Uncategorized, Writers Co-op


If you are writing with a program other than Microsoft Word, please tell us what you think of it in the Comments Section. Your experience may help others.

For those considering using a program made specifically for writers, here’s an idea of what’s out there.

Scrivener is considered by many to be the premier book writing software. It is made by writers for writers. Scrivener’s “binder” view allows you to break up your book into chapters and sections and easily reorganize it. Project targets let you create word count goals and then track your progress daily. Its composition mode can help you stay focused by removing all the clutter. Plus, it allows you to format for publishing (e.g. on Amazon or Barnes & Noble).

Writemonkey is a Windows zenware* writing application with an extremely stripped down user interface, leaving you alone with your thoughts and your words. It is light, fast and free. With an array of innovative tools under the hood and full Markdown* support, it helps you write better.

Mac OS:
Storyist is a creative writing application for Mac OS X and iPad. Tailored for novelists and screenwriters, it provides a word processor, a cork board with support for index cards and photos, an outliner, and a project manager.

For other suggestions, see this comparison with pricing & website links:
The Best Creative Writing Software of 2018

Personally, I start a new story on the old Microsoft Notepad because, in the early formative stage, I don’t want to be distracted by spellcheck, grammar check or any other checks on my thoughts.  I then use Word because it’s universal and I’m used to it. meh.

What do you use?

Flash Fiction, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Flash Fiction Fun

What might be the shortest story is accredited to Hemingway:
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Write an extremely brief story and post it in the comments.
I’ll start with:


+++More interested in the lady bug on her wand than in the instructor’s question, Mary answered, very carefully pronouncing, “ex tempore de integro.”
+++Spellmaster Pritchart wrote “Time Loop” on the blackboard. “Anyone know what this is? If you do, please remember to be very careful using this spell. It causes time to start over one minute in the past.”
+++More interested in the lady bug on her wand than in the instructor’s question, Mary answered, very carefully pronouncing, “ex tempore de integro.”


publishing, Stories, Uncategorized

Editors Choosing Stories

Imagine an app that lets you capture the email exchange between editors as they work to make the initial selection of stories for inclusion in an anthology. You would probably see comments like the following.
The comments are real. I didn’t identify the writers or their stories, of course. And the editors themselves, I’ll call Billy, Bob & Joe.

Billy: I find that the first read, leading to ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘maybe’, is pretty quick – just a matter of deciding if the writing’s ok and the story itself is interesting. After that we could compare lists and consolidate the categories. The main editing is obviously with the ‘maybes’ ones, but how many of those we decide to continue with will depend on how many ‘yeses’ we’ve got and the overall length we’re looking for.
Bob: I’m in. Sounds like fun.
Joe: Excellent! Send me some stories and I’ll get right on it!

Billy: Here they all are then, with names and emails removed. You can look at number #23 if you want, but, having read it, I don’t think it’s good enough to justify being included at over twice the maximum word count, even if we’re flexible.

Joe: My first thought on #23 is, we should only have to put up with writers who break the rules if they’re good writers.

Bob: I often tend to spot potential and think, ‘Ah, that story would be great if such and such…’ But it then depends how ready writers are to accept editorial suggestions.

Bob: Some of my choices are pretty soft. Shorter pieces tended to beneift from their brevity (including most of the poetry). In some cases I liked the quality or originality of the writing but wasn’t sure about the subject matter. A few showed promise but didn’t really have an ending.

Joe: Maybe on #12. I have a hard time judging a 20-page mental monologue. It put me to sleep. But, that’s just me.

Bob: You are right. Taste is subjective but there are objective qualities of good writing. A lot of the stories, even if they are competently wrtitten from a nuts and bolts perspective, are still sadly lacking when it comes to pacing, plot, realistic dialogue, that sort of thing — almost perplexingly so, in some cases.

Bob: As far as #24, I can take it or leave it. It would need a ton of cutting even if we did include it.

Billy: Yes on #14, if trimmed – takes a long time to deal with all the characters for no real gain to the story. Otherwise nice.

Joe: Yes on #47. Good story, well written, even if the hidden weapon seemed to magically appear when needed.

Billy: yes on #22 – dry and mischievous humor, nicely done.

Joe: No on #33. All tell, no show. (It could be brilliant in the end, but, my eyes glazed over before I got there.)

Bob: #48 is an okay idea for a story, but the writing is only meh, and the characters are so dull. They felt like unfinished holoprojections of people. I wish they had been. That would’ve been more interesting than the actual story.

Bob: #27 left me flat from the beginning, and you’re spot on about the ending. It was half a mouthful of nothing.

Joe: Maybe on #18. I like poetry that invokes feelings or images but I find these lines too
obscure to tantalize.

Bob: I wish the author of #38 had flipped the ending in some interesting way. As it is, it’s more like a five minute Hallmark made-for-TV special about how nice guys sometimes win after all. Heartwarming, I suppose, but ho-hum.

Joe: No on #16. Well done, but …thousands of words without dialogue until the last paragraph? My mind glassed over before then.

Billy: A minor flurry of submissions at the end, making a very healthy tally of 56 at the deadline. Now for the hard decisions…

blogging, inspiration, Research, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

The Writer’s Muse & Inner Critic

Above, Roger W. Sperry, 1913-1994

In his blog “How to Discover Your Writer’s Muse” Harvey points out that creativity springs from the right side of our brain while your knowledge of writing resides in the left side.
“Your writing muse lives in the right side of your brain – the side where all the creative work takes place. The critic lives in the logical left side. The muse has access to your unconscious mind – the place where you dream and imagine and store your hidden memories. The critic has no time for such nonsense. You use your creative side (or your writer’s muse) to supply you with great raw material. Then you use your logical side (or your inner-critic) to make sense of it all and knock it into shape.”

Harvey is suggesting that the more we know about muses, the more we can trust our own. Another way of putting it is, teach the left brain about muses and the right brain can form a useful muse. For those interested, his piece is at:

And, for those who wonder how much truth there can be in this approach, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine of 1981 was awarded to Dr. Roger W. Sperry, “for his discoveries concerning the functional specialization of the cerebral hemispheres.”

Warning, though. Anyone reading Sperry’s experiments may forever think differently of themselves.


What I did on my vacation.

Wasted a lot of time (watched/read a lot of news). Messed around with my plants. I’ve got two pots of asparagus sprouted way too early. Can I keep them going until I can move them outside? I kinda jumped the gun with them. Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah, I built a website.

We need to keep moving forward, in any way we can. To do otherwise is to give up. If I’m not moving forward on my story (I am, but slowly) I’m moving forward in other areas. Movement is essential for our mental health.

I’d meant to spend the week writing. I began fooling around on WordPress and never got to my next (new) chapter. I only have a title so far: The Crystal Visions. (John Dee thought he was able to talk to angels.)

My website is a big step for me. I have eight chapters of book three posted, and I’m pretty happy with them. I’ve got a format I like, for the most part. What I don’t like is how the type migrates. I’m trying to structure my headings so they don’t fall in danger zones and get separated from the body type they’re supposed to be allied with. It’s tricky. This is why I threw in the towel on Wix.

Wix is a nightmare for slippage. You have complete freedom, that’s the problem there. You can do fabulous things, lovely layouts that are a disaster when the page is resized. You have complete freedom to anthing you like, as long as you get out your ten tons of coal a day – who knows where that’s from?

I still have the illustration to create, and that’s scary. I’m working up to it, gathering reference material, cleaning off my drawing table that has been a junk catcher for months. Do I call that a step forward? I do. A tiny step forward. Yeah, I’m pathetic, and I know it.

I’m not going to announce the address of my site until I have three or four pieces of my own art up. At present I have images off Pinterest dummied in as placeholders and as an indication of what incidents I intend to focus on.

I allow myself to get excited about a big response when I finally get my PR effort underway. Reality hasn’t slapped me down yet. Just what the world needs, right? Another version of Puss in Boots?

I’m in a bittersweet mood. I’m proud of what I’ve done with the website. I think it looks damn good. I’m come a long way, but I have a long way to go.

I’ll feel better when I have a finished drawing of Dee in his loopy pharaoh costume, worn for his séances, pulled from a book on the Edwardian theater, ‘The Modern Stage of Today’, copyright 1910. Fabulous characterizations, fabulous costumes. James O’Neill is in there, and a somebody Arbuckle (the book’s downstairs) that I’ve always thought might be Fatty Arbuckle before he hit the silver screen. One of these days I’ll look it up.

Yeah, another silly post, but at least I’ve cranked something out and maybe given GD a break. He’s a trooper.

What about everybody else? What have you done lately that feels like a step forward?


What can I say except – stay positive.


Update: I have discovered that my template ‘cols’ is more flexible than I thought. There is, apparently, a way to isolate articles on a page. That would solve a lot of my problems. Thus, I could have more than one chapter per page. (They’re very short chapters.) There is also a plug-in for pull quotes. (Also on my wish list.)


About Writers, blogging, inspiration, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Author’s Voice

An author’s voice is that part of writing style that sets the author apart from other writers, even those writing in the same style.
“It’s your personality coming through on the page, by your language use and word choice. When you read a Dave Barry column, you know it’s his. Why? He’s developed a distinct writing voice.”
– Brian A. Klems, The Writer’s Digest

Here’s an example of a clear, distinct writer’s voice.

+++The corner of Heinzie’s mouth clenches. “The daughter of my professor made eyes at me. He got wind of it. He expected better for her than – one of no extraordinary expectations is how he put it. He went for the throat. He questioned the quality of my scholarship, accused me of plagiarism, destroyed me.”
+++“Did you plagiarize?”
+++“Please. Water under the bridge.”
+++“We all have skeletons. Beg, borrow and steal is my motto.”
+++“I landed at a lesser university, nowhere near the prestige. There I chanced upon the freifrau, hunting for a tutor to instruct a precocious child with great potential. Precocious! I can think of better words. Pestilential, for one. Worn down from barely getting by, pea soup in a frigid garret – you may know the routine – I jumped on it.”
+++“I lived high during my student days, but I feel your pain.”
+++“You might’s well –” Heinz is beginning to slur his speech “– hear it all. To seduce a fine fortune, I felt it not beyond me. Annette worships scholarship, and I am a pretty fellow, why deny it? I set to work at being the prochain ami, the best friend, at her beck and call, as solicitous as closest kin. My previous dalliance influencing my choice, I fixed my sight on –” he paused to refill his glass – “Sir! To the darling Drusilla.”
+++“Drusilla? Lord Above! I guessed Annette. Drusilla! How do you cope with the brat? She’s driving my poor cat wild.”
+++“Ha! You can say that again!” hoots Sly. Dee kicks his box.
 – Mimi Spieke, Sly / A Rogue, Reconsidered / Book 3: The Rogue Regrets

What other authors  have a notably distinct writer’s voice? What about your own?



Newsletters are used by many authors to keep in touch with readers. There are good services available (Mailchimp comes to mind) to easily distribute your newsletter.
If you haven’t done one, or are not satisfied with the one you are doing, consider blending a bit of humor with interesting, and sometimes personal, information.

Here’s a great example of a newsletter.
It’s from Curtis Bausse, author of the Magali Rousseau mystery series.

Bonjour, bienvenue à La Lettre
Today it’s all about…
Victims and villains

Newsletter 6

   And let’s leap straight in with the question:       
Who is the greatest villain of all time?
As you may know, the mystery writer Dashiell Hammett worked for the Pinkerton Detective Agency. What’s less well-known is that Allan Pinkerton, who founded the agency, died after biting his tongue. More precisely, he slipped on the pavement, and his tongue, which he bit in the fall, became infected with gangrene.

Maybe we can put that down to the Moirai – the three fates in Greek mythology. Clotho spins the thread of life, Lachesis measures how much each one of us will get, and at the appointed time, Atropos, known as ‘the inflexible’, comes along and cuts it.

Last year, the French fitness blogger Rebecca Burger died when putting whipped cream on her dessert – the canister exploded, hit her in the chest and gave her a heart attack. Atropos clearly has all manner of tricks up her sleeve. As this list of ironic deaths shows (my favourite is Clement Vallandigham).

Of course, it may not be fair to think of Atropos as a villain. Since we’re all bound to die, she’s only doing her job, after all. But she seems to delight in setting about it in a totally arbitrary fashion.

Her male counterpart, The Grim Reaper, with his long scythe and hooded robe, appeared in the 14th century, decimating a third of Europe’s population by means of the plague. Who survived? Who didn’t? Only he decided.

It’s the same with terror attacks – the villains are easier to identify, and hopefully bring to justice, but for the victims, it’s a matter of wrong place, wrong time. Or serial killers – the villain in One Green Bottle devises an elaborate system for choosing his victims, but for them it might as well be the Grim Reaper.

While death may at times seem arbitrary, it’s a sad fact that all too often, it isn’t: the victims aren’t chosen at random – they live with the person who kills them. And it’s worth bearing in mind, this 8th March, that most of the time, they’re women. In France, on average, a woman is killed by her partner (or ex) every three days.

It isn’t always murder, though; there’s psychological torment too. Magali Rousseau’s husband is a bit of a bully that way – no wonder she finds herself much better off without him. Even if, thankfully, his villainy falls way short of Gregory Anton’s gaslighting in the film which gave its name to such bullying (video, 2 min 30).

Though Magali’s resourceful enough not to be victimised by anyone, one skill she doesn’t possess is jiu-jitsu. So if you’re looking for women who kick ass, how about The Arrival, the first (free) book in Nicole McDonald’s Birthright Trilogy, ‘an Epic Fantasy Romance with women who know how to wield a sword and swing a punch.’

And while we’re on the subject, here’s a link to a few more victims in six cosy mysteries for just $7.99.

The Fatal Cloth

Billy was burly, brutish and rough,
Millie so fearful, fragile and weak.
‘This time I’ll tell him I’ve had enough,’
She said to herself – but dared not speak.

All her efforts to placate her man
Only managed to increase his wrath.
Until, demented, Billy began
To strangle Millie with a strip of cloth.

Sobbing, she realised this was the date
Chosen on high for her life to end.
And Millie was ready to meet her fate
When she remembered she had a friend.

‘Billy, this cloth will be your loss!’
She cried as she unravelled a thread,
Then summoning faithful Atropos
She grabbed some scissors and left him…

Finally, episode 6 of the Authorised Biography of Curtis, both as text and in audio, complete with sound effects.

‘Poor me,’ said Curtis to his constant, cuddly companion, Kenny Koala. ‘I am a victim.’

‘Crikey!’ Kenny was surprised. ‘Of what?’

‘That’s just the point. I don’t know. A scam? A cruel joke? A gross miscarriage of justice? Or all of the above combined. Together with an entirely gratuitous act of perversity that has resulted in me being alive. They say that life is a gift, Kenny, but what am I supposed to do with it? There’s no instruction manual. Is it something to be enjoyed? But why, in that case, am I so helpless? Everyone else can walk and talk, but all I can do is crawl, and poorly at that. I simply end up bumping into chairs and falling on my chin. Life hurts, Kenny! Life is an endless succession of cuts and bruises. Not to mention a runny nose, a sore botty and teething pains. A gift? What kind of sadist comes up with a gift like that? And the worst part is I’m not even sure it’s going to get any better. Have you heard what happens in the world beyond our pram? Here, let me switch on the wireless for you.’

Kenny listened for a while, then nodded sagely. ‘Terrible indeed, mate. But let me put things into perspective. Not so long ago I was up a tree in New South Wales, happily munching a cheese and eucalyptus sanger, when along comes some scungy mongrel and throws a net round me. I was devvo, mate, no two ways about it. And before I know it I’m in a cage on some stinking boat bound for the UK. Where I fetch up sharing a pram with a first-class whinger who spits the dummy every two minutes and demands to know what the meaning of life is. Strewth! Call yourself a victim – what about me, mate? But have you heard me complain? Not a bit of it. Life is absurd, Curtis. That’s all there is to it, so you’d better get used to it. Now let’s just twiddle that knob and see if there’s something better.’

Curtis, anxious not to upset his only friend, heaved an existentially calibrated sigh. ‘Ah, well, Kenny, I guess you’re right. There’s nothing for it but to make the best of a bad job.’

‘Good onya, that’s the stuff!’ Kenny gave him a hearty slap on the back. ‘Fair dinkum, mate!’

Sadly, Kenny Koala is no more, but his is an excellent lesson in life, which has stood me in good stead ever since. Much as I disapprove of the scungy mongrel who captured him, I would never otherwise have had the privilege of sharing a pram with such a capital koala.

Bien à vous,


Episode 5: A Precautionary Measure (3 min)
Episode 4: Wet and Wetter (3 min 30)
Episode 3: The Middle of Nowhere (3 min30)
Episode 2: Why? The discovery of nothingness(3 mins)
Episode 1: The Vaginal Voyage. (3 mins)

Copyright © 2018 Curtis Bausse, All rights reserved.
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Chemin du Viaduc, Aix en Provence

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