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Results 16,176 - 16,200 of 215,467
16176. Pinch and Dash and the Terrible Couch

Anyone who has ever tried to fit a large piece of furniture in a tiny space will sympathize with poor Pinch. (Count me among them. I once had to return a couch that wouldn't fit through the apartment door.) While oversized furniture might not be a pressing problem for most kids, the humor in this easy reader will win them over and they are sure to relate to the plight of being the recipient of an unwanted gift.

That's what happens to Pinch when he unwittingly opens to door to a huge couch on his top step, a present from his Aunt Hasty, who sold her house and moved into a tiny apartment. The movers, Push and Shove, cram the couch into Pinch's small den without any regard for his other belongings. The guff duo have little patience for Pinch's predicament and have some of the book's best lines. When Pinch dillydallies about where to set the couch, Shove tells him: "We move things. We do not stand around holding things." I think I met these guys during my last move.

Unlike the first book in the series, Pinch and Dash Make Soup, Dash doesn't appear until midway through. He tries to help his friend by rearranging the furniture in the den, but when that doesn't work to Pinch's satisfaction, Dash falls sound asleep on the offending couch. And that is the beginning of an idea that leads to an amusing visual conclusion.

Pinch and Dash and the Terrible Couch
by Michael J. Daley
illustrations by Thomas F. Yezerski
Charlesbridge, 48 pages
Published: 2013

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16177. Writers, don your Halloween costumes

That's one tough inner critic. Courtesy Library of Congress.Writers, forget the orange prison jumpsuit Piper costume and the Great Gatsby costumes… here are some ideas just for you. Although admittedly, they might take a lot more explaining than, say, a flapper dress and a beaded purse. 

  • The Inner Critic. We’ve all got (at least) one. What does your inner critic look like? Maybe she’d be nicer to you if you dressed up like her for the day. 
  • The Plot Point. Put your creative brain to work and figure out what a midpoint would look like if it walked into Panera for some chicken noodle soup. Or maybe style yourself as an entire plot diagram.
  • The Remainder. Truly a frightening costume. Be sure to include the odd grocery store style price tag. 
  • The Pseudonym. Pick a real one--Robert Galbraith, perhaps, or a classic like Richard Bachman—or make up your own. Make sure nobody can see through your disguise unless it will net you a spot on the bestseller lists.
  • The doomed dog. They say it’s a rare dog that survives all the way through a kidlit story, unless it is a narrator. Make your costume a salute to Sounder, Old Yeller, Old Dan or Little Ann. 


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16178. Just Because Social Media is a Tool Doesn't Mean You've Got to Be A Tool Too.

By Candy Gourlay Social Media is not the way, the truth and the light. It is a tool. Just a tool. Just because it's a tool doesn't mean you've got to be a tool too. I added someone I didn't know on Facebook the other day. He was already friends with several of my writing contacts. He declared himself an author so, fair enough, I thought. Immediately I got a message - not a private message,

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16179. Tell Your Editors What You Want — Here are 4 Things to Start With

I know!By Mark Aiken

Here’s the scene: Big Scary Editor from Gigantic Magazine finally calls Little Ol’ Me in response to a pitch. At first I’m filled with excitement… until I read the details of their offer. Exhilaration turns to disappointment and incredulity. I ask myself: how can I make a living on this?

Here’s the more important question: what do I do about it?

Many freelancers are afraid to advocate for themselves in their dealings with editors. I know the feeling: in a business where rejections (or, just as often, no response, period) are part of the game, we don’t want to rock the boat and blow it when the opportunity finally arises.

I am here to sound the rallying call. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want!

Although you may think (and you’re right) that there are thousands of other writers out there waiting in the wings for their chances, this editor called you in response to your carefully crafted pitch — the pitch for which you brainstormed the perfect idea, researched the right market, and determined the appropriate editor to whom to reach out.

A few carefully worded and tactful questions — even the dreaded “Can I have more money?” bombshell — aren’t going to break your deal. In fact, ironing out all the details on the front end is smart and professional.

Advocating for yourself can be intimidating. But if a deal doesn’t sound right, ask. Or if there is something that might make your job easier, the deadline more reasonable, or yourself better able to complete the assignment, bring it up! Sometimes your editor will take up your cause and advocate on your behalf with his or her superiors. (Nice — an ally!).

I like to get a dialogue going from the start. And I don’t like working while wishing there was something I should have asked. It’s better to work feeling satisfied that 1) I got the best deal I could and 2) there was nothing I should have asked for but didn’t.

Here are a few examples of things you can ask your editor for:

1. More money.

I don’t always get everything I want, but editors often give me something. Bear in mind that asking for more money is delicate; be careful not to phrase your request as an ultimatum. As long as you’re nice, the worst that will happen is they’ll stick to their original offer. Then it’s up to you to decide whether you can work under those terms.

2. A subscription.

A few times, after getting denied when I asked for more compensation, I countered with, “Well, can I have a subscription to your magazine?” After all, if I’m going to become a regular contributor, this could help me research ideas that fit the mag. Some say yes, some say no. One editor, apparently thinking a subscription was too much trouble, accepted my original request for more money!

3. A PDF of the article.

After the article is completed, I like to have a PDF of the piece as it appeared in the magazine for a clip or for my website. This usually requires following up after publication.

4. More time.

When an editor doesn’t take the bait when I ask for more money, I may be forced to re-prioritize. Maybe I still want the byline despite the low pay. But maybe I can’t afford to put off another, higher-paying project. Maybe I know I’m slow at a later date on my calendar. Looking ahead and letting an editor know your availability in advance gives the impression that you are both organized and sought after. Not bad images to portray!

It sometimes amazes me to realize that I have never met 85 percent of my editors face-to-face. Advocating for ourselves does more than garner a few extra dollars, a few more days, or a subscription; it identifies us as more than just story-producing email addresses in editor inboxes. We are living, breathing humans who stand up for ourselves when we feel we deserve a better deal.

How about you…have you ever asked an editor or client for more time, more money, a subscription, or anything else? How did it go?

Professional ski instructor by day and professional writer by night, Mark Aiken lives in Richmond, Vermont with his wife and son.

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16180. 9 Items to Check on Your Book’s Proof

Now available! Prewriting for the Common Core

When it’s time to check the proof copy or the Advance Reader Copy (ARC) or the galleys–all those terms refer to a copy of you book that is pre-publication and is one of the last chances to make corrections–take your time. It’s a last chance at perfection.

Here’s a brief look at what you should check:

Proof your Book Cover

  • Spelling of everything. How many times have you seen a crazy sign that has a misspelling that someone failed to catch? Don’t be that person!
  • Placement of crucial elements. Do any of the cover art elements interact with the text elements in odd ways? Is anything too close to each other, too close to the spine, too close to the edge?
  • Promo copy. Have you gotten any new promo copy, new blurbs, new reviews? If anything new has come in since the proof was typeset, this is the time to update any promo copy you can.
  • Color Reproduction. Probably the cover artist/designer and/or the art director/editor will do most of this. But they will value your input. Speak up if something bothers you.

Proof your Book Interior

New official author photo of Darcy Pattison

New official author photo of Darcy Pattison

  • Spelling of everything. Ditto from above.
  • Grammar of everything. Likewise, this is one last chance to prevent the grammar witches from haunting you.
  • Facts. If there are any factual elements to your story, this is the last chance to check and make corrections. I recently found a wrong date in a book!
  • Layout and design. Mostly you’ll look for consistency of design. Are the same design elements applied at the beginning of each chapter? Are scene cuts in the middle of a chapter indicated the same way?
  • Author Biography. Update your author biography one last time, if needed, adding in any new and appropriate promo material. At this point, you can even insert a new author photo, if you like.

Think of the proofing process as your last chance at perfection. If something is less than perfect–speak up. Make changes. Don’t let this opportunity pass without making the changes needed to produce the best book possible.

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16181. Time Management Tuesday: Fear Drives The Noncreative Demands On A Published Writer's Time

I've written here before about the amount of time published writers spend on marketing/reactive  activities versus the time they spend on actual writing/creative activities. A few days ago, author Lionel Shriver published an essay, How to Succeed as an Author: Give Up on Writing,
that deals with the same subject  in the New Republic. (I question, myself, whether she is responsible for the subheading "The Rancid Smell of 21st Century Literary Success." She wasn't that embittered in the essay, and it sounds an awful lot like clickbait.)

Now Shriver has achieved a high level of international success, and the average published writer isn't going to have to worry about being overwhelmed with invitations to lit festivals all over the world or two-week tours in foreign countries. But published writers of all levels do lose valuable writing time to prepping for both income and nonincome generating appearances, getting our names onto blogs and websites by pumping out content for them, and coming up with marketing schemes to make ourselves better known so that we can hit some of those faraway literary festivals. Shriver is writing about a very real time demand that many, many writers understand.

Unfortunately, many of her commentors focused less on the universality of the experience Shriver is describing and more on the fact that she is very successful and has no business complaining. In hindsight, including information from a few other writers with similar time constraints might have been a good idea, so the essay would have been less about her and more about the situation she's describing. In hindsight, she might have also played up these points that she did make:

"...with the exception of a few select luminaries whose reputations are assured, in this business you’re only as good as your last book. My livelihood started out shaky; it is still shaky."

"A frenzied calendar is my fault. It is the natural consequence of a profound insecurity that, during a dozen long years when I lived a hair’s breadth from having no publisher at all, worked its way into my very bones. That insecurity, some of which is economic, seems to have induced a permanent terror of turning anything down—anything that will make money, fortify my name recognition, or support book sales."

"Sure, there’s no precise requirement that authors put themselves in the way of all that froufrou. But this is a high-anxiety occupation. With publishers’ recent hanky-twisting over whether there will even be a publishing industry in ten years, that anxiety has gone into overdrive. Could we authors learn to “just say no”? Perhaps. Still, how many names that the public has learned to recognize will it soon forget? More than by ambition, “just say yes” is powered by fear."

With those excerpts, I think Shriver does an excellent job of explaining how writers end up spending  a huge chunk of their time not writing. I sure saw the anxiety and fear behind this essay. Other readers, though, only saw that Shriver's going to Bali. 

1 Comments on Time Management Tuesday: Fear Drives The Noncreative Demands On A Published Writer's Time, last added: 10/30/2013
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16182. A Song From My Childhood - Day 29

Believe it or not, when I was little all we ever really listened to was my dad's kind of music. You know, like The Association, The Beatles, The Tokens, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash... all those kinds of singers and groups.


However, we also got into folk music when I was around 7 or 8, so we also listened to a bunch - and I mean a BUNCH - of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem.


So, a song I remember quite fondly from my childhood would be this one, sung by Tommy Makem and accompanied by Liam Clancy.

Tomorrow is the last day for this contest. I can't even begin to describe how AWESOME that is.

Until tomorrow, hope you enjoyed this post. :)

God bless!


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16183. Flash Fiction Competition: Ginosko Literary Journal

Ginosko Flash Fiction Contest: $250 Award, $5 entry fee, deadline March 1, 2014.
Submit up to 2 pieces, 800 words maximum each piece.

Final Judges: Maggie Heaps, Michael Hettich, Gary Lundy, E M Schorb, Larissa Shmailo, Andrena Zawinski, Andrei Guruianu, Robert Paul Cesaretti.
Awarded work will be published in Ginosko Literary Journal.

Guidelines and Eligibility:
The Ginosko Flash Fiction Award is for an unpublished work of flash fiction. Awarded piece is selected through a submission process open to all writers with the following exception:
Relatives or individuals having a personal or professional relationship with any of the final judges where they have taken any part whatsoever in shaping the submitted manuscript.

Procedures and Considerations:
Please submit work, along with a brief bio, and cover letter if desired, to:

GinoskoContestATgmailDOTcom (Change AT to @ and DOT to .)

Attachments must be in .wps, .doc, .rtf, or .pdf form, otherwise they will not be considered (please include last name on every page submitted). Send print submissions to:

Ginosko Literary Journal
PO Box 246
Fairfax, CA 94978

Payment Procedures:
Online submissions will receive emailed invoices via PayPal, though you do not need a PayPal account. Print submissions may send $5 in cash or check (made payable to Ginosko Literary Journal) to the above address.

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16184. PiBoIdMo Roald Dahl Quote of the Day #1


10 Comments on PiBoIdMo Roald Dahl Quote of the Day #1, last added: 10/29/2013
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16185. Call for Submissions: Printer's Devil Review

Printer's Devil Review (ISSN 2160-2948) is an independent, open access journal of literary and visual art. We provide emerging writers and artists with access to publication and inquisitive readers with new voices and visions. We sell print editions at cost, but evey issue of the magazine is available for free download as a PDF (some are also available in e-book formats). We publish new writers alongside Pushcart- and Pulitzer Prize-winning ones.
We pay a lot of attention to graphic design and have a killer website that ensures your work will not only look good, but reach readers wherever they are and on any device, from desktops to phones. (Yeah, we're kind of from the future.) We nominate for Best of the Net, Pushcart Prize, and Best Indie Lit New England.  
We're currently seeking submissions of fiction (2,000 to 9,000 words), poetry, and nonfiction. Our reading period for Spring 2014 opened October 1, 2013 and closes January 1, 2014.  
You can find full guidelines for each section and access our online submission system here.

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16186. Big and Small // Fast and Slow

by Britta Teckentrup

{published 2013, by Barefoot Books}

I just lost myself on Britta Teckentrup’s portfolio. Entirely charmed and swept away by every single piece. She’s new to me, and I’m happy to have flailed around in her brain for a bit. And it looks like I have a lot to catch up on!

I have an unusual affinity or board books. Proof: here and here and here. And that’s just a select smattering! But everything that is perfect about a picture book is even more so in a board book.

Smushier, sweeter, chewier.

And these are especially delicious.Fast and Slow shows those opposites side by side. Directly in contrast, varying by speed. The comparison is limited to that spread only, which is a detail that I love. One of the later spreads shows a train and a bus, which of course is double decker and European and fancy. But isn’t a bus faster than even that motorbike up above? Sure, but one spread isn’t competing with others. Little brains noodling that out? Smart.

And speaking of the motorbike page – total favorite. That scarf!The colors are saturated and leap into your eyes.

The type! It’s that perfect teacher-handwritten-style.

But it’s the texture that I love the most. Clean shapes, easy lines, and the slightest bit of grit. Smooth, flat color might have been an easy choice to match those shapes and lines. But in a book about contrast, splashing in some texture is smart.

And it looks awesome.Big and Small’s pairs are tightly knitted. Inside a giant apple is an itty-bitty seed. On top of a vast mountain are individual snowflakes. Those connections are beautiful, and the cat-lion standoff might be my very favorite spread.A perfect addition to your baby-shower rotation, your art class, your tiny one’s library, or just the ever-growing stack surrounding you.


Review copy provided by Barefoot Books.

Tagged: barefoot books, britta teckentrup, color, comparison, contrast, texture

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16187. Busy Days and Busy Days Ahead

Just a little of what I have been up to that I never got around to placing on Facebook.

     When the weather report was announced that the temperature was dropping to freezing I gathered up my potted plants where I place them in the enclosed summer porch where they will stay all winter. I proceeded to bring in to the garage my large fern by removing it from the larger decorative empty pot to trim it back when I discover Sassafras inside the empty container. Sassafras is a little Gray Tree Frog that was my friend last summer.   Sass was a baby when I discovered him and photographed him all summer in different places and poses. The cutting was discontinued and the fern carefully placed back in the large container as Sass moved up the wall out of harm’s way. I will miss him this winter and his family that greeted me with a song in the mornings as I walked to the paper box.

      Friday morning I stopped at the Midway Fire Department garage sale where I purchased a small table and four chairs. Now, I need to donate my large dining table and six chairs. We continued out to the place where ORAC was holding the 6x6 art action Saturday evening. I was unable to attend Saturday night so I placed several bids for the ones I wanted and on my own. Then, I stayed while Eileen Preston picked up donated flowers from several florist and helped Debby Lively ORAC president until 4 p.m. when Eileen returned with beautiful fall flowers.

     Saturday morning I volunteered at the Baxter County Library for a couple of hours during kids mousetrap car races. I had an enjoyable time.

     After two weeks without seeing Prissy, she came one morning to enjoy a little corn with one mother, a yearling and two fawn friends acting like colts on a spring morning. The young ones were playing as if they felt safe and free from there hold-up spot down below the forest covered hills hiding from the bow hunters.

    Sunday morning we went to church and I had a restful afternoon.

    Monday, two members of Creative Writers & Illustrators came to the studio to work on a pre-teen novel and other things. We accomplished critiquing three chapters. Several were left for me to read from both writers. They realize I am very busy so they were kind enough not to put any pressures on me to finish. I will be my best.

    Today, Tuesday October 29, I and Stephen Johnson, president of the Free Verse Poetry Group met at KTLO radio station where we promoted our group’s latest poetry CD “Driftwood” on the program TALK OF THE TOWN. Stephen did great and I hope I was okay. It was fun.

     Soon as I post this on my one blog I’ll be onto the next step in my minutes I have left in this day. Remember, Saturday, November 2, Creative Writers and Illustrators meet at 1 p.m. at the Baxter County Library

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16188. Pre-PiBo Day #5: Kayleen West’s Success Story (plus prizes!)

KayleenWestAuthorIllustrator-webby Kayleen West

As a child, my mother used to tell everyone, “She’s such a daydreamer (adding a disapproving sigh).” I used to hate it, but she was right; I do dream big—and love it, it’s what creative people do best. You may be the same. When communicating in words or pictures it is the way we bless others. We invite others into our dreams and adventures, make them smile, laugh or indulge a little. I am a dreamer. I do dream of a better world-it can be ugly. I can’t save children from pain and disappointment, but if my books help a child smile, laugh, or feel better about themselves or their situation, I have contributed.

I started living this dream job in late 2010. I began late in life (I’m 48) but threw everything into it. I hope to bring many book babies into the world. There is nothing better than adding positives to a child’s life, and what better way than through picture books.

When Tara asked me to share my success story, I was eager to have the opportunity to publicly thank her. I never forgot PiBoIdMo had been instrumental in the birth of my new book, and had helped me form a good habit. You know, we can be slogging away in this industry, unaware of the impact we can have on others. She may blush at this but Tara should be credited with sowing seeds of success with her creative challenge. It is an unpaid gig but something to be very proud of. So thank you Tara!

Creative Challenges
I love creative challenges. They motivate me to be brave, step out in the new, learn, and grow as an artist. I tend to throw myself in 200% believing for something great—no loss in trying right?

Participating in the November 2011 PiBoIdMo I made a commitment to find a minimum of 30 picture book ideas. I focussed more on creating the habit daily rather than the quantity. Giving it my usual 200% I finished with almost double my intended goal. I was also left with the motivation to write more often.

Loaded with a smorgasbord of ideas and incredibly inspired, I began developing a few. You’ll never guess which one made it into publication first? Answer: the very last one—my last idea became my first publishing house success. WITHOUT ME, published by Wombat Books, has just been pre-released this month and will be launched in November. Sometimes we give up just before success. I wonder what if I had not completed the 30 days? Okay, let’s not go there.


I blogged about this challenge. Click the image to read!

Thinking up ideas wasn’t difficult as I am often flooded with inspiration if I look for it. My challenge is always deciding which ideas to develop and not all at once. I get pretty enthusiastic. Many of the ideas that presented themselves from PiBoldMo were worth exploring, and so I have worked to develop more of them. Anyone else need an extra lifetime for writing?

I haven’t submitted many at all. After signing with Wombat Books, everything took off like crazy (personally and professionally), including a second, third, and possibly a forth picture book contract in the past 12 months! Do note that two of these I am illustrating only. I only say this to show you that contract work can snowball once you get started. Sometimes publishers want to see you will follow through and are easy to work with.


adoptivefatherAt the time I was working on my very first picture book, ADOPTIVE FATHER (a personal non-profit project) which was very important and a lot was going on, but I decided that PiBoldMo was a good investment of my time—was I right OR WHAT?

I hope this inspires you to throw yourself into PiBoldMo 2013 and see what you come up with. I pray my success story encourages you to sign up, be inspired and birth a publishing winner this November.

Hopefully we will be reading about your book next year.


Although an initial childhood dream was to write and illustrate for children, Kayleen West was encouraged to venture into a career of an exhibiting fine artist and later a graphic designer.

Returning to her original passion, Kayleen is now a published children’s Author and Illustrator working on her forth children’s book. She also writes Christian content for magazines and blogs.

Her work has won many awards and hangs in private and corporate collections in France, United States, Italy, in the Australian Embassy in Ireland and in government collections in Australia.

Visit her at KayleenWest.com.au, fan her Facebook Author/Illustrator page, follow her on Twitter, and learn more about her PiBoIdMo success book, WITHOUT ME?.


Kayleen is giving away TWO signed picture books! ADOPTIVE FATHER and WITHOUT ME?.

Both prizes will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for these prizes if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on this post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!

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16189. Call for Submissions: Faultline: Journal of Arts and Letters

Faultline: Journal of Arts and Letters at UC Irvine is accepting submissions for its spring 2013 issue. Faultline welcomes previously unpublished submissions of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, translations, and art. Submissions close February 15, 2014. We look forward to reading your work.


Poetry: up to five poems.

Fiction and Creative Nonfiction: up to twenty pages.

Translation: up to five poems and up to twenty pages for fiction and nonfiction translations. Please include the original author’s name.

Art: up to five 8 x 10 color or black and white prints (slides may be necessary if work is accepted for publication).

Please mail all submissions to the address below and indicate on the envelope if your submission is for the fiction or poetry editor. All submissions should include a cover letter with the author’s name, mailing address, email address, and titles of work submitted along with an SASE. Please indicate in the cover letter if it is a simultaneous submission. Manuscripts will not be returned.

For questions or to withdraw the manuscript upon acceptance elsewhere, contact the editors at:

faultineATuciDOTedu (Change AT to @ and DOT to .)

Mail your submissions to:

University of California, Irvine
Department of English
435 Humanities Instructional Building
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697-2650

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16190. Cool Halloween Photo of the Week

This ghostly sight is known as the dB 141 Nebula. It is composed of the gassy remains of a supernova - the gigantic explosion that occurred when a huge star blew up.And since it kind of looks like a bunch of ghosts, it reminds me to wish all my readers a Happy, Out of This World, Halloween! Photo: Credit: T.A. Rector/University of Alaska Anchorage, H. Schweiker/WIYN and NOAO/AURA/NSF

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16191. Short Prose Competition: 2013 Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Contest

2013 Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Contest

Prize: $1,000 and publication in Quarter After Eight
Submission Deadline: November 30, 2013
Entry Fee: $15 for three pieces, includes a one year subscription

Submit up to three previously unpublished pieces of 500 words or fewer: prose poems, short-short stories, micro-essays, etc. We accept both electronic and paper submissions to the contest. All entries will be considered for publication in Quarter After Eight. For further details go here.

Quarter After Eight also welcomes general submissions in any genre. We are currently reading for our 20th issue forthcoming in early 2014. Quarter After Eight is dedicated to the exploration of innovative writing and regularly publishes new and established writers. For more information visit our website


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Just a reminder! With October coming to a speedy close and November looming.............it's time for NaNoMo and PiBoldMo. Sign up and get inspired. Who knows, maybe your next great novel or picture book will be born of these great creative gatherings.

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16193. One Wedding and a Funeral

I haven’t seen my husband in eleven days. I haven’t been warm in eleven days, because for the past eleven days, I’ve been in my hometown, Perrysburg, Ohio, and the trip was a mixed bag.

Papa and Grandma Schwind.

Papa and Grandma Schwind.

Two weekends ago was funeral weekend. We celebrated the life of my Papa Schwind. My brother and I commemorated the occasion with a giddy rendition of Brandi Carlile’s “Keep Your Heart Young.” As a family, we spent the evening by a bonfire, drinking beer, playing more music, and reminiscing. We “bonded,” maybe as we never have before, because Papa always did have a way of bringing people together.

The rest of my trip was wedding madness. I have never been a bridesmaid, so this was a first for me. Monday, I assisted dear Vicki (the bride) with program folding. Wednesday, we hit Toledo in a fancy limo for Vicki’s bachelorette party. Thursday, Vicki fought through a hang-over to tie up final loose ends. Then, Friday: the salon visit, the rehearsal at the church, and the rehearsal dinner. By the time the wedding day actually arrived, I felt as though weeks had passed.

Saturday, we got dolled up. We put on our beautiful bridesmaid gowns. We pretended it wasn’t overcast and freezing outside and started the day with mimosas. Then, we all got stage fright and had to do some group deep breathing and prayer before walking down the aisle.

Vicki and Del!

Vicki and Del!

And of course everything was perfect. The ceremony was a dream. Vicki looked like a rich, 1920s bootlegger’s wife—classy and covered in glitz. Her new husband, Del, looked like he wanted to kiss her long before the pastor said, “You may kiss the bride.” And we cheered, cheered, cheered, because Vicki and Del took the first step toward a life together.

There was much rejoicing at the super-fancy reception at Carranor Polo Club in Perrysburg. The band kept us moving all night long. I sang a Norah Jones tune for the bride and groom. I danced with old friends. I was Vicki and Del’s chauffeur at the end of the night, and I got to watch him carry her over the threshold of their shared home. I then fell into my childhood bed without removing my makeup or brushing my teeth; I haven’t done that in years.

I’ve found that I get somewhat selfish at other people’s weddings. Other people’s weddings make me think of my wedding and the wonder it was. My wedding to my Jake was a miracle—could not have been more “us.” I get cheerful thinking about our big day; I get melancholy, too, because I wish we could do it again!

Maybe that’s what this lengthy Ohio trip was about: sadness and cheer.

Sad to have lost Papa; happy that he’s in peace.
Sad to have a funeral; happy to have a wedding.
Happy to have a friend like Vicki; happy that she has Del.

I am also happy to be heading home—very happy. I miss my Jake, and Vicki’s wedding made his absence more apparent. Yes, I slow-danced with friends’ parents at the wedding (ha), but this trip to Ohio was hard without my hubbie. Now, I’m on a plane. I’ll be home soon, in the arms of the man I love.

To my Grandma Schwind: Papa is gone for now, but he’s waiting for you in Heaven, where he’ll give you a huge hug and sloppy kiss when you arrive.

To Vicki and Del: Many, many congratulations on your fabulous wedding and many blessings on your marriage. You’ll always be in my prayers.

To Jake: Baby, I’m comin’ home, and I can’t wait to hold you forever.

Jake and me.

Jake and me.

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16194. How I Survived a Night in a Texas Graveyard with R.L. Stine

For a minute there, I wasn’t sure.

I didn’t know.

I was not exactly confident that we would make it out alive.

The hordes kept shuffling toward us out of the darkness, closer and closer they crept . . .

Art by Iacopo Bruno, from Good Night Zombie (Scary Tales #3), by James Preller.

Well, okay.

Let’s backtrack a minute.

I was in Austin, Texas, on a Saturday night, scheduled for a reading in the Texas State Cemetery with R.L. Stine. A creepy literature crawl in a graveyard. What mad genius, I wondered, devises such things?

I met Bob in his 15th-floor hotel room — yes, he lets me call him “Bob,” a name that no one under the age of seven actually bears anymore, they’re all named “Brendan” and “Colby” and “Luke.” We sat and chatted for half an hour or so, the old days at Scholastic, our experiences with school visits, this and that and whatnot. Time passed amiably. At seven, we were driven to the cemetery where we were to meet, we had been led to believe, a representative from the Texas Book Festival.

She never showed up. Oh well. The crowd sure did.

Austin is not just good beer and great music. It’s also a town that loves books.

Forty-five minutes ahead of schedule, hundreds of R.L. Stine fans had already gathered amidst a sea of tombstones. It was an incredible vision. Many sat under the high flood lights, but others sat on the edges, and waited patiently in the graveyard’s deeper, darker, gloomier pastures.

My task was to serve as the opening act, like a lone slice of cucumber on a plate. Bob was the hearty main course and the reason they came, so ravenous. By 8:00, it was time to get the show started. I spoke, elicited a laugh or two, told them that the scariest thing I ever encountered was kids who didn’t like books (because they grew up and voted, and sometimes even got elected to Congress). I read the “Bloody Mary” section from Home Sweet Horror, the creepiest part of the first book in my SCARY TALES series. I had the sense to keep it brief, with no intention of messing with Texas. Next I had the pleasure, the honor, to introduce the beloved author, R.L. Stine.

Beloved? Revered? Idolized? Worshiped? Words fail me. What I witnessed was that deep connection between reader and book. I saw what it was all about. The power of the word.

The crowd, I mean to say, went a little bananas.

They love him, you see. On a deep and profound level, the books of R.L. Stine had impacted these people — and they were there to see the man, to shake his hand, to thank him, to tell him what those stories meant to their lives.

The first books they ever really, really loved.

Goosebumps. Fear Street. The most trusted name in book-learnin’: R.L. Stine.

After the reading, it was time for us to sign. They don’t really do lines in Texas, unless, I guess, it’s for dancing. Somebody should have brought a fiddle. Fortunately a couple of good-natured cops came by restore order (at the end, after thank you’s, they even asked us both to sign a few books for ‘em, which we gratefully did).

Of course, R.L. was the star attraction. I mostly sat nearby, making sure Bob had water, a Sharpie, a small flashlight to see, and, sure, I even signed a few books of my own, basking in that borrowed light. I took a few lousy snapshots, which you see here.

The entire night was a revelation and a confirmation. The power of story. The impact of books. And how lucky I was to do this job, to be in this place, to share in these moments.

Near 10:00, the last of the line had finally wound down. Time to go.

We headed to the car through the big iron gate, which swung shut behind us with a clang.

Bob smiled. “It was a good night,” he said.

“Yes,” I agreed. “It was.”

And I thanked R.L. Stine — Bob, my friend — for the gift of letting me share a small part of it. And to see again what it can mean to write a book, and for that book to be read, and for it to be loved by someone, by anyone, somewhere, anywhere.

It’s a beautiful thing. Even in a graveyard. Even at night. Especially with R.L. Stine.

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16195. Belated Book Excerpt - First Wolf - 29/10/13

from First Wolf

No One to Celebrate

The wolf was creeping along the ground, snarling and flattening its ears.  I thrust Rinan behind me, unable to look away from those fierce yellow eyes and my chest so tight with fear I hardly breathed.
With trembling hands, I felt for Father’s hunting knife and dragged it from my belt.  Why didn’t the wolf attack?  What was it waiting for?  It was so close I could see every coarse hair on its forehead, the dark flecks in its eyes, and the softer hair along its ears.  Its nose wrinkled and the black lips parted.  Saliva dripped from its open mouth.  It was bunching its hindquarters, ready to spring.
‘Run, Rinan!’  I yelled.
The beast leapt awkwardly towards me and I lurched sideways, landing heavily on my bad leg.  It buckled under me.  I slipped, tumbled down the bank, crashed onto the bed of the stream, and banged my head on a boulder.
The shock of icy water brought me to my senses, and I staggered to my feet.  Frantic to save Rinan, I saw the wolf watching me from the path with its head lowered and it was holding up a front paw.  The animal was injured!  That’s why its leap had been so clumsy, why it looked so thin.  It was hurt – I had a chance to kill it − and I felt for my knife but it wasn’t there!  I must have lost it when I tumbled down the bank!
Numb with fear, I looked desperately down at the water churning round my feet.  Tearing at the swaying weeds, I plunged my hands into crevices between the rocks and saw the watery outline of a knife resting on pebbles.  With a cry of relief, I made a grab for it, the blade cut deep into my fingers, and a searing pain burned through my body.  Shaking my head with shock, blood dripping from my fingers, I managed to slot the knife back into my belt.  
Slowly dragging myself up the slope and trembling with pain and exhaustion, I was almost at the top when I caught a glimpse of Rinan’s white face peering at me from the bushes. The wolf was leaning over the edge of the bank, darting its head forward, trying to snatch at me with its teeth.  Pulling myself up with one hand, and fumbling for my knife, I stabbed at its nose to frighten it and it backed away. 

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16196. Happy Halloweenie, y'all!

I just checked the last time I posted a blog and discovered it was back in September.
Well...I'm not one of those who likes to blog. Sure you'll catch me every now and then on Twitter and more so on FB.  So if you're ever bored to death and want to know what the heck I'm doing - follow me on FB. ;-) (I can't promise much happens there either.)

Sooooo, what have I been doing you asked? (LOL)

I was invited to go to Colorado for a writers retreat with the awesome, Liz Pelletier (Entangled Publishing), and her local writers chapter, plus 3 of her authors. When I was waiting at the airport for Liz to pick us up - all I kept thinking was that I'm the only one she's picking up that is not one of her authors. Boo-hoo! I felt intimidated I guess you could say, but honored and super excited to the bone that she asked me to go... You see I'd submitted a short story to Liz back in July, and I knew she'd passed it on to her directorial editor, but that's all I knew.

I met 2 of her authors at the airport, (Cecily (next to me in pic below) & Tonya (not in this pic) and then I met (Cynthia - in white below) at Liz's house. Later I met (MK - with the scarf on right) and many other great ladies. And let me just say meeting these fabulous women was soooo worth the trip! We created a unique bond that will last forever! :-) (p.s. It snowed! Woot! I don't get snow in NOLA, and like a big kid - I couldn't help stare out the cabin's windows.

Anyway, on the drive back to Liz's house she had to stop for gas for her racecar. (I felt like I was riding in one, seriously. LOL) When she got back in the SUV she turned around and asked me to remind her to send me the novella bible for the anthology I wrote. A few seconds go by because my wheels are turning....Maybe I have to rewrite this story now that they have the bible done.  So I think I said something like, "Oh. Sure. Um. Why are you sending me the bible?" Please let her say she wants the story!

Liz said something like, "I told you - we are acquiring your story."

I think I said, "Um. You did?" I think that is something I would remember. LOL  But maybe she did weeks ago when she said "she really liked it and was sending it to her directorial editor." I hadn't a clue what that meant. I figured she was really saying it sucked and someone else would send me the rejection. Well, that's how I roll...Hehe...

So I'd gotten the "call" or rather a DM on Twitter and never even knew it. Ha!

Now what? Now I'm about to start another story for NANO and write for the entire month. (Book #2 in my Witch series.) I'm sure I'll get the edits for the novella during the crazy month of November, but maybe not. I can handle it! I'm ready! On top of all that I'm planning a baby shower for my daughter and I'm sooooooooo excited about the baby coming in Jan or Feb. Woot!...So between writing, working the day job and planning the baby shower, and the holidays my mind is soooo worked up at  night - its hard to fall asleep.

So if I'm gone the entire month of November and December you'll know why.

Happy Reading & Happy Halloweenie! (I have one Halloween picture of myself on FB, but I didn't want to scare you here. Ha.)


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16197. Call for Submissions: Kinfolks: a journal of black expression

Call for submissions: Kinfolks: a journal of black expression
Theme: Unthemed 

Submission deadline: November 15, 2013 

Kinfolks: a journal of black expression is a publication dedicated to thinking about blackness in its infinite permutations. Started in 2013 by a small collective of friends old and new, the journal’s ethos is centered around the notion that the culture(s) of Africa and the African Diaspora provide us with models of collectivity, commonality, and kinship that have been and will be central to the story of our world. Thus, we are interested in publishing poetry, photography, essays (personal, video, narrative, lyric, etc.), literary criticism, art criticism, reviews, extended meditations, flash fiction, and paintings that are a part of the continuing conversation about and around blackness. What this conversation looks and sounds like is, of course, up to the panoply of voices that assemble to build its foundation.

We are now accepting submissions of poetry, fiction, essays, reviews, visual art, art criticism, photographs, or other original creative works for our inaugural issue, to be released in January 2014. The issue will not be themed; this is an open call.

Please use our online submissions form– do not email individual editors with submissions.

We cannot accept work that has been published elsewhere, including on blogs or personal websites. We accept simultaneous submissions, but if your work is accepted elsewhere, please contact us immediately. You may submit to Kinfolks only once per quarterly issue.

Use the “Cover Letter / Biography” field of the online submissions form to include a cover letter, in which you should tell us a bit about yourself.

Our editors review submissions blindly. Therefore, please do not include your name or contact information in the body of your submission document or in the title field of the submissions manager.

Please carefully read the guidelines below before submitting. If you have questions or would like to send us a book to potentially review, please contact Joshua Bennett: 

editor [[[at]]] kinfolksquarterly [[[dot]]] com (Change [[[at]]] to @ and [[[dot]]] to .)

Include 3-5 poems at a time in one .doc, .docx, or .pdf file. Your name should not appear anywhere on the document.

Visual Art /Photographs
Include 1-3 pieces as individual files. All art submissions must be attached as high-resolution .jpg files. Label each file with the title of the individual piece, and list the titles in your cover letter, as well.

Please submit 1-3 pieces as individual .doc or .docx files; each should be no longer than 1500 words. Do not submit .pdf files. Reviewed books and films must have been released within the last 12 months. Reviewed exhibitions and performances must have taken place within the last 6 months.

One piece per submission; limit 25 pages of any style. Submit as individual .doc or .docx files. Novel excerpts are fine if the piece stands on its own without additional context.

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16198. Dash

This post is an archived post with new links.


Someone once asked when I’d write a blog about the one creature who inspires me to write the most (besides God, of course). Today seems like a fine day for a snarky blog, so I’d like to take a walk inside my canine buddy’s head. (Go with me on this one).

Dasher is a 75 pound ex-racer.  He’s a purebred Greyhound striped like a tiger. He was retired early last Fall and found his way into our hearts and home in December. He’s only two and a half, retired about five years prematurely. But he is the sweetest dog I’ve ever met.

Dasher, what was it like being a race dog?

Well, there’s not much to say, really. We were kept in our kennels most of the day. We were released to a larger outdoor kennel four times a day for 30 minutes each time.  There would be four or five of us allowed to play in the space which was the size of an average living room. Then it was back inside to the kennel. Of course there was always training. That was fun. I’d get to play with the other dogs and chase their tails. Once in a while the trainers would walk us through the crowd to meet the people who came to watch the races, they smelled like hot dogs, cigarettes and soda. I love to smell things.

We hear you retired early, why?

Apparently, playing with the other dogs and chasing their tails isn’t recommended on the track. Something about a blue ribbon and a number. I don’t know, I got numbers. Usually there were a couple of them like a 1 followed by a 2 (for those of us that are already dreaming of the weekend, that was a twelfth place) . I thought that was pretty cool. The trainer didn’t.

Did you have a racing name?

Yup, I was dubbed Yo’ My Bust ‘Em Up. But when my family adopted me they named me after the fastest reindeer, since it was Christmas and all. I like the new name, it’s much easier to listen to. Especially since they yell it a lot.

What do you think about your new digs?

Awesome! They leave me chicken and fish on the counters. I usually wait until they leave to eat, though. No sense in eating in front of them, that would be rude. They also take me for walks when I tell them to and the short one, they call her ‘shark bait’; she sleeps with me on Friday nights. She makes a great pillow.

Any last words you’d like to leave us with?

Yeah. I just want to say thanks to all those great folks out there who adopt pets from shelters; pets like me. We really appreciate it!

For more information, check out Pets.Answers.Com

*Other interviews: Interview with a teen.

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16199. The Seven Caves & Other Spine-tingling Short Stories




The Seven Caves

Lucia is a small seaside town perched on the cliffs of central California. Discovered by Don Gaspar de Portola and his soldiers late in the 18th century, the town is named after the day of its discovery––December 14, Santa Lucia Day.

On a day not too long ago, a local caretaker of an estate just to the south of Lucia, known only as Point 16, received a visitor. The stranger said he was from The Vatican and inquired as to seven caves that The Vatican had listed in its archives from the manifest of the town’s discovery centuries ago. As he further stated that the caves were sure to be located off the coast of Point 16, the caretaker dismissed the man’s strange way of talking but became obsessed by his manner of dress which included a spectacular sword with rubies inlaid in its handle.

The caretaker scratched his head. He’d kayaked up to the caves a time or two and had paddled inside a little ways. The only person the caretaker knew that ever sailed inside the caves any distance at all, and at that only a quarter of a mile, was long dead. Rumor was that the seven caves all met up in the very center of The Santa Lucia Mountains. The mysterious visitor surprised the caretaker when he knew that the caves were the color of blood and shocked him when he spoke of a great temple with treasure inside.

The caretaker told the stranger that the caves were real enough, but that no one he knew had ever been able to sail deep into the caves to discover any temples or treasure.

The stranger thanked the caretaker and went on his way. The caretaker, uneasy about the stranger, decided to follow. The stranger rode his horse to the beach beside the caves and climbed into a simple dugout canoe. Primitive by any standards. Its oars like branches.

The stranger paddled and paddled. The caretaker could only watch from shore. As the surf drew out to sea more of the cave entrances became exposed. When the great swells crashed into the cliffs the waves churned powerfully in the caves and splashed back out to the open sea. Yet, the stranger didn’t veer from his course, one that would soon place him inside the nearest cave.

The caretaker began to sweat. The stranger had paddled his small canoe in an angry sea yet his navigation, indeed the boat itself, seemed unaffected by it. The caretaker searched the coast close by for a kayak sometimes hidden in the brush by the owner of Point 16.

He longed to paddle into the caves. Make that discovery. For, he knew the sea better than most around these parts. Certainly, he would be able to keep up with the stranger. As luck would have it, he found an abandoned canoe. And so he too paddled out to sea.

The sun disappeared behind a cloud and the chill of the fog invaded the caretaker’s bones. A great cloud river of fog moved from north to south over the Pacific, inching to shore. Upon a great break of an early evening wave the stranger disappeared into the first cave.

The caretaker followed.

The next thing the caretaker remembered was fading in and out of consciousness as Search and Rescue revived him. The caretaker asked about the stranger but was told no other body and no other boat was found, not unusual in the rugged depths of the central coast.

The caretaker’s dreams were filled with the stranger and endless trips into the caves, alive with treasure.


When the caretaker came to he was quite inconsolable. Gone mad with a fear of the sea. He tossed back and forth in the sandy soil trying to get away from those that had saved him when he spotted the stranger’s sword, stuck in the sagebrush. The caretaker wrapped his hands around the rubies and pulled the sword out of the brush. Don Gaspar de Portola was engraved in the silver blade, dripping with blood.


Get the anthology free for The Nook here.

Happy Halloween!



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16200. Now selling my personalized papercut art on Etsy!

I've opened an Etsy shop. Whatever next!

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