Saturday, June 12, 2010

Aqueous Books Update

As of May 31, 2010, Aqueous Books' debut publication, Michael J. Atwood's HiStory of Santa Monica, is available. It is available through Aqueous Books, as an Amazon Kindle edition, from Barnes & Noble, and through the Ingram online distribution catalog. View the Press Kit here.

It has been a long process, to which many of my publishing acquaintances can attest, putting together and sending out press releases and notifications, establishing contact with booksellers and libraries, registering Aqueous Books with various online sources, and yes, even the occasional amount of legwork.

Has it been worth it? It's been worth every ounce of energy, blood, and tears, and even worth every Benjamin Franklin spent (and trust me, there have been many! Ouch!)

I am looking forward to our upcoming publications: by Alec Bryan, Heather Fowler, Aaron Polson, and quite a few others.

This is only the beginning of a very long journey that I hope will last longer than I do, and I think we're off to a great start. I have the honor and privilege to work with some very fine, talented authors, and my right-hand lady, the very talented editor Erin McKnight, who has been an amazing asset throughout all of the processes.

Time to celebrate? Not yet--there's still work to be done!


Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Indie Book Awards

I'm so pleased to announce that my first book--How to Write & Publish a Successful Children's Book: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply (Atlantic Publishing, 2010)--landed a finalist spot in the Writing & Publishing Category in the Indie Book Awards!

I owe a big "thank you" to my careful editors at Atlantic Publishing--Kimberly Fulscher and Marilee Griffin, and to the publisher, Doug Brown, for allowing me the freedom to include my illustrations in the book. I'm as happy as if I'd won the award!

I'm looking forward to my next nonfiction title's debut, due at the end of June, on publishing for the Kindle. It will be the first book to describe the process of publishing a magazine and newspaper for the Kindle. It's good to try to have some sort of corner on the market!


Friday, May 14, 2010

Another Installment of Angry Rejection Mail

We (meaning I and the majority of the staff at Prick of the Spindle) think the gross majority of e-mails sent in angry, impulsive response to rejections (even the nicest and most helpful of rejections) are largely hilarious.

A while back (don't ask me how long ago) I posted an article I wrote featuring some of the best hilarity-inducing e-mails. Due to the more or less steady influx of such letters (which I attribute to the more or less steady stream of rejections we send), I think featuring these every now and then might be good for a larf.

One note, however: we have noticed a strong trend. Since implementing the Submishmash submission manager, we have noticed that both a) the decrease in overall submissions received and b) the increase in quality of submissions received has coincided with a sharp decrease in the number of angry rejection mail (ARM). Coincidence? Perhaps. Or...not so much.

Without further ado, ARM #1 of this installment:

You would have found everything that you suggested if you read the story slowly. Not every story can be understood, even if it is written simply and expecially if it is more complex than it initially appears, if it is quickly read. But today's editors are more than often too overwhelmed with and desensitized by submissions to read them any other way. Thus, contemporary literature has become like so many other things in this country--a cheap product to be quickly consumed in vast quantities.

As for the parotting dialogue, that is the character's personality, a personality strongly based on a real person.

Writer X

5. "expecially" should provide some idea of the quality of writing we're dealing with here
4. "Today's editors." Yeah. I'll let that one stand on its own.
3. Submissions don't desensitize me--this work is my passion. I am, however, becoming better at analyzing the volumes of work that come in and determing whether something can be "rescued" by editing, or if it is flawed at its very heart and the result of a writer not yet developed.
2. Yeah, we're all about that "cheap product." We're Wal-Mart shoppers. Faded Glory over Gucci.

And the best one yet...
1. Oh yes, fiction is always best when it imitates life and actual people and events closely. After all, that's what fiction's all about--staying true to the events, not the story. Nonfiction is for the birds!


Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Producers

It's hard to believe it's been more than a month and a half since my last blog post. For shame! I slap my own hand.

It's a day that's threatening rain and perfect weather to write. But on the agenda for this weekend is a whole lot of reading. I have read through many manuscripts for Aqueous Books, and still have many more to read through, including going through final edits for our first publication, Michael J. Atwood's interlinked short story collection, HiStory of Santa Monica.

In other exciting news, on Monday, April 12, I met with Jerry Ahillen, Pensacola Little Theatre Artistic Director, and Michelle Hancock, the Little Theatre's Beyond Boundaries Program Coordinator, to discuss my Outreach Initiative for Youth Drama idea. I am excited to provide the results of that meeting in the following press release:


Prick of the Spindle literary journal partners with the Pensacola Little Theatre to produce plays for youth in the Fall of 2010

Pensacola, FL, April 23, 2010 ― International nonprofit literary journal Prick of the Spindle announced a new partnership with the Pensacola Little Theatre, who will be producing plays for area youth through the journal's Outreach Initiative for Youth Drama competition. Prick of the Spindle is hosting a competition open to international dramatists for youth in three categories. Playwrights can submit work for children in age groups 4-8 years old; 8-12 years; and 12 and up. View the guidelines.

This initiative promises to continue the impact on area youth that the Pensacola Little Theatre is known for. A winning play from each category will be produced in the fall of 2010 through the Pensacola Little Theatre's Beyond Boundaries program. The program, managed by Coordinator Michelle Hancock, brings drama into schools, assisted living facilities, and community centers in an effort to provide a cultural experience to people from all backgrounds. The journal's vision aligns neatly with that of the theatre. "It has been my vision from day one to promote quality work from writers of all backgrounds," says Prick of the Spindle Editor-in-Chief and founder Cynthia Reeser. Both organizations are poised to offer top-level material to the community at large.

The Pensacola Little Theatre was founded in 1926, according to their Website, on the closing of The Opera House. The Board of Managers (later to become the Board of Directors) brought the theatre successfully through the Great Depression, and have been serving the community ever since. Now midway through its 73rd season, the Little Theatre is host to such stage shows as Little Shop of Horrors, The Producers, Victor Victoria, A Midsummer Night's Dream, 12 Angry Jurors, and more.

Prick of the Spindle is a Pensacola-based nonprofit organization founded in 2007. It is the first literary journal to establish a presence as a Kindle magazine on, and has seen a rapid increase in its readership since its inception. It is one of the few literary journals publishing drama, and has interviewed a variety of established and up-and-coming authors and editors. Authors published in the journal have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, the StorySouth Million Writers Award, Best of the Net Anthology, Best of the Web Anthology, and more. The journal is hosting a reading featuring published poets, fiction, and nonfiction authors on June 19, 2010 at Dolce Vita on South Reus Street in Pensacola; the event is a fundraiser whose profits benefit a youth art program.

For additional information, contact Cynthia Reeser at

Visit Prick of the Spindle and the Pensacola Little Theatre online.

We're looking for playwrights! Folks, send me your best work. I can't wait to read it. Guidelines are here.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Paintings Afire.

I am so very pleased to have sold "Blue Staircase" (quite honestly, it's a heartbroken sort of pleased) and to have placed "Intrinsic," which I sold in 2008 at auction, for the cover of a poetry chapbook forthcoming by Stacy Julin from Tiger's Eye Press.

I suppose I should keep painting.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Howie Good is Good.

Howie Good--you know the one--his work is everywhere and he set some kind of record for the number of poetry chapbooks published by a single poet in a year in 2009? He has yet two more chapbooks in the works (and I know of at least a third, but Shhhhh! I'm not talking).

Check them out. They are:



Thursday, February 25, 2010

Because I am Tired, and Shameless, and Writing Moves Me.

Things that have kept me lately from blogging as I should:

1. Working what I think works out to about 100+ hours per week.

2. Reading stories like this one, by Scott McClanahan.

3. Bringing home a brand new bundle of ISBN. (Yes, the plural for ISBN is "ISBN," which cracks me up. It figures that the initialism to such a term has its own grammatical rules.)

4. Getting published in Metazen.

5. Getting mentioned at The Kenyon Review.

6. Getting rejected (again) by The Collagist.

7. Having my work read on video here.

8. Having my book on children's publishing reviewed here and here.

9. Finishing up the final edits on my book on Kindle publishing.

10. Being a guest reader at Lynn Alexander's Full of Crow Poetry Hour.

11. Reading Aqueous Books submissions.

12. Reading submissions for Prick of the Spindle.

13. Final judging for Prick of the Spindle's Poetry Open Competition No. 1.

14. Gearing up for the Art Party VII this weekend.

15. Keeping track of Prick of the Spindle Kindle Magazine subscriptions.

16. Being afraid of missing my deadline to send in my NewPages book review for March, for The Cormorant Hunter's Wife, by Joan Kane.

17. Reading Mel Bosworth here and here and here.

18. Writing a story for an upcoming e-book from Metazen.

19. Having Light and Trials of Light reviewed here .

20. Guest blogging here and here and here.

21. Getting mentioned here and here and here.

22. Getting interviewed here and here.

23. Finishing a painting and another.

24. Listening to this. Over and over.

25. Writing blurbs for such excellent forthcoming books as Paper House by Jessie Carty.


Saturday, February 6, 2010


The manuscripts for Aqueous Books are rolling in. I'm really looking forward to reading the material we're receiving.

If you haven't caught it yet, Jason Behrends of Orange Alert kindly interviews me here. Thanks, Jason. You are good people.

I'm looking forward to receiving my shipment of Light and Trials of Light. And, of course, the first issue of Artifice, which is stacked. Have you seen the line-up? Gaw. Check it out.

And, on a non-writing-related topic, I feel the need to document somehow, in some medium (and blogging is as good a medium as any other), the cuteness of my 3-year-old child. Most of you are familiar with how children go through phases, especially when they are very young and when it comes to their speech patterns. I know I am not alone as a parent in thinking that my child is precocious (and precious). For example, his latest cute-ism has been, "When you were a..." His dialogue is often:

"When you were a _____, you (or I) _____."

Examples of late have been:

"When you were a chicken nugget, I ate you all gone."

"When you were a race car, I drove you."

"When you were a light bulb, I turned you on."

"When you had a foot on your head, I put a boot on it."

"When you were a bottle, I drank you."

"When you were a chair, I sat on you."

"When you were a hat, I put you on my head."

To me, this is the perfect fodder for a children's book. Who knows, with inspiration like this, maybe one will be in the works soon.


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Poetry Chapbook Shipping

I just received word from Finishing Line Press that Light and Trials of Light will be shipping this week after a delay with the printer. I am excited to see it in the hands of friends, and to have a nice healthy stack of review copies to send out.

I am also still seeking reviewers for my book that just released from Atlantic Publishing, How to Write and Publish a Successful Children's Book (see left sidebar to order).

I am very excited for my client, whose memoir I recently finished editing. We sent out query letters to agents on Monday of last week, and by Friday she had a request for a full manuscript sitting in her inbox. The package should go out tomorrow, and then, we wait for 6 to 8 weeks to hear back. I don't know about her, but I will be awaiting the response with bated breath.

And, I just turned in the final copy for my book on Kindle publishing, which will release from Atlantic Publishing in the spring of this year. I am watching the Kindle-iPad problem with great interest. I would like to see the debate result in some healthy changes for the publishing industry--changes that I hope will work in favor of authors, and not media megaconglomerates.

Now it's time to dive into a gigantic stack of submissions, both for Prick of the Spindle and Aqueous Books, to try to find time to work on my short stories, and to prepare for Art Party VII, which is just around the corner, on February 27. So much to do, so little time.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A New Publisher: Aqueous Books

Yesterday, I announced Prick of the Spindle's new print publishing arm, Aqueous Books. We already have two publications in the works, to be announced soon. There is a third manuscript on its way, and I barely breathed word of this ten hours ago. That is indeed a good sign. Our first publication will be a collection of short stories, and the second will be a printing of the first novel ever published by Prick of the Spindle. I'll leave it you to investigate the latter. (Hint: It's not from the current issue, Vol. 3.4.)

Please visit the Aqueous page for updates, which will include submission guidelines and information about our royalty contracts. Also, thanks to Mel Bosworth over at Outsider Writers Collective and Press for giving us a shout-out.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Guest Blogging and Podcasting

With the release of my book, "How To Write and Publish a Successful Children's Book," (available for purchase through the link on the left side of this page), I have a guest blog post appearance at and a podcast available on YouTube at

Also upcoming is a guest blog at

For the release of my book on Kindle publishing, forthcoming tentatively in early spring, I have been invited to guest blog at Nik Perring's blog, and to podcast at The Creative Penn.

I am tremendously excited to have the opportunity to participate so actively in the marketing of my book.

More coming soon!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Shelving My First Book

I have fond memories of my father taking me to the library from the time I was about four, sitting with me in our wonderfully sixties-era postmodern library, with its bright orange bean bag chairs and russet-colored, triangular wall decor. I learned to read at age four, and from the time I cracked my first picture book and inhaled its glossy illustrations (I have always been an ardent fan of new book smells), I have dreamed about someday having a shelf full of my own books--books I wrote--somewhere in my home.

Two days ago, my first shipment of books arrived on my doorstep. It was a sunny day, rain-free, and when I (ever-so-carefully) ripped open the package, excitement built and my smile began to glow. There they were, two little stacks of books with my name on the cover. The first thing I did was run my fingers over the glossy cover, and then of course, as per old habit, I flipped through its pages and let its scent carry under my nose. Then I really flipped through it, looking at the illustrations, graphics I created, authors I interviewed, text I wrote.

It is quite a different thing to toil away and research well into the night, to build and edit and create this project, this book; quite a different thing to eat, sleep, and breathe it, than it is to hold the finished product in your hand. How to Write and Publish a Successful Children's Book is something I am very proud of. The cover is handsome, and I am so pleased with the professionalism of Atlantic Publishing's layout department.

And there are two more coming out this year. My first poetry chapbook, of course, Light and Trials of Light, ships from Finishing Line Press January 22. And I finish up my book on publishing for the Kindle in one week; the anticipated release date for that book is early spring 2010.

And sometime in February, the first issue of the bi-annual Artifice Magazine will be arriving on my doorstep.

There is another exciting thing in the works, but I can't reveal trade secrets, even to my closest friends. Sorry, guys! Hate me now, but when my toilsome work of coding for about a week straight comes to fruition (pending approval, keeping my fingers crossed!) I will crow like someone dropped an anvil on my foot (what are those used for, anyway?).

Til then, sincerely yours,

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Starting Off with a Bang!

2010 is off to great beginnings. I just received word that my book from Atlantic Publishing, How to Write and Publish a Successful Children's Book, ships from the publisher tomorrow, January 8.

Light and Trials of Light ships from Finishing Line Press January 22. And I wrap up my book on Kindle publishing toward the end of this month, and I anticipate publication in early spring 2010. The Kindle book includes an interview with celebrated screenwriter John August, who penned the scripts for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Big Fish, Go, Charlie's Angels, and others.

Good things are coming my way through other sources. A longtime lawyer friend will be processing the 501(c)(3) nonprofit paperwork for Prick of the Spindle. Finally! After much ado and a few years of false starts, we are at long last on our way to becoming official. Funding is a resource that has been sorely lacking for us, but now that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to beam through.

2009 started off with tragic beginnings, and don't even get me started on the nightmare that was 2008. It is with both relief and hope that I enter this new decade.