Friday, June 30, 2017

[Link] Seven Tips From Ernest Hemingway on How to Write Fiction

by Mike Springer

Before he was a big game hunter, before he was a deep-sea fisherman, Ernest Hemingway was a craftsman who would rise very early in the morning and write. His best stories are masterpieces of the modern era, and his prose style is one of the most influential of the 20th century.

Hemingway never wrote a treatise on the art of writing fiction.  He did, however, leave behind a great many passages in letters, articles and books with opinions and advice on writing. Some of the best of those were assembled in 1984 by Larry W. Phillips into a book, Ernest Hemingway on Writing. We've selected seven of our favorite quotations from the book and placed them, along with our own commentary, on this page. We hope you will all--writers and readers alike--find them fascinating.

1: To get started, write one true sentence.

Hemingway had a simple trick for overcoming writer's block. In a memorable passage in A Moveable Feast, he writes:

Sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, "Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know." So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.

Read the full article:

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Mechanoid Press announces The Ix Incursion!

I am thrilled to announce that Ix Incursion: The Chaos Wave Book Two, the exciting sequel to Star Swarm, is now available for Kindle. It's just 99 cents, but not for long, so grab it at that price while you can. You can check it out here.


The Ix have arrived.

Commander Noah Hamilton, now in command of the Solar Navy railship Zelazny, and his second in command Leda Hamilton, are now at war with a terrifying alien race. Unable to stop them, they are forced to watch helplessly as the Ix sterilize planet after planet.

Meanwhile, the Draconi scientist Drizda, along with a pair of misfit Draconi pilots and a Special Ops ninja, is on the trail of an ancient alien weapon that can stop the Ix once and for all, a device called the Light of Ages. Learning its secrets will challenge everything she knows about her place in the cosmos.
Behind the scenes, the Ix's acolyte Colonel Straker is setting the stage for an all-out war that will cripple the League of Worlds and help the Ix extinguish the human race. Their only hope is the Light of Ages, if it can be found in time!


The exciting sequel to STAR SWARM, for fans of David Weber and Chris Fox. Lots of action and alien intrigue.

It's also FREE for those of you who are on Kindle Unlimited. So please, go check it out, and leave a review if you're so inclined. 

Keep watching the skies.

James Palmer

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Nugget #101 -- Gatsby's Failed Redemption

The quintessential “great American novel”
—The Great Gatsby—is perhaps my favorite 
failed redemption story. Jay Gatsby creates 
a set of criteria for his change and success 
as a new person, only to find how wrong 
he was, and the very things he pursued 
end up destroying him utterly. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Not Your Stepping Stone -- Short Stories Are a Destination, Not a Starting Block

(5 Reasons Treating Short Stories Like 
Mini-Novels Will Hurt You As a Writer)

By Sean Taylor

I’m predominantly a writer of short stories. Sure, I am working on a novel and I’ve written more than a few comic books, but if I’m honest, short stories are the first love I will always go back to.

I love the craft it takes to “work small” and tell a fulfilling tale within those word count constraints. I relish in the time and work required to target each word and phrase rather than allow for meandering and possible filler.

That said, I also understand that short stories and novels are two separate entities. And good short stories, just as good novels, requires a writer working diligently with all cylinders firing in pristine shape.

Understanding that, perhaps that’s why when I received this link from author Jerry Jenkins in my email a few days ago, it really, REALLY irked me.

Go ahead and click on it and give it a read-through before coming back here. I”ll wait.

Welcome back.

Now, I have to admit that I agree with his tips for writing short stories, and if that’s what the article focused on, it’d be a fine how-to. But I take umbrage at his intimation that short stories are the literary equivalent of “baby steps” for novelists.

Particularly, I found this part really got my dander up.

“A novel is not where you start—it’s where you arrive. 
“Next, when you try your hand at writing, don’t start with a 300-400-page manuscript. Learn the basics first: things like dialogue, point of view, characterization, description, tension, conflict, setups and payoffs, submitting your story, working with an editor.

“Start with short stuff: short stories or even flash fiction. ...

“Most writers need to get a quarter million clichés out of their systems before they hope to sell something.”

Let me just get this part out of the way first, if you want to write a novel, start by writing a novel. Hell, write two or three of 'em, then when you get that strong, ready-to-show novel, shop it around. But don’t write a short story if you really want to write a novel.

It will mess you up. Not help you. 


Here are 5 reasons.

1. Short stories aren’t novels. Novels aren’t short stories. What Jenkins is espousing is basically the literary equivalent of me telling an aspiring vintner to try his hand at beer first, because beer is more common and less fancy than wine. Beer isn’t wine. And you can’t make it so.

Will writing short stories help you learn to write? Yes.

Will it help you learn to write novels? Not really.

2. The two formats have different approaches in terms of scope. Novels have a grand scope. Novels have room for three acts and multiple character arcs. Short stories have a limited scope. Short stories require you to hone in on one section and one character arc. (A caveat here: Some novelettes, i.e., long short stories, CAN allow for a more novel-based approach, but even then, you can’t write it like a full novel. You must think small from the beginning, not just plan big and then trim it down.)

3. A novel gives the writer time to chase rabbits and meander. It shouldn’t but I’ve yet to find one that doesn’t waste time somewhere along the way, either with wasted time on a character who is superfluous to the main plot and theme or with plot points added to further complicate the plot (at best) or lengthen the book (at worst). (Wait. I take that back. Chandler didn’t meander at all, but his novels were also a great deal shorter than the epic doorstops that readers blindly follow nowadays.)

4. A novel is a wall. A short story is a target. Have you ever heard the saying, “throw shit at a wall and see what sticks”? You can do that with a novel and find forgiveness to some degree from your readers. Try that with a short story, and your readers will be long gone.  Or, as author Sherrie Flick describes it:

“I write very-short short stories—2,000 words or less. In these stories I try to condense a vivid sense of the world into a small space. I compare the process to shoving an angry black bear into a lunch bag, without ripping the bag.

“My goal is to write a short story (often less than a page) that seems full to readers long after they walk away from it. I want them to think back on the story years later and add their own sub-plots, characters, and details. Ideally, the story expands beyond the page, and the reader is active in that expansion.

“Writing a novel is a much different process. Instead of holding back—working with a fragile amount of space and condensing language to make effective and subtle suggestions—I open up the word spigot and, in doing so, the fictional world of the story. My sentence structure lengthens in the novel manuscript, and I enter into the challenge of evoking complex atmosphere with a bigger, more expansive sense of character on the page. It’s like pulling the (still angry) bear back out of the bag without getting mauled.
As for my take on it, working on my novel is like dumping buckets of words onto the page each day and guiding them all into the right funnel, whereas working on a short story is more like targeting each word and concept as a single arrow with a single circle to hit.

5. Novels and short stories begin and end at different points. Novels have a clear beginning and a clear climax and (more often than not, it seems to me) a denouement. This means that they begin getting the hero or protagonist into the position that will then snowball the action toward some new direction and end with a very strong period and often a second period just for good measure. The bad guy is foiled. The dad reconnects with his daughter. The tower falls into a blazing heap just as the hero and her followers escape. Then we often learn what they’re all doing two weeks later and who ended up with whom.

Short stories don’t always have a clear beginning or end. Just as the best short stories begin after the beginning, they also end before the expected ending. Best example? “The Lady or the Tiger.” Another great one is Stephen Donaldson’s “The Conquerer Worm.” There’s rarely a pretty bow on short stories. Try that with novels, and your readers will tend to call foul on you -- or assault you with words at your convention tables.

Why are these problems? Why will they mess you up?

Let’s take them in order.

1. Learning to write short stories will prepare you to write better short stories, but you’ll still need to approach your novel as a beginning novelist because that’ll be what you are. The skill sets you’ll need to plot, organize, and craft a novel will not be the same ones you learned writing short stories because contrary to what several folks may tell you, short stories are NOT INFANTS THAT GROW UP TO BECOME NOVELS. Short stories are full-grown adults in their own right.

2. This one can really hurt both ways. Short stories don’t work in grand scope, nor do novels work in a limited scope (with a few notable exceptions that would probably never get published today, such as Kafka’s Metamorphosis.) The novelist who sets out to write a short story by plotting a short novel is doomed to failure. Likewise, the short story writer who begins a novel by trying to stretch out a short story is going to be disillusioned quickly and sacrifice content for filler.

From their very DNA, you have to approach each in a different manner.

Your story triangle for a novel will have several smaller triangles within each segment, and within those several plot points, action sequences, and possibly even settings. For a short story, your triangle is more psychological, more emotive, dealing with character change (or failure to change) and you don’t have room for those multiple settings and plots within plots.

As for characters, a short story tends to focus on one character. Unless it’s a novelette or novella, you don’t usually see multiple POV heads operating in the same narrative. Your novel, however, can be as wide open as a movie, jumping around from character to character as quickly as Michael Bay can change camera angles during an explosion.

3. If you’re the kind of writer who likes to set out on the journey without a roadmap or an outline, be warned. The structure of a novel will allow you to make a false start and then get your feet, figure out what you’re actually writing about, then go back and revise you opening chapters to fit the later stuff you like. Not such much in the short story. If you need a few pages to get your footing, chances are your story is halfway over (or more) by the time you figure it out. And that means a total rewrite, not a revised intro.

4. If you need a subplot to keep your characters busy as they search for the killer, a novel is just the place for it, but if you start to add subplots your short stories, you’re going to find that you are just muddying the waters of your plot and you risk leaving dangling holes in your story. And those holes are annoying enough in novels (Such as:  Where did that family who was so important in chapter 7 disappear to, and why are they not showing up again?) but in the space of 20 or so pages, it’s a downright disaster. That’s the opposite of tight writing. It's sloppy, plain and simple.

5. This is sort of a continuation of #2, but it is important enough to be a roadblock all its own. There are a time and a place for sweet, little short stories that wrap up in a pretty bow, and that place was Good Housekeeping magazine back in the 1940s and 1950s (and others of that type). Those writers are mostly forgotten or ignored by publishing history.

The literati might say that a novel is to entertain you and a short story is to get into your head and cause you to think. And to a degree that’s true, but not completely. Both should make you think. But where a novel is a long-time, small dose of medicine that builds up in your system, a short story is a super-concentrated, crazy big dose that shocks the system and makes you confront the rainbow elephant in the room face-to-tusk.

As such, the ending to a novel serves a certain purpose -- it brings you back down from the build-up and lets you off roughly where you came in. The “ending” to a short story tends to drop you off in another city or plane of existence and tells you to find your own way back home. Get those two mixed up, and trust me, your readers will let you know they're not happy.

How about a few examples?

Sure. I’ll even keep the same numbering for reference.

1. Short stories aren’t novels.

When I started to plot my first novel idea (long since abandoned) I was building from several years of writing short stories. Because of that, that novel died on the vine because it didn’t have the “beefiness” to sustain a long-form story.

Conversely, the first short story I wrote came after years of reading novels, so I tried to cram way too many characters and themes and settings into one sci-fi story about a dying girl who teaches her court-appointed death-chronicler what living really is. When I finished it and sent it off to magazine after magazine, it came back rejected. Thankfully, Analog was nice enough to tell me that while my voice was the kind of thing they liked, the story was way overblown and entirely too much for a small story.

2. The two formats have different approaches in terms of scope.

In my story “And So She Asked Again,” from the horror collection The Bacchanal, is focused the characters down to a fine spotlight, just the conversations between the two characters. Everything else happens off-screen and is either referenced or left to assumption. Nothing matters except what they say to each other and the way they act as they say it. That’s where the horror comes from.

3. A novel gives the writer time to chase rabbits and meander.

My pulp novelettes are the exception for this one. Because of the nature of a pulp novelette, they tend to be created as if they were tiny novels.

But not so for your average short story.

For that, you need to know where you’re going and what you're doing on the journey. If three friends are on a trip to visit Jim Morrison’s grave but get lost, you need to know when, where, and why -- and what the fallout between them is because of it. It doesn’t have to be a firm outline -- the best writing always leaves room for tweaking and redirection -- but it does need to have a direction and a goal. (That’s an unpublished… as of now… story; by the way. I’ll keep you posted.)

4. A novel is a wall. A short story is a target.

Take my story “Farm Fresh” from Zombies vs. Robots: This Means War, as an example. The point of that story is that two former friends fell apart over a woman, and now they have to work together to save each other. I had no time nor reason to write about what was happening in town with other people or to sidetrack into the approaching throngs of zombies. If I needed to reference those events, a radio in the background served that purpose well. If it didn’t concern the two former friends, it didn’t matter.

One plot. One direction. One set of characters. One target.

5. Novels and short stories begin and end at different points.

This is my favorite.

If a novel begins with the handsome victim getting out of the car, walking up the driveway, ringing the doorbell, and opening the door, the short story begins with the door already wide open and the killer brandishing the knife and swinging for the victim’s chest.

Or, to use an example from my own work…

In “Die Like a Man” from Lance Star: Sky Ranger Vol. 4, I didn’t have time to have Lance kiss the girl goodbye, then send him up in the experimental plane, just to have him shot down. I only needed him captured so I could write about his escape. So, I skipped it and dumped his heroic aviator backside right into the ocean at the end of a noose. Bam. Now that’s a beginning.

As for the end of that one, the story really had nothing to do with him getting back to the base and talking to the authorities. Nope. It ended with the crew leaving the island and looking back on the destruction. Fin. Close curtain. Go home.

When the action is over, you type ‘The End.”

Okay, but why are you so upset?

I’ll admit it. It sounds a lot (and I do mean A LOT) like I’ve got a bee in my shorts about this, and perhaps I am a little obsessive in arguing the merits of short stories over novels. (But c'mon, you always defend and argue for your children, right?)

Besides, short stories have gotten the proverbial short end of the stick lately. The publishing world revolves around marketable epics now. There's little room for short novels, much less short stories (except in that new "promised land" of e-books, it seems). And while in the past writers could earn a decent living wage off short stories in the pages of magazines, that market has dried up as a profitable venture with the absence of prints mags that provide outlets for them.

But, to be honest, even that’s not quite it.

In a world where the novel is king, I’m tired of short stories being treated as baby steps or the shallow end of the writing pool. There's a certain kind of writer (and more than you think) who lessen and diminish the short story in favor of the "true art" of the novel. Or perhaps the "true marketability" of the novel. One is the lesser and one is the greater, simply become it is believed that one is the short version of the other. But they're not even the same kind of story, so that kind of comparison doesn't hold true.

The truth is more like this:


There's an art to writing small and there's an art to writing big. It's not an either/or. So where does the idea that short stories are "practice" for novels come from? I'm not entirely sure where it began, but that doesn't mean any of us have to accept it as fact.

So yes, SOME of the techniques and skills you learn writing short stories can travel back and forth between stories and novels.

But not ALL of them. Outside of grammar and sentence construction and choosing details to establish character and learning to use strong verbs instead of weak modifiers, I'd venture to say few of them.

And learning the difference between those can mean the difference between making quality art and making crappy art.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to present the latest thriller from veteran genre author, Michael Vance, “SLLITS.”

In 1947, just outside of Corona, New Mexico, on a hot July day, a flying saucer crash lands in the desert.  The government immediately sends in the military and has the alien craft and its crew transported to an airbase in Roswell. Four of the five alien voyagers are dead, the fifth, a huge, gelatinous creature, becomes the sole focus of their investigation.

Leading in the study is C.I.A. officer Celeste Gains. By accident, she creates both a mental and physical bond with the alien who refers to itself as Sslits. For the next fifty years, it will be the entire purpose of her existence. Her mission is twofold. First to keep you him out of the public eye and second, prevent unscrupulous government agencies from exploiting Slits amazing abilities. Among these is nullifying the aging process for her. At ninety, Celeste doesn’t look older than her mid-thirties.

When a second Slits arrives on Earth, its sole purpose, to locate and destroy the first, Celeste is faced with her greatest challenge yet. Veteran writer Michael Vance offers up both a fresh and frightening look at a “first encounter” unlike anything ever imagined.

“Whether writing about old haunted New England hamlets or monsters from outer space,” says Airship 27 Productions’ Managing Editor Ron Fortier, “Michael Vance has a way of adding a unique creepiness to his fiction that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading. He’s a talented writer of the macabre and “Sllits” is no exception.”

Joining Vance is artist Gary Kato who provides the book's interior illustrations and Art Director Rob Davis completes the package with an eerie cover by Canadian Ted Hammond thus offering up another classic Airship 27 pulp thriller.


 Available at Amazon and soon on Kindle.



Cover Art: Mark Wheatley

Art: Nik Poliwko
Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to present the second Rick Ruby anthology as created by writers Bobby Nash and Sean Taylor. New York City is private eye’s Rick Ruby beat and beautiful women his weakness. All Ruby ever wants to do is earn enough to get by and stay out of trouble.  But no matter how hard he tries to keep his nose clean, trouble has a way of finding him.

From spies, to gang wars, hangings and cold blooded murder, writers Alan J. Porter, Ron Fortier, Bobby Nash and Sean Taylor put Ruby through his paces. But in the end, the smart mouth shamus knows, to survive, he’s going to need a little help from his friends.

Art: Nik Poliwko
“Ruby is a classic private eye of the old school,” says Airship 27 Productions’ Managing Editor Ron Fortier. “I’ve always loved these characters from Sam Spade to Philip Marlowe. So when Bobby and Sean proposed this series to us, I was on board immediately. Volume one was lots of fun and our mystery fans wanted more.  We were only too happy to provide them with this second volume. I even joined in the fun contributing my own Rick Ruby story.”

Well known popular artist Mark Wheatley returns for a second, stunning cover while Nik Poliwko turned in the nine beautiful interior illustrations. A super package then assembled by Airship 27 Productions’ Art Director, Rob Davis, for as yet another great quartet of P.I. adventures.

Mystery lovers will rejoice when they crack open The Ruby Files, Volume Two.


Available now in paperback from AmazonCreatespace, and soon on Kindle.

Amazon (paperback)
Createspace (paperback)

See below for more information on The Ruby Files Vol. 1, still available.


A pulp/noir anthology




2013 PULP ARK NOMINEE - BEST SHORT STORY - Die Giftig Lillie, Sean Taylor from The Ruby Files, Airship 27 Productions

2013 PULP ARK NOMINEE - BEST SHORT STORY - Tulsa Blackie’s Last Dive by William Patrick Maynard from The Ruby Files, Airship 27 Productions








Airship 27 Productions dons its tough-guy mantle, as it premieres its newest pulp star in THE RUBY FILES.

It was the 1930s and America was locked in the grip of the Great Depression. Gangsters controlled the major cities while outlaws roamed the rural back country. It was a time of Speak Easy gin-joints, Tommy-guns, fast cars and even faster dames. This is the world of New York-based Private Investigator Rick Ruby, a world he is all too familiar with. From the back alleys of Gotham to the gold-laden boulevards of Hollywood, Ruby is the shamus with a nose for trouble and an insatiable appetite for justice. So if you’ve got a taste for hot lead and knuckle sandwiches, tug your cuffs, adjust your fedora and light up a Lucky, a brand new pulp detective is coming your way.

Created by pulp masters, Bobby Nash & Sean Taylor, Rick Ruby echoes the tales of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe while offering up his own brand of two-fisted action. Joined by fellow pulp smiths Andrew Salmon & William Patrick Maynard, these modern scribes of purple prose present a quartet of tales to delight any true lover of private eye fiction. This instant classic features a gorgeous Mark Wheatley cover and eight evocative black and white illustrations by Rob Moran.

This is a book that harkens back to the classic black and white Warner Brothers gangster movies that featured James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson to name a few. The atmosphere is gritty with a no-nonsense hero pulp fans are going to applaud from the first story to the last. And when that last tale comes to a close, you can bet we haven’t seen the last of Rick Ruby, Private Eye.

Bobby’s story is called “The Case of the Wayward Brother”

On the surface, the case seemed simple enough. All Rick Ruby had to do was track down the runaway brother of the sexy socialite from California then collect his fee. Of course, in Rick Ruby’s world, even the simplest case is never that simple.

Sean's story is called "Die Giftig Lilie"

A German scientist wants to defect, but when politics turn to murder, could it all be a ruse?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Ron Fortier announces the first New Pulp movie -- Brother Bones!

Dear Friends, Families & Colleagues,

After 45 yrs as a professional writer, I’m about to see one of my fondest dreams come true. A feature-length motion picture is now in production in Seattle, WA, based on my pulp character – BROTHER BONES – THE UNDEAD AVENGER.  He has appeared in short story collections, novels and comics since I created him over ten years ago. But for that to happen, Franklin-Husser Entertainment LLC, need your support. Making a film of this kind is not going to be cheap.

Thus a Kickstarter Campaign has been launched at the link below. I would ask you to take a few minutes to look it over. The talented assembled for this movie is truly outstanding, including two veteran Hollywood film composers. Again, we need your help and note, even taking this letter and forwarding it to the other recipients in your e-mail files would be of tremendous assistance in helping to spread the word. So in the end, my heartfelt thanks.

Ron Fortier
Fort Collins, CO


Friday, June 23, 2017

Scout Media now accepting submissions for A Contract of Words!

Scout Media is currently focusing primarily on our short story "Of Words" anthology series. We are not accepting submissions for novels at this time.

The 4th anthology in the 'Of Words' series will be "A Contract of Words."
Submissions will begin on July 1, 2017.

A Contract of Words:

Theme guidelines - All stories must involve, be the result of, or the final product of two or more people/things entering into a contract with each other (the NOUN version of contract; not the verb). Think about all the contracts we agree to ever day: signing your debit/credit card slip is a contract to pay for your purchase, a lease on an apartment, a deed, a will, a marriage, a divorce, an adoption, joining the military, bands signing with labels, authors signing with publishers, actors signing on to a movie, hiring someone to murder your wife, staying at a hotel, hiring a plumber/electrician/contractor to work on your house or business, buying a plane ticket, buying a concert ticket, selling your soul for something you desire… Contracts can be finalized in a multitude of different ways: written agreement, verbal, a handshake, mixing blood or spit (blood brothers pact), and pinky swears (or anything else you can come up with). A stipulation is that if the contract is breached, (or even not breached, based on the ruthlessness of your characters) then there is a consequence; either legally, financially, or personal, etc.


For more information:

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Crossing Through No Words Land

by Andrea Judy

Sometimes in life, you hit a patch where the words just won't happen. I don't just mean a writer's block or the dreaded soggy middle. I mean the times when your whole mind turns into an arctic tundra where nothing thrives. You can't think of a new idea, you can't think of writing at all. The idea of writing fills you with sickly dread. It sucks. So what can you do? Well put on your snow boots and let's figure this out.

1. Take a break.

Sometimes you just need a break from writing. Take a day or a week and just rest. Give yourself some slack and time to recharge. This is especially true if you have been really pushing yourself hard for a while.

2. Read out of your usual genre. 

If you write romance, pick up a western. If you write horror, pick up a space opera. Read something totally different than your usual fare. Sample something different and give yourself some fresh ideas and new genres to look into. You never know when you might find your next beloved book.

3. Enjoy a nap. 

Seriously, sleep is rad. Take a nap and see how you feel after some well deserved shut eye.

4. Skip that scene you hate. 

If you're avoiding writing, unable to write or just hating everything about the certain scene or chapter you're working on... just skip it. Put in a placeholder in and move on. If you hate that scene than does it have to be like that? Figure out a way to make it fun for you and the reader.

5. Get help. 

Sometimes this kind of a block is a big red flag that something is wrong. I know for me, when I found myself unable to write for months I knew something was wrong and went to find help. For me, this tundra of no words is a big ol' sign post that I am entering the depression badlands and it's a good time to talk to someone and get help. There's no shame in needing help.

So that's what helps me when I enter the tundra of no words. Is a sucky place that I don't even like to visit but sometimes you just have to cross it and get to the other side. Writing is hard mental work and it can be taxing to do. So keep on plucking on and we'll get to the other side together.

Note: Originally posted here. Reposted by permission.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Nugget #100 -- Ears > Eyes

My ears are better proofreaders than my eyes. It’s a concept
I’ve proven over and over again in my own work. When
I read a story aloud, I catch far more mistakes than
simply reading the words silently in my head.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"Cherry Hill" is the Story of the Day on Scriggler!

My story, "Cherry Hill," is the story of the day on Scriggler today! 

This was also my first published story way back when and the first story I won an award for, in a competition judged by awesome author and poet Judith Ortiz Cofer!

Looking back on it, even though this story isn't a by-the-numbers pulp, I can see the pulp influences on my style. What do you think?

Sunday, June 11, 2017


Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to present the third installment in Nancy Hansen’s epic saga of the rise of Pirate Queen Jezebel Johnston.

Having escaped the clutches of the sadistic French pirate, Julien Levesque, young Jezebel Johnston and her companions, Walter Armitage and Pakke, throw their lot in with the inexperienced captain Emile Gagnon and his crew. Fleeing in his speedy sloop rechristened Sea Witch, their audacious plan is to recruit additional sailors and raid the pearl-rich islands beyond Port Royale.  But to do so they will need to avoid the larger pirate ships relying on stealth and cunning.  If they succeed, a treasure beyond imagining awaits them. If they fail, a cold and watery grave.

“With book # 3, Sea Witch, Jezebel’s life takes a drastic detour,” says Airship 27 Productions’ Managing Editor, Ron Fortier.  “New allies are formed and plans formulated to evade old enemies. Hansen’s research is as meticulous as ever as she continues the saga of this truly memorable character. Anyone who has read the first two books will be thrilled to dig into this new chapter.”

Once again Nancy Hansen sets a course for action and adventure with pulpdom’s newest, most daring hero, Jezebel Johnston, pirate maid.  Award winning Art Director Rob Davis provides the interior illustrations and Laura Givens a stunning, action-filled cover.  “Jezebel Johnston – Sea Witch” is a seagoing pirate tale filled with colorful rogues and a lush, historical background. Soon to be an instant pulp classic.


 Available in paperback from Amazon and soon on Kindle.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

[Link] The “Superhero” Trademark: how the name of a genre came to be owned by DC and Marvel, and how they enforce it

by DG Stewart

Our publication has a category devoted to “superheroes”. It is a genre to which we have paid disproportionate attention, primarily because it is in English (the language of most of our contributors) and because of the sheer volume of superhero-genre material generated primarily by American publishers.

But what does the word “superhero” actually denote? The words “super hero” was first used in 1917, when it was used to describe a “public figure of great accomplishments”

In so far as use of the word “superhero” in the course of commerce is concerned, however, there is a severe limitation. The word “superhero” is jointly owned in many parts of the world by two US publishers, DC Comics and Marvel Characters Inc, an affiliate of Marvel Comics. The road to joint ownership of the word “SUPERHERO” in the United States is well-explained in this link.

But perhaps a more concise explanation comes from both DC Comics and Marvel themselves. The following paragraphs come from a United States trade mark notice of opposition filed by DC Comics and Marvel in May 2015:

Read the full article:

Friday, June 9, 2017



Terror in the Tropics! Peril in Paradise! Betrayal on the Beach! It’s just another day of murder and corruption under the palm trees in CRIME DOWN ISLAND, now available from Pro Se Productions in digital and print formats.

Six heated tales of manipulation and mayhem set in the dream destinations most fantasize about. Sun baked days and moon kissed nights along the ocean, where love and hate walk hand in hand. And the shrill of tropical birds can be drowned out at any moment by a horrified scream and the last gasps of someone dying. Evil takes vacations in the same places we all want to, thanks to authors Shannon Muir, Gordon Lendrum, Sharae Allen, Louis A. Rodiquez Jr., Jeff Hewitt, and Shane Bowen. CRIME DOWN ISLAND from Pro Se Productions.

With an exotic cover by Larry Nadolsky and logo design and print formatting by Marzia Marina and Antonino Lo Iacono, CRIME DOWN ISLAND is available now at Amazon and Pro Se’s own store at  for 15.00.

This tropical crime anthology is also available as an Ebook, designed and formatted by Lo Iacono and Marina for only $2.99 for the Kindle and for most digital formats via Smashwords.

For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies to review this book, contact 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, June 6, 2017

The Watson Report: On Barbers

Let us consider the legendary and mythic roots of barbers.

First, recall that in some early cultures hair was sacred. Some holy men and holy warriors made vows never to cut their hair (c.f. Samson). Many traditions held that hair could be used for malefic magic against the person from whose head it was taken; hence, for example, the hair and nails of the Pontifex Maximus of classical Rome could only be clipped by a free man and must be buried under an arbour felix (divine tree, preferably an oak). So some of the earliest barbers were men with holy duties.

The earliest shaving razors in the archaeological record come from Egypt c3500BC, with tweezers and tongs in a specially-made case, found amongst a cache of religious items. The first recorded barbers were priests and medics. Given that and the barber’s necessary skills with a razor it is unsurprising that barbers were also known as surgeons and dentists; it is only in the last two centuries that the professions have parted company.

By the time of the ancient Greeks, trimmed hair was a mark of civilisation, of sophistication and status. Only savages and country bumpkins – and slaves - wore their hair long and tangled. Discerning men of status went to the agora to see and be seen, to visit the cureus who would very publicly shave and hairdress them while those around shared debate and gossip. Indeed, the forum barber was the best source of gossip and a fount of information. This old function has led on to the “wise barber” trope of such stories as the Arabian Nights.

The Romans stole barbers from the Greeks, of course. By 200BC, tonsor shops were common in major cities across the Empire, part of the daily hygiene routine that included gymnasium and public baths. They were meeting places and sometimes plotting dens. A young man’s first shave was considered a major event in his life, sometimes preceding his first intercourse. Barba is Latin for beard, the origin of our name for one who shaves and cuts hair.

By the middle ages, barbers had stopped being priests or monks. The Pope had issued orders forbidding clergy from spilling blood (Council of Tours, 1163), which precluded dentistry and surgery. Hospitaller clerics therefore had lay assistants who would handle such necessaries of healing, along with applying leeches, enemas, lancings, and fire-cuppings. Those priests were clean-shaven too; another Papal decree in 1092 ordained that no clergyman should have facial hair.

By the 14th century, London was home to the Guild of Barbers; in 1308, the Court of Aldermen elected Richard de Barbour to keep order amongst his colleagues. In 1462 a royal charter upgraded the Guild to the Worshipful Company of Barbers, an organisation that continues to the present day.

A 1540 Act of Parliament merged in the Fellowship of Surgeons to form the Worshipful Company of Barbers and Surgeons, specifying that surgeons may not cut hair or shave people and that barbers could not operate on them; both groups could extract teeth. Barbers received higher fees than surgeons at that time.

It was probably this merger that led to the recognised shop sign of a barber, a long striped pole with red and white stripes (red for surgery, white for dentistry). In some modern versions blue stripes are also included, perhaps because red white and blue are patriotic colours in both the UK and US. Originally the pole also included brass bowls at top and bottom, the upper one for the leeches and the lower one for catching blood. There are a number of current US lawsuits underway regarding barbers’ objections to cosmetologists using the pole to advertise their services.

The Worshipful Company also had an educational role in the late medieval period, being a legal source of public autopsy anatomy lessons, conducted four times a year in an auditorium designed by Inigo Jones (the hall was destroyed in the Blitz). The Company’s crest features an opinicus (English gryphon) supported by chained lynxes. This is presumed to demonstrate the keenness of vision required for barber-work. The motto is De Praescientia Dei – “through God’s foreknowledge”. Root back to the ancient origins of the trade as far as you like.

Hairdressing as a term first appeared in the 17th century, along with the first women who are described as hairdressers. The first were French, of course; the most famous was Madame Martin who popularised “the tower” as a style and influenced every depiction of rich Aristos in every movie ever made. Champagne was the first famous male hairdresser of women; his Paris salon survived until his death in 1658.

By the 19th century, barbers were associated with gossip, with minor surgery and medication (including contraception, often in the form of pigskin condoms – “something for the weekend, sir?”), with fashion, with local knowledge, and with community meeting places. During that century in America, Black barbershops became a significant factor in the development of Black culture and society. In the UK barber salons served as a lower-class version of the coffee house as a meeting place to form opinion and foment political change.

In addition to shops, though, there were still the itinerant street barbers who would shave and clip a customer right then and there, maybe also shining shoes and offering manicures. There were door-to-door barbers and seafront barbers and in-club barbers. There were the first common womens’ hairdressing salons, as a more liberated distaff population with disposable income but not enough of it for personal maids with hairdressing skill began to demand services.

There was enough scandal about for Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street who murdered his customers and turned their corpses into pie-meat to become a bestselling Penny Dreadful. There are still members of the general public who believe him to be non-fictional. The story goes to show the darker aspects of barbers that were in cultural currency at the time. Demon Barbers come from the same place as Killer Clowns.

So, barbers: wise gossips, social hosts, purveyors of advice and contraception to young men coming of age, hedge-surgeons, community mainstays, sacred servants, sudden butchers – rich characters rooted in old story, well deserving of being maintained in our fictional universes today.



Sunday, June 4, 2017




Seattle-based, actor, David Stoker, has been cast as the lead in the new Franklin-Husser Entertainment LLC production of “Brother Bones – The Undead Avenger.” Based on the New Pulp stories by Ron Fortier, Brother Bones is the first of the New Pulp heroes to be adapted to film. Auditions were held last week for twenty speaking parts and press releases focusing on each actor and role will be forthcoming. This is company’s third and most ambitious project to date.

A Kickstarter Campaign will soon be launched to fund the project and if successful, principle shooting will begin in late August.  Brother Bones is a period tale set in the mid-1930s in the fictional Northwest metropolis of Cape Noire.

Stoker is a veteran of both stage and screen and lists his acting skills as martial arts, voice over and improvisation.

“I was blown away by the level of intensity David brought to his readings,” Fortier reported. “He has a level of energy that is crucial to playing a character such as Brother Bones and I personally cannot wait to see him don the skull mask.”

“The funny thing is,” Erik Franklin (writer, director, co-producer) said “he came in to read for another part altogether, and he would have been perfect for it. But when I saw that he could project menace as well as vulnerability, I asked him to read for Tommy/Jack on the spot. With only a few minutes of preparation, he nailed the part!”

Saturday, June 3, 2017

[Link] Darkness in Fiction: 7 Tips for Writing Dark Stories

by Hannah Heath

I enjoy dark stories. I like reading about characters that struggle, worlds on the brink of destruction and in need of saving, words that go into the deep, little-seen parts of the soul. I like writing them, too.

And that's why I'm so disturbed by what darkness in fiction has turned into. It seems like each year the books get darker and darker, and each year they become more and more abused by authors who don't seem to understand (or care about) the ramifications of their words.

As a writer and lover of stories with a dark side, I'd like to point out what makes a dark story good with the hopes that we can get away from the current "Darkness without meaning" trend that's running around like a rabid dog (*cough* or a certain DC director who thought it would be a good idea to turn a certain character into a murderer *cough* *cough*). So here it is: 7 tips for writing a dark story that's not just a black hole of death and depression and strangled puppies.

Read the full article:

Friday, June 2, 2017

[Link] Do I “Tell” Too Much?

by Nicole L. Ochoea

“Show vs. Tell,” that’s a phrase we hear a lot on the writing circuit, but as a new writer it can be hard to identify those places where we need to show more.  Here are two easy steps to help you “show” your story, giving your readers a chance to step inside your pages.

Step 1:  Do a search for emotion-themed words

I recently finished an excellent book called Deep Point of View by Marcy Kennedy where she recommends doing a search for “emotion-themed” words in your manuscript.  At the end of this post you will find a list of words you can search for in your work in progress.

Step 2:  “Show” the emotion instead of “Telling” the reader about the emotion

Now that you have identified your “emotion” words, what do you do with them?  How do you turn them into something a reader can see, hear, touch, taste, or smell?  I like to use the Emotional Thesaurus.

Read the full article: