A Writer’s Christmas Wishlist – Giftmas Blog Tour

giftmas_rectangleRhonda Parrish has been here before, and she was nice enough and ambitious enough to organize and include me in her Giftmas Blog Tour. (Full explanation when you click on the above image.)

The main idea is there will be at least one blog post dedicated to the theme each day in December, hosted by a number of other writers and editors.  I’m hosting a guest today, I’ll be hosted elsewhere later, and … AND …  if you read to the bottom, you’ll find a chance to win a whole ton of prizes, including a grand prize of TWENTY FREE BOOKS.

And here, folks, is Suzanne van Rooyen’s “A Writer’s Christmas Wishlist:”

Buying Christmas presents for regular people often proves tricky or expensive, usually both. Buying Christmas presents for the writerly people in your life, doesn’t have to be either! I’ve compiled a writerly Christmas wishlist of things I’d really love for Christmas (hint hint, friends and family if you’re reading this) and think that other writers might find these useful, fun, and awesome too. You’re welcome 🙂

 1) Aquanotes

aqua-notes-homeEvery author has experienced the magic of the shower. There is no place like the shower for being struck by inspiration. Sadly, most of the brilliant ideas born beneath suds and spray end up swirling down the drain because the moment you step out of the shower, the ideas vanish. That’s why every writer needs Aquanotes, the water-proof solution to note-taking while in the shower!

 2) Space Pen

This remarkable invention writes at any angle and is perfect for those just-before-I-fall-asleep inspiration attacks that leave writers scrabbling for the notepad they always keep beside their bed. However, pens rarely write upside down and by the time the half-asleep writer has managed to adjust into a better position, the idea has disappeared. This is why the space pen is a necessity.

 3) Cute pyjamas

Never doubt the power of comfy clothes! All writers know they are far more productive on the days they spend writing in pyjamas. But each writer is different and needs their own particular brand of comfy cute. I have a strong preference for woolly Hello Kitty pjs, but I wouldn’t say no to a fleecey Snoopy onesie either. And don’t forget we write in summer too and might need some lighter yet no less comfy jammies for the warmer days spent at the computer.

 4) Snacks

Some writers like to go the healthy route, cramming handfuls of nuts and dried fruit into their mouths between paragraphs. Others among us prefer real brain-food like chocolate, M&Ms, Skittles, Smarties, cookies, marshmallows, and anything involving peanut-butter. A basket full of snacks to fuel the writer brain would be a truly fantastic gift – just don’t expect your writer friend to share.

 5) Beverages

And along with the snacks, perhaps you could throw in a few beverages of your writer’s choice. Personally, I write best when clutching a glass of delicious pinot noir. Shiraz is fine too. And don’t forget dark roasted coffee, and plenty of herbal tea for those days when the caffeine-induced jitters make typing a little too tricky. If you love your writer, you’ll supply them with exactly what they need be it coffee, wine, or something stronger.

 6) A quirky mug

Now of course we have to drink our beverage of choice out of something. Make sure you have your writer’s house correct before handing them a Ravenclaw mug when really they’re a Gryffindor and how dare you think otherwise! If you’re not too au fait with all things HP, then play it safe and stick with mugs bearing inspiring messages like ‘there, their, they’re’ – your writer will appreciate it. Also, the bigger the mug the better – obviously!

And there you have it. Now you know exactly how to fill the Christmas stocking of the writer in your life. If you have any more suggestions, please leave them in the comments and I will gratefully append them to my list!


Suzanne author photoThe author of THE OTHER ME, I HEART ROBOT and the forthcoming SCARDUST, Suzanne van Rooyen is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Sweden and is busy making friends with the ghosts of her Viking ancestors. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When she grows up, she wants to be an elf – until then, she spends her time (when not writing) wall climbing, buying far too many books, and entertaining her shiba inu, Lego.

You can find Suzanne on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, and her website.

One more thing! If you like free stuff, remember to enter the giveaway below – there are lots of chances to improve your chances of winning a prize, which includes the grand prize of TWENTY BOOKS plus some more swag!


Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

“So you’re an editor? You, like, fix typos?”

If you haven’t worked with an editor (or don’t live with one to hear the end-of-the-day, get-me-the-wine stories), you might not know the work that goes into editing. 

Let me introduce the talented Rhonda Parrish, who’s doing some great work to make the books we all love and she graciously accepted an offer to give us a little bit about the day-to-day of how an anthology gets put together and edited. 

And writers, please note she’s looking for great writing right now for a new collection of short stories titled Sirens. Check out the details in the call for submissions here and give her your best work!


What Do You Do, Again?

by Rhonda Parrish

“So like, you just fix all the typos and then you get to have your name on the cover?”

A few months ago I was talking with someone close to me, let’s call them Jack, about the anthology I was working on at the time (I don’t remember which one it was) and they asked me that question. In complete sincerity. “So like, you just fix all the typos and then you get to have your name on the cover?”

At first I was angry–No. No I don’t just fix all the typos and then I get my name on the cover. That’s not how this works–but that initial offense disappeared quickly. Because Jack wasn’t trying to minimize the amount of work I put into an anthology, he just honestly didn’t know. Thinking about it afterward it became pretty clear to me that actually, a lot of people don’t know. When they see a book that says ‘Edited by NAME’ on the cover, they don’t understand what that means. And why should they? I’ve been a writer for quite a long time and even I didn’t know what that meant until a couple years ago.

SCARECROWNate offered me a spot on his blog to talk about pretty much whatever I wanted (because he’s awesome!). Originally I was going to talk about my latest anthologies, Corvidae and Scarecrow, but I changed my mind. I want to talk, just briefly, about my process when I’m editing an anthology. What do I do? Why is my name on the cover?

Things change from anthology to anthology, but the basic process can be broken down into twelve steps.

  1. I come up with an idea for an anthology. This has to be something that I think readers will be interested in but also something I like well enough (or in the case of Metastasis am motivated to work on) to not grow tired of it over the many months it is going to consume my life. Because they do. Anthologies definitely consume your life LOL
  1. If I’m not self-publishing, like I did with the Alphabet Anthologies, I write a pitch for the anthology, submit it to an appropriate publisher following their guidelines and then cross my fingers and wait.
  1. Once a publisher has accepted the anthology we sort out all the less-than-exciting (but very important) bits such as how I’m getting paid, how my authors are getting paid, how much we’re getting paid, when submissions will open and close, how many stories I can include, what the final word count is going to be, and other things along those lines.
  1. Details sorted, the publisher and I announce the anthology and try to put it on as many writer’s radars as possible even before submissions open. I increase my efforts to spread the word once submissions are open. It’s incredibly frustrating (for me and the disappointed author) to announce your completed table of contents or the anthology’s release and be told, “Oh, I wish I’d known!”
  1. During the submission period I continue to try and spread the word about the anthology and make reasonable efforts to let people know if my story needs have changed or refined. For example, with the Sirens anthology I’m aiming to have an equal number of sea-based sirens as sky-based sirens. If 80% of my submissions are for one kind of siren I will try to let potential submitters know (via blog posts and social media) that I’m seeing a lot of that type of siren and thus am hungry for the other variety.
  1. That brings us to reading submissions. I read subs throughout the open submission period and separate the stories into those I won’t be using and those I might be. The former receive rejection letters (Even though most will say similar things I type each individually, no copy/paste form letters) and the latter are shortlisted for further consideration.
  1. Once submissions close and every story has received an initial response I re-read the shortlisted pieces and cut them back further until I have my table of contents. I could write a whole series of blog posts about this step alone but for now let’s just say it’s a long, complicated and anxiety-producing decision-making process but I work very hard to ensure I have a strong, diverse collection of stories.
  1. After all the rejection and acceptance letters have gone out, it’s time for the editing to begin.Most stories go through at least three separate editing stages. First is the substantive editing stage. It’s at this point I send the author an email pointing out any trouble spots I’ve noticed–plot holes, endings which don’t work for me, stories beginning in the wrong place–that sort of thing. Sometimes I offer concrete suggestions on how to correct the problem, sometimes I just ask questions to help the author sort that out themselves. Occasionally we repeat this step several times before the author and I believe the story is the strongest version of itself that it can be.
  1. Next we begin line editing. This is where I use track changes to mark up the story. Moving things around, tweaking word choices, cutting all those extra thats which seem to sneak into so many people’s work… After I’ve marked up the manuscript with my suggestions it goes back to the author for them to approve or reject every single change.But wait! There’s more!
  1. After all the stories are fully edited I figure out what order they should appear in (this is another process I could write a whole series of blog posts about and it’s definitely a learning process for me. I’ve gotten better and better at it with each anthology), write an introduction, bundle it all together and pass it up to my publisher.
  1. The publisher does all sorts of things including formatting it and providing a cover and then proofs are sent out to every contributor, myself and (usually) an independent copyeditor. This is the point where the typos are caught, corrected and then the whole book goes back into the publisher’s hands to work the rest of their magic with.
  1. And then, at some point later, the book is published and we begin the process of promoting it.


That’s incomplete, of course, but it does give you an idea about what I do to earn my name on the cover of each anthology I edit. Though I don’t write a single word of the awesome fiction you’ll find inside them, I work very hard to make each anthology the best it possibly can be. And then I work just as hard to get it into the hands of as many readers as possible. But that is most definitely the subject for another post on another day.

Do you have any questions? I’m happy to answer as best I can.

Otherwise, I’d like to thank Nate once again for inviting me to his blog and giving me the space to share a little bit about the job I love so much 🙂 Thank you!


Rhonda ParrishRhonda Parrish is driven by a desire to do All The Things. She has been the publisher and editor-in-chief of Niteblade Magazine since 2007 (which is like 30 years in internet time) and is the editor of several anthologies including (most recently) Scarecrow and B is for Broken.

In addition, Rhonda is a writer whose work has been in publications such as Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast, Imaginarium: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing (2012 & 2015) and Mythic Delirium.

Her website, updated weekly, is at http://www.rhondaparrish.com


Thank you, Rhonda, and keep up the great work! 

Cover Reveal: Corvidae from World Weaver Press

Want some cool cover art and great stories about those creepily crafty crows? (And maybe ravens, jays, magpies, etc?) 

I’m lucky to get to reveal the cover art and blurbs for this anthology from the folks at World Weaver Press. What makes me even more excited about it is it’s edited by a very nice, smart person I’ve had the pleasure of working with in the past and finally meeting at World Fantasy Con this past year, Rhonda Parrish. Plus, it features a writer friend, Michael S Pack

What I’m getting at is that the cover art and stories all look and sound great. So check this out:


CORVIDAE-coverAssociated with life and death, disease and luck, corvids have long captured mankind’s attention, showing up in mythology as the companions or manifestations of deities, and starring in stories from Aesop to Poe and beyond.

In Corvidae birds are born of blood and pain, trickster ravens live up to their names, magpies take human form, blue jays battle evil forces, and choughs become prisoners of war. These stories will take you to the Great War, research facilities, frozen mountaintops, steam-powered worlds, remote forest homes, and deep into fairy tales. One thing is for certain, after reading this anthology, you’ll never look the same way at the corvid outside your window.

Featuring works by Jane Yolen, Mike Allen, C.S.E. Cooney, M.L.D. Curelas, Tim Deal, Megan Engelhardt, Megan Fennell, Adria Laycraft, Kat Otis, Michael S. Pack, Sara Puls, Michael M. Rader, Mark Rapacz, Angela Slatter, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, and Leslie Van Zwol.

Praise for Corvidae:

“Smart and dark like the corvids themselves, this excellent collection of stories and poems will bring you a murder of chills, a tiding of intrigue, a band of the fantastic, and—most of all—an unkindness of sleepy mornings after you’ve stayed up too late reading it!”

— Karen Dudley, author of Kraken Bake

“Magic and corvids collide in this certain to intrigue anthology.”

— Joshua Klein, hacker and inventor of the crow vending machine

“A creepy, crazy kaleidoscope of corvids,Corvidae is what happens when you bring together ingenious writers and sagacious subjects. It’s nothing short of a thrill ride when this anthology takes flight.”

— Susan G. Friedman, Ph. D., Utah State University; behaviorworks.org.

“As sparkling and varied as a corvid’s hoard of treasures, Corvidae is by turns playful and somber, menacing and mischievous. From fairy tale to steampunk adventure, from field of war to scene of crime, these magical birds will take you to places beyond your wildest imaginings.”

—  Jennifer Crow, poet and corvid-by-marriage

Please consider adding this to your TBR list and then, you know, actually R it.