Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What Goes Around

A Timeline of Publisher Evolution

1450: Gutenberg invents movable type, which allows the Holy Bible to be massed produced in Germany. Jesus heard weeping.

1834: The world's oldest continuously published magazine releases its first issue, which contains the first hatchet job of The Pilgrims of the Rhine by Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

1864: The telegraph is used to send out unsolicited SPAM for the first time, reported to be an ardent plea for the public to buy Jules Verne's latest novel or the author may have to get a day job.

1896: A prominent American university publishes its first independent student newspaper, which it calls a news-letter. Slipped in among the medical articles is a bootlegged copy of the first chapter of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard.

1922: Radio advertising begins. Publishing decides to hold out for NPR to be conceived so it can pimp obscure literary authors on Fresh Air.

1941: Television advertising begins. Publishing can't afford it.

1950: Telemarketing begins. Publishing can't afford that, either.

1970: E-commerce begins. Publishing perks up.

1971: The Gutenberg Project gives birth to the e-book. Publishing believes no one will ever read an electronic book and yawns.

1980: Computerized SPAM begins. Publishing thinks, "Well, if we're not seen doing it directly . . . "

1984: Guerrilla marketing begins. Publishing misreads the announcement and does nothing because it can't figure out how to connect gorillas with books.

1985: Desktop Publishing begins. Publishing grows vaguely suspicious.

1994: First weblogs appear on the internet. Publishing thinks, "Hey, authors could do some of those . . . "

2000: Tired of trying to keep up with the changing technology, Publishing decides authors should do more self-promotion.

A Timeline of Author Evolution

2000: Authors begin keeping regularly-updated web sites.

2004: Authors begin keeping daily weblogs along with maintaining their web sites.

2005: Authors begin sending out monthly newsletters along with maintaining their daily weblogs and usually-updated web sites.

2006: Authors begin keeping daily MySpace pages along with sending out monthly newsletters and maintaining their weblogs three times a week and occasionally updating their web sites.

2007: Authors begin keeping Facebook pages along with sending out monthly newsletters every couple of months and maintaining their MySpace pages when they feel like it while making excuses on their weblogs for not updating them and crashing their web sites because they forgot the codes and stuff to use while updating them.

2008: Authors begin releasing free e-books while sending out monthly newsletters twice a year and forgetting to maintain their Facebook and MySpace pages while letting their weblogs and web sites go static.

2009: Most authors begin keeping Twitter accounts with hourly updates, in which they bitch about each other, the free e-books they're supposed to be writing, the monthly newsletters they haven't sent out since 2008, and the idiots who have hacked their Facebook and MySpace accounts. Some recall they once had weblogs and web sites but can't remember the URLs anymore.

2010: Most authors collectively collapse from a mysterious form of mental exhaustion combined with an irrational, hysterical fear of technology that makes them incapable of using computers or cell phones. Disorder is nicknamed "Selfpromophobia" and appears to be incurable.

The Future Timeline of Publishing:

2011: In a surprise move, the Amish purchase all of the now-bankrupt major publishing houses, install Gutenberg presses and begin forcing their new employees to shut up and print only plain, utilitarian copies of the Holy Bible in the colloquial form of German only the Amish can read. They hire unemployed authors to work in their warehouses packing boxes.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This Little Writer Went to Market

I am bailing on you guys today to sell some books and earn my keep. All good thoughts sent my way will be much appreciated.

So that your visit was not entirely wasted, here is a PBW triple gold star heads-up on Rob Thurman's newest release, Trick of the Light. It is urban fantasy, set in the same universe as the author's Cal and Niko Leandros novels, but with an entirely new cast and a terrific premise. It's got Vegas, angels, demons, and a hunt for a mysterious artifact that by comparison makes Indiana Jones look like he was grubbing in the dirt for Precious Moments kitsch. If I had only three words to describe this book? They'd be: Best. Twist. Ever.

Rob Thurman, if your ears were burning over the weekend, it's because as soon as I hit Le Big Revelation I shrieked like a girl who finds a hot pink Camaro covered with no-limit credit cards parked in the driveway on her sixteenth birthday. I think I called you a bitch, too, but I meant it in the good, totally stunned, happily envious way.

Go. Buy this book. It will floor you.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Shadowlight E-xperiment Update

While dodging work taking a break from my latest round of edits on two novels, I thought I'd do a new update on the Shadowlight e-ARC experiment.

Silver of Silver's Book Reviews coaxed me into doing an interview at her place as well as posting a review of Shadowlight here. She makes me sound a lot more interesting than I am, btw.

More on the latest reviews I've read:

B& reviews/Nemhain ~ harstan ~ Zeek319 ~ lxz ~ CatsMeowAZ ~ Chad ~ Pandababy

Blogging by Liza/Liza

Chocolate Reality/Steena Holmes

Items of Interest/Mad Scientist

Just Erotic Romance Reviews/Mireya Orsini

The Collected Ramblings of Keita Haruka/Keita

Library Thing reviews/miap45 ~zeek319 ~ csayban ~ Pandababy

Maryse's Blog/Maryse

A Multitude of Books/Milady Insanity

Pandababy/Pandababy (I think Pandababy was the first blogger to post a review; I just didn't get to the e-mail and linkage because of the inbox shuffling that sometimes happens when I hit the wrong sort key)

Reality Bypass/Jana

Smexy Books/Mandi

The Top 5 Reasons I Do What I Do/Sherri, also at Powell's and Paperback Swap

Welcome to the Strange Frontier/sakinah ; also at Symetry of Old Pain; Pomme de Sang and Good Reads

The e-mails that have been coming in have been almost unanimously friendly, supportive and helpful to me, especially the constructive criticism and the exchanges I've had with those of you who wanted to discuss some point(s) from the book. I know I don't volunteer a lot of info, especially when my editor's choices are involved, but I like to know what didn't work and why (especially as I'm finishing up the edits on Rowan's book this week.)

Some of the e-ARC readers were kind enough to post reviews on more than one site, and this is what I consider effort above and beyond what I asked in return for the e-book. I also appreciate all the booksellers out there who are handselling the book and/or are featuring the novel in Staff Picks, end cap displays or a prominent place in their stores. While my internet following is strong, the majority of my sales still come from the brick-and-mortar stores, and no one can help you there better than an enthusiastic bookseller.

To my knowledge there have been no bootleg copies of the e-ARC posted on the internet; I really doubt there will be. I think the readers and bloggers in the online writing community have a lot more integrity than they get credit for.

Some of you have asked me about how the book will fare on the lists given the absence of print ARCs and the way-early shipping. Don't worry about it. It's nice to have a book appear on the lists, but I'm paid according to my sales, and that's where you've all helped the most. I care about earning out. Besides, I made the top twenty last year with a book that shipped out late during a holiday week; I figure that was the one miracle I'm entitled to as an author.

And that's the latest. I'll do one more update after the print edition releases, and then I'll see if I can put together some useful stats on the results.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Contract No-Nos

Ten Things You Probably Shouldn't Ask for During Contract Negotiations

Advance Check -- you're not going to see this until after the contract is signed, sent to legal to be checked, lost for a week, reviewed by the senior editor, lost for three weeks, signed by the executive editor, shuffled into the wrong pile, accidentally filed by an intern, found after seven phone calls from your agent, sent to accounting, used as a coffee coaster for another four weeks and then flagged for a notation error, in which case a new copy of the contract has to be drawn up and sent to you for resigning, or your book has been published, remaindered and goes out of print, or your estate comes out of probate, whichever is the most financially convenient for the publisher.

Apologies -- So the editor who is making the offer rejected your last manuscript by sending you a post card with This SUCKS scrawled on it in pink ink. Say nothing. Wait. Think of that day in the future when you deem it time to send the editor a parting gift. I recommend a box of brand new pink ink pens and a how-to book on improving penmanship. Plus you can recycle the rejection postcard and make it into a gift tag, crossing out This and replacing it with your handwriting, or perhaps offer advice on other, southern, insertable uses for the pens.

Champagne -- you don't want to get the other parties involved plastered; they might start telling you and your agent the absolute truth -- and giggle while they do it.

Diamonds -- okay, for all your hard work you definitely deserve that tiara from Tiffany's, but you know they're just going to slip you cubic zirconium and later swear they thought it was real, or word the contract so that a gift of a tiara is implied but one with real diamonds is never actually offered.

Facelift -- sure, your sagging jowls and the carry-ons under your eyes aren't going to get you last place in the Prettiest Author of the Year contest, but remember, they still think that biophoto you sent them of your granddaughter is you.

Parties -- the only time your editor will actually party is when your novel hits #1 on the Times list, and then the partying won't be with you. Before your editor leaves work early to start drinking, though, you'll get a nice phone call.

Quote From Big Name -- this is how big name quote demands work: you ask for Charlaine Harris, you'll get Harriet Klausner; you ask for John Grisham, you'll get Harriet Klausner, you ask for Stephenie Meyer, your editor will ask me, I'll say I don't do quotes anymore, and then you'll get Harriet Klausner.

Revenge -- baby, what do you think signing that contract is?

Stephen King's Home Phone Number -- he never answers it, and Tabitha gets tired of everyone saying, "But you know, Mrs. King, I thought your books were really cute, too."

Tranquilizers -- you don't have your own supply stocked yet? Okay, come to the next cover art-traumatized authors' meeting, and we'll front you some freebies.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Off to Negotiate

Sorry I'm a bit late posting today. I'm unplugging to consider a new offer that came in yesterday, and to put together some notes for contract negotiations next week. So far it looks good, and if all goes well I will be adding a new genre to the five over there on the sidebar and a new series to my repertoire. I can't share too many details until things are finalized, but this one will be a lot of fun, I promise.

A lot of you have e-mailed to let me know that Shadowlight is out in the stores and is being shipped to you by one of the online booksellers. I know this means the book is going out two weeks in advance of the laydown date. It's okay, this is not a problem for me. I rarely have books released on schedule, and I'd rather have it out early than shipped out late. A sale is a sale, whether it happens during release week or not, and I'm grateful for all of them. If you see the book at your favorite retailer and want to invest in it, go right ahead, and thank you.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Reading about the various authors you all have discovered online was fun. I know the internet has introduced me to dozens of writers whom I might never have found while browsing the shelves on my own at the local brick-and-mortar stores. If that had happened I would have missed out on some amazing books.

We revved up the magic hat, and the winners of the From Here to Print giveaway are:

Tamara/Tammy, whose comment began with I loves me some horror.

Cats Meow


Michael Bracken

Kathleen, whose comment began with I find new authors whenever you ask your readers for a list!

Winners, when you have a chance please send your full name and ship-to info to so I can get your book out to you, and thanks to everyone for joining in.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Barring domestic disasters and other other acts of divine interference, I will be (unofficially) participating in this year's National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, which starts November 1st. Along with writing a NaNo novel I'm planning to do some posts here at the blog to help other NaNo'ers.

If you've always wanted to write a novel but have never tried, NaNoWriMo is a great time to give it a shot. You've got thirty days to produce a 50K first draft, and if you can work daily on it that works out to writing about 1,667 words or six double-spaced pages per day. It's also excellent practice for those of you who would like to be professional novelists, because it gives you a taste of what it's like to write daily or on a regular schedule against a set deadline (something the majority of pros have to do.)

There will be some online grumbling about NaNo'ers, as there is every year, from people who don't like the idea of unpublished, uneducated, unworthy riff raff writing novels. It's really cute how they get such a knot in their knickers over it, too, but don't let them discourage you. You don't need anyone's permission to write but your own. I'm proof of that.

Okay, so tell me -- how many of you are thinking about joining in this year? Are you making any preparations, or just planning to dive in on November 1st? What can I do here on PBW to help? Let me know in comments.

(PBW's NaNoWriMo Banner was made online with the free graphics and logo generators over at Cool Text.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

From Here to Print

Back in April I posted a sub ops list that included some info on Damnation Books, a new e-book publisher specializing in a variety of dark genre fiction. As with every sub ops list I put together, I hoped it would be of help to writers out there who were looking for that sort of market.

A short time after that a writer overseas e-mailed me to let me know that he had seen the listing on PBW, submitted a manuscript to Damnation Books, and had received an offer. This kind of news always makes me very happy because I want PBW to be a real resource for writers, and you don't get any more real than an offer of publication. The writer and I corresponded a bit and discussed some of the details; I offered some opinions and advice and hoped it would work out for him.

Well, as I found out this week, it did.

This week author Michael McLarnon dropped me a note to let me know that his horror thriller novel, Dark Isle, had been released by Damnation Books in e-book and print format from and Barnes &

Here's a little more about the story: "On the high seas, a luxury cruise becomes a horrific nightmare at the hands of modern-day pirates. Many on board die but a few manage to escape to a dark isle. In the dark heart of a tropical jungle, in the centre of this mysterious island unmarked on any existing map, Harry and Cassie Carragher are forced to fight for their lives. They make a terrifying discovery and come face to face with their worst fears. The pirates were just the beginning."

See, this is why I never go on cruise ships. I mean, aside from all the throwing up I do the minute I step off dry land.

Michael was kind enough to send me an e-book copy of Dark Isle as thanks, but of course I had to immediately order some print copies for my other-author brag shelf and to give away here. So if you'd like a chance to to read the book along with me, in comments to this post name an author or book you've enjoyed that you discovered online (or if you can't think of one, toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Thursday, September 24, 2009. I'll choose five names at random from everyone who participates, and send the winners an unsigned copy of Dark Isle by Michael McLarnon. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Generate a Pitch

During a ten list hunt I came across author Kathy Carmichael's Pitch Generator, which generates a simple novel pitch from information you fill in the blanks.

It can also help out outline a broader concept, like the core conflict of a novel series. Here's a general example (I changed some of the generated wording to encompass a series concept:)

StarDoc is a 1,000,000+ word science fiction novel series set in the far future on various alien worlds. Dr. Cherijo Grey Veil is a bioengineered cardio-thoracic surgeon who believes in doing no harm, and in fighting for freedom and equality for all life. She wants to preserve peace and life because it is essential to the survival of all species. She is prevented from attaining this goal because a malignant crystal bent on destroying all life has invaded most of the inhabited planets in the galaxy.

(Now I have to go get over the fact it took me more than a million words to tell Cherijo's story . . . )

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sub Ops

Ten Things About Submission Opportunities for Writers

Poor Mojo's Almanack is holding a contest for rants; The 33-and-a-⅓ Contest. Evidently they want ". . . RANTS featuring "The Best Recipe You'd Never Guess." In the spirt of Mr. Morgan Johnson's "Industrial Espionage and the World's Greatest Sangria Recipe," craft a rant of fewer than 3,000 words featuring a fine recipe of your delight." They define a rant as ". . . a personal essay, and might take the form of a rave, a complaint, a memoir, a travelogue, a stump speech, an outlandish claim, a quiet prayer before dying, et cetera. It can also be about a favored pet." Winner receives $33.33 (I assume) U.S. Reprints okay, electronic submission via online form only, see contest page for more details, deadline December 31, 2009.

Every Day Poets is looking for "short poems, of up to 60 lines/500 words or fewer. There’s no such thing as too short. All genres are acceptable, and poems that don’t fit neatly into any genre are welcome too. We hope to reflect a wide diversity of cultures and cross cultures; although all poems must be in English, this need not be restrictive (as in, for example, “Search for my Tongue” by Sujata Bhatt, or John Agard’s “Half Caste”). We encourage contributors to ensure that all capitalization is a matter of your artistic choice and not a default function of your word processing software, and that punctuation is similarly deliberate. Our readership is adult, so poems intended for children are unlikely to be accepted unless they are relevant to adults as well. On the other hand, we are not impressed by gratuitous sex and violence, or pointlessly foul language; edgy content should be necessary to the purpose of the poem and appropriate to this venue. It ought to go without saying that any poem submitted to Every Day Poets must be your own unpublished original creation. If you publish a poem on a blog, even your own personal blog, it is considered published and therefore inappropriate for our market." Pays $1 per poem, so it's mainly for exposure, but if your poem is the one that is most read that month you'll be featured in a site interview. No reprints, electronic submissions via online form only, see guidelines page for more details.

Fantasy Magazine is looking for "stories that delight, entertain, and enrapture readers, stories ranging from delicious treats that melt on the tongue, leaving only a trace of sweetness, to the dark and poignant tale whose memory lingers with you for days, perhaps years." Length 1-6K, pays 5¢/word, no reprints, electronic submission only using their online form, see guidelines for more details.

Leisure Books is teaming up with Chizine for their Fresh Blood contest for as-yet-unpublished horror novel writers (defined as any writer who has not yet published a horror novel; e-pubbed and/or short story published writers are eligible. Which, hey, makes me eligible.) Leisure wants to see "finished horror novel manuscripts, either supernatural or non-supernatural, of 80,000–90,000 words." The winner will be published in Leisure's 2011 lineup and will also have a limited edition hardcover published by Chizine. Deadline on this on is September 30, 2009 and please read the link page for more, important details on entering.

Drollerie Press has an open call for an as-yet-untitled Greek Mythology/Urban Fantasy anthology (scroll down on link page), and wants to see short stories "retelling Greek myth re-set as urban/contemporary fantasy. They may be set in any location in the world, and do not have to specifically reference Greece. The stories should be between 5 and 20k in length, and should be YA friendly, that is, appropriate to a sophisticated YA reader and to adults as well. The protagonist(s), therefore, should be wrestling with issues of young adulthood, and should be between the ages of 17 and 25. Some profanity is acceptable. Sexual activity and violence may be referenced, but should not be described in loving detail." Pays: "an equitable distribution of royalties based on word count. Publication will be in ebook, with trade paperback to follow if warranted by sales." No specs on reprints, electronic subs okay, see guidelines page for more details, deadline January 5, 2010.

Midnight Echo, the magazine of the Australian Horror Writers Association, "aims to showcase the quality and diversity of the modern horror and dark fantasy genres. Particular emphasis will be placed upon Australian authors, but international voices will also be included." Length 5K or less, pays AU1¢/word, no reprints, electronic submissions only, see guidelines page for more details. Submissions reading period for the next issue ends January 31, 2010.

Mindflights "publishes science fiction and fantasy (including all its sub-genres). All submissions to MindFlights must have a SF&F element. MindFlights is a family-friendly, Christian-friendly market. Thus we prefer stories without excessive or explicit profanity, sexual content, etc." Will be open for submissions again on October 12, 2009. Length 5K or less (not firm), pays ½¢/word ($5-$25) via PayPal only, reprints okay, electronic submissions through online form only, see guidelines page for more details.

Samhain Publishing has an open call for their as-yet-untitled Red Hot Fairy Tales anthology, and is "open to any genre, M/F, M/M, or multiples thereof. I’m looking for your super-hot take on the fairy tales we grew up with and . . . there must be a Happily Ever After." Length: 20-25K, no info on payment but Samhain offers 40% of cover price for single-author books, no reprints, see guidelines page for more details, deadline February 1, 2010.

Drollerie Press also has an open call for their Trafficking in Magic/Magic in Trafficking anthologies: "Trafficking in Magic deals with the sale and transport of magical goods and services, including magical beings, artifacts, fortune telling, communing with the dead, and other spells for hire, or the sale of magical energy itself; Magicking in Traffic deals with magic in the flow of traffic–which could be street traffic, commerce, the flow of energies, or something else entirely–whether to aid, block, or manipulate the flow of traffic, or simply to play in it. Creative interpretations of the title(s) are also encouraged." Focus is on f/magreal/slipstrm/mythicfic/fairy tales (fic/poem, query for b-w art/comics); pays equitable 60% royalty. Words: <12k; poem<100 lines (query if longer). Reprints okay, electronic submissions only, see guidelines page for more details, deadline January 5, 2010.

Pill Hill Press has an open call for their Twisted Legends: Urbanized & Unauthorized, edited by Jessy Marie Roberts, and are looking for "short stories that present clever twists on urban legends. Though most genres are accepted, all stories must contain strong horror/suspense themes. I will only accept one revised version of any urban legend/myth - I will post the stories I've accepted on my blog and forum so everyone knows what urban legends I have already taken. As this anthology is open until filled, I will read the submissions in order of when I receive them (first come, first serve). Make the stories fun, frightening and most importantly, TWISTED." Does NOT want to see: " . . . stories with a strong religious theme. Also, please do not send rape/torture stories, anything 'x' rated or pornographic, pet mutilation tales, fiction about child abuse and/or pedophilia, or submissions that denigrate any race, gender or sexual orientation." Length: 500 words to 5K, pays 1 cent per word plus 1 contributor's copy upon publication. No reprints, prefers electronic submissions, deadline: October 2, 2009.

Nearly all of the above sub ops were found over in the market listings at Ralan's place.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I'd Buy It

Products for Writers That We'd Like to See

Awards Nom Sleepy Time: Drink a cup of this delightful tea and snooze like a baby for weeks and weeks the next time your book is nominated for an indy award that you probably haven't kissed enough ass to win.

Buzzkiller Off: One spritz of this jackass repellent keeps all trolls, flamers, bait-danglers and smear campaigners off the writer's back for as long as they need to finish the next book. Comes in extra-strength for writers who are looking for more long-term protection.

Catty Colleague Anti-Scratch Spray: Spray generous amounts of this writer conference air freshener around at the next Nat'l to repel any frustrated frenemy trying to get in your face or stab you in the back. For the persistently pissed off with you, try the Crass Colleague Brush-off Roll-on.

Cover Art Trauma Tranquilizers: I don't have to explain how these little beauties work, do I? Each powerful tranq comes dipped in generous amounts of white, milk or dark chocolate (candy coatings are 100% donated by the sympathetic folks at OhYeahItSucks Chocolates.)

Ego Superglue: Fix all the damage to the writerly self from those wisecracks and heartbreaks with a single fast, easy application. To repair more extensive damages from direct attacks, try You Should Have Ducked Tape.

Genre Color Enhancer: Add to your favorite genres and publishers to bring out more releases by authors of every color, not just the whites.

Revisions Sweetener: Sprinkle one packet over the manuscript to make those revisions easier to swallow (or directly on the author to remove lingering bitterness.)

Royalty Retinal Burn Gel: Apply directly to the eyes when scorched by reading the latest royalty statement (available in extra-strength for three-year-old releases that still have thousands of dollars being held in reserves against returns.)

Stalled Submission Soothers: These calming all-natural lozenges will ease chronic tight throat and help heal bitten lips induced by overlong response waiting periods and perennially late postal carriers.

Writer Soul Balm: Removes the soreness, restores the softness, and keeps your soul feeling young instead of dried out, withered and old. Comes in flavors like cherry (for when you need to change agents/editors/publishers -- again) and medicated (for after you change agent/editors/publishers and find out the new one is just as bad or possibly worse.)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

In a Hundred Years

I love to read old books. The way books were published a hundred years ago fascinates me (and most of them are still in wonderful shape and will likely be readable for another hundred years, which makes them far superior to what we publish today.) The language in the books is also beautiful in ways that have evaporated over time; we don't talk like this anymore. Reading century-old books allows you to listen to the past as well as visit places that were important to their readers.

When I pick up an old novel, that saying always comes back to me: In a hundred years, will it matter? Did the author wonder that while writing this book? Did they hope someone on the other side of the century would read it?

Recently I found 3 hundred-year-old or better novels at a rare book store that I liked a lot, and I thought I'd write up my impressions of them:

A Spinner in the Sun by Myrtle Reed, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons/The Knickerbocker Press, 1909. Premise: Poverty drives spinster Evelina Grey back to her abandoned home 25 years after being disfigured in an explosion caused by her fiance (who she saved from also being burned up.) Said fiance showed his gratitude by marrying someone else.

Although the prose is definitely over-the-top dramatic, the story grabs you from the first chapter, when Evelina arrives home. On the surface it's a simple train-wreck plot -- burned/disfigured heroine comes home to face the ghosts of her past -- but then it starts getting very interesting. The story also has an amazing plot twist, which the Muses would never forgive me if I revealed, and frankly I never saw coming. It completely knocked my socks off, and you just don't expect a book to do that after 100 years to another experienced storyteller. Excellent book.

St. Elmo by Augusta J. Evans, published by Grosset & Dunlap, 1896. Sweet, perky twelve-year-old Edna Earl witnesses a duel, loses her only living elderly relative, and is in a train wreck (an actual/real one) from which she is rescued by a kindly couple and their ungrateful, nasty, suspicious son (whom they named St. Elmo.)

Some of the novels women authors wrote a hundred years ago were extremely dense, hefty reads, and St. Elmo is one of those. The author must have mainlined the Bronte sisters for a few years before starting out on her own writing career because I kept thinking "Jane Eyre knockoff." She's also very fond of the exclamation point. At the moment I'm working my way slowly through this one, which is a constant wade through over-descriptive passages and dialogue that consists mainly of indignant and declarative speeches -- but even that has some quaint appeal and charm. I haven't finished it yet so I can't give it a thumbs up or down, but I haven't put it aside, so after 113 years it still has staying power.

The Mistress of Shenstone by Florence L. Barclay, G.P. Putnam's Sons/The Knickerbocker Press, 1911 edition. While entertaining a local doctor at the Shenstone estate, slightly neurotic Lady Myra Ingleby learns that her husband Michael has been killed in an explosion during the war.

The Mistress of Shenstone must have been one of the novels that Barbara Cartland read; it has the same sweetness and wholesomeness to it. Everyone is so nice; my mother would love it. But it's also very readable, as if it were written just a couple of decades ago by some sweet romance writer like Cartland instead of 99 years ago (the first edition was published in 1910.) I liked this book a lot because it was elegantly written, all the characters have very good manners, and yet it still managed to keep me involved. I saw the plot twist coming early on -- the author didn't bother with veiling it too much -- but it's also a classic that I doubt will ever go out of style.

The sale pages Putnam put in the back of their novels a hundred years ago are funnier than hell now to read. Myrtle Reed actually has a page for another of her novels, Master of the Vineyard in the back of Florence's book, with this full-page blurb:

"A book of attractive plot, of pure morals, of lofty ideals, which deserve a reading by young and old. We take some pleasure in unequivocally asserting these qualities in Miss Reed's latest novel, because some of those arrogant coteries of unbaked thought, of narrow vision, of too utterly utter estheticism, and that bluestockingism which Moliére so well ridiculed, have affected to underwrite her ability as a writer. The indictment of sentimentality is heard from these bumptious dictators of the community's literary diversions. Miss Reed is not George Eliot, nor George Sand. She probably never pretended to be, and perhaps prefers not to be. She is not a preacher, but her books have a good purpose, are delightful in description, are irradiated with a glow of humor, and if sentimentalism be accepted as a good prescription, in proper doses they are admirable. In the present volume the publishers have outdone themselves in decoration on cover and pages. It is a sumptuous affair." -- Pittsburgh Leader

How would you like to have all that plastered on the front of your novel? Or maybe some tasteful excerpts: "[Not] Bluestockingism" "Too utterly utter" ". . . decoration on cover and pages . . . is a sumptuous affair!"

Myrtle, Augusta, and Florence, it's been a hundred years, and your books still matter -- at least to me. Thanks for some enjoyable time travel.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Timeless Ten

Ten Things to Kill Some Time While I'm Off Sulking Editing

Click on the orange square, type your name or any word(s) in lower case letters, and hear how it sounds on the craymachine.

Need some epic swears, like Almighty son of a festering trogg-breeding serpent!? Get up to fifty at once over at zlana's Cuss-O-Matic generator (hosted by Manon/Serendipity.)

Play the fame game celebrity-style over at Famousr.

All we need is a little synergy, and a lot of luck: Go Farther ~ The Next (Big?) Thing by Steven Savage

All fountain pens all the time: Inkophile

29,714 artists, 174 countries, one single global collaborative online art project: The One Million Masterpiece.

Read on Earth is "a collaborative art bookmarking project where photos are stashed inside of books with the goal of seeing other readers discover them."

Possibly the best name for a kids/YA book review blog ever: Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

One for the history buffs: The Times Machine allows you to browse any issue of the New York Times from September 18, 1851 through December 30, 1922.

Chaotic Shiny has an interesting writing exercise generator that challenges the user to with story element prompts as well as word or time counts.

Many of the above links were found while rifling through the archives over at The Presurfer.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Isis the Game

I'm still off crying over editing my book. I know, I know, but I've been through a couple of divorces that weren't this tough.

Elsewhere there is more online entertainment to be found that doubles as powerful and fun book promotion: Isis the Game. Author Doug Clegg arranged this difference game for the release of a new illustrated edition of Isis the Book, but it's not like any promo I've ever seen. It's actually fun to play.

Do be warned that Isis the Game is highly addictive, and that the link to the game opens with its spooky and fascinating music enabled, so if you're at work turn off your speakers before you check it out.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Off to Weep Edit

So your stop here was not wasted, do check out Spezify, kind of like a Visual Thesaurus of search engines (authors, if you type in your name or pseudonym, all sorts of interesting things pop up.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Shadowlight E-xperiment

Last month I committed to trying an e-ARC experiment for my October release, Shadowlight. I thought I'd provide some stats on how that's gone so far:

Distributed: 73 e-ARCs via e-mail.
Labor (preparing/converting the manuscript into the e-ARC, responding to e-mails): 17-1/2 hours

Reviews posted that I've read so far:

(Another) 52 Books/Bibliophile

B&'s Shadowlight sales page (Eight reviews)

Bellwood Farm/Laura

Beyond the Invisible/Soleil Noir

Blue Heron Creek/Debra Saturday

The Book Book/Chad

Chapters, Canada/Bookworm

My Writing Existence/Anne

One Book Away from Heaven/Pattepoilue

Stray Thoughts Of Margaret Fisk

There are definitely more reviews out there, and a bunch of links waiting for me to check out in my e-mail box. I do want to read them before I post them here, not to screen them but as a courtesy to everyone who took the time to request the e-ARC, read it and write them up.

A couple of people have e-mailed me about the possibility of e-ARCs resulting in lost sales of the print novel. While I don't expect everyone who received an e-ARC will end up buying the print version of the novel (nor would I), many of these readers had never read any of my books before, and several have commented via e-mail or in their reviews that they're going to buy or check out from the library more of my backlist. Basically what I lose in sales of the print novel I'll likely double or triple in backlist sales. Since all of the Darkyn novels are still in print, as well as most of the StarDoc books, this helps keep more of my books in print. I'll sacrifice a few current-release sales for that.

Most popular/universal comment so far: some form of "I loved Rowan!" Which is good, because originally I pitched Delilah's story, not Rowan's, as the second book in this series (and that is what ended up on the contract.) As I was writing Shadowlight, however, Rowan came out so strong on the page that I asked my editor if I could instead write book two about her. She agreed, I pitched a new synopsis, and wrote Dreamveil, Rowan's story, as book two. Which now seems like a pretty good decision all the way around (reason #999 as to why you should listen to your instincts.)

My thanks to everyone who is participating in this experiment. So far, so good.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Free Stuff Ten

Ten Things You Can Have for Nothing

Freeware caution: always scan free downloads of anything for bugs and other threats before dumping the programs into your hard drive.

Q10 is a "simple but powerful text editor designed and built with writers in mind" that offers full screen editing, a target wordcount feature, a timer alarm, custom autosaving, autocorrection option and even custom typewriter sound effects (OS: Windows)

Calibre is an "e-book library management application. It is free, open source and cross-platform in design . . . Calibre is meant to be a complete e-library solution and thus includes, library management, format conversion, news feeds to ebook conversion as well as e-book reader sync features" (OS: Linux, OS X, Win 9x/ME/NT/2K/XP/2K3/Vista)

Efficient Diary is a "completely free while still beautiful, easy-to-use and powerful electronic diary software package. With its unique and powerful flash full-text search technique, you can simply enter a word in the diary to quickly find the corresponding entries! The product has a strong edit function similar to that of Microsoft Word. You can insert various items such as tables, pictures, emotions, URLs or even attachments. You can set the background color, background picture of each diary entry separately so your diary can be rich and colorful" (OS: Win 98/ME/NT/2K/XP/2K3/Vista)

esyPlanner installs on a pen drive and "allows you to manage your notes and calendar, register expenses, save your passwords and write your daily diary" (OS: Windows XP)

When he isn't writing Halo books or changing nappies, author Tobias Buckell is working an ongoing open/free online autobio project of blog posts and writing advice over at It's All Just a Draft.

Moo0 Magnifier "lets you easily and quickly magnify your screen on immediate demand.
Don´t you have times like you suddenly wanted to see some texts / pictures a little bit larger? Using this software, you can do it instantaneously by pressing only one key. We believe everyone should have got one of these" (OS: Win XP/2003/Vista)

NolaPro is a "free, web-based Business Management and Accounting Suite. It includes all standard accounting modules as well as order entry, inventory tracking, full payroll services, and plug-ins such as point-of-sale, a business-to-business web portal, and an ecommerce shopping cart" (OS: Win 2000/XP/2003/Vista)

Piggydb is an "easy-to-use Web application for building a personal knowledge repository. The knowledge in the repository is composed of knowledge fragments which you input in a manner similar to blogging. You can also input any file as a knowledge fragment. Piggydb enables you to create highly structural knowledge by providing features such as flexible relationships between knowledge fragments and hierarchical tagging. It encourages you to organize your knowledge continuously to discover new ideas or concepts, and moreover enrich your creativity" (OS: Multi-Platform; to run it you need to have Java 5.0(1.5) or later)

SimplePlainNote is a "very small application. (Less than 100kb setup) If .net framework 2.0/Mono is installed" that features "Change color of notes; Make note stick on top; Make notes transparent; Create e-mail of note; Send note to twitter; Resize notes how big or small you want it; Some syntax highlight for notes that have code; Fully xml based2 (does not need windows registry3)" (OS: Win 2000/XP/Vista/7)

SmoothDraw is an "easy natural painting and digital free-hand drawing software that can produce high quality pictures. Support many kinds of brushes (pen, pencil, dry media, airbrush, bristle brush, image hose, etc.), retouch tools, layers, image adjustment, and many effects... Works great with tablets and Tablet PC" (OS: Win 2000, XP, Vista;
.NET Framework 2.0, and the designer recommends a tablet/stylus for drawing)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Promonator


Silence. Gradually the sound of writers arguing and getting drunk becomes audible. Soiled bookmarks and discarded freebie books litter the sidewalk. An agent runs out of the bar, followed by three romance writers seeking representation and Mr. Cover Art 2009, who thought he was cute.


The roaring fire from the free books handed out during the writer’s conference and now being burned behind the bar is spreading fast. The air is thick with smoke, laughter, and too much designer knock-off perfume. Deese throws his copy of Publishers Weekly into the fire. He hauls the lolling has-been SF writer off Sahara Conrad and reaches for her.

DEESE: Come with me if you want to make a living.


The Promonator is rising calmly to his feet. Shreds of bad reviews drift from him, except where they get caught in the wads of cash sticking out of his suit pockets. He collects a crumpled contract from the ground and retrieves his calculator and scattered business cards.


SAHARA, feeling a bright arrow of terror greater than she could ever imagine in any black moment scene as the Promonator’s cold gaze fixes on her.

PROMONATOR: Sahara Conrad. You did not sign. I need a retainer check. Where is your web site? You must have a web site. And book videos. Many book videos.

SAHARA (awed whisper): Oh no . . .

PROMONATOR climbs over an intoxicated editor, back through the window and stalks through the flames toward SAHARA. DEESE seizes SAHARA as he runs, dragging her with him toward the back exit door. REVERSE ON PROMONATOR, DOLLYING as he kicks burning wreckage out of his path and pursues them.


Deese and Sahara burst through the outside door and into the alley. Sahara bangs into garbage cans, and Deese pulls her along ruthlessly. Behind them Promonator is moving with non-human speed, as agile as a hyena, leaping over the garbage cans and other obstacles. As they reach a chicklit author's pink sedan Deese shoves Sahara inside, climbs in, hot wires it and takes off.


Sahara is in a muddle, her face white, her hands tightly clutching her AlphaSmart and her homemade bookmarks in her lap as she glances back at the alley.

DEESE (calmly): Are your feelings hurt? Are you blocked?

Sahara doesn’t reply. He reaches over and runs his hands over her smart keyboard, trying to find the Open File button. Sahara shrieks and slaps his hand away before she tries to open the door. Deese slams her back in the seat.

DEESE (continuing): Write exactly what I say. Exactly. Don't reread unless I say. Don’t open a new chapter unless I say. And don’t you dare try to get on Twitter and tell your critique partners where you are. Do you understand?

Sahara doesn’t respond.

DEESE (shouting): Do you understand?

SAHARA (cowering): Yes. Please, don’t hatchet job me.

DEESE: I’m not a critic, I'm here to help you. Deese, Sergeant/Tech Anti-Con, DN38417, assigned to protect you. You've been targeted for self-promotion.

SAHARA (hoarse whisper): This is a mistake. I haven't published anything yet.

DEESE: No. But you will. And it's very important that you keep writing.

SAHARA: I can't believe this is happening. How could that man get up after you battered him by reading all those horrible PW reviews?

DEESE: Not a man. A machine. A Promonator. Scriberdyne Model 501.

SAHARA: A machine? You mean, like a robot?

DEESE: Not a robot. Scriborg. Scribernetic Organism.

SAHARA: But...he was bleeding. I saw the paper cuts you gave him when you swatted him with this month's sucky SF section.

DEESE: All right. Listen. The Promonator's an author bank account infiltration unit. Part human, part machine. Underneath, it's a hyperalloy advance-sucktration chassis, micromarketing-controlled, fully armored. Very tough. But on the outside, it looks like it’s alive. Flesh, skin, hair . . . blood. Grown in corporate labs for the Scriborgs.

SAHARA: Look, Deese, I know you want to help me make the lists, but . . .

DEESE (cutting her off): Pay attention. The 400 series had rubber briefcases and phony Florsheims. We spotted them easy. But these are new. They look like real publicists. Sweat, bad breath, everything. Impossible to tell the difference. I had to wait 'til he tried to make you write him a check before I could zero him.

SAHARA: Hey, I'm not stupid, you know. Publishers can't force us to self-promote like that.

DEESE: Not yet. Not for about forty years.

SAHARA: So, it's here from the future of Publishing, is that right?

DEESE: One possible future. From your point of view in this genre . . . I never wrote time-travel stuff.

SAHARA: And you're from the future of Publishing too?

DEESE: Yeah.

They come to a red light and Deese stops.

SAHARA (patronizingly): Man, I've heard some pickup lines before, but this . . .

She tries to get out of the car, but Deese grabs her arm and drags her back inside. She bites his mouse clicking finger, but his grip doesn't change.

DEESE (coldly): Scriborgs don't feel pain. I do. Don't . . . do that . . . again.

SAHARA (weakly): Just let me go back to the conference.

DEESE: Listen. Understand. That Promonator is out there. It can't be reasoned with, it can't be bargained with. It doesn’t care how much you’ve suffered while pursuing publication, or how many bills you haven’t paid, or how much this dream means to you. It doesn’t feel empathy, or remorse, or shame. And it absolutely will not stop. Ever. Until you are broke.

SAHARA (quietly): Can you stop it?

DEESE: Maybe. With these contracts your publisher is offering, I don't know. They've already started demanding platforms and book videos and con appearances from their signed authors. Three-piece bastards.

Deese grabs Sahara and pulls her down to duck out of sight. A moment later a bookseller spotlight flashes across the seats above them, projecting the latest bestsellers at 40%.

SAHARA: Deese . . . why me? Why does it want me to self-promote?

DEESE: There was a Marketing war. A few years from now. Everything went nuclear. The whole industry. All the opportunities, the hope --

He gestures toward her AlphaSmart and crappy bookmarks, Hudson Street, and the Publishing world.

DEESE (continuing) -- are gone. Just gone. There were survivors. Here. There. Nobody knew who started it. (pauses) It was the suits, Sahara.

SAHARA: I don't understand...

REESE: Corporate publishing. New. Powerful. Hooked into everything that made it into print. Trusted to do right by their authors. They say a senior editor got smart . . . a new order of intelligence. Then the suits saw all authors making a living by writing as a threat, not just the ones on the lists. They decided our future in a microsecond . . . self-promotion until bankruptcy.

SAHARA: You saw this?

DEESE: I didn't see the war. I started writing after, in the industry ruins. Sneaking online to post anonymously on writer discussion boards. Starving for well-written books. Hiding from the B-K's.

SAHARA: The B-K's?

DEESE: Buzzkillers. Patrol machine hatchet-jobbers, built in automated promo factories. Most of us were rounded up anyway; what money we had sucked out of us, and our remainders put in shredders for orderly disposal.

Deese shows Sahara a ten digit number branded on his forearm.

DEESE (continuing): My last ISBN. Burned in by laser scan. In my time, they make you tattoo it on your body. Sometimes on your forehead. (pause) Some of us were kept on the con circuit to fool the others into signing with and endorsing their advance checks over to the Promonators. Nothing was being marketed. All we really did was dump their unsold, miniscule first print run into shredders a week after release. The paper-chewers ran night and day. We were that close to going back to our day jobs forever . . .

SAHARA (weakly): Oh, my God.

DEESE: But there was one man who made us do the right thing, the only thing we can do well: write. To focus on the story. To stop spending all our advances on mindless, useless self-promotion and instead to give the reader a great book so they'd want more. He was the one who taught us to storm the writer conferences and drag other authors out of there. To smash those moronic cash-suckers into junk. He turned it around, brought us back from the brink. (pause) His name is Conrad. Joseph Conrad . . . your son, Sahara. Your unborn writer son.

SAHARA (indignantly): I'd never name my son that. I hated reading Joseph Conrad in high school. I even thought about changing my last name because his stories annoyed me so much.

DEESE (waggling eyebrows as he delivers the plot twist): But he's my favorite author.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Remember back in April when I talked about PBW hitting the 2000th post mark? Today it officially does, just thirteen days short of the blog's five-year anniversary. The math says I've written on average 400 posts per year since I started this thing.

So now I'm going to shut it down and go live on an island without internet service. It's been fun. Bye!

No, no, just kidding. I won't leave you guys in the forest of Twitterfeeds and static excuse blogs. Besides, deserted islands are overrated. With my luck I'd probably end up on the one from Lost and figure it all out a just few seconds before the black smoke monster gets me.

Seriously: I am very grateful to all of you for keeping me online, and for making PBW so much fun for me and everyone who stops in.

I did want to do something to mark the occasion, so I put together a ten list of posts from the last five years that I think are pretty memorable:

Ten Things from PBW's 2K Archives


Burgers and Birds (and most of them made it.)


The Devil's Publishing Dictionary, Part I and Part II

All of the Dilemma posts, including the very first one)

John and Marcia, my novel crash test dummies

The Last Samurai Agent

Left Behind & Loving It X 4 years

Novel I: Imagine

Publishing 911

Now, a question for you all: Because the blog is getting so large, and Google has never been very forthcoming on how much space we're allowed to use for our freebie blogs, I'm thinking about converting part of the archives into e-book form and posting them on Scribd.* What do you guys think? Good idea, bad idea, other? Let me know in comments when you have a chance.

**Note 9/3/10: Since instituted an access fee scam to charge people for downloading e-books, including those I have provided for free for the last ten years, I no longer use or recommend using their service. See my post about this scam here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bucket Books

A life-goal or "bucket" list is comprised of all the things a person wants to do before life is over (or they kick the bucket.) The list can contain anything from ordinary/mainstream ambitions such as "get married and have kids" to exotic or highly unlikely dreams like "buy my own island and live there." In many of the articles I've read about the practice, writing and/or publishing a book is usually on the list.

I'm not surprise to see that there are so many aspiring bucket-list book writers out there; the Times' Joseph Epstein claimed a survey indicated that 81% of all Americans feel they have a book in them. Why not write a book before the final kick? It's certainly more realistic and doable than "climb Mt. Everest" or "sleep with George Clooney."

(Btw, George, after 25 years I'm still madly in love with my guy, and men in his family tend to live 'til their nineties, so you never really made my list. Sorry.)

I think those of us who are working writers already have slightly different bucket lists. I still have some things I want to do, like see the Grand Canyon and grow my hair down to my knees, but on mine there are mostly books I intend to write before I go. My list is not static -- I actually write them (both Dream Called Time and If Angels Burn were once bucket books) and then I add something new: a massive nonfic history of American patchwork quilting, a straight Western set in California, an old-style Gothic haunted house story set in the South. I would absolutely love to write a book in a language other than English, but my fluency in the languages I do know is such that I'd have to go back to school for at least a couple of years. Still, that's why it's a bucket list.

So what is something you've put on your book or life bucket list? Let us know in comments.

Image credit: © Frenta |

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Art of Words

You're sensing a theme here now, aren't you? Ha.

The practice of making art out of words has been around almost as long as we have. Archeologists have found graffiti at Pompei and Herculaneum, and some 5,000-year-old specimens on the walls of the Tarxien Temples in Malta.

Mapelba has a collection on flickr here of art made from words from her novel, as well as a blog called Words are Art.

Wordmeister Edward Ruscha liked to paint words as art. My favorite from his work is his painting I Think I'll . . . ; that's exactly how indecisiveness makes me feel.

Jenny Holzer is pretty well-known for her work, which is almost always made of words. I love how she transforms them into emotional environments. I also like Ruark Lewis's Euphemisms for the Intimate Enemy, a massive installation which combines words and five hundred and fifty 55-gallon oil drums.

The Egyptians made words into art with their beautiful and complicated hieroglyphs; you can translate your own name (up to 11 letters) into this ancient art over at the Egyptian Name Translator.

Exactly what it feels like to finish a story and send it off: When Words Become Precious.

And I thought I was a wordy journaler: Days of Words.

Get the words before you go inside: the main doors to the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain are made of words.

Wearing your wordwork: Words, it is all about the words!

Make your words into a manifestypo of art online with the Typo Generator.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Art of Books

The Castle by Su Blackwell
Dark Roasted Blend has two mesmerizing posts on making art out of books: Unusual Books and Book Sculptures and The Bittersweet Art of Cutting Up Books. I don't know that I could do anything like this -- I suffered some intense guilt pangs over the one time I deliberately defaced a book to make art -- but it's fascinating to see what artists who aren't cowards can make out of a book.

Libraries would love this: you try to pick up something to read, only to discover the bookshelves are made out of books (and wouldn't that be a great practical joke to pull in the freebie room at the next con? The bag ladies would howl.)

Imagine living in The House of Books. Hmmm. Maybe if you're a munchkin.

No one can call artist Craig Paul Nowak spineless when it comes to creating oil paintings on books.

Story as Furnishing -- books are being made into vases, shelves and coffee table bases, lamps and stools, and the occasional couch.

Step aside, bookmobile -- artist Hans Winkler has come up with the book boat.

Sculptor Alex Queral carves telephone books into celebrity portraits (some of which are currently on display at the Philadelphia Int'l Airport, if you're ever passing through.)

When is a book also sculpture and art? Visit the amazing world of pop-up books, and take a look at the current record holder for the largest pop-up book in the world.

The Book IS the Art: Artist Robbin Silverberg makes ribbon books and winds them up on antique spools (and now I want to crochet a story.)

16th century artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo liked to paint portraits of people made of objects like fruit and stuff, and did one of a man made of books, but of course now we have mosaic photo art, which makes five thousand book covers into Bridget Bardot.

Rebound Designs makes purses and wallets out of old books, as does Make It and Take It. You can also learn how to make a purse from a book over at Squidoo (scroll down.)

Monday, September 07, 2009

Labor Day Ten

Ten Things About Writing Jobs & Sub Ops, a men’s lifestyle web site, is looking for reporters to hire and contribute to the site, and are okay with telecommuters. From the Craigslist ad: "Areas of interest include weird news, science, food, true crime, sex, politics, video games, entertainment and travel. We’re looking for writers who can report original stories and humorously analyze new trends -- everything from the latest wave of serial killer memorabilia sites to new concoctions that bring oversize donuts to amazing heights. We’re also looking for writers who can cover local stories in places such as Los Angeles, Florida, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans and Austin. We want people who have a passion for breaking new stories, not just re-hashing stories they’ve read. If you’re willing to scour through records, pound the pavement, search for the unusual, channel the zeitgeist and come up with intriguing stories, we’re interested in hearing from you. Please send your resume, pitches and relevant clips or links to"

Fantasy e-zine is looking for "...stories that delight, entertain, and enrapture readers, stories ranging from delicious treats that melt on the tongue, leaving only a trace of sweetness, to the dark and poignant tale whose memory lingers with you for days, perhaps years. Fantasy Magazine is entertainment for the intelligent genre reader — send us stories of the fantastic that make us think, and tell us what it is to be human while amazing us with your mastery of language and story elements. From the very first issue, Fantasy has featured authors of significant literary reputation, such as Jeffrey Ford, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Stewart O’Nan, and Holly Phillips. Send us your best. While we run the gamut from light to dark, we don’t have as much of the former as we’d like, and are always looking for more." What they don't want" "... cookie-cutter fantasies or retellings of D&D campaigns. We do not want any “fan fiction” or story that depends on the use of media characters. While any sort of fantasy content is allowed, the execution must be superb. Some sexual content is acceptable, but the title Fantasy does not refer to sex fantasies. We are not an appropriate market for erotica." Length: 1-6K, payment is 5¢/word. Rights: "Exclusive first world electronic rights for 60 days from publication, and non-exclusive anthology rights" No simultaneous or multiple submissions, no reprints unless "they have appeared in very obscure markets" and "Please QUERY before sending one", electronic submissions only and submitter must use online submission form; see guidelines page for more details.

Mike Carey is having a writing competition for publication in Murky Depths issue #14. I've visited the web site but I can't find the sub info, so I'll copy what Ralan has on his market listing as to what they want: "sf/h (fic), Words: <5k. Fee: $0. Prize: pub in #14. Reprints: no. E-subs: ONLY." The competition opens 1 November 2009 (don't submit before that date) with a deadline of 30 April 2010. See web site or Ralan's market listing on the contest page at his site for more info.

Demand Studios is hiring "additional freelance writers to research assignments and write concise and informative articles around those topics. As one of the web’s leading writing communities, Demand Studios is responsible for publishing thousands of articles a day to a large network of premium media brands including, and This freelance writing position will enable you to work around your own schedule and write about the topics you are most passionate about. Join the vibrant community of writers and editors already working for Demand Studios and start receiving a weekly paycheck." Compensation is $15/20 per hour via PayPal; wants applicants with "Educational/Professional background in Journalism or related degree" and "Some writing experience and/or expertise in a specific topic category." See Craigslist ad for more details and a link to the online application form. is looking for a screenwriter to pitch them a low budget (1-5M) screenplay with "strong characters that have a different approach to a solution. This can be a tent pole drama, or a quirky indy drama but the point is for the character to go on a profound journey where they grow or change and we are with them every step of the way. Elements of comedy out of necessity for laughs in these dramatic elements are welcome." Screenplay examples of what they're looking for are Amelie, Milk, The Wrestler, and Juno. Screenplay "Must be finished and registered with the WGA or Library of Congress." They're taking pitches in person but also have an video pitch option for out-of-towers. See their Craigslist ad here for more details.

Racy Pages has an open call for their erotica anthology Surprise, to feature "Erotic Fiction, Rhyming Poetry, 100 Word Flashers." What they're looking for: "Stories in this anthology will capture the sensations of surprise—even if the surprise isn’t a good one. Your story should be crafted to arouse, yet contain layers beyond the sex scenes. Language should be explicit and the heat level the same as that found in other contemporary erotic anthologies. Stories that appeal to men and women in their 20s and 30s are preferred.
A variety of themes are welcome, including: urban life, the strange and weird, rural settings, ethnic characters, humor. In addition to short fiction, we are looking for rhyming poetry and one-hundred word flashers to include in the anthology. Stories will be previously unpublished and most will fall between 1000-5000 words. Payment is $100/story, $50/poem, and $10/flasher, plus two copies of the book." Electronic subs only, see guidelines page for more details. Deadline: December 1, 2009.

Shadowfire Press issued an update here on their current needs: "Closed to non-erotic genre submissions until the end of November 2009. Currently seeking erotic heterosexual romance submissions in all genres and have a need for stories from 5000 words to 75,000 words. We are also in need of heterosexual and lesbian Christmas/Yule stories in both contemporary and historic settings to round out our calendar for 2009. Note to prospective gay and m/m authors: We are not looking for gay stroke stories. Our readership is primarily comprised of 95% female readers, so stories that would fit gay stroke publications won't fit in with our publishing company."

Under the Moon, the fiction imprint of Final Sword Productions (RPG company) is looking for stories with appeal for gamers: "Alternative History, Historical, Fantasy, Science Fiction - either space opera, sci fi tech, or 'adventure', Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Horror/Paranormal -Not blood and guts type of horror, please, Military- especially historical, science fiction, horror, and fantasy military stories, Cross Genre, or stories that don't fit a specific genre, would also be of potential interest to us, so don't be afraid to query. Currently "Specifically interested in "Sword and Sorcery- think Conan-style, Space Opera, Horror." Length: Shorts - 5-16K, novellas -16-45K, novel - 45-150K - preference for 120,000 or less. Payment: 35% on e-book, 8% on print; paid quarterly, within 60 days after the end of the quarter. Electronic subs only, query with a synopsis first (do not send any attachments or partials); also query on reprints. See guidelines page for more details.

Web Content Writer wanted by LA firm "to produce web content pages for our various web properties. The job will entail researching various topics and writing 500-1000 word informational articles. Experience with writing for the web, best practices in web formatting, search engine friendly web copy, and working with content management systems such as WordPress is a plus. We're looking for people who can produce thorough, well researched articles as fast a humanly possible. This job will start off with a introductory project at a rate of $15 per hour. If that first project goes well, it will likely lead to ongoing contract work. Please reply with a brief note about why you're qualified for this position along with 2 writing samples." See the Craiglist ad for more details.

YA Lit magazine is going into print and looking for some content: "We're offering $5 for short texts like poetry and flash fiction, $10 for the cover art, and $10 for longer fiction. Contributors will be able to purchase copies for a reduced price." Nice thing about this one is they're actively welcoming submissions from writers under age 18; don't often see an open call for youngsters. Electronic subs only, see guidelines page for more details.

Some of the above sub ops listings were found over at Ralan's place. Note -- September is fund-raising month at Ralan's, which otherwise runs on love, so if you use and like the site and have a couple of bucks to spare, please consider sending a donation.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Art of Pens

Since I did Post-It notes art yesterday . . . .

According to The Top Ten Most Expensive Pens in the World, "The Limited Edition Mystery Masterpiece, a joint creation between Mont blanc and Van Cleef & Arpels, is the most expensive writing pen ever created." I don't think I'd spend $730,000 for something someone could swipe so easily, but when you look at it you have to wonder how it would feel to try to write with such a lumpy/bumpy object.

Much more affordable: a chandelier made of pens, and of course a matching floor lamp (they should hang these in restaurants where the waitress can never find a pen to hand over with the bill.)

DIYourselfers, check out how to make a sewing caddy made from old ballpoint pens, turn a pen into a PDA stylus, and make a sprinkler out of old pens and a bottle.

Would you cover a Mercedes with pens? The Amazing Pen Guy did.

I like this Christmas tree made from old pens; it looks like something easy that the kids could do.

If you'd like to transform your humble writing instrument into art, check out how to cover pens with polymer clay and make them into art objects.

Pencils may never get as much respect as pens, but Social Designer has put together a beautiful collection of colored pencils that is designed to imitate art.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Art of Post-It Notes

I didn't know you could make sculptures out of Post-It notes, but I swiped a link from The Presurfer that led me to a very cool collection of 16 pranks, sculptures and murals made from the humble sticky note. I also found an almost finished Post-It version of the Mona Lisa over on Flickr.

Ever wonder how (and why) Post-It Notes were invented? Evidently it was part glue failure, part church hymnal.

The best Post-It Ad of all time, I think, is this classic on "how guys use Post-Its":

I prefer virtual sticky notes, as they never fall off or get lost or otherwise vanish. The maker of Post-It notes sells a digital version of their famous product, but you can also get some freeware sticky note programs out there; check out DigiNotes, Floating Notes, Hott Notes, StickIt or Sticky-Notes. Remember the freeware caution: always scan free downloads of anything for bugs and other threats before dumping the programs into your hard drive.

As for the art of Post-It notes, my favorite is a performance piece that took 280,951 sticky notes to create:'s Sticky Note Experiment (if you click on nothing else in this post, look at this one.)

Friday, September 04, 2009


One of my friends over at Scribd gave me a heads-up on a freebie that gives a broad view of how to use the site to make money: 7 Little Known Secrets for Making Money and Saving the World on SCRIBD by Jed Diamond Ph.D. Note 9/3/10: Since instituted an access fee scam to charge people for downloading e-books, including those I have provided for free for the last ten years, I no longer recommend using their service. See my post about this scam here.

I read it off the screen because the print option didn't work, but it's only eight pages so that didn't fry my eyes. It's a decent overview, but more geared toward nonfic writers; I don't think it's not going to set your fiction writing career on fire. It does contain a few helpful tips for those of you who are interested in self-pubbing/selling your stuff online.

I also heard from the senior editor of Artful Blogging magazine, who stopped by here and asked if they can use an edited excerpt from my Journaling Hardware post in their next issue. I said yes, of course; I love the magazine and I probably wouldn't have a photoblog if it wasn't for all the terrific articles and insight I've gleaned from every issue. This also makes me very happy, because now I have the perfect excuse to buy a bunch of copies and hand it out: Look! I'm in the Buzz section! Now put down that cell phone and read!

Finally, Guideposts sent me some trade paperback reprint copies of Going to the Chapel, my first Grace Chapel Inn novel, which they'll be selling in a two-book set along with Melody Carlson's Back Home Again. Melody and I are being featured because we were the authors of the very first two books of the series, and I imagine the two-book set is a commemorative thing (to date over a million of the Grace Chapel Inn books have sold by subscription service; I wrote six of the thirty-one books in the series.) The editors are also including with the set a neat little booklet of 30 recipes from the series books which has my strawberry popovers recipe in it. The book set will be on sale at the Guideposts web site sometime in the near future; I'll post a heads-up when it's available.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Freebies Forgotten

Random House's Suvudu Free Book Library has just posted some interesting new freebies for September: Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur, The Changelings: Book One of the Twins of Petaybee by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, and Perdido Street Station by China Mieville. As before these are all available as downloads in .pdf, Kindle, Sony, and B&N ereader format, and/or can be read online on Scribd. Note 9/3/10: Since instituted an access fee scam to charge people for downloading e-books, including those I have provided for free for the last ten years, I no longer recommend using their service. See my post about this scam here.

If you're on Blogger, and you occasionally check the Blogs of Note (listed in the tabbed section at the very bottom of the dashboard screen on mine) you can find some real gems, like Forgotten Bookmarks, penned by a bookseller at a used and rare bookstore. FB posts images and descriptions of the things found in those books, just as I sometimes do here.

My latest forgotten bookmark was found in a 1927 edition of A Childhood in Brittany Eighty Years Ago by Anne Douglas Sedgwick (Mrs. Basil de Sélincourt), which I picked up in very good condition from my favorite rare bookstore in the city. I found this plain index-size card tucked in between pages 18 and 19:

I'm guessing this note was written when the book was new, maybe even the year it was published. The ink has faded to a chocolate brown, and the edge of the card is a bit yellowed, but otherwise the note is as crisp and clean as if it had been written yesterday.

Dated only Dec 10, the front of the note reads:
I forebear a bright red card with "Season's Greetings" on it as too ironical, and insist this is not a Christmas present. You may have it for any of the following (see Roman Missal if you doubt their authenticity):
December 10. Commemoration of St. Melchiades*, Pope and Martyr.

On the back of the note:
December 11. St. Damascus, Pope and Confessor.
December 18. St. Lucy**, Virgin and Martyr.
December 16. St. Eusebius***, Bishop and Martyr.
Sorry they are all a trifle gloomy. Perhaps the martyrs will appeal to your sympathies -- Anyway, the book comes with much love from

I love to read old notes. Hardly anyone says things like "forebear" or "trifle" anymore. Makes me want to brew some tea and bake scones and talk like Emma Peel for the rest of the day.

Have you found anything interesting in an old book that was used as a bookmark and then forgotten? Let us know in comments.

*Also know as St. Miltiades.

**St Lucy was the first virgin martyr condemned to prostitution and one of the more interesting saints. According to religious legend, she pledged herself to God and started giving away her sizable dowry to the poor. Pissed off that she was handing over her wealth on the riff raff, her evil fiance denounced her to the authorities for her religion, which at the time was a big no-no. When they came to drag her away and put her to work at the local brothel, God gave Lucy the strength to stand immovable. Then they piled wood around her and tried to burn her, but God saved her again. Third time was a charm, though, and she was put to death by the sword.

***of Vercelli, not Cæsarea. I believe there were two or three of them.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Painting Worlds

While I'm off writing and sulking (oh, yes, still doing that), a link blast from the past: Design of a vertical seaside metropolis by Jesse van Dijk (via Eva Gale.) I've also posted some pics of one method of world-building I do over at my photoblog.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Splendor in the Grass

'Tis the season for butterflies here at Casa PBW, and I've been trying to take pics of them all week. They're faster than me (so are snails, for that matter) but I did manage to snap a shot of what I think was a big, gothic black swallowtail in one of the flower hedges just the other day.

While I was out walking Cole today, I saw a flutter of dark wings in the grass under one of the trees in the front yard. Fortunately I had the camera in my pocket and took this:

This swallowtail didn't appear to be shaped right; it looked as if it had too many wings, or had somehow gotten torn up. The pup thinks butterflies are snack food, so I took him inside before I came back out to see if the swallowtail was hurt or emerging from a cocoon that had fallen out of the tree or something.

Yes. I triage butterflies. Sue me.

It was still there in the exact same spot when I returned. Or, rather, they were:

I'll give you three guesses what they're doing. If you don't get it right in three, you have to go and watch this video.

As for the title of this post, well, I thought it was more romantic than Butterfly Porn. But seriously, is this why they call them swallowtails?