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I've successfully closed out one submission call and have two more open.  Being on this side of the editorial process for short works and poetry has given me insight into some of the mistakes writers (I'd love to say new ones, but not all of them are) make when submitting.  Things that maybe don't start them off on the best foot with the editor but have NOTHING to do with the work being submitted.  Even if it's just a little thing, those add up, and when it comes time to read the story, may influence how much the editor is willing to work with a writer if the story is potentially usable but requires work to get there.  So here's a list of things I've seen.  Maybe it'll be helpful for writers just starting out.

1. Read the guidelines.  And then read them again.  And then follow them.  If the editor wants the submission without identifying info, take off your info.  If they want some crazy font style or size, do what they ask.  If they ask for the submission in the body of the email instead of an attachment, paste it in (and learn to format it so it looks decent when it goes that way).  If you don't follow the guidelines, you run the risk of being thought stupid, careless, and/or arrogant.  None of these bode well for a future relationship.

2.  Unless the guidelines say not to use a cover letter, take the time to do one.  And writing "here's my story" does not a cover letter make.  It's not a hard or time-consuming process to do up a decent cover letter; in fact, the best ones are concise.  Just state the project you are submitting for, the name of your work, the length if it's prose, and some prior sales (if you have any.  If you don't, don't worry about it.) You might say how you heard about the call if it's not a well-known market.   If it's relevant, you can say what prompted the story, but this often runs into point 3 below, so be careful.

3.  Do not synopsize the story in the cover letter unless the guidelines tell you to.  If the editor can't figure out the point of your story or poem from reading it, your synopsis is just annoying.  If they can, it's redundant.  (Obviously, novel subs are different—we're talking shorter works here.) 

4.  If you are submitting via submittable, you get an automated reply.  Many of us have grown used to that, and agita sets in when we don't get replies that the market received our subs. I get this.  I do.  But putting in the cover letter that the editor needs to acknowledge receipt or sending an email immediately after subbing asking if the sub was received is dicey business.   Paraphrasing Spinal Tap: It's a fine line between enthusiasm and desperation.  And desperation is appealing to no one.  It also smacks of "I have no idea what I'm doing."  Also not good.

5.  Going back to reading the guidelines, send the sub to the right email.  Beware of trailing periods at the end of the email address which can make some email hosts fail and check the spelling.

6.  If the editor is listed on the call for subs, use their name in your cover letter.  If you know them well, go with first name.  If you don't, use their last with the appropriate prefix (admittedly this is getting more confusing with gender-free pronouns being used now, but you can get a flavor for how an editor identifies him/her/theirself by googling--or if they are listed on the staff or about us page of the market's website).  When in doubt, just use their whole name.  If no name is given, Dear Editor is fine or leave the salutation off.  If the name is listed, and you do use it, don't misspell it.

7.  If you didn't get it before, read the guidelines.  In fact, do it again before you submit, just to make sure you haven't missed anything.

8.  This is a completely "DUH" statement but I'm going to put it down anyway.  Your cover letter is your introduction to the editor and he/she/they will make judgments on you based on it, even if it's done unconsciously.  Check your spelling and grammar.

9.  Be careful how you interact with the editor in the various public fora that submission calls get posted to.  You may have a valid point (or more often, you may not and are just being contentious because a. it's the internet and b. you can) but either way, taking on the person you need to woo is rarely a winning strategy.  I'm not saying to kiss ass, but more contentious conversations are best saved for email.  There is a point in the acceptance process where a story is either a clear "yes," a clear "no," or a "maybe but with work."  That last one is key because you need the editor to want to work with you.  If you piss them off before they've even read your story, odds are strong that the goodwill you need from the editor to make them willing to work with you to get your sub from "needs work" to "accepted" is gone before they even open the story.

So there you go.  And none of this has to do with your actual story or poem.  But then life often doesn't hinge on matters of substance.  And the old saying is right: you never get a second chance to make a first impression. 

Beholder Scratched, New Classic Picks

Damn it all, changes whole complexion of race.  So my pic for the Classic just changed too.  The question is can any of these horses take on AP to the point where they run him into the ground and themselves as well?  I don't think they can.  My new picks are American Pharoah, with Honor Code a second choice in case anyone does run AP down.  The extra bet on Effinex doesn't change.

News on Beholder here http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/95557/beholder-scratched-out-of-bc-classic

Breeders' Cup 2015 - Picks

It's time for the Breeders' Cup, the best weekend in racing.  Gotta make my picks.  Let me say first: I don't bet (well if I'm at a track, which I rarely am, then yes, I bet, but no internet betting).  I don't bet because a. I hate to lose money and b. I often make emotional choices based on "liking" a horse that have nothing to do with actual chances.  So these picks are just for bragging (or not, as is usually the case) rights.

I am assuming a fast dirt track and a firm turf course.  If that changes, all bets are off.

Friday Races

Juvenile Turf  - I have not paid attention to the juvenile turf races this year, so my picks are strictly from the Daily Racing Form past performances.  I'm going with Birchwood, one of the European invaders.  His best race was on firmer turf and he's been carrying a lot more weight than 122 for this race.  He may feel like he has wings.  Second pick Conquest Daddyo

Dirt Mile - With Liam's Map in this, it's hard to look at any of the others.  He's my pick here and would have been one of my picks probably in the Classic, too.  Soooo, given that, my distant distant distant second pick is Valid.

Juvenile Fillies Turf - Again going strictly by the form here.  Harmonize is my pick.  If I wanted some money coming back, I'd plunk a second bet on Catch a Glimpse.

Distaff - With the defection of Beholder to the Classic, this race is much wider open than it was.  There is so much talent in this field, it's amazing  Makes it hard to handicap (or makes it hard for me to handicap LOL).  At any rate, I pick Wedding Toast with I'm a Chatterbox as second choice.  And just for the record, the Peruvian import Salama really intrigues me, but I can't find much about her.  If I were at the track, I'd throw some money on her too.

Saturday Races

Juvenile Fillies - My heart will forever belong to Rachel's little girl.  And I do find it cool that both the top contenders have ties to Medaglia d'Oro as sire (Songbird) or broodmare sire (Rachel's Valentina).  It's really hard to argue with Songbird's record, but she's had her way on or right near the lead for every race.  What happens if she can't cut over to the front from post 10? My emotional and logical choice  is Rachel's Valentina but I won't be surprised if Songbird kicks away if she can get in the clear at the start.  If i was looking for good odds, I'd put some money down on Tap To It.  She's done well her first starts and I think she's still figuring out how this all works.  Third time might be the charm.

Turf Sprint - I don't pay as much attention to turf as I do to dirt, and even less to turf sprints, so I'm just going by what I see in the form.  And I'm going with Ready for Rye. I like 10-1 odds.  He'll be bet down by post time, I'm sure.  My emotional but still logical second choice is Lady Shipman, but I'm not sure how she'll do in open competition.

Filly and Mare Sprint - I know she hasn't raced for an entire year, but I can't ignore Artemis Agrotera's return.  She's my pick.  Second choice in a very good field is Taris.

Filly and Mare Turf - Once Lady Eli was injured, I sort of stopped paying attention to this division.  So again my choices are form driven.  I like the Chilean invader Dacita, with Photo Call my second choice.

Sprint - There are a ton of nice colts in this but Private Zone has been off since late August.  Gotta go with the fresh horse so Private Zone is my pick.  Second choices Run Happy and a little on Masochistic since he'll have better odds.

Mile - So much easier when Wise Dan was running.  This is a tight field with a lot of invaders I know very little about. I'm going to hope that Tepin breaks really really well and gets a good position close up like she likes.   I don't see her doing well if she gets covered up too much, but maybe she'll surprise me. Second choice Mondialiste.

Juvenile - Haven't been able to narrow in on a real personal favorite of this crop, that'll change by about March of next year LOL.  So if I'm just going from the form, I'll take Nyquist.  Second choice is Greenpoint Crusader.

Turf - Do we even need to do this since Golden Horn, the winner of the Arc among many other big big races is HERE!  No, no we do not.  Golden Horn it is.  Okay, just in case a second choice is needed, I'll go with The Pizza Man.

Classic - Wow, what a field.  My heart belongs to Beholder and she is my emotional choice, but I would not be averse to American Pharoah winning (or Frosted, since he's by my fav stallion Tapit).  If AP can get loose on the lead with reasonable fractions and no one pushing him the way Frosted did in the Travers, he will probably be impossible to catch.  That said, I can't see Gary Stevens on Beholder letting him run loose on the lead that way.  The horse that's probably going to be stalking him the closest (given that Rosario has never ridden Frosted the way Lezcano did on Travers day) is Beholder.  It's going to be one hell of a race and I hope the mare gets it done and that her Pacific Classic win was not just a freak thing.  If I were a betting person, I'd also throw some money on Effinex.  A lot of talent there for a very long price, at least as far as the morning line goes.  He may get bet down by post time.  Why Gleneagles is in this is puzzling--as far as I can tell, he's never run longer than a mile, never on dirt (although he prefers firm turf), and never going counter clockwise and/or in the US. And one of his wins was on a long straightaway, which in no way replicates a two turn mile and a quarter.  I'm counting him out for all these reasons but his connections may know something we don't.  Then again the Euro invaders in the classic that were successful were often during the times of synthetic tracks (which run more like turf than dirt) and those are mostly gone.

Okay so that's it.  Races start Friday around 3:30 and on Saturday around noon.  Coverage is on NBC and NBCSN.  May the best horse win!
I'm posting this for my alter-ego Kim Strattford since she has no blog.

Title:  Summer’s Sweet Embrace, a sweet romance anthology
Author: Various
Publisher: Roane Publishing
Release Date: August 19, 2015
Description: Summertime love is always the sweetest. These eight sweet tales of summer romance are the perfect companion for a day at the lake or the beach.

Truly Paradise – Michelle Ziegler

Waiting for the right one can be torture.

Too bad for Hailey, impatience got the best of her. Finding Mr. Right in time for a destination wedding couldn’t happen fast enough. Instead of listening to reason, or rather her friends, she’s stuck in paradise alone, again. Nothing ruins a tropical paradise faster than catching your date with another woman.Justin’s ready for a change. He’s been caught up in his own success for too long and is looking to finally settle down. Timing is everything and his cousins wedding is the perfect start of his new life. His luck is changing with the captivating mystery woman on the beach.  Now all he has to do is find her, before he agrees to his family’s match making plot.

Ocean Dust – Laurie Treacy

Carly Dawson, 18, is facing her last summer before leaving for college, all alone. Still nursing a broken heart over the loss of her boyfriend, Chase Montgomery, she wants the next two months to be different. A shocking unexpected visitor one night just may offer Carly the excitement she seeks. Her only decision is whether or not to choose what this visitor offers her.

The Beach Rose – Christa MacDonald

Annie Thomas can’t believe her good luck when she inherits the family’s beach house in Oceanside Maine.  It’s one of the few places she was truly happy so she sells everything she owns, quits her job, and moves in hoping that her new business, The Beach Rose, will bring in enough money in its first season to let her live up there year round.  But on her first day things aren’t as easy or as simple as she’d hoped.  To cap it off she discovers that her best new client is actually the boy she had a huge teenage crush on.  So much for rekindling a summer romance. 

For Craig, Annie was everything he wanted when he was a geeky seventeen year-old.  Now that he’s pushing forty and the owner of half the real estate in town, he wants another shot at convincing her that he’s everything she needs.  He didn’t count on her owning the business he just signed a contract with though.  Craig has to find a way to help Annie’s struggling business without her knowing it since anything else would push her further away and that’s the last thing he wants. 

Together they may get a second chance for a summer romance.

When the Sea Swallows the Sun – Kim Strattford

A trip to Clearwater Beach was supposed to be a fun escape from the D.C. rat race for Emma and her boyfriend Sam.  Until Sam dumped her, leaving her with a ticket she was too cheap not to use and a resolution to enjoy her time in the sun and get over him.  A plan that sputters when Sam’s good friend Rick shows up.  Rick, who’s never seemed to approve of her for reasons she’s never understood.  Rick, who seems to think he has license to bug her just because he bought Sam’s ticket.  Rick, who may be a much nicer guy than she ever realized, and who might have a very good reason for not thinking much of her.  Can they make peace in the beautiful Florida sun and surf?  Peace—or maybe more?

Love’s Nectar – Jaylee Austin

What if fate pushed you to make a choice between keeping a promise and revealing a truth? After her grandmother’s death, she opens an unexpected letter containing an unwanted request. Isabel feels obligated to honor her grams final wish. In the process she risks losing the man of her dreams.

Six months before their marriage Isabel reveals a time bomb that will forever change their lives. He loves her but the betrayal of not trusting him weighs heavy on his heart. Trust means everything to Seth.

One ring, journal, box, spirit, and flower will teach everyone the power of commitment and the importance of honesty.  Secrets left buried will always haunt the living, a life lived truthfully leads to happily ever after. Will Isabel and Seth realize this before they are doomed to replay the mistakes of the past?

Love’s High Tide – Niki Mitchell

Tired of the vacationers hitting on her, surf shop owner, Skye Taylor quits dating. In walks the cocky, Harley Nicholson from Idaho. She’s not open for another summer fling. Can he convinces her to give love a chance?

Harley sees Skye shooting through the Huntington Beach Pier on her surfboard. Mesmerized by the woman’s connection with the wave, he sets out to meet the brazen surfer. He bets his cousin that before he leaves in three weeks, she'll be his.

Skye’s life is kept busy running the Epic Surf Shop and training for annual surfing contest. The handsome, buff Idahoan interests her, but she doesn’t want another disastrous summer fling. Harley charms her into giving him a surfing lesson, woos her with moonlight strolls, and coaxes her with sweet gestures. Skye discovers Harley’s betrayal. She refuses to see him or hear his explanation.

Miserable, Harley must do something monumental to win her back. Will Skye ever forgive Harley?

Linger – Melissa J. Crispin

Tracey Thompson isn't like most twenty-year-olds. She's looking forward to settling down and marrying her soul mate, Noah Martin. Even though their love bloomed when they were just little kids, they never doubted it and never looked back.

When a tragic accident separates Tracey from Noah, she struggles to go on without him. As the days wear on, she becomes aware of a chance for them to be together once again. All she needs to do is understand what tore them apart in the first place. But, overcoming this is harder than it seems. Will she be strong enough to find her way back to him?

Above Reproach – Sheryl Winters

Executive Secretary, Margaret Simms should have had it all. An apartment on the beach and a job at Reynolds Ad Agency, working for her best friend and business mogul, Garrett Reynolds.

A one night stand leads to a pregnancy and a re-evaluation of her life goals. In reality, Margaret's always hated her office job and culinary school is her life dream. But that too is ripped away from her when Garrett, her best friend and father of her child, develops cancer.

Obligation forces her back to the work she hates. When office espionage threatens her life, Margaret finds she must make a choice. Stand up for what she truly believes in or lose all she's ever wanted.

Buy it here:
Roane Publishing
Amazon (UK)

Review Summer's Sweet Embrace on Goodreads:

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Garland of the Goddess Anthology

An update on progress so far, about half a month in. So far seeing an awful lot of stories that appear to have a goddess spackled in. Look, we've all done it. Our story might fit the theme of Anthology X if we just insert a mention or two of whatever the theme is. Generally, this isn't going to cut it. So far it hasn't with me.

Also seeing an awful lot of stories that are more epic quest stories than actually about a female deity. And a lot where the protagonist is more some kind of human or enhanced human/demigod associated with a goddess (in some cases needing a male to bail them out). This also really isn't what I'm looking for. Not going to say it can't work, but the theme is goddesses, so why not hedge your bets and focus on one? LOL It's stupid to have to write that but there it is.
I'm going to be editing an anthology for Neos Alexandria that opens on 1 June and closes 1 August titled Garland of the Goddess: Tales and Poems of the Feminine Divine. I'm looking for fiction and poetry, and prose poems are fine, too. No pay and no cc, but there is a discount on copies.

Guidelines here.

Please for the love of whatever deity you worship (or not, if you're an Atheist/Agnostic), read the freakin' guidelines. No attachments is a biggie.

Any goddess is fair game. Any genre, too. Dark or funny or somewhere in between is fine for tone. Keep me interested is all I ask.

As far as stylistic tics, when it comes to prose, I tend to prefer a well-handled POV (use whichever POV you want but make sure it's obvious which one you're picking). Head-jumping in the same section, unless it's a well-crafted omniscient, isn't going to get you far. I prefer "said" and "asked" rather than creative alternatives as dialogue tags. I despise adverbs in dialogue tags (and not a big fan of them at other times). Don't like all caps for emphasis or too many exclamation points. I love present tense, so you will not get dinged for that (but past tense is fine too. And if you're really ambitious and want to tackle future, I'll read it with interest).

I love flash. Don't think you have to write long. But if you want to write long, go for it. 10,000 words is a lot of room to play.

Poetry, I'm open to anything. Be adventurous or hew to an established form: I'll happily read it. Prose poems are intriguing, so if you like them and have a hard time finding a market, here's your chance. Length is immaterial: I'll look at sagas, or a haiku: doesn't matter so long as your poem grabs me.

Reprints are fine so long as you retain the rights. Multiple subs are fine. Poems can be bundled into one sub. Send stories or prose poems individually.

I will also be editing The Dark Ones: Tales and Poems of the Shadow Gods, so you may have a story that will work better for that book. Submission window will be 1 Nov 2015 to 1 April 2016 and guidelines are here .

50 Book Challenge - Books 28 and 29

It's starting to rain. Guess Irene is upon us.

Ugh. Start the week with an earthquake. Finish with this. Not the way I like my Virginia summers to go.

Book 28 -- Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord

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Book 29 -- The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption by Jim Gorant

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50 Book Challenge - Book 25

Halfway there finally. Whew. Hard going this year for some reason. Not sure why, normally reading a lot of books is not a problem for me. In fact, it's heaven.

Book 25 -- Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

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