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? :)