Sunday, June 18, 2017

Wishing You

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Wishing You

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Wishing You

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Hiatus Extended

Just checking in to let everyone know I'm fine, and still hard at work wrapping up a big project for one of my clients. After this one I have to jump right onto another one, too. Bottom line, I will be on hiatus for at least a few more weeks; possibly longer.

Of interest to writers who never think about what their heirs might do with their private work, author Margaret Forster's personal diaries are being posthumously published by her widower.

Anything you write is up for grabs after your death, and often becomes more valuable to boot. Maybe the author wouldn't have minded; after all her family will profit from it, and evidently she was quite devoted to them. Or maybe she wanted them kept just for family reading. The sad part is that no one can ask her now.

So, another PBW classic reminder: if you have something you've written that is not intended for public consumption, best burn it now while you're still kicking.

Monday, March 13, 2017

On Hiatus



At present family and work need more of my time, so I'm going to put the blog on hiatus until I catch up. See you when I do.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Whole Story

With the upcoming release of Disenchanted & Co. in French I've been getting some e-mails about when I might be returning to traditional publishing. Let me shed some light on the subject.

It took me four years to sell my last two traditionally-published novels. I had to leave the publisher I had worked with for fifteen years in order to get them published. Once I finally secured a contract, I also wrote a free promotional e-book, created a blog for the new series, solicited the cover quotations, took a booth at a national convention where I spent three days selling myself as well as the books, had countless giveaways, sent out review copies to anyone willing to read them, and did a (for me) huge amount of self-promotion in order make the new series a success.

I didn't resent any of it, as I think those books are among the best stories I've ever written. Shortly after the print publication of the second novel, however, I started to go blind. I did have to deal with that, which I think everyone can understand took priority over continuing the self-promotion.

When I finally recovered from two eye surgeries, my publisher indicated that sales of the books would not support any new releases in the series, and I was out of a job. I failed. I was finished.

That sounds like the end of the story, but for me it was just the beginning of a new one.

As I've always preached to you, I didn't give up. I went about finding a way to still work as a professional writer. It took some time, but eventually I succeeded. Three years later I'm employed full-time as a freelance ghost writer and copy writer. I've carefully built a list of terrific private clients who employ me regularly, treat me with respect, give me enormous creative freedom, and pay me quite well.

I'm really happy, too. I no longer have to deal with anything but the writing for the very first time since turning pro back in 1998. I realize now this is what I should have been doing all along, so it's actually a wonderful thing that I failed so miserably.

Some readers feel angry or frustrated with me for not doing more to deliver new books under my byline, and I'm sorry about that. I know many of you are supportive of my work, and for that I will always be grateful. If I ever publish under my byline again, it will be for you.

That said, I need to make a living, and (just like everyone else) I want to be happy in my work. That means writing stories and copy for my clients instead of my readers. So for now, I hope you will understand and be supportive of this new chapter in my writing life.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Marching On

Time gets away from us, doesn't it? When I'm working I hardly have any awareness of it, how much has elapsed, the hours I spend in my writing space, etc. On those occasions when I'm in the zone I forget time altogether. The dogs often have to remind me that it's the hour for our walk, or to start dinner (they get fed when we eat, but they always want theirs early) or even when I should be in bed instead of at the computer.

I've always been like this, which is why I have so many calendars and planners and such. Without them I'd be entirely clueless as to the date. It is Monday, right?

I have no idea what happened to February, but it's poofed, vanished, gone. Last time I checked the calendar it was February 24th. I woke up this morning and it's March 6th. I can tell you I spent the last week of February and the first week of March building, fine-tuning and mapping out a new universe for a client. At the same time I've been putting together my series notebook, ordering research books, and getting settled in for the long haul, writing-wise. In the process most of the personal stuff I had planned for February poofed on me, too.

Back in January I started working on a tote to take to the county quilt show and share some new ideas I had with my sewing sisters. I had basically a month to get it done, and I didn't. So I took the unfinished work to the show, and got teased for being overly-ambitious. Still shared my ideas, which was thing most important to me. I might start working on next year's show project as soon as I finish this one, though.

Despite the inexplicable time jump from February to March I got the important personal stuff done: the family and the dogs are cared for, the house is relatively clean, and the laundry is under control. I'm almost ready for the next visitor. Sometime today I need to go grocery shopping or we're having soup and sandwiches again, but other than restocking the pantry and the fridge, I'm good to go for March.

I used to beat myself up for not finishing things according to plan. Only when I realized that I will always plan more than I can actually do did I stop smacking myself over things undone.

Time marches on. Yesterday (and really, it seems like just yesterday) I brought my youngest home from the hospital after a nineteen-hour labor with a midwife supervising the delivery. This past week she flew to Washington DC for a science conference. On her own -- this because she's not a newborn; she's a grown woman. Between these two events in her life and mine there were twenty-three years, but from my POV it might as well be twenty-three minutes.

Time does not wait for you to notice it. It is a perpetual army of moments, indifferent to you and on the move forever. Our lives and our time here are finite, so make the most of yours.

Friday, March 03, 2017

WFH Op

Looking for ghost writer work? I spotted this op over in the paying markets forum at AbsoluteWrite.com:

"I'm looking for a ghostwriter, for a 30k words story, the payment is 0,025 USD per word. It should be satirical in nature and containing some fetish scenes. If interested, please write an email to: dirtysecrets@mailfence.com , with a short sample of your work."

As far as the info goes it's a little sparse. If that comma in the payment is supposed to be a decimal point, then the job pays $750.00, which is not bad. I'd e-mail first, confirm the rate and ask any questions you might have about the genre and details before you submit. Satire can be a lot of fun, but anyone who is uncomfortable with writing fetish material should probably skip this one.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Gerard

According to a family statement in comments at his blog, Gerard Vlemmings, the host of The Presurfer, passed away suddenly last Saturday, evidently from lung cancer.

Over the years here at PBW I frequently credited Gerard for the links I swiped from The Presurfer and his other site, The Generator Blog. I started reading his blog way back in 2003, and have visited The Presurfer almost daily ever since. He was not only hugely popular, but a terrific gentleman with a truly wry wit. Now and then I was able to contribute a lead to him for his blog to pay him back for all the interesting links he passed along to his readers.

I always counted on Gerard to be part of my morning. He never failed to deliver something interesting and thoughtful to my day. He was a genuine online treasure, and I will miss him more than I can express.

Safe journey, my friend.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Quilt Show Pics

I had an amazing time at this year's county quilt show. I saw so many beautiful quilts, talked with their incredibly talented makers, and got some wonderful ideas for my own work. Kat went with me one day so I got to show off my kid to my friends. I think I completely recharged my creative batteries too, always a great thing.

We also had fantastic luck with the show raffles. I won two: a huge basket filled with yarn and pattern books, and a adorable ceramic purse stuffed with fat quarters, sewing tools, and a journal:



My daughter was the big winner with this lovely wine rack filled with fabric, patterns and even two bottles of very nice vino:



It's also a little funny -- none of us drink -- but the bottles will go to friends who appreciate wine. Kat generously gave me all the fabric and patterns, so I'll have to make her something neat.

With fingers crossed that this slideshow embed code works, here are some of the pictures I took of the show quilts (Added: the embed thing isn't working for everyone, so here's the link to open it in another window: http://s259.photobucket.com/user/LynnViehl/slideshow/2017%20PBW/Quilt%20Show%202017):

Friday, February 24, 2017

Off to the Quilt Show

I'm taking off today to hang with some of my quilter pals who are in town for my favorite county quilt show, where I invested in this for my daughter:



The Quilting Goddess smiled on me, too, as I won a door prize:



It's so cool -- I don't own a pin magnet, and I've never made a rag quilt. Free fabric, too.

I'll be back on Monday with pictures of the show -- until then, have a good weekend.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Kit in Paris

Last year I sold rights for my steampunk books to J'ai Lu for translation into French, and they very kindly sent me the art for the first two covers:



This is for the book one.



This is for My Lord Mayhem, a contract I negotiated by myself, so I'm especially delighted to see it's in my favorite color.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Art Space vs. Work Space

This past weekend my guy and I took on a monster spring cleaning project, which involved unloading everything from the kitchen, donating what we don't use to Goodwill, and scrubbing every inch of the cabinets and counters before reorganizing and putting everything back. I have a big kitchen, and after three decades of cooking for this man and our kids, way too much stuff. We made three trips to Goodwill yesterday and I've still got a pile of things to take over today.

I did pretty well, too. I got rid of two sets of old dishes, innumerable gadgets, old flower vases, pans, pots, and three small appliances. I wasn't sorry to see things like the 20-year-old blooming onion maker drop in the donation box (I haven't used it since the nineties.) At the same time, I couldn't let go of my daughter's Where's Waldo plastic cereal bowl, which I can guarantee you she will never use again. That bowl is for me and my memories of her in her high chair, dropping Cheerios for our dog Missy when she thought I wasn't watching.

Cooking is work, but it's also an art. When it comes to meal preparation, the kitchen is both work space and studio. Having a spotless, well-organized kitchen now will help me be a better and happier cook, which will result in more creative meals. Since I'll be cooking only for two starting this fall, I definitely need that, but it's also about respecting myself. I work every day in the kitchen, and it should be a space that allows me to do that comfortably and well.

Next on the spring cleaning list is my office, which I've let slide over the past couple of months because I've been so busy. I could let it wait until summer, or do it a little at a time, which is also perfectly acceptable. Thing is, I have some new, significant writing projects coming up on the schedule, and I need the office to be as clean, efficient and uncluttered as the kitchen is now.

Whether it's cooking or writing, I'm always happy to go to work. I'm not very conscious of my work space when I do. That said, I feel better when everything around me is tidy. I think I work better, too.

What's on your spring cleaning list for 2017? How are you going to tackle your projects? Let us know in comments.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Clarity

My guy and I both like lighthouses, so when we got the chance to go inside the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime museum, we couldn't resist:



Signs all around the lighthouse property warned us that climbing the lighthouse's spiral staircase was the equivalent of walking up a fourteen-story building. I wasn't worried; while I'm not going to win any marathons my legs are pretty strong.

Looking up from the base of the lighthouse:



So we climbed. We took a few short breaks on the landings (I'm not so athletic that I can climb up 219 steps without stopping.) The staircase narrowed the higher we went, and we had to wait for people coming down the steps, but finally we made it to the top.

The view proved to be pretty spectacular:



There was a little window that allowed you to see inside the lighthouse's gigantic Fresnel lens, too:



And then there was the climb down, which was not half as tough as the climb up:



If you're ever in the area I highly recommend it as a terrific experience, especially for history lovers.

At the top of the lighthouse I experienced some extraordinary clarity, too. While everyone around me looked nervous, excited, and even a little intimidated, I felt right at home. My guy marveled at the small size of the room where the Lightkeeper worked to keep the beacon burning, but it looked right to me -- maybe because it was about the same size as my work desk. I also liked how hard it was to get to the top; you really had to want it to do all that work.

One lady mentioned how dull the Lightkeeper's job must have been, not to have any television or radio or things to do. I could see him sitting and reading by the light of the beacon, or writing letters, or simply watching the boats come into the harbor -- none of which seemed boring to me. If I had been born in 1888, I would have applied for the job.

I've always thought of retreating from the world into my work as going to my ivory tower -- the old chestnut most writers use -- but from now on I'll think of it as manning my lighthouse.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Wishing You

Monday, February 13, 2017

Off Again



I'm unplugging this week to have some fun. See you on Friday.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Sub Op

I spotted this multi-job freelance op over in the Paying Markets forum at AbsoluteWrite.com:

"Underground Book Reviews is a community of independent authors. We write a new review of an indie book each week, free of charge.

We are looking for reviewers, columnists, judges and blogging partners in 2017. All positions are paid freelance positions, starting at $15 per article, with the potential of earning up to $75 per review. If you are interested, please fill out our contact form with the title “FREELANCE REQUEST”. Include a short resume and a link to an article or review that you have written, as well as a link to your personal website. An online presence is a must, and active involvement in the indie community is a huge plus."

I took a look at the web site, and it seems pretty interesting. With the huge volume of indie titles being published, the ops might result in steady work, too. Disclaimer: as always with any freelance position, please do thoroughly check out the job requirements, restrictions, and any applicable fine print that might be included before you sign on.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Greenworks

One thing I'd like to do this month is repurpose some cardboard and paper from my recycling bin; this stack here consists of two somewhat dented clothing inserts, a 2017 calendar insert, a lidless chip box and the view-panel sleeve my new laptop skin came in. I have no idea what I'll make out of them, but I figure one project per week should be a decent challenge.

Her are some stats from the EPA on recycling:

In 2014, in the United States, about 258 million tons of MSW (municipal solid waste) were generated. Over 89 million tons of MSW were recycled and composted, equivalent to a 34.6 percent recycling rate. In addition, over 33 million tons of MSW were combusted with energy recovery and 136 million tons were landfilled.

In 2014, 89.5 percent of corrugated boxes were recycled. About 61 percent of yard trimmings were composted. Organic materials such as paper and paperboard, yard trimmings and food were the largest component of MSW generated. Paper and paperboard accounted for over 26 percent, and yard trimmings and food accounted for another 28.2 percent. Plastics comprised about 13 percent of MSW; rubber, leather and textiles accounted for over nine percent; and metals made up nine percent. Wood followed at over six percent, and glass over four percent. Other miscellaneous wastes made up approximately three percent of the MSW generated in 2014.

Recycling and composting of MSW results in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction. In 2014, the 89 million tons of MSW recycled and composted provided an annual reduction of over 181 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, comparable to the annual emissions from over 38 million passenger cars."
(You can find the entire report by clicking here.)

My tiny town has started weekly recycling pick-ups, so I could just dump everything in the bin now, but I think it's still important to find new ways to reuse things. Recycling anything costs money for hauling, sorting, storing and processing. Repurposing costs little to nothing, and allows you to make something yourself versus buying it new, so you can also save money.

You don't have to make a huge art project out of recyclable materials, either. For example:

1. Instead of buying note pads or shopping lists, save whatever you print out, flip it to the blank side and stack it in a clipboard -- instant scratch paper. You can also cut it down to a smaller size and stack it in an open box.

2. If you have a shredder, you can shred your junk mail and use it as packing material for the next package you ship.

3. Keep a used envelope to store coupons for your next trip to the market. These also make great holders for lottery tickets, extra bookmarks, sticker sheets, or anything flat.

There are plenty of resources online to help you, too. Here's a blog post by Francesco Mugnai about projects made from recycled cardboard that is particularly fabulous (I love the chandelier and the cat furniture).

In the weeks ahead I'll report back on my repurposing projects as I finish them, and show you what I did to reuse the materials.

Friday, February 03, 2017

7 to 1

In a few weeks I'll be heading to the county quilt show I attend every year, so I'm making a new crazy quilt tote to take with me. This is mostly for fun, but also to show my sewing sisters that I'm not all work and no play.

I have been all about the work these last few months. Along with the new copy writing job, I've been immersed in a big project nearly every day since October of 2016. I'm finally at the finish line, too (I should cross it some time tonight.) This is the largest and longest ghost writing job I've worked on since I went freelance, and it's taught me quite a bit. What I'll take away from it -- aside from the very nice paycheck -- will help me improve my scheduling, how I juggle my work sessions with home life, and how much time I devote to things other than writing.

How much time you work and play often determines how successful you are, but it can also affect how happy you are in general. My most productive ratio seems to be seven to one, or one hour of play for every seven hours of work. I learned a long time ago that if I spend my entire day working (this includes housework as well as writing) I go to bed feeling exhausted and creatively drained. The flip side is just as If I blow off work and play all day I am swamped by guilt and worry over the work I'm neglecting, plus I can't sleep.

Finding my optimum ratio was actually a by-product of my plan to hand-make all my Christmas presents last year. For five months I devoted at least one hour a night to my gift projects, all of which were fun for me. I then noticed how much better I felt in the morning when I went to work. I started tracking my work/play hours along with my mood in my personal journal, and settled on seven to one as the ideal balance.

To find your happiest work/play ratio, here's the process I used:

1. Track the time you normally devote to work (things you have to do for income and/or family) and play (things you want to do for fun) for one week. Be honest, too, because inflating or deflating the hours spent won't give you a real picture of how you're spending your time. Mark the days when you felt at your best and most productive.

2. Take the work/play ratio from the day you felt at your best during the first week, and use them every other day during the next week. Again, mark the most productive days.

3. For the third week, take all your best day ratios and come up with an average, and use that ratio every other day. Keep tracking your best days.

4. Take the ratios from your best days during the third week, average them again, and use that ratio every day for a week.

You can keep doing this until your average ratio figure stabilizes, but after a month you should have a pretty good idea of what your best work/play ratio is.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Off to Finale



I'm finishing up a big project for a client, so I'll be unplugging for a week to complete the last stretch. See you next Friday.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Map Me

Literature Map is a reader recommendation generator that seems to work off what readers authors share, and I'll quote here: "The more people like an author and another author, the closer together these two authors will move on the Literature-Map."

Ah, vanity, thy name is byline. I didn't think mine would even register on it, but lo and behold:



(My map is a bit bigger than this, but I couldn't fit it all on the blog and have it readable.)

Some PBW trivia: Judith Ivory and I belonged to the same RWA chapter way back when I was rookie, and we talked a couple of times, mostly about gardening. She's a lovely and very kind lady, and I probably share only one reader with her, but I'll take it. I laughed when I saw Rob Thurman's name (not pictured) since I never imagined we'd share readers. I'm also a little startled by how many names I didn't recognize, but I guess that's because I don't read much genre fiction these days. Must remedy that.

I nicked this generator link from author Sara Donati, who has a very interesting map of her own and blog post about it here.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Writing 2017

I spotted this multi-sub op over in the Paying Markets forum at AbsoluteWrite.com:

"We are a horror fiction magazine open to submissions! This will be for our April Issue, both in Print and on Kindle. It is our second issue. Our Featured Author for this issue is Jack Ketchum. We'll be open for about a month!

Pay for Short Stories is $50 plus a print copy. As an added bonus, we do not maintain copyrights over your work. As soon as we publish, the rights return to you.

We also accept:
Poetry
Flash Fiction
Creative Non-Fiction

And, if you'd like to review, there may be a spot open for that as well.

Visit us to find out more! We have a bunch of shenanigans going on!

www.deadlightsmagazine.com"

Instantly reverting rights and shenanigans are always good things in my POV, so you horror writers should check it out.

We're already past the middle of January, which leaves eleven months and eleven days to write in 2017. My count for the month is already 55K, so I feel like I've started as I mean to go on, and I need to. I'm currently working out with the clients what I will write for the next eight months, and beyond that I've been reserved to write until December, so there's even more to do before 2017 wraps.

Working out a writing schedule for an entire year can seem daunting, especially for the organically minded, but it's really just a matter of deciding what you want to do and how much time you want to devote to it. Most pros eventually figure out what they can comfortably/reliably produce, and (unless they're superstars who can do whatever they like and still make millions) map their time out accordingly so they know what and how much to pitch in advance.

Here are some tips to help you plan your 2017 writing year:

Calculate your daily count: Write at a pace that's good for you for a week or a month, and keep track of your total wordcount. Divide the total by the number of days it took you to write that, and you'll learn your daily count, or how much you can write in a day. This should allow you to calculate how long it will take you to finish any project.

Get a writing calendar or planner: 2017 Calendars are super cheap right now, and devoting one strictly to your writing schedule will keep all your plans and quotas in one place. You can also use a digital version on your computer or your phone.

Factor in time off: Unless you live by yourself, write seven days a week, and never leave the house, there will be days when you can't/won't write, so it's a good idea to know when your holidays, family events, vacations, etc. land on your year. Mark these on your writing calendar first so you can see them while you're scheduling your writing time.

Allow recharging space: Try to take a little time off from writing every month to allow the well to refill, recharge your creative batteries, etc. This month I'm taking only be a couple of days, but next month I've reserved a weekend for fun and two days to attend the county quilt show.

Have a reward system for making your goals: I get paid by the clients when I finish their projects, but that's my income. I've found that having a little reward to look forward to helps keep me motivated, so I make a point to give myself one every time I do make those goals. Rewards don't have to be big or expensive things, but they should be something you really like. For example, last week I took my daughter out for lunch at a neat Japanese restaurant we both like, and this pic is the bento box lunch I had, which was a delicious reward.

Are you going to schedule your writing year? Got any tips to share? Let us know in comments.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Independence

Over the last couple of weeks I've heard a lot about the closure of All Romance ebooks, which has evidently is going to cost a lot of writers overdue royalty payments. I don't know enough about the facts or circumstances to comment on what happened, but any time writers end up losing money they earned I sympathize. I hope everyone affected by this manages to recover and find new and more reliable venues for their work.

As a freelancer I had to part ways with a client who offered to pay me royalties instead of my contracted fee. I accept only flat fee work from my clients, one project at a time, payable on delivery. Until I get paid for the last finished project I don't do any new work, either, which keeps my risk minimal. This also makes my income reliable, and keeps both sides honest and happy. As much as I liked my former client, I am an independent contractor now. I have no desire to go back to hoping I get a royalty check and that the figures are authentic.

My line of work is not a gold mine; I don't make income ad infinitum with flat-fee, on-delivery, per-project contracts. I sign over all rights to the work to the client, so there are zero royalties. When the work is done, I'm paid in full, I'm finished, and I move on to the next project. These are some of the reasons that writing for hire is not for everyone. You have to go into the project knowing that once it's finished, it belongs to the client entirely. I'm fine with that (I prefer it to byline work, actually) but for some writers this can be very difficult.

How you profit off the success of writer for hire work is by repeat business. What makes money for your clients creates more new jobs for you. Once you have a list of regular clients who will pay you well to continue writing for them, your income stabilizes. That means you don't have to hunt for new clients or go for weeks or months with no money coming in. It doesn't happen overnight -- it took me two years to build my client list -- but if you're picky, and only work on projects that interest you with people who inspire and respect you, you can make a decent, reliable living.

There are other benefits, too. A freelance writer doesn't have to pay 15% to an agent to get work, or wait months on an editor in NY to make a contract offer, or wonder when royalties will be paid, or if they're even accurate. If you go flat-fee only, as I have, you don't have to deal with royalties at all. In time you can even forecast your income by advance bookings; mine presently stretch to the end of 2017. I'm not being smug about that, either -- I've worked very hard at making this gig work, but there's always plenty of competition out there. As a freelancer you have to keep giving your clients the best you can, or they will dump you for someone better.

Sometimes taking a different direction can change everything, too. All I ever really care about is the writing, and making a living from it. I have always written very fast, and once the work is done, I always want to move onto the next thing, too. That's why writing for hire was a perfect fit for me; I just didn't realize it until I left traditional publishing and went 100% freelance. So if you're starting out, or considering making a radical change as I did, first think about what you want, and what you're willing to do for it.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Off to Write



I'm taking off today to work on a project for a client. See you on Monday.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Notebooking 2017

This year I'm trying a different approach to keeping track of my progress with personal and business projects. Instead of keeping a regular journal, a writing idea journal, a business journal, a quilt journal and a weight loss journal, I'm keeping notes on everything in this one notebook.

So far it's worked pretty well. It saves time, as I don't have to switch between journals to check on something else. I won't misplace the notebook because I carry it around with me all day whatever I'm doing. I can also schedule ahead with more confidence because everything is in one spot. I've never journaled like this, so it feels a little weird, but I figures I'd give it a couple months and see if it works better than my old system.

Right now I haven't planned any of my schedule except for work, my weight loss finish line, and a family visit in March, but I'd like to put some full-month pages or dated bullet lists in the notebook so I can look at the entire month in advance. 2017 already feels like I should be keeping things open and flexible, too, so I plan to save at least one day a week as an anything-goes spot. In between all the work, family and home stuff I'm also tinkering in the notebook on my secret project for 2017, which makes it a little more fun.

How are you dealing with 2017? Planning or no planning? Any tips on how to keep on track? Let us know in comments.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Sub Op

I spotted this interesting antho open call over at the Paying Market forum at AbsoluteWrite.com:

"Copper Pen Press is currently seeking submissions of high-quality fiction for Freakshow: Freakishly Fascinating Tales of Mystery and Suspense, a forthcoming short story anthology set within the world of a traveling circus, carnival or freak show. Writers can spin their yarns in the past, present, or future.

We are looking for dark, twisted and unusual mysteries with dark, twisted and unusual characters. We want that “holy shit!” factor.

No splatterpunk. No erotica. No fantasy.

No horror – that is, not yet. We will be launching our horror imprint soon. Mmmmwwwwwahahahahaha.

Payment: $50/story plus a contributor’s copy for non-exclusive rights.

Submission Guidelines

Submit only finished, non-published, original stories, between 2K and 7K words.

We do not accept snail-mail submissions. Your submission package must be e-mailed to submissions@copperpenpress.com. This e-mail address should be used for no other purpose. Include the title of the story and author name in the Subject box.

The manuscript should be attached, formatted as a .doc or .docx (Microsoft Word) on 8-1/2 x 11-inch paper, double spaced with one-inch margins. Use Times New Roman 12-point font.

Number all pages, beginning to end, in the header. The header should also include the author’s name and title of the story. Do not type this information on each page. Use the header function of your software.

Attach a second file with a short bio, your legal name, all pen names in use, your complete publishing history, and contact information including complete mailing address, e-mail, telephone and social media info.

We will not take phone calls or emails regarding the status of your manuscript. We will respond to your submission once it has been read, whether we are interested in publishing it or not.

Simultaneous submissions are permitted. If you have accepted a contract with another publisher, or wish to remove your manuscript from submission, you may contact us by email at editor@copperpenpress.com.

Submissions usually take 4 to 8 weeks for a response. We will not send critiques.

Deadline – October, 31, 2016"

Monday, January 02, 2017

Book of the Month & Year

My pick for December's book of the month is Someone to Love by Mary Balogh, the first novel in her new Westcott series. The author starts it off with a huge plot twist right in the beginning of the book, which sets the stage for some amazing storytelling.

When the Earl of Riverdale dies, he leaves behind a secret as well as a fabulous fortune. His widow learns that her husband provided financial support for Anna Snow, an orphan girl in Bath, whom everyone assumes is the earl's illegitimate daughter. Now a teacher at the orphanage, Anna is summoned to London by the earl's attorney. I won't spoil the surprise, but that's when things then go BOOM.

Anna also has more surprises in store after she meets the new earl's guardian, Avery Archer, the Duke of Netherby. Avery seems like nothing more than a little, foppish kind of guy; not at all hero material. Wait for it, because he's one of the most interesting male protagonists Mary has written in a long time. You'll be cheering for him and Anna by the end of the novel.

I really enjoyed this romance, and I can't wait to jump on Someone to Hold, the next book in the series, which should be released in March.

It was very tough to pick the book of the year. I read 104 books for pleasure in 2016, and the majority of them were terrific. I discovered new-to-me authors I will be collecting, and rediscovered some old favorites that still delivered the magic.

I made my choice based on the one book that I thought about for the longest time, and recommended most often to others. It's the third novel in an indy published series that has from the beginning impressed me to no end. I think this installment delivers even more than I expected after the promise of the first book and the intrigue of the second. It's my #1 book for 2016 for so many other reasons, too. The story is very well-written, adventurous, and packs a wallop of a plot. The characters were already pretty fabulous, but now they're growing up and developing into people whom I want to read about for a very long time.

This book takes me back, too. Science fiction used to be wonderful when I was a kid; I buried myself in books by A.M. Lightner and Edmund Cooper and René Barjavel. Unlike most of the literary nihilistic techfests no one even wants to call science fiction these days, the SF of my teens offered journeys you actually wanted to take. The stories whisked you off to an incredible new future with problems you wanted to solve while you got to know amazing characters in fantastic settings.

I miss all that, and the hope that came from those books. They didn't spit on the future or the reader; they entertained and inspired us. They were the stories that helped us deal with the troubles in the present, and made us want to be better people when we grew up. If that makes me terminally uncool so be it.

For all these reasons LJ Cohen's Dreadnought and Shuttle is my book of the year for 2016. You can read my write up about it here.

Finally, for posterity, here's the list of all the books I read for pleasure in 2016:

January

The Everything Mediterranean Diet by Connie Diekman and Sam Sotiropoulos
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
The Face of Battle by John Keegan
Scarce Resources by Brendan Detzner
Live to See Tomorrow by Iris Johansen
An Unbreakable Bond by Robyn Donald (revisited read)
Passing Love by Jacqueline E. Luckett
Creative Quilting with Beads by Valerie Van Arsdale Shrader
Silent Melody by Mary Balogh*

February

Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison
American Cooking: New England by Jonathan Norton Leonard
Elegant Stitches by Judith Baker Montano
52 Small Changes for the Mind by Brett Blumenthal
Essentials of English Grammar by L. Sue Baugh
Driven by Fire by Anne Stuart
Heartless by Mary Balogh
The Naturalist by Darrin Lunde
Sight Unseen by Iris Johansen
Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
The Arrivals by Melissa Marr
The Private Patient by P.D. James
Chocolat by Joanne Harris
Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes
The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson*

March

City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte
The Elementals by Francesca Block
Ashes of Candesce by Karl Schroeder
Parlor Games by Maryka Biaggio
Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike
Ancient Egyptian Myths and Legends by Lewis Spence
How to Publish Your Own eBook by Nik Rawlinson
Alternative Art Journals by Margaret Peot*
Elegant Stitches by Judith Baker Montano
Never Kiss a Rake by Anne Stuart (revisited read)
Never Trust a Pirate by Anne Stuart (revisited read)
Never Marry a Viscount by Anne Stuart (revisited read)
The Duchess War by Courtney Milan
Dante's Circle Box Set by Carrie Ann Ryan
Firefly Hollow by T.L. Haddix
The Gettysburg Campaign by Charles River Editors
Branded by Keary Taylor

April

Creative Journal Writing by Stephanie Dowrick
100 Perfect Hair Days by Jenny Strebe
Bed Riddance by Ogden Nash
Writing the Life Poetic by Sage Cohen (revisited read)
Grimoire for the Green Witch by Ann Moura
Letters to a Young Artist by Julia Cameron
Gladiatrix by Amy Zol
Only Beloved by Mary Balogh*
Troubleshooting! by John Lyons

May

Barron's 101 Watercolor Techniques
Troublemaker by Linda Howard
A Shiver of Light by Laurell K. Hamilton
Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787 by Winston Graham*
The American Diabetes Association Diabetes Comfort Food Cookbook by Robyn Webb
Reckless by Anne Stuart (revisited read)
Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes

June

Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent
Patchwork Style by Suzuko Koseki
Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris
Fun with Fabric by Jane Foster
J'adore Montreal by Isabelle Lafleche
Black & White ~ Bright & Bold by Kim Schaefer
Sewing with Fabulous Vintage Fabrics by Arden Franklin
Prince Lestat by Anne Rice
Dreadnought and Shuttle by LJ Cohen*

July

The Body Reader by Anne Frasier
Day Shift by Charlaine Harris
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach
The Vintage Caper by Peter Mayle
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (revisited read)*
Redemption Road by John Hart
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
French Country by Barbara Buchholz and Lisa Skolnik
Modern Log Cabin Quilting by Susan Beal
One-Yard Wonders by Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins

August

Longbourn by Jo Baker
Slow-Cooker Quick Fixes by Southern Living
Imprudence by Gail Carriger
Wolf in Waiting by Rebecca Flanders (revisited read)*
Light in Shadow by Jayne Ann Krentz
Country French Kitchens by Carolina Fernandez

September

Frostline by Linda Howard and Linda Jones
The Big Four by Agatha Christie
Rex Harrison by Roy Moseley with Philip & Martin Masheter
Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
Affliction by Laurell K. Hamilton
Stoker's Manuscript by Royce Prouty
A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
On Thin Ice by Anne Stuart
Second Son by Lee Child*

October

All Shook Up by Susan Andersen
50 Ways to Wear Denim by Lauren Friedman*
Lady Fortune by Anne Stuart

November

Byzantium ~ The Early Centuries by John Julius Norwich
Shadowlands and Songs of Light by Kevin Ott*
Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk by Danielle Krysa

December

Someone to Love by Mary Balogh*
South China in the Sixteenth Century by C.R. Boxer
The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe by Mary Simses
Ricochet by Sandra Brown
Free-Form Embroidery by Judith Baker Montano
Strip Happy ~ Quilting on a Roll by Suzanne McNeill
Bonk by Mary Roach

*My pick as book(s) of the month

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Wishing You



Image credit: CreAuthor