Thursday, January 04, 2007

Writer Tips: Formating

So you’ve written an excellent story rife with memorable characters, superlative prose, and an engaging theme, yet it keeps getting rejected five minutes after you’ve emailed it. Why? Have you checked your formatting? Many, many markets will reject your submission unread if it isn’t formatted to the industry standard. This is the first (and often fatal) strike a great many writers make. It’s a shame they don’t teach this sort of thing in most creative writing classes.

A good, generic format looks like this: Real Name; Address; City, State, Zip; Country; and your email in the upper left side of the manuscript. Put your approximate word count on the right side. Further down, center your title in all caps; skip a line, then center By; skip a line, then center the name you'll be published as. Skip several lines, write your story, then center THE END when you're done.

In the top header of each page after the first put: Story Name/Your Name/ Page #.
Stories should be double spaced, 12pt. New Times Roman font is most often requested but many people have preferences. If you want something in italics, underline it instead. DO NOT use bold print.

Many markets have specifics, Read Their Guidelines! By not adhering to proper formatting, writers give editors the idea that they’re ignorant of the rules or too lazy to bother with them, not the impression you want to make. For more information, look under "Writing Help" at

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Jedediah Smith and the Undying Chinaman

Here is a bit from a weird western I was asked to write for an upcoming anthology. I can't say for whom it was written, as it has yet to be announced, but it was certainly nice to be invited. I wanted a charactor I could have fun with, so Jedediah is one part Indiana Jones, one part noir, some Briscoe County Junior to counterpoint the horror, and the rest is all Clint Eastwood.

Jedediah Smith and the Undying Chinaman

Hoss had the audacity to stand behind me and bray like a mule. There’s little I hate more than a man who laughs at his own poor excuse for humor. I slipped my hand snake quick over the well-worn handle of the Colt Peacemaker I kept crotched, swung my arm up in an arch as I skinned the cannon and smashed the butt against the bridge of Mr. Funny Man’s beak with a satisfying crack. He staggered back as his nose loosed a scarlet flood all over the floor. I kicked him in “the sweets,” threw him onto the red mess he’d made, and, because I was feeling ornery, upended that damned spittoon over his face. I shook my head. I could have wound up like him if my uncle hadn’t taken me in and paid for my education after my momma died from the consumption.

I took a long pull off my cigar and let the smoke ooze slow and evil out of my mouth as I said to anyone listening. “My name is Jedediah Smith. Does anyone else want to ask me a question?” This time I threw some of that steel in my voice I mentioned earlier. Hoss’ buddy jumped up with his hands in the air and knocked over their table. I hadn’t realized I still had my gun out. I saw a glass pipe caked with tarry residue rolling along the floor with the shot glasses and beer bottles. My eyes widened for a second as a bolt of inspiration struck me full on. I crooked a gnarled finger in the direction of Hoss’ friend and said “You!”

“Me?” He actually squeaked as he pointed to himself and looked around for a more likely subject.

“Yes, you. Where can I find an opium den around here?”

He looked puzzled, which was only slightly different from his usual idiot stare, and asked “Why do you…”

I cocked the Peacemaker as I interrupted him. “It sounds like you’re asking me a question boy, and you’ve seen how I cotton to questions.” I kicked Hoss once in the gut—hard—for emphasis. The poor bastard gurgled and went fetal as his buddy turned wedding dress white.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Dark Wisdom #10

Well, issue 10 of Dark Wisdom magazine should be in the stores soon with another great cover by Dave Carson. As of this issue on, we'll be full color and glossy, I think only Realms of Fantasy can say the same. This edition features work by: William C. Dietz, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Jay Caselberg, Michael McBride, Stephen Mark Rainey, Richard A. Lupoff, Gene O'Neill and others. One of the others is me, I wrote a movie review. I liked doing it so much, I'm writing a book review for a future issue.