Monday, February 21, 2022

Something Else for Authors to Deal With--Harassment

I admit that when Book Angel contacted me with news about their survey on author harassment, I was skeptical. I blame that on my not being informed, or maybe naive. Surely readers wouldn't try to intimidate someone who wielded a pen, but evidently, I was wrong. This article has some interesting information and a survey that you can take part in if you wish. 

Please welcome Book Angel.

Harassed Writer
Photo Credit: chooyutshing on Wunderstock

Harassment of authors is nothing new. When Val McDermid had ink thrown in her face at a book signing, it seemed like the price of fame. Stephen King's stalker famously inspired Misery, but his profile was so high it was easy to think that it was a celebrity stalker rather than a writer's fan.

In past years, authors being harassed by fans seemed to be something that only the truly rich or well-known had to be concerned about. Publishers and agents protected many writers’ pen names. The rise of indie publishing and the growth of social media has put authors more in touch with their fans and, it seems, possibly more in the firing line.  

I mentioned the issue of harassment to a writer of my acquaintance over Christmas, and to my surprise, she mentioned she had experienced this. We talked, and she went back to her writing group of mainly amateurs and hobbyists and asked. Every one of them had experienced harassment and problem fans. Every one of them had thought they were the only one.

That hit home rather hard because twenty-five years ago, I thought I was the only one.

The genie was out of the bottle. They spoke to more people and certain horrific anecdotes came out: getting out of a moving car to escape an obsessive fan, threatening with outing a romance author to religious police and authorities in a country where that would mean death. 

These were not high-profile authors affected. Some had indie books on various sites, some wrote for free and fun, others wrote short stories under various pennames. What they all had in common was the belief that they were the only ones, that there was a perception this only happened to the rich and famous, or that they had simply been unlucky.

The question that kept coming up in discussion was the more disturbing one of just how common this behaviour is.

This problem has been investigated before from other angles. A survey by the Bookseller in 2017 found 54% of women and 38% of men working in publishing had experienced harassment, much of that from other industry professionals. The same year Pen America surveyed 230 writers and journalists, who had been harassed, about their experiences. Neither of these surveys focused on how widespread this problem is or included indie and hobbyist writers.

While this is an ongoing problem, lockdown seems to have increased the likelihood of this happening. The Society of Authors even has specific guidelines for how to handle an attack when it happens. The fact it is when and not if is disturbing. 

The plural of anecdote is not data, but gathering enough can give a basis for a trend. As part of Book Angels with several thousand authors as members, this seemed a good place to start.

We have started an informal anonymous survey to cover the basics of author safety, what threats occur and what authors have encountered, as well as to try to detect whether this is more common in some genres or regions than others. If you haven't experienced problems, your views are still welcome as we are trying to detect trends.  

The results will be shared on our website as percentages, with any identifiable details removed, and shared with author associations with the hope that they will be useful in encouraging a more formal investigation of the issue.

If you would like to take part, here is the link:

For any authors who need help, the Society of Authors guidelines are here:

For those in the US, PenAmerica has a similar support site:  

For those in the US, PenAmerica has a similar support site:  


Monday, February 14, 2022

Take The Day

Since today is good old Hallmark day, I figured what better thing do to than to write a post about some lovey dovey...Nope. Delete. Delete. Need a better day. Barbie in a Blender day sounds better. Sadly, that is a real thing too. Celebrate how, what, and where you want, but if you need to have one whole commercialized day to save your relationship, you'll get an eyeroll from me. Although who cares about that? It's just a rhyming cat. Now I think it is the time of the day that we get on with it.

Being pulled this way and that? Don't have time? Don't have this? Don't have that? Chances are you've used the excuse and have heard them many a time. Now it doesn't make them any less true. Sometimes you just don't have time. Especially if you have to deal with that work thing, kid schedules, and that thing they call sleep. 

But...wait for can take a day! Or make a day. Heck, these so-called high and mighty nincompoops can declare things a day, so why can't you? 

Think about it for a bit. All of these days have been programmed into us. They HAVE to happen on this date. Aside from Easter that changes, but we'll ignore that one. Or will we? Why can't you change them? Why can't you create your own? Answer is there is no why to it. You can!

Create a Flexible Day.

There are many ways to get writing done, rest and recharge, or get what you need(within reason. Sorry. Still aren't going to win the lottery.)

One way to do it is create the flexible day. Don't be so stuck on the one day that things can't change. That will lead to more excuses and you thinking you can't do it. Because let's face it, crap does happen.

What kind of day?

Whatever you need. Need a writing day? Pick a date on the calendar that plans can work and declare that it. Need a rest day? Same thing. Need Insert whatever and make it happen.

A day for writing can get a lot done. A day for just relaxing helps the body and mind. A day for brainstorming can give you lots of ideas. The day is there. You just have to take it.

Kids, work, housework etc.?

Always a way. Can ship the kids off to school, relative, play date, or whatever. Can "fake" a sick day if you have them, plan a vacation day, or just do it on one of the designated holidays or a weekend. Housework will be there tomorrow.

And again, be flexible. The goal is not to get stressed out. If things go astray then move it to another time. It might take some juggling, but it can be done. 

Have you ever taken the day? Have you created your own day? Do you need to take a day? Ever thought about your own day? Celebrate Valentine...Hallmark...Day? Had enough of my day questions? 

Enjoy your day!

Monday, February 7, 2022

Tips for Submitting Short Stories

By Shannon Lawrence


The short story world can be an emotional roller coaster, but it’s a fun, creative, and empowering experience in many ways. The hardest part can be overcoming the fear of submitting, which is more about the fear of judgment and rejection. Here’s the thing, though: a rejection is just a polite email saying the story doesn’t work for that particular publication. It’s not a personal judgment and has nothing to do with you as a person. It usually isn’t even about your story. Often, a story gets rejected because it doesn’t fit with that publication or a theme that has formed among the accepted stories. Even if the editor doesn’t like this story, that’s a matter of personal taste. Someone else will like it. There’s no reason to keep that story from the people who don’t even know they want it yet, so submit that puppy!

Fountain Pen Writing (Literacy), by Peter Milosevic, Wikimedia Commons

Once you get over the fear or discomfort involved with submitting, there’s the matter of figuring out where to submit the stories you’ve written.

Here are a few ways to get started:

  • 1.      Submit to publications you already read and enjoy. Their websites will have submission guidelines.
  • 2.      Use an online resource, such as Duotrope (annual fee) or Submission Grinder (free). These sites allow you to plug in information like story length and genre, then return publications matching those criteria and open for submissions.
  • 3.      Join groups on Facebook that are specifically about open markets for short stories. There are some that are general, while others are genre specific.
  • 4.      Check out “best of” anthologies to see where those stories were published in the first place.
  • 5.      Look at where short story authors you like are getting published and review the guidelines.
  • 6.      Subscribe to blogs or newsletters where they announce markets open for submissions.

After choosing a market (a magazine or anthology), the next step is to check their submission guidelines and determine that A. your story fits what they publish, and B. your story is formatted correctly to their specifications. If these are a go, check the guidelines again to see how they expect stories to be submitted. This may be via an email or through a submission portal. It’s far rarer, but some publications still take mailed submissions. Ensure you observe all their submission guidelines throughout the process, as different publications have varying requirements and stories not meeting those requirements may be rejected without having been read.

Android Email 8.1 Icon, Google, Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Now submit! But don’t just wait to hear back. Instead, get that next story written and submitted. Much success to you!

Have you ever submitted a short story? How did it go? Do you have any short stories waiting for submission? What’s holding you back from submitting?

A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes primarily horror and fantasy. Her stories can be found in over forty anthologies and magazines, and her three solo horror short story collections and her nonfiction title, The Business of Short Stories, are available now. You can also find her as a co-host of the podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem. When she's not writing, she's hiking through the wilds of Colorado and photographing her magnificent surroundings, where, coincidentally, there's always a place to hide a body or birth a monster. Find her at


Wednesday, February 2, 2022

February IWSG Day 2022

Hey Insecure Writers, 

Happy IWSG Day!  #IWSGPit, January 26, 2022, was a success.  Thanks to all you authors pitching your MS at our #IWSGPit. You made us a trending topic on Twitter in the UK--Twitter's top ten.  Check out the screen shot for that day.  #9 Woohoo!  

IWSG has been named, again, as the best writing contest by Reedsy for 2022.  The contest they are referring to is our yearly anthology contest.  Watch for the call for submissions for our new contest announcement for 2022 here.


Sign Up And Become a Member
Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.
Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience, or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 


 The awesome co-hosts for the February 2 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler, Jacqui Murray, Sandra Cox, and Lee Lowery!


 Is there someone who supported or influenced you that perhaps isn't around anymore? Anyone you miss?
My Answer:

I have participated in online RPG's (role playing games) since 1999. It is where I honed my writing skills playing in Star Wars althernate universes, LOTR, regency romance, and various other RPG's online. 

I have a friend I played SW RPG up through 2014. We played for years with several people but in the last five years until we stopped just each other. We both have moved in different directions in our lives. I miss those days.  I miss the shared writing connection I had with my friend.  

We both became better writers in the way we played RPG, learned, and challenged each other to raise the storytelling bar.  I still repurpose those original characters I created back then to use in others stories that I write today.  Mainly, because I miss those characters almost as much as I miss my friend. 


Discussion Day Thursday February 24th

From Toi Thomas

In February we’ll feature books from authors in the 1-50position of the IWSG blogging list. Remember, if you are not currently on the IWSG blog hop list and don’t plan to join, the registry is the only way for your books to have a chance to be spotlighted by the book club. 

Please click this link to fill out the form to be added to the IWSG Book Club Spotlight Registry. 

If you are on the blog hop list, please don’t join the registry. We want to be fair and give everyone an opportunity to be featured, which mean some of us will have to wait our turns. As the book club administrator, I’m still eagerly waiting in anticipation for the day one of my books has a chance to be featured.