Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Nuggets #78 -- Hiding the Writer

With any kind of writing technique, I prefer the one that interferes 
with the story the least, and draws a little attention to the writer 
as possible to pull readers out of the adventure itself. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Arthurian Grammar -- A Primer

By I.A. Watson

A particuilar pet peeve of mine is bad Thorspeak. People often tangle their ‘ye’s and ‘thee’s and suchlike. So here’s the guide:

Second Person Singular – ‘Thou’ or ‘Thee’
Second Person Plural - ‘Ye’ or “You’
(all of these become “you” in modern English)

Use ‘thou’ and ‘ye’ as the subject, and ‘thee’ and ‘you’ otherwise, the same way you’d use ‘I’ and ‘me’ or ‘he’ and ‘him’

“Thou art cowardly. I shall defeat thee.”
“Ye asked for it. You must receive it.”

This distinction has been lost in modern English, which means that the King James Bible actually offers some nuances that modern English translations miss, such as:

“If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” (John 3.12)

This is actually important sometimes in conveying meaning, as with John 3.7, “You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’” where modern English has no distinguishing word to denote that the original language signified that Jesus was speaking ‘“you’ in the plural sense each time.

With ‘thy’ and ‘thine’ (= ‘your’), use ‘thy’ as the subject and ‘thine’ with the object for the second person singular, e.g. “Thy horse is lame. The fault is thine.” It’s the second person equivalent of ‘me’ and ‘mine’ or ‘him’ and ‘his’. The exception is when the following word begins with a vowel, when ‘thine’ should always be used; e.g. “Watch thy shield guard. Hold up thine arm more.”

The plurals are the same as the modern forms: “Your horses are lame. The fault is yours.”

With ‘-est’ and ‘-eth’ suffixes, any word that ends in ‘-est’ is second person singular, e.g. “Thou hopest for it. Ye all hope for it.” Any word ending in ‘-eth’ is third person singular, e.g. “He hopest for it. You all hope for it.” Simple short words can drop the ‘e’ from either suffix, as in “I do, thou dost (doest), he doth (doeth)” and can sometimes contract the root word also, as in “I have, thou hast (havest), he hath (haveth).” These contractions do not have apostrophes in them.

Note that the plural never has those suffixes. The modern usage was the same for them even in medieval-speak. It was always “We have”, never “We hast”.

There are also exceptions. This is grammar, after all. It’s not allowed to be simple. So the past tense of  “Thou dost,” is “Thou didst”, according to the rules, but the past tense of  “He dost” is also “He didst,” not “He dideth.” And so on.

As for ‘ye’ as in “Ye old castle,” that is a different word entirely from the ‘ye’ meaning ‘you’ mentioned above. It is a remnant from the archaic letter thorn – þ – which was replaced in Middle English with the digraph ‘th’. So the original spelling of ‘the’ was ‘þe’, pronounced as best we can tell somewhere between “ye” and “the”; hence the antique use of ‘ye’ as an alternative spelling for ‘the’ when it is the definite article. So technically you could say “Ye failed to go to ye old castle” and be using two different words both spelled ‘ye’ in the same sentence.

Hope that cleared it all up.

I.A. Watson has just received the Pulp Ark Award for Best Author 2016. His most recent work appears in SHERLOCK HOLMES: CONSULTING DETECTIVE volume 8, currently shortlisted for Best Short Story in the Pulp Factory Awards and in the Pulp Ark Best Anthology winner LEGENDS OF NEW PULP FICTION. His new novels, HOLMES AND HOUDINI and LABOURS OF HERCULES are both due out in the next three months. A full list of his publications is available at

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #349 -- But I Don't Want to Write

What do you do when don't feel like writing? How do you make yourself write?

I know this isn't the answer most new writers want to hear, but most of the time if I don't feel like writing then I simply don't write. Forcing the muse, so to speak, at least for me, can do more harm than good. Chances are, if I really, really don't feel up to writing, I'm not going to like what I've written.

Now, on the flip side of that, there are times when I simply don't have the luxury of not writing. Deadlines could be pressing. I might need to get some key story segments out of the way before a busy week at work, or a pending vacation (yeah, what are those again?). Regardless, I just might not have time to spend away from the story. In those times, I really have to trick my brain into tapping into the subconscious part of writing.

I can sometimes do that by using a writing prompt, or by reading a short story, or perhaps even by skipping ahead to a part I feel more in tune with (and then once my brain is lost in writing again, coming back to the sticky part).

However, this doesn't always work, and quite often I simply have to trudge through the stuff I simply don't feel like doing. It doesn't make for the most inspired fiction, but it does make fiction take shape. And sometimes that's the best you can get, and all that you need in that moment.

Thursday, May 12, 2016




An innovative Publisher of New Pulp and Genre Fiction, Pro Se Productions revealed today a plan to add several imprints to its already impressive lineup and publishing catalog. The first two new lines to debut in late 2016/early 2017 are Pro Se Xtreme and ProSeReal.

“We have,” states Tommy Hancock, Partner in and Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, “a strong line up of novels, digest novels, and anthologies rolling out this year, and actually well into 2017 and perhaps even further into the calendar. That, combined with the in process relaunch of the Pro Se Single Shot Signature Series later this month and into June, might seem like we’ve got enough to do. And, in a way we do, but we also have a duty to keep producing what our readers want and also to provide opportunities for writers to tell the sort of tales they may not have a chance to elsewhere.”

To that end, Pro Se Productions will not only be debuting imprints we’ve worked on awhile in the coming weeks, but also brand new imprints, lines within our catalog seeking specific types of stories. From author centered imprints to themed ones, like Pulp Obscura, Pro Se has utilized the imprint model well and will continue to do. For the first of what will likely be several announcements, Pro Se Productions will begin taking submissions for digest novels, that is works of approximately 30 thousand words, for the ProSeReal and Pro Se Xtreme imprints.”

ProSeReal is an imprint that will focus on stories from multiple genres that are grounded solidly in reality. The intent of this imprint is for writers to produce works that, while being tales of action and adventure, read as true to life as possible. No weird westerns in ProSeReal, but westerns where readers feel the grit in their teeth and the lead in their bellies are welcome. Hard boiled mysteries, noir crime tales, and fast paced romances all have a place in ProSeReal as long as the authors endeavor to take the readers into the stories and make them as true to life as possible.

“The experience,” says Hancock, “that we want people to have when reading a ProSeReal digest novel is one of true immersion, where readers are thrust into the story, a story that if the circumstances were right and such, could happen to them.”

Pro Se Xtreme will focus on the types of adventures—reminiscent of those of the ’50s and ’60s -- that readers felt they needed to hide from their parents. Those books may or may not have quite lived up to the lasciviousness of the cover images, but they sure felt like they did. Strippers, white slavers, pimps, hookers, porn kings and queens, and more. Only, this time, expect the black and white insides to live up to the four-color covers. Readers will encounter private dicks, hapless everymen (before everypeople would have been considered a term), con artists, spies, thugs, victims, and killers all wrapped up in adventures that test their limits and push their boundaries—that will be the norm for the books of Pro Se Xtreme. It’s time for readers to have a reason to hide steamy pulp stories under their mattresses again, and that reason is Pro Se Xtreme!

Noted New Pulp Author Sean Taylor will be the managing editor of the Pro Se Xtreme imprint.

Submissions are now open for proposals for digest novels in both of these imprints. Authors interested need to prepare a proposal outlining the story to be told in the novel, a proposal comprising of a minimum of three paragraphs that clearly outlines the entire story. If the proposing author has not written for Pro Se Productions previously, then a four page writing sample must be included with the original proposal. All proposals should be sent to

Once a proposal is accepted, a deadline will be given and a contract will be issued upon receipt of the initial completed draft of the manuscript. Terms for said contract will be worked out upon proposal acceptance and will be on an author to author basis.

The intent for each of these imprints is, if proposals are made and accepted, to publish the first digest novel of each in October 2016. Pro Se Productions intends to publish a new digest novel in each of these lines ever 2-3 months following their debuts.

For more information on these imprints, contact Hancock at or Pro Se Productions’ Director of Corporate Operations, Kristi King-Morgan at
To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to Like Pro Se on Facebook at

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Boy Meets Girl

by I.A. Watson

A couple of years ago I learned the word ‘meet-cute’, a scripting term referring to the first encounter of a couple who will later have some romantic entanglement. Done right a romance can add a much-needed emotional depth to a storyline. That initial meeting has to grab the audience’s interest in seeing the potential partners get together. We want the readers to be pulling for those two crazy kids.

But ‘boy meets girl’ is one of the archetypal story forms, and launching off that narrative relationship has been done a million times before. What are the go-to classics, what doesn’t work as well now as it once did, and is there still something new to put on the page?

Here are some of the oldies-but-goodies:

The Clash – He and she just don’t get on for some reason. She thinks he’s boorish and annoying. He thinks she’s shrill and irritating. There’s a massive row. He may wreck her carefully-planned social event. She may call him out for being a bully or a coward. They may well spend the next half of the story insulting each other; that’s how we know they’re attracted. Sometimes everyone else in the cast can see their attraction but they remain blind to it.

The Misunderstanding – Perhaps it’s mistaken identity. Perhaps she’s believed the villain’s lies about him. Perhaps he thinks she’s his best friend’s out-of-bounds wife. Perhaps each believes the other to be the person who wronged them. Sometimes its comedy, occasionally it’s deadly serious, but at their first meeting the future lovers get entirely the wrong idea about each other. Sometimes the misunderstanding links together with ‘the Clash’ for extra mayhem.

Opposites Attract – They’re a real odd couple, different in upbringing, manners, expectations, personality types. Maybe they’ve going to Clash. But somehow their widely different character types and skillsets compliment each other, making the other one complete. There will be fireworks along the way, but it’s going to turn out that each is what the other desperately needs.

hen he should really be standing up for himself, little knowing what he really spends his nights doing. He thinks she’s just the serving maid when she’s really the princess. This often involves the less-clued-in partner making outrageous statements to the other one about the other one. Eventual revelation is often the spur to the happy couple coming together at last.

The Rescue – Nothing makes an impression on a girl like being saved from her would-be ravager by a sudden handsome hero. Nothing screams romantic female lead like a heroine dragging a guy from his dungeon pit. This is one of the oldest kinds of tropes and sometimes feels hokey in an age where main cast, especially female ones, are expected to have some agency themselves. It also dredges up a very old “now he deserves to take a kiss – or more” undertone implicit in a lot of ancient stories. Handle with care.

First Sight – He sees her from afar. She’s the most amazing thing ever. Or she spots him as he does his daring deeds and knows he’s the one. Or their eyes meet across a crowded room. He can’t get her out of his head. She keeps thinking about him all day. They might not meet until another scene, might even have a second ‘meet-cute’ when that happens, but first sight is how the story signals the reader to watch these two together. Nowadays love at first sight, possibly based on appearance alone, can seem shallow or unmotivated, so extra care is required to set up this kind of meeting these days.

Forbidden Love – The attraction is there, but they should be enemies. Their families are at war with each other. Their allegiances are at odds. Their love would never be sanctioned and might cost them everything. Yet somehow those problems don’t matter because these two are attracted like fridge magnets. It’s going to be them against the world. Extra points with this trope if the lovers-to-be recognise that they can never be together and are self-sacrificingly noble about it – until their next scene together.

The Third Party Complication – At first meeting one (or both) of the couple are already linked with someone else, even a spouse. Quite often that third person is unsuited or unworthy of the hero or heroine; a domestic abuser, coward, traitor or whatever. Subsequent story shows how the hooked-up lover is freed from the “wrong” relationship. Sometimes the problem is handled more subtly and the story squeezes quite a bit of agony out of the cast as hard emotional choices must be made.

Arranged Hook-Up – Boy and girl are embarrassed by their friends’ matchmaking. They have no interest in being together except that their families/best friends/dynastic royal treaty demands it. They have every reason to buck against the pairing, and that’s their first thing in common. United against the pressure of being a couple they suddenly discover – often much later in the story – that they want to be a couple. A special mention goes to those “we have to pretend we’re married” undercover plotlines.

The Interrupted Meeting – Just when things are getting interesting, perhaps because of one of the ‘meet-cutes’ listed above, the newly-met couple are prematurely separated. He’s knocked out and kidnapped. A strict guardian drags her away. Everyone else arrives with news from the front lines. The car arrives to take her to her wedding. A sudden realisation about what the villain is doing right now means he has to make his feeble excuses and run. The reader is left wanting more – and so are he and she.

The Difficult Situation – They’re forced together by danger or mishap. They’re handcuffed together and hunted. They’re locked in the cellar alone except for the other. They wake up in bed together and meet for the first time (that they remember). He stumbles through her door, bleeding and hunted, the police a step behind him. She’s shut out of her hotel room in nothing but a towel and he’s got the room opposite. Through circumstances dramatic or humorous they are forced to work together and so come to know each other in ways they might not otherwise at a first encounter.

Just a Spark – Here’s a bit of a catchall, referring to when two characters meet and just click together. Perhaps the banter is really fun. Maybe they find a unifying purpose. Sometimes it just feels right. This kind of meeting seems to work especially well when two previously-established characters occupy the same scene at last. It’s a common occurrence for secondary characters, especially when the protagonist isn’t likely to be the settling down type.

There’s lots more of these, of course. Boys and girls have been meeting, on and off the page, for a long time. All sorts of combinations of the various tropes have been tried out. I’m not sure there’s a fresh untried meeting type to chronicle.

What can be new and fresh is the way that meeting is done: new media – first meeting via text or video; modern moralities of sexual and gender politics; recombinant genres allowing variant circumstances; contemporary writing techniques including first person, split perspective, and shifting voices.

And sometimes it doesn’t have to be new or fresh to be good. It just has to be well done. There’s a reason these kinds of first romantic meetings have played so often across literature. Sometimes it’s not cliché, it’s archetype.

Sometimes the world just stops and there’s nobody else in it except for him or her.

I.A. Watson has just received the Pulp Ark Award for Best Author 2016. His most recent work appears in SHERLOCK HOLMES: CONSULTING DETECTIVE volume 8, currently shortlisted for Best Short Story in the Pulp Factory Awards and in the Pulp Ark Best Anthology winner LEGENDS OF NEW PULP FICTION. His new novels, HOLMES AND HOUDINI and LABOURS OF HERCULES are both due out in the next three months. A full list of his publications is available at

Friday, April 22, 2016

Ideas Like Bullets -- Remembering Logan Masterson

by Tommy Hancock

First, my apologies for the absence of the column these last few weeks.  On March 30, I and the community of creatives within which I work received the news that one of our own had passed away at his own hand.  Logan L. Masterson was an author writing for me at Pro Se Productions as well as having been published by other companies.  Logan was also a friend of mine, and his passing was poignant for many reasons, one being that just a week before, I had written a column here on depression.  

So, yes, I’ve been away, dealing with that loss, both professionally and personally.

And to be honest, I’m still struggling with it as many of us are, so much so that I thought about simply letting another week go by without posting.  But, instead, I’d like to share something with you.  Something of Logan’s.

This piece appeared in RAT-A-TAT: SHORT BLASTS OF PULP, a flash fiction volume Pro Se did a couple of years ago.  It is a very short, but complete look at Logan as a writer, at the amount of talent and imagination contained in one large man, a guy with a heart bigger than the Western Hemisphere.

Miss you, man.

by Logan L. Masterson

Her fingers weave through the diamond gaps of the chain-link fence. As the pursuers grab at her, pulling at her pants and shoes, the steel wire bends, giving out in advance of her desperate strength. Eventually, she falls. The men, all gray cloth and gas-masks gather her up, ignoring her kicking and screaming.

“Atlanta ain’t what it used ta be,” one of them says. She kicks at him, receiving only an elbow in the ribs for her trouble.

“Easy!” says the other. “Don’t mark her up.”

Moments later, she is thrown into the back of the wagon. Doors slam closed, leaving steel bars and benches her only companions. She sighs, drags herself up onto a bench and straightens her hair. Her blouse is torn, and no matter how she tugs or tucks, it will not cover her bra. Looking through the bars, she notes the passing buildings: the Midtown Hotel is close. It had taken everything she had to make this escape. She will not be given back to him. She would die first.

Steeling herself to this thought, solidifying it into fact, she bashes her head against the bars, hard. It stings and aches all at once, but she does it again and again. Blood drips down the bulwark, splatters the sides of their unmasked faces. The wagon pulls over. Outside, the men argue in frantic voices. She doesn’t stop until the doors open. When the first soldier starts to climb in, she throws herself at him, toppling him back onto his partner. They struggle against her and each other. She rips the mask off his face, spitting and clawing at him. His reply is a sharp blow to the stomach.

With the breath driven from her, she slumps over. They get to their feet, straighten themselves out. She sees his vicious smile vanish under the mask, but she has a smile of her own. As they come to return her to the mobile cell, she levels the pistol at him.

He stops dead, feels his empty holster. Four ringing, echoing shots later, she has a vehicle and a mask of her own.

She will finally make it out of Atlanta tonight. Tomorrow, she will watch it burn.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Annie Douglas Lima announces The Gladiator and the Guard!

I'm excited to announce that my young adult action and adventure novel, The Gladiator and the Guard, is now available for purchase! This is the second book in the Krillonian Chronicles, sequel to The Collar and the Cavvarach

First Things First: a Little Information about Book 1: 

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire's most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie's escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time.  With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

What is the Collar for, and What is a Cavvarach?

The story is set in a world very much like our own, with just a few major differences.  One is that slavery is legal there.  Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone.  Any slave attempting to escape faces the dilemma of how and where to illegally get their collar removed (a crime punishable by enslavement for the remover).  

Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil.  It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with "have a rack"), a weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge.  Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades.  You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

Click here to order The Collar and the Cavvarach from Amazon 
for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through May 30th!
And now, The Gladiator and the Guard, with another awesome cover by the talented Jack Lin!

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is just one victory away from freedom. But after he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he is condemned to the violent life and early death of a gladiator. While his loved ones seek desperately for a way to rescue him, Bensin struggles to stay alive and forge an identity in an environment designed to strip it from him. When he infuriates the authorities with his choices, he knows he is running out of time. Can he stand against the cruelty of the arena system and seize his freedom before that system crushes him?

Click here to order The Gladiator and the Guard in Kindle format from Amazon 
for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through May 30th!

Click here to order The Gladiator and the Guard from Smashwords (for Nook or in other digital formats) 
for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through May 30th!

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published twelve books (two YA action and adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, and five anthologies of her students’ poetry). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.

Connect with the Author Online:

Now, enter to win an Amazon gift card or a free digital copy of The Collar and the Cavvarach!

Or find the giveaway at this link:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

[Link] The world of invisible bestsellers

by Kevin J. Anderson

“I’m a bestselling author!” That’s a statement bound to elicit cheers . . . but what does that mean, exactly? Well, it means that your book sold better than a lot of other books. But in what category? Tracked by whom? Backed by what data?

I am a bestselling author in the usual, traditional sense — on the New York Times bestseller list, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal, USA Today. But there are a lot of other bestseller lists… and they keep proliferating. Amazon in particular has launched so many esoteric bestseller categories it’s hard to keep track of them. (Like the Steampunk Short Story Collections Featuring Vampires bestseller list. That’s not a real one… at least I don’t think so.)

I am also a publisher, and my mid-sized house, WordFire Press, has released over 300 titles from 73 authors… and as such, I get to look at the actual numbers. One of our WordFire books was a #1 bestseller on the Amazon “holiday anthologies” bestseller list — a #1 bestseller! Wow! In actual numbers, that translated to about 80 copies sold. (But, hey, it’s still a “#1 Bestseller!” if I wanted to call it that.)

But I am also the author, and publisher, of a lot of “invisible bestsellers” — books that actually sell more than many titles on even the major lists, but are released through non-traditional channels and thus are never tracked. Right now, in fact, we have eighteen titles this week alone that have sold enough copies to hit the New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists… but they are tracked by neither.

Read the full article:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

I'd Like You To Meet... Annie Douglass Lima

I'm happy to be part of Annie's new blog tour.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

The Gladiator and the Guard is the second book in the Krillonian Chronicles, the first one being The Collar and the Cavvarach. The stories take place in a world almost exactly like our own. Although most aspects of the culture are just about what they are currently on Earth, a few sports are different, such as the martial art known as cavvara shil. The main difference, however, is that slavery is legal there.

The Krillonian Empire rules much of the world. An emperor, who is never named, governs from the capital city, Krillonia, on the continent known as Imperia. Eight separate provinces (independent nations before they were conquered) can be found on nearby continents. Each province, plus Imperia, is allowed to elect its own legislature and decide on many of its own laws, but the emperor reserves the right to veto any of them and make changes as he sees fit. This seldom happens, however, and to most people the emperor is merely a vague and distant ceremonial figure.

The prevalence of slavery is probably what would stand out the most to visitors from Earth. There are nearly as many slaves in the city of Jarreon, where both books take place, as free people, and they are easily identified by the steel collars they are required to wear locked around their necks. From each collar hangs a tag inscribed with the slave’s name, their owner’s name, and a copy of their owner’s signature. On the back of the tag is their owner’s phone number and a bar code that can be scanned to access additional information.

Many families own one or more slaves who do their housework and yardwork. Businesses often own a large number of slaves, usually for manual labor, though some are trained for more complex tasks. Those who don’t own their own slaves may “hire in” one belonging to someone else. The accepted rate for an hourly wage is two-thirds the amount that a free person would earn for equivalent labor (the money goes to the slave’s owner, of course).
To read more about the culture of the Krillonian Empire, take a look at this post on my blog.

Here’s the back-cover blurb for The Collar and the Cavvarach :

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire's most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie's escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time. With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

And the blurb for The Gladiator and the Guard:

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is just one victory away from freedom. But after he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he is condemned to the violent life and early death of a gladiator. While his loved ones seek desperately for a way to rescue him, Bensin struggles to stay alive and forge an identity in an environment designed to strip it from him. When he infuriates the authorities with his choices, he knows he is running out of time. Can he stand against the cruelty of the arena system and seize his freedom before that system crushes him?

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

In this series, it’s the value of human life. I also focus on the responsibility of each individual to do what they know is right, regardless of their circumstances.

What would be your dream project?

I’m currently working on a science fiction novel that takes place on another planet. As long as we’re dreaming big, I’d love to complete my research for it by actually traveling into space myself!

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

I would go back to my first book, a YA fantasy called Prince of Alasia (in my series the Annals of Alasia). It represents the best writing I knew how to do at the time, but I’ve grown a lot as an author since then, and I know I could make it much better if I were to re-write it. I’ve actually considered doing so, but I have too many other new books simmering my mind, waiting for release. Rewriting old ones just isn’t a high enough priority for me at this point.

What inspires you to write?

Characters romp around having adventures in my head until I have to let them out. I have no choice!

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

Anne Elisabeth Stengl, author of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, has. I love the way some of the books in her series take place in overlapping time periods, from the perspectives of different characters. I did something similar in my Annals of Alasia.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

I would place it somewhere in the middle, but closer to the art side. Without art, it has no beauty or creativity. But it needs science, too; without that, it has no structure.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

There will probably be one more book in the Krillonian Chronicles, though I’m tossing around ideas that may eventually lead to other stories set in the same world. In the meantime, I’m working on a final book in my Annals of Alasia fantasy series, which should be ready to publish in the next few months. There’s also Heartsong, the science fiction novel that I drafted for last year’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, in November). I hope to have that one polished and ready for publication in another year or so. Lots of irons in the fire!

Monday, April 18, 2016




Pulp Ark, a Convention within a Convention (River City Comic Expo), announces today the winners of the 2016 Pulp Ark New Pulp Awards. These awards honor the best writers, artists, and works in New Pulp today with a vote that is open to public nomination, then a public vote on the nominees in eight categories.

"The process," says Tommy Hancock, Coordinator of Pulp Ark and the Awards, "took a tad longer this year. We saw a massive increase in participation over last year, which is fantastic, but also meant more vetting of the ballots had to be done and more care had to be taken to insure all ballots were valid and results accurate. The winners represent at least 10 publishing houses represented by the various creators carrying home Pulp Ark Awards this year. Congratulations to all winners and each nominee for the 2016 Pulp Ark New Pulp Awards!"

The winners of the 2016 Pulp Ark New Pulp Awards are-

Ravenwood: Return of the Dugpa by Micah Harris- Airship 27 Productions

Legends of New Pulp Fiction, Airship 27 Productions

Dragonfly Shadow by J. PAtrick Allen from the Dragon Lord’s Library Volume 1-18th Wall Productions

Badge City: Notches by M.H. Norris, Pro Se Productions

From the Dragon Lord’s Library Volume 2, Morgan Fitzsimons, 18th Wall Productions

Morgan Fitzsimons

I. A. Watson

Loreli McCole

The awards will be awarded as a part of Pulp Ark programming at River City Comic Expo in Little Rock, Arkansas, on June 11, 2016 at 3:00 PM. Any winner not present to pick up their award will have their award mailed to them in the week following the presentation.

For any questions or comments concerning the 2016 Pulp Ark New Pulp Award winners, please contact Hancock at

Saturday, April 16, 2016




From THE ADVENTURES OF THE PULPTRESS Comes A Villain Like No Other-THE BONE QUEEN by Andrea Judy. And now the origin of The Pulptress’ arch foe is available as a top quality audiobook produced by Radio Archives!

All of humanity shares one inescapable experience, one inevitable fate. They all die. And in death, one woman finds her destiny. To be a Villain, to stand toe to toe with the ultimate heroine, The Pulptress. But first, evil had to rise from somewhere dark. Renata, a devotee of Mene, Goddess of Death, is on a singular mission during the era of the Black Death: to kill the Necromancer who is bringing the dead back as chiffoniers, rag and bone men. With a small band of men who have survived the Plague, Renata must find who is attempting to steal away the power of death and destroy them once and for all. Chiffoniers dog them every step of the way. And when death itself finally comes for Renata, everything changes. Once hunted, she becomes the hunter, tracking down the necromancer at any cost to herself and those around her. From devotee to deliverer of death, follow Renata as she discovers her true purpose lies in what comes after life. May The Gods Help Us All.

Featuring a cover by Arianne Soares and a riveting performance by Julie Hoverson, THE BONE QUEEN is available now at Amazon at

This action packed audiobook is also available on Audible and Itunes.

THE BONE QUEEN is available in print and digital formats at Amazon and

For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital eBook copies to review this book, contact Pro Se Productions’ Director of Corporate Operations, Kristi King-Morgan at

Check out Radio Archives and the fantastic audio books, classic radio collections, and the fantastic variety of classic Pulp eBooks they offer at

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to Like Pro Se on Facebook at

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Apex Publications announces first communions

Apex Publications
Contact: Lesley Conner, Managing Editor

Apex Publications is proud to announce the release of first communions by Geoffrey Girard. Geoffrey Girard first appeared in Writers of the Future and has since written and sold more than sixty short stories of dark fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Collected here, for the first time, are sixteen of his best, and darkest, tales.

The man who collects chips of bone from his willing victims... A legendary evil is adopted by a small, and thankful, village... The doomed girl invited to take part in a deliberate tragedy... A horrific church choir assembled after the zombie apocalypse... The boy who harvests spiders for a shadowy woman of magic... A fearsome town where the children’s nightmares are all real... The pain, price and beauty of blood and first loves...

From the curse of ancient evils to futuristic retirement homes where the dead still rule, haunted graveyards, planets of torture where all are equal, hockey-playing demon hunters, dark sorcerers battling in Algeria, and even voodoo-cursed pirates. Explore the darkest, and most majestic, extremes of us all in sixteen unique tales that will entertain, horrify and keep you thinking long after the last page is turned.

Let the communion begin…

first communions is available direct from Apex ( or from one of our online retailers.

Release date: April 12th, 2016
$14.95 (print edition)
ISBN: 978-1-937009-41-0
268 pages
Cover art by Anjo Matko

GEOFFREY GIRARD writes thrillers, young adult novels, and short speculative fiction. First appearing in WRITERS OF THE FUTURE in 2003, Geoffrey has since sold more than sixty short stories, including the TALES OF… series, a collection of original tales based on U.S. history and folklore. His novels include Cain’s Blood, a techno thriller, and the Stoker-nominated Project Cain, a YA companion novel, both published by Simon & Schuster. Geoffrey graduated from Washington College with a literature degree and has an MA in creative writing from Miami University. He is the Department Chair of English at a private boys’ school in Cincinnati where he teaches literature, horror, and creative writing; and a frequent lecturer and workshop instructor at schools, universities and writers' conferences. For more information, visit

APEX PUBLICATIONS ( is a small press dedicated to publishing exemplary works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Owned and operated by Jason B. Sizemore, Apex publishes the thrice Hugo Award-nominated Apex Magazine. The Apex catalog contains books by genre luminaries such as Damien Angelica Walters, Catherynne M. Valente, and Brian Keene.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Draft Editing: Whens and Whats

Special thanks to Ellie Raine for this week's Writers Roundtable questions.

What is the biggest editing rule you constantly break while writing a first draft?

Derrick Ferguson: I break 'em all. I don't a give a poobah's pizzle about any rule of editing or grammar when I'm writing that first draft. I'm telling the story to myself and just letting everything gush out in a white-hot blaze of pure storytelling.

Herika Raymer: Double space after period, train of thought writing (in other words it may not be coherent and probably terrible pacing), jumping from scene to scene, data dump, more showing than telling. Shall I go on?

Clint Hall: Telling. It's not that I try to tell instead of show, but if I can't immediately think of a great way to show, I'll just tell the reader (basically) whatever I want them to take away from the scene. Which leads nicely into...

Do you try to fix it right away, or do you save it for the first round of proof reading?

Clint Hall: Nope, I don't fix it right away. The first draft for me is about trying to get the story down. I'll come back and figure out the best way to show instead of tell in my second or third pass.

Bill Craig: If I see it I correct it the first time around. Then once the manuscript is complete I print it out and go through with a red pencil and find and mark typos and errors and then using the printed pages go back through the computer manuscript and go through and make corrections.

Derrick Ferguson: Nope. I never fix any errors right away. That's what the second and third drafts are for.

Herika Raymer: Depending on whether or not I am in a rhythm, I will usually try to fix it right away because it helps close any plot holes or fill in any gaps I may have unintentionally done. Afterwords, I will catch other editing mishaps on the beta read.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Apex Publications
Contact: Lesley Conner, Managing Editor

Apex Magazine Issue 83
Apex Publications is proud to announce the release of issue 83 of our science fiction, fantasy, and horror zine Apex Magazine. This month we have two pieces of original short fiction: “The Laura Ingalls Experience” by Andrew Gray and “The Teratologist’s Brother” by Brandon H. Bell. Our poetry selections are by John Yu Branscum, Michael VanCalbergh, Jeremy Paden, and Craig Finlay. Andrea Johnson interviewed Andrew Gray about writing “The Laura Ingalls Experience,” as well as its themes, and they also talked about his work as a program coordinator at a Canadian university. Russell Dickerson sits down with our cover artist Sarah Zar to discuss art and her beautiful piece “Hurricane Woman” which is the cover of this month’s issue. We bring you two reprints this month: Catherynne M. Valente’s “The Quidnunx” and “Collecting James” by Geoffrey Girard.

The entire issue will be released over the month on the Apex Magazine website ( or the entire issue can be purchased for only $2.99 as a nicely formatted eBook. Subscriptions are also available direct from Apex, Weightless Books, and Amazon.


Words from the Editor-in-Chief—Jason Sizemore

The Laura Ingalls Experience — Andrew Neil Gray
The Teratologist's Brother — Brandon H. Bell
The Quidnunx — Catherynne M. Valente
Collecting James — Geoffrey Girard
Interview with Author Andrew Neil Gray — Andrea Johnson
Interview with Sarah Zar, Cover Artist — Russell Dickerson

Fertility — Craig Finlay
The Farmer's Milk — John Yu Branscum
Myth of the Mud God — Michael VanCalbergh
Song of the Encantado — Jeremy Paden

APEX PUBLICATIONS ( is a small press dedicated to publishing exemplary works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Owned and operated by Jason B. Sizemore, Apex publishes the thrice Hugo Award-nominated Apex Magazine. The Apex catalog contains books by genre luminaries such as Damien Angelica Walters, Catherynne M. Valente, and Brian Keene.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

[Link]The Case of the Copula Overdose

by Joe Ponepinto

I read a book a while back that has stayed with me for many months and has affected the way I write and read, and it’s opened my eyes to a weakness in much fiction writing, even in published books. Douglas Glover’s Attack of the Copula Spiders (Biblioasis, 2012) criticizes many aspects of fiction, but saves its most withering scorn for the rampant and indiscriminate use of copulas.

I hear you asking, “What’s a copula?” I admit I had to look it up. Webster’s definition says: “the connecting link between subject and predicate of a proposition.” In most cases, this refers to a form of the word “be.” But what does that mean to us everyday writers? It means banal, didactic, often passive sentences, almost completely lacking in action or depth.

Read the full article:

Monday, April 4, 2016

Potters Field Six Accepting Submissions

Guidelines Potter’s Field 6
Potter’s Field 6
An anthology of tales from unmarked graves
Open to submission as of 1 March until 30 June 2016.

Writers and Artists Guidelines
Alban Lake Publishing is looking for stories and illustrations for Potter’s Field 6, a print anthology of tales from the graveyard.

This volume will be the sixth in the Potter’s Field series. This anthology is scheduled to be published on 1 October 2016 in trade paperback format with a color cover, and black and white interior illustrations. Potter’s Field 6 is edited by Robert J. Krog.

Potter’s Field 6 is not open to poetry.

Please note that horror fiction written in the third person stands the best chance for acceptance.

“They” say that there are no new plots or stories anywhere. “They” may be right, but you are the only you there is, so send us a story as only you can tell it, one that’s atmospheric and highly entertaining, has fascinating characters, one that takes place in a unique location or time period.

A potter’s field is the burial place for the indigent and the unidentified. Just about every city has one. There’s a potter’s field in the Michael Douglas movie, Don’t Say a Word. Obviously, we’re looking for works that are themed to graveyards in some way. However, it does not have to be a conventional graveyard. Let me give you one example: back during the days of the Black Death, bodies were crammed–yes, literally crammed–into mass graves underneath churches. Even today, in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, you can take a walking tour deep under the church and see walls of skeletons and dirt. Such a place would also qualify as a graveyard for the indigent.

We do not want gore, blood, splatter, or slice-and-dice. Sure, it might be good fun to make balloon animals out of someone’s intestines, or find out how long the heart will continue to beat after it has been ripped from the body with a spatula. But that’s not what we want. We want stories that will scare readers, not stories that will make them gag. This is not to say that someone in your story cannot bleed, or die. Just put a lid on the icky stuff. Think spooky or suspenseful not spewing.

Think too of the ways that a person might end up in an unmarked grave. Think of homeless folk, murder victims, unidentified soldiers, runaways, plague victims, etc, and tell a story involving them. Use any perspective that strikes you as workable to tell that story. Tell it from any angle that seems workable. Such stories may come from the person before he gets to that unmarked grave, or from his ghost, or from his murderer, or the kind soul who at least thought to bury him, or from an investigator of some kind. Run with it.

For inspiration, by all means, visit the Alban Lake store and buy back issues of Potter’s Field 3-5 [1 & 2 are sold out], but do not repeat those plots and situations unless you have a really unique twist on one of them.

A word about sex and extreme language: we don’t mind it, necessarily, but the sex and/or colorful language must have a purpose.

Stories for Potter’s Field 6 must be written in English. You may use King’s English or American English [but don’t mix them in the narration, please. Characters will of course use the voice appropriate to each.]. Please use standard manuscript format: 12 pt Times New Roman, double spaced, page num

Other useful hints:

1. Do not underline. If you want italics, use italics.
2. Put quotation marks around your dialogue, so that we know it’s dialogue.
3. Do not, repeat, do not use headers or footers. (Except page numbers. )
4. Your bio should include your thoughts about your writing style and what drives your stories. Of lesser interest is your favorite color of pizza. And do not include your publishing credits, please.

Now, then:
We are looking primarily for original stories. However, we will consider reprints. If your story is a reprint, be sure to let us know when you submit it. We will want to know the name of the publication [online or in print] in which the story first appeared, and when it first appeared. Also, you must currently own the rights to the story. We likely won’t accept more than two reprints for Potter’s Field 6, and unpublished stories stand the best chance for acceptance.

Submit your story as a Word or rtf attachment to [Yes, same address as PF5]. Be sure to put Story Submission and the title of your story in the subject line of the e-mail. Be sure to include the following information in your e-mail: your name; your snail mail address; your story’s word count; your story’s title; a statement about which rights are offered; and a brief bio written in the third person [50-100 words, more about YOU, less about where you’ve been published].

Please allow 3 months for us to respond to your submission as we will not begin responding until the submission period ends.

Writers and Artists, please note: If you move, tell us. If you change e-mail addresses, tell us. It is your responsibility to let us know where you are so that we can communicate, as well as send your payment and contributor’s copy.

Art submissions:
Interior art should be thematic, not necessarily applicable to any particular story.
Submit one black and white illustration at a time as a jpeg of less than 50K in the body of an e-mail to Be sure to put Art Submission and the title of your illustration in the subject line of the e-mail. Be sure to include the following information in your e-mail: your name; your snail mail address; the title of your illustration; a brief bio [50-100 words, more about YOU, less about where you’ve been published].

In return for your accepted story or illustration, you will receive payment and one contributor’s copy of Potter’s Field 6, upon publication.
Pay rates for original stories: $25.00
Pay rate for reprinted stories: $7.00.
Payment for cover illustration: $25.00.
Pay rate for original illustrations: $6.00 per illustration.

Contributors who live in the U.S.A. will receive checks. Contributors who live outside the U.S.A. have two payment options. One, they can receive cash in American dollars. Two, they can receive payment via PayPal. And yes, if they have a third option, we’ll listen to it.

Contributors are also eligible to buy additional copies of Potter’s Field 6 at 30% off the cover price, plus S&H at cost.

If you have questions about this anthology or these guidelines, please contact Editor Robert J. Krog at

bers at bottom right corner, etc. The word count of your story should be between 2,000 and 8,000 words. We will be somewhat flexible on the 8,000, but the 2,000 is pretty firm. Of course, story quality usually overrides word count limitations. Usually.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

C.S. Lewis on Writing

“We do not write in order to be understood; we 
write in order to understand.” -- C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Nugget #77 -- Lizards and Guns from Nowhere

I tend to look for inspiration without realizing it -- while I listen 
to the radio, while I read, while I stare off into nowhere and 
happen to see a cloud shaped like a giant lizard holding a 
machine gun -- it just happens. It's not something I can plan. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Chuck Dixon Doesn't Need Your Permission To Write

Sure, most of you may know Chuck Dixon as one of the greatest Batman and Punisher writers alive today, but what you may not know is that he is also a best-selling novelist and author of both the Levon Cade action/adventure series and the Bad Times series.

So, in an effort to help share the word about his latest prose work, I was lucky enough find that he had some time to devote to an interview for the ol' blog here.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

Chuck Dixon: It's called Levon's Run. It's the third book in my series about Levon Cade. He's a military vet who inadvertently becomes a vigilante crime fighter. In this book he's on the run from an alphabet soup of federal law agencies and he has his eleven year old daughter along. The series kind of scratches my Punisher/Death Wish itch.

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

Chuck Dixon: I never write to themes. Themes are for others to find in my work. I'm drawn to action stories set in almost any genre. My novels have included military action, apocalyptic survival, time travel, zombies, and I'm working on a western.

What would be your dream project?

Chuck Dixon: I'm living the dream right now. E-books offer me freedom from the gatekeepers. No pitches. No meetings. I don't need permission to write. I have a ready audience and I wake up every morning eager to entertain them.

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

Chuck Dixon: If I were writing the Punisher again I'd provide him with a law enforcement antagonist, a Javert who's always hunting for him. It';s the one element I think was missing from my Frank Castle stories.

What inspires you to write?

Chuck Dixon: I can't help it. It's a compulsion. And comics taught me to write even when I don;t feel like it. I'm closing in the last chapters of a novel now and can't wait to work on them. I hope I instill that enthusiasm in the reader.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

Chuck Dixon: Donald Westlake and Edgar Rice Burroughs are tops. Westlake for pacing and humor. ERB for action and sense of wonder. There's also Ben Haas who wrote westerns under the name John Benteen. That guy could write compelling action with a clarity that allowed you to see it happening. There are others. Lots of others. I've always been a compulsive reader.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

Chuck Dixon: I'm not sure what writing is that continuum. It's certainly a craft. I never think of it as an art. I have a quote from Stave Martin hanging on my wall. It's my sic transit gloria. He said, "Entertainment can be art. But if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

Chuck Dixon: My fifth Bad Times novel, Sons of Heaven, will be out in May.

For more information, visit: