I am interviewed by @icypop

Earlier this week, Icy Sedgwick reviewed my fantasy/horror/litfic anthology, "Blood Picnic and other stories"; today, she's posted as interview with me. Want to know when I started writing? Why I self-published "Blood Picnic"? How I came to the attention of Neil Gaiman? What my three favorite words are?

Click over and read it!

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Wednesday #Poetry: Bump, Knuckle, Transfix

Welcome to my regular Wednesday poetry corner, brought to you by Three Word Wednesday and One Shot Wednesday.

Today's words are Bump, Knuckle, Transfix.

From belly bump I felt you grow
With thrashing and kicks to and fro.
You suckle your knuckle
And make my knees buckle
Dear child, how you transfix me so!

By the way, special Happy Anniversary congratulations to One Shot Wednesday, which today celebrates one year of bringing more poetry into the world. Keep up the good work, guys!

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CONTEST: Win a free copy of "Blood Picnic and other stories"

Icy Sedgwick recently reviewed "Blood Picnic and other stories" and she interviewed me in connection with the publication. The interview goes up on Thursday. The questions range from the inception of the anthology and my thoughts on the self-publishing wave to my writing habits and my interactions with Neil Gaiman.

However, as a wildcard question, she also asked me my three favorite words.

CONTEST: To Win A Free Copy of "Blood Picnic and other stories", leave a comment below with your guess as to my three favorite words. If you get even one of them right, you Win A Free Copy of this 5-star, 28,0000 word anthology. Pretty easy, eh?

UPDATE, WITH HINT: You know those fairy tales where the king sets an impossible task before the humble tailor? And how the humble tailor sees that what's required is not a brute force approach, but instead uses cleverness to win the day and the hand of the princess? It's like that.Think Rumpelstiltskin, folks.

Also, more than one person can win.

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A new review of "Blood Picnic": "deft wordplay"

The wonderful writer Icy Sedgwick, freshly back from Newcastle, has posted a review of "Blood Picnic and other stories". It reads, in part:
I can't stress enough how enjoyable these stories are, with their intelligent plotting and deft wordplay. Tony has a vivid imagination and a true mastery of the written word, and I guarantee you'll find something to love in this collection.
Thanks for the review, Icy, and I'm glad you liked it!

"Blood Picnic and other stories" is $2.99. You can find it for many formats at Smashwords, and in device-specific formats at Amazon, Amazon-UK, Amazon-DE, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Diesel Books and other e.book outlets.

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Holy Bananas, Is This Headline Misleading Or What?

I just read an article with a horrifically misleading headline. It was all about how you need to use "grabber" headlines to get people to read your blog posts.

Keep this in mind the next time you're considering using a headline like, "The 6 Secrets Your Girlfriend Doesn't Want You To Know About Her Reading Habits".

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Where To Buy My Books

Books I've Written

The Book The Description The Retailers

In this diverse collection, the versatile writer and blogger Tony Noland has gathered some of his best flash fiction and short stories. These twenty eight stories range in style from fantasy and horror to magical realism and literary fiction. Whether you're looking for potent true-to-life tales or you want your fiction full of zombies, flying carpets, deals with the devil and superheroes in trouble, this collection will amuse, delight and surprise. $2.99
For many formats:
Device-specific formats:
Amazon, Amazon-UK, Amazon-DE, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Diesel Books

Books With My Writings

In the international terminal of a large European airport, Monday morning is about to get a whole lot worse. At 7.35am Pangaean Airlines, one of Europe’s major carriers, is put into receivership grounding all flights, stranding thousands of passengers and impounding tonnes of luggage. But all is not as appears on the surface and the sliding-doors moment of one woman deciding to retrieve her suitcase will ricochet through the lives around her. $5.95
For many formats:
Device-specific formats:
 Amazon Amazon UK Amazon DE

What if there was a methodology to being an author that had been passed writer to writer since the first cuneiform wedge was pressed into clay tablets by the very first writers? There is... The Peevish Penman Press presents the handbook for the most notable secret society for writers. Discover trade secrets, rituals, and the previously guarded information now available to the public for the first time. Be a writer and not just a person who writes. $9.99
Device-specific formats:
 Amazon Amazon UK Amazon DE

There are other beings out there. Demons, fae, aliens, robots and more. Creatures that have been watching us for a long time. "Inhuman: Absolute XPress Flash Fiction Challenge #4" contains 20 stories from 18 established and break out authors. $9.95
Device-specific formats:

Friday Flash is a weekly global writing event. Writers worldwide post flash fiction, stories of 1,000 words or less, and announce them via the #fridayflash hashtag on Twitter or Facebook. Friday Flash is a true community – a virtual online writer's colony. This collection gathers sixty-seven of the very best – from humor to horror, slice-of-life to science fiction – under one cover. $7.99
Device-specific formats:

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Full disclosure

Full disclosure re: "Falling Skies" promotional items.

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#FridayFlash: No Boots No More

No Boots No More

by Tony Noland

He was fleshy but he moved like a skeleton. His bare feet should have been blue with cold or white with frostbite as he shuffled through the snow and horse manure of the street, but they weren't. They were pink and smooth, just like his face and his hands. Through his torn and stained rags, the other New York-bound people waiting for the Staten Island ferry could see that he was smooth and pink all over.

His eyes were those of a dead man.

No one came near. Everyone gave him a wide berth, even those self-satisfied, upright citizens who would have accosted any normal man simply for lacking in common social graces.

The nods and sidelong glances gave way to whispers and muttering. They knew. Just the way a bone long-ago broken will know when the storm is coming, they knew. Somehow, they knew. Like every forlorn and hopeless soul the man had come within breath of on his long walk, they knew.

The words ran though the crowd. "Andersonville." "Andersonville? Impossible!" "That's nine hundred miles from here!" "More like a thousand." "Andersonville?"

The icy wind cut across the river, bringing tears to the eyes of the passengers. They stared at him sidelong. Yes, the rags used to be blue. It was just possible to see a regimental ensign on his left shoulder: the 123rd New York Infantry.

"Sweet savior protect us - he's one of ours, come home after two years. But... if he walked all this way... I mean, my God, if the poor man was at Andersonville of all places!"

They had seen the images in the newspapers, taken with the new photogravure process. The scenes from the battlefields had been bad enough, but Andersonville! The bags of bones that had stared out from the images could move a granite statue to tears of rage and pity. Andersonville! Such a horrid pit of Confederate villainy was not to be found anywhere else on earth!

Yet this man was pink and fleshy and whole. How could this be? How? After his ordeal and his travels on foot? What was left of his uniform told the tale of his woes, but his body bore not a mark, despite the wicked conditions on the platform. How?

The bravest of the New Yorkers, a longshoreman from Red Hook, cleared his throat and made to talk to him. Before a word was spoken, the soldier turned upwards. From his dead, hollow eyes, a yellow glow shone, bathing the longshoreman's face in a golden, celestial light.

They stood undisturbed in the wintry wind, amid the first pellets of sleet. Around them, the people turned away.

The ferry came, passengers and wagons unloaded onto the Island and loaded again, bound for New York City. The ferry pulled away, none of the passengers noticing the two men standing in the sleet and freezing rain.

After a time, what was once a longshoreman dropped to the planking and shattered into dust and pebbles. The old soldier, a little pinker and a little rounder in his blue rags and tatters, stepped off the pier into the ice-strewn river.

Deep beneath the surface, his eyes glowed in the darkness as he walked the last leg of his journey homeward.

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Understanding Twitter

The Australian writer Alan Baxter has a great blog post about Twitter: what it is, why it's useful, how to act when using it.
But I regularly get people saying to me things like, “What’s the point of Twitter? I think it’s stupid. I don’t get it.” And therein lie two different things. Asking what it is and saying you don’t understand it is like saying, “What’s the point of French? I don’t understand it.” Well, if you learned French, you’d understand it and find it really useful. Especially in France.
It's an informative and thoughtful post... Go check it out.

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The Fictional Autobiography of Tony Noland

The following video is the fictional autobiography of the melancholy author, Tony Noland. You should under no circumstances accept any of this as fact. For example, I don't have a "best" nose-picking finger.

The attentive viewer will notice that the author and narrator, Kay T. Holt, doesn't much look like me, nor does she sound like me. However, if you watch any of her videos, read her magazine Crossed Genres (which she publishes), or check out her website "I Like A Little Science in my Fiction" (which she writes), I believe you will see a kindred spirit. With smoother skin and much better video production skills.

I'm flattered and honored by this fictional autobiography. It's a tissue of lies, from beginning to end, told with heart and conviction. Many thanks, Kay!

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Wednesday #Poetry: Gag, Maintain, Omit

Welcome to my regular Wednesday poetry corner, brought to you by Three Word Wednesday and One Shot Wednesday.

Today's words are Gag, Maintain, Omit.

I maintain his "omit the chair" gag
Was the mark of an ass, not a wag
His asinine jest
Got him shot in the chest
He can chuckle and snort from that bag.

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Where am I today?

Why, I'm over at Jim Bronyaur's blog today, talking about my anthology, "Blood Picnic and other stories": why I wrote it, what's in it and other behind-the-scenes info.

Take a look!

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Codemonkey Redux

I was trying to put together a convenient page which will give links to all the places you can buy my books, using code helpfully provided by Allen Schatz. However, as started loading in links and images, etc., I realized that I needed to do it a bit differently than he did, with a layout that will use a different kind of code.

So, Allen, thanks anyway for the offer of the code. I appreciate your willingness to help out a fellow author.

Allen Schatz is the author of GAME 7: DEAD BALL and 7th Inning Death, both of which are available at Amazon, Smashwords and wherever fine e.books are sold.

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Amused on a Saturday night

for no reason at all:

It was either this or the "Boil 'em, Mash 'em, Stick 'em in a Stew" video.

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#FridayFlash: The Science of Faith

The Science of Faith

by Tony Noland

"Professor Walls, this is the last straw, the very last. Truly, I cannot express to you the depth of my disappointment in your lack of progress. We expected so much more from you, so very much more." Dean Wassermann, who always spoke as though he were auditioning for a play, leaned forward over the lab bench and scowled his famous scowl. When those bushy eyebrows were pushed forward, even tenured professors worried. Wassermann was intelligent and a competent administrator, in a way, but he was a petty, vindictive man. Anyone who embarrassed him was marked for retribution. Anyone who humiliated him was marked for destruction.

"Did you?" Walls seemed, if not uncaring of Dean Wassermann's approbation, far from cowed by it. "I think I've done pretty well with this line of research."

"Pretty well? Pretty well?" Wassermann puffed out his chest and began rocking back and forth, allowing his heels to tap on the floor. As threatening body language went, this was his personal equivalent of drawing a switchblade from his boot and examining the blade. "When I hired you away from MIT, you had the reputation as one of the brightest, most innovative physicists in a generation. But what have you done since coming here? Nothing! Nothing, sir, nothing!"

Walls leaned against the liquid nitrogen tank. "I built this," he said, nodding at the strange apparatus, "so it's hardly fair to say I've done nothing."

"This? This? And what is this, other than a waste of eleven million dollars? Have any papers come out of it? Any patents? Any new grant funds? Any licensing agreements? Any technology transfer at all?" Wassermann waved his hand at the mass of tanks, tubes and electronics. "No one even knows what this is, Professor Walls! No one knows, but I have heard rumors, sir, rumors about it, and I am not happy. No! I am not happy in the least!" He slapped the lab bench dramatically to emphasize his point.

"Please don't do that. The TCA is not as sensitive to shock vibrations as it used to be, but -"

"Professor, for the last time, stop beating around the bush! Will you tell me what this is all about, or shall I take steps?"

For a moment, Walls looked as though he was going to ask for a definition of the term "take steps", but apparently thought better of it.

"I'd be happy to explain it, Dean Wassermann. This research represents a fundamental breakthrough in the understanding of probability waveform collapse. You know about Schrodinger's cat?"

"Yes, yes, of course, the cat's neither dead nor alive until you look at it. This is trivia, Professor. Get on with it."

"It is basic, yes. Every outcome can go one of two ways. We used to think it might go any of several ways, but the universe turns out to consist of binary waveforms. Once probability waveform interacts with the rest of the universe, it settles into one of its potential states. This is the basis of the many-universes hypothesis." Walls hurried on before Wassermann could interrupt again. "What I've done is to find a way to isolate probabilistic waveforms of disparate events and essentially leverage them against each other. Although neither matter nor information can travel faster than the speed of light, it turns out that probabilistic determinations can. Let me show you."

He began turning on switches and adjusting dials as he continued to speak. "The universe doesn't care which outcome happens. However, the observer does. Maybe you want Schrodinger's cat to be alive. How can you achieve that good outcome when the bad outcome is just as likely? What the TCA machine does is to take the bad consequences of waveform collapse potentialities and preemptively hold onto them in an extra-dimensional torsion field. That forces the waveform out in the real world to collapse into the good outcome."

"Don't be absurd. Good, bad... this is nonsense! You're talking about value judgments as though they apply to subatomic particles!"

"True, the intent of the observer has never had an impact on discrete probabilistic phenomena. That is, until I figured out a way to express that intent as a force vector in the waveform refractometer. The TCA uses a very special material to capture it, focus it and use it to leverage the waveform collapse events. Actually, that part turned out to be surprisingly easy, once I realized what that material had to be. The hard part was figuring out a way to hold the undesirable outcomes and put them somewhere so that the desirable outcomes would be the only way the real world could run, but the material gave me important insights into that, too."

"And what is that special material?"

"A small piece of the One True Cross. I got it from the ruins of a Russian Orthodox church just outside of St. Petersburg."

Wassermann's face reddened. His eyebrows protruded so far he seemed to have trouble seeing. He stared at Walls.

Walls said, "It turns out that the key element in making the machine work is faith. Without faith, the observer's intent isn't defined enough for the waveform refractometer to determine which outcome to hold in the TCA and which to allow to take place in the real world."

It took five breaths for the Dean's choking sound to give way to coherent speech. "Are you telling me you spent eleven million dollars... on a religious relic... to invent a good luck machine?"

The professor's face took on a pained expression, but he seemed otherwise calm. "You see, Dean Wassermann, this is why I never explain my work to anyone. You are all so limited in your vision! This is not simply a good luck machine."

"Call it a happy ending machine, then, Professor Walls, call it whatever you like, but you shall call it thus from somewhere else. You are suspended, sir, suspended until I can convene a review board and discharge you! I shall see to it that you repay the university's money, every last cent! You will be ruined, sir! Ruined! This.... fantasy of yours will make us the laughingstock of the country! The world! That, sir, is far, very, very far from a desirable outcome!" Wassermann slapped the top of the TCA and, in a wink of pale bluish light, disappeared.

Professor Walls stood alone in the lab, listening to the wavering hum of the Tragedy Capacitance Array as it balanced out a complex mass of collapsing waveforms.

"I agree, Dean Wassermann. I couldn't agree more."

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How to get the most from your author platform FOR DUMMIES

There is a very useful article over at the Book Cover Cafe on author platforms. It includes this helpful diagram:

The big takeaway message for me is that I'm hopelessly screwed. Nice to know where I stand, though.

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Wednesday #Poetry: Grip, Prefer, Thread

Welcome to my regular Wednesday poetry corner, brought to you by Three Word Wednesday and One Shot Wednesday.

Today's words are Grip, Prefer, Thread.

The thread now in Clotho's tight grip
Atropos is trying to clip
I'd prefer it stay long
 The line is still strong
For Lachesis wove it with a whip

UPDATE: By popular demand, here's a link to an article about the three Fates: fair Lachesis who sees what was, strong Clotho who sees what is and old Atropos who sees what is to come.
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Writing perils: dialect

As I noted yesterday in the discussion about writing in the first person POV, readers had a pretty good reaction to "Sister Ophelia", in large part because of the voice of the narrator. If you've decided that stories that use dialect are automatically crap, I'd ask you to go read that story, then come back here for this discussion.

I'll wait.

dum de dum...

OK, all done? Good.

First off, thanks to everyone for your kind comments about the voice of this character. Writing in dialect is tricky - nothing makes a story come alive like dialect done well, and nothing makes a story more intensely annoying than dialect done poorly. It's always with some trepidation that I do something like this. I didn't want the narrator to come off sounding like Pappy Yokum. Having someone end their aberrant verbs with an apostrophe, as in "the kids were tearin' all over" or "I cleaned up her sickbed and washed her linens for three days running, so don't tell me it was some angelic host come a'callin' out at our farm" can be really annoying if there's too much of it.

That there is walkin' a tightrope between authenticity and mockery, and there ain't too many writers as can pull it off without soundin' like they take their July vacations down at Lake Corn Pone.


Susan May James left a fantastic, detailed comment about the dialect usage in "Sister Ophelia". Then, in response to Susan, E.D. Lindquist related some of her experiences in writing dialect, including her conclusions that a) it's hard, and b) it's not her strong suit.

What makes dialect work? What makes it fail? The way that I write dialect is not to use strange punctuations, but choices of verbs and using unusual sequencing of words in the sentences. In other pieces, I've used other dialects, including a South Jersey gangsterVictorian England and blue collar loser. Each of these were a challenge, because I had to "hear" the dialect, and figure out a way to communicate it without laying it on so thickly that it became farce.

Do you write in dialect? Do you think it's necessary? Does it add to a piece or is it just a gimmicky distraction?

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Writing perils: first person POV

Readers had a pretty good reaction to "Sister Ophelia". In a number of ways, it's a bit different from many of the stories I write. I thought it would be useful to talk about that. This blog post was going to be about two key aspects of "Sister Ophelia" that people remarked on. However, the more I think about it, the more I realize that each of these deserves separate treatment. So, today will be a discussion of first person POV, tomorrow will be on writing in dialect.

Also, this is in first person, which I rarely use. It's a POV that asks the reader to sink themselves into the narrator, which takes time to pull off. I did this and I did that... the reader has to become the narrator, or at least live in the narrator's head while the action unfolds. In a flash fiction piece, there is only minute timeslice of room in which to do that.

I've tried it before, both in flash fiction and in longer pieces, and it's damned tricky to pull off effectively. I have a great deal of respect for writers who can do it. In "Sister Ophelia" I used the authorial trick of having this narrative done in the quasi-epistolary form of an interview. That lets the reader off the hook, and allows the narrator to continue to be Other, even though it's first person POV. Neat, eh?

This approach also lets the reader fill in the blanks as to the questions and reactions of the interlocutor. I believe that this helps to suck a reader into the story, to get them engaged. It's a literary equivalent of the smell of fresh baked bread... just TRY to stay out of the kitchen.

I've also tried to write in what sounds like the second person POV, but is really first person that addresses the reader directly. That was a pretty weird story, actually. Technically difficult, excessively cumbersome as a narrative technique.

Have you written in first person POV? Have you seen examples of it used well? Used badly? Is there a greater immediacy with first person, or is that an outmoded concept?

Share your thoughts!

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Instead of working on my novel, I was...

... taking up a section of worn flooring, repairing & shoring up the subfloor, installing concrete board, mortaring tiles in place and grouting them.

Click on the image to see my handiwork in all its glory

It's not quite finished, as there is some molding to figure out and install. Then some woodshaping to cover the gaps, finish plastering and painting.

When its finished, it'll look like it's always been there.

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#FridayFlash: Sister Ophelia

Sister Ophelia

by Tony Noland

Lots of folks say it started when Ophelia got bit by that rattlesnake, but that ain't the truth. That's just what brought it to a head. See, for months before that, Ophelia was...


Look, sonny, you can call her Sister Ophelia, Mother Ophelia... hell, call her Saint Ophelia if you want. Her name was Ophelia Sawyer when I brung her out here to be my wife. She weren't no saint back then, that's for damned sure. As far as that goes, she weren't neither as pretty or as sweet natured as her advertisement claimed. She was just plain Ophelia and that's all there is to it. If a man can't call his wife by her name, then this world is in more trouble than all the sermons in anybody's church can fix. And she still is my wife. You can look that up at the courthouse.

Naw, I ain't mad. I forgave her for that advertisement a long time ago. After a while, she got to be tolerable company.

Oh, you mean about the preaching? Well... let me put it this way. If she'd got a bee in her bonnet to go off and be a lumberjack up in Wisconsin, I'da told her she was crazy and put a stop to it. But all she did was have folks over for supper. Hell, that was fine with me. I'd as soon have folks over as not.

Don't be a fool, of course nobody called 'em that. It weren't no "revival" and it weren't no... no.... whatever they call that thing where preachers get together. Conclave, that's it. It weren't no conclave. This was just Sunday afternoons and folks coming over to visit and such. At first, we all talked about everything under the sun - crops, horses, politics, grain prices, the land office, all kinds of things.

Nope, it was the usual kind of thing. Before the meal, the women would be visitin' in the kitchen, the men would be out by the well and the kids would be tearin' all over. Then we'd all set down to eat together and talk over different things. After dinner, the women would wash up and the men would go on back outside for a pipe and maybe a pull or two on the jug. In cold weather the men went out to the barn. That was all how it was at first, just the same kind of thing you'd have at any neighborly get-together. We had lots of folks over, sometimes two or even three families at a time. Somehow, it kinda switched around as time went on, though. More of the men started staying in with the women, just to hear Ophelia rattle on about this and that. She was a great talker, Ophelia was.

Well, sure it bugged me some. I ain't stupid, sonny. I figured out pretty quick that folks wasn't coming over for dinner so they could shoot the breeze with me and the jug. But... well, look, are you married?

No, I didn't think so. You don't look it. It's like this. When a man's got a beautiful wife, maybe he gets jealous of the looks she gets, but he also is kinda proud, see? Because he can say, "That's mine." It was sorta like that. People came to talk to Ophelia, or more likely, to hear Ophelia talk. And I was there over in the corner kinda mad and yet kinda proud of her. She was my wife, k'now. Is my wife still.

Hmm, let's see... it was maybe five, six months after Pastor Jeremiah Wilcox took over at the church. No, it was more like eight months. That's right, because he came just after Easter of 1873 and it was after the Christmas services that same year that Ophelia started in with her bible talk.

Well, at first it was just talk about that morning's sermon and the bible lesson for the day. Then it was a sort of running disagreement with Pastor Wilcox. Ophelia would say something like, "Well, I believe I once read a different interpretation of that verse.", and she'd be off to the races. She never read any such thing, it was all her own invention. After a while she didn't even pretend. He preached his version in the morning and she spun out her version in the afternoon. They locked horns over it once or twice.

No, she didn't like him. She thought he was a stuck-up blockhead. Not far off the mark, to be honest. Pastor Wilcox had a way of rubbing people the wrong way. He'd pat people on the shoulder, like he was your pa.

Well, no. I didn't much like him either. Still, it wasn't until Ophelia found that sleeping rattler behind the barn that things really came to a head. She went off into a fever something fierce, like you never seen. Her face was all red and blotchy, eyes yellow as cornsilk. She was raving for three days. Worst three days of my life, I'll tell you that much.

I don't give a good goddamn what she calls it. It weren't no "visitation by angels". She got bit by a rattlesnake and the poison sent her into a terrible fever. Believe me, boy, I was there. I cleaned up her sickbed and washed her linens for three days running, so don't tell me it was some angelic host come a'callin' out at our farm.

I'll calm down when you stop trying to tell me what happened! She weren't no Sister Ophelia back then, she was just Ophelia! She was a long-winded, opinionated woman with a tongue that was silver on one side and sharp on the other. After she recovered from the fever, she was weak, real weak. Womenfolk in town all clustered round, came out to stay and help out. She talked to 'em about God and the angels and what she said she'd seen.

Of course I didn't contradict her! She damn near died! I figured if she wanted to spin out a yarn to make herself feel better, why not? The golden visions she talked about were a hell of a lot nicer than the piss, shit and vomit I'd been dealing with. You ever smell somebody in the third day of a bad fever? Well, her talk of cinnamon-scented angles with long red hair beat reality by a long shot, sonny. I was tired and I didn't figure it would do no harm. How was I supposed to know?

Why, I'm talking about how people stopped listenin' to Pastor Wilcox, stopped goin' to church altogether. They all came out to our place and just sat around listening to her. How all them folks started coming in on the trains to listen to Ophelia.

Fine. To listen to Sister Ophelia. She's still my wife, y'know.

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Writing is... freedom

I was tagged by Ruchira Mandal with this meme. In her take on it, she described writing as a journey. So what does writing mean to me?

Writing is freedom. It lets me be lyrical or silly, scary or sexy. In my writing, I can drop a gumball machine off the top of a building. I can destroy entire continents and use the rubble to build monuments to foolish ideals. I can make someone fall in love, or at least give someone a reasonable shot at it. Writing lets me walk through the logical implications of half-conceived ideas. ("OK, lets assume people could eat and digest coal. What would happen?") Writing challenges my wit, my intellect, my stamina and my ego.

Writing is freedom, but it's the kind of freedom you have to work for.

For the next round, I'm tagging:

Thom Gabrukiewicz

Icy Sedgwick

Andy Hollandbeck

Cathy Webster

Why these four? Because they are articulate and write well.

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Wednesday #Poetry: Alter, Fond, Tranquil

Welcome to my regular Wednesday poetry corner, brought to you by Three Word Wednesday and One Shot Wednesday.

Today's words are Alter, Fond, Tranquil.

Pastor Joan tried to alter the altar
With some color adorning the psalter
Tranquil jonquil she'd choose
(she was fond of pale hues)
But the Elders took action to halt her.

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Nerd, geek or dork?

My friend and fellow writer Catherine Russell posted an interesting discussion of nerds vs. geeks. It's worth a read.

In that spirit, this venn diagram of has been floating around for a little while. For the sake of SEO completeness, let me point out that it addresses the questions: "What is a geek?", "What is a nerd?" and "What is a dork?"

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Collaborative writing

Today on Write Anything, I discuss the value of connections among writers, and what collaborative writing can do for your creativity. Check it out.

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How to backbutter tile

Just in case you were curious about backbuttering tile - or back buttering tile, since I'm not sure if backbutter is one word or two, as in "back butter" - take a look. Don't worry, it's only a minute and a half, and the old Italian guy is pretty fun to watch.

This is going to be my Sunday activity (and probably my Monday, too), which is why I'm posting this instead of writing.

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Cleansing the Castle

Cleansing the Castle

by Tony Noland

Once upon a time, strange things began to happen in the castle. Tourists' cameras showed strange, ghostly images. Odd sounds were heard.

The snow globes in the gift shop all turned cloudy, showing the castle wreathed in a milky, opalescent fog, from the moat to the spires.

In the multimedia room, the video loop, which should have shown the 9 minute introduction to the castle's history, was the strangest of all.

Instead of the actors in costume, riding their horses and issuing proclamations, it began to show women, bent, haggard and weeping.

They filled the castle's courtyard, wearing brown and dark blue homespun, wielding mops and brooms. They wept as the cleaned the cobbles.

Over and over, the video looped, but the scene changes slightly as the hours went by. At first, the women cleaned in a slow, determined way.

Gradually, although it was hard to tell exactly how, they seemed more... desperate in their scrubbing, as though much depended on it.

After eleven days of the video looping, the women, still in the same positions, still with the same hair and mops and skirts, were defeated.

Listlessly, the pushed their mops across the uneven stones, tears streaming down their faces as they sloshed the slops back and forth.

At 11:10 am on Tuesday, May 14, the gift shop attendant hear a scream from the video room. She ran to see what the old women were doing.

In front of the screen, the ticket girl, the docents and Mr. McCarthy, the day manager, were all standing, frozen, staring at the old women.

They lay across the stones, naked. Their flabby, graying skin draped across the hard, cold courtyard. Their mops and buckets were gone.

As the video loop played over and over, it was the same 9 minutes. Nothing changed, nothing happened. The naked women lay in jumbled heaps.

On the fourteenth loop, the video started with the usual fanfare music over the credits. The scene shifted, showing the women, standing.

Behind them was the ice cream wagon and the neon sign that was installed last year. Over their shoulder, the EuroBank ATM and WiFi kiosk.

There was a look of feral rage in the women's eyes. They gripped the handles of their mops and brooms like quarterstaffs, and turned as one.

The video went dark. The gift shop girl was cut off by a pounding on the castle door. Under the repeated blows, the door began to splinter.

The end.

(This was a spur of the moment, extemporaneous story I spun out on Twitter this afternoon. Comments appreciated.)

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Guest blogger, Jim Bronyaur: In The Corner

(Tony Noland here. Jim Bronyaur is one of the busiest artists I know. Not only is he a longtime participant in #FridayFlash, he's got a great vampire hunter-killer serial called Pulsate, based on his award winning story of the same title. He's got several books out, and has been the driving force behind several anthologies, including ones that I've been fortunate to be a part of, such as 12 Days 2009, 12 Days 2010 and The Unluck of the Irish. I've invited him here today so he can tell you about his latest book, In The Corner and the music he's composing to go with it. Jim, welcome to Landless - take it away!)

Tony’s given me the floor here to, uh, speak.  *Looks left, right*
I’ve been doing interviews on my tour but this is the first where I just get a chance to, uh, talk. 


So, uh, hey, I just flew in to Tony’s site… and boy, my arms… my arms, uh, they’re tired.  Heh. 

*Crickets chirp*

Okay, I need help…


Oh, hey, there’s help.  This is Other Jim.  Hey Other Jim.

Hey Jim.  You’re not good with this guest blog thing, are you?

I guess not Other Jim.  Can you interview me maybe?

Sure thing, Jim.  First, why are you here?

Me?  Here?  Well, one night – or day – my mother and my father, well, they decided to…

NO, not why you’re here-here, but why are you here, on Tony’s site?

*Smacks forehead*  Damn, I’m bad at this.  I’m here because I’m on a book tour for my book, In the Corner.  And because Tony was nice enough to give me his site for the day…

Good, good.  Okay then, tell everyone about your book…

It’s called In the Corner and has three stories in it.  They are a mix of horror and thriller stories, with the first one and last one more of a supernatural kind of horror while the middle one (my personal favorite) being a psychological horror story.

Why did you write the book?

These were stories I started but never finished.  Then one day I decided to finish them.  They all kept playing in my head, over and over, so finally I sat down and finished them and it just so happened the word count was perfect for a book.

What else do have going on?

*Takes a deep breath*  I just finished up what I hope is the final draft of Pulsate (Season One) which is my serialized story that I’m taking and making available as an ebook and paperback.  I also just finished my first stand alone novel, The Devil’s Weekend, which should be out in July.  I released my first poetry book (an epic horror poem) called The Killer & She and am working on the next book in the new poetry series which will be titled The House & He (due out in July).  I launched a new horror site with my friend, Maria Kelly, called #HorrorChat13 (www.horrorchat.info) where we meet on the 13th of every month to talk horror.  I’ve also been informed that Pulsate has been picked up for a second season of stories to be published through Flashes in the Dark.  AND to top that off, I’m working on my next novel… a zombie novel.  *Exhales*

So… is In the Corner available for ebook and paperback?

Totally.  My site is www.jimbronyaur.info and it’s all there. 

Okay, Other Jim, you can leave, I can take it from here…

*Footsteps echo away*

Whew, that guy can talk, huh?  *Crickets, again*

Okay, first off, thanks to Tony for letting me steal his site for a minute or ten.  Also, don’t forget to stop by my site and enjoy the music I recorded for this post.  For those who don’t know, I’m recording live music to go along with my book tour.  Trying to mix music and writing the best I can.  It’s fun, and for those who leave comments on my site, you’re entered into a grand prize drawing for the end of the tour to be turned into a zombie… check out my site for details.

SO… how’s a little preview sound?  I’ll toss up the first sentence from each story from In the Corner…

When the Stars Fade - It wasn’t until the third blow hit his cheek did Jimmy’s mind let him wonder why the big, hulking stranger standing over him was hitting him.

The Second That Burns - “Hey doc, wanna know something funny? Something I learned.”

The Wrong Side of the Tracks - The morning started out fine - three suitcases in the trunk, a back seat full of CD’s, and two coffee mugs brimmed, one with cream, one with cream and “lots ‘o sugar”.

Thanks for listening to me ramble here!  Hope you enjoyed and don’t forget to get your copy of In the Corner! J

(No problem, Jim, and, uh, Other Jim. Thanks for stopping by to tell everyone about your book and the music. I wrote a song once, and it was awful. I'm amazed at the breadth of talent you're showing. Best of luck with In The Corner! - Tony)

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#FridayFlash: A Long Visit to Sunny, Scenic Tel Aviv

My #FridayFlash appears over at Amwriting.org today. It's "A Long Visit to Sunny, Scenic Tel Aviv". Go read it - you'll love it!

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Best of #FridayFlash Vol 2 - today's the deadline

Today is the deadline to submit your story to "Best of Friday Flash, Volume 2", edited by Jon Strother, Rachel Blackbirdsong and that Tony Noland guy. Here's the direct link to the submissions page, and (reproduced below) are the guidelines:
Best Of Friday Flash – Volume 2
Submission Guidelines

Please read the guidelines in full before submitting.

Submissions are open now thru 2 June 2011.

All submissions must have been previously published online as a Friday Flash. The purpose of the collection is to celebrate quality work of Friday Flash contributors. Stories appearing in the Best Of Friday Flash – Volume One are not eligible for inclusion – they've had their day in the sun.

Stories must be of 1,000 words or less, not counting the title.

All submissions will be handled via Submishmash. Upload the story to Submishmash as a .doc .rtf, or .txt document. Do not upload .docx (a newer MicrosoftWord format) documents, as they are often problematic.

All submissions are to be non-attributed. DO NOT include your name on the story. Stories including the author’s name will be disqualified, at which point the author may submit an alternate story – again, with no name attached.

All entries must be stand-alone stories. Installments from a series may be submitted but must be able to stand on their own to be considered. Assume no previous knowledge of characters, settings, or background on the part of the judges, editors, or readers. Don’t let this requirement dissuade you from submitting, rather have it guide you as to which story you choose.

Stories may be edited prior to submission, in fact we encourage it. As long as the story is still essentially the same as the one posted as Friday Flash have at it. Feel free to correct spelling, grammar, and inconsistencies you've spotted since first posting. We want polished pieces.

You must still retain the rights to your story in order to submit. If your story has appeared in another venue check to see the terms of that publication. If you are still free to publish elsewhere then it is eligible. Note that some venues prohibit submission for a set period of time even if they have not selected your story. For example, NPR's 3 Minute Fiction retains exclusive publication rights to all works submitted for one full year.

By submitting a story the author attests that it is their own original work and grants non-exclusive print and digital rights to Jon M. Strother. This means you are free to do whatever you like with your stories provided they still fall under the rules of submission for other venues.

The most effective bribes will be in the form of chocolate.

The authors of stories selected for Editor's Choice or Reader's Choice Awards will receive both print and digital copies of the collection. The print book will be produced via CreateSpace and the ebook via SmashWords. All other authors selected for inclusion will receive a digital (ebook) version of the collection via SmashWords. Proceeds of all sales will go to fund further Friday Flash promotions in the form or readers and/or writing contests or other promotional activities.
OK, procrastinators... go!

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Wednesday #Poetry: Erratic, Luminous, Omen

Welcome to my regular Wednesday poetry corner, brought to you by Three Word Wednesday and One Shot Wednesday.

Today's words are Erratic, Luminous, Omen.

I don't mean to sound so dramatic,
But this omen is really erratic
The luminous chains
And moans of great pains
Make me fear what's up in the attic!

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