Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Record Month for Publishing My Work

I haven't earned much money this month, but August has been a good month for getting my work published.

In an earlier post, I mentioned how a flash fiction story I wrote called "Potemkin" went up on THE RUSTY NAIL website on July 29th. But I'll include it here because I didn't get a hard copy of THE RUSTY NAIL until mid-August.  This story always gets laughs when I read it at bookstore and library events.

The first story of mine to actually go online in August was a mystery called "Murder and the Muse" in DANSE MACABRE.  Writing this story proved to be a challenge, since it's entirely in the second person.  (Using "you" instead of "I" or "he/she," like the Jay McInerney novel Bright Lights, Big City.)  Even more challenging, I never revealed the gender of the narrator!

Next, a comedic flash fiction piece went up at a site called LINGUISTIC EROSION.  It was called "Bustles Went Out of Fashion by 1905."  For some reason the editor/founder of LINGUISTIC EROSION puts his name up beneath each story title, giving the impression that every piece is " by E.S. Wynn."  (I suppose he justifies it by putting the pencil icon before his name - so, if you read it like a child's rebus, it becomes "EDITED by E.S. Wynn."  But I know some friends who went to the site, and assumed that my story was missing because everything seemed to have been written by E.S. Wynn.) 

It was also a good month for non-fiction writing.

Our local medical center, the Chester County Hospital, has had an annual charity event for 73 years.  It's called Chester County Day.  On that day, people who buy a ticket can visit selected homes throughout a designated quadrant of Chester County.  It's an exciting event, since it's the only opportunity most folks have to see the inside of historic houses that are not usually open to visitors.  There are more houses open to visit than anyone is likely to get to each year, so you can pass by the ones where the lines are too long.  (I've waited outside for over an hour, waiting to enter a particularly popular site!)

This annual event is promoted through an annual newspaper, also called CHESTER COUNTY DAY.  Although it doesn't pay its writers (it is for charity, after all), I've enjoyed writing for it.  I get to go to some interesting sites and interview the owners long before the actual tour.  No hour long waits!

Each year, I've written one or two stories for this publication.  This has been going on for over a decade.  This year I interviewed the owners of a house on the site of a former iron forge in the northwest part of the county.  It's a fascinating site, and I enjoyed doing the interview.  I also took some photos of the site and, for the first time, posted them on Pinterest.

I had two surprises when I first saw this year's newspaper.

1)  I had not one, not two, but THREE articles in this paper.  My new story about the iron forge house was there, as well as two old ones.  Three stories in one issue of this paper is a record for me!

2)  There was no mention of the photos I took, nor was there the link to the Pinterest site!

Now, the CHESTER COUNTY DAY newspaper is a volunteer effort, and the results are unpredictable.  One year the layout made a mess of my article.  Sidebars might or might not appear.  So dropping my Pinterest note was not a big surprise.  But it was still a disappointment. 

And finally, a blog post I was paid to write for a Spa website went up.  It's called "The Perfect Entrepreneur," and it's not half bad.

All of these sites could use some more hits.  So please, if you're so inclined, go to any or all of them and post a comment.  I'd appreciate it.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Tips on Working a Room

While discussing how to have a successful convention with some other writers, I suggested these basic tips for "working a room."  Most of the other writers had never heard these.  So here they are:

1) At most of these events, you will be given a name tag.  Which side do you stick it on? Answer: your right.  When you hold out your hand to shake hands with someone, that person has to look at your hand.  By putting your name tag on your right side, you allow their eyes to travel easily upward from your hand to your name tag.  It's a subtle effect, but a real one.

2) If you are holding a drink, keep it in your LEFT hand. (I'm assuming you're not a Muslim or in a part of the world where the left hand is considered unclean.)  Shaking hands with someone who has a cold, clammy, damp grip is unpleasant - and it really doesn't matter if your hand is wet because you're nervous, or because you just had a cold beer in that hand.

3) Finally, to insure you don't get stuck talking to just one person in a room full of people you should meet, try this old politician's trick: have the bartender fill your glass just one-quarter full.  Then, if you get buttonholed by a bore, you always have an excuse to leave.  Just down the liquid in your almost-empty glass, then say, "excuse me - I need to go refill my drink!"

Have a successful convention experience.  And remember - you're not there just to have fun.  There's a reason it's called WORKING a room - unless you're a natural-born gladhander, it really is work.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ready to Play Some Hnefatafl? It's Hneat-O!

Some years ago, I co-wrote a quiz which ran in every issue of an airline in-flight magazine.  Not only did the quiz have to be interesting, but (in theory) each of the ten questions had to relate to one of the destinations the airline flew to.  Plus a bonus question!

This was back before the internet came into its own.  In fact, it was so long ago that the magazine actually employed a fact checking department.

Yes, children, once upon a time there were learned men and women who made sure you didn't fabricate your articles.  They checked every fact, every single time!  Life was more difficult back then.

The editor also had to approve the topic for each quiz.  One of the quizzes was to be on games.

Matching the countries to which the airline flew with unusual games proved to be difficult.  I was dredging up games little-known in the USA, such as senet (Egyptian) and tablero de Jesus (Andalusia, Spain).

Tonight on the PRI radio show The World I heard of another game, called hnefatafl.  The name apparently translates as King's Table.  Supposedly, it dates back to the Vikings, although the hnefatafl world championships are now played in Scotland.

It's a board game, of interest because it's a two-player asymmetric game.  One side starts out surrounded  and outnumbered two-to-one.  That side's goal is for it's King to escape the encircling horde.  The encircling side wants to capture the King.  Interestingly, it takes two soldiers to kill a single opposing soldier, which is a rarity in board games.

It sounds interesting.  And it sounds like a perfect game for zombie fans.  Can you escape the ravening horde of encircling zombies?  Practice your moves with a round of hnefatafl!