What’s been going on

I’ve been working on the serial I’m putting on to Jukepop. I have a lot of it planned out, and I’m getting some artwork done for it. Should be ready soon.

I’m also looking to other Jukepop authors to see who has been the most successful. The idea is to get some interviews here with folks who’ve done what I’m doing.

Successful serial authors and self-published authors in general are my next targets for interviews after that – yeah, I really do have to get the interviews going here.

Reviews too. I like doing those. Let me know if you’ve got a story online you want me to look at. I can’t just pick them at random or browse aimlessly for them …


Weird post today, I know. I feel weird. Been waiting for the artwork, trying to plan out the serial science-fiction I’m writing. Can’t wait any longer – got to get this started.

Yeah. That’s what’s going on. Also, work & kids. Gotta pay the bills, gotta make sure the kids actually learn something.


Okay, I’ll try some meditation, self-reflection, and see if I can’t get that finished artwork – gotta have a good cover image when I post Chapter 1 of the serial.

This rambling post brought to you by fatigue and burnout. Next one brought by me doing something positive about that …

Friday Review – Chapter 1 & 2 of Quetzalcoatl by Joan Albright (Jukepop)

Back to Jukepop again! I’m conducting research into the serials that are popular, making sure that what I submit will fit in well.

This weeks story is a promising sci-fi serial called Quetzalcoatl.

The Good

From the start, it’s clear that this story is familiar yet different. We’ve got a cruise ship in space, like a lot of old-school sci-fi, yet it’s clearly not dominated by American culture and ideals. As multicultural as Star Trek always was, it could never quite shake its distinctly American roots – and nor could so much of the other sci-fi it inspired. Quetzalcoatl avoids the problem right off by making it crystal clear where this ship and crew is from – the name Quetzalcoatl is a Meso-American deity, and the ship in the story is named Peru.

Another factor I really like is the gradual buildup – the story takes its time to establish a setting, yet it doesn’t take too long to reach the first crisis. On the way to that crisis, the details of the cruise ship and the lives of those on it gradually come out in slow, natural ways. I already appreciate the characters and the setting, and the slow attention to detail had me hooked by the end of the second chapter.

The Could-be-Better

I understand that this story, unlike the last one I reviewed, is not yet published, and is still undergoing editing. I agree with one criticism on the Jukepop page about this paragraph:

It was often difficult for first-time passengers to orient themselves to the outward push of the ship’s artificial gravity, especially on the outermost decks of the flattened sphere, where observation windows made up much of the flooring. More confusing was the way the force became weaker the further one went from the core, as opposed to the centrifuge-based gravity employed by less advanced spacecraft. Eva had been on board so long that she no longer thought of it as strange.

Around this paragraph, the reader is seeing the character Eva and her thoughts, but here, a bit of an external point-of-view seeps into the narrative. A consistent POV that focuses on what Eva sees and thinks would improve it greatly.

My Takeaway

After only 2 short chapters, the story is already intriguing and has interesting characters. The slow buildup and natural pacing really shine, ensuring that readers will want more.

The serial-in-progress Quetzalcoatl can be found at jukepop.com/home/read/8806.

Joan Albright can be found at www.joanalbright.net.

Friday Review – Chapter 1 of Rise by Brian Guthrie


With my Canada trip well and truly over, it’s time to get back to the reviews.

First, a little backstory as to why I’ve settled on today’s choice. I’ve had my eye on Jukepop for a while now, and I am currently working away on a submission for a serial on their site. Jukepop seems like a good place to start with a continuing serial of stories – at the very least, they seem to be a place to gather a decent audience and a community of readers and reviewers.

I start my serious  investigation into Jukepop by picking one of the most popular stories. Many have already commented on this, but I’ll toss in my 2 cents, along with my usual look at what I, as an author, can learn from it.

Rise: Tears, Chapter 1 – Paper

The unedited version, before its publication, can still be seen on Jukepop.com.

The preview on the book’s Amazon page provides the first chapter for free. I am basing this review on the finished Amazon version of the first chapter.

This story caught my eye immediately with the first line from its blurb – “On a shattered world protected from the cold of space by a water shield, the people are dependent on Ancient technology to survive.” What a neat hook! It promises a world different than ours, and yet this story begins with the very mundane and known – paper, of all things.

Continue reading

Friday Review – Gravity’s Edge Gifts by J.C. Towler

Now that I’ve spent a month reviewing stories for eFiction (as a thanks for being published by them), my reviews look at stories that stand out from my weekly readings around the internet. I choose stories based on what they can teach about the craft of writing.

I also like to review stories by people who comment on my posts or review my stories. Hint, hint.

Right, so now I turn back to Every Day Fiction and look to the flash fiction http://www.everydayfiction.com/gravitys-edge-gifts-by-j-c-towler/.



The good:

Right away, the scene is set in great detail. The author uses strong imagery with lines like “gnarled woman with skin like old beachwood” to create a clear mental image of the setting and scenario.

I can feel the desperation of this poor guy going into this shop as a last resort, and then there’s this darkly funny kicker when the shopkeeper offers him a ‘solution’ to all of his problems.

The kicker at the end gives a nice little zing, an exclamation point at the end of an enjoyable, easy read.

The could-be-better:

As good as this story is, there are, of course a few areas for improvement. As the scene is set in the starting, we get the line ‘George Moss barely registers any of it”. Really? All that scene-setting, and it’s totally lost on the character? While such failure to notice can be used to characterize, I think it’s much better to have the setting trigger some reaction in the character. All the dream catchers around remind him of his hippie days? The incense reminds him of a girl he dated? Any reaction that tells more about where the character is coming from is better than failure to react, in my opinion.

My takeaway:

The story is well established in the first three paragraphs – I can see a character, know what his problem is, and understand in detail the setting he’s walking into. This story shows how I can quickly establish a strong foundation for a quick, meaningful story.

J.C. Towler can be found at https://plus.google.com/+JohnTowler/about.

Gravity’s Edge Gifts was published by Every Day Fiction on August 3, 2015.

Strategies to copy edit

TCC Edwards:

I’ve been following the blog Writer Dissection, and I’m finding the advice fairly well-thought out and useful. The author, Alissa Berger, has a lot to say on topics such as characterization and editing, and she provides many useful resources.

Here’s a nice post from her about some of the tricks used in cleaning up your writing work for submission:

Originally posted on writerdissection:

If I were a pathological liar, I would tell you that copy editing is when you clone yourself, manipulate your genetics, then step back and see the effect it has on your double. But, I’m not. And we’re not even up to that point yet (i.e. cloning humans). But, you should still know how to copy edit.

Strategy #1 CUPS!

CUPS is an acronym that goes like this:

C – capitalization

U – usage

P – punctuation

S – spelling

This method encourages a series of passes rather than edits by the reader, and usually works by writing CUPS vertically in the top right hand side of your first page. Once you completed one step, you write your initials as to not forget you checked that. This works good in elementary classrooms, but this will work just as good for you.

As extra resources, I always recommend the Purdue OWL. They have a lot…

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eFiction July 2015 Review #4 – Best Before by Katrina Johnston



This brings us to the final review from July’s issue of eFicition magazine.

This week, I take a look at Best Before by Katrina Johnston

The fourth story in this issue is one by a writer whose works are very easy to find around the internet. Katrina Johnston is from Victoria in my home and native land, and was the winner of the CBC Canada Writes True Winter Tales Challenge.

The good:

As a slice-of-life, inner monologue piece, Best Before quickly sets up a believable, everyday situation. Sardonic humour wipes away any eye-rolling that the phrase slice-of-life might induce – it’s a fun read, and it’s clear that the author is having fun with it.

The protagonist, working in a Subway-like sandwich place ‘tells it like it is’ in the foodservice industry. She details her various customers and the freshness policies of her duties as a “sandwich architect” (a not-very-subtle jab at Subway). I have no trouble believing that the author worked in such an environment at some point – or at least talked with many people who have.

Her infatuation with a Prince Charming (a regular customer named David) is funny and a little sad. She clearly has it bad for the guy, and the narrative paints a crisp picture of unhealthy infatuation. It becomes clear early on that a) this is one lonely girl and b) it’s extremely unlikely that she’s going to get this guy.

The could-use-improvement:

My first thought when I finished this piece was ‘That’s it?’ The ending fell a little flat – once I got there, I realized that the story really was all in this girl’s mind. Her anger, loneliness, and frustration are all clear, but what does she actually do? She never clearly acts on her infatuation, and holds in her reaction when he walks in with his girlfriend.

I didn’t feel the story had a strong enough twist – I wanted to see her say or do something to David or his girlfriend. Shout? Loudly profess her love? ‘Accidentally’ spill sandwich fixings over the girlfriend’s dress?  Anything, really!

My takeaway:

Slice-of-life is a story type that is hard to make interesting. Most attempts are trite, uninspired, or just plain boring. Best Before, however, avoids tedium through humorous, sardonic commentary. I can learn more about how to use humour in my stories, and how to give my narrators voices that can carry readers’ interest to the final word.


Katrina Johnston can be found on Twitter – @Momtrina.

Best Before appears in eFiction Vol. 6, No. 4 (July 2015).

Buy the magazine at Amazon.

Buy the magazine at Barnes & Noble.

I’m in B.C.!


Four generations of boys met near Prince George yesterday!

I have a good reason to skimp on my Wednesday posts – I’m travelling around British Columbia! It’s pretty far from my hometown of Waterloo, Ontario, but it’s where most of the Canadians in my family are now!

I’m in Prince George as I type, and I’ll be passing through Jasper, Banff, Whistler, Vancouver, and Victoria in the remaining two weeks of my vacation.

You can bet I’ll be looking out for writing inspiration as I travel. This beautiful land is ripe with history, scenery, and colourful characters!

Keep your stick on the ice, eh?