Category Archives: 2017

Monday morning writing joke: “Tough it out”

Q. Why are Saturday and Sunday the toughest days?

A. Because the others are weakdays.

Enjoy your weak. Yeah, I know, a week joke.

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New words to live by: “Scraggle”

Time, once again, for New words to live by. This is a word or phrase not currently in use in the U.S. English lexicon, but might need to be considered. Other words, such as obsurd, crumpify, subsus, flib, congressed, and others, can be found by clicking on the tags below. Today’s New Word is created by taking an adjective and creating a noun form of the word. Without further waiting, scraggle.

Scraggly, adj. 1. Irregular, uneven, jagged. 2. Unkempt, ragged.

Scraggle, n. 1. Something or someone ragged or unkempt, often in a small patch. 2. Something or someone jagged, irregular, or uneven.

Somewhere between the stickers and thorns, vines and broken branches, scraggles of grass and clay soil in front of me was the voice.

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Who doesn’t read books in America? | Pew Research Center

About a quarter of American adults (26%) say they haven’t read a book in whole or in part in the past year. Who, exactly, are these non-book readers?

Source: Who doesn’t read books in America? | Pew Research Center

by Andrew Perrin

About a quarter of American adults (26%) say they haven’t read a book in whole or in part in the past year, whether in print, electronic or audio form. So who, exactly, are these non-book readers?

Several demographic traits correlate with non-book reading, Pew Research Center surveys have found. For instance, adults with a high school degree or less are about three times as likely as college graduates (40% vs. 13%) to report not reading books in any format in the past year. A 2015 Pew Research Center survey shows that these less-educated adults are also the least likely to own smartphones or tablets, two devices that have seen a substantial increase in usage for reading e-books since 2011. (College-educated adults are more likely to own these devices and use them to read e-books.)

Adults with an annual household income of less than $30,000 are about twice as likely as the most affluent adults to be non-book readers (33% vs. 17%). Hispanic adults are also about twice as likely as whites (40% vs. 23%) to report not having read a book in the past 12 months.

Older Americans are a bit more likely than their younger counterparts not to have read a book. Some 29% of adults ages 50 and older have not read a book in the past year, compared with 23% of adults under 50. In addition, men are less likely than women to have read a book, as are adults in rural areas compared with those in urban areas.

The share of Americans who report not reading any books in the past 12 months is largely unchanged since 2012, but is slightly higher than in 2011, when the Center first began conducting surveys of book-reading habits. That year, 19% of adults reported not reading any books.

Given the share that hasn’t read a book in the past year, it’s not surprising that 19% of U.S. adults also say they have not visited a library or a bookmobile in the past year. The same demographic traits that characterize non-book readers also often apply to those who have never been to a library. For example, men, Hispanics, older adults, those living in households earning less than $30,000 and those who have no more than a high school diploma or did not graduate from high school are the most likely to report they have never been to a public library.


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Photo finish Friday: “Morning”

Spring morning after a day of rain.

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Haiku to you Thursday: “Blinking idiot”

use blinking blinkers /

you fool in front of me, or /

Spring will end too soon.

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Filed under 2017, Haiku to You Thursday, poetry by author

Writing tip Wednesday: “10 Things I Learned About Writing and Publishing From Managing a Porn Store” | LitReactor

Source: 10 Things I Learned About Writing and Publishing From Managing a Porn Store | LitReactor

By Christoph Paul

I used to manage a porn store in northeast D.C. I worked there for two years and it was the best writer job I ever had. There were whole blocks of time where I could read and write while I sat behind the counter. It was a blessing to get paid to practice my craft. All the hours added up and I became a better writer, but managing the porn store also taught me certain skills that I use on a daily basis in my writing and publishing career.

Covers and Titles

The first thing I learned was that we had to buy and sell lots of rentals on our new releases to stay afloat. If I picked a lot of bad movies for the new release wall that didn’t get bought or rented within the first month, my boss would be pissed. The customers also got pissed, and then I would have to deal with a lot of bullshit instead of focusing on writing or reading. The only real work I had besides putting movies back on their shelves was picking the weekly new releases. With the goal of having my boss stay off my back, I made sure to kill it each week with my new release section. I learned what sold and what type of titled stood out. I use that same skill when writing or publishing a new book. Whether it be porn or fiction, the cover and title has to show the readers and viewers that they will enjoy the product. The cover must at least peak curiosity and satisfy something a reader or porn watcher is wanting. Bad covers, whether on a porno or on a novel, are easy to spot and will always stay on the shelf.


My shift was eight hours a day, five days a week. Though I would have loved to spend every hour reading and writing, I had to interact with the customers. There were a lot of regulars who wanted to talk about politics, sports, their personal lives, their kinks, and their jobs. They would not hold back, and almost treated me like a priest. I heard some hardcore confessions. When I am figuring out how a certain character would sound, I have a ton of examples from the porn store. I can use their quirks and speech patterns to inject more realism and humor into my dialogue. Whether it be someone in the closet renting gay porn or a person explaining why they don’t want to have sex with their significant other anymore, I heard people speaking their truths. This gave me an ear for both inner and outer dialogue. There are things that a character reveals in more subtle and nuanced ways, through their rhythms, vocabulary, and even through the things they pointedly leave out.

Writing Through Chaos and Distractions

You can write anywhere. That is what I learned those years behind the porn store counter. I’d have homeless people come in, zoning law inspectors, gang bang recruiters (seriously), cops coming in to shoot the shit, the boss stopping by to complain, and customers looking for very specific fetishes. I learned to stop and deal with who or whatever I had to attend to, and then get back to writing. While there, I finished the second draft of a literary novel, some short stories, and read a ton. I learned there is no perfect place to read and write, and that even through the most awkward disruptions you can still find time to be creative.

Con Selling

If you can sell a $29.95 DVD with ‘anal’, ‘cuckold’, and/or ‘big cocks’ in the title, you can sell a book you have edited or written to a stranger. I picked up some practical sales skills at the porn store. My constant goal was to keep enough money coming in so my boss never suspected I was writing on the job. Though selling shitty porno movies and fake penis growth pills felt disenchanting at times, it taught me how to interact with strangers. When I started doing book festivals and conferences three years ago, they were a joy, because I actually believed in my books and understood how to communicate each book’s value. While penis enlargement pills are bullshit, I actually believe in what I sell. That combination of enthusiasm and sales skills has helped me finish in the black for almost every con/festival I have attended.

Character Studies

It wasn’t just dialogue I learned from the porn patrons. It was crafting real characters with real quirks and commonalities. Listening and talking to the porn store patrons was as good as reading any craft book on creating realized and memorable characters. After working the store for a year, I could usually tell a lot about a person within the first minute of talking to them. I noticed the physical: body language, the sound of their voice, build, did they look me in the eyes or not; sociological: how well read or educated they were, where they worked, what kind of money they made, religion, nationality; and emotional: were they stable, lonely and needing to connect, fake happy, assertive or aggressive, timid. All of these characteristics combined into making them who they were. I could use this skill to build real characters in my fiction. I could take physical, sociological, and emotional attributes and combine them into a unique human being. I would sometimes compare them to real individuals I met at the porn store to see if they felt ‘real.’

Genre Expectations and Surpassing Them

Different fetishes and types of porn are really just different genres. The videos that end up getting rented and bought the most not only meet ‘genre expectation,’’ they also add something special. While I don’t want to get super graphic here, it usually involves something memorable in the video—a scene, a style, and many times, a certain actress. I learned from the popular porno videos that when writing in a certain genre you have to make those genre fans happy, but also give them something unique. It can be your style of language, it can be taking a new approach on a familiar trope, and most importantly giving the reader an outstanding character. When you meet the expectations of genre and create something memorable in your story, your books will sell as good as porn.

Talking Books

On very slow days I would sit behind the register and read. A lot of customers didn’t want to interact and I would just look up, put in my bookmark, and get them their movie. This was pretty standard, but sometimes the porn patrons would be curious about what I was reading. Many of these guys were proud non-readers. I took this as a challenge to infuse the porn store with at least a little literary curiosity. To do this I had to tell them why the book was enjoyable and get them interested enough to want to hear more. I was very proud when I was able to get 4 men excited about the story of one of my favorite novels, Anna Karenina. Experiences like that have made it a lot easier for me to write the back copy of my own as well as other writers’ books.

Vibrator Editor 

Until I got the hang of it, selling and recommending vibrators was a challenge. Though white male privilege exists, it doesn’t come in handy when talking to a woman about what vibrator she should buy. At first it was very awkward and I didn’t sell many vibrators, but I learned that I had to help the female customer feel comfortable. I also needed to be knowledgeable and a little humorous, as well as respectful. When I took this approach I easily sold vibrators and learned better communication skills. These skills help me so much when editing other people’s work. Communication and making artists feel comfortable is important. Sex toys, someone’s story, they both involve vulnerability, but if you communicate the right way, a writer will be able to access the right technique and tool for the job.


When it was cold, the porn sales always rose. Wintertime was the most popular time in the store. Not just for rentals and purchases, but for guys just wanting to hang out. The porn store would feel a lot like a barbershop. There were guys who proudly didn’t read and didn’t even like watching movies or TV. They only liked sports, but some of these guys would come up with the funniest stories I have ever heard. There were always men wanting to talk, but if you couldn’t tell a good story or keep people’s interest, they wouldn’t give you a chance to be heard. I saw that being a great storyteller had nothing to do with being a great writer. Storytelling was a separate skill, and there were some guys who might not have ever picked up a book but could tell a great story. I started listening to these guys and dissecting their stories. I realized they were using many of the techniques I read about in the craft books about great storytelling.


I started the porn store job a good 7 years ago. At the time, I was a big literary snob. I believed that only the serious literary novel is what people should read, and even though I was selling porno, I thought erotica and romance writers were total hacks. After two years of working there my mind really opened, and I saw that whether it be porn, erotica, or romance, they were art forms and audiences enjoyed the fantasy and desire that they provided. I lost my snobbery, seeing that any kind of storytelling takes skill. A few years later I would take what I learned at the porn store and write erotica under a pen name. The erotica I have created is still the most successful work I have published. If I hadn’t worked at the porn store, I would be just another bitter failed literary novelist complaining about Chuck Tingle.

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Pulphouse Fiction Magazine Is Coming Back!

I will be mixing some of the stories from the old Pulphouse days along with brand new fiction. I figured most of those older stories have long been forgotten and they need a new life. For each story we will push the author information and be clear to the reader if the story is new or if a reprint, where the story was originally published.The magazine will have an attitude, as did the first run. No genre limitations, but high quality writing and strangeness.Each issue will have some fan favorite authors from the old runs and brand new authors.SubmissionsI am not taking submissions. Period. So please don’t ask.

Source: Pulphouse Fiction Magazine Is Coming Back!

Click on the link above for the full article.

That’s right, after twenty years, Pulphouse returns.

Kris and I are bringing it back.

I figured I had better talk a little about it here since I am the editor and I bought some really stunning and wonderful Pulphouse stories for the magazine this last week. But just to be clear, Kris is with me on this. Pulphouse was always the two of us and even though WMG Publishing Inc. is now the company behind Pulphouse, the magazine is still our vision.

First Some History

Kris and I started Pulphouse Publishing in 1987 and dissolved the corporation in 1996. We started off with Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine and expanded to numbers of imprints, including Axolotl Press, Author’s Choice Monthly Press, Short Story Paperbacks Press, and Writer’s Notebook Press, among others.

Along the way we ended the Hardback Magazine run that Kris had edited. She moved to editing F&SF and we started up Pulphouse: A Fiction Magazine that I edited. She remained as Pulphouse book editor.

We managed to get out nineteen issues and an Issue Zero before shutting down the business. But along the way the magazine was nominated three times for the Hugo Award among other awards.

The New Magazine Details

As you can see from the pictures, we are doing an Issue Zero again this time that will be limited and part of a Kickstarter later in the summer. First issue comes out in January 2018 and the magazine will be quarterly, with about 70,000 words of short fiction every issue. It will be the size and shape of Smith’s Monthly.

I will be mixing some of the stories from the old Pulphouse days along with brand new fiction. I figured most of those older stories have long been forgotten and they need a new life. For each story we will push the author information and be clear to the reader if the story is new or if a reprint, where the story was originally published.

The magazine will have an attitude, as did the first run. No genre limitations, but high quality writing and strangeness.

Each issue will have some fan favorite authors from the old runs and brand new authors.


I am not taking submissions. Period. So please don’t ask.

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Filed under 2017, magazine