Potters Field Six

This anthology sounds so delightfully creepy, I can’t even begin to tell you. Potters Field Six wants stories about unmarked graves. It doesn’t have to be just about a potter’s field, of course, there are tons of historical mass graves. Think of the Catacombs in Paris. Honestly, this contest is making me rethink writing for publication this year.

Genre- Horror

Word Count- 2,000 to 8,000

Due Date- June 30

Payout- $25

Here is your link to the full submission guidelines

Some more really bad poetry by me


The wiggle, waddle

The excitement of your life!

You cannot stand still

Sluggish morning

Pouring myself in

Fitting into the crevices

Of the morning flow


Rain on he window

Steam rising from my tea cup

the scent of warm leaves

mingled with sweet, strong spices

warm hands, even in the cold

Color on My Lips

A little color on my lips

and I’m ready, now, to go

With a gentle swing to my hips

A little color on my lips

for comfort and courage to sew

to face the world with a glow

A little color on my lips

And I’m ready, now, to go

Why I’m Not A Journalist

I swear, this month has gone by so damn fast! I’m still convinced it’s actually March and someone’s punking me. I didn’t think I was old enough yet for the distortion of time to really set in, but I guess I am. Wish it would distort a little more while I’m on the clock.

Anyway, since I’ve spent the while month  talking about journalism, and how much I love it, you might be wondering why I’m not a journalist. I know it’s something I asked myself a lot when I first graduated.

In fact, I had a recruiter from SRU in my journalism class, who went into detail about how I, an already pregnant 17 year old, could succeed as a journalism student. There were grants, she told me, and child care options. I could do it!

I could have done it, and one thing I want to make clear to everyone is that my daughter wasn’t what held me back. Or, at least, not in a ‘I can’t do this thing I want to do’ way. My decision to not become a journalist came from a very personal place, and a lot of things factored into it. Some of those reasons, my ex wouldn’t have moved with me, my mother thought I shouldn’t, I was scared out of my mind, are stupid and should never have held me back. It took me a long time, a very long time, to realize the difference between a legitimate reason to not go after a career and a damned lame excuse. Those were damned lame excuses. After over a decade, I know I made the right choice, though, because of these actual reasons.

My kids come first

And that’s a choice I made. I could have been the kind of parent who brings work home with her, works long hours and has a well chosen caregiver who looks after her kid. Heaven knows that’s what most people think I do anyway, given the stigma of working moms. But I wanted, above all, to be able to leave my work at work. I wanted to have time with my kids, and be as much a part of their lives as I could, even though I didn’t want to be a homemaker. Professional journalists have a really hard time doing that. They work a ton of hours, and often have to do crappy things like work overtime, bring work home and travel. Quite frankly, I didn’t want that to be my life, or my little Monster’s lives. Please also understand that I do not blame anyone who makes a different decision than me. I know that there are lots of parents that are passionate about their careers and they spend a lot of time on them. They are not bad parents, they’re just different kinds of parents. God bless your path, whatever it is my friend.

Full disclosure! I do write at home, and yes it does take up mommy time. But if I have to drop it, I can. If family time is going to interfere, I can put my creative writing aside and pick it up again tomorrow. Could I do that for my journalistic writing as well? Yeah, sure I could. Blow off work for an evening and get up early to get it done. But, quite frankly, I would have had to abandon my creative writing, at least for a time. More on that later.

I have a serious political bias

If you’ll recall, last week I complained for a whole post about what’s wrong with mainstream media. One of my big problems was a bias that journalists can’t seem to avoid. But a journalist is supposed to try to avoid it.

I can’t avoid my political bias. Further, I don’t want to. I want to be very clear where I stand on any issue, and I cannot find it in myself to silence that. Creative writing allows me to be honest about my opinions without damaging my principles.

At some point, I knew that Journalism would become a ‘day job’ for me

I’ve worked on Woven for over two years. Yes, writing is my job. But it’s also my passion, my art, what I do to create something new for the world. It makes me feel accomplished. Journalism would have, at some point, become much like my current day job. I like it, but I’d rather be writing.

And this is what it really comes down to

I like being a story teller. I like writing about dragons and witches and magic. I like telling ‘what if’ stories. I like making worlds up and living there! At the end of it all, if I’m going to spend years waking up early and going to bed late, working in the seconds I’ve got between mommy stuff and my day job, then I need to have a constant, never ending driving passion. I have that passion for speculative fiction, and it has driven me my whole life. I have written for years without making a profit and in fact losing money on the deal. (That’s okay. Most small businesses lose money their first year, and most small business owners don’t plan on making a profit for at least five.) I wouldn’t have done that for journalism. I wouldn’t have done that for painting, the military, ballet, police work or EMT work. (All careers I’ve considered and rejected.) The only thing that’s kept me up at night, working in every crevice and second I can find, is my stories. I want to tell my stories, to however small of an audience I have. And, thanks to all of you, it’s not that small at all.

If it had just been one thing or the other, I might have pursued journalism. But it wasn’t my passion, and that’s why it didn’t happen.

I can’t say I regret it.

Bloggers Hold The Future of The Fourth Estate

Yes, I am going to kiss ass a little today. I’m also going to be a little vain. Not very vain, though, because while I am a blogger I’m not blogging about news.

You know what site does blog about the news? Buzzfeed. Recently they did a great series of photos where they asked Trump and Sanders supporters what questions they would ask of each other. I really enjoyed the post, and here’s a link so that you can enjoy it too. But what struck me is this; while Buzzfeed does have a very strong liberal slant, the Trump supporters were not made out to be ignorant or hateful. Some of their signs were misspelled, but so were some of the Sanders supporters signs. It showed the best possible examples, instead of showing highly intelligent Sanders supporters and moronic Trump supporters.

And this was Buzzfeed! Their other big accomplishment this month was blowing up a watermelon with rubber bands. Here’s a link to that, too. While I love Buzzfeed, they sure didn’t start out as someone you’d consider a reputable news source. But they kind of are now, and they’re not the only ones.

Here are just a few of the reasons why I think we, as bloggers, should embrace this.

We aren’t bound by advertisers, for the most part

Actually, a lot of blogs do have ads. And some bloggers do sponsored posts. But we also tell you beforehand, “Hey, I got paid for this.” And most of us aren’t making so much money from an advertiser that we’ll cry a river if they leave us. So if an ad partner doesn’t like something we’ve written, that’s sad and all. But we don’t really mind.

We aren’t getting paid

The vast majority of us, anyway, are making no money from blogging. Many blogs that do make money don’t make enough to be a sole source of income. And even the bloggers that do blog full time are usually also producing products like e-books and educational courses.

Since our blogs aren’t money driven, we’re free to be honest. If I tell you about something in the news, my only motivation is that I want you to know. I might want you to feel a certain way about it, because it’s the way I feel, but mostly I just want you to have the information.

We are able to say, ‘this is my own opinion.’

This is a big one. Outside of editorialists, journalists aren’t supposed to outright say, “This is how I feel about this thing.” They’re supposed to tell you the who, what, where, when, why and how. Bloggers are free to say, “This happened, and I think it’s great.” Or, “This is going on right now, and we need to damn well do something about it.”

By expressing our opinions, we are being totally honest with our readers. If I tell you that I support Bernie Sanders, then you will read what I have to say understanding that I have an honest bias. You’ll weigh my words differently, as you should. Everyone has a bias, after all. Mine, and most other bloggers, are just honest.

People already understand that we’re not professionals, so they’re more willing to look into what we tell them.

And boy do people love to tell bloggers they’re wrong. Read comment sections if you don’t believe me. (Not so much mine, though. All of you have been nothing but sweet and supportive in your comments, and thank you for that.) But if you read a blog post about something, you’re more likely to say, “Prove it.”

My husband and I play a game with this. “Source, or it didn’t happen.” This means that if one of us finds some outlandish story online, we have to find at least two other sources of information that tell the same thing, or we don’t believe it really happened. Or one of us will say, “Did you read that off someone’s blog?”

No deadlines

As much as I might admire the productivity of a journalist, constant deadlines can lead to sloppy work. Not all the time, but sometimes. Bloggers don’t have that restriction. You know I attempt to publish three to four times a week, getting my posts up by six in the morning. But sometimes it doesn’t happen, and they go up late. No great loss, they’re still up there. If I feel like a piece needs more work, I’ll give it that time. This is a luxury we have, not being beholden to anyone. We’ve got all the time we need to get the story right.


I Hate Mainstream Media

I have a never ending love of the news. I read several papers, watch it on tv, and pretty much irritate everyone around me with information they don’t care about.

With this being the case, it might surprise you to read that I have a deep seeded hatred for many news organizations. Or maybe it won’t. Maybe you’re a news glutton like me, and you’ve noticed these things too.

Every news organization is biased.

They’re not all Fox, but they all let their bias show. Look, I love MSNBC, and I watch Rachel Maddow every night. But I take even her with a grain of salt. It is just too easy to show the story from whatever point of view makes your point best.

A good story is a good story, no matter who it hurts

I feel as though this one is self explanatory, but I’ll expand upon it a little anyway. Sometimes a story that doesn’t directly impact our lives is still important. For instance, if it will change how we might buy a product, view an organization or vote. An example of this is what companies are for or against gay rights, or what politician did (insert gross scandalous thing here) after demonizing single mothers for being whores. An example of what we don’t need to hear about is the whole Lance Armstrong thing. Yeah, what he did was bad, and yeah he was a hero to a lot of people. But unless you are a cyclist or a member of his family, it didn’t impact you or the way you interact with the world. It’s just gossip. And most news sources don’t care.

Ratings drive content

I don’t blame the journalists who are guilty of either of these things, though. Yes, the first rule of journalism is that it’s supposed to be unbiased. But most American’s don’t want that. We want well dressed people who agree with what we already think. We make our viewing decisions based on that, and journalists who cater to that have jobs.

Keep in mind, I say we because I am guilty of this, too. Yes, I do my best to keep an open mind and inform myself of the actual facts of a situation or election. I try to learn what is actually going on, and I also try to to look into a situation before I get all indignant about it. But I still watch Rachel Maddow every night. The only thing I’ll say is that, in my case at least, it’s mostly for entertainment value.

If I could ask one thing of you, it would be this; consider what you’re learning when you watch the news. How much of it is actual fact, and how much of it is a media bias for or against a certain political party? Learn to strip a story down to just facts, and see how you, personally, feel about a situation before you’re told how to feel. I think if we could all do this, then journalists could start doing what they’re supposed to do; informing us of what’s going on in the world around us.

Deadlines and Productivity

If creative writing lacks something, it’s accountability. If I don’t write short stories, no one cares much. If I miss a contest deadline, I don’t get to enter that contest, but that’s about the end of it. Pretty much, unless you’re under contract, your motivation is all carrot and a really small stick.

That’s not how journalists live their lives. Writing is not their art, their side gig. It’s their damned job. They have an editor who is on a deadline and writers who can’t meet that deadline consistently don’t have jobs anymore. There are days I almost wish I had an angry editor freaking out that my work wasn’t done on time.

But I don’t and likely neither do you.

What we do have is our own determination to get stuff done. I’ve mentioned some of my own productivity tips before, using the Pomodoro method and things like that. But here are some things I did, as a student with way too much to do in addition to my journalism responsibility, that have continued to help me today. I’ve also included some things here that I’ve learned as a creative writer to help me keep myself accountable, just as if I did have a daily publishing responsibility. I’ll also tell you one thing that journalists do that I would not advise.

  • Journalists are organized. They know where their notes are, they know what their schedule looks like and they know what time they’ll be devoting to actual writing. I know there is this great fairy tale thought of journalists dropping everything to run off and cover a fantastic story that’s ‘breaking right now’. It doesn’t happen as often as you’d think. Let’s be honest, most journalists aren’t working for Will McAvoy, rushing off to cover bombings.
  • Journalist are time management superstars. When I was on the paper, I was also a Junior in high school and a page editor. This meant that, in the busiest high school year I not only had to write my own pieces but I also had to edit other people’s pieces and set up the page. I did, at one point, tell someone that if they didn’t get their piece to me by the beginning of the next class, it just wasn’t going in this issue and I didn’t care of they did get a zero. There are about a thousand blog posts about time management on the internet, and most of them tell you to get off of the internet. So, we’ll not dive into that.
  • Journalists know the truth behind done is better than perfect. I’m not saying that you should half ass your writing, but you do need to know when to let it go.
  • Journalists also understand that, despite not being time management superstars, life is going to happen. And sometimes you are going to have to write when you don’t feel like writing.

As I said, though, journalists have someone putting external pressure on them. So how do we, as basically self employed people, get that? Here’s how.

  • Set writing time like you set work hours. It doesn’t matter when it is, it doesn’t matter how much it is. Set hours and honor them like you would honor time you have to be at your day job.
  • You have to hold yourself accountable. This is probably the point of growuping that we all fail at the most, myself way included. I have a really big problem, and here it is. I’ll tell myself I can’t go to my local coffee shop unless I get X done. Then, when X doesn’t get done, I get coffee anyway. Terrible adulting, terrible. Would I let me kids get away with that? Hell no.
  • Make actual deadlines that are realistic. For instance, right now it is unrealistic to assume that I can get more than 7,000 words typed in a day. That takes me about an hour and a half, editing included. That’s realistic for me at the place I am in my life right now, so I can give myself a realistic deadline for finishing Starting Chains.
  • Get other people to hold you accountable. This is one of the things I do on Paper Beats World. I know you all know when my posts are coming out. Maybe you’d all be too polite to say anything if they were late, but I know you’d know. This is one reason why it’s great to be a part of a writing group, too, by the way. Other writing friends keep you accountable.

Now, the one big thing journalists do that creative writers shouldn’t. Even if it slows down our process and kills our productivity. Journalists don’t sweat word craft. They think about it a little, and opinion writers do more than that, but a beat journalist will concern herself only with the facts, in as concise of a way as possible.

We shouldn’t do that!

Yes, the story matters more. Yes, most of us are genre writers and not literary writers. But there is a magic to word craft. Even creative non fiction is artistic in this way. Great word craft is the difference between a good story and a great reading experience.

Productivity can take a backseat to that.

Some really bad poetry

Please, be gentle. But it’s national poetry month, so I thought I’d share some of my own poetry this month in place of prose.

Don’t forget, I’m still taking your poetry submissions all month long.

I wake and you’re not there


I wake and you’re not there

And now the year is turning

The quiet is a weight to bear

I wake and you’re not there

Holidays come, but I can’t care

Though I reach for you, my heart burning

I wake and you’re not there

and now the year is turning

My town


my roots run deep here

In this backwards little town

though few of my blood

are still left to call it home

my family still, is here



My list of responsibilities

Grows longer by the hour

Makes it hard for me to nap with ease

My list of responsibilities

multiplying like leaves on trees

pulling out my energy, and my power

My list of responsibilities

Grows longer by the hour

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