For Book Quote Wednesday

Today’s #bookqw keyword is “Prepare.” Here’s a quote from “Stone Eater” by Brent Knowles of BioWare fame, in Abyss & Apex. Link to the story:

Gaven said, “They mourn you then, I think.” Ongar said nothing. The captain continued, “My son, he rode with me. He’s not one of the prisoners the conjurling took, he’s dead, out there, his bones in the sand. I never should have allowed him to accompany me. He was not prepared . . . I was not prepared.”

“You could not have known.”

“Perhaps,” the captain said, There was a long pause before he continued, “If you swear to me that you’ll slay that rotting conjurling I think I might have the means to free you.”

Ongar shifted uneasily, pain ripping through his stretched and sore joints. In what way could the man free him? It was madness, nonsense from a sun-baked mind. “The wizard is with him, always. It would be impossible.”

The captain said, “Destroy the tower.”

Ongar tensed. “No. I could not. I have no-”

“Look here,” the captain said, raising his arm slightly, revealing a metal band on his finger. “By the same power that will transform this chunk of iron into the means to your freedom, you could make that tower fall. You could end it all.”

Ongar looked away.

“Don’t be the fool. You are no common dwarf: that’s why they have suspended you from the earth, bound you without iron. That is why your badger feeds you rocks. By the Four Fathers what I would give for the chance to save my men from slavery, from death. I can’t. But you can.”

Turkey City Lexicon: “The Grubby Apartment Story”

According to the Turkey City Lexicon, a primer for SF workshops, a “grubby apartment story”  consists of:

 Writing too much about what you know. The kind of story where the starving writer living in the grubby apartment writes a story about a starving writer in a grubby apartment. Stars all his friends.

And I’ve just found another prime example of this sort of thing in my slush. Le Sigh. 

Abyss & Apex eyeglass chain

For Mother’s day, I received a custom made gift: an eyeglass chain with charms that had to do with Abyss & Apex Magazine. (Thanks, Christine and Maggie!) There’s a Chinese dragon charm, a Western dragon, a book, an alien, an inkwell with a plumy quill, a unicorn, a fairy, and a little hourglass with sand that glows in the dark.

I’m not sure if the hourglass stands for time travel or how I’m always so busy, trying to shoehorn two lifetimes into one. But then, I’ve mellowed with age. It used to be three lifetimes I was juggling at once.

Snippet from Writing the Entertaining Story

Hooks and Holding on

How do you go about creating such a trance state in your readers?

First, you have to reel them in.

In this age of instant gratification, on-demand entertainment, and lightning web searches you have very little time to catch a reader’s attention. When a reader (or an editor) sees your story, you have perhaps eight seconds to snare them when they read those first sentences.

The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a new study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the effects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.

Researchers in Canada surveyed 2,000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs). Microsoft found that since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began) the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds. Heavy multi-screeners find it difficult to filter out irrelevant stimuli — they’re more easily distracted by multiple streams of media,” the report read. – “You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish,” TIME,  May 14, 2015

If you’re lucky, potential readers will give you up until the end of the first paragraph, tops. If you’re really lucky, they might read the first three paragraphs. If your short fiction has not engaged them by then, most readers will probably move on to something they find more interesting.

1.5K words on WTES

I got 1,500 new words on Writing the Entertaining Story yesterday. You are all going to love this one. Practical tips on not only how to craft stories, but on first-readers, edits, how to find a market, and more. I can’t wait to share it with you!

It’s in the can

With the month of May comes the opening of my home canning season. This is my first batch: mulberries, which I use with dried fruit as a filler in bumbleberry pies, and low-sugar strawberry jam. I use Pomona’s pectin, which gives is a slightly different texture, and the result is a lot like Polaner All-Fruit Jam.

Here is a recipe for my Bumbleberry Pie with Mulberries and Dried Fruit:


  • 1 deep dish frozen pie shell (2nd shell optional for top crust)
  • 1 pint mulberries (fresh or canned)
  • 2 cups dried berries (blueberries, strawberries, cherries, craisins, raisins, etc)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • Water (enough to cover fruit in saucepan)

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a medium saucepan, put all the mulberries and berries in, then add enough water to cover. Pour the water back out into a bowl and whisk in cornstarch. Pour back water-and-cornstarch mixture into saucepan. Add sugar. Cook over medium heat until thickened and pour into pie shell. Add top crust if desired, crimping the edges and slitting with vents.

Place on a cookie sheet to catch drips and bake for 45 minutes or until top crust is golden brown. Let cool one hour before serving. Goes great with vanilla ice cream!