Saturday, October 27, 2012

Smoke and Mirrors Podcast

Writers – Podcast Your Spooky Stories!
Go to

How cool, I'm podcasted for posterity! Smoke and Mirrors just ran a reading of my monster story 'Glory Days' in their October 26, 2012 edition. 

Dennis Miller, is “impresario” producer, host and instigator of a great on-line opportunity for writers.  Smoke and Mirrors is his website which podcasts (up to) 1-hour-long shows of short story readings.  Friday nights at 9:00 PM.   Ya know, just like radio but you log on with your computer and tune in any time you want.  

Dennis is always looking for new writers, readers, musicians and fresh material.  No particular resume or previous accomplishments are required.  He has a personal assistant to help him screen stories for “appropriateness to his niche,” but he is the final word, governing if a story progresses from ‘submission’ to ‘show.’  If he likes the piece – it’s in.  He is generally seeking work of 1000 – 9000 words, with a 55-minute maximum of oral reading time.  He will also do compilations of shorter flash fiction, or excerpts if they can stand alone as a story. 

He leans toward dark, spooky, edgy material but the show has a sense of humor too.  His stated preference is sci-fi and/or stories of the macabre.  Think: The Twilight Zone 
 Alfred Hitchcock.  Specific submission guidelines are spelled out on the website.  

Dennis has been telling stories since he was seven years old.  “Lying is such a judgmental word…” he tells me with a grin.  In his youth he was inspired by those old Twilight Zone episodes.  When they went away, he thought ‘I guess I’ll just have to do this myself.’

This is a high-energy guy, clearly passionate about his work.  He began the Smoke and Mirrors site in January of 2011.

Over 90% of the readings come from new and unpublished authors.  There is a precise disclaimer on the website for submissions, but essentially, authors maintain the rights to their own material.  While other publisher/producers may have pesky objections to ‘simultaneous submissions,’ Dennis does not.

The Smoke and Mirrors studio is small and simple-– a backyard shed with a desk and hybrid mixer that takes analog sound and converts it into digital signal for e-broadcasting.  

Dennis prefers that readers have their own equipment.  Not as intimidating as it seems-- Required only are:  a computer, a microphone, and software that digitalizes sound.  Amadeus-for mac, Sound Forge, and Cubase are three programs that he mentioned.  Dennis is the one that needs the added mixer.  His readers send him a raw e-file of their voice reading the story, and he polishes it off for podcasting.

So far, there are no submission fees collected or salaries/payment offered.  Currently money comes in via the website from much-appreciated donations.  Dennis is also seeking sponsors for the venture.  The payoff for both readers and writers is exposure and expanded resume/platforms - the bigger Smoke and Mirrors gets, the better the resume/bio entry!  Dennis happily supports his crew onward and upward. 

Write to Dennis at:    attn: Editor

Thursday, October 25, 2012

On-Line Literary Journal Publication

On-Line Literary Journal Publication
The Feathered Flounder

My short story titled, Glory Days, a bit of monster whimsy, was just recently published in the Fall Edition - 2012 of the online literary journal, The Feathered Flounder.  A wonderful site that publishes works by folks ‘of some age’    
Very fun for me to see this story in print!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tolosa Press and SLO NightWriters

SLO NightWriters has a terrific collaborative relationship with San Luis Obispo’s Tolosa Press.  Tolosa publishes 3 newspapers, hardcopy and electronic - SLO City News, Coast News, and Bay News.  

Tolosa generously supports local writers by selecting from screened NightWriter submissions to share the talent with the SLO Community.  

Short, 700-word excerpts from my novels in progress have appeared in all three Tolosa publications.

This week, September 27-October 3, 2012,  SLO City News published an excerpt from my novel, In Your Dreams.  You can read that selection by visiting Tolosa this week at

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Central Coast Writers Conference - 2012

Another fantastic Writer’s Conference this year at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo.  (  I’m a huge fan!

Conference Volunteers
The amazing Anna Unkovich, is our intrepid leader.
Photo by Dennis Eamon Young (

This is my 5th year volunteering for support/logistics.  I love this conference.  I always come away hopeful, educated and inspired.

Hats off to Judy Salamacha the Conference Director and all the Cuesta College support staff.  Judy is here with Book Reviewer Blogger Danielle Smith (

As always, a wide variety of writing topics were covered— Genres, Crafting Suspense, Memoir, Poetry, Critiquing, Character, Kid Lit, Travel Writing, Editing, Fantasy, Screen Adaptation, and much more.  And, some especially great information about being a writer in this avalanche of electronic and self publishing options.

Jack Grapes ( gave the keynote opening words— a soulful, funny, and moving session.    

The conference has a Teen Program that warms my heart!  Look at all these young writers at the table on the right!  Victoria Heckman ( nurtures these budding scriveners through the conference. 

Lillian Dean Contest
Page-1, Poetry, & Query Letter 

Again our local SLO NightWriter members have a solid presence among the Lillian Dean winners, 6! took 7 out of 13 awards this year if I’m counting correctly.  

Anna Unkovich, Paul Fahey, Susan Tuttle, Judy Guarnera, Adrienne Harris, and Becca Wadell (Becca won twice!!)

Here’s a picture of Susan Tuttle winning the ‘The Perfect Query Letter’ award.  

We should all be so lucky to craft such a query! 

I can’t help thinking these successes mean that fine writers gravitate toward SLO NightWriters and/or NW services might have some positive effects on skill and talent.  

NightWriters has multiple critique group options, informative speakers at our monthly meetings, and a fantastic supportive writing community here in San Luis Obispo.  

Check us out!   
We have a new e-Line Edit Exchange program 
that is PERFECT for out of town members!

Conference volunteering is fun and comes with a special invitation to the faculty & staff party afterward, held again this year at the beautiful Morro Bay Coalesce Book Store and Garden Chapel.  

Incredible food and wine!  A relaxing breather and a chance to schmooze and chat after two intense days of conference.

Sometimes agents can present as inaccessible and a bit intimidating.  NOT so with Laurie McLean ( literary agent with Larson Pomada and one of my favorite speakers— dynamic, enthusiastic, savvy and innovative in the e-self-publishing age, personable and VERY approachable.   

Catherine Ryan, Pay it Forward and many more novels, ( and Anne R. Allen, novelist and e-publishing blogger extraordinaire ( provide a lovely backdrop for this incredible Paella.  

Those two wrote the book, 'How to be a Writer in the E-Age' and held a great session on that topic.    

3 blogger/book reviewers gave important advice on how to, and how NOT to, approach a book reviewer.  Amy Riley (, Danielle Smith ( and not pictured here Pam van Hylckama Vlieg (  On the left in this photo is Carrissa Kluver, another blogger/book reviewer (

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Literary Critique 2012 - SLO NightWriters

SLO Night Writers - August 14, 2012
 Photographs courtesy of Dennis Eamon Young

SLO NightWriters held it’s 2nd Annual Night of Critique at the August general meeting in San Luis Obispo, CA.   As Critique Group Coordinator it's my extreme pleasure organize and host this event.  

NW members bring 250-500 words to read at the microphone and receive feedback from a panel of critiquers.

I'm very grateful to our wonderful and distinguished panel for 2012, all experienced critiquers, most of them award winning writers, and all them published.

Left to Right:
  • Evy Cole ~ ~ Poet, novelist, Teaches ‘Writing by Hand’ to unlock the subconscious
  • Laurie Woodward ~ & ~ YA Novelist, Teacher, Anti-bullying campaigner
  • Susan ~ Creator of ‘Write It Right’ writing program, Teacher of ‘What If” writing classes, Paranormal Suspense & Spiritual genres
  • Barbara Wolcott ~ ~ Pulitzer nominee for Scientific Non-Fiction
  • Sharyl Heber ~ ~ Critique Group Coordinator for SLO NightWriters, aspiring YA Fantasy novelist, screenwriter and poet
And a special thank you to Anna Unkovich for her wonderful e-critique process contributions ~

Judith Allen reading for critique at the mic. 

It’s an informative critique process conducted in a casual, friendly and supportive environment.  Panel members comment a wide range of topics including points of confusion, character development, plotting, dialogue and much more. 

The SLO NightWriter 
audience participates too.  
Here's Dean Bernal giving feedback to a reader.  

 This year, in addition to providing oral critiques, 
the panel offered electronic line-edits 
to kick off a new program for SLO NightWriter members.  
E-Line Edit Exchange

Very exciting to have pool of folks accessible to read and comment on our work, line-by-line!  It’s my preferred method of critique.  

An oral read races too quickly to catch all glitches and too many problems can slip by unnoticed when ‘listening’ vs. ‘reading.’   

Spelling and punctuation are the obvious culprits but more insidious— a reader can mask any number of concerns with a great dramatic reading performance: dialogue, word choice, command of language, character development, tension and so much more.  

A slow, thoughtful, line-by-line review where problems can be pondered and solutions crafted is extremely helpful.  The reviewer can re-read the work as often as needed and provide a much more in-depth critique. 

We don't need to be experts to add value!

Join SLO Nightwriters to participate.  
or contact NW at

You can still join if you live out of town.
E-Line Edit Exchange is a perfect way
 for long-distance members 
to participate and receive direct benefit!

I’m delighted to hold the position of Critique Group Coordinator on the SLO NightWriters Board of Directors.  That means I assist NW members in locating or starting a critique group and mange the E-Line Edit Exchange List.  Guidelines, A Useful Critique, for creating a productive and satisfying critique experience can be found on my blog site,

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dialogue Tags
He Said – She Said

Mostly, in dialogue, I like the words ‘he said’ or ‘she said.’  I like to use them and I like to read them.  ‘Said’ seems to safely repeat on the page-- it’s stealthy and slips by relatively unnoticed. 

But, on those occasions when the tone or meaning cannot be discerned from the dialogue content, and a clarifier is needed or interesting, it’s nice to have some ‘said replacements’ handy— they can reveal character and break up a cluster of said’s on the page.

I keep a running A-Z list of ‘Said Replacements' for dialogue.

To date, it’s 25+ pages and makes for a ridiculously long blog post so I’ve put it onto its own page (check right blog margin for ‘Said Replacements’ page.)  While long for a blogsite, it’s a relatively short list, given that much of the dictionary is essentially available.  There are some quirky options on my list, but they sing to me so I’m including them.  

My favorite dialogue speaks for itself and doesn’t need much extra qualifying.  And, unlike ‘said,’ these other replacement words do NOT disappear on the page.  They can be superfluous and overuse of them, as a device, becomes annoying fast.

Though I include the actual ‘Said Replacements’ sparingly, I find I peruse this list periodically.  Even when I don’t actually use a replacement word, scanning the list reminds me to mine for a fuller range of behavioral, emotional, and conversational options in the delivery of a line and the crafting of a scene.

The list is formatted like this:


back pedaled

Sometimes they replace the word said—
         “You’ll always have employment here,” she apologized.

Other times they appear in the sentence to follow—
         “How very smart of you.”  Her jibe took him by surprise.

Dialogue tags do help keep speakers identifiable.  I really hate struggling through an exchange of dialogue where I can’t tell by the content who is speaking, and I have to go back and count quote marks to guess.

I think if speakers are truly unique and distinguishable, the he said/she said can be minimized, as each can be identified by their exclusive individual voices.  I aspire to that as a writer.

Sometimes, even better than ‘said,’ I like an action in alignment with the dialogue—
“Never again.”  He removed his ring. 

Or perhaps, more interesting, an action contrary to the dialogue—
         “Marriage, such bliss.”  She stabbed her knitting needle into his neck.

Kristen Lamb recommends a great reference on her blog - helpful for using action/behavior in place of ‘said.’  It’s called The Emotion Thesaurus, a Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.  It lists 75 emotions, then provides a nice list of corresponding postures, gestures, behaviors etc. for each one.

Please share any other ‘Said Replacements’ that come to mind.
I’m always updating my list and I have fun collecting them.