blogging, Research, Uncategorized, world-building, Writers Co-op

Being There

Seeing something helps a writer to describe it. Actually being in a setting lets the words choose themselves. Take the inside of the International Space Station, for example, one of the most advanced miracles of modern technology to have ever been built by mankind. It’s a mess. The room I’m in now is maybe 20 feet wide by 20 feet high by, maybe, a little longer. The white and grey walls are totally covered with color-coded cables, cases, boxes and storage packs. And there are wall panels that slide out like file cabinet drawers to allow access to the experiments being conducted inside. Not a spec of space is wasted on the four walls. You can’t walk on any of them. No floors needed here. Just float between the walls. I guess that explains the four laptop computers fixed at impossible angles. No up or down. Just float over and use one. The panel sections lining the walls are marked by metal strips to which, as astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, of the European Space Agency, showed me, she can attach shower safety hand bars (OKAY, she called them something else.) She uses the bars to hold onto when she’s working. She can also slip her stocking feet (no shoes needed here) under the bar to hold herself in place while she completes an appointed task. Or, attach a camera like the one giving me this inside view.

Yes. It’s virtual reality. But how else am I getting aboard the ISS to see what kind of socks astronauts wear? Or watch the sun rise over the rooftops of London, from a rooftop in London, and turn to see the The Shard sticking up a thousand feet into the sky? Or stand among Parisians in a little park and be the only one rubbernecking the Eiffel Tower towering above me? All without leaving my writing desk.

The little tripper lets you describe settings by putting you inside them. It’s cheap. A $20 viewer will let you use your cell phone to watch YouTube 360 videos of just about any place people can get to today. I recommend virtual reality to any writer without a twenty million dollar travel budget for a ticket to the space station.


What’s Up, Pussycats?


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I’m worn out, on my website ever day, trying this, trying that.

Which is why I’ve had so little to say lately.

My apologies to here, and to the TSU and Rabbit Hole threads on Facebook.

That guy up there is Sly. (And who else would it be?) In my half completed drawing he is wearing his pharaoh costume that he dons for John Dee’s séances. I tried to find my image of Dee in his pharaoh garb, but as usual, I can’t lay hands on it. (My files are a mess.)

I’ve been building my website. I finally have a format that will work with a light use page, excerpts, come-ons, a brief intro, etc., and will also do for full chapters. I’ve created a background to underlay all. The images will change with the various sites but the configuration will remain pretty much as is. I am snaking type around images on the background – that left/right/centering of images with a type runaround never works for me, never works as well as I could wish.

I have registered names of six sites in case I decide to put the whole thing up. That would be two novellas to a site. More than that and the menu gets too crazy.

I can always lasso and marry images in Photoshop, but my next task is to learn how to create a clipping path. (I have never figured that out.) So that (ideally) I can place images in the text layer and not have unused areas blocking out what lies behind.

I follow the discussion on Facebook in a thread populated by designers. Someone said: I create my design in (some software I never heard of) and hand it off to the developers to write the code. Here am I, trying to cheat and trick my way around WordPress, getting it to do things it doesn’t want to do.

WordPress could make life so much easier for us with a few small changes. A way to indent first lines. A way to right indent paragraphs. No, they save that stuff for the upgraded plans. You gotta pay for that convenience. Irritating.

Why do I like WordPress? Over Wix, I mean. I love Wix. In Wix you can do anything you want to do, almost. That’s the problem. WP forces me to rein in my more extreme design-y tendencies.

GD’s a whirlwind of activity over on Facebook. I’m trying to wrestle WordPress to the mat. What’s everyone else up to? Or are you sitting back, watching the money roll in?





About Writers, inspiration, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op


Facebook Writers Cafe, Mainstreet Earth:

Lydia Caatt: Whatever it’s is you are describing look up a similar description or something. I look up photos online and decipher how I’d describe it to a blind man.

Ernest Van Horn: Write in such a way that you feel that you’re in the skin of the character. You are not “angry”, your heart is pounding, face is burning, and thoughts are fast but focused on who wronged you.

Watson Davis: Put yourself in your POV character’s head and then write what they experience, what they see, what they smell, what they hear, what they feel inside and outside. Stay in their head as they move through their world. Don’t write “I began to feel the wind against my skin”, don’t write “I felt the wind against my skin”, instead write “The wind brushed against my skin.”

Christy Moceri: Everyone, no matter how well they write, has moments of doubt. It’s not a reflection of your skill or potential, it’s a reflection of the fact that you’re an artist. I’ve learned to think of my opinion of my own work as just background noise.

Niki Bond: Make sure you’re in-tune with the characters’ emotions.

Ian Bristow: There is a limit with setting descriptions though, IMO. I think those should be reserved for the more long term settings, as I personally don’t like to be reading and get a detailed description of something I will only see the once. It is not only misleading about how important that setting will be, but descriptions are not generally story movers, so I’d rather engage in conversation or get the thoughts of the MC as they move through that setting.

Edward Buatois: Just always remember, ALL writing is about emotion. In action, your character(s) want something. They worry that they won’t get it or will be injured or killed or will be left in a worse position than before or if they fail something terrible will happen. Salt your action scenes with that and they will never be boring.

JM Chandler: Take my voice out of it.
Tap into the emotion of the scene/character. Kurt Vonnegut was genius at this.
Lazy writing will tell you what the emotion is. Insightful writing will describe it.

Lance Cargopants: Realize your reader is intelligent and picks up clues. And what would be an unmistakable clue to you? Example: Like that scene in Sum Of All Fears, where the president does this humorous speech before the press corp, and a phone goes off. Then another. Then all of them

& finally, Hunting Down the Pleonasm
Take a look. 🙂 You will not regret knowing this.

Photo: Left Bank Writers Retreat in Paris. Hemingway, memorialized with a plaque at the bar, once lived just down the block and made the cafe his unofficial office, writing in a red leather booth and drinking with fellow writers F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ford Madox Ford. In Hemingway’s day, cafes were the social hub for the Left Bank Writers – providing an inspirational mix of food and wine, companionship and all-day office space.

book promotion, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

The Ramblings of a Grave Robber

Deb Whittam’s latest release.

I have a job. I tell people I assist with relocations. I just don’t tell them how, or where, or what.
My name’s Stacey Dearling and I’m a grave robber.

I rob graves so the guilty can be punished … by heaven or hell. Less
I have a job. I tell people I assist with relocations. I just don’t tell them how, or where, or what.
My name’s Stacey Dearling and I’m a grave robber.

I rob graves so the guilty can be punished … by heaven or hell.

Stacey Dearling has a job and she does it well, but when a series of events takes her beyond what she knows, she realizes that expectations and capabilities are confusing things and she doesn’t like the consequences.

The Ramblings of a Grave Robber – Free on Smashwords

Deb Whittam

Read Deb Whittam’s Smashwords Interview: “Currently we are travelling around Australia in a caravan, so when I am not writing I am exploring. We decided to undertake this trip as we had never really traveled in our own backyard and we have been amazed by the natural wonders we have discovered.”

book promotion, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

“Heed the Darkness” by Kim Michelle Ross

My debut novel, Netherrealm Book 1: Heed the Darkness, has been released by Silk Odyssey Press. It’s the first in a Historical/Contemporary/Fantasy trilogy, a twisted tale of reincarnation set amidst history with a large dash of fantasy. There’s, romance, intrigue, sex, war, and murder in 12th century England as well as glimpses of the 21st century.

The story starts on a hot 1133 summer’s day and we meet the main players Bethany de Lise, Elena de la Chatelaine, Gerrat de Ashbore and Alice, a Saxon servant. The three girls go on a strange adventure to a stone circle and on the same day at the exact time Jared Ashbourne visits the same site in 2003. A time slip occurs and connects medieval England to the 21st century. But, as the timelines converge, Bethany de Lise, is psychically linked to her future self as Dayna Barnes, and Jared gets a direct feed to his own past life experiences as Gerrat de Ashbore.

However, an evil presence has been lingering about the girls for many years and it catapults itself from the 12th century and into the modern era.

The medieval story is written in the third person, alternatively narrated through Bethany, Elena, and Gerrat. It tells Bethany and Gerrat’s budding love story as war erupts between King Stephen and Empress Maud and the fracturing of England’s people. And of Elena de la Chatelaine as she descends into madness when a vengeful spirit attaches itself to her and uses Elena’s body for its own murderous vendetta. Also witness the effects of how Bethany and Gerrat’s 21st-century counterparts, Dayna Barnes and Jared Ashbourne, are connected through their dreams and as the past-present timelines continue to randomly collide and mess with their current lives. The subplot explores Robert of Gloucester’s 1135 plot to overthrow King Stephen and Gerrat’s part in it. When the traitorous plan is discovered it forces Gerrat to flee the country and abandon Bethany leaving her vulnerable to the evil spirit’s treacherous plots.

Netherrealm Book 1: Heed the Darkness

Kim Michelle Ross

book promotion, book reviews, Uncategorized

Beast (A Twisted Tale Series)

NEW RELEASE by Lisa Edward
(Beast is the first in a series of fairytale retelling novels.)

Life had always been good to me, and I made sure to keep it that way. My mom had given me the only tool I’d need to succeed—manipulation. Add to that the fact I was beautiful, confident, and rich, and I was on my way to having it all.

My name is Annabelle, and I was the stereotypical head cheerleader, dating the star quarterback. The school was mine, and I couldn’t wait to be crowned prom queen.

One night, my world changed forever. All I believed my future would hold was ripped from my grasp in a ball of flames. I lost my identity, my boyfriend, and my friends. Suddenly, I was the monster nobody wanted around.

A scarf hid my true identity, and I was left staring at the beast in the mirror. My appearance now matched the ugliness I once had inside, but I’d do everything I could to prove I still had some beauty buried deep within.

Sometimes, you have to lose who you are to become who you were meant to be.

Amazon Link

Beast was an amazing spin on Beauty and the Beast…I loved the originality to this story as the retelling was creative and clever.” – Amazon reviewer

Beast was a beautiful story…It looked at the importance that inner beauty should have over our physical appearance.” – 2OCC Reviews

Lisa Edward is the author of  the Songbird trilogy, the novel, Broken and the novella, Duty of Care. Lisa also has a story in the anthology, Hook & Ladder 69. The author lives in Melbourne, Australia.

About Writers, Stories, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op, Writers Co-op Anthology

Featured Author, Paul Stansbury

NOTE: Paul Stansbury’s story,  The Scroll and the Silver Kazoo,
appears in the Writers Co-op anthology, The Rabbit Hole, Vol 1.
GD Cover small

I have been writing for some years because it provides me a creative outlet. I write about anything that strikes my fancy, though I tend to favor speculative fiction and the occasional humorous piece. People who read my work have learned to expect almost anything. The only caveat I have is any member of my family should be comfortable reading something I have written.

I admit I am a Twilight Zone child. I mean the original series – those grainy, black and white television shows where, after an introductory scene, the camera would pan to Rod Serling for his set up for a short stint “in the twilight zone.” I was just 10 years old when the first episodes aired in 1960. After I saw them, I was forever hooked.

From my viewpoint, speculative fiction places us in a world where the Laws, those regularly occurring or apparently inevitable phenomenon that govern what happens to us, operate differently than what we would expect. In this world, the rules as we know them do not always apply. Or could it be the rules as we thought we knew them?

Speculative fiction aims to explore our world as it would be altered by posing the question: What if? While surfing the net, I recently saw a brief video about a well known landmark. I asked myself: What if? That resulted in a flash fiction story. If you want to read it, send me an email request:

The most appealing and freeing aspect of speculative fiction is that, like the worlds it creates, it is not bound by the traditional genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. In fact, it is not bound by any genre. It is free to adventure anywhere it likes as long as anywhere is a creation of imagination and speculation.

My process for writing is simple. Start writing, keep writing. When I experience the doldrums in the middle of a project, I keep writing. I don’t fret if it’s not the best work, that can always be fixed with the delete button. I always seem to get back on track. If I can’t think of a subject or theme to inspire a story, I just surf the net asking: What if?

I also seek feedback every chance I get. I am a member of a great writers group. Writing takes practice. I am still honing my skills. I take on only manageable projects. I encounter more than a few would be authors who want to write the next great novel, but can’t get started because they are overwhelmed or they are worried about finding a publisher before the first paragraph is written.

I prefer to write short stories and flash fiction. I have never had the desire to write anything longer than a novelette.  My stories are plot driven. I let my characters grow and evolve to meet the plot’s needs. I am not suggesting that is the right or only way, only that it is my way.

I do self publish collections of my stories through my own Sheppard Press. My first book, Down By the Creek – Ripples and Reflections, is a collection of fictional stories and poems influenced by my experiences growing up along Fern Creek in Kentucky. My second, Inversion – Not Your Ordinary Stories is a collection of my speculative fiction stories, some of which have appeared in print and some which are original.

I also try my hand at being editor. I put together a collection of my Grandfather’s stories, letters and other writings entitled By George – A Collection Of Childhood Experiences and Anecdotes, published through Sheppard Press in June, 2017. Did all the work myself: editing, research, annotation, formatting, and artwork. I will say, I gained a new and increased respect for editors as a result of this process. I did find it a rewarding, albeit exhausting experience. Most recently, I finished a similar project for a good friend to publish his book, Migrant Times and Other Musings, which was published in October, 2018.

Right now, I am working on the final draft of Inversion II – Creatures, Fairies, and Haints, Oh My! I hope to publish it in November, 2018.

Paul Stansbury