D.B. Jackson: The Writing Life, part I — Say What?


This week, in my continuing gig as “guest” on this site, I’m supposed to write about “The Writing Life.” First of all, it’s just weird being a guest here — I mean, this place has been my literary home for six years. I feel a little like I went off to college and then returned home, only to find that my room was being used as a bed and breakfast. I guess now I know how my older daughter feels . . . (That’s a little joke. I promise.) But I also wonder if, after all these years, there is anything I could tell you about my writing life that you don’t already know.

And so I’m going to take this in a slightly different direction . . .

Being a writer can be a little weird. By which I mean, that people sometimes treat writers in odd ways. […]

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Nuts & Bolts – Back Cover Copy and Why Yours Is Bad

John G. Hartness

There might be a little hyperbole in the title, but probably not much. A friend who self-publishes posted her new cover on Facebook this morning, and it was beautiful. A striking image on the front, very nice typography, it looked good in a thumbnail (which many, many major publishers are terrible about, especially in urban fantasy, BTW. Those incredible dark, moody, painted covers look like nothing but black and blue blobs when shrunk down to Amazon thumbnail sizing. That’s why the author names have to be so big, so the consumer has SOME way to figure out what the book is!), until I started reading the back cover matter.

Back cover copy is critically important for any book, but it’s only really relevant to a self-published or small press author. Most major publishers A) Do back cover copy pretty well most of the time and B) won’t give you […]

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Self-publishing and why I chose this path — Lillian Archer


Bonjour! I am Lillian Archer, and I am tres excited to be posting on Magical Words today. Merci beaucoup to the MW team, and go buy some of their books.

My book, Prodigal Spell, is a historical fantasy set in 1790s London and the Caribbean at the height of British colonial expansion. It is the story of Julia Richmond, a London society wife, who is hiding her witchcraft from her husband, her friends, and the church. She must choose between the man she loves or a heritage she detests before a demon kills her father. It is a story about severely fractured people and relationships hiding in a historical fantasy.


I began my publishing journey like many others- I procured an agent, and then waited for a contract from a publishing house. Not a single house wanted to purchase the book. Several houses expressed interest, and I offered […]

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Joshua Palmatier — Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens


This is the fourth and final post here on Magical Words related to the upcoming CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK vs. ALIENS anthology, being released by the new small press called Zombies Need Brains and edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier. This time we’re focusing exclusively on the anthology itself. That’s right, this is the promo post! All steampunk, all alien, all the time! *grin*


I’m happy to announce the back cover copy of the anthology, along with the table of contents. The anthology should be hitting the shelves in the next month or so, so add it to your wish list or preorder it at your favorite online bookstore! First off, the cover art and book description. We used the art “Steampunk Octopus” by Alex Broeckel for the cover (signed, limited edition prints available at the Zombies Need Brains online store), since it captured the concept of the […]

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Joshua Palmatier — from Kickstarter to Antho


And now it’s time for the third post here on Magical Words related to the upcoming release of the anthology CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK vs ALIENS, the first release from the new small press Zombies Need Brains. In the first two posts, I focused on what I look for as an editor in terms of character and plot for the stories in the anthologies. For this post, I thought I’d focus on what the process was for putting this anthology (and I assume all future anthologies) together, from assembling the kickstarter to getting that final book together and available for public consumption.

First off, Patricia and I have to select the theme of the anthology. We actually have a small list of themes already sketched out, but for each one we weigh how strong the concept is and whether we think it will generate interest in the SF&F community. Once we […]

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Joshua Palmatier — Zombies Need Brains


Welcome to the first post here at Magical Words related to the upcoming anthology CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK vs ALIENS, the first release from the new small press I’ve founded called Zombies Need Brains. The intent behind this press is to produce quality SF&F-themed anthologies, hopefully a couple a year, with an escalating schedule after that. Since I’m writing these posts as the EDITOR of the first anthology, I figured I’d direct the topics more toward what the editor is looking for in terms of Character, Plot, etc. This first post is about Character, so let’s focus in on that.

What is the editor looking for when perusing submitted stories? Obviously, different editors look for different things, but I, personally, am mostly focused on character. If the story I’m reading doesn’t have an engaging character, then it’s extremely unlikely that I’m going to be interested in buying the story […]

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Getting Here


<Looks around!> Wow! <Fangirl squee!> <Thud!>

What am I doing here, on this blog, with people that I admire for their strong characters, their ability to give me a vacation from life, for making me think?

Got me. I’m not famous. Not as a writer, anyhow. Now, if you are into dogs or plants, but this blog has nothing to do with any of that.

So here I am, surrounded by those I admire. And stalk. I go to their signings, I follow their pages and blogs and tweets. I want to know more about them. How do they get their ideas? Where do they work? What famous person did they model their characters after?

I want to be the one that finds out what happens in the next book before anyone else.

Boy, that IS stalkerish.

I could stalk, though, if I didn’t know […]

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