Friday, December 31, 2010

Submissions: 2010 Submissions and Responses


Here is the annual look back at my submission record for this year and some stats on my total submissions since I started to record them in 2004.

22 total submissions
*The total is 10 more than 2009.

6 rejections
*All but one were from literary agents on novel queries.

9 non-responders
*Six of these were from literary agencies, the other three from magazine editors.

7 acceptances
*These are from various sources for a variety of projects.

3 withdrawals - 380/388/390 days
*This was for the MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT proposal, which Mike and I placed with Headline Books, Inc.

1 acceptance - 321 days
*This was for my poem Starship Stowaways at Beyond Centauri. So this goes against the past two years where I've said that having a sub out longer isn't necessarily a good thing. In this case it was!

1 other - 726 days
*I created the "other" category for circumstances which cannot be covered under the usual headings; in this instance, it was that an editor left the publishing house, and the submission had been lost.

1 novel query (literary agency)

2 articles (magazines)
2 novel queries (editors)
1 essay (online magazine)
1 article (newspaper)
6 novel queries (literary agencies)
2 articles (online magazines)

8/19/2004 - novel query (literary agency)
9/22/2004 - novel query (literary agency)
10/20/2004 - book review (magazine)

8/29/2006 - essay (magazine)
10/18/2006 - novel query (literary agency)
11/9/2006 - article (online magazine)

1/21/2007 - novel query (literary agency)
1/27/2007 - novel query (literary agency)
1/29/2007 - novel query (literary agency)
1/29/2007 - novel query (literary agency)
1/29/2007 - novel query (literary agency)
1/29/2007 - novel query literary agency)
1/29/2007 - novel query (literary agency)
1/29/2007 - novel query (literary agency)
4/4/2007 - novel query (literary agency)
4/12/2007 - novel query (literary agency)
4/13/2007 - novel query (literary agency)
4/20/2007 - novel query (literary agency)
5/9/2007 - novel query (literary agency)
5/23/2007 - short story (magazine)
6/3/2007 - novel query (editor)
9/4/2007 - novel query (literary agency)
10/17/2007 - article (online magazine)
10/22/2007 - article (online magazine)
11/5/2007 - poem (magazine)
11/28/2007 - non-fiction book proposal (editor)

Does anyone notice who most of the non-responders were? That's why things are changing. I can't wait five or ten years for an agent to believe in me and the ability for my book to make them money. If I fail, I will fail on my own terms this coming year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Tamela Quijas

Heidi's Pick Six

Tamela Quijas

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Honestly, my favorite male character is Professor Demetri Daskova from my paranormal romance Blood of the Beast (Book 1 of the Blood Chronicles). He’s dashing; suave, educated, and not afraid to show his weaknesses to the woman he loves. He’s a vampire with a heart and a much better man undead than he was alive.

My favorite female would have to be his counterpart, Police Detective Val Kureyev. Her job is a tough one, especially in a male world. She’s one gutsy broad that doesn’t take bull from anyone and stands up for what she believes in, despite the odds.

2. Tell me about your travels.
I was born in the United States but grew up in Germany, back when it was still east and west. I’ve been all over Europe, hitting all the historic spots (yep, I love museums, castles, and ancient places!) Since I returned to the states, I travel at every opportunity I can. Disneyland is my favorite place (I know, it sounds a bit strange, but I love the freedom!) Tell me we’re off to California and I’m ready to go now!

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Straight Black coffee, with one of those fake sugar thingies.

4. What else can you do besides write?
*Read everything and anything I can get my hands on---I don’t stick to one particular genre, I love them all.
*Write—I have 3 works in Progress that I am currently working on.
*Raise a houseful of kids---I still have 3 at home, down from the original baker’s half dozen!
*Tutor history, reading, and English at the local elementary school.
*Take college courses at night---I’m living my dream of becoming an elementary school teacher. Granted, it’s taken me 30 years to get here, but I’m doing it.
*Cooking up a storm—put me in the kitchen, and I go crazy baking.

5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
Would you believe Music? I listen to a song and I see images in my head, which form my next novel.

9. Food you could eat every day.

10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
My stories take me along for the ride. I don’t go with outlines, I go by a ‘feel’, and how the story affects me.

13. Celebrity crush.
Viggo Mortenson---goodness, it’s that cleft chin, those dimples, and the eyes!!! I can watch Lord of the Rings and Hidalgo for hours. **grin**

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Yep, but not the new stuff unless it’s Ben 10, or Disney related. I don’t care for the Kung-fu, crazy karate stuff.

Tamela Quijas grew up in a wonderfully diverse country filled with magically induced superstitions and the mystical beliefs of the old. The tales of the Brothers Grimm were told there, and their enchanting stories were the basis to many of our childhood fairytales. Tamela learned, though, that many of those famous tales held a dark secret, meant more to frighten and warn children of the unknown world that existed beyond human belief. Strangely enough, all these beloved tales hold a semblance of truth in their dark depths.

The paranormal romances she writes hold the essence of these ancient fairytales, where the darkness of life borders on the edge of sunset. It is there that the dead savor or regret those long and lonely hours until the sun rises on the horizon.

Where every soul has a chance at redemption….

Oh, just a quick note--she does write the occasional contemporary romance and cookbooks.

Follow Tamela at her wordpress site: and step into my world!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Richard Jay Parker

Heidi's Pick Six

Richard Jay Parker

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Although he's reprehensible I really enjoyed creating the mystique of Bookwalter - the serial killer with his own website in Stop Me. Everything about him is initially what the main character finds on his website (i.e. all of it generated by Bookwalter). I think a lot of people hide behind avatars and creative misinformation on the Internet and Stop Me illustrates what happens when that's slowly peeled away and two individuals meet in the flesh. Because Leo wants to believe that Bookwalter has his missing wife there's an interesting dynamic. I didn't know exactly what Leo would find, so it was fun deciding exactly who Bookwalter would turn out to be. He's a manipulator, so constructing the mind games was interesting but I felt it had to pay off in a satisfying way.


2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
4. What else can you do besides write?
5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
Have just finished writing my second book and the final chapters were the most satisfying and hence the most difficult. As in Stop Me, I wanted to deliver a very unexpected twist and tie up loose ends without things being too neat (i.e. it had to be exciting but believable.) It's a difficult balancing act - trying to convey a lot of explanatory dialogue while retaining the suspense of the scene.

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
I think I draw a lot of inspiration from movies. I'm a compulsive movie watcher and it was this background that kicked off my script writing career. I think I still construct my book outlines as I would a script.

9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I had the twist set up for Stop Me and my latest book but everything between that and the opening chapter was flexible territory. My own personal belief is to try and confound expectations. I think thriller readers hate being served up something formulaic or predictable, and although there's great satisfaction to be had from figuring out the conclusion to a story, I personally prefer to be blindsided at the last moment.

13. Celebrity crush.
Yes - there are a number of celebrities I'd like to crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Am a huge Family Guy fan. It's the show that makes me laugh the most. Stewie Griffin is an inspired creation. MacFarlane is clearly an anglophile and there's a lot of British darkness in Stewie.

Richard Jay Parker was formerly a TV script writer, script editor and producer before turning his hand to penning dark thrillers. Stop Me, his darkly fiendish debut, was shortlisted for the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award 2010. He has just finished his second novel. Visit Richard's chilling website:

'STOP ME is a tightly written, fast paced debut that keeps you turning the pages...'
- Simon Kernick (Author of Relentless and Severed)

Buy STOP ME with 30% off plus free shipping anywhere in the world here:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

WORKSHOP: Writing with Authority


Online Course

INSTRUCTORS: Jason Jack Miller and Heidi Ruby Miller

DATE: April 1 – May 2, 2011


COURSE DESCRIPTION: The easiest way to engage your reader is by using concrete nouns and action verbs. In this one-month online course, Seton Hill University creative writing faculty Jason Jack Miller and Heidi Ruby Miller will show you how to analyze your writing and use easy techniques that will increase the authority of your voice.

Participants will:
* Discover how to spot passive voice
* Scrutinize their writing for generic nouns and indefinite pronouns
* Learn to avoid weak verbs and overuse of “be” in all its forms
* Practice using strong synonyms to find the best action verb
* Apply word cloud research to make their plot come alive

FREE BONUS: Course participants will receive a free excerpt (.pdf) from the new writing guide, MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT: LESSONS IN WRITING POPULAR FICTION (Headline Books, Inc.) edited by Heidi Ruby Miller and Michael A. Arnzen with contributions from Jason Jack Miller et al.

TUITION: $79 ($89 non-Pennwriters members) $89 ($99 non-Pennwriters members)

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTORS: Heidi Ruby Miller is the co-editor of the writing guide, Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction. A graduate from Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction Program, she has authored dozens of publications. Before becoming a full-time writer and adjunct faculty at Seton Hill University, Heidi worked as a contract archaeologist, an educational marketing coordinator, a foreign currency exchanger, and a world language teacher. To learn more about Heidi Ruby Miller, visit or email her at

Jason Jack Miller is a writer, photographer and musician whose work has appeared online and in print in newspapers, magazines and literary journals, and as a smart phone travel app. He has co-authored a travel guide with his wife Heidi and served as a photographer-in-residence. Jason is an Authors Guild member who received a Master’s in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University where he is adjunct creative writing faculty. To learn more about Jason Jack Miller, visit or email him at

* Subscribe to the Pennwriters Online Courses announcement list for email on our latest workshops:

Monday, December 27, 2010

Paths to Publication: Chris Stout

Paths to Publication

Days of Reckoning by Chris Stout

My path to publication started out in the traditional manner: I networked. While I was working on my MA, I met and became friends with two editors who owned their own small presses. So my first two sales were short stories, which appeared in the anthologies Thou Shalt Not (Dark Cloud Press – 2006) and Sails and Sorcery (Fantasist Enterprises – 2007). After that quick start, things came to a screaming halt. My novel Days of Reckoning, which received solid reviews from peers and mentors at Seton Hill University, failed to attract the attention of any agents. One agent sent it back with a flyer promoting his own book on how to land an agent, so at that point I consigned it to the “never gonna sell” file.

A few things happened to bring it back to life. First, I opted to continue at SHU and pursue an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. At least with that degree, I would have a better chance of landing a teaching position. During the June 2010 residency, I attended a talk by David Morrell, and heard about how Amazon was offering a 70% royalty option to authors who chose to self-publish for the Kindle. I filed this information away for a few months.

Being in a community of writers re-ignited my interest in trying to get into print again. While I was cleaning up a new novel and searching for agents to whom I might submit, I came across my notes from Dr. Morrell’s talk. One of the authors he recommended was JA Konrath, so I looked up Mr. Konrath’s blog and read about his journey from traditional print publishing to e-book self-publishing. As I was studying his blog, Barnes and Noble announced that they were launching a self-publishing platform called PubIt!. Add to that mix the fact that Apple had launched the iPad and iBookstore, and suddenly the largest retailers were all offering strong royalty rates and platforms where authors could sell their work directly to consumers.

So I had a completed, edited novel that had failed to find a home in traditional print. And I had venues available to sell it myself without having to sink thousands of dollars into printing costs. I would need to do another round of edits to make sure everything was up to date in my book, and also to reformat it so it would be compatible across several different platforms, but that seemed like a lot more fun than sending out queries, so I took the plunge.

So here I am! My novel Days of Reckoning is a contemporary action thriller. It centers on Miranda Leider, a good cop with a violent past. Her brother is found dead, and Miranda sets out to prove that it's not a suicide. As she investigates on her own, she uncovers a conspiracy that reaches all the way to the top of her department. Trusting no one, Miranda goes rogue. With her friend and partner Detective Sam Connor hot on her trail, she hunts the conspirators and anyone else who had a role in her brother's death.

Days of Reckoning is currently available for Kindle:

and Nook:, at the price of $2.99. The equivalent of 30 printed pages can be downloaded as a free sample from either platform. The iBooks version should hopefully be available before 2011.

In the meantime, I am still editing two more novels, and in the middle of writing the first draft of yet another. I don’t yet know whether I will publish them myself or try to go the traditional route. But at least I have the experience of trying to sell and market in both ways. Since I still hope to teach when I finish the MFA, I think those experiences will be valuable in the classroom.

-Chris Stout
December 2010

You can read Chris's PICK SIX interview here:

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Website: Many Genres, One Craft


Co-editor Mike Arnzen launched the official website for our new book Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction at

Many Genres, One Craft is the equivalent of a graduate program in creative writing captured in the pages of a book...stuffed with great advice, but not stuffy at all.

Gathering the voices of today's top genre writers and their published students from Seton Hill University's acclaimed MFA program -- the country's only graduate program specifically focused on writing popular fiction –- Many Genres, One Craft is an academic instructional guide that aims to be the most entertaining textbook a new author will ever read. It targets those who want to write commercial novels of quality, rather than to publish only in academia. And because it is a multi-authored collection, it is like a writing community, a group of like-minded thinkers and kindred spirits, assembled between its covers, focused on mastering one's skills.

Many Genres, One Craft debuts Spring 2011 from Headline Books, Inc.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Paths to Publication: Pike Lake

Paths to Publication


Pike Lake, the writer, is decidedly, unabashedly and irreversibly dead. Passing away in the late 1970's at the age of eighty-three, he attributed his demise, in a self-authored obituary scrivened shortly before his death, to an impacted bowel inflicted upon him by "television evangelists, feminists, warmed-over New Dealers, purveyors of shag carpet and other religious fanatics." Although enlightened ears may recoil at this appalling lack of sophistication, it must be acknowledged, albeit grudgingly, that we are all creatures of our own time.

This work comes to us courtesy of his illegitimate grandson by a French barfly, Jean Baptiste Montcalm DeRemalade. Rummaging through the old man's belongings years after his death, M. DeRemalade discovered a box containing several unpublished manuscripts. Imagine his boundless joy! After twelve bitter years of estate litigation waged on three continents, Turner Junction represents the first of what is fervently hoped will be a long line of literary gems - each providing a healthy income to Pike's seemingly inexhaustible supply of grasping heirs.

A devotee of nothing, an admirer of women's parts, a smoker, a drinker and a chafing irritant to all with whom he came into contact, such is the legacy of Pike Lake - and now there's this book.
~From the back cover.

To order a copy of Turner Junction, please email

Monday, December 06, 2010

Conference: 2011 Pennwriters Conference


Pennwriters Logo

From Julie Long and Meredith Cohen, 2011 Pennwriters Conference Coordinators

20 Things You’ll Learn About Craft and Career in Just Three Days:
1. How to start, survive and thrive in a critique group
2. Creating a powerful sense of place in your novel
3. The art of social networking and shameless self-promotion
4. How to balance narrative with dialog
5. Why writing for younger audiences is different
6. How to give a great reading
7. Identifying your learning style to become a better writer
8. Understanding your character’s psychological issues
9. Setting and reaching writing goals
10. How to interview for the nonfiction book
11. How to know if you need a prologue
12. Life balance skills for writers
*13. How fixing your first page can improve your entire manuscript
14. Understanding the creative process and the writer’s inner turmoil
15. Taking your writing to the screen
16. How to perfect your pitch
17. What makes a good memoir
18. Using meditative writing to deepen your story
19. How to research the historical mystery
20. How improv-acting can improve your writing

* by Heidi Ruby Miller and Jason Jack Miller

You’ll learn all this and so much more, from a stellar lineup of agents, writers and professionals. Registration opens in March!

Friday, December 03, 2010

PUBLICATION: Sounds in the Jungle by Heidi Ruby Miller in Eye Contact


I received my copy of Eye Contact today for my short story "Sounds in the Jungle" and was pleasantly surprised to see one of Jason's photos ("Wave Swinger") in there as well. Filled with death, loss, and mourning, this was a beautifully dark issue, appropriate as we come close to the winter solstice.

Here is a peek at the table of contents, which includes work from some of my former students and other Seton Hill Writers:

Eyes by Patrick Schober
Bloom by Passion Hannah
Aquila by Christine Telfer
Living Grace by Maddie Gillespie
Memorial by Stephanie Pikula
Kalina by Molly Follmer
Sounds in the Jungle by Heidi Ruby Miller
Tá Mé I Ngrá Leat by Lyndsey Basham
Lesson by Judith R. Robinson
Wave Swinger by Jason Jack Miller
The Man on Clipper Street by Patrick Schober
The Shorts Have Eyes by Matthew Duvall
Eye Spy by Aja Hannah
Cinderella by Stephanie Wytovich
Uh-Oh by Lyndsey Basham
Origami Moons by Penny Dawn
Dear Summer by Carissa Altizer
Dock by Alex Lowe
Visiting Campus Seven Years Later by Joe Kaldon
Clockwork by Meg Mims

The faculty advisor for Eye Contact is Timons Esaias.