Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Query question: republishing short stories

In several posts you comment on the negative impact that self-publishing may have on securing a traditional publishing contract for a novel. Things like poor sales record online, can’t be pitched as a “debut novel”, etc.

In your opinion is there any downside to republishing a previously published short story from a professional print anthology, if rights have reverted to the author? There seems to be a demand for short fiction on Amazon and I wondered if having previously published short fiction online might potentially have the same negative impact when pitching a debut novel? What if it is a novel based on the short story? I have not gone that route, but if I was to do so, would there be an expectation to mention that in a query?

Republishing short stories is fine. Stories are very different from novels in that respect. For starters, you aren't really responsible if it only sells one copy. Editors expect stories to sell in low numbers.

If the novel is based on the story, you're still ok.

If you've had a short story selected for publicaiton,  whether or not the novel is based on it, you mention that in the publication credits paragraph of your query.


french sojourn said...

Another day, another lesson.


AJ Blythe said...

This is why we have Janet, cause I'll never remember all the rules! Another new one for me.

Donnaeve said...

I have nothing to add.

Other than, and I think I've said this before, writing short stories isn't my thing. My first book was a "hot mess" (read fatal flaw) and the editor suggested I first learn to write by practicing with short stories. I never did follow that advice.

I am weird in that I thoroughly enjoy writing from polar opposites of length. Novels. 100 Word FF.

Audrey Shaffer said...

I really want to post, since I'm here so early. But I don't have anything to ask or add. :(

Colin Smith said...

Uh oh, Audrey... you post for the first time just the other day--was it yesterday?--and now you're hooked!! :D And we're all the richer for it. :)

So--how about an anthology of, oh, say, flash fiction stories previously published on a certain literary agent's blog? I'm curious to know what the interest would be in that, if Janet knows of any publishers that would take such a project on, or would this be better as a self-published project?

Craig said...

Shorts are a different world. I'm not sure if there is a general demand for them on Amazon. A lot of those who write them are skirting the rules to maximize the money they bring in. The rest of them seem to either have a niche or a fetish that they cater to.

Make sure that the rights really do revert. Places like Short Story America don't do much of a contract because it is implied that they own the rights forever. Some of the more interesting anthologies have a sliding scale of reversion. If you are a headlining writer you can keep the rights. If you are a filler writer they keep the rights. It has to do with sales generation versus opportunity.

The best thing about shorts is that they are short. Write another one or six.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

A couple of years ago, I put together a collection of my short stories, flash fiction, etc as an ebook. I enjoyed the experience, and plan on releasing another collection soon. For me, it was more about getting my feet wet in the self-publishing waters than it was about making money.

I wasn't ready then - still not! - to experiment with self-publishing a novel. In my mind, publishing the stories felt safer somehow.

PL Alston said...

Hmm, rough start to the week, everyone? I'm away for a few days, expecting to return to a cornucopia of bon mots, sly commentary, loads of first-hand experience wisdom to be taught, and Janet's the only one passing along information? And am I the only one expecting just as much from the comment section as I do the blog author? :()

No pressure, just know I will be checking in periodically throughout the morning.

Colin Smith said...

PL: Did you check the blog for the last few days? 100s of comments! Well, okay, I exaggerate--lots. I think everyone's either exhausted, or catching up on the rest of life... :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Colin, you come up with the best ideas.

Flash fiction that's formidable, fun and full of first rate fortuitous form. Huh?

Hey buddy, come up with a way to sell my house and I'll give you a cut of the action.

Oops, back to work. See us later.

S.D.King said...

I have been writing short stories (and a bit of non-fiction as well) for a kid's magazine with First Serial Rights. Almost all were first person pre-teen.

I have considered trying to monitize that in some way, so I began a book that will tie many of the shorts together. Of course that is back burner to my "real book" (Which I am considering entering in Pitch Wars).

This was a helpful - thanks.

And thanks for calling us the topping on your ice cream.

Theresa said...

I'm too long-winded for shorts.

Colin Smith said...

I can completely relate to Donna. Flash stories? No problem. Novels--sure! But short stories? Mine always seem to be either highly compressed novels that are edited to death, or just wind up as unfinished novel ideas. It's a form I want to master, though, and there are a couple on my blog that aren't bad. I've set myself the goal of getting at least one short story published--hopefully that will motivate me. :)

Colin Smith said...

2Ns: Janet did muse one time (I'm sure it was in a WiR) about what to do with the hundreds of flash stories that have been posted to the blog over the past five years. It would be a shame for them to simply gather dust in the archives, especially since a) the finalists and winners are usually VERY good and worth attention, and b) some of the entries are by people who have gone on to be published.

Sorting through all those entries would be a huge task--though I have an idea how to accomplish that, if Janet's at all interested in the project.

Donnaeve said...

Colin, which of your ideas sent you to Carkoon in the first place? LOL!

PL Alston said...

Colin - you're right - I should have checked the last 4 days worth of comments. I just noticed that today seemed a bit quiet. Of course the conversation is picking up, as I knew it would.

Theresa - I'm right there with you.

Colin Smith said...

Donna: Oh, this would not involve Janet doing anything beyond selecting the entries. It would be great if she could add comments--perhaps talk about what she liked about each story, and tips writers might glean from them about writing, editing, even querying. I would just make it easier for her to choose the entries (NOTE: I want to make her life EASIER, not harder!). This would be nothing like suggesting she set up another blog... :)

Colin Smith said...

And she could run a contest to name the anthology. :)

Julie.M.Weathers said...

The folks at Books and Writers have been clamoring for a collection of Alvin the Pig stories.

Someday I may put together something and try to publish some short stories. I just don't know about a collection. I think it might be more appropriate in a small country newspaper.

The Green Mile started out as a short story, so you never know where things will go.

Personally, I love writing short stories.

Laura Mary said...

I've never been good at short stories - they always get out of hand pretty early on and spiral into something bigger! I prefer reading novels to short stories too, I never feel like I get enough time with the characters otherwise.

Donnaeve said...

Colin, no, I meant *really,* which of your ideas got you sent packing to Carkoon?

That aside, "Oh, this would not involve Janet doing anything beyond selecting the entries. It would be great if she could add comments--perhaps talk about what she liked about each story, and tips writers might glean from them about writing, editing, even querying. I would just make it easier for her to choose the entries (NOTE: I want to make her life EASIER, not harder!). This would be nothing like suggesting she set up another blog... :)

You've had an overload of kale. I don't know what's up your sleeve for making it *easier* (Smells like a spreadsheet formula), but it still seems like a lot of work, IMO. *Just select the stories - what was it? Five years worth?*

Might be flirting with five years of Carkoon. :)

Janet Reid said...

And Colin is no longer in exile on Carkoon; he's established permanent residency, applied for a green card, and looking for the Duchess of Carkoon's hand in marriage so he can stay forever.

It was nice knowing you!

Colin Smith said...

Donna: First, no--not a spreadsheet formula. Better than that. But not something I would want to pursue unless Janet is interested in the project as a whole. :)

And what landed me on Carkoon was the suggestion that Janet open a separate blog just for contests so we could still comment during contest weekends. :)

Colin Smith said...


because on Carkoon, no-one can hear you scream....

Donnaeve said...

Oh my WORD. Now you've done it. I am SNORT laughing. And here I was hoping to me you at Bouchercon. Rats.

Donnaeve said...

*meet*. Not me you. AS in me/you. B/c I wouldn't want to be you - NOT NOW. :)

Donnaeve said...

Or... "be you" as in, I was hoping to be you at Bouchercon. Not that interpretation either. Uh uh. No way. Not now.

Colin Smith said...


Leafy green and verdant plant
Whose charms my taste buds tease
Though food of pleasure here is scant
Your bitter juice doth please

Now this exile land is home
And here my days will end
I'm glad to know your wavy comb
My succulent best friend.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Yes, snort-laughing here too Donnaeve. manalive Colin. You sure know how to bury yourself! Permanent residency?

Lisa Bodenheim said...

psst, Colin. Who is this Duchess of Carkoon? Anyone we know?

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Colin, shhhhh..don't tell anyone but I can get you into a witness protection program. First you have to remove your house-arrest ankle bracelet. Then sneak out under the cover of darkness, (which is a problem on Carkoon because the moon is always full.)
Amy's sailboat will pick you up at...OMG...I hear a sound. Water swishing and music. That duh, duh, duh, duh, girl swimming off Martha's Vineyard and clinging to a buoy music, because you-know-who got hungry.
On second thought, stay where you are, bracelet and all and enjoy the fruits/veggies (limas and kale) of your labor. Splitting rocks can be fun.
Exiled forever. Poor Colin.

Sell my house I'll set you free.

Donnaeve said...

"Your bitter juice doth please."

Methinks, although you are far into your cups by the sound of your lament, that bitter juice is more likely regret, not kale.

Having said THAT, great poem!

french sojourn said...

If I'm not mistaken, the Duchess of Carkoon was at one point an Olympic runner.

Permanent address...I howled when I read that....ooof!

Every time I read that comment I howl....epic.

Well I toast your new residence...or as my sainted Grandmother used to say.

"Here's to looking up your old address....or his the Duchess's address.

John Frain said...


Keats' Grecian urn has nothing on you. Well struck!

LynnRodz said...

Nothing more to add to today's post except, I started out writing short stories and I still love to write them.

Donna, I had the same reaction as you about Colin's suggestion. I'm sure Janet has enough things to do here on Colin's blog, opps, I mean on her blog without adding more. LOL!

REJourneys said...

Wow, Colin, permanent residence. Does that mean you can move into the million clam ghost town built a mile away from the caves?

And you know, because of the insistence of kale on this blog, I bought a frozen Quinoa with garlic and kale....

Look what you people have done to me. :P

Colin Smith said...

*with frowny eyes*

Before you all determine I'm loading up Janet's plate, might I remind you that I haven't actually said how I would solve the problem of putting together an anthology of the best of the flash fiction WITHOUT Janet having to do a lot of work... I assure you, it can be done. The last thing I want to do is make Janet's life more difficult. However, if she would like to see such an anthology happen, it would be unavoidable that she would have to contribute to the effort. I simply want to make that effort as minimal as possible.

Of course, if no-one's interested in such an anthology, then this is all a moot discussion.

Donnaeve said...

Oh Colin. Don't get all huffy. :)

If I recollect (and trust me, my husband reminds me how much I recollect things), YOU are usually the one suggesting Ms. Janet, this, that, or the other while we all cringe in horror.

Just sayin'.

*With not frowny eyes.* With a smile. (maybe a glint in the eyes)

french sojourn said...

Ah Carkoon, a lovely hamlet by the sea.

Colin everyone knows you have nothing but good intentions. As a matter of fact the road to Carkoon is paved with them.

The community here knows your focus has always been for the betterment of this blog. Seriously...I think that's why we'll miss you.

Colin Smith said...

In seriousness, let me just set the record straight:

1) I recognize and appreciate all that Janet does for us. She is under no obligation to even allow us to comment, let alone post her words of wisdom, run contests, or even pay any attention to anyone outside of her clients and those who query her. Believe me, I have quite a healthy understanding of grace. :)

2) I might suggest things (though I thought I was being careful not to since the last time, which winded me up here). If they're too much trouble, or won't benefit anyone, then Janet need only say so, and I won't fight for them.

3) This is Janet's blog. I know that. And I'm sure if any of us get delusions otherwise, she would be the first to remind us.

5) I can't count.

Now I suggest we let Janet have the last word on this and perhaps move on to another topic. Besides, my kale soup's getting cold...


Christina Seine said...

So, apropos of nothing:

I arrived home from the Writers Digest Conference Tuesday morning at 4 am, after 16 straight hours of traveling, lost bags, late flights, etc. I finally fell asleep sometime around 5 am. I awoke three hours later to a bundle of small children hurdling themselves onto the bed, screaming "Mom's home!" (It was GREAT!) However, I may have been something less than awake for the rest of the day yesterday (in other words, zombies are real).

When I had finally caffeinated enough to make words again, I was able to speak semi-coherently and answer all the questions about NYC and the conference and how the pitch session went. Obviously I did a poor job of explaining how that worked beforehand, because the 8yo thought I was literally pitching my physical book at agents. Then this happened:

8yo: What was the best part?

Me: Obviously, meeting the QOTKU - the future Mrs. Jack Reacher - her Royal Sharkness herself. That was awesome.

8yo. Did she bite you?

Me: No. She was really, really nice. And super funny.

8yo: Sharks aren't nice.

Me: This one is.

8yo: Was she in water?

Me: No, because she's not really a shark.

8yo: *pause* But she could have been in a tank, though.

Me: No, because she's not really a shark.

8yo: But they COULD have put her in a tank. Like that guy at the fair. (Note: the kids just loved the dunk tank booth at the fair last year.)

Me: Um, yeah no.

8yo: No! Yeah! They could put all the agents in tanks and then you could pitch to them that way! Instead of aiming at them, you could just aim at the target thing, and if you hit it but they don't like your book, they go in the water.

Me: *blinks*

Now see, this is brilliant. This is why 8-year-olds should run things.

Donnaeve said...

Bless your heart, Colin, but, I think she already did. Something earlier about "permanent?" And a green card.

5) I can't count

6) Short term memory shot.

And in all seriousness, you HAVE had good ideas. Like offering to link our sites which QOTKU graciously added to her blog. Then Christina did the Pinterest board, and I think it was S.D. King with the Map, so, it's a great team effort. Long as we don't inflict any work on the Shark, I think we're chugging along in safe waters.

Christina Seine said...

GEEZ. Take a few minutes to write a comment and the whole blog gets kale-ified and frowny-faced!

Colin, that poem was epic.

@John Frain - OK now I want to say "Well struck" to someone, because that just sounds so darn cool.

REJourneys - "a frozen Quinoa with garlic and kale...." I am going to find one of those. That'll work much better on my kids than washing their mouth out with soap!

Donnaeve said...

And Christina - that is funny! Your eight year old? Brilliant.

Now, I'm shutting up. For a little while anyway.

Colin Smith said...

Donna: You misunderstand. I mean on the subject of a flash fiction anthology PERIOD. My question still stands: Is this something worth pursuing? I think it would go beyond something fun for the community. We're talking about a) people's work being published, and b) people paying money for it. I would also suggest that proceeds be donated to public libraries. If Janet thought I was suggesting SHE do all the work, then no wonder I was perma-exiled. I'm not pleading for a release, but, again, that was the furthest thought from my mind when I made the suggestion.

Christina Seine said...

Thanks Donna! =D

Regarding the ATOH (actual topic on hand), I just read Jess Walter's compilation of short stories "We Live In Water." MAN! Every single one of those stories was so good that I wanted to read it again. And again. Can't recommend that book enough.

Colin Smith said...

Donna: Oh, and you know as well as I do, that in Southern poker, a "bless your heart" trumps a "frowny eyebrows." :)

gypsyharper said...

Ha! I love your kale poem, Colin, even though I am not much of a fan of kale myself.

My short stories always seem to spiral into something larger as well - my current effort is upwards of 15K words now and not ended yet (but it's a first draft - I can fix it! Really!). But I'm trying to get better at the form.

REJourneys said...

Christina: I found it in the frozen food section of a grocery store :)

I like garlic.

In regards to the anthology of troubles (that's the title, right?), it's do-able by the community of woodland creatures who gather around the tank. Of course, it has to be approved by the community.

(Now I have an image of woodland creatures who scamper over to a tank to hear daily wisdom of a shark who reads)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Colin, take a deep breath, We love you ya know.

Donnaeve said...

Dear Colin, actually I didn't misunderstand. What you proposed, I got it. From the past five years, the best FF entries are selected (this is where you keep dropping hints that *some thing* you'll do will *help* Ms Janet through this process. Unless you've come up with a device to clone her...IDK) This is done, if we are all interested. I for one, don't care. However, if Ms. Janet had a reaction other than permanently exiling you to Carkoon earlier, and if everyone here said "Hurray! Yes let's!!!" then I'd go with the flow.

Not sure how you got I misunderstood? The mention of the other stuff which has happened out here is just an aside, i.e. bringing up the other good ideas that have made the blog fun.

Anyway, I can hear a funny kind of water gurgling behind the both of us. I can't swim too fast either.

french sojourn said...

Just returned from the Carkoon-a-go-go. Duchess just finished her set.

Standing room only, and a standing Ohhh!

She loves walking down the isle Colin, I see happy trails...or trials?

eh bon soir!

Colin Smith said...

Donna: That was the sound of me dropping the subject. :)

Colin Smith said...

Donna: Sorry, I shouldn't have just dropped it like that. I respect you and consider you a friend, and I think this discussion is getting way more argumentative than it deserves to be. You think I'm mistaken. I think you're mistaken. Let us not both make the mistake of ruining the beautiful atmosphere of this Shark Tank.

If Janet wants a contest flash fiction anthology, then we can all discuss how to make it happen. If she doesn't, then I'm sure we've all got plenty of other things to be worrying our woodland minds about. :)

Colin Smith said...

Hank: I'm submitting my application for a transfer to Xepharon Delta.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Hank, Carkoon-a-go-go, hahahaha.

I still have my white go-go boots and mini skirt. Ah, actually they were goulashes and a safety pinned blue tarp. The tarp swishes when I twirl. Anybody got a go-go cage?

french sojourn said...

Colin, if you go, tell me. I'm there.

I can't think of anyone who would be more interesting to travel with. Plus I can keep the Excursion going....if push comes to shove we can downsize to an expedition. Heavens at this point we can get Carolynnwith2Ns and her white go-go boots to ride shotgun.

Any other takers, we can seat 9 in the Excursion.

On the road with Colin "Kerouac" Smith and Hank and 2Ns -a-go-go!

PL Alston said...

So, remember my comment from this morning regarding lively wit, and gathering pearls of wisdom (like avoiding exile)? Thank you all for coming through once again. It's a lovely way to end my day at the computer - in a safe harbor.

Colin Smith said...

Hank: Sounds good to me. As long as we're not Driving Miss Duchess... :)

Colin Smith said...

2Ns: You realize now, if we do ever have that conference where we all get to meet each other IRL, you'll have to wear the white go-go boots. :)

french sojourn said...

epic retort Colin!

Julia said...



I didn't.

Now, maybe someone else did.

But I didn't.

Not that I'm touchy about the blog thing at this point. Maybe I am. I might be. But I want it very clear that I didn't suggest that Janet do anything but say that it was okay with her.

Regardless. At this point, I'm. Not. Doing. Anything. Of. The. Sort.


Colin Smith said...

Julia: You sure about that? You sure you weren't suggesting that Janet set up another Facebook page and three blogs and re-invent the Internet and edit the complete works of Spoodle the Verbose (Carkoon's most celebrated anthologist)?

Oh, go on, say you were... you would make a fun addition to the Carkoon exiles. :D

Julia said...

@Christina - I got home and, as Jacqueline Woodward put it, the dog threw up and I went to clean it up and I was done.

And I proposed the "Hey, how about if we have our own Shark-blog-coffee-house" idea and... lead balloon in the shark tank.


How are you doing?

I'm working on MS's. And going back to lurking. :D Let's meet in Disney World next year. Or Anchorage. Forget it, I can't afford Anchorage. Maybe we can Skype...


Colin Smith said...

Actually, Julia, the Shark-blog-coffee-house idea wasn't a bad one (IMO, anyway). I like the idea of having a closed forum focused on helping each other hone our craft, and share work. I think, as with a lot of things, it's the implementation that needs thought.

Unfortunately, your idea doesn't in any way put you at risk of Carkoon exile, because it's not something Janet would have anything to do with. And rightly so.

Colin Smith said...

In fact... why can't all my thoughts come together in one comment? Old age, probably... Julia, I don't think you would even need Janet's blessing on such an endeavor. If all you're talking about is a forum where we share work, critique, and offer tips and advice, why would she care? I say go for it! :)

Janet Reid said...

Spoodle the Verbose.
I sense a writing contest.
Colin's exile to Carkoon does not put him on my fecal roster.
I think Colin is hilarious and this blog the poorer for his
silence (should such a terrible thing occur.)

Plus remember he has his own team of ninja children as backup.

Ninja, children, spoodle, verbose.


bjmuntain said...

When I first got serious about my writing (you don't want to know how long ago that was), I started writing short stories. When I look back on those stories, I'm sure I turn beet red, because they're not very good. But we all start out somewhere, right?

I have a few short stories I've been submitting here and there, improving them in between times. So I haven't abandoned the format completely.

At Cascade Writers, though, my workshop leader is primarily a short story writer. She said that she and a couple friends EACH MONTH will choose a short story market (anthology, ezine, whatever) and each MUST write a story that they will submit to that market. Sometimes, they only have a few days before the closing date for that market, so they have to work very fast. They'll also critique and beta read the others' stories. Most of them have had many, many short stories published - not always in the targetted market, but sometimes more professional markets than those.

It's inspired me to try something similar. Last weekend, I wrote a short story (if 6000 words can be considered short - but it was the upper limit of the targetted market). I'm letting my online writer's group tear it apart before I send it in to that market (or another). I think it's the best short story I've written so far.

You know, if someone out there would like to try something similar - choose a market that everyone has to write a story for - I'd join. I think it would be a great exercise.

Colin: I think you might want to take on that job at Carkoon high... if only to spread the misery around.

bjmuntain said...

Colin better not go silent - I still maintain that there are far fewer comments on the posts when he's busy for some reason.

Colin, the leader of the woodland creatures...

Now there's a short story to consider...

Julia said...

Oh. My. Holy. Mouseketeers.

1) Christina - tell them what it would take to make me exasperated. Seriously. Please. WAAAH!

2) Fine, Colin. Yes. Here. I want Janet to write me a one way pass to third class on Carkoon. Set up six FF contests a month with not only five target words, but themes as well, and darnit, the prizes had better be worth it. And then they'd better be judged within an hour. And... um... Yeah. A blog... er... yeah. With my picture on it. And... what? Lessee. A contract. For something. (Taps fingers, thinking). Hm. What was it, Colin, that got you in there? Because if I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna do it right, by golly! She's wrong, she's wrong, she's wrong.

Except that I can't say that in good faith, and I LOATHE outright trying-to-get-something-they've-no-right-to lying and liars, so... that isn't really true, is it, and you all KNOW that!

So. Her mother was a hamster and her father smelt of elderberries!

I'm getting all squirmy, Colin. I can't do it.

Sorry. (Shrug). If I end up there, so be it. But it will be under the pretenses that I'm just tetchy today. PPPPpppthhhht!

2) Regarding the short stories thing. This might actually be of use. As Sambuchino succinctly put it to an author last weekend: "Did you actually look up how many agents here represent short stories? It may actually be no more than none."

Just a thought.

Now. I'm going back to my stuff.

Which has nothing to do with FB, which I pretty much stopped being on because I was here so much.

Grunt. (Sips coffee moodily).

Oh, good grief. It's 4:30. I didn't even mean to check in here today, except then I saw that Christina was on Twitter, and now here I am. Bad Julie, Bad, Bad!

For some reason, I just have this overarching feeling that I just have no idea what I'm doing anymore. Change the POV first? Write down the scenes? Do the hist fantasy? The crime? AAAAAA!


OK. Rant over.

Colin Smith said...

Julia: Once you've been here, Facebook just doesn't compare. You get good information, laughs, some drama, and no-one tries to sell you anything. Well, except Janet. And she's allowed (her clients write darned good books, after all). What more could you ask for? :D

Colin Smith said...

Mighty QOTKU: You are, of course, most kind and generous... and... um... thank you for exiling me to Carkoon [*forced smile*]... but... um... do you think in future that... if you're going to use my words as contest prompts, you could perhaps give me warning so I can make them easier? You know, like "is", "a", "so", "do", and "and"? :D

Colin Smith said...

Julia: ... in fact, this place is better than cable! :)

Colin Smith said...

bj: I believe Ellory Queen/Alfred Hitchcock accept 8,000 word stories, and solicit up to 20,000 word stories from established writers. So the definition of "short" can actually be quite long.

And thank you for your kind words. Leader of the woodland creatures?! I don't think so. These furry animals don't need a leader. :)

I've heard that the Duchess of Carkoon doesn't like teachers, so I'm submitting my application for Carkoon High. Between the two, it's the better death, trust me.

french sojourn said...

Ninja, children, spoodle, verbose, fecal.

Hmmmmm! the mind wanders!

Julia said...

@French - This whole string of words is making me think ugly things about enteric worms.

An ugly, ugly scene that I could, unfortunately, describe very well in 100 words or less.

The ninja's sword clattered to the dirt. He bent worriedly over his children, spewing expletives with a verbose and Victorian eloquence, as one after another, his darlings expelled the horrid and justly dreaded Fecal Spoodle Worms known to the area. The long pink vermiform beings wiggled in the dust at their feet...."

And now, that will never leave me.

Thank you.



french sojourn said...

You're only halfway there. That's only 52 words. There is still plenty of time and description to describe the molting of those said vermiforms.

What happens next?


11:20 here in France, time to sleep perhaps to dream of Vermiforms


I owe yah!

Julia said...


Donnaeve said...

Oops, stepped away. All's fine here in this part of NC.

No worries Colin! We're "fine." :)

Julie.M.Weathers said...


I'm perfectly happy with Compuserve Books and Writers. It's like an ongoing writer's workshop with a chance to share and critique work. Plus, frankly, I feel like adding something else exclusively for the crew here would draw away from this blog. You may not be trying to do that, but I think that would be the end result.

That being said, it's a free country. If people want another place to discuss writing, have at it.


Methinks in a past life you were Custer's public relations officer. "Hey, Colonel, have you thought about chasing a few Indians around to get your name in the paper? That would be a great lead in for your presidential campaign!"

You seem to draw lighting from a cloudless sky. A rare talent indeed.

Colin Smith said...

Julie: Pity I don't work for the power company. :)

Julie.M.Weathers said...



Janet Reid said...


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I got the white go-go boots, got my mini skirt, my Beatles records, my Mary Quant Moody blue eyes and my platforms (shoes not reputation) and my Zenith transistor radio. Be there or be square.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

A writing contest with the best recipe for soggy Coco Pops.

I have a book I picked up at a fleamarket that tells the history of the American short story. It seems that American genre fiction started in the short story format, written for magazines. I'm on vacation or I'd have the book in my hands and quoting from it, so I won't say more. I don't want to put my foot in my mouth. I thought of sending the book to QOTKU by why share anything when you can keep it for yourself.

As to OP, great question. Nice to know the answer.

@Christina,, love your kid's visual of pitching the book at agents. In a tank, LOL

Colin Smith said...

You know, I have had people call me Colon before. I've learned to live with the long "o" mispronunciation of my name (I know, some people pronounce it that way, but that's not the pronunciation I was given), but please--intestines? Do people call boys Colon here? If so, why not Intestine? Or Duodenum? "Why, hello Margaret! Have you met my son, Liver? And his sister Pancreas?"


Colin Smith said...

Angie: Last time I was in SoCal [Southern California--and now I feel redundant for using the abbreviation because that's probably the only time I'm going to refer to SoCal--except there--and you probably understood SoCal anyway] with work, we went to a restaurant that served some kind of cereal milk dessert. It was pretty good so I understand (I was too tempted by something chocolate--as usual), so I think the mushy Co-Co Pops could be a thing. They'd have to think of a more appetizing name than "Mushy Co-Co Pops" of course. :)

AJ Blythe said...

Went to bed after making my early comment and woke to... this! Colin's been permanently exiled, Christina's 8-year old has rewritten the rule book for pitching and Janet is planning the cruelest (although potentially funniest) contest yet.

Have had a good old belly laugh to start the day. I love this place =)

Lance said...

Very interesting information on the topic. Very useful. Thank you, Ms. Janet.

Colin, I loved the kale poem. I think you should expand it into the epic that its subject demands.

But what I would like to really hear about is how is the lima bean Scotch? said...

Colin, look on the bright side. You'll have the distinction of being the only writer attending B'con by dint of a Carkoon Limited Travel Visa. And perhaps even receive a Royal Summons to the event.

Re short stories: I already deleted the email, but from what I recall Writers Digest is having a short story contest, including various genres. Entry date mid-Sep, 4K words, I think? I'm sure details are on their site.

I tried to write a short story as a gift for readers of my blog. Just 2-3K words. No big deal, right? Ended up with a 27K-word novella. Writing short is HARD. For me.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Dang, I didn't put my publication credit in my query letter for the #MSWL I responded to. Ah well. I also didn't expressly use the phrase "You want mythology rewrites, so here you go", but I feel like it you know mythology, you'll know that's what my novel is.

I do like writing short stories, and wrote shorts before I ever made a gesture at my first novel (which was a hand written four chapter gig in 5th grade called The Chent Mansion Murders). Given that I've only had the one published, I certainly can't claim to have mastered the art, but I've gotten more personalized R's this year than in all my time submitting previously.

I think the idea of a Flash Friday Fiction contest anthology is a fun idea. I even dig the idea of donating to public libraries, if you can imagine such a thing. But I'm not volunteering anybody to do the work for it, obviously.

Colin Smith said...

Thanks, Lance. Lima bean Scotch? I haven't come across it yet, though with the news of my perpetual exile sinking in, I may be trying a variety of potent potables before too long... :)

A Royal Summons, kd? You mean, from her Royal Sharkiness? Now that would be an honor rarely bestowed upon the exiled, let alone the banished. Perhaps if I do particularly well in the next contest... :)

Colin Smith said...

Jennifer: "But I'm not volunteering anybody to do the work for it, obviously." I think that's going to become the standard phrase attached to any and all ideas from now on. And if/when I should be blessed with an agent, I'll be sure to include it in the contract. ;) said...

Just scattering chum, er, breadcrumbs for you, Colin. Seeding ideas, not revolution (she said innocently).

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Ginger Mollymarilyn said...

Oy vey!

Colin Smith said...

Oh--it seems my application for the Head of English post at Carkoon High has been accepted. Wow. That was quick. Not even an interview. I start Monday.

LynnRodz: FuzzyPrint's all yours. Be kind to 2Ns. :)

And I think I just got "fecal roster"--is that like a hit list only umm... smellier? :)

Colin Smith said...

Julia: Being the ever-vigilant and astute person you are, you probably picked up on the fact that I am, in fact, part Welsh, and grew up only 20 or so miles from the Welsh border. Indeed, it is said that Tolkien based The Shire on the region where I grew up (Herefordshire in the West Midlands). That might be urban legend, or propaganda put out by Hereford City Council (actually, there's not much difference between the two). My older brother lives just outside Cardiff, and found a Grammar of Middle Welsh that he sent to me (he knows of my interest in archaic languages). It looks as if the 12th century Welsh loved their consonants as much as the 21st century Welsh! Anyway, I thought I'd share that with you. Not that I can be of any help to you since it sounds like you have all the resources you need. But just to share an interest. :)

Julia said...

Weeeeellll, now, Colin, as it happens, I think we might've discussed it at one point or another. I have a couple of resources.

But I'd rather have you.


(You do know... there are... five of them, now. Right?)

Julia said...

There's this one guy who has been TOTALLY awesome, and I owe him over the moon style. He helped me translate Welsh biblical phrases and curses accurately and choose ones that were likely to be true to form - not too heavy handed, humerous, and... you know... not wrong.

“Dyro Dduw dy Nawdd… caru duw a phob Daioni...”

(And then there are the blessings over the son who doesn't know he's the son...)

Colin Smith said...

Julia: Yes, you've mentioned that guy, and he sounds like a very valuable resource. More valuable than I could be. Probably the best I can do for you is lend a pair of interested ears. :)

Julia said...

Colin, "value" can mean an awfully many different things. And I value Aron. And I value Janet. And I value Christina. And I value Bri. And I value you. See? Like candles. :)


John Frain said...


In my memory, I hear that wacky bird saying "Cuckoo for Cocoa PUFFS," not POPS. But I must confess, I'm more of a Peanut Butter Crunch kinda guy.

Also, thanks for the segue, there's a pretty good outfielder playing for the Oakland A's named Coco Crisp. Great name! But it's hard to beat the former Seattle Mariner, Milton Bradley. He's got game. (Sorry, I tried to resist but my fingers kept typing.)

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Hah, anybody else remember Golden Crisp cereal? The mascot for awhile in the 80's was a bear in a blue shirt, who may or may not have been meant to be Bing Crosby or another crooner of that stripe. The 80's were also those magical days when cereal had toys in it, and/or a single UPC got you something, so I had two of the Golden Crisp bears that my dad mailed in for me. They were small, even to my child-memory, but pretty cool.

(my cereal spread is an interesting one; I like Cracklin' Oat Bran, but I also love Golden Grahams, Count Chocula, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch)

And I"m sure each of us could hold forth for longer than anybody else wants to read about the vagaries of character naming, changing character names, etc. etc.

Colin Smith said...

John: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Co-Co Puffs are the big fluffy chocolate corn balls, while Co-Co Pops are basically chocolate Rice Krispies (in fact, they might be called Co-Co Krispies--at least by some brand). The latter make for a much better mush than the former. :)

Jennifer: We must have had a similar kind of cereal in the UK in the 80s because I remember that bear crooner in a commercial. And yes, the toys in the cereal. Have they stopped doing that in the UK too?

We used to have this cereal called "Force"--nothing to do with Star Wars. I think it was some kind of bran flakes kind of thing. I liked it. Their mascot was a tall guy in black trousers and a red jacket with a long chin that you could purchase with, I think, a coupon from the box and a money order for 35p. My mum bought me one. I chewed his chin. The things one remembers... :)

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Colin: My general impression is in the United States, toys in food are extinct, if not expressly forbidden by law (Kinder Eggs, I'm lookin' at you...which is ridiculous. You'd have to be TRYING to choke on the big yellow "toy inside" capsule a Kinder Egg houses). But even before there were embargoes or whatever, the practice seemed to have declined through the 90's, probably as a cost cutting measure or whatever. Sometimes a DVD or CD-ROM is slapped on the outside of the box, but that's a far cry from the amusement I got out of those sticky octopus toys you whipped against the wall and watched walk down.

Colin Smith said...

Jennifer: We had those kinds of toys too. And I always enjoyed Kinder eggs. The chocolate wasn't the best, but the toys usually made up for the less than stellar (i.e., not Cadbury's) exterior.

John Frain said...


I'm sure you're right. I'm unfamiliar with either Co-Co Pops or Co-Co Krispies. Sure sign that I need to get out more often. I hate to ask (or offer the suggestion) but do you turn these flakes/puffs into mush with chocolate milk or go with the traditional vanilla?

You might be unfamiliar with the term "soggy," which prior to this moment I always thought was a derogatory term for cereal. You, however, clearly know how to celebrate diversity in the cereal aisle.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

(apologies for double reply)

I don't know what CoCo Pops are (chocolate corn pops?) you're right about the Coco Puffs (mascot: Sunny [Sonny?] the indeterminate bird thing) vs. Coco Krispies, which are the chocolate variant of Rice Krispies (if it still exists). There's also Coco Pebbles, the chocolate version of Fruity Pebbles (Pebbles of the Flintstones featuring here). I had chocolate Cinnamon Toast Crunch a few months back, which was astoundingly cheap for a rather large box (it's a personal affront to me that cereal is so expensive), and while it didn't change my life, it was pretty good.

(I. Uh. In addition to watching far too much television as a child, my first job was a cashier in a grocery store [with promotion to one of the Customer Service personnel], so Grocery Things™ are one of the topics that fall into my esoteric knowledge. I still remember many of the PLU [Price Look Up] codes for the produce, and indeed that job is the main reason I know what Endive is. And why I make my paper money all face the same way, when I have paper money.)

John Frain said...

So Jen, help me here. The paper money thing.

First, I thought that was a banker's habit, so thanks for adding grocery clerk to the list of characters who can count money that way.

But still, I don't get it. My logic says, use a serpentine method (is that the right use of the word?) so George is right side up, then upside down, then right side up, then upside down, etc. That way, if you're giving change and you see George facing the same way twice in a row, you'd realize you accidentally picked up two bills instead of one.

I can't see the logic in doing it your way, but I'm guessing there must be and you guys probably get taught to do it that way. Bankers, I'm guessing, the same way. But why? Were you ever taught the reason behind it? Or why do you do it that way?

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I was told "The bank won't take it" if all the money in the bundles weren't facing the same direction. Which, I daresay, is a Satanic lie considering I've gotten cash from the bank which was not all facing in the same direction.

I have weirdly specific money quirks/perceptions, though; if I'm counting bills, I can tell the difference by touch if I've just pulled off two accidentally, or if there's a new one, etc. I can also hear the different ringing a handful of quarters will make, and can tell you if that 75 cents I was just handed contains new quarters, "regular" eagle quarters, or silver ones from the 60's (I got a quarter from 1932 the other day!)

Colin Smith said...

John: My wife and kids, who cannot stand "soggy" cereal would use that very descriptor for any and all cereal that has soaked in milk long enough to lose its crispiness. I think "mushy" is more accurate. Clothes left out in the rain become soggy. The water soaks into the clothes and leaves them dripping, but doesn't alter the essential structure of the clothing. Mushy, on the other hand, is what happens to a newspaper when thrown into a puddle by a careless newspaper deliverer. The paper drinks up the water and turns from distinct pages into gunk. Co-Co Krispies (let's go with Co-Co Krispies--I think we all understand chocolate Rice Krispies) when put in a bowl, milk added, and then left in the refrigerator for an hour or so (or overnight--better) lose their distinct rice krispie form and are transformed into a soft mass thanks to the infusion of milk into their structure. They turn from a delicious crunchy breakfast treat into a most delectable and refreshing cool chocolate pudding. It's mush. But it's good mush. :)

Christina Seine said...


So, Janet said she was not allowed to use naughty words during her workshop. So she used the phrase "bat fecal matter." For some reason that phrase seems quite appropriate for the blog today. :)

Julie, you are awesome! Why can't you just move to Alaska so we can hang out?

I hate when actual life keeps me from hanging out and keeping up with comments as they come in. Today I was in the kitchen when I heard one of my children utter a phrase that strikes terror into the heart of any parent: "Ooohh, glitter!"

It was as bad as you're imagining.

So I would like to humbly submit the following words for a ff contest:

Fecal, and

I meant to tell you Janet that you were eclipsed by another presenter during the conference whose slide was supposed to say "hands." So when we all read that a character had her hans on her hips, a general giggle rippled through the audience. It was followed by several Norweigan-themed erotically funny whispered one-liners that had the attendees in the middle rows doubling over with silent laughter. I had tears rolling down my cheeks.

Those writers. Crazy.

Colin Smith said...

Jennifer: My wife worked retail from high school to pregnancy and developed the same habit. To this day her paper money must all be right side up and facing the same way. I confess to having picked that habit up from her. But I'm easy pickings for habits like that. :)

Julia said...

Christina: <3
May the Hans be ever in your favor.
Or flavor.
Or something.
Never mind.

Move out here. We have ginger beer.

John Frain said...

Only in this blog can I feel so at home dissecting the pros and cons of "soggy" versus "mushy." I love it, even while I don't like either! I'm a walking conundrum.

Christina, that there's a funny story. And you described it so well (probably in fewer than a hundred words) that I felt like I was sitting in one of those middle rows, trying in vain not to laugh out loud in honor of the presenter which, of course, makes you want to laugh even more. And pee. Of course, you have to pee then.

bjmuntain said...

Sargent Colon of the Night Watch is a recurring character in Pratchett's DiscWorld series. But don't worry, Colin - you're a lot smarter than that Colon.

I'm sad. Julia had this whole long wonderful treatise on Tolkien and names. And now I can't find it. I'm afraid she may have removed it. :(

Speaking of ancient Welsh, someone from my writer's group has just had her YA historical fantasy published. It's set in Wales in 1282. I wonder if she's seen this Grammar of Middle Welsh (she can speak Welsh, so she might have.) I might ask her when I see her again next week. I think it's darn cool that something like that exists today. Like Colin, I like the old languages. I used to be able to read Old English, but it's been many years since university.

Did you know that ordinary Rice Krispies - despite being made from rice - is off limits to celiacs? They use malt flavouring (I used to love malt flavouring), which is made, of course, from barley, which has gluten. They do now have a gluten-free version, though. But the only time I eat them now is when my mum makes marshmallow rice krispie balls (not the rice krispie squares - completely different animal). I used to make rice krispie squares. I started putting raisins in mine... I LOVED them. But not everyone did. Which meant I could eat them all myself...

I may have to make some soon, just because I can taste them now...

Foods with small toys in it have been banned in the US since... the 20s? 30s? So I don't know if there was a legal problem that ended their appearance in cereal boxes. It may just be that the toys they put in there got chintzier and chintzier until no one wanted them, anyway. That's what's happened with Cracker Jack (not a cereal, but used to have the best toys), anyway.

I'm sorry if I'm rambling. I'm in a rambling kinda mood. (I was born a rambling man..., if anyone wants an ear worm.)

Regarding paper money: My mum used to work in banks, usually as a teller. She could make those bills snap like nothing else. But now Canada's 'paper' bills are more plastic than paper, and can be a real pain to count, even the small amount I usually have. They tend to be slippery and stick together. I find it necessary to crinkle all the bills, so I don't accidentally pull out two instead of one.

I'm thinking that 'mushy cereal' is like 'mushy peas' - popular in some circles (normally British ones). You can get them here with fish and chips, just about anywhere they sell fish and chips. (And by chips, I mean fries. Because that's how Canadians do.)

I'm so tired. Goodnight everyone. Hope you're all having a great night.

Christina Seine said...

Thanks John! I felt so bad for the poor presenter, who had idea what the giggling was about. But nothing makes one giggle more than trying to repress a giggle. :)

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

The toys in the ceral box.

@Colin, that's your distribution venue for the anthology. Cereal boxes.

Soggy Chops for sad Writers on Carkoon. Discover your signature copy Flash Fiction Anthology right inside this box. No need to connect to a website and wait three months to recieve your copy. No choking hazard, it's a real paper book.

@Colin "In fact... why can't all my thoughts come together in one comment?" When I was young a pimply, I had this scifi daydream where human beings would get only one pimple in their whole life. The problem was that you never knew where it would appear and on what day. If the Giant Pimple came to a head on one of your buttocks the day before finals, well that's a problem. Girls prayed the giant pimple would appear somewhere other than their face, especially during prom.

I'm not saying that your vomments are like acne but it reminded me of that story I didn't write when I was young and pimply. Where all comes together in one.

AJ Blythe said...

Wait... What? No toys in food in the US? So no chocolates with toys inside? Gosh, how sad =(

John Frain said...

Oh, BJ, great visual of a bank teller snapping the paper bills. I can hear it still so clearly, hours and hours after they close. Thank you!

Laura Mary said...

Wow. Conversation spiralled wildly yesterday!!!

At the risk of getting a one way ‘visit’ to see Colin… I get the impression people want somewhere to chat more freely about their writing but don’t want to lose the atmosphere here on the blog.

Perhaps on the days when Janet is snowed under with queries, or under a duvet with a migraine, or just has *no* blog time, we could have a free-for-all post. Maybe with a topic – ‘what are you reading? Anyone have any good kale stories?’ Or just a ‘Comments open, go nuts’

Should I pre-emptively pack a bag? Or am I safe given that it’s now 4:45 in the morning, so chances of this even being read are slim!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Oh my, you kids were up late last night and Laura May is an early riser. That's why this family is so interesting.
Morning all and see ya later. Off to work and you get to sleep late. Sometimes their is no justice in this writing world.

May your life be a novel and regret a short story .

Hey my synapses just woke up.

Laura Mary said...

Helps that I'm 5 hours ahead of NY time :-) Lunchtime soon!

Donnaeve said...

Would it surprise anyone I like Fruit Loops?

Audrey Shaffer said...

I love Fruit Loops. :)

Donnaeve said...

Yay, Audrey!

Panda in Chief said...

A friend of mine self published a book of his flash fiction, and is about to publish another. He also runs a FF contest once or twice a year with live readings of the stories submitted. It's a lot of fun. His twist on it is that they have to be EXACTLY 100 words, not counting title.

Don't froot loops count as one of your servings of fruit for the day?

Panda in Chief said...

Oh dear, this comment section is getting more addictive than watching panda videos on FB.

Marc P said...

@Donna - hi sorry been away and ahah! No i didn't realise the scaffold story was yours oops... very nice piece. Nice is a good word over here by the way :) lol. Thanks for agreeing with my analysis too. lol.. people always talk about taking your characters on 'a journey' over here... sometime forgetting it is the reader's journey that is the most important! Should be the same thing of course. In my story the agent was ripped open with a sharp knife, her rib bones removed one by one, and her flesh and lungs etc spread to one side ready for griddling. I personally think this an overreaction to an agent not getting you some work very quickly so was in no way autobiographical! And your approach is far more sensible! :)

Julie.M.Weathers said...

One of my crit partners has a time travel historical set in Wales around the 13th century if I remember correctly. It's been a fascinating read because she researches so well and she has a lovely writing style.

They still put toys in cereal boxes. I have a batman around here somewhere that came out of a cereal box not that long ago.