First Fiction Contest Win!

Well I’ll be hornswoggled—I won a fiction contest!

Yeah, yeah, I was the only entry.  But still!

The story is called “Te Absolvo,” which is Latin (or something) for “I forgive.”  It’s my take on a famous historical personage, whose identity you’ll probably guess easily.  I hope you enjoy it.   You can read it here at The Soap Boxers blog. 

While you’re there, knock around a bit.  Read Kosmo and some of the other writers at the site.  That ought to keep you out of trouble for a while, heh heh.


Watch Out — Anthony Giangregorio and Protecting Yourself

Beware of Anthony Giangregorio.

I wasn’t going to give this particular guy any press, but horror novelist Brian Keene posted this on his blog and on Facebook, and I felt I really needed to get the word out to any readers who may not be aware of it.  Tim Lieder posted about him here also, as did Kelli Dunlap.   And poor Mandy DeGeit, who was so excited that her story was going to be included in an anthology from Giangregorio’s small Undead Press (he also runs Living Dead Press, and Open Casket Press), until she found…..

Well, click her name for the story.  It’s pretty unbelievable.

In short, Giangregorio joins a list of disgustingly nasty people who prey on UNPUBs who want to see their work in print.  There are other small presses out there that do this.  In this case, I think this guy is a poser.  Even so, he’s damaged other writers and deserves to be called out.

He published and sold unauthorized sequels to George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.  One poster on Kelli Dunlap’s blog entry mentions he read one of Giangregorio’s books, and realized it was a complete rip-off of Stephen King’s The Mist.  Some author, huh?


According to Brian, he’s apparently begun to threaten people who speak out against him.  Um, that’s not very smart, when everything on the Internet stays there FOREVER.

And ever…and ever…hallelujah…hallelujah…

 Image: Road to Infinity by Jugni / Wikimedia Commons

Alyn Day had a run-in with him and she posts about it here.  (If it asks you about adult Previewcontent, say yes; it’s not dirty or anything).  She’s the one who had the veiled threat messaged in Facebook.

How can writers avoid people like this?

Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware (who also posted about Anthony Giangregorio and editing clauses in contracts) reminds writers to make sure editing clauses include their cooperation.  A true professional will indeed work with you on changes, but it MUST be in your contract.

Lessons learned?


If you don’t understand something, ask about it.  If you need time to have a lawyer (preferably one that has publishing experience) take a look at it, do so.  Remember, anyone, ANYWHERE, who pushes you to sign anything, does not have YOUR interests at heart.  Don’t sign until you understand every word and have come to a mutual agreement as to the terms.

#2 – Check out agents and publishers before submitting

You can look them up at Writer Beware, or Preditors and Editors, or google the name of the press or agent along with “scam,” and “review.”  Look for a decent website rather than just a Facebook page or email.  Absolute Write Water Cooler has forums where people post their impressions and experiences with industry people.  The link will take you to the beware page.

#3 – Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

This is the golden rule to avoid scams of any kind.  And remember, with the exception of self-publishing (that’s a whole other can of scammer worms right there), money should flow TO the author, not FROM the author.  Do your homework on the industry so you know what is normal and accepted practice.

Hey, chicky, wanna sell a story? Have I got a deal for you…


#4 – Report people who are unscrupulous, who threaten you, or otherwise act in an unprofessional manner.

This assumes, of course, that YOU didn’t act in an unprofessional manner, such as throwing an email fit when an agent politely says no, etc.   You can squeal on them at the links in #3.

People like Anthony Giangregorio who pull this type of shit give small publishers a bad name.  It’s worthwhile to out them, so if they sleaze their way over into another genre, they’ll be recognized for what they are.





Writing and Relationships

Wow, I found this awesome post by Brian Hodge, A Survival Guide for Writers in Love (And Those Who Love Them), with contributions from Brian Keene, Barb Hendee, Mark Alan Gunnells, and Elizabeth Massie.  It reveals some hard truths about what it’s like not only to have a relationship as a writer, but with one as well.  Thanks to Brian Keene for bringing it to my attention on Facebook, in a link to his blog.

Read it; I’ll wait.


It gave me some things to think about.  Egon is pretty supportive, but I wonder how that would play out if we weren’t long-distance, and I was pounding out a novel all day.  If I were totally freelance, my workday would coincide with his and we’d both be done by five.  One problem with creative work, however, is that your muse doesn’t always keep regular hours.

In addition, many writers are also juggling full-time jobs.  Because, you know, writing unpublished novels doesn’t pay anything.  Even published writers often don’t make enough to go rogue and quit the rat race.

Say your partner is working and you are working, and then you come home and start writing.  Basically, you have two jobs.  That doesn’t leave much time or energy for anything.

The post talked mostly about romantic partnerships, but a creative track can mess with other relationships as well.  I’ve run into misunderstandings with family members whose most egregious offenses were attempts to dictate the content of my work, or uninformed advice about the progression of my fledgling career.  While spouses can be guilty of this as well, someone you live with every day is bound to see a bit more of the reality than people you only hang with on Turkey Day.

Distilling the advice from the post and throwing in some of my own, I came up with these points:

Questions or concerns on either side? Voice them

As Hodge writes, and the others agree, writers and their partners are not mind-readers.  If you don’t talk about problems or ask questions, you’ll mire yourself in a swamp of assumptions.  Fears are huge when they’re inside your head.  Drag them out into the light through your mouth and they shrivel and die.

This is what fear looks like. It mostly comes at night….mostly.


Neither one of you is more important than the other

You can’t have a relationship without the other person.  When you spend time with her, pay attention.  Just sitting in the same room doesn’t count.   You’re in a relationship because you care about this person.  If she is only a vehicle to your future literary superstardom who pays the bills and cleans the house, you are a gold-digging jerk.  Leave now and let a real man come into her life!

Creative work is mostly mental

Hodge makes a great point in that writing doesn’t always look like writing.  I may not be tapping on the keyboard.  You might see me doing something that looks totally unrelated, yet with a spaced-out look.  I’m THINKING.  If you ask me something and I say, “Huuhhh…duuuuhhh,” back off a bit.  I promise, I’ll come back to you.

Career advice from a non-writer should be withheld, or nicely ignored

Please don’t tell your writer what to do.  She has (hopefully) spent time learning important tidbits about submittals, queries, formatting, or keeping up with industry news and trends.  When you say, “You know what you oughta do?” she’s gonna tune you out.  You wouldn’t tell a firefighter how to fight a fire, would you?

Let’s see you try this.

Image:  Tokino / Wikimedia Commons

Exception:  if we ask for feedback.  Honest and thoughtful are the watchwords here.  Believe me, if you blast us, we won’t ask again.

Don’t scream at well-meaning family members who offer advice.  If you think they’ll listen, you can point out that yeah, it would be nice if Mom called that agent and insisted he read her baby boy’s manuscript, but that’s not how it works.  Thank them and save the eye-rolling for when they’re not in the room.

Which leads me to:

Share judiciously


I made this mistake.  Now some people won’t leave me the hell alone.  I put enough pressure on myself; now I have people bugging me about when it will be finished, when can they read it, etc. etc. ETC. AAAAAAHH!!!!!

This can derail a project at the speed of light.  I’ll finish it when I finish it.  Back off!

Discussing certain concepts with research in mind is not the same thing.  But make sure you choose carefully with whom you share.  Nagging isn’t productive.

Sorry, Grandma, the bloody zombie apocalypse cannibal gorefest isn’t done yet.

Image: Ambro /


Don’t take anything I say as a mandate or an insult.  It’s a two-way street, this understanding that goes on in relationships and families.  Like Pink Floyd says, just keep talking.




Star Wars Day and Other Nerd Holidays

Happy Star Wars Day!  May the Fourth be with you!

I would hope some of my readers know what I’m talking about.   But if you don’t, today is Star Wars Day.   On this day, Star Wars fans celebrate their favorite films and culture.

“No, I’m not obsessed. Why do you ask?”

Image: Werner100359 / Wikimedia Commons

Geeky demonstrations of fandom are nothing new.  During the 1960s and 1970s, Lord of the Rings devotees ran around saying “Frodo lives!” and “Gandalf for president!” or writing it all over everything.  But with the advent of the Internet, they have exploded.

May 25, Geek Pride Day, started with a loosely organized event called the Geek Pride Festival, made by Tim McEachern, which ran in Albany, New York from 1998 to 2000.  It was picked up in Spain in 2006 and spread like wildfire via the tubes.

Geeks and nerds are becoming the new cool.  In typical geek fashion, this 2011 article by Todd Bishop on GeekWire contains charts explaining the aspects of geekdom.

Companies like ThinkGeek cater to our desire for toys and gadgets from our favorite media offerings, or cool stuff like cubicle trebuchets with which we can launch office wars.   A calendar program I came across called VueMinder Lite (the free version) has an option to fill in geek holidays.   And conventions like DragonCon, ComicCon and VisionCon attract major and minor celebrities alike.

Besides Star Wars Day, some of the holidays geeks have created or commandeered include:

CapsLock Day—June 28 and October 22

I hadn’t heard of this one, but it’s pretty funny.   One of my coworkers at Exjob would love this one.  All his emails LOOK LIKE THIS.  YES HE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND THAT IN INTERNET SPEAK, THIS IS CONSIDERED YELLING.  The original holiday was in October, and the June 28 addition celebrates capspeak pitchman Billy Mays.

Pi Day—March 14

Celebrates pi, or π, the mathematical thing.  No, I don’t do math but I know the first three digits of pi are 3.14.  So there.   Eat pie on this day and talk about math.  Or just eat pie.  :)

Computer Security Day—November 30

An international observance, this holiday originated in 1988 to highlight computer security issues.  Celebrate by doing a virus check, changing a password, or helping a newbie with his/her computer safety issues.   This is a good day to schedule an annual equipment check.

Hobbit Day—September 22

Birthday of Bilbo and Frodo.  First started in 1978 by the American Tolkien Society.  Do something hobbity today!  Read some Tolkien, have a party with ale and fireworks (if you can).  Or just go barefoot, as hobbits do.

Talk Like a Pirate Day—September 19th

This is my FAVORITE geek holiday!  My chat room goes nuts with this one.  I attempt to get away with piratespeak as much as I can, even at work.  My ideal day job would be one where we get to dress up Pirate Day.  At the very least, I can usually get away with a ruffled blouse, boots and my skull earrings.

Official logo – more info at

You can find more geek holidays here, at   Pick your favorite and celebrate!