Tale of a Story: Voices


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Back in 2006 or 2007, or somewhere in there, I had an idea for a girl who could hear the thoughts of others. Her name was Lucinda…Cinda for short. So i wrote it. And it received an honorable mention from the Writer’s Digest short story competition. I was very excited.

I was so excited, I decided to submit it. Remember Leading Edge magazine from my last post? They published my story “Marked” (the story that didn’t place in the same competition), so I sent “Cinda” to them. It was rejected. Now, the wonderful thing about Leading Edge is that they send feedback from readers. I had comments on why the story didn’t work, which helped me rethink the idea, and I rewrote it.

And submitted it again.

It was rejected again with more comments. Though none of what anyone said clicked in my brain, so I set the story aside.

I went off into the world of writing and did many other things. My writing got better. My writing got darker. At some point, my gaze fell back to “Cinda”, and my creative brain had an idea. A bit of a darker idea, but I LIKED IT.

The whole story changed. I retitled it as “Voices”.

I submitted it to Leading Edge magazine. It had been a while, but I liked working with them, so WHY NOT. Of course, they had moved to e-mail instead of packing the pages off in an envelope, which is super nice.

And I waited. A year later, I sent an e-mail to ask for any updates. They replied that my story had been passed on to the editors. WHICH IS GOOD! Another year later, I inquired again. And got the same answer.

Okay. STILL GOOD. But I was done asking and thinking about it. Time to let it go. Nearly three and a half…maybe four…years later, I got an e-mail accepting “Voices” for publication, as long as it was still available.

Of course, it was available! EEEEEK!

I went through three rounds of edits, working with a wonderful editor, who gave great feedback and was excited every time I made changes, telling me that she was more thrilled with the story as we went. Well, after three-four years of growing as a writer, I made changes, because I wanted “Voices” to reflect my writing now, not three years ago.

And finally, “Voices” was released in issue 73! You can find it here.

I didn’t make the cover this time, but no biggie. My story is in there!

With some cool illustrations! And I got paid!

Publishing is a lot of waiting. A LOT OF WAITING.

Will I submit to Leading Edge again? Maybe. I do like them. I like their magazine. I like how they work. I’ll be prepared to wait, to forget about that submission and move on. I’ll remember that the longer I wait, the better the news will probably be. They get a lot of submissions. And only a few stories make each issue.

To all slogging through the world of publishing, you are not alone. With tiny victories, we will make our way along the path. A path lined with tears and sweat and, most certainly, smiles. We just can’t stop trying.


Tale of a Story: Marked


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*pulls blog out of the land of the forgotten*


I’ve missed my little piece of the blogging universe. So, I’ve returned to share past writing victory. My very first published work and how it came to be.

Back in the world before writing groups and critique partners and Twitter-writer-verse, I wrote a story called “Across the Purple Sands”…probably around 2007. I entered it in the Writers Digest Short Story competition. And it failed to place.

My mom and sisters read it (like I said this was pre-critique partners), and their comments got my creative brain going. I started it in the wrong place. THAT HAPPENS. A lot.

My mom also suggested that I change the title.

So I rewrote it. I added a new beginning. I set up the story and characters better. I changed the title to “Marked”. And I submitted it to a magazine. I took a chance.

I can’t remember how I learned of Leading Edge Magazine, but I sent it…in an envelope. Because that was a long time ago.

And they accepted it!

I vaguely recall screaming. And crying happy tears of disbelief.

I remember one round of edits, where they suggested a few changes and left it up to me what to do. In December of 2008, it was released in issue 56. They paid me actual money and gave me two contributor copies.
The cover? That is an illustration from my story. Dude. I made the cover. There is still one issue left, waiting to find a home here. This was pre-e-books, so only hardcopies exist.


To see my name in print was super great. The whole being a writer thing seemed…doable.

I get the magazine out every once in a while to remind myself that I can do it. Even when it’s just me sitting in front of my computer, I have the ability to put words together.

I’m good enough.

Never give up.

My Creepy Christmas Tree Experiment


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My post with The Midnight Society this week is all about my attempt at creating a creepy Christmas (Creepmas?) tree. However, the photos won’t load on the site, so I am posting them here! And linking the two. Well, I have to try something!

At the end of last year, I found a seven foot slim artificial Christmas tree on clearance and decided to try to make myself a horror-ish tree. What’s one more Christmas tree to set up? Right?

Last Halloween, I found a few items that I thought might help in my mission…


Finally, the day arrived and I dragged the tree up from the basement and set it up.

I have no plan here…just going to wing it…and added the lights.

Only, Halloween ‘purple’ lights are…well, pink.


Back to the beginning…

Luckily, I found some cool white lights shoved somewhere.

Much better.


If you cut out the eyes and put a hole in the bottom of these fun little skulls….

They fit over the light bulbs!









I like that!

Now, onto ribbon. I have ribbon on all my trees. So why not?




Cutting it into strips helps…








Add the black, silver, and white ornaments…







I found white netting…maybe that will add a ghostly feel?

Yeah…no…more bridal. I stripped it off.

At this point, I give up. I have no solid ideas and am throwing stuff at the tree hoping something sticks. BUT NOTHING IS WORKING.

Until I discovered three skulls. Three skulls that missed getting packed into the Halloween boxes. AND I HAVE AN IDEA.





A little paint and a few dowel rods…








Place them in the tree…LIKE A HAUNTED TREE!





Now to add to that…


In the dark, it looks pretty cool!

A good start…I have ideas on what to add next year. A little odd. I lot cool. Something different. Christmas needs creepy too.




Beware! Dark Seas Author/Illustrator Showcase is Live

Today, my short story Inheritance is up on Jolene Haley’s wonderful blog as part of her Beware! Dark Seas author/illustrator showcase, happening ALL MONTH LONG.

This is my fifth year participating. Stories for the themes of haunted house, harvest festival, haunted hotel, and summer camp have all come before, uniting authors and artists with creepy fun. I have fun reading the stories and seeing the artwork, we all celebrate together, no accepting or rejecting…just art.

A HUGE thanks to Jolene for doing this every year. For thinking up a theme, for gathering people to participate, for posting all these stories. She is the best. Seriously.

Anyway…today is my day.

So go read mine. Then stay a while and read a few others. Have fun. But BEWARE!


The Tale of a Story


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Today, a book is released into the wild. An anthology.

And my story Faithless is in it!

I wrote this story a couple years ago for an anthology looking for asylum stories. I read it in my writers’ group, and had mixed reactions. Some people liked it and one or two wanted something else. Something more…asylum residents getting out and killing. But I didn’t want it to be the usual asylum story. So I cleaned it up and submitted it.

It was rejected.

But, I liked this story. I liked that it was different. So I let it sit until I found another place to send it.

One. Two. Three rejections…and I would not give up. Faithless would find a home…somewhere.

And it has.

Not where I thought it would, not in the publication I wrote it for. That’s how it goes.

Publishing. An interesting world of you-never-know-so-never-ever-give-up. What are the editors looking for when they put together a line up of stories for an anthology or magazine? Only they know.

My story was rejected. More than once. I did wonder if the writing smelled like dog poop, or the story left the reader with a whole bunch of confusion.

But I believed in it.

Sure, rejections happen because a story isn’t well-written or doesn’t make sense. But they can mean that the words don’t fit, the story isn’t quite what they were looking for. And with all sorts of people submitting, the choices can be great and choosing can be difficult.

Here’s Schreyer Ink’s blog with submission facts about this book…for the curious.

So many submissions. Mine just a drop in the bucket. But it was chosen.

If you like the weird and creepy…go buy a copy of Twilight Madhouse Vol. 4 on amazon!

Enjoy Faithless, my story exploring faith versus religion in a future where praying can get you a room in the Asylum for the Religiously Afflicted and a visit from Tech MT.

And when you’re submitting, remember…rejections are not always a reflection of your writing talent.

And never ever give up.

Happy Birthday, Jolene!!!


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If you don’t know the marvelous Jolene Haley, you should. She is a rainbow of goodness, a force of light, but wrapped in a bit of shadow. She loves to shine bright, spreading happiness and making the world a better place. Jolene writes a little kissing and a little killing, I personally love the killing.

Lots of death in the book she co-wrote with Brian! You should read it. It was a fun ride!


A few years ago, Jolene invited me to join The Midnight Society, a blog she created to celebrate everything scary, and I said YES! Boy, am I glad I did. Because this gal has been a bright spot in my life, always there with a smile and support to anyone who needs it.

And today is her birthday! In honor of the clownthology she will publish…




Let’s have cake!






We’ll bring presents. 







And food.




And maybe go spend a relaxing day in a peaceful cabin in the woods..


Dear Jolene,

Have a wonderful day. You deserve all the good things for being such an inspiration. Thank you for being you. Thank you for always being there with a smile and words of encouragement. Thank you for showing the world you can spread happiness while loving all the creepiness.






Release Day…WITH YOU ALWAYS by Rena Olsen


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Happy book birthday, Rena!!!

One of my bestest writing friends, one of the Shenanigals, a fantastic writer, Rena sets more of her words free today!

I am so proud of Rena, so grateful that I have been on this writing journey with her. She deserves all the good things and all the Gummy Bears. If you liked her first book, you will like this one.

Let’s celebrate MORE BOOKS!

In the wake of a painful breakup and struggling to prove herself at work, Julia feels adrift. When Bryce blows into her life, he seems like the perfect anchor. Handsome, charming, secure, and confident, Bryce brings out the best in Julia, sweeping her off her feet with attention and affection while grounding her with his certainty and faith. Together they embark on a path guided by the principles of his family and their church, each step a paving stone leading to happily ever after.

But this is no fairy tale.

Step by step, one small concession leading to another, Julia is slowly isolated from her job, her friends, and her family, until she comes to find that her dream come true is a cage. Then one day everything changes…and Julia is faced with no choice but to find a way out.


Want a copy? Of course you do! Go here!


Haven’t read her first book THE GIRL BEFORE? Read it. I cried. I cringed. In the end, I smiled. Go find it here!

Connect with Rena on Twitter, she loves new friends.



Release Day…Running Away by Julie Hutchings


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Today, we celebrate a book birthday! Today we celebrate the great Julie Hutchings (my Gorky!) as she releases her precious into the world! Lover of all things dark and delicious, Julie adds her words, her story to the shadows of the world. Always here for this fabulous person, I want to tell everyone about her new book!

Eliza Morgan is desperate to leave the horrors of her mortal life and understand why death follows her, leaving only one man—Nicholas French—in its wake. He’s the one she loves, the one she resents, and the one fated to make her legendary among the Shinigami—an ancient order of vampires with a “heroic” duty to their victims.

Nicholas is also decaying before her eyes, and it’s her fault.

On the ghostlike mountaintop in Japan, Eliza will be guided by the all-powerful Master for her transition to Shinigami death god. When Eliza discovers that sacrificing her destiny will save Nicholas, she’s not afraid to defy fate to make it so. Both Nicholas and his beloved Master fight her on veering from the path to immortality, but Eliza won’t be talked out of her plan, even if it drives a deeper wedge between her and Nicholas. Not even when Nicholas’s salvation tortures her with puzzle-piece visions, begging her to solve them.

Allying with the fiery rebel, Kieran, who does what he wants and encourages her to do the same, and a mysterious deity that only she can see, Eliza must forge her own path through a maze of primal traditions and rivalries, shameful secrets and dark betrayals, to take back the choices denied her and the Shinigami who see her as their savior. And she’ll start a war to save the loved ones that fate threatens to claim.

Want to find it? I’ll make it easy!

Book Name: Running Away (The Shinigami Vampires series, #2)
Book Genre:
Adult Dark Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Book release date: 08/07/18

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Running-Away-Shinigami-Vampires-Book-ebook/dp/B07FN6QFDH

Running Away (book #2) on Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23263587-running-away

Running Home (book #1) on Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17977192-running-home






Julie’s a mythology-twisting, pizza-hoarding karate-kicker who left her ten-year panty peddling career to devote all her time to writing. She is the author of Running Home,Running Away,TheWind Between Worlds, and forthcoming The Harpy. Julie revels in all things Buffy, Marvel, robots, and drinks more coffee than Juan Valdez and his donkey combined, if that donkey is allowed to drink coffee. Julie lives in Plymouth, MA, constantly awaiting thunderstorms with her wildly supportive husband, two magnificent boys, and a reptile army.

And that is why she’s awesome.




Because you WANT to connect with her. YOU DO!


Twitter:@hutchingsjulie|Facebook| Website:https://juliehutchings.net/

Julieon Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7104966.Julie_Hutchings

Email:juleshutch@outlook.com or fill out my contact form.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a thing!



Running Home

The Wind Between Worlds

Standing Still (free through Instafreebie)



Dark Carnival: An Anthology of Horror

Halloween Night: Trick or Treat

Summer’s Edge



Visit her blog


Don’t forget to join in on the book buzz using hashtag#ShinigamiSeries

There you are! Another book out in the world. Sound good to you? GO READ IT!

Feedback…Ready Your Mind and Heart


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Feedback. So necessary. And sometimes completely heart-breaking.

Comments for my MG are coming in.

We all know how to react, what to do. Read it. Step back. Let it all sink in. Calmly. Let your creative brain sort through the comments and figure out what helps the manuscript and what doesn’t. Logically look at what you’ve written and prepare to delete and add and change all the things.

And we know what really happens when you first read comments…

Before you can let them sit, before you can step back, before you put the wall around your heart.


Yeah, that.

I live there now.

For a minute…or two.

One person sent me feedback and I am a mess. And I know better.


Self-doubt is weighing me down at the moment. Writer-me is struggling. So many decisions. So many words. So many questions. Things I should do…am thinking of doing…choices I face.

I remember a time when my writing was moving forward…then it stopped, standing still, motionless…now I feel as if I am moving backwards, being swept away.

I struggle against the current. A force we all fight sometimes.

But we need feedback. We need to know how others react to what we do. Every time, we open the door for doubt, we unlock the fear of failure…possibly right after we got that sucker chained down.

But we don’t stop writing. We can’t. It’s who we are. It’s what we do.

Now I prepare to really think about this manuscript. Think about what I want it to be. Fix what didn’t work. Hopefully make it into what it is meant to be…because of the kindness of others who read it.

The Ridiculousness and Frustration of Writing Queries


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The query letter.


I know. That word can send every writer running for their blanket fort. Well, not every writer…some like to write them.

Well, not this writer.

But here I am. Time to write a query. Or at least something that looks and acts like one that I can revise a million times before finally giving up and sending it.

A query. There are formats to follow. Guidelines. Things to include. Things not to include. Ways to write it. Ways not to write it. The more you read about them, the more hair-pulling there is. So many opinions.

In the end, it’s a get it the way you like it and pray.

Because there is no right way to write a query, though some people will tell you there is. Like our precious manuscripts, a query is as individual as we are.

Begin with a paragraph having the title and word count…or end with it.

Write a one line hook at the beginning or…just go into the meat of the story.

Write in the style and voice of the manuscript in present tense.

Give enough detail to grow interest, to make your letter stand out, but not too much that the query is too long.

There are formulas…there are guidelines. Use those! Get something on the screen, then make it your own. Want to try something really out of the box? Do it.

Ending with a question is frowned upon, but…people still like them.

Write a bio…or not…or kinda…

Individualize your query for each person you send it to. It can help…or it might not matter.

Spelling and grammar! Though we are all human…therefore we make mistakes. People understand this.

Book comps. I struggled with this, until I figured out that comp titles aren’t just which books my book is like, but which books they can share a shelf with. If a reader likes this book, they’ll like mine because of the tone or content.


Here’s what I focus on.

Set up the main character. Who they are and what they want.

Set up conflict…what stands in the way of them getting what they want?

What do they do to fight for what they want?

Then the big choice, the moment they face a decision and what they risk if they choose one path over another.

The biggest thing…focus on the MAIN story line. It’s so easy to want to write in the other plot lines weaving through the story, but words are sacred here. You only have so many.

I like to put the title, word count, and bio stuff at the end.

At some point you are pretty happy with it! Then you let people read it. Then writing a query goes haywire.

Everyone has their own way of doing it and all the comments on what to change will overwhelm your tired query-logged mind. I can guarantee that what one person loves, someone else won’t. The problem is…when you send out your lovely queries, you never know who will like what. One person will toss it in the no-way pile and another person will request pages.

A good query is essential. And so hard! And ridiculous. And frustrating.

So I’ll write a query. I’ll have people comment on it. Then I’ll do what I want.

One constant about the query…it has to come from you. It’s about your manuscript. Do what feels right to you.

Then pray. Wish upon a star. Brew a good-luck potion.

And wait.