How to Make This Editor Happy

Reblogging so I can find again later.

Building Worlds

During the submissions period for Ye Olde Magick Shoppe, my current anthology project, I received around a hundred submissions. Some were of beginner quality, which is not a bad thing per se, since it means that the authors can improve their work through feedback. Other works were of higher quality, but didn’t mesh well with my own particular aesthetic preferences; other editors may well accept such work, even if I didn’t. Unfortunately, between the sheer number of submissions and my own time constraints, I did not give individualized feedback to the submitters—which is not fair of me, since they did put in the work.

I think it’s worthwhile, therefore, to write up a post discussing some of the common patterns among work that was not accepted for the anthology. That way, authors considering submitting their work to me in the future will know more about my preferences, and whether…

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Johnny Whitaker/ Sigmund and the Sea Monsters

Johnny Whitaker’s Birthday … also the birthday of my book-sister Rebecca McFarland Kyle. We’Ve been in Two anthologies together, or is it three nw? Happy Birthday, Becky, ad happy writing!


December 13 is the birthday of former child star Johnny Whitaker (b. 1959). The red-haired freckled Whitaker was memorable as young Jody on Family Affair(1966-1971), which we wrote about here, and was memorable as the title character in the musical film Tom Sawyer in (1973). He was also in one Steven Spielberg’s first films, Something Evil (1972) with Darren McGavin and Sandy Dennis which we wrote about here.

But having already written about just about all of Sid and Marty Krofft’s shows, I thought I’d give a little attention today to Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (1973-1974).

In conception, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters represents a slight “sea change”, if you will, from the earlier Krofft shows, H.R. Pufnstuf, The Bugaloos and Lidsville. It was less “psychedelic” than those previous ones, though it still had lots of humor. It was very much similar in conception to…

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Oh, fer cryin’ out loud… how do you keep screwing this up?!?

Once upon a time, Stan Lee was upset that he was a comic book scribbler, not a novelist (ie., a real writer) and he was thinking of quitting comic books. His wife Joan told him to do a comic book he was really proud of. The result was the Fantastic Four.

Steven Lyle Jordan

Fantastic Four 2015 movieWell, Hollywood has treated us once again to a movie about the Fantastic Four.  And once again, it has bombed.  And I mean bombedHiroshima-level bombed.  In a time when superhero movies are almost impervious to box-office failure—when special effects can give us realistic-looking monsters, other-worldly cities of the gods and flying aircraft carriers—when even obscure characters like Ant-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy can print box-office tickets at will—the FF drop like a lead balloon dumped down one of the Mole Man’s subterranean tunnels.

And my mind has just rolled out through my ear canal and flopped onto the desk.  (Actually, I bet Reed Richards could do that.)  Because I simply can’t comprehend how anyone could manage to ruin this idea.  Multiple times.  As if no one in the movie industry has the vaguest clue as to what they have here.

And I keep saying: Oh…

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Peter Falk: Solo Columbo

Atalented actor – the perfect match of actor to character – IM sure everyone would rather read a guest blog about zcolombo than listen to me talk about rehab therapy. My physical therapist called my muscle activation beautiful.

My speech therapist said we were able to check off several goals.


I confess to having something like a mental block when it comes to most of the screen work of the late Peter Falk (1927-2011). It’s entirely my hang-up. I’ll try to articulate what it is, or what I think it is. If you’ll read through to the end you’ll find that this is an essay very much in praise of Peter Falk, so don’t get your knickers in a twist.

We’ll start with his assets. Falk, intrinsically, was himself a character. With his gravelly voice, his glass eye, and his diminutive, scrappy stature, Falk had a very narrow range. So he made it his business to be extremely truthful, using the instrument he was given. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t create different characters. He played a different character for every role he was given to play, though the variations are often subtle given the idiosyncratic nature of his physiognomy. But…

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Power Causes Brain Damage

Guest blog [not my words, not my thoughts, it struck me as more interesting to share than my intended blog complaining about physical therapy. Whiny is seldom fun to read. Also my brain is still at half-power.

Diane Morrison

By Jerry Useem

If power were a prescription drug, it would come with a long list of known side effects. It can intoxicate. It can corrupt. It can even make Henry Kissinger believe that he’s sexually magnetic. But can it cause brain damage?

When various lawmakers lit into John Stumpf at a congressional hearing last fall, each seemed to find a fresh way to flay the now-former CEO of Wells Fargo for failing to stop some 5,000 employees from setting up phony accounts for customers. But it was Stumpf’s performance that stood out. Here was a man who had risen to the top of the world’s most valuable bank, yet he seemed utterly unable to read a room. Although he apologized, he didn’t appear chastened or remorseful. Nor did he seem defiant or smug or even insincere. He looked disoriented, like a jet-lagged space traveler just arrived from Planet…

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Call For Submissions: Rosalind’s Siblings

Galli Books

Rosalind’s Siblings is an anthology of speculative stories about people of marginalized genders/sexes who are scientists: scientists doing good, changing the world, or just getting on with their work of expanding human knowledge in a speculative context, presented in a positive light. This anthology is named for Rosalind Franklin, the so-called Dark Lady of DNA, one of the most famously erased female scientists in history, and a direct relation of the founder of Galli Books. The anthology is being edited by Bogi Takács.

The stories do not need to problematize gender/sex, though this is also welcome, and we would like to publish a mix of approaches. We are generally interested in positive portrayals of science and the protagonists doing research, but this can include a critical reappraisal. (E.g., we would very much like to see stories in which science is decolonized and/or Indigenized, or in some other ways incorporates approaches…

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My Book Is At WorldCon Without Me

This weekend is the 76th World Science Fiction Convention, or WorldCon.  It’s in San Jose, CA.  Budgets being what budgets are, I’m not there.  However, Alternative Truths is.  B Cubed Press has a table at the con.  They’re selling Alternative Truths, More Alternative Truths, After the Orangeand Alternative Theologies.

My life has been underpaid but busy.  I’ve been trying to finish a ghost story and working on a story for Release the VirginsI’ve been rereading H. P. Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness,” for an anthology based on that novella that wants stories by female authors with female characters.  (My bookmate Melinda LaFever has already submitted a story.)

I’ve been writing for Krypton Radio, and my boss and I were pleasantly surprised when an article of mine went viral.  Over 5,000 people read my article and shared it on Facebook, and many other people saw it on Twitter.  Mercedes Lackey, one of my favorite authors, was poisoned by her hotel room at GenCon, and had to go to the hospital with hallucinations and stroke symptoms.  It turned out her hotel room had recently been refurbished, but the hotel hadn’t allowed time for the cleaning fumes to dissipate.  She’s making a full recovery, but I hope the hotel pays her hospital bill.

School started in our district two weeks ago, and I have gone back to subbing.  One day high school audio/visual & broadcasting, one day special ed (elementary), and four days special ed teacher’s aide (elementary and junior high).  I’m crossing my fingers for high school social studies tomorrow.

Southwest TN Com Col

Next week, my husband and son start the fall semester at the local community college.  My son decided as much as he likes UTC, he did so much better at STCC for his summer school class that he’s taking his next semester here, where the class sizes are smaller and the tuition is lower.  Both are taking three classes each, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I have been approved by the college to accompany my husband and act as his amanuensis.  (I did mention that he used a cane now, didn’t I, after the potassium deficiency that mimicked a stroke, sent him to the ER, created a speech impediment, and caused him to lose his job of 15 years?)  Both are taking two GE classes and one class for their major.  One is a history major (should help with writing fantasy) and the other is a criminal justice major (should help with writing mystery or urban fantasy).

This week, I am available for subbing all five days.  Next week, I am only available for subbing on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

I am a volunteer for Mid-South Renaissance Faire, which will be October 13 & 14 and October 20 & 21 this year in Millington, TN, at USA Baseball Stadium.  August was just too hot.  We had humans and trolls dropping from the heat.  Troll droppings are bad enough, but a she-troll dropping, that’s too much.

Susan, TNRenFest, orange dress

Well, that’s my news.  I hope to post a book review of Alternate Theologies soon.  I hope everyone at WorldCon is having fun, and I hope B Cubed Press sells a lot of books.  With my husband and son in college and my daughter getting close to college age, I could use the royalty money for their tuition.

If you have a spare dollar or two, buy these books.

R is for Renaissance Faire

Cat Tails: War Zone

Alternative Truths

More Alternative Truths

Heroic Fantasy Short Stories

Sword and Sorceress #30

Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid

Supernatural Colorado

Barbarian Crowns

Share it like Cicero: How Roman authors used social networking

How did the Romans “publish” books? I hadn’t known this and I found it fascinating. I might be able to use this for a fantasy book in a low-tech setting.

RomansOne of the stories I tell in “Writing on the Wall” is about the way the Roman book-trade worked. There were no printing presses, so copying of books, which took the form of multiple papyrus rolls, was done entirely by hand, by scribes, most of whom were slaves. There were no formal publishers either, so Roman authors had to rely on word-of-mouth recommendations and social distribution of their works via their networks of friends and acquaintances.

It was crucial to choose the right person to dedicate the book to. The ideal candidate would be famous, influential and somewhat vain, so that he would be sure to mention the book to his friends, thus ensuring that people heard about it. He would also have an impressive library with plenty of traffic from visiting scholars and philosophers. The new book, prominently displayed in the library as a set of rolls in an…

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