Blog About

April 9, 2013 — 639 words

The Poetry Matters Project

By Gabriel Gadfly

Hello! I’m Gabriel Gadfly, 1889’s “resident poet,” as my colleagues like to say. April is National Poetry Month is the US, and, as is often the way of the online world, you could say it’s Poetry Month for the Internet, too!

There are tons of great poetry-related projects happening this month across the world. There’s NaPoWriMo -- a writing challenge that tasks authors to write 30 poems in 30 days. There’s Record-a-Poem, a Soundcloud-based project by the Poetry Foundation that asks people to submit recordings of their favorite poems. There’s the Big Poetry Giveaway, a project that asks bloggers and poets to give away two poetry books this month.

There’s also Poetry Matters, a little project of my own. A few weeks ago, a poet I admire Tweeted that she was sad and discouraged that poetry didn’t seem to matter to anyone anymore. It surprised me -- my readers have always shared with me how important poetry is to their lives. If talented and successful poets felt like their work didn’t matter to anyone, maybe the problem wasn’t that poetry isn't important to people -- maybe it was that those people had just never been given the chance to talk about why and how poetry mattered to them.

Poetry Matters is a little nudge in that direction -- the project is a collection of short videos from students and poets and teachers and people from all walks of life who just love reading poetry, and it asks the question Why Does Poetry Matter To You? For some, poetry is tied to fond nostalgia -- memories of a first cherished book, or a kind teacher. For others, poetry is a way out of darkness -- from depression or self-harm or grief. And of course, there are those of us who are poets, driven to create poetry and fulfilled by it. Everyone has their own reason why poetry is important to them.

The project has been live for about a week, and there have already been some great submissions. Here are three of my favorites:

I hope you’ll check out the project’s page on my site to see the rest of the videos. Even better, I’d love to know why poetry matters to you. Record your own video and add it to the collection!

About the Author

Gabriel Gadfly represents a younger breed of poet, embracing the Internet as a medium through which to bring his work to readers.

In 2009, Gabriel launched with the concept that poetry should be readily available and easy to share in formats that fit today's world. The site launched with just ten poems; today, it has over 350 and Gabriel continues to publish new poems to the site several times per week. His style of poetry uses concrete narration and sharp images to tell stories; sometimes fictitious, sometimes true.

Though Gabriel publishes his works directly on his website, several of his poems have appeared in Four & Twenty, Borderline, Anatomy & Etymology, and most recently, in Subtext Queer Arts Magazine, a publication by the University of Florida.

April 1, 2013 — 647 words

It’s (Inter)National Poetry Writing Month- Ready? Set? Write!

By Merissa Tse

As the beloved T.S. Eliot reminds us, “April is the cruelest month.” And of course it is- NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) is upon us! For those who are aware of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), the poetically inclined have their own writing challenge during the month of April to produce 30 poems in 30 days.

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone, Take This!

To celebrate, 1889 Labs is here with support! Every day on our facebook page, you’ll find a writing prompt for your daily poem- whether it be a phrase, photo, a favourite poet, or just a word to get your creativity flowing.

Our resident poet, Gabriel Gadfly, is celebrating NaPo too! The Poetry Matters project invites you to join in the poetry community as we post videos and create an ongoing dialogue on why poetry matters to us- whether it be writing, reading, or both.

Tips and Tricks on Getting Through NaPoWriMo Alive!

As a NaPoWriMo participant since 2006, I thought I might offer some advice on how to have a successful (and fun!) month when it comes to the poetry challenge. It’s not always easy, and sometimes you don’t finish- but that’s okay. So how can you survive it?

1)    It’s about quantity- not quality (for now).

It sounds ridiculous to look at writing from this kind of an approach, but that’s what NaPo is- a way to encourage yourself to write, even when inspiration doesn’t strike you at every corner. Should every NaPo poem be a masterpiece? Absolutely not! The point is to try your best each day, and see what happens. At the end of the month, you have 30 poems (some better than others) to revise and shape into something you’re truly proud of. NaPo is a breeding ground for good writing that you help shape into great writing.

2)    NaPoWriMo is a contact sport.

Join a forum! There are plenty of poetry forums participating in NaPoWriMo right now, and it’s a great way to not only keep track of your work, but also push yourself to keep going even when things get difficult. It’s okay if you fall behind a few days- just get back on the horse! Joining a group of NaPoWriMo participants will keep you motivated by getting feedback (fluffy, happy, kind feedback) from writers going through the same thing, and giving it in return.

3)    Get help!

While waiting for the perfect inspiration may work for some people, sometimes you need to seek it out. Look through novels, poems, or even photo galleries to find something to write about. NaPo has taught me one thing when it comes to writer’s block: there is no such thing as writer’s block, just writer’s laze. Think of writing is a muscle- the more you use it, the easier it becomes to keep doing so.

NaPoWriMo is also the perfect time to experiment! If you love a certain poet’s writing style, try emulating it. Some people find a specific list of prompts that they stick to for the whole month, and some try a different poetic form each day such as sonnets, terza rima, sestinas, or freeverse.

Want a personal coach?

This month you can find me (Merissa) on the 1889 Labs facebook page, for all your writing coach needs! You can also check out my personal NaPo journey on the NaPoWriMo 2013 thread. If you're looking to participate, make a thread with your first poem before midnight tonight. If you miss the deadline- no worries! There are plenty of ways you can still participate and join the community.

February 21, 2013 — 631 words

Tree Books or E-books?

By Merissa Tse

To e-read or not to e-read? That is the question.

One of my favourite bloggers once mentioned that they no longer read “tree books” because not only do they prefer the convenience of their e-reader, but their concern for the environment had lead them to start building an electronic library instead. At 1889, we love our e-books- they’re instantly available to readers all over the world in a fraction of a second- no mess, no fuss, no trees. But how do we choose? For some people, including myself, having a physical book in my possession means much more than simply it’s contents.

The weight, the feel, and even the smell of a book can sometimes be the most comforting thing in the world. It’s reassuring, tangible, and enduring. Having a library of books isn’t just about the inside, but the way they fill a room with memories- happy, exciting, and at times, even heartbreaking.

Ms. Calendar: Well, it was your book that started all the trouble, not a computer. Honestly, what is it about them that bothers you so much?
Giles: The smell.
Ms. Calendar: Computers don't smell, Rupert.
Giles: I know! Smell is the most powerful trigger to the memory there is. A certain flower or a, a whiff of smoke can bring up experiences... long forgotten. Books smell. Musty, and rich. The knowledge gained from a computer, it... it has no texture, no context. It's, it's there and then it's gone. If it's to last, then, then the getting of knowledge should be, uh, tangible, it should be, um... smelly.

-Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "I, Robot... You, Jane"

Books create a form of permanence that e-books simply don’t. In the film industry, the move from analogue to digital is great concern as well. The issue with fully digital media is that it is so easily lost, corrupted, and ultimately, fallible. While they may seem to last, hard drives fail, and information can be lost forever. If there is no physical copy of something, there will likely come a time where it is irretrievable. This may be much more of a concern for filmmakers. However, the same concepts apply not only to literature, but the wealth of information made digital today. We may be able to read physical works from thousands of years ago, but how will future generations read our works if they are corroded away so easily?

On the other hand, the thrive in digital literature has made information more accessible than ever before. Instant, worldwide distribution platforms at a fraction of the cost of traditional publishing means great things- not only for readers, but for authors as well. More authors than ever before have the chance to not only publish their work, but find and distribute it to their audiences, niche or mainstream. Authors who may have never been published by a traditional publisher can (and do) find success through indie publishers and self-publishing. As for readers? A world of books that would have never been available before finally do, catering to niche markets and specific genres that otherwise would have never been made available. While digital publishing and distributions increases the number of sub-standard books on the market, it also happens to increase the number of well-written, thoughtful, and entertaining titles as well. You cannot have an increase in one without the other- and an increase in literature I may not like does not decrease the amount of literature that I do.

When it comes down to it, the reading world as we know it is in a transition period. Both the book store and the library have yet to become obsolete. Will we ever go fully digital? Should we?

February 5, 2013 — 745 words

The Steep And Savage Path

By Guest Author

by Keira Michelle Telford

For the FMB Blog Tour, SILVER: Acheron protagonist Ella ‘Silver’ Cross talks about love and loss, and tells us why she doesn’t regret a thing.

It was just before dawn when a unit of heavily armed Omega Security Officers tapped gently on the front door of Alex’s Sentinel District apartment. And by that, I mean the battering ram they used to gain entry hit the door so hard it snapped the hinges and split the wood almost straight down the middle. Those were the days before I used to sleep with a knife tucked under my pillow, and for that, the Officer who grabbed me by my hair and hauled me out of bed that morning should be eternally thankful.

I was arrested, detained, and banished. In my city, that’s called lenience. Does it matter that I was innocent? Nope. If someone wants you gone, you’re gone. Period. My relationship with Alex (a Hunter under my command) was exposed, and those charges saw me immediately discharged from the Hunter Division. While in custody, and now a civilian, I was sent before the Banishment & Enforcement Council to face a false treason charge. They couldn’t sentence me to death without a confession or an eye witness, so they settled for banishment. The rest is history.

If I hadn’t broken Hunter Division law by becoming involved with Alex, would this still have happened to me? Maybe. Maybe not. Getting me discharged was the goal. Getting me banished was the icing on the cake. As a Hunter, I would’ve had the protection of the Division’s legal department. As a civilian, I had nothing but my word.

I could torture myself with that fact for the rest of my life, but I won’t. The bottom line is that those years I had with Alex are worth more than everything I’ve had to go through since. Omega can take away my freedom, my dignity, my job—my purpose—and my home. They can destroy the relationship I had with Alex and condemn us to a life apart, but my love for him is something that can never be corrupted. It’s the one thing that will stay mine until the last breath I take on this earth, and it’s the reason I still wear his dog tags around my neck.

I may never get to see him again, but just knowing that he’s out there gives me a reason to keep fighting. If I didn’t hold that love for him, Omega would probably have had their way by now. I’d probably be dead.

About SILVER: Acheron (A River of Pain)

Dishonorably discharged from the Hunter Division and banished for crimes she did not commit, Silver struggles to come to terms with her new prison-like surroundings: a segregated area of the city called the Fringe District, populated by murderers, thieves and rapists.

Starving, and desperate for money, she reluctantly accepts the Police Division's invitation to enroll in a covert Bounty Hunter program: an initiative devised to infiltrate the criminal underworld of the Fringers, and to force the very worst warrant dodging law-breakers to meet their fate--death.

Unfortunately, Silver doesn't realize that the Police Division is about to up the ante. They need more than little snippets of information and arrests--they need someone to pull the trigger. They need an executioner.

About Keira Michelle Telford

Keira Michelle Telford was born and raised in the UK. She spent the early part of her childhood in Worcestershire, before the family moved to Wales where she lived for most of her teenage years. In 2006, she moved to Canada. She currently resides in beautiful British Columbia, where she lives with her husband and 9 guinea pigs.

Series Website | Author Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads

January 31, 2013 — 1,090 words

Interview with Speculative Horror Author Todd Keisling

By Merissa Tse

Todd Keisling is stopping by the 1889 Labs blog today as a part of The Liminal Man Blog Tour! We decided to pick his brain to see what goes on inside the mind of the man who dreams up creatures like the Yawning.

MT: Tell me more about yourself. Have you got any secret talents? Invisibility, maybe?

TK: I’m just an ordinary guy who happens to write fiction. I have a family, a day job, and a demon on my shoulder that tells me what to say. That demon, he’s the best in all the nine circles. What a great guy.

MT: You’ve been involved in the self and indie publishing community for quite some time. What began your interest in the non-traditional route of publishing of your work? How’s the journey been?

TK: In 2004, I interned for my university’s lit mag and worked with the staff on their annual publication. I got to experience the step-by-step process of taking words to print, and after seeing everything involved, I wanted to take a stab at it myself. I’ve been at it ever since.

The journey has been long and trying, but also rewarding. I have full creative control, and with a little work, I’ve managed to amass a following that continues to grow a little every day. Last year, my first novel peaked at #2 in Amazon’s Top 100 horror, and just a few weeks ago, I was named one of the top 10 new horror authors. These accomplishments were all based on completely independent efforts. I’m proud to say that.

MT: I’d love to know more about the Monochrome/Donovan Candle trilogy—how have things taken shape since the first edition of A Life Transparent back in 2007?

TK: When I wrote the first novel back in ’07, I never expected the story to grow beyond the bounds of one book. I left a lot of unanswered questions with that first novel that I didn’t think I’d ever have to answer, but once the idea of a sequel took shape, I realized I had to sit down and figure out the “how” and “why” of the Monochrome. The result is a significant expansion of the “mythos” in my second novel, THE LIMINAL MAN, while still leaving some questions unanswered for the third and final novel of the trilogy.

MT: What do you do when you’re not writing?

TK: I read, watch movies, play videogames. I daydream, and I waste time on Facebook and Reddit. I go to work at the day job. In print, my non-writing life sounds rather uneventful, but I’m comfortable with it.

MT: Is there anything you can’t write without? A certain workspace, coffee, or something else?

TK: Music. I always have to have music. I try to find something that fits the mood or atmosphere of the scene I happen to be writing, and then I put that track on repeat for as long as I’m working. A lot of TLM was written this way.

MT: If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose?

TK: I think I’d like to be Shadow from AMERICAN GODS just for the opportunity to live in Neil Gaiman’s vision of the world for a while.

MT: And finally, what kinds of projects have you got coming down the pipeline? Anything you’re really excited for?

TK: I’ve begun plotting the third novel of the Monochrome trilogy, although I don’t expect to start writing that story until 2014. After spending almost four years working on TLM, I need a break from Donovan Candle for a while, so I’ll be working on a lot of short fiction for a collection tentatively titled UGLY LITTLE THINGS. I hope to have that published digitally by the end of this year.

About The Liminal Man

Read about A Life Transparent here.

Following the unsettling events of A Life Transparent, Donovan Candle has struggled to redefine himself after escaping the Monochrome, a colorless reality mirroring our own. Nearly a year later, his efforts have finally paid off: his wife, Donna, is pregnant with their first child, and his novel is complete. Life for the Candle family is good-for now.

Working as a private investigator alongside his brother, Donovan has witnessed the startling number of Missing Persons cases occurring around the city, familiar signs that something more devious is at play. His fears are confirmed when the bodies of several young men and women are discovered, apparent victims of a brutal murderer.

At first he's hesitant to act, but when Donna's nephew is abducted by the suspected killer, Donovan finds he has no choice but to face his fears. This time there is more at stake than just his own happiness, and doing the right thing may come at a terrible price . . .

In The Liminal Man, Todd Keisling continues the terrifying fable of Donovan Candle, entwining him in the ominous plot of a sadistic new enemy, and keeping readers enthralled until the very end.

About Todd Keisling

Todd Keisling is a two-time recipient of the Oswald Research and Creativity Prize for fiction. He is also the author of A LIFE TRANSPARENT and its forthcoming sequel, THE LIMINAL MAN. Born in Kentucky, he now lives and works with his wife and son somewhere near Reading, Pennsylvania. When he was a kid, he stuck a heart-shaped cinnamon candy up his left nostril. He hasn’t been the same since.

TLM Blog Tour Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

January 30, 2013 — 970 words

There’s No Such Thing As Writer’s Block: 4 Ways to get unblocked from your imaginary wall

By Guest Author

by Sylvia Hubbard

I'm so happy to join you today and honored to be a guest on this blog during my Love 101: Mistaken Identity Series Tour.

As fiction writers we make up stuff. We make up stories, characters, plot and so forth, so why is it so hard to believe we just make up the fact that we cannot write?

I’ve never believed in writer’s block. However, I do believe there are life stresses that prevent us from writing and because we so closely believe our imagination, we start to believe that writer’s block exist.

It doesn’t.

Now I know you’re reading this and thinking I obviously haven’t had it (as if writer's block is a sickness I know nothing about).

But life stresses can cause a mental deterrent when trying to “relax” and let creativity flow.

With that in mind, let’s explore how I overcame these mental deterrents - and how I was able to write my standalone Mistaken Identity series, Love 101 in less than two months, all the while going through financial, personal and business crises.

First, before anything, writers need time to write and you should always know when you’re the most creative throughout the day. Identify when you’re at your peak so that at those times you can get the most out of writing.

From 4pm to 10pm is when I’m most creative, but unfortunately when writing Love 101 that was also my most busiest time of day, which created even more stress in my life. During my most creative time, I had a voice recorder on my phone and allowed the creativity to flow... verbally. In the early morning hours or late at night, I would sit down and transcribe my words. Though it didn’t ease my need to write, it placated the urges and frustration that would crop up.

Second, I found theme music for my endeavor. This helped me concentrate on the subject at hand when I was sitting down at the “wrong” times to write. Once I put the music on, I was like Pavlov’s dogs and began to immerse myself into the book. Sometimes it’d just be one song playing over and over again and I wouldn’t realize how much time had gone by or how late the hour was despite it being some of my most stressful days.

Third, I practiced meditation. I've also known people to rely on a quick five minute exercise in order to get the mind clear and refreshed; especially when the day has been especially trying. I was able to clear my mind just to get started and then be able to rev myself up to get the job done with a good word count for that day.

Lastly, I taped my synopsis or outline on my monitor so if life stresses "bothered" me while I was trying to write, I would be able to see what I was supposed to be doing. There's truth in the statement out of sight, out of mind, because if it wasn't there in front of me, I could easily become distracted by what was going on in my life.

All in all, I was able to give birth to a book that I'm extremely proud of and I know my readers have and will enjoy.

I hope my suggestions have helped you become unblocked!

About LOVE 101: Learning To Love

Prudish school teacher, Cheyenne, loses a bet with her students and is forced to wear her student's uniform.

On the same day, she meets the devilishly gorgeous Evan Crane who is desperately lost and needs "assistance" getting home. Fighting his attraction to who is think is just a high school student, Evan finds he needs her help. Deciding to take advantage of his weakness and her own mounting attraction to him, Cheyenne kisses Evan.

That's when her plan to just tease the stranger becomes a chance for her to live out her own reckless fantasy.

Yet, when the tables are turned and she reaps what she has sown, Cheyenne has to make a choice to forgive Evan and overcome her own fears or miss out on the most perfect love any woman could ever have.

Love 101: Learning To Love (Erotic Noir) available on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

About Sylvia Hubbard

Sylvia Hubbard knew she’d wanted to be a writer of romance long before she knew there were black writers in the world. Weaving stories magically as a summer past time to writing stories to get through the humdrum of school, she was able to create something from nothing. Today, she has independently published over 28 books, is the founder of Motown Writers Network and The AA Electronic Literary Network, CEO of HubBooks Literary Services, runs over five blogs on a variety of subjects, hosts The Michigan Literary Network Radio Show and is a happily divorced mother of three children in Detroit, Michigan.

Find her online at Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

This guest post is part of the FMB Blog Tour.

January 16, 2013 — 747 words

Interview with Fantasy Author Danica Winters

By 1889 Labs

This is a first for 1889 -- a CHARACTER interview!

As part of author Danica Winter's blog tour, she's stopping by 1889 Labs today for a little interview with vampire Ellie Smith, the main character in her fantasy novel The Vampire's Hope.

Tell us about your family.

Ellie Smith: There’s not a whole lot to tell. Usual sob story. Mom threw me on a porch the day I was born. And well, never knew my dad.

Some people used to laugh at me when I was in the system—but you know what? It never really bothered me. It’s a strange thing, but nothing really seems to bother me…at least not until I was turned Vamp. Then... well then, Ian opened up a whole new door to the world for me.

What one word best describes you?

Ellie: Savvy.

What was the scariest moment of your life?

Ellie: The moment I thought I would lose my Ian.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Ellie: I sure as hell never thought I would grow up and be a dancer. (She laughs and takes a sip of her steadily warming beer.) I never really hoped for anything. I guess I just wanted to grow up.

What songs are most played on your Ipod?

Ellie: I am a HUGE Godsmack fan. Here are my favorite three songs:

1. Godsmack—Voodoo (My all-time favorite song.)

2. Godsmack—Now Go Away

3. Godsmack--Vampires

Who should play you in a film?

Ellie: Have you seen that movie, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? It would definitely be that chic.

Morning Person? Or Night Person? How do you know?

Ellie: I’m a frigging Vampire. Really? I guess my other name should be Mary-freaking-sunshine.

What would we find under your bed?

Ellie: You don’t want to look under my bed.

What is the next big thing?

Ellie: Ian and I have only just begun our story. Keep an eye out for us. We’ve had some bad-ass adventures that only need to be written down. You wouldn’t believe what we’ve been up to.

Thank you to Danica Winters for letting her character Ellie stop by for a chat. For more tour stops, check out FMB Blog Tours.

About The Vampire's Hope

Ellie Smith, an emotionally stunted dancer, finds more than she bargains for after her human life is taken by the vampire, Master Liam. Once inside the Vampire’s underground lair, the Keres Den, she meets Ian, an immortal Viking warrior, who is infiltrating the soulless prison. (New Paragraph) As Ellie begins her training, she learns that the dark tunnels around her are filled with even darker secrets. As the truth of her existence come to light, she is faced with a choice—does she let her past dictate her future, or can she begin to feel again?

Buy now on Amazon | Barnes and Noble | All Romance | kobo

About Danica Winters

Danica Winters is an Amazon best-selling romance author based in Montana. She is known for writing award-winning books that grip readers with their ability to drive emotion through suspense and often a touch of magic. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Montana Romance Writers, and Greater Seattle Romance Writers. She is a contributor to magazines, websites, and news organizations. She enjoys spending time with friends and family, the outdoors, and the bliss brought by the printed word.

January 15, 2013 — 809 words

Reasons To Consider Self-Publishing

By Guest Author

by Joseph Spencer

Traditional publishers and several well-established authors such as Sue Grafton and Jodi Picoult have not minced words when talking about self publishing. They view the recent explosion of self-published authors and independent presses much like a dog views a mailman with a bone hanging out of his pocket.

Self publishing blindsided traditional publishers, and broke up the monopoly of the marketplace they enjoyed for many years. They used to control distribution throughout the United States and all over the world. With a strong base of readers shifting their habits either exclusively or in part to ebooks, writers regained freedom in the distribution chain.

Traditional publishers and agents get angry when you take money out of their pockets, and that’s exactly what the self-publishing boon is doing. Self publishing affords authors the chance to publish their work and make it available cheaply while printing paperback copies on demand without spending thousands of dollars on copies up front.

Here are things to consider if you’re an author and the traditional publishing experience hasn’t been what you expected.

  1. Reject rejection
    In the traditional publishing world, there’s a gauntlet of people standing in the way of making your publishing dreams happen, and rejection from anyone of them along the way can table your manuscript. Traditional publishers tend to gamble on works similar to what’s hot right now such as Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series or E.L. James’ BDSM erotica. If you fall out of this scope, self publishing gives you a chance to let the marketplace rather than gatekeepers from traditional publishers decide on your success.

  2. It’s all about the money
    Authors keep more of the profit with no middlemen like agents and publishing houses taking their cut. It’s not uncommon for authors to receive only 25-40 percent in royalties on their ebooks and print books from traditional publishers. Let’s say your ebook costs $6. After Amazon takes 30 percent, let’s say you get 40 percent of what’s left for your royalty. That would mean you get $1.68 per book. If you self publish, you’d get $4.20 – three times what you’d get from a traditional publisher.

  3. Fast cash
    It’s not uncommon for traditional publishers to pay royalties quarterly or even slower. Therefore, authors are left in the lurch for months trying to guess how much of a check they’ll receive. Create Space, Kubit, andKindle Direct Publishing all pay monthly, so your wait to see the fruit of your labor isn’t quite as long.

  4. You pick your timeline
    Only you know what best fits in your personal schedule. So, if you want to sync your book’s launch perfectly with your life, self publishing is an easier way to accomplish that. Traditional publishers usually release books quarterly or in accordance with release windows which fall within seasonal shopping habits. There’s nothing like planning a trip well in advance and then having your book release fall smack dab in the middle of the vacation, which either causes you to cancel your plans or puts you behind in book promotion.

  5. Control freak
    When you self publish, you are accepting more of the risk certainly. However, you also can move swiftly to make corrections. You’re in charge of oversight of your work, and can make decisions quickly as to editorial content, design layout, and marketing of the book. During the traditional publishing process, it’s possible for the author’s voice, tone, and creativity to be altered by editors, artists, bean counters and other managerial staff.

  6. About GRIM

    Grim When everything is taken from him, Detective Adam White must choose what's most important.

    Does he stick to the heroic ideals which made him a famed paragon of justice and take down a murderous madman? Or does he give in to his vigilante impulses, avenge his wife's murder, and become the type of killer he's hunted for so many years?

    About Joseph Spencer

    Joe Spencer is the author of Grim, a paranormal crime thriller released by Damnation Books in September 2012. It’s the first in the planned Sons of Darkness series. His second book, Wrage, is due out in 2013. He can be reached at

    This guest post is part of the FMB Blog Tour.

January 3, 2013 — 1,406 words

The Lion Passé

By Letitia Coyne

I’ve been reading up on the benefits of removing yourself from social media outlets. There can be no doubt at all that the time spent updating and following SM accounts, for most us, will never pay any dividends. The more you engage online, the more you receive invitations to participate in other SM platforms, with profiles that need updating, and comments needed, and time spent engaging – or a whole list of obsolete accounts with random information about you float in the ether, forgotten and entirely unlamented.

A big part of the anxiety disorder that goes hand in hand with SM use is the ‘comparison and failure’ aspect; the same old school yard popularity games still being won by the same old faces. And because we are there with them, because their words and deeds are beamed into our own homes, our own computers, we think we are involved in the processes that unfold. When we feel a sense of failure, it is often associated with a sense of being rejected and disliked.

When I sent out a pile of Christmas well-wishes to my SM associates this year and received back one brief ditto, I was reminded of a line in James Goldman’s wonderful ‘The Lion in Winter’.

[Seriously, if you haven’t seen either the 1968 Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn and Anthony Hopkins movie, or the 2003 Glenn Close, Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Rafe Spall, and Andrew Howard movie, both brilliant – do yourself a favour – SEE IT.]

A little backstory:

Everyone knows Henry II favoured Prince John, while his beloved enemy, wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, favoured her lambkin, Richard Cœur de Lion, to ascend Henry II’s throne after the untimely death of their eldest son, Henry the Young King. [Forget all their daughters, half-siblings in France, and illegitimate titled brothers] We know about The Lionheart and his Crusades, and John Lackland, the phony king of England, who didn’t really fight off Robin [Hood] of Loxley at all.

But did you know about Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany and Earl of Richmond?

That’s right! Between their eldest surviving son, Richard, and their youngest son, John, there was another legitimate son – Geoff.

Unless you are a history buff, you’ve probably never heard of him; history didn’t provide him a wide stage. He did not lack political skill; he was a wily and sugar-tongued diplomat with not one single scruple. He was fast on his feet, too; he changed allegiances often and without warning.

He could have been a contender! But he wasn’t. He was pushed aside by four of the most skilled, aggressive, politically astute, powerful, determined, and unscrupulous people royalty has ever produced - which is really saying something.

So here is Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany and Earl of Richmond, in Goldman’s screenplay, bargaining for power from the leftovers between Eleanor and Richard, and Henry and John. In a moment of passion, when Richard’s dalliances with King Philip of France are revealed and Henry II cries,Thank God I have another son. Thank God for John!’

 Geoff says to his father:
‘And who shall we thank for Geoffrey? You don't think much of me.’

And HERE is his father’s answer, the line that came to mind for me and my Christmas well-wishes:

Much? I don't think of you at all.’

Geoffrey was in the thick of it. He was manipulating and bargaining with the best – he was working his brand and raising his profile. He thought that because he was a player, he was important. He thought because he was putting in the time and effort, it meant something, his market share was growing. He thought that his assistance was valuable, that the support he gave would be rewarded.

He thought that the fact that his father did not figure him into the schemes and land grabs meant he had been willfully rejected by his sire, and his skills disrespected.

He was wrong.

We are wrong when we imagine we have any role in the SM world. The chosen ones have their role to play. In publishing they are the lords of creation, the feted creatives by whose offerings society judges its own worth.

I am white noise. I am a matter of supreme indifference to the successful.

It is so freeing to realize that and to move on.

Years ago I saw it, but it didn’t sink in. I wrote a poem about it then:


He went to market to sell magic beans.
A million million beansellers stood there, screaming.
Glassy eyes and pursed lips.
“I have to sell my beans,” he said.

Beansellers split his tongue.

Moving bravely through the crush,
He gripped his small brown beans,
“I need to sell my magic beans.”
But no one went to market to buy.

Only beansellers.

He saw beans sparkle, glow, sing songs.
Standing near the lovely beans,
Searching faces for smiles,
He hid his ugly old beans.

“They’re all I have.”

He asked about the shiniest beans,
But his thick, split, stupid tongue twisted and bled.
And beansellers screamed. A million million beansellers.
Narrow eyes and lemon lips screamed.

He shrugged, trudged home, and made burritos.


Years ago, too, I read an article on the mass closing of independent bookstores that said the first reason for failure was not Amazon or big publishing houses, it was that there were more people writing and trying to sell books than there were trying to read them.

So I knew it, years ago.

I have removed myself from the hundreds of pages with their mailing lists which I had subscribed to. Finger on the writing/publishing/marketing pulse, stuff.

I never got twitter. I don’t go there anymore. In two years I have had two conversations on twitter. It seems to me that everyone in the world is tweeting what they think, as they think it, all at once. No one seems to be listening, everyone is too busy talking.

I enjoyed facebook, briefly. But now each time I engage an audience and begin to gather actual real life conversations, facebook simply cuts back the number of feeds my posts appear on. I post on 1889 Labs facebook feed and my posts do not even appear on my timeline anymore. I am not one of the 5%.

I enjoyed blogging for a while. But every time there is a break in the flow the work done to build an audience is immediately lost. You build up regulars who come back each week to chat about your thoughts. Then there is a pause. Gone.  Just gone.

I tried Goodreads. Why? I don’t have time to read enough or a desire to discuss what I read, and I don’t want to listen to a constant stream of self-pubbed authors who have a handbook on how to spam.

You know all the others. Same.

I am not going to unpublish, as some are doing when they realize how much of their time they have thrown away. But I’m done with trying to engage people whose real need and drive is to engage me in their sales pitch. Very best of luck to them all. I wish them well.

Here are some links on disengaging that might interest you. Or not.

3 Reasons You Should Quit Social Media
Is Social Media Destroying Your Self-Esteem
Social Media Study
Social Media Vocabulary: Disease and Disorders
Going Unsocial: How to Disconnect from Social Networking
Social Media Disconnect: Are Marketers Out of Touch?
Camp Kivu’s Quest to Get Depressed Teens to Disconnect From Social Media
Etc. Google it.

[The 'passé' thing is a joke, not an error. My sense of humour ....]


December 16, 2012 — 978 words

A Fairy Godmother in the Modern World

By Guest Author

by Charlotte Henley Babb

Magic in fairy tales is not as powerful as you might think. It's good for the once in a lifetime chance for a change, but the person involved must be ready and able to take on the challenge. It's rare that someone wishes for something practical. In fact, almost all wish stories are about how wishing is dangerous, and while the wish may be granted, it will almost certainly be harmful. Those kinds of stories are about keeping people in their place.

What kinds of chances do modern people need? An opening where a circumstance makes things different just for a little while.

In Don't Tell Mom the Baby Sitter's Dead, the teenage girl takes on responsibility, though she lies and steals to get her job and then to keep her boss from finding out what she has done. Her brother learns to cook and the younger brother stops being a brat at least for a few moments. For any of this to work out, there has to be a fairy godmother around, maybe the spirit of the dead babysitter. Of course, there's always willing suspension of disbelief.

In 9-to-5, the women tied up the boss and made the changes they wanted themselves. They gave him the credit, so that he wouldn't rat them out, but they took charge. Their fairy godmother shows up with an idea while they are drinking, though you never see her.

In Pretty Woman, both characters chose to give up their view of life, which is why it's important that the rich man braved his fear of heights to come to get his woman. The fairy godmother there is the concierge who knows how to manage for his customer's guests.

Even in The Princess Bride, which really should have been called Dread Pirate Wesley, the story was not about the girl, who was not a princess, but about the power of Wesley's love for her. He came back for her as soon as he could do so, even from death, and in rescuing her, delivered the kingdom from the rotten prince. Mad Max and his witch wife provide the magic to bring Wesley back to life after the six-fingered man kills him.

Looked at in this way, The Devil Wears Prada is a Cinderella story with the evil boss as the fairy godmother who makes things hard on the girl, so that the girl will find out who she is and what she is made of, eventually taking responsibility for becoming what  she wants to be. The boss's smile when the girl quits shows that the boss knows exactly what she is doing and that her work is done with this one. The TV series Ugly Betty requires the machinations of the grasping Vanessa Williams character to fuel the growth of each character. When she falls in love and finally finds herself, there's not motivation for the story. The boss quits, Betty moves on and the show ends.

There's a theme here. In Mundane, what passes for the real world, a person has to be on the lookout for the chance for the change, and then roll with it, risking everything, knowing that it might not work out, that the plot might not be a comedy.

We're willing to believe in coincidences and happy accidents, and those are engineered by fairy godmothers in the real world. We don't see them, most of the time, and if they are written into the story, they pose as maids, homeless people or others who are invisible in society.

Even you might be in a position to be someone else's fairy godmother, with a kind word, a helping hand, or a bit of a nudge in a new direction. The job of the fairy godmother is only to spark the chance for a change. It's up to the person to brave a new situation and rise to meet the challenge.

What's your challenge today, and how are you going to roll?

About Maven Fairy Godmother: Through The Veil

Maven's new dream job--fairy godmother--presents more problems than she expects when she learns that Faery is on the verge of collapse, and the person who is training her isn't giving her the facts--and may be out to kill her. Will she be able to make all the fractured fairy tales fit together into a happy ending, or will she be eaten by a troll?

Buy it on MuseIt Up | Amazon | Smashwords | B&N

About Charlotte Henley Babb

Charlotte Babb began writing when she could hold a piece of chalk and scribble her name--although she sometimes mistook "Chocolate" for "Charlotte" on the sign at the drug store ice cream counter. She has studied the folk stories of many cultures and wonders what happened to ours. Where are the stories are for people over 20 who have survived marriage, divorce, child-rearing, education, bankruptcy, and widowhood?

Author Website | Book Site | Facebook (Author) | Facebook (Book) | Twitter: @charlottebabb

This guest post is part of the FMB Blog Tour.