Submit Your Stories Sunday: Wonders

Welcome to this week’s edition of Submit Your Stories Sunday! Every week I bring you a unique call for submissions to help you find a home for your stories or inspire a new one. Each call will contain a speculative element and will offer payment upon acceptance. Next, I’ll recommend a book to help inspire your story submission.

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Cast of Wonders

Eligibility: Stories written for an audience of 12-17 years, filled with wonder and emotional resonance. High fantasy, science fiction, and horror are welcome providing they can no adult elements.

Take Note: Cast of Wonder is accepting both flash fiction and short stories during this submission window. Be aware that all submissions are anonymous and adjust your manuscript accordingly.

What makes this call stand out: Cast of Wonders offers pro rates to writers and give you the chance to hear your story read by a voice professional on their highly rated podcast

Payment: $0.06 per word, USD.

Submit by: the current submission window closes December 15th, 2018, but check their schedule in the link below for upcoming dates if you miss this one.

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A Book to Inspire Your Submission:

Jeff Vandermeer’s Wonderbook: the Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction is an art-rich extravaganza for the writer’s senses. Featuring essays and contributions from Neil Gaiman, the late Ursula K. Le Guin, Nnedi Okorafor, Catherynne M. Valente, and many more, there is something within these pages for every writer to learn.

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My first attempt to read this book from cover to cover faltered, but keeping it on my bookshelf and dipping into chapters as I need guidance has given me much inspiration. For those who like to know exactly what they’re getting into, the chapter heading are as follows; Inspiration and the Creative Life, the Ecosystem of a Story, Beginnings and Endings, Narrative Design, Characterization, Worldbuilding, and Revision. Included are some of the wildest infographics I’ve seen yet.

This book mimics a university text, but it sets aside the dullness for feats of the imagination and pockets of real wonder. Find a copy, flip through it, and see if you don’t agree.

In writing news, I have a flash fiction story published in the latest Fantasy Files newsletter from Engen Books. You can read it for free here.

Happy writing!

 

 

Sister Toad

A witch turned Breanne into a toad for making fun of the witch’s warts. “I earned every one with a spell well done,” muttered the witch as she walked away. Now Breanne had warts of her own and hid underground where no one could see her.

The only person she would allow to visit was her sister, Senora, who came every Saturday.

Years passed. The girls grew up.

One Saturday Senora made an announcement. “You should know, I took up magic. I’ve studied and studied and I’ve finally got a spell to turn you back into a girl.”

Breanne croaked with joy.

Senora shut the door and hung her lantern on a root. She cleared her throat and readied herself for the spell. “Toadstools to footstools, nightmares into dreams, turn sister toad into a girl!”

There was a shimmer of light and Breanne the girl stood where the toad had been.

“It worked!” Senora whooped with pride.

Breanne gazed at her hands, whole and unwebbed at last. How she had missed them. How she had missed her own beautiful face! She yearned for a mirror.

Breanne reached out to embrace her sister, grimacing as she noticed a witch wart appear on the end of Senora’s nose. “Gross! You’ve got warts.”

Senora’s anger crackled in the air. “It’s a badge of honor for a working spell.”

“Ugh. Get rid of it.”

“As you wish, you ungrateful toad.” Senora’s spell dissolved, the wart disappeared, and her sister turned back into a toad.

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Submit Your Stories Sunday: Supernatural Tales

Welcome to this week’s edition of Submit Your Stories Sunday! Every week I bring you a unique call for submissions to help you find a home for your stories or inspire a new one. Each call will contain a speculative element and will offer payment upon acceptance. Next, I recommend a book to help inspire your story submission and finish off with a list of the best writing-related articles I came across this week.

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Vampires, Zombies, and Ghosts

Eligibility: stories from 1200-6000 words in any genre containing supernatural beings

Take Note: despite the tentative title, Smoking Press is looking for stories of supernatural beings outside of vampires, zombies, and ghosts as well .

Payment: $20 USD plus two complimentary paperback for writers in Canada and the U.S., and/or $20 USD plus one complimentary paperback for writers outside of Canada and the U.S.

Submit by: December 15th, 2018

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A book to inspire your writing:

For purposes of supernatural inspiration, I recommend you pick up one of Hugo and Nebula award winning  author Seanan McGuire’s October Daye books. The twelfth book in this series came out last August (Night and Silence) and another is scheduled for 2019 release. The first book is entitled Rosemary and Rue and you can probably find it at your local library or on their overdrive app. This is urban fantasy at its finest and McGuire never fails to deliver the intricate and unexpected.

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The series follows Toby, or October, Daye, a fairy changeling working as a private investigator. Her cases focus on the collision of fairy and human in a world with such depth I’ve often wondered if I’ll feel I’ve wandered through it all. Wonder and tension, magic and murder, cityscapes and fairyland are layered upon the page in stories you’ll wish your imagination had come up with.

Toby’s own history and personal flaws make her readable and identifiable. She’s only half-fae, standing on the outside, though not quite as outside as a mundane reader, which makes her the perfect interpreter of the fairy world. This isn’t Tinkerbell or teeny tiny angelic insects, this is the fae of Celtic mythology and you’d better be on guard for tricksters.

Though the series began in 2009, the early books still have a freshness to them that sucks you in with thoughts of “ooooh, I haven’t read THIS before.”

To the library!

Writerly links worth sharing this week:

This article in Gizmodo tackles the idea of utopias and why humanity may benefit from a break from all of this dystopia.

Happy writing!

IWSG: NaNoWriMo in a power failure

Welcome writers and readers! This is the first Wednesday of the month, and that means its time for the monthly Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG) post. You can read the other authors’ IWSG posts here.

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It’s November, and November is a magical month for writers. Its the month we all get together and stop talking about writing, complaining about writing, etc etc, and we write. The official goal of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is 50 000 words, or 1 667 written words per day. The point of the thing is taking up a challenge with a wealth of support around you, and that’s where the magic lies.

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How it feels to hit your wordcount for NaNoWriMo,                                Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

This year, I have a list of some twenty-five orphaned story ideas I gleaned from my notebooks. As many words as it takes, I vowed to my would-be stories, I will write you this November.

Now, every past NaNoWriMo I’ve participated in, I wrote by hand and tallied up my words on the corner of every page at the end of the day. I prefer to write this way, and I’d won NaNoWriMo enough times to feel confident doing it this way (if you’re curious how to verify, check the rules for ‘the Luddite clause’ for instructions). However, with this year’s goal I need to hit some serious wordage so I decided to type it on the laptop instead.

This is probably the moment in the story where the universe laughs maniacally and the heroine’s fate is sealed. Or it would be, if I was a heroine or a goddess and not a scruffy looking story hunter fresh from the woods.

I started off, ploughing through the first short story a random number generator chose from list. Everything was wonderful and that glorious creative high I always get from a November writing spree was settling into my brain, turbocharging my creativity when a storm with 100km (that’s at least a million mph) winds loomed on the weather forecast.

I backed up my project and I warned my friends to do the same. I can only hope they listened and no stories were lost.

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Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Rain splattered the house, winds ripped at the roof. The power went out. Trees crashed down in the enchanted forest surrounding the house.

The howling and crashing woke both of the kids, frightened by the fury outside their windows. We pulled a mattress into the living room, far from the windows facing the wind, and snuggled into a groggy, sleepless night.

The storm faded by morning but the power didn’t come back on. My laptop battery was strong enough I didn’t worry that first day. I kept writing, twitching now and again for the lost ability to google facts in a pinch, but happy to have a distraction from the outage. The girls played with Lego and roasted hotdogs in our fireplace and thought it all a grand adventure.

I found a branch flung from a tree and lodged a solid 30 cm into the lawn by the force of the last night’s wind. It stuck up into the air, a failed assassin. I left it there and wrote it into a story.

The second day my eldest left for school and the baby didn’t mind the lack of electricity once the sun came up. The freezer was failing. The fridge didn’t smell right. Despite only turning on my laptop for writing into a word document, the battery ran low. I missed that encouraging little bar graph on the NaNoWriMo stats page like an addict misses their fix.

We don’t have a generator, so I started our pick-up and ran an extension cord from the outlet in the box into the house, you know, just like grandpa used to do before electricity. I tell ya, we live in The Future, folks.  I charged the laptop while I charged my phone in the cigarette lighter. The fridge and freezer got their turn and we weren’t any worse for the power outage. It was almost fun.

The third day school was cancelled, and the sun never made it through the clouds properly. The house was dim, the kids were bored and stuck indoors while a cool rain fell through thick fog outside. It stopped being fun. Tempers flared. The last hotdog was roasted in a hail of whining.

I kept writing. It seemed as though I wrote so much more with the power out, after all, there wasn’t much else to do besides read and after the sun set that was out (I wanted to conserve the flashlights for when the kids were up). A laptop, candlelight, and NaNoWriMo – is there a better date a writer could take themself on? I think not.

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actual photo of NaNoWriMo 2018

In the end, I didn’t actually end up writing any more than I did with power, probably because there wasn’t any way to distract the girls and focus on my work.

We bathed in pond water I heated on the woodstove. That’s going in a story someday. It gave me the best hair day I’ve had since becoming a mom, which makes no sense, because that pond feeds our well which feeds our… shower. *Shrugs.*

Tuesday night, last night, the power came back on. After so long without the internet I admit I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by all that social media out there, distracting me from my writing, but again, I didn’t write any more on days without power than I did with. If you’re looking for an anti-social media message, this isn’t it. I like the sense of community I get from my writer’s groups.

I didn’t, however, like missing Doctor Who. Best get back to writing so I can hit my word count and stream it guilt-free later.

Submit Your Stories Sunday on Tuesday: classic fantasy

Hey writers! Sorry for the delay on this week’s edition of Submit Your Stories. My power failed, and thus our internet, Saturday night in a rather terrifying storm. First a migraine, then a power failure, is the universe conspiring to keep you from submitting your stories?

Of course not. Nip that negative thought in the bud, because my power is back on and here is this week’s edition edition of Submit Your Stories Sunday! Every week I bring you a unique call for submissions to help you find a home for your stories or inspire a new one. Each call will contain a speculative element and will offer payment upon acceptance.

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Inklings Press Fantasy Anthology (title TBA)

Eligibility: Surprising and exciting fantasy stories near the 5 000 word mark, written for a PG-13 audience.

Take Note: Sword and sorcery welcomed, but urban fantasy might be a stretch. It’s worth noting further still that this publisher is named after Tolkien and C. S. Lewis’ critique group, the Inklings, which offers a fair clue to the classic style of fantasy they enjoy.

What makes this call stand out: paperback copies are available at cost for authors to sell at conventions, websites, etc.

Payment: $50 per story

Submit by: December 31st, 2018

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A Book to Inspire Your Submission:

Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a classic fantasy story that will help your soul escape from any trappings of reality. I loved every moment spent inside this book. More than once I had to put it down and savor the moments. The actual scene, near the beginning, where the witch accidentally feeds the baby moonlight instead of starlight, stayed with me for a long time. The magical writing combined with vivid imagery reminded me exactly why I write. It’s for those moments.

The rest of the book doesn’t disappoint. It speaks of the misunderstandings we are unaware of that lay underneath our communities and cultures. After a baby is left abandoned in the forest, a kind witch rescues her, as she does for every baby left there, year after year. After the moonlight feeding incident, the witch keeps this baby rather than delivering her to a family for raising. She binds the moonlight magic filled baby Luna and raises her alongside a tiny dragon and swamp monster. But little Luna grows and soon her magic starts spilling out and… SPOILERS, REDACTED.

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Treebeard approved

If you’re a fan of classic fantasy and glorious storytelling, find this book. You won’t regret it. With a little luck you might even find some moonlight to drink and en-magick yourself.

Writerly links worth sharing this week:

This crazy news story reads like fiction. NSFW due to language.

NaNoWriMo has started and I’ve had some low points already that sent me into the pep talks archive. This one, written by author Catherynne M. Valente, inspired me through a bad patch.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo and want to be writing buddies, my username is naturegirl and I’m writing through a growing stack of short story ideas this month. What are you working on?

 

hashtag writer problems

RCMP officers wait on the road ahead, a routine traffic stop*. I slow down, stop, and an RCMP officer looks inside my window, checking my seatbelt and my inspection sticker. “What are you up to this weekend?”

Editing my novel, officer. But I try to be clever. Uniforms make me nervous. “Oh, just killing my darlings.”

The officer flicks their flashlight to the kids sleeping in their car seats. “Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to step out of your vehicle.”

“What? No, it’s okay! I’m a writer. You know, that old William Faulkner quote. He said ‘to be a writer, you must kill all your darlings.’ Ha ha?”

“You have the right to remain silent, ma’am. Anything you say… ”

 

*this is just a bit of silly fiction. I didn’t get arrested, Mom.

a week off

Hello everyone, I’ve had a migraine most of the week and haven’t been able to read or write. Rather than fight it and make matters worse, I’m taking this week off from my regular posts, which means the next Submit Your Stories Sunday will be the first Sunday in November. My apologies.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for a home for a story check out ralan.com or the Grinder. Good luck. Keep writing. I’m rooting for you.

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Kidlit Edition

Welcome to this week’s edition of Submit Your Stories Sunday! Every week I bring you a unique call for submissions to help you find a home for your stories or inspire a new one. Each call will contain a speculative element and will offer payment upon acceptance.

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Zizzle

Eligibility: Zizzle is a middle-grade ‘bookzine’ seeking stories from 500 to 1200 words which will appeal to readers 10 and up, including adults.

Take Note: their submission says that submissions are “free until December 31st, 2018.” Does that mean they will charge for submissions in 2019? Not sure, but I’d recommend subbing before the new year to err on the side of caution.

What makes this call stand out: these hardcover print magazines are stunning, the pay is wonderful, and yahoo, its a new kidlit market!

Payment: $100 USD per story.

Submit by: ongoing submissions, but don’t miss the section above regarding December 31st.

Click here to go to the original call for details.

What I’m Reading:

The kids and I have made our way through Eeny Meeny Miney Mo: Tales for Tired Tykes. It’s a fun book of bedtime stories. The girls love picking out the story by choosing a picture and little Nimia is delighted by the bold colors and simple lines of Jon Stubbington’s illustrations.

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Table of Contents, with art by Jon Stubbington

Before I go deeper into my review, a caveat. There is a wide breadth of stories in here. There are sports stories, mindfulness tales, and many more, meant to appeal to a wide range of kids, but not necessarily to me. That bias will affect my reviews so I’m going to stick with the fantasy stories for my review, because that’s my wheelhouse. This is ten out of twenty-nine tales. Also, this review is intended for parents, so spoilers abound.

Lida’s Rainbow, by Ariel Stone, is the story of a land brown and cracked, without rain for a generation. The children, except for Lida, don’t believe in color anymore, for they’ve never seen any. After her father gives her a wishing stone, Lida makes her wish and awakens to a beautiful rain culminating in a breathtaking rainbow. This story left me with questions. Why no color anywhere? But the girls didn’t question it, they dug right in and delighted in the first drops falling on the roof and the vindication of the colorful rainbow.

The Boy Beneath the Beech Tree, by Edward Ahern, tells the tale of a terrible ogre who kidnaps a boy to do his chores for him while the boy’s Granny is away. With the help of a skunk, the boy is able to escape by locking up the ogre instead. After he hears the ogre moaning, the boy returns and releases the ogre after making him swear never to harm the boy or skunks again. I enjoyed this story very much, and I loved that the boy returned to the ogre rather than letting him die. I did worry this one might scare the girls, one of whom has endless nightmares about being kidnapped, so I read the ogre in the silliest voice I could come up with to tone down the suspense.. It worked.

Lady Ogress and Oglets, by Lyn Godfrey, follows the sole lady ogre in a village of ogres. After she finds a human baby in the forests, she conceals its humanity by coating it with a green face mask she makes for her complexion. The baby is noisy and fussy but cute and soon all the ogres want one. To satisfy demand, she travels to human orphanages and collects babies, coats them green, and delivers them. She keeps them green by sneaking in at night and giving them another coat. Of course, eventually she is caught, but all is well. The ogres have fallen in love with their babies. It’s a fun story., though I worried over how inclusive it was, despite its theme.

When Rivers Run Up, by Salena Casha, tells the story of an immature water-god dragon in a school for gods who unwittingly unleashes his water powers on a village and can’t shut them off. The villagers are in grave danger of being washed away forever until he uses his wits and fellow young gods’ help to tilt the world on its axis and save the village. Based on Chinese mythology, this is a wonderful story to use to teach kids about the way past generations saw the world.

Hector and the Moon Cat, by Daisy E. White, is the perfect story for kids plagued with nightmares. Hector notices a silver cat on his windowsill as he worries about dark dreams. The cat takes him on an adventure to the Moon Valley and explains that the moon cats collect bad dreams from children and hide them in the dark valley, where they can never return.

The Princess and the Dragon, by Wondra Vanian: Drewhilda’s parents worry that she will never marry and their kingdom will fall to her evil uncle. The feminist in me stopped and had a conversation with the girls about how women are more than capable of ruling before we carried on. Drewhilda is cursed by a witch that she will never find her true love until she tells them she loves them. Of course this is quite impossible and everyone is upset. Drewhilda decides to run away to a faraway aunt, where she ultimately meets a dragon. They become best friends. At last she blurts out that she loves her dragon friend and poof! he turns into a man. The fun part is that he isn’t just a man in his happily ever after, but can turn into a dragon and do terrible dragony deeds (like slaying evil uncles) when he wants. I thought that was a fun twist even though I do worry about the message that dragons could rule the kingdom but not the daughter. Hmmm.

The Post Pixie, by Phillippa Rae, tells the story of a mail carrying pixie who mixes up his deliveries. The gnome receives a tea cosy for a hat, and the Fairy Flower receives a hat to keep her tea warm. When they all meet for tea later, the pixie’s story comes out and everything is set to rights. While this is a simple story, the girls loved the idea of the tea party with gnomes, pixies, and fairies so much they acted it out the next day.

The Other Monster, by Anne E. Johnson, is a silly tale of mistaken identity. Elspeth, friend to the monster Gak, helps an unemployed wizard find the local evil monster only to discover and uncover the many misunderstandings that have lead the local folk to believe her friend Gak is evil. Together, they come up with a way to get the wizard’s job back and prove Gak is kind.

Elizabeth and the Lightning Sprite, by Trish Rissen, follows Elizabeth as she joins a lightning sprite above the clouds. She meets the thunder thumpers and the vast trampolines they use to make the thunder, and rides a rainbow home again when the storm is done. This is a simple story, but it gave my eldest good daydreams and smiles, and that’s what I want from a story.

Sir Blodry, Adventurous, Or: A Good Knight’s Work, Or: A Hero’s Work is Never Done, by D. J. Tyrer, is a humorous story about a knight who didn’t quite slay a dragon, but got all the glory for doing so anyway. King Arthur sends him off to deal with a new dragon and Sir Blodry decides to reason with the dragon, opting for a riddle instead of a fight. His cleverness wins out, the dragon must leave the kingdom, and Sir Blodry’s questionable reputation remains intact. My daughters and I agreed that this is a fun story. Silly in all the right places. Plus, it had cake.

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Writerly links worth sharing this week:

J. S. Pailly made this compelling case for why art, and writing, need science. Ray Bradbury would be proud.

Publishers Weekly posted about a creepily detailed phishing scam seeking manuscripts targeting writers.

Jami Gold offered this advice on How to Save a Broken Story.

Happy writing!

a spooky bullying story

I got bullied in high school. I moved to a rural high school from the city and that made me different. Mean girls cornered me in the bathroom and threatened me with things that never came to fruition. They didn’t need to do them. The fear was enough.

But it wasn’t just girls.

Once in class a boy who sat in front of me took it upon himself to turn around tell me in detail how nobody liked me and why. I had been told to smile and be nice when people were mean to me. Please don’t teach this to your daughters. It is the most demeaning, ridiculous anti-bullying technique there is. It does not work, it only teaches girls to be kind to someone abusing them. But back then I didn’t know this yet, so I smiled at him.

As I smiled, the fuse box to my immediate left exploded. Sparks shot across the classroom in a wild arc. I looked out at my horrified peers from within the explosion. The bully boy in front of me wore a terrified expression.

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Photo by Sarah Trummer on Pexels.com

The teacher ushered us outside. My long hair was burnt and melted beyond repairing in the explosion, but no one was hurt.

The bully boy never spoke to me again. Word went around the school in a whirlwind. Everyone left me alone after that day. It was peaceful. In a few short weeks a transfer I’d requested came through and I left that awful period of my life behind forever, but sometimes I think about that fusebox explosion, and wonder if I had friend somewhere I didn’t realize.

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Neon Druids, Tolkien, and C. S. Lewis

Welcome to this week’s edition of Submit Your Stories Sunday! Every week I bring you a unique call for submissions to help you find a home for your stories or inspire a new one. Each call will contain a speculative element and will offer payment upon acceptance. I’ll follow it up with my best read from the week to inspire your writing and a small collection of writerly articles to fuel your craft.

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Neon Druid: An Anthology of Urban Celtic Fantasy

Eligibility: Original fantasy stories from 100 to 10 000 words that contain characters from Celtic mythology and are set in an urban environment. Writers can submit one short story or two flash pieces.

Take Note: this anthology isn’t paying great rates, but that can mean a better chance of acceptance for newer writers looking to get more experience and publishing credits. Use your judgement.

What makes this call stand out: Celtic mythology contains a huge range of lesser-known fairies, goddesses, and monsters to work from. The possibilities are staggering.

Payment: $10 USD for short stories, $5 for flash fiction, which they list as up to 1 000 words

Submit by: December 10th, 2018

Click here to go to the original call for details.

What I’m Reading:

I picked up a copy of Bandersnatch: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings by Diana Pavlac Glyer at my local library. It was an impulse loan which ended up being a fascinating read.

The Inklings is a critique group in Oxford that included Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and many others. The writers met twice weekly, once for chatting and uproar, and once to read aloud their work and subject it to the criticism of their peers. Bandersnatch gives the reader a chance to be a fly on the wall of that group, to hear Lewis argue hobbits with Tolkien and Tolkien’s opinions of Narnia.

If you’re still on the fence of what a critique group can do for you, you should read this book. If you already have a critique group, you’ll find yourself nodding your head and commiserating with your heroes. My heroes, anyway. It might take the sting out of some of those harsher critiques when you see the greats suffered the same.

As a fan of Tolkien, I found myself thrilled with this book. As a writer, I felt inspired. While I read a library copy for this review, I’ve ordered a paper copy to keep on my writing desk to dip into when I need the inspiration.

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Writerly links worth sharing this week:

This article about a writer who won a prestigious writing award from the university that employs her as a janitor is nothing short of inspiring. I can’t stop smiling over how excited she is. She also makes an excellent point about choosing a stress-free job to keep one’s priority on writing.

Chuck Wendig was put in twitter jail this week, and he uses that experience to give an important warning for creative people on social media. NSFW: Chuck employs colorful language to make his point. The fallout from Wendig’s twittering, which you can read in subsequent posts, include his firing from three Star Wars projects and Marvel comics. There is a lot to unpack there as a writer with conviction. Wendig has long been outspoken against injustice.

Less writerly, more fangirl, Margaret Atwood published a review of my favorite book, Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, in the Guardian this past week. Just in time for Halloween.

Happy writing!