Lifebook 6 | Francis Coppola and I

Strolling down Memory Lane, somehow I forgot the significance of this detail, that my name is, after all these years, still associated with one Francis Ford Coppola. I was a two-time Guest Editor for one of his literary publications, in which I dutifully selected one of my favorite short stories ever, “The Junkie Muse” by Isabelle Carruthers (a pseudonym) for publication in Zoetrope: All-Story Extra’s 23rd issue in May 2000. All these years later I’m still in love with the story and reflect on its publication with pride. And my association with Mr. Coppola on the now defunct publication’s masthead is something of minor bragging rights, I suppose.


History lesson: Zoetrope: All-Story Extra (ASE) was an on-line supplement to Mr. Coppola’s fiction magazine, Zoetrope: All-Story (ZAS). Each month, All-Story Extra featured two new stories submitted by writers via Zoetrope’s on-line submissions site. The stories were chosen and edited by guest editors—also members of Zoetrope’s on-line submissions site—with assistance from the New York editorial staff of ZAS. ASE was created by Mr. Coppola and five members of Zoetrope’s online submissions site, who comprised the Peer Advisory Board (PAB). The PAB selected the Guest Editors and nominated the stories that the Guest Editors considered for ASE. Guest Editors could also consider stories featured in “The Top Three” stories and/or any others that they think worthy of publication. PAB reps Mare Freed and Jim Nichols were also the original Editorial Coordinators of ASE, which were essentially liaisons between the mother mag and the junior mag. My assigned EC during my time, Barbara Garrett, was a good friend and a joy to work with during my stint.

Fun Fact: I was the only guest editor to A.) Serve on two consecutive issues of Zoetrope: All-Story Extra [issues 22 (May 2000) and 23 (June 2000)]; B.) Work without another guest editor (issue #22).  So in all, I selected three stories, which also included “Sonora Coyote” by Steve Frederick and “Weekend at Nguyen’s” by Mark Epting.







Six Ways To Self-Edit & Polish Your Prose

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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Whether you are new to writing or an old pro, brushing up on the basics is always helpful. Because no matter how GOOD the story is? If the reader is busy stumbling over this stuff, it ruins the fictive dream and she will never GET to the story. So today we are going to cover six ways to self-edit your fiction. Though this stuff might seem like a no-brainer, I see these blunders ALL the time.

….unfortunately even in (legacy) published books.

When I worked as an editor, I found it frustrating when I couldn’t even GET to the story because I was too distracted by these all too common oopses.

There are many editors who charge by the hour. If they’re spending their time fixing oopses you could’ve easily repaired yourself? You’re burning cash and time. Yet, correct these problems, and editors can more easily get to the MEAT…

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Quote: Almost ALWAYS Use “Said” as a Tag

Quoted from: Six Ways To Self-Edit & Polish Your Prose – by Kristen Lamb

#6 Almost ALWAYS Use “Said” as a Tag

“You are such a jerk,” she laughed.

A character can’t “laugh” something. They can’t “snip” “spit” “snarl” “grouse” words. They can SAY and ever so often they can ASK. Said becomes white noise. Readers don’t “see” it. It keeps them in the story and cooking along. If we want to add things like laughing, griping, complaining, then fine. It just shouldn’t be the tag.

“You are such a jerk.” She laughed as she flicked brownie batter onto Fabio’s white shirt.

There you go, SIX easy tips for self-editing. We all make these mistakes and that’s why God invented revision (that and to punish the unfaithful). If you can get rid of these common offenders on your own, then good editors can focus on the deeper aspects of your fiction.

Guest Blog – Fifty Shades of Error: Chuck Palahniuk’s BEAUTIFUL YOU

Selected Squibs, Scrips, and Essays by Joseph Suglia


Fifty Shades of Error: chuckpalahniuk’s BEAUTIFUL YOU
by Dr. Joseph Suglia

1.) “Even as Penny was attacked, the judge merely stared” [1].  Never begin a novel with a sentence written in the passive voice.  This sentence, in particular, sounds as if it were transliterated from Estonian or spoken by Grimace.  It contains a clumsy adverb (“merely”).  It is fatiguing to read.

2.) “The court reporter continued to dutifully keyboard, transcribing Penny’s words” [1].  Careful novelists avoid verbs such as “to continue,” “to start,” “to try,” “to remain,” and “to begin.”  Such verbs weaken sentences.

3.) “It would’ve been different if there had been other women in the courtroom, but there were none” [1].  “None” is a singular indefinite pronoun; therefore, the second independent clause…

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Update: Selection & Rejection

In addition to finalizing the Local Heroes manuscript in prepartion of it going to press soon for an August release, I am also in the selecton and rejecton process for the next issue of Liquid Imagination Online (issue #10 goes live August 31st). I have to select six pieces of flash fiction for that particular feature of the webzine. With that small number of stories to feature, I have to reject far more stories than I accept (duh).

This is the most regretable part of the entire editing and publishing process. Rejection. Any editor who is also a writer knows all about the sting of rejection from being on the other side of the process.

It’s a necessary yet dreadful part of the process. Even if I had an assistant who did all the dirty work of rejection for me, I’d still be affected by it.

So far I’ve selected 4 of the 6 and I am happy to report that they contain elements of either the surreal, the fantastic, the bizarre or the anthropomorphic.

I sense a certain kind of mood for this next issue, which will be my third as the flash fiction editor of our quarterly periodical.

If you are a writer and would like to submit short stories, flash fiction, poetry or artwork to us, you can do so via Submishmash. Our guidelines can be found here.

About us – Liquid Imagination Mission Statement:
Our mission is to publish a wide variety of art, creating visually stimulating publications of the highest quality that combine many artistic avenues, including graphic and digital art as well as traditional illustrations and paintings; speculative and literary fiction, flash fiction and poetry; music and audio works; digital poetry and digital flash fiction; and other artistic forms. The publication of these convergent arts will also support our mission of advancing the education about and research of autism. Our books, DVD, online magazines and other media combine two or more art forms to create new hybridized art, augmenting traditional art with new technologies. Serving the art community and the autism community, and promoting quality artists are keystones for our company.

Quick Combo Update: What’s Happening

Item 1 – Silver Pen Midwest Summitt

Gotta boogie today as I have a bunch of things to do before I traverse the interstate to northern-central Illinois for the first ever Silver Pen Writers’ Associaion Midwest Summitt. Essentially we’re just getting started and we’ve got ton of things to get to on our agenda list, so plenty of talking and planning…and camping? Yeah. Been seven years since I last camped. At least there’s very little risk of a cold morning this time.

Item 2 – Like Frozen Statues of Flesh

The lastest anthology to feature my fiction (two pieces, actually), Like Frozen Statues of Flesh, a bizarro anthology published by Static Movement, is now available at the Pill Hill Press Shoppe. It was compiled and edited by jumpin’ Joe Jablonski. He was kind enough to accept both my stories “All In a Days Work” and “The Underneath” (funds have been deposited into your Swiss bank account, Joe, as agreed). The book should be available at Amazon soon as well.

Item 3 – Local Heroes is in Editing (still)
The anthology I’ve compiled to be published by Static Movement next month is currently being edited, proofed, re-edited and formatting by me. I estimate this process will take me to the end of the month. After which of sending it off to be published, I will then move on to selecting and editing flash fiction for the next issue of Liquid Imagination.

Item 4 – Announcement: Tooth and Claw
I only mentioned it in passing in a previous update, but never officially announced it. I will be providing originally composed, performed, and recorded theme music (produced by yours truly), as well as a kind of spoken word introduction (think Vincent Price) for the enhanced e-book Tooh and Claw: A Werewolf Anthology, to be published by my crew at Liquid Imagination. Enchanced means that it will contain audio (aformentioned music, spoken word, plus story narration), as well as thematic artwork for each story. I’ve seen the early cover designs and although I can’t reveal that yet, I really like what I’m seeing. This will likely be available for a variety of e-readers. Those details are being analyzed and reviewed now. We are aiming for a Fall (October) release for this in time for Halloween, but we’ll see how things go.
Item 5 – A Journalistic Future?
It seems that going after something on a whim can sometimes pay off. It appears that I may be entering the realm of pop culture journalism (well, topical editorials, columns, reviews and the like) soon for a rather up and coming website. There is a primary pop/geek cultural focus to this website, but believe me I will fit in just fine. More on this pretty soon, I would imagine.
I think that’s all the info I can squeeze in at the moment. I need to get a move on and hit the road soon. Will probably have spotty web access this weekend as we wild it in the wildeness of Illinois.

(no time to spot check this, so apologies for any times that exist. I’ll fix them later)

One Editor’s Opinion #2: Edit As You Write

Something else that comes to mind as I’m editing ( I mean truly editing) a portion of the the last story I accepted for my Local Heroes anthology, is that some writers do not write with the reader in mind at all. They just write the story however it comes out of them with little regard for how that might read to the outside reader. That’s what I consider casual writing, writing that the writer has done merely for himself. It’s not what I call “performance writing” where a writer is writing with a would-be audience in mind. Again, that points to what I’ve said earlier about being a deliberate storyteller. If you’re writing merely to amuse yourself, then why submit to an editor in an attempt to get published?

The story I’m editing at the moment is marred by the writer’s disregard for the reader. Many sentences meander and put-off the reader with a plethora of extraneous words and details that get in the way of what the reader is truly after. When there’s bloat like that it just dulls the story and undermines its overall impact. I’ve accepted the submission because the story is good and as an editor I know I can edit it down a bit to get directly at its core essence and increase the intensity, clarity and overall effect.

What am I getting at here? It’s easy to simply say “Well, the writer should have spent a great deal of time editing his own story prior to submitting it to an editor”. Fair enough. But my point in all of this is: why not take the care…why not take that exacting, precise approach to the story during the actual writing? Why wait until the end when you have to go through 4000 words in totality, when you can simply take care of things on the front end of the process (during initial draft) and make it easier on yourself as the writer and by extension and ultimately for the reader?

Just the musings of a curious and very opinionated editor.