NEW, FREE “Suite & Sour” on Curious Fictions

As an experiment, I have uploaded the first three chapters of Suite & Sour to Curious Fictions. You can read them in their raw, lightly edited state and leave comments as to what you think.

These chapters have never been published anywhere else. This is the next book of Bitter Suites, a Bram Stoker Award® finalist. Find the first three chapters of Suite & Sour here.

In addition to some Suite & Sour chapters, I have short story reprints, some exquisite corpse poetry and some helpful info for authors. You can find it all at my Curious Fictions home.

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Just Discovered: Google Doc “DragonSpeak”

From this mess…

The recent tour to Florida was wonderful except for one thing. In the evening I was trying to write the next chapter of Suite & Sourwith no keyboard!

Cue the scary music because that’s how it felt. I was alone in a dark house with nothing to record my thoughts but a fine tipped Sharpie and a spiral notebook. In my world, pens are for signing books, not writing them.

I know there are many people that love writing by hand and the whole old school tactile paper thing—I’m not judging. If you ask which way is better, by hand or by computer, the answer is which ever works best for you. For me, that’s a keyboard with clicky, back lit chiclet style keys. I like my back lighting green. I might be a little particular.

When I write on paper my hand feels slow. The pen drags, leaving behind scribbles and misspellings like inky spider trails. Pens make a scratchy noise that sets my teeth on edge after too long. It feels like trying to race a car with flat tires. It’s painful and I creep instead of fly. Don’t even get me started on paper cut possibilities…

… to raw dictation.

But… there I was in northwest Florida with no other options but to write longhand. So I did. As my pen limped and tripped across the page, another terrible thought was whispering in the back of my mind… when you get home you have to transcribe all this junk. Cue more scary music.

Fortunately, my daughter Kyra Starr is a genius. As I was off in my work closet griping about “archaic paper” she suggested I use a program like Dragon NaturallySpeaking (usually just called DragonSpeak).

“Great idea,” I grumped. “Except I will never write by hand again and I don’t want to pay $150 for a program I might use once.”

She very rudely shooed me away from my computer, saying something about there always being a free option and paper not being all that was archaic in the house. I’m ignoring the latter commentary because she did find a wonderful, free feature in Google Docs (Google’s free, cloud-based response to Microsoft Word) that did the trick.

A little editing… and done.

Called Voice Typing, this free dictation software tool comes pre-installed and requires no plugins. To access this feature, open a new Doc, select Voice Typing under the Tools menu and speak into a microphone (or crtl+shift+S). I simply read my scribbles into my headset mic and it transcribed the whole 1700 word mess into a nice document waiting for edits.

I couldn’t figure out how to “speak” quotation marks so I’m just adding those in during edits. You can say the word for some punctuation (like period or comma) and Docs will insert it. When I tried to say “quotation marks” or “quote” it just wrote that word into my story. Not a deal breaker for me.

I am a huge fan of Google Drive. Everything I’ve written in the past few years have been on Docs. If you don’t use Docs yet, here are some features that may help change your mind.

  • Accessibility—Google Docs is cloud based, so you can get in and work on it from anywhere. I frequently write on my phone while I’m waiting at appointments. You can open your projects from any computer, tablet, phone etc. Whatever you are working on is always with you.
  • Savability—Google saves everything automatically as you write it. If the power goes out, whatever you were working on is waiting in the cloud for the power to return. If your computer blows up, whatever you were working on is waiting in the cloud for your replacement machine. If the apocalypse happens, whatever you were working on is waiting in the cloud for the zombies to go away.
  • Free and open—Google productivity products and cloud storage are almost always free (you can pay for upgraded storage, but you probably will never need to.)
  • Download in just about any format—ePub, Word doc, PDF, HTML, plain txt… whatever you may need, you can download it.
  • Shareability—You can share a Doc to a team or individual for edits. You can choose to track changes, just like with Word. On a side note, you can also use Docs as a secret message board by creating a Doc and inviting contributors. Everyone writes on the Doc in real time. Delete when done.
  • Voice Typing feature I just tested. Works beautiful to have large chunks of handwritten text typed out. Much easier/faster than the ‘look and peck’ I was doing.

This saved me so much time this morning, I could write up a blog post on it when I would still be trying to decipher scribbles. Knowing this feature exists makes writing on paper a little less terrible.

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New Trick for an Old Dog: Video

Warning: My kids and anyone who does this professionally will hate this video.

My son walked up behind me and looked over my shoulder. I was feeling a little chuffed that I was in new territory. “You’re using Movie Maker?” he asked, words drenched with derision.

“Um… yea. It’s just a quick info video, not a masterpiece,” was my answer.

Just wait until my daughter sees it, the actual video editor. In my defense, I made this for Instagram, without realizing it’s way too long for Instagram. Novice mistake. Since Instagram can’t have it, I will post it here so as to not waste my hour of trying something new.

There is also an error in the captions I noticed after I uploaded it to YouTube and deleted the editable file. Oops… and there it stays. Perfection is only achieved once we accept that it’s not happening.

New tricks for old dogs. We are always learning something.

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Heading to Florida

I’m off to northwest Florida for a few days and just in time. We are set to lose our lovely spring weather with freezing temperatures overnight.

While in Florida I’ll be doing three book signing events and meeting up with old friends. I’m bringing a limited number of books due to travel limitations, but will be happy to sign anything.

Here’s the details:

On Monday, April 15 from 10 a.m. to noon I will be at Crestview Public Library, Crestview, FL where I’ll sign copies of Bitter Suites. Copies of issue #133 of Space and Time magazine will also be for sale along with subscription sign ups.

On Tuesday, April 16 from 10 a.m. to noon I will be at Niceville Public Library, Niceville, FL where I’ll sign copies of Bitter Suites. Copies of issue #133 of Space and Time magazine will also be for sale along with subscription sign ups. I’ll be heading to Cafe Bienville for lunch after.

Also on Tuesday, April 15 from 2—3 p.m. I will be at Cafe Bienville to sign copies of Bitter Suites. Copies of issue #133 of Space and Time magazine will also be for sale along with subscription sign ups. Cafe Bienville is located at 777 E John Sims Pkwy, Niceville.

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What I needed to hear today…

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“Band Aid” Accepted for The Siren’s Call eZine

Image by msumuh from Pixabay

I’m happy to announce that my short story, “Band Aid,” has found a home. It will appear in issue #44 of The Sirens Call eZine. I’ll post news when this is available to read.

“Band Aid” is the result of a prompt given from an HWA writer’s group I belong to called Fright Club. I’d tell you more about Fright Club, but you know the first rule…

My goal for 2019 is to submit more work outside rather than just self-publish everything. So far my ratio of submission to acceptance is pretty good.

I’ve submitted a total of nine works, six of which have been accepted. Two are still pending. I’m happy with that. I’ll let you know here when and where my works are showing up.

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The Week of a Lifetime and Other News

Signing “Bitter Suites” at Crypticon 2018. Photo courtesy of Chelsea Hunter

It’s going to be busy from now until mid-May! Radio shows, book signings, StokerCon, Suite & Sour… I have so much news to announce.

One of the most exciting (to me) is that I have a page as a Bram Stoker Awards® finalist. That’s a dream realized… you can visit it here.

As far as other news, here’s the quick run down:

Read Suite & Sour as I write it at Curious Fictions. This is the follow-up to Bitter Suites, a Bram Stoker Award® finalist. My goal is to post a new chapter every week until done. I wrote Bitter Suites on serial fiction site Radish and I enjoyed the interaction from readers. Chapters of Suite & Sour are subscriber only. Subscriptions start at $2 and include access to all chapters. Find more details here.

April 15—I’ll be at Crestview Public Library where I’ll be signing copies of Bitter Suites. Copies of issue #133 of Space and Time magazine will also be for sale along with subscription sign ups. I’ll be heading to lunch at Cafe Bienville afterwards.

April 16—I’ll be at Niceville Public Library where I’ll be signing copies of Bitter Suites. Copies of issue #133 of Space and Time magazine will also be for sale along with subscription sign ups. I’ll be heading to lunch at Cafe Bienville afterwards.

May 9—12 I’ll be at StokerCon, Grand Rapids, MI.
♦Friday, May 10 at 11 a.m. I’ll be a panelist at Writing to Prompts: Prose, Poetry, and Sources of Inspiration moderated by Marge Simon and with fellow panelists Karen Bovenmyer, Michael Bailey, Linda D. Addison and Michael Arnzen.
♦Saturday, May 11 at 2 p.m. I’ll be moderating the panel Writing Just Enough: The Novella along with panelists Ellen Datlow, JG Faherty and Usman Mlk.
♦Saturday, May 11 at 7 p.m. is the highly anticipated Bram Stoker Awards® Banquet. I’m thrilled that Bitter Suites is a Bram Stoker Awards® finalist in the Long Fiction category. I will also have the honor of presenting the Bram Stoker, along with Michael Arnzen, for the poetry category.

May 13 I will be in Pennsylvania to meet Scot and Jane Noel, publishers of DreamForge magazine on my way to New York City where…

May 15 I’ll be meeting the Grand Patriarch of Space and Time, Gordon Linzner. We will be doing magazine things and (I hope) getting plenty of time to explore NYC. That evening I’ll be honored to be a fly on the wall at KGB Bar listening to poetry and prose read by some of the best writers around.

In the early hours (technically May 16) I’m thrilled to be a guest on Hour of the Wolf with Jim Freund. Freund’s guests on the show have included speculative fiction writers such as Douglas Adams, Isaac Asimov, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C Clarke, Lester Del Rey, Samuel R. Delany, Thomas M. Disch, Joe Haldeman, Frank Herbert, Christopher Lee, Ursula K. Le Guin, Frederik Pohl, Baird Searles, Norman Spinrad, Kurt Vonnegut, Gahan Wilson, Roger and Zelazny.

Hour of the Wolf can be heard over 99.5 FM in the NY metropolitan area, on, and can be viewed on Facebook Live. I’ll be sharing here when I can. I’m not going to pretend I’m not excited and impressed by this opportunity. I am.

May 16 after the show I’ll be heading out of the city to meet up with former S&T publisher Hildy Silverman. More magazine things and lunch! Afterwards I’ll be driving to Browns Mill’s, NJ to visit The Community News, first newspaper I ever worked for and to hunt for the Jersey Devil. On to Baltimore to visit Edgar Allan Poe’s grave again on my way to see my grandkids, my oldest daughter and her family and, hopefully, a dear old friend.

May 17ish I’ll be winding my way home, wondering if I packed enough into the last week.

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BiblioBoard Benefits Authors, Readers and Libraries

A lot of resources I share here aim to benefit other authors… even though my mind is always on romancing new readers which are often found in libraries. It’s hard to find a post that can offer something to all three. Then I discovered BiblioBoard.

BiblioBoard is a way to bring communities of readers and authors together through their local library system. Authors submit their books, and if approved, the ebook will be offered through their local library system. Authors find readers. Readers find free reads. Libraries find another meaningful way to interact with both. Win, win and also win.

Now patrons of my library system, Mid-Continent, can read Bitter Suites, rate, comment and even purchase it through Amazon. It’s been added to Indie Missouri collections so readers from my home state can read it. There are all sorts of ways to interact with new readers I am just now discovering. You can check out the Bitter Suites listing for yourself here.

How to hook up with BiblioBoard.

  1. Visit their website at to read about all they offer.
  2. Upload your finished ebook to Self-e here.
  3. Wait for Self-e to approve your book. Simple.

Need help getting that finished ebook? Try the free Pressbooks service here. I haven’t used Pressbooks myself yet, but I will with my next poetry book Altars and Oubliettes coming in April. I like the idea that it’s free and available to all, looks easy and it provides both print and all ebook formats.

I’ll continue to share my experiences with BiblioBoard, and soon PressBooks. Both are free to readers and writers—a stellar way to promote literacy. Publishing power to the people!

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Recharged and Ready… in a minute

Rescued heather from Lowe’s Discount Death Row racks.

Referring to the last post: it’s true I wasn’t dead, but I was a zombie. I took an impromptu vacation from all things computer for the last few days and it’s been lovely.

I planted some rescued heather, repaired garden walls, cleaned the car and took plenty of walks. I caught up on some of my reading. It was good to unwind and recharge. But now that I’m back…

Planning a trip to Northwest Florida from April 13-17. I’ll be promoting Bitter Suites and my newest poetry book, Altars & Oubliettes. I’ll announce where I’ll be signing in the next few days but I plan to take this trip easy. I mostly hope to see old friends and gorge myself silly at Cafe Bienville, one of my favorite places to eat anywhere.

After that it will be back to Kansas City to prepare for StokerCon May 9-12. From there I’ll be taking a trip to New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Virginia and then back home. I’ll be meeting both previous publishers of Space and Time—Gordon Linzner and Hildy Silverman.

While I’m out east I plan to visit a few places dear to me, including The Community News in Browns Mills, NJ. That was my first newspaper experience. That area also inspired my first book, End of Mae and I hope to stay the night to see if it’s as scary as I remember.

The last of March is a nice pause to regroup and organize. We are already preparing for the next issue of Space and Time (Issue #134 on September 23) as well as getting ready for some new things. We plan to release issue #133 as an audiomag for all the readers that absorb literature by listening… but more on that later.

For now, I’m savoring the last of the peace. It’s refreshing and needed. I’ve stepped back for a few days to take a breath… but I’ll be sure to inhale deep and hold it. I have a feeling that it’s about to get pretty busy.

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Please note: I am NOT dead.

Digital S&T ToC #133

I may have vanished from the face of the planet this week, but please be assured I am not dead. I have been busy behind the scenes playing the editorial equivalent of whack-a-mole with Space and Time.

As soon as we smack one typo down, three more pop up. It’s been a whirlwind of activity over here—but in the end we have a finished copy of issue #133 ready to go out to subscribers. It’s beautiful.

The three most important things we have learned:

  1. 4 color black is the scourge of the earth.
  2. A fat PDF makes unhappy uploads.
  3. Bleed! There needs to be more bleed!
  4. Terrible Tim has a titillating tush.

Tomorrow, this collaborative effort of seven authors, seven illustrators, fifteen poets, two columnists, one Terrible Tim… and an army of associate editors, editors, proofreaders, graphic artists & more will be available to take home. The print version will be mailed. The digital edition includes two extra stories and is available in mobi, PDF and epub. (Pssst… it’s also cheaper, faster and saves trees!)

Visit for more info on all that.

Most important, this issue was made possible by the following people, and readers like you*:

PUBLISHER & NARRATOR R.A. Smith ♥ FICTION EDITOR Gerard Houarner ♥ POETRY EDITOR Linda D. Addison ♥ ART EDITOR Diane Weinstein ♥ EDITORS EMERITUS Gordon Linzner & Hildy Silverman ♥ CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Daniel Kimmel Samuel Tomaino ♥ EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Kyra Starr ♥ ASSOCIATE EDITORS Gary Frank ♥ Kathleen David ♥ Susan Hanniford Crowley ♥ Faith Justice ♥ Jennifer M. Perrson ♥ Edward Greaves ♥ Mellissa French ♥ Lee Wienstein ♥ ARTWORK Tom Nackid ♥ Simon Walpole ♥ Alan Beck ♥ Martin Hanford ♥ Anthony R. Rhodes ♥ Brad W. Foster ♥  COVER/POSTER ART K.B. Kofoed ♥ COVER LAYOUT Kyra Starr ♥ SOCIAL MEDIA STREET TEAM ♥ Chelsea Hunter et al

*Yes, I borrowed this from PBS. Too much editorial whack-a-mole for anything more clever.
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