Posts Tagged ‘writing’

#5MinuteFiction Week 80 FINALISTS!

December 6, 2011

And so it comes down to five…

Or something like that. I don’t seem to be very verbose today.

Well, who did our judge,  J.P. Sloan, @J_P_Sloan, choose?

Jennifer Brinn, @JenBrinn

MLGammella, @MLGammella

DL Thurston, @DL_Thurston

Tauisha Nicole @shells2003

Ian Wood, @writebastard

Congrats all! Their entries are below along with a poll for you to vote in and decide this week’s WINNER! Be back tomorrow morning at 9:00 Eastern to find out who wins!

Jennifer Brinn, @JenBrinn

He was tall, dark, and handsome, and incredibly ugly. He was human after all, and the novelty factor only gets you so far in the Courts these days. A lady might understand how his features were perfectly symmetrical, how his eyes were just the right shade of blue, how even his body fit into the Golden Mean that defined even our own standards of beauty.

Still, what seethed beneath the surface of his thoughts was just that primal sort of rage that meant in the thousand years since our kind walked the Earth, they hadn’t changed. The trappings of technology meant his teeth were straight, his skin unblemished, and he could walk like a giant where when I was a child, they’d barely been taller than I, on average.

I shuddered every time my gift allowed my mind to touch his. We’d left to protect us from this, not just their iron and crosses. He might rail at me, call me devious and whore and devil and worse, but I am not the one who doesn’t understand my true nature.

MLGammella, @MLGammella

Title: Space Flight Can Be Dangerous for Your Health

He was tall, dark, and handsome, and incredibly ugly … such an attractive man with such a horrible personality. Sure, he was pleasant to look at but as soon as he opened his mouth, it was downhill from there. It would’ve been perfect if he was the strong, silent type. However, he was of the loud, boorish variety.

If I didn’t have to put up with him for my job, I would’ve shoved him out of the airlock one cycle ago. Seriously. Even now I was starting to wonder if the credits I earned for my time were worth this kind of torture. Maybe I could inquire for hazard pay. Dealing with him was truly a life-threatening experience.

“Where’s my cargo?” he blared through the intercom, not even bothering to ask if I was busy.

I rolled my eyes and pressed the comlink. “All cargo is kept in the suspensor bay by the main airlock, Mr. Schrock.”

“I need it now.”

“Access to the suspensor bay is not permitted during the flight.”

“Well, stop.”

I wanted to bang my head against my control board. “I cannot stop the ship mid-jump, Mr. Schrock. Our ETA at your destination is less than four hours. You will be able to retrieve whatever you need at that time.”


I gritted my teeth and tried to remember why I was doing this. It was hard to remember when faced with this kind of passenger. Would it really be noticed if Mr. Schrock never made it to his destination? Would anyone really miss him?

A plan began to develop in my mind …

DL Thurston, @DL_Thurston

He was tall, dark, and handsome, and incredibly ugly. His jaw was chiseled, his eyes shone with an impossible blue, his entire face was constructed to be perfect in every imaginable way.

And that was the problem.

“No,” said Anne. “No, he won’t do at all. Look at him.” She circled the man before her, as he stood naked and silent. His pecs were tight, his buttocks firm, his abs stood out as a perfect row of ridges. His…well, that was pretty decent too. But it was all wrong.

“What’s wrong, Miss Henders?”

“He’s…he’s just all wrong, can’t you see that?”

“We’ve focus grouped every part of his appearance. Everything from the color of his skin to the length of his calves,” they were just the right length, Anne realized, “designed to match the widest possible demographic definition of physical perfection.”

“Can we bring it back about five percent?”

“Five percent, ma’am?”

“Just. Not quite perfect. Something that actually goes together a little better. Something that could actually pass for human. Something that didn’t look like it crawled out of the Uncanny Valley.”

Scribbling on clipboards, whispering. “So what should we do with this model?”

“Scrap it for parts. Reuse anything you can.”

“Understood.” They took the man by the elbows, and led him out the room. All the way she watched the tight butt walking. Really, she thought, collapsing into her chair, a good man should be this hard to make.

Tauisha Nicole @shells2003

He was tall, dark, and handsome, and incredibly ugly. Don’t believe me? Take a look at him yourself!

No woman could resist his perfectly tanned skin, model like looks, and thick dark hair. His hunter green eyes only added to his beauty. And don’t even get me started about his smile. His many hours spent in the gym was well worth it, if his sculpted body were any indication. His voice was the perfect bass that flowed well through any conversation. So much gorgeousness to look at for one woman to handle. She could get lost fast!

And then, he opens his mouth.

Oh, if only there were a way to keep him silent!

I shook my head in wonder watching him sit down with a gorgeous blonde at the pool. She smiled brightly when he started showing her attention at this party. Poor, unsuspecting woman. She was so blinded by his pearly whites that she failed to see how quickly the others had run away.

As a server, I happen to see all the excitement. If only she knew the reason why his shirt was off.

Walking past with a tray of champagne, the gorgeous blonde grabbed one without thanking me, still in her conversation…

“I’m so glad Jenna invited me today. Otherwise, we never would have met.”

He smiled and nodded, sipping from his own champagne flute.

“So, what brought you here today? Besides Jenna, of course.”

“It was just Jenna.”

The gorgeous blonde smiled. “She’s great, isn’t she?”

“Yeah, one of the best. But, you wouldn’t know that. You weren’t here last night.”

She frowned. “Last night?”

“Or, this morning,” he continued, smiling. “But there’s always room for one more, if you’re game.”

Shaking her head, the gorgeous blonde replied, “I’m not sure I’m following…”

By this time, I wasn’t in ear shot anymore. There was a great shady spot I could stand until I was needed again. It was the perfect place to watch…

Yeah, he’s doing it again. He’s still talking, and the blonde is finally getting it. It’s like she’s trying to hang in there, but now that his hand is reaching for…oh, no…not again…

Yep. He grabbed her boobs.

And there goes the rest of her champagne in his face.

Oh, and she’s yelling.

Aww. Tall, dark and handsome is now the cheese that stands alone.

He shrugs it off and settles in for a nice tanning day. About five minutes later, here comes a beautiful brunette. I smile to myself, ready to walk past with a flute of champagne.

I could watch this all day. How sad is that?

Ian Wood, @writebastard

He was tall, dark, and handsome, and incredibly ugly. This was by design. He was also short. Blonde and raven-haired, winsome and depraved, loving and hateful. When he’d finished interacting with someone, the person was never sure whether he or she had just been flirted with or threatened with physical violence. He left a ripple of furrowed brows behind him when he strode and shambled down a crowded street, and if he got you alone in a room…well, anything could happen.

It was a physical and psychological modification package that most people wouldn’t use even if their work required it, and his work most definitely required it. No others in his chosen profession, however, went quite so far as he. He was the walking embodiment of the uncanny valley, wrapped in a full body suit of wet nanoware that mimicked flesh and pumped out waves of psy that reached right through your skull, leaving little bursts of random neuronal arcing where any clear memory of him might have formed.

And, if he wanted to, he could blow your brains out through your ears with a well-directed pulse.

All of these morphings of form and spurtings of waves and pules took a tremendous amount of energy: while on the job, upwards of 10,000 calories a day. The morning that he vaulted over the counter of the Magnolia Bakery on Bleeker Street and began cramming fistfuls of cupcakes into his molten, distorted face, he hadn’t eaten for three days.

[poll id=”80″]

Karma, Solidarity, and the Bad Part of the Review I Wrote for You

October 21, 2011

This topic has been brewing in my brain for a while now. A while back Roni Loren wrote a blog post called Book Review Debate in which she explained why she didn’t write bad reviews for books and why maybe other authors should consider not doing so either. There was a great debate that followed in the comments (which unfortunately seem to have been lost in a blog conversion.)

I agreed with her points, namely:

1. The writing world is SMALL. 
The writer you one-star today may be the writer…sitting next to you at your next writers’ meeting, may one day share an agent/editor/publisher with you, may be someone you have to do a workshop with, may be someone who’s asked to blurb your book, etc.

A lot of the commenters disagreed with the stance as a whole, saying it lacked integrity not to give a negative review if you thought a book was bad. But it occurred to me that, in light of the above, posting a bad review as an author, is a bit like posting job reviews of your co-workers on the announcement board and signing your name to it. Sure, you’re owning your opinion, but you’re probably shooting yourself in the foot too. And for what? If they’re a bad employee, your one personal opinion isn’t the only thing that will clue others in to this. Let their boss, their clients, etc., be the ones to point this out, not you as a person who may have to work with them on an important project.

And yet, as my blog has evolved, I find myself writing more and more reviews. Why? Quite simply because having guest judges for 5MinuteFiction ties in so well with promoting a fellow author. But I’m not going to promote someone unless I know what I’m promoting. Which means I read their book. And we all know that reviews on the major sites where readers make their purchasing decisions (Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, etc.) is the lifeblood of new-author promotion. So if I’ve read the book, and can give it a good review, then it’d just be selfish and shortsighted of me not to do so, right?

So what’s the problem?

Well, it’s the not-so-good things about the book.

See, I review self-published books more than anything else. And I don’t care who you are, unless you were insanely lucky and snagged a great editor and the perfect crit-partners for yourself the first time around, your book will have problems. In my experience, the right editor and crit-partners are generally things you find after you’ve run through a few of the wrong ones. And that means putting yourself out there.

I found mine through the process of querying agents and small publishers. I had to expose my work to enough people over a long enough period of time, that I finally made those connections. That’s not the only path, but most people aren’t going to find the right team until they’ve survived the wrong one, which for self-published authors, often means after their first book is already out.

So I have your book and I really enjoyed it. I want to write you a good review because that’s what I’d want you to do for me and because you deserve it.


Do I ignore the weaknesses, pretend I didn’t see them, and write only about the good stuff?

I don’t think I can. For a lot of reasons.

  • I usually don’t trust reviews like that anyway, especially if they’re an unknown author self-publishing and all they have are glowing reviews. I’m pretty much going to assume that all the reviews are written by friends and family and I can’t trust them to give the whole truth.
  • Is anybody else going to tell you? If not, how will you know in order to improve the next time? Granted, this one can be handled by offering private comments, which I almost always do.


  • I’m also putting my own professional name and reputation behind your book if I give it a good review.

And, here’s where it may get selfish, but I don’t want other authors and readers thinking I can’t tell good writing from bad. I may have enjoyed your book in spite of the cringe-worthy flood of adverbs and telling, because the plot, or character development, or whatever was just that good. Another person may not have the tolerance to handle that and may throw the book away in disgust and then resent me for leading them to believe that it had no major faults.

Neal Hock wrote a great guest post on The Writing Bomb that talked about the author risking their reputation by self-publishing a book with glaring errors or weaknesses. I 100% agree with this. But I think it goes farther than this. I think it risks my reputation too if I don’t at least acknowledge that, while I recommend the read, it does have drawbacks that one reader might consider a deal-breaker even if another doesn’t care that much about them. At least I’m giving them the information, as I see it, to make an honest assessment and informed decision.

To a lesser extent, a post by Chuck Wendig, Putting the Publishing Cart Before The Storytelling Horse, made me think of this topic. In a large part because the authors who are loudly denouncing the publishing industry from experience, and claiming that anyone not self-publishing is making a terrible error, are ones who have already gotten to the point at which they have a quality editor and the industry know-how and writing chops that their self-published works won’t have this kind of problem.

Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about typos and poor grammar. Quite frankly, I won’t finish a book that’s an egregious offender in those areas to have a review to write of it.

But if on the balance sheet I think your book was a good read, and you’re a good writer who will quit making those mistakes eventually, I want to help you promote it! I want to review it and tell others to read it.

But I have a career to think about too.

Thus my conundrum. Is it important as authors to maintain your professional integrity and list the bad with the good? Is it not important enough to readers or worth it for you and you should pretend the bad isn’t there? Should you just not write reviews at all? What do you think?

Oh the Things You’ll Learn

October 3, 2011

We write. We’re good. We know it. We FEEL it in our work, the emotion, the beauty. Others feel it too. Mom, cousin Amy, that-guy-you-met-on-the-internet-Mike, Colleen at work. They say it made them laugh out loud, cry, want to tell all their friends about our books.

We’re on our way, right?

My book was good when I “finished” it. Really. It moved people. They laughed and cried and I knew it had “it.”

And it did. I took advantage of an open submission period at an established small publisher that exactly aligned with my genre and intended audience. The editor emailed the next day and asked for the full. She emailed back the day after that to say she’d finished the whole thing and she loved it, wanted more. Let me send you a contract.

So it WAS good, right? It was effing perfect!

Ummm, no.

I did get a contract, and I signed it, and the editor acquired my work of genius. And then she sent back the file with her changes and remarks.

With all the red pen marks (so to speak) it looked like something had died a bloody death all over my manuscript. This thing she had LOVED was… well, it was flawed. Here, and there, and everywhere! It wasn’t just commas or a typos, it was big, meta issues. It goes on too long after the climax. What was the point of this scene, exactly, because it sorta sucks? I don’t believe this at all; why would he get mad at this point? Maybe down there, but not up here, no way.

Insert a lot of wine and a few tears.

But, the moral of this story is, we’ve got a “final” now and I can’t believe what it’s become. My “work of genius” is good. It’s beautiful. It needed help, life support at times, but what had the potential to be good became good, maybe great, because of my editor.

How are you going to do this great thing we call publishing? There are so many options now. Big publishers, small publishers, indie publishing. If you want it, it’s there for you in some form. Our books WILL be out there.

But what does that mean for us? Is it about personal glory? Money? Something else? Can we remove our egos from the process in the name of publishing the book we mean to and not just the one we think we have?

Who do you rely on in this crazy-insane-depressing-exciting-life changing thing most people call writing a book?

#5MinuteFiction Week 70

September 27, 2011

What is 5MinuteFiction, you say? It’s an adrenaline-fueled, instant-gratification sort of writing contest. Sound fun? Great! Get in there and get dirty!

The Rules

* You get five minutes to write a piece of prose or poetry in any style or genre

* You must BEGIN your entry with: Pale light, broken apart into individual beams by the thick diamondglass of the skylight, cast stark shadows on the faces of the four men seated around a small table.

(Note: The prompt is the word. The picture is for decoration/inspiration.)


* Post your entry as a comment to this post.

I’ll close the contest at 1:45. That gives you 5 minutes to write and ten to accommodate the vagaries of relative time, technology, and the fickle internets. If you are confused or just want to whine, feel free to email me.

At the close of the contest, this week’s guest judge, Steve Umstead, @SteveUmstead author of Gabriel’s Redemption and the newly-released Gabriel’s Return will nominate five finalists.

I’ll put the nominees in a poll, and at 9:00 EDT tomorrow I’ll close the poll and declare the winner.

For updates, you can subscribe to my RSS Feed, “like” my Facebook Page, or follow me on twitter. Or follow us on twitter with the #5MinuteFiction hashtag.

What’s the prize? Well, usually, nothing. We’ll all agree to tweet and/or blog about the winner of today’s contest so their fame and fortune will be assured. But today Steve’s donated a copy of both Gabriel’s Redemption and Gabriel’s Return for the winner and I’m giving away a copy of Gabriel’s Return to one participant chosen at random!

A Few Notes:

* In the interest of time and formatting, it’s best to type straight into the comment box or notepad. It’s also smart to do a quick highlight and copy before you hit “post” just in case the internets decide to eat your entry. If your entry doesn’t appear right away, email me sometimes comments go into the suspected spam folder and I have to dig them out.

* I reserve the right to remove hate speech or similar but I’m not too picky about the other stuff.

* This is all for fun and self-promotion. So be sure to put your twitter handle at the end of your post and a link to your blog if you have one.

Rule of Three Blog Fest!

September 26, 2011

Have you heard of The Rule of Three and their blogfest coming in October?

From their site:

The Rule of Three Fiction Writing Blog Challenge

Once upon a time, four  Writers Who Blog (WWB) got together to create a shared world, the Town of Renaissance, where they invite writers to come and take up residence and explore it’s environ and citizens. During the month of October 2011, one a week, a story will emerge, linking three characters into one final cumulative story.  It’s up to you, the writer, to choose the way they interact, or not, and how the final story in the fourth week ends is the journey’s end.  Damyanti Biswas, Lisa Vooght, and JC Martin and I are the WWB, and we welcome you to Renaissance. Enjoy your stay. Oh…one last thing…

Now I’ve been remiss in posting this because I thought it started in October, but now I see the first prompt is already up, so if you’re going to get in on this, GET OVER THERE!