Writing Wins and Woes: Taking up the Challenge

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I know it’s not Friday, but I finally decided to take up one of the challenges from A Writer’s Path. Here is the link: http://ryanlanz.com/2015/02/26/writing-prompts-orange-tree/

The challenge was to :Include all of these elements into a scene: a blue light, humiliation, a spatula, and a cup of gumballs.

Here is my answer to the challenge: It’s more of a flash story than just a scene.

Gumball Freak

By Shari L Klase

I put my money in the jukebox to play the dreamiest love song I knew, “Blue Moon”. I guess that’s why I wasn’t looking when I caught my silver heels on the corner of the rug and went sprawling down. The event, because it was an event with all those dinerish eyes ogling me, was made more ridiculous by the cup of gumballs in my hand that emptied itself all over the rug. My hands that I flung out in front of me to break my fall dug into that same rug littered with gumballs and crushed sticky colors into my palm. My knees whacked the floor with a loud thud. My cat-eyed glasses went all cock-eyed on my face.

My boyfriend rolled his eyes, “Do you know you’re a real freak?” he said too loudly, which only intensified my humiliation. He jarred his chair as he rose to his feet and strode out of the diner without so much as a goodbye or payment for the food on our table.

I sat there on my knees like a cat a little overlong, then pushed myself up on my haunches and then to my feet. I adjusted my glasses on my face. Everybody was so quiet. My cheeks burned red, and I tried hard to brush the clinging gumballs from my hand but it didn’t work because at the same time I was brushing the tears from my eyes. It was true. I was a freak.

I made a beeline for the rest room to wash my pain away with the gumballs. Oddly a blue light blinked mercilessly on the fritz in the ladies’ room. I ran the water and doused my hands under it. I applied soap and lathered up my hands, and then rinsed them. Afterwards, I rinsed the tears from my face and blew my nose on paper towels which I smashed angrily into the trash. I examined my torn stocking, now stained red from my banged knee. I dabbed it with another paper towel. The buzzing light jarred my nerves until I wanted to scream. I had to get out of there no matter my embarrassment.

I sauntered as devil may care from the rest room. The eyes found me again. I’m sure I looked a sight. My crimson face matching my blood splotched knee, which hurt fiercely. I looked at our table. My burger sat there lonely and sad. I certainly didn’t want it now.

The owner of the diner was turning eggs with his spatula. He looked at me out of the corner of his eye.
“Hey, do you want a chocolate shake?” I hesitated. Was he really talking to me so kindly? “It’s on the house. Things always look better after a chocolate shake.”

I nodded, afraid my voice would betray me.

The whirr of the machine soothed me. He placed the glass in front of me at the counter. I sat on the stool. I took a sip of the shake. It was so smooth it stopped the achiness in my throat.

“Thank you,” I said. “I’m sorry about the gumballs.”

He placed the eggs on a plate. They looked like two perfect yellowish eyes. “Don’t worry about it. You know, I always hated gumballs.”

Writing Wins and Woes: The Importance of Journaling

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About a month ago I posted new year’s goals. Among the goals was writing every day. Part of the writing I included journaling. Why is journaling so important to a writer?

The first reason is Duh! It’s writing practice. When I’m journaling, I can write random thoughts, information, anecdotes, events, pretty much anything I darn well please. It’s very easy writing. I don’t intend to publish it, so I can write without pouring over the contents. I can journal a thousand or even two thousand words a day easily.

The second reason is that it’s fun to write. Journaling is a lot of writing about myself. Let’s face it. I love to talk about myself. If you’re honest, you do, too. I do have a blog after all. When I’m journaling, I talk often (maybe mostly) about myself.

It’s free spirited. When I journal, I’m free to say whatever comes to mind. No one is going to see it unless I want to show it to them. I can whine. I can complain. I can exaggerate. I can go on and on and guess what? No one gets bored. Nobody else is reading it but me.If I bore myself, I switch to a different subject.

It can inspire me. Sometimes when I’m journaling, I come up with some writing ideas. In fact, it should. Here’s where work and play can intermingle a bit. A genius story line might result just from writing random thoughts.

Lastly, some day it might be fodder for a biography. Yeah, I know I’m thinking big here, but you don’t have to be a celebrity to write your story. You can do it for a writing magazine, (or any magazine for that matter) or a book. If you have a unique life,( and who doesn’t?) your life story is interesting to read.

So journaling can count much more than just the words it contains.

Writing Wins and Woes: Twice upon A time Blog Tour: An Interview with Dale W. Glaser

CONTRARY to the title of this anthology, working with such a talented cast of writers is an opportunity that usually comes once in a lifetime. From best-selling to greenhorn, independent or traditionally-published, the authors in this anthology span all ranges in addition to spanning the globe—from England to Australia and all over the United States. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know each and every one of them, and they have become a part of my extended family. I’ve even caught a glimpse of a secret side of them that only another writer…editor…is privy to witness through their words.

Through this series of posts, I plan on introducing you to my new family through a mini-interview of each. You may not get a chance to see their secret side, but you’ll get a sneak-peek into their minds, their passions and inspirations, and what made them the writers they are today.

..The Mini Interview..

1. At what age did you start writing?

I always answer this question with “seven,” which is approximately right, and as close as I’m going to get since I don’t remember specifically. Maybe as young as six, maybe not until I was eight, somewhere around there. I can remember sitting at the kitchen table, writing and illustrating stories about an anthropomorphic raccoon and squirrel who were detectives/crimefighters, but not exactly how old I was. I can also remember writing a text-only fantasy story about warriors slaying a monster, specifically using the phrase “blood and guts,” which I was so proud of I asked my teacher if I could read it to the class. I’m reasonably sure that was third grade at the latest.

2. Which book introduced you to Speculative Fiction?

I feel like speculative fiction was always all around me. Star Wars came out before I turned three, I had a steady supply of superhero comic books as I was learning to read, and my favorite Saturday morning cartoons were things like Space Ghost and Thundarr the Barbarian. It’s probably more apt to say that speculative fiction was my gateway to reading grown-up novels at a young age, to get my fix of alternate world-building, and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien was my entry point.

3. Do you have an all-time favorite book? What about it makes it your favorite?

It’s a toss-up between The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. In both cases I love the overall sense of humor of the work. They’re written by people who know and love spec-fic, and therefore recognize many of the things inherent to the genre which are fairly ridiculous. So they poke fun at the tropes, not mean-spiritedly, but while embracing them. It’s a neat and highly entertaining trick.

4. Which author and/or book inspired you to start writing?

When I was very young I started writing down the stories in my head just because it felt like the thing to do, but when I was a teenager I became utterly addicted to Stephen King. I had been reading novels by various authors for years, and I thought of short stories as assignments for English class, but King‘s collections like Night Shift and Skeleton Crew made me realize that writers didn’t have to spend years cranking out doorstop epics. That was the point at which I started getting serious about my own short fiction again.

5. What would you say is the most important lesson all writers should learn?

First drafts are supposed to be terrible, and no story can exist without running that gauntlet. I have heard other writers lament, and know I have felt the pains myself as well, how they start a story and can’t bear to finish it because it isn’t turning out as well as they’d hoped. An unfinished, abandoned story is such a shame. Better to plug away at the first draft and recognize it as one step in the process, finish it, take a breather, and come back to it. Alone or with help, a first draft can be reworked into a second, and ultimately into something worthwhile. It’s not easy, but if it were easy, everyone would do it, right?

6. Of the entire publishing process, which would you say is the most difficult aspect to endure?

Waiting for feedback, or in some cases having to live without it. In my ideal world, every time I started to write a story it would be because of a pre-existing demand, and every progress update I gave would bring a rapturous response, and once I got the story done I would be spoiled for choice of people with whom I could discuss the results. Instead, a story is written mostly in isolation, submitted blindly, and often as not rejected without comment. If it’s accepted, it still remains unseen for a long time during the production process, and then once it’s unleashed upon the world, it’s extremely unlikely to receive one percent of the attention that its creation took from me. Fortunately I tend to see having a story published at all as its own worthwhile reward, because if I waited for spontaneous praise I’d be in a near-constant state of disappointment.

7. From where did the inspiration for your submission arise?

To name-check the fairy tale that inspired my submission would give away one of the twists it’s built around, so I will coyly avoid specifics here. I will say that the concept of the anthology, not only re-telling fairy tales but mashing them up with other genres, was an inspiration itself, as I decided to take things in a dark science-fiction direction in order to create a rational explanation for the fantastic elements of the original. The original fairy tale is an old favorite of mine, largely because it was never Disney-fied. (I think it was probably adapted by other animation studios, but I never sought those out.) Nothing against the Disney classics, but there’s a lot of appeal in working with less well-covered source material.

8. If applicable, did you have a favorite character (to write) from your story? If so, what sets them apart from the others?

My story is largely a one-woman show, so obviously she’s my favorite. I did enjoy writing Melise, given her unique position as essentially a blank slate, not being acted upon by other characters, only reacting to her environment and driven by her internal desire to figure herself out.

9. On what projects are you currently working?

I have a story in the editing process now for the upcoming Pro Se anthology PIRATES AND MONSTERS. I’m also working on the next adventure of Kellan Oakes, private investigator and son of a druid, a sequel to his holiday adventure from the PulpWork Christmas Special 2014, which should be part of the 2015 edition. Lots of other unofficial stuff in the hopper, too. These days I’m never not writing!

Read Dale’s story, My Name is Melise, in your very own copy of Twice Upon A Time today!

Choose a format… Amazon|Kindle Amazon|Paperback

..About the Author..

DALE W. GLASER is a lifelong collector, re-teller and occasional inventor of fantasy tales. His short stories have previously been published in How the West Was Weird (Volumes II and III). He currently lives in Virginia with his wife and three children, none of whom have been definitively proven to be changelings (yet).

..Connect with the Author..

Writing Wins and Woes: Twice Upon a Time Blog Tour: An interview with Steven Anthony George

This is the third in the mini interview series for the new fairy tale anthology Twice Upon a Time. I know I have a vested interest in this because I have a story in it, but I have read about half of these stories myself and they are top notch. This book has around 40 stories in it. They are all wonderful stories and well worth reading. Enjoy!

CONTRARY to the title of this anthology, working with such a talented cast of writers is an opportunity that usually comes once in a lifetime. From best-selling to greenhorn, independent or traditionally-published, the authors in this anthology span all ranges in addition to spanning the globe—from England to Australia and all over the United States. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know each and every one of them, and they have become a part of my extended family. I’ve even caught a glimpse of a secret side of them that only another writer…editor…is privy to witness through their words.

Through this series of posts, I plan on introducing you to my new family through a mini-interview of each. You may not get a chance to see their secret side, but you’ll get a sneak-peek into their minds, their passions and inspirations, and what made them the writers they are today.

..The Mini Interview..

1. At what age did you start writing?

I wrote stories when I was in elementary school that caught the attention of teachers and as a boy I often improvised bedtime stories for my sister. I did not begin writing fiction seriously, however, until I turned fifty, when I had decided to no longer pursue poetry and playwriting on a full-time basis.

2. Which book introduced you to Speculative Fiction?

I was first introduced to the genre in fifth grade when I read A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle. Much of that book influenced my writing as an adult, particularly in its loose treatment of time and space, and the reflection of universal concepts in very personal ones.

3. Do you have an all-time favorite book? What about it makes it your favorite?

My favorite novel has been The Other by Thomas Tryon. I never considered the book a horror story, but instead a morality tale about the consequences of indulgence. It fascinated me that boy’s delusion, which would be harmless in any other context, could destroy a family, almost an entire town. The book gave me my passion for the psychology of characters over their observable actions.

4. Which author and/or book inspired you to start writing?

It was not in fiction writers, but playwrights that I found inspiration. I found the language of Edward Albee and Tennessee Williams both strange and poetic and I wanted to write in a similar style.

5. What would you say is the most important lesson all writers should learn?

Pursue whatever kind of writing that you are the most passionate about. Write the way your heart tells you. Creative writing is an art and there are no rules in art. For every teacher who instructs a writer not to do a certain thing, there is a writer getting published who is doing that very thing.

6. Of the entire publishing process, which would you say is the most difficult aspect to endure?

The most difficult process is just getting a first draft finished. It is easy to begin writing and a simple task to revise what is whole, but seeing a story to completion and to my satisfaction is a challenge.

7. If applicable, did you have a favorite character (to write) from your story? If so, what sets them apart from the others?

I can quite honestly say that I have no favorite character among those I have created. The majority are either pathetic, immoral, or merely insane and I don’t like them. There is a character in the yet unpublished “Cannibalism” named Dmitri, however, who I admire because his combination of apparent innocence and clever insight.

8. On what projects are you currently working?

After I decided to change genres from poetry and short plays to short stories, I began adapting my plays and some of my longer poems to short stories in order to complete a collection for publication.

Read Steven’s story, Patient Griselda, in your very own copy of Twice Upon A Time today!

Choose a format… Amazon|Kindle Amazon|Paperback

..About the Author..

STEVEN ANTHONY GEORGE is a poet and short story writer who finds inspiration largely from historical events, visual art, and film. His work has appeared in Poet’s Haven, Houston & Nomadic Voices, and Cleaver Magazine, among others. In addition to having a story in Twice Upon A Time, his short story “Genevieve from the River” just recently appeared in Diner Stories, an anthology published by Mountain State Press.


Mr. George is active in the autism community and lectures on the topic of autism spectrum disorders. Formerly a resident of Dunkirk, NY and Marathon, FL, he now resides in Fairmont, WV where he works as a case manager for a homeless recovery program.

..Connect with the Author..

Writing Wins and Woes: Twice Upon a Time Blog Tour-An Interview with Court Ellyn

I hope you are enjoying these blog tours for Twice Upon a Time. This one is with Court Ellyn, who wrote The Bone Harp in Twice Upon a Time. Please enjoy learning a little more about her.

CONTRARY to the title of this anthology, working with such a talented cast of writers is an opportunity that usually comes once in a lifetime. From best-selling to greenhorn, independent or traditionally-published, the authors in this anthology span all ranges in addition to spanning the globe—from England to Australia and all over the United States. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know each and every one of them, and they have become a part of my extended family. I’ve even caught a glimpse of a secret side of them that only another writer…editor…is privy to witness through their words.

Through this series of posts, I plan on introducing you to my new family through a mini-interview of each. You may not get a chance to see their secret side, but you’ll get a sneak-peek into their minds, their passions and inspirations, and what made them the writers they are today.

..The Mini Interview..

1. At what age did you start writing?

I think I was fourteen. Pretty sure. It all started with a historical romance, inspired by Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden. The book was too ambitious for my knowledge and skill level. I never did finish it. But long before that, I was plotting out stories and characters with my sister and our three cousins, which we would then enact. So it was a toss-up between writing and acting. Writing won out because there are no spotlights involved. Or almost none.

2. Which book introduced you to Speculative Fiction?

The first fantasy novel I ever purchased was A Breach in the Watershed by Douglas Niles, an okay novel, nothing stellar, but it had a gorgeous dragon on the cover. (I wasn’t supposed to read fantasy, because it led to irresponsible, even dangerous, lifestyles. So I had to buy the book behind my mother’s back. I love you, Mother). But in truth it wasn’t a book that introduced me to the genre. It was Walt Disney and Rankin and Bass, of course. (Watching fantasy was permissible, reading it was not.) One does not escape childhood these days without becoming enthralled with animated Sleeping Beauties, Snow Whites, and King Arthurs, with a Frodo tossed in here and there.

3. Do you have an all-time favorite book? What about it makes it your favorite?

I am particularly affectionate toward 19 Varieties of Gazelle by Naomi Shihab Nye. It’s a book of poems, all about relationships and tensions in the Middle East, but its scope is so much deeper than place. It’s about human beings, and Nye’s insights are remarkable, heartbreaking, heartwarming, illuminating. It’s a small book, so I often take it with me when I travel. I think this book more than any other, outside of Holy Scripture, has caused me to be a more compassionate, open-minded person.

4. Which author and/or book inspired you to start writing?

Probably Melanie Rawn’s Dragon Prince. The complex interplay between dozens of characters made the novels become so real in my head. I had to try writing something just as epic. “I can do this,” I remember thinking. Whether or not I have succeeded, I haven’t stopped trying.

5. What would you say is the most important lesson all writers should learn?

How to network. Writing can be a lonely business. Find a critique group to learn from, a support group outside of friends and family to give you an objective eye, but also who will encourage you when the rejections start rolling in and nudge you to keep submitting.

6. Of the entire publishing process, which would you say is the most difficult aspect to endure?

It’s a toss-up between marketing and submitting. Finding potential venues for my stories is an intimidating and exhausting process. Visiting several websites, crossing out magazines that clearly won’t work, weighing the others, hoping they’ll be a fit, choosing one, waiting weeks, if not months, receiving the rejection and starting all over again. All kinds of doubts set in during this part of the process. It’s the most necessary of the necessary evils, however.

The second is the self-promotion. *shudder* It’s a mystery to me. It means that I must actually stop writing for a few hours, surface from my story worlds, and talk about my story worlds … outside my office, to strangers who may or may not care. It means getting creative in advertising and being pushy while smiling and trying not to sound pushy and scared to death. It’s an art all in itself. Luckily I have several writers to learn from, but I still have a long way to go, and I fear I’ll never be comfortable with it. How’s that for transparency?

7. If applicable, did you have a favorite character (to write) from your story? If so, what sets them apart from the others?

The Bone Harp centers on Angharad, the jealous older sister who murders one of her younger sisters. I loved diving into Angharad’s inner torment, her attempts at hiding her dark secret, her helplessness when it all comes spilling out. She may be the most tortured soul I’ve written to date.

8. On what projects are you currently working?

The Falcons Saga. The first three volumes are currently available on Amazon. The series just keeps growing. At the moment, I’m somewhere near the middle of Book 4: Cry of the Falcon. The series contains all the classic elements of epic high fantasy: elves, ogres, mages summoning lightning, battles that shake the earth, forbidden love. I’ve even got pirates and sea monsters tucked away in there somewhere. The one thing it doesn’t have is a Dark Lord Somebody, thank goodness. But, other than this, name it and it’s probably included. When I say “epic” I do mean Epic.

But the series is certainly not all about adventure and saving the world from evil forces. Not at all. One of the themes is accepting one’s destiny and walking that path well—or poorly. It’s about rising above one’s own desires for the greater good. My characters succeed at this better than I do.

Read Court’s story, The Bone Harp, in your very own copy of Twice Upon A Time today!

Choose a format… Amazon|Kindle Amazon|Paperback

..About the Author..

Court Ellyn defines herself as a dreamer, a cynic, a klutz who loves cats, a homebody who roams. She started writing historical fiction when she was fourteen but slowly gravitated toward the fantastical. Now, somewhere between dragon dens, haunted bogs and battlefields strewn with otherworldly foes, she moderates the LegendFire Critique Community.

Her fiction has appeared in Kaleidotrope, Silver Blade, A Fly In Amber, Explorers: Beyond the Horizon, an anthology by Dead Robots’ Society, and a number of other publications. Her novels, The Falcons Saga, are available at Amazon. You can also learn more at her website.


..Connect with the Author..

Writing Wins and Woes: Twice Upon a Time: An interview with Rose Blackthorn

Rose Blackthorn Mini-Interview

CONTRARY to the title of this anthology, working with such a talented cast of writers is an opportunity that usually comes once in a lifetime. From best-selling to greenhorn, independent or traditionally-published, the authors in this anthology span all ranges in addition to spanning the globe—from England to Australia and all over the United States. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know each and every one of them, and they have become a part of my extended family. I’ve even caught a glimpse of a secret side of them that only another writer…editor…is privy to witness through their words.

Through this series of posts, I plan on introducing you to my new family through a mini-interview of each. You may not get a chance to see their secret side, but you’ll get a sneak-peek into their minds, their passions and inspirations, and what made them the writers they are today.

..The Mini Interview..

1. At what age did you start writing?

I began “telling” myself stories at 12 or 13. When I was a few years older, maybe 16 it occurred to me that if I wrote them down, then I would be able to go back and re-read them later.

2. Which book introduced you to Speculative Fiction?

Firestarter by Stephen King

3. Do you have an all-time favorite book? What about it makes it your favorite?

I have favorites in several genres, so I don’t know that I’d be able to chose just one. The one that I’ve probably gone back and re-read the most times is The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip. (And it makes me cry, every single time.)

4. Which author and/or book inspired you to start writing?

No specific author or book. I have read things that were so wonderful, they made me aspire to write something that would have that kind of impact on someone else. I have also read things that were so bad, I felt there was no reason I couldn’t do better 🙂

5. What would you say is the most important lesson all writers should learn?

Be true to yourself. You can take classes, listen to and apply advice from others, outline every bit of your story or go from the seat of your pants – but regardless, don’t lose your own voice. No one can write what you can.

6. Of the entire publishing process, which would you say is the most difficult aspect to endure?

Probably rejection. It is difficult to spend long hours writing something, putting a part of yourself in it, and sending it out to another person only to have them say they don’t want it, don’t like it, etc. Publishing is a business, and tastes are subjective—but it still stings to get that rejection.

7. From where did the inspiration for your submission arise?

My story is based on The Selkie Bride. I have always been fascinated by stories of shape-changers from the sea who could live among people and then return to the ocean. There is a bittersweet condition in so many of those old legends that the selkie is held in human form against their will because their seal-skin has been stolen from them. Inevitably, when the seal-skin is recovered, the selkie will return to the ocean, even if there is true love between she and her human mate.
I also have a passion for post-apocalyptic fiction, and I was curious to explore what might happen to a diminishing population of selkies after human beings have poisoned the world in some great final war.

8. If applicable, did you have a favorite character (to write) from your story? If so, what sets them apart from the others?

Naia is the main character of my story, and definitely my favorite. I enjoyed exploring what’s left of the human world through her eyes, and the fact that although she has come out of the sea for a specific purpose, she could still come to love the people she meets.

9. On what projects are you currently working?

I have a novella (another post-apocalyptic piece, sort of) that I’ve been working on over the last few months between other projects. Also, the first of a trilogy of “epic” fantasy novels which includes shapeshifters, war against an evil that is apparently unkillable, and the unexpected relationships that can thrive between people who are so disparate. Between all that is the real life stuff, that so often takes precedence—even when I’d rather be writing 🙂

Read Rose’s story, Before the First Day of Winter, in your very own copy of Twice Upon A Time today!

Choose a format…
Amazon|Kindle
Amazon|Paperback

..About the Author..

ROSE BLACKTHORN lives in the high mountain desert of Eastern Utah with her boyfriend and two dogs, Boo and Shadow. She spends her time writing, reading, being crafty, and photographing the surrounding wilderness. An only child, she was lucky to have a mother who loved books, and has been surrounded by them her entire life. Thus instead of squabbling with siblings, she learned to be friends with her imagination and the voices in her head are still very much present.

She is a member of the HWA and has been published online and in print with Necon E-Books, Stupefying Stories, Buzzy Mag, Interstellar Fiction, SpeckLit, Jamais Vu, and the anthologies The Ghost IS the Machine, A Quick Bite of Flesh, Fear the Abyss, The Best of the Horror Society 2013, Enter at Your Own Risk: The End is the Beginning, FEAR: Of the Dark, and Equilibrium Overturned, among others.

..Connect with the Author..

Writing Wins and Woes: Changes

dunkin at door

I hate changes. Doesn’t everybody? Summer turns into fall, which turns into winter. I hate that. My dog dies. I hate that. My financial security meets a snag. I hate that. No, my dog didn’t die, and my financial security is always meeting snags. Hey, I’m a writer, but some changes are good. We all know that. After winter, comes spring. Now I find myself liking change. I sold a story. I love change. I got a new puppy. (I didn’t, by the way) What a great change! Unless, of course, he chews up my rugs, furniture and half my house. Yes, that did happen to me.

All writers evolve. They have to. I took a walk down memory lane, and looked at my submissions process. When I first started this painful process, I was submitting mostly to Christian magazines, children’s ezines and some high name places. I never got into any of those high name places, so I hardly ever submit to them anymore. I changed, didn’t I? I submitted to Pockets magazine every month for about two years. I quit doing that. Why? I didn’t once have a story accepted. I was putting in postage, paper, printing ink and envelopes and getting zero back. I changed. I started submitting only online. It saved me money.

Guess what? These changes seemed to work. In the four years I’ve been submitting stories/articles my writing income has increased. Last year I earned four hundred dollars more than the previous year. Yay! Hold your horses. I am far from a success story. I haven’t yet had one lousy book published, unless you count stories in anthologies. Not even one good book published. So I changed again.

I wonder if I’m doing right. I’m concentrating on getting a book published this year. If I made more money last year, shouldn’t I stay the course? It depends. Is my goal making money or getting a book published? These are all things writers need to think about.

Writing Wins and Woes: Twice Upon a Time Revisited

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Blurb:

Fairytales don’t always happen once upon a time. Fables don’t always have a happy ending. Sometimes the stories we love are too dark for nightmares. What if waking Sleeping Beauty was the worse thing the Prince could have done? What if Rapunzel wasn’t in that tower for her own protection—but for everyone else’s?

Assembled by The Bearded Scribe Press, Twice Upon A Time combines classics and modern lore in peculiar and spectacular ways. From Rapunzel to Rumpelstiltskin, this unique collection showcases childhood favorites unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

Both traditionally-published and independent authors will take you on a whirlwind ride through fairytale and folklore, myth and majick. Cherished stories are revisited and remastered into newly-treasured tales of hope and heartache, of adversity and adventure.

This collection features 43 short stories ranging in length from 2K-12K words from the following cast of talented writers:

Bo Balder, AJ Bauers, Carina Bissett, Rose Blackthorn, S.M. Blooding, Rick Chiantaretto, Richard Chizmar, Liz DeJesus, Court Ellyn, S.Q. Eries, Steven Anthony George, Dale W. Glaser, Jax Goss, K.R. Green, Kelly Hale, Tonia Marie Harris, Brian T. Hodges, Tarran Jones, Jason Kimble, Shari L. Klase, Alethea Kontis, Hannah Lesniak, Wayne Ligon, RS McCoy, Joshua Allen Mercier, Robert D. Moores, Diana Murdock, Nick Nafpliotis, Elizabeth J. Norton, Bobbie Palmer, William Petersen, Rebekah Phillips, Asa Powers, Joe Powers, Brian Rathbone, Julianne Snow, Tracy Arthur Soldan, C.L. Stegall, Brian W. Taylor, Kenechi Udogu, Onser von Fullon, Deborah Walker, Angela Wallace, and Cynthia Ward.

Edited by Joshua Allen Mercier. Cover art by Luke Spooner.


 

Excerpt from Fire & Ash by Joshua Allen Mercier, a dark fantasy retelling of Little Red Riding Hood:

THE cold, autumn gusts ripped across Salem’s port, stirring the angry waters, stirring the angry spectators gathered before the gallows—gallows which had not, until this day, been used since the Trials several years back. Men, women, children—all bore hateful eyes and twisted faces. All bore a deep-seeded fear of the woman before them; they watched and seethed, anger building like fire fed by the winds, waiting for answers, for closure, for justice—for the devil’s death.

Constance Archer stared at the sea of faces; she despised all of them, save two—two faces that weren’t supposed to be there. Her daughters, Rhiannon and Rowan, hid in the small grove of trees, but she could still see their watery, green eyes piercing through the shadows, their stares stabbing their fear and pain and confusion into her. They weren’t supposed to see her like this. With the gag still tightly secured about her mouth, however, her muffled pleas for them to leave went unheard.

Where was their grandmother?

Constance’s fiery locks were drenched with tears. Her heart ached. For them, for herself, for her husband, Jacob. She shouldn’t have let the rage overtake her; she knew that now, now that it was too late.

“For the crimes of witchcraft, how do you plea?”

Even though the thick rope around her neck made it difficult to escape it—to forget—the reverend’s voice jolted her back to reality.

“Not guilty,” Constance replied through the gag, unsure if her plea was understood.

“Executioner, please remove the gag from the accused.”

The reverend’s statement was cold. They had known each other since they were children, but he was but a stranger now as he stood before her. He was once so compassionate, so caring—what had changed?

The executioner approached Constance with apprehension; she soon understood why. Despite the black hood covering his face, his scent—sweet, woody, musky, like freshly-sawn wood mixed with perfume and sweat—immediately revealed his identity: William Black. He removed the gag with haste and stepped across the gallows with a speed she hadn’t witnessed him have in years.

How fitting that the town adulterer would be the one to hang her. She wondered who the woman had been, the one whose scent lingered on his clothing and skin. Surely it wasn’t his wife, Catherine.

It couldn’t be.

She had killed her, in a way, the memory of the act flooding back to her nearly causing her to faint. Seems Catherine and her husband didn’t understand the meaning of marriage; then again, neither did Jacob (apparently). Catching him with Catherine was the most heart-breaking of all.

Wyatt Thatcher cleared his throat. “Mrs. Archer—your plea, now that we can hear you.”

Constance stared at her old friend, pain and tears welling in her eyes. “Not guilty.”

“If not for witchcraft, how do account for the brutal way you murdered Catherine Black? Surely, you were possessed,” countered Reverend Thatcher.

“I didn’t murder Catherine Black. As I told you all before, she was attacked by a beast.” She wasn’t lying, but she wasn’t telling the whole truth. The truth wouldn’t save her, and she couldn’t have her daughters hearing it. They weren’t supposed to be here, but calling attention to them now would only make matters worse.

“You’re the beast!” a woman’s voice sounded from the throng.

“Witch!” said another, followed by her husband’s jibe, “You’re Satan’s whore!”

Reverend Thatcher held his hand to the crowd; without a word, they fell silent. It wasn’t their first execution; it probably wouldn’t be their last. His attention turned to the defendant, but his eyes remained downcast, staring at the rough wood of the gallows as if it were the most interesting sight he had ever beheld.

Constance knew why Wyatt Thatcher wouldn’t look at her, knew he couldn’t show a hint of weakness or compassion for her lest he be hanged, too, for sympathizing with the Devil. Satan was in Salem Village that day—no doubt about that. But it wasn’t Constance or Reverend Thatcher. The Devil stood in the crowd, reflected in the eyes of every spectator. His hunger bellowed in their calls, their taunts, their glares, and it wouldn’t be satisfied until her limp, lifeless body waved in the autumn winds like a banner for their tainted justice, a flag of their blood-stained victory over evil.

Wyatt’s hardness broke, even if for just a second, Constance the only witness to the silent tear soaking its fleshy path across his regretful face. “And please explain to us why you were covered in her blood.”

“I’ve told you all this before, Wyatt…” Using the reverend’s first name stirred a wave of gasps from the crowd, forcing her to pause. “I carried Catherine into my house to try to stop her bleeding, to prevent her death.”

That was a lie; it was what she wanted everyone to believe, but it had been all for naught. It had only sealed her fate.

“And what of your husband’s disappearance?” An icy gust of wind blew through Constance’s locks of red hair; with it, Thatcher’s own coldness returned. “Did you use witchcraft to dispose of his body?”

“My husband was attacked, too, his body dragged into the orchard by the beast.”

That was a lie, too. She couldn’t tell them the truth—that she had, in a fit of rage after seeing Jacob and Catherine naked in the orchard, cursed her husband’s appetite for flesh. The curse had gone horribly wrong…

 

 

Praise:

“Brilliant change-up on the new flood of “Fairy Tale Twists”. If you’re looking for something that can suck you in right away, this book is definitely it. The collection of short stories makes sure you never get bored with the story or writing style.” ~Jett Murdock / Amazon review

 

About the Publisher:

The Bearded Scribe Press, LLC is an independent publisher of quality Speculative Fiction. They aim to become a platform for emerging writers to get discovered by the mainstream and inversely, through becoming a staple in the literary community, becoming the source for readers to discover emerging talent in the Speculative Fiction realm.

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Watch the [Extended] Book Trailer:

Writing Wins and Woes: The Real Deal

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What is the ultimate goal for a writer? A published book, of course, and after that another published book, and another. Maybe then we have a goal to win an award, to make lots of money, to have a bestseller, etc, etc. The list doesn’t really end, does it? It continues to the next thing. I remember in my early writing days. I just wanted to be a published writer. I’ve achieved that goal. Then I wanted to have an actual book. Now I have four anthologies. Okay, not books exclusively by me, but books I hold in my hand. Now my goal is a book by me, just by me. None of these things will ever totally satisfy me.

Why? Because my first priority has to be to walk the path Jesus has for me. My citizenship is in Heaven, not on Earth. So, my true goal has to be Christ and Him alone. I never intended my writing blog to get preachy. This is a writer’s blog, but I want to remind myself and remind all of you not to put your hopes and dreams in something that will ultimately never satisfy.

That being said, I do continue with my dream of publishing a book. I’m not giving up on that. I just don’t want to kid myself. I know once this is accomplished, it will feel wonderful at first, and then it will feel a little empty. Only if I keep my focus on what brings true peace and happiness, will I be content.

So, I took the first step. I sent a query letter out to an agency to represent my picture book. It was scary. Especially since right there on their website it said, “We receive 10000 queries a year.” Wow. I don’t know if I’ll even hear back from them at all as the website also said, we’ll let you know in six weeks if we are interested. However, you never hear back when you don’t send at all. So…there is always hope.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Take some time to focus on things that matter this weekend. Tell somebody special how much they mean to you. Also, happy President’s day. Two holidays in one weekend! Some of us have off for the day, so use the time wisely. Don’t forget to write.

Writing Wins and Woes: Fairy Tales and the Wild West

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Wild West GAK

What do Rapunzel and the Wild West have in common? Well, this post, of course. Bet you didn’t see that coming.
Guardian Angel Kids has a new wild west issue and my article on buffaloes is in it. Here is the link:
http://www.guardian-angel-kids.com/02-015-3Dflip/index.html Check it out if you want to learn more about the wild, wild West that wasn’t in the terrible Will Smith movie.

I just read Rapunzel: Stay at Home Mom by my good writing friend, Melinda Moore. For the low, low price of 99 cents, you can too. This story is a romp beyond your ordinary fairy tale. We pick up after the marriage and a couple of kids. Rapunzel has to juggle an evil mother, a not so perfect Prince and a nanny who doesn’t come up to her expectations. Will time at the spa rejuvenate our Princess? Read and see. You can catch this book on Amazon.

Link: http://www.amazon.com/Rapunzel-Stay-at-Home-Mom-ebook/dp/B00SY3D5O8/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423246738&sr=1-1&keywords=rapunzel+stay+at+home+mom

I know many of you are waiting with bated breath (Is that correct?) to hear about my beginning throes of agenting. Well, I did begin, thank you very much. I went to agentquery.com and began the investigation. I’d like to see it was quick and easy, but it wasn’t. Just locating agents interested in children’s books was difficult and then realizing that many if not most don’t want you to illustrate your own picture book. Seems like a no-brainer that some authors would want to do this. Sigh! Well, I found three agents I might be interested in contacting. I also found another publishing company I might run the book by agent-less. No great hopes for that as I’ve tried this before with four other smaller publishing companies.

I’ll let you know what happens next week in my process to become a genuine published book author (not short story which I have done some 58 times now, and not anthology which I have done 4 times now) It’s time to move on. Keep the prayers and the good thoughts coming. Thanks.