bloom,” won this year’s F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival Contest.

This story is precious to me, there’s a hefty amount of prestige and history associated with this festival, and it’s in my hometown. It feels like something of an alignment, pieces of a puzzle finding their right place.

I’ll be attending a ceremony on Oct. 12 where I and the other winners, finalists, and honorable mentions will be reading from our pieces. Having read the other stories, I’m humbled mine is in such great company, and I’m eager to meet everyone involved with this year’s contest.

My sincere gratitude to everyone who gave this story their time, energy, and consideration. I’m deeply honored this story found others who thought something about it was worthwhile.

Read “A Winter Bloom” here, and read the other pieces and judge commentary here. If you’re in the area, consider attending the festival on October 21. You can register in advance here.

Seeking a Sensitivity Reader

I’m currently seeking a sensitivity reader for issues of Mexican culture and heritage, Spanish-English translations, authentic representation, and experience with discrimination and U.S. immigration for a post-apocalyptic/horror road novel (107k words). I prefer readers with experience in sensitivity reading and publishing, but I’m willing to work with anyone who can share their lived experience with me and help me get this aspect of my novel right. The novel features one primary character of Mexican descent (specifically Jalisco), but he’s not the perspective character (so that might be a bit lighter of a lift). Trigger warnings include racism, religion (Christianity), politics, assault, physical violence, trauma, and profanity. I’m negotiable on rates, but I’m certainly on a budget. Please contact me if interested or with referrals. Thank you for your help in getting this right!

Short Essay Up on the Cheuse Center Website

A panoramic picture taken at the U.S.-Mexico border. The vantage point is on top of a hill from a dirt road, across a green, swampy landscape, and the viewer can see where construction of Trump's border "wall" ceased.

A couple of summers ago, I was very fortunate to be able to travel for research on my novel in progress. With funding from the Alan Cheuse International Writers Center, I got in my car and drove from my home in Virginia to the U.S.-Mexico border. I’m not talking too much about the novel yet, but you can bet it’s set somewhere between Virginia and the U.S.-Mexico border.

Anyway, the trip was both harrowing and amazing. It was that uncertain summer of Covid in which we had vaccines but we weren’t really sure if everyone was getting them or if they even worked, and on top of that, I was dealing with some ailments that necessitated medical attention and I was in my head about the fact that I was going to some fairly remote parts of the country.

I tend to do that. Get in my head about stuff.

But I did it! I went there and back again (and the only ring involved symbolizes my love for my wife).

Two years and hundreds of thousands of words in the novel later, the trip has been incredibly inspirational and informative to the point that I’ve been, perhaps unwittingly, working on a personal narrative essay about it, too.

The Cheuse Center has been publishing short works inspired by their fellows’ trips, and Leeya Mehta, interim director of the center, contacted me about contributing. I ended up sending her many more words than she likely expected or wanted, but we were able to focus in on one portion of my essay in progress about my novel in progress.

You can read “The Line We Drew at the End of a Nation” now. I hope you enjoy it. Maybe someday the full version will be out there somewhere.

For you fellow authors, if you can go to the places you’re writing about, I highly recommend it. I am saying this more and more these days, but to become a better writer, you have to read, write, AND live. There is no substitute for getting away from your computer and experiencing the world you want to write about (yes, even if you’re writing about alien worlds, you should look to ours as reference points, but also, your alien world should, in some way, reflect our world, and I’m in my head about this, aren’t I?).

Digression aside, I have much more confidence in this novel because of the travel afforded to me by this fellowship, and that’s because the novel is much better for it. If you’re an MFA student in the GMU creative writing program, apply for this fellowship.