The Picture Game #1

See prompt, picture, and rules here:

Join me?

Here we go. Wheee….

He’s painting birds to life again, his glass trained to the star of Emros.  He wearing his stupid guitar necklace and the awful owl suit he says is a tribute to the power on-loan to him by God.  On-loan my aching egg-shaped behind.  Stolen, more like it.  And God?  Well, he knows full well the Emrosians aren’t God.  He stole the glass, the device he fashioned into the necklace, all of it.  And me.

But what am I to do? He keeps me tethered, attached to a bulb filled with silver and nitrogen-enriched air, and without that, I am nothing.  I am dead. I am gone.  I don’t want to be gone. So I dutifully refill his paint and bind my time, watching new, oddly unreal sparrows fly out the window as he paints and aims, paints and aims.

One day, the ship will return.  One day.  Or one day he’ll forget to put me in the case where he keeps me when I am not of use, or forget to keep the lid cranked tight.  If anyone found out about me, he’d claim he thought I was an automaton, a robot, unable to know fear and pain. But that too, would be a lie.

He knows.  He has to know.  Otherwise, why would he bother with the opening in the lid of the case?  Why would he bother to slip in the silver, the nitrogen, to keep me, his captive, going?

One of his birds eats its own shit behind me.  He claims creating them to do this means the balance is not upset.  And he looks so serene, painting and aiming.  But it’s a lie.  It’s all a lie.  He loves this power.  Loves it.

One day my family will come back. My Mom and Dad. I miss them so much.  They must be sick with grief.  They were travelling with the Emrosians as a lark.  A lark – ha ha – get it?  So friggin’ funny.  But I know they’ll come back.  They have to.  Or one day, he’ll forget to crank down the lid of the case when he releases the tether to put me inside.  It may be the last thing I do as my silver and nitrogen run out, but I will show him exactly what an Envarian is.  I will show him what I can do.  And I will wipe that serene smirk right off his face.


Hi There!

If you are about my age, a Peter Gabriel song may now be playing in your head too!

Summer is a busy place around here, with little time to write here or anywhere else. I hope to be through the second draft of my early reader book by summer’s end, and that is eating a lot of my time. For now, while I am in the bat-cave, if you haven’t checked out my novella, maybe you’d like to do that.
Here it is:

I had it up on Nook for awhile too, and am thinking about re-publishing it there, since they work with public libraries.
Do you have thoughts or ideas on self-publishing? Do you have favorite places for self-publishing or reading self-published fiction?

And in case you are curious, I bought Montepuliciano with the $7.50 I made on this book so far. As far as cheap wines goes, it was quite good. Cheers!

Uphill Both Ways

I am working through the second draft of my early reader book at a snail’s pace.  I am the middle-aged (read: old) working Mom of 3 young kids, and by the end of the day, I’m spent.  I may have to tackle this thing in a way I had not previously envisioned (Take time off?  Hide?).  It deserves to be finished, if only for the sake of my three young muses (my sons).

For now, I redirect you to one of my published short stories “And the Moon Waits” in this issue of Ranfurly Review:

This is a favorite of mine.  I welcome your comments.

The Pied Piper of St. May – Paperback

My novella The Pied Piper of St. May is now available at Create Space in paperback here.  If you are curious about why I self-published this book, you’ll find a bit about that here.

I put a lot of time into making the book look reasonably nice. The people who format books deserve more attention and praise, especially since, as far as I can tell, they don’t get any.  They are artists.  The Kindle edition (with reviews) is here.  If you want paperback copies (of any book), buying from Create Space is of more benefit to the artist.

This book is no longer available for Nook.



So, my editor-friend will likely have my early reader book back to me soon.  It’s almost summer and her primary gig as a stay-at-home Mom is going to be ramping up soon.  I know I will likely have nothing to do with illustrations if I am successful in finding an agent – and publisher – for this book.  But because I am me, I am illustrating the home copy.  I am planning for black and white drawings for “in chapter” illustrations and colorful paintings as “end tags” to each chapter.  Here’s the first one I’ve finished.


Progress of a Writer?

I recently finished a chapter book for early readers, inspired by my sons.  I’ll be looking for an agent for this one, but only after my editor is finished.  In the meantime, I am enjoying “saving” my old poems, sketches, and song lyrics.  I am scanning yellowed papers with crumbling edges and posting the contents here.  I hope you enjoy them.

This year, I plan to work on my YA novel and maybe a(n already in progress) book of short stories.  If I manage to complete the book of short stories, I may self-publish it.  I am considering self-publishing a book of my poetry too but I worry.  That seems self-indulgent to me.  But I can’t work out why self-publishing poetry feels self-indulgent when self-publishing short stories does not.  What do you think?

So far, I have self-published my novella The Pied Piper of St. May on Amazon and NookI’ve made about $4 and Amazon’s made about $6.  Reviews suggest the handful of people who’ve read it have been pleased with how they spent their 99 cents.  That’s pretty cool.

What are you up to? If you write, do you self-publish?  Why?  Or why not?

Mason Jar

This one is old and appears to have been meant to be a song.  I don’t remember anything more.


Mason Jar


Billy was the kind of man that reason couldn’t reach

Billy was the kind that all the schools could never teach

And he spent his time asking ‘why’ but no one ever cared

a partner full of combat but no one ever dared

so he shut his mouth and shut his mind

and got into the car

one day he put his life away

into a Mason Jar


He sat alone with his disease

sitting at the bar

He told me sadly of his life

in its Mason Jar


Every night he turned out the lights

so the neighbors couldn’t see

Mostly he talked to himself

But he sometimes talked to me


He sat alone with his disease

sitting at the bar

He told me sadly of his life

in its Mason Jar


The Power of Editing

After my novella The Pied Piper of St. May was held for consideration for the I-can’t-remember-how-many-eth time, I was given some editorial direction in (yet) another really nice rejection letter.  There were two bits of advice ~ one of which I immediately knew was spot on.  The other, I had to sleep on.  After a good (?) night’s sleep, I knew the second bit of advice was spot-on too.

Here’s the advice (identifying information was removed from all quoted rejection letters):

This piece was close, and the editors enjoyed reading it.  We found issue with a few believability issues, such as burning books for warmth when there was a forest nearby and adults hearing the music but not even trying to investigate.  With a little work, we think you will find a home for this piece.

I can’t remember why, but I asked my friend Tracy to proof-read my re-write.  She was amazing, especially considering she did not get paid, is not a professional editor, and to my knowledge, has never been one.  Yet…she not only proof-read my rewrite and caught grammar and spelling errors (and all, my, extra, commas); she also caught continuity errors, pointed out places where the action did not “work”, and advised me on my description of a physical action that her twins often attempted but never pulled off.  She went over the story three times for me, and when she was done, I knew the story had gone from “good” to “quite good”.

Nevertheless, after revising the story with Tracy’s help, what I got was even nicer rejection letters, such as this one:

The reading team loved the concept of ‘The Pied Piper of St. May’ but  unfortunately we’re not going to be publishing this piece – if  anything, it was aimed a little too young for our YA brief…’The Pied Piper’ came close,  however, so we’d very much love to see more work from you.  

and this one

Unfortunately, while we liked your submission, so far we have not found a place for it … and it is against our policy to hold onto a story indefinitely…I’m going to have to very reluctantly let this one go. If it got this far, you can rest assured that your story is of high quality and you should be able to find a home for it. I look forward to hearing from you again.  

I decided to self-publish.  At that point, I was sure the story was of publishable quality.  I also knew I’d already sent the original version to the places most likely to publish the revised version.  And I figured any version of “Hey, remember my story you held for consideration and eventually rejected?  I rewrote it!  Here it is!” was bad form.  So I published it on Amazon and at B&N for Nook.

You may think the point of my story is that, even with good editing, you still won’t get your story published.  But it’s not.

I am proud of this story.  I have had other stories published, among them the flash fiction noir piece Free On the Green and the more literary And The Moon Waits.  Neither on-line or literary ‘zine pays, but that’s not the point either.

I have written stories I can be proud of, that others can enjoy, and with Tracy’s help, The Pied Piper of St. May is among my best work ~ meaning, it will give the reader enjoyment. And to me, that is always the point…

I am certain a good editor matters.  And it’s not just about grammar.  Just last night I was reading a book on the psychology of anger.  It was published by a big publishing house.  It is a fascinating book, but when I hit this text,

“…you will…react to a saber-tooth tiger differently if you encounter it in the zoo rather than in the wild”

I burst out laughing.

Look, I get the point of the text, but I am pretty sure my first reaction, regardless of whether the saber-toothed tiger is in the zoo or the wild is going to be astonishment, because that animal has been extinct for over 10,000 years.

Here are some fun facts about the Saber Toothed Cats.  Happy writing!  And careful editing!

Wonderful review on Amazon!

This review of my novella “The Pied Piper of St. May” was recently posted on Amazon:

Usually, short stories do not have enough in them to be interesting, but this one was just amazing! I really enjoyed this book, and once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. The plot has the perfect mixture of mystery and adventure. This novella makes you not want the story to end, and you can picture living in the story. The setting is happy and calm, yet with danger hidden from sight, slowly transforming the town. If I could rate this story six stars, I would!

What a wonderful review!  Today, I am sending happy, thankful thoughts out to this reviewer.

If you have not done so already, check it out here on Amazon or here for Nook.  I’ll be watching for you!