September 19th, 2012


Online Serials

Here's an article about online serials, specifically for Kindle.

Serials have been around a long time, were unpopular in recent decades, and now are becoming popular again.  I'm pleased to see that folks have noticed it's a challenging format to write and you want to get several episodes up front.  I used to do that with magazine columns, ask for the first four in a batch.  

Another vital point?  If you're planning to start a series on purpose, pick a complex story, something that will unfold in stages over time or just naturally evolve.  Most of my series are things my audience simply asked for more of, so not all of them start out that way, but folks do tend to request more of ideas that have a lot of potential.  Sometimes it's a character with an obvious problem to solve, that's just beginning, as in "Shine On."  Other times it's someone who's going to keep getting into situations, like Brenda in "An Eyeful of Fire."  Then again it can be a group of people whose interactions look interesting, which is what launched Monster House with "Eviction, Noticed" and Hart's Farm with "Welcome to Hart's Farm."  There are lots of options, but you seriously have to pay attention to storylines in serials, even if you want to highlight a story of character or milieu.  If you don't, you will hang yourself.
monster house

Poem: "Literally and Figuratively"

This poem came out of the September 18, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired and sponsored by janetmiles.  It belongs to the series Monster House, and you can read more about that on the Serial Poetry page.

Literally and Figuratively

When other high school students started getting jobs
flipping burgers or delivering pizza or things like that,
I began to wonder what I could do.
With the Eye of Fate,
I could see some things but not others,
which made working in a crowded kitchen risky,
and driving a car was right out.

Then the bookstore on the corner
posted an opening for a part-time gopher,
someone to unpack boxes and carry books
and do little things when the owners were busy.
So I went down to We've Got It Covered to apply.

The scholar's ghost grinned and ushered me in,
then puttered around the room during the interview
and generally made it clear that the owners had better  hire me.
Which they did, and I got to work immediately
setting up the chairs for the writer's club that evening.

My brother came, as he often did,
with his best friend Melinda and her grandmother.
The table was covered with reference books
and busy writers and note pages full of critiques.
The bookwyrm twined around the legs of the chairs
and climbed onto Melinda's shoulder
to breathe very quietly into her ear.

After the writing and the reading were all done,
I cleared away the reference books
then brought out plates of cookies and pots of tea.
At the end I carried away the dishes
and wiped down the table,
helping the owners close up for the night.

I was glad that the little bookstore
always seemed to have something for everyone,
including a job for me.

"They really do have it covered,"
my brother said as the shades rolled down in the windows.
"Yes," I agreed, "literally and figuratively."

monster house

Poem: "Whatever We Feed"

This poem came out of the September 18, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from kelkyag.  It has been sponsored by janetmiles.  This poem belongs to the Monster House series; you can explore that further via the Serial Poetry page.  In order for this one to make sense, you should read "Thunder Without Rain" first.

Warning: This is one of the creepier poems in the series.  It contains seriously unpleasant entities, some violence, and disconcerting emotional dynamics.  If you've been reading Monster House for the fluff, you might want to skip this one.  If you like the occasional dark fantasy/horror elements, that's where this poem goes.

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monster house

Poem: "Couched"

This poem came from the September 18, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from rix_scaedu.  It has been sponsored by janetmiles.  This poem belongs to the series Monster House, which you can explore further via the Serial Poetry page.


I'd been working on the porch all day,
rehanging the swing and
fixing loose spindles in the rail.

I went back inside and
sprawled out in the living room.
It was comfortable and quiet.

My girl was out on a consulting gig
but even so, the place was starting
to seem more like a home than a house
and we were starting to feel like a family,
though we hadn't couched it in such terms yet.

I thought about getting up
to take a shower, really should,
yeah, any minute now.
Definitely before she gets home.

The hide-a-bed couch was soft, comfortable,
like a cloud swallowing me down and down.
A cooling breeze played over my skin and
the shirt still damp from a sweaty afternoon's work.
I shivered.  Should get up and close the window.

Furry arms reached out from beneath the couch
as the monster under the bed pulled the aghan over me.
The little old lady ghost shut the window.

The air was warm and still.
I snuggled deeper into the afghan.
I could always get up ... later.