bits and pieces

A photo from the archives. This golf ball had been pressed into the fresh concrete of a sidewalk near my home, and weather and usage had cracked away the thin layer above it, revealing the incongruous ball below. Since there are no courses nearby, the ball was evidently placed here deliberately. This patch of sidewalk has since been replaced, so this little mystery is no longer there.

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Have you ever seen or heard of a menace being dismissed as “moonlight”? That the menace is more imagined than substantive? I mean beyond the literal sense of a shadowy something cast by weak light from the moon. More in the way of a noun. “You’re nothing more than moonlight!”

I’m using it much this way in Ouroboros when a character has very little to work with (moonlight) but needs to make some big conclusions.

It seems like I’ve seen this usage, but I can’t find it as a legit definition anywhere. (If not, then I’m going to use my writerly privilege to evolve the meaning of the word!)

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We’ve named our kitchen table Autumn because it is always dropping its leaves.

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I had worried that One-Match Fire was not going to be publishable as a novel because ten of its twenty-four chapters have already been published as stand-alone stories. I even asked about this on various publishing-related blogs and message boards, but I got contradictory responses. Some insisted that I had forfeited first rights to the whole by publishing some of the parts so no publisher would touch the novel. Others had never heard of such a thing and thought that this history showed the whole had a market. One publisher I was interested in (whose submission window finally opened this month) was unclear about it in the guidelines, so I wrote to the email address they listed for questions. I got a response within a few hours from the editor herself saying that she’d heard of this “stigma” but that she didn’t think it was valid, certainly not with the indie presses. (She also said that getting ten of the stories in print already was impressive, which was a nice word to carry me into the weekend.) So I submitted the novel to this press. Whether they bite on the whole or not is dependent on their stylistic judgment, but at least I know that it has a chance.

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My friend Peter Anderson had one of the short stories in his collection, Where the Marshland Came to Flower, reviewed last week on the Story366 blog. The editor there is reviewing a short story every day of this leap year, and last week he reviewed one of Anderson’s from his collection. The title of the collection is from a poem by Nelson Algren. (And one of the stories had been previously published prior to the whole.)

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In Ouroboros, I have a semi-literate character use the word “accept” in place of “except” in an email. Funny, then, that in my re-read this weekend I found myself using “except” when I meant to say “expect.”

Explore posts in the same categories: Fathers and Sons, Ramblings Off Topic

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5 Comments on “bits and pieces”


  1. Poets publish much of their first book elsewhere in journals. You only have to worry about if the stories have been published as a whole or partial whole in a book (excepting anthologies). Ten is also less than half of the book, which makes it still impressive, but definitely means you are presenting new content to the world.


  2. I think the best plan is just submit. Rules seem…meant to be broken. I’m normally not like that with publishing, but the more episodes of the Otherppl podcast I listen to — hearing authors talk about how they got published — it almost seems those who are a bit more bold have better luck than people like me playing by “rules.”

    Hell, I’ve heard someone say, “I had part of the opening of my novel published in a literary journal…and I didn’t want to write the whole thing if it wasn’t going to sell…so I sent what I had to the person who is now my agent. They were fine with it, took me on, and THEN I finished the novel.”

    So if a new writer who didn’t want to finish a novel [unless there was a promise of likely publication and pay] can sell a novel based on a snippet being published, I’m guessing you’re fine.

  3. pete29anderson Says:

    Individual stories and chapter excerpts are routinely published prior to book publication. So any publisher who tells you that this stigmatizes a book doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

    Thanks for shout on “Constant Volume.” I’m not sure that Mike really got my point about the story, but everyone has their own interpretation, which is fascinating to experience.

  4. markparis Says:

    LangaugeLog had an interesting post on “homophonically induced typing errors.” It’s here: https://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=46720

  5. markparis Says:

    And I see I made a pure spelling error on that comment.


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