"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

2023 Banned Books Week

October 1 is the beginning of "BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2023". Below is a couple of lists of the most frequently challenged books.

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.

The Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged books list is compiled by the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and is based on or derived from communities across the United States. However, this year (2022) they increased their list to the 13 most challenged. See that list here.

Levar Burton is the Honorary Chair of this year's "BANNED BOOKS WEEK". You can learn more about him and this activities this week at: Banned Books Week | October 1 – 7, 2023

You can also view previous lists by year as well at OIF. The list of the most banned books for 2023 will be available in April of 2024. However, if you're curious about the most frequently banned books of all time in America:


Some books have been repeatedly banned or challenged throughout history. This is a list of books that appear the most often on THE UNITED STATES banned books lists.

If you would like more information about banned and challenged books, contact the Office for Intellectual Freedom at (800) 545-2433, ext. 4220, or oif@ala.org. Another god source of information on banned books is the "Libraries and Center for Academic Technology" site by Butler University: https://libguides.butler.edu/c.php?g=34189&p=217684

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

IWSG: How has it helped?

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

Now, IWSG hosts have changed up the format in an effort to make it more fun and interactive. Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.

The IWSG celebrates 12 years today! When did you discover the IWSG, how do you connect, and how has it helped you?

MY ANSWER - I came across the IWSG in 2014. I was immediately drawn to the idea of a support community for writers. We don't all have friends and family that can both support and understand what and why we write so this group was needed and appreciated by so many. I don't think I have missed a monthly posting since I joined nine years ago. While I don't always interact at the level and frequency I would wish, it's been nice knowing the group was there and reaching out to each other every month like clockwork - something and someone to count on. This group has offered support, education, encouragement, and inspiration. I wish they still held the annual anthology contest/call, but I appreciate how many members are still there supporting each other in their individual pursuits. If you've never joined, please consider doing so.

How about you? Are you a member of the IWSG? If so, when did you discover the IWSG, how do you connect, and how has it helped you?

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Taking Time to Transition

 Hello all!

This summer, I finally completed another goal. Since then, I have taken on a new job and I'm working to learn new skills and transition into a new position with my students - both at the high school and college level.

This has left me without much time to write, or anything else, but I wouldn't have it any other way right now. Wish me luck!

How about you? What goals are you working to accomplish? I wish you the best of luck!

Monday, August 7, 2023

National Book Lover's

I hope you're enjoying an excellent read today!

If you've never heard of this celebration, National Book Lovers Day harnesses all the excitement bibliophiles feel about books into one celebration on August 9th. *Bibliophile – a person who has a great appreciation for or collects books.

A day for all those who love to read, National Book Lovers Day encourages you to find your favorite reading place, a good book (whether it be fiction or non-fiction) and read the day away.
Curious about the history of this day, or how others are spending it? Check out:

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

IWSG: Conflicted Writer

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

Now, IWSG hosts have changed up the format in an effort to make it more fun and interactive. Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.

Have you ever written something that afterwards you felt conflicted about? If so, did you let it stay how it was, take it out, or rewrite it?

MY ANSWER - Yes. Sometimes, in fiction, it was just a scene that didn't sit right because it went against the characters. In my nonfiction, I know some of the things I've written would hurt others. However, for my own catharsis, I had to write about those people or events. After I get it out, I step back and try to decide if it has value to anyone else, or if it was just for myself. Sometimes, this is a difficult decision to make so I just keep it to myself until I feel a need to put it out into the world.

How about you? Have you ever written something that afterwards you felt conflicted about? If so, did you let it stay how it was, take it out, or rewrite it?

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

17 Submission Opportunities With Looming Deadlines


Artisans of the Soul: An Anthology of Teacher Appreciation
This is an anthology by Energy Threads. Their guidelines say, “Everyone talks about how courageous it is to be a teacher and how they touch lives, and yet we can never seem to adequately capture the heart of a teacher through short conversations in passing. … We are looking for pieces that specifically highlight the strength, courage, and commitment of teachers to their students. Pieces must be from the perspective of the teacher so that you can fully highlight the heart and soul of the teacher or mentor you are writing about. Genres are limited to general fiction, realism, magical realism, creative nonfiction, fantasy, and literary.”  And, “A small select amount of poetry, drabbles, and flash pieces will be considered if it meets the theme and is strong enough to stand with the rest of the selected pieces.”
Deadline: 31 July 2023, or until filled
Length:2,500-7,500 words for fiction and nonfiction
Pay: $5-25

Taco Bell Quarterly
Their guidelines say, “Taco Bell Quarterly seeks literary/creative essays, short stories, fiction/prose, poems, comics, art, one act plays, fever dreams, multimedia, stupid status updates, criticisms, manifestos, recipes and anything else that explore any and all elements of Taco Bell. Or not. Shoehorn a chalupa in your short story. Maybe we’ll love it. An elegy for the discontinued menu items? Fine. …  Something that  introduces us to inventive form, dynamic language, and strong voice. Or perhaps it does none of the above. … We lean towards pieces that are queer and center their pain/joy in a Taco Bell.”
Deadline: 31 July 2023
Length: 500-1,500 words
Pay: $100
here and here.

Spoon Knife Anthology: Smoke & Mirrors
Spoon Knife is an anthology published by the NeuroQueer Books imprint (which focuses on queerness and neurodivergence) of 
Autonomous Press; the theme is ‘Smoke and Mirrors’. “Autonomous Press is now accepting submissions of short fiction, short literary memoir, and poetry for the eighth volume of Spoon Knife, our annual genre-bending lit anthology. … The theme for Spoon Knife 8 is Smoke & Mirrors. All submissions should touch in some way or another on this theme, but it can be interpreted as broadly and strangely as you like, and as literally or figuratively as you like (i.e., actual smoke and actual mirrors need not appear).”
Deadline: 31 July 2023
Length: Up to 3 poems, up to 10,000 words for prose (see guidelines)
Pay: $20, and $0.01/word (see guidelines)

Brink Journal: Relief
Their guidelines say, “we accept a variety of creative work from Nonfiction to Fiction, from Poetry to Translation. But our hearts beat strongest for hybrid work that falls into the cross-genre category we call Evocations. We are interested in work that presses boundaries, uses more than one medium to tell a story, and both looks and feels different on the page. Additionally, we look for submissions that engage the theme of each issue as well as the idea of being on the brink.” They are looking for submissions on the ‘Relief’ theme. “Relief is a form of ease, yes. It’s a delicious feeling of release. It’s that hopeful buoyancy caused by reassurance that overrides our systems when pain and distress are alleviated. Relief is physical. It’s emotional and mental, too. But as a concept, relief implies so much more than deliverance from discomfort. Relief connotes the remains of a thing left behind; the residue, the leftover, the left behind. That which stands when everything else lifts away. Relief is assistance that arrives in the form of aid, support, or help in a time of danger, need, or difficulty. Relief is a distinct vivid contrast.
You can throw things into relief. You can bring things into relief. Show us, create for us, those exact things. Take us to the edge, the brink, of relief.”
Deadline: 31 July 2023
Length: Unspecified
Pay: $25-100
here and here.
(And Block Party Magazine wants submissions for the Home theme. They publish Canadian, and also international writers. They pay $10. The deadline is 15 August 2023. Details 
herehere, and here.)

Written Backwards: Qualia Nous, Vol. 2 Anthology

They want dark science fiction and all blended sub-genres of science fiction (horror, fantasy, etc.) stories and poems. “What does the title mean? It’s up to interpretation. Qualia: instances of subjective, conscious experience; the internal and subjective component of sense perceptions arising from stimulation of the senses by phenomena; the way it feels to have mental states. Nous: intellections; awareness; perception; understanding; reason; thought; intuition; the faculty of the human mind; having the ability to understand what is true or real; practical intelligence.
While not many like the term “literary,” that is what this anthology is looking for: groundbreaking work that break normal conventions and will stand the test of time, propelling emerging and undiscovered writers into the mainstream.”
Deadline: 31 July 2023
Length: Up to 10,000 words for fiction
Pay: $0.10/word capped at 3,000 words for short fiction ($300), 5,000 words for long fiction ($500 for novelettes between 7,500 – 10,000 words); $50 for short poems, or $100 for long poems.

Escape Artists: PseudoPod – Anthologies and Collections Reprint Call

PseudoPod publishes horror fiction in audio and online formats. “We’re looking for horror: dark, weird fiction. We run the spectrum from grim realism or crime drama, to magic-realism, to blatantly supernatural dark fantasy. We publish highly literary stories reminiscent of Poe or Lovecraft as well as vulgar shock-value pulp fiction. We don’t split hairs about genre definitions, and we do not observe any taboos about what kind of content can appear in our stories. Originality demands that you’re better off avoiding vampires, zombies, and other recognizable horror tropes unless you have put a very unique spin on them. What matters most is that the stories are dark and compelling.” Until 31st July 2023, they are accepting reprints only, for their 
Anthologies and Collections call – they want to purchase submissions of “reprints from anthologies and collections released at any point in 2023.” (And for a brief period in August, they will be open for unthemed/general original horror fiction submissions; see their schedule. Do not send original fiction now.)
Deadline: 31 July 2023 for reprints
Length: Up to 6,000 words
Pay: $20-100 for general reprints
here (guidelines for general submissions) and here  (Submission portal and details of the reprint call).
(– Also, Cosmic Horror Monthly, which publishes horror and weird fiction and related nonfiction, is open for submission until 7th July 2023. They pay $0.03/word for stories up to 5,000 words, up to $150. Details 
— Another project open now is the Sonoran Horror anthology from Aphotic Realm Magazine – they want dark, sinister, or eerie stories, “horror that showcases the sunbeaten land and the creatures and mysteries that dwell there”; pay is $0.01/word for stories of 1,000-5,000 words, and the deadline is 15 July 2023. Details 

— The Cellar Door Issue #4: After Tomorrow is accepting submissions too, they want “post-apocalyptic suspense/horror stories about how mankind has come to survive after our near annihilation. Humorous stories are welcome.” Pay is $25 for stories of 2,000-10,000 words, and the deadline is 31 July 2023; details here.)

Flash Frog: Flash Frogtober

They want flash fiction that is “Small. Brightly Colored. Deadly to the Touch.” They accept general submissions year-round, with some exceptions; they accept ghost story submissions during July. “Flash Frog is currently only open for Flash Frogtober submissions until July 31st. This means we want your ghost stories! Send us your traditional ghost stories, the ones that haunt and scare. Send us your unconventional ghost stories, the ones that make us rethink what a ghost story can be. We are open to your interpretation, so surprise us!”
Deadline: 31 July 2023 for ghost story submissions
Length: Up to 1,000 words
Pay: $25
(And December Tales II Anthology from Curious Blue Press is also looking for ghost story submissions of 2,000-3,500 words. Pay is $25, and the deadline is 15 July 2023. Details 

FIYAH: Belonging
They publish speculative fiction by Black writers of the African Diaspora. They also publish nonfiction and poetry. They are reading submissions on the ‘Belonging’ theme, in collaboration with the Othering and Belonging Institute (OBI) at UC Berkeley. “For this Belonging issue, we are looking for stories highlighting why, where, and how Black folks belong across the diaspora and multiverse. Imagine a moment in time or another universe where Black people aren’t forced to question our right to be ourselves. We want to see courageous narratives about forging new relationships for the betterment of all, including the planet/land, whether among the diverse peoples of our global community or with beings from faraway worlds. We are looking for fun and dynamic adventures that give rise to a sense of belonging and showcase the importance of community.”
Deadline: 31 July 2023
Length: 2,000-15,000 words for fiction, up to 4 poems
Pay: $0.08/word for fiction, $50/poem
here and here.

The Last Girls Club: This One’s for the Weirdos
This is a feminist horror magazine. The theme is ‘This One’s for the Weirdos’. “Most of us know what it is like to not fit in, to not know how to fit in or to even want to. This one is for the freaks, the geeks, the neurospicy, and the monsters who can’t quite make themselves fit the mold. The villagers are out there with the pitchforks and torches. What are you going to do hotshot? Or are you the one that fits in and undermines from the inside? Take it where you want.” They accept fiction and poetry submissions, and nonfiction pitches.
Deadline: 1 August 2023, or until filled
Length: Up to 2,500 words for fiction; up to 3 poems
Pay: $0.015/word up to $37.50 for fiction, $10 for poetry
here and here.
(And Banshee, a ‘journal for women who scream’, wants submissions for their Homeland issue. They pay. There is no deadline listed. Details 

Monosyllabic Queer Theory
This is a poetry anthology call for queer writers. The challenge is “to transform your favourite queer theory text into a poem that uses only single – syllable words. Monosyllabic Queer Theory will be a book-length poetry collection that welcomes all forms of poetry (short, long, prose poems, free verse, highly formal, and beyond).” They have extensive guidelines (with examples), including, “Queer theory – simply put, ideas about what it means to be queer – has sometimes been known for obtuse writing. But does readability necessarily require simplification? Can writing be both accessible to a wide audience and offer complicated ideas about sexuality, gender, and desire? Is something lost in the translation of queer theory into digestible bites? Is something gained? If the ideas of queer theory have not yet realized their full potential in mainstream culture, is this an issue of “bad writing”? Can poets help?”
Deadline: 1 August 2023
Length: Unspecified
Pay: CAD250
(And Fifth Wheel Press is looking for work by queer, trans, and gender variant writers on the ‘dreamland’ theme. They pay $5, and the deadline is 31 July 2023. Details 

B Cubed Press: Alternative Leadership
They want fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for this anthology. “Leadership by the under-represented, by those too often forced to watch as those less qualified, less capable rise in a system that cannot see the value of diversity and change.
We’re looking for broken barriers of all kinds. Can a man lead the National Organization of Women? Can a woman lead the NFL Players Association?  Not in our current world, perhaps, but maybe in alternative worlds?
This will be a book about those things, in government, in the PTA, in the Horde, in the town or village. In the world. About the Orc would be King of the Goblins, the woman who would be Pope. The only limits are those of your own imagination. … The Alternatives series often uses humor and satire as a way of looking at issues. You don’t have to write satire or humor to sell us a story, but it sometimes helps. We are unabashedly social justice fans and love redemption.”
Deadline: 1 August 2023
Length: Up to 5,000 words preferred for fiction (see guidelines)
Pay: $0.03/word
here and here.

Mysterion: Speculative fiction with Christian themes
They want science fiction, fantasy and horror stories that engage meaningfully with Christian themes, characters or cosmology. The stories need not teach a moral, or be close to an approved theological position, or be pro-Christian. They are especially interested in stories that show Christians from cultures beyond those of the United States, Canada, and Western Europe. They also accept translations and reprints. They have two annual reading periods for fiction, January and July. Art is accepted through the year.
Deadline: 1 August 2023
Length: Up to 9,000 words
Pay: $0.08/word
here and here.

The First Line Journal
They want fiction and poetry that begins with pre-set first lines, one for each quarterly issue. For nonfiction, they want critical articles about your favorite first line from a literary work. For fiction and poetry, the first line for the Fall issue is: ‘As soon as Harriet entered the building, she headed to the seventh floor.
Deadline: 1 August 2023
Length: 300-5,000 words for fiction; 500-800 words for nonfiction Pay: $25-50 for fiction, $25 for nonfiction, $10 for poetry (less postage fee for international writers who want print contributor copies – see guidelines)

Occult Detective Magazine

Their guidelines say, “We are looking for intriguing fiction which features those who investigate or explore the strange and unusual, and we are eager to read submissions featuring a diverse range of characters, cultures and periods. So although we do enjoy and accept classic Victorian/Edwardian sleuths, seventies PIs and so on, a fresh twist is always likely to interest us. Your ‘investigator’ does not have to have a professional role, and can be anyone seeking answers – check out what we have already published to see the very broad range we cover. Tales with more varied geographical and historical settings are encouraged as a welcome change from the usual 21stC UK and US settings (though we take these as well, naturally). We love weird literary tales, will consider well-written Pulp, and will also accept fantasy and SF stories, as long as they fit the overall concept. Do not send us detective stories with no paranormal, occult, psychic or weird elements – or general weird and paranormal stories with no investigative work of any nature.”
Deadline: 1 August 2023
Length: 5000-10,000 words for fiction; 2,000-4,000 words for nonfiction
Pay: £0.01/word for fiction, with a cap of £45;  nonfiction is also at £0.01, with a cap of £25
here (scroll down – download guidelines).

Queens in Wonderland Anthology

Their website says, “This is an LGBTQ+ Alice in Wonderland themed anthology, and we want to see it all. Throw some of those iconic characters into space. Put them in an urban fantasy. We’d love to see a cyberpunk or decopunk (or any punk!) version. A classic Lewis Carroll version would be good too. Feel free to take any of the characters (don’t forget about the White Queen or the Dormouse) or use any of the world-building from the classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass and what Alice Found There you wish.” Please see their note about contributor copies.
Deadline: 31 August 2023
Length: 1,500-5,000 words
Pay: $20

Lampblack Magazine: Labor
They want submissions from Black writers only; fiction, nonfiction, and poetry on the Labor theme. Their website says, “We are committed to the advancement of Black literature through direct aid, programs for writers and readers of Black literature, and a magazine dedicated to voices from the Black diaspora.” And, “Across the diaspora, we experience labor in different ways: labor of love; emotional labor; physical labor; service work; the resistance of labor. For the third issue of Lampblack magazine, we invite you to submit poetry, short fiction stories, and non-fiction essays on the subject of labor.” Please note, at the time of writing, there was no deadline given in the submission guidelines.
Deadline: Unspecified
Length: Up to 10 pages of poetry; up to 20 pages of prose
Pay: $350

Monday, July 17, 2023

Apollo 11 Anniversary, Lunar Library, Companies, and You on the Moon

This week marks the Apollo 11 Anniversary. Apollo 11 (July 16–24, 1969) was the American spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969, at 20:17 UTC, and Armstrong became the first person to step onto the Moon's surface six hours and 39 minutes later, on July 21 at 02:56 UTC.

The last few years, I have celebrated this week with friends and family in the industry. NASA, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, and SpaceX have all become synonymous with the celebration of space travel. However, few people realize how they might participate or become a part of space history.

If you'd like to learn more, please check out my article: Apollo 11 Anniversary

How about you? Are you interested in participating in an interview? Are you inspired by the human grasp for space? What has surprised you most about reaching for the stars? What are you most looking forward to in the future? Have you read any good SPACE travel books?