Sunday, December 27, 2009

New Year, New Changes

In five months, I put out six editions of Emerald Tales, seven stories in Crystal Codices, two poetry collections, poetry and short stories in Copper Wire, and brought you The Annals of Hypnosia. It's no wonder that I am mentally exhausted and that I have no creative energy to pursue my own writing and artistic goals.

After giving this a lot of thought, I am no longer going to put out a Special Edition of Emerald Tales. I'm still accepting all genres for Emerald Tales, but genre will no longer be a determining factor in whether I choose a story for inclusion in Emerald Tales. I'm going to choose the eight stories that give me the best mix to show the breadth of human creativity. If they're all fantasy or all romance, then the issue will be all fantasy or romance or westerns or thrillers.

Starting with the June issue of Emerald Tales, the deadline will be six weeks before publication instead of one month. A month is doable for getting contracts, editing, proofreading, and layout done, but it is exhausting. So, I'm spreading that out a little bit more, as well.

I've only received four Groundhog stories. They're a hoot. When the mood strikes, I'll throw out another wacky writing challenge.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Peace on Earth; Good Will Toward ALL Men (and Women)

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy Yuletide! Happy Whatever You Celebrate in the Winter!

Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward ALL Men (and Women)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sugar-Plum; The next installment in the Faegotten Series

The next installment in the Faegotten series, "Sugar-Plum," by Jude Tulli is now posted on Copper Wire.

In this episode, our main character tries to dance like the Sugar Plum Fairy, then takes us on a tour of her world.

Emerald Tales - Winter Solstice - Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal Edition

Well, it's still the longest night of the year, so without further ado: Emerald Tales - Winter Solstice - Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal Special Edition is now up on the website.

An etcher is blamed for her village's troubles; the longest night is good for predators other than vampires; a priestess does what she must to save her lover; a boy must uphold his father's legacy; a man tries to retrieve his wife; a young woman learns about her parents; A man of the Steppe encounters a woman of courage; a servant gains his release and revenge on those who enslaved him; a young woman must help prevent the masters of chaos from being unleashed.

Contributors: Jennifer Azantian, Faith Boughan, Thomas Canfield, Marie Croke, Aubrie Dionne, Jason Flum, Alice Godwin, Wynne Huddleston, Penn Kemp, Tracie McBride, Bill Moon, and Julie St. Thomas.

Winter's Cackles and Kisses - poetry - Wynne Huddleston
When the Spring's Heart is Broken - Marie Croke
Delicious - Jason Flum
The Sacrifice - Faith Boughan
December 21, 2012 - poetry - Penn Kemp
The Sentinel's Son - Jennifer Azantian
A Voice in Winter - Bill Moon
The Heart Within - Alice Godwin
Sun Stands Still - poetry - Tracie McBride
The Feast of Atonement - Thomas Canfield
Tainted - Julie St. Thomas
Darken - Aubrie Dionne

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Celebratory Crisis of the Utmost Severity - The Annals of Hypnosia

The next installment of The Annals of Hypnosia: A Celebratory Crisis of the Utmost Severity is now up!.

Find out where Serafyr Halfdrake and Azaril Lamentamagicka's quest to find a unique present for Her Highness, Princess Simiel Baduar leads them.


(Yes, I know I can hotlink the titles instead of putting them out like that, but some might want to copy and paste the link into a different browser. Yes, I use three different browsers depending on what I am doing.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Throwing Down the Gauntlet

All right, I am throwing down the gauntlet and challenging all of you creative people to write this story:
"The purification of a love-struck groundhog suffering from cabin fever at Mardi Gras"

Anyone who can write me a coherent, complete story with a plot about "The purification of a love-struck groundhog suffering from cabin fever at Mardi Gras" and submits it to me in an email by January 1, 2010 is guaranteed publication in Copper Wire.

I don't think anyone can do it, but if someone can, then I think it deserves publication, don't you?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Importance of Punctuation

So, I've said on more than one occasion that I don't see the punctuation and grammar mistakes when I am reading submissions. I'm more interested in the story and the story-telling.

Unfortunately for me, this can mean a lot of work in the editing process. While my stance is that punctuation is the easiest thing to fix in a story, I understand why most editors reject stories that are filled with mistakes. It can take me several hours to edit a two thousand word short story that has the same mistakes throughout the story. (It would be a lot quicker, if I could just hand them their redpenned manuscript.)

Don't use the internet to learn the rules of punctuation; there are a lot of sites that are just plain wrong in what they tell you. Go down to the bookstore and buy a book on punctuation and grammar. Keep it next to your computer while you are editing your story, because I swear to freaking dog that I am going to scream if I see one more comma splice.

If you don't know what a comma splice is, then you need a grammar book. :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I've Made Purchasing Easier

It took me awhile, but I finally figured out how to make the online shopping much easier on me and my customers. No more futzing about with configuring a shopping cart which is way more than I need or managing the database that goes along with it.

For my customers, it will be easy-peasy for them to order. No having to create an account with me to order, just click on the paypal button, then pay with a credit card or your paypal account and you're done. You don't need a paypal account to buy Emerald Tales or Crystal Codices.

And for those who still prefer ordering by mail and not over the internet, the mail order forms are still available.

Go look and tell me what you think:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Emerald Tales - Winter Solstice and Copper Wire Poetry

Emerald Tales Volume One Number Three - Winter Solstice is now online!

Winter's Tale - poetry - Damien Walters Grintalis
December Twenty-First - Heather Gregson - A couple are reunited on Winter Solstice
Io Saturnalia - Cherie Reich - a slave has a day of freedom on Saturnalia
A Not so Scary Christmas - poetry - Guy Belleranti
Crisis Line - Heather Parker - a worker at a crisis line has a scary drive home in the snow
The Gift - Bruce Golden - an eight-year-old boy gives his great-grandfather the best gift of all
Lonely Snow - poetry - Lauren McBride
All the Trees That are in the Woods - G. W. Thomas - a young trapper discovers a gruesome scene at his neighbors cabin
The Making of a Man - Raymond Koonce - a young boy and his grandfather must avoid a Viking raiding party
rebirth of the sun - poetry - D. L. Hegel
Seven Hours - Neil James Hudson - a teenage girl records the last seven hours before the arrival of the Centaurians on Earth
The Longest Night - Kristina Lee - a young woman encounters the not-so-grim reaper
The Poets Nine - poetry - John Hayes

And two new poems on Copper Wire:
Red Sled by Gary Bloom
Winter's Ode by Misty Posey

And a pic, because I get a little bit silly after working my butt off to get these things out on time:

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thank You

I meant to post this on Wednesday night, but time got away from me.

I'm thankful for everyone who has submitted a poem or short story to Emerald Tales or Crystal Codices.

I'm thankful for all the contributors to Emerald Tales and the authors of Crystal Codices.

I'm thankful for the contributor's to Copper Wire and to Mette Pesonen for giving in when I twisted her arm to publish The Annals of Hypnosia.

And I am most thankful for everyone who has encouraged and supported me these past seven months, particularly Heather Gregson who keeps on eye on the forum when I have my head buried in submissions and edits.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Next Installment of Faegotten is posted


The next installment in the Faegotten series, "Godmother," by Jude Tulli has been posted!

This month the wish-fulfilling fairy takes a turn as a fairy Godmother. Go here to read it:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Just in Time for Holiday Shopping

I have two new titles for Crystal Codices!

Crime Rhymes - A Collection of Mystery Verse by Guy Belleranti. You may recognize the name, he sends me funny poetry for every issue of Emerald Tales that I can't resist including in either the print version or on Copper Wire. Last month, I twisted his arm real hard (You probably heard the screams. I did, and I live across the country from Guy.) and he sent me a collection of witty verse about criminals and criminal investigations. Some of them are limericks, some are plain verse. They're all amusing.

Looking-Glass Milk by Kristin Janz: Science Fiction fans will love this story. Tanais and Xichen, scientists, are on a mission to Alpha Centauri to analyze the biochemistry of the Centaurians. The results of the analysis will determine the fate of a group of Humans held prisoner for the death of a Centaurian.

Go here to check out all the titles in Crystal Codices.

Monday, November 16, 2009

It was a Bright and Sunny Day

That's the theme for the April edition. Your story should begin with the line "It was a bright and sunny day." and then take off from there. It will be interesting to see in what direction this takes you all.

So, how did I come up with this? There's a first line or first paragraph contest, I can't remember the name of it, based on that cliche story beginning "It was a dark and stormy night." And then there is Snoopy sitting on the top of his dog house typing his novel and beginning with "It was a dark and stormy night." And I thought about using that as the theme, but it's so cliche, so overused, so bleh. Then the lightbulb went off in my head and we'll do the opposite.

I can't wait to see what you people who write dark stories do with that.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Insanity of Evil - Annals of Hypnosia

Woot! The next installment in The Annals of Hypnosia by Mette Pesonen, "The Insanity of Evil", is now up for your reading enjoyment.

The main page for The Annals of Hypnosia can be found here:

Let me know what you think of this series.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A new story on Copper Wire

I posted a new story on Copper Wire. "Blood Wedding" by Stephanie Hamrick is an epistolatory short story about a young woman's encounter with La Llorona.

Let me know what you think. :)

And in other news, I now have a proofreader! Woot! Someone to catch the mistakes my diseased brain makes. Sorry, loyal blog followers, I'm not paying her to proofread my posts here. You'll just have to be compassionate and understanding. :p

Yes, she's already caught the it's/its mistake I made on the website. Homonyms are the worst things for me to catch. And I DO know the correct one to use, the glitch in the brain synapses chooses the wrong one. The only solution is to hire a proofreader for my work.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

Today is Veteran's Day in the US. While I acknowledge and honor all those men and women who have served and fought for the US, I want to particularly say. "Thank You!" to the veterans of the Vietnam war.

When a soldier takes the oath of enlistment or the oath for commissioned officers they are swearing to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The Constitution, not the President or Congress, The Constitution. They obey the orders of the President, but their oath is to the Constitution. Something to keep in mind next time you see a person in uniform.

We didn't treat the Vietnam War veterans very well when they returned home from that hell that they had served in. I don't think there is anything that we, as a country, can ever do to make up for that.

Thank you, Vietnam War Veterans, we should have treated you better when you returned.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Winter Solstice Submissions Stats

I didn't receive as many submissions for the Winter Solstice issue as I did for the previous two issues. I'm not sure if it was the theme or people preparing for NaNoWriMo.
34 stories were submitted, I accepted 17.
25 plus poems were submitted and I accepted ten.

The poetry submissions were the most difficult for me to decide on. My first pass through the batch of submissions and I only had six poems that definitely didn't work for the theme. I think I went through the poetry six or seven times before I settled on the ten that I accepted.

The stories submissions were also a problem. A lot of fantasy stories. A lot of myth-based stories. Choosing which ones to accept and which ones to pass on was difficult. It came down to which ones fit the theme the best.

I'll only have two poems for Copper Wire next month, but that's the way the ball bounces.

Two patterns are emerging from all of the submissions that I receive, not just for Emerald Tales, but for Crystal Codices as well.

First, in general, the fantasy writers are submitting stories that are much more compelling to read than the other genres. I think that may be because the competition to get a fantasy short story published is a lot stiffer than for the other genres, so they have to work very hard on crafting their shorts to get them accepted anywhere. And no, that isn't because I like Fantasy. There are several stories that I have accepted that are not my personal cup of tea. That doesn't stop me from recognizing the skill behind the stories. In fact, those writers who can hold my attention for a story that I wouldn't normally want to read are, to me, very skilled in the craft of writing.

Second, the quality of submissions for Emerald Tales is a lot higher than for Crystal Codices. I think that has something to do with the length. It seems that the higher word length restriction gives writers who like to write put a lot of unnecessary exposition in their stories room to expound on their world. I reject a lot of the novellas that I receive. I figure if my attention starts wandering while I am reading the submission, then other reader's attention will wander as well. That's not what I want to publish.

My experience with the novella submissions is more in line with what agents and other publishers report. The lesson that can be learned here for novel writers: learn to write powerful short stories, I bet it would improve your novels and thus increase your chances of finding an agent and getting published.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Who Dares Wins

Who Dares Wins - The Green Beret Way to Conquer Fear and Succeed by Bob Mayer. I came across Bob Mayer's website and this book while I was cruising around the internet.

Now, the last thing I thought I needed was another self-help book or another writing book. I've read a lot of both, absorbed as much information from them as I could and integrated what I had learned into my life. But, I found myself clicking the "add to cart" button and wondering why I felt compelled to do that.

I received it last week. While there was nothing "new" in it for me in terms of concepts, he does come at the topic from a different angle. And here's the kicker that is different from the rest of the books that I've read, he admits that change isn't easy and that it will take time. He doesn't blow smoke and say, "All you have to do is this and you're life will be better." It's hard, and it takes work to become successful.

What he has noticed is that only 5% of the people who attend his writing workshops will succeed and that this is true of almost any field of endeavor. Only 30% of the soldiers going through Special Forces training make it through the training. eg succeed in becoming Green Berets. Among other characteristics, what successful people have that others don't is a willingness to learn, change, and grow.

If you're one of those people who is willing to learn, change, and grow as a person, as a writer, as whatever it is you want to be, then this book is for you.

I think I'm going to purchase The Novel Writer's Toolkit.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Three New Titles added to Crystal Codices


I've added three new titles to the Crystal Codices line.

The City of Ferrid by Nyki Blatchley - A fantasy set in an industrialized culture. Demolin, a young man, visits the city and meets an unusual woman who needs his help.

Lena the Huntress by Savyn Carden - A humorous dark fantasy. Lena must find the orb which will lead her to Jelene and fulfill her destiny.

The Typewriter Poetry Collection by Lisa Rusczyk - a collection of 18 poems written when Lisa only had a typewriter to work with.

I have two other titles for Crystal Codices which will be released in a few days. One is Science Fiction and the other is a poetry collection.

Note: While I have published a lot of fantasy, it's because that is mostly what I get for submissions. I am interested in publishing the other genres.

And now I must go deal with the Winter Solstice submissions. I'm sure the submitters are biting their nails.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Vampires and Werewolves and Zombies Oh My!

So, I'm in the grocery store today and as usual, I stop by the book rack to check on the latest offerings. (Okay, to see if they had put anything else out in the past three days since my last diet Mt. Dew run.) What is up with the Romance genre? Almost every single Romance title available (okay there were only a few) involved either werewolves or vampires. (No zombies, I just threw that in the title to riff on The Wizard of Oz.)

One of them, the MC has half vampire, half werewolf. Seriously, how does that work? On the full moon you turn into a werevamp and bite people's necks? How does one become half vampire half werewolf? Did a vampire bite the neck of a werewolf? Wouldn't that be dangerous even for a vampire? I'm all for creativity and putting a twist on things, but I read "half vampire half werewolf" and I tossed the book back on the shelf and didn't read anymore.

Let us think for a minute about the vampire as male love interest. He needs blood for nurishment. How do you take someone like this out to dinner? How do you cook dinner for him? And what about family barbecues, holidays, and other get togethers? And let's not forget that he can't go out in the sun. There goes that romantic cruise in the Caribbean.

Hello, big time publishers of romance novels, there are some of us who are not interested in reading about vampires or werewolves or zombies as romantic leads.

Sigh. I picked up the thriller "Deadlock" by Iris Johansen instead.

Stories that Stick in the Mind

I've talked before about stories that are so compelling to read that you remember them long after you've read them. So, Saturday night everytime the trick-or-treaters knocked on the door and I reached for the door handle to open the door, I hesitated as Guy Bellerantis' Tricked You Good in the regular edition of Emerald Tales flashed through my mind.

Thanks, Guy, for creeping me out on Halloween night.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Special Edition of Masks or Appearances Can be Deceiving

Woot! The Special Edition of Emerald Tales Masks or Appearances can be Deceiving is now available!

This month we have a shadow drake and a mortal woman, a sea witch, flexi-cubes, a banshee, an incubus with gender identity issues, a robot so real a man would want to marry her, becoming a knight, and what really happens to your children during puberty.

Contributors: J. N. Bower, Effie Collins, Marie Croke, K. S. Dearsley, Aubrie Dionne, Bruce Golden, Denise Golinowski, Scott E. Green, Richard S. Levine, Laura Jeanne Sanger, Troy Seate, Grady Yandell, and Hugh Wilson.

I finally figured out the subscription rates for Emerald Tales. You can order through the order form available here: or through the shopping cart. Subscriptions for the print version are only available to the US and Canada.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Please do not eat, ingest, chow down on, feast upon, gobble, masticate, munch, nibble, nosh, devour, dine on, gorge on, pig out on, scarf down, snack on, sup, swallow, or wolf down your thesaurus and then gag, hurl, eject, spew, heave, puke, retch, throw up, upchuck, or regurgitate it into your story, anecdote, apologue, book, chronicle, epic, fable, fairy tale, fiction, folklore, memoir, myth, narrative, novel, parable, potboiler, saga, tale, or yarn.

Thank you, danke, gracias, merci boucoup, much obliged.

A visual story about courage and not giving up

I saw this on Janet Reid's blog. I had to share it:

Never give up on your dreams.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Short Story Writers: Keep Track of the Rights You Sell

Most magazines do not accept reprints. I do. It didn't make sense to me, not to. Well, I came across the reason that magazines don't accept reprints. Authors that don't keep track of the rights that they have sold for a story and submit previously published work that they no longer have the print or electronic rights to.

First let me say that the vast majority of my submissions are poems and stories that have not been printed before, so it only comes up when I want to include a story or poem that has been previously published. If you sold the print rights or the electronic rights to someone else and they haven't been returned to you, then you don't have them to sell to me or any other publisher. Think of it this way, if you loan a book to a friend, you don't have it to loan to someone else until the first friend returns the book to you.

I'm not going to go into the ins and outs of copyright and the rights that you can sell. There are several good books on the subject out there. Three of them are:
Copyright Plain and Simple by Cheryl Besenjak published by The Career Press
The Copyright Permission and Libel Handbook by Lloyd J. Jassin and Steven G. Schechter published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Literary Law Guide for Authors by Tonya Marie Evans and Susan Borden Evans published by FYOS Entertainment, LLC
Get them. Read them. Memorize them.

For each short story or poem that you send out on submission, keep track of what rights you have sold to whom and for how long.

If I have any more trouble with this, then I may have to rethink my stand on accepting reprints.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Faegotten - A New Serial in Copper Wire

I have another six part serial that I have added to Copper Wire: Faegotten by Jude Tulli. In the first episode "Wish", the wish-fulfilling fairy pays us a visit and boy, does she have an attitude. The direct link to the story is here:

For the next six months around the 22nd of the month, we'll follow the adventures of this feisty fairy from the land of the Fae. Next month she takes a turn as the Fairy Godmother...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Beta-reading vs. Editing vs. reading submissions

I am about caught up with all the submissions for Crystal Codices that have been glaring at me for a very long time now. I've taken a bit of a break on working on things. My brain got a little bit fried during August and September with all that I had to do to get Emerald Tales, Crystal Codices, and everything else up and running. So, in the past week I have been beta-reading novels for a few friends. Which leads to the title of this blog post.

See, I had one of my friends say thanks for the editing. Except that when I beta-read my brain is in a different gear from when I am editing and when I am reading submissions my brain is in a different space from either of those.

When I read submissions, I read them as a reader would. I don't see the typos, grammatical mistakes, etc. As long as the story holds my attention, I continue reading. If it doesn't hold my attention for any reason, then I pass on it. This leads me to a huge stack of stories that do hold my attention that I have to then go through again when considering submissions for Emerald Tales.

When I beta-read for a friend, I don't see the punctuation and grammar mistakes. If I notice one, then I mark it, otherwise, I am reading for flow, for plot holes, at characters and their reactions, looking for things that don't make sense.

When I am editing a story, my teacher's brain is fully engaged looking for the typos, punctuation, and grammar mistakes.

I don't know if agents and other editors are the same way. It would be interesting to find out.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Handling feedback from Others

In my personal life, I provide feedback to writers who are also friends of mine. I do it for free and as a courtesy to them. It bothers me though, when they treat my words like gospel. Think about what I say? Yes. Accept it like the tablets on the mountain just because I am a publisher and editor? No. Please, no. I am human and I make mistakes.

This is true for anyone who gives you feedback on your writing. If it doesn't seem right, then question it or disregard it. If the person giving you feedback tells you that there is only one way of doing something, then take two steps back. Because there is more than one way to write a story.

Regardless of the source, it is best to treat all feedback that you get on your writing as suggestions.

If you belong to a writing forum and someone starts spouting what seems to you like a lot of blahblah malarkey, then ignore it. Seriously, there are so many ways to approach writing a novel and actually writing that novel that you need to do what works best for you. However, listening to how others approach something, thinking about it, trying it, those are all valuable actions to take. But, accepting it just because So and So said S0 and they are an editor/agent/publisher, no. That goes for me, too. Don't accept everything I say as gospel.

Note, I am specifically talking about the writing process and everything you do before you query your novel to an agent or submit your story to a magazine publisher. The editing process for publication requires dialogue and conversation. If you ignore what your editor tells you, you're going to have difficulty selling anything to them again. ;)

One Confusing Disappearance

This month's installment in the Annals of Hypnosia, story and artwork by Mette Pesonen, has been uploaded. You all can go read it now. :)

The direct link to The Annals of Hypnosia page:

Coming next week: A new serial story "Faegotten" by Jude Tulli.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Two New Stories for Copper Wire!

Woot! I've just published on Copper Wire two new stories.

Lado and the Butterfly by Raymond Koonce - a farmer encounters a giant butterfly while he is out working in his fields.


Soap and Bother or the World by Bryant Alexander - a prophecy sends a young man to the laundry room of the castle.

My history with Bryant's story is particularly interesting and I'm very pleased to have snatched it up. I first read his story about three and half years ago in the reviewing area of the writer's forum we belonged to. The story stuck in my mind. It's not very long, a little over a thousand words. But, it's funny and it stays with you. Stories that stick in the mind are the ones that I am looking to publish. All of the stories that I select for publication have that one quality, I remember them after I read them.

You, go read and enjoy them.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hazardous to your health

Who knew that becoming a publisher would become hazardous to my health. I'm not typing as much as I do when I write, so I don't have to worry about carpal tunnel or repetive motion injury or whatever they're calling it nowadays. Or so I thought. My right index finger is sore from clicking my mouse button. Coincidentally, the brand new mouse that came with the computer started acting wonky last week and I had to replace it.

I've also reached level nine hundred on Fishdom, an item matching game similar to Bejeweled. But, I'm sure that doesn't have anything to do with it. :P

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Clarification on February's Theme

Well, I thought I was clear in my previous post, but apparently not.

I'm looking for stories set in any type of carnival environment: roadside carnival, Mardi Gras, Carnivale di Venezia, Medieval carnival, Brazil's Carnival, A carnival in the caribbean, a fantasy carnival ... Hell, put one in outer space that would be interesting. :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Carnivale - February's theme

So, I finally decided on Carnivale for February's theme. No, not the TV show. That's the Italian spelling of the word carnival. The Carnivale di Venezia or Carnival of Venice is a big two week festival similar to Mardi Gras in New Orleans and held for the same purpose. There are similar Carnivals held in South America and the Caribbean Islands.

So, what I am looking for are stories set at a carnival. This could also be the roadside carnival, the kind that used to come through town, set up rides and games for a weekend, then move on to the next town. Whatever.

A carnival, isn't that the perfect setting for a romance, a thriller, a horror story, a fantasy story, science fiction, a western, a mystery ...? :)

I can't wait to see what you all come up with.

And if that doesn't grab you, then I am still open to stories about "The purification of a love-struck groundhog suffering from cabin fever at Mardi Gras". :)

Now, I am going to go work on the Special Edition of Masks or Appearances Can Be Deceiving.

EDITED TO ADD: CLARIFICATION - Any kind of carnival; Roadside carnival, the Carnivale of Venice, Mardi Gras, The Carnival in Brazil, A Carnival in the Caribbean , A fantasy carnival, etc.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Wow! I did a lot last month

It didn't seem like it at the time, but I sure did a lot in September:

I launched The Annals of Hypnosia
I launched Crystal Codices
Did contracts, edits, and published Emerald Tales - Masks or Appearances Can Be Deceiving
I launched Copper Wire.

It's no wonder I've been feeling a bit tired and frazzled the past few days.

And now I am filling orders for Emerald Tales and Crystal Codices. Woot! :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Copper Wire - Internet Journal of Poetry and Short Stories

Because I haven't been busy enough in the past month, I've launched a new publication, "Copper Wire." This is an internet journal of poetry and short stories that I have garnered from submissions to Emerald Tales, requested an author to write for me, or read on a writing forum somewhere and asked the author if I could have it for the website.

Copper Wire is free. There's no registration, log in, or what not. It's there for your reading enjoyment.

Happy reading!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Emerald Tales - Masks or Appearances Can be Deceiving


Emerald Tales Volume One Number Two - Masks or Appearances Can Be Deceiving is done!
And online!
And on time!

Story Contributions:
Ashley by Lisa Rusczyk is about a very interesting blind date.
In Tricked you Good by Guy Belleranti, a thief masquerades as a clown on Halloween and gets a rather nasty surprise.
Promoting a Good Image by Ragna Brent is about two coworkers up for promotion. Which one will get it?
In The Honor System by Paula J. Stiles, a pregnant woman gets a little help from a stranger.
In The Black Swan by Darla J. Bowen, a masquerade ball is the perfect cover for an operative.
In A Steady Life by Jason Flum, two adult grandchildren learn more about the grandfather who raised them.
Barbecue by James Hartley, vegan aliens attend a neighborhood barbecue.
Operation: Totally Ducked Up by Lori T. Strongin, two very unlikely babysitters of a sweet little toddler. What could possibly happen?

Poetry Contributions:
A Versatile Visage by Lindsey Duncan
A Deck of Cards Tells All by Hal Sirowitz
This Mask I Wear by N. L. LeBlanc
Heart and Soul by Teresa Tunaley

Coming later today or tomorrow: Copper Wire, an online selection of free sample stories and poetry associated with Emerald Tales.

Monday, September 28, 2009

And on the left ....

In case you hadn't noticed, I rearranged my blog the other day. I changed the Industry links to blog links and added a few to the list. I added a box for contributors to Emerald Tales and Crystal Codices. If I missed someone and you know who it is, drop me an email at diana at scribblersandinkspillers dot com and give me the link for the person's blog.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

It's The Storytelling and punctuation

I'm not sure whether this is a good thing or not. For me, when I read through the pile of submissions what I am looking for first is a story that grabs my attention and holds it until the end. I don't see the flaws in the manuscript: the typos, the awkward passages, the verb tense changes, the improper grammar. All I see is the story. And that is what I make my decision on, the story.

For unpublished writers, this is a godsend. You can send me your brilliant, compelling story filled with grammatical and typographical errors and I will not see them when I read through the pile to decide which stories to include in an issue.

Short, long or no author's bio, your story is what determines your acceptance by me. I read the bios, but I don't use them when I am deciding which stories to accept or not. My contributors range from no previous publications to hundreds of previous publications. It's all about the storytelling.

The drawback for me comes in the editing process. People, learn the rules or proper punctuation and grammar. Specifically, learn when you use a comma before the word "and" and when you do not. I'll make it easy for you, here's a brief run down:

Use a comma before the word "and" when "and" is used as a conjunction joining two INDEPENDENT CLAUSES together. An independent clause is another name for a sentence.

Use a comma before the word "and" when you're giving three or more things. This is the serial comma or the Oxford comma which comes under debate. Some people don't use it, some people do. I do. For clarity, consistency, and pure laziness on my part, I use the serial/oxford comma. (side note, why is it called the oxford comma when it's not commonly used in the UK?)

Do NOT use a comma before the word "and" when you have a compound subject, verb, predicate, noun, adjective, or adverb. A compound noun, verb, subject, predicate, etc. is TWO things. Bill and Tom ... run and jump ... lovely and charming ... laughing and smiling ... tall, dark building and small, tiny cottage ... TWO things, the word "and" -> NO comma.

I'm really easy to get along with in the editing process. Contributors get three choices to my suggested edits: agree, explain why it should be left unchanged, or rewrite it. I have misunderstood a sentence and my suggested edit would have changed the meaning of it, giving the contributor the option of rewriting it came out with a better passage.

Even so, I get one person each issue who has to reply with some snippy, snarky comment regarding my suggested edits. And they were in the wrong. If you're going to get snippy with me, make damn sure that you are right. Otherwise, you get labeled a "pain in the ass to work with," and I will think twice about accepting a story from you again.

I'm only working with short stories, I can imagine what it must be like for an editor of a novel to have to work with one of these people.

Sigh, unfortunately, everyone who is reading this and thinking, "I wonder if she's talking about me," aren't the ones I am talking about.

The point of this rambling post is: Writers learn the rules of punctuation and grammar. It will increase your likelihood of getting accepted by other publishers.

As for the typos in this post: Do as I say, not as I do. :p

Monday, September 21, 2009

Images of Crystal Codices

As I said previously, images do not do the Crystal Codices Collection justice. And in order not to have huge picture files that take forever to load up, the color is a bit wonky on the edges.

For comparison, here's a link to Bede, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, in the Old English translation, early 11th century, leaves lost at beginning and end; formerly MS. 279 Part 2, until bound separately in 1992. At the Corpus Christi College at the University of Oxford in England.

I used a readable handwriting font and printed on parchment paper. Cool, huh? :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Crystal Codices are Now For Sale

Note to self: Do NOT try to launch two projects on the same day, one will be late. Four days late. Sigh.

At last, the initial offerings of Crystal Codices is for sale. I've been up all night getting everything set up, revising the website, blahblahblah.

The first codices are ... drum roll, please:

High Etara
by Marilyn Luttrell
An urban fantasy of the coming of the next High Etara. The Etara are a race of humans gifted with paranormal powers. But, they have been abusing those powers to subjugate the humetara. Find out what happens when The High Etara is finally identified.

POE 103
by Ken Goldman
Dr. Simon Chambers teaches a survey course in the literature of Edgar Allen Poe. Find out what's behind the strange coincidences between Simon Chamber's life and the late Edgar Allen Poe in this modern tale of horror.

The Temple of Stupidity
by Jeremy Essex
A fantasy allegory of modern life. Who would be so foolish as to worship at The Temple of Stupidity?

Devil's Mountain
by Matthew Leukroth
They say the mountain is haunted. Found out how it came to be that way and what happens when a reckless hiker ignores the warnings to stay off the peak in this paranormal thriller.

I took pictures of the finished codices, but the pics don't do them justice on how cool they look in your hands. I printed them on parchment paper and handbound them.

I've described this before and several people just haven't seemed to get what it is I am doing. And I realized tonight, as I was mindlessly shuffling pages around, that if you're under the age of about 40, you probably don't know what parchment paper is or have seen it. It's a high quality paper that one normally uses for very formal correspondence. It was one type of paper used during the Middle Ages because it was durable. Here's the wiki article about parchment paper: ... I'm using the animal friendly made from plants type parchment paper. ;)

So, these are novellas and short stories printed on very expensive paper and they look so cool. :)

I'll try to get better pics and post them here in a day or three.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Annals of Hypnosia is up!

The first episode of The Annals of Hypnosia, "The Epic and Fantastic Saga of William" by Mette Pesonen is now posted on the website. To follow the adventures of legendary Lord Serafyr Halfdrake, the Grand-Mogul Fighter of the Order of the Unreasonably-Majestic Palace-Elite-Body-Guard Knights and the right-hand half-breed to Princess Simiel Buduar; Azaril Lamentamagicka, the Royal Court Wizard; and a bunch of others, go here:

Mark your calendars! New adventures will be posted on the 15th (or there abouts) of each month.

In other news, I decided on February's theme: "Carnivale". The submission deadline is January 1, 2010.

The first stories for Crystal Codices will be out in a few days. I am still looking for stories for that line. I would be highly interested in stories in a Medievalish setting. I would also be really interested in looking at epic poetry. If there is anyone out there who has written an epic poem and is looking for a home for it.

Now back to working on contracts and edits and submissions ... Oh My!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Submissions From Friends

In a private message today, one of my writer friends said the reason he hasn't submitted anything to me is because he was concerned that I would accept his story just because we were friends. Uh. No. I don't work like that. And this is why: I started Scribblers and Ink Spillers to give talented writers a legitimate publishing credit. If I publish a story from an untalented friend or relative, then I diminish that credit. Friends actually get an extra layer of scrutiny. I ask myself "Would I accept this story if the writer was unknown to me?"

I have and will reject stories from friends if they don't work for the publication that they have submitted for.

The only thing being the friend to this editor will get you is a personal critique of your story if I pass on it.

The flip side of this isn't true. Stories from people that I know to be drama queens will have to be brilliant for me to consider them for publication. Life is too short to deal with a whingeing diva.

By the way, I was joking about the February theme in my previous post. I'm still thinking about it. Though, if someone wants to send me a story about "The purification of a love-struck groundhog suffering from cabin fever at Mardi Gras", I might consider putting it up on the website. ;)

Friday, September 11, 2009


Mercury is in retrograde again and screwing up my email this time around. While I know that every other publisher in existence has a "don't email us, we will email you" policy, I don't. If you have submitted something to me or queried me and I haven't responded, please email me and ask about it. I have had several people enquire about their Mask submission because I said to in my post yesterday. One of them WAS an acceptance email. Seriously, don't assume that if you haven't heard from me the answer is no.

I do answer or try to answer all of my emails. I know that Earthlink is blocking my emails. Until I get that sorted out I have to use my Yahoo email account to answer them. Sometimes I don't know if another email provider is blocking me as well unless the person enquires. Sometimes my email program dumps a submission in my spam folder.

If you send in a submission, I will reply within five days that I did receive the submission and when you can expect to hear from me. If you don't hear from me by that date, check your spam folder then please enquire.

I'll say it again, if you don't hear from me, please enquire.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Submissions - A Complaint

One hundred twenty five submissions later and my brain is dead. All the acceptance and pass emails have been sent out, if you didn't hear from me about your submission for "Masks or Appearances can be Deceiving" please email me at and enquire about your submission. I'm a bit brain dead and I might have messed up the email address.

You all would make the process a heck of a lot easier, if you would submit crap instead of really good stories. I could get half a page in, say "nope" and toss it aside for the next one. But, NOOOOOOOOO, you all have to send me good stories so that I have to read every word. And THEN, I have to pick a few out for inclusion in that issue. Seriously, it is a tough decision to make. Needless to say, there will be another Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal Special edition. Good thing I labeled the first one "Special One."

Reading the suggestions for February's theme, I'm thinking this might work: "The purification of a love-struck groundhog suffering from cabin fever at Mardi Gras" Whadyathink?

Friday, September 4, 2009

125 Submissions for Masks

Just a short note. The deadline is past. I have tallied the number of submissions for Masks or Appearances can be deceiving that I received: 88 short stories, 37 poetry submissions for a total of 125 submissions.

I'll be back when I finish wading through the piles.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Special Friend by Heather Gregson

It's up. "The Special Friend" by Heather Gregson is now posted on the website. Here's the direct link to it: "The Special Friend"

I met Heather on Absolute Write in one of those party threads with no point to it, except to pop in and shoot the breeze instead of writing. She goes by regdog on AW and on my forum and has a fondness for shooting firebolts out of her hands. (Her avatar is an anime character that I can't remember the name of. Give me a break, I'm about brain dead at the moment.) Imagine my surprise to find that this feisty woman who was always frying someone's butt or tossing them in the dungeon writes ... are you ready for this? ... children's stories and romance novels. "The Special Friend" is neither one of these, it was an experiment for Heather to write a dark story. I think she succeeded very well. Go take a look and let us know what you think.

I also found out from looking at Nathan Bransford blog that this week is Writer's Appreciation Week. And I do appreciate every writer who submits a story or poem to Scribblers and Ink Spillers. The rest of the year is Publisher's Appreciation Trimester, you may show your appreciation for your favorite publisher (that would be me, if you haven't figured it out by now) by purchasing publications for all your friends and relatives.

And now I am going back to reading the stack of submissions for Masks or Appearances can be Deceiving ...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Time's Up!

If you're planning on submitting a poem or short story for the "Masks or Appearances can be deceiving" issue of Emerald Tales (coming out on Ocotber 1st), then today is the last day for you to send in your submission. And no, it's not too late. The last issue had contributions that came in very early and one or two that came on the last day, so get a move on.

Now. I am open to suggestions for the theme for the February issue of Emerald Tales. All I can think of is Valentine's Day, Cupid, love ... meh, they've all been done before. So, put your thinking caps on and post your suggestions for a theme right here. Unless, of course, you WANT a trite-done-to-death theme for the February issue.

I'm also working on some free web content for the site. "A Special Friend" by Heather Gregson will be posted tomorrow or Wednesday. It was written for the Follow the Butterflies theme and will be added to the Emerald Tales page as a sample story for that issue. I'm sure you'll enjoy reading it.

The Annals of Hypnosia is also coming along. I have almost everything that I need to get started with that on September 15th.

Crystal Codices is also taking shape. I have four stories lined up for the roll out of that line. They're all very compelling to read. More on that, later.

Oh and I am thinking of starting a line of stories only available on the site which can be read for free. But, I'm still letting that idea percolate before I put a call out for submissions.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Serial Short Stories

One of the things that I am looking for is a serial of short stories. Either the same characters in different situations each installment or a story arc over the series. I've gotten several submissions for the serial and I have come to the realization that I am not properly explaining what I am looking for.

A story that is told in sections with section breaks does not necessarily make a good serialization. Each installment needs to stand on it's own. A small story inside a big story. The best way to illustrate this is two very popular movies Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. (If you haven't seen one, you've probably seen the other.)

When George Lucas made the original Star Wars movie, he didn't know if he would ever be able to tell the whole story, so he pulled out Episode Four "A New Hope" and made that as the original Star Wars. ... Episode Four ... Not Episode One ... And it stands on it's own. Each of the six movies that he made in the series stands on it's own. A person can watch just one of those movies and walk away feeling like a story had been told. There's a beginning, a middle, and an end. He had to do it that way because there was three years between the release of each episode in the two sets of trilogies. The story wasn't finished until the last movie was made, but there was a defineable break at the end of each movie. And each movie stands on it's own. Episode One is about freeing the planet of Naboo from the Trade Federation blockade, Episode Two is about the start of The Clone Wars, Episode Three how Anakin becomes Darth Vader and so on.

Lord of the Rings, the movie not the book, is also a good example of how to do a story with episodes or installments. Each movie can stand on it's own. They have a beginning, a middle, and an end. If you get the Special Extended Version DVD set, the story is broken into six parts which you can watch on six successive nights. You're not stopping in the middle of the story, you're stopping at the end of each small story which make up the bigger story. Each part can stand on it's own. In the case of the movies, each part had to stand on it's own for a year until the next part of the trilogy came out.

I'm still interested in a serialized short story to include in Emerald Tales, but a story with section breaks isn't necessarily a good story to serialize. Each part or installment needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. It has to be able to stand on it's own because the reader may not get a chance to read the other parts of it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Submissions in Emails

Just a quick post about submitting your story via email. All that fancy font work and stuff that you do to make the text look pretty? Depending on the email program that is being used, it doesn't come through. Sometimes I get a mess and have to ask the person to resend their submission. Even the resend isn't always clear. Yesterday, I got a submission that either my email program or the sender's put in a question mark symbol for every bit of punctuation. I have no idea why. Fortunately, I can read it well enough so I didn't need to ask for it to be resent.

So, save yourself some time and keep a plain text version of your story for cutting and pasting into an email submission.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Annals of Hypnosia coming soon

WooHoo! Mette Pesonen, a Finnish writer who I met several years ago on, has agreed to sell me the electronic rights to all of her stories about Serafyr and company set in her world of Hypnosia. These stories are light fantasy in which Mette pokes fun at all the cliches in the Fantasy genre.

Starting in the middle of September, you'll be able to read them for yourself. I'm setting up a special section of the website just for "The Annals of Hypnosia." Every month a new story from Hypnosia will be posted which you will be able to read for free.

I'm also working on some other free web content for the site. As I get those details worked out, I'll post a note right here and let you all know.

As for Crystal Codices, I'm trying to catch up on reading all the submissions that I have had for that. If you submitted a novella and you don't hear from me by next weekend, send me an email and ask about it. I'm still sorting through the email mess that happened when I switched webhosts.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror Special Edition Published

WooHoo! The Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror Special Edition of Emerald Tales Follow the Butterflies is done and up for sale on time. Actually, I finished it before midnight and could have uploaded the revised webpages and added the journal to the shopping cart, but I was tired and decided to take a wee nap first.

Kevin Anderson - How to Mount and Frame Fairies - short story
J.J. Beazley - The Visitor - short story
Chip Bland - Path to Paradise - short story
Amanda C. Davis - Silk for Moisture, Mud for Shine - short story
Jason Flum - Return of the Supes - short story
John Hayes - Butterfly Moon - poem
Neil James Hudson - The End of the World: A User's Guide - short story
Penn Kemp - All Hallow's in Tatters - poem
Tracie McBride - Lost in Translation - poem
Stephen D. Rogers - Season's of Change - short story
Lisa Rusczyk - White Butterfly - short story
Mercedes M. Yardley - one day - poem

I will say before someone growls at me that Kevin Anderson's "How to Mount and Frame Fairies" didn't fit the theme as well as the others, but it was too funny not to include in this special edition. I'm a sucker for amusing stories. And the world can do with a bit more laughter, don't you think?

The second issue was a lot easier than the first and didn't take as long to go from a folder of marked up files to finished document. I will say that if I decide to do a Special Edition of "Masks" that I'll publish it on November 1st to give me a bit more breathing room between publications.

Click here to go to Scribblers and Ink Spillers website.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Attrition in the Short Story Market and Publicity

Last week on K. C. Shaw's blog, The Knotted Thicket, she made this blog post. Jim Baen's Universe is closing. I assume because it's not making enough money to stay in business. This happens routinely. The probability that my company Scribblers and Ink Spillers, LLC will turn a profit is slim and nill. The success rate for a new publishing company is abysmal. There is a saying "If you want to make a little money in publishing, start with a lot of money." It's a losing proposition.

I knew that when I started Scribblers and Ink Spillers. But, I have seen so many great short stories over the past few years and I wanted to give them a paying market for their work, especially since it is drying up. I've figured out how much I can afford to spend each month out of my pocket in order to do that.

I have ideas for genre-specific journals and novellas that I want to launch. But, in order to do that I need money coming in. Someone suggested advertising to bring in revenue. But, what person in their right mind would purchase advertising in a journal that has no track record or a small volume of sales? What I need is more sales.

Which brings me to the second blog post relevant to this subject: Nathan Bransford - Literary agent posted this about the reality of an author needing to help with the publicity for their own work. Well, it's just as important, maybe even more so, for a just starting out writer trying to get writing credits to do a bit of publicity for the magazine or journal their work appeared in, as it is for a big time author to get out and do book signings. Because, the small publishers such as myself have very tight budgets. And many authors/writers do blog, they tweet, they facebook, they get their friends to buy the publication. (*tongue in cheek* I think maybe I'll add a paragraph to the contract that the author must get X number of friends to buy the publication ... Just kidding)

The thing is whether it is fledgling micro-publisher like myself or a big publishing house, not doing what an author can to promote the book, magazine, journal, publication, doesn't make sense. Big publishing house gives an author a six-figure advance, author does nothing to help promote the book, Big Publisher loses money = less money for advances. The more books, magazines, journals, publications a publisher sells the more money they take in and have to PAY AUTHORS.

And if one is thinking, "Well I got paid. What do I care if they don't more money for future payments?" If that is the last thing you ever have published by that publisher, then that selfish attitude won't hurt you. But, if you want to go back and feed at that trough again, then perhaps doing something to help keep it filled would be a good idea.

The last thing is: Isn't the point of becoming published for people to read what the author/writer wrote? So, how can you as an author/writer help make that happen?

Many thanks to the contributors to Emerald Tales who have blogged, facebooked, tweeted, and/or got their friends to buy the journal. Yes, I know who most of you are. ;)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Interpreting the Theme

I received a query from a poet the other day asking me if two of her poems fit what I was looking for for the October issue's theme, "Masks or Appearances can be Deceiving." The answer is a double-edged sword. What I am looking for is a wide variety of interpretations of the theme. Yet, when I choose the stories for an issue one of the things that I look for is how well I think the interpretation fits the theme.

That would suggest that I have something in mind for an issue, but really I don't. When I evaluated the stories for "Follow the Butterflies" I asked two questions: 1. Are there butterflies? and 2. Is there following? In some cases there were literal butterflies, in some cases there were metaphorical butterflies in the stomach. Either interpretation worked for me. As for following, there are different definitions of following and if one of them fit the action of the story, then it worked for me.

So, "masks or appearances can be deceiving", they can be real masks or figurative masks. It can be the appearance of a person, place, or thing that is deceptive. However the writer or poet intreprets that theme works for me. I am looking for a wide variety of interpretations. But, if I don't see how the story or poem fits the theme, then I will evaluate it lower than others that I do see fit the theme.

The different interpretations of a theme and the difference in the stories that people come up with fascinates me. I'm not looking for a specific interpretation of the theme, but a variety of interpretations.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

And Here I Go Again

I've finally got all but two little things done for the first issue of Emerald Tales and now I am working on the Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror Special edition which will go on sale next Saturday. It should go a lot quicker than the first issue as I have already set-up most of the stuff for the first issue and I know what needs to be done for this special edition.

Computer woes struck again on Wednesday. One of the sites on my shared webhost services got hacked. While the new webhost dealt with it quickly and efficiently, there was still wonkiness affecting my site from the fixes until early Friday morning. With all the trouble I've had with webhosting and other things, I'm beginning to wonder if the Universe really wants me to do this. Then again, I have learned who my friends are in the past few weeks. I'm rather surprised at the results.

I gave my mother a copy of the first issue of Emerald Tales. Now, normally whatever someone's mom has to say about something is suspect due to maternal bias. However, my mom isn't like that. She is a short story writer and has been a short story writer all of my life. This is what she had to say: "I read all of the stories. It's really good and entertaining. It's much better than "Really Famous Person's Literary Magazine" that I recently read. Half the stories in that were boring to read. But, none of the stories in Emerald Tales were boring." So, I achieved what I set out to achieve a magazine of compelling fiction from all genres. WooHoo!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Money Back Guarantee

I knew that I was forgetting something when I set up the shopping cart. A money back guarantee. I can hear the roar: "For books and magazines? Are you out of your mind? Nobody does that!"

No. I am not out of mind. And this is why I am doing it. Nothing annoys me more to pay $7 to $10 for a paperback, get home, start reading it, and one chapter in, toss the book aside because I can't get into the story. I have a whole shelf full of books that I have purchased, but haven't finished reading, yet, because I tossed them aside because I couldn't get into the story. I may never read them. I look at that shelf and think what a waste of money. I wish I could have returned them and gotten my money back.

The reason I don't buy ezines and other short story magazines is because I am afraid that I am going to waste my money on stories that I am not going to enjoy reading.

And that is why I am offering a money back guarantee on Scribblers and Ink Spillers publications. I don't want unhappy readers. If you buy one of my publications and you don't enjoy reading it, then I will refund your money.

I'm also not a fool. On a person's third request, I'll take a look at their account and if it looks like they are treating Scribblers like a lending library, then I'll take action to stop it.

Bottomline, I know from personal experience that purchasing books and magazines is a risky proposition, even when the author is known, and that is why I am offering a 30 day money back guarantee.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Writer's Block

Some people believe that writer's block doesn't exist and to them I say "Lucky you. Be careful about peeing in the Universe's cheerios.** It may come back to bite you in the butt." For the rest of us mortal writers there are times when the words won't flow, the ideas won't come, and the energy to write is gone.

Those who use writer's block as an excuse for not having written, well they need to either stop calling themself a writer or do something about the blockage.

There is no one size fits all solution to dealing with writer's block. For some, bashing on through works, others need a different approach. To determine what approach is going to work, one has to figure out what is causing the blockage.

There are a lot of things that can cause writer's block: physical illness, mental illness, extra stress, traumatic experiences, the perfectionist monster, the worthless piece of scum monster, the lack of discipline monster. the procrastination faerie. (Yes, procrastination is a faerie instead of a monster because it lures you into playing just one more game of minesweeper, posting one more thing on a forum, etc.)

Once one has figured out what is causing the blockage, one can choose the sword to use to defeat it. The bash on through sword doesn't work very well against the perfection monster. The perfection monster sneers at the writer's puny efforts and points out all the flaws in the work that is being bashed out. It's probably more effective to either tell the perfection monster to shut up and go stand in the corner or send him out for a beer. Another powerful sword to use against the perfection monster is the "permission to write absolute crap". I use that one myself quite a lot.

There's no magic cure all for writer's block, but determining the cause of the block will lead one to the appropriate sword to smash it.

** Shamelessly borrowed from Heather who coined this phrase.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Finally, I'm up and running. There are still a few tweaks that I need to make, but Emerald Tales can now be ordered both online and through the mail.

The website has been revamped. You can go here to look:

I've finally come out of the closet on what I plan to do with the novellas. It will be a new line called Crystal Codices. Two categories under that: Medieval Tales and Modern Tales. They will be printed on recycled parchment-like paper and handbound. They will also be available in electronic version.

And now, I am going to go catch up on everything that had to be set aside while I changed webhosts.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Happy Dance

*does Happy Dance*

I'm up and running on the new server. *boogies*

It may take the rest of the day for everyone to see the pages, but they are there and we're good to go. *boogies*

Well almost good to go. I still have to set up the shopping cart program, but there is an order form for mail orders for Emerald Tales.

My biggest concern was moving the forum over to the new webhost, but except for a typo and me forgetting a few image files (the smilies ... How could I forget the smilies?!?), it went off without a hitch.

Bottomline: Emerald Tales, Volume One Number One "Follow the Butterflies" is now on sale through mailorder. It will available online as soon as I get the shopping cart set up. And I am barely one day late. *boogity boogity*

I would like to thank everyone who submitted a poem or story without your submissions, I couldn't do this.

The contributers to the first issue are:

Guy Belleranti - poem - "Butterflies"
Arthur Carey - short story - "Wedding Present"
Laurie Dalzell - short story - "Beware the Butterflies"
Catherine J. Gardner - short story - "Empty Box Motel"
Damien Walters Grintalis - poem - "Monarch"
Darrell Lindsey - poem - "Meadows"
Brandi Mauldin - short story - "Girls in White Dresses"
R. J. Payne - short story - "Other People's Homes"
Roxanne Rhoads - poem - "In the Clearing"
K. C. Shaw - short story - "Cult of the Butterfly"
Adam Slade - short story - "New Friends"
Erika Tracy - short story - "A Search Dog's Tryptych"

24 More Hours

So, it seems that I missed a vital step in migrating the website to the new webhost. *headdesk* It will now be twenty four more hours until the switchover fully takes place. Oh well, some ezines and new publications are months behind schedule, if they ever get off the ground at all. This gives me more time to do some tweaking and fiddling with the site.

That's all. I just wanted you all to know what's going on.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I don't have enough stress right now so I'm switching webhosts

As the title says, I don't have enough stress or enough to do at the moment, so I decided that tonight would be a good time to switch webhosting companies. Yes, right before I launch the first issue of Emerald Tales, I am switching webhosting companies. This entails moving all of my files to the new host and setting everything up all over again. (Yes, I am being sarcastic.)

I have been using Yahoo Webhosting. They suck very rotten, smelly bananas. (My Uncle may be reading this, I must keep it cleanish.) To make a long story short, as I was in the middle of my fourth attempt at uploading the shopping cart program, Yahoo locked me out of my account because of "too much activity." That was the last straw and I picked up the phone and called Media Temple. Yes, they have 24 hour customer support with people who speak English and know what the heck they are talking about. Bing Bang Boom! I switched webhosting companies. That was 12 hours ago.

How have I spent the past 12 hours? Migrating all the files over to the new webhosting company. Forwarding all my emails to my personal AOL accounts. (I don't have to do this as I was assured by a Yahoo tech that the emails will still be there when the site gets transferred to the new webhost. But, I don't trust them.) Yahoo locked me out of forwarding the emails, too. (There is a special place in Hell for companies who aggravate me with stupid nonsense like this. Yes, I know. It's a security measure. But, their technicians have no way of overriding it. How stupid is that?)

So, I have all the files moved over. I have all the submissions and emails that I really did not want to lose forwarded to my AOL accounts. There are a few more emails that I want to forward, too. But, I've already forwarded several hundred emails and I'm tired. I've got the critical ones. (If you're going to send an email to my scribblers account, wait until after 8:00 PM Eastern time Saturday to do it. Just in case, Yahoo messes things up.) Of course, now that I have spend many hours doing all of that, Yahoo won't lose them or lock me out of them.

Yes, the magazine is finished and ready to go. As soon as control gets switched over to Media Temple which should be by 8:00 PM tonight, then I will be able to finish setting up the site and we'll be good to go. I may still make my deadline and get it up and running on the first. Wouldn't that be something? :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Three Days

Three days .... In three days, I am launching the first issue of Emerald Tales ... THREE DAYS ... The panic is setting in. My to do list is a half a page long and includes such small tasks as revamp the website to add the shopping cart. *headdesk*

I will get it all done and on time, but if my friends or family decide now is the time to have a mental health crisis, well they're on their own. Temper tantrums to get my attention will also be ignored. Why is it when one is super busy and entirely focused on doing something that one's friends and family decide either a) they need you for something or b) to pitch a fit over something minor? What is up with that?

I'm off to whittle down that to do list.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Writer's Life and Goal Setting

Sometime in the past few days, I read the following sentiment sometimes heard from writers: "I just want to write. I don't want to do all that other stuff like querying, editing, publicity, researching markets, blahblahblah"

But, you know what, that is just part of being a creative person and having a creative career. Artists have to find an Art Gallery to show their work and do shows and stuff. Actors have to get headshots, take classes, find an agent, go on auditions. Dancers have to do about the same thing. Directors have to find scripts and meet with producers and do a whole lot of other stuff to get a movie made. I can't think of a single creative career that does not have aspects to it which are business related.

This is not a new thing. Throughout history, creative people have had to do things they didn't want to do in order to work in their creative field. Shakespeare had his theater to run. Michaelangelo preferred to sculpt, but he had a ceiling he had to paint. Leonardo preferred to invent things, but he had a portrait to do.

I've also been thinking this week about goal setting for writers. Some people use word count goals. Some people use time goals. Some people treat writing like a second job with a block of time carved out for writing and nothing else. What it really comes down to is figuring out what works for you and doing that.

But, along with that is how do you count the time that you spend doing research for a story, outlining (if you outline), brainstorming, building worlds, character development, and all the other things that a writer does before, during, or after the first draft? So, you've spent all day brainstorming plot ideas, developing characters, or making decisions about the setting and you only wrote four hundred words that day. Does that mean you didn't work? That you didn't accomplish anything? That you're just playing at being a writer? What about the time you spend querying, submitting, researching markets, etc? Shouldn't that count, too?

Is there only one way to be a serious writer? I think not. I think there are as many ways of being a serious writer as there are people on the planet who write with the intention of selling their work.

Friday, July 24, 2009

User Friendly is an Oxymoron

I would like to take all the computer programmers who writer "user-friendly" word-processing software, lock them in a room, and not let them out until they have written one thousand times with pencil on paper: "I will program computer software so it is easy to use and understand. And I will write a Help menu that answers every question a user might have."

Nothing frustrates me more than having to learn how to do in a new program what I know how to do in another program. It's the reason why I stick to the old version of a piece of software until I absolutely have to upgrade to a new version. Let me explan:

I've been using MS Works for over ten years. Up until two months ago, that was the version that I got with my first desktop computer back in 1998. I loved that program. I could make it sit up and beg. I can do things with that program that you wouldn't believe. One of the things that I can do with it is "Word Art". That's where you play with the fonts and give it shadows and outlines and other cool effects. A really handy function for making flyers, brochures, and other nifty desktop publishing things.

But, when my computer died at the end of May and I had to get a new one, the new one came with Vista. My old version of MS Works is not compatible with Vista. But, wait the new computer does come with the newest version of MS Works. It sucks. Everything I could do in the old version, I can't do or figure out how to do in the new version. I have already spent several hours trying to figure it out and have not succeeded.

Why don't I just use Word? I hate it. Everytime I have used Word in the past few years, because I've had to for one reason or another, I have spent several very frustrating hours trying to figure out how to do something super simple. It wants to make everything complicated. And I end up screaming at the monitor, "NO! I didn't tell you to do THAT!" I'd rather go to the dentist and have them drill on my teeth without novocaine, than use Word. If something absolutely has to be done in Word, then I save my file in RTF format, upload it into Word, and save it in Word format. It's less aggravating that way.

My son suggested that I download Open Office. It's free and I can save the files in PDF format. Unfortunately, it's a lot like Word.

All I want to do is design the Title for Emerald Tales. That's it. I'd like it to look pretty. I know what I want it to look like. If I could use my old version of MS Works, I could do it in fifteen minutes. I have spent several days and many hours trying to figure out what is so simple to do in MS Works the old version, in Open Office. It took me two days to figure out that "Word Art" is called "Font Works" in Open Office. The help function was no damn help in figuring that out. I discovered it when I randomly clicked on a button wondering what it was for.

So, I've spent five or six hours playing around with "Font Works" trying to get it to do what it should be able to do, and I haven't figured it out, yet. Can you say "frustrated"?

There is something seriously wrong with a computer program when an engineer who knows how to program a computer spends two days trying to do something really simple and then discovers it by accident. Then spends several hours trying to work with that tool until giving up in frustration.This is not a new problem with the computer programming industry. It's been like this since Bill Gates designed an operating system in his garage. It is past time for them to stop making their computer programs so damn difficult to use and learn the definition of "user friendly."

*climbs down off her soapbox*

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Learning to Write Well From the Oddest Sources

Last night was class night at my SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) meeting. One of the members taught drop spindle spinning. An ancient technique of spinning fiber into thread. Anyway, the teacher spoke about the history and some of the interesting things that she was learning in her research on the history of spinning. One of the things she said was that a female would spend seven hours a day spinning wool into thread or yarn. They carried their distaff and spindle with them whereever they went. They would spin while they were walking, tending sheep, whatever they were doing that didn't require the use of their hands. Now, what, you ask, does that have to do with writing?

The details in the setting. If the writer knows those little details, then it will make the story richer and fuller. Even if the writer never mentions those details, they will be there subtly.

On the Deluxe Extended version of "Lord of the Rings", there are a lot of documentaries on the making of the film. In particular, the making of the costumes, the set design, and decoration. So much detail went into making the costumes, the sets, the props, real, detail that the viewer never sees, that when you watch the movie on screen the story comes alive. The viewer is transported into Middle Earth, because it looks real.

I am not suggesting that a writer spend an inordinate amount of time on building their world, deciding on the details in the scene or, heaven forbid, dumping it onto the reader. But, if the writer knows some of those details in the background, then it will help build a better story.

Recently, I asked someone where in the world their story was set, because I couldn't tell. They came back with the answer and then said, "It doesn't really matter." No, for that particular story it didn't really matter. And yes, it does matter. The story loses something when the setting is generic. Just as "Lord of the Rings" would have lost something if the costumes hadn't been embroidered, the sword hilts not decorated, the support posts in the Hall not carved.

Before someone decides to counter this, let me say: There will be times when a generic setting is the best setting for the story, but more often than not, it isn't.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Army Mom - A Non-writing Post about Irony and Anxiety

I don't like arguing or fighting. I don't like guns or other things that go boom and can kill you. When my son was a toddler, I wouldn't buy him toy guns or allow anyone else to buy him a toy gun either, thinking that if he didn't have guns to play with, he wouldn't become enamored of them. Yeah, right. He started making guns with his Duplos; I gave in on the no toy guns policy.

He's in the army now. When I visited him last weekend, he told me about his qualifying as an expert in everything a soldier holds in his hands, points at an enemy, and goes boom. What can take some soldiers all day and I forget how many rounds to do, he did as fast as one can do it with the minimum number of rounds. They would put up the target, he would nail it. He had people watching him qualify, it was so impressive. Yes, I am proud of him, but *headdesk* how's that for irony?

Several years ago, he joined the army. Despite being a Buddhist and believing in a non-violent approach to life, I supported his decision to join the army. I still do. Even when that means he gets deployed into a combat situation.

I've experienced a lot of tragedy in my life. I've been in dangerous situations where someone has had a gun in their hands and could have shot me with it. Having my son in a combat situation provokes more anxiety than any of that. Because there is nothing I can do to protect him and keep him safe. Nothing. It's the most helpless feeling in the world. And it sucks.

He'll be deployed again soon. All I have to say about that is: Hooahh!

Now where did I put that bottle of Ativan?

On to the Fun Part!

WooHoo! I have finished editing all the stories for both editions of Emerald Tales. It took a lot longer than I thought it would.

The biggest problem that I faced, other than commas, was putting the suggested changes into a computer file so that the author could see and understand what I was suggesting. Editing on paper is easy, get a colored pen or pencil, read through the text, and zip zap you're done. To do the same job on the computer takes forever. What is one second stroke with a pen is: highlight with the mouse, click on format, click on character, click on font, click on strike through, click style of strike through, then click on highlight. All that so the author can see the change. And most of the suggestions were for taking out or putting in a comma. Do you know, there is no good way on the computer to show that you want to delete a punctuation mark? The good part of it taking so long, is that I stopped and thought about each change that I suggested. Many times what I marked on the print out did not make it into the computer file. And sometimes, I caught stuff when I was working with the computer file that I missed my first time through.

And now on to the fun for me part, as soon as I get all the approvals for the changes in, I get to do the laying out of the magazine and making it all look pretty. Woo Hoo!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Editing Process

I have just finished editing the stories for the first issue of Emerald Tales. It took me a lot longer than I thought it would. My brain imploded sometime, yesterday, trying to figure out how to punctuate verbals.

What are verbals, you ask. They are those verbal phrases which don't function as the verb in a clause, they act like nouns or adjectives or adverbs. Go get your grammar book out and look it up for the full definition.

The ones that were giving me the most fits were the present participles (the -ing form of the verb). Sometimes, they need a comma, sometimes they don't. But, do any of the THREE grammar books that I have adequately explain when they do and when they don't? ... Nooooooo ....

It's a present participle after a verb. One would think that it would always be the same. But, it isn't because it depends on what that participial phrase is doing after the verb. Is it acting like a noun, an adverb, or an adjective. Is it the subject complement, direct object or object of a preposition?

I'll toss some sentences out to illustrate my confusion.

He walked dragging his foot behind him.
He walked, gazing at the sunset.
He said, weeping into his handkerchief.
He said spraying spit everywhere.

Fear not. I did read this helpful bit regarding commas in "Eats, shoots & Leaves" by Lynne Truss: "This is why grown men have knock-down fights over the comma in editorial offices ..." Well, hell, if grown men are getting into knock-down fights over the comman, it's no wonder I feel like my brain has imploded.

Perhaps, the most interesting and important point of what I have learned in the editing process is this: If the story grabs the readers attention, they won't notice the punctuation. So, it really doesn't matter if I put a comma in front of that present participle or take it out. Unless they are grammar nazis, the reader will not notice. And even if they are, they might not agree with the rules that I learned and am using for proper punctuation.