A Short Story Published

October 27, 2010

Another of my short stories has just been published.  “Counting” appears in the October 2010 issue of Beyond Centauri, a science fiction and fantasy magazine for young readers.  I was thrilled to see my story in print when I received my author’s copy in the mail this week.

Beyond Centauri is published quarterly by Sam’s Dot Publishing. You can find out more about Sam’s Dot Publishing and their magazines by visiting their website at


Submitting to a Writing Contest is Like Attending the Seventh Grade Dance

October 26, 2010

I’m submitting to a writing contest – again.  While rewriting a section of my memoir to fit the contest requirements, feelings of dread washed over me, followed by feelings of euphoria.  I’d had those feelings before.  But, where and when?  Ah, yes.  The Seventh Grade Dance.

Will the contest judges like my piece?

Will any of the boys ask me to dance, in spite of the fact I am a head taller than all of them?

Will the judges read my piece with an objective mind?

Will the boys see me as a good dancing partner?

Is what I’ve written too mundane for today’s publishing world? (I’ve never dug myself out of prison with a sardine can, nor have I smuggled conflict diamonds from Africa into the USA.)

Aren’t I an outstanding dancer by reputation?  Haven’t I taken tap and ballet lessons for years?  Doesn’t everyone know I can even follow Daddy’s led and he never does two combinations in a row?  Yes, I can dance.

Will my writing friends see me a serious writer, in spite of the fact I cannot even win a writing contest?

What if no one asks me to dance?

Should I even tell anyone I’ve submitted a piece to yet another contest?

Will I tell my parents that I hid in the bathroom during every slow dance to avoid rejection?

Is it really necessary for me to establish a blog, a website, a domain, and a Facebook account to demonstrate I am serious about writing? (The domain I set up says that I am a dog trainer instead of an author.  I did something terribly wrong.)

Will I know the dances for the music they play?  The Hully Gully, the Twist, the Stroll?  Why do I have to learn all those dances when all I want to do is ballroom dance?

Will I cry if I get another rejection even though I’m an adult?

Will I cry my twelve-year-old self to sleep because no one danced with me?

Progress report – Almost there

October 24, 2010

Development of a website took a turn for the better when my nephew agreed to create one <jackruss.com> and manage it for me.  He’s had several years experience with websites, and the price is right. I hadn’t known he was in the business.

The latest email from Pete, my “agent,” reported only a few minor tweeks to the cover remain before our final material can be sent to Lightning Source for the actual publishing step.  Will set up the account with them this coming week.  Once Lightning Source arrangements and actual production are accomplished, I guess I can claim being published. From there it’s to Amazon.com’s site for listing.  Other vendors will follow.  Then an e-book version as a second wave is next.  It’s possible to have the paperback version available to friends and family before first of the year, perhaps even earlier. I don’t anticipate wearing my bashful hat once that goal has been reached.


Inspired by…a Dog?

October 22, 2010

I expected the obvious things when we adopted a puppy last April.  You know, pee on the carpet, teeth marks on my hands, sleepless nights.  What I didn’t expected was to fall head over heels in love.  I see now why the smitten are compelled to write poems.  Bailey, my crazy aussie/heeler mix, has had the same effect on me.  What I’ve written isn’t poetry exactly.  Nor can they be called haikus.  They do have a theme.  I guess the best description is they are an exploration of the human-dog bond.  In a few of these — for want of a better term — soundbites, there is even a humorous twist at the end. 

 Here is a sample:

Ball in mouth

Head tips down

White rimmed eyes

Like quarter moons, say

Throw it

I’ll bring it back…



Brown puppy-dog eyes

Clear and bright


I’ll stay beside you



Can we go for a walk?

October Updates

October 16, 2010

#5:  Obtaining a web site  – 10/16/10

I had presumed that creating a web site to help promote my book would be simple.  For some, perhaps?  For me, more than intended.  Those I’ve spoken with uniformly recommend that I obtain one.  At this juncture it may appear, if at all, in the distant future.

My preliminary exploration included this criteria – I wanted something reasonably simple, one I could manage and update myself when and if necessary.  Also wanted something inexpensive – under $300 (preferably less) if possible.  My current personal BLOG seemed not the vehicle to promote the book.  Also need one-on-one help/guidance in assembling the layout and features from someone who knows the process.

So far have explored WordPress.com (apparently exclusively for BLOGs), and FatCow.com which seems to have the capability and features I need.  Problem with them is an apparent reluctance to provide some way to TALK with someone there in the know.

Another wrinkle:  I want to use <jackruss.com>. That domain is registered to my nephew (for his son 7 years old – also named Jack).  He’s willing to relinquish control to me.  The mechanics of making the exchange as a 3-way transfer [him to me to the Web Hosting outfit] has encountered barriers. I’m convinced the advice provided when I began this writing pilgrimage was correct: the easy part is writing the story.

#6:  Progress Report – Oct 16, 2010

Email this morning from Pete, my “agent,” reported only a few minor tweeks to the cover remain before our final .pdf file of the story can be sent to LightningSource for the actual publishing step.  From there it’s to Amazon.com’s site for listing.  Other vendors will follow.  Then e-book version as a second wave.  It’s possible to have it available to friends and family before first of the year, perhaps even earlier.

A unique touch to scene breaks

October 10, 2010

Those of you familiar with my story recall that my primary character, Mike, carried his father’s rank emblem with him in his pocket at all times.  The emblem, a brass oak leaf, is used as the rank symbol for Navy Lieutenant Commanders, and for Army and Marine Corps Majors.  Mike’s reliance on the emblem as a token of his father’s guidance made it a likely candidate to replace the 3-dot ellipsis symbol often used to denote a scene break.  It might also be used as a publisher’s icon on the book’s spine.  Pete was able to craft the emblem and size it suitably for the scene breaks in the final manuscript.


Throwing Away Our History

October 8, 2010

I worry about our history.

How will our lives be recorded?  Will a survivor find a box of love letters hidden in the back of your linen closet?  Nobody mails letters anymore.  Will someone find a scrapbook of newspaper articles about your campaign to save the rare tarweed from extinction?  Newspapers everywhere have stopped their presses.  Forever.

How are our day-to-day lives documented?  Yes, I know there are thumb drives, CDs, and DVDs to save a ga-jillion mega-computer-doodads.  Will anyone take the time to read what’s on them?  So very easy to throw those little things into the garbage.  Yeah, there’s a computer hard drive that, we are told, is never fully erased.  If you stab it with a flat head screwdriver, soak it in Draino, and then microwave it for three seconds, no one can read it – not even computer geeks.

We want to be ecologically considerate and save the trees.  Our sin against future generations is not hitting the “print” button often enough.  The culprit in the declining record of our history is the over-use of the “delete” button.