Wednesday 19 December 2012

The Artist Unleashed: MAGGIE'S CHILD by Glynis Smy

Author of Ripper, My Love, Glynis Smy, is celebrating the launch of her second novel today. Maggie’s Child has been born into the world of ebook and paperback.
When farmer’s wife Maggie Sawbury gives birth to her fifth child, the only one that has lived and the result of an extra-marital affair, she is heartbroken and desperate. Maggie knows her joyless life with a bully of a husband is not one a child should endure, and she leaves the baby at the roadside to be found by passers-by.

Her money-driven husband announces he has found her another job in the village of Redgrave, aside from the many tasks she has on Windtop farm. He is totally unaware the position comes a secret. One that frightens and yet brings joy to Maggie. She is to become wet-nurse to her abandoned child.

Love and the possibility of incest threaten to open old wounds, and Maggie has several decisions to make. However, will they be the right ones? If she tells all she knows, it will bring about the destruction of three families. Equally, her silence could be just as destructive. She shares her secret with another, the result changes her life, and a death brings with it more secrets. Will Maggie stay or will she walk away and find the love she craves?
 The ebook will be available at a Christmas -- New Year price of 99c via Amazon, (and other Amazon outlets around the world).

Want to win a paperback copy?

If you can tell Glynis the name of the prostitute friend in her novel, Ripper, My Love, you will be put into a draw for a prize copy of Maggie’s Child in paperback format. The email address you need to send the answer to can be found in the sidebar of, NEW BOOK BLOGGER.

Glynis Smy, (nee Honeycombe), was born and raised in the coastal town of Dovercourt, near Harwich, in the county of Essex, England.

She married her school sweetheart, Peter, in 1979 and they produced three amazing children, Darren, Nicola, and Emma. The long hours of a nursing career, and running two pharmacies ended in 2005, when she and her husband moved from the UK to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.

Glynis spends her time writing historical novels, poetry and various other projects. When she is not tapping at the keyboard she makes greeting cards to sell for charity, or enjoys a spot of cross-stitch on the back porch. Failing that, she and friends sit chewing the fat over a glass of village wine.

To purchase Ripper, My Love in various formats: Books by Glynis Smy

Meet and Tweet with Glynis ... Ghunibee
Facebook Page: Glynis Smy
Author Blog: Glynis Smy

Thanks go out to Talli Roland, Len Lambert, Jen Moon and Dieter Moitzi for their support with this novel. Also to all those who are hosting the launch event.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

The Artist Unleashed: BUY "CHASTE" AND HELP HURRICANE SANDY VICTIMS by Angela Felsted

The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Monday 10 December 2012

Today is a VERY BIG day ...

A little over a year ago, Dawn Ius and I started Vine Leaves Literary Journal. Why? To give the vignette a piece of the limelight. We started it because, not only do we love to push literary boundaries, but as writers ourselves, we were sick of being rejected by literary magazines due to our work not conforming to preconceived structures. We are good writers. We know what we're doing, and if we want to defy structure it's not because we can't follow rules, it's because WE KNOW HOW TO BREAK THEM.

So why does the vignette push boundaries, you ask? Because a vignette isn't a story as such, it's a snapshot of written time. It differs from flash fiction or a short story in that its aim doesn’t lie within the traditional realms of structure or plot. Instead, the vignette focuses on one element, mood, character, setting or object. It's descriptive, excellent for character or theme exploration and wordplay. Through a vignette, you create an atmosphere.

In one year, we have read approximately 1000 submissions. (Yep, that's a lot.) And out of those 1000 submissions, we published around 160 online in our quarterly issues. And out of those 160 that were published online, we chose 'the best' pieces for our annual print anthology. In our very first anthology, The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2012, we showcase 108 different authors and artists.

The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2012: Official Launch
This anthology launches today in partnership with eMergent Publishing. And Dawn and I couldn't be more proud and thrilled to have come so far. It is proof that you can do anything you put your mind to. If you really want something, just jump in the deep end and swim for your life.

But do you know what I'm proud of the most? That we have given a bunch of writers, photographers and artists the opportunity to get more recognition for their work. Work that may not have found a home simply because it did not fit in a box. This is the be all and end all.

Ultimately, Dawn and I don't do this for us. We do it for YOU. And this is the way it will always be.

Thank you to all who were involved in putting this anthology together, especially Jodi Cleghorn at eMergent Publishing, for agreeing to partner with us for our annual anthologies, and Nick Panagiotopoulos for his amazing design skills. We couldn't have done this without you.

If you would like to support the vignette, please help spread the word about this anthology today. Here are some quick ways you can help:

Share on Twitter:
@VineLeavesLJ Best of #Anthology, #NewRelease out today! Awesome vignettes, incredible talent. Great 4 #xmasstocking!

Share on Facebook:

Tell me, what's one thing in your life that you have done for others, that you are super proud of?

Wednesday 5 December 2012

The Artist Unleashed: THE EVOLUTION OF AN ALBUM, by Derek Flynn

The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Monday 3 December 2012

Aussie Craziness and Self-Editing Tips

Leigh Talbert MooreToday, Leigh T. Moore is interviewing me on her blog. But it isn't any ordinary interview. Trust me, her questions are more entertaining than my answers! I hope you drop by!

Finding BlissI'm also over at Laura Howard's blog today talking about A QUICK & EASY STEP TO MAKING YOUR MANUSCRIPT SHINE. Hope to see you there too!

Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday 28 November 2012


The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2012: PRE-ORDER AVAILABLE NOW!

PictureEditors: Jessica Bell & Dawn Ius
Original Artwork: Gary Waters
ISBN: 978-0-9875000-4-5
Size: 140 X 216 mm (Perfect Bound)
Printing: premium colour on high quality paper
Pages: 150
RRP: €13.99


The Blurb:
In late 2011, Jessica Bell and Dawn Ius founded Vine Leaves Literary Journal to offer the vignette, a forgotten literary form, the exposure and credit it deserves.

The vignette is a snapshot in words, and differs from flash fiction or a short story in that its aim doesn’t lie within the traditional realms of structure or plot, instead it focuses on one element, mood, character, setting or object.

The journal, published quarterly online, is a lush synergy of atmospheric prose, poetry, photography and illustrations, put together with an eye for aesthetics as well as literary merit. The annual print anthology showcases the very best pieces from across the year.

From the haunting prose of Theresa Milstein and Carrie Mumford, to the controversial and quirky work of H. Edgar Hix and Greg Belliveau, the pathological effects of cigarettes and apple seeds, ice sculptures and mental illness are explored. We meet a lovable old man named Joseph and find out out how the good old washing machine can change one’s life. Oh, and how could we forget a mention of the mother with the scissors?

Each vignette merges to create a vivid snapshot in time and place. Prepare for big stories in small spaces, between and beyond the words.

Read one at a time.

Taste them. Savour them.

Live them.

PRE-ORDER to receive your discount on the recommended retail price:

Australia $20.99 + postage (RRP $23.99)

UK £9.99 + postage (RRP £11.50)

USA $17.99 (RRP $20.99)

Europe €11.99 + postage (RRP €13.99)

Rest of the World $20.99 plus postage

For more than three copies contact sale(at)emergent-publishing(dot)com for discounts on shipping.

Monday 26 November 2012

This is why I still can't tell people I'm an author.

Stranger: So, what do you do?
Me: Um, I'm an editor for English Language Teaching text books.
Stranger: Oh, that's interesting.
Me: Yep, so um ... tell me about you.

days later ...

Me: Hey, we should hook up on Facebook.
Stranger: Yeah good idea. I'll find you. Jessica Bell, right?
Me: *blank stare* Um, no, actually, you won't find me with that, it's Author Jessica Bell.
Stranger: Author?
Me: Um ... yep. *my insides are doing somersaults and my teeth are clenching*
Stranger: Are you published?
Me: Yep.
Stranger: Cool. Tell me the titles and I'm pick them up in the bookstore.
Me: Oh, um, they won't be in the bookstore, but you can find them on online.
Stranger: Online?
Me: Yep.
Stranger: *confused expression* Oh ... you're one of those authors.
Me: *tight-lipped smile* Yeah, anyway, what were you saying earlier?

Friday 23 November 2012


I'm writing a novella at the moment called THE BOOK, set in the late 70s, early 80s. The book is a journal. And the whole story revolves around the relationship each of its characters have with 'the book'.

The mother, Penny, who always writes in it because she wants her daughter, Bonnie, to have it when she's older. The father, John, who wants to continue writing in it, but because he no longer lives with them, it makes things difficult. And Bonnie, who thinks the book is full of sadness because it always makes her mum cry, and the step dad, Ted, turn violent from jealousy. Bonnie wants to get rid of the book to protect her mum from its demons. But the book will end up bringing Bonnie's parents back together. That's the plan anyway. Who knows where it will take me as I write.

But there's a catch.

Penny and John's points of view are written in the form of their entries in the book only. And because they're separated, they've promised not to read each other's entries. The point of view of Bonnie is 1st person, present tense. So I'm writing like a 5-year-old girl would speak.

You know what is really interesting about this? The setup means I'm defying all the rules of the craft.

The journal entries are all just 'telling'. Bonnie's POV is young, so it's full of awkward grammar, repetition, plenty of redundancies, and words you couldn't even find in a mad hatter's dictionary. But it's how she speaks. And it's real.

And before you tell me a book like this isn't going to work, I'm going to tell you it is. It will be a project I will self-publish, so I don't need any agent/editor approval. And it will rip your little hearts out, folks. That's a promise.

Sometimes, we have to sacrifice the rules to make something real. This is one such case, and I'm damned excited.

Have you ever written anything that was 'technically wrong' on so many levels, but just knew it was right?

Wednesday 21 November 2012

The Artist Unleashed: HOW I FOUND MY WAY BACK TO THE LIGHT, by Jodi Cleghorn

The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Monday 19 November 2012

Literary Journal Submission Tip: Avoid Clichés, or Twist them into Treasure

As a literary journal editor, I have read my fair share clichéd submissions. And I'm afraid to say, that most of the time, they make me wince.

As a writer, it is probably hard to comprehend how overwhelming these clichéd  submissions actually are. You are one person, and you think, "oh, it'll be alright, surely there won't be any other subs like this." You would be surprised. You need to think, are you really going to be noticed writing about the sea breeze among an inbox full of 300-400 other subs?

Vine Leaves Literary Journal has been around for a year now. And the clichés (especially in poetry) that most frequently overwhelm us are:
  • gardens/plants (pretty red poppies and bees and roses)
  • sun/moon (shining on sand or water)
  • beating hearts (oh boy how much I love you)
  • quiet nights (as I caress your cheek as soft as a baby's bottom)
  • gentle breezes (I close my eyes and feel your presence)
  • oceans/beaches (my toes dig into the warm sand)
  • weather/seasons (birds chirping in spring, heat waves rising off the road)
However, if you are sure that you have written about these things in a unique way, we're totally open to reading about them. But trust me, we will be extra critical.

For an example of one unique way to write about gardens, take a look at The History of Dirt, by Allie Marini Batts, from Issue #03. This WOWED us.

So next time, before you submit, think twice. Are you writing about a clichéd  topic? If so, did you twist it into treasure?

What other clichés can you think of that you persistently see in writing? Or better still, what have you read that deals with a cliché in a unique way?

PS: Sadly, FABRIC didn't make it into the Goodreads Choice Awards ten finalists. But thank you to all of you who tried to help me get there with your votes! Your support is amazing. And I am still pleased that it was a semi-finalist. I guess that's no easy achievement in itself.

Friday 16 November 2012

OH, HOW I MISS YOU BLOGFEST, hosted by Andrew Leon, Matthew MacNish, and Alex J. Cavanaugh

First, a big hand to the hosts of today's blogfest: Andrew Leon, Matthew MacNish, and Alex J. Cavanaugh! You can drop by either of these blogs to locate the entire list of participants.

The Premise: Do you have a couple blogger buddies who aren’t posting as often? Those who’ve pulled back and seem absent from the blogging world? Do you have blogger buddies you are grateful they are still around and would miss if they vanished? Now is your chance to show your appreciation and spotlight them!
On November 16, list one to three bloggers you really miss and one to three bloggers you would miss if they stopped blogging. Then go leave a comment on those blogs.

Our blogger friends are special – time to let them know!

With no further ado, here are my choices ...

Bloggers I miss because they don't post as often (or have stopped commenting and I therefore lose track of):

Nicole Ducleroir:

I'm a short story author, aspiring novelist, and world traveler who has penned fiction from homes on three different continents. I currently live with my husband and two children in the Atlanta area. When I find myself less inspired by my Southern locale, I have only to rifle through memories of adventures abroad until colorful characters or thrilling plots come forth. And on the rare occasion that none arise...I've been known to finagle a flight out.

Michelle Davidson Argyle:

Michelle lives and writes in Utah, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. She loves the seasons, but late summer and early fall are her favorites. She adores chocolate, sushi, and lots of ethnic food, and loves to read and write books in whatever time she can grab between her sword-wielding husband and energetic daughter. She believes a simple life is the best life.

Hart Johnson:

I write books from my bathtub and blog in my basement. For a full bio on the 3 faces of me, check out the tab. As for the shenanigans around here... lots on writing, some life... mostly I just want to encourage you to play with me. Silliness abounds.

Bloggers I would miss if they no longer blogged (I'm sure we'd still keep in touch via email, but it's still nice to read their posts!):

I started writing at age 8 upon discovering writing about monsters was less scary than looking for them under my bed. I'm still leery of things that go bump in the night, but hope my thriller writing skills have improved. I live in Canada will my husband, stepdaughter and three bullmastiff hounds. You know, just skulking around.
*Writer, editor, wife, mom, friend. *My books THE TRUTH ABOUT FAKING (YA rom-com) and ROUGE (Mature YA romance) are now available on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, & Smashwords. *New posts on Mondays. Leave a comment, make a suggestion, stay a while~
I'm the father of two beautiful young ladies, three lazy cats and one adorable German Shepherd. Together we live in the mountains of north Georgia amidst my endless collection of vinyl records. I run this blog in an attempt to help other novice writers avoid the mistakes I made in the beginning of my road to publication. Believe me, I made many.

So there you have it! My top six favourite bloggers :-) PS: I'm also to blame for the "lack of commenting" situation. It just gets so hard to keep up once you garner a large following ...



Thursday 15 November 2012


My Week in Facebook Faffing ...

Sometimes I speak gibberish to my dog. I'm sure it's what she hears anyway. :-)

Random people keep sending me poems on LinkedIn. Like 1 minute after accepting a request. Hint? That's not the way 2 get yr poetry read.

If someone says that your prose should not be poetic, in a story told in 1st person, because it's not a natural way of speaking, then you can respond with, "Telling a story in 1st person isn't natural, full stop. Who goes around narrating their life like that? But that's not going to stop people from writing books in 1st person, is it?"

Thank you for the suggestion to pay Vine Leaves contributors with Amazon gift vouchers, and making sure that I know Amazon is available in various countries, and for embedding the links into your note, because I'm sure I would never have found Amazon online if it weren't for your message. *rolls eyes*

Author Struggle No.3: New Release. Glued 2 screen. Check sales stats every 2 mins despite knowing they won't show up 4 hrs. #WritersLife

OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm an official nominee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please vote! PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Have always been, and will always be, in love with Ryan Adams' version of Wonderwall ...

Was going through my old "short story" files and found a doc titled "new stroy" ... yeah, nice spelling Jessica, and it contained only this:
“No,” said Ryan, hammering his index finger into the front of his bald wrinkly head. “Listen. Concentrate on ze beat.”
Made me laugh ... :-) I wonder what my intentions were with it. Because it's not triggering any memories!

Come on now ... I think there are enough book titles in the world that begin with "Shades of". Get a grip. Cut it out. Joke is OVER.

It's climbing! :-) Leigh, how is yours going? Are you glued to the charts as much as I am? I shouldn't have freaking looked. Now I can't stop! Grrrr ... It's your fault. You know that right? I saw your status about your ranking and you ... you ... you ... made me do it! LOL ♥


Wednesday 14 November 2012

The Artist Unleashed: CHARACTER-DRIVEN FICTION. YEA OR NAY? by Shauna Kelley

The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

I'm a Nominee in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2012!

Every year I browse the list of books nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award with a starry look in my eyes and dream of being among them ... but this year I don't have to dream anymore!

If you are a member of Goodreads and enjoy my poetry, can you please do me the honour of voting for my poetry book, FABRIC? I would appreciate it so much. While this may be "just another award" for some, for me this is HUGE. It's the biggest recognition I've ever received for my work and I'm flabbergasted, overjoyed, and if I could add more adjectives without sounding like a total ditz I would.


Monday 12 November 2012

The Artist Unleashed: THE STORY THAT WAS, by Leigh T. Moore (We have 2 Wednesdays this week!)

First, Thanks so much, Jessica, for having me here today! I'm so excited to share my new book ROUGE with everybody.

Last time I talked about how as I wrote The Truth About Faking (link) the whole story changed ("The Story That Wasn't"). In the case of ROUGE, however, the story pretty much turned out exactly as I planned it.

I got the idea walking in my neighborhood one fall day. A melancholy little song came on my iPod ("Complainte de la Butte"), and I thought, "What if there was a girl who tried to help another, younger girl, and it all went terribly wrong?"

Add on Goodreads
I wanted the girls to be orphans. I wanted them to be street-smart and running cons to survive. I wanted it to be set in New Orleans, which was as close to France as I could get without research…

I imagined main character Hale saving Teeny from starving, only to discover her "salvation" brought her into a situation worse than hunger. I imagined a carnivalesque "family" Hale turns to for help…

 In the first chapter, readers learn the girls' theater-home is a front for prostitution, and Teeny's getting old enough to "earn her keep." Hale's desperate to keep that from happening, so the questions become what will Hale do to make it right? How far will she go to protect this little girl?

Then I started thinking about problems like time. I knew it would have to be set either in the future, post-apocalyptic-style, or in the past.

So I went with the past. Hale's doing her best to con a rich Parisian suitor into proposing to her and taking them both away. Then she meets Beau. Falling in love complicates everything.

Writing ROUGE was the first time I stuck with the plan (for the most part) in one of my books. It's full of theater and New Orleans and romance. It has sexy moments; it has dark moments. I hope you guys love it as much as I do!

Find it on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Thanks again, Jessica!

Leigh Talbert Moore is a wife and mom by day, a writer by day, a reader by day, a freelance editor when time permits, a caffeine addict, a chocoholic, a beach bum, a lover of YA and new adult romance (really any great love story), and occasionally she sleeps. -THE TRUTH ABOUT FAKING is her debut young adult romance. -ROUGE is the first book in her mature-YA/new adult romance series.

Leigh loves hearing from readers; stop by and say hello!

Saturday 10 November 2012


Click to add me to Goodreads!
Have you been told there's a little too much telling in your novel? Want to remedy it? Then this is the book for you!

In Show & Tell in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions from Telling to Showing you will find sixteen real scenes depicting a variety of situations, emotions, and characteristics which clearly demonstrate how to turn telling into showing. Dispersed throughout, and at the back of the book, are blank pages to take notes as you read. A few short writing prompts are also provided.

Not only is this pocket guide an excellent learning tool for aspiring writers, but it is a light, convenient, and easy solution to honing your craft no matter how broad your writing experience. Keep it in the side pocket of your school bag, throw it in your purse, or even carry it around in the pocket of your jeans or jacket, to enhance your skills, keep notes, and jot down story ideas, anywhere, anytime.

If you purchase the e-book, you will be armed with the convenient hyper-linked Contents Page, where you can toggle backward and forward from different scenes with ease. Use your e-reader's highlighting and note-taking tools to keep notes instead.

I also welcome questions via email, concerning the content of this book, or about showing vs. telling in general, at

“Jessica Bell addresses one of the most common yet elusive pieces of writing advice—show, don't tell—in a uniquely user-friendly and effective way: by example. By studying the sixteen scenes she converts from “telling” into “showing,” not only will you clearly understand the difference; you will be inspired by her vivid imagery and dialogue to pour through your drafts and do the same.” ~Jenny Baranick, College English Teacher, Author of Missed Periods and Other Grammar Scares
“A practical, no-nonsense resource that will help new and experienced writers alike deal with that dreaded piece of advice: show, don’t tell. I wish Bell’s book had been around when I started writing!” ~Talli Roland, bestselling author

Purchase the paperback:
$4.40 on Amazon US
£3.99 on Amazon UK

Purchase the e-book:
$1.99 on Amazon US
£1.99 on Amazon UK
$1.99 on Kobo

About me in a nutshell:
I'm an Australian-native contemporary fiction author and poet, who also makes a living as an editor and writer for global ELT publishers (English Language Teaching), such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

I am the Co-Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and co-host the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek Isle of Ithaca, with Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest.

For more information about me, please visit: 

Thursday 8 November 2012

My Week in Facebook Faffing

"I just noticed you don't want attachments. I don't know how to copy and paste. Sorry, please withdraw my submission." Wha? How do you get through life without knowing how to copy and paste?

Eeek! Have so many interviews to do and guest posts to write. They just keep piling up! I'd better get cracking ...

Wondering if I should set up a personal newsletter. Is it worth it? When I receive newsletters from lit mags and authors that I've subscribed to, I actually very rarely READ them. Unless they are my friends. Thoughts?

Just started reading a book that makes me feel totally talentless ... The Stone Gods, by Jeanette Winterson.

REALLY annoyed that I can't publish to NOOK. I have to be a US resident! Wow, B&N are really limiting themselves. No wonder Amazon is getting the better of them! Sheesh, even KOBO allows foreigners to publish there.

I've been over and over and OVER these proofs and I STILL feel insecure about typos ...

One thing I notice when reading hundreds of poetry submissions, is that way too many poets are drawn to gardens ... why is it that flowers and suns, and moons and dreams, and tides and quiet breaths in the dark dark night, suffocate this form of written word until I need to come up for air and scream GIVE ME SOME FUCKING CONTROVERSY?

Kindle of Show & Tell in a Nutshell is available. Do I promote it before the paperback is ready? Decisions decisions ...

Author Struggle No.1: Tired of seeing so much book promo. Need to market own books. Catch 22.

Once upon a time there was a gal named Jess
who had an urge to write limericks upon your request
but she had to watch for names
that were damn hard to tame
or the limerick would lack the required finesse!

So it seems, Facebook tells my story ... this has the potential to be a weekly feature! How much of your life do you share on Facebook?

Wednesday 7 November 2012

The Artist Unleashed: IF YOUR STOMACH CHURNS, I'VE DONE MY JOB, by Sarah Fine

The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Monday 5 November 2012

Show & Tell in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions from Telling to Showing

On November 12, my pocket guide, Show & Tell in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions from Telling to Showing, will be released, and I'm super excited about this little book!

When I first started writing, I totally didn't understand the concept of "show, not tell". In theory I could, but when I tried to put it into practice it would just end up being a more fancy version of telling. I always wished there were easy-to-access, and reliable examples out there to refer to. And so this book was born! &
Here's the blurb:
Have you been told that you have a little too much telling in your novel? Want to remedy it? Then this is the book for you!
In Show & Tell in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions from Telling to Showing you will find sixteen real scenes depicting a variety of situations, emotions, and characteristics which clearly demonstrate how to turn telling into showing. Dispersed throughout, and at the back of the book, are blank pages to take notes as you read. A couple of short writing prompts are also provided.
Not only is this pocket guide an excellent learning tool for aspiring writers, but it is a light, convenient, and easy solution to honing your craft no matter how broad your writing experience. Keep it in the side pocket of your school bag, throw it in your purse, or even carry it around in the pocket of your jeans or jacket, to enhance your skills, keep notes, and jot down story ideas, anywhere, anytime.
Of course, a Kindle version will be available at the same time with a slightly different introduction and blurb, as it won't need any note-taking space.

And so, in light of this, I'm going to write up a short advertorial blog post, and transfer it to HTML, for those who are interested in helping me advertise between November 26 and December 10. Are you interested in helping me out? If so, just say yo in the comments, with the date you want, and I'll be in touch via email!

When you were just beginning to write, how did you wrap your mind around the show, not tell rule? Did you crave real examples like me? Do you think your beginner self would have benefited from such a book? Why?

Friday 2 November 2012

The Artist Unleashed: THE TWO-FACED LIFE OF A WRITING EDITOR, by Laurel Garver

The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Thursday 1 November 2012


Extraterrestrial ballroom dancers exist. They disguise themselves as spunky blonds, and try to inhale human brain matter through our aural orifices for experiments in cloning participants for Dancing with the Stars. Seriously. I caught it on camera. You should check it out! Because I think one of them is sucking Angela Ackerman's brains out as we speak ...

Wednesday 31 October 2012

The Artist Unleashed: MY MOMENT by Theresa Milstein

Thanks for swapping blogs with me, Jessica. I’m happy to be in a second anthology with you. This time, we’re both in, From Stage Door Shadows, which sheds light on the darker side of show business. Scary subject for Halloween…  

My short story “My Moment” is a mix of Victorian and 1950s ideology meets 2313. Part of the story was inspired by the appalling American television show Toddlers and Tiaras, which I wrote about on Chandara Writes blog.

The YA novel XVI by Julia Karr influenced the other part of my short story.  I actually gave Karr’s book one more star on Goodreads because I was impressed by the dystopian premise: when girls turn sixteen, they get a XVI tattoo on their wrist and any man can have sex with them. With women so sexualized in our society and some recent comments regarding “legitimate rape” by American politicians, it’s not a far leap to see women losing compete control over their bodies in the future.

The book made me wonder what women would face in the distant future. Would they be celebrated for beauty or brains? Would they be celebrated at all? 

In “My Moment”, girls attend school for domesticity and deportment. They aren’t allowed to read books, and they learn just enough writing to prepare grocery lists and party invitations. And after school, these girls practice their pageant routines.  Pageants become the only arena for females to succeed in society. “Success” means to marry well. Wives are expected to look polished and use their talents to impress their husband’s guests at dinner parties. The pageant winners will be hand-selected by men seeking arm-candy wives. 

And if women don’t succeed in pageants, the alternatives are anything but pretty. 

Dystopian pieces always stick a lens into our contemporary society and show what the likely outcome if some sinister aspect were able to run amok. I hope “My Moment” will remind us of the danger of fostering inequality between the sexes. 

Links to book:

Note from Jessica: I'm over at Theresa's blog today talking about my story in FROM STAGE DOOR SHADOWS. Care to drop by?

PS: My novel String Bridge is FREE on Kindle TODAY ONLY. Amazon UK | Amazon US

ALSO: Could you pretty please vote for my poetry book FABRIC in the opening round of the BEST POETRY 2012? You'll have to write it in for it to have a chance at becoming an official nomination in the second round. Would REALLY appreciate it!

Monday 29 October 2012

The J.K Rowling Of My Time

I watched a TV movie about Enid Blyton this weekend. And I'm crushed.

The Wishing Chair, and The Faraway Tree were the first 'novels' I ever read. And whenever I think of them I get all nostalgic and mushy in my belly. I borrowed every single Enid Blyton book I could find from my local library after reading them. I became obsessed. Because they whisked me away into worlds I'll never ever forget.

But you know why I'm crushed? Because this GENIUS author, who I idolized, and respected, this author who had written over 400 books for children, who was the J.K Rowling of my time, and sold over 500 million copies (and still sells around 4 million every year) ... had children of her own ... and she treated them like dish rags! I'm devastated! 

For example, she'd spend her free time replying to fan mail, and send her kids out to play with their governess. She never spent time with them. Ever. She would invite her fans (little kids) over for indoor picnics and tea parties, and not include her own children. She'd send them upstairs to sit in the nursery until the parties were over. She wouldn't let them see their father when they divorced, despite knowing exactly how horrible it was to be without her own. Basically, she was a selfish cow who spent 24 hours a day glued to her desk and didn't give an inch of her time (nor love) to her kids. And I'm SO SAD!

So today I'm mourning the loss of my childhood idol ... I don't think I can ever think of her in the same royal light again.

Have you ever been crushed by biographies of those you admire?

Thursday 25 October 2012

Literary Magazines Should Not Charge Reading Fees

I have to say, as a literary magazine editor myself, I'm disgusted at the amount of mags and journals that ask for a reading fee, or say that subscribers' work gets priority. And more often than not, these journals that have such stipulations, have sponsors and/or funding from arts foundations which means they don't even need that money! It's ridiculous and greedy. I could never imagine charging a reading fee with Vine Leaves Literary Journal in my life.

I understand that it's hard work. I understand that there are expenses here and there that need to be paid (website, classifieds ads, donations to places like and, sponsored listings on places like and The Review Review, if you are a print mag you also have production costs to take care of), but in my opinion, if you want to run a legitimate journal, and be a respected journal, you should NOT be taking money from the writers, you should be PAYING THEM.

If you can't afford to run the mag without sucking these gullible writers dry of their hard-earned cash, then you shouldn't be running a journal at all. I am in this business because I love to give writers the opportunity to see their work published. I love to send that acceptance letter, and imagine the smile on the other end of it, the knowing that they feel appreciated and that their work is worthy. It's validation that every writer needs. If they have paid for you to read that work, how is it a true acceptance?

As a writer, you should not have to pay to have your work read. Would you pay your husband/wife to say they love you? Would you pay a traditional publisher to publish your novel? Would you pay a literary agent to read your query letter and manuscript sample? No way! So how is a literary magazine any different? It's not.

Those of you who are looking for places to submit, please do not be fooled by reading fees. By all means, donate and/or subscribe to magazines you want to donate and/or subscribe to; it's how we stay afloat. But you should not feel obligated to subscribe to every magazine you submit to. If I did that, I would be bankrupt. It's impossible. Please, look for magazines that do not charge you to be read, because the ones that do, are taking advantage of your desire for success.

Disclaimer: I do not feel this way about contest fees. Money usually needs to be raised for the prize money, so it's generally accepted.

How do you feel about reading fees for literary magazines?

Wednesday 24 October 2012

The Artist Unleashed: DOING IT FOR MYSELF by Talli Roland

The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Monday 22 October 2012

Innocence Sentenced With Guilt

I had last Friday off so decided to give myself a three-day-do-absolutely-nothing-weekend.

But the problem with long weekends and being used to working so hard all the time, is that I can't seem to overcome the feeling that I'm doing something wrong when I let myself sit around doing nothing.

It feels criminal.

The offence of innocently taking time off is sentenced with guilt.

By the time I got over this feeling, it was Sunday afternoon. What a waste. I spent the whole long weekend feeling like I should be getting stuff done and didn't relax AT ALL.

The biggest thing stopping me from relaxing was that I felt I should be utilizing this time to write. I did write, a bit, but the guilt of not feeling like writing much meant I wasted a lot of time on social media pretending to write. GAH! Why couldn't I just lap up and enjoy the three blissful days of freedom?

Mind you, I did end up watching the entire first season of REVENGE. And now I'm totally hooked. Great. Another TV show to take away from my reading time. Sigh.

Are you generally an always-have-to-do-something kind of person? How do you feel when given rare time to relax?

Saturday 20 October 2012


Today is the birthday of Lenny Lee, an absolute light in the lives of many bloggers.

My Photo
He's 13 today!

I've known Lenny since he was ten, and I can't tell you how much I adore this young man. He is full of wisdom and smiles, and has lots of great stories to tell. I'm sure he'd love it if you dropped by his blog and wished him a happy birthday!

Lenny, keep your eye on the post! I've sent you a little package :-) Happy birthday, sugar!

Thursday 18 October 2012

5 ways NOT to write an author biography for literary magazines

Ever read someone's author bio and find yourself zoning out? This is probably why:

OneIt reads like a job application form.

I do not need to know every single little job you have done since you were twelve and sold painted pebbles on the side of the road. Focus on the good stuff. The recent stuff. Also, avoid dates so you don't have to change it too often. If you want people to know more about you, link to your website. Easy. The idea is to make them want to click on your website.

TwoIt lists every single literary publication you have ever had.

Yeah, italics are good. It means writing credits. It means other editors have thought your writing good enough to publish. But seriously, don't over-do it. It's boring. And who cares? We want to read about YOU. Just cut it down to the two or three, biggest and best ones you have. Honestly, when I read the bios, I skip over the italics. I want personality, not a resume. And I'm sure readers do too. Most readers out there are not going to know much about the names of literary magazines, so what's the point in focussing on them? Make them want to read your writing.

ThreeIt sounds arrogant.

If it's in first person, you run the risk sounding like the girl/boy in school who everyone pretended to love. Remember them? Yeah, they were the ones who had their side-kicks shove your head down the toilet and made you feel like a turd. Then. But you, the geek, have now got your shit together. Be humble. Be proud, but don't wave your money around. Best stick to third person. And facts. A little quirky wordplay goes a long way too.

FourIt tells us all about where you live and how handsome your husband/wife is.

Um ... need I say more? Seriously. It's like listening to a new mum tell you about how proud they are of the texture of their baby's poop.

It's toooooooooooooooo loooooooooooooooooong.

You are not writing a memoir. Stick to 50-100 words. The key to a perfect biography for me is when you utilize the three SSS. (Short, Smart, Sassy). The purpose of a bio, is not to list everything about you. It's to make people want to know more about you. Make them want to click on your blog to find out for themselves.

Here are a few good examples:

Karina Sims is a 26-year-old writer from Beaver Falls, British Columbia, Canada. She is the author of many short stories and an unpublished novel. Her interests include: long walks on the beach, candle lit dinners, world domination and cannibalism.

Alaine Benard’s publishing credits include; Louisiana Literature, The Rose & Thorn Journal, The New York Quarterly, blah, blah, blah. Benard is known as the ‘silent poet,’ writes and paints from dimly lit caves (currently in Baton Rouge), away from snakes and all liars. She loves bacon.

Kevin Ridgeway's work has most recently appeared in Golden Sparrow Literary Review, Quantum Poetry Magazine and Thunderclap! Press. He resides in Southern California in a shady bungalow with his girlfriend and their one-eyed cat. Check out his blog: blah.

Matt Hentschel was once a hired gunman, working in the comic industry, but is now more of a writer and illustrator pursuing his own ideas. His works (both written and illustrated) can be found at [website].

What other no-nos can you think of for writing an author biography?

*For more insider lit mag tips, check out the links HERE

Wednesday 17 October 2012


The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Monday 15 October 2012

The answer to Friday's riddle ...

Congratulations to Luca Marchiori for guessing last Friday's riddle correctly!

Yup, it was MILK BOTTLE. The old-fashioned kind.

Here's a breakdown:

Translucent (a milk bottle is glass and see-through), thin like a swan’s neck (yup, when it's filled with milk I think that comparison works)

I sit in a box—waiting. (on the doorstep) Waiting for

someone to pop my protector—silver

boom gate. (that bit of aluminum foil that seals the opening) My juice is creamy, pure (milk is creamy and pure)

—seasoned with grass (cows eat grass). In the past,

I tempted infidelity; ladies’ revolt. (when the hubbies were at war, the cliche is that the women slept with the milkman.)

Thursday 11 October 2012

What Am I? Answer correctly and win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Read the poem. Can you guess what I am? First person to answer correctly  wins a $10 Amazon Gift card. Will reveal answer on Monday.

Translucent, thin like a swan’s neck
I sit in a box—waiting. Waiting for
someone to pop my protector—silver
boom gate. My juice is creamy, pure
—seasoned with grass. In the past,
I tempted infidelity; ladies’ revolt.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

The Artist Unleashed: LEAVING THE HALL LIGHT ON, by Madeline Sharples

Madeline Sharples was one of those Lucky Press authors whose book was left in limbo after the company closed down this year. But thankfully, Madeline found another publisher, and they have put her wonderful book out again in paperback. So today, I'm re-posting my review of her amazingly brilliant memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. This book is one of the most amazing books I have ever read, so please, read on, and help Madeline get her sales momentum back! ~Jessica

Leaving the Hall Light OnLeaving the Hall Light On by Madeline Sharples
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This memoir pins you down and never lets go. There wasn't one moment where I wasn't thinking about Madeline's heartbreak, and Paul's suffering, and anticipating the time I could sit down and read it again in peace. You want to immerse yourself in total silence while reading this extraordinarily powerful story. I'm not sure why I felt this way. Perhaps it was a subconscious act of respect. Perhaps I felt as if Madeline, Paul, Bob and Ben, needed my undivided attention. Actually, I think that is the reason. It was as if I wasn't even reading, but watching the story unfold right before my very eyes. Who wants background noise when someone is pouring their heart out to you? I certainly don't.

I cried. Three times, in fact. The first time straight after the very first paragraph. The second time during one of Bob's (Madeline's husband) journal entries describing the scene of finding their son, Paul, dead, in a pool of blood, in their bath, throat and wrists slit. And the third time after reading a poem called "A Stone Called Son".

I don't think I can justifiably describe how I'm feeling about this book. Tears are welling up in my eyes as I'm writing this, trying to figure out how to express myself. My gosh, I'm a writer and I can't find the words to tell you how much I wish every single person on this planet would read this book.

Reasons to read this, off the top of my head:

  • Because it will teach you not to judge.
  • Because it will teach you how to behave around people who are grieving.
  • Because sometimes you need a reality check.
  • Because Madeline has written a book about one of the most difficult experiences in her life and it should be rewarded.
  • Because you want to. Believe me, you do. No matter how heartbreaking the content, you want to read it. You will become a better person afterward.

I tip my hat off to you, Madeline. You are a survivor. You are an inspiration. You make me proud to be a woman.

Purchase on Amazon.

What books have you read recently that have made you feel proud to be who you are?

Monday 8 October 2012

Why Literary Fiction isn’t Boring

Have you ever sat down for a meal and wanted to savor your food because you’ve never tasted anything so good? Well, if you’re new to literary fiction, or can never seem to “get into it,” this is how you should try approaching it.

Think of the book as a meal with intricate scents, flavors and textures that you can’t quite recognize unless you spend a little more time with it, and give it a little more of your attention. Because, trust me, sitting down a little longer than usual, to enjoy your meal, can be liberating.

Sensory information is, more often than not, a huge focus in literary works. Literary fiction, unfortunately, gets a bad rap for all the description it uses. This makes me sad because I adore it. I never used to. But then I realized I wasn’t reading it for the right reasons.

I’m convinced that some people think it’s boring because their expectations are all wrong. Most literary works are not heavy on plot. It exists, but it is not usually the main focus. Primarily, the focus is on character and theme. So you cannot expect to pick up a literary novel and become so caught up in the story that you can’t bear to put it down. But so what? Each reading experience should be different, and should inspire you in different ways. So, before you dismiss the idea of reading another literary novel, because the last one you read was so boring you couldn’t keep your eyes open, try taking a different approach.

Try to focus on the small things, page by page, rather than the book as a whole. Allow yourself to not finish the book “this week” because you’ve signed up to the Goodreads Book Challenge and need to maintain your momentum. Life is not about numbers, folks. It’s about quality. Give yourself that extra week to read a literary novel and you’ll discover the abundant beauty and importance of unique phrasing, character development, theme and symbolism, and how all these elements can effortlessly blend together to create a masterpiece; to create an atmosphere rarely found in the commercial works that can be gobbled up in one sitting. Focusing on these things is going to make your writing better. And you can learn to entwine, even if in the smallest of doses, a little more magic into your prose. And you never know, by not focusing on the story line, you may find you’ll actually enjoy reading something that lacks the pace you’re used to. If you give your brain the opportunity to accept the difference, you give it room to enjoy the difference.

Take this amazing line from Marilynne Robinson’s, Housekeeping, which is well-known among my peers, as my most favorite book of all time:

It was the kind of loneliness that made clocks seem slow and loud and made voices sound like voices across water.

Isn’t this just so beautiful?

Read it again. Slowly. Out loud. Now, picture it. What other senses does this conjure? Can you hear the loud and slow clock ticking? Its echo crossing a flat lake trying to reach the disappearing voices of loved ones you wished existed? The still and stifling warm air at dusk? Your heartbeat in your ears? The emptiness in your chest? The melancholia you can’t seem to place? An amazing comparison to loneliness, don’t you think?

You can do this in your work. By reading a bit more literary fiction, you can discover small beauties like this one. You can then practice taking someone’s breath away in your own writing. Give your manuscript that extra touch of character, of magic, of prose so well crafted that others will wish they could write like you. Now … wouldn’t that just be an amazing accomplishment? To write a page turner that makes a reader’s mouth water too?

Tell me, do you read literary fiction? Why/Why not? If you’ve given up on literary fiction in the past, do you think you might like to give it another go now?

Note: This article was first published in Writer's Digest, March, 2012.

Friday 5 October 2012

Top ten pet peeves of a literary magazine editor ...

Issue #04 OUT NOW!
1. "Please choose from the images at the following URL." Erm ... no.

2. Okay, we say no cover letter is necessary, but when we receive subs with the text ONLY, no bio, no by-line, we're going to assume the author's name is the one in the email address. Whoops ... I guess we used your husband's name in the magazine instead of yours. Sorry about that. Please tell us who you are. It's pretty important.

3. Please read the guidelines. If we say NO ATTACHMENTS in capital letters, it doesn't mean PLEASE SEND US ATTACHMENTS in capital letters. Why no attachments? Simple really. Do you open attachments sent to you from complete strangers? Why do you not open them? VIRUSES. We're just keeping a healthy balanced diet, folks. In general, the guidelines make our reading period run smoothly. They ensure things don't get lost in the sea of submissions and enable the editors (who all live in different countries) to navigate the inbox with ease.

-Hello, could you please replace my author biography on your website with the following?
- Absolutely. No problem.
- Hello, could you please replace my author biography on your website again?"
- Absolutely. (grits teeth) No problem.
Tip: Avoid including dates and book titles in your bio. Make it something more general and include a link to your website for people to access your latest info.
5. "I know you have a word limit of 800 words, but I'd love it if you'd consider my 2500 word short story, entitled BLAH."
Tip: Our word limit is 800 words. :-)
6. Please don't send your email to ALL of our email addresses AND via the contact form on our website. *sigh* For reasons I think I can deem obvious.

7. Please don't reply to a personal rejection with insults. We took the time to offer feedback. We don't get paid to spend time reading your work. In fact, any money that goes into the magazine comes from our own pockets, so we SPEND money to read your work. You got a rejection. Life sucks. So? Submit again. Or, if you feel bitter, submit somewhere else.

8. Do not send an email with the title of your work in the subject line if the title is "10509375900340804802847508508220348023494729374028402582057025"
That kinda looks like spam. Sorry. We might delete it by accident.

9. Don't send emails asking us for tips on how to write a vignette. That's why we have the "Vignette writing tips" page on our website. I hate to break it to you, but reading it in your email, instead of on the website, isn't going to make it any easier to comprehend.

10. "Dear Sirs ..."
-Dawn, do our bio head shots look tomboyish to you?

Speaking of literary magazines ... 
Vine Leaves Literary Journal Issue #04 is OUT NOW! :-)

Pushcart Prize nominees have been announced.

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