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Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Today is Halloween! Or in Mesoamerica, the Day of the Dead.

A friend of mine went to a party last weekend and claims she saw someone with a costume that trumped all other costumes.

The guy came in wearing nothing but a sock on his, um…you know. I am not posting the pictures. You will have to take my word on it.

High marks for originality and daring. But I think if he was going to wear a sock, the least he could have done was give his "sock puppet" a face. Either that or change it out for a large leaf, so he could go as Adam.

I'm more interested in knowing what compelled him to do such a thing. The guy had chutzpah though. I'll give him that.


On writing: I've been working on my new wip---which tragically, still doesn't have a title yet. What's up with that?

I discovered I had to go back to the beginning and delete a character. I liked the guy but his role was redundant. I opted to give one of the secondary characters a meatier role by combining his character with the other guy. It changed a few of the relationship dynamics, but in the end I think it made the story tighter.

In my case, this deleted character was the mc's twin, the protective male twin. There was some great dialog between brother and sister, which I hated to lose. But the upshot was that by replacing the brother with the other secondary figure, I created a fresher (and more unique) relationship between the mc and this character.

As I molded this new relationship, the secondary character became more crucial to the plot. In the earlier setting, both secondary characters fought for the spotlight when they were with the mc. Now, only one takes center stage and the reader remains focused on a relationship that is familial yet contentious enough to give the mc a very nice internal conflict. I like the complexity of that kind of bond. It feels fuller and more interesting.

If you find yourself in an unwieldy scene with too many talking heads or your reviewers tell you they can't keep track of your characters from scene to scene, consider combining characters where possible.

I used to think I had to load the scene with a lot of characters in order to give it a full feeling in big ensemble stories, but I've discovered that unless the characters are pivotal, it becomes cumbersome to juggle that many walk-ons. A story feels full when the individual characters are rich and multilayered. Quality as opposed to quantity.

Monday, October 29, 2007


A few markets to start your week.

Writelink Ghastly Ghost Poem Contest

Fee: None
We're looking for a real skin crawler that must feature some kind of disembodied spirit. Keep lineage to 16 maximum. As usual there is a first prize of £20. There is no limit on the number of entries but please post directly to the website by going to My Writing Desk/Publish and selecting Ghastlyghosts from the Arena drop down menu.
Deadline November 10, 2007.


Polyphony 7

Print anthology, seeking magreal/surreal/literary with a genre sensibility/hard-to-classify literary stories (fic).

Payment is 4¢/word to a maximum of $400.
Word count: 2,000 -10,000. Opens 1 December 2007.
Deadline: 15 January 2008.



MindFlights is a magazine for fans of fantasy and science fiction. What you submit to us must be speculative. Considersreprints. Pays up to $25.


Ask Men

After familiarizing yourself with the content on, your submission should include a resume, a 750- to 1,000-word sample article (with an introduction, body and conclusion), a brief list of the sections of you want to write in.'s average reader is a male professional between the ages of 18 and 45, with an advanced education. It is therefore important that you know how to write about issues that pertain to men and their lifestyle, in a relaxed and pragmatic approach. Pays $50 per article.


Highlight Magazine Fiction Contest

Fee: None
Prizes: Three prizes of $1,000 each.
Word count: Stories may be any length up to 800 words. Stories for beginning readers should not exceed 500 words. Indicate the word count in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of your manuscript.

No crime, violence, or derogatory humor. Entrants must be at least 16 years old.
Contest open during the month of January 2008 only.


Spirit-Led Writer

PAY: $10 - $20
A resource for Christians who write in fiction and non-fiction genres for Christian and secular markets. It is for the beginner, intermediate and advanced writer. As an alternative to secular writing resources, we choose to uplift the name of Jesus Christ, and give Him glory. Thus, we promote Spirit-led excellence and integrity in publishing. At Spirit-Led Writer we recognize that our achievements come "not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord" and that "all things work together for our good." Most sections of Spirit-Led Writer are open to submissions from non-Christian writers, however, the advice given must not conflict with Biblical principles.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

It's the Ride

One of my crit partners and I were discussing that moment when a story clicks for you.

My last story manifested itself very fast. It was finished and polished within eight weeks. I wouldn't think that possible, but it happened just like that.

Because it wrote itself so quickly, my CP asked if that particular story clicked for me. LOL! Not really. Or at least, not right away. I had nothing when I started. Not even an outline. I had those five little lines and that's what I built my world upon.

It helped that I have a passion for post apocalyptic worlds. I love figuring out how things will extrapolate long into the future. It helped too that I liked my two main characters immensely. They were flawed human beings, and for me it made them more approachable.

I do think you have to love your story because if you truly love it, your enthusiasm shows through in the telling.

But here is where we separate the grizzled writer from the neophyte. Love alone isn't enough. Writers have a tendency to treat their stories like children and they love their children despite their shortcomings. Uh-uh. Allow me to slap your hand.

As intimate and as cherished as our writing is to us, we have to keep a dispassionate distance in order to see it for what it is. You might weep with wrenching emotion over your mc's black moment, but if you weren't able to convey that empathy to your reader, your baby's not ready to walk yet.

My CP thought that my novel seemed very clear in my head and I drove straight through with singular focus. She felt that in itself is very satisfying to a reader.

The more I thought about it, the more I think she's right. A reader wants to feel confident in the story teller. I've noticed when I reviewed less skilled writers they employed a lot of hand waving with languid description and introspection in order to hide a weak plot.

When we read, we're trusting that the author will take us on an interesting ride. If he fails, we come away from the experience wanting, or worse, angry that he wasted our time. As a writer, I have an obligation to transport the reader on an extraordinary journey and not the subway ride of our ordinary existence.

It's the ride, baby! Make it visceral and make it personal.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Free Pitch Critique

Fiction Addiction is still counting votes. If you like this blog, show your support and vote for it. Some people have Fiction Addiction buttons on their websites that will take people directly to the page, but for some reason I couldn't get that button to behave on my website. It was huge and unwieldy. Here's the link:

I've resigned myself to simply post random reminders. You can vote once per day until November 12. Thanks!


Free Pitch Critique!

Here's your chance for a FREE pitch critique from Jessica Faust at BookEnds.

Go here and post your pitch in the Comments section.

What have you got to lose? This will give you a chance to find that perfect opening paragraph for your query letter.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Christmas Traditions: True Stories of Holiday Celebration

Send submissions to: Helen Kay Polaski (Szymanski) at

Christmas Traditions: True Stories of Holiday Celebration will be filled with stories that touch the mind as well as the soul as they take the reader on a magical journey through Christmas—past and present—while giving the reader ideas for traditions they might be interested in adapting in the future. Each story will include a well-known holiday tradition or a unique tradition known only to a particular family or community, as well as a touching story that circulates around each individual tradition. (I love traditions and can’t wait to see how your family celebrates Christmas!)

Stories must be first person, true accountings of either shared or unique traditions celebrated by families, communities, and/or groups during the Christmas holiday season, and all must be based on strong individual family/community dynamics, specific geographical location, and/or different cultures and religion. Approximately 70-80 stories (700-1,200 words) will be gathered. (When writing your story please keep in mind that Christmas is the most magical time of the year. I want to see the magic unfolding on the page before me as I read, and so do my readers.) Only stories that have a beginning, middle, and an end will be considered.

Payment: upon publication, $75 and a copy of the book (for each accepted story)
Deadline: November 15, 2007

Please include your full name, current address, email address, phone number,and a 50-word bio.


Girls' Life

This publication is for girls ages 10-15. Uses some romance fiction. Query only on nonfiction. They use The Associated Press Style book and Libel Manual.

Pays $150 to $500 on publication for 1st rights.
Wants briefs of 100-200 words; features of 1200-2500 words.
Has "Last Laugh" department, which uses quizzes and jokes.
Email queries and fiction to


Brew Your Own

Brew Your Own is designed to meet the needs of the more than one million home brewers in the U.S. Our mission is to provide practical information in an entertaining format. Pay scale ranges from $25 to $200 depending on the length and complexity of the article. We buy all rights and payment is made upon publication of the article.


2007 St. Martin's Minotaur/ Mystery Writers of America Best First Crime Novel Competition

Description: Murder or another serious crime or crimes is at the heart of the story.Submission Guidelines: The Competition is open to any writer, regardless of nationality, who has never been the author of a published novel, as defined by the guidelines below, (except that authors of self-published works only may enter, as long as the manuscript submitted is not the self-published work) and is not under contract with a publisher for publication of a novel. Only one manuscript entry is permitted per writer.

Entries must be postmarked no later than December 31, 2007 and received by judges no later than January 15, 2008

Prizes: If a winner is selected, St. Martin's Minotaur will offer to enter into its standard form author's agreement with the entrant for publication of the winning manuscript. After execution of the standard form author's agreement by both parties, the winner will receive an advance against future royalties of $10,000.


Dark Scribe Press

Dark Scribe Press is seeking short story submissions for an anthology of queer horror tales. We are looking for edgy, provocative dark genre fiction – horror and dark psychological suspense only. We are not interested in science fiction/fantasy, mystery, or splatter punk for this anthology. We’re looking for stories about those terrors that populate the closets of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. Terrors can be of any shape, size, and theme – supernatural, psychopaths and slashers, vampires, werewolves, zombies, urban legends, ghosts, witchcraft, demons, and original horrors of any kind.

Pays: .05 per word


I know nothing about this market, but I thought it interesting that they create books from blog material. You've nothing to lose to check it out.

The Friday Project

Monday, October 22, 2007

Agent Database

I had thought about compiling a database of agents that writers could dip into but there are plenty of databases in the market now. Agent Query and Query Tracker are two. I've found both of them useful and easy to navigate.

Instead, let's talk about what to put into an agent folder.

Query Tracker has a nice feature that lets you create your own personal database where you can key in info on where you sent queries and what kind of response you got. But you can do this on your own just as easily.

I divide agents by their specialty and their preferred method of query (many do only email now). Under each agent I will also list what they've sold and leave a note to myself when I find out they've sold something similar along the lines of what I have to offer. NOTE: I always have feelers out to find out what is catching editors' interest. This is the beauty of networking. My contacts keep me pretty current.

If I've queried an agent, I post a detailed description of his response, including the tone of the letter. There's been at least one agent I won't query again because she responded with information I knew to be erroneous. That's a red flag. If you know what the industry is bearing better than they do, move on to someone else. What you're looking for is an expert in the field.

Always note how long it takes them to answer you. Those that answer promptly get high marks. Those who respond with personal letters will be at the top of my list when I sub something new.

I wouldn't have listened, but if I could go back and talk to myself when I started subbing, I would have told myself not to be in a hurry to query. Fortunately, my loathing for post offices has kept me from making a total idiot of myself, so my mistakes have been few.

In the past couple of years I've taught myself to write a good query, but it takes time. If I could give any advice, I would tell people to target their (agent) audience first, then write a killer query that'll knock their socks off.

Test your queries before you mail. Don't ask your mom, your kids, your spouse or your best friend. For the most honest reaction, post it on a crit workshop and ask only those who haven't reviewed your past work for a critique. You might be surprised by the man-on-the-street response.

Basically, you want to know how your query will be received by a total stranger with the potential of becoming a business partner. First impressions are critical. Make it count.

Query with a target in mind. Shotgun queries are a waste of time and money. Neither of which I have to spare.

Start with a basic list of agents for the genre(s) you work in. Do your homework and research them with an eye for their business acumen. Know what they've sold, who they've sold to and if possible how big an advance they've snared.

The name of the game is to stay well-informed. That's the best weapon at your disposal.

Good luck!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Anti-code Monkey

Oh, I'm just full of myself today.

My web host changed EVERYTHING on how we manage our files where my website lives. It was overwhelming to see so many new things. I'm sure they were very proud of themselves. It was chock full of options and fancy new tools.

Me? Just tell me where to upload my updates. I'm dangerous around too much technology. LOL

But I figured it out. Yay! And I updated it all by code. Me! The code monkey's worst nightmare. Will wonders ever cease?

By the way, if the Internet collapses within the next 24 hours, you don't know me.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


I am currently reading Sarum: The Novel of England, by Edward Rutherford. This is a LONG historical novel. Over a 1000 pages in little bitty type. My poor eyes bleed after an hour and I have to put it down and do something else.

Yet I keep coming back to it--and probably will for weeks to come since this is my lunch time reading material.

I think everyone has a heyday of when they really loved reading. Mine was definitely the 80s, where there was plenty of head hopping and long sprawling epics. Nothing at all like the popular literature of today, which is probably why it took me a while to get my bearings when I decided to take up fiction writing. Sarum, typical for the decade, was published in 1987.

Sarum is told by an unseen storyteller. There's very little dialog and most of the action feels...calm. You can't read this book for its rip roaring adventure even though in a sense it is an adventure, a story about the people who colonize and claim what will someday be known as Salisbury, England.

I do like it despite its slow and steady telling. I like the story and I am invested in each set of characters Rutherford introduces for each time period. That in itself speaks volumes for this author. I am not a patient reader, yet he has managed to hold my interest.

It'll be interesting to find out if I still feel just as invested when the story ends.


I've mentioned before I have a large box overflowing with books to be read. Between work, reviewing, freelancing and helping friends out, my only time to read is during my lunch hour at work. Who knows when I'll finish that box of books.

The books chosen depend on what moves me at the time. Lately, I've been craving historicals. Can't write'm, but I love'm to death. LOL

Friday, October 19, 2007

Blog Readers

A BIG hug to Kaz who taught me about blog readers. I am still learning the ins and outs but it sure does make life easy to read all my favorite blogs on one site rather than click on each one individually.

A blog reader is a handy little tool that lets you load all the blogs you read in one location. There are tons to choose from. I chose the Google Reader, which was easy on troglodytes like me. You don't want to fill me with too much information at once.

Using one central reader is uber-simple. You just sign up and select what blogs you want in your database.

Many blogs have this feature as part of their options, but it only lets you capture blogs from the same outfit. Google Reader and its ilk will let you view any blog or website. Me like!

"Kaz" KS Augustin, by the way has a great blog which I'm adding to my recommended author blogs on the right. Her recent books are Combat, The Dragon of Ankoll Keep, On Bliss, The Commander's Slave, and Prime Suspect. Go check her website for excerpts.

Kaz is a computer wiz who is way smarter than I am. Thanks for helping me trim time off my blog reading, K!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

HB Moore

A while back I mentioned that I won a book from H.B. Moore’s “Out of Jerusalem” series. I got my choice of books and chose book 2 because the title was "A Light in the Wilderness" and I have a soft spot for survival stories.

This book did not disappoint. I love historical fiction in all its forms. This one is based on scripture, which at first sent up red flags for me because I don't want a novel to preach to me. I adore Orson Scott Card and Anita Diamant so that makes me doubly picky about my scripture-based fiction.

In the end, it's all about the people. No matter what you write, it has to be a story with characters you care about. You want to feel as if their journey was your journey. It gives you a warm satisfaction to be a part of their lives.

I loved the way Heather weaved her story from one scene to the next. Her historical knowledge was spread across the pages like grains of sand, giving the story a wonderful texture without being heavy handed. I really appreciated the subtlety in how she introduced customs, social mores, and every day life.

If you like historical fiction based on scripture, I can recommend this book. It's a book of journeys that speaks to the wanderer in all of us.

Edit: I meant to post Heather's blog. And this is her website.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Fiction Addiction is still counting votes. Please vote for my blog if you find it useful. You can vote once per day until November 12.


Daw had an interesting discussion over at her blog on plotting.

Since I outline, my plot questions tend to get answered before I write the narrative. But it got me to wondering what it is I do to get my answers.

As I mentioned before in previous posts about outlining, there are certain conclusions I want each of my characters to reach. In doing so, both protagonist and antagonist must face obstacles. That defines the conflicts, but not the plot.

Plot, at least the way I understand it, is the journey the main characters make to reach an inevitable conclusion. Plot employs conflict and tension, but conflict and tension by themselves are not plot.

When I plot my novels, I start very simply. I start out with a problem or question that has to be answered. As the outline (or story) develops, the plot deepens because I get to know my characters very well. I know their Achilles heel(s) and their strengths and I deliberately challenge them with conflicts that will test their strengths and weaknesses, while all along moving the story forward.

Looking at it as a journey is perhaps the easiest way to visualize plot. I start here and I end up there. How did I get there? There's my plot.

Tricks for plotting:

• Pan out before you dig in. Like a movie director, look at the big picture first. It will give you a solid foundation.
• Make notes on how you want your characters to change. If the mc is a brooding loner, how does he end up a family man? Detailing the challenges that change him play into the plot.
• Follow through on your threads. A pet peeve of mine is when writers send me off on tangents. The reader needs a beginning, a middle and an end to scenes, chapters, and threads. If you do this, you'll end up with a solid plot for the whole novel.

I'm a big fan of workshops. Here's an online one for plotting that's coming in November.

Permission to forward or share granted
Put Your Characters in the Driver's Seat
Dates: November 4 - 30, 2007
Instructor: Sharon Mignerey
Cost: FREE to FTHRW members; $20.00 for all others Registration
Deadline:October 26, 2007
For more information or to register for this class go here.

Course Description:
Plotting Strategy - Put your Characters in the Driver's Seat
Characters, not plot, drive a story forward. If you've ever received a rejection to the effect of "this story seems contrived" or "your characters don't seem real" this workshop is just for you. This workshop includes the following modules, each with exercises applicableto your current work.

1. Finding the relationship among events, plot, and characters.
2. Getting to know your characters.
3. Jumping into the conflict.
4. Figuring out the narrative focus
5. Putting it all in scenes
6. Adding emotion, then stirring well.
7. Putting your characters in the driver's seat.

Monday, October 15, 2007


It's time for markets again! Let's see what in the pantry today.

The Strand Magazine

Query first. We are interested in mysteries, detective stories, tales of terror and the supernatural as well as short stories.Stories can be set in any time or place, provided they are well written, the plots interesting and well thought. Payment rate for stories is $25-150.

Escape Pod

Pay: $20 - $100
Escape Pod is a science fiction magazine. We’re very broad-minded in our vision of the genre’s scope; we follow Damon Knight’s definition, “Science fiction means what we point to when we say it.” We’re not going to pin ourselves down and say we’re only looking for space opera, or cyberpunk, or stories with rigorous scientific background. We want all of those, of course; but in a more general sense we want that which evokes a sense of wonder, or fun, or simply makes us think about our own world in a new way.

The Growing Edge, USA

Bimonthly magazine and web site providing the latest news & information for indoor & outdoor growers, including hobbyists, educators, researchers, and commercial growers. Actively seeking writers and photographers to cover hydroponics, aquaponics, greenhouse growing, and other related subject areas. Pay: $0.20 per word.

Tin House

The Tin House Spring 2008 issue will be themed "Off the Grid." "We're looking for fiction, poetry, andnonfiction by or about people or institutions thatfunction (or don't function) out of the bounds of'normal' society. For the 'Lost and Found' section weare looking for brief appreciations of texts writtenoutside of conventional publishing--prison, exile,mental institutions, in secret."

Deadline: November 1,2007, "but please send submit before then as the issuewill get crowded early."

This one sounded interesting for work-at-home parents

WAHM Magazine, The complete magazine for work-at-home parents.

WAHM magazine is an online publication that will launch in January 2008. "We're not just a magazine forWAHMs, we're also for and about WAHDs, freelancers,telecommuters, veteran work-at-home parents and futurework-at-home parents."

Pays $65-$350 for departmentcolumns and features ($35 for reprints). Its "Stories from the Trenches" section will feature "well-written creative non-fiction or fiction that relates to being a work-at-home parent," and will pay $50-$150 for workup to 1,000 words (longer pieces may be considered,and "payment is negotiable" for them).

UK Contest

The New Writer Magazine

Short Stories, Novellas/Serials - stories up to 4,000 words, serials/novellas up to 20,000 words on any subject or theme, in any genre (not children's). Previously published work is not eligible. Short Stories: 1st prize £300, 2nd £200, 3rd £100. Novella: 1st prize £300. Entry fees £4 per short story (TNW subscribers two entries at same fee) or £10 per serial/novella.

Single Poems and Collections - single poems up to 40 lines and collections of between 6 - 10 poems. Single poem entries must be previously unpublished; previously published poems can be included as part of a collection. Collection: 1st prize £300, 2nd £200, 3rd £100. Single: 1st prize £100, 2nd £75, 3rd £50. Entry fee £4 per single poem (TNW subscribers two entries at same fee, £10 per collection.

Essays, Articles, Interviews - covering any writing-related or literary theme in its widest sense up to 2,000 words. 1st prize £150, 2nd £100, 3rd £50. Single entry £4 (TNW subscribers two entries at same fee).

All work should be clearly typed, double-spaced (except poetry), on one side of white A4 paper and paperclipped. Entrants may make as many submissions as they wish but please include your name, address, title of entry, word count and category on a separate cover sheet with every entry. Preliminary judging will be carried out by The New Writer editorial board with guest judges making the final selection so there should be no identifying marks on the entries. Judges in recent years include Robyn Young, Robert Seatter, Mimi Thebo, Simon Scarrow, Jane Draycott, Ros Barber, Margaret Graham, Phil Whitaker.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Writers' Guild of Texas

If you live in north Texas and you haven't been to the Writers' Guild of Texas, come visit this Monday night at 7pm at the Richardson Library. It's located at 900 Civic Center Drive • Richardson, TX 75080

We meet every 3rd Monday of the month, 7pm - 8:30pm. This Monday, 10-15-07, our guest speaker is Britta Coleman, author of Potter Springs. Britta is going to speak on the Art of Rewriting. She will share her techniques on how to make each word count, how to bring out the best and worst in our characters, and more.


I was finishing up the newsletter I put together for the Writers Guild of Texas and I ended up with a little space left over and nothing to fill it with. So I scoured the internet for an appropriate writer joke.

I found this place.
Here are a couple of the jokes from the website.

A screenwriter comes home to a burned down house. His sobbing and slightly-singed wife is standing outside. “What happened, honey?” the man asks.

“Oh, John, it was terrible,” she weeps. “I was cooking, the phone rang. It was your agent. Because I was on the phone, I didn’t notice the stove was on fire. It went up in seconds. Everything is gone. I nearly didn’t make it out of the house. Poor Fluffy is--

”“Wait, wait. Back up a minute,” The man says. “My agent called?”


A writer died and was given the option of going to heaven or hell.

She decided to check out each place first. As the writer descended into the fiery pits, she saw row upon row of writers chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they were repeatedly whipped with thorny lashes.

"Oh my," said the writer. "Let me see heaven now."

A few moments later, as she ascended into heaven, she saw rows of writers, chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they, too, were whipped with thorny lashes.

"Wait a minute," said the writer. "This is just as bad as hell!"

"Oh no, it's not," replied an unseen voice. "Here, your work gets published."

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I think of all the things required for building a writing career, I enjoy networking the most. I love learning about other people. I love to ask them questions about themselves and where they live. Our conversations might never even touch on writing. For me, it's the human connection.

A friend of mine once cautioned me about all my volunteering, knowing that it eats up a lot of my time. It's true. Donating time to help with a newsletter, a friend's website, a peer's critique or a group's live workshop is demanding on an already busy life with a fulltime career, but I truly believe it has helped me as a writer.

You know the common wisdom that says: Writers write. I also believe a good writer listens. That skill has improved my writing tremendously.

People sometimes mistakenly think that networking is about mingling with large groups of people (which I'm not good at). Networking can be as intimate as two people. For my money, it also works the best because that person has all my attention.

How can you network?

• Comment. Don't be shy about posting comments on other people's blogs, even if you don't know them well. I try to respond to anyone who posts here because I want them to feel welcomed and I want them to know their comments are appreciated.

• Participate in your writer loops. I am a profound lurker, but I do try to post if it's something that's important to me. Sometimes people are afraid someone might jump on them should they say something contrary to the party line. Yes, there are always THOSE people, but bear in my mind that most of us know they're cretins, so their inappropriate comments mean nothing.

• Take up an online workshop. I've formed friendships with a lot of people after meeting them in an online workshop. Not only will you learn something, but you'll meet kindred spirits.

• Write articles. If you have a particular expertise, pitch an article to your group's newsletter or other writing forums like: Vision: A Resource for Writers or Writers Finders.

• Critique. I can't begin to tell you how many worthwhile relationships I've formed from critiquing in a public forum. Plus, it's another learning boost for your writing.

• Volunteer at live events. Even if all you do is serve coffee, you'll meet people. Welcome them warmly. I've memorized the nametags of several people who did nothing more than greet me at the door and when I ran into problems with this or that, I emailed them afterwards. Not only were they able to help me (or refer me to someone who could) but it started a dialog between us. We were no longer strangers.

• Release your enthusiasm! People want to be around other people who are happy and content in their skins.

Remember that networking is not what you can get from other people. It's what you can give.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


In 1975, Greg and I were young kids anxious to taste the world and flee as far away from our parents as we could. Both of us, being first born within our respective families, were naturally adventurous and fearless (read: dumb and reckless). Thank goodness for youth and optimism.

We never anticipated getting married. In fact, it was the furthest thing from our minds when we started dating. I had won scholarships to three different universities, and Greg was already neck-deep studying space science at the Florida Institute of Technology.

Fate stepped in. Greg accepted a job at a chemical plant and the next thing I knew, the chemical corporation decided to move the plant from Chicago to Texas! Holy tumbleweeds!

The only thing I knew about Texas was that I was born there. Chicago had been home for as long as I could remember. Texas was nothing more than a peculiar, little footnote about myself that I could mention to my Yankee born friends for chuckles.

Greg did the guy thing first. He asked if I wanted to live with him (in sin! lol). I had to remind him I was a good Catholic girl who was really more afraid of my parents than the pope. I declined.

Then he did the honorable thing. He took me shopping--for a ring.

I was too young and too shy to tell him that I would have rather had something more practical. We could have bought some substantial furniture for what that rock cost him. But this was my first engagement ring and Greg, well, he’s a bit of a romantic. He really wanted to give me this ring.

I scanned all the pretty baubles, horrified at the prices and trying to keep my eyes from bugging out. Greg was incredibly calm. He must’ve known even then that I would never pick out anything extravagant, so he just hung back and let me browse.

He put the ring on installment and made regular payments every Friday when he got paid. The store was outside the city and he made that long arduous commute to the burbs like clockwork.

When he had made the final payment, he picked up the ring and took me out for a bite to eat. We were poor as most young people were, so we stopped at McDonald’s. Before we went in to eat, he surprised me when he dropped down to one knee. (Yes, ladies, men still do that!)

I don’t know what got into me, but I was so shocked and nervous, I almost said: no. But there he was, looking up at me, saying those magic words. My insides turned into mush.

To this day, I’m not sure what I said. LOL! But I guess it must have been, yes, because today marks our 32nd anniversary.

Next year, maybe I’ll tell you how he asked my father for my hand in marriage. Yup, we still howl about that one.

Happy anniversary, hon. It’s been an adventure and a half. Glad I said, yes.

Monday, October 8, 2007


This weekend was not auspicious for me when it came to computers. I have never had so much trouble with software as I did this past weekend. And I had writing & design deadlines! I hate when that happens.


Daw is back from yet another grand live workshop. She did good, as I knew she would. Please go over and check out her blog for her thoughts on her workshop experience.


Are you still voting for me? Voting continues until November 12. Unlike political office, you can vote for my blog daily and from multiple browsers.


Today is Columbus Day in the US. If you work for the government, you have the day off. The rest of us slobs have to drag our butts to work. Me? I'll go in and sit in front of --you guessed it--another computer. I may have to stop off at church and shower myself with holy water. --just to be safe.


We'll do a few markets today while I'm recovering from bad computer voodoo.

Writer's Eye

The Writer's Eye Magazine supports both new and established writer-artists. We are committed to celebrating artistic passion and expression, particularly for those who integrate visual and written arts.

Payment: $.05 /word for up to 1,000 words for flash fiction and up to 3,000 words for other stories. $20 per poem/artwork combination.

Everyday Fiction

Every Day Fiction is a magazine that specializes in bringing you fine fiction in bite-size doses. Every day at 7:30am EST (4:30am PST), we publish a new short story of 1,000 words or fewer that can be read during your lunch hour, on transit, or even over breakfast.

Funds For Writers Essay Contest

Deadline: October 31, 2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Theme: Four themes to choose from. Up to 750 words in essay form.
This year they are very common sense topics. Your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to write about common sense in such a creative way as to entice the rest of us to follow your lead.
Impress us.
Prize: $50 or $200
Fee: None for the $50 prize / $5 for the $200 prize

Sensorotika Press

Sensorotika Press is actively seeking short stories and novellas of romance erotica, in addition to standard erotica. However, specific project needs change frequently. Those can be viewed on" Pays 35% royalties based on net (35% of the price paid to the publisher by a customer or by a bookstore - bookstore orders are discounted). Payment for short stories and articles that appear in publication is generally per word (usually $0.10/word for articles and $0.03/word for fiction). "Word count is generally 3,000-7,500 for short stories, 50,000-75,000 for novellas and over 100,000 for novels." Submit electronically only per their guidelines.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Argh, me beauty

I'm in Eugie Foster's Worldbuilding Workshop and I finally turned in my first assignment. After a couple of minutes, the file comes up on the Yahoo group mail and I open it to make sure everything is in there.

You guessed it. I found a typo. How the heck does that happen?

Oh well. Interesting assignment. Whether I did it right or not, I'll find out tomorrow, but it did give my rabbit brain a good workout. I may very well come to like this class. LOL.


I have always wanted to write a pirate story. Honest! I want to write about a woman pirate who's afraid of water, only for the life of me, I can't figure out how I can convince the reader why any woman would want to rape and pillage on the high seas if she's afraid of water.

Any ideas?


I am aggravated beyond reason today. My web host has decided to improve their site and I cannot figure out how it works. Argh!

The site is mongo pretty and has more bells and whistles than a shiny new bike, but why couldn't they have left it alone? My brain is full. I can't learn any more techy stuff.

It's been an Argh! day.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Six Events in a Love Story

I normally don't post twice in one day, but I wanted to add a link to Rochita's story, Six Events in a Love Story on Byzarium's October Issue ---and I didn't want to post it under the earlier post on weasel words. That would just be weird.

Six Events in a Love Story is a neat story with a haunting echo. Me like lots.

Go over and take a look.

Weasel Words: Confessions of a Sinner

Weasel words. Useless, repetitive, convoluted expressions that do nothing to enhance the story.

We all use them. They infect our narratives like a bad rash--and are just as obvious, especially to an astute critique partner.

In the last novel I finished, I wrote the first draft very quickly. Taking my cues from Candy Havens’ Fast Draft program, I tried not to over think the editing process. If you know me, you can imagine how hard it was for me to write without worrying about clarity, grammar or syntax. I couldn’t do the recommended 2 week program for a first draft, but I managed to write it in five weeks.

Because the novel was already requested, I turned it over to my CPs almost immediately, something I normally never do because I don’t like to turn over something that’s not as polished as I can get it.

There my weasel words were in all their glory. Clich├ęs, telly words, and overused verbs. I am a sinner.

Would I have caught them on my own? Yes. Eventually. But since I was in a hurry to get this polished, I needed virgin eyes to tell me what I missed.

A weasel word is a comfy word. It’s what you fall back on when your eyes are crossed and your brain looks like pudding.

You’ll recognize a weasel word when you see a fat sentence that tells you next to nothing. Weasel words also show up as “ly” words, diluting the strength of a real word into a mushy adverb or adjective. So now you have fat and flabby. Not pretty.

My weasel words tend to be repetitive terms. I like words like painted, and sneer; words my CPs call me on every time. Once I get a red flag, I’ll do a hunt and destroy on my wip and actively seek out those words. Then I can decide if there’s another word that can do the job better.

These two links had some interesting information on weasel words.

Weasel words are sinful. But you can be forgiven. Go forth and do penance. Seek out those weak language crutches and replace with virile words with oomph. Your narrative will get a big boost and a trimmer waist. --And it'll get asked to the prom.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


I had some very good news yesterday. I’m looking forward to sharing more info with you in the weeks to come.

I was going to talk about weasel words, but I’m in much too good a mood to talk about negatives, so we’ll talk about something constructive.

Let’s discuss blurbs, sometimes known as loglines.

I will preface this with the fact that I’ve been in advertising for a very long time. I started out as a graphic designer, but eventually clients would ask for copy suggestions or headlines and I found I had a natural aptitude for this kind of writing, and it segues effortlessly to writing blurbs.

Blurbs are important. Not only will you use them in your query letters and pitches, but if you’re like me, you may use them as a base to write your story. Writing the blurb or logline is not that difficult. What is difficult is culling for the right words.

Most people, (including me) are often overwhelmed by all the information stored in our brains on any given novel we’re working on. So to compress it down to two or three sentences feels terribly harsh and inadequate. We want to tell the reader EVERYTHING because in our minds, it’s all important.

I won’t kid you. I blather something awful in a live situation. There is so much going on in my little rabbit brain it’s hard to spit out only the important stuff. This is one reason I write everything down. Once I see all the facts in front of me, I start pulling only the most important details so I’m not boring people with TMI (too much information).

With a novel, the most important elements are the hero(es), the conflict, and maybe the antagonist. If it’s a character driven conflict, say, one man against another, I might identify the antagonist by name, but if it’s a broad conflict (like so much in fantasy is) I prefer to focus on the main characters and the most critical conflict.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I write the logline first, then build upon it to create my story. But today we’ll treat this as if you’ve already written your novel and are now looking for a way to encapsulate it down to a few sentences.

Here’s an exercise for you.
1. Describe your hero/heroine with one or two adjectives, but no more than three.
2. Describe the core conflict in one sentence. (Yes, you can do it!)
3. Describe (in a few words) what makes this particular story different. For example: You don't want another vampire story. It has to be definitively unique and intriguing, something the reader hasn't seen before.
4. Fold gently.

Set this aside and dig a little deeper.
1. What does the protagonist(s) want?
2. Why can’t s/he get it?

These are the steps I take every time I build a logline. It might not be the one I use for my eventual query, but I find it forces me to look at the bones of the story and gives me a good base to refine the blurb until it’s shiny.

Sometimes, just for practice, I’ll read the tv guide for the synopses of various shows. I also watch trailers for movies and listen to the narrator describe the film. I also look up books that might be similar to mine at Amazon or B&N and see how they've condensed their titles.

If you study these long enough, you’ll find the language is super tight and active. More importantly, the successful ones urge the reader/viewer to find out more. They engage us and pique our curiosity.

Advertising works exactly the same way, which is probably why I’m comfortable with blurbs. You'll find it's not such a scary process if you simply break it down to: needs, obstacles, and characters. Wrap these up in an active and personal voice and you’ll have yourself a very workable blurb. Perfect for queries, synopses and elevator pitches.

One of my favorite links for writing the blurb/logline is here. Gregory Browne even includes examples.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Votes and Emails

Voting is still going on at Fiction Addiction, but I just found out the vote is only valid if you put down a legitimate email address at the top of the form. Some of you (including me) voted without the email address. I verified with Fiction Addiction that the name and email address are necessary in order to cast votes. They did assure me that the email address was only for authentication. You will not be spammed. So vote away.


Yesterday, I had a tech check on a minor email problem and I came to find out that whatever he did to fix it, halted the mail from all my other boxes. So if you emailed me---and I haven't answered, it means I never got it. Please contact me again. I'm not ignoring you, I was merely ether-challenged.

Tomorrow: Weasel Words: My mission to hunt and destroy

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


I have an article on reviewing over at Cheri Lasota's Writers Finders. Check it out.


Thank you for voting for this blog. Voting continues until November 12. You can vote once a day, every day until then. Thanks so much for your support!

Let's do markets today.


Fantus Paper Products

Greeting cards

Toasted Cheese Dead of Winter Contest

Entry Fee: none
Dead of Winter is a fiction contest (any genre) for stories with supernatural elements or themes. Ideally, stories should be set in autumn or winter. The most original, most haunting stories will be chosen for publication. Details, including specific theme and length, are announced November 1.
Deadline: December 21, 2007.
Winners are announced January 31.
Winners receive Amazon gift certificates: $20 for first, $15 for second, $10 for third.

Wild Violet Fiction Contest

Entry Fee: $5
Deadline: November 30, 2007.
Word Limit: 2,500 words
Prizes: Cash award of $100 as well as publication in Wild Violet; two honorable mentions will receive publication in Wild Violet.

Authors, including the winners, retain ownership of copyright for the entries they submit in the contest.

Harlequin Conflict of Interest Contest

Entry Fee: None
Send the scene or moment that best illustrates the emotional conflict between the hero and heroine of your novel, the first chapter of a romance novel with realistic, believable characters in an emotionally involving story, and an outline (no greater than ten (10) pages in length) of the complete novel. Contest is open only to legal residents of the U.S. and Canada (excluding Quebec) who have reached the age of majority.

Three (3) winners will each receive a detailed editorial evaluation by a Superromance® Books editor. Sponsor may, in its sole discretion, request a full manuscript for a possibility of publication. Winners will also receive a one (1) year free subscription to the Superromance series. Approximate retail value of the prize is $355.68.

Eating Well

Eating Well is the only national food magazine that focuses exclusively on eating healthfully. We cover nutrition with a newsy, science-based approach. Our recipes emphasize high-quality healthful ingredients, simple preparations and full flavor.

Pays up to $1/word.

Pod Castle

PodCastle is looking for fantasy stories. We're open to all the sub-genres of fantasy, from magical realism to urban fantasy to slipstream to high fantasy, and everything in between. Fantastical or non-real content should be meaningful to the story.
Pays $100 for 2,000 to 6,000 words.

Pays $20 for flash fiction up to 1,000 words.**Prefers REPRINTS only!!**

Far Far Away

Far Far Away will be a themed print anthology about the worlds that exist alongside our own, unseen, be they on the other side of the looking-glass, in virtual reality, or in the sewers under the city. We especially like slipstream or cross-genre. Also: humor, SF/Fantasy, experimental, and/or surreal. Stories without any element of genre may be considered if they do a fantastic job of making Mundania seem like a foreign world. Elements of horror are fine, but we'd rather you evoke a sense of wonder than dread. Show us what exists just outside of the everyday, and turn what's under our noses into a land far, far away.
Deadline: February 29, 2008

The Herb Companion

Needs: Articles with a unique twist or news angle, addressing how to grow and/or use a specific herb or group of herbs; new discoveries about herbs; short profiles of private herb gardens and gardeners. All articles should deliver clear, useful information to readers.

Pays $500-$800 for features; up to $500 for departments.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Vote for my Blog

This is your chance to help me out.

I am in Fiction Addiction's contest for best author site. I decided to promote my blog rather than my website since this is a vehicle that is updated regularly.

Please go here: http://FictionAddiction.NET/vote.html and vote for my blog. It should be in the 9th row from the top. Click on the circle below my name and hit Submit Entry at the bottom of the page.

Please vote for me every day until November 12.

If I win, they grant me a small advertising space on their website. Good for me (because it means I'll get more traffic) and good for you because if I mention your blog on my blog it means more traffic for you.

So help a buddy out. Vote today and vote every day until November 12. If I win, we'll be helping each other out.