Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Writing for Effect: “Died” or “Killed”? by Flo Stanton

It’s not startling when someone merely dies, because as mortals we face that possibility every day. But killed? That implies action—drama—even malicious intent. According to your death certificate, you will have expired via either accidental, homicidal, suicidal, or natural means.

Murder is the most dramatic, of course:

“My brother was killed by a jealous boyfriend.” Or “My sister was killed in combat in Fallujah.”


“My daughter was killed by an overdose of sleeping pills.”

Even death in an accident is dramatic:

“My great aunt Rosie was killed when the train she was riding in crossed a bridge that collapsed and crashed into a raging river thirty feet below.”

You can make even a natural death sound dramatic:

“Cancer killed my mother when she was just 49.”

When you hear the word “killed,” it sends a little shiver up your spine. Slain. Executed. Assassinated. Implying so much more than “died.”

What other pairs of words have the same effect? Please share in the comments.

Flo Stanton’s stories, poetry and artwork have appeared in Gothic Tales of Terror, Ghosts Revenge, Traps, Studies in Scarlet, Tales of a Woman Scorned, A Pint of Bloody Fiction, Indiana Horror Review 2012, 2014 and 2015, Whispers of Wickedness, Static Movement, Yellow Mama, Black Petals, and many others. Her book reviews, literary articles, and true crime pieces have been featured in The Indianapolis Star, Castle Rock, Literally, True Police, Indiana Crime Review 2013 and 2014, the Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine website, etc. 

She lives in Indianapolis with her writer/photographer husband John. You can find them stalking abandoned warehouses, factories, graveyards, and other haunted sites seeking macabre inspiration. Find out more about Flo at  or follow her blog at 

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Saturday, August 01, 2015

Excerpt: Mind Over All by Karina Fabian

Karina Fabian will be our chat guest August 2, 2015. Join us in the chatroom at 7 pm ET (New York Time).

Blurb: At last, Deryl has it all. He’s mastered his psychic abilities and escaped both the asylum on Earth where he was being studied and the influence of the alien Master who would use his powers as a weapon. He found acceptance among the psychic people of Kanaan and will soon be a father. However, the danger isn’t over.

The Master’s people plan to invade his new homeworld, but even worse, the planets are set to crash into each other. Deryl will have to accept his role as savior of both worlds and push his mind’s powers to the limit in order to save the people he loves most.

Excerpt 1:

Joshua rested his elbows on the counter and let out a long breath. He tried to imagine an entire planet being destroyed, but it was just too big; all his mind pictured were scenes from science fiction movies. But he could understand being terrified for someone he loved—oh, could he identify with that.

Rather than the smooth, nearly instantaneous trip he’d experienced teleporting to Earth, the return to Kanaan felt like trying to drive blind through a hurricane. Forces he didn’t have the thought power to define buffeted him from all sides, trying to draw him of course or tear his friends from his grasp. But his daughter Called him, reaching out to the only person she was aware of besides her mother, and Deryl followed her trust like a beacon, using all his stubbornness to push through the current while keeping Sachiko and Joshua tethered to him.

Excerpt 2:

Deryl braced his feet, splayed his hands palms downward, and sucked the energy from Barin. When Deryl had first been learning to control his abilities, particularly to deal with the legion of impressions coming at him from others around him, Joshua had taught him to shield himself from the mental/emotional aspects. Over the past year, he’d taught himself to filter those aspects out. It was energy, all energy, pure and neutral, like food once processed through the digestive tract. Now, he applied the same skills to Barin, stripping away the pain of the turmoil, taking the energy into himself, storing it, letting it build. The tremors under his feet stilled. The waves crashing against the rocks calmed. The wind that drove the poisonous air against his makeshift mask quieted.

In response, Deryl’s breathing accelerated, his blood raced, his stomach churned. Adrenalin coursed through him, making him shake. He ignored it, pulling further on Barin, reaching into the ground, through the air, and to the ley lines that arched weakly overhead. A detached part of his mind worked physics problems of angles and forces. Barin needed shields, and he was just the man to do it.

The key to his sanity lay in creating shields—barriers against unwanted thoughts and emotions, clumsily erected until Joshua and his neuro linguistic programming style of psychology had taken him at his word that he was truly psychic and helped him create stronger, more clever shields. He’d further honed his skills on Kanaan, training under Salgoud in anticipation of a Barin attack: manipulating energy to protect himself, then Tasmae, gradually expanding— He could do this. It was just a matter of size and energy.

Two minutes to atmosphere. Deryl’s muscles strained as he lifted his hands over his head, palms still fat but now toward the sky. His hasty calculations complete enough, he released the power to meet the Miscria Storm.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Agent Wants To Keep The Book?

Janet Reid received a question from an author. The author's agent is quitting the business, but wants to keep the author's book and try to make a sale. Huh?

How can a non-agent make a sale to a publisher? And, if the woman isn't an agent anymore, who is going to track and figure out the royalty statements? How could this work out for anyone?

As usual, Janet has great advice for the author. And, again as usual, the comments section has even more good advice.

Read the whole article here: 

(You don't follow Janet's blog? What's wrong with you?!?!)

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Review - Honor of a Hunter by Sylvie Kurtz

Honor of a HunterWritten by: Sylvie Kurtz
Romantic Suspense
Rated: Very Good (****)
Review by: Lisa Haselton

Faith Byrne has everything money can buy and is determined to be successful in her father’s eyes. Noah Kingsley is great with computers and hasn’t been in love since a brief teenage romance with a woman out of his league.

When Faith discovers someone has been in her secure high-rise condo she calls Noah for comfort. Noah is content with his position in Seekers, Inc. in New Hampshire since it involves adventure, catching bad guys, and at the end of the day he can relax in his country home. The early morning phone call from Seattle evokes numerous emotions, but Noah doesn’t hesitate to hop a plane and rush to protect his best friend.

Noah knows how to use technology to track Faith’s stalker, but her need to keep her obsessive work schedule and be seen in the office stretches Noah’s skills to the limit. Faith wants the stalker identified so she can confront him and show that she is in control of her life. Yet eventually, she realizes the only way to hang on is to let go completely.

As with all her prior novels, Sylvie Kurtz has created unique characters with interesting lives. Her writing brings the characters off the page so they seem like friends. Her strong male and female protagonists have vulnerabilities they try to hide and intense heartfelt emotions they try to intellectualize. The writing is solid and the suspense builds in increments that leave the reader as emotionally involved as the heroine.

Sylvie Kurtz earned her commercial pilot’s license and instrument rating but has since traded an airplane for a keyboard, where she lets her imagination soar to create fictional adventures that explore the power of love and the thrill of suspense. When not writing, she enjoys the outdoors with her family, quilt-making, and photography. For more information on all of her published works, check out her website at

Honor of a Hunter is an engaging read. Readers of romance or suspense will be pulled in by the characters and pulled along by the continuous change of circumstances.

Available at:,, other online outlets, and in local bookstores.

Title: Honor of a Hunter
Author: Sylvie Kurtz
Publisher: Harlequin
ISBN: 978-0-373-69295-8
Pages: 240

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Sunday, November 09, 2014

The Last Word On Word Count

We use Janet Reid's blog posts as chat topics on a regular basis. This one was too short to fill an hour of chat, but I wanted to make sure you had a chance to read it.

Check out:

The definitive, absolute, no more question about it post on Word Count

That should answer your word count questions!

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Sunday, October 05, 2014

Crime Writing Resources

Crime writer Nancy J Cohen says "While researching my mysteries, I often need information that you can’t go around asking writer friends in public. Imagine discussing these topics in a restaurant...

"What kind of poison can I use that will kill someone right away and is easily obtainable? How can I stage a crime scene by hanging the victim to make it look like a suicide? Does firing a .38 give much of a recoil? What happens when a detective is personally involved in a murder case? What kind of poisonous snake can I have the bad guy put in my hero’s suitcase?"

No, these aren't questions you can ask in public. Not unless you want the police watching you. So where can you safely ask questions like this? How do you find out the information you need to make your stories authentic? Well, The Kill Zone is the perfect place for links.

Check out Nancy's post at . She lists 21 different websites where you can find the information you need.

Without police notice!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead by Saralee Rosenberg

Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead
By Saralee Rosenberg
ISBN 978-0-06-125377-5

Published by Avon, an imprint of Harper Collins
Review by Audrey Shaffer

Mindy has suffered for years over her neighbor-from-hell. Beth is perfect in every way, and her favorite pastime is letting Mindy know that she doesn’t even deserve to lick Beth’s boots.

But Mrs. Perfect finally makes a mistake, and the story spreads like wildfire. All hell breaks loose in everyone’s life, and Mindy finds herself the eye of the hurricane. Affairs, long-lost children, marital separations, unplanned pregnancies, $100,000 contest prizes, deaths and more. Not to mention a family cruise and a plane crash.

Through it all, Mindy keeps moving forward, untangling the big snarls and accepting the little ones. Neighbors from hell, over-bearing in-laws, unknown step-children and all, Mindy is the sunshine in the storm. In her presence everything, somehow, works out in the end.

Saralee Rosenberg dishes up the laughs and keeps your plate full, from the dedication to the bio on the back cover. This writer sees the humor in every situation, and pumps it up to full volume. I can’t wait to find the rest of her books. Rosenberg has moved to the top ten on my favorite author’s list.

(Saralee Rosenberg is a former chat guest)

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sucker For A Hot Rod by Joselyn Vaughn

Sucker for a Hot Rod by Joselyn Vaughn 

I don’t read romance, but the “hot rod” caught my attention in this chatroom guest’s bio. I went to Amazon and downloaded the ebook. 

Judi is a new teacher who drives an ancient Datsun. It was her father’s car, and about the only thing he left when he died. The car spends more time hooked to the tow truck than it does on the road, but she can’t give it up. Plus, she doesn’t have money for a new car. 

The local mechanic has given up on the car. He suggests Bryce Halloway. Halloway’s own a tractor repair shop. That’s where she should go to get her foreign car fixed? 

With no other choices, Judi has the tow truck deliver her car to Halloway’s. Bryce fixes tractors because it’s the family business. What he secretly wants to do is work on sports cars, and race. He’s a little bitter because he knows he will be stuck with tractors for the rest of his life. 

Bryce also doesn’t want to settle down. He makes a practice of only dating a girl once. But fixing Judi’s car isn’t a date, right? Helping her learn to drive a clunker for the local demolition derby isn’t a date, right? By the time they have an official “first date”, they’re both feeling more than they want to. But the road to romance never runs smoothly, in books or in real life.  

I did enjoy this story, in spite of it being a romance. Judi and Bryce are interesting characters, as are the supporting characters. Vaughn has written several books set in the same small town, and many of the supporting cast show up in other stories. They made me smile.

I just might have to buy another (gulp) romance novel one of these days. One by Joselyn Vaughn, that is.

eBook purchased from

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Skip Miller Wins!

Congratulations Skip Miller! You are the winner of our writing challenge. :)

The challenge was to start with our first line, and write a flash story. In case you missed it, this is the winning story:

Flash Fiction, by Skip Miller
The Last Human

The sun shone on the body of the last living person in the world, as he gasped his final breath and fell silent.

From over the hill came Zork. “I told you I got it,” he shouted, jumping up and down, his one huge eye watering with tears of joy.

El followed not far behind. “You got it alright, just be quiet about it, or we’ll have to share it with the others.”

“I can taste it already.”

“Well you better enjoy it, that’s the last one. I told the elder, we should of left some to breed, so we could come back later, but would he, would anyone listen to me? NO! Now we’ll have to find another planet with life on it.”

“We couldn’t help it, these taste so good smothered in vegetables.” Zork pleaded.

“Would it have hurt just to leave a few for later? When you’re having to eat some Luk or Dell, you’ll be wishing you could make a trip back here for a taste of Earth.”

WTG Skip! If you would like to read more of Skip's work, skip right over to his blog. You'll get a lot of good reading there.

Congratulations again to our winner, Skip Miller! Watch this blog for future writing challenges.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Vote for the winner!

The current writing challenge is now over. We have four YOU get to choose the winner!

You can read the submissions in the comments here. Then come back here, and leave your vote in the comments on this post.

We'll vote by author's name. In the comments, write: KC Hobgood, Skip Miller, KB Gardner or Lauren Buckingham, to let us know whose story was your favorite.

Voting will end April 24th. These four writers took the plunge to share their work with you. Let them know you appreciated it. Vote now!

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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Writing Challenge!

“The sun shone on the body of the last living person in the world, as he gasped his final breath and fell silent.”

I came up with that line off the top of my head during an open chat a couple weeks ago. Karina Fabian thought it would make a great writing challenge, so we’re going to give it a try.

The challenge is to write a flash fiction story, using that as your FIRST line. Flash fiction is short, but should pack a punch, and must have a beginning and ending. We’re not looking for scenes here, but complete stories.

Think about it, write and EDIT your story, then come back and post it in the comment section. Remember, anything you post online should be clean, polished work. Don’t let yourself look like a sloppy, uneducated writer.

We’ll run this for two weeks, then we’ll have a vote to see whose story is the best. Comments to this post will be closed April 17, 2014. So get to work, and show us what you can do!

Remember, the first line in this post must be the FIRST line in your story. Go!

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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Copyright Explained

LisaB ran across a really good blog post explaining copyright. Attorney and law professor M. Scott Boone explains the basics of copyright protection here.

If you are a writer, it is imperative that you understand copyrights. Although Boone doesn't address it in his post, disregard everything you've heard about Poor Man's Copyright. Mailing something to yourself does NOT equal registering your copyright, and does NOT give you any legal protection. I have heard that PMC has some legal standing in the UK, but it has NONE in the US.

Your writing is your blood, sweat and tears. Don't throw it away. Protect it like it matters to you.

PS: You're a writer. Don't confuse copyright and copy write. They are not the same things.

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Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The Joy of Having Written by Karina Fabian

The Joy of Having Written By Karina Fabian

Every now and then, we have Tabata week at the gym I attend.  If you don’t know Tabata, think of it as being in labor:  20 seconds of hard pushing and pain, followed by ten seconds of rest.  Of course, drugs are discouraged and your trainer might not appreciate it if you snarl, “This is your fault!” but it only lasts an hour, and then you’re done until the next day.  Sometimes, I enjoy going to the gym, but it had been a crazy week, anyway, and my motivation was low, even less so for Tabata, but I went. 

Why?  Even though I didn’t look forward to going, I enjoyed having gone.

That’s how it goes with writing sometimes.  There are plenty of times when I don’t feel like writing.  Sometimes, other things in life seem much more important, whether planning a surprise for my husband’s retirement or doing dishes.  Sometimes, it’s looking at my Amazon sales and realizing that, should something horrible happen to Rob, I would not be able to support my family on my writing.  Rarely, but on occasion, a bad review or comment from someone will make me wonder why I bother.

But why I bother in those moments is the same reason I bother to go to the gym:  Even if I don’t want to write, I invariably enjoy having written.

There’s a definite satisfaction in a scene well crafted, a character who comes alive on the keyboard, or a sentence that makes your eyes sting with its poignancy.  (Just wrote one of those today, in fact.)   There’s getting that message out of the blue from a reader saying they loved my book, or from an editor asking when the next story is coming.  There’s that hope that this story, this novel, will be the one to break through—but of course, that will never happen if I don’t write it.  I know, too, that I’m in this for the long term.  I love writing.  I love having written, and I love going back over my own stories and marveling anew at the adventures I lived without ever leaving my chair.

After eight months at the gym, including four or five weeks of Tabata, I’ve lost 25 pounds.  That puts me at just under 145.  One of the ladies asked me what my ultimate goal was.  I suppose I could go for 120 or 125, which is what my weight from my teens to my early thirties, but I realize that it doesn’t matter as much to me, any longer.  Maybe I’ll get there, but if I can stay around 140 and keep going with my exercising, then I’m satisfied.

You know, I have to keep that same attitude with my writing.  Someday, I may make the NYT best-seller list.  I may find my Amazon sales grow enough to let my husband quit his day job.  But if that never happens, then if I can keep writing and producing and find readers who love my work, then I’m satisfied.  Even when my motivation is low, and things around me discourage me from my craft, I keep pounding away at those words, the same way I pound away at the weights (minus the labor-like groaning, of course.)

After all, the real satisfaction is in having written.


Karina Fabian is on tour for her latest book, Mind Over Psyche. Winner of the 2010 INDIE for best Fantasy (Magic, Mensa and Mayhem), Karina Fabian has plenty of voices in her head without being psychic.  Fortunately, they fuel her many stories, like the Mind Over trilogy. Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars, but mostly is concerned with supporting her husband, Rob Fabian as he makes the exciting leap from military officer to civilian executive, getting her kids through high school and college, and surviving daily circuit torture…er, circuit training.  Read about her adventures at  

Find Karina at:

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Feed The World

When's the last time you did something to help those less fortunate than yourself? And what if you could help them while learning new words? is a website where you can donate rice through the World Food Programme, simply by knowing the meanings of words. The site shows you a word and gives four possible meanings. Each time you chose the correct meaning, you donate 10 grains of rice. 10 grains doesn't sound like much, but yesterday the site donated 5,783,490 grains of rice. In one day. That adds up!

So drop by and test YOUR vocabulary skills. Feed starving families in the process. Good karma and enhances word skills will come your way.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Grand Editing Contest Results

The Editing Contest for Overused Words and Phrases, etc. is over. 

All the results are in and have been officially tabulated and confirmed by Price, Waterhouse. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, please fasten your seatbelts, and let’s have a dramatic drumroll and drumstick.

  1. The First Prize Winner is . . . Zada Kent!
  2. The Second Prize Winner is . . . Zada Kent!
  3. The Third Prize Winner is . . . Zada Kent!

Now you’re probably wondering how one person managed to win all three prizes, especially since the results specifically state a person can only enter the contest once. Well, the answer is very simple. There was only ONE participant in this writer’s contest. Zada submitted a very thoughtful, intelligent edit of the page from my novel, and she deserves to be the Grand Prize Winner. Of course, she doesn’t win First, Second, and Third Prize. Gosh, I was just having a little fun. But according to the rules, she does win First Prize, which entitles her to select any three of my MuseItUp books in the format of her choice. Her choices are (in order) “The Blue of Her Hair, the Gold of Her Eyes,” the winner of Preditors and Editors 2010 Annual Readers Poll; the novel Dark Wizard; and the extremely dark and perverted “Wet Dreams.” I am delighted to send them to her, along with my congratulations.

And now for the answers. Please follow along with the rough page from the first draft of my novel, bearing in mind there is a certain amount of subjectivity in editing, and editors will differ on precise edits. Also, I have to confess I inserted some extra repetitions to make this page more of a test. Okay, scribblers, here we go:

1.  Most obvious, at least to me: there are too many “that’s” on the page, a total of SEVEN of them. Folks, if this is one page, and your novel is 300 pages long, you could have a total of 2,100 “that’s.” Assuming half of them are superfluous, then you have at least 1,000 too many.

Paragraph seven – “I don’t think that you’re going . . .” Just remove the “that.” Paragraph eight – “There’s something that I’d like to know . . .” Remove “that” again. (Save words, make it tighter.) Paragraph twelve – I changed “That small?” to “So small?” (Use a little variety.) Paragraph fourteen – I shortened “That’s amazing!” to “Amazing!” Then I recast the next sentence to eliminate not one but two “that’s.” Thus: “You know, it reminds me of a Greek myth involving Zeus.” Since “that” is a necessary word, there’s little danger it will vanish from my novel, and by pruning it, I not only tighten my prose, but find a way to vary it.

2. Without going into detail, I use “like” on four occasions. Check it out yourselves. Are all those times necessary?

3. Even repeating myself twice may be questionable, especially if it involves using the same word close together. Zada, for instance, points out I use “gazed” in the fifth paragraph and “gazed at” in the sixth. On the other hand, I don’t believe repeating the words “Make love” in the second and third paragraphs are a defect because it’s obviously done for a specific purpose. However, is it really necessary for both Turtan and Yaneta to “pause” at different points on the page?

4. Last, there are similar or repetitive phrases which probably need revision. Yaneta “swept her gaze over him,” and “He swept his eyes over her body” (paragraphs 5 and 10). Turtan says “Just a moment” not once but twice (see if you can find them.)

How harmful are such invisible defects? Obviously, some are more serious than others, especially if they become visible and detract and distract from our story, our plot, our characters, and also, our language. The competition for elite markets and publishers is hard enough without making it harder for ourselves by sabotaging a fine manuscript with words and phrases we’ve used so often they’ve become second nature. So use your Find, your Find and Replace tools, train yourself to recognize such offenses, and good luck in your editing! 

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Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Editing Contest!

Another guest blog by author John Rosenman

FELLOW WRITERS AND READERS, here are the rules for this week’s contest. Please observe the following:

1. Read the page below from my novel featuring overused words, phrases, etc. It might help to reread my blog, “The Hidden Killers of Your Writing,” remembering that not all repetition is bad or avoidable.

2. Only one entry per person.

3. Send an explanation to me by e-mail ( ) no later than Monday, July 8 at midnight. Be certain to identify precisely all the instances of overused words, phrases, etc. that you find and, in some cases, the obvious remedy.

4. I’m offering THREE prizes to three different individuals. Just click on this link, peruse the eight MuseItUp books I’ve published, and decide which ones you want to win and in what order and format. Third place gets the first book on their list. Second place gets the first two books on their list, and first place gets all three books on their list. BE SURE TO SPECIFY YOUR CHOICES IN ORDER!

5. In case of a tie, multiple prizes may be awarded.

6. I am the only judge, and winners will be announced here on Wednesday, July 10.

* * * *


From the first draft of Inspector of the Cross (It is available here.) Our hero is reluctantly about to make love to his beautiful alien bride who is a member of the enemy.

“This is so much,” she said. “All these irrational human emotions, not to mention what Turois . . .” She sighed. “I will have to think about them, Turtan. Reach a conclusion.” She paused and then placed her six-fingered hand on his cheek. “Will you be able to copulate with me?”

“Make love.”

“All right. Make love.”

“I’m not sure, but if I did, it wouldn’t really be you, Yaneta. It would be some other woman I’ve known. I wouldn’t have anything at all for you.”

She rose, naked, and swept her gaze over him. “Perhaps I’ll have enough for both of us.”

He gazed at her, then removed his hands from the covers. Pulling them down, she examined him.

“You know, I don’t think that you’re going to have any trouble at all, Turtan.”

“Just a moment,” he said as she knelt on the bed. “Before we go any further, there’s something that I’d like to know. How do you . . .”


He swept his eyes over her body, so human-like and yet so different. “I’ve always wondered how you Cen had babies. I mean, are they like ours?”

“Yes, only much smaller.” She held two of her fingers wide apart.

“That small?” He paused, feeling dazed. “And where do they . . .”

She laughed, then leaned down and whispered in his ear.

“Really?” He reached up and touched her hair. “Just a moment. You mean they come from your head? That’s amazing! You know, there’s a Greek myth about Zeus that’s like that.”

Roughly she straddled him and slid him into her, her face intent. “Did anyone ever tell you,” she said, starting to move, “that you talk too much?”


Start editing! Be sure to send your email by midnight on Monday, July 8. And don’t forget the list of books you want to win!

John B Rosenman has published nearly twenty books, including SF action-adventure novels such as Beyond Those Distant Stars and Speaker of the Shakk (Mundania Press), A Senseless Act of Beauty (Crossroad Press), and Alien Dreams (Drollerie Press and Crossroad Press). Shorter books include A Mingling of Souls and Music Man (XoXo Publishing), Here Be Dragons (Eternal Press), The Voice of Many Waters (Blue Leaf Publications), Green in Our Souls (Damnation Books), and Bagonoun’s Wonderful Songbird and Childhood’s Day (Gypsy Shadow Publishing). Visit his website or blog to learn more.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Hidden Killers of Your Writing

by John B. Rosenman

We all do it. We’re all guilty. To a greater or lesser extent, we’re all infected by the same disease, and the same sneaky little devils slip right past our guard and into our writing.

What are these sneaky little devils? Why, they’re bad habits, subliminal stuttering. Or to put it more plainly, they’re overused words and phrases, patterns of language and expression. To be a bit dramatic, they are hidden killers of our writing.

Am I going too far? I don’t think so. At their best, overused words, phrases, italics, ellipses, exclamation points and their like are invisible irritants and defects that deplete our prose and diminish the reader’s pleasure in what we’ve written. There is a repetitive annoying sameness to our style. Yes, some repetition is good and can enhance our writing, but often we need to experiment with different ways of expression rather than fall back on old habits which are all the more insidious because we are usually unaware of them.

One of my wicked but excellent editors has a habit of highlighting in different colors the words I overuse. Some of them are THAT, BUT, THEN, AND THEN, SUDDENLY, JUST, ABOUT, LIKE, HAD. I don’t think phrases plague me too much, though I’m not free from their contagion, but I know I do tend to overuse the ellipsis. I dot dot dot too much!

Fortunately, today we have computers and other devices, and we can troubleshoot and repair many of these faults with the FIND and the FIND and REPLACE feature. Try it out yourself if you haven’t done so already. Type in certain words and phrases and see how many times they are highlighted. If your manuscript is two hundred pages long and your software says you use “suddenly” seventeen times, you may not have a problem. However, if you use “suddenly” a hundred and seventeen times, you probably do. If you notice you use a certain phrase twice or three times on the same page, such as “Rising to his feet,” or “Turning his [or her] head,” then check it out. If you have your characters rising to their feet or turning their heads too often, you may need to revise their actions.

On the screen, colored highlights are pretty; however, whatever their hue, they might be red flags. We need to consider them closely and objectively and ask ourselves if a lot of work is needed to revise and replace repetitive words. As a writer, I’ve found I’ve had to seek synonyms and new ways of expression.

Often, however, the best remedy is simple deletion. Just ask yourself, in this particular situation, do I really need to use that word or phrase again? It can be challenging and enlightening, even fun and rewarding to eliminate and avoid words you overuse, to make your writing tighter, cleaner, and more effective. Go on an adverb hunt. Stalk the dangerous adverb which sucks verbs dry. (“Suddenly,” mentioned before, is an adverb.) Excuse the repetition here, but these overused words are often invisible to the writer but not to the reader, and they do weaken and drain our writing in various ways. The writer should rigorously seek them out and prune them.

Here’s one embarrassing personal stat: in examining the first draft of a novel I recently wrote, I found I had used the word “that” (perhaps my most overused word) 966 times in 86,400 words. I believe “that that” use of “that” is too much.

* * * * * * * * * *

Okay, let’s try to make this a little interesting. Next Wednesday we’ll have a contest featuring a small unedited section from the first draft of my SF romantic action-adventure novel Inspector of the Cross, published by MuseItUp Publishing. (It is available here )

I’ll be offering THREE prizes to three different individuals. The person who wins third place gets their choice of one of my eBooks at MuseItUp’s site. Just go there, peruse the eight books I’ve published, and decide which books you want to win. Second place gets his or her choice of two, and first place (if she’s a female), gets a date with the author. No, just joking. First place gets his or her choice of three of my eBooks.

I’ll post all the rules right here next Wednesday. Be ready!


John B Rosenman has published nearly twenty books, including SF action-adventure novels such as Beyond Those Distant Stars and Speaker of the Shakk (Mundania Press), A Senseless Act of Beauty (Crossroad Press), and Alien Dreams (Drollerie Press and Crossroad Press). Shorter books include A Mingling of Souls and Music Man (XoXo Publishing), Here Be Dragons (Eternal Press), The Voice of Many Waters (Blue Leaf Publications), Green in Our Souls (Damnation Books), and Bagonoun’s Wonderful Songbird and Childhood’s Day (Gypsy Shadow Publishing). Visit his website or blog to learn more.

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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

JQ Rose Press Releases

 JQ Rose (Janet Glaser), a regular chatter and previous guest author, has graciously allowed us to use her press release as a chat topic. We will be discussing her press release, and how to write our own, in the June 12, 2013 chat. Review her release, and bring your questions to chat!


Press Release

Contact: Janet Glaser


April 2013


Athlete Mackenzie Woodring, originally from Holton, and artist and children’s book author, Jane Stroschin, Fremont, are featured in a new e-book, Girls Succeed: Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women, released by local author, Janet Glaser, who writes as J.Q. Rose.

Woodring is the 2012 Michigan Pro State Champions at USA Cycling’s Road Race and won gold, silver, and bronze medals in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. Jane Stroschin’s delightful children’s books and artwork are beloved by residents of this area as well as around the country.

Girls Succeed is an interactive e-book about non-traditional careers for women and includes interviews with fifteen remarkable women who have achieved recognition for accomplishment in their occupations. The diverse group of careers encompasses women in the arts, business, science, medicine, ministry, entertainment, and sports. Stories about women who have stamped out disease, made people laugh, earned Olympic and Paralympic gold medals, and crossed the country in the cab of an eighteen wheeler, are just some of the chapters which inspire and empower girls to reach for their dreams. The e-book is available at major online booksellers such as Amazon and Kobo.

“It was a privilege to interview the fabulous women and share their stories with readers,” Glaser said.

In 1976 Janet Glaser and husband, Ted, purchased Fairview Floral in Fremont from Jacob and Nellie Schornagel. They settled down in Fremont and raised their daughters, Sara Wolfsen and Lee Ann Clausen, and “grew” the floral business into Fairview Floral and Garden Center, Inc. re-locating it to the corner of Green and 48th St.

After selling the business in 1995, Glaser became a regular contributor to the Times-Indicator--the beginning of a career in writing articles for newspapers, magazines, and online magazines. Glaser is also the author of mysteries published by MuseItUp Publishing. Her latest mystery is Coda to Murder, which takes place in a small town in Michigan.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Greater Treasures Blog Tour!

The Writer's Chatroom Chat Rules

by Vern the Dragon

Once again, I, Karina, and Sister Grace will be in the Writers Chat Room, this time to promote the novella Greater Treasures. Grace and I will share the computer, and I have the feeling some other yahoos from other stories might drop by Karina’s to say hi. We’ll see. This is my show, after all.

I always have a good time doing this. The chatters are good with questions and banter, and know (for the most part) how to treat a dragon. Of course, there’s always someone new, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to set a few ground rules:

#1. If you want to make jokes about my eating people, they’d better be good ones. Truth is, I haven’t snacked on human flesh in nearly nine centuries—something that comes up in Greater Treasures, as a matter of fact. Not that I haven’t been tempted, mind you, especially when someone has to make a remark like, “Don’t make him mad, or he’ll eat you.” It’s not that I offend easily, but have you any idea how many times I’ve heard that since coming to the Mundane world? If you want to make that kind of joke, you’d better find an original approach. I promise to do the same.

#2. It’s all about me. (And Sister Grace and Karina, but mostly me.) I don’t want to hear about your dinner unless you’re sharing, or your personal troubles, or the book you’re writing. You have a dragon character, too? Finish the book and get your own time slot. Sunday night is my night. (And Grace’s and Karina’s, but mostly mine.) So take your side conversations to the side—i.e., private messages--and if someone walks in late, there’s no reason for the whole room to greet him. The only times that’s appropriate is in a bar where everyone knows your name--or when I walk into a room, but I’m a dragon. Along those lines, if any characters drop by, go ahead and give them some attention, but if they try to steal my show, I’ll be telling them the same thing, only not as sweetly.

#3. I’m not like a dragon of Mundane legend. Faerie dragons are immortal and androgynous. IE, there are a few of us, we don’t reproduce, and we don’t die. We can, however, be seriously inconvenienced. So, no jokes about getting killed, no innuendos about the damsels I may or may not have captured, no asking about my romantic life. Tell you what, though: I’ll give a free ebook to the first person to ask me in chat about some of the times I’ve been seriously inconvenienced. Can you believe no one’s asked me that before?

#4. Relax; I won’t bite you. Seriously. The last time I bit someone was when I was starving to the point of losing my mind, and I needed the magic ring he was wearing…and he was a middle-manager megalomaniac who deserved it. I come to the chat room to relax and have some fun. And hopefully sell some of my books, which brings me to…

#5. Show some appreciation: Feed the dragon and Audrey. If you can afford a buck, buy the ebook—and do it through the TWC page. A fiver will get you the print version. If you don’t have a dollar to spare, don’t worry about it. I’ve had my share of times when I filled my belly with alley rats. Also, if you wish to feed my ego, by all means, gush. Pay no attention to what Grace says about it.

Winner of the 2010 INDIE for best Fantasy (Magic, Mensa and Mayhem), Karina Fabian has imagination that takes quirky twists that keep her--and her fans--amused. Nuns working in space, a down-and-out Faerie dragon working off a geas from St. George, zombie exterminators—there’s always a surprise in Fabian’s worlds. Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars, but mostly is concerned with supporting her husband, Rob Fabian as he makes the exciting leap from military officer to civilian executive, getting her kids through high school and college, and surviving daily circuit torture…er, circuit training. Read about her adventures at .

Vern gripes about the junk in his warehouse in Greater Treasures, but he and Grace have started going through boxes, and they’ve agreed to send something to one of my readers.  Leave a comment or question for Karina, Vern, or Sister Grace.

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

REVIEW: Shut Up and Kiss Me by Christie Craig

Shut Up and Kiss Me
By Christie Craig
Copyright 2012

Genre: Romance

My regular readers are staring in horror, saying “Romance? But she doesn’t read romance!” They’re right, I don’t…normally. But I’m glad I read this one.

Most romance novels are gooey and cloying, in my opinion. I know who is going to get together by the second chapter, and the things they go through are usually stupid. If they would TALK to each other, they wouldn’t have so much trouble. But this was a free download, and I decided to give it a chance.

Shala is a PR agent, hired to increase tourism for the town of Precious, TX. Of course, she runs afoul of the local sheriff, Sky. Also of course, they’re both gorgeous, hot-bodied centerfold types, who are going to end up together. But that’s not what makes this a great book.
There is a mystery here, which is easy to figure out, but that’s secondary. The enjoyment comes from the characters and their craziness. As in most romance novels, the characters hide things from each other, aren’t totally honest, and expect their partner to read their mind. The majority of their problems come from misunderstandings. But oh, the insanity those misunderstandings cause in Precious!

The most fun comes at Jose’s expense. This poor character can’t get a break, no matter what he does. How can you have any dignity when you come face-to-face with your first love (and her current boyfriend) while you’re sitting in her tub, bathing in V-8 Juice and Summer’s Eve douche? That indignity comes after a car crash, a face full of thorns, and a run-in with an angry skunk. But poor Jose has more to endure.

Craig had me laughing aloud by the second chapter. This book is a hilarious romp. If, after reading it, you can look at a bottle of mustard without laughing aloud, you need to go back and read it again. And yes, I’m going to look up other books by this author. Everybody needs a good laugh now and then.

Book downloaded free from as part of a promotion.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Approaching Poetry" by Sage Doyle

Sage Doyle guest post

I am honored to be invited as a guest blogger for the Writer's Chatroom Blog, thank you Audrey! Since it seems my own blog has gained some success from my poetry, I've decided that, as I write this article, I will conceive, compose, and revise a free-verse poem, describing the process throughout. Each of my poems begins with an idea, situation, mood, emotion, or reaction. For the sake of this article, I'll say the idea is the first cup of coffee in the morning.

Approaching the Idea

Once I have the idea, I envision it in my mind and make it real inside myself. I determine who the narrator is, if it is me or a character, and the narrator's experience must become whole, like a short story. It needs to be visually, emotionally, sensually, and psychologically solid. There is a backstory and an emotional reality as I approach the poem. Regarding the morning coffee, I'll say this man had a rough night. He's been under a lot of stress due to job loss. His girlfriend broke up with him. He went out with the guys last night and didn't get to sleep until 5am. It's now 10am Sunday morning. He wakes, puts on a robe because it's chilly, and turns on the coffee maker. My reader would never know these details, but I create them to make it real.

Next, I put the words down:

I hear the sound of the coffee brewing
and I breathe
The brisk cold of the morning
persuades me
to seek comfort
I smell the rich grounds
as the hot water passes through them
and at last
as I look through the glass doors
into the late morning
I embrace the cup
and feel at ease

I then read the words repeatedly aloud or in my head throughout the revision process. For my first read-through, I check for the natural flow of the poem and try to revise according to where the rhythm is leading me. I reword or rephrase the poem to express the idea using the right words and language that will give a sense of the backstory.

Regarding punctuation, I rarely use periods or semicolons because I think they are like a wall. I use capitalization, line breaks, and commas in order to create pauses, or stanzas for a shift in ideas. I prefer to allow undefined pauses because I like my lines to be free to flow from one to the next as meaning is interpreted by a reader.

The Revision Process

I want to keep the words brewing, breathe, and brisk because I like the alliteration. Sometimes creative writing techniques happen accidentally as in this case. The skill comes during revisions when you notice them and leave them alone. Hearing a sound is redundant to me so I'll eliminate the sound. I'm going to remove the capital T at the beginning of the third verse because I want the word breathe to flow into the next line, which I plan to change. I like to connect ideas from line to line. When talking about breathing and then about brisk cold morning, these concepts both regard air. The two phrases about air can flow together and be interpreted differently. This example also flows into the third sentence, when the cold of the morning air persuades the narrator. But now I just decided I'm going to take out the air element. He is breathing the scent of coffee. He is breathing the cold morning, which is persuading him. However, as brisk and cold are also redundant, and I've already determined I like the word brisk, I want to change the word cold. Cold is a strong word actually which can describe a person or a mood, or in the narrator's case, his situation. This narrator needs security in many ways. I want to find a word that can both describe the morning being cold, and his current world, which is falling apart. Since I brought up his lack of security, I think I want the word to mean unsafe. The morning can be both unsafe, and represent a new day, and he has a sense of comfort from this morning coffee. I don't want to forget the optimism this coffee symbolizes. For now, the morning will be unsafe, but later, when it begins to persuade him, it will represent a new beginning.

Instead of cold, I choose the word biting, because it has a nice rhythm with brewing and morning, and adds to the alliteration. It also describes both the cold aspect and the lack of safety. I'm satisfied with the next line, but I want stronger words than seek comfort. I want more rhythm, more of the backstory, so I will add phrases as well. I read it over and and over again until I get a sense of the sound that should be there. The rhythm and fluidity need the right words to create a sound as well as meaning. Instead of comfort, which is a closed word, I use solace, because it's an extensive word and therefore more reflective of his needs. Sssooollaaacccee as opposed to ComforT. I add the phrase, and grace because it emphasizes the word solace, but it also dignifies the narrator. He's not weakened; he has grace, and now he can be visualized standing strong and ready to move forward, taking the day on.

The word rich when describing coffee grounds is overdone, so I want to change that. I need a word that describes both the grounds and fruition for the narrator. The word grounds works because it has a double meaning. The coffee helps to ground the narrator, again he is standing tall and strong. This word is significant and symbolic. I choose the word abounding to describe the grounds and eliminate the verse about the hot water because it distracts from the double meaning and the potential for diverse interpretations of abounding grounds. This could be referring to the coffee grounds or the narrator. I still want to mention the smell of the coffee brewing, but I'll use the word essence, again because it has more than one meaning. I describe the essence as bitter, which can either be the smell of coffee or the trials in life. I say with to show that the narrator is part of it, not consumed or controlled by it, with bitter essence.

Now there is a transition in the poem; he gets the coffee and begins to drink it. I find there's an awkward transition from abounding grounds to and at last though I like the latter line. In between I add arising about me (double meaning). Next, I like how the narrator is once again taking direct action, looking through the doors. He hasn't done this since he said I breathe. I think look is a weak word though, and glass doors is limiting. Regard instead suggests a respectful acknowledgment and an acceptance. Our man is not afraid, he's ready. As I describe this I envision him nodding, so I think I will add that in. I eliminate through the glass doors partially due to cliché symbolism, and also, since I already decided he was with the situation, if he's looking through then there's a sense that he's testing the waters as opposed to stepping out to confront the day.

I like the simple vocabulary of the last lines, though instead of making him feel at ease, I think he's more assured than that, so he will state that he is at ease, I am at ease. The concrete beginning I hear the coffee brewing brings a person in, people like coffee and it's real and relatable. Then in the end, after subjective and symbolic layered verse, it becomes concrete again. This gives a sense of closure, resolve, and completion. Even though it is one moment, it has a beginning, middle, and an end. I entitle the poem "Coffee" because I prefer simple titles which don't impose interpretation:


I hear the coffee brewing
and I breathe
the brisk and biting morning
persuades me
pushes me
prompts me to hold
on, pursuing solace
and grace
abounding grounds
with bitter essence
arising about me
and at last
I nod and regard
the late morning
embracing the cup
and I am at ease

I read through again for fluidity and rhythm, ensuring there are no phrases that are jagged. Sometimes, however, a little awkwardness can be used to give a sense of unease. In this case, there is slight unsteadiness, an almost abrupt transition, but I think it works for the narrator; it's reflective of his experience. It's almost like the instant he makes the choice, "yes I'm ready," sudden and without hesitation. Lastly, I double check that my punctuation, line breaks, and capitalization help to create the flow I want, and I proofread for typos.

In Closing

This is how I approach writing poetry, and it's not intended to suggest it is the right way to do it. Some people might actually prefer the first version of the poem. I believe poetry is a deeply intimate genre, and people have their own techniques. For me, every narrator is a character that I become emotionally connected with. Otherwise, the narrator is me and I am exposing parts of myself that would never otherwise be revealed. I remember reading Edgar Allan Poe's 1846 essay "The Philosophy of Composition" in which he describes a very mathematical approach to his writing of "The Raven." It disturbed me to think there was no emotion but rather a T. S. Eliot sort of approach to Poe's writing. I learned later that the essay may have been a mockery of the critics and was something of a joke as far as Poe was concerned. I've never read further than that on it, but I'd like to believe that. This is just an example of how words can evoke moods, emotions, and thought, instilling a profound and passionate connection for a reader. This is a brilliant phenomenon, and for both the poet and the reader it can be very personal.

Chatroom member Sage Doyle writes poetry and contemporary fiction. Visit his blog at .

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Magic of Writing

With thanks to Kevin Tipple (book reviewer), we have the magic of this thing called writing...

Now, go rule the world!

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Losing your W.O.O. by Widdershins

(Contest information at the end of the post)

I’m rather fond of windows. To gaze winsomely out of; to peer avariciously into; (I’m talking shop windows here) to make my computer function as it ought.

Windows are gateways. Portals.

For writers, they’re devices to move our characters forward, figuratively, metaphorically, and literally.

Windows are also opportunities. (W.O.O. = window of opportunity.)

A writer's world today is the most exciting it’s been since Gutenberg’s time. We are no longer the lowly garret-dwelling artist of Dickensian straits, churning out our soul’s work for a publishing corporation. We can, if we choose, control every aspect of our art and craft, from inception to sale, and beyond. What we cannot do is afford to ignore, or not recognise opportunities when they come a’knocking.

When I started out writing as a career, and I determine that point as the moment when I had the temerity to call myself a writer, which was the first time I completed a story from ‘T’was a dark and stormy night,’ to ‘The End’. (I’ve never used that beginning, but it’s such an evocative one, dont’cha think?)

Anyway ... When I started writing, my naiveté astounded even me. But like most of us – Let’s be honest here shall we? – I thought I’d write the ‘Great Australian Novel’, (I lived in OZ at that time) in a few months, and be filthy rich and obscenely famous a few months later. Hands up anyone who hasn’t had some variation of that dream? Hah! I thought so.

Turns out I wrote the Great Canadian Lesbian Science Fiction Novel, but that’s another story.

Behind my brash naiveté lurked a rather shy and unsure young woman, who doubted she had any idea of what she was doing. My brash self sent out a short story (not that first one – it’s only claim fame was that I got to ‘The End’ in one piece) to a famous novelist that lived a few towns over. No, I’m not going to name names – she might still remember me!

Although I waited by my letterbox from the moment I calculated she would’ve got my letter, read the story and being impressed beyond speech by my talent, and immediately pen a polite request for me to co-author her next blockbuster, I never heard anything back. Anyone who’s ever waited to hear back from an agent/publisher/editor etc, will know exactly what I’m talking about.

Eventually, my shy and insecure self sincerely hoped my MS and it’s accompanying ‘polite yet confident’ note had accidentally fallen out of the mail truck prior to delivery – never to be seen again.

In the meantime I threw myself into learning all I could about writing, and continued to write. The incident receded into the back of my consciousness until I only felt a mild embarrassment on the rare occasions I recalled it.

That was, until I ambled down to my letterbox one mild Autumn evening, cup of tea in hand and feeling at peace with the world in general.

I fanned through the pile of papers.

Flyers. – meh ... Bills – of course ... Hm-m, what’s this?

The next thing I remember, I was sitting at my kitchen table, peering at the card my shaking hands had carefully placed on the table – The famous author thought my story showed promise and invited me to join a workshop she was holding!

... I broke out into a cold sweat.

... I checked the envelope. Yes, it was indeed addressed to me.

... I suddenly remembered all the house cleaning I’d been putting off. (chores – the epitome of writerly procrastination)

Sad to say, I did not make the workshop. I can’t remember the reason I gave for my absence, but I knew in my heart that I was afraid to make the most of this opportunity that miraculously crossed my path.

I don’t to that anymore. I might take my time making up my mind, I might choose not to engage, I might want to run and hide, but mostly I laugh at my Self and enjoy the ride.


P.S. And, I might temporarily misplace it, but I’ve never lost my W.O.O. again.


“Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to ‘jump at the sun’. We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground” - Zora Neale Hurston, 1891-1960 - folklorist, author, and anthropologist.

Widdershins was born in England, grew up in Australia, moved to Canada in 2004 and married the love of her life the same year. She is a writer and a shaman, a bicyclist and a feminist. She’s been an architect, a seamstress, an athlete, and a field hand.

Writing is her passion and her profession, novels specifically, short stories occasionally, and always with lesbian characters.

She writes under the pseudonym ‘Widdershins’ because she is, if nothing else, contrariwise.

She blogs about all things Widdershins-and-writerly, at Widdershins Worlds, and can be contacted through the links on her ‘About me’ page.

Her Great Canadian Lesbian Science Fiction Novel, ‘Mortal Instinct’ (the first book of the ‘Gallery’ Series) is available as a eBook from her publisher, (in all sorts of eBook formats) Amazon, and in paperback from Amazon, and your favourite neighbourhood bookstore.

If you leave a comment, your name will be entered into a drawing to win a paperback copy of ‘Mortal Instinct’ – To be drawn in The Writers Chatroom chat on Wednesday, November 3, 2012.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest

The Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest is open to anyone who loves arranging words into the beautiful art of poetry or writing a short story that is worth telling everyone! And to all who have the ability to dream…

Write a poem or short story for a chance to win cash prizes. All works must be original.


Write a poem, thirty lines or fewer on any subject, style, or form, typed or neatly hand printed.

And/or write a short story, five pages maximum length, on any subject or
theme, creative writing fiction or non-fiction (including essay compositions, diary, journal entries and screenwriting). Also, must be typed or neatly hand printed.

Multiple poetry and short story entries are accepted.

Postmark deadline: JULY 31, 2012

All contest winners will be announced on August 31, 2012

Writing Contest First Prize is $500. Second Prize: $250. Third Prize: $100.

Poetry Contest First Prize is $250. Second Prize: $125. Third Prize: $50.

Entry fees:
$10 per short story, $5 per poem.

To send entries: Include title(s) with your story (ies) or poem(s), along with your name, address, phone#, email, brief biographical info. (Tell us a little about yourself), on the coversheet. Add a self-addressed stamped envelope for entry confirmation. Mail entries/fees payable to:"DREAMQUESTONE.COM"

Dream Quest One
Poetry & Writing Contest
P.O. Box 3141
Chicago, IL 60654

Visit  for further details or to enter!

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

10 Things About...John Rosenman

(John Rosenman will be our guest in the chatroom Sunday, May 20, 2012)

Ten Things to Know About Me by John B. Rosenman

Everybody’s writing Top Ten Lists these days, so I thought I’d write a Top Ten List of Things You Should Know About Me. That way, when you meet me as a guest this Sunday in Audrey Shaffer’s The Writer’s Chatroom, I won’t be a stranger and you’ll actually feel you know me a little. Okay, here we go. (Drumroll, please.)

1. One of my novels cost me two jobs. In 1982 and again in1983, I published my first novel, The Best Laugh Last, about a white English professor in a small black Southern college. In that novel, I was critical about the quality of education the students received, and the result is that it cost me my teaching position at two historically black schools, including the one that inspired the novel in the first place.

2. I have published over 300 short stories and 20 books of fiction in the science fiction, horror, erotic horror, fantasy, and paranormal romance genres. Yes, I’ve scribbled a lot. Some of my short fiction has appeared in Weird Tales, Galaxy, Whitley Strieber’s Aliens, Fangoria, and Hot Blood.

3. I’ve been married 44 years to my wife Jane, and we have two children, Lori and David. Jane’s put up with a lot from me over the years, such as a novel which cost me two jobs (see #1). She also kept me alive recently when I almost died from Celiac disease. My boss and my soul mate, she’s a wonderful person.

4. I love to write about transformation in all its imaginable permutations. One of my stories is about a woman who contracts a mysterious disease which makes people fear her ten times more than if she merely had leprosy. Ultimately, she changes and changes and turns into a . . . Well, read the story. “The Blue of Her Hair, the Gold of Her Eyes” (cover above) was published by MuseItUp Publishing and won Preditors and Editors Annual Readers Poll in SF/F.

5. I also love to write about huge, mind-stretching concepts. Cosmic Christianity. Cosmic consciousness and states of being, you name it. In my novel, Inspector of the Cross, recently published by MuseItUp Publishing, Turtan is an elite agent nearly four thousand years old because he travels in suspended animation on missions to distant planets. What must it be like to live virtually forever while everybody around you lives mayfly lives? To meet a son you left as an infant and to see him again when he’s an old, decrepit man?

6. I believe that ordinary people you wouldn’t look at twice are often the greatest heroes. The last will be the first, and the underdog becomes the top dog. In Beyond Those Distant Stars, published by Mundania Press, Stella’s career has faded out until she has a radioactive accident while saving a comrade’s life. As a result she is given her first command of a spaceship and the opportunity to save the human race from invincible alien invaders. How many so-called ordinary people are potentially the greatest heroes and need only the right circumstances to achieve their potential?

7. I like to dabble in other forms and genres, or subgenres. Humorous metafiction, for example, which self-consciously calls attention to the fact that it’s a work of fiction itself. One of my characters is Humphrey Bogart, trapped forever in an endless rerun of Casablanca. It seems the movie’s mythic qualities have so resonated in the collective consciousness, that he can never get out and the damned movie will never end. In the process, Bogie gets to comment humorously on the movie and the sexual and other peccadilloes of some of its characters. In another tale, the main character struggles not only with events but with the author’s deficiencies. My characters turn up out of nowhere, and plot holes and implausibilities abound.

8. I’m a man of obsessions. Before I retired as an English prof at Norfolk State University, I had dozens of mementoes of the movie The Wizard of Oz in my office. A movie poster, WOZ mouse pad, a lock from Judy’s hair. No, just kidding about the last. I love SF and Horror movies, especially from the fifties. And I’ll play and watch tennis every chance I get.

9. Oh, and I’ve got to add my wife and family as a separate obsession. Family is important. And I believe the past you share with them is always present.

10. Last but not least, what can I say? Narrowing it down to the top ten is difficult. Maybe the top fifty would be easier. Let’s just say the creative life of the imagination is paramount to me. I think the arts are sacred and God is the chief writer, artist, musician, you-name-it. We follow along in Her wake and try to pick up whatever lessons we can.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tootin’ Your Own Horn by J.Q. Rose

Guest blog by J. Q. Rose

My mother always told me, “Those who tooteth not their own horn, their horn remaineth untooteth.” In other words, be bold about yourself in this world. Let everyone know what your talents are.

I found this to be true after becoming a published author. In this day and age, in order for the world to know you have a book to sell, the author is responsible for tooting her own horn about it. Publishers (unless you are a bestselling author) do not have the budget to promote your writing, so it is up to you to do it.

When I was slaving away at writing my book, Sunshine Boulevard, I did not focus on anything but getting the story put together, revised, and polished to be ready to submit to the publisher. I was prepared for rejections, but happily the second publisher, Muse It Up Publishing, offered me a contract.

A release date, nine months away from the contract signing, was set. I expected to go through the editing process and the cover art design and figured on March 1, 2011, the release date, I would announce to the world my book was out and ready for readers.

I soon learned that was not how one sells a book. Months of preparation are needed BEFORE the release date. Setting up a website and a blog, guesting on other blogger’s sites, and creating a buzz about the book are all necessary to establish a platform, in other words, to find an audience of reader buyers.

But it doesn’t stop there. After the book is out, there is even more guesting, blog hopping, commenting on blogs, schmoozing on chat groups and loops. Since my book is an e-book, I mainly stay online for promotion. I did try a book signing, but it is difficult without a physical book to sign. Many folks who came to my author table just looked at me with blank stares when I could not produce a printed copy. I have no idea how many times I had to explain my book was in cyberspace. Just order it and it will come to your computer or other reading device. I could almost hear the theme music to the Twilight Zone playing in the visitor’s head as he stood there in disbelief. As you may have guessed, I have not pursued anymore book signings.

Before and after your book is published, you will be spending a LOT of time on promotion. I made the mistake of promoting and not writing. I was caught up in it, perhaps even addicted to spending hours on line trying to find the next opportunity to promote. Too late I realized the importance of having another book ready to publish. Once you snag a reader, they want another story of yours to read. Unfortunately, I didn’t have one.

My advice is to realize that you will have to promote your new release, but do not stop writing. You are a writer. Write the best story you can, promote it with a big send-off, then spend the majority of your time penning your next best seller and limit your hours of promoting so you can also have a life with your family and friends.

J.Q. Rose is the author of the mystery/light horror novella, Sunshine Boulevard, available at Muse It Up Publishing, and and major online booksellers.
Find J. Q. Rose online at and

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

FREE Writing Seminar

Do you know Darlene Hartman? What about her pen name, Simon Lang? Darlene was a well-known scifi author, and a writer for the origional Star Trek TV series. Yes, she ate lunch with Gene Roddenberry!

Darlene is offering a series of telephone seminars for anyone who wants to join in. They will run for the next five Thursdays. First seminar is March 1 at 7:30 CST. The sessions will last for approximately 1 1/2 hours and there will be an open forum for Q & A's, a chance for you to bring up problems in your writing, questions for readers who want to know the "how and why" of what writers do, and why books are as they are, etc.

Here's the info for your dial-in:

Dial-in number: (605) 475-4700

Access code: 1062253#

Please remember, if you do not enter the "#" sign, the conference will not admit you.

No cost, good info, and everyone is welcome. What more could you ask for?

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Marguerite McGlinn Prize for Fiction

The Marguerite McGlinn Prize for Fiction is an annual national short fiction contest. The prize includes a $2,000 cash award, and includes an invitation to an awards dinner in October. The winning story appears in the winter print and online issue of Philadelphia Stories. The Marguerite McGlinn Prize for Fiction is made possible by the generous support of the McGlinn family.

Details here.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012


January 23, 2012, Toronto, ON – Writers of horror, thriller and suspense… take note! The publishing team at BIFF BAM POP! has announced an open call for submissions to be considered for their Short Story Ebook Anthology.

“For any contributing writer, the BIFF BAM POP Short Fiction Anthology is a prime opportunity to have your stories read by thousands of readers and collaborators,” says Andy Burns, Editor-In-Chief, BIFF BAM POP!. “We’re specifically looking for imaginative fiction with elements of the horror, thriller and/or suspense genres… with an open call for submissions, we’re sure our audience will deliver something amazing.”

Please see the official submission guidelines for complete information about submitting to the BIFF BAM POP! Short Story Anthology.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Saturday Evening Post Contest


Indianapolis (February 6, 2012) — On the eve of the 110th birthday of John Steinbeck, a contributor to The Saturday Evening Post and the acclaimed author of classic novels including The Grapes of Wrath—the Post announces its first ever “Great American Fiction Contest.” The competition offers aspiring novelists the opportunity to join the ranks of other renowned Post contributors including F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, Louis L’Amour, Sinclair Lewis, Jack London and Edgar Allan Poe.

“Good writers help us understand who we are. And The Saturday Evening Post believes that supporting and encouraging writing is all the more vital in a universe where media is evolving so rapidly,” said Editorial Director Steven Slon.

Sponsored by the nonprofit the Saturday Evening Post Society, the contest is designed to promote fiction and creative writing, while seeking America’s next great, unpublished voices. The winning story will be published in the January/February 2013 issue of The Saturday Evening Post and on the magazine’s website. The winner will also be awarded $500, while five runners-up will receive $100 each and have their stories published on the Post’s website.

Entries must be character- or plot-driven stories in any genre of fiction that falls within the Post’s broad range of interests. Entrants must be previously unpublished authors (excluding personal websites and blogs) and stories must be 1,500-5,000 words in length. All submissions should be made electronically in Microsoft Word format with the author’s name, address, telephone number and email address on the first page. The Saturday Evening Post editorial staff in consultation with the magazine’s fiction advisory board will judge the stories. There is a $10 entry fee and all entries must be postmarked by July 1, 2012.

For more information, or to submit a story, please visit

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