Word of the Week: meshuggeneh (mə-sho͝og′ə-nə) - hear it! - noun - one who is crazy - the Free Dictionary

Indie author of the month: Come meet - Mr. Ted Fink!

I’m always delighted when a first-time editing client returns for additional services. Naturally, it’s a good feeling to know the client was pleased enough with my work to want to come back, which means possibly good word-of-mouth recommendation and, of course, additional monies coming in as my career in freelance editing grows.

But! For me, it’s much more personal. I truly enjoy getting to know my clients as individuals, discovering what makes each one unique in his/her own talent and lifestyle, and to be able to share in this with each of them. To treat them like gold (hence, one meaning behind the recent name of my editing business: Golden Standard Editing and Proofreading Services), and not just another faceless client who throws money my way.

And this brings me to my featured indie author this month: Mr. Ted Fink.

Back in September of 2013, just two months after I opened for business, Mr. Fink approached me to edit his 125K word roman á clef novel*, “In Search of Joel Gomez.” I’d been recommended by a mutual acquaintance, and of course, I happily obliged, eager to build a client base.

During the time spent editing his project, I got to learn more about Mr. Fink, both through the project itself and through our email correspondences that started off as simple editing updates (as I do with all of my clients), which gradually morphed into casual, friendly dialogues.

Easy-going, with sense of humor and an all-around good-natured disposition, Mr. Fink was (and is) an absolute pleasure to work with, so I was thrilled when he’d asked me (a little over a year later) if I would edit his collection of short stories, tall tales, and stories in rhyme.

How could I say no?

And what wonderful stores they are! You see, Mr. Fink is a celebrated oral storyteller from Philadelphia (among other great things he’s accomplished), who’s performed in a variety of venues throughout the Philadelphia area, bringing his tall tales and stories in rhyme to vibrant life for many, many different audiences to enjoy.

In the time I’ve known him, I’ve grown quite fond of Mr. Ted Fink, and I’m proud to call him not only my client, but also my friend.

Now, all of you can have the chance to get to know him by reading his interview here, visiting his website, and buying his forthcoming collection, “The Tales I’ve Told,” now available for Kindle and through Createspace.

Mr. Fink is certainly a client I truly treat like gold.

*  *  * 
Hi. My name is Ted Fink, Philadelphia storyteller, singer/songwriter. I would sincerely like to thank Kim Grenfell for inviting me to her blog to talk about who I am and what I do. On my desk I keep a copy of Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken, because in my life, I think, I’ve taken them all. If we define ourselves by what we do to make a living, I suppose you could say I’m a diversified survivalist. In my time, I’ve done so many damn things to survive… but, with no regrets. For, each path has led to an adventure, a tale to be told; a story that I must unfold. And, for me… story is everything. It’s what we are, it’s who we are, and it’s what we hope to be. And while I’ve been down those dusty roads and played those different roles, I always knew that in my heart I was an artist, a writer. It seems I’ve been writing all my life.

I created my first poem, my mother told me, and anybody else who would listen, when I was four. Here it is: Night and day I like to play and I like to play at night too, but I have to go to bed, don’t you? Hands in the air, she went off shouting, He’s a poet! He’s a poet!”

Years later, my brother, Paul, who was a famous psychiatrist, would correct her, “No, he’s not a poet, he’s a meshuggeneh!” He once lovingly described me as the ultimate risk-taker: “Ted’s a guy who believes he can do anything. The worst thing you can do is to tell him there’s something he can’t do. Without ever reading a book on the subject (he’s mildly dyslexic) or working as a carpenter, he built his own house -- hammered every nail, designed and built most of the furniture within it, paints watercolors, performs his original stories at established venues, writes songs, sings songs, and has taught himself to be an excellent guitarist. Oh yeah, he goes sailing and scuba diving while not knowing how to swim! He’s nuts, is what he is.”

Geez, I loved the guy.

What he left out was that I have a master’s degree in education. I taught in an inter-city school for ten years, opened several fine restaurants, developed real estate, sold insurance and for six incredible years became The Eelman in the United States of America—that’s right, the Eelman! Want to make something of it?

When I was twelve I became fascinated with Kipling’s, Gunga Din and began reciting it for friends and family at the drop of a hat. Once old enough to drink alcohol, I could always get a free beer by suddenly stepping away from the bar and invoking, “You may talk o’ gin an’ beer while you’re quartered safe out ‘ere an’ you’ve sent the penny-fights an’ Aldershot it…” Today, my delivery on stage is often inspired by Kipling’s incredible story.

Yes, it’s been quite a journey, and guess what, it ain’t over yet!

*  *  *
* For those of you who don't know, a roman á clef novel is a novel in which real people or events appear with invented names.



Gods of Anthem. . . .

Gods. Of. Anthem.

Oceans apart, a young musician and a “special” soldier embark on a perilous journey for home fueled by the unyielding pursuit of freedom from the Authority.

Sixteen-year-old prodigy, Liza Randusky, waits imprisoned, blamed for the undead plague that’s slowly destroying the planet. Banished to an island where she’ll never play her beloved piano again, Liza’s steadfast sense of justice and passion for music may have the power to change her destiny. But will it be enough...

To strike back at the new world order, the troubled son of a preacher, Thomas Ripley-Hatter, suffers unspeakable alterations by the Underground to join a secret Army. Tommy knows that all hope lies in human-weapons like himself, and that somehow he must cling to his sanity…while letting loose the monster to win.

The battle begins for the last-standing sliver of humanity: Anthem.

*  *  *
Wow. What a most excellent ride it's been with one my most wonderful editing clients!

In lieu of an interview with Ms. Keys (which I'll most likely post up at a later date), I'd like to take a moment to shout out about her accomplishment.
Recently, over several months, I had the opportunity to work with indie author Logan Keys and to watch the blossoming progression of her (now very talked about) book, Gods of Anthem - from one of its earlier rough draft forms to a polished and published novel; witnessed the storyline develop and deepen, and the characters take shape and take on lives of their own.

And believe me, both the project the author were an absolute delight to work with, every step of the way.

Evaluation. Content. Line editing. Proofreading. . . . This novel has gone through such incredible growth side by side with its creator, and has garnered some much-deserved praise and admiration from so many people . . .

In fact, here . . . come, see what people have written about Gods of Anthem. No, really. Come. Look. At Goodreads.

Not to mention, Gods of Anthem had been chosen to be read as part of the school curriculum at Anoka-Hennepin Schools. Truly an impressive feat! . . . and it'd been selected for this, before it'd even been released!

What can I say . . . ? 

Well, how about: I am so extremely proud of the wonderful Ms. Keys and what she has accomplished, and tremendously honored to have taken part in helping her polish up her project into a full-fledged novel.

I sincerely wish her every success with her novels and beyond.


Word of the Week: coalesce - (hear it!) - verb - to come together to form one group or mass

Ugly Writing Truths New Writers Need to Know

The writing bug. When it bites, it bites hard, and oftentimes it bites those who haven't a clue what they're getting themselves into.

Like a shadow in the night, this slick and filthy creature sinks its comma-curved fangs into the brains of the unsuspecting to inject a tangled mess of plot lines and characters, causing its victim to twitch, confused and disturbed by the images slowly coalescing.

Then the victim's fingers begin to itch for a keyboard . . . or a pencil, pen, quill and ink, chalk and blackboard—any damned thing to serve as a conduit through which he can spew the escalating chaos screaming to be set free.

Now known as the “aspiring writer,” the victim sits at the computer for hours, ignoring the urge for food and sleep, and driven by this thrilling new desire; he foregoes nearly everything in favor of finishing the novel that will elevate him into the much-coveted realm of published author. Each paragraph is perfect, every sentence pristine. Not a character, nor plot thread, nor piece of dialogue harbors so much as a single flaw.

He proudly shows off his work . . .

And reality hits.

“What do you mean my plot has holes!”

“My characters have depth!”

“They're supposed to have thick accents!”

“Wordy! I'll give you wordy!”

“What in the hell is SPaG!”

“A rejection!”

“No one understands my writing!”

Unfortunately for the victim, the writing bug had not only injected a tangled mess of plot lines and characters, but also a blind indignation to which a new writer can easily succumb—every challenge to his story is a challenge to his writing ability, and a question of his worth as a writer.

How dare they criticize him after all the effort he'd put into his work!

An ego freshly wounded, and the writing bug slinks into the shadows whence it had come to lie in wait for another unwitting victim and turn yet another vulnerable mind to notions of story creation and prose manipulation.

But the aspiring writer need not stay victim to the whims of the devious writing bug, nor suffer the pangs of a wounded ego; a few writing truths can serve as an antidote to the venom injected and counteract any havoc caused by a reality “kick in the shins.” Knowledge is power, and this can help a new writer gain control.

Below are some truths for aspiring writers—ugly, to the point, frustrating, uncomfortable, and sometimes infuriating truths. Learning what these mean to a new writer looking to become a serious author is important; applying them, more so. And any writer worth his salt had once come across these truths in one way or another and had to accept them at some point in time.



Truth #1: Writing is hard—very hard—work

The first lengthy string of prose is generally not complete. The term “rough draft” holds specific meaning: this is the initial stage in which a writer dumps out his mess of plot lines, characters, events, dialogue, internal monologue, narrative and scenes, usually without regard to SPaG (spelling, punctuation, and grammar) or interconnections.

When finished, new writers make the mistake of thinking, “This is it, I don't have to do any more”—an error through which later defensiveness take root in the proud display of a piece rough-chiseled.

So, after completing a rough draft, a new writer might want to lay his project aside to learn story writing techniques to create a believable world and multi-dimensional characters in plausable situations. These techniques can be learned through independent study (using credible resources) or under the scrutiny of a knowledgeable mentor, not to smother creativity with rules, but rather create a proper framework in which to construct a tale.

“But . . but . . . that would take time!” you cry.

Yes, and coupled with any research involved, it may take months—years—to fully develop a novel, depending on its genre. A historical fiction piece or a science fiction project is likely to need more research than a humorous piece, but even a fun-to-write fantasy has to have a scientific and/or magical base to create a believable world.

So yes, of course it would take time. Consider this, though: a well-constructed story reflects both a writer's skill and attention to detail, which in turn displays professionalism to prospective agents and publishers; important for a writer on a career writing path, no?

“So, what about SPaG?”

Tight prose that wraps the reader into a story has an advantage: it hooks and holds, creating mental images so distinct the reader isn't even aware of his surroundings. Garbled prose, convoluted sentences, punctuation misuse, and spelling error after spelling error (i.e. a SPaG-ridden disaster) all make it difficult for a reader to sink his mind into a story.

So revise, and revise again. And again. And . . . well, you get the point.

“But that would take even more time!”


“Pah! Once I'm signed, in-house editors will take care of any SPaG.”

Not necessarily. You see, your first readers (after your betas) are agents and publishers, and you need to impress them before they would consider taking you on as a client. A SPaG-ridden disaster shows laziness, or worse, a poor grasp of your native written language.

So remember, a rough draft is a story's first base. Rarely does anything develop right the first time, and revisions are nearly always necessary, with multiple drafts (second, third, fourth, sometimes more) par for the course. Until the final spit and polish, a story is “half-dressed,” and not ready for an agent or publisher's scrutinizing eye.

Yes, writing is hard—very hard—work, and the faster an aspiring writer realizes this, the sooner he will edge toward achieving success.

Truth #2: Writing is not for the fragile ego

Most people want to be liked, and the majority of us desire others' acceptance of our creative outputs. Normal, considering we're social creatures with innovative tendencies, and we like to share that which we're proud of. So, when the feedback is positive, we feel good, but when the feedback is negative . . .

Watch out—wounded ego.

Many writers are aware their work is somewhat of a self-extension—characters harbor snippets of personality traits; situations, settings, and secondary characters may be modified versions of real-life ones; dialogue may be snatches of conversation overheard or exchanged with friends—and without this input, a story may lack vitality.

New writers, however, often make the mistake of believing their stories are a critical part of themselves, like an internal organ or a fifth limb. Worse, they think the story and its situations are them. True, people love to share bits of themselves, and for a new writer who has in a sense “woven” himself into a piece, any negative feedback is a stiletto stab to the heart. Like a threatened cobra, the aspiring writer dons his defenses and often strikes out.

So what will happen once a story is submitted . . . and rejected?


To avoid a wounded ego, the aspiring writer needs to let go—fast. He needs to unclench the fist clinging to the notion that he and his project are one in the same, and any criticism to his work is an equal blow to him. Or: he needs to learn how to receive a constructive critique (or rejection letter), and to keep his temper-driven ego securely caged.

No, not everyone is going to enjoy what you write or how you write, or be as smitten as you are about your work. Some might even deliver hard news in blunt ways. But in taking the time to step away from the project, the aspiring writer might come to see some validity in, rather than take offense to, words of a more seasoned writer.

And ultimately, this loops back to the first truth—with his ever-growing knowledge of the writing craft, a new writer can spot those who know the business from those who are still learning; he develops a sense of who and what to listen to, and when. With each critique received, the new writer matures until one day he suddenly realizes . . .

His project is just a project, and nothing more. Beloved, sure, but a distinct entity, not a crucial part of himself.

Now what do you think will happen once a story is submitted . . . and rejected?

Back to the old “revisions board.”

So take that first step—and let go. Then tune your mind into what the dual-edged blade of criticism really is: a chance to improve your creation and an opportunity to toughen your tender feet for the rough path of career author.

No, writing is not for the fragile ego. Avoiding (or ignoring) advice from those who have “been there, done that” is neither smart nor possible, and the faster a new writer reins in his ego, the sooner he will follow those who've survived the “war wounds” of criticism.

Truth #3: You will get rejected . . . again and again and again.

Project finished. Query letter sent. Months pass. A self-addressed, stamped envelope finally arrives.

Your heart pounds as you rip open the flap to reveal a typed letter—formal, concise, unsigned . . . and not even addressed to you.

Dear Author,

We apologize for this form response, but we don't feel your project will be a good fit for our company. . . .

You sag. Excitement dissolves into bitter disappointment. How could they not see the potential in your work, or in you, as an author? You offered them a chance to snatch up the next best seller, no? Isn't that what your friends, family, and beta readers told you?

Rejection. It happens, sometimes all too often, if you ask aspiring writers. Yet, like multiple drafts and constructive critiques, rejections are an integral part of the writing and publishing process for a budding author.

“Right.” Sulk, scoff, huff. “They hate my work, don't they?”

No. Well, maybe. It depends.

For an agent or publisher, a lot goes into considering a new client. They search for potential money-makers, sure, but they're likely concerned with an author's skill and professionalism, and the future impact on their own reputations, as well. They “kiss a lot of frogs” out there and need to be selective.

“So, what—you're calling me a frog now?”

No. Well, maybe. It depends.

Point is, for a writer, a lot goes into selling a project. Completing the manuscript is only the beginning. A writer must then construct a bang-up query letter and a detailed synopsis, both of which are more difficult than the story itself, and research possible agents or publishers of his chosen genre. Each query must be individually tailored (no “Dear Sir/Madame” or “Dear Agent”), and guidelines must be adhered to; unsolicited material might be discarded, the query unread.

“So many damned hoops to jump through!”

Yep. And not only is a writer going against selectivity, but also subjectivity; what one agent or publisher absolutely hates, another may love to its core. It's a matter of targeting the right people with a highly polished piece of work, and even then there are no guarantees.

“Why bother, then, if it's just going to lead to a rejection anyway?”

Because an aspiring writer on a serious career writing path will refuse to give in. He will settle for nothing less than his best output and the highest degree of writing professionalism. He will write and revise, study and practice, research and submit time and time and time again, ad infinitum. Or until he dies. Whichever comes first.

And this is what separates the wanna-be's from the truly committed—a determination that will drive him through the toughest times to achieve the goal of becoming a published author, knowing only one agent or publisher needs to say “yes” for the long-pursued dream to become a reality.

Thus, we come back to the first two truths—secure knowledge and application of the writing craft, as well as a subdued ego and a thick skin, will help an aspiring writer weather the hailstorm of impersonal rejections from agents and publishers.

Yes, you will get rejected . . . again and again and again, but take these as they come, and remember that even the most popular names once clamored for attention in the crowded frog pits of literary agencies and publishing companies. Difference being, these frogs never gave up, and neither should you.

Truth #4: Chances are, you will not be the next . . .

. . . Rowling, Koontz, Brown, King, Grisham, Clancy, [insert name of successful writer here]—big-time authors who have no doubt lined their agents' and publishers' pockets with the golden fruits of their successes. Unfortunately, aspiring writers see this and think, “Hey, they made tons of money from their writing, so can I!”—a belief that's likely to disappoint a decent writer.

Yes, it's normal to want a monetary reward for a creative output; however, a completely money-driven mindset—the “Oh, writing is an easy way to get rich quick” conviction—is not only unhealthy, but entirely erroneous.

For the above mentioned authors, hard work and talent (though some may argue the latter) set them on a career writing path. Mass appeal skyrocketed them. Big chance for an agent or publisher to take? Sure, since no one truly knows what triggers an author's massive readership. When it happens, it happens, and if it happens to you, then—congratulations! But don't ride solely on the idea that career writing will launch an author into the lap of luxury. A writer does well if he can make a modest income to support himself, and even that's difficult to accomplish.

So no, you probably won't be the next big name pulling in a hefty royalty; what you will be is yourself. And if you sharpen your writing skills, toughen your ego, and soldier on through rejection after rejection, chances are you will accomplish the right measure of success tailor-made just for you—a personalized reward richly deserved.


Word of the week: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis - noun - (hear it!) - An invented long word said to mean a lung disease caused by inhaling very fine ash and sand dust. (And for those of you who know me . . . yeah, you were probably wondering when I'd reference this word. Lol!)

Word has it that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Well, heck, I'm hoping to throw my offspring "apples" as far from me as I possibly can . . . to show off their talent!

May I present to you one Miss Emily Phish (eight years old) who's read a lot of Shel Silverstein and Redwall books, and one Master Link Maxwell (fourteen years old), who's read a lot -- period! My two writing progeny, who both have a wonderful way with words.

*  *  * 

(a Shel Silverstein-esque poem by Emily Phish)

I needed more pants,
so I went to France.
They said they could sell me pants.
They were wrong;
they sold me France!

by Emily Phish

Autumn broke upon us;
the leaves turned gold.
Never heard, but then it settled here,
It wanders on,
through the darkness,
through brightness,
through mist and morn.
Come back to me, come back to me,
and say my land is fair!

by Emily Phish

Winter turned his frosty head,
to look her in the eyes.
“My Autumn,” he said,
“you will be going by and by.
I can’t visit you;
I will ruin everything.
Step away from me, step away from me,
my land is not fair!”

A Nonsensical Pattern: A Tritina
by Link Maxwell

This poem does not make sense.
Make sense, this poem does not.
There is no sense that this poem does make.

A poem I decided to make.
But what fun is making sense?
So make sense this poem will not.

But random this poem is not.
A pattern it does make.
However, it still makes no sense.

This pattern did not make sense.  

Ode to Cheese
by Link Maxwell

Oh cheese, my favorite snack of all,
you never fail to make me smile. . . .

Swiss or cheddar, blue or cream,
I enjoy you all the while.
With mellow or with tangy taste,
creamy, crumbling, or paste,
you shall never go to waste.

False cheese food does not compare,
to a food that is so fair.
For imitations I do not care,
as tasty ones are very rare.
Fake cheeses do not have much flair,
and true cheeses top them there.

Cheese, my favorite snack of all,
from this position you shall not fall.
Mellow or sharp, short or tall,
of many types, I enjoy them all.  


Word of the Week: plenitude \ˈple-nə-ˌtüd, -ˌtyüd\ - noun – (hear it!) - 1: the quality or state of being full; 2: a great sufficiency

Four Things to [Please!] Never to Say to a Writer (or My One-Liner Writerly Pet Peeves)

Most people I come across in real life don’t know I write.

Well no, I take that back. Kind of.

Most of my friends and family understand I’m a writer, sure. But others? You know, those acquaintances I say all of six whole sentences to throughout any given day? . . . they’re mostly in the dark.

You see, I don’t normally go around blabbing that I’m a writer; the subject never really comes up comfortably. It’s more or less like trying to introduce them to Sasquatch or inviting them to a three-headed alien party on another planet.

Kinda awkward.

When the subject does crop up, though, I mostly nod and smile and answer their questions in the tongue-tied manner of one who can string together oodles of beautifully written prose, yet can’t construct a spoken sentence to save her life.

Of course. *shrug*

Some are interested, others are not. And even more are kind of suspicious afterwards.

I have, however, heard some irritating things in the course of writerly conversations with those non-writerly laypersons, all of which I’d like to share. And so here they are, in order from slightly chafing, to downright irksome: Four things to [please!] never say to a writer (a.k.a. my one-liner writerly pet peeves).

Irritation # 4: “I don’t read.” (← Mind you, key word here: “don’t,” not “can’t.”)

Well, shit . . . ain’t that just the bee’s knees? . . . Pfft—hell no. It sucks to hear that, especially to a writer.

We’re born to entertain, to bring good stories to a plethora of readers the world over—through the written word! How many tales have these people foregone because they’ve chosen not to read anything? How many times have they missed out on expanding their vocabularies, broadening their horizons, fleshing out their own imaginations? Tons, I can tell you that. Movies just don’t hack it. Spoon-feeding, that’s what that is. Read something, for goodness sake! And let the writer’s story whisk you away to different world. . . .

Irritation # 3: “Writing a book is easy!”

Hahahahahahahahahaha! Oh . . . I’m going to bust a gut laughing at that one.

Wrong. So completely wrong.

Writing a book is NOT easy. Not with:

  • the planning, the creating, the revising, the research, and the (sometimes harsh) feedback;
  • proper sentence construction, setting the mood, emotionally tugging at readers’ sympathies;
  • hook at the outset, proper conclusion at the end;
  • development of characters so they aren’t stupid wooden cut outs, development of a story world so it’s scientifically sound;
  • omniscient, third person limited, first person, or a combination, AND deciding which would best tell the story;
  • description and narrative, dialogue and [interwoven] backstory, pace and scene, AND balancing all of this through “show and tell” so the reader isn’t thrown out of the story;
  • suspension of disbelief, breaking the fourth wall, intrusive narrator, maintaining the proper POV(s) (a.k.a. character point of view)

. . . and the list goes on.

Yeah. Writing a book is easy. Not.

Irritation # 2: “Well, that certainly says a lot about you, doesn’t it?” (← in reference to the content of a writer’s novel.)

Um, well . . . no.

I write about demons who eat people to get high. What does that say about me?

That I have a wild imagination.


No, I don’t demon worship. No, I don’t get high. No, I’m not sadistic or sick or whatever else my novel’s content “might” say about me. Novels and their writers are mainly two different things. Sure, we interject bits of ourselves into characters, bits of our ideals into our works, bits of what we’ve been influenced by into our plot lines. Does it completely reflect our overall state of mind? No. We’re just more creative than other people, and we like to show it.

Irritation # 1: “I want to buy a Kindle . . . so I can play games on it.”

Ouch. That’s just so wrong on so many levels.

Playing games is fine; sometimes one needs to play a game as an escape.

But Kindles originally stored BOOKS to be read later. Books. Reading material. Short stories. Whatever. Something to read with, not play games on. People have iPads, Xboxes, Wii’s, and computers, and a plenitude of other things to play games on, so please, please, PLEASE, I beg of everyone everywhere: Reserve a Kindle for reading, treat it like a portable library, or just don’t bother buying one.

Everyone should read more. We’d all benefit from it.


(So Many) Indie Author Shout Outs! 

Before I begin my regular post, I’d like to do a quick shout out about some recently published indie author works! Great reads, all of them, and such a diverse bunch, too: adult paranormal romance, YA dystopian, post-apocalyptic, new adult, and even humor.

Come peruse! 

Soul Reflection by Lorraine Sears
The Treemakers by Christina Rozelle 
Wolfen by Alianne Donnelly 
Leon’s Way by Sunniva Dee 
Sex, Lies, and Chocolate Cakes: The Secret Eater’s Diary
by Steven Morris

. . . go check them out—STAT! (Seriously, these are some great reads.)

And this last novel hasn’t been released yet, BUT! Her cover, created by one Mr. John Gibson (aka The Book-Design Guy), is truly fantastic. This indie author's cover is being revealed all over the place and so, of course, I couldn't resist spreading the word!

Blurb? Why, sure! Take a read: 

Oceans apart, a young musician and a “special” soldier embark on a perilous journey for home fueled by the unyielding pursuit of freedom from the Authority. Sixteen-year-old prodigy, Liza Randusky, waits imprisoned, blamed for the undead plague that’s slowly destroying the planet. Banished to an island where she’ll never play her beloved piano again, Liza’s steadfast sense of justice and passion for music may have the power to change her destiny. But will it be enough... To strike back at the new world order, the troubled son of a preacher, Thomas Ripley-Hatter, suffers unspeakable alterations by the Underground to join a secret Army. Tommy knows that all hope lies in human-weapons like himself, and that somehow he must cling to his sanity…while letting loose the monster to win.The battle begins for the last-standing sliver of humanity: Anthem. 

* * * 
Word of the Week: stupefaction - noun - /ˌst(y)o͞opəˈfakSH(ə)n/ - (hear it!) - the act of stupefying; the state of being stupefied. 

Sometimes, life comes at you with a side-swipe to the head. You know, those little unexpected moments that make you go, “Eh? What the *&^%$ was that all about?!” and blink a bazillion times in utter stupefaction.


So, anyway—many of you are familiar with the stuff usually I write, right? Right. Dark fantasy with a slightly gruesome twist. Semi-melancholic themes. Serious and hopefully gut-wrenching, thought-provoking (if not emotion-prodding) tales set in some far-off world like and yet unlike ours, complete with human-devouring creatures and forces beyond any mortal’s control. Nothing funny. Nothing laughter-spawning (unless you find demons particularly amusing). Nothing to make you split your ever-loving sides in cascading gales of hearty guffaws or in high-pitched “Hahahahahaha’s” or “Wheeheeheeheeheeheehee’s” or to make you cry out, “What the *&^%$ was that all about?!”



I mean, right.

Now. Enter . . . Link Maxwell. [cue dramatic music here]

Who the heck is Link Maxwell, you ask?

I’ll tell you.

Wait. No, actually . . . I won’t.

What I will tell you is that he’s my creative and inspiring co-author for my upcoming novel, "It Happened on Tarantula Island."

Who knew a little bologna loaf lying in a hospital bassinet would soon become a mondo-mega-creative-element-spewing machine? I sure as heck didn’t.

And before I had a firm grasp on reality, I’d discovered this little bologna loaf from the hospital had sprouted arms and legs, and had begun to walk, and talk, and think, and do some pretty amazing, albeit odd, things (you know, for a bologna loaf) like eat, and laugh, and run, and scream. Scream! Scream, I tell you! And that’s when I realized . . . HOLY CRAP!—I’d fallen headlong into some bizarre alternative universe where the food comes alive and chases the terrified people, en masse, down the street, wailing, “Love me! Looove meee! Looooooove meeeeeeeee! . . .”

Then, I blinked about a bazillion times in utter stupefaction and noticed that what I’d really brought home from the hospital was my firstborn* (complete with arms and legs, of course), who eventually grew up *just* enough in time to feed me some yummy story elements that I’d managed to mangle into a 50K-word prose-type thing shaped vaguely like a novel.

Or something like that. 

SO! Long story short (too late, I know!): Devon Winterson and Link Maxwell proudly present to you, coming soon:


One loopy scientist, two enormous tarantulas, five bungling pirates, a suspicious chicken, and a ten year old boy with a fondness for whales come together on a small island within the vast folds of the ocean to discover utter silliness in a colorful adventure. Twisty mind-candy for both kids and good-humored adults still young at heart. 

Come read the first chapter at Goodreads and mark it “to read.”

"It Happened on Tarantula Island": available at Amazon (for 99 cents) and at Createspace (for $5.99) on January 29th, 2015. 

*And if you’re a shrewd blog post reader, you would have immediately realized the bologna loaf is actually Link Maxwell. ;)