New Dark Fiction – The Whisper Jar by Carole Lanham


If you’re looking for a quick, dark, well-writ-read, look no further. My sister in darkness, Carole Lanham (USA Today Bestselling author of The Reading Lessons) is re-releasing her awesome collection of short stories – The Whisper Jar.

The revised version of The Whisper Jar includes creepy pictures and a new cover which out-creepifies the old cover, and that is no small task.

Review of The Whisper Jar

The following is an excerpt from my original review:

The Whisper Jar blends dark and sometimes paranormal situations into the really-real everyday world with clever writing, an Edgar Allen Poe sensibility, and a splash of Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things. Carole Lanham writes in her own carefree but intuitive voice. Audiences will slip into these short stories as easily as they would a warm bath, only to be surprised at how quickly the waters deepen. Those looking for a variety of dark character studies, whimsical situations and disturbing relationship dynamics will enjoy The Whisper Jar.

Check out the full review here: Dark Fiction Review: The Whisper Jar by Carole Lanham

The Whisper Jar on

The Whisper Jar is available on in ebook format for only .99 so go check it out!

The Whisper Jar by Carole Lanham

The Critique Process

At the recent meetup of the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers Group, we talked about critique. The discussion was divided into three parts:

  • tips when giving critique to others
  • tips for receiving/processing critique, and using crit in your writing process
  • critique groups

Here are my notes and observations from the discussion, and you’ll find the full video of our discussion at the end of the this post.

Giving Critique To Others

There Are Different Types Of Critique You Can Provide

[Read more…]

Free Ebook – Social Media Secrets For Authors

Social_media_secrets_for_authors_coverWhile wandering the AWP Conference, I met Amy Quale from Wise Ink, a Minneapolis-based business offering creative and publishing services to independent authors.

One of the tools Wise Ink is using to promote their business is a beginners-level book titled “Social Media Secrets for Authors ” written by Wise Ink founders/editors Dara Beevas and Amy Quale. The book covers “The Big Four” of author social media: Blogging, Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads. If you’re an author who is just starting out, and don’t have these four social mediums locked down, then I highly recommend this book. It has action plan checklists, ideas for blog posts, and is essential ‘Social Media 101′ for new authors.

You could buy the book on amazon, or you could sweet-talk Amy like I did, and get one for free. But if you’re not devilishly charming like me, well… I’ll let you in on a secret:

  • Did I mention they are giving the book “Social Media Secrets For Authors” away for FREE on their website?
  • Did I mention they have other great free author resources?
  • Did I mention these free author resources can be found at

I guess I just did. What can I say? I’m really generous with other peoples’ things.

While you’re enjoying all the great free wisdom Wise Ink has to offer, don’t forget to friend them up on Twitter and Facebook. . If you need help with Planning, Editing, Publishing or Marketing your work, check out their website:

You can also check out their blog at

What is a Drabble?

What Is A DrabbleDrabbles are growing more and more popular. I’m seeing more and more drabble compilations, and I’m seeing more and more publisher calls for drabble-format fiction.

So what is a Drabble anyway?

A Drabble is a 100-word fiction story. Exactly one hundred words. No more. No less.

I’ve had several drabbles published over the last year:

[Read more…]

Reflections on AWP 2015

The ‘Largest Literary Conference in North America’ comes to Minneapolis

AWP Conference 2015The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (or AWP) holds a conference each year in a different city. Minneapolis, MN was lucky enough to be chosen this year to host the ‘largest literary conference in North America.’ Approximately 13,000 people attended.

What’s the AWP you ask? Good question. From their website: [Read more…]

(Never Slept With) Diablo Cody

In 2008, a coworker brought me a copy of the local newspaper and pointed to the cover story. Diablo Cody had just won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Juno. In the article, she said how she wrote most of the screenplay at a Starbucks in Crystal MN.

“Isn’t that right by your house?” my coworker asked.

It was. Not only was it right by my house, and not only had I been there many times, but I had actually seen Diablo Cody there many times. But I had no idea who she was until that very moment, when I saw her picture on the front page, and connected the name with the face.

“So did you ever talk to her?”

I laughed. “I saw her there a lot, but I didn’t sleep with her.”

The Song Soon To Be Formerly Known As Diablo

2008 was “The Year of the Spiral” and Jagged Spiral was at the height of its career. We were working on a jam with the temporary title of “Disco Spiral.” The jam had been around for a while but I hadn’t come up with any lyrics yet. That evening at practice, Colin asked me what I thought the song was about and something in my head just clicked.

“It’s about how I never slept with Diablo Cody.”

The song became known as “Diablo” and I used that concept to write some lyrics. We played the song out several times, and there’s a rough youtube video of us playing at Station 4 where I’m still trying to lock down the lyrics.

Unfortunately, the song was cursed. Every time we played Diablo, bad things would happen, usually equipment failures. While recording tracks for Diablo, a computer crash wiped out an entire evenings worth of recordings. We were loading gear into Colin’s car, and Colin said the song might be cursed, because every time we played it…. Just then, the strap on his gig bag broke and the bag holding his pedal board dropped to the concrete.

It was official. Colin and Josh demanded that we never mention the “D-word” again.

So I changed the lyrics. Muted the original lyric tracks in the recording and re-recorded the new lines. Diablo Cody became Diablo the Devil. I added some angels and sexual innuendos. Colin proclaimed the song was now called “Prophet”  and you’ll see it listed that way on the Fire And Dice album. I’m not displeased with the new lyrics, but to be honest, I missed the original lyrics.

The Return of Diablo

Prophet was released on the Fire and Dice album in Dec 2013. In January 2014, I started to poke around the project file. Deleted the new lyrics and unmuted the original vocal tracks. Touched up a couple lines, and even managed to add in references to her more current projects, United States of Tara, Young Adult and Paradise. Replaced the drum kit with MIDI drums. Cut out a boring section of the song that we had intended to cover with solo guitar later but never did. I mixed and mastered the track and decided that I would give it to Diablo Cody as a Christmas gift.

This song is not intended as any kind of jab or insult. I have nothing but respect for Diablo Cody and hope she continues to write awesome screenplays.

I don’t know Diablo Cody, but she seems like the kind of person who would appreciate the sense of humor in this song. I hope she likes it.

Spooky Halloween Drabble – My Boss Is Evil

Spooky Halloween Drabbles 2014 book coverWhen I learned about the opportunity to write a “drabble” for a Halloween-themed drabble anthololgy, I didn’t even know what a drabble was. I had to look it up.

According to wikipedia, a drabble is a 100-word fiction story. Exactly one hundred words. No more. No less.

As you can imagine, I was able to write one very quickly. It was more of a challenge than I thought to get exactly one hundred words. But in an evening, I’d written a spooky little drabble about someone having a bad day at the evil office performing evil tasks for their evil boss.

My drabble titled My Boss Is Evil was accepted for publication in the Spooky Halloween Drabbles 2014 anthology, and it is now available for just 99 cents on

Spooky Halloween Drabbles 2014

Warning! Drabbles are higly addictive! Each one just takes a few seconds to read, and once you start in on these spooky little fiction snacks, it’s like opening a tube of Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies. It’s tough to stop!

For Fuck’s Sake! – The Art Of Swearing And Cursing In Fiction Writing

Swearing and Cursing in Fiction WritingGeorge Carlin said it best:

“There are no bad words. There are bad thoughts, bad intentions… and words.”

If you don’t believe that, then you should stop reading this post. Right fucking now. Because having been both an angry young man and served time in the military, I’ve grown and sharpened a fairly salacious tongue.  But even I know that there’s a time and a place for swearing, and it’s useful for authors to know when and where it’s OK to do so. [Read more…]

Writing the Unwritable – The Art of Subtext by Charles Baxter

The Art of Subtext Book ReviewCharles Baxter recently gave a rousing speech to writers at The Loft Literary Center, where he discussed his book, The Art of Subtext.

The Art of Subtext (subtitled ‘Beyond Plot’) discusses that aspect of writing that… actually isn’t within the writing.

The Art of Subtext discusses and illustrates the hidden subtextual overtones and undertones in fictional works haunted by the unspoken, the suppressed, and the secreted. –

Subtext is the Loch Ness Monster of writing tools. [Read more…]