Saturday, May 31, 2014


This isn’t really late for “The Write Path” submission. I emailed mine directly to Carrie Butler when it was due, but then I had a few people ask me why I didn’t post my article. So here it is.

The Write Path

One lesson I tripped on along the way to publication still haunts me. I submitted to a magazine that seemed a good home for one of my stories. This was back in the day when simultaneous submissions were an invitation to get yourself blackballed from a trusting publisher. Nowadays, as long as you disclose that a manuscript is a simultaneous submission, it’s fine.

 It didn’t turn out fine for me twelve years ago. I never informed the publisher my story was a simultaneous submission, because initially, it wasn’t. I submitted the story to them alone. However, having not heard from them a year and a half later, I decided to remarket the story. I wanted to do it right. Following etiquette, I sent a note requesting that my story be withdrawn from their consideration.

I had no way of knowing their acceptance letter crossed in the mail with my request. Unfortunately, the publisher had already sent my story to press when my notice arrived, and she was upset. It was too late to stop the presses. I received a heated phone call. Yes, I apologized.

Eighteen months is a long time to wait, so what should I have done? The professional thing would have been to send a status inquiry at least once before ever sending a notice to withdraw the submission. Had I sent a simple note stating that I’d like to keep the story in circulation if they weren’t interested, and politely requested that they let me know how much more time they needed, the end result would have been better.

They would’ve informed me they’d already sent a letter of acceptance. And if they hadn’t sent one yet at the time they received my inquiry, they at least would have been aware I wanted a decision made soon. Perhaps they would’ve told me that they needed only a couple more weeks to make sure they had room for the story before formally accepting it.

My story was published, and because I’d sent the story to another publisher the same day I sent the first a notice to withdraw, I immediately let the second publisher know the story had already been accepted elsewhere.

When I received my free copy of the publication featuring my story, disappointment deflated any excitement I could’ve had. A few necessary words had been omitted from the first paragraph, leaving an unclear meaning in a verb-less mess. I tried to convince myself the omission wasn’t a last-minute decision to pay me back for putting them under stress, but occasionally I’ve had doubts. On the other hand, publishers take pride in the magazines they put out, so it’s unlikely there was any malicious intent. Still, because of that butchered paragraph, I’ve never whipped out that magazine for any bragging rights, nor have I dared submitting to them again.

The best thing to do, whether submitting to a print publication or an online journal, is to tell the editor or publisher upfront if your story is a simultaneous submission. If you feel you should have received a response by a given date and you haven’t, send a polite inquiry before you even think about withdrawing your piece.

They may have put time into pre-publication preparations just to make sure they could fit your story into available space before they let you know whether or not they could accept it. Just as you don’t want your time wasted, don’t waste theirs. No one should have to wait eighteen months, but if you do, then go the extra step to send out an inquiry before you make a rash decision. It beats kicking yourself later.

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


My grandson was selected by a local car dealership for the Cutest Kid Contest. The winner gets a free pizza and pool party. To help us out and vote for him, log in to Facebook and go to the website below to "Like" the photo of him. Please share with friends and family!   


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Wednesday, May 14, 2014


The People We Used To Be
Many people think flash fiction or micro fiction is easy to write because it’s so short. After all, how hard is it to write a 50-word or a 100-word story?

Well, at least for me, it’s harder than it looks. I usually go through draft after draft, cutting words and slicing those “throat-clearing” phrases as if my pen was a scalpel, attempting to uncover the heart of the story, to bare its bones, sharp and hard, on the page.

I thought the best way to illustrate my process – such as it is – is with an example. Here’s an early draft of my story, What’s Eating Xavier?

The rest of the landscape crew was up the block. Xavier was alone at the house at the end of the street.

His machine cuts into the concrete porch like teeth chewing and tearing at flesh and bone. The machine bucks, its gears gnashing, its motor burning hot then dying a cold death. Xavier curses. He prods at the bushes, feels his way along the wall, feeling for gouges in the concrete. Maybe, if it’s small enough, he can let it go, arrange the bushes over it so no one will be the wiser and he wouldn’t get in trouble.

His fingertips press against the crumbling concrete. He measures it, smiles. Not too big, not too bad at all. He would be okay.

Then something inside the crack reaches out its tongue and licks him.

Hmm…I see some good stuff buried beneath that flabby prose. Shorter, tighter sentences and more intense, vigorous words would accentuate the creepy factor. I also ask myself - what does the reader need to know for the story to work? In this case, a few things: Xavier is working alone near a supposedly haunted house; he’s disliked by his coworkers; and, he’s cocky and willing to cover up his mistakes rather than take responsibility for them. Armed with all of this information, I go back to work and, after a few more drafts, come up with the final version of What’s Eating Xavier?

Xavier works the old Dudley house alone. The landscape crew sniggers, says its haunted. They give him the hardest jobs, the crappiest equipment. They’re just jealous – of his youth, his good looks.

He’s daydreaming of being rich, famous when the mower rams into the house’s foundation. The machine judders, its gears gnashing. The motor burns hot then dies a cold death.

Xavier curses. He finds the hole – a small, dry mouth edged with soft, crumbling teeth. He can hide it, no problem. He smiles.

Until something inside the hole unfurls its tongue and licks him.

You can see the difference in the last sentence alone. By slightly changing the words and their order, and replacing “reaches out” with “unfurls,” the ending now slides off the page and into the reader’s ear, just like that tongue.

Give it a try. Dig deep to find the kernel of your story. Hone your prose. Hunt for the best word possible.

Writing flash fiction is a challenge, but one well worth undertaking.

BIO: Madeline Mora-Summonte reads, writes, and breathes fiction in all its forms. She is the author of The People We Used to Be: A Flash Fiction Collection. 


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Looking Back on the A to Z!

This was the first year I’d ever participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, but it won’t be my last. First, I’d like to thank all of the co-hosts who created and organized this challenge, because without you, I would’ve never found so many interesting blogs, nor met so many wonderful people.

I’m a writer, and with that title comes not only a yearning to explore new subjects for future work, but a responsibility to continually strive to better the writing I put out. I think it would be impossible for a writer to walk away from this challenge without having gained incredible resources for almost any topic. If I wanted to create a realistic setting for a story that takes place in a part of the world I’ve never been, I’d visit the travel blogs I came across through the Challenge, and I’d find the fuel I needed to flesh out my story. Likewise, I would know who to go to if I wanted to create a character who’s a medium, a character who’s big on games, a character who can cook anything. So what I’m saying is, I’ve learned about a wealth of topics, and I’ve noted the blogs that would prove useful resources should I need to research those topics further.

But I’ve gained a lot more than that. I didn’t learn only about topics. I’ve learned more about people. I’ve made friendships. I’ve gained a sense of community with other bloggers in a diverse world that sometimes seems too large. This challenge has opened the world to me in a way I would have never imagined. I feel as though I know many of the people I’ve met through this challenge, and my new challenge will be to try and keep up with visiting all of them from time to time.

Silvia Villalobos urged me to join this challenge, so along with the co-hosts, I owe her a debt of gratitude.  

            My goal in joining this challenge was to increase my blog readership. I was hoping to bring my 33 or so followers up to 101 followers, so that I could say I had over 100. I now have 215 blog-roll followers, a few dozen e-mail subscribers, and I don’t even know how many bloggers following through RSS feeds. So, I made my goal, and a whole lot more. Most important are the friends I’ve made and the many blogs I joined to follow. Blogs that will continue to teach me through this learning experience called life until the end of mine. I couldn’t be more grateful.

            I wasn’t really prepared for the 40 and 50 daily comments left on my blog–though I appreciated them – because I found it difficult to get back to the sites of each of those bloggers, read their posts, and say something, as well as visit five new blogs each day and write my daily post–but I did it. I had the flu two days and computer problems one day, and I missed returning a comment or two then, but I did get to those blogs the following day.

Next year, I’d like to promise I’ll get smart and write my posts out well in advance, but I’m going to be honest. My life is always busy. I write five days a week, I’m a copy editor for other writers, and my entire summers are busy with painting. Those weeks that my husband and I are preparing exhibits for an art/craft show, it’s all I can do to manage my self-mandated one paragraph to one page of writing per day (I write more during the other seasons.)

It’d be easy during those busy times to tell myself as soon as life slows down, I’ll write those posts. But sometimes life doesn’t slow down, and in case this year proves to be one of those hectic ones, I’ll be writing on the fly again for The Challenge next April. But I’ll make it, and I know that now. (I also now know that should a publisher ever ask me to skimp on sleep for a few weeks to meet a commitment, I could do it.)

            As far as suggested changes for the overall challenge, I really didn’t see much that could be improved upon. One thing I did find frustrating was when someone would leave a comment on my blog, and I’d click on his or her name in hopes of being routed to his or her blog, and instead I was taken to a Google page. On the Google page there would be a number of blog addresses, and I wouldn’t know which one belonged to the original commenter I was trying to find.

I often spent ten and even fifteen minutes tracking down someone’s blog so I could return a comment. By the time I got to the letter X in The Challenge, if I clicked on somebody’s name and it took me to a Google page instead of a blog, I clicked right out of it. I just didn’t have the time to check five blog addresses in comments to find the right one.

When Silvia gave me tips on signing up for this challenge, she did mention I should make sure I had my blog URL in a signature in every comment I left. I’m glad she told me of this, because it made my blog easy to find.

            I’m going to miss everybody, even though I’ll be visiting them often. There is no way I can visit fifty blogs every day of the week for an entire year. I’d never get my regular writing done, and I do give myself a strict schedule. But I’m grateful I now know where to go when I want to listen to good music, and I where to go when I want to be visually inspired by top-notch photography or to get my husband a new recipe (hee!). I know where to good books to put on my TBR list, and where to go if I simply want to read a good story. I also know that throughout the year, I’ll be getting to know the friends I’ve made even better, and hopefully I’ll be meeting a few more.

            If you leave a comment on my blog this week (while I’m preparing for an art show), please know that I may be day or two late in getting to your blog, but I will get there.

My best to you all, and I’ll see you soon.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

I made it!!!

What? You don't think posting a badge alone is a worthy post?
Hah! I got news for you. This is a big horn to toot, and I'm tooting it as loud as I can!

Happy writing and congratulations to all you
A to Z survivors! WE did it!