Update of September 5: “The Interrogation of General Tsak” and the Search for Reviewers Continues

I have spent a long time writing a short story entitled “The Interrogation of General Tsak” and I finished it today. I can take a quick breather before I get back to Shadows and Stars.

Phil Slattery portrait
Phil Slattery
March, 2015

This is the story of a self-centered Air Force colonel who is interrogating a captured,princiled alien general after a failed invasion of Earth at the end of a decade-long war. It is 5,813 words in length.

As I wrote this off and on over the last several months, I kept discovering more and more nuances that I had to answer in order to avoid any plot holes. I really hate to leave any plot holes in a serious story. It makes me appear careless and unprofessional. I have finally worked them all out and the story is now intricately woven together like a weaver finch’s nest. I hope it holds together as well.

I had intended to spend the day working on Shadows and Stars, but over the last few days, I have had an inexplicable drive to finish this story and to cover all the minute details. I have spent the day doing that and running a few errands. I feel this is a story that will fall apart if something is overlooked.

I have submitted the story to The Dark magazine. I should hear from them soon.

One of the errands I ran today was to mail a copy of Nocturne to American Book Review. Hopefully, I will get a good review from them. Wish me well.

I spent a lot of yesterday researching getting my books carried by libraries. In order to be carried by a major library, a book needs good reviews in a respected journal. Unfortunately, I have been trying to find reviewers on Amazon and Goodreads and on various websites. I have also learned that libraries also prefer to purchase books from Ingram Spark or another wholesaler rather than directly from a website such as Amazon.

This is another reason I need to pursue publishing the print versions of my works with Ingram-Spark. I have started the process with A Tale of Hell and Other Works of Horror. So far, I like the process more than I like the Amazon process. I have more control over how my final work will appear among other things. I will probably publish Nocturne with them next.

So now I am trying to find ways to be reviewed in a journal respected by major libraries. I am finding out that there several of these. Of course, each has a different submittal process. I will take it a step at a time as usual.

Photoshopped painting of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci wearing a medical face mask to prevent spreading COVID-19/Coronavirus
Prevent the spread of the Coronavirus/COVID-19.

Major libraries also like to carry books that are in the Library of Congress. Unfortunately, for a self-published book to be carried in the Library of Congress, it must be submitted unpublished. I will have to give this a shot with my next self-published book, which may be another collection of my horror shorts. It might be another poetry book if I can find more of my poems from the 80’s-90’s.

Let me know your thoughts and suggestions.

Don’t forget to like, comment, and subscribe.

Hasta luego.



Thoughts on Voice

The blogger on Padre Island, January, 2011.
The blogger on Padre Island, January, 2011.

I just want to post a few quick thoughts for the night on the topic of voice in narration versus narration in dialogue.   The opinions I state here may change with time as I learn more of the art of writing, but these are my feelings for now.

Unless there is a specific reason to give the narrator an accent or flaws in his speech, the narrator’s grammar and speaking should be perfect.  To my mind, this establishes a baseline against which the characters’ voices can be heard.  It also establishes the author’s expertise and shows that the author knows what he/she is doing with regards to the language.   If the narrator’s speech is perfect, then any accents or flaws or flourishes in the characters’ speech can be seen more distinctly.  I believe the narrator’s voice (unless there is a specific reason for otherwise) should be simple, clear, and free from anything that might draw away the reader’s attention from the storyline.  When I read, I am very focused on understanding the interaction of the characters, their solutions to problems and situations in the story, how the plot is developing and so forth.  If the narration is overly ornate or full of irregularities or intricate devices and I have to resort to a dictionary to understand what is happening, my reading is interrupted, my concentration is broken, and my enjoyment of the story is diminished.

On the other hand, once the narrative baseline has been established, I can play with the character’s speaking styles in any number of ways and they will (hopefully) be more obvious because they stand in contrast to the narration.  Again, unless a specific reason exists for doing otherwise, their voices should be clear and easy to understand.  An example of this might  be the case of a scientist, whose complex mind is shown by his use of scientific jargon and overly complex sentences.   An example at the other end of the spectrum might be an illiterate bumpkin, who uses very simple words, bad grammar, and frequent vulgarities.   Of course, you might also show that there is a hidden side to the character by their speech patterns.  Suppose that the bumpkin mentioned above every now and then showed that there was more to him than met the eye by using scientific jargon or by having exceptional command of English.

I also like to toy with being able to distinguish characters by speech patterns and jargon.  A sailor might use a lot of nautical terminology and Navy slang, but the reader might also be able to identify him through repeated use of a certain term.  I used to have a friend that used the word “Whatever!” very frequently.  His speech would be very easy to pick out in a dialogue of several people, even if the narrator did not state specifically who was speaking.

Thoughts?  Comments?