Fiction

Short stories

Dan wrote plays as a student at Appalachian State University, and short stories while serving overseas in the Armored Cavalry. One of those stories later became his first fiction publication credit when it was selected by a University of North Carolina’s student literary magazine in 1988.

Newspaper work, fatherhood and his first marriage combined to put his fiction on hold throughout the 1990s. But his first attempt at a science fiction short story, “Eula Makes Up Her Mind,” won a Phobos Fiction Award in 2001, and was published in the 2002 anthology Empire of Dreams and Miracles. Subsequent sci-fi stories appeared in the anthologies All The Rage This Year (2004) and Absolutely Brilliant in Chrome (2004).

Fantasy (as D.C. McElroy)

With encouragement and support from his second wife, fantasy writer and graphic designer Janet Edens, Dan wrote a 300,000 word fantasy novel between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2003. Though recommended for publication by an editor at Phobos in 2005, the company went out of business, and the manuscript gathered dust for the next three years.

After quitting the daily newspaper business in 2008, Dan worked on breaking his original manuscript into two shorter novels, and in 2009 he began shopping them to agents as A Madness and Siobeth. They attracted some interest, but received no offers.

In the fall of 2013, Dan self-published both as ebooks via the Amazon Kindle Store. Initial sales and reviews were encouraging, but lacking money and direction, he put little effort into promoting them.

But three years later, when Dan and Janet downshifted to a less demanding life in the South Carolina Upstate, they agreed to revive the fantasy series they’d long postponed. Dan drafted the first book in his Goddess Daughter Trilogy in 2017 and hired Charleston-based Armina “Mina” Familar-Ragsdale as his editor. By March of 2019, the Dan-Janet-Mina team had completed the trilogy (Chene, Llyr and Gwynyr), and Dan began querying agents.

In the summer of 2020, Dan gave up on finding a traditional publisher, reconsidered the development of the ebook market since 2013, and decided to self-publish the complete fantasy series he’d long imagined himself. He spent the fall laying out the complete arc of the series and writing detailed outlines of trilogies Two and Three. In December, he removed both A Madness and Siobeth from the Kindle Store.

At this writing (February 2021), Dan and Janet are working towards a spring launch for Chene, Book One of both The Goddess Daughter Trilogy and a larger series tentatively called Histories of the Western Wars.

Part of that effort includes creating a pseudonym for this slipstream epic fantasy series — not to hide Dan’s identity, but to keep his various genres separate for the benefit of Amazon’s recommendation algorithms. He chose the name D.C. McElroy based on his first initials and the maiden name of his Scots-Irish great-grandmother, born not long after her parents arrived in America from Belfast.

Dan is currently at work on Book Four in the series, Ta Nupa, the first novel in the series’ still-untitled second trilogy.

The stories originally told in A Madness and Siobeth will form the core of Trilogy No. 3.

Bokur

Dan wrote this seductive paranormal thriller in 2011 as creative change of pace. After the careful world-building and multi-arc construction of the stories in his fantasy series, he wanted to try writing a shorter (90,000 word), one-off novel for an entirely different audience.

Loosely based on Dan and Janet’s travels on behalf of a Caribbean-based client, the plot emerged from their experiences with pre-Christian Western spiritual practices in Charleston, and Dan’s fascination with the “New World” expression of vodoun, a syncretic religion of the African diaspora.

Dan originally published it in the fall of 2013, but decided to give it another look seven years later as he revamped his fiction catalog. The results is a tighter, better focused story, published as a Second Edition in January 2021. Bokur is available via Kindle Unlimited.

Another Goddamn Novel About the Collapsing Quantum Multiverse

This strange and satiric piece grew out of the best-earning year of Dan’s life. Though he’d previously worked for a defunct Chicago-based consultancy, working as a self-employed consultant in 2011-12 proved far more lucrative, and when his contract ended he rewarded himself with what then seemed the greatest luxury imaginable: One month to write a wild book for entirely fun.

Like the other books in his pre-2017 catalog, this one was originally published in the fall of 2013. Unlike those other books, its first edition received only cursory editing, and was quickly put aside when Dan and Janet moved on to their next project: Developing a technology called Fintann, an enhanced “content management system” designed to help publishers make their content truly machine-readable and endlessly reusable.

Despite two early investors and a West Coast development partner, Fintann never got past the drawing board. But it lives on as an inside joke within the pages of Another Goddamn Novel — because tech millionaires were as ripe for satire in 2012 as the tech billionaires who are practically screaming to be skewered in 2021.

Like he’d done with Bokur, Dan revisited Another Goddamn Novel in the fall of 2020 and found the making of a much better story. He spent about a week dialing this one back down to 11, and the result is an absurdist 21st century American satire that he’s finally proud to show to readers.

The book’s Second Edition appeared on Amazon in January 2021. It’s also available via Kindle Unlimited.