Monthly Archives: October 2012

Originally posted on Losing My Cents:

It was a weekend of unrelated activities for me.  I got home from my grandmother’s house on Saturday afternoon, went to a Haunted House on Saturday night that was put on by the local fire department & could give professional Haunted Houses a run for their money, watched fairy tales and zombies yesterday, and went back to work today.

Actually, now that I write it out like that, I do see a common thread of zombie.  Except for my grandmother- she’s not a zombie.  (She’d be an excellent zombie-slayer, however, but that’s another blog post.)  But otherwise- zombies at a Haunted House, zombies on the TV, zombies at work (I assume because it’s Monday. Working from home makes it difficult to judge my coworkers’ state of alertness), I think I even discussed zombies at church, which isn’t as weird as it sounds, considering The Walking Dead crew rented our…

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The Butterman Cometh… Update

I just got my cover today.  Having a little technical difficulty on my end and I may not be able to publish today.  But if not today, Thursday at THE very latest.  I’ll definitely post, tweet, FB when this is ready to go up on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords, though.  But here’s the cover, though:

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How to Write a Query Letter

I don’t know where I found this, but I know that I DID NOT write it.  But here you go, if you can use it.  Don’t forget, The Zombie Archives today.

Query letters? Do literary agents really read them?

Agents take queries very seriously, and yes, they really do read them. It’s not some universal rumor that agents have perpetuated because they all have a secret fetish for being bombarded with mail. Sure, agents make it sound like digging through the slush pile is the last priority of their day. Some agents even relegate the ambivalent task of reading unsolicited queries to an assistant or intern. But the fact of the matter is that most agents do read queries. Even more importantly, agents actually respond to ones that spark their interest.

So write a professional, intelligent, concise, intriguing query and not only will you entice an agent to ask for more, but you’ll move yourself one step closer to a book sale.

The Basics

A query letter is a single page cover letter, introducing you and your book. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s not a resume. It’s not rambling saga of your life as an aspiring writer. It’s not a friendly, “Hey, what’s up, buddy. I’m the next John Grisham. Got the next best selling thriller for ya,” kind of letter. And for the love of god, it is NOT more than one-page. Trust us on this.

A query letter has three concise paragraphs: the hook, the mini-synopsis, and your writer’s biography. Don’t stray from this format. You won’t catch an agent’s attention by inventing a creative new query format. You’ll just alienate your chances of being taken seriously as a professional writer. A query letter is meant to elicit an invitation to send sample chapters or even the whole manuscript to the agent. It’s not meant to show off how cute and snazzy you can be by breaking formatting rules and going against the grain. Keep it simple. Stick to three paragraphs. The goal is to get the agent to read your book, not to blow you off because you screwed up the introduction.

Paragraph One—The Hook: A hook is a concise, one-sentence tagline for your book. It’s meant to hook your reader’s interest, and wind them in. The best way to understand how to write a hook is to read the loglines of the titles sold by agents in our free searchable AQ database.

Here are a few examples of hooks for well-known novels:

House of Sand and Fog
When Massoud Amir Behrani, a former colonel in the Iranian military, sinks his remaining funds into a house he buys at auction, he unwittingly puts himself and his family on a trajectory to disaster; the house once belonged to Kathy Nicolo, a self-destructive alcoholic, who engages in legal, then personal confrontation to get it back.

Bridges of Madison County
When Robert Kincaid drives through the heat and dust of an Iowa summer and turns into Francesca Johnson’s farm lane looking for directions, the world-class photographer and the Iowa farm wife are joined in an experience that will haunt them forever.

The Corrections
When family patriarch, Alfred Lambert, enters his final decline, his wife and three adult children must face the failures, secrets, and long-buried hurts that haunt them as a family if they are to make the corrections that each desperately needs.

The “When” Formula: As you can see, we’re a fan of the when formula: “When such and such event happens, your main character—a descriptive adjective, age, professional occupation—must confront further conflict and triumph in his or her own special way. Sure, it’s a formula, but it’s a formula that works.

However, be warned…everyone and their grandmother who reads this site will try using our “when” formula, so we recommend simply using it as a starting point. Write your basic hook, then try spicing things up as you get more and more into the groove of “hooking.” And don’t worry, it’s legal in every state, not just Nevada.

Check out these very simple, yet very non-“formulatic” fiction hooks:

The Kite Runner
An epic tale of fathers and sons, of friendship and betrayal, that takes us from Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy to the atrocities of the present.

The Da Vinci Code
A murder in the silent after-hour halls of the Louvre museum reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected by a clandestine society since the days of Christ.

Everything Is Illuminated
With only a yellowing photograph in hand, Jonathan Safran Foer—both author and meta fictional protagonist—sets out to find the woman who might or might not have saved his grandfather from the Nazis.

Here are some non-“formulatic” hooks for a few nonfiction books:

Into Thin Air
On assignment for Outside Magazine to report on the growing commercialization of the mountain, Krakauer, an accomplished climber, went to the Himalayas as a client of Rob Hall, the most respected high-altitude guide in the world, and barely made it back alive from the deadliest season in the history of Everest.

The Perfect Storm
The true story of the meteorological conditions that created the “Storm of the Century” and the impact the Perfect Storm had on many of the people caught in its path; chiefly, among these are the six crew members of the swordfish boat the Andrea Gail, all of whom were lost 500 miles from home beneath rolling seas.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
The memoir of Dave Eggers, who at the age of 22, became both an orphan and a “single mother” when his parents died within five months of one another of unrelated cancers, leaving Eggers the appointed unofficial guardian of his 8-year-old brother, Christopher.

Other Great Ways to Start Your Hook:

  • Give era and location: Three Different Examples:
    1. Set in modern-day Jerusalem…
    2. During the summer of 1889 in a rural Texas town…
    3. Taking place in turn-of-the-century New York City…
  • Set up your main character: Three Different Examples:
    1. The tale of Una Spencer, wife of Melville’s legendary fictional whale harpooner Captain Ahab…
    2. A chatty cozy mystery starring 50-something college professor Bell Barrett…
    3. Narrated by Cot Daley, an Irish peasant girl kidnapped from Galway and sent to Barbados…
  • Variations on the “when” formula: Three Different Examples:
    1. Following a botched circumcision…
    2. While defending a drug-addicted prostitute accused of murder….
    3. After years of abuse at the hands of her alcoholic mother and step-father…

    There are literally scores and scores of hooks listed in our database, specifically in the past & present clients section of our agents’ profiles. We encourage you to read as many as possible, and learn what captures your attention in a single sentence. Then try to emulate a similar hook for your query letter.

    Paragraph Two—Mini-synopsis: This is where you get to distill your entire 300 page novel into one paragraph. Lucky you. We’d like to offer advice on how to do this, but really, it just takes practice, hard work and lots of patience. Then, like we said before, get your friends to read it and if their heads hurt afterwards, go back to the drawing board. We don’t envy you. We really don’t. Summing up your entire book in an intriguing single paragraph is worse than a root canal.

    So think of it this way. You had trouble writing the gist of your book in one sentence, right? Now, you get a whole paragraph. About 150 extra words. Here’s your chance to expand on your hook. Give a little bit more information about your main characters, their problems and conflicts, and the way in which adversity changes their lives. Read the back flaps of your favorite novels and try to copy how the conflict of the book is described in a single, juicy paragraph. You can do this. You really can. You just have to sit down, brainstorm, then vomit it all out onto the page. Afterwards, cut, paste, trim, revise, and reshape.

    Paragraph Three—Writer’s bio: This should be the easiest part of your query. After all, it’s about you, the writer. Okay, so it’s a bit daunting, especially if you’ve never been published, never won any awards, hold no degrees from MFA writing schools, and possess no credentials to write your book. No problem. The less you have to say, the more space you have for your mini-synopsis. Always a plus.

    If you do choose to construct a writer’s bio (and you should), keep it short and related to writing. Agents don’t care what your day job is unless it directly relates to your book. Got a main character who’s a firefighter, and that’s your day job? Be sure to say that. Otherwise, scrap it. Education is helpful because it sounds good, but it’s only really important if you’re offering a nonfiction book about A.D.D. children and you hold a PhD in pediatric behavioral science. If you’ve published a few stories in your local newspaper, or a short story in a few literary magazines, or won any writing awards or contests, now’s the time to list the details. Don’t go hog wild, but don’t be too modest either.

    Your Closing: Congratulations! You’ve finished your query letter. As a formal closing, be sure to do two things. First, thank the agent for her time and consideration. Second, if it’s nonfiction, tell them that you’ve included an outline, table of contents, and sample chapters for their review. If it’s fiction, alert the agent that the full manuscript is available upon request. And in case you still don’t believe us, we want to reiterate: don’t query agents until you’ve finished your full fiction manuscript. Agents will want to read the whole novel before they offer representation to you and your book.

    Other Random Tips:

    The Do’s:

    • Do address your query specifically to an agent.

      Nowadays, more and more agencies prefer email queries. Great for you, right? After all, email queries are free, fast and easy-peezy to send. Just the click of a button. Well, here’s the downside: Ri-DIC-ulous amounts of email queries are being received by agents every day. Like, over 100 queries a DAY. And that’s average for the more popular agents.

      So if your query is address to “Whom it May Concern” — even if the agency’s submission guidelines state “send all email queries to” — guess what is going to happen to your precious 1 little email out 100? Yeppers… The big ol’ DELETE.

      For this reason, always, always, always address your email query to somebody… even if it’s the intern’s name (and sometimes it is the intern or assistant screening those 100-email queries-per-day). Always address it to a specific agent.

      As far as salutations, there are lots of greetings from which to choose. Here are your options in order of best to worst:

      Attn. Ms. Shermanstein:
      Dear Adrian Shermanstein:
      Dear Ms. Shermanstein:
      Dear Ms. Shermanstein,
      Dear Adrian,
      Yo Adrian,

    • Do state the title of your book.

      You wouldn’t believe how many wanna-be writers sweat for weeks and weeks over their query’s hook and mini-syn, only to totally forget to include the title of their book in their query.

      The title of your book should be included in at the beginning of your query — preferably in your hook — but at the very least, in the very first few sentences.

      For some whacko reason, (and we have no idea why), newbie writers who don’t completely forget to mention their book’s title in their query, instead, do this really weird thing: they bury it at the end of their query. Like deep in the closing paragraph. Like it’s some big reveal.

      Don’t be weird. Phhhhlease. State your book’s title somewhere in the beginning of your query. You’ve been warned.

      BTW, if you’re sending an email query, include your title in the subject line: QUERY: AN AWKWARD FORM OF PROSTITUTION. And yeah, the catchier your title, the better chances your query will be opened and glanced over before those other 99-email queries.

    • Do mention the word count and genre of your book.

      Novels should be 80,000 to 100,00 words. Young adult novels can be significantly less: 40,000-60,000 words. Suavely insert word count and genre at the end of your first “hook” paragraph.

      If your novel is a 200,000 word Weight Watchers candidate… our advice? Cut it down before you start querying.

      Agents hit DELETE on a proposed first-time novel over 110,000-120,000, so you have two choices. You can either omit your word count (which is going to circle back to bite you in the bum when they request a partial, so we don’t advise this…) or you can cut it down. Unless your first novel is an family saga historical or a science fiction battle epic, agents have little tolerance for chubby debut novels because major publishers simply don’t buy them. Too expensive to print and distribute. Too risky of an investment.

    • Do mention exactly why you’re approaching Ms. Agent.

      Well, this one is more of a “Try-Your-Best-To…” Try your best to compare your book with other books that Ms. Agent has represented in the past. Or, at the very least, let her know that you’ve done some research, looked at her website, read her blog, checked out her submission guidelines and reviewed what she says she’s looking for, blah, blah, blah.

      And we’ll admit, this “try-to” is one of those things that newbie writers do for the first 20-30 queries, and then it quickly gets dropped in favor of the numbers game. But if you met the agent at a conference or respond to a specific call for submissions that Ms. Agent posted on Twitter or her blog, then definitely mention it.

    • Do adopt the “proper” tone for your query letter.

      Yes, a query should be a professional business letter, but honestly, writing a query the way you would right a regular cover letter is a receipe for snoozeville.

      A great query should not only tell an agent what your book is about, but it should also match your book’s tone.

      Got a cozy mystery novel with a witty, self-depricating female sleuth? Then, why are you making your query sound like a stuffy academic dissertation? Got a suspenseful thriller with a hard-boiled edge? Then, why does your query letter sound like a bone-dry, business letter?
      Matching your query’s tone to the tone of your book is one of those tips that sounds like a “risk,” because everyone will tell you to keep it professional. But really, we’re not taking about writing your query from the POV of one of your characters. We’re talking about showing your voice through your query’s tone, and proving to an agent that you really understand your book’s genre, and ultimately, its marketability.

    • Do keep your query to one-page only.
    • Do format your query using standard business letter alignment and spacing. That means: Single spaced. 12 point font. Everything aligned along the left margin. No paragraph indentations, but a space between each paragraph. One-page only!
    • Do list your phone number, mailing address, and email address
    • Do include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) with all snail mail submissions.
    • Do have a pair of “fresh eyes” proofread for typos and grammar mistakes.

    The Do NOT’s:

    • Do NOT start off your query by saying, “I am querying you because I found your name in ‘such and such’ writing guide or internet agent database” (like AQ!). Not only does this take up valuable query letter space, but it’s also the sign of an amateur.
    • Do NOT refer to your novel as a fictional novel. That’s redundant. Just call it a novel.
    • Do NOT sing the praises of your book or compare it with other best selling books.
    • Do NOT send gifts or other bribes with your query.
    • Do NOT print your query on perfumed or colored paper. Use plain business stationery.
    • Do NOT shrink your font down to 9 point so it all fits on one page. 12 point is standard. 11 point if you’re really desperate.
    • Do NOT Fedex or mail your query in a lavish, signature-required fashion in order to make your query stand out. It will stand out, but in a very “annoying, over-zealous, bad first impression” kind of way. Not to mention, it’s a friggin’ waste of money.
    • Do NOT apologize in your query for being a newbie writer with zero publishing credits and experience. Your goal is to write a tight, alluring, eye-catching query and sound like a professional. If you’re worried about your lack of writing credentials, just keep quiet and let the writing speak for itself.
    • Do NOT include sample chapters of your novel with your query UNLESS an agent’s submission guidelines specifically SAY to include sample pages with your snail mail query. If you really feel compelled to show an agent your writing style along with your query letter, include only the first 5 pages of your novel. Never send more than the first 5 pages with your query unless the guidelines say, “A-Okay!”
    • Do NOT forget to list your email address or contact phone number on your query.
    • Do NOT forget to enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE)

    Need to see an ACTUAL query letter before you’ll know how to write one?
    We’ve been getting a lot of email from some AQ users who believe that they must see a query letter before they can write one. And you’ve been relentless in your requests for examples of REAL, L-I-V-E query letters. Some of you have even offered us shiny trinkets in exchange for a glimpse at the elusive QL beast. Well, it ain’t the ivory-billed wood pecker, but here you go: examples from agents, industry-insiders, and writers with agents. You can’t get a better view than that.

  • Chuck Sambuchino’s “Guide to Literary Agents” blog offers successful query examples from agents and their clients.
  • Query Shark blog, in which literary agent, Janet Reid, gives snarky advice on how to write a query letter to brave newbie participants willing to swim with The Shark.

    In addition, here are a few AQ success stories of newbie writers — just like you — who used our AQ query letter advice to draft their query and snag their agents, who snagged them book deals with major publishers!

  • New York Times Best-selling author and AQ user, Allison Winn Scotch’s query letter for her debut novel, DEPARTMENT OF LOST AND FOUND.
  • Published author and AQ user, Heather Brewer’s query letter for her vampire series, THE CHRONICLES OF VLADIMIR TOD.
  • Published Author and AQ user, Catherine Delores’s query letter for historical epic, THE MISTRESS OF THE REVOLUTION.

    JUST FOR NON-FICTION WRITERS: Truth be told, much of our AQ advice is geared towards fiction writers, which is kind of silly considering that there’s a bigger market for non-fiction than fiction these days. And non-fiction writers have the added benefit of not having to finish the whole manuscript before seeking representation from an agent. So we’ve trolled the web and asked our non-fiction friends to recommend books, web links, and tips for writers seeking information on how to write a stellar non-fiction proposal. Here’s what we came up with:

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Dethm8, Act 2 Next Year

Now that Act 1 of Dethm8 is done I’ll be concentrating on a couple projects. November will be my NaNoWriMo project. I know what it’s going to be, but I have to sit down and flush it out. But after it’s done, ideally December 1st, I’ll be back to Dethm8 and writing whatever other project.
But the first act was setting up the cards, the second will be knocking them down. A lot of people died in the explosion, but there will be a whole lot more to kill. It’ll also be a bit of a mystery. I don’t want it to be obvious, and the person I was thinking who would be the Evil one, may not be. Whereas Act 1 was written off the top of my head, Act 2 will have a little more forethought.

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What I’ve Learned About Book Promotion So Far…

I posted this on my old site about two years ago.  It’s still good info to have:

This is still a new process for me.  I’ll update as I learn more and feel free to email me with what’s worked for you.  Here goes.

If you don’t have a blog regarding your book, start one. Have your blog posts update to your Facebook and whatever other social media you’re on. Also, make your website searchable on Google, Yahoo, etc. This is easy. Just go to their sites and type something like ‘list website on Google’. It should give you a link where you can type in your website. You’ll be listed near the bottom at first simply because that’s how they roll until you get enough searches through them. Oh yeah, did I say this is free?

 Look up every paper in your area. Find out who their entertainment reporter is and ask if they’d like to interview you. You can get rates on advertising but you’ll probably find that it can get pretty expensive, but an interview is free.

Find websites that do link exchanges. You list their website and they list yours.

 Give a copy or two to the library. Because that would be cool.

 Find out if there are any stores (especially in the local mall) that sell products made exclusively by residents. It might be easier to get your book on their shelf than a Borders.

Write stuff. Anthologies, digests; whomever will allow you to mention your main project: the book.

 Talk about it, but don’t be a pusher. Bring it up in casual conversation, but don’t come off like you’re hocking it to everybody. They’ll buy it if they want it.

 This is all my wisdom.  So far.


There was a website I was on a while back and lost it.  I just found it again and I wish I could pass this off like I’d discovered it on my own, but it states that USA Today gets a lot of notice from other media and has 4.3 million readers a day.  You can tryit and send them your book for a review to Carol Memmott, Book Editor, USA TODAY, 7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean VA 22107-0020; 703-854-3400; 800-USA-0001; Fax: 703-854-2053. Email:  They only review 5 or 6 books a week in the Life section every Thursday and if you really want to get noticed by a specific editor or reporter you should direct your book to that person.

Now to get on USA Today’s Best Selling Books List you have to have your book sell in reporting stores.  Your book will be featured in the top 50 books all in one list regardless of format, save for electronic, I’m supposing.  But the list is compiled from a computer-generated report of actual retail sales at major bookstores like Borders and Barnes and Noble as well as select independent bookstores.  The top 150 bestsellers are featured on  If you make the top 150 you will be notified.  Here’s a list of the reporting stores:

Independent Bookstores

  • Books & Company, Dayton, Ohio
  • Davis Kidd Booksellers, three stores in Tennessee
  • Hawley-Cooke Booksellers, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Ruminator Bookstore, Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Lexington, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Powell’s Books, Portland, Oregon
  • Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, Colorado
  • Ingram Book Company (reporting the retail sales of independent bookstore subscribers)

Chain Stores

  • Barnes & Noble
  • B. Dalton Bookseller
  • Bookstop and Bookstar
  • Books-A-Million and Bookland
  • Borders Books and Music
  • Crown Books
  • Little Professor Bookstores (a selection)
  • Wal-Mart

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Dethm8, Act 1 Epilogue

Gladys felt something.  She looked skyward, a crack in the ceiling of the cave.  It was daylight out there.  The rays where they touched her forehead felt good on her skin.  She looked down at herself, covered in muck and stink.  The beast had taken a great deal of her considerable strength, but in the end, she’d torn it to pieces and when it tried to turn and flee, she’d dived straight into its considerable bulk, piercing through its slimy trunk and destroyed everything she’d found inside.

She was about to stomp on this last, wriggling piece when she felt something like an earthquake from outside of the cave and chunks of it had begun to fall.  The wriggling thing split down the middle and she spotted something pink inside.  Unafraid, as she knew now this place was a construct of her mind and nothing could harm her here, she reached for it and plucked it out.

It was a baby.

Gladys gasped and dropped it—luckily, only an inch or two, and it only made a note of complaint.  The child’s limbs rapidly began to lengthen, its head swelling until it had the appearance of a toddler, then a young child, then finally stopping at what she would have guessed was a pre-teen.  She took her fighting stance again, not knowing what manner of trickery this was.

“Wait,” it said after a considerable amount of coughing.  It parted its hair to either side of its face and looked at her with stunningly bright blue eyes.  “Please forgive… for attack.”  Its eyes turned even though it never looked away from her, never blinked.  She didn’t sense fear from it, but neither was there a threat.  Gladys grew intrigued and relaxed.

“Other,” it began again, “outside.”  It pointed up, toward the crack.  It patted its chest with the flat of a palm.  “Enemy.”  The human creature looked to be exerting a considerable effort to speak and it began another coughing fit.  When it stopped and looked at her again, something was different about its face, but she couldn’t tell what.

But then it hit her.  This was the creature in the leather outfit.  The one that had run over that poor lady, then one that had killed that boy Petey and probably Jackson too.  She was suddenly aware of a whole other world where she belonged, where she was supposed to be now.  And in that place, the thing crouched before her was trying to kill them all.

“Not kill,” it said and she felt it not exactly reading her mind, but being present there.  “Not kill you.  Kill other.”  It coughed again, this time much more terribly and a gob of blood poured from its mouth.  “Other is enemy.  Cannot see other.  Only you.”

A flood of memories returned to her of the last few hours.  The man in the helmet she’d served the coffee to.  The bikers.  Arlene sprayed with blood.  The roof.

But if this creature was the one that had been stalking them and it was not the real enemy, then who was it?  How in the world could they stop someone they hadn’t even seen?  Was it the bikers?

“No,” the creature said.  “Enemy.  Only one.”

As the creature took a tentative step toward her, its back began to bow.  The scant hair visible on its head and face turned white and its face line at the forehead and neck, then jowled at the jawline and grew liver spots.  Gladys still was cautious, but she didn’t stop it from coming.

It raised a frail, thin hand and touched her well-muscled forearm, a fist poised and ready to strike just in case.  It’s time must have been almost over because information flooded from it.

The enemy must be struck down.  It is preying upon your kind, disguised as one of you.

“Wha—” she began, her mind buzzing from this new form of communication.  “What do you mean?  The only one who has killed anyone is you.”

It has stolen from us.  We are only here to return what was taken.  We do not understand your… existence.

A picture beyond her understanding flashed in her mind’s eye.  It was darker than anything she’d ever seen, but even amongst the inky black she could see things moving.  But as she looked upon this image she understood she was looking at a life form comprised of many; one body filled with infinite minds, all in perfect coexistence.  The image disappeared and so did her understanding of it, except that she knew a veil had been pulled away and she’d been made aware of life unlike any she could ever have encountered on Earth.

Harm is not meant to you.  We cannot distinguish who the Enemy is in the form of your kind.  We cannot exist in this plane in our own form.  This is why the Enemy came to your world.

“What do you need me to do?” Gladys asked.  She looked at the creature, which now looked to be a wizened ninety-something.  Only those crystal blue eyes, fixed on her now, still were as bright and young as the child this creature had originally appeared as.

It produced something in its other hand—or rather, above it—as a glowing sphere floated above a waxen palm.

Take.  When the Enemy is found, mark him.  Then remove the boundary.

“Boundary?” Gladys asked.  “What boundary?”

But instead of speaking an answer, either aloud or through the jack-in to her mind, it made a single ­–crik–sound and those blue eyes held no more of the life that had been in them just a moment before.

Gladys pulled her arm away and the creature remained where it was.  She looked around her, breathing in the air, which smelled burnt and oily somehow.  No, this place wasn’t in her mind.  She understood it now.  The creature had created this place and somehow drew her into it.  Perhaps it attacked her as a means of fortifying her, of proving her worthy for the task ahead. 

She stared into the glowing sphere, not sure what to do with it or to it.  Even if she did, Gladys was unsure she’d want to.  There was still no way to tell if the creature had been telling the truth, and her honest guts told her there was something amiss.  Her mother had always said if you sat two people down to tell a story, you’d get twice your money’s worth.

But it was better to be prepared.  The creature had given her a choice, so that was a nod in its favor.  Perhaps attacking her was an instinctive move; God only knew how the things actually acted in their own world, where ever that was.  She took a step back, nodded, steeling herself for whatever was about to happen.

The sphere wobbled slightly, then floated slowly toward her.  Intense heat came off it and Gladys clenched her teeth, reminding herself this place was not real, that this sphere and her body were not real.  And that the pain like touching a thousand red hot spoons left in an open flame concentrated into one, was not real.

It was an even mightier battle not to flinch than tearing apart the beast that had eventually become the child-like creature, but she did it.  And once the sphere had passed through clothes and flesh like some magical osmosis, her flaring nerve endings that had been on the uppermost end of alert, calmed.

Gladys felt no different and realized she would not.  At least until the time came.  She blinked a few times and swiped her brow, also realizing she wasn’t sweating because this was not her real body.  She looked up, the smell of burning—what was that, meat?—even stronger.  It was coming from up there as if this world was connected to hers through that opening.  She wondered if Fred had wandered away from the grill.  She’d caught him coming out of the restroom with Dusty before and hadn’t hesitated to tell him all about himself back in his office when her shift had ended.

But the meat wasn’t even the strongest smell.  There was also wood and metal and oil.  As she was pondering she saw the opening was bigger.  But no, that wasn’t it, it was closer.  Gladys looked down and saw she was floating!

She passed through the opening and was immediately assaulted with smells much more intense than a moment before and sounds that made her ears hurt.

In fact, she hurt all over.

Gladys opened her eyes and tried to move, but it was like she was frozen.

A few feet away, she heard the fire extinguisher.  Someone was kneeling in front of her and coughing and she thought for a moment how rude that was before her eyes focused on a man waving a hand in front of him, squinting his eyes with the top of his shirt covering the lower half of his face.  He looked at her and then his eyes went wide despite the smoke.

“Holy shit!” the man said and fell over.  He scrambled away from her, pointing.  Another man stood just behind him with the fire extinguisher in his hands.  “She just fuckin’ opened her eyes, man!”

“What?” the man said, turning.

“Look at her, man.  Look!  She’s fuckin’ dead and she just looked at me.”

Gladys recognized the man’s words as truth in an infinitesimal moment, feeling herself pulling away from her body.  The two men looked at it on the corpse, apparently not seeing her standing before them.  She took two broad steps over to the man with the extinguisher and walked into his body, instantly having control of him.

“Calm down,” she said through the man’s voice.  She didn’t want anyone to suspect she’d ‘survived’.  “It’s probably just reflex or something.  Like when they hang guys and they get a boner.”  At least, she thought a man would say something like that.

The man on the floor nodded and pulled himself off the floor.

“Yeah,” he said.  “That makes sense.  Uh, don’t tell nobody I screamed like that, cool?”

“Oh, hush,” Gladys said and then corrected, “whatever.”

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New Dethm8 Tonight at 8:35

I just couldn’t stay away. A huge chunk of the story was already told and I just had to finish. Dethm8 has been all stream-of-conscious, but I did develop an idea of where I was going early on. The whole thing will be told in two acts and tonight you’ll see the end of the first act go live at 8:35.

If the whole thing turns out as well as I’d like, I’ll make time in the new year to go through it, clean it up, and put it out as an ebook–hell, maybe in print considering the first half is over 20,000 words. But there are certain characters that need to be brought to the front more, others fleshed out and dangit, some just need a downright killin’.

So, I hope you’re around a pc or tablet or smart phone tomorrow evening because I’ll have something for you.

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New Dethm8 Tonight at 8:35

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New Dethm8 Tonight at 8:35


I just couldn’t stay away.  A huge chunk of the story was already told and I just had to finish.  Dethm8 has been all stream-of-conscious, but I did develop an idea of where I was going early on.  The whole thing will be told in two acts and tonight you’ll see the end of the first act go live at 8:35. 

If the whole thing turns out as well as I’d like, I’ll make time in the new year to go through it, clean it up, and put it out as an ebook–hell, maybe in print considering the first half is over 20,000 words.  But there are certain characters that need to be brought to the front more, others fleshed out and dangit, some just need a downright killin’.

So, I hope you’re around a pc or tablet or smart phone tomorrow evening because I’ll have something for you.

Originally posted on Savvy Writers & e-Books online:

Added June 23, 2013:

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No New Dethm8

Relax.  Relaaaaax.  It’s not ending quite yet.  I’m just not able to write Dethm8 as regularly as I have been.  I’ve taken on a freelance editing job and I’m working on that.  I’m going to be done by around the end of the month and I’m hoping to get an installment or two done before NaNoWriMo.  I have a couple competing ideas I want to do for that, but we’ll see which one pans out.  But do not despair!  The last episode was the end of the first act, but I should be able to do an ‘epilogue’ for the first act.  And of course, not everyone will survive.  I had a whole lot of people in The Spoon and it was about time to start peeling some of them off.  But you’ll find that not just the three ladies who are a bit different from everybody else.

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