Writing updates...

Several things going on! 

To recap where my writing's been going over the last year or so. 

I'm in the process of formatting my novel, "Hidden Talents", for submission as an ebook/epub format. I want to make some detail changes, such as switching the instant messaging used from older programs to either Google Hangouts or a combination of Kik and Twitter DMs. As I'm doing that, I'm putting the chapters into the Scrivener authoring package. I like Scrivener, and it'll make it easy to format a file ready for submission to either Amazon or Smashwords. Then I need cover art, and I've got the right artist for that. She just needs to dig herself out of snow in metro Boston. :-)

In the summer of 2013, I was wrestling with this decision of where to submit Hidden Talents. I got the idea to write a novella of about 50K words, submit that on Smashwords, and see how the process went. I got about 10K words into that project (a story about a female FBI agent set in New Orleans) when I was talking to LTJG Firstborn. He's up in New Hampshire, with his submarine, while it's in Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Since he's single and a geek, he bought the "dragon egg" set frrom Game of Thrones. It's three replica eggs in the presentation box, just like on the show. As we discussed this purchase (which I heartily approve, by the way), Mr. Branley made a snarky remark about how, if the set hadn't cost $80, he'd consider throwing one in a fire to see if it would hatch.

That got me started. I'd been thinking about Hayford Pierce's old "Chap Foey Rider" stories and the Galactic Postal Service. I kept thinking, what if some entity you wouldn't expect decided to use Google to expand it's markets? Dragon eggs sold via Google...I've never tried my hand at writing "young adult" stories, and this was shaping up to be one. I wrote a 5K word story about three kids from Metairie who hatch a dragon egg. When I circulated the story to a few moms of teens/tweens, the response I got was, "what happens next"? Well, that meant I had to write what happened! That turned into "Dragon's Danger", a 50K middle-grade/YA novel. Dara Rochlin did a great job of editing it, and I'm now working with Lisa Graves to finalize the cover art. That'll all get assembled into Scrivener, and submitted to Smashwords. 

I'll evaluate how sales of "Dragon's Danger" go while finalizing "Hidden Talents". 

Current writing: I've returned to "FBI gal" - her name is Estelle. She's a dysfunctional cop, but not a classical one, with a drinking problem. Still, she's got issues. That's doing OK, and I'm pulling up notes for the follow-up story to Hidden Talents. I also write a 6K-word short story for an Elemental (air/fire/water/earth) anthology that's set in the dragon universe. Hopefully it will get accepted. I also learned of an anthology of medieval fantasy stories looking for stories of women who wear/use "real" armor, so the dragons now contemporary, in the 1890s (elemental story), and now also Middle Ages (armor story). 

Fun stuff! 

eBooks and Smashwords and Amazon, oh, my!

So, the middle-grade novel, "Dragon's Danger" is 99% ready to go. I started the process to put the story on Smashwords.com for distribution/sales. I talked about some of this last post, so this is more or less an addendum.

There are a number of possibilities for self-publishing a novel, and I've liked what I've seen about Smashwords. The idea is, you submit your book to them (as a Word doc file), then they format/convert it into a number of formats, including PDF, HTML, and epub for Kindle and other readers. Once formatted, Smashwords becomes your distributor, placing the book at Kobo, B&N, Oyster, Scribd, and other ebook sellers.

Except, as I've discovered, Amazon.

Smashwords says Amazon doesn't have a way for them to "bulk upload" to the book giant, so they have to set things up manually. They don't do that unless your book's sold $2K already through other channels.

That's not all that big a thing for me, though. I took the doc file for Smashwords, changed it to a "Kindle Edition", and am ready to publish it separately on Amazon. Since I'm using Smashwords at the same time, I can't do "Kindle Select", but I may try that with FBI-gal, we'll see.

What this does mean is that I don't have to wait to analyse this for "Hidden Talents", so that project's publication gets accelerated. Looking now at a June 1st date for it.

Verse: Imbolc to Ostara

Imbolc to Ostara

For those of us who live
In the Banana Republic,
The lights and fires of Imbolc
Don't represent our belief that
Winter is passing and Spring is
On the horizon.

We see Imbolc,
Candlemas to the incredibly-Catholic
Population of the Banana Republic,
As a countdown to Carnival.
The priestesses cast circles and
Welcome the Four Winds,
The priests bless throats, invoking
Saint Blaise,
While the rest of us consult
The Mardi Gras Guide
For when that first parade rolls.

When one lives neck-deep in snow,
One often needs focus on warmth,
Life beginning,
Life renewing,
Life growing,
Life greening!

But in the Banana Republic,
The roses are confused at Imbolc,
Blooming, only to be dashed away
By rain and storm,
Or flash-frozen
As the thermometer dips unexpectedly.

Denizens of the Banana Republic know
When Ostara will arrive when
They see the Green-White-Orange flags,
Followed two days later
By the Green-White-Red flags,
Followed two days later,
By the Equinox.

The priestesses cast circles,
Invoking the Four Elements, while
The priests preach their Passion
Offering images of torture and execution
To small children.

Then we look forward,
Never satisfied,
Wondering if
Beltane will ever get here,
So we can watch
Shorty close down Da Fest.

© 2015 Edward J Branley

Call for Submissions - Katrina Plus Ten (an anthology)

Elysian Fields Press LLC, of Metairie, Louisiana, is seeking submissions of prose, poetry, and artwork for its forthcoming anthology, Katrina Plus Ten, which has an anticipated publication date of August 29, 2015.

Katrina Plus Ten will feature entertaining and thought-provoking stories, essays, verse, and illustrations that recall the experiences of New Orleanians in the days leading up to the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, and the six months after that landfall.

Publisher Edward Branley welcomes poems of one to five pages in length. In short fiction, he will review short stories under 5K words. For nonfiction, essays, profiles of Katrina survivors, and other stories, 2500 words or less.

Payment will be based on pages published. Katrina Plus Ten is expected to be 100 pages in length. Writers/artists will be paid $20 per published page, and 1% of the writers' share of profits per published page.  

Deadline for submissions is March 31, 2015.  

Send submissions to kplusten@ebranley.com  

Questions? Contact the publisher at edward@ebranley.com  

Verse: Dagger Dark

Dagger Dark

Dagger Dark,
Makes the spark,
That flames the Brotherhood's desire.

Lose it not,
Lest the dagger's spot,
Drain the brother's life force.

A fortnight's grace
Is all the space
Allowed before it is recovered.

Then the pain
Will erase all gain,
And the brother will be no more.


© 2014 Edward J Branley

Verse: Yuletide Passing

Yuletide Passing

“Christmas,” as most people view it
Is over after Boxing Day.
The run-up to the New Year
Has a different feel.
The out of town
Family have returned, but the kids are
Still home.

Some folks are already working on
Taking down the decorations,
Returning the household to
Some semblence of normal.
But, it's not normal, nut quite yet.
The Old Year is still with us,
Still almost a week before,
Everyone deludes themselves into
Thinking the clock clicking to
January 1st will change things.

It's a good feeling, though, as we
Extend our enjoyment of family and
Close friends to the random-chance
Meetings of others we know,
At the Mall,
At the coffee shop,
And the other places we haunt.

The disruption of regular routines
Until after the start of the New Year
Offers opportunities for writers,
Artists, and lovers.
Writers can tune out their day-to-day
Duties, turning inward to finish that
Chapter that's languished since, oh,
About the Fifteenth of December.
Artists return to the easel, the pottery
Wheel, or their sketchpads.

Lovers make best use of the
Knowing that the spouses are
Entertaining the kids,
Or otherwise wrapped in their own
They plan trysts that could never
Happen within the confines of
Work schedules, kid drop-off/pick-up,
And other complications.
They steal a few moments,
Make lasting memories,
And hopefully,
They aren't discovered,
So they can return to normalcy
By Twelfth Night.

© 2014, Edward J. Branley. All rights reserved.

Verse: Pajama Pants

Pajama Pants

The sheer baby doll,
Or the long nightgown,
Cut up all the way up the thigh,
Make clear and bold statements
Of intent.
Basic pajama pants
Make intent difficult to discern.

Partners often misunderstand
Pajama pants.
They see a woman In her green sleepy-pants,
Curled up under a blanket,
And assume
That she is, as it were, “In for the night.”
Just because the pajama pants
Come out, however,
Does not mean
The lover's hope
Should be abandoned.
Just because she chose
Not to make a BOLD statement
Of intent, doesn't mean
The need,
The want,
The desire,
Isn't there.

A bottle of wine,
Pleasant conversation (In soft tones)
Perhaps even, A Hugh Grant movie...
(A Hugh Grant movie? Really???)
And intent focuses.
Pajama pants relocating to
Around the ankles..


Verse - "Seattle"


We all have a “Seattle,”
That person, who,
When they send a card,
Or we see an email from,
THAT domain,
Or THAT area code,
We transform.

We forget the disappointment,
We forget the bad,
We forget the pain.
None of it matters,
When we see “Seattle”
Pop up in our
Present-day lives.

The transformation begins
With a gasp,
Either physical, mental,
Or psychic.
A small smile forms.
A massive WALL OF FIRE
Starts to roll in from the horizon
As optimism,
And a conscious block of
Every Bad Thing Ever
Stops the negativity cold.

Common sense usually wins out
When pondering “Seattle,”
Not because the bad memories win,
But because we've moved on,
And really don't want double-back.

Yes, everyone has a “Seattle.”
It's in Portland.

Wax Seals...

I've always been a fan of sealing notes and letters with wax. Like everyone else, I've gotten away from it, simply because I do more e-mail than actual writing. Still, I love adding a wax seal to a note.

This compass rose has been my seal for years now. I like it. With writing the dragon story this spring/summer, that imagery has been on my mind. I saw a dragon seal on Etsy, and thought it'd be a good addition.

Here's the dragon, after a couple of practice attempts with dark green wax. What was neat was that they sent a stamp pad with gold-metallic ink along with a couple of sticks of sealing wax. The idea is, you stamp the seal on the ink pad. The ink covers the flat surface of the seal, but not the depressed portions. When you press the seal into the wax, the ink goes down, around what becomes the raised impression:

I went a bit too heavy on the ink on this test impression. I'll work on that, while I order some more red sealing wax!




A Beverage
Is the most important
Part of the Coffee Shop
To the Unitiated,
The Worker Drone,
The Professional,
The White-collar hustler,
Or, occasionally,
The Nightowl, who is
Up way too early.

They acquire their cup
In exchange for a swipe
Of the card,
Or a scan
Of their phone, proceeding
Mindlessly to the next phase
Of the day.

Those select Initiates
To the Sublime Mysteries
Of the Coffee Shop know
That people-watching
Is so much more
Rewarding than mere coffee,
Even when
The gorgeous Redhead
In the tight summer dress
Busts the Initiate
Staring shamelessly
At today's Muse.

©2014 Edward J. Branley. All Rights Reserved.