Sunday, January 14, 2018


21 years ago, Preditors & Editors Poll was born.  The site began as Critters, an on-line workshop/critique group for serious Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror writers, then grew into a set of workshops for every other kind of artistic endeavor and the now-famous Polls.
I have interest in three divisions of this year’s polls and would VERY much appreciate your vote if you have a minute to follow the following links:   – Her General in Gray – a Ghost & Mrs Muir type romance that is now also available in audio!! – Simon – my dear son is nominated in the Artist Category.  He did this cover for an anthology published by Class Act Books. – Gylded Wings  – Forgiven or forsaken? An angel’s quest to soar once more on golden wings…a dark fantasy.

Please take a moment to vote.  🙂 It’s quick, easy & painless.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

#Setting or World Building by Diane Burton

Setting is so important in a story that it’s often called the “other” character. We also call it world building. We create the world our characters inhabit. When we create that world, we must think logically and base that world on our own. Depending on what genre we write in, the world can be a small town, a metropolis, another planet.

When I write cozy mysteries, I base my fictional resort town on real ones. That’s easy. But what about a setting after an apocalypse? We can only imagine the devastation after, say, a nuclear war. Yet, we have some examples in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While those cities were hit by atomic bombs, not nuclear, we can use what we’ve seen in pictures and videos. Devastation from natural disasters (fires, mudslides, tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes) can also give us vivid images.

But what if we set our stories on another planet? Now, we need to develop a lot more. Climate, geography, history, government. That sounds more like high school classes than writing. LOL However, what we learned in those classes may come in handy.

For my science fiction romances, I created planets with a central government. I could make each planet different from anything we’ve ever seen—even via Hubble or its soon-to-be-launched successor the James Webb telescope. 

credit: NASA
But if humans are to live on the planet I create, I have to obey certain laws. The humans need a conducive atmosphere. Breathable air, water, and a temperature that isn’t too hot or too cold. What’s called a Goldilocks planet. Earth is just such a Goldilocks planet.
credit: NASA
Our research can fill file drawers (or digital files), but while we as writers need to know all this information, and more, our readers don’t. I think of research as an iceberg. What we share with our readers is the tip of the iceberg, while what we know is that vastness below the water’s surface.
credit: Wikipedia
Our readers want an enjoyable story with likeable characters. And a strong plot. How my starship gets from one planet to another isn’t as important as the fact that it gets to that other planet. Sort of like my car. I don’t know how it works. But when I get in it and turn the key, I know it’s going to take me to the store or Up North (as we Michiganders call traveling up I-75 toward the Mackinac Bridge).

Enjoy the research. Find out as much as you want about your world. Then carefully, like sprinkles on Christmas cookies, scatter just enough info to make your story interesting.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Deadlines, Laundry, and Yowling Cats by Jane Kindred

That’s what my life consists of right now. Book 5 in the Sisters in Sin series, Kindling the Darkness, is due to my editor on Wednesday. I managed to finish the first draft on Christmas Eve, but since 40,000 words of it were written during NaNoWriMo, it’s requiring a LOT of work to get it submission ready. My revision process involves reading through for typos and errors and making comments on the big things that need fixing. Then I take all of the comments and put them in a to-do list. This one had 41 to-dos, ranging from “add more mentions of the weather and time of year” to “why are there no guests at this B&B, ever?” to “what is the nature of the hell beast and what is it actually doing in this town? Delete all of this and try to make sense!”

Mentions of the weather I can fix pretty quickly. The B&B is now a bookstore and café, because guests would only get in the way (which is probably why I forgot to have any). But the nature of the evil that’s hunting my heroine and being hunted by her? Probably should have figured that out on page one. Sigh.

I’ve fixed all but five of these disasters (and added three, because, sure, let’s change the damn bookstore again), but the big one is still looming. I’ve worked out the beast’s nature, but the actions it’s taken are still a problem. That’s okay. I have one last weekend and two day job workday evenings left. I can do this.

But not if this cat doesn’t shut up. Have you ever had a seventeen-year-old, half-deaf cat? This one is bored, clingy, and loud. And he does not approve of writing novels. Or blog posts. Or answering email. He pretty much only approves of being fed and sitting on my lap while I watch television. (No reading Twitter while the cat is sitting, please!)

Despite the feline disapproval, I had a good start on the revisions this morning. But it was laundry day, and with only one pair of clean underwear left, I could no longer put it off. (I seriously envy anyone who actually owns a washer and dryer. I’ve been going to Laundromats for 34 years and I am really, really tired of it. When you reach your 50s, you get tired of a lot of stupid things. Like this virtual doughnut of fat that’s collecting around my middle. But I digress. Because doughnuts. Dammit. Why did I think of doughnuts??)

So I’m back from the laundry, and I remembered another deadline: writing this blog post. How does it always manage to surprise me each and every single month? Well, lucky you, you got to read about how I ended up writing about deadlines, laundry, and yowling cats.

I would like to say that my New Year’s resolution is to write my blog posts in advance, but that would be an utter lie, so let’s just pretend my resolution is not to eat any more doughnuts.

As a bonus, my favorite line from Kindling the Darkness: “Well, actually, hell isn’t really that different. It’s just on another…” He stopped and rolled his eyes. “Oh, for f***’s sake. I’m devilsplaining. Never mind. Let’s eat, drink and be merry!”

Friday, January 5, 2018


Dang! It's cold everywhere and the tune running through my head is, "Baby, it's cold outside!"

Please, forgive my lateness. I got up, adjusted heat, fed porch kitty (who refuses to come in out of the cold), let the 2 wild fur balls out for a bit, and then I crawled back beneath the covers pulling them snuggly up around my head surrounded by my older furbabies! But, here you go with just a little about another disciple's descendant.

Simeon - Disciple's Descendants 4 is now available at Amazon.

Simeon is the invisible man of the descendants and, though he doesn't know it yet, Gage Harrow, his leader, has plans for his future!

Simeon Zeals is invisible to humans. Hell, just one disciple aside from Gage Harrow masters the ability to keep up with his movements so taking what he covets poses no problem. Until he meets someone who is out of reach. Gage and Zeb protecting her only makes Simeon want the woman more. He doesn’t give a damn she isn’t a descendant. He hasn’t even thought past bedding her for more than one night—maybe two… Or three.
Nancy Cannon unknowingly stumbles into disciples frequently at Arrogant Bastards, but when she hit a solid wall of invisible muscle, her life careens out of control. Meeting the flesh and blood version elevates her senses, has her feeling and wanting things Nancy never even dreamed of. Caught in his web of desire, she begins to spin a few of her own.
Each silken thread of passion slowly tightens around them.
Her head fell into the crook of his shoulder and she rested there until the key rattled in the door. Pulling up his pants, he lifted Nancy and she was amazed at how easily he bent with her in his arms and snatched up her shoe before entering a stall, slamming the door, and latching it behind them. “Damn, I don’t want to leave you.” He rained kisses on her face, nibbled her lips, and sucked her neck. “I’ll be sitting there watching you walk this sweet ass to the table.” He slapped her butt hard. “Hurry.”
Nancy thought she was ready to handle a disciple but she didn’t expect what happened next. Surrounded by white light, Simeon vanished. Gone. The outer door opened and she heard steps across the floor to the empty space beside her. “Jesus Christ, oh God!” she shrieked, covering her mouth but her hand was too late to smother the words.
“You okay?”
The voice on the other side of the wall jarred Nancy to her senses. “Uhhh, yeah, umm, there’s no toilet tissue in here.”
“Jeez, I thought it was a rat or something the way you screeched. Here.” A handful of wadded paper appeared beneath her stall.
I said hurry. His whisper so close to her ear shocked her.
“Go away!” she yelped, this time dropping her sandal into the toilet. “Shit.”
“Lady, do you need help?”
Opening the door, Nancy took a wobbly step to the counter and looked in the mirror as she shook her sandal and put it on. “Eww.” It was wet but thank goodness, the toilet water had been clean. Peering back in the glass, she noted swollen lips, flushed cheeks, and her pussy still tingled. The beginnings of a hickey stained her neck. “Juvenile.” She grunted at her reflection. Reaching in her bag, she grabbed a tube of lipstick and swiped it across bruised lips just as the other stall door swung open.
A petite redhead studied her and inquired again, “You okay?”
Nancy’s hand, still holding the lipstick, flew to the mirror, and started writing. ‘Juvenile wants to fuck you’ was emblazoned across the mirror in bright red.
“My goodness!” The redhead turned and ran from the bathroom without washing her hands.
She thinks you want her.
Simeon’s prank doubled Nancy over with laughter. “You’re crazy.”
Hurry before I take you again.
“Get out!” she squealed still chuckling. This time she watched the door open and shut.
Yeah, she could handle this.

It's cold outside, snuggle up with a good book!

Other books in the series include:

Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out. - J. Hali Steele

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Productive Power of The Pause

by Maureen L. Bonatch 
January is a magical time of renewal for many people. A time to think about the year ahead and all the fabulous tasks we aim to accomplish. Whether it's to lose weight, finish writing or reading a book, or exercising more, we jump in the year envisioning how much different, or better, our lives will be by December.

I’ve set goals and resolutions many times over the years, and usually don’t succeed at meeting all my high expectations. This year I’m doing something a little different. Some people make resolutions. Others choose a focus word for the year. I’ve never chosen a focus word, but last year, one chose me.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Bad Book Reviews: 5 Good Lessons to Learn from Them

Bad Reviews—UGH. Like gremlins in the cupboards and pixies in the sugar jar, they sneak up when you least expect them. For writers, the best way to deal with bad reviews is often to ignore them. I certainly never, ever, ever, ever reply to them—no matter what. That way lies madness.

I write reviews only occasionally and very reluctantly. I don’t write bad reviews. They hurt my soul. I think most writers feel this way—we hate to get bad reviews and so we don’t give them.

Not that writing bad reviews about a book is the mark of Satan. Objective reviewers feel duty-bound to provide an honest account of their experience and that is a good thing. A number of bad reviews tends to bring problems to the attention of potential buyers. Writers can learn lessons from bad reviews as well—but only if those bad reviews deal with things within our control to alter.

I wanted to see what I could learn from bad reviews so I got a plate of cookies and a large bottle of cheap brown liquor and dug in.

I looked at some of the top 100 books in the paranormal romance genre. I wanted to see what reviewers said about books that generally got good reviews.

Here are a few items that made me shake my head (and take another slug of that brown liquor.)

  • Didn’t like the binding—Right, I bind each and every book with a needle and thread. I also use a quill pen to illuminate each manuscript before I store it in clay pots in the basement.
  • Poor paper quality—All my books are printed on paper I make myself by munching wood into pulp and drying it on a screen rack.
  • Liked the author’s other books better so I rated this one low You give and you take away
  • No dust jacket – Who the hell wants dust jackets? Seriously. Didn’t you learn to make your own out of paper sacks in grade school? On the other hand, if you pay upwards of $15 for a book, it better come with all the bells and whistles—including dust jackets. 
  • Slow shipping/shipping cost is too much—I’ll speak to my horde of book-delivering minions and get this straightened out. 

  • The book cover is not the same color as the one in the picture – The reviewer gave the book a 1-star for this with no mention of the content. I guess he/she wanted a book to match the room décor and not to read.

A self-published author has some control over the quality of the binding and paper and maybe even the shipping. I’d say even the smaller publishing houses would be receptive to such feedback. So even these seemingly non sequitur comments might yield a lesson.

More importantly, reviews that mention the following items are fodder for reflection.

1. Bad Editing/inaccurate details. This is by far the greatest complaint I saw in my highly unscientific review of reviews. Every author NEEDS an editor but many feel they can skip this vital step. Complaints about bad editing are also important to an author who has a)paid for an editor or b) used the editor provided by a publisher. Consistent and justified complaints about bad editing can mean the author isn’t getting her money’s worth.

2. Slow paced or depressing.
Since I read The Yearling in grade school, I’ve been wary of sad books. If you’ve not read it, I won’t spoil the ending except to say prepare yourself for a soul-killing experience from which you will take years to recover. Bringing a social injustice to light in fiction is a time-honored tradition and serves a useful purpose—think Charles Dickens’ many works which illuminated social injustice in 19th century Britain and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird which illustrated racism in the Deep South. But even these heavy subjects were presented with humor and humanity. Authors can use this complaint to determine if they need to insert a bit more humor. Lighter moments actually heighten the drama.

3. Unlikable protagonist. Have you ever been happily reading along and discovered the protagonist is a needy, shallow, whiny tart? Yep—me, too. Now, it is possible to take an unlikable character and use their unlikeability as a device. Readers might be drawn into the story just to see this character get their comeuppance or they might hang on hoping for the character’s redemption. But either way, readers need to see something in the character or the plot that they can root for. If you see this complaint too many times, you may need to work on character development to make the protagonist more human and more relatable.

4. Too much backstory. Huge chunks of backstory or world building will send readers running for the TV remote while your book gathers dust in a corner. If only your book came with a dust jacket. At least a 50/50 ratio between narration and dialogue seems prudent, but I prefer more dialogue with action tags. Show the characters moving through the world and let them describe  the world in dialogue. One bit of advice I use every day is “Tell (or show) the reader only what they need to know right now.” If you do that for every scene, the world builds itself.
5. Too poetic. Purple prose is still a thing. Sometimes a reviewer just doesn’t get the snazzy metaphor or allusion you slipped in there. Let them go in peace. Most of the time, purple prose comes from forgetting your novel is really a conversation with other real people. Imagine you’re telling the story of your novel to a friend. If the snazzy metaphor fits, keep it—but if it sounds pretentious, you may very well find yourself in dire need of an additional portion of your favored aperitif as you slaughter your darling word babies.

Even bad reviews have a purpose, but don’t linger in the land of bad reviews for long. After all, you can use that time better by creating artistic dust jackets and chewing up pine boards to make another ream of printer paper.

Tell me—do you review books? What do you like to comment on when you do? What would a review need to say to make you rush to buy the book?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Auld Lang Syne, or, Reminiscing About Stuff (and a special offer)

A couple of weeks ago, my hubby, son, and I went out to walk around a quaint little district in Fremont known as Niles Canyon. Maybe you better know this place as the Almost Silent Film Capitol of the World? The haunt of Charlie Chaplin before he went to Hollywood? No? Well, it’s an awesome little historic town full of cinematic history in the Niles Silent Film Museum, antiques stores, restaurants, and the amazing Niles Canyon Railway (Side note: if you love trains and are in the area during the holidays, their Train of Lights is a must-see experience.)

But, I digress. Let’s get back to the antique stores, shall we? It happens to all of us at a certain age. You walk into an antique store and, bam! There’s your favorite lunchbox from when you were a kid. It’s sitting on a shelf above your head, a round green sticker with the neatly handprinted number 35 stuck to its underside. (That’s dollars, not cents. Or 1935.) Several thoughts go through your head at that point.

Wonder what ever happened to my lunchbox? Could be at mom’s somewhere, but she probably gave it away, or it’s in a landfill. Too bad, we could sell this stuff for the big bucks now. Geez, I’m old! Hmm. What if this is my lunchbox?

Of course, deep down I knew this wasn’t mine, and in the 60s and 70s no one could’ve predicted the future resale value of a Mickey Mouse School Bus lunchbox. Back then old junk was just that…old junk.

I strolled through the shop regaling my unsuspecting twenty-two-year-old with my past memories. Some were things I, or my sister, had owned as we grew up, others were just (nerdy) things I remember or coveted from TV commercials. Wisely, he made suitable sounds of being impressed, bless him.

Just for fun, let’s play a quick game. Did any of you own one or more of these items as a child?

I grew up watching "Machinga" on Japanese TV
Here's the one my son found from his childhood
Who didn't want a Pigs in Space lunchbox? 

If you look closely, you can see the interior of the Falcon

I still want one of these!

I had this doll house. Still miss it.
It’s kinda nice to revisit those fun moments of our past, huh? Memories can be a wonderful thing, whether they’re toys, loved ones, or experiences. Since joining the ranks of social media users, I’ve discovered that Facebook loves to remind me of my past. Friendships made, posts, etc. I’ve also observed that at the end of every year there’s a rash of posts proclaiming what a terrible year the current year has been, and that next year can’t come soon enough.

Every. Single. Year.

Certainly, good things happened to everyone during the course of any year, right? Events worth celebrating. Births, marriages, graduations, friendships, vacations, personal milestones, new jobs, time spent helping others, time with family. The list of potential happy moments is endless, and I can't believe social media is populated solely by chronically unhappy people, so why the negativity?

Yes, life is hard, it downright sucks sometimes. But all the time? To the point that it’s all we remember at the end of each year? I write romance because it gives readers a happily ever after (HEA). After all the trials my characters experience, they and my readers still can find hope and believe in the goodness of life.

So, here’s my New Year’s challenge to all of you: This New Year’s Eve, post about the wonderful moments of your life in 2017 on your social media platforms. Share the things that lifted your spirit and gave happiness to others. Celebrate 2017, because even during the worst of times, good things happen. By sharing just one spot of happiness from your life in 2017, you could help someone else pause, reflect, and find the bright moments in their own life over the past twelve months. Write your own HEA to the end of the story called “2017”, because I guarantee you someone out there is looking for it.

May 2018, and every year you walk through during this life, be so blessed that the negative parts fade from your memories. Happy New Year to you all!


(P.S. - Fortunately, my son never asked, “Hey, mom, whatever happened to my <fill in the blank>?” LOL!)

No, I didn’t forget that I mentioned a special offer. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter and get a FREE copy of my short story, ALL OF ME! For $0.00—a bunch less than a gym membership—you can get updates, announcements, special offers, exclusive sneak peeks, and quarterly newsletter giveaways from me. 

This offer expires at 11:59 p.m. January 31, 2018. So, what are you waiting for?

USA Today Bestselling Author, Lea Kirk, loves to transport her readers to other worlds with her science fiction romance. She's currently working on book three of her popular SFR Prophecy series. She lives in California with her wonderful hubby, their five kids (aka, the nerd herd), and her "baby", an adorable Dobie mix.  

Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 ~ Looking Back #thinking #planning and more #thinking with @meganslayer ~ #iamwriting

I've been thinking hard about this past year. It's been an oddity. Really has. So many things have happened. You'd think 365 days wouldn't involve that much change, but it's unreal.

I've had lots of good points. I got to work with a dear friend on not one, but two projects. It was a great collaboration. I've been invited to work in Kindle Worlds. I've seen some of my best stories come out and weathered changes in editors, publishing houses as well as characters that want to be difficult. I've had the good fortune of being signed with a new-to-me publishing house and have had my stories from other houses that are defunct picked up by other pubs. That's some good fortune.

But there have been some interesting, yet, tough parts of this year. I've seen friendships I thought were tight go kablooey. I've seen publishers change hands, or close. That's been tough. I love my publishers and have had mostly fantastic experiences with them. It can't all be wine and roses, but I've had a good time. I can't complain. I'm terribly sad that one pub is closing. They weren't the easiest, but they brought out the best in my writing. I'd rather have a hard edit than a super easy one. If I know there are issues and I'm working on them, I think it makes the whole story stronger to fix them.
I've had rejections this year. I don't mind rejection--sometimes the project just isn't for that pub--but one thing I'd love to change is the flat, blunt thanks but no thanks rejections. How can I get better if I don't know what's wrong with the story? I've had a few revise and resubmits - which I actually embrace. I prefer to know what needs fixed in order to make the grade. 
I've seen the passing of my grandfather and the passing of my cat. Not just the family cat or a cat. My writing buddy. My snuggle baby. The one I raised from kitten-hood. I'd always wanted an orange cat and he was mine. I miss having him beside me when I write. His low pitched meow, the way he'd make the crackle sound to get my attention and how he'd seemingly appear out of nowhere to sit with me. Yep, I'm still struggling with that loss.

So I've been thinking. Lots of thinking. I've taken a few leaps this year, but I'll save those for another post. I like to go into my year with a plan. My author friend, Cheryl Dragon, and I talk each January about the plan for that year. I've tried to make one, but going into 2018, it's tougher. I'm a write by the seat of my pants kind of girl. If the story comes, I write it. If it doesn't, I don't force it. If it shows up, then goes away for a while, I keep the notebook full of notes there, but to the side. But this year...I'm not sure what to do. I have story ideas percolating. I'll probably write them down and give them a chance, while keeping an eye on the market. I'm not the type of writer to write to the market. If the story is there, I run with it. If it's not what's popular...then I weather the storm. But as for that plan...yeah, no idea what I'm going to do. But I'm open to suggestion.

What about you? Did you get a shiny new kindle or phone for Christmas? Want to add some books on it to read? You should. Here's a suggestion from me and one of latest short stories, Christmas Box:

Hayes Carter knows what he wants out of life -- to be the best lawyer he can, to balance his work and home life and to please his Sir. This Christmas, he wants to belong to Sir for good.
Ford Rogan loves his boy, Hayes, but Ford's not sure he's relationship material. Hayes, though, makes him think otherwise. Then there's that naughty Santa at the club... Submit and your wish will come true 
Can Santa, even a naughty one, grant their wishes? Will the magic of the season be enough, or will they end up with nothing more than a lump of coal?

See? Not the standard here's a gift and I hope you like it fare. A person in the box? Now, don't get wonky on me. This isn't a creeper story. I like feel good Christmas tales. Everything works out in the right way at the end. There's magic, mayhem and a spanking or two. Gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

What about you? What's your favorite thing about Christmas? I'd love to know!! 

Want to know more about Christmas Box? Then check it out at Changeling Press! Out now and on sale!! Gotta love a sale!

* * * * * 

Megan Slayer - It's Always Fun to Squirm
Subscribe to our newsletter ~ 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Goofs, Boo-boos, and Big Time Blunders. Oh, Those Hateful Typos. (by L. A. Kelley)

On the cusp of a glorious New Year it’s time to reflect on all the dumb writing mistakes we’ve made in the past twelve months; dangling modifiers, an overabundance of commas, misspellings, wrong word usage. The lists go on for each of us, but fear not, we keep famous company.

A History of Boo-boos
Some of the most famous books, past and present have had their share of problems and not even having God as an editor helps. In 1631 Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, the royal printers for Charles I, put out a new edition of the King James Bible with a teensy little error. Glory hallelujah, adultery was now not only legal, but required. The book soon became known as the Wicked Bible, Adulterous Bible, or Sinners’ Bible. All have a nice ring to them. Neither the king nor the Archbishop of Canterbury had a sense of humor and the publishers of the Wicked Bible were called to the Star Chamber and fined £300. Copies were destroyed, but a few escaped and are now highly sought after collector’s items.

You’d think having won a Nobel Prize in Literature for a dang book means a letter perfect copy, but not so. There have been multiple editions of The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, but the first, second, and third are flawed. Page 100, line 17, describes a wall. “It stretched out long and grey and very high, and against the base the small mat sheds clung like flees to a dog's back.” Copies of the book that include the misspelling can go for as much as $9500.

In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain’s Huck Finn spoke in dialect. “Spos’n” in place of “supposing” isn’t a mistake, but hidden in the first edition is a genuine (or gen-you-wine) error. “I took the bag to where it used to stand, and ripped a hole in the bottom of it with the was.” I’m supos’n he meant the saw.

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser is one of the more well-known examples of poor copy editing. It’s rife with small typos such as “if” for “it” or “to” for “too”, but some really miss the mark. On page 340 he describes people “like two small chips being tossed about on a rough but friendly sea.” My only question is Doritos or Lays?

Modern Mistakes
Mistakes are not a thing of the past. Typos and
grammatical errors have become increasingly common. The explosion of self-publication gets a bad rap, but big-time publishers are equally guilty. The hot mess of the Twilight trilogy has so many mistakes that websites are devoted to them. George R. R. Martin’s Fire and Ice Series is rife with errors and plot inconsistencies. Even Harry Potter isn’t immune. A rare first edition with the word “philosopher” misspelled on the back cover recently sold for £43,750. The all-time Big Daddy of modern typos has to go to The Pasta Bible, published by Penguin Group Australian in 2010. The company recalled 7000 copies of the book when someone discovered a recipe for spelt tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto told cooks to “add salt and freshly ground black people.”

Disregard, for a moment, any self-published books that have obviously never seen an editor’s hand. If it seems mistakes are on the rise, even in releases from major publishing houses, you’re not mistaken. Publishers used to exist for the purpose of distributing as near perfect copy as possible. Errors were met with chagrin. Not anymore. Before the recession and the onset of digital publishing, companies had armies of copy editors clutching their little red pens. Manuscripts went from editor to galley proof then revised proof and finally blue line. Each step in the process was another chance for review and correction of mistakes. To cut expenses, companies dumped droves of copy editors and then leaped on the bandwagon of digital publishing.  Ebook sales soared. Expenses for book production plummeted while overall profits shot skyward. Large publishing houses such as HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, and Hachette are rolling in dough, but no one’s rehiring the editing staff. No wonder mistakes slip by. The Pasta Bible gaffe was blamed on a spellcheck error. Someone should tell the CEO of the Penguin Group you can’t rely solely on a computer and still need a sharp pair of human eyes.   

Egad. My Book has a Boo-boo
So what does all this mean for today’s self-published writer? First, find yourself a good editor. There are plenty out there and they can use the work. Produce the cleanest manuscript you can and stop beating yourself over the head if a typo makes it into your final work. They will. They always do. Shrug it off and submit a corrected copy and be proud of your creation. If you find a typo in a book from a major publishing house, don’t bother to send them a message. They couldn’t care less.

L. A. Kelley writes fantasy and sci fy adventure novels with humor, romance, and a touch of sass. She aways licks for hypos. Check out her books on her Amazon Author Page

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Christmas Goblin: Another Tall Tale by Francesca Quarto

"Nothin' tastes better, me dear, than a nicely roasted goose!"
The old man looked proud of himself as he plucked the big black and white bird of its feathers, its head drooping like a large tear drop, from his knees. 
He was quite pleased with this acquisition, newly made by him after he raided the farmstead of Cormack Murphy, in the dark of the night and made off with his prize.
His comments were addressed to his wife of nearly thirty years, having begun their union very young.  Him, barely needing to shave. Her, just learning the meaning of womanhood. They had many challenges over that span of time, but stuck together like a glue pot and its lid.
"Benny, ye are a neat rascal, ye are! I been fussin' an' worryin' these past weeks, what vitals we'd be havin' fer the Yuletide!  An 'ere it tis!  A goose ta size o' a cart!" she chortled loudly.
He loved to see the merriment on his Megan's face, so bereft she was most days, working around their tiny cottage and tending her small garden plot at the side.  
They had lost their only son into his second year, grateful they'd had the foresight to have him Christened, else he'd been buried outside the Church cemetery as a baby heathen. 
They called him Jamie, but he never heard his name, or any word for that matter; him being born without hearing or speech. 
He was as quiet as a passing cloud and as soft in the head the villagers said, behind their hands. They reckoned his passing as a blessing to the very young couple. He would have proved a sorry burden in their life, and clearly, no help in filling their larder.
"Are ye certain this 'ere goose be free to our needs then, Benny?" she asked again, still amazed at their great fortune.
"Oy, why da' ya' bother yerself, so, my Megan?  Tis' a Christmas gift from that young fella down in Baleyroost Haven.  He was cullin' 'is flock, so ta speak, an' I give him a quick hand ta set him straight on 'is day.  No use ye worryin' yerself.  Let's jest enjoy our feastin'!"
With that, clearly his last word on the subject of the goose's provenance, Benny continued his plucking while Megan gathered the feathers, imagining to herself, the fine pillow she'd be making.
That night was Christmas Eve.  A deep snow had accumulated throughout the day, gathering the tiny farm into a cold embrace and a peaceful silence.
Benny and Megan had prepared a meager dinner for themselves, looking forward to the rich meal of goose, with the little bit of garden produce Megan had stored in their root cellar. They would rise at their customary hour, just before dawn and welcome Christmas into their world. 
Meantime, the goose was hung near the crude front door of their cottage, keeping it fresh for the cooking, next morning. 
That night they slept on their straw-stuffed pallet, curled around each other like a tea pot and its cozy.
In the darkest hour, with the wind beginning to rattle the cottage door and the snow falling in a curtain of white, a shadow passed over the elderly couple.  Never disturbing them, they were made to sleep even more deeply, when a vaporous cloud appeared, hovering over their gray heads. 
A pale light was filtering through the single window and the shadow took form within its glow. 
The goose they had plucked earlier was now tucked under the arm of a very large and hairy Goblin. 
This creature was not unknown to the sleeping couple, or the other folk of the hamlet.  It occupied a prominent place in their colorful folklore and was the subject of many a good tale as told by the roaming story tellers and entertainers.
The Church tried diligently to dismantle or debunk tales of the Little People and Faeries and Hobgoblins.  But over the long eons, through many dark times, the allure of magic and mythical creatures clung to the culture of the people like dew to the morning grass.
The Goblin stood, hulking over the pallet, listening to the couples gentle snores and sighs.  He had visited all of the villagers during  their meager lifetimes and over several of his own.  Always cautious, he only rarely frightened a small child.
For some reason, these two decrepit humans, touched something in him.  Perhaps it was their kindness to others, even when they had so little themselves and especially when it wasn't the Yuletide!
 He had witnessed the old man take the goose from his neighbors pen, scattering a few tufts of red fox fur around the yard, disguising his part in the theft.  At the time, the Goblin thought this clever, but was curious, because Benny never struck the Goblin as being devious and cunning.
You must understand, though they suffer a reputation for their terrifying appearance and ill tempered nature, Goblins have a deep and curious nature. Sadly, it is often the case that judgments are made solely on the superficial aspects of a being.
His curiosity compelled him to follow Benny back to the small cottage.  Hiding in the woods, close enough to be privy to the conversation inside the cottage, the Goblin heard Benny's explanation about the neighbor's gift of the goose, as payment for his help.
Goblins are not known to have any concept of selfless love, but it gradually dawned on him that the man risked his freedom, and possible hanging, to bring some cheer into his wife's dour life. While the theft would cost the other farmer very little, it gave the old man and his wife so much. 
The Goblin wondered at this moral conundrum.
That morning dawned frosty and clear as the bells from the Church belfry.  The old couple shook the deep sleep from their bones. Benny stepped into worn woolen breeches, Megan covered her thin shoulders in a woolen shawl.  They both suddenly stopped, sniffing at the chilled air.
"A beast has been visitin' us, Benny!  I ken smell it, I ken!" Megan was thinking their goose would have been snatched by such an intruder.
But Benny was on to something else altogether.  Besides the pungent odor wafting about the cottage on each breeze poking through the walls, he smelled cooking goose!  
They woke their legs to the task, creeping slowly from the back of the cottage where their pallet was tucked. A glow greeted their sleep-dulled eyes.
Standing by the fireplace, looking as homely as a mud bog next to a rose garden, was the Goblin.
The fireplace was merry with fine prancing flames. The spitted goose was dripping fat onto the hot coals, sounding like the crack of a whip with each plop. The Goblin turned the spit, making minor adjustments to the goose's position.  All this the old couple watched, without an utterance passing between themselves.
After a few good turns, the Goblin left off working the spit and began setting the roughly made table nearby with two dishes of battered pewter, knowing this was their best plate. Without acknowledging their presence, he then turned back to the fireplace where he shoved two large loaves of dark bread into their pots for baking.  Vegetables were in a side pot, ready for the cooking.
The fragrance of the cooking Yule goose and the baking breads, made their mouths water in anticipation.
While the old man was still overcome by fear of the giant, hairy creature, his wife took a different view of the situation.
"We be grateful fer ye to be joinin' us, on this 'ere Christmas morn, Goblin.  En ye have outdone yerself wit all this fine cookery."
The Goblin gave his shaggy head a quick shake and grunted.
"Tis me first Yule feast, an' I've no place ta be, 'cept wit yuns. Benny, I've sent yer invitation ta the farmer, Murphy, down the way, " he said in a deep, gravelly voice. "He'll be 'ere fer ta feastin' and is grateful, seein' he's all alone like."
Being a creature of Magic, sending this message to Cormack Murphy was as simple as slipping a word into the sleeping farmer's ear.  He awoke, believing he'd been asked to dine with Benny and his wife and readied himself to do so, whistling merrily at the prospect.
This marked the first of many Christmas feasts to follow over the next decade of years alloted to the elderly couple and their new friend.  The Goblin returned each holiday, with a goose tucked under his arm, preparing the feast and then going to fetch the farmer, Cormack Murphy to join in the fine company of the happy couple and himself.
The other villagers were curious about the large visitor coming every Christmas to the couples door.  
"Tis like magic I tell ye!  We be blessed wit long, lost kin ta me." Benny would explain whenever this was brought up in idle conversation around the Christmas Season.
The villagers all agreed, the huge, shambling man, did hold a family resemblance with old Benny.  And from the size of the geese he supplied for their table, he was both rich and generous. 
Before he passed on, joining his Megan in eternal feasting, old Benny asked the Goblin to bring a second  goose.  He took it to the farmer's yard, adding it to his flock of geese pecking around the dirt.
Benny felt grand with this compensation for the old wrong he did.  Another lesson for the rest of us who have read this tale perhaps.  
"While your goose may be cooked, it's always better to share the feast with those more monstrous then ourselves."