Did You Know…About Atlantis (Part Two)


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So if we believe Plato’s notes on Atlantis, the continent should lie somewhere off the coast-lines of the Atlantic Ocean. However, several hypotheses have tried to connect Eastern Atlantic structures as megalithic buildings, such as chambered tombs or stone monuments. These megalithic builders were characteristic of prehistoric Europe, and the claims of matching buildings in the Atlantic Americas do not uphold under close inspection. Essentially, “there are no America equivalents of the chambered tombs of the stone rings at Stonehenge, Avebury, and Carnac” (James and Thorpe).


The various geologic claims of Atlantis as a lost continent, in short, are unfounded. The continental drift, in which the world’s one landmass fractured apart—now known as the tectonic plate theory, does not allow room for the Atlantean continent. Recent theories suggest Altantis may have relocated to Antartica, but no evidence exists to support this other than a literal reading of Plato.


Although Plato’s depiction of the lost city was debunked, K.T. Frost, a young Belfast University scholar, suggested that Atlanteans echo the once-flourishing Minoan civilization in Crete: “Egyptian tomb paintings depicting visitors in Minoan-style costume showed that the Egyptians were aware of this civilization, while its sudden disappearance about 1400 B.C., Frost suggested might have given them the impression that ‘the whole kingdom had sunk in the sea’” (James and Thrope). The only drawback was the lack of a big enough catastrophe.


Greek archeologist Spyridon Marinatos theorized that the crater left by the explosion of Thera, a Bronze Age volcanic explosion turned tsunami, left a crater and gave rise to the tale of Altantis’ destruction. His 1967 excavation uncovered streets, houses, and beautiful pottery. This discovery prompted several books in 1969 that argued Thera as the real Atlantis. However, many of the comparisons between the Minoan and Atlantean civilizations were too weak, the explosion of Knossos a decade and a half earlier, and the lack of communication breakdown between Egypt and the Aegean world was not significant to indicate a “sinking” of an island.

My source:

James, Peter and Nick Thorpe. Ancient Mysteries. Ballantine Books: New York, 1999. Print.

Want to know more?

Andrew Collins on Atlantis as Crete or Thera

The UnMuseum on Atlantis

The Shadowlands, Atlantis the Lost Continent

Want to read about my version of Atlantis?

Read “Maiden of the Underworld” in my DISTORTED anthology.


Writing Tip: How to write a strong-female protagonist.


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Writing Tip: How to write a strong-female protagonist.

First, I am not advocating that there is a single, right way to write a strong-female lead; however, I have noticed a rather disturbing trend in the practice, and that’s to make the female strong by inhabiting male characteristics, as deemed by society: i.e. to be physically strong, good with weapons, and to be a good leader (otherwise known as bossy), and the list continues.

However, you might imagine a male as strong, yes, a female can be strong in these ways as well. But why can’t a female character be strong and still be feminine—a woman who uses her emotions to carry her through a taxing adventure, who has mercy, who is smart and resourceful, who can nurture at the same time she kicks ass. Why not? Why do these gender roles have to be mutually exclusive?

Granted, we are starting to see these types of characters. The ever-popular Katniss from The Hunger Games series embodies a nice mixture of so-called male and female traits. She’s motherly. Her strong moments come when she is a woman, emotional, compassionate, bossy, resourceful. They even highlight these in the last installment when a group of leaders try to decide how to transform her into the mocking jay for the rebellion.

She even lacks a certain silliness that many female characters have (especially when a love-triangle is present, although some of my friends disagree with my interpretation). She doesn’t seem focused on her love life, rather she seems at a loss of why who she chooses matters when the world has larger problems.

For heaven’s sake, why can’t we all just get along! I imagine her screaming as the boys compete for and try to woo her. She seems disinterested in being some boy’s prize, rather using her public romance with Peeta as a political move. (This one is strangely genderless).

Okay, I like examples, let me give some of my own.

In my first series, based on a renegade vampire’s introduction to the paranormal world, my main character is a brat. She’s strong-headed, strong-willed, and she can fight (having a background in kick-boxing/martial arts). She can take care of herself and has for years, with the help of her bestie. She’s also emotional, breaking down several times as the monstrosity of her new world rains down on her. She feels compassion for the people she kills, worries over the others she leaves alive, and cares for a child meant to be her dinner. Is all of this strictly male or female? No. Ria’s complex, like a character should be, because people are complex.

In another novel, my female character is strong in other ways. Although she goes through some physical trials, like being water boarded, she isn’t physically strong. She’s got the mental fortitude of a warrior, however. She’s brave, she stands up for what’s right, she uses what she knows to survive. She’s allowed to be both smart and beautiful, allowed to cry and joke, allowed to be stern and unsure of herself. Kaia is allowed to be a contradiction.

Again, we’re all complex. We’re all contradictions of ourselves given the different situations we’re challenged with.

So, what I’m saying is that not all strong women need to be warriors, like that blonde Amazon in Game of Thrones, Gwendoline; they don’t all need to be wicked like Maleficent or out for revenge like Arya Stark. They don’t all need to be Katniss.

We need variation because we all have the propensity to be strong in our own ways if we have strength in our character and our beliefs (even if that makes us the bad guy). And we need to showcase these differences for the same reasons we need different personalities for different story plots.

Oh, and the same goes for men. But that’s a different post.


Want to meet my strong-female protagonists? Click here.

Editing Tip: My Take on Eliminating Words and Sharpening Language


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Editing Tip: My Take on Eliminating Words and Sharpening Language

So, you’ve finished your first draft, gone in and smoothed over your plot, and now it’s time to focus on language rather than content. Where do you start?

Years ago, I stumbled across a list of words to eliminate and an online writer’s tool as I edited my first novel; the combination became my first step at cutting vague or repetitious words, finding awkward language, typos, and the like. Since then, my editor and I have added to this list, and I’ve sent it off to several of the authors I’ve worked with.

They’ve proven effective.

Let me share my methods with you.

The list(s):

Original words to eliminate:

  • That
  • As (was)
  • Were
  • Just
  • Only
  • Try
  • Tried
  • Moment
  • Turn
  • Glance
  • Fro (From)
  • Could/Would
  • Had
  • Almost
  • Barely
  • Nearly
  • Even
  • Somehow
  • Something
  • Still
  • There
  • Manage
  • Feel/Felt
  • Like

Alisha’s Additions

  • Think
  • Thought
  • Notice
  • Saw
  • Look
  • Hear(d)
  • Taste

Anthony’s Additions:

  • Got
  • Went
  • Very
  • Important
  • Used to
  • Every
  • Never
  • Seem
  • Often
  • Big
  • Small
  • Have got

Obviously, you can’t cut them all, but look closely at the lines you use these in and play with the language to see if the word(s) can be eliminated. This typically makes language stronger and more active—more show and less tell.

The easiest way to utilize this list is to start at the top. Use the find option (command+f for mac or control+f for pc) and search for one word at a time through a chapter. This allows you to isolate and eliminate much more effectively than working through all of these words at once. Once you hit the end of the chapter, move on to the next word until you’ve worked through them all.

Finally, copy and paste the whole chapter (or part depending on its length) through ProWriting Aid (http://prowritingaid.com/). Join with the free membership, that’s all that is really needed. Your editor will fine tune what’s left.

How do you hone your language?

Feel free to comment, ask questions, and make your own suggestions.

May’s Top Ten YouTube Videos


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Key & Peele – Dance Show

One of my favorite skits from this duo (not my top, but still, it’s funny). It came up while Iw as watching The Voice UK and listening to the sob stories they elicit from the contestants to appeal to their audiences (not me, I don’t vote). In any case, it will make you giggle.


Targeting the Inner Thighs | The THIGH Gap | Operation Booty 3

I’ve noticed that a lot of my history shows workouts and videos from this young woman. In order to list some variety here, I got picky (as I should), but there has been a lot of talk about the thigh gap. Whether considered controversial or not, I do like this athletes take on it, her explanation: it’s healthy and it’s smart. I hope her young fans listen to her.


Our worst enemy ~ Frannerd

You’ve probably seen this young woman on my YouTube lists before. I feel akin to her in so many ways. She may be talking to illustrators, but her message reaches beyond the boundaries of her art to speak about all art forms. Artists can be their own worst enemies, even the ones who have household names.


Spaceboy part 2 || Digital Painting || Space

If you follow me on Pinterest (or have known me for any significant span of time), you’ll know that I love art. I used to be an art major before I went to college, where I started as a Photography major, before falling into more so-called serious majors and ended with English. I wish I could draw like this (on paper or Photoshop), but sadly, I am limited to realistic drawings in charcoal or pencil and adult coloring books with my fancy, expensive color pencils. (Don’t be fooled, I color like a professional, so be impressed.) In any case, this young lady is fantastic.


Building An Underground Oven

So, I have this thing about the apocalypse (generalized between my husband and I as merely “zombies”). I love watching Lilly build camp sites and necessities in hopes that someday, should I need these skills, I can recall some of what I’ve seen her do. She’s fantastic. And since I’m a cook, an oven would be a good idea because, you know, I like eating…


Hedley – Kiss You Inside Out

I clicked on this video by mistake, and once it started and I saw the lead singer with his tattoos and piercings, I thought to myself: Self, this is going to be some grungy rock music that you don’t particularly like. But it wasn’t, and I need to check my prejudices at the door. This song is fucking lovely. (By the way, I super love men—and women—with tattoos and piercings. After all, I have both as does my husband. I had a moment of weakness. Forgive me).


“We All Have The Same 24 Hours” Momfessions with Rachel Hollis

Disclaimer, I am not a mom—at least not a full-time one. But I do have a lot of projects, and I am overwhelmed with work during the school year (because grading papers is fucking hard. So fucking hard. I really can’t stress this enough. My brain wants to melt and escape out of my ear and go eat pasta in Italy every time I sit down to grade papers). But Rachel’s message is as motivating as it is short and simple. If you want the time to fulfill your dreams, you have to make the time for it. Only you can do that.


“A Promise” Richard Madden Hot Scene

So this is a little different from the other videos on her because it’s a sexy clip from a movie I’ve watched this month. And I may have watched this scene a few more times than I’m comfortable admitting. But seriously y’all. This is HOT. And since I like hot, steamy fiction, it made my list. Go grab an extra pair of panties and enjoy!


Palmoa Faith – Only Love Can Hurt Like This (Official Video)

I don’t know what it is about this song, but I love it. Obviously, I’ve been watching The Voice UK, like I mentioned above, and Palmoa is a new judge on the show. And although this woman is SO talented, I rather hated her on the show. Maybe it was when she put her head down and snored while Boy George was talking, and that rudeness just wouldn’t let me. But however I feel about her and her behavior as a judge on a reality show (which doesn’t mean much to me in the grand scheme of life), she’s got talent. I like the song. And that shift from her chest voice to her head voice is crazy!


Maysoon Zayid: I got 99 problems…palsy is just one

I laugh every time I watch this Ted Talk. This last year, I had two students with palsy. They were both quite hilarious young men. Both smart, both quick, both sociable. Maysoon is all of these as well. All three of them make excellent points about having to work harder to be normal, to be seen, and to be equal. I love this talk.


Those are my top ten for the month.

Do you have favorites that you think I’d like? Share them with me! ❤

I’m back with Cheap Reads!


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Hey, lovely readers!

I’ve been slacking. I know it, but this month has been CRAZY! Personal stuff, business stuff, writing stuff, teaching stuff. You don’t need the details, just know that I’m back, and I have new blog posts about the editing process, about BLOOD PHOENIX: IMPRINTED and beta reader opportunities, new giveaways, a new YA novel, and some new Did You Know posts. I’m also working on another newsletter and short stories.

But for now, my latest novel, LOVING RED, is on half off (on sale for $1.99) until June 6th.


Here’s the latest review:

“When I first started reading this story, I was afraid it was going to be one of those insta-love stories. However, although the book only spans about a week’s time, it doesn’t feel like insta-love.

Severins is a wolf shifter on leave from the army. His impeccable sense of smell picks up Kaia’s scent during a bus ride, and he knows he has to have her but not just for a one-night stand. He goes to her job and pretends to be a client to con her into going on a date with him. He is unaware that Kaia, a human, knows of his world, and that she is in danger.

It isn’t specifically stated, but I feel like Sev immediately thought she was destined to be his. He instantly has a drive to protect her and to claim her as his but, like the romantic he is, he wants her to be the one to decide about their relationship. Swoon.

The two have an immediate attraction, but Kaia is leery because of a past relationship with a shifter. As the danger gets closer and closer to Kaia, the two must go on the run from the Celampresians who follow them.

Sev is 100% book boyfriend material. I loved his character. He is so caring and protects Kaia and Shawna with every part of his being.

I’m not completely sure how I feel about Kaia. I originally thought she would be portrayed as a weak human who needed saving, but the only time she comes across as weak is when she is, for lack of a better word, possessed. Many times she shows mental and emotional strength, but she never becomes an active participant in physical fights.

This was a great read that I would recommend to my closest friends. I really enjoyed the story and most of all Severins!”

Review by Tina, Member of the Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team

April’s Top Ten YouTube Videos


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April has been full of bullet journaling, music, food, workouts, and writing stuffs – at least on YouTube. The rest of April…well…she’s been tough on me. However, May has opened her arms to welcome me warmly. I am excited to start this month.

So, anyways, here’s my strange list of YouTube videos.


1 hour of Yoda – Rockin’ and Rollin’

This video grew on me. My husband played it for its full hour, and I found myself bopping along, writing. It helps grading, too.


Chris Baty: “No Plot? No Problem” | Talks at Google

I’m prepping for my NanoWriMo July Camp (outlining currently), and Chris Baty is the creator of NanoWriMo. He makes some good points about the creative process.


Writing a Book in a Month (Filmed every day of Nov)

Again, NanoWriMo! I thought of tracking this – maybe via videos, maybe via blog posts, maybe even via instagram. Who knows.


AT-HOME KICKBOXING- A 15 or 30Min Cardio Workout – KymNonStop

I’ve featured her here on this blog before. I love her personality and her workouts.


BROWNIES WHILE CUTTING: Low-Carb Protein Brownies

These look so good. I seriously want to try them. I typically don’t watch male health YouTubers because…well…I’m a female, and we need different things, but this guy grew on me fast. I watched a slew of his videos after this one.


Inside Amy Schumer – Last F**kable Day – Uncensored

One of my students wrote her mammoth research paper on agism and the how they differed for males and females. This was spot on for her argument. Plus, these ladies are hilarious.


Doodles with Circles : Harry Potter (Part 1)

I love doodles. I love Harry Potter. Enough said.


5 Days of Minimalism | Try Living With Lucie

One of my goals for the summer is to clear out some of the clutter in my house. As an anti-consumerist (until I walk into a bookstore), I love the idea of minimalism. But I have a lot of stuff. This gave me some nice ideas on my de-cluttering mission.


How To Build A Story | Brainstorming (1 of 5)

I love this chick. I watched all five of her videos on outlining and brainstorming, and I even took notes! Because I’m a dork. I’ve found it helpful in developing my outline for that NanoWriMo project I’m working on.


How to Defend against a Gun to the Face | Krav Maga Defense

So…I write a lot of fight scenes, and although I have no gun fights in my books…currently…I found this helpful. Always good to know how to defend oneself, too.



My press, Transmundane Press, has their first YouTube video. Take a look!

Official Underwater Book Trailer


Well, there you are, my eleven videos this month. Enjoy! ❤

Editing Tip: Squelching Feedback by R. Judas Brown


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Editing Tip: Squelching Feedback (or Making the Most of Critiques) by R. Judas Brown

One of the most useful tools of the editorial process comes once you have completed your story: your draft readers.  They are the first people who get to see your new baby.  You spent days, weeks, and months laboring over sentence structure and word choice, now — whether it’s to your local critique group or a cadre of personally recruited alpha- and beta-readers – you pass your new baby into their waiting hands.  Hands filled with sharpened knives. Their cruel eyes glint with malice. Sharpened fangs drip—

What I am saying is they are going to tear into it.

And they should.

No matter how thorough you are, you still have work to do. Another set of eyes is invaluable in the editing process.  Your tricky brain knows the story.  It fills in details that didn’t make it onto the page.  It auto-corrects words as you proofread.  It knows the story, so it doesn’t actually need to learn the story from reading, as such it cannot fully evaluate your work.  That is why feedback is so important before your release, whether through a publisher or self-publishing.

Here are a few ways to get the most out of your reader-feedback.

  • It was good. I liked it. – When you start, this seems like the best feedback you can get.  It’s good!  What more could you want?  Well, a lot more.  Is this a favorite aunt who doesn’t want to hurt your feelings?  It could be a reader inexperienced with critiquing. When you get this response, it is important to ask follow-up questions.  Some authors create reader-question sheets they send out for specific answers.

    I don’t go that far.  I prefer to get the broad picture from my readers, but I need more than rubber stamping.  I ask: what works? What doesn’t?  Did my villain feel real?  Did the wumpus scene feel like certified legitimate wumpus?  This not only helps you; it cultivates this person as a reader.  Sometimes, it can be awkward (I have asked specifically about the authenticity of lesbian scenes, having no frame of reference myself), but I chose them for a reason.

  • It is bad, and you should feel bad. – This hurts. It hurts a lot, however, this is good, not just for your story’s development, but your own.  Writing is art.  Art gets criticized, and it isn’t always nice. Some authors do not handle it well.  I won’t go into the multitude of stories illustrating how to ruin a career by aggressively confronting critics on a personal level. Don’t be that guy. Be professional.  This is not only someone who (theoretically) is trying to help you, but they may be just as inept at giving feedback as the example above.

    Time for those questions again:  Was there anything that you did like?  Was it the story or the subject matter? The fact is that not every story is meant for everyone.  Is this not their thing?  Does it deal with something that they find triggering?  For instance, no matter how well you write, someone who has survived an abusive relationship may find too much of their own pain.

Those are the two extremes of blanket feedback: the all good and the all bad.  The best kind of feedback is more focused and specific.  It will usually come from readers who you have “trained” through questions to look for what you want, or from other writers who know what they would want.   These more specific responses can be far more useful, on the surface, but will still require careful consideration.

  • There are a few grammar issues to correct. – I admit this phrase frustrates me more than any other, mostly because I am so self-conscious about my grammar. Grammar is important. There are rules for a reason. But–

    The analogy I always use is a red light.  Everyone knows to stop at a red light.  Yet, when rushing your hypothetical pregnant wife/girlfriend/sister to the hospital in labor, you give it a break and a glance, and blow through because you need to.  You learn the rules so you know how, when, and where you can bend them a bit. This can be a tool to storytelling, but should not be the tone of the entire story. Take a look.  Are they a stickler or did you unknowingly set a pattern that makes your story seem unpolished?

  • I would have said… – Other writers love to write. We can’t help it.  It’s a thing. If you ever have a chance to watch two other writers swap story ideas, watch their faces.  They will trade looks of abject horror and betrayal as the half-formed idea they were nurturing is twisted – SULLIED! – by the perverse imagination of their counterpart who doesn’t see the same exact flowering tale they do.

    This may come with the rewriting of a sentence, a rearrangement of paragraphs, or a replotting of months of your passion.  You will want to ignore this, delete the contact, and crop this person out of every picture you have.  Don’t.  Read it and consider.  Once again, you chose them for a reason.  In this case, a measure of professional respect for their abilities as a writer.

    Writers have different voices, so you have to filter their voice out of the commentary.  Would the sentence work better re-worded a bit? If you shift a paragraph, does it become clearer?  Just because they wrote their suggestion in their voice, doesn’t invalidate it.  Just because you admire their writing, you don’t have to accept it.  Judge the raw suggestion on its own merit.

  • You don’t need this. – Remember that your readers have exactly what you have given to work with. No context provided beyond that which is on the paper. When shooting the Harry Potter movies, the late Alan Rickman had to pull the director aside at times to explain a certain scene needed to be changed from the script. J. K. Rowling had given him a deeper glimpse into Severus Snape that had not yet appeared in published books.  The director deferred, because Alan had access to context the studio didn’t.

    I recently shared a few paragraphs with a good writing friend because I was pleased with the atmosphere I had laid out.  I am enamored with her as a person and author.  She absolutely eviscerated them.  I think there were a few bare sentences left. There was no atmosphere, only the bones remained.  She was not incorrect, she was offering her opinion without the context of the larger tale that would follow, the tale that would be built on what lay within this antiquated shop.

    That doesn’t mean to ignore suggested deletions.  Just bear in mind the whole story you are telling, and how that passage serves your tale.  A popular refrain is to “kill your darlings.” If it doesn’t serve the story, cut it.  Your prose doesn’t have to be bare, but it does have to do its job.

That will get you most of your mileage from feedback. As with any writing advice, I encourage you to understand that your mileage may vary.  Use what helps.  Discard the rest.  I will leave you with one final tip.

  • Remember everyone involved is human. – Everyone, yourself included, is learning and fallible. Thank your readers.  Mean it.  Recognize that honesty takes bravery, and respect it.  Respect yourself.  The interaction between you and your readers can be a strong bond that leads to growth for each of you.  Cherish it.

 A recent transplant to the Midwest, R. Judas Brown has found a home along the banks of the Mississippi surrounded by wife, kids, animals, and friends. His work with fantasy, sci-fi, and horror has appeared in several anthologies. Aside from numerous solo projects, he is working with The Ed Greenwood Group, collaborating with other authors on the upcoming Split Image worlds, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Quincy Writers Guild in Quincy, IL. You can follow him on Twitter @RJudasBrown, at www.facebook.com/RJudasBrown, or visit his website at www.rjudasbrown.com.


March’s Top Ten YouTube Videos


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March has been full of music, recipes, and bullet journaling…and well, you know, writing, too. Lots of that. This fact makes me happy. So here’s my odd amalgamation of YouTube videos.

NASA Space Sounds

I have a penchant for space stuff. Super Earths, other solar systems, galaxies and black holes, and how immense the universe is.


DNCE – Toothbrush (Audio)

I love listening to this song as I write. I get to bopping.


Halsey – Colors

I love the story of this music video. Love the older man, who used to be on a day-time soap opera. Yummy. Plus, I adore her voice.


Tiny Art show Final || Witches

These are super cool and super cute. I wish I could draw like this. Practice makes perfect, right?


What I Eat In A Day | Banana Smoothies + Homemade Chai Tea

I love Sarah and her views on life, food, health, and hormones.

As a side note, I make this smoothie. Every Day. I put the ice in first, use cow’s milk or coconut milk, both taste good (1 cup). And I add peanut butter. Other than that, I follow her recipe. It tastes like chocolate pudding. Sometimes I put in two bananas and a whole avocado for a creamier, more filling, but higher calorie meal. Mmm. Also, sometimes I put in the macha powder, sometimes not. Both taste good.


Quiche Cupcakes Recipe ft. Donal Skehan

I love SORTEDfood. I’ve binge-watched so many of their videos this month. I also love Donal Skehan. Two-for-one. I just tried this one, and oh my shit are they amazing.


Bullet Journal Flip Through

I started my bullet journal on the sixth this month, and I am obsessed. I love lists and doodling and quotes and tracking stuff and this is the perfect journal method for me because it’s completely customizable. It might take up a bit of my time, but it’s enjoyable. I might post pictures of mine next month. I have a cute little frog. We’ll see.


What it’s like to have a Deformity…. A Discussion on Difference | Ep. 2: StupidQuestionsWithLeena

I found this both entertaining and informative. These two made me laugh, and at the same time, I checked some of my privilege (now PC Principal is stuck in my head.) Especially since I tend to compliment people, and it’s not always taken well.


Tiny Boesner haul and can we just please talk about paper? ~Frannerd

I love Fran. I feel like we’re equally nerdy about our own passions, but we certainly both love paper…and coffee…and making faces. Look at that sexy spine!


Midori – Weekly Update –WEEK 30

This is another type of bullet journaling system. She has more doodles and decorations and a more condensed tracking method, but it generates ideas.

And as a side note, just a reminder that DISTORTED is on sale for 1.99 until Friday. Grab your copy now.


Publishing Tip: No Fancy Shit. My personal take on formatting.


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Publishing Tip: No Fancy Shit. My personal take on formatting.

Often, publishers reject stories based on formatting issues because improper formatting signals that a writer doesn’t follow direction well and will be difficult to work with. If you don’t want that, format properly!

Here is my first and most important tip. Really, it should be the ONLY tip, but I’ll expand later.

Read the submission requirements for the publisher/agent/editor you are submitting to. Then format your manuscript (poem, flash fiction, short stories, novellas, novels…everything) ACCORDING TO THEIR REQUIREMENTS.

Phew. My apologies for the yelling, but seriously, why would you do anything else? That’s like not putting your name on the SAT after answer all the questions right (or any of them right.)

But, you might ask, what about publishers/agents/editors don’t have guidelines? General publishing format rules are out there (and written down here, somewhere…whenever it is I stop blathering on).

The good news is that these guidelines are basic and generate an easy base to use for more specific formats.


So…here’s what I’ve got.

-Standard 8.5×11 paper or file page.

-Clean, legible, professional font (Times New Roman or Courier New not Comic Sans or something Fancy) in 12-point font.

-On that note, no funky colors. Stick with black on white.

-Create 1-inch margins on all sides. (Documents sometimes come with 1.25-inch side margins).

-Use a title page with your name, address, contact info, website if applicable, and word count.

-Use page numbers; begin these on the first page of the story, not the title page.

-Put your name and story title on every page by using a header. This means if the story gets shuffled or knocked, or mixed with another story in the editing process, your story will piece back together easily. (Anthony and I personally print stories to edit them initially. Always good to have that safety net). Examples: Xavier/GREEN GRAVES/13 or Parker “Taming Susan” pg. 211 or Smith – Behind the Green Glass Door – page 88

-Double-space the entire text. This makes it easier to read and easier to write/comment on when editing. But don’t put extra spaces between paragraphs.

-Indent a half-inch for each new paragraph. If you can set your document to do this without using tab, all the better.

-Begin chapters on new pages.

-Separate scenes with a centered indicator * or #. (I prefer ###).


Essentially, formatting is not the place to get creative; your story should have enough of that to forego the fancy borders and fun colors. If you feel the need to do these things, take another look at your story instead.

It couldn’t hurt.

Here is some of what others have to say.

What do you have to say about formatting?

Writing Tip: Amp It Up. My personal take on conflict.


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Hey, y’all. I’m starting a new blog theme about writing, editing, and publishing based on my role as editor for Transmundane Press, my experiencing teaching, and various other writerly ethos reasons. Let me know if you like them. I’ll know to keep writing them.

Writing Tip: Amp It Up. My personal take on conflict.

Conflict and tension are the fundamentals of fiction. Essentially, this is where the story begins. Traditional tensions are created through internal and/or external forces, usually characterized as man vs. man, man vs. nature or technology, man vs. society, man vs. God, man vs. self.

Here is another checklist:

Yourke’s Conflict

  • Mystery. Explain just enough to tease readers. Never give everything away.
  • Empowerment. Give both sides options.
  • Progression. Keep intensifying the number and type of obstacles the protagonist faces.
  • Causality. Hold fictional characters more accountable than real people. Characters who make mistakes frequently pay, and, at least in fiction, commendable folks often reap rewards.
  • Surprise. Provide sufficient complexity to prevent readers predicting events too far in advance.
  • Empathy. Encourage reader identification with characters and scenarios that pleasantly or (unpleasantly) resonate with their own sweet dreams (or night sweats).
  • Insight. Reveal something about human nature.
  • Universality. Present a struggle that most readers find meaningful, even if the details of that struggle reflect a unique place and time.
  • High Stakes. Convince readers that the outcome matters because someone they care about could lose something precious. Trivial clashes often produce trivial fiction. (Source)

With this background in mind, tension should be present on the first page, hopefully within the first few words of a story, even when background information is needed (some might disagree with me here, but this is my personal preference as a reader, editor, and writer).

So let me lay out a few of my nitty gritty suggestions.


One: Every scene should have a clear and important purpose. Don’t show anything that doesn’t advance/complicate the plot or create tension. Don’t have stuff happen just to get to the next interesting part. Make it all interesting.

What does that mean? Well, more importantly, what doesn’t that mean? Don’t mistake slow action for a lack of tension. External and internal tensions should strike some balance. If you’re beating your characters hard, give them a moment to breathe, reflect, plan, and show how and why what’s happened to them before affects them and will affect them in the coming scenes.

This is a cool article that explains this idea a bit more.


Two: Into the Pot, Already Boiling, as coined by Jesse Lee Kercheval. This is a classic story opener that I learned about during my years as a graduate student. It’s one of three but always my go-to.

Why? Because you want to intrigue your readers right out of the gate. Doing so all but guarantees that your readers will hold on through the boring stuff…see note one…the slower stuff, the stuff that you need to properly set up the world. Just don’t keep them there for too long.

This also helps you avoid those clunky prologues and info-dumps. A lot can be shown to a reader through the narrator’s lens. What do they show the reader? How? Why? This develops character, scene, and background information without cutting the tension. Besides, a well-honed tone due to a character’s voice can do much more than this.


Three: Make promises and keep them. This is another classic bit of advice often referred to as Chekhov’s Gun. So deliver on your promises, but you know, just wait a while before you do.

Because…BAM…tension. That’s what waiting for something inevitable does. It creates anxiety. Think about it.

What happens the night before a big change in your life (starting a new job, going to an interview, attending a concert, etc)? You can hardly sleep because you’re waiting for the event to come. (This happens to me every semester of college, waiting for the first day. Imagining the ways I’ll inappropriately set the mood for my classroom. This semester, I mistook a student saying poor for whore. Fiasco.)

So don’t only make good on your promises. Make them wait for it, too.


Those are my suggestions. What are yours?