Blog: ConCarolina Schedule is Available

ConCarolinas ( has scheduled my panels! It’s real – I mean, really real! I’m going and I have things I am going to be doing!

Going to need to pack, and get the panels together, and talk to people, and post and ….squeal – I should absolutely squeal!

FRIDAY June 3rd

7:00 pm     The Year in Science – Moderator: Stephen Euin Cobb; Speakers: JT the Enginerd, James Maxey & Erin Penn

Scientific Discoveries made during the last 12 months. (oooh, I need to get on that research ASAP.)


10:00 am     Women in Science and Technology – Moderator: JT the Enginerd; Speakers: James McDonald & Erin Penn

Why don’t more women go into science? What can we do to promote women to go into science? Why do we even need more women in science in the first place?

2:30 pm     The Tech of Living for Centuries – Moderator: Stephen Euin Cobb; Speakers: JT the Enginerd, James McDonald & Erin Penn

Discussion of recent medical research aimed at extending human lifespan. Not if it’s appropriate, just what has been done.

5:30 pm     50 Years of SETI, Where is Everyone? – Moderator: Stephen Euin Cobb; Speakers: Dr. Ben Davis, DL Leonine, James McDonald & Erin Penn

A formal search for extraterrestrial intelligence has been in place for 50 years without meaningful result. Are we alone in the universe? And if we aren’t alone, then why haven’t we heard from anyone else?

10:00 pm     Welcome to the Anthropocene – Moderator:  James Maxey; Speakers: Dr. Ben Davis & Erin Penn

This year, the International Commission on Stratigraphy is set to decide whether or not the Earth has entered a new geological epoch: The Anthropocene. This is an age when human activity is a geological force writing itself into the very stones of the planet. What is the evidence that a new age has dawned? Do the geological footprints we’ve already left on the planet give us any guidance on how to move forward in the future? (This one is going to be great! – oh,  wow, did my day start at 10 am?)

Other Cool Blogs: Wired August 8, 2014

A Cup Of Coffee On Writers Desk Stock Photo

Image courtesy of Praisaeng at

I see you editing and going nuts. How many times was “throughly…thoroughly” wrong? How could “hte” be missed… ten times? Gird and grid are both real words, who knew? And how many times did the character fire cannons from the brig instead of the bridge. Sigh. Guess it is time for proofreading round number six.

What’s Up with That: Why It’s So Hard to Catch Your Own Typos is a blog posting on Wired  from August 2014 written by Nick Stockton which give some insights on proofreading your own work is so hard. (Hint: It is because you are TOO smart.) Click here to read the article.

Writing Exercise: Sharpen the Beginning

Hay Stock Photo

Image courtesy of sirikul at

Sharpen the beginning.

So the problem with editing, I’ve been told, is over time you start having problems reading for enjoyment. Today was my first powerful example. Reading a (free) book from Kindle. The first three sentences are:

The great beast slid through tall, dead grass. The wind had led him here. It wanted to show him something.

And in my head is my inner-editor screams “a major editor of anthologies told me he often doesn’t make it past the first sentence.” Where did the first question begin – not, “what is the great beast” but “what did the wind want to show him.” That was the hook to encourage a reader to read the next sentence – and it is the third sentence. For the anthology editor and others, this manuscript has already been tossed aside.

So remember, make the first question which draws the person to the next sentence be immediate. Or at least make the first sentence interesting. Do you want your work tossed aside after just a sentence is read? An anthology editor has 14 slots and gets 400 submissions; s/he doesn’t have time to read everything to the end.

WRITING EXERCISE: How would you change these first three sentences to bring more punch?

My example:

Sliding through the dead grass, the great beast followed the wind. It wanted to show him something.

What is yours?

An alternative challenge is take your present work in progress and rewrite the first sentence or paragraph so the reader has an immediate question to answer – Who is this person, what are they doing, what are they running from, etc.

Flash: The Girl at the Window

Painting: A woman at the Window by Henri de Troulouse-Lautrec

Painting entitled: Woman at the Window


“I would like to go outside.”

Eleonora startled but managed to control her movement to complete stowing the dried dinner china on the shelves. After taking a moment to control herself so she would not overreact to the miracle of words, she turned around to face her emancipated daughter. Years of sitting by the window watching other children play had taken their toll.

“Are you sure Merritt?” Eleonora hated to discourage the first sign of life her daughter displayed in years. “It’s dark out.”

A beatific smile molded the young woman’s normally blank expression into something exalted, melting Eleonora’s heart with terrifying hope while her daughter responded. “The world is smaller at night.”

A shudder at the unnatural way the child interpreted everything was quickly suppressed. Grasping at straws to untangle the broken paths of her daughter’s mind, Eleonora searched the painted silk wallpaper just above the child’s blonde head rather than meet her expressionless blue eyes. “And being smaller is important?”

“Of course, mama.”

Sagging against the stays in corset, Eleonora surrendered another battle in a war she lost when her daughter was four. Fifteen words would have to be miracle enough for the day. “Very well. Please keep to the backyard and don’t go beyond the creek.”

Her youngest child blinked once; her face reformed into the nothing mask. Carefully placing each foot directly in front of the other, heel to toe, Merritt walked to the door, stopped, looked down considering the knob, lifted a hand slowly, grasped the doorknob firmly, and tried turning. The doors between her bed room and the piano room and the bath room were always left open. After failing to rotate the knob far enough one-handed, she raised her left hand and added it to the twist, releasing the door slightly. Stepping back, pulling the door with her, she opened it enough to take three heel-toe sideways steps to go outside, meticulously closing the door behind her.

Eleonora released her breath. Merritt hadn’t been outside since their one attempt to attend primary school. After a day of screaming and crying ending with a rocking fit lasting until the next morning, the teachers accused her of coddling the youngster with unnatural and unhealthy affection and demanded she leave the child in their care for the rest of the week. Merritt didn’t even respond to her name when Eleonora fetched the child over Clement’s and the school objections. Bruises from canings and small burns covered her body.

She didn’t play the piano or any other musical instrument for another year because she wouldn’t leave her bedroom. Instead she sat by the front window, wrapped in a blanket day and night…watching.

A cough took Eleonora, choking her throat. Shoulders and legs shaking, she sunk to the wooden floor, skirt floating around her, tears coating her face instantly. Sobs heavy enough to sink a steamship erupted. Exhaustion ceased the outburst long before the emotions had ran their course. Standing up by grasping the counter, Eleonora made her way to the sink. She leveraged the pump, priming it, until water flowed and washed her face before taking the stairs to the master bedroom where Clement was already asleep, careful not to wake her husband.

(words 536 – first published 5/22/2016)

Other Cool Blogs: Magical Words Feb 24, 2016

The only place a writer signs a check is on the backImage acquired from
“store” owner is James Macdonald, originator of Yog’s Law
If interested in the T-shirt of like products go here:

Yog’s Law – Money flows towards the author.

A mantra I have heard long and often as I have dipped my toes in the publishing industry, ran away, came back, researched the industry, had life, came back, attended cons, moved, came back … Well, nigh on twenty or more years now.

It made sense, back before Amazon and eBooks, when the publishers ruled. At that time they paid for the marketing, covers, editing, everything. If a writer was paying an agent to “proofread” or a publisher “for marketing costs”, a scam was occurring. James Macdonald became “radicalized” (his word) after talking to one poor new writer who fell for the scammers and likely lost everything. The story is here: At the time Mr. Macdonald Message-board (yes, it is that old – when only message boards were the primary communication) name was Yog. Thus Yog’s Law was born.

But publishing has changed in the last twenty, last ten, heck … it changed from yesterday. A writer is often self-published until an agent or publisher gets interested. During this time the author is writer, marketing, and publisher. And while the writer should never pay, when the publisher’s hat goes on money flows out for the cover art, editing, and marketing just like in the old days under big presses. An author may be able to cut corners if they know art, or website production, or any of a number of skills. But each time the author is working under a hat other than writing, they are not writing.

Having a press take 35-70% of the income from writing isn’t bad when adding up the actual expenses of wearing the publisher’s hat. In fact after the first successful publish, if an author continues to self-publish,  I would recommend putting 75% aside from each royalty check until the next book and then use that portion as the “publisher expenses”. That should cover all the overt expenses; there are still a lot of passive expenses, such as time not spent writing.

Excellent blogs to better understand the law can be found below:
Gail Z MartinMagical Words – “Yog’s Law—It’s More of a Guideline” – 2/24/2016
John G. Hartness – Magical Words – “Making Money Mondays – Yog’s Law” – 5/2/2016