Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! May all your dreams come true!

Since I am not publishing as much and I am working on my own writing goals, I decided to refocus this blog to writing topics in general. If I come across a good writing book, then I'll talk about it here. If I encounter a new to me author that I enjoy reading, then I'll talk about it here. If I notice something to watch out for while I am reading, then I'll talk about it here.

Because caring is sharing. :)

And I firmly believe that not only do you have a right to your opinion, you have a right to mine as well.

Your mileage may vary.

No warranty is expressed or implied from reading these musings.

Take what you want and leave the rest.

Have a wonderfully productive New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

45 Master Characters

At the library, I picked up "45 Master Characters; Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters" by Victoria Lynn Schmidt published by Writer's Digest Books. Having thumbed through and read a bit of it, I think that this book is a must have reference book for all writers. (The link is to Writer's Digest Bookshop.)

This book discusses the major character archetypes in an organized and insightful manner discussing what each archetype fears, cares about, is motivated by and so on. I can see using this book to give one's characters just a little more richness and depth.

In addition to the archetypes, the author also discusses the hero's journey both the masculine and feminine hero's journey. I'd heard of Joseph Campbell and the Hero's journey, but I had never read a discussion about the feminine version of it. The difference between the two journeys is that in the feminine journey, the character changes internally in the beginning and then goes out into the world. Whereas in the masculine journey, the hero goes out into the world and changes because of it. I found the discussion rather interesting and insightful.

I highly recommend at least borrowing a copy from the library and checking it out.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Maladjustment - The Annals of Hypnosia

The December installment in The Annals of Hypnosia, Maladjustment, is now posted for your holiday reading enjoyment.

I suggest putting down the eggnog before you read this one. You don't want to mess up your keyboard.


Happy Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This and That

A couple of random thoughts that have been running through my mind lately.

The word "never". By definition it means: not ever, at no time, not at all, absolutely not, to no extent or degree. I've noticed several authors using never to mean "did not." It's a common way of speaking in some parts of the country, but it isn't always proper English.

Consider the sentence: "He never saw his assailant." That statement is only true if he has never seen the assailant in the past and won't see him in the future. It's a hit and run or the character dies from the blow from the assailant.

But, I've seen that sentence in this situation. "He never saw his assailant. The blow to the head knocked Sam unconscious. When he woke up, his hands were tied and he saw the assailant watching him through hooded eyes." ...ummm wait a minute. I thought Sam never saw the assailant? It should read "He didn't see his assailant" for the paragraph to make sense.

That's nitpicky, but the word never is one of those words that writers tend to latch on and overuse.

I think the reason that I notice this is because I've spent the past year editing Mette's Annals of Hypnosia. She's Finnish and very fluent in English, but occassionally she writes a phrase that is a bit off. It's my job to catch those things. Usually it is a preposition that is the culprit. Technically, one could say the phrase the way she wrote it, but a different preposition would be used by a native speaker of English. Which led me to the thought that an easy way to convey that English isn't the character's first language is to misuse prepositions in their speech.

I have to say that I am in awe of anyone who can write in a second or third language and have it not be that noticeable to a native unless they are looking for it.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Another One Bites the Dust

Unfortunately, I've added another author to my used to be favorite author now I will not buy their books list.

Stephanie Laurens is the most recent addition to that list. I'm rather pissed about this one. Her earlier works particularly the Cynster novels are engaging to read. Her Bastion Club series was good, but there were large chunks of boring description that I skimmed over. Her latest endeavor is the Bride Quartet. The first three novels were okay even though there were still parts that I skimmed over. It's the last book in this series, The Reckless Bride, that has pushed me over the edge and landed her on my do not buy anymore list. By the time I got to page 149, I was so annoyed with the character's whinging and the stagnant plot that I stopped reading and started skimming to find the point where the plot started moving forward again. I skimmed up to page 300; the plot was still stagnating; so I closed the book and set it aside. I'll probably never read the rest of it. And I am really pissed about this. The only reason I read as far as I did was because it is the last book of the series and I wanted to know how it ended. I'll probably never know and I'll think two or three or four times before I buy another book written by her.

I read on some agent's blog (I can't remember who it was) that only Stephanie Laurens can get away with writing pages and pages of description. Ummm. No. She can't. And the editor and agent who let her get away with the doing this need to be beat around the head and shoulders with "The Reckless Bride."


Sales of books were down 17% this year and publishers wonder why...

I turned the comment moderation off as the asian spammers have been leaving me alone. :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Books on Writing

I've been thinking about this video which has been making the rounds in writing communities:

In the past five years that I have participated in online writing communities of one form or another, I have heard all of those things said at one time or another. Interestingly enough, those people usually disappear rather quickly from the writing community.

I have also encountered quite a few writers who refuse to read any book about the craft of writing. They may have read one or two, but since the method in the book that they read doesn't work for them, they decided that all writing books are bad. Which makes as much sense to me as someone rejecting all Science Fiction and Fantasy because they didn't like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.

Then again, I'm also an engineer and my analytical brain wants to know as much as possible about creative writing. Writer's Digest publishes a lot of really good books about the craft of writing. Some of the writing books that I have purchased have really helped me understand the craft aspect of storytelling. And some have not.

Some writers can sit down without understanding anything about point of view or characterization and churn out a decent first draft. Tolkien sat down and wrote Lord of the Rings from the beginning. When he wrote himself into a corner, he stopped and started writing all over again from the beginning. It took him a long time to write Lord of the Rings, but it worked for him.

Awhile back I beta-read a short story for a writing friend. The feedback that I gave him was, "I don't understand what the story question is in this piece. Where are you taking me and why?" His response was: "What's a story question?"... Okay... On the one hand, it's okay that he didn't know what I was talking about. On the other hand, it makes it difficult for a beta-reader to provide meaningful feedback on a story if the writer doesn't know what the reader is talking about.

It's not mandatory that a writer study the craft of writing, but there's a huge toolkit available to writers, why not try a few of them out? Take what you want and will work for you and leave the rest.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Are Ereaders Environmentally Friendly?

I started a second blog, The Whispering Sea Sprite, for things not related to writing or publishing. There's a link over there <---. This post focuses on the environmental impact of ereaders so it's sort of about publishing, though not small publishing, and may be of interest to you.

I suppose I could have morphed this blog into talking about whatever I want to talk about, but some of the thoughts that run around my head are controversial. I don't want to go there on here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

These Times They are a Changing Rapidly

The past few months, I have been rereading some of my favorite novels. Some of them written back in the 80's and 90's without a cell phone or the internet in sight. Which got me to thinking that using a contemporary setting for your novel will date it. Technology is changing so rapidly that a novel written three years ago with details contemporary with that time will now seem dated.

Ten years ago, most people did not have a cell phone, were still watching movies on VHS, were accessing the internet via a phone line IF they had it in their home, and so on. Google, Twitter, Facebook, blogging, Skype, did not exist or were in their infancy. So if you had a character in a situation needing to find a telephone where today they would whip out their cell phone, it's going to be noticeable to the reader. "Gee, why don't they just use their cell phone instead of trying to find a payphone? What is a payphone, anyway?"

This can be a problem for the first time novelist using a contemporary setting. It's going to take years to go from novel idea to finally getting the manuscript into an editor's hands. If you use a contemporary setting and don't edit in the technological changes then it's going to be obvious to the editor that the story isn't "fresh and original" and that it's been shopped around for years. (One of the recommendations for writers is to not formally copyright your work because it attaches a date to it. An editor will know that you've been trying to sell your novel for X number of years.)

I think the simplest solution to the problem is to fix the novel in a specific year and leave it there. A header above the first paragraph like "1986" or "2001" immediately takes the reader back in time and those questions don't arise.

But, if you do set your novel back in 1986 don't have the characters talking on a cellphone while watching movies on netflix via the internet...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Pipeline

Ian Nievens (I hope I spelled his name right.) has developed a writing program to help writers channel their creativity that he calls The Pipeline. That link is to the fifteen minute video that he has made to explain the program.

I've listened to it. I recognize several of the references he has used to develop his program. Based on that, I think some of you might find it useful. Check it out. It's free.

Maybe it will help you avoid this:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Incorrigible Mister Bleak

The Incorrigible Mister Bleak, this month's installment of The Annals of Hypnosia is now up. This story is from the dark side of Hypnosia. Mister Bleak pays Falcrion a visit. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Nanowrimo snuck up on me this year. I'm not sure how that happened.

I first heard about nanowrimo back in 2006. That year, I was all gung ho to do it. I even got my mom to participate. The next two years, I was still into it. And while I didn't "win", I did meet the goals that I set for myself and got what I wanted out of the experience. Last year, I was too busy to even think about trying. But all of this has led me to do some thinking about the process of writing a novel:

Writer's Block - some writers say it doesn't exist. When pressed to explain their position what they are objecting to is using writer's block as an excuse for not having written anything. I agree with that sentiment. If you're not writing because you're blocked and you're not doing anything to get rid of that block, then you get no sympathy from me. But there are things that can dry up the creative flow: depression, illness, stress, fear of failure, success, or being laughed at, etc. If you've identified the cause of your block and are trying to do something about it, then you have all my encouragement and support. Participating in nanowrimo can be a great way to blast that block away.

There's some controversy over whether there should even be a nanowrimo because of the premise behind it: "Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved." In some ways this attitude lessens the talent and skill it takes to write a novel. Writing a good novel that anyone except your mother would want to read is not something everyone can do.

You all would look at me as if I were crazy if I said, "I always wanted to be a surgeon. I'm going to take a month off, give it a go, and remove a few tonsils." Or imagine someone saying, "I always wanted to be an engineer. I'm going to take a month off and design a bridge." So why do we think that anyone can write?

On the other hand, if you have the strong desire to write and need something to blast away the block, then nanowrimo is a great way to do it.

If you're participating in nanowrimo, good luck!

In other news, I've been trying to get the links to contributor blogs updated. I've added Laurie Dalzell, Damien Walters Grintalis, and Stephanie Hamrick to the list. I'm missing a few. If you know someone that I should add, send me an email to diana at scribblersandinkspillers dot com.

And I've been trying to get a handle on facebook. It's become even more user unfriendly than it used to be. Sigh.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Only Reason You Need to Write

I was surfing through the links on Nathan Branford's blog and I came across 101 Reasons to Stop Writing. So, being the curious person that I am, I went and took a look at it. It's rather interesting. Though, I will forewarn you that it hasn't been updated in over a year and there are only seventeen reasons posted.

Still it's interesting.

And it got me to thinking. There is really only one good reason to write and it's the only one that you need. You write because your fingers itch to put the story circling around in your head down on paper. And nothing will stop that itch except putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Even if you knew that no one would ever read the story, you would still write it.

Of course, everyone wants money, fame, to be on the bestseller list, and all the other accolades one can get as a writer. There are easier and better ways to get money than writing a novel. The probability that a person will achieve the heights of Steven King, J K Rowling, et al is slim and nil.

So, write because you have to and you love doing it. That's all the reason you need.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I was going to do this back in August when I had my one year anniversary of publishing Emerald Tales, but my brain wasn't working well enough, and the post would have ended up an incoherent mess.

This past year and a half from the idea "Hey, wouldn't it be great to start an ezine" to now, the publisher of a journal, poetry collections, short stories, and The Annals of Hypnosia, has been quite a journey. In particular order here are my thoughts about it:

Sending out rejection letters sucks. It really sucks when there isn't anything wrong with a story, but I'm limited by how much I can spend paying authors and poets. (And it is important to me that this be a paying market.) In many cases, it boiled down to how well the story or poem fit the theme.

The worst rejection letters that I had to write were to those who I had published before. It was like telling a best friend, "No, you don't look good in that dress." On the other hand, it would do them more harm than good for me to accept their story just because I had accepted a previous one.

The first line being the theme of the issue makes it really hard to decide which stories to include and which to pass on. If the first line is there, then there is nothing to base a decision on. Which is why the Bright and Sunny Day issue was so damn long... I'm not doing that again.

People who can write a story that is four thousand words are less are much more likely to write a compelling novel or story of longer length. They've figured out how to hook your attention quickly and hold it. I think those people who say, "they can't write a story that is less than 4000 words," should try working on it. It probably will increase their chance of finding an agent and selling their novel.

The British Commonwealth seems to have something going on in the ability to write short stories. Every issue of Emerald Tales has at least one and sometimes two or three or four authors from England, Canada, Australia, etc. They're represented in a higher proportion than one would expect based on population statistics. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe it's a cultural thing. Maybe it's an education thing. Maybe it's genetic. They do have a large number of authors in the must read classics department.

There were three or four poets that submitted to every issue and that I accepted their poetry every time for either Emerald Tales or Copper Wire. They are Guy Belleranti, John Hayes, Darrell Lindsey, and Lauren McBride. They are different in the form of poetry that they write, but they all have the same quality that I was looking for in a poem: you don't have to be a literature professor to understand their imagery.

I didn't know it at the time, but I also accepted poetry from two brothers, Josh and Matthew Byers. I wonder if there were any more blood relations.

Drum roll, please.

In alphabetic order the contributors to Scribblers and Ink Spillers:

Emerald Tales
Guy Belleranti (5)
J. N. Bower
Matthew Byer
josh byer
Effie Collins
Amanda C. Davis
Lindsey Duncan
Grace Galton
Scott E. Green
Damien Walters Grintalis (2)
John Hayes (5)
D. L. Hegel
Wynne Huddleston (2)
Penn Kemp (2)
Patricia La Barbera
N. L. LeBlanc
Darrell Lindsey (4)
Lauren McBride (3)
Tracie McBride (2)
Michelle Mead
Catherine Moore
George Moore
Patricia Puckett
Roxanne Rhoads
Patty Saturn
Troy Seate
Marge Simon
Hal Sirowitz
Teresa Tunaley
Grady Yandell
Mercedes M. Yardley

Kevin Anderson
Jennifer Azantian
J. J. Beazley
Ben A. Bell
Guy Belleranti
Chip Bland
Faith Boughan (2)
Darla J. Bowen
Ragna Brent
Thomas Canfield
Arthur Carey
Peter Caunt (2)
Lisa Clark
Marie Croke (2)
Laurie Dalzell (3)
Amanda C. Davis
K. S. Dearsley (2)
Aubrie Dionne (2)
Lindsey Duncan
Jason Flum (4)
Catherine J. Gardner
Alice Godwin
Bruce Golden (3)
Denise Golinowski
Eliza Granville
Heather Gregson
Damien Walters Grintalis
James Hartley
Neil James Hudson (2)
E. Hull (2)
B. M. Kezar
Douglas Kolacki
Raymond Koonce
Kristina Lee (2)
Richard S. Levine
Brandi Mauldin
Lauren McBride
Michael McGlade
Mario Milosevic
Bill Moon
Jenny Morientes
Heather Parker
R. J. Payne
Christine Rains
Cherie Reich (2)
Stephen D. Rogers
Lisa Rusczyk (2)
Laura Jeanne Sanger
Jennifer schwabach
K. C. Shaw
Adam Slade
Abra Staffin-Wiebe
Paula R. Stiles
Lori T Strongin
Julie St. Thomas
G. W. Thomas
Erika Tracy
Justin Whitney
Hugh Wilson

Copper Wire
Guy Belleranti
Gary Bloom
Matthew Byer
John Hayes
Darrell Lindsey
Lauren McBride
Misty Posey
Changming Yuan

Short Stories:
Bryant Alexander
Karen Dent
Grace Galton
Bruce Golden
Heather Gregson
Damien Walters Grintalis
Stephanie Hamrick
Neil James Hudson
M. J. Jones
Raymond Koonce (2)
Jack Linus
B. Moon
Lisa Rusczyk
Jude Tulli
L. A. Witt
P. E. Zimmerman

Crystal Codices
Sarah Ashwood
Nyki Blatchley
Savyn Carden
Jeremy Essex
Ken Goldman
Kristin Janz
Matthew Leukroth
Marilyn Luttrell

Poetry Collections:
Guy Belleranti
Lisa Rusczyk

And Mette Pesonen the author and illustrator of The Annals of Hypnosia.

Keep an eye out for these authors and poets, they're worth it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Stories Posted

That new story for Crystal Codices that I said was going to be out on September 1? I was finally able to get it all formatted and uploaded to the website.

Call of the North by Sarah Ashwood is now online. You can find it here:

And even though I haven't blogged about it, I have been releasing the monthly installments of The Annals of Hypnosia. I just put up the October installment, A Family Recipe of the Worst Kind. Azaril's family recipe book gets stolen and Serafyr must retrieve it before the demons of hell are unleashed.

At Mette's request, I posted a message from the author for those who have been following the Annals of Hypnosia. Personally, I like her self portrait. And she has been wonderful to work with. She didn't snarl at me too much when I changed the background color for the banner. (That's the only image of hers that I have fiddled with, the rest is all her work.)

That would have been the last of the Hypnosia stories, but after a bit of prodding from me for more, Mette admitted to having six others that would work with the series. So, we amended the contract to add them and we'll be continuing our adventures in the land of Hypnosia for six more months.

Huh, they changed the way to put in links.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Facebook and Twitter

Some ruminations on the ever popular facebook and twitter:

When I first started researching the how tos of small publishing, conventional wisdom was that one needed both a facebook account and a twitter account in order to effectively market one's product. My experience is that they both can be effective marketing tools if one spends a lot of time on the computer and one can work with more than one window active.

While I have both a facebook account and a twitter account, I don't have the time to devote to making them work for me as a marketing tool. And I can't work with more than one window open at a time. I lose track of what I am doing and make many mistakes.

Unlike my website and my blog, what I post on those accounts is only available to be seen by the people that I am friends with or who are following me. Facebook and Twitter are not the most effective tools for reaching people who don't already know you. I find it rather surprising that they are/were so strongly advocated, because a blog and a website are much more effective at reaching people you don't already know. Anyone can read this blog. And if the Chinese spammers and hackers can find my website, then it is pretty easy for anyone else to find it, too.

Not to mention that your status and your tweets about your book are buried in everyone else's blathering about what they ate for dinner, how tired they are, OMG I just watched the most fantastic episode of Glee, and John found a lonely bull on his farm will you give it a home. I have to wonder how those who have used facebook and twitter to market their work got through all that noise.

If you made up flyers or bookmarks or something similar and took them down to the library, independent bookseller, coffeeshop, etc, you would have a better chance at reaching people interested in your book than you would with casual use of facebook and twitter.

The bottomline is don't sign up for a facebook account and/or a twitter account thinking that it's a great marketing tool. It takes a lot of time and effort on your part to make them work for you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Until Further Notice - Closed for all Submissions

My recent move over to the coast really wiped me out. As I've explained before, I have Multiple Sclerosis and it affects my cognitive function. Even though I have been in my new apartment for over two weeks now, I can't seem to get my mind to function.

I haven't been this bad in over ten years. And so, I am closing the doors to all submissions until further notice. When,if my brain decides to start functioning again and I've given up hoping that it will be anytime soon, then I'll reopen for submissions.

The next installment of The Annals of Hypnosia will be up in a day or three. And I will have one more story in Crystal Codices up in September. It was the last submission that I was able to effectively evaluate. I'm going to have to beg Lindsey to edit it for me. (Okay, I do pay her for proofreading.)

And if you didn't get your copy of Emerald Tales Follow the Butterflies, you better hurry quick and do so as I should have taken them down two weeks ago. And I will be taking them down next.

Oh and this is the beach that I moved to. Notice the lack of hoardes of tourists. :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Heroes Don't Take Vacations

The July installment of The Annals of Hypnosia, "Heroes Don't Take Vacations," is now posted. Serafyr on vacation. Will he survive? ... Just barely :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Comment Moderation and other Stuff

Well, it seems that the Asian spammers have found my blog and think that is okay to post their garbage in the comments section of my posts. The only thing that I have to say to them is that doing that is really really bad karma, dudes. I've turned the comment moderation on for now. May their computers get really nasty viruses, trojans, and worms then blow up taking their fingers off.

In other news and as the Brits would say, I'm moving house. Translated into American, I'm moving. The house is staying here. My stuff is going into an apartment over on the coast. I'll be closer to the beach. :)

I've been living with my mother for the past four years for various reasons. While she still works and takes care of herself, she is almost 80 years old and feels safer having someone live with her. Due to circumstances, mainly my brother being an idiot, my brother moved in a couple of weeks ago. So, now I am free to move out. Yippee!

What this means to you, me dear blog followers and submitters to Scribblers and Ink Spillers is that one, I am way behind in dealing with submissions to Crystal Codices and two, I won't have a new theme for Emerald Tales for several months. BUT, once I get settled into my new home on the coast, I will get Scribblers and Ink Spillers back on track and start blogging a bit more, too. :)

Mette's next story in the Annals of Hypnosia will be posted on Thursday. And the August story should be on time, as well.

I'll also have a new story or two for Crystal Codices coming out on or around September 1.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lots to Read!

I've posted a lot of stuff on the website in the past week. I forgot to let everyone know about it.

Two new poems on Copper Wire, Alphabet Meandering by Matthew Byer and Summerscaping by Changming Yuan. I thought they were rather interesting. :)

A Matter of Credibility, the June installment in The Annals of Hypnosia is also up.

All of the electronic versions of the Crystal Codices are now online and free to read. (I'll have a new one in July sometime.)

And the June issue of Emerald Tales, Midsummer's Eve, is now online!

On Midsummer's Eve, a young woman and her family visit the aunts who raised her, a trip outside the dome turns deadly, the seventh child of the seventh child must repay a debt, a cartoon character comes to life, a young woman faces disappointment, a village is invaded during their midsummer ritual, and a woman's true love is revealed to her.

A Visit with the Tantes - short story - Laurie Dalzell
Midsummer's Triolet - poem - Lauren McBride
Outside - short story - Peter Caunt
Midsummer's Eve Mess-up - poem - Guy Belleranti
The Seventh Child - short story - E. Hull
Midsummer's Night Dream - poem - Grace Galton
I Found Love on Channel 3 - short story - Bruce Golden
Heat - poem - John Hayes
A Midsummer's Baby - short story - K. S. Dearsley
Midsummer's Magic: A Series of Haikus - poem - Patricia Puckett
Firebird's Embrace - short story - Faith Boughan
Starry-eyed Predictions - poem - Wynne Huddleston
Midsummer Rose - short story - Eliza Granville
Midsummer's Eve Reminiscing - poem - Darrell Lindsey

As my dance teacher, Michael, used to say, "That'll keep you busy!" :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Political Lament - The Annals of Hypnosia

Political Lament, the next installment in The Annals of Hypnosia, is now up.

If you enjoy reading these stories, send the link to your friends. :)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Larger Than Life

The other day, I read this in a blurb for a novel from a small press: "She was finally able to pursue her dream of becoming a librarian." After I stopped laughing, I started thinking about why I found this so funny and what makes a good character.

In real life, there is nothing funny about someone wanting to become a librarian. I know several people who work in a library. I have a friend that just got a master's in library science so she could get a promotion to research librarian. None of these people fit the stereotype of librarian: quiet, shy, geeky, wears hornrimmed glasses, mild-mannered, etc.

If you read a story and all that the author told you about a character was that they were a librarian, then you would probably imagine someone who was not very exciting.

Then there's the part about it being her dream to become a librarian and that she hadn't been able to pursue it until now which I have trouble believing. This is not a career that requires a high degree of intelligence or a special talent. A person of average intelligence and abilities can become a librarian if that is what they really want to do in life. And as it is not a real popular career choice, my guess is that it would be very easy to find a job. At least one person that I know, fell into his job at the library. He didn't need a special degree to get his job.

Reading a story about a person pursuing their dream of becoming a librarian is not very interesting. The hurdles they face to achieve their dream are minimal and easily overcome by the average person. If one is going to write a story about someone pursuing their dream, make it a big dream, make it questionable whether they would succeed or not.

Some of the most interesting athletes in the past two Olympics were the ones who had to overcome a huge obstacle to get to the Olympics. There was a Uzbekistan gymnast who competed for Germany as a thank you to those who had helped her with her son who had cancer. She won a silver medal in the vault. Then there was the swimmer Dara Torres who has competed in five olympic games and at the age of 41 should have been too old to even get into the Olympics; she came away with a silver medal in the 50m freestyle.

In team sports, it doesn't matter whether it is football, soccer, or water polo, the most interesting games to watch are the ones where the score is almost even. Where you have to watch to the end of the game to see who wins.

So, your main character wants to be a librarian, make their dream to be the head of the New York Public Library. That story would be interesting to read.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Yes, you can have too many adjectives in a sentence. Normally, writers are cautioned about using too many adverbs, but the other day I read a submission which had too many adjectives. Almost every noun in the story had an adjective. On the one hand, adjectives are good. They can help give the reader the feel and tone of a person, place, or thing. But, if the reader notices that there are adjectives attached to every noun, then you have way too many.

Consider the following sentence (I'm making this up. It isn't from a submission.): The flame-haired wench strolled into the smoky tavern and sat down on a rickety chair at a grimy table next to a dirty, grease-smeared window overlooking the dusty, paved street winding through the tiny town by the rocky coast. Now imagine that every sentence in a story is like that. How long would it take before you noticed that every noun had an adjective?

That sentence points out another potential problem: too many prepositional phrases. Here's an example of too many prepositional phrases: He walked across the stone floor of the room in the castle on the hill over the river behind the woods along the coast. Those last four prepositional phrases definitely do not need to be there and slow things down. The other two may not need to be there, if you've already established that he is in a castle.

The use of adjectives and prepositional phrases is a matter of personal taste, but if one of your beta readers notices them, then you probably have too many.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Thoughts on the state of Publishing

Some time ago, I read on an agent's blog not to say in one's query letter that the reason you decided to write your own book is because of all the crap that is getting published. The agent is representing that "crap" that's been published.

On the one hand, it is pretty foolish to say something like that to an agent or editor of the crap that is getting published while shopping one's novel.

On the other hand, if it gets said enough times that an agent feels the need to write a blog post about it, then maybe it's time for the industry professionals to take a good hard look at what they are doing. Because from this book-buying reader's point of view, it's getting harder and harder to find a good book to read. It's gotten so difficult to find a really good fantasy book that I have given up looking for a new one and reread the old ones that I have.

Even my favorite authors are letting me down. And the fault for this lies firmly on the editors who are allowing successful authors to do things that they wouldn't accept from a new author. For example:

J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows - Half of this book is a major info-dump and another goodly portion is of the three main characters wandering around the country arguing and doing nothing. It was torture to read it the first time. The only reason that I did read all of it, was because I wanted to know how the story ended. But, seriously they could have cut out at least a quarter of the book and lost nothing. They didn't because the Harry Potter books are such a moneymaker that they allowed Rowling to do what she wanted in the seventh book. If the first book had been written like the last one, the series would never have gotten off the ground. And when her next book is published, I won't buy it.

I used to love reading Catherine Coulter's novels, but I've stopped buying them. Her dialogue has become rambling monologues with no dialogue tags or action mixed in. I can't keep track of who said what. And there are places where it seems like the character is standing still in the middle of the room going on a rambling disjointed rant. When she switched to her contemporary FBI series, it got better. Then she started doing it in those, as well. Why are they letting this get into print?

Then there is Clive Cussler. He's a new discovery for me. His early books are great. The ones that he has written recently are filled with pages describing what people are wearing and what they are eating. (If he's coauthor, then this doesn't happen so much.) Why is the editor letting him get away with this? It isn't anymore interesting to read because Clive Cussler wrote it, than if John Smith unknown author wrote it.

One of Nora Robert's characters clearly came from a popular TV series. (I tossed that book aside.) If an unpublished author submitted a story with a character like that in it, the agent or editor would reject it. Probably without a reason to go along with it.

And I can't count the number of books that I have tossed aside because the main character is an idiot.

I wish the editors of the big publishers would hold established authors to the same standards as they hold a new author.

Then there is the herd mentality in publishing. Fill in the Blank is really hot right now. We're only buying stories like fill in the blank. Meanwhile, those who aren't interested in reading whatever is hot right now are stuck trying to find a good book to read.

Then there is the ironic corollary, fill in the blank has been done to death, so we're not publishing that right now. If you want to read more of whatever has been done to death, well too bad.

If they published a wide variety of books, they would sell more books. But maybe that makes too much sense.

What's a reader to do? Personally, I've been rereading a lot of my old favorites. Fortunately, I like rereading books.

My hunt for new favorite authors continues, but it's getting harder and harder to find one.

So, yes, they are publishing a lot of crap, right now. Just don't say so, in your query letter. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Emerald Tales - It was a Bright and Sunny Day

Emerald Tales Volume Two Number Two is now up on the website.

A lot can happen on a bright and sunny day: a student writes a story; time flies by an old man sitting outside his home; a teacher gets hooked into playing a computer game; The FBI is on the trail of a serial killer; A man tried to avoid making the same mistakes that he did in his first marriage; a teacher meets a man who knows a bit more than she does about the Elizabethan era; the animals of the forest teach owl a lesson; a man investigates a meteorite; an elderly couple prepare for their great-grandson's visit; there's a New World Order following the philosophy of Margaret Thatcher; and someone has changed all the King's horses into ducks. With poetry by: John Hayes, Guy Belleranti, Matthew Byer, Amanda C. Davis, Marge Simon, Lauren McBride, Darrell Lindsey, and Michelle Mead.

Chunk Coffee and Sunny Days - short story - Jason Flum
The Forever Poem - poetry - John Hayes
The Old Man and the Hill - short story - Justin Whitney
Heir Error - poetry - Guy Belleranti
One of Those Addicting Games - short story - Laurie Dalzell
Grave Mistakes - short story - Cherie Reich
New Day - poetry - Matthew Byer
These Things Take Time - short story - Abra Staffin-Wiebe
Under the End - poetry - Amanda C. Davis
The Pirate's Lord - short story - Jenny Morientes
Northern Beach - poetry - Marge Simon
How the Owl Learned That Being Wise Isn't Everything - short story - Mario Milosevic
Global Swarming - short story - B. M. Kezar
Goodnight, Sunlight - poetry - Lauren McBride
Love, True Love - short story - Lisa Clark
It was a Bright... - poetry - Darrell Lindsey
Kilko - short story - Michael McGlade
Fashion of Denial - poetry - Michelle Mead
Down From a Duck - short story - Jennifer Schwabach

And if you go and look around the site, you will see that I have changed a few things. First of all, stories now open in a new window. This will make it easier to read the stories and get back to whereever you were when you clicked on the link. All you have to do is close the new window and baddaboom, you're back where you were.

You will also notice that the electronic versions of all the Emerald Tales and half of the Crystal Codices are now free downloads. The print versions still cost the same, because it costs money to print and ship these things out.

There also paypal donation buttons sprinkled throughout. Which is really important with the next bit of news.

You'll also noticed that I haven't posted a theme for August. I am putting Emerald Tales on hiatus after the June issue. I will open for submissions and post a new theme when I have received enough donations and saved enough money to pay the authors and poets.

Crystal Codices has also changed. I will pay US$50 flat rate instead of royalties for those stories. I had to make that change because I'm putting the electronic versions on the website.

Here's the link to the main page. Go take a look around.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Copper Wire - It was a Bright and Sunny Day

I just posted five new short stories on Copper Wire. These are supplemental stories to the "It was a bright and sunny day" issue of Emerald Tales which comes out next week.

Basalt Point by B. Moon

A Change in the Weather by Neil James Hudson

Bed Time Story by Lisa Rusczyk

The Noble Lie by P. E. Zimmerman

In Case of Dragon by Bruce Golden


I'm making some big changes to the website, more on that next week when I'm done.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Faegotten - Granted

Episode Six, "Granted," in the Faegotten series is now posted on Copper Wire. This is the last story in this series.

Apparently something went wrong at the end of the last story, and we got stuck in the fairy's world. See what she does to get us back home.

If you have any comments about this story or any of the others on Copper Wire, you can email them to me at Diana at scribblersandinkspillers dot com.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Impact of Words

I've belonged to various writer's forums for the past four years. Without exception, there are always a few writers who do not seem to grasp the concept that some words are inflammatory. That phrasing one's thoughts in a certain manner can get people riled up.

Words can be very powerful. And the manner in which something is phrased even more so. People who write propaganda know this and use it to great effect.

What blows my mind is the number of people who are writing fiction who do not or can not grasp that concept. How can they hope to write a great story, if they can not choose their words and express themselves in such a manner as to not be offensive?

But, what really blows my mind are the people who excuse their inability to have a conversation without attacking the other person with the justification that that's the way they are and their not going to be mambypamby about how they express themselves.

Seriously, they're writers, and they can't figure out how to express their opinion without attacking someone?

How does that work?

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Hymn of Omens

A treat for Monday: The next installment in "The Annals of Hypnosia," "The Hymn of Omens," is now posted on the website.

I really like Mette's artwork for her series, especially the images for this month and last month.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


And without further ado, Emerald Tales; Volume Two, Number One, Carnivale, is now for sale!

Saint Jake of the Funhouse - Douglas Kolacki - short story
New Profession - Guy Belleranti - poem
Offbeat - Lauren McBride - short story
me and the fair - josh byer - poem
The Hurdy Gurdy Man - E. Hull - short story
Lagniappe - Catherine Moore - poem
Farewell to Flesh - Lindsey Duncan - short story
Venice - Patricia La Barbera - poem
The Tatooed Woman - Christine Rains - short story
New Orleans; Circa Fat Tuesday - Darrell Lindsey - poem
Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down - Damien Walters Grintalis - short story
Winter Carnival - Patty Saturn - poem
The Wild Hunt - Kristina Lee - short story
Milano, Coming Home - George Moore - poem
Mascaren - Ben A. Bell - shor story
Equestrienne - John Hayes - poem
All the Fun of the Fair - Peter Caunt - short story

A school friend goes to visit Saint Jake; an alien encounters a young woman at Carnivale in Brazil; a child listens to the music of The Hurdy Gurdy Man; A dancer's night of farewell to flesh; there something different about those tattoos; a young couple's encounter with a voodoo man at Mardi Gras; teenagers attend a carnival passing through town; a young woman's encounter with a mask seller; and two young boys go for a carnival ride. With poetry by: Guy Belleranti, josh byer, Catherine Moore, Patricia La Barbera, Darrell Lindsey, Patty Saturn, George Moore, and John Hayes.

If some of those names look familiar, well, yes, they have contributed to previous issues of Emerald Tales. The more issues that I put out, the more repeat submissions I get, and the harder it is to decide which ones to use and which ones to pass on. I've said this before and I'll say it again: If you all would start submitting crap, it would make the decision process so much easier. It's torture to pass on a previous contributor's well-written but just doesn't fit the theme story. On the other hand, it's always a delight to find new-to-me authors and poets to publish.

I'm caught up on acknowledging the Emerald Tales submissions. If you submitted to "It was a bright and sunny day" issue and you didn't get an acknowledgement from me, send it to me again. Today.

I am not caught up on Crystal Codices. I will be wading through those next.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


The next installment in the Faegotten series, Leprechaun, by Jude Tulli is now posted on Copper Wire. This month the wish-fulfilling fairy has been demoted to a Leprechaun and takes us on a journey over the rainbow. (Actually, it's to a rainbow, but that doesn't evoke Judy Garland singing in The Wizard of Oz.) You can read it here:

The Carnivale issue of Emerald Tales is a bit more delayed than I had anticipated. I'm having email problems with one of my contributors. Stupid email program had no trouble delivering the files with the contracts, but doesn't want to deliver the files with suggested changes. What is up with that?

The deadline for "It was a bright and sunny day" issue is Monday. You've got two days to scribble down a story for that one. Go! Write now! :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Love-struck Groundhogs

Way back on September 1, 2009, I asked for suggestions for February's theme. Valentine's Day, cupids, and pink were just not what I wanted the theme to be. I received a lot of good suggestions and as a joke, I tossed out a theme that combined everything.

Yes, I was kidding at the time, but the idea stuck with me. So on December 11, 2009, I threw down the Gauntlet.

Four people rose to the challenge. And now here they are; four short stories about the purification of a love-struck groundhog suffering from cabin fever at Mardi Gras published on Copper Wire. They are:

Plush by Damien Walters Grintalis
Frank by Raymond Koonce
The Purification of Billy the Groundhog by Jack Linus
In Pursuit of Lady Marmalade by L. A. Witt

Now, I'm going back to catch up on all my work. The next installment of The Annals of Hypnosia will be up in a day or three, then Emerald Tales and Faegotten.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hoggetowne Medieval Faire


No, I haven't disappeared. For the past twenty four years, the City of Gainesville hosts a Medieval Faire. I have gone every year that I have lived in Gainesville and for the past four years, I have volunteered at the Faire.

This Medieval Faire is similar to a Ren Faire but different in that the City of Gainesville produces it as an educational event. Many Renaissance Festivals are run by companies to make a profit. That's not a bad thing, they're all fun, but it does give the event a different feel to it.

The past two years, the stuff that I have been doing for it requires a lot of work right before the faire. Last year, I didn't have publishing company to worry about. This year, I do. Unfortunately, this has whacked out my publishing schedule for the month of February. (The nice thing about owning the company and not having to answer to anyone but myself is that I don't have to worry about getting fired. bwahahaha) Next year, I'll plan a bit better.

I posted the January installment of Faegotten back on January 23, but I forgot to blog about it. You can go here to read it:

I had hoped to have the Groundhog stories up yesterday or today, but I haven't had a chance to send the suggested changes to the authors. So, when that process gets done, they'll go up on the website.

This upcoming weekend is the last weekend of the Faire. I'm starting to play catch up on emails, edits, and submissions this week. I should be back on track in a week or so.

And if you're in the North Florida area this weekend, you should stop by the faire and check it out. It's a lot of fun!

(Disclaimer: all typos and errors in punctuation are caused by sleep deprivation and faulty brain circuits. :) )

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Quest for the Light Switch

The next installment in The Annals of Hypnosia, "The Quest for the Light Switch" is now posted. Azaril has mixed a potion which leaves the castle in darkness. Will they be able to turn on the lights? Find out here:

In other news, I only received four stories about the Purification of a Love-struck groundhog suffering from cabin fever at Mardi Gras. I will be posting those on February 1, 2010. They are a hoot.

The next issue of Emerald Tales will be published on February 15, 2010 instead of the first. Because I volunteer at The Hoggetowne Medieval Faire in Gainesville every year, and it is the last weekend in January and the first weekend in February, there is no way that I will be able to put out an issue of Emerald Tales while I am dealing with all of that. It's a lot of fun. If you're in the area, you should pop in for a treat.

I haven't posted it on the submission page, yet, but the theme for June is "Midsummer's Eve" and the deadline is April 15th. Note: The deadline for this is six weeks ahead of the issue instead of one month. I'm trying to spread things out a bit more so that I don't get so overwhelmed with putting Emerald Tales out.

That's all I have for the now.

Thanks for all the kind words about my story. :)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Fate Worse Than Death

So, a couple of people have asked about what I have written. I personally don't have anything published, because, well, it's complicated. So, while I finish up reviewing the submissions for Carnivale, here is a sample of what I write.

A Fate Worse Than Death

by Diana Lyles

"Come on, everyone! Rise and shine! It's time for breakfast!"

The orc prisoners groaned and tried to shut out the annoying cheerfulness of the chirpy, little faerie-guards. Damnation, how the orcs wished they could eat the flutterbugs. The faerie-guards were tiny, but they were also magically powerful and with a thought could have even the meanest orc singing "Mary had a Little Lamb" as punishment.

Once in the faerie-guarded prison, it was difficult for an orc to get out. They lived the rest of their lives crocheting baby blankets, making greeting cards, baking cookies, and other repulsively pleasant activities. There was one way to get out of the cheerful prison with its brightly muraled walls, but that was too horrible for the orcs to contemplate. It was a fate worse than death. The faeries had learned long ago never to mention it in front of the orcs, because the mere thought would drive them crazy.

Lorca shuffled through the breakfast line. Something was wrong with him, he was losing his taste for moldy bread and cheese. It used to be his favorite, now the sight and smell turned his stomach. There was fresh fruit at the end of the chow line for the faerie-guards. Normally, Lorca would have gagged at the site of all that sweet juiciness: today, it looked rather yummy. When he realized he was reaching for a nice red apple, he snatched his hand back then furtively looked around. Fortunately, none of the orcs around him had noticed. Orc-sludge, he must be getting sick. Right after chow he was going to the infirmary.

"Open your mouth and stick out your tongue" the faerie-doctor chirped.

Lorca did as he was told. The doctor fluttered in front of his mouth to shine her little light inside it. His tongue was smooth and pink instead of black and cracked. His teeth were straighter than normal. "Hmmmmm," she murmured. The doctor turned off the light then looked at his eyes. The whites were clear instead of bloodshot. She flew back out of his reach. "Have you been spending a lot of time with any of the guards?" She asked.

"Yes. Why?" Lorca asked in alarm. "Do I have a faerie disease?"

"No, I think it may be an orc disease," she answered, "but I need to run some more tests."

The rest of the day Lorca was poked, prodded, and jabbed with assorted medical instruments. Normally, this was very soothing to an orc, but by the end of the day, Lorca was ready to scream in annoyance.

He walked back to his dormitory exhausted from the day's trauma. He met Gylda, the guard he was friends with, on his way. Lorca and the little faerie-guard played orc-chess together. She was the only one he would play with, because she didn't smash the board and playing pieces when she lost. It had taken Lorca a year of hoarding his earnings from crocheting baby blankets and going without his favorite Red Blood energy drink before he had enough credits saved up to purchase his set from the commissary. He guarded it jealously and had played the game by himself until Gylda had shown an interest in learning the game. That was a day he would never forget. Gylda had fluttered over and sat on his shoulder to watch him play. Without thinking about the consequences for attempting to hurt one of the guards, he had reached up to flick the little faerie off, but before he could touch her, he was on his feet singing "The Rainbow Connection" at the top of his lungs. After that humiliating experience, he tolerated her presence and eventually taught her how to play. She was a good opponent for him: if he lost his temper (as orcs usually did), she would force him to sing that obnoxious purple dinosaur's song, "I love you, You love me," to keep him from smashing his precious orc-chess set.

"Hi! Lorca!" she chirped. "I'm sorry that you are feeling poorly. Is there anything I can do?"

"Thanks," Lorca said, "I don't think there is anything anyone can do. I feel like I am going to die. Nothing tastes good anymore. Even the sight of my favorite food makes me gag."

"Oh, you poor thing," Gylda consoled him. "Maybe a good night's sleep will make you feel better."

"Maybe," he agreed.

Lorca tossed and turned all night. He could not get comfortable on the craggy sharp rock that was his bed. He wished he had a pillow or something that was soft. That unorc-like thought troubled him deeply and kept him awake all night wondering what was wrong with him.

Bleary-eyed from lack of sleep, Lorca staggered into the infirmary the next morning. "I'm dying," he moaned to the faerie at the reception desk.

"Oh, you poor dear," she cooed. "Let me take you right back to a room and call the doctor in."

Lorca had barely settled himself on the padded examination table, when the faerie-doctor fluttered in. She was carrying his medical file. "Well, Lorca, I've looked over your test results and I have some good news and some bad news."

Lorca felt relieved, but didn't respond. If there was good news, then at least he wasn't going to die.

"The good news is you aren't going to die," she said. "The bad news is that you have redemptaria."

"Redemptaria?" he asked. It didn't sound good, whatever it was. "What is that?"

"It's an incurable medical condition found only in orcs. It comes from spending too much time in the company of faeries," she said. "Basically, you are changing from a bad orc into a good elf."

"NO!' Lorca shrieked. "Isn't there a cure?"

"I'm afraid not."

In mounting horror, he listened to the faerie-doctor as she explained, "Once the process begins, it can not be reversed. We're transferring you into the medical ward until you have changed into an elf. At that point, you're no longer a threat to society, and prison will not be safe for you. Therefore, you will be released from prison to live the rest of your life in freedom as an elf."

She smiled sunnily at Lorca. "Isn't that wonderful?"

Horrified beyond belief, the orc fainted.

The doctor stuck her head out the door. "Nurse, bring me 2500 milligrams of thorazine! Stat!"