Use the Comments section to talk about anything at all concerning the writing life. Here’s a few ideas.

Your writing
Publishing / publishers
Review a book
Tips, tricks, and tools you use
Story ideas
Your own favorite caracters
What readers want
The book industry
Sources of research
Authors who influenced you
What your significant other thinks of your writing
Give an elevator pitch on your latest book
Legal matters that writers need to be aware of
The different tools amazon has for writers
Audio books
Your favorite quotes
Share your writing bucket list
What you are working on now

“This is a site where we swap and share news, opinions and experiences about writing, from first paragraph to finished product and beyond. …here in the Co-op we try things out, see what works and what doesn’t, and tell each other about it.”

  • Curtis Bausse, First post, April 26, 2016


49 thoughts on “OPEN COMMENTS WEEK

  1. Does anyone know what author might have penned this entertaining imagery?

    “He allows himself to be helped into his pasture-prancing greatcoat, head-to-toe oilcloth, a capelet swinging about his shoulders, capable of serving as a hood in a downpour. He pulls the hood over his head – the effect is something akin to a towering ship under full sail.”

    Liked by 4 people

  2. MamaSquid says:

    My book deals with the psychological aftermath of prisoner abuse. It’s a romantic thriller, but it’s grounded in this very heavy subject matter. Torture is one of my greatest fears, I’ve lost sleep at night imagining what victims go through (I have PTSD, I’m sure it all ties in). In order to write the book, I’ve learned more about the US torture of detainees than I ever wanted to know. The thing that galls me the most is that torture has been proven unreliable as an interrogation tactic, yet we all turned en masse to barbarism — highly intelligent people — doctors, psychologists — all colluded in this horrific campaign *EVEN THOUGH* torture is not an effective means of gathering intelligence. This is horrible for humanity, but it’s been fertile ground for my novel to deal with all the moral complexities of responding to threats in time of war.

    You see, my hero is the General Supreme of a nascent country in the midst of a revolution. Or he was. He’s on indefinite medical leave because after three months of imprisonment and torture at the hands of the enemy, he’s a psychological mess who refuses to deal with his PTSD. Now he has his own captive, his own threat to deal with, and now his humanitarian ideals have run up against the burning need for information that is critical to the security of his country.

    One of the most effective interrogators in military history is the Nazi Hans Scharff. Scharff proved that there is no interrogation technique more effective than building a positive rapport with the prisoner. His job required something you wouldn’t expect from a Nazi interrogator – genuine empathy. There were other elements of subterfuge, none of them causing lasting psychological damage, as prisoners were often not even aware when they were giving away intelligence.

    It is with all of this in mind that I dip my toe into the waters of this issue. I really don’t intend to include graphic details, I’m just doing the research so I have a sense of what’s likely to have happened to my hero, what’s possible, and what is the likely impact. I’ve dealt with difficult subjects in previous works and I often worry about writing in an exploitative, sensationalist way. I try to remember that this is a thing that is happening to people all over the world as we speak. The typical romance trope would have some kind of confessional cathartic moment where the hero identifies and articulates his deepest trauma, but I don’t really want to go that route. I’ve had PTSD for 20 years. It’s not something that goes away just by talking about it. And I think, because he is a man, there are certain things he will never discuss. My job as a writer isn’t to heal him, it’s just to get him to the point that he realizes he needs help. And my heroine’s job is to just accept him where he is.

    Sometimes that’s all we need.

    Liked by 7 people

    • My neighbor in Fairbanks was Glenn Shaw, a professor at the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, and, at the time one of our most knowledgeable scientists on lasers in space. As a young man, he had been part of the first International Geophysical Year in the late 50’s. There, he became friends with a Russian who later became the USSR’s top scientist on lasers in space. They regularly corresponded. Sometimes, I would open my front door to rings of the doorbell to find Glenn outraged and shaking letters from his Soviet friend in my face. They had been opened and read by our CIA (they admitted it inside the envelope, even naming the agent who had read the letter.) So, when the CIA told him they were sending an agent to interview him, he became livid. During his rants about academic freedom, I gathered an occasional interview was standard for one who held his security clearances. But Glenn was determined to not cooperate.

      The day of the interview, he came over afterwards, stunned. The CIA had sent a nice old lady in her sixties who had been very courteous and conversational. “I told her everything! She would ask questions that I refused to answer and then, later I found myself answering that question without realizing it.”

      ‘Course, this is the same guy I came home one evening to find on my roof, riding my kid’s tricycle. “Hey! Gary! You should see the view up here!” He was, in ways, a four year old genius. If not for his practical Mormon wife to care for him him, Glenn’s career would never have succeeded.

      The moral of this story is there are many ways to extract intelligence and geniuses should marry a smart partner.

      Liked by 6 people

  3. mimispeike says:

    Medium.com continues to give me articles on how to sell books. That seems to be what gets the most reads. Money-making how-to, find readers with these strategies, self-help in a number of areas, and politics, politics is big, are what pops up in my feed. Like Amazon, Medium analyzes what gets the most traffic and bumps it up to the front page (according to what you’ve declared to be your interests).

    It’s on Medium that I’ve learned about Red Bubble and Ko-Fi (similar to Patreon), all three places to solicit backing for your project in progress. Red Bubble is a store on which to sell T-shirts and coffee cups with your cover or character on them. These are sites on which you might potentially make yourself known. I suppose.

    I haven’t been on Medium in a while. After I posted Maisie, I lost interest. I had few readers. (I have a good number of followers, attracted by my comments on other people’s posts.) Fiction is not a big draw there. But two recent articles on serials have convinced me to give it another try. I’m going to post what I have on my website: the first eight chapters of Sly. I’ll post every two weeks, as I did with Maisie. On alternating weeks I posted humorous pieces related to Maisie, or to Sly, or to writing in general.

    I had five chapters of Maisie built oversized, 9×13 inches. Why so large? I have paper doll books that size. Yeah, published forty-fifty years ago. No one takes that size now. IngramSpark, I will go with Ingram if I publish on my own, accepts pages no larger than 8.5×11. So I’m reconfiguring completed pages.

    Since I refuse to decrease my type size, this means my original four pages of chapter one now make five. The fifth page running short, I will create a new image that pairs with the text. In each rebuilt chapter I will have areas in which I will need to insert a custom-designed graphic to fill empty inches pf page. I am not going to try to pack text by editing it, beyond changing a word to get rid of an orphan line.

    Instead of one book of, it began to look like, sixty-seventy pages, I now have three installments that will come in at around thirty pages each. I can let the material fall as it may, without creating a monster that scares off buyers.

    My aim is to fool people into thinking they are purchasing an amusing picture book. Let them learn the truth, that there is a significant story, when they get the thing home and start to read. Oops! This isn’t a new Angelina Ballerina (a super-successful series about another tutu-clad dancing mouse), published in the nineteen-eighties.

    Maisie is something very different and, I think, far more entertaining. IMNSHO. (In my not so humble opinion.)

    GD, are you sorry you threw the floor open for comments? You’ll hear more from me this week. Unless you shut me down now.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. mimispeike says:

    I know some of us contribute to anthologies and magazines. What else do you do, in terms of promotion? What good has it done you?

    I’m skeptical of the cheerleading on Medium, but I’m going to dive back in. If nothing else, when a reader becomes interested in me and googles my name, I believe he/she will be directed to the pieces I’ve placed on Medium, and that is a step in the right direction.

    When I (hopefully) set up at an art fair next summer with stacks of books, I want plenty of my musings available to be found.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mimi, you might consider a humorous short sci-fi story, for Sci-Fi Lampoon Magazine. Since Sly can handle Sixteenth Century royalty & Maisie succeed in early Hollywood, you may know a critter who could keep the space station running, or stowaway on Musk’s first manned trip to Mars, or act as Earth’s Emissary to aliens who want to talk with us.
      If so, the guidelines are at

      Anyone else interested? We are putting together issue 7 now.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mimispeike says:

        Something to think about, GD. It would reach a whole new group of readers. What is the deadline?

        You’re also looking for art? That got my attention. What would my critter look like? I’ll start there, and figure out the story as I go.

        For looks, I’m thinking Flying-Purple-People-Eater at the moment. I’ll try to get beyond that.

        Not promising. Just trying.

        Liked by 2 people

          • mimispeike says:

            Here’s a clue about characterization. It’s a quote off msnbc: Talking to John Eastman ‘is like talking to someone on another planet’. What if those space aliens are as loopy as us here on this woebegone hunk of rock?

            Liked by 2 people

    • MamaSquid says:

      I’m not ready to aggressively market my work, but I’ve been eyeing Substack. I follow two writers on there, one of whom periodically posts his fiction. Substack is an island of misfit toys for journalists and writers who were deplatformed elsewhere for provocative or iconoclastic content, so it is fertile breeding ground to try out new modes of thinking. The two men I follow bear little resemblance to me politically, but that is part of the fun! If I were to have a blog, I think it would be about the tension between artistic expression and modern-day culture. Writing has lately become imbued with a sense of social responsibility and it would be interesting to explore that. I would want to write about the social and cultural implications of the romance genre in particular, as I have given this genre such critical analysis in my own head, I have a book’s worth of content. I don’t know that anyone in the market would want a heaping side of political analysis with their romance, but it’s the best idea I’ve got so far.

      Liked by 5 people

      • Maybe we should have a “Voltaire Award” to honor writers who write openly and honestly about the tension between artistic expression and modern-day culture. If we could find sponsors, we could throw in a vacation. France is a natural. Voltaire took refuge at his mistress’ husband’s château at Cirey on the borders of Champagne and Lorraine to avoid arrest after the publication of Lettres.

        Liked by 4 people

  5. What’s on my mind? The dread engendered by looming eviction, failing health, a 450 credit score and zero dollars in the bank. After a lifetime of playing by the rules like a sap. (And they wonder why the age 50+ working class now die like flies. Too proud to weather homelessness, with all the indignity and contempt that free-fall condition elicits from others, only to die in the gutter like a dog. No mental illness, no drug abuse, no “gaps in employment history”–just a lifetime of full-time underpaying jobs that no longer pay the medical bills/rent/basic necessities. Intelligence? Decency? Reliability? Loyalty? Count as exactly nothing. Check with the masses.)

    You know the best part? The same HR reps who tell you “We’re fair; we pay market rates” are the same censored-bleeps who later comment “If he wanted to improve his economic situation he should have quit and gone elsewhere. Or worked three jobs.” Though these same college-educated people never say that to their employees’ faces: “Hey, you fucking moron; if you want to make a living wage quit and go elsewhere. The days of profit-sharing, pension and a decent working wage are long gone. Now STFU and post a rah-rah review of our company on social media, won’t you? Loser.”

    PS. Do not comment on this post. I will not respond. This is but an FYI marker laid down in time by a poverty-stricken peasant gasping out (bitter-but-true, this-is-what-it-looks-like-from-the-serf’s-end-of-the-new-feudalism) comments into the void.

    PPS. The above is intended as a stinging rebuke/wake-up call to those privileged cretins who simply have no idea how angry, desperate, cynical and clear-sighted certain elements of the down-trodden, ever-marginalized working class have become. You want a revolution? Oh, you didn’t? Too late: You got one, plutocratic oligarchs. Or did you think you could evade the consequences of growing inequality and insulate yourself from social unrest caused by your overweening greed and predatory behavior–forever?

    Time’s up.

    A growing number of informed citizens realize that greedy corporate sociopaths have pitted us against each other in a war of all-against-all for the crumbs that fall from their heavily laden, fatted-calf feasting tables since the late 70s. We’re wise to the game: trickle-down economics (that never trickle down), demonization of the term “socialism” (you say that like it’s a bad thing), an unending series of tax breaks for the rich while simultaneously crying “Poor; poor! Oh, think of the children!” when someone dares suggest we adopt some of the policies and benefits that support the middle and working classes of other industrialized nations. (“Over there” people consider paid family leave, higher wages, longer vacations, socialized medicine, subsidized education, price-controlled utilities and lower-cost internet access not welfare but their birthright as citizens of prosperous, well-educated, communal-focused nations. So–definitely not us, then.)

    As Chris Hedges oftentimes notes: The elites have failed us. Politicians, both conservative and liberal. The judiciary. Academia. The press. What is left to do but declaim Yeats with ringing clarion voice (mark it well; long after I am dead this will read as prophecy):

    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.



    Liked by 9 people

  6. Writing Higher Truth

    “The writer’s job is to tell the truth.” – Ernest Hemingway
    “The core of my writing is not art but truth” – Philip K. Dick

    Two things I know about truth: It is simple, really, when you “get it.” And, our world is full of conflicting truths.

    These simple conflicts make good stories.

    For example, I was born into a world that demanded we kill Germans and Italians and Japanese. But peace was made and commerce began.
    I grew up watching cowboy-shoots-Indian movies. Those truths were simple. Cowboys, good guys; Injuns’, bad. But the more we learned the simple truths of the American Indian, the more we saw ourselves.
    OKAY, BEMS, then. Bug Eyed Monsters from Space became acceptable targets. Until E.T. & others of like ilk made us think life was, itself, good.
    Now, we shoot zombies. Luckily, they’re already dead because we do not believe in killing.

    The higher truth is that we are conflicted creatures. And that makes better stories.

    Liked by 7 people

  7. DocTom says:

    Hello All,
    Just want to take the opportunity to let you all know that Rabbit Hole IV has now been published, and is available through Amazon, etc.
    Also, the Submission Guidelines for Rabbit Hole V are posted. On your phone it should just come up in the menu on the Writers Co-op site. If you’re on a PC go to the Rabbit Hole tab and when you point to it the menu should come up for submission guidelines. Deadline is April 30th, 2022, but believe it or not I’ve already got a few submissions. Don’t worry, we don’t work on a first come, first serve basis.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. Hi Folks: I’ll use the opportunity to promote a book of poetry just published by my partner, Marianne Peel. It is a slim volume of 62 pages, titled “No Distance Between Us,” subtitled “a journey in poems.” It consists of poetry that comments on people she met and travels she made over a couple of decades. Locales include Nepal, China, a refugee camp on the Greek Island of Lesvos, Israel, and the Ukraine, and there are a few poems close to home. The book comes from Shadelandhouse Modern Press, a small publisher out of Lexington, KY. Find them at: . We think it will appeal to those who long to travel again.

    I’ll add that this is her/our first foray into publishing, and though we are very excited, we also feel somewhat asea and are not sure what to do next. The publisher is small and not likely to make a big splash, nor do we know if that would be something to wish for, either. The thing most new writers don’t get is the effort required in promoting a book. We have arranged a couple of readings and a virtual book launch, and will probably do so repeatedly this winter and spring. If there are any suggestions out there, please offer such at your earliest convenience.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Give Marianne our congratulations!
      You might try promoting on Facebook groups with interests mutual to Marianne’s book. Poetry, of course, and maybe some of the locales and groups she has known.
      I’m working on a book about life as a medic in a S.E. Asia hospital during the Vietnam War and would you believe, that hospital has a large Facebook group and the base (no longer ours) has it’s own, larger, group! Obviously, I’ll let those folk know when the book releases.

      Liked by 4 people

      • mimispeike says:

        Uh oh. You just reminded me. I had lost your last piece you sent me in the mess of folders on my desktop. I found it the other day. I’ll read and respond.

        My desktop is a nightmare. Folders within folders within folders. I recently spent an hour tracking down a file of my own.

        Liked by 3 people

    • MARIANNE PEEL is a poet, musician, and retired English teacher. She received Fulbright-Hays Program awards to further her research in Nepal and Turkey and to support her work as a teacher. She also served as an educator in China’s Guizhou province and as a volunteer at Kara Tepe refugee camp in Lesvos, Greece. Peel’s poetry has appeared in numerous print and online journals. No Distance Between Us is her debut book.


      OKAY, Scott. ‘Fess up. How did you get so lucky?

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Mimi, re “What if those space aliens are as loopy as us here on this woebegone hunk of rock?”
    Perfect! I’ve never subscribed to the notion that aliens had to be smarter, more advanced, and possess super powers. Here’s my idea of aliens landing on Earth.

    It was an otherwise ordinary day when the Aliens landed on Earth. God’s Muslim soldiers murdered unarmed civilians, Christians blackmailed souls, businessmen sold weapons and cornered resources while politicians denied everything as Humankind collectively looked up to see strange beings dangling from little umbrellas. No ships. Just Aliens descending in brightly colored spandex suits. They had coarse black hair that their men wore closely cropped and tightly curled and that on their women hung straight down past the shoulders in braided mop-like strands. If they were men and women. It turned out each had both sex organs and employed them simultaneously during unpredictable but noisy mating seizures. They had slanted eyes, large noses and pale white skin. They were three feet tall and fat. It was later learned that each suffered some physical or mental handicap. They had been genetically altered to represent Earthlings.

    Liked by 4 people

    • mimispeike says:

      My thinking is more on the lines of an alien complaining about the food on his spaceship, looking forward to trying the cuisine on earth, taking hostages and forcing them to cook for him.

      I am reminded of a scene from I Remember Mama. Mama corals a woman in a hotel lobby, and writes out directions to treasured family recipes while the famous authoress reads her daughter’s novel.

      An alien foodie, sick to death of freeze-dried space chow. Okay, okay, I’ll keep thinking.

      Liked by 3 people

    • My WIP is “Alien Invasion–There Goes the Neighborhood,” about friendly aliens who want to come to Earth as tourists. They ask permission to visit. Earth lies outside their normal circle of civilized worlds, and they crave the noisy crazy things they can do here, such as gunfights and demolition derbies. They’re also fascinated by our old sci fi movies.
      Where I am right now: the first tour group is standing at the entrance to Disneyland.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. Perry Palin says:

    I’ve mentioned earlier that a friend paid a self publishing firm to put out a collection of short stories. His first press run was 1000 copies, and he needed to sell 700 to break even. The company produced an attractive cover and some good back matter, but other than that, marketing was up to the author. He has a web page, but no one will go there unless they hear about it somehow. I wrote a review of the book that appeared in a regional magazine with a couple thousand readers. Others wrote reviews for other periodicals. He spent a lot of time in readings and signings in bookstores, and speaking in front of any group that would have him. He sold his first 1000 copies in less than a year and has ordered another press run. He would say that his success to date has been due to personal contact in signings and word-of-mouth by early readers. A formula for success, but I don’t know that I would have the energy to do the many appearances.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Perry Palin says:

    A favorite quote from Mark Twain re adjectives and adverbs:

    “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

    I got called out by our writing teacher last winter for using “slowly” in the sentence, “Outside, I backed my old car carefully onto the road, shifted gears, and drifted slowly away.” She said the word was redundant and unneeded. I try to avoid unneeded modifiers, but I won the class over when I explained that in the context of the paragraph, I had to have another lyrical foot in that sentence.

    I have taken an evening writing class in our community each of the last four winters. I’ve had a little more success than most of the other attendees, and I am asked why i take the class. I tell them I learn something from each of them every season. For me it is time well spent.

    Liked by 7 people

  12. TODAY WASHINGTON—The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday that seeks to block a major publishing industry deal in which Penguin Random House proposed to acquire rival Simon & Schuster for nearly $2.18 billion, the latest in a series of aggressive antitrust cases brought under the Biden administration.

    The department, in a lawsuit filed in a Washington, D.C. federal court, alleged the deal would let Penguin Random House—already the world’s largest consumer book publisher as measured by revenue—exert outsized influence over which books are published in the U.S. and how much authors are paid.


    Liked by 3 people

  13. While writing my sci fi trilogy, I inadvertently became a lyricist. How the hell did that happen? Well, my heroine is a singer (so is the alien), so I began chapters with snippets of lyrics to her songs. Snippets became verses, which became entire song lyrics. I thought, if I have lyrics, I need music. So I found a guy to compose music and a vocalist to sing it. I’ve ended up with seven songs, sitting on Soundcloud. These aren’t woo woo sci fi music, but real pop music songs, including one piece of Hawaiian music.
    My question: What do I do with them? Yes, I’ve put links to the songs in my ebooks. I checked out publishing them through a music producer, but the contract scared me off. So I’m asking you for any good ideas.
    Here’s the link: https://galaxytalltales.com/sci-fi-music/
    If you listen to any of them, I recommend you start with:
    — Rocket Girl (a tribute to Elton John’s Rocket Man)
    — Let Me Lead You Astray

    Liked by 4 people

  14. victoracquista says:

    Generally feeling engulfed in quicksand, expending effort to climb free and finding myself sinking further. Acquired rights back on my sci-fi novel and republished it on Amazon and Draft to Digital. Experimenting with Pubby and getting some good results. Shopping for an agent on a satire; waiting to hear on short story submission. Gearing up for final edits from my publisher on novel to be released in August. Overextended on volunteering and planning to pull back.
    Feel bad that I haven’t been as involved here as I would like to be, but I’m spinning too many plates. Fortunately, I do see things improving.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Victor, I might know a publisher.
      They published the following satire that I BETA read (& wrote the book blurb.)

      “Laugh out loud funny! Carl R. Jennings’s comic masterpiece is filled with an incredible menagerie of mad characters.
      And one lustful unicorn.
      A side-splitting swipe at the kings, wizards, witches, and peasants of the days of yore.”
      ~ GD Deckard, Sci-Fi Lampoon Magazine

      Liked by 3 people

      • victoracquista says:

        Hey GD, thanks for the offer. You were kind enough to read this last July after we had coffee together. You commented: “This is great satire. I meant to glance at it for later reading but read the first chapter. By great, I mean ‘The Nihilist’s Pocket Survival Guide to Modern Society’ is very well written and exactly the kind of writing that in a less tolerant society would necessitate your living in a house on the border where you could hop across when the authorities came for you.”
        In our exchange that followed, you mentioned Andrea Dawn at Dark Owl Publishing. Is this the publisher you had in mind?

        Liked by 1 person

  15. mimispeike says:

    I’ve struggled this week, with the page design of my book.

    I spent two days on one page. Halfway through day two, I said, this ain’t working and I can’t make it work. For one thing, that page, the final page of the introduction, was fighting the right page of the spread, the start of chapter one.

    FYI, there is no way to make a mouse look good in that iconic Barbie Doll swimsuit from 1959. Take my advice and don’t try it. I dumped that image, and after another four hours had something I really like.

    Today I dummied up to page twelve, the end of chapter one, and I am excited. It looks damn good. I’d give myself an A for design work. And I am a severe critic of my work.

    I have pages not cookie-cutter, each one arresting in its own right, and they all work together. I still have four images that are in the mock-up stage, but the type is in place and it all works swell.

    Man! This has been one anxiety-making week. Maybe after I give chapter one my final seal of approval I’ll calm down.

    Now, how do I get rid of these damn italics? They won’t delete for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. mimispeike says:

    I’ve just had a brilliant idea, made a valuable addition to my story, and solved the Devolution problem as well.

    Maisie, playing a gypsy seductress, stars in The Taming of the Shrew (not Shakespeare’s version) opposite a new co-star: a shrew! I’m sitting here looking up shrews, finding that one variety, the elephant shrew, has a truly adorable face.

    Unfortunately, shrews don’t live long. Twelve months, according to Google. Maisie’s pissed. She’s faced with a stream of co-star replacements (same thing went on with Rin Tin Tin), whom she has to give acting lessons to.

    Rudolph Rodentino has become more popular than she is. Paramount no longer wants to pair them. He’s surpassed her as a draw. He’s capable of carrying a picture on his own.

    She’s partnered by shrew after shrew! Talentless shrews, the most of them. The quality of Maisie’s co-stars is declining, and her films suffer for it. A DEVOLUTION of her status in Hollywood is underway, from which she will never recover.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter T says:

      I had to provide a familiar animal on the fly and made it an armadillo (a screaming armadillo, to be precise). I looked them up later and found there is actually a pink hairy armadillo. Maybe Maisie could partner with one of them?

      Liked by 1 person

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