My Short Story “Letters” to be Published in Fiction on the Web on January 13

Just now, I received word that my short story “Letters” will appear in Fiction on the Web, a UK online magazine published by Charlie Fish, on January 13. Charlie has some impressive writing credentials (see the Fiction on the Web About page) and I am always honored to be published by him.

Last November, I received word that my short story “Letters” will appear in Fiction on the Web, a UK online magazine published by Charlie Fish, on January 13. Charlie has some impressive writing credentials (see the Fiction on the Web About page) and I am always honored to be published by him.

“Letters” is dark sort of love story, but I won’t say more than that or I will ruin the story for you. It is rather short (1,424 words), but I think it is powerful. I decided last week that I needed to publish a short story and while I was trying to decide which of my many drafts I wanted to finish, I hit upon the idea for “Letters” and wrote it in an evening. What you will see is the one and only draft. Had I gone back over it a few times, I could have improved the phrasing and details of the vocabulary, but I was eager to have something published. This is the first story I have had published in a long time.

I chose to publish it in Fiction on the Web, because Charlie Fish has been gracious enough to publish eight of my stories since 2015, and I thought this might be a good fit for Fiction on the Web. If you would like to read my other stories that have been published on Fiction on the Web, just go to the website and punch my name into the search bar.

What I like about being published on Fiction on the Web is the amount of comments I receive on my works. I have received several with each story and they all seem honest and straightforward and almost all are very positive. I have always enjoyed reading them, and I have learned a few things from their constructive criticism.

Thanks for taking the time to read my brief note and I hope you will return from time to time.

You might also want to check out my own online magazine The Chamber. The Chamber publishes a new issue on the first Friday of every month. It appears to be growing in popularity. As of October, The Chamber had had more views and visitors than in all of 2021.

Currently, I strive to publish at least 40,000 words of prose with each issue, so that each month my audience receives the equivalent of a small novel. I don’t include poetry in that word count. So, any poems are over and above whatever the prose count is for that issue.

Take care. Hasta luego.

My Short Story “Letters” to be Published in Fiction on the Web on January 13

Just now, I received word that my short story “Letters” will appear in Fiction on the Web, a UK online magazine published by Charlie Fish, on January 13. Charlie has some impressive writing credentials (see the Fiction on the Web About page) and I am always honored to be published by him.

Last November, I received word that my short story “Letters” will appear in Fiction on the Web, a UK online magazine published by Charlie Fish, on January 13. Charlie has some impressive writing credentials (see the Fiction on the Web About page) and I am always honored to be published by him.

“Letters” is dark sort of love story, but I won’t say more than that or I will ruin the story for you. It is rather short (1,424 words), but I think it is powerful. I decided last week that I needed to publish a short story and while I was trying to decide which of my many drafts I wanted to finish, I hit upon the idea for “Letters” and wrote it in an evening. What you will see is the one and only draft. Had I gone back over it a few times, I could have improved the phrasing and details of the vocabulary, but I was eager to have something published. This is the first story I have had published in a long time.

I chose to publish it in Fiction on the Web, because Charlie Fish has been gracious enough to publish eight of my stories since 2015, and I thought this might be a good fit for Fiction on the Web. If you would like to read my other stories that have been published on Fiction on the Web, just go to the website and punch my name into the search bar.

What I like about being published on Fiction on the Web is the amount of comments I receive on my works. I have received several with each story and they all seem honest and straightforward and almost all are very positive. I have always enjoyed reading them, and I have learned a few things from their constructive criticism.

Thanks for taking the time to read my brief note and I hope you will return from time to time.

You might also want to check out my own online magazine The Chamber. The Chamber publishes a new issue on the first Friday of every month. It appears to be growing in popularity. As of October, The Chamber had had more views and visitors than in all of 2021.

Currently, I strive to publish at least 40,000 words of prose with each issue, so that each month my audience receives the equivalent of a small novel. I don’t include poetry in that word count. So, any poems are over and above whatever the prose count is for that issue.

Take care. Hasta luego.

Rural Fiction Magazine is Seeking Submissions

Rural Fiction Magazine, a sister publication of The Chamber, is seeking submissions. As with The Chamber, there is no pay except exposure, and, as with The Chamber, Rural Fiction Magazine (RFM) is endeavoring to reach a worldwide audience and is therefore seeking submissions from around the world. If you have something you think would interest an educated rural…

Rural Fiction Magazine, a sister publication of The Chamber, is seeking submissions. As with The Chamber, there is no pay except exposure, and, as with The Chamber, Rural Fiction Magazine (RFM) is endeavoring to reach a worldwide audience and is therefore seeking submissions from around the world. If you have something you think would interest an educated rural readership, please consider submitting it to RFM. Currently, the guidelines are essentially the same as The Chamber’s guidelines with few exceptions. For example, the word limit is 5,000 while The Chamber’s is 7,500, but with time RFM’s limit may increase.

What kind of material is RFM seeking? While The Chamber publishes primarily stories and poems of a dark nature, RFM hopes to publish works somewhat more upbeat. With RFM, as with The Chamber, genre is not important. RFM wants any material that might appeal to an educated rural audience.

RFM wants to rise above the long-held stereotypes of a rural populace being illiterate, uncultured, and narrow-minded and show that today’s rural populations tend to be educated and often very successful businesspeople. Rural people are no longer a lone farmer breaking the sod with a pair of horses pulling a plow over a few acres as they did 200 years ago. The rural landowner now operates combines and other equipment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars over hundreds or even thousands of acres. Rural workers are no longer illiterate sharecroppers but often have advanced college degrees in a wide variety of subjects. And rural people are no longer only farmers but may work or own businesses in any of hundreds of industries from trucking to shrimping to commercial fishing to the oil industry to any of hundreds of other examples. These are the people to which RFM wants to appeal.

Works submitted to RFM do not have to concern themselves solely with subjects of a beautiful or dramatic nature. Any topic that would be of interest to an educated rural populace is welcome, whether it is drama, tragedy, comedy, fantasy, mystery, folktale, legend, myth, historical, ghost stories, or anything at all. If in doubt, send it.

Thank you for your time and please seriously consider submitting to RFM.


Rural Fiction Magazine is Seeking Submissions

Rural Fiction Magazine, a sister publication of The Chamber, is seeking submissions. As with The Chamber, there is no pay except exposure, and, as with The Chamber, Rural Fiction Magazine (RFM) is endeavoring to reach a worldwide audience and is therefore seeking submissions from around the world. If you have something you think would interest an educated rural…

Rural Fiction Magazine, a sister publication of The Chamber, is seeking submissions. As with The Chamber, there is no pay except exposure, and, as with The Chamber, Rural Fiction Magazine (RFM) is endeavoring to reach a worldwide audience and is therefore seeking submissions from around the world. If you have something you think would interest an educated rural readership, please consider submitting it to RFM. Currently, the guidelines are essentially the same as The Chamber’s guidelines with few exceptions. For example, the word limit is 5,000 while The Chamber’s is 7,500, but with time RFM’s limit may increase.

What kind of material is RFM seeking? While The Chamber publishes primarily stories and poems of a dark nature, RFM hopes to publish works somewhat more upbeat. With RFM, as with The Chamber, genre is not important. RFM wants any material that might appeal to an educated rural audience.

RFM wants to rise above the long-held stereotypes of a rural populace being illiterate, uncultured, and narrow-minded and show that today’s rural populations tend to be educated and often very successful businesspeople. Rural people are no longer a lone farmer breaking the sod with a pair of horses pulling a plow over a few acres as they did 200 years ago. The rural landowner now operates combines and other equipment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars over hundreds or even thousands of acres. Rural workers are no longer illiterate sharecroppers but often have advanced college degrees in a wide variety of subjects. And rural people are no longer only farmers but may work or own businesses in any of hundreds of industries from trucking to shrimping to commercial fishing to the oil industry to any of hundreds of other examples. These are the people to which RFM wants to appeal.

Works submitted to RFM do not have to concern themselves solely with subjects of a beautiful or dramatic nature. Any topic that would be of interest to an educated rural populace is welcome, whether it is drama, tragedy, comedy, fantasy, mystery, folktale, legend, myth, historical, ghost stories, or anything at all. If in doubt, send it.

Thank you for your time and please seriously consider submitting to RFM.


Quick Sidenote: My Thoughts on What to Do if a Cop Stops Your Car

I was just now reading an article on why cops touch the back of your car during a traffic stop. It turns out that they are a) checking to see that the trunk lid is lock and no one will pop out and ambush them (which has happened) and b) to leave fingerprints in case they later need evidence that they were with that car.
This made me think of my own personal procedures when a cop stops me for a warning or ticket (usually for speeding). I developed these over a few decades from experience and various TV and magazine articles.

Quick Sidenote: What to Do if a Cop Stops Your Car

I was just now reading an article on why cops touch the back of your car during a traffic stop. It turns out that they are a) checking to see that the trunk lid is lock and no one will pop out and ambush them (which has happened) and b) to leave fingerprints in case they later need evidence that they were with that car.

This made me think of my own personal procedures when a cop stops me for a warning or ticket (usually for speeding). I developed these over a few decades from experience and various TV and magazine articles.

The important thing to remember is that when approaching a car, cops do not know who is inside. Even if they look up who the car owner is, the car may be stolen. They often approach with one hand on their weapon just in case the person inside is dangerous. You do not want to make the cops any more nervous than they are already.

The first thing to do is to remain calm. Lots of people get scared and/or nervous when a cop stops them. If the cop sees you are nervous, it might make him nervous. He doesn’t know why you’re nervous or scared. It might be that, as far as he know, you just came from a bank robbery or you might be a serial killer (no kidding, Ted Bundy barely escaped being caught during a traffic stop).

Then the first physical thing you do is turn off the car engine and turn on the ceiling light. The cop will be a lot less nervous if he sees you are not planning a quick getaway. Another thing cops have to worry about is that the interior of the car is dark, and they cannot see who or what weapons may be inside (why do you think they are always shining flashlights into the interior of a stopped vehicle?) Alleviate them of this fear by turning on the ceiling light, so that they can get an unrestricted view of the interior.

Next, I like to roll down my window and place my hands on the door, so that they can see my hands and know that I do not have any weapons. Passengers can place their hands on the dashboard or, if they are in the back seat, on the headrests or backs of the front seats.

I do not make any sudden moves and if I need to move significantly, I tell the cop what I am about to do so he can watch me closely. I will make these moves slowly to ensure him that I do not intend to surprise him with anything.

On the occasion that my wallet with my driver’s license is in the glovebox, when the officer asks for my license, I tell him that it is in the glovebox and after he okays the move (either verbally or visually by nodding his head), I slowly reach over to the glovebox with my right hand and open the glovebox slowly and give him a chance to peer inside before I slowly reach in and extract my wallet.

Anyway, that’s my pointers for the night.

Remember: the main thing you don’t want to do is to make the officer any more nervous than he already is. You want to calm him down and through your actions ensure him that he is safe, and that you pose no threat to him.

Let me know if you have any interesting tactics you use when a cop pulls you over.


My Current Thoughts on Bladerunner

Here are a couple of thoughts I had tonight about Ridley Scott’s classic sci-fi/ cyberpunk movie, Bladerunner and what I see as a theme behind it.

This is one of my favorite Bladerunner/cyberpunk ambience videos. It sets the mood for this post of a solitary man on a balcony as he contemplates and gazes out over a futuristic, cyberpunk cityscape.


Just now I finished watching Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner for like…the umpteenth time. Not to be morbid or overly dark (though, as you know, I am a fan of dark stories and poetry), but since I turned 60, I have been thinking of death a lot more. As I am now 65 and have a shorter life ahead of me than behind me, and being at an age where my generation is dying off at an ever faster pace, I think about it even more. Sometimes, though I am in relatively good health compared to many of my age, I am absolutely terrified of it.

Last night, I started watching Bladerunner just to chill and get my mind off things, but I went to bed before it finished. Tonight, after work, I still needed to get my mind off some things and to chill, so I returned to watching Bladerunner. But this time, I saw a theme in it that I had never recognized before, especially when I was younger.

That theme is how the attitude with which we approach death and how we live our lives accordingly. I don’t know how blind or how big a fool I could have been not to have noticed this previously. I suppose it was just that I was enthralled by the action and the love story of Deckard and Rachel. Once you recognize the theme, the story seems more like a myth out of ancient times.

Look at it as if Roy and the replicants were people in some ancient myth. Here’s a incredibly brief summary of the plot.

Two men and two women, who know they are going to die soon, undertake a pilgrimage to find their maker and persuade him to extend their lives. Ironically, an assassin is sent to kill them, because they should not be on the same world as their maker (whom I see as their metaphorical god). This potentially shortens their lives even more. One man and one woman are killed, but the other two manage to find their maker, Tyrell. He tells them that he made them as well as he could, but he could not find a way to lengthen their lives though he tried. He tries to comfort them by mentioning all the wonderful things they have seen and saying that “the life that shines twice as bright, burns for half as long”. The man, in frustration and anger at the maker/god for not being able to extend his life, kills him. The assassin now shows up and kills the woman. Then the man chases the assassin with the intent of killing him. But, all the while he is chasing the assassin, the man is dying. When he finally catches up with the assassin, being at the point of death himself, instead of killing the assassin, the man sits down with him and speaks of all the marvelous things he has witnessed and that “all these moments in time will be lost like tears in the rain” (a beautiful analogy, by the way). Then he dies. Then the assassin runs away with a replicant with whom he is in love and who happens to have a longer lifespan than the others.

Are we not in a parallel situation as the replicants? Our lives are short and we want them to be longer, but (so far as we know) our god could not make them longer. It is what it is. Our lifespans are what they are unless they are shortened even more by some external force. If we could, how many of us would try to find our maker/god and try to convince him to prolong our lives? But if He could not prolong them, would He try to comfort us by reminding us of all the things we have seen and experienced?

The theme seems to be that we should accept death as inevitable and our lives as too short, but we should also comfort ourselves with remembering all the good things we have experienced.

There are a lot more subtleties that I could extrapolate on, but to me this is the essence of the Bladerunner story.

Am I on the mark or off base? Is this being simplistic? Drop your thoughts into the comment box below.


Rural Fiction Magazine is Seeking Submissions

Rural Fiction Magazine, a sister publication of The Chamber, is seeking submissions. As with The Chamber, there is no pay except exposure, and, as with The Chamber, Rural Fiction Magazine (RFM) is endeavoring to reach a worldwide audience and is therefore seeking submissions from around the world. If you have something you think would interest an educated rural…

Rural Fiction Magazine, a sister publication of The Chamber, is seeking submissions. As with The Chamber, there is no pay except exposure, and, as with The Chamber, Rural Fiction Magazine (RFM) is endeavoring to reach a worldwide audience and is therefore seeking submissions from around the world. If you have something you think would interest an educated rural readership, please consider submitting it to RFM. Currently, the guidelines are essentially the same as The Chamber’s guidelines with few exceptions. For example, the word limit is 5,000 while The Chamber’s is 7,500, but with time RFM’s limit may increase.

What kind of material is RFM seeking? While The Chamber publishes primarily stories and poems of a dark nature, RFM hopes to publish works somewhat more upbeat. With RFM, as with The Chamber, genre is not important. RFM wants any material that might appeal to an educated rural audience.

RFM wants to rise above the long-held stereotypes of a rural populace being illiterate, uncultured, and narrow-minded and show that today’s rural populations tend to be educated and often very successful businesspeople. Rural people are no longer a lone farmer breaking the sod with a pair of horses pulling a plow over a few acres as they did 200 years ago. The rural landowner now operates combines and other equipment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars over hundreds or even thousands of acres. Rural workers are no longer illiterate sharecroppers but often have advanced college degrees in a wide variety of subjects. And rural people are no longer only farmers but may work or own businesses in any of hundreds of industries from trucking to shrimping to commercial fishing to the oil industry to any of hundreds of other examples. These are the people to which RFM wants to appeal.

Works submitted to RFM do not have to concern themselves solely with subjects of a beautiful or dramatic nature. Any topic that would be of interest to an educated rural populace is welcome, whether it is drama, tragedy, comedy, fantasy, mystery, folktale, legend, myth, historical, ghost stories, or anything at all. If in doubt, send it.

Thank you for your time and please seriously consider submitting to RFM.


Rural Fiction Magazine is Seeking Submissions

Rural Fiction Magazine, a sister publication of The Chamber, is seeking submissions. As with The Chamber, there is no pay except exposure, and, as with The Chamber, Rural Fiction Magazine (RFM) is endeavoring to reach a worldwide audience and is therefore seeking submissions from around the world. If you have something you think would interest an educated rural…

Rural Fiction Magazine, a sister publication of The Chamber, is seeking submissions. As with The Chamber, there is no pay except exposure, and, as with The Chamber, Rural Fiction Magazine (RFM) is endeavoring to reach a worldwide audience and is therefore seeking submissions from around the world. If you have something you think would interest an educated rural readership, please consider submitting it to RFM. Currently, the guidelines are essentially the same as The Chamber’s guidelines with few exceptions. For example, the word limit is 5,000 while The Chamber’s is 7,500, but with time RFM’s limit may increase.

What kind of material is RFM seeking? While The Chamber publishes primarily stories and poems of a dark nature, RFM hopes to publish works somewhat more upbeat. With RFM, as with The Chamber, genre is not important. RFM wants any material that might appeal to an educated rural audience.

RFM wants to rise above the long-held stereotypes of a rural populace being illiterate, uncultured, and narrow-minded and show that today’s rural populations tend to be educated and often very successful businesspeople. Rural people are no longer a lone farmer breaking the sod with a pair of horses pulling a plow over a few acres as they did 200 years ago. The rural landowner now operates combines and other equipment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars over hundreds or even thousands of acres. Rural workers are no longer illiterate sharecroppers but often have advanced college degrees in a wide variety of subjects. And rural people are no longer only farmers but may work or own businesses in any of hundreds of industries from trucking to shrimping to commercial fishing to the oil industry to any of hundreds of other examples. These are the people to which RFM wants to appeal.

Works submitted to RFM do not have to concern themselves solely with subjects of a beautiful or dramatic nature. Any topic that would be of interest to an educated rural populace is welcome, whether it is drama, tragedy, comedy, fantasy, mystery, folktale, legend, myth, historical, ghost stories, or anything at all. If in doubt, send it.

Thank you for your time and please seriously consider submitting to RFM.


“Invictus” Poem by William Ernest Henley

Phil’s note: This is one of my favorite poems of all time. Incredibly powerful. It’s said that Nelson Mandela used to recite it to other prisoners when he was incarcerated at Robben Island to give them strength…

William Ernext Henley (1849-1903)
William Ernext Henley (1849-1903)
Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

Phil’s note: This is one of my favorite poems of all time. Incredibly powerful. It’s said that Nelson Mandela used to recite it to other prisoners when he was incarcerated at Robben Island to give them strength.


William Ernest Henley (23 August 1849 – 11 July 1903) was an English poet, writer, critic and editor. Though he wrote several books of poetry, Henley is remembered most often for his 1875 poem “Invictus“. A fixture in London literary circles, the one-legged Henley might have been the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson‘s character Long John Silver (Treasure Island, 1883), while his young daughter Margaret Henley inspired J. M. Barrie‘s choice of the name Wendy for the heroine of his play Peter Pan (1904).[1][2] [from Wikipedia]

Here is a particularly interesting snippet from the Wikipedia article: “From the age of 12, Henley had tuberculosis of the bone that resulted in the amputation of his left leg below the knee in 1868–69.[4]: 35 [1][7] The early years of Henley’s life were punctuated by periods of extreme pain due to the draining of his tuberculosis abscesses. However, Henley’s younger brother Joseph recalled how after draining his joints the young Henley would “Hop about the room, laughing loudly and playing with zest to pretend he was beyond the reach of pain”.[8] According to Robert Louis Stevenson‘s letters, the idea for the character of Long John Silver was inspired by Stevenson’s real-life friend Henley.[3] In a letter to Henley after the publication of Treasure Island (1883), Stevenson wrote, “I will now make a confession: It was the sight of your maimed strength and masterfulness that begot Long John Silver … the idea of the maimed man, ruling and dreaded by the sound, was entirely taken from you.”[9] Stevenson’s stepson, Lloyd Osbourne, described Henley as “… a great, glowing, massive-shouldered fellow with a big red beard and a crutch; jovial, astoundingly clever, and with a laugh that rolled like music; he had an unimaginable fire and vitality; he swept one off one’s feet.”[10]:


Historical Accuracy in Works of Fiction

Historical Accuracy in Works of Fiction--PhilSlattery.org

A week or so ago, a contributor submitted a work of historical fiction that had an error in it that was obvious to me, though it probably wasn’t to a lot of readers. I replied that I would reconsider the work (it was nicely written and had a good plot and ending) if he would change that error into something more plausible, which he did and I accepted his work.

I feel it is necessary to be as historically accurate as possible in the details of a work, even if the entire point of the plot is a theoretical scenario, as in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, in which Hitler and his retinue are assassinated in a French theatre in 1944. Although this premise is fantasy, details as to uniforms, equipment, accents, were meticulous. The one detail that impressed me the most was when toward the end of the movie, two of the Basterds (Donowitz and Utivich) kill the guards outside Hitler’s theatre box. Utivich (the “little man” as he is called elsewhere) uses a glove-gun, which is a single-shot .22 caliber pistol attached to the back of a leather glove and fired by punching someone. This was a little known assassination weapon used during WWII. I happen to know, because during summer breaks at college, I worked at the Kentucky Military History Museum, which happened to have one identical to the one Utivich uses. To know that Tarantino watched his details to such a meticulous degree, helped me enjoy the movie.

On the other hand, I have often gone to movies with friends who could not enjoy the movie because some detail was inconsistent. For example, the patches on Tom Cruise’s flight jacket in Top Gun were not ones a true Naval aviator would wear. I know because I used to wear a flight jacket when I served in an A-6 squadron (VA-95, the Green Lizards) aboard the Enterprise as did most of my squadron mates, and I, as everyone else did, had lots of patches on my jacket to commemorate various operations or units I was in. This kind of inconsistency can ruin a movie for a lot of meticulous people, which is bad for the movie.

Another movie that is guilty of this and with which I have an indirect connection is An Officer and a Gentleman, in which a young man (Richard Gere) goes through naval aviator basic training at the Navy’s Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS). The movie was released in 1982 and I graduated from AOCS in May 1985. It sometimes annoys me that the movie received as much critical acclaim as it did, even though much of what occurred was preposterous. For example, AOCS, when I attended it, was in Pensacola, Florida. The movie was set in Port Townsend, Washington. I know because my first duty station, once out of training, was at Whidbey Island, Washington, a few miles across Puget Sound from Port Townsend. I would go drinking occasionally in Port Townsend and I have a t-shirt from the bar where Richard Gere had a fight with the locals. I have passed by the hotel where Gere’s friend hung himself several times, and I once went up to the Coast Guard station a few miles north, where the base scenes were filmed. Combined with the other errors in the film, for me watching An Officer and a Gentleman is more comedy than drama.

The magic of writing a story is to have the reader become so immersed in it that they mentally and emotionally become part of the story. They lose themselves in the story. This cannot happen if some detail is out of sync with the rest of the story. I don’t want this to happen in any of the stories I write, and I don’t want it to happen in any of the stories I publish. If I were to make a lot of mistakes in my details, I would garner a reputation as a sloppy, careless author which might inhibit me from being published in finer magazines or in having a book published. I can no more afford to neglect the details in my stories (or in those of my contributors) than I can in my grammar, spelling, or punctuation.

Here is an example of the lengths to which I like to go to ensure my stories cover their details and are as meticulously crafted as I can make them. Several years ago, I wrote a story called “Shapeshifter” about an alleged werewolf in early 17th century France. When I finished the final draft of the story, I sent it to a friend of mine who is well-read in history. In one scene the protagonist, a wolf falsely accused of being a werewolf, hides in a cathedral. He enters through an open door, runs down the aisle between the pews, and hides in the choir box. On reading this, my friend asked, “did they have pews in France at that time?” This is something I had never thought of. I researched it and found that by the time the story was set, pews had been appearing in churches for about fifty years.

I learned a lesson from that experience, because I always want to be taken seriously as a writer and no one will take me seriously, if I am careless about details. The more careless I am, the less seriously they will take me, but the more careful I am, the more seriously they will take me. This is true of any endeavor.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope that you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Hasta luego.

Please leave any comments or questions below.


If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy some of my stories, which can be found around the Internet and on this page.

Rights and the Small Publisher

Rights and the Small Publisher

Last night, I posted a rather lengthy comment to a post in Lit Mag News about rights and reprints. It was so long that I thought it would be a shame for it to be seen only there and so I thought I would post an expanded and refined version here for your enjoyment and possibly enlightenment.

***

I publish one small online magazine (thechambermagazine.com) that has been online since December 2020 and am toying with maybe starting one or two more. I see rights as being important if the author being published is well known.

If I publish one of my stories (one that I authored) for the first time anywhere, the general reaction from the reading public will be to the effect of “who cares?”. If Stephen King publishes a new story in, let’s say, the New Yorker, then it’s a big deal. Everyone and his brother will want to read the new Stephen King story the moment it is out and will be willing to pay whatever it takes to read that story. And the way for the New Yorker to maximize their profits on that story is to ensure they are the only ones to have it for a certain period. That is where rights come into play.

But for most writers, even if they are paid at pro rates, they don’t stand to make a lot of money off short stories. The money has been in novels for a long time. The only real value in a short story for a writer is exposure. It keeps that author’s name and talent in front of the public, so they don’t forget him when his novel comes out. They can also help expand the writer’s readership by introducing that writer to a part of the public who has never seen his work.

The key to the entire writing game is exposure. The bigger the readership an author has, the bigger his income is. So, when authors submit stories to my magazine knowing that I cannot pay for them, they do know they will get exposure and another publication credit, and their reputation is bolstered a little for being published among other high-quality authors.

Do I care if a story I publish is a reprint? No. Like someone said elsewhere in the comments, having a previous publication credit is a sign the story is of decent quality (depending on the mag of course). I like publishing a story by a well-known author for the first time, but it’s not critical to me. Anything I print, so long as it is quality material, builds my mag’s reputation and draws more attention to the magazine and ergo increases my readership, who will hopefully come to the website and buy something or make a donation.

Do I care if a story printed somewhere else the next day? No. There are thousands of magazines out there in the literary ether and odds are slim that someone who read a story in my mag (The Chamber Magazine) will read it in another mag the next day. Besides, would seeing a story you know is previously published and is a reprint stop you from reading the mag that reprinted it? Probably not. There will probably be a lot of other stories in that mag that you haven’t read. If someone were copying my magazine issues story by story and publishing them under a different name, that would be another matter, but I have never heard of anyone doing that.

All this would change for me if my circulation were to jump to over 500,000 next week. Then I would want to be a magazine in which all the stories were by nationally known authors and were all being printed for the first time. That would draw a huge readership and involve a lot of money. Rights would be everything then. But in my current very low position on the literary totem pole, rights just don’t mean a lot. I just need good-quality stories that will draw an audience whether or not they already been published. Besides, if a well-known author (we’ll use Stephen King again as a theoretical example) wanted me to reprint one of his short stories, I would say “HELL, YEAH!” Because I need to build my mag’s reputation and place in the public view and having Stephen King listed among my authors would garner me a much larger audience. When an author is printed in a magazine, that story will attract that author’s readership to that mag.

I could go on like this for a while, but I think you get the idea that I am trying to get across. Rights are primarily important if you are publishing a lot of well-known authors whose followers/fanbase want to read his/her stories the instant one is out. Then you want to have a stranglehold on the exposure for all those stories for at least a little while, so that everyone will buy your mag to read those stories they can read nowhere else. But at my low level, it’s a different world.


This was only a first draft (the only difference between what is above and the original is that I corrected one unintended omission and maybe a couple of typos), which will probably raise more questions than it answers. Because I was just commenting on someone else’s post and there were a lot of other comments, I tried to keep my response reasonably brief, which left out a lot of perspectives I would have preferred to address. For that reason, please feel free to ask questions or to comment below. Maybe at some point in the not-too-distant future, I will be able to expand this into the discussion I feel it should be.


You are Invited to The Chamber Magazine’s Commemoration of Jack the Ripper’s Murder Spree (August 31-November 9)

In the spirit of the horror and true crime genres, over the next several weeks in its blog, The Chamber is commemorating the horrific murder spree of the infamous Jack the Ripper during the late summer and early fall of 1888.

Une rue de Whitechapel Le dernier crime de Jack l'Éventreur

In the spirit of the horror and true crime genres, over the next several weeks in its blog, The Chamber is commemorating the horrific murder spree of the infamous Jack the Ripper during the late summer and early fall of 1888. At 10:00 a.m. (US Central Time) on the anniversary of each of the five “canonical” murders (August 31, September 8, September 30, and November 9) , The Chamber will run a documentary on Jack the Ripper from YouTube along with a few other esoteric tidbits of information. So grab the tea or coffee of you choice and a light breakfast and join us for should be four intense yet fascinating mornings.

Returned to Rohwer War Relocation Center Today

Rohwer Relocation Center Monument, Photo by Phil Slattery, July 5, 2020
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I have been trying lately to create my own YouTube videos and develop The Chamber’s (and mine) YouTube channel to a greater degree to attract an audience. Over the last few nights, I have made a few videos utilizing my iPhone and a photographer’s tripod. This combination makes excellent videos. However, I do have a problem uploading them to YouTube, but I am hoping to work that out soon.

Today, I thought I would make a video on how to submit a story or poem to The Chamber. I pondering this on my return to Gillett from Dumas today, where I had picked up a few groceries, medicine, etc. early this afternoon. When I started to pass the turn-off to Rohwer, it occurred to me that there is no place better suited to discuss a magazine of dark literature than at a location where a dark chapter of American History took place: Rohwer War Relocation Center National Historic Landmark.

Update November 8, 2022: I am finally returning to this post after having let it slip my mind for about two months. I did go down to Rohwer and set up my iPhone on a tripod and attempted to record a video on submitting stories to The Chamber. Setting up the camera (because of my background in photography) was simple but getting my voice to be fluent and near flawless proved difficult. I stumbled over words like I do in my daily speech, but any miniscule mistake or flaw shows up like a flare in the final cut. This is why I rarely do videos of myself–even though people who have heard me interview on the radio tell me that I have a voice for radio. I still don’t like the sound of it personally. Hearing my own recorded voice makes me feel awkward.

Rohwer War Relocation Center is an interesting place to visit. Now it is a little speck of park in the center of what seems to be nearly endless cotton fields. It is hard to imagine living in this camp and working in the cotton fields during hot summer days and then returning to the spartan conditions at the camp at the end of the day. You should drop by if you are ever in the area, which is kind of remote and off a back road northeast of McGehee, Arkansas. There are some monuments to the Japanese-Americans who served the US during WWII, a small cemetery, and several wayside exhibits describing life at the camp. A couple of miles farther south is the old train stop/ end of the line, where the prisoners got off the train. It is well preserved and has a couple of wayside exhibits. In McGehee, there is a whole museum to the camp, but my lousy timing hasn’t allowed me to get to it when it’s open yet.

I will probably go back for a third visit and take some serious photos to put in the Wikipedia article or maybe try another shot at a video for the YouTube page.

Take care.

My Short Story “Letters” to be Published in Fiction on the Web on January 13

Just now, I received word that my short story “Letters” will appear in Fiction on the Web, a UK online magazine published by Charlie Fish, on January 13. Charlie has some impressive writing credentials (see the Fiction on the Web About page) and I am always honored to be published by him.

Just now, I received word that my short story “Letters” will appear in Fiction on the Web, a UK online magazine published by Charlie Fish, on January 13. Charlie has some impressive writing credentials (see the Fiction on the Web About page) and I am always honored to be published by him.

“Letters” is dark sort of love story, but I won’t say more than that or I will ruin the story for you. It is rather short (1,424 words), but I think it is powerful. I decided last week that I needed to publish a short story and while I was trying to decide which of my many drafts I wanted to finish, I hit upon the idea for “Letters” and wrote it in an evening. What you will see is the one and only draft. Had I gone back over it a few times, I could have improved the phrasing and details of the vocabulary, but I was eager to have something published. This is the first story I have had published in a long time.

I chose to publish it in Fiction on the Web, because Charlie Fish has been gracious enough to publish eight of my stories since 2015, and I thought this might be a good fit for Fiction on the Web. If you would like to read my other stories that have been published on Fiction on the Web, just go to the website and punch my name into the search bar.

What I like about being published on Fiction on the Web is the amount of comments I receive on my works. I have received several with each story and they all seem honest and straightforward and almost all are very positive. I have always enjoyed reading them, and I have learned a few things from their constructive criticism.

Thanks for taking the time to read my brief note and I hope you will return from time to time.

You might also want to check out my own online magazine The Chamber. The Chamber publishes a new issue on the first Friday of every month. It appears to be growing in popularity. As of October, The Chamber had had more views and visitors than in all of 2021.

Currently, I strive to publish at least 40,000 words of prose with each issue, so that each month my audience receives the equivalent of a small novel. I don’t include poetry in that word count. So, any poems are over and above whatever the prose count is for that issue.

Take care. Hasta luego.

Update: Commencing Search for an Agent

Now that I am over halfway finished with the final draft of Shadows and Stars, I am starting my search for an agent.

I started the search this evening by perusing a few of the agents listed in Poets and Writers. I have no idea what to look for in an agent, but I have to begin somewhere, and I will learn as I progress. I will try to keep my readers informed on my progress with an occasional update as I learn the system.

The first thing I learned in the Poets and Writers listings, was to go directly to the company’s website and find the specifics of what the company wants and to look over the authors they represent and any lists of the books they represent. This tells me whether I will fit in the company.

Of course, the first thing I look for are the genres they are interested in representing. If my genre is not listed, I will try another agent.

I also found out that literary agents will represent different types of works such as novels, screenplays, and theatrical works. As I have two plays in the works, I need an agent who can handle novels and plays and anything else I write. So, if they don’t represent plays, I move on.

I also noted that one agent would consider submissions, if they were exclusive to that agent. This was something I had not considered: is it common to have more than one agent? I assume that you would have only one agent per novel. Otherwise, things very confusing and very expensive very fast. In any case, I am not interested in having more than one agent. Baby steps first.

I also learned to read the fine print on the website and to read the submission guidelines meticulously as I did when submitting short stories to magazines. That can make all the difference in whether my work is accepted. I have taken this to heart since I started The Chamber and now see things from a publisher’s/ editor’s perspective.

Anyway, it’s bedtime. I will wrap this up now and maybe write more on my agent hunt in a day or two.

Take care.

Update: Progress on My Novel Shadows and Stars

For the last week I have been focusing on completing the final draft of my novel Shadows and Stars. Tonight, I reached the halfway point, page 165 of 330. The end is coming into view. After I finish this draft, I will start looking for an agent.

For the last week I have been focusing on completing the final draft of my novel Shadows and Stars. Tonight, I reached the halfway point, page 165 of 330. The end is coming into view. After I finish this draft, which should be in 1-2 weeks, I will start looking for an agent.

Then it is on to the next novel: Lycanthrope, whose first draft is almost complete. I may need to take it through another two to three drafts before it is finished.

I have more novels waiting in the wings once Lycanthrope is finished.

You are Invited to The Chamber Magazine’s Commemoration of Jack the Ripper’s Murder Spree (August 31-November 9)

In the spirit of the horror and true crime genres, over the next several weeks in its blog, The Chamber is commemorating the horrific murder spree of the infamous Jack the Ripper during the late summer and early fall of 1888.

In the spirit of the horror and true crime genres, over the next several weeks in its blog, The Chamber is commemorating the horrific murder spree of the infamous Jack the Ripper during the late summer and early fall of 1888. At 10:00 a.m. (US Central Time) on the anniversary of each of the five “canonical” murders (August 31, September 8, September 30, and November 9) , The Chamber will run a documentary on Jack the Ripper from YouTube along with a few other esoteric tidbits of information. So grab the tea or coffee of you choice and a light breakfast and join us for should be four intense yet fascinating mornings.

Few Changes Made to The Chamber

I just want to drop a quick note that I made some changes to The Chamber today and I have more planned…

I just want to drop a quick note that I made some changes to The Chamber today and I have more planned.

I added widgets to go to The Chamber’s Instagram and YouTube pages. I should have thought of this long ago. While the YouTube link goes directly to the YouTube Channel, the Instagram link goes to another page on the website, where the latest thirty posts are shown. Then another, prominent link will take you to the Instagram page. I could have just set up a link like the one to the YouTube channel, that takes one directly to the Instagram page. However, WordPress has a feature where one can show as many of his/her Instagram posts on one page as he/she wants, which may actually be better than the official Instagram page, because it is limited in how many posts you can show at one time. A person can go to The Chamber’s Instagram page and quickly get a good overview of what is on the Instagram page.

I also put a link to the Bookshop.org twitter feed in the sidebar. Note that it is next to the widget that takes one to the Bookshop. I also changed the name on the widget from “Bookstore” to “Bookshop.org” and I changed the photo on the widget. The twitter feed is large and prominent. People can’t help but see it and then, hopefully, see the Bookshop widget next to it. Maybe this will result in a few sales.

I also removed four of the links to Zazzle products, so that I could insert the Bookshop Twitter feed and not have the sidebar extend past the “Like This” buttons, which I thought would look unprofessional.

I am working a lot with Instagram and YouTube these days to develop decent videos and posts that will attract more viewers. The Instagram post at the top is an example.

I am considering changing the overall theme of the website, so that I have more room for links, widgets, ads, and what have you. But I will think that through thoroughly first.

That’s all for now.

Hasta luego.

You are Invited to The Chamber Magazine’s Commemoration of Jack the Ripper’s Murder Spree (August 31-November 9)

In the spirit of the horror and true crime genres, over the next several weeks in its blog, The Chamber is commemorating the horrific murder spree of the infamous Jack the Ripper during the late summer and early fall of 1888.

In the spirit of the horror and true crime genres, over the next several weeks in its blog, The Chamber is commemorating the horrific murder spree of the infamous Jack the Ripper during the late summer and early fall of 1888. At 10:00 a.m. (US Central Time) on the anniversary of each of the five “canonical” murders (August 31, September 8, September 30, and November 9) , The Chamber will run a documentary on Jack the Ripper from YouTube along with a few other esoteric tidbits of information. So grab the tea or coffee of you choice and a light breakfast and join us for should be four intense yet fascinating mornings.

In the Latest Issue

“His Assitant”, Dark Fiction by Patrick Crossen, is now live at The Chamber.

Patrick Crossen is a writer living in Pittsburgh, PA trying to balance reading, birdwatching, writing, and breathing. When he’s not writing, he’s eagerly checking under bushes and stones for the pixies he knows are watching his every move. But he’s not paranoid.