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The Business Model for Pulp Fiction

I was having a really interesting discussion the other day about pulp fiction and the Golden Age of short stories.  The cheaper publishing costs plus the popularity of the magazine format plus the space exploration obsession of the age made for fertile grounds in the short form fiction arena.

So the argument in said discussion was that we are no longer living in the Golden Age for short stories.  The form isn't as mainstream as it used to be, which, therefore, means that you can't make a living as a short story writer.

This really got me thinking.  And you know what?  I call bull on that statement.

You know who really made the money during pulp fiction days?  The publishers.

You know how the authors made money?  By writing constantly.  Guys like Ray Bradbury were PROLIFIC writers.  They had to constantly churn out new stuff in order to make a living.  And even then it wasn't like most of them were making millions.  At best, most of these authors "got by."

So the…

Guest Blog: The Other Publishing Company Launch Innovative Weekend Short Story Competition – ‘The Lit Bits Weekend Challenge’

As part of their mission to bring the best short stories from new and established authors to keen readers around the world, The Other Publishing Company are running a series of weekend short story competitions, with winners receiving publication and a share of a £1000 prize pot.

Over the course of four consecutive weekends, starting on the 13th of December 2013, The Other Publishing Company are challenging writers to produce an entertaining short story of 1000 words. Each Friday morning they are giving writers a set story title to work with and challenging them to have it completed by Monday morning.

Each weekend three winners will receive £80 or $80 (depending on where they live), that’s 8p or 8c a word! At the end of the month twelve winning stories will share almost £1000 in prize money, and all winning stories will be published in special Lit Bits compilations. Entrants can enter as many stories each weekend as they wish, and from anywhere in the world, but they must be written in…

Review of "On the Clock in Vegas," short story by Brian Bergquist

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Summary:
Professional gambler Benny Delgano is in Las Vegas to compete in a high stakes fantasy football tournament for one hundred thousand dollars, only to run into a demented criminal from his past with revenge on his mind.

Forced into colluding with Tommy the Wolf at the fantasy football draft in order to spare his friend's life, Benny finds out the stakes were higher than he originally thought.

Review:
I'll admit, the subject material is not really my cup of tea.  I'm more of a Settlers of Catan gamer rather than high stakes gambling.  And I know just enough about football to follow a game.  But fantasy football?  Lost me there.

That disclaimer said, the writing was compelling enough that I still enjoyed the story.  Even though the terms and catchphrases thrown around sometimes sailed over my head, there was enough action and intrigue to compensate for that.

There's a very small twist at the end.  I won't spill the beans in this review but the twist hinges on t…

Adapting Short Fiction for the Screen, Guest Blog by Screenwriter Derek Ryan

Derek Ryan is the screenwriter of an independent adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's 2BR02B based in Vancouver B.C. 2BR02B was one of Mr. Vonnegut's early short stories, written before most of his novels. Since it is such a splendid example of Short Fiction, he is reaching out to the short fiction community hoping to drum up support for turning it into a film.
For me, this was my first time adapting a literary piece into a screenplay format. Luckily, since the short story is already so cinematic, I didn’t have a David-esque battle to fight in order to make it work for the screen. The biggest challenge for me was giving the audience knowledge about the world that the film inhabits without resorting to narration or some gross sequence of expository dialogue. I feel narration is somewhat of a cheat, so instead, we added an entirely new scene as a prequel to the events in the short story. This way, the audience gets to see more of the world, and infer from what is seen, as to what the …

Creative Juices

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I'm a night owl.  Always have been.  Before 10:00am I have been lovingly described as resembling the "ruler of the underworld and darkness."  Whatever.



Fortunately I have a job that allows me to set my own hours and is conducive to having afternoon/early evening clients.  One would THINK that being a night owl is perfect for one with writing aspirations.  And it is.

There's only one problem: creative juices.

Pre serious writing era this is not a problem that would have occurred to me.  I worried about writers block or running out of story ideas.  Things that I now realize are silly.  A writer writes.  Words go onto the page whether they're good or not and you can worry about all that other stuff later.

The thing is with creative juices is that it's not the same thing as creativity.  Writing takes a great deal of emotional effort.  Forming the correct words and phrases to make the scene in your head come out just right is almost akin to crying or deep convers…

Review of "Yellow Eyes," short story by Sayuri Yamada

Review:

**May contain spoilers**
This story is... odd.  Since there's no summary provided I will briefly recap.  It's from the viewpoint of a man suffering from depression.  His son died and the death caused him and his wife to drift apart.  Most of the story takes place during what appears to be some sort of party/convention for people with unusual eyes.  So the story switched back and forth between him talking to people at the party and flashbacks of the past.

It's odd for several reasons.  The first is the author's choice of second person tense.  Instead of saying "he did this" or "he did that" it was "you did this" or "you did that."  Personally, I found this made the story harder to get into.  Instead of the story coming across as me getting to know the characters as I would a friend it was it became "psychological."  The end result was that I felt more detached from the story than I probably would have had it been …

50 Words at a Time

I have an hour set aside every day for writing and I have to fight to keep it free.  That's something that non-writers just don't get.  "Can't you just write for a half hour now, do this with me, and write for a half hour later?"  No, I can't.  I need uninterrupted writing time in order to get the brain flowing so that the resulting words are good, usable words.

It's like running.  You can't just get warmed up, jog for fifteen minutes and cool down two to three times a day and expect it to yield the same results as jogging for an hour straight.  You need to get in the groove and stay in the groove for a prolonged period of time.

So yes, my writing hour is an entire hour but it's also only an hour.  I might have some free time later in the day, I might not.  It doesn't matter so much to me so long as I get that scheduled hour in.  Later on I might fight the battle of how many writing sessions I get into one day.  But for now the hour seems to b…

Review of "War Memorial," short story by Elisabeth Grace Foley

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Summary:   At the bottom of an old trinket-box lies a misshapen bit of lead—a bullet from the Civil War, an old family keepsake preserved, but mostly forgotten, by later generations. And behind it lies a story—the story of a young girl's experiences in the days surrounding the fateful battle of Gettysburg, which force her to examine her own heart and show her the face of war in a way she could not have understood before.
Review: I've always enjoyed Foley's stories.  She has such a simple and sweet way of putting together words.  War Memorial is yet another shining example of her style.
The actual storyline itself is not ground breaking.  It's the Civil War.  Soldiers are killing each other but every soldier is still a human being.  But it's the way Foley tells the story that makes you pause and reflect which, to me, is the sign of a good short story.  The lower word count means that you should want to take the time to the digest the words you've just read.  
As …

A Short Story Sales Stats Update

About a year ago I went on this kick of reporting all the sales I had for works under 10,000 words.  It eventually got too complex (for me) to keep track of due to the increasing number of published works that I had out along with the fact that Smashwords wouldn't always update in time to do accurate monthly reports.

I honestly don't know how some people can keep track of their sales on huge spread sheets.  They must only have like five books published or something.  Psh.  Novelists.

However I do feel it's important for prospective short story writers to have a realistic understanding of what the market is currently like.  And in light of my third year of being published anniversary, it felt as good a time as any to divulge some numbers.

I don't feel like it would be useful at this point to give a breakdown of everything I've sold in the past three years.  I'll be honest, I don't move thousands of copies and some months I didn't get paid at all for awhi…

SFWG 2013 Flash Fiction Contest RESULTS

We would like to thank everyone that took the time to submit to the Short Fiction Writers Guild's first flash fiction contest. We received an impressive number of submissions for this contest. So it made us very happy to see that flash fiction seems to be alive and thriving in the literary world.

And now for the results!

First Prize goes to Al Stevens for his story “The Old Tenor Player.”  You can buy the collection containing this story on Amazon.

Second Prize goes to Travis Hill for his story “Capture at the Hive.”

Third Prize goes to Kaye Linden for her story “My Soul is Driving.” You can buy the collection containing this story on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and most other ebook retailers.

Always be on the lookout for future contest announcements!

Review of "The Prisoner," short story by Laura Lond

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Summary:
Captain Torren, the warden of the Dormigan Prison, knows that the mysterious Prisoner 34 is much more dangerous than the authorities think. Torren does his best to guard him, going so far as to break some of his orders, but the new governor’s sudden wish to personally inspect the prison threatens to destroy the shaky balance the warden has achieved.

Review:
A really interesting fantasy piece by Lond.  It was bordering on psychological which is unusual for the genre but Lond was able to pull it off without the story feeling forced.

I was immediately fascinated by Prisoner 34.  Lond does an excellent job giving us just enough backstory to whet our appetites and yet not bog the flow of the short story down with mountains of exposition.

What dropped the story from a 4 star to a 3.5 for me was the the fact that it didn't feel complete at the end.  This is a part one of a series but it doesn't change the fact that the story needs to have an end.  I don't mind cliffhanger…

Three Years and Counting

When I write these publishing anniversary posts there's this strange feeling that I just finished writing the last one and yet when I go back to read the last one I can't help but think, "Holy crap that was a long time ago.  I was so innocent!"

Greater cosmic forces than I decided that October should be my milestone month.  It marks the start of both my teaching and publishing careers.  This October marks my third year of being published.  So I think this now makes me a minority in the indie publishing world?  Sweet.

As I look back I would say this has been a year where I've grown more as a writer than a publisher.  My publishing strategy hasn't really changed all that much.  Other than blogging and the occasional Facebook post, I'm really not into social media anymore for book promotion.  It was such a major time drain and I just don't have enough hours in the day to really make an effective presence.

I've stuck to my plan of releasing more novel…

Review of "Beneath a Vengeful Sun," short story by Ron Leighton

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Summary:
The concubine Ránača, despairing over her dead family and status, agonizes when Mother Volhuxa, oldest of Master Hergesto's bed-slaves, informs her that they will be sent out of the main house to live with the other slaves. Ránača fears what this will mean--and wonders whether she wants to live at all.

Review:
Over the past years that I've done reviews on this blog I've read several stories by Leighton.  In this particular piece I couldn't help but notice how much the author's writing voice has matured.  The characters are deeper and the story concept more powerful.

As with past works, however, my main issue with Leighton's work is the grandiose idea crammed into the confines of a short story.  While this story definitely feels more streamlined than others (fewer characters, more direct plot), it goes on just a little too long.  It's a short story, not a novel.

But it doesn't change the fact that this is a very enjoyable read.  The loose fantasy…

Letting the Characters Speak

I'm terrified of rambling in stories.  Of all my pet peeves when reading, I think rambling ranks #1 or close to.  I hate it.  The long, drawn-out descriptions of nature or yet another conversation on why the hero and heroine can't be together... snooze fest.

But I think this fear of rambling has held me back in some ways.  In an effort to ensure the plot constantly moves forward I sometimes cut things a little too short.  Some description is a good thing and is possibly one of the most powerful tools a writer can use to affect the pace of their plot.

So I've been trying a new tactic lately.  I've been trying to let the characters unfold.  I figure I've been so anti-rambling that I could probably swing pretty far in the other direction and still be safe from falling into the rambling trap.

It's easier said than done.  Other than just jotting down basic, basic ideas for plot direction, I've stopped outlining.  I found that when I outline I adhered to the note…

Review of "Unyielding," short story by Shane Ward

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Summary: A battle for right, a battle for a child. One ship, two enforcers with a conflict of interest.

Review: This story wasn't really a short story in concept.  Ward presents us with the intriguing but grandiose of a ship full of humans traveling to what will be the next Earth.  Because it takes hundreds of years the occupants have formed mini economies, caste systems and, naturally, must have strict controls on how many babies get born.
Interesting, right?  Is this a short story idea?  Ehhh....
There's just too much going on.  Which isn't necessarily a bad thing when you have the luxury to add layers and layers of depth to a story.  Short stories don't have room for such luxuries.  The concept presented must be simple.
I don't dish this judgement out very often but: it needs to be way longer.  I wanted the time to really hate the bad guy.   I needed to fear him before he even attacked the hero's wife.  Not oh here's the bad guy and he's done bad stuf…

Writing Every Day Continued

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I realize that in creating this post it will start to sound a bit like the journaled ravings of a woman that writes her way into madness.  But it can't be helped.

I'm now making headway on the first work I've started completely from scratch since the newly established writing every day goal.  On our last episode I was writing every day and finishing up a work I already started and outlined.

I'm not a huge fan of extremely detailed outlines as I think it sucks the fun out of writing and is unnecessary for shorter works.  But I did recognize the necessity of organizing my thoughts and staying on track.  So pre-writing-every-day I would jot down major plot point that I wanted to occur in each chapter.

And this worked quite well when I was on my Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule.  With basically 48+ hours between writing sessions I needed those little reminders when I sat down at the computer to get me back into the zone.  Subtle points that I wanted to bring up more tha…

Review of "Cold," short story by Martin Pond

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Summary: No workplace relationships (they get messy). And no relationships with married men (they get messy too). Lisa broke both these rules when she met Daniel. But when their affair ends, and Lisa realises she cannot get him back, she decides to get even instead, and exacts her revenge in a series of acts that start small but quickly escalate. And as the old saying goes, revenge is a dish best served... cold.

Review: A compellingly told story marred by unlikeable characters.  But let me be clear: In general, I like the antihero types.  I think they actually end up being more interesting and complex than your regular ol' hero.  But in order to get into this type of character you have to be completely immersed in their twisted minds.
We watch as Lisa, our protagonist, changes from a semi-normal woman to bordering stalker.  But that was my problem.  She never really made it past bordering.  A plot like this can't play it safe.  What makes this type of story chilling is watching…

Writing Every Day

So I've been reading Stephan King's "On Writing."  It's one of those books that every author needs to have read at least once.  The book is an autobiography of sorts mixed with writing advice.

In general I find the writing insufferable.  The entire work seems to drip with pompous self-assurance which, given the man's achievements, I don't entirely blame him for it's just annoying to read.  I just can't help but shake the feeling that he only issues the advice that he does because he's so successful.  Like it would have been interesting to me to read an autobiography by a young King and compare it to the style of established King.

But despite the moments of teeth grinding, there are quite a few gems littered around the book.  Sometimes you have to dig for them, but they're there.  In retrospect, I will probably be going back to reread the book.  It's the type of work that you'll just get different things out of at different times o…

Review of "Fallen Leaves," short story by Rachel Elizabeth Cole

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Summary: For as long as fifteen-year-old Grace Sather can remember, her great-grandmother has hated her mother. And now Mom wants Gran to move in with them. But before Mom can talk Gran into it, Gran has a bad fall and winds up in the hospital. Now a long buried secret is about to emerge. A secret that could shake the family to its very core.

Review: This story is good but for some reason left me dissatisfied.  The result was that I had to think about it for a few days before writing this review which is a quality I do appreciate in a short story.  I like having to digest a plot.
While the plot is from the point of view of a fifteen-year-old, it is mostly focused on the mother figure.  Grace is watching her mom react to the grandmother.  The point of view choice was excellent given the plot content.  It was just enough to make the details vague.  Grace is as in the dark as the reader so you want to keep reading to find out what the bad blood was between the mother and grandmother.
The …

Writing is Just So Sutble

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I find the lack of measurable progress in writing to be frustrating.

Let me explain: I'm a professional musician.  I also have a variety of hobbies that range from disc golf to beer making to archery.  In pretty much every area except for writing, there are clear markers to tell you if you're improving or not.

Can you play the hard section that old piece more easily?  What was your score at the end of 18 holes of golf?  Did that batch of beer taste better than the last batch?

Measurable progress.

If you make a stout three times and each time it tastes better, you know you're doing something right.  If your violin is making fewer glass-shattering squeaks, you know you're on the right track.

Writing doesn't have any markers like that.  Sure, you find yourself more easily forming scenes or maybe your vocabulary has expanded or even your story lines more complex.  But does that necessarily mean you're a better writer?

This problem is further compounded by the fact …

SFWG 2013 Flash Fiction Competition

Make it short and sweet! SFWG is looking forward to our 2013 Flash Fiction Competition!

Submission Guidelines:

Entries have a limit of 1,000 words. Stories beyond that will not be considered.Stories may be previously published.Any genre is accepted. The contest is about originality and depth of story given a limited number of words.Entries will be accepted beginning on August 5, 2013.Entry Deadline: September 2, 2013.All submissions should be sent as a PDF attachment to shortfictionwriters@gmail.com with “SFWG Contest” as the subject.
We will announce the winners by October 7, 2013.

First Place: Will be featured on the SFWG Blog, announced on various forums and websites, included in a future Anthology (with your approval), given an SFWG logo and winner image that can be used on your book cover, receive 10,000 words of free beta reading from both Book Brouhaha and Short Fiction Spotlight Beta Reading services (20,000 words total).

Second Place: Will be featured on the SFWG Blog and anno…

Balancing Act

It's not easy balancing publishing me with author me.  Essentially, balancing what makes money with experimental stuff.  Starting a new series in a new genre is fun for the author me but it's always a risky decision.  You're stuck with the series until the end and if turns out to have low sales numbers, it's time wasted that could have been spent writing something that was more certain to make money.

But money isn't everything.  Even if the new series never sells, it's still valuable writing experience.  The more action scenes you write, the better you become at writing them.  Every word that is put on a page teaches you more about the craft of writing which, in turn, will actually make your books sell better.  Genre isn't everything.  It can attract your audience but it can't make them buy the rest of your work.  Your work has to sell your work.

To keep me from neglecting pen names and to keep my inner author and publisher happy, I finally broke down e…

Review of "Gnit-wit Gnipper and the Perilous Plague," short story by T.J. Lantz

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Summary: No matter how hard she tries life never seems to go quite right for Gnipper Tallhat, an eight-year-old Gnome determined to receive the recognition her intelligence deserves. This time, however, she's got it all figured out. Finally, her father will have to be proud of her accomplishments...provided he manages to live through them.

Thoughts: I felt like this story completely missed the mark given the target audience.  There is one point I would like to make clear before I go on: Lantz can write.  This story was polished and read smoothly.  My issues are with the content and plot.
"Gnit-wit Gnipper" is a child's story.  My guess is that Lantz was trying to go for more of a Grimm's fairy tale approach rather than Disney.  There's a dark humor to the story which is not necessarily a bad thing if done correctly.
I'm a teacher and I work with children ages three through teenager on a daily basis.  I'm not one for talking down to children but I also …

Flash Fiction Fumblings

Writing flash fiction is not easy.  So anyone who thinks they can just whip together a collection... think again.

I enjoy the writing process but in a different way from longer works.  When putting together a novelette, it's several sessions of just nonstop writing.  I set up the characters and the scenario and then it becomes a matter of putting as many words down as I can during my writing hours.

Flash fiction is not the same.  It requires more brooding.  More mulling.  Let's be honest: the resulting story may only be twenty words long.  So the words must be carefully chosen.  A flash fiction writing hour may involve a lot of staring out the window then turning to the computer and spend fifteen seconds writing down those twenty words it took me an hour to think about.

It's kind of creatively draining.  After putting together a flash collection I often find it a relief to switch to something longer.  Something more "brainless" (bad choice of words, but you get i…

Review of "True Equitation," short story by Caitlyn Santi

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Summary: Tuscany, Italy 1341.
Have you ever wondered who first turned dancing with horses into a dressage competition? Or maybe how the arena letters got their order? This short story is an enchanting ride through history to a time and place where most men considered themselves experts in all things, they were harsh riders and considered horses as merely tools of transportation. In this time when women working with horses was frowned upon by society, will one young woman teach the men a thing or two about about True Equitation?
Review: Without a doubt Santi has considerable knowledge in the equestrian area.  However, the historical value of this short story seems to stop there.  Not only is it completely implausible that a woman publicly display herself in such a fashion but even more unrealistic is the fact that the knights (men) would create a competition with such loose contestant rules.
I get that it's supposed to have a fantasy feel.  But there are dozens of writing devices the…

An Unexpected Lesson from Publishing Short Stories

I may not be making a million bucks from writing them but one nice thing about being a short story author is the freedom to publish constantly.  You're not trudging through an epic 150,000 word fantasy for years.  You can write a 25,000 word fantasy, publish and be done with it.  Still on a fantasy kick?  Right more.  Bored of fantasy?  Try a different genre.

This publishing flexibility suits me.  It also helps me to stave off writer's block.  When I publish too many stories of the same genre I start to feel like they're all turning out the same.  A formula rut as it were.

But what I didn't expect was that branching out in genre also taught me a lot about the business of publishing.  I started to see that certain genres really do sell better than others just because of subject material alone.  Certain genres simply have a bigger audience.  But with a bigger audience also comes more competition.

Seeing certain stories take off under a brand new pen name just because it …

"Parking Space" by Alain Gomez

“This place makes absolutely no sense.”

“Tell me about it. And I have no idea who we could even talk to for directions.”

“Pull our options up on the screen. We need to figure out who would be the best representative.”

“Just a moment… hmm… all right here’s a complete list… I think.”

“What about Russia? They seem to have the most land.”

“But not the most people.”

“Good point. Why do they need so much land then?”

“Beats me.”

“Ok it looks like this place called China has the most people and the biggest military.”

“But not the most militaristic. Look at this number here. Korea has fewer people but more of those people are signed up to be soldiers.”

“Is that important?”

“Maybe? This species is always always fighting. Maybe we need to find the best warrior among them?”

“That sort of makes sense. However, they must not be very good warriors. Not one of them has managed to conquer the entire planet. Earth isn’t that big.”

“Fairly small, actually. Do you remember Germok the Great? H…

Review of "Circe's Pool," short story by Pen Clements

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Summary:
The water nymphs love their crystal pavilion and the sparkling waters flowing through it. So much so they can't be bothered to fulfill their bargain with Circe, the island's sorceress.

It's time the pleasure seeking, comfort loving creatures are taught a lesson. And who better than a sorceress to give it to them?

Review:
I liked the idea behind this piece.  One really cool thing about the dawn of ebooks is that authors now how the freedom to bring back the fairy tale.  I love fairy tales.  I purposely seek them out to read and have delved into some of the lesser-known fair tale writers (Oscar Wilde, for example, has a whole collection).

It's difficult to really define what separates a fairy tale from just a regular fantasy story.  For me, one big thing is the moral/life lesson undercurrent.  "Circe's Pool" definitely has that feel.  The nymphs are lazy and must be taught a lesson.

However, the lesson they learn was just a little too tepid.  In f…

Theory: Use separate pen names for short stories

I am a short story writer.  I'm also something of an anomaly in that I exclusively write short fiction.  No novels for me just yet.  I'm having too much fun with the short stuff.  But you know what I was thinking?  IF (big if) I did attempt a novel, I would probably write it under a completely different pen name.

Why?

Two facts come to mind:

1)  Novels sell better than short stories.  They just do.  They're more mainstream and, frankly, there are more people out there that want to curl up and be lost in a book for hours than there are people who want to savor and contemplate.

2)  A large part of a short story writer's success is branding and expectations.  People go IN to an Edgar Allen Poe story expecting it to be shorter.

It's impossible for a short story writer to completely avoid those scathing "too short" 1-star reviews.  They happen.  But the reason why they happen is because of reader expectations.  The buyer wanted a long book, they got a short st…

Review of "My Mother's Shadow," a single short story in a collection by M. Eigh

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Summary: This collection packs eight exquisite short fiction from M. Eigh, including Bitter Tea and Braided Hair, My Mother's Shadow, Oscar’s Extraordinary Life, Planned, Dear Teresa, The Manchurian Express, A Eulogy for Edwin Bogardus, Not A Bad Day and Double Sauté.

All of the stories have been previously published by very selective professional or semi-professional literary magazines and some of them have been re-printed since their first publication.
Review: A truly beautiful piece of short fiction.  What it lacks in action it makes up for in literary depth.  There are a lot of layers to this story, each interesting enough to mull over for some time.
I was impressed with how easily M. Eigh introduces his racist world.  In just a few short paragraphs that contain no blatant description you understand the conflict and empathize with the characters.  I appreciated the symbolic use of shadows.  It was a clever literary reference to other literary references.  
I only wish there was …

No Escaping Destiny

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I really don't know what I would do with myself if I didn't have my writing.  It's like there was no escaping it.  The creature had to be made.



I had this weird reflective moment a couple days ago.  I started thinking about my younger, elementary-aged self and then compared it to what I am doing right now as an adult.  I have to say, I would never have called it.  Just about the last thing I wanted to do was teach the violin.

I should have known better than to jinx myself.  Now in retrospect I can't think of anything else I would rather be doing that teaching music.  The pieces just all seemed to fit together.

The thing is with private teaching is that most of your work happens in the after school/work hours.  Aside from a handful of homeschoolers and adult students, I mostly have the morning and early afternoon free.  Which is nice.  It's when I make the time to exercise or run errands.

It's also when I write.  I've always had an interest in writing but a…

Review of "Asha," short story by Kevis Hendrickson

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Summary: Asha is a 15-year old girl with the soul of a demon. She plans to wage war against heaven and hell using humanity as her main weapon. Asha begins the epic tale of the revenge of the dark goddess of demons!
Review: I've read quite a few works by Hendrickson and this story certainly speaks for his ability to present interesting story lines move along at a nice clip.  I liked the protagonist.  She was an intriguing juxtaposition of human emotions and demon knowledge. 
And yet it's because I liked her that I found myself a little frustrated with the story.  I wanted to know more about her motives but all dialogue explanation remained frustratingly vague.  I learned more about the plot reading the summary than I did reading the story.  At no point in the story does Asha explain that she wants to wage a war or that humans will play an integral part in this war.  I don't expect an in-depth outline but I do need enough to put some of the pieces together.
But other than thi…

And the Summer Slump Sets In

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So it had to happen at some point.  It always does.  Book selling is cruel like that.  The very moment you start to think "Wow! My sales are really doing well!  At this rate I'll be buying that private island I've had my eye on in no time!"

Then the Summer season sets in.

But there's no need to panic.  Really.  It's just a cold reminder of what actually happens in your own life.  The weather is nice... you have some time off... you're on vacation... you're not reading...

Wait?  Not reading?  Oh yeah, I guess I'm not really. At least not as much as I do during the winter when the sun sets at 4:00pm and there's no reason to be outside.

But it doesn't change the sting of seeing your sales numbers drop like a rock to the bottom of the sales rank ocean.  This too shall pass.  Just keep publishing.  Avoid hitting the refresh button on your KDP window.  And know that places like Amazon are not broken.  They are simply going through the natural c…

Review of "Born Again," a short story by P.J. Lincoln

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Summary: Beth Tanner has a secret. It's one she's kept from her husband, Jackson, for more than a decade of marriage. Now, a chance encounter with a device that allows your past to be viewed in full detail, Beth Tanner must confront her long ago transgressions.

Beth lives an ideal soccer-mom suburban lifestyle. It's a life she's grown accustomed to and she doesn't want to give it up. But Jackson needs to know the truth and that world she treasurers so much could be taken away.

Review: A short piece with a quick, engaging plot that somehow feels lacking in the end.  Lincoln has some writing skills, no question there.  The opening scene to the story is quite good.  He immediately manages to create sympathetic characters with only a few short paragraphs.  Beth and Jackson are having the type of conversation that almost any person that has been in a long-term relationship could relate to.
The mysterious salesman and "life-sync" device piques your interest.  Ho…

Food for Thought

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My dad, being the engineer that he is, always says that 5% or more is statistically significant.  So does it solidify my nerdiness if I said that more than 5% of my Netflix recommendations are documentaries?

What?  I like National Geographic!  And it's only a matter of time before Nova actually catches the Loch Ness monster on film.  What's really pathetic is I get hooked on these things late at night.

So the latest installment was "Jiro Dreams of Sushi."  If you haven't see it, go watch it now.  It's on Netflix instant watch.  It's about one of the world's best sushi chefs.  He runs a restaurant that has ten seats and his sushi starts at $300 a plate.  Crazy right?  But everyone who eats at his place says it's totally worth the money.  Customers have to book their spot a month in advance.

What's really interesting about the documentary is Jiro himself.  They talk a little about what goes into his sushi making but most of the film is about hi…

Review of "Mandy Marries a Muslim," short story by Aliya Anjum

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Summary: Mandy 22, breaks the news to her mother that a Muslim from Pakistan has asked her to marry him. Carol, 46, is a strong Baptist woman who has raised Mandy by herself, after her husband's untimely death. She is dead against the idea of her only daughter marrying a Muzlim man. She tells Mandy to stay away from those terrorist Muzlims. Zafar's family also opposes the match, since his mother had already chosen a bride for him in Pakistan.

Mandy and Zafar met during college in her home state of Texas, where he had come to study from Pakistan. The two get married, ignoring their families protests.

When both set of parents meet for the first time, it leads to surprising discoveries for everyone.

Review: This is the second story I have reviewed for this author.  Both times I read her work I was left with a feeling that the story was unpolished and and possibly unfinished.
Anjum's clear strength as an author is presenting compelling protagonist concepts.  For example, in th…