To Write Like He Sings

I struggle getting back to my writing groove after being immersed in the real world for the past few months. Words blossom in my mind but I’ve been busy and had no where to put them. They just wilt and blow away. It’s kind of nice.

There’s so much less work involved when the stories stay in my head. No pressure, no editing, no adverb hunts… unwritten words are daydreams. I’ve been ‘writing’ just for me.

As I prepare for the upcoming Borderlands Bootcamp I’ve had to get back in the work mindset. It’s been a vacation to play in the snow instead of with books. But here I am…

Tonight I I searched for inspiration on YouTube (also known as stalling). I stumbled across a voice that set my fingertips to itching. I’ve been away from the keyboard far too long. If I can ever write like this man sings…

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Frontier Poetry Publishes 11 Opportunities

Frontier Poetry just published the details for 11 magazines and contests with deadlines in January.

Start your new year off by treading new territory and submitting. Find all the details on these publishing opportunities here.

You can also submit poetry for free to Frontier Poetry’s New Voices. If you do send anything, let me know in the comments.

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Submissions: Etchings Press Book Prizes

Announcing the Etchings Press 2018 Book Prizes! Etchings Press, a student-run publisher at University of Indianapolis, welcomes submissions of any theme for its annual contests: a chapbook of poetry, a chapbook of prose, and a novella. The deadline for all contests will be Monday, January 29, 2018.

UIndy graduate and undergraduate students will read the submitted manuscripts and choose a winner in each category. The students will then edit, design, publish and promote the chapbooks and the novella. Please visit their website to review past winners.

Chapbook winners will receive a $200 honorarium and 15 copies of the published chapbook. The novella winner will receive a $400 honorarium and 15 copies of the published novella.

Students are interested in editing and publishing authors in their region using the 370 miles between Flannery O’Connor’s Milledgeville, Georgia, and William Faulkner’s Oxford, Mississippi, as the relative mileage for regional literature.

Using UIndy’s campus on the south side of Indianapolis as a starting point, that distance makes a circle which includes all of Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia, most of Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Missouri, and parts of Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New York, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Arkansas, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, and even Ontario.

Alumni and current students of University of Indianapolis and former students of its faculty are not eligible.

Contest details may be found at Winners will be notified in March, 2018. Books will be released and available for sale in May 2018.

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Submissions: Love Like Salt

A new submission opportunity is available for the upcoming “Love Like Salt” anthology. Accepting poetry that reflects upon experiences and the emotions they evoke. Previously published poems welcome.

Send submissions to by Jan. 28. For more details, read the image below.

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My Anti-Resolutions

This time of year I get annoyed by all the pressure from New Year Resolutions. We make big plans on December 31—lose 50 pounds, start exercising, get out of debt!—only to beat ourselves up for failure by sunset January 1.

I am all for positive growth and change, but the traditional New Year pacts with perfection set us up to fail. What standard are we trying to achieve and who set it there for us?

Men and women, especially in America, are pressured by the media to adhere to ridiculous standards. We are told we have to be lingerie models in the bedroom, fashion models out in public and maintain photo-spread worthy houses (filled with the best gadgets!) all while working prestigious, higher education jobs. Who profits from these ridiculous standards? Everyone but us.

Success is in the eye of the beholder. Corporations publish these ridiculous ideals to make money off of us. I don’t blame them. I like money myself.

My gripe is the vacuum of joy that results in failing to achieve the impossible. I know many beautiful people who feel worthless because they aren’t the desired income/measurements/education level. It isn’t right.

It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others. There always has been and always will be a drive to keep up with the neighbors. Is it possible to recreate the standards of success to be real ones that are achievable and beneficial?

What if men and women were judged on how kind they are? Instead of strutting down the catwalk with cold, vacant looks, models could instead smile and pass out compliments instead of expecting them.

To emulate them, we would all stand around in coffee shops connecting and building each other up instead of making snide comments behind our cappuccinos.

From an email I recently sent to a friend that set me on this ponder path—

Freedom comes with accepting our imperfections and flaws. When we accept ourselves as we are, flaws are no longer negative. They are part of us, like the knot that interrupts the grain. It is character.

We are perfect as we are, so there can be no mistakes or wrongness as long as we recognize ourselves with truth. Rocks, trees, animals and us… we all have our crags, chips, knots and scars. That’s what makes us Us. Proud to be flawed.

I’ve decided to make anti-resolutions this year. I vow to keep myself open to improbability, see my flaws as facets, and emulate the real beautiful people—those that make everything around them better.

We are good enough as we are, and by being good as we are we become even better.

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Energizing the Creative

Now that the holidays are past, time to re-energize the creative flow. I was just invited to sign up for Story Storm with Tara Lazar. She will post an inspirational post from professional authors, illustrators and editors each day in January.

Sign up, come up with 30 story ideas and be eligible to win prizes. You do not post or share your ideas.

Prizes and inspiration? These are some of my favorite things… Find more info at


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New Music from Acoustic Spirit

Acoustic Spirit, the German activist band I’ve recently been enjoying, has released a new video in mid December and I’m thrilled that they have chosen some more of my digital collage pieces to pair with their music.

While, sadly, I don’t speak German, this time they sing in English for us pathetic mono-linguists. Thanks Acoustic Spirit—proud to contribute. Enjoy the video below, and please consider going to YouTube to give this new band some likes, follows and shares.

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Back to the Real World…

Now that I finally have a little time off I’m renewing my creative self with music and working my printer overtime with Borderlands Bootcamp prep work. As I begin this massive stack of reading with my red pen, I’ll share with you what I’m listening to tonight…

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Time for Elves’ Christmas

Our first White Christmas togther!

This year we helped get thousands of Amazon packages out the door and under Christmas trees around the world.

It took a lot of hours. We worked so much that our focus has been narrowed to eating, sleeping and work since Black Friday.

Early Christmas Eve morning the last packages we helped pack were boxed and sent down the conveyor belt and we walked out to find the first snowfall of the year waiting for us.

The sun was just cresting the horizon to find the city waiting like an eager bride bedecked in shimmering white. The rays moved across the blue shadows setting everything alight in fragments of starry fire. It was lovely and brilliant.

Now that the holiday is here, we will be moving away from overtime rush and into our dream schedule: three nights at a job we love and four nights off to do other stuff we love (write).

For the moment, we are enjoying this restful holiday with gratitude and making our goals for 2018. We hope that all of you are also experiencing a beautiful holiday, whatever and however you celebrate.

How Santa’s Elves celebrate… feet up in front of the fire and some Bailey’s in coffee.

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Chelsea Quinn Yarbo

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro at Continuum Australian science fiction convention. Photo courtesy of Catriona Sparks.

Today I have another interview today from my friend, Soraya Murillo Hernandez, from Spain. Soraya speaks Spanish, and I only speak English, so our friendship has leaned heavily on technology and Google Translate.

Soraya has so many, incredible interviews, I’ve created a category for her work. You can find all Soraya’s interviews at From Soraya.

Today, she shares her interview with Chelsea Quinn Yarbo, an American writer known for her series of historical horror novels about the vampire Count Saint-Germain. You may find Chelsea Quinn Yarbo on Amazon here. 

Soraya—In the year 2003 you were named a great teacher of terror. What was that like  for you?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—A Grand Master award is given for a body of work, not a single title, just as Life Achievement awards are. It’s always flattering to receive that kind of recognition. The words on the page are the same as they were before the award was given; it is the work that counts, awards or not.

Soraya—You have very good average of books a year. How many hours do you dedicate daily to write? Did writing become an addiction for you?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—My average is three books a year, and one or two shorter works. I’m lucky not to need to do many drafts of my work as many others do, and that allows me to produce enough work most years to keep a roof over my head. I’ve been writing stories since I was six years old.

Soraya—You’ve touched virtually all genres from science fiction, westerns, historical, horror… do you think a writer should know enough to write in any genre?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—The way I keep my stories fresh is to work in many genres. I find that changing genres frequently is similar to crop rotation, in that I let my skills in one genre lie fallow, so that I can tell more stories over a year, or a decade, for that matter.

Soraya—You created a sexy, erotic vampire far from the traditional Monster. Why did you think it necessary to make a change to the vampiric tradition?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—Negative vampires have been a mainstay of vampire stories since before there was literature: so far as we can tell, vampire stories have been around for 35,000 years. After I read “Dracula”, I wondered if it would be to possible to push the vampire to the positive and still have a recognizable vampire — apparently it is.

Soraya—Saint-Germain is a vampire in a novel of terror where the evil is not the Vampire, they are certain human. You wanted to humanize the vampire or give any message about the evil?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—It seems to me that anything anything even a very greedy vampire couldn’t come close to what human beings could do to themselves. Dracula versus Jenghiz Khan, Jenghiz Khan wins every time for atrocities. I call the Saint-Germain books historical horror novels not because vampires are horrifying, but because history is.

Soraya—How long do you research? Can there be too much research?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—Writing any kind of historical novel — or any other kind of genre for that matter — requires research. Luckily, I like research, and I have a private research library that I can visit frequently for all kinds of information. For a novelist, the hard thing to find out about people in history is not what they did — we know what they did — it is what they thought they were doing. Once you can get that about an historical period, you will be ready to write about it.

Soraya—In 1985 John McTiernan directed the film “Nomads.” Then you adapted movie to a novel. What did it take to do so?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—I’ve done three novelizations, one of which was never published. When a writer is contracted to do a novelization, you get the screenplay, and about a month to turn it into a novel, which makes it a wonderful exercise in craft. Often there are problems in the screenplay that do not work well in prose, such as explosions, since you cannot see them on the page and are reduced to the limitations of words instead of special effects. Generally speaking, it is a way to get paid quickly, and for working writers, that is an unusual benefit.

Soraya—In addition to writing, you compose music. What do you usually listen to while you write?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—Yes, I often listen to music while I write — usually classical music and grand opera (not Wagner). It helps me pace myself.

Soraya—From your sci-fi novel, “Jacinthes,” Jeanne Bliss is a woman whose ambition took her to unhappiness. Is that the message that you wanted to tell, that all human beings are corrupt?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—“Hyacinths” was intended in part to show what kind of poor decisions get made after prolonged frustration. Jehanne is a capable woman who has not received the advancement she deserves, and so she becomes reckless, and that emerges to destroy her. She is not evil, but what she does to others is wrong.

Soraya—They say that you have one of the most complete personal libraries. Can you please tell me about it?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—I do have an extensive library, as I’ve mentioned. I’ve spent over forty years assembling it, and I’m still adding to it. Much as I like ebooks, I like to makes notes and to underline in my books, and although there are ways to do it in ebooks, it hasn’t the same impact that it does on paper.

Soraya—Having such a library is fantastic. What do you think about the e-book?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—I’m all for ebooks. Hidden-Knowledge brought out my first one in 1999. And finally a great many of my out-of-print books, some of them out-of-print for decades. On the other hand, it is difficult to police the Internet for pirated material, and that is a serious concern to me. I’ve been saying for twenty years that the electronic back-list is going to save mid-list writers, like me.

Soraya—As a lover of the occult it is inevitable to wonder: do you believe in beyond?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—Yes, I’ve been doing occult studies since I was about nine, It’s a matter of personally cosmology: many people in this culture see the world as essentially rational with occasional bits of irrationality. I see the world as essentially irrational with a thin veneer of rationality, which is more in line with occultism than rationality. But I also think that the occult is a branch of physics that we have not yet described, and in that, I am in accord with Isaac Newton, who was as much an occultist as a physicist.

Soraya—I’d like to tell me about your way of writing. Tell me how it is a typical day when you are writing a book.

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—Most days I get up around 7:30 am, feed my two cats, take my vitamins, have a cup of tea, and a little after 8:00 am, take a bath. I go to work around 9:00 am and work until noon, when I have lunch, and take an hour or so to watch the news on TV. I go back to work for about four hours, then stop around 4:00 pm (1600). Occasionally I go back to work around 8:00 pm (2000). Writing is my job, and I treat it that way.

Soraya—To which writers do you admire? What book do you have better remember?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—My favorite writer was and is William Shakespeare. All others are subject to change without notice.

Soraya Murillo Hernandez

From  Soraya Murillo Hernandez: I am an early reader, I started reading very soon and I was interested in terror, I liked to look for monsters and ghosts in the stories. Then I knew that the greatest terror came from humans. I am a book reviewer in Spain, I do it free to help its authors to know their works.

Soy una lectora precoz, comencé muy pronto a leer y me interese por el terror, me gustaba buscar monstruos y fantasmas en las historias. Luego supe que el mayor terror venia de los humanos . Soy reseñadora de libros en España, lo hago gratis para ayudar a sus autores a conocer sus obras.

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