Ah, November – NaNoWriMo

October 30, 2014 in Editorial - of Sorts, NaNoWriMo, Writing by JM Strother

It’s that time of year again, the time when people all over the world hunker down, throw caution to the wind, and vow to write a novel (or at least 50,000 words of one) in thirty days. Yes, it is time once again for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), often simply referred to as NaNo.

Ah, November.

Of course, it is also that time of the year when bloggers and social critics come out of the woodwork to complain about NaNo. Seems some people cannot be happy unless they are belittling others.

It is not even November yet and I’ve already seen several posts to the effect of, “Shut the f**k up about NaNo already, and just write your goddamned novel.”

Yes, the way novels get done is to sit down and do the hard work of actually transforming ideas into words, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters with a complete story arc that goes from beginning to end. But different people find inspiration and motivation to accomplish that goal in different ways. Some of those people find it in a shared sense of effort and determination, in the camaraderie of a group of people all essentially striving toward the same end. In a word, what we are talking about here is a sense of community.

That is what NaNo is – a community of writers who urge each other on, who share their setbacks, as well as their accomplishments. Some nominally succeed, in that they manage to put 50,000 words on paper, and then go no further. Some utterly fail, but at least tried. And some succeed beyond their wildest dreams.

Successful writing careers have been launched though NaNoWriMo. While they are the exception rather than the rule, they are not really all that rare. Simply do a Google search on “Authors who have done NaNoWriMo” and you will find all the inspiration you need to carry on.

To wit, some examples:

TOR Publishing, one of the biggest SF&F publishing houses in the world has a post titled, “NaNoWriMo Success Stories,” by Natalie Zutter. The authors she cites include: Gayle Brandeis with five novels from (variously) HarperCollins, Ballantine Books, Henry Holt and Co., and her latest as a self-publishing experiment thru Amazon and SmashWords; Trish Doller, with two novels from Bloomsbury USA Childrens; Lani Diane Rich, with seven novels from StoryWonk, and one from Forever; James R. Strickland, with two novels from Flying Pen and one double novel from Copperwood Press; Julia Crouch, with four novels from Headline Publishing; and Sara Gruen, with four novels from (variously) Spiegel & Grau, HarperCollins, and Algonquin Books. Not a shabby little list of either authors or publishers.

Mental Floss has an article by Stacy Conradt, “14 Published Novels Written During NaNoWriMo” which details the road to success for fourteen other authors. I’m not going to list them all here, you can go read the post for yourself. Some of the highlights include a novel that spent seven weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List, another one that made the list, and one that garnered a review in the New York Times Book Review. One NaNo effort went on to win the 2012 Alex Award from the American Library Association, while another won the 2009 Bank Street Award for Best Children’s Book of the Year. Two have been optioned to become motion pictures. Finally, one author launched a very successful line of YA novels through her NaNo efforts, producing nineteen (count ‘em, 19) books in the series. I suspect she’s happy she did NaNo.

Finally, let me share some thoughts about NaNoWriMo from Ann Leckie, winner of the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Novel of the Year. Ms Leckie cut her teeth on NaNo. According to her (and my) hometown newspaper, the Webster-Kirkwood Times,

“I love NaNo, with the message boards, and everyone cheering you on,” Leckie said. “You have to learn to write past what that self-critical voice in your head tells you. The boards cheer you on, and at the end you have 50,000 words and you have learned that you can do it. Ignore the little voice and it will be OK.”

NaNoWriMo started in San Francisco in 1999, just 15 years ago. This article discusses twenty-one (and I could easily list more) success stories from NaNoWriMo veterans who have gone on to publish traditionally. On average that is more than one per year. There are many more who self-publish to varying degrees of success. I figure that is a fairly good track record.

So, if you are inclined to do NaNo, I say go ahead and do it. Share your trials and tribulations with us here, at FFDO. Just remember that once NaNo is done, the hard work of transforming that spark into a successful novel is just the beginning. Some of you will have the drive and determination to do just that, and we take our hats off to you.

And if you don’t want to do NaNo, well perhaps you should try following your own advice. See above.

NewsFlash – Vol. 6 # 22

October 28, 2014 in Book Launch, Community News, Contests, News Flash by JM Strother


Congratulations to Mark Gardner, who won our Halloween Humor and Horror contest. His story, “Hallowed Evening” will appear here on FFDO this Friday. Please drop by and give it a read. To help celebrate, Mark is paying it forward by offering two of his stories for free on Halloween. So after reading “Hallowed Evening” drop by Amazon and pick up your free copies of “Paradox” and “Escape.” Thanks, Mark!

Icy Sedgwick announced that the “Suspended in Dusk” anthology which includes her story, “Woman of Disrepute” is available for free from Smashwords until Halloween. Use the code DA68M. She says her story is “a fog-soaked slice of Victorian Gothic!” Sounds like fun.

Paul D. Brazill announced that his story, “The Postman Cometh” has been accepted by Spinetingler Magazine. No word yet on the publication date. Spinetingler can be found here. And Paul’s been on a bit of a roll, he also announced that his story “The Long Haul” has been accepted by Spelk Fiction. Again, publication date is to be announced. Spelk Fiction can be found here.  Congratulations, Paul, keep the hits coming!

Cover of Mirror MazeTrevor Belshaw is getting into the spirit of the season by offering the first of his Magic Molly series, “The Mirror Maze,” for free on Amazon. As with his other children’s titles, “The Mirror Maze” is authored under his pen name, Trevor Forest. So if you have a wee one, be sure to pick up a copy here. Thanks, Trevor.

G.P. Ching announced that her YA novel, “The Soulkeepers,” has been translated into German on Amazon Crossing. The Soulkeepers is the first in her very successful series by the same name, and this her first translation. The English version is available for free here.

And while we have not vetted this, the prize money certainly makes it worth checking out. The Museum of Words is having a 100 word flash fiction contest with a $20,000 prize. If you do the math, that’s $200 a word. Not a bad gig. As with all contests, be sure to do your due diligence, but as there is no fee, I really don’t see a down side. Good luck!

Teaser Tuesday: It’s that time of year again. NaNoWriMo starts this Saturday. Join me Thursday when I discuss NaNo trolls.

Keep the good news coming.


The #FridayFlash Report – Vol 6 Number 21

October 25, 2014 in FridayFlash Report by Tim VanSant

We had 28 stories in the Collector this week with no debuts.

Judging is complete for the Halloween Humor and Horror flash fiction contest. The winner will be notified shortly so arrangements can be made for deliver of the prize money. The winning story will be featured here on FFDO next Friday, which is of course, Halloween. Now didn’t that work out nicely.

It’s easier than ever to share your writing good news in our weekly News Flash with the form on our News Hound page.

As always, if your story is not in the listing below please go to the Collector and add the details. It will be in next week’s report. ~Tim

The Stories: Read the rest of this entry →

NewsFlash – Vol. 6 # 21

October 23, 2014 in Community News, News Flash, Publication, Story sold by JM Strother


Janet Lingel Aldrich had her flash piece, “Mobius,” published on “Yellow Mama.” Don’t be put off by the Yellow Mama “adult content” warning. Janet assures us that “Mobius” is not an “adult” work and will not offend. I’ve read it. She’s right. Congratulations, Janet.

Alison Wells will be teaching a series of classes this autumn. All courses this will take place in St. Peter’s Centre, (adjacent to the Coach Inn), Dublin Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow. Yes, that means these are not virtual courses. If you are in the area you can sign up via her Head Above Water website. The courses range from 35 to 45 euros. Her signature classes are “Creative Practice in Busy Lives” and “Short Story Essentials.” See her website for details. Good luck with the classes, Alison.

Cover for The Magpye CircusLong time #FridayFlash contributor Chris Lynch has made his novel, “The Magpye Circus,” available for free on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other venues. It is currently bumping around in the Top 20 “Occult Horror” novels on Amazon.com, and is slowly creeping up the charts at iBooks, and Barnes & Noble. This is not a promotional event, it is free forever. Chris is trying to increase his readership, so if you read and enjoy it please pass the word. Check out his website for more details. Much success to you, Chris.

John Wiswell announced he made a professional rate sale of his short story, “Wet,” to Urban Fantasy Magazine. Surprisingly, this is his first pro-rate sale, but surely not his last. Congratulations, John, and continued success in the future!

Judging is complete for the Halloween Humor and Horror flash fiction contest. The winner will be notified shortly so arrangements can be made for deliver of the prize money. The winning story will be featured here on FFDO next Friday, which is of course, Halloween. Now didn’t that work out nicely. :)

Keep up the good works folks. We’re chuffed for all of you.





The #FridayFlash Report – Vol 6 Number 20

October 18, 2014 in FridayFlash Report by Tim VanSant

We had 20 stories in the Collector this week with 1 debut. Please welcome VP to the community.

FFDO Contributing Correspondent Catherine Russell exposes Snow White: Not for the Faint of Heart in our Writing Series. Click on over and read the Grimm details (see what I did there?) and then contribute to the conversation in the comments.

It’s easier than ever to share your writing good news in our weekly News Flash with the form on our News Hound page.

As always, if your story is not in the listing below please go to the Collector and add the details. It will be in next week’s report. ~Tim

The Stories: Read the rest of this entry →

NewsFlash – Vol. 6 # 20

October 16, 2014 in Book Launch, Celebration, Community News, News Flash by JM Strother


Dan Powell announced that he has completed his MFA after three years of work. Congratulations, Dan! We know you’ve put in a lot of time and diligent effort  and hope you can now take a bit of time to revel in your achievement.

Donna Carrick, of Carrick Publishing, has reveled the full contents list of their new crime anthology, “World Enough and Crime.” Both Donna and Alex Carrick have stories included as well as our own Angie Capozello. The story titles are “Doctor Shediac,” “The Piece of Mind Thief,” and “Ghost Protocol,” respectively. You can join in the launch party on Facebook Oct. 26 at the Excerpt Flight Deck event, from 2 – 6 pm EST. Congratulations Donna, Alex, Angie, and all the other authors included in the anthology.

Cover of No Need to ReplyJodi Cleghorn will releases her debut flash fiction collectionNo Need to Reply” today, Thursday 16th October. The collection looks at the struggles to find your voice and be heard. It will be available as a pay-what-you-want eBook and a limited edition, numbered and signed chapbook. The collection is the first part of a rolling collaborative project. Check it out on Goodreads. We are particularly happy for Jodi in that she is the head of eMergent Publishing, the publisher of The Best of Friday Flash – Volume 2. Congratulations, Jodi!

Cover of Champion StandingMark Gardner announced the pending release of his debut historical fantasy novel, Champion Standing. You can read his announcement on his blog, Article 94. You can preorder the ebook version now from Amazon. The paperback will become available come January, 2015. Congratulations, Mark!

If you have news you’d like to share with the #FridayFlash community be sure to visit the NewsHound and give us the details. We’d love to help you spread the word.

As always, you keep on impressing us. You all are amazing.




Snow White: Not for the Faint of Heart

October 11, 2014 in Not for the Faint of Heart, Thursday Writing by Catherine Russell




When you think of Snow White, your mind invariably flashes on the story of a young girl hunted by her stepmother, the evil Queen, who runs away to live with dwarves and is eventually saved by true love’s kiss. We owe this image largely to Disney’s 1937 film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, as well as the Grimm’s fairytale they based it on, Snow White. However, the original story published by the Brother’s Grimm lacked true love’s kiss, but was abundant in other horrific details such as torture, pediphilia, necrophilia, and implied cannibalism.

First of all, the first published Grimm’s version, “Little Snow Drop” was adapted from an earlier publication in 1731, “Father Tuck’s Play & Pleasure Series”, which was a collaborative effort between Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Grace C. Floyd, Raphael Tuck and sons. In the first Grimm’s Fairy Tales version, Snow White’s main villain was her mother, in the later version her stepmother, who asks a servant to kill the little girl and bring back her lungs and liver. Also the Queen meets her end by attending the new Queen’s wedding, not knowing that it is Snow White, and she is forced to dance to death.

In the original Grimm’s story, similar to what most children are familiar with, Snow White’s mother wishes for a daughter who is “White as snow, red as blood, black as ebony.” Could there be a deeper significance to these colors than simple beauty? In alchemy, these color represent the process of transmuting baser metals into gold, and their importance in the story seems more than coincidental.

However, after Snow White’s birth, (in the second Grimm’s version) her mother dies and the father remarries a beautiful but vain woman. Every day she asks her magic mirror if she is the fairest in the land, because SHE KNOWS THE MIRROR ALWAYS TELLS THE TRUTH. There’s a lot of psychological debate about the meaning of the Queen’s mirror, but one opinion is that it reflects the Queen’s unconscious mind. Regardless of whether or not it’s a threshold between conscious and unconscious, as soon as the Mirror tells her she is not the fairest, it spells trouble for little Snow White. Like Narcissus being captured by his reflection in the pool, she’s obsessed with her own image, and it ultimately spells her doom.

The Queen orders a servant to take the beautiful, seven-year old Snow White into the woods, kill her and bring back her lungs and liver (or heart). However, because of her beauty, the servant lets her escape and brings the Queen the organs of a boar instead. The Queen, quite ravenous – murderous rage must build up an appetite, eats the organ(s) because she thinks they belong to Snow White. Was physically consuming her youth and beauty a way to preserve her own beauty, or was she, *“capturing an enemy’s power for oneself”?

After running away, Snow White happens across the home of the dwarves, and – similar to Goldilocks – breaks in. Only the little girl is a bit nicer about what she steals. Not wanting to take too much from any one person, she samples a little from each of the seven place settings and eventually falls asleep on the bed of the seventh dwarf. When the dwarves come home from a hard day in the mines, they are shocked when they notice things are different. However, when they finally find the little girl asleep in the bed, her beauty beguiles them and they let her sleep. In the morning, when she wakes up, she relates her story and they offer her a job as their housekeeper in exchange for room and board.

Then things get a bit trickier. They can’t stay home with her because they need to work all day, so they warn her not to open the door to strangers because the Queen will soon figure things out and try to hurt her again. She promises but fails to keep her promise, not once but three times. THREE TIMES. The first time, the Queen comes disguised as an old woman selling bodice laces; when she laces the little girl too tightly, she faints and the Queen leaves her for dead. The second time, she brings a poison comb; as soon as it touches her hair, Snow White falls down as if dead. The final time, she brings a poison apple. Now, this one is the Queen’s masterpiece, so beautiful that anyone who sees it longs to take a bite, yet poison within. Much like the Queen herself, it is wonderfully attractive, yet deadly.

Now, the third time, Snow White really insists she can’t open the door. The disguised Queen tells her the apple is perfectly harmless, not poison at all, and even cuts the apple in half and takes a bite to prove this. However, the apple was so “cunningly made” that only one half was poisoned, so when the little girl takes a bite of the other half, she falls down DEAD.

When the dwarves come back, they can’t revive her for obvious reasons, so they put her body on a bier for three days of mourning. After all that time, she still looks pretty good for a dead kid so they put her in a glass coffin. Lo and behold, a prince happens along, sees her, and notices how pretty she is. The prince asks TO BUY HER, but the dwarves refuse. Finally, he said he couldn’t live without seeing her, so the dwarves gave her to him. In the first Grimm’s version of the story, the prince couldn’t function at all – eat, sleep, whatever- unless the coffin was next to him. Finally, the servants got tired of carrying a dead girl in a coffin all around; one of them opened the coffin and whacked the corpse on the back of her head with his hand. That popped the apple out of her throat, and Snow White came back to life.

So much for true love’s first kiss, but a possible case of necrophilia.

Anyway, the prince was so thrilled his dead girl was alive, they had a nice meal together and planned their wedding for the very next day. I mean, she was seven when the whole mess started and she’d already died, so a child bride should be no big deal, right? (Read: sarcasm**) Needless to say, the evil Queen found out that the “young queen” was fairer and came to the wedding – where she recognized Snow White. That, in itself, would have been shocking enough, but they “put a pair of iron shoes into the fire until they glowed” and the Queen was made to “dance(d) herself to death in them.”

Lovely ending, right?

So, the cleaned-up children’s versions with the heart, true love’s kiss, and a wedding where the girl lives happily ever after with her prince differs quite a bit from the older tales. The queen murders Snow White, the prince falls in love with a corpse and marries a seven-year old girl before torturing the evil queen to death quite horrifically. Yet, like with Ginsu knives, but wait! There’s more!

There is much debate over the meaning of the repetition of numbers throughout the story. There are three colors associated with Snow White, three attempts made on her life by the Queen, and she lies on the bier for three days before being put in the glass coffin. Three has often been associated with the three aspects of a person: body, mind, and spirit. The number three also symbolizes the Christian divine Trinity, a single God with three aspects of Father, son, and Holy Ghost corresponding to the three parts of man, who was made in the image of God.

The seven dwarves live beyond the seven mountains and take in the seven-year old princess, Snow White. The prime number seven  is often associated with the heavens and the divine; the seven days of the week are named after seven gods and goddesses. If three symbolizes spirituality and four represents material things, than seven is the sum of both. Shakespeare even wrote about the seven ages of man.

The Queen is repeatedly associated with the number two. The two sides of the apple are opposites – visually appealing but internally poisonous, just as the mirror reflects her dual nature as a beautiful queen and an internally corrupt woman; like the mirror, people only see what’s reflected on the surface but when she looks deeper (by asking the mirror questions) she finds hidden depths. The mirror also acts as the **male perspective or the wicked Queen’s animus.

The evil Queen herself could be considered another version of the Hebrew Lilith, thought by some to be Adam’s first wife, a woman who rebelled against both God and her husband. Lilith is closely associated with female sexuality and temptation, even considered a killer of babies – which would seem to be a good fit for the Queen. The fact that she brings about Snow White’s downfall with an apple, a fruit closely associated in Judeo-Christianity with temptation, makes the comparison even more believable.

However, more modern versions of the tale portray the main characters in a different light. In Once Upon a Time, Snow White is a feminist bandit who first meets the prince she’s destined to love when she robs him of his mother’s wedding ring. Snow White and the Huntsman also shows a more modern feminist protagonist; her main plot revolves around the taking back of her kingdom rather than a love story. Mirror Mirror starts off with a lighter approach, telling the story from the wicked Queen’s point of view and ending with a dance number – notably, not one in which the Queen dances herself to death.

So, like the Magic Mirror of the Queen herself, there is so much more to Snow White than meets the eye.


*quote taken from the NY Times article, “What is the meaning of Cannibalism?” by Eric Eckholm

**Child brides are currently a real problem. I am not, in any way, making light of the problem but rather pointing out that the prince marrying a seven-year old is quite horrific.

*** additional information http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/sevendwarfs/notes.html

****image courtesy of BigFoto.com

The #FridayFlash Report – Vol 6 Number 19

October 11, 2014 in FridayFlash Report by Tim VanSant

We had 26 stories in the Collector this week with no debuts.

Entries for our Halloween Humor and Horror contest need to be in by midnight tonight (11 October 2014). The winner will be published on our site on Halloween day.

It’s easier than ever to share your writing good news in our weekly News Flash with the form on our News Hound page.

As always, if your story is not in the listing below please go to the Collector and add the details. It will be in next week’s report. ~Tim

The Stories: Read the rest of this entry →

NewsFlash – Vol. 6 # 19

October 9, 2014 in #AmWriting, Book Launch, Community News, Contests, News Flash by JM Strother


When it rains, it pours. This week we have more news than you can shake a stick at. Enough cliches yet? Well, let’s get cracking.

Emma Newman will be a Guest of Honor at this year’s BristolCon, one of the biggest SF&F conventions in the UK. Emma is a long time member of the #FridayFlash community and author of the excellent Split Worlds Series and co-host of the “Tea and Jeopardy” podcast, along with her husband, Peter. Other Guests of Honor are fellow author Jon Courtenay Grimwood, and artist Julian Quaye. The con will be held in the DoubleTree Hotel in Bristol on October 25th. Memberships are £25. Peter Newman will also be a guest and panelist. He has posted his schedule here. Oh that I were in Bristol.

On September 29th Alan Baxter appeared on Channel 31’s “Behind the Words” television show. Channel 31 is a local community television station in Melbourne. The show features interviews and sound bites with writers and publishers attending the Continuum Convention earlier this year. Through the magic of the Internet you can see the show in it’s entirety here. The entire episode, which runs 24 minutes, is worth watching, but if you want to cut to the chase Alan’s bit starts at the seven minute mark. You know you’ve always wanted to see Alan in person, well this is the next best thing.

An article by Kyle Chayka on the Penguin-RandomHouse blog, Hazlitt, discussed the #AmWriting hashtag and resultant community created by Johanna Harness. While the article was less than flattering, if not downright mean spirited in nature, as Johanna says, there is no such thing as bad publicity. You can read the entire article here.

Editorial note: People pour their heats and souls into the books, stories, and articles the write. To belittle anyone for that effort is small-minded at best.

G. P. Ching was a panelist on the “Publishing In the Digital Age” panel at Archon38 in (actually near) St. Louis this past weekend. I was lucky enough to attend that session and have a summary chock full of good advice for writers up on my blog, Mad Utopia. It was a pure pleasure to finally get to meet Genevieve in person. By the way, if any of you are ever attending Archon please let me know. I’d love to meet you too.

April Brown announced the release of six, count ‘em – six, books last week. April has been very busy indeed. The titles include four cookbooks and two novels. They are:

Coffee, Tea, and Gluten Free: Desserts and Grains (in print only)
Coffee, Tea, and Gluten Free: Meats
(print only)
Coffee, Tea, and Gluten Free: Vegetables
(print only)
Coffee, Tea, and Gluten Free: The Cookbook (print and digital)
Trails 1: Trails Through the Fault Lines, (print and digital) and
Crosswinds: Past, Present and Future Combine (print and digital)

All six of the books are available from Amazon and Smashwords.

This is the last week you can enter the Halloween Humor and Horror Contest. All entries must be in by midnight, Saturday October 11th. The winner will be announced on Halloween. Good luck, everyone. May the best man, or woman, or android win.

Catherine Russell continues with her series on the darker side of fairy tales with a feature on Snow White. Be sure to drop by tomorrow (Friday) to give it a read.

Continue to amaze me, folks. You are wonderful.


The #FridayFlash Report – Vol 6 Number 18

October 4, 2014 in FridayFlash Report by Tim VanSant

We had 18 stories in the Collector this week with no debuts.

The deadline for our Halloween Humor and Horror flash fiction contest is fast approaching. Just a friendly reminder, all stories must be in to Submittalbe by midnight, October 10th. You can read the guidelines and access the submission form here.

It’s easier than ever to share your writing good news in our weekly News Flash with the form on our News Hound page.

As always, if your story is not in the listing below please go to the Collector and add the details. It will be in next week’s report. ~Tim

The Stories: Read the rest of this entry →