Sunday, December 27, 2009

Flank Hawk Ends 2009 #5 and #9 at

Flank Hawk
(the ebook version) appears to be ending the year as:

#5 Best Seller (over the last 90 days)
#9 Best Seller (All Time)


Thank you, readers!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Memories

First, I'd like to wish all who visit this blog a Merry Christmas as well as a wonderful New Year!

Christmas is a time for celebration and for memories of past Christmas celebrations. In August of 2007, my father passed away after a long struggle with cancer. Although he looked forward to and celebrated Christmas, he wasn't the type of fellow who went all out with decorating his apartment. Actually, he usually hung out one decoration, a small Noel sign.

I miss traveling up to Toledo and visting him on Christmas Eve. In memory of my father, I've taken to hanging the same decoration in our home every Christmas Season and plan to continue doing so for as many years to come as I am able.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Looking Out for Your Kid

Okay, some things I come across just strike me as funny.

Check out the smaller to the right photo taken at The Columbus Zoo.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Well, of course parents pay attention and look out for their precious little bundles of joy, right?

Do you see or anticipate any problems? Umm, I sure do.

Okay, the ant hill isn’t active, but still. ;)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Book Signing at Ole' Book Nook on December 19th

'Tis the season of signings!

I'll be at Ole' Book Nook from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm (or until customers get tired of me).

Ole' Book Nook is located at:
1637 East U.S. Highway 36
Urbana, Ohio 43078
Phone: (937) 652-1531

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Book Signing December 12th at Around About Books

I will be part of a multi-author book signing event at Around About Books (in Troy, Ohio) on Saturday December 12th from 3:00 until 5:00 pm.

I'll have plenty of copies of Flank Hawk available and I know author friend Stephen Hines will be there as well.

If you're seeking that perfect Christmas gift or two, a good novel--a signed copy--might just fill the requirement.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 Selects Flank Hawk as Book of the Month, an active writers' forum where I am a member, has selected Flank Hawk to be its Book of the Month for December, to be read and discussed by the forum members.

If you're interested in joining in, here is a link to the specific thread in the forum. To participate in the discussion you would have to join as a member, but it's free and easy to accomplish.

If you're seeking to get a hold of a copy of Flank Hawk, information on how it may be obtained can be found here: Where Flank Hawk is Available

Enjoy reading and don't hesitate to let me know what you think (and those at

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Author Erica Hayes interviews Me

Urban Fantasy Author Erica Hayes interviewed me about Flank Hawk and my writing. (My first author interview)

Here is a link to the interview: Author Interview: Terry W. Ervin II.

Don't hesitate to leave a comment there (and/or here) and let us know what you think.

Erica Hayes is the author of the Shadowfae Chronicles. Her novel Shadowfae was released a couple weeks before Flank Hawk. Her second novel, Shadowglass, is due out in March of 2010.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A John Wayne Quote

“Life is hard; it's harder if you're stupid.” --John Wayne

This statment is:
a. Funny
b. So true
c. From a far less politically correct time
d. All of the above

I have been and will always remain a John Wayne fan. I'd have to say my favorite John Wayne movie is Big Jake. It was my dad's favorite too.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

C. Dean Andersson's Blurb for Flank Hawk

"FLANK HAWK’s characters skewer you on page one, then the plot kicks your butt! Grab hold! Ervin's got the magic!"

--C. Dean Andersson, author of the Bloodsong Trilogy

In addition to his blurb of Flank Hawk, C. Dean Andersson posted this review on

"When Terry Ervin asked me to read an advanced copy of Flank Hawk, I hesitated at first, not sure I could find the time in my own writing schedule, but when I heard what it was about, I said yes, and I'm glad I did! Also, for full disclosure purposes here, although there is no money in it for me, understand, whatsoever, I was glad to put my name on a "blurb" I afterward wrote for the cover (and Christine M. Griffin did a great job of painting that cover, seems to me, an artist to watch out for--speaking from experience,cover paintings can be tricky little devils to get right!)...but the bottom line is, that looking back, I still agree with the way I felt at the time I read the advanced copy...I ended the blurb I wrote for Flank Hawk with, "Ervin's got the magic!" And I still feel it's true. Amazon's "see inside the book" feature allows you to read the first page, so if you've got a minute to do that, see if that first page grabs you like it did me...I wanted to keep reading immediately, and it's a rare book that produces that effect in me, these days...a bit jaded, you know? But this book did it for me, and I look forward now to seeing what Ervin's going to come up with next!"

I've really enjoyed C. Dean Andersson's works over the years, especially the Bloodsong Saga. If you ever get the chance, you should check out his work. Strong, interesting characters and well-written action that keeps you turning the pages.

The bottom line is that I am truly honored that Mr. Andersson has spoken so highly of my writing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Referenced by

Those who’ve visited my website know I’ve written a number of articles on writing. Their content has been drawn from my experience as an English teacher and a writer. The objective has always been to provide information and insight to assist other writers.

The vast majority of my articles have been published by Fiction Factor. Several have been reprinted in various newsletters and two have been used as instructional material both at writing conferences and in the classroom.

I don’t know if it’s a mark of validation, but I find it pretty cool that at least one of my articles (Direct vs. Indirect Characterization) is referenced by I don’t know the vetting process (if there is one) but the result is that more individuals might access my article and hopefully acquire a little knowledge--which is exactly the reason I wrote it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

UVJVS Students Support Cancer Research

October 30, 2009 was THINK PINK Day at Upper Valley JVS (where I work). The Med Tech Program organized the event featuring a colossal human “Pink Ribbon” in observance of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The goal was to promote the awareness, research and to celebrate the inspiration of those affected by the disease.

Almost $700.00 was raised by the students (through $1.00 donations). The photo was taken by Piqua Daily Call photographer Mike Ullery.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My Philosophy of Supporting Employees

I believe human interaction is important. I also believe that entry level jobs are important, whether they are held by teenagers part-time or adults working to support themselves and/or their family.

As such, I avoid self-checkout aisles, and at the gas station I don't pay with a credit card at the pump whenever possible. I pay (even via credit card) through an actual person--an employee. I don't direct deposit or use an ATM card--I go to a teller at the bank.

Employers watch and pay attention. If a worker doesn't serve customers, they are not longer needed. If the employer deems a position as "no longer needed," the job disappears. Individuals that hold that "no longer needed" position are out of job.

Sure, they could get additional training and get a better job--one that pays better and has benefits, etc., but they are either working entry level jobs (such as a cashier), or jobs that could be eliminated if faceless automation takes over (such as with a bank teller). Even more, I am polite and strive to greet the individual with a kind word or comment. Just because the job doesn't pay well doesn't mean it is fun and stress free.

Yep, call me old fashioned. It takes a little more time and effort, but I think it's the right thing to do.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Article: Writing a Novel Synopsis

Fiction Factor published my article Writing a Novel Synopsis. For those visitors here who novelist (or aspiring novelists) creating a brief, effective synopsis can be quite a challenge.

If you're a writer or have an interest, take a look and see what you think.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Free Ebooks for ALL Gryphonwood Titles on October 31st!

Hey Folks,

I just received word that as a special promotion all Gryphonwood titles will be available on Halloween (October 31st) for free! That includes Flank Hawk!

Normally Gryphonwood Ebook titles are only $1.99--a great deal but free is even better.

You'll need to enter codes to get your free novels. To get the codes just visit the Gryphonwood Blog.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

First Signing Event

My first signing event will be at Around About Books this Friday (October 30th) from 6:00 until 8:00 PM. A number of other authors will be in attendance as well.

Location information:
Around About Books
8 West Main Street
Troy, Ohio 45373
(937) 339-1707

Look forward to seeing you there!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Flank Hawk Now Available to Order

Flank Hawk is now available for Order!
(Official Release Date is October 27th)

What happens when fire-breathing dragons battle Stukas for aerial supremacy over a battlefield? Can an earth wizard’s magic defeat a panzer? Krish, a farmhand turned mercenary, witnesses this and much more as he confronts the Necromancer King’s new war machines resurrected from before the First Civilization's fall. Worse yet, a wounded prince tasks Krish to find the fabled Colonel of the West and barter the royal family’s malevolent Blood-Sword for a weapon to thwart the Necromancer King’s victory.

Flank Hawk is set in the distant future where magic exists and brutish ogres are more than a child’s nightmare.

Available at:
***All Bookstores, if not on the shelf then through special order
***Online through, and Barnes & Noble
***Ebooks available through, Amazon Kindle and (soon).

ISBN 13: 978-0-9825087-0-1
ISBN 10: 0-982-50870-0

Signed copies available. Contact author through for details.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cover for Flank Hawk

Observations? Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Shadowfae by Erica Hayes Released Today!

Fans of Urban Fantasy, Erica Hayes' debut novel Shadowfae was released today by St. Martin's Press. Check out the book trailer!

No, I haven't read it yet (I pre-ordered it, however, so it should be in my hands soon), but I have had the pleasure of editing some of Ms. Hayes' work through an anthology she was published in. Yes, Shadowfae will be bumped to the top of my 'to read' list.

Shadowfae is available at and in bookstores everywhere.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Galley Proof of Flank Hawk

I have been busy reviewing the galley proof of Flank Hawk sent to me by the managing editor at Gryphonwood Press. A time-consuming process. Fortunately, I am not finding much at all to correct. The goal is to be finished by tonight.

The scheduled release date for Flank Hawk is October 27th! I'm very much looking forward to it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

"Fictional History" published by Bewildering Stories

My short story "Fictional History" was published today by Bewildering Stories.

This story required more than a bit of research, most of which never found its way into the story's final version. That's usually how it works. But having sufficient background knowledge helps keep the relevant content accurate and flowing.

Click on over, give it a read and let me know what you think.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sometimes It's a Matter of Perspective

Digging in and directing enormous effort on writing a manuscript, driving to get it finished can cause one to lose focus on the big picture. There is nothing wrong with dedication and making persistent progress toward completion, but sometimes a writer has to step back and get out of the weeds.

Getting too close, without an occasional step back can cause a writer to lose touch with the story’s direction. Dialogue becomes stilted, descriptions become wordy and ineffective, losing color, opportunities for effective characterization are overlooked, and the plot direction bulldozes ahead according to the established outline, often leading to a dead end. Some might call that dead end ‘The Wall’ or the dreaded ‘Writer’s Block.’ In any case the result is that the story stumbles off kilter until it utterly stalls.

What to do? Take a couple weeks off from the project. Work on something different and then come back, reread and revise, take a few notes, then move forward. If possible, have a crit partner or willing trusted reader give the manuscript in progress a look and provide insight and suggestions.

Then chances are you’ll be once again up and out of the weeds.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Book Review: Once Second After by William A. Forstchen

I learned about William Forstchen's novel One Second After while listening to the Neal Boortz Radio Show, and the discussion about EMPs (Electro Magnetic Pulse) on which the story’s plot is based caught my interest.

An EMP is a burst of energy that is a byproduct of a nuclear detonation high up in the atmosphere. It will wreck the vast majority of unshielded electronic devices, from a microwave oven and transistor radio to the computerized systems in the modern car and those that monitor and control a nation’s power grid.

The main focus of the story is the aftermath of a surprise attack from container ship-launched ICBMs whose nuclear warheads detonate above the USA.

One Second After chronicles the life and death struggles a local community and its individual citizens face as transportation, communication and emergency services come to a sudden, unexpected halt. It is a realistic scenario that doesn’t paint a pretty picture. Consider hospitals and nursing homes suddenly losing power. What happens to the patients? What about aircraft aloft whose electronic controls are instantly fried? How will crops get harvested, let alone transported to where the starving populations are? And those questions manage to only scratch the surface.

Consistent with the grim but truthful results of such an attack, there’s no immediate knowledge of what happened and no government emergency personnel and supplies to the rescue. Is it everybody for himself? How will individuals, families and communities face up to this crisis?

I know—a lot of questions, but Forstchen’s novel addresses those I put forth and more through his novel’s multiple, simultaneous EMP detonation scenario. And I don’t want to give away any answers that might lessen the enjoyment of your read. I personally had trouble putting it down.

One Second After is classified as a science fiction novel, but in actuality the threat is quite real. It could happen and we, especially in the West, are vulnerable.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Overall Submission Record: September 2009

As indicted in a previous post where I discussed statistics with respect to Total Words Published, I indicated keeping track of certain statistics is useful, at least to me.

I should note, keeping statistics on submissions is different than tracking submissions. Once an author begins sending out works, especially multiple stories, novels, articles, and poems (among other pieces), keeping track of markets, dates and acceptances is important. But that's a topic for a future post. What is important with respect to this post is that I draw my statistics from my submission tracking file.

The table's contents is pretty straight forward except for Other. That includes situations where for example, a market closed while a piece was under consideration or I withdrew a piece for consideration.

I've been writing with an eye toward publication for about ten years, so many writers have far more submissions. In addition, my early efforts focused on novels which take longer to write and also have longer response times from markets. After my first novel I began writing articles, and before finishing my second novel, I began writing short stories, so the number of times I've submitted a piece (Submission Total) has been climbing faster. It may once again slow down as I will be focusing less on short fiction and more on novel writing since Flank Hawk has been accepted for publication.

Really, the Overall Submission Record is simply a snapshot in a moment in time. The totals changes every time I submit a new piece or resubmit a rejected piece or a piece is accepted. If I broke the statistics down further, my best success (submission to acceptance rate) would by far be for articles, so that kind of skews the table a bit. But the Overall Submission Record helps me track successes and struggles. It motivates me while keeping me humble.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Book Review: Hocus Focus by Stephen Hines

Author Stephen Hines is one of the most creative and interesting authors I’ve run across. He infuses his experiences and perspective on life into his writing, providing an authentic voice that resonates with young adults who sometimes struggle to fit in—an audience often missed or overlooked.

Tween and teen readers will be drawn into Hocus Focus, a story that follows Lenny (a skate-boarding punk rock fan) as he struggles to find his way in a new school in a new town. Snobs, detentions, a band competition, friendships, a girl of interest all mixed with Lenny's troubled past and his effort to find his place.

The added twist is the contact lenses Lenny gets from the creepy local eye doctor, causing him to see weird images of teachers and classmates. Without giving too much away, it's what drives Lenny to understand who he truly is, vaulting him towards becoming the confident young man he never thought he could be—all this as time is running out to literally save his girlfriend, Pauline.Hocus Focus is a fun, unique read that shouldn't be missed.

Be sure to check out the book trailer: Book Trailor for Hocus Focus.
Hocus Focus is available in print at selected book stores as well as by special order, and through Kindle. See the author's website for details.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Flank Hawk Update: Final Proof Turned In

I managed to complete the revision/proofing process two days ahead of deadline. Sent the manuscript file to Gryphonwood Press' managing editor a few hours back--two days ahead of deadline.

The artist (Christine Griffin) is nearly finished as well. I think the cover art she's creating for Flank Hawk is top notch.

Things appear to be falling into place!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Book Review: The Last Human War by D.S. Sault

The Last Human War
By D.S. Sault
American Writers Publishing Company (August 2008)

The Last Human War by D.S. Sault was a good science fiction story that kept me reading. In the universe that Sault created humanity is on the verge of extinction, although those humans known to remain are under strict control of an alien race. And the worlds and societies Sault created aren’t cheap rip-offs or a mirror image of some other author’s, or movie’s, or television show’s universe.

The plot moves along at a decent pace. I found it dragging only once (during a long escape section—I don’t want to give away too much of the plot), but even in that I found bits of things that interested me. While not every character had great depth, the ones that mattered did. Even with the aliens, I could see where they were coming from, despite the fact it wasn’t from a human perspective or based on a human culture.

D.S Sault provided plenty of action and I appreciated the space combat and tactics, both at the fleet and ship to ship level.

Beyond that, Sault’s novel held my interest because although sometimes I guessed where things were going, other times I was surprised—yeah, it made sense, I just didn’t see it coming.

There are some minor typos and occasional formatting concerns that I suspect will be corrected in the second printing, but that is the English teacher coming out in me.

To help you gauge what my tastes in SF are, I’ve also read and enjoyed John Ringo, Harry Turtledove, and Roger Zelazny. I don’t think you have to be a hardcore SF fan to enjoy The Last Human War. If you like Stargate SG1 or Star Trek or even Babylon 5, it might be up your literary alley.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Science Fiction: Exploring Possible vs. Permissible

"Science has everything to say about what is possible. Science has nothing to say about what is permissible."
--Charles Krauthammer

This is quote touches upon an important aspect of writing Science Fiction, opening the mind's eye to a question that inevitably starts as: "What if..."

Through "What if" questions, one can explore both scientific wonders and moral consequences. A truly endless array of possibilities limited only by a writer's imagination .

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Flank Hawk Update: Final Stages of Editing

It appears that my fantasy novel Flank Hawk, is moving right along toward publication with Gryphonwood Press.

The managing editor set a deadline of September 7th for the final manuscript to be returned for a final editorial review. I’m a little ahead of schedule as I finished a detailed pass of the manuscript over the last two weeks, catching a few typos, minor grammar errors, smoothing out plot consistency, and two notebook pages of things to check and/or fix (mostly capitalization concerns and consistency, and checking on hyphenated word). When the process began early in the summer, my editor had indicated the manuscript was already in very good shape, with only a few minor things to focus on to improve the novel.

Yesterday and today, I went through the two notebook pages of items, taking care of necessary changes.

In addition, my wife has been proof reading right after me. Both her past work experience and her detail oriented focus are assets in this process, and she has only found three items thus far: a spacing concern, a comma question and how something was named in the novel.

Everything else appears to be falling into place. I’ve been in contact with the cover artist and that project is moving along. In addition, four authors have returned blurbs, all of which are simply awesome. Hopefully the reviews that come in will be equally as positive.

My publisher intends to have Flank Hawk published and available by late October 2009. I guess it’s a bit of an odd feeling, but I’m thinking that it’s gonna happen.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Philosophy of Education

With the school year just about to begin, I figured I'd post my view of the educational process:

Every student has potential. It is a teacher's job to help every student tap into that potential. It is every student's responsibility to engage and participate.

Every student has the ability to squander that potential. It is a teacher's job to do all that they can to discourage that from happening. It is the student's responsibility to be sure that it does not happen.

No student has the right to interfere with another student's right to achieve their potential. It is the student's prerogative to assist fellow students in achieving their potential.

It is the teacher's responsibility to present the who? what? where? and when? Then it is the teacher's responsibility to guide the students into learning to determine and answer the hows? whys? and what ifs? It is the student's responsibility to strive to achieve, comprehend, and master the knowledge and skills.

Attending a four year college is not a requirement to become a successful, happy and productive member of society. There are other avenues. That is why I work at a joint vocational (career technical) high school.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Quote from George Will

“Being elected to Congress is regarded as being sent on a looting raid for one's friends.” –George Will

Sadly, there’s too much truth to this statement. And the United States National Debt continues to grow at an accelerated rate.

At least as I type this, Congress is on recess so at the moment they're not passing more bills into law, spending more money that the country doesn't have and can't afford.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Short Fiction Writer: What League are You in?

Many businesses and organizations are fixated on lists, charts and rankings. The writing community is no different. Am I a professional writer? If so, where do I stand—how do I compare?
In an online discussion several years ago, a writing friend, Mark Orr, compared writing to the different levels of professional baseball (as played in the United States). With his blessing, I’ve expanded upon his original analogy, forming a rough standard by which writers of short fiction can determine where their current skills, drive and talent have placed them.

Before that can be accomplished, quick review of the levels of professional baseball (from Top to Bottom):

Major League – Where the real pros reside. An elite crowd, mainly due to their skills in fielding, batting and/or pitching. Major League teams are based in large metropolitan areas, offering the greatest chance for exposure, both locally and nationally. There’s strong upper level management overseeing the team, from marketing to contract negotiations. The best coaching staffs are hired to manage, improve and refine player skills and technique. Salary compensation is high by most standards (minimum seasonal salary was near $400,000 in 2006, with the average salary around $2.7 million).

The levels then move down from Class AAA, to AA, A and the Rookie. In theory, Triple-A players are the best out there below the majors, the Double-A are a notch below that, Single-A, and then Rookie. The home fields of Triple-A teams are in major cities, with Double-A, Single-A and Rookie Leagues playing in progressively smaller venues, garnering less exposure. The pay scale also drops, down to $300 a month for some players in the Rookie Leagues.

Players move up or down based mainly on their skill development and performance. Rookie leaguers are usually first year draftees looking to develop skills without major spectator pressure and Single-As are hungry players early in their careers, eager to improve and move up. And it’s not uncommon for Double-As to bypass Triple-A and jump right to the Majors.

Translation of professional baseball’s ranking structure to short fiction writing:

Rookie League – ezines and magazines which don’t pay the writer but give a bio and link, and maybe a contributor copy. Minimal advertisement and limited exposure, other than by word of mouth. Most writers at this level are learning the basics, including the submission process.

Examples of markets at the Rookie League level:
The Oddville Press

Single A - magazines and ezines which pay a flat rate of $5.00 or $10.00 for a story, and usually a contributor copy. The competition for placement in these markets is a little stiffer, the editorial input a little more critical, and marketing and distribution efforts, while small, are made.

Examples of markets at the Single-A level:

A Fly in Amber
Fear and Trembling
Haruah: A Breath of Heaven

Double-A - magazines and ezines which pay a rate of ½ cent to 2 cents a word (or a flat rate equivalent) for fiction, and often a contributor copy. Competition for slots in the publication schedule is increasingly stiffer; the editors often receive well in excess of 100 submissions a month. The magazines/ezines often have some name recognition, especially if they specialize in a specific genre market (Science Fiction, Mystery, Horror, Romance, etc.).

Examples of markets at the Double-A level:
Sotto Voce
Necrotic Tissue

Triple-A - magazines and ezines which pay from 3 to 5 cents per word (but may have a cut off or maximum payout) and contributor copies. Name recognition, even outside their genre, is more commonplace and competition for publication on their pages is highly competitive. The number of regular readers or subscribers is consistent such that advertisements supplement publication and distribution costs, and the editors (beyond the owners of the magazine/ezine) sometimes draw a salary.

Examples of markets at the Triple-A level:

Aberrant Dreams
Cemetery Dance
Withersin Magazine

Major League - starts at 5 cents per word and goes up from there, or a flat fee that is equal to or above five cents per word. Some markets pay 25 cents or more per word, often based on a writer’s proven track record. The magazines promote, advertise, and are often found on magazine racks in retail locations nationwide. In addition, through sale of advertisements and sufficiently high readership and subscriptions, a magazine’s staff may also draw a salary.

Examples of markets at the Major League level:
Jim Baen’s Universe
Glimmer Train
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

Even by breaking fiction markets into different levels, they (like professional baseball teams) vary greatly in how well they’re run, the quality of writers (players) they’re able to attract (recruit), and the interest/loyalty they garner among readers (fans) and respect of critics (sports writers).

Just as one could theorize that a strong Double-A baseball team would beat a mediocre Triple-A team on the field, one could argue some Double-A magazines publish better quality reading than some Triple-As. And, whether a pro-rate magazine, or a non-paying recent start-up, each strives to field the very best short stories they can.

Do all writers have the talent to make it to the “Major League” level? No, just as all aspiring professional athletes don’t.

Will all writers with talent make it? No, for a host of reasons, including questions of dedication and persistence.

Will those writers who put in the time and effort to learn the craft of writing (like a ball player learning to refine his skills and knowledge of the game) improve their chances to place and move up? Yes. And if a writer enjoys writing, that is a form of payment in itself.

The above analogy isn’t perfect. For example, Professional Baseball is structured as a farm system where Rookie League teams will never rise to become Major League teams. Whereas, fiction markets are generally independent and have the ability to “move up” based on readership and revenue they’re able to attract. One might even disagree with the criteria used (rate of pay) to categorize the fiction markets and the examples listed.

Even so, as listed, a writer can evaluate where his work is being published and gauge his current “professional” level. In the end, a writer can’t reach the majors if he doesn’t submit—take his turn at bat.

© Copyright Terry W. Ervin II. All rights Reserved.
This post is an updated reprint of an article published in Fiction Factor 6/30/07

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Old Tech: Straight Razors

Many folks, men and women alike, complain having to shave. Today with safety and electric razors, the straight razor has fallen out of favor, certainly giving less reason to complain.

Nope, I’ve never used a straight razor. The one pictured was my father’s before he passed away a couple years back. He’d worked over 40 years of his life as a barber. Back when I started writing my first novel I asked him a little about straight razors: how to handle and shave with one, about sharpening and using the leather strap (strop) he had hanging from his barber chair when I was a kid—all background for a character.

My dad said when he was in barber school back in the 1960s, to practice and demonstrate your skill you had shave all of the shaving cream off of a balloon without making it pop. Not an easy skill to master, but certainly important before attempting to shave a human. As you might imagine, it doesn’t take much to inflict a bit of blood loss on oneself or a customer if you’re not careful or, even worse, don’t know what you’re doing. In years past (and even where it might still occur today) suspect it took some trust in your barber to lay back your head, exposing your neck to that ‘razor sharp’ implement.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lucky vs. Unlucky Truck?

Back in 1990 I purchased a brand new Ford Ranger. For the vast majority of my ownership it was parked out in front of our home—without incident.

In 2007, I replaced the Ranger with a new Chevy Colorado. This past spring, within two months, the truck was struck twice. Once when a fellow was looking into the setting sun and swiped the side of the truck, doing far more damage to his compact vehicle than to the pickup truck. A second incident occurred when a school bus that had been in a substantial collision was being towed down the street struck the Colorado. With the first collision, a local police officer witnessed the accident. A following driver witnessed the bus strike the Colorado’s side mirror, shattering it, and informed me. Thus, nothing for repairs came out of my pocket.

To add to the Colorado’s string of hits, my wife took my vehicle to work and one of her coworkers did it a smidgen of damage while parking next to it.

Now, just like my Ranger, the Colorado has proven to be reliable, but it seems to lack luck—or maybe attract bad luck? Heck, you’d think red would make the vehicle easier to spot than green and help it avoid being struck.

Some writers, I think, begin to feel that a story or novel they’ve written and submitted is a bit unlucky, much like one might say my Colorado is.

I had a short story that had twice been accepted for publication. Both of the magazines that accepted it for publication had long track records—years of continuous publication. Yet, they closed their doors prior to the story coming to print. Another market closed while the story was sitting in the slush pile, and with yet another market the story languished after acceptance for well over a year before I pulled it. The story finally did find a market (Fear and Trembling) that not only accepted it but published it.

The story in question, “The Scene of My Second Murder,” was the first short story I wrote for publication. If I’d have considered it ‘unlucky’ and stopped submitting it, the story never would have been published. If I’d have linked my short story writing to the line of dead end results “The Scene of My Second Murder” encountered, I’d have ceased my short story writing efforts and missed out on those successes to date.

So I’m sticking with my Colorado, just like I stuck with “The Scene of My Second Murder.”

The situation reminds me of a quote from the late 70s novelization of Star Wars where Yoda explained to Luke and Han Solo: “In my experience there is no such thing as luck. Only highly favorable adjustments of multiple factors to incline events in one’s favor.”

Even considering Yoda’s observation, I’d say there is a bit of luck involved in an author successfully finding a publisher for his story(s) and novel(s). But I also believe that it takes effort in writing a quality work, and being professional and persistent in submitting it to appropriate markets for as long as it takes.

So, no, my Colorado isn’t an unlucky vehicle. It just ran into a short string of unfavorable adjustments of multiple factors that inclined events against its favor.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fred Saberhagen's Books of Swords

The Book of Swords by Fred Saberhagen

The entire Swords series is comprised of the first trilogy (which stands on its own) and then individual books that carry the story further, each standing on its own but best read as part of the series. Especially notable is that Saberhagen's series of Lost Swords doesn't read as tired and worn out after the first three novels.

The Book of Swords trilogy tells the story of the twelve god-forged swords (each with unique powers) distributed to mortals for a 'great game’ the gods intend to play. Needless to say there are some unforeseen consequences.

The eight Lost Swords books tell the stories of the Swords of Power after the initial trilogy’s climactic battle.

What kept me reading was the fact that the series is filled with interesting characters, including some of the Greek gods themselves, each with lives and ambitions that often are at crossed paths.

To give a flavor for the books, I've included the The Song of Swords below (which is an integral thread woven into the fabric of the novels):

Who holds Coinspinner knows good odds,
Whichever move he make,
But the Sword of Chance, to please the gods,
Slips from him like a snake.

The Sword of Justice balances the pans
Of right and wrong, and foul and fair,
Eye for an eye, Doomgiver scans
The fate of all folk everywhere.

Dragonslicer, Dragonslicer, how d'you slay?
Reaching for the heart in behind the scales,
Dragonslicer, Dragonslicer, where do you stay?
In the belly of the giant that my Blade impales.

Farslayer howls across the world
For thy heart! For thy heart! who hast wronged me,
Vengeance is his who casts the Blade,
Yet he will, in the end, no triumph see.

Whose flesh the Sword of Mercy hurts has drawn no breath,
Whose soul its heals has wandered in the night,
Has paid the summing of all debts in death,
Has turned to see returning light.

The Mindsword spun in the dawn's grey light,
And men and demons knelt down before,
The Mindsword flashed in the midday bright,
Gods joined the dance, and the march to war,
It spun in the twilight dim as well,
And gods and men marched off to hell.

I shatter Swords and splinter spears,
None stands to Shieldbreaker;
My point's the fount of orphan's tears,
My edge the widowmaker.

The Sword of Stealth is given
To one lonely and despised;
Sightblinder's gifts: his eyes are keen,
His nature is disguised.

The Tyrant's Blade hath no blood spilled
But doth the spirit carve,
Soulcutter hath no body killed,
But many left to starve.

The Sword of Siege struck a hammer's blow
With a crash, and a smash, and a tumbled wall,
Stonecutter laid a castle low
With a groan, and a roar, and a tower's fall.

Long roads the Sword of Fury makes,
Hard walls it builds around the soft,
The fighter who Townsaver takes
Can bid farewell to home and croft.

Who holds Wayfinder finds good roads,
Its master's step is brisk;
The Sword of Wisdom lightens loads
But adds unto their risk.

As indicated, the song’s lyrics are woven into the plot lines, adding depth and texture. Beyond what the song's words indicate, the fact that the Mindsword’s stanza is the only one with six lines, or the fact that some swords have two names and others do not, hint as to the direction struggles and conflicts will take as they emerge.

Of great issue for the characters in the story (and debated among readers) is which sword is more powerful, or at least most useful to achieve one's objectives. And to add interest, beyond the hints in the Song of Swords, their strengths and weaknesses are revealed within the action of the storyline.

A listing for the books in the series are:
The First Book of Swords
The Second Book of Swords
The Third Book of Swords
The First Book of Lost Swords: Woundhealer's Story
The Second Book of Lost Swords: Sightblinder's Story
The Third Book of Lost Swords: Stonecutter's Story
The Fourth Book of Lost Swords: Farslayer's Story
The Fifth Book of Lost Swords: Coinspinner's Story
The Sixth Book of Lost Swords: The Mindsword's Story
The Seventh Book of Lost Swords: Wayfinder's Story
The Last Book of Swords: Shieldbreaker's Story

Since publication initial, the books have been combined into three volumes (One for the original Book of Swords trilogy and two for the Lost Swords books). Most are still in print, but I’ve often found them (including the individual mass market paperbacks) available in most used book stores.

If you read the Swords books and still have a hunger for the series, look into The Empire of the East (originally three books: Black Mountains, Broken Lands and Changing Earth) which is set in the same universe as the Swords books, but long before the swords are forged. It gives an explanation to some of the gods, and the development into the gods of the Greek pantheon.

On a final note, as a writer I appreciate the world and characters that Fred Saberhagen created in his Swords series. The way the various parts are developed, from the characters, kingdoms, conflicts, and historical backdrop to the swords themselves, is masterfully accomplished within the context of the overall story arc.

If you're a fan of fantasy and looking for a good set of reads, Saberhagen's Swords books might be just what you've been looking for.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Local Adventure: The Ohio Caverns

Often one doesn’t need to travel far to find interesting little adventures. One that’s not too far away from where I live is The Ohio Caverns.

It’s a neat little tour that takes just under an hour. Since it’s underground, any time of the year is perfect. I took my two daughters one afternoon a few weeks back. It was the first time for my youngest, and both had a great time.

Don’t hesitate to look around where you live and uncover those great little adventures. Oh, and for the writers out there, great fodder for ideas and settings.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Statistics including Total Words Published

Statistics. Some people are more numbers-driven than others, and this includes writers. I’m one of those that closely tracks my ‘writing numbers.’

Tracking is important. It’s important to keep track of submissions—what was sent to which market, when and the response, including date. Nothing fancy, just a necessary method to keep track of multiple articles and fiction pieces that are sometimes out there awaiting a decision for months and maybe even years.

I’ll get back to some of my statistics as far as submission, rejections, and acceptances in future posts. But for right now I’ll share one of the most basic stats I track: Number of Words Written vs. the Number of Words Accepted for Publication.

As of today:
Total Words Accepted for Publication: 183,200
Total Words Written for Publication: 391,100
Success Rate: 46.8%

A respectable success rate, but I’m shooting for 100%. Currently, I have all but one completed piece out on submission. The single idle piece is an article on turtles titled The Turtle Road Show. The problem is that the number of markets for articles with such content is limited. Still, my goal is to find a home for that article and every other work I complete.

Speaking of my goal with respect to this tracking effort: One million words published. It’ll be more than a few years before I'll have written a million words intended for publication (articles, short stories, novels) and certainly much longer, I suspect, before having a million words published. Maybe it's silly, but it’s a goal I’m shooting for.

And what happens if I reach 1,000,000 words? I’ll probably strive to double it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Book Review: Street Empathy

Street: Empathy
by Ryan A. Span
Gryphonwood Press (February 2008)

Street: Empathy is a science fiction (cyberpunk) novel that is both fast-paced and action-packed. It follows Gina, a person who sells her mind-reading services to any individual or corporate representative who wants them, much like a prostitute of today. The main drawback is the inevitable result of using the drug which allows one to read the minds of others. Eventual insanity.

A mysterious deal gone bad rockets Gina into a deadly cat and mouse game, one where she doesn’t know the stakes or understand the rules—other than getting caught is a bad thing. Only her wits, quick learning and a bit of luck keeps her one step ahead of the bad guys (sometimes), all the while she strives to figure out exactly who involved is her friend, enemy, or simply using her.

The world and its depth Ryan Span created to tell Gina’s story holds together well, avoiding the inconsistencies (or at least questionable logic) one sometimes encounters when reading science fiction novels containing future dystopian societies.

What I liked:
+ The protagonist Gina is a likeable character that I could root for to succeed, or at least survive.

+ Supporting characters (both main and bit part) that added to the tale, each with their own mysterious past and individual goals that don’t always mesh with Gina’s.

+ The twists and turns the plot took—things often didn’t go right for Gina. Sometimes they went very, very wrong.

+ The passing reference to Looney Tunes’ Marvin the Martian.

What I disliked:
- The language, while in character, can at times be pretty rough (Mainly a lot of F bombs).

Beyond the occasional cursing, I only came across one scene in the novel where I couldn’t visualize the action. That shouldn’t be enough to deter any reader from picking up a copy of Street: Empathy and enjoying the read. Plus, one could chalk up any concerns to my biases and perception (or lack there of).

On a final note, Street: Empathy was originally a serialized novel, still online, so you can check it out at to see if it’s something you really like. And, you can get into the second novel as it’s being written.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Research, Fiction and Daylilies

Sometimes when researching for a novel or short story, little things like the life cycle of a certain type of plant becomes important. Where and under what conditions does the plant thrive? When does it flower and what is its root structure like?

Such information can be found on the internet, or at the local library, but usually folks in the field are the best source. It is much easier to ask an expert 'what if' questions and get answers as compared to struggling with what can be found in a textbook or on a website. Plus, one question's answer can lead to other and another--and with the expert on hand, the answers are right there.

For a fantasy short story I've been plotting out, I needed some sort of flowering plant to play a part. I recalled a co-worker (Julie Roeth) who raises daylilies on her farm. I knew a small amount about daylilies, and felt they may be just what I needed.

So a few initial questions resulted in an invitation to visit and see the daylilies in bloom. Happily it turned out to be a visit where my daughters got some hands-on experience and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon spent with my co-worker. (She knows who she is and I can't thank her enough)

People enjoy sharing their knowledge and insights, especially if asked. And the expert doesn't have to be a family member, friend, or co-worker. Have an insect question? There might be an entomologist at the local university who would know the answer, or could direct you to someone who does. What better way to insure depth and accuracy in one's stories?

Needless to say, common courtesy rules apply, especially in accommodating the expert's schedule.

Maybe I'll manage to finish that story in which the daylilies play a small part. And if it gets published, I'll let the readers here (and the expert in person) know.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On Waiting: Suggestions for Writers

Today Fiction Factor published my article On Waiting: Suggestions for Writers.

In it I try to address a common question among writers, especially those early in their career--How long do I wait after submitting a piece?

The article addresses mainly short fiction submissions, but it also there is crossover relevant to novel-length fiction.

Give it a read, even if you're not a writer. It may give some insight as to what authors often face because, in the end, there is no clear easy answer.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Initial Blog Post of Author Terry W. Ervin II


This is the initial post for my blog Up Around the Corner.

I've created it in preparation for the publication of my fantasy novel Flank Hawk. In addition to discussing 'things' related to writing, I'll go off on topics I find interesting--and hopefully you, the visitor, will too.

A few brief notes before I move on. My publisher is Gryphonwood Press and my writing website is My writing website contains info on everything from short fiction and articles that I've had published to turtles, which I think are pretty cool critters.

Don't hesitate to stop in and visit both. And pop back in here from time to time.