Tag Archives: anthology

Anti-Wrinkle Cream, Anyone?

Who doesn’t want anti-wrinkle cream, especially the product that was on Dragon’s Den? I ordered it while on my phone recently, when I was in the car with Hubby (him driving, of course!). The price was great at $2.85 for a fifteen-day sample, and even better in Canadian funds.  I dug out my credit card and placed the order, and within seconds, I received a confirmation email. I didn’t examine it too closely except to see the price of $2.85 and that it was being delivered by Canada Post.

The Riversol ads had been dominating my Facebook feed lately, and I’d read the numerous comments. For some reason, I trusted what I’d read and had been meaning to order for a few months. The Facebook Riversol representative swore that Riversol wasn’t a scam, that it wasn’t a “trial subscription” where the company, unbeknownst to you, dings you monthly and keeps sending product. Posters agreed, yet there were those stating they’d been scammed by other companies and didn’t trust this one and would never order. The company representative continued to back up claims that Riversol was on the level: Three dollars for shipping and that was it; no further charges; no further product.

I should have paid more attention. The day after placing the order, I checked my online credit card statement, as I always do every couple of days, and was surprised to see two charges: one for $2.41 and the other for $1.28, for a total of $3.69. Yes, only a difference of eighty-four cents, but I was a tad perturbed since the site clearly said $2.85. Plus there was an odd notation about U.K. and U.S. funds.

I immediately replied to the confirmation email, asking why the discrepancy. No answer.

A few days ago, I received the shipment and forgot about it until I was in bed the other night. I got up to get it to show it to Hubby. Back in bed, I read the packaging. “It says to apply in a circular motion.”

“How often do you use it?” Hubby asked.

“I don’t know. It doesn’t say. Hmmm, I think I’ll go online and see if there’s further instructions.” I pulled out my tablet.

As soon as I saw the lotions on the Riversol site, I knew something was wrong. The samples looked nothing like what I’d received. I examined the jar. No mention of Riversol. The name on it was Skin Glow*. And then I remembered the $3.00 price of the Riversol and the $2.85 plus I’d been charged.

“Something’s wrong,” I said, bounding out of bed, immediately thinking of the scams. Had I inadvertently signed up for some sort of monthly subscription? I had been scammed a few months previously when booking a hotel while on my cell. I’d been positive I was on the hotel’s website but it turned out I had booked through some scammy U.S. reservation company that charged all sorts of hidden fees and had been diverted from the hotel site to theirs. Had a similar thing happened again? I was positive I’d been on the Riversol site. The site mentioned Dragon’s Den and Vancouver and had the little Canadian flag symbol at the top.

“I gotta check my credit card,” I shrieked, and raced to the computer in my office. Thankfully, my account was fine; no weird charges. I returned to the bedroom for my credit card, returned to the office, and called the number on the back of the card. A recording said one caller was ahead of me.

Within minutes, a pleasant-sounding English-speaking woman answered. I frantically spewed that I needed to cancel my credit card. I relayed how I had ordered something I hadn’t intended to, that it might be a subscription thingie, that it might be a scam. “I need to cancel my card.”

While I yanged on and on, she tried to calm me down. For some reason, I felt I was being scammed again. Had I called MasterCard or Skin Glow? It was unusual to not hear a foreign-speaking person on the other end. The instructions on the phone had advised me to punch in my card number and then the two digits of my year and month of birth, but even despite that, I’ve always been asked a myriad of questions before the individual gave me any information.

But she had all my information at hand, for immediately she asked, “Is it Skin Glow?”

“Yes, it is. They’re gonna charge me again. I need my card cancelled.”

“Calm down, Catherine. Call the 1-800 number on your invoice and tell them to cancel the trial.”

“But I didn’t get an invoice. The cream just came in a box. Nothing else. I need my card cancelled.”

“Here’s the number to call,” and she rattled off a 1-855 number. “Oh, you’ve been charged twice. Another by Skin Glow Online. Here’s that number.”

All the while, I’m thinking: How do you know it’s Skin Glow? Why do you have those numbers so handy?

“Call now,” she said. “They will cancel.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier just to cancel my card?”

“It’s easier to call them. You’ll be without a card for two weeks while another one is being issued. If they give you a hard time, call back and we’ll cancel your card.” She added, “They have to cancel by law. You have fourteen days to do so. If you don’t, they can legally charge you.”

“How do you know all this?” I asked.

She laughed. “Ninety percent of my calls deal with Skin Glow.”

What! I was stunned. “Okay, then. Thanks very much.”

By this time, it was almost midnight. I checked the number of days. I was on Day Nine. I’d call in the morning.

I went back to bed and explained the “scam” to Hubby, who was confused. He couldn’t understand that I DID order Riversol, or at least I thought I did. He didn’t understand the “trial subscription” model. Duh! (He still doesn’t understand how I could have reserved that hotel room in error, either!) I’m very careful with online ordering and decided at that moment I’d never again place orders on my cell phone.

The next morning, I called Skin Glow. The foreign guy who answered must have kept me on the phone for thirty minutes “while the computer was activating the cancellation.” He asked why I was cancelling when I hadn’t even had time to try the product. I repeatedly told him I didn’t want further charges on my card, that I didn’t want to call back later to cancel, that I wanted to cancel now. I’d use the product, and if I liked it, I’d place an order. He gave me so many spiels: he’d give me a thirty-day trial instead of the fifteen-day one; he’d extend it three months. “I’ll even give you six months,” he said. I kept declining; he kept offering. Then, he said he’d reduce the price 25 percent. Then he offered 50 percent off. He was relentless.

I wanted to shriek, “Don’t you understand the meaning of “no”?

Finally, I got rid of him and received the confirmation email that I’d receive no more product nor any more charges.

That night, I ordered Riversol. Three dollars. And I’m positive I was on the correct site. I received the Riversol confirmation email.

I’m using the Skin Glow cream. Who knows, it could work. But their practices are scammy. I checked back on the site. Definitely no fine print to say I’d signed up for a subscription. On the box was fine print that the cream was made in the U.K.

I’ll continue to use the sample of Skin Glow until I receive the Riversol sample. I’ll be back to let you know how the anti-wrinkle creams worked, hopefully to show my younger face!

In the meantime, be careful of online ordering! And stay tuned for updates from a younger me!

*The name of the product is NOT Skin Glow, and hopefully there isn’t such a product because as far as I know I made it up. (Should such a name exist, this is NOT the name of the product I’ve written about and my apologies.) I decided to err on the side of caution and not post the correct name; I don’t need to be sued—even though everything I state here is correct.

***

Check out TWO EYES OPEN , a just-published anthology of short stories: mystery, thriller, intrigue, horror.

Two Eyes Open FB

 

 

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A Short Story Contest!

Creative Writing Institute’s Short Story Contest offers a fabulous opportunity for publication, in addition to cash prizes.

Prizes: $200, $100, $50. First place winner may choose a free, tutored writing course in lieu of $200 prize.

Top five winners and ten Judge’s Pick stories will be published in 2017 anthology along with best-selling guest writers and stories written by CWI staff. (Available December.)

Word limit: 2,000 words.

Themed, unpublished story must include this sentence: “I am completely and utterly lost.” 

No swearing, profanity, explicit sexual scenes, graphic violence, etc.

Contest closes midnight, EST, August 31, 2017. Only five dollars to enter.

Join the fun!

See full set of guidelines and book cover at http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com. Direct questions to head judge, Jianna Higgins, at jianna.higgins@gmail.com.

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TWO EYES OPEN!

TWO EYES OPEN anthology. Now available! A mix of 16 short stories by 16 authors. Not “horrific horror”…more like intrigue, mystery, thriller. Just a “good read”…
 
Available on Amazon, print and e-book:
Two Eyes Open FB

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TWO EYES OPEN!

Two Eyes Open FB

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS! Submit your stories!

DEADLINE MARCH 31

MacKenzie Publishing is accepting fiction submissions for its second anthology, stories for 18+, titled TWO EYES OPEN (horror, suspense, thriller, mystery, etc.).

Submission deadline: March 31, 2017

Payment: $10 Canadian per story, paid via Paypal

Word count: 2,500 to 5,000 words
Publication date: August 1, 2017

MacKenzie Publishing does not accept material that has been published previously, either online or in print. By submitting to MacKenzie Publishing, you are assuring you hold the rights to the work and grant MacKenzie Publishing the right to publish the submitted work. MacKenzie Publishing will require exclusive rights to the stories until December 31, 2017.

To Submit:
Paste info and document in the body of an email (no attachments) in this order:
-Title of story, your name, email, word count
-Story
-Bio (up to 150 words)

Email stories to MacKenzie Publishing at: TwoEyesOpenAnthology@gmail.com

Put the title of your submission in the subject line.

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The Spot Writers – “The Language Addict” by CaraMarie Christy

Welcome to the Spot Writers! This February’s prompt: Pick up the two books closest to you (a mandarin textbook and A Court of Mist and Fury). For the first book: copy the first 3 words of the book. This is how your story will start. For the second book: copy the last 3 words of the book. This is how your story will end. Fill in the middle. As an added challenge, turn to a random page in each book. Choose the most interesting word on each of those pages. Include those 2 words in your story. Interesting words from these: humanities and wrath.

This week’s post comes from CaraMarie Christy, the young-un of Spot Writers. Visit her blog on Word Press at Calamariwriting and check out her book from when she was twelve, Fairies Fly. Bonus points if you ask her about her book photography.

***

The Language Addict

Essential phrases: Hello. That’s it. A one word list of everything I need to remember to make people like me. The only thing you ever need, in any language, is that one word. My mind whirs, as only an old woman’s can, with thoughts, ones from the past cluttering the new ones, popping behind my eyes as I consider what to do to entertain myself. I’ve got four more hours left on this flight. Hanging into the third-row aisle, I have a nice expansive view of my companion choices. That’s all us old women ever think about anyway: who to talk to. There’s the couple arguing in Dutch at the back of the plane, the French flight attendant that keeps narrowly avoiding my elbow, and the man in the black coat sitting suspiciously next to the exit. But my eyes have been especially wondering toward the woman across the aisle from me. Her eyes are dark and there’s a faintly square shape to her chin. I want to ask her in… No.

Because if I reach across this aisle, and assault this woman with a two-week’s course of her supposed native tongue, it would be an invasion of her space, much more than a simple smile and the phrase “guten tag!”. And if she doesn’t speak German, then she can smile, nod, and go on reading the book in her hand. And if she does speak German… Bam. Friend. But for her, this could be a connecting flight to lord-only-knows where. Or she could be a tourist like me, which would be just as swell as a real German. Even if she is a German citizen, only 78% of Germans natively speak German. She could be an immigrant. And that will get us nowhere.

In the pleather seat in front of me, there is a sewn pocket overflowing with textbooks. I’ve stuffed them there. The wrath of the young gentleman to my right, when earlier I elbowed him six times while trying to flip through every page for how to say “spinach” (turns out it was just “spinat”), was enough to set me straight. Read like a chicken and be glared at or keep my arms to my side. I chose to keep him happy. I’d be interested in his language, but his flippant way of sneering at my books and penny loafers made it abundantly clear–American. Definitely. I don’t know why, having lived and worked in U.S. elementary education all my life that now, in retirement, I’ve grown to dislike “American”. I’ve got a taste for other types of humanities now, other ways of speaking. They seem much more fun.

The thought chills me and I want to edge away from this young man. I scoot further into the aisle, my hip gouging into the arm rest. It’s the woman on the left who is interesting. There’s a world of possibilities with her.

English, French, Chinese, Spanish… She could speak one of them. The big guns. The chances of that were high. And I knew plenty of words from the big languages.

I’ve convinced myself of it, when I find myself leaning across the aisle, smile pasted on, and give her a good, “Guten tag! Sprechen sie deutsch?”

WRONG. Three words too many come out and I can feel my ego soaring while the rest of me, the part of me that knows how to weave around a social interaction, comes crashing around my ears.

“Eh, sorry…” Laughs the woman. Her eyes twinkle and she never loses her smile as she says, “Ah… Español?”

Yes. A big gun. One of the biggest. Three weeks with Mr. Harviar at Northern Virginia’s Sterling community college. I know this one. The old and new thoughts collide. In my attempt to find something, anything to say… I pull out the first phrase that comes to mine. I can’t hear Mr. Harviar saying it in my head. Instead, it sounds like a little Hispanic girl selling soft and hard tacos.

Porque no los dos?”

My ego crashes down to the floor, where the rest of me had been scattered. The woman forces a laugh at the old, overused joke, then makes a point to ignore me, leaning back in her chair, reading a novel that I can’t even translate the cover of. I slink back into my own seat, scooting toward the right, to remove myself completely from teetering into the aisle, then pull out an Amazon catalogue from the pocket in front of me. The American man’s eyes are on my neck, as I ignore my travel guides and my books.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Dorothy Colinco. www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/

 

 

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Call for Submissions – “Two Eyes Open”

Submissions Call: TWO EYES OPEN
MacKenzie Publishing is accepting fiction submissions for its second anthology, stories for 18+, titled TWO EYES OPEN (horror, suspense, thriller, mystery, etc.).
Submission deadline: March 31, 2017, or when anthology is full
Payment: $10 Canadian per story, paid via Paypal
Word count: 2,500 to 5,000 words
Publication date: August 1, 2017
MacKenzie Publishing does not accept material which has been published previously, either online or in print. By submitting to MacKenzie Publishing, you are assuring you hold the rights to the work and are granting MacKenzie Publishing the right to publish the submitted work. MacKenzie Publishing will require exclusive rights to the stories until December 31, 2017.
To Submit:
Paste info and document in the body of an email (no attachments) in this order:
-Title of story, your name, email, word count
-Story
-Bio (up to 150 words)
Email stories to MacKenzie Publishing at: TwoEyesOpenAnthology@gmail.com
Put the title of your submission in the subject line.

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Give Anthologies a Chance!

(This post first appeared on Val Muller’s Blog on August 31, 2016.)

Give Anthologies a Chance!

I’ll be honest: anthologies aren’t a great sell, perhaps rated just above poetry collections, yet I think shorts are wonderful to read.

On August 1, 2016, I published (under my imprint, MacKenzie Publishing) my first anthology, a book of 21 short stories by 21 authors, titled OUT OF THE CAVE.

  

 

OUT OF THE CAVE is packed to the brim with horror-themed stories suitable for teens and youth. And, despite anthologies not being the rage, I plan to publish another anthology next year, titled TWO EYES OPEN, this time for adults.

Two Eyes Open FB

People don’t have long attention spans anymore, so readers should be clamouring for short stories. I love shorts—both to read and to write. I’ve published several collections of my own stories and am always on the lookout for anthologies to purchase and read.

On August 2, Hope Clark, a successful author, was gracious enough to write a guest post on my blog that she titled “The Short Reality of Shorts.” She stated:

As a writer, short pieces scare me. As a six-time novelist and one-time nonfiction book author, I find comfort in longer prose. But I have to admit . . . there’s no writing more profound than a short that snaps in its delivery. Short fiction, flash fiction, memoir, and essays. It takes intense craft to make those pieces zing.

OUT OF THE CAVE is my “pride and joy” (to use a cliché). It’s my baby, and I don’t hesitate spamming and publicizing wherever and whenever (versus promoting my own writings). Sales have been “okay” though not as great as I had hoped. But, hey, I’m not dead yet; OUT OF THE CAVE can still be a best seller!

I created the cover for the book from a photo of one of the many caves on Phia Beach in New Zealand. Until I had completed the cover, I hadn’t realized a ghostly image peeked through the sunlight between the rocks. I first thought the “ghost” was Hubby and then, suddenly, recognized myself. Funny, because I have no recollection posing for that shot.

I lucked out when I snagged Steve Vernon, a prolific local (Nova Scotia, Canada) writer of ghost stories and such, to write the foreword to OUT OF THE CAVE. Part of his awesome foreword reads:

Kids of all ages CONSTANTLY live in the shadow of fear. Am I going to be good enough? Are my parents going to get divorced? Am I going to be popular enough? Will Dad lose his job? Can I pass that darned math test? Will those bullies leave me alone?

Fear—kids live in it constantly—and a good scary story teaches a kid how to deal with fear. And THAT, more than anything else, is why you ought to let your kids read all of the scary stories that they can get their hands on.

So let’s do that today.

Pick up this book and buy it and give it to your kid.

Let’s drag scary stories out of the darkness of the cave.

Several stories in OUT OF THE CAVE were written by local authors; others are from writers living in Japan, Mexico, the U.S. and other parts of Canada. The stories are a mix of horror, supernatural, suspense, mystery, and thriller—but totally PG13, suitable for teens 13 and up. Adults, too, would enjoy them, though those readers might want to wait for TWO EYES OPEN.

And speaking of my next anthology, TWO EYES OPEN, I need to snare a famous horror writer to write that foreword. I do have an individual in mind (perhaps another “Steve”?). We shall see….

Though I enjoyed the process of publishing OUT OF THE CAVE, the book was more work than I had anticipated. I gathered the stories, which resulted from a submissions call I widely publicized, and weeded the best from the bunch. I read each story several times, corresponded with the authors, edited the stories, formatted the book, and published it.

Whew! But all that effort pales in comparison to promotion and garnering sales.

Writers need sales. What’s the good of publishing a book if no one purchases and/or reads it?

My purpose for OUT OF THE CAVE was to encourage teens/youth to read. And who doesn’t enjoy an excellent ghost story?

Shirley, an adult reader/local purchaser, stated:

Good mix of disturbing stories. Some of the stories keep coming back to haunt my dreams. Not sure if I’d want to deal with kids in my house who might want Mommy reassurance after they experienced similar nightmares. All the stories are well-written and/or well-edited.

So, hey, give anthologies a chance—whether mine or another! OUT OF THE CAVE would make an excellent birthday, Christmas, or all-occasion gift for a son/daughter, grandchild, or other deserving youth. Purchase here!

Please leave a review, whether good or bad. Reviews help us indie authors capture sales.

OUT OF THE CAVE Facebook Page

TWO EYES OPEN Facebook Page

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The Short Reality of Shorts

This week (yesterday, in fact) is the release of MacKenzie Publishing’s first anthology, OUT OF THE CAVE: twenty-one stories by twenty-one writers suitable for youth 13+. Suspense, mystery, horror, supernatural…what more could a teenager (or adult) want? And, for those of you in the Atlantic Provinces, you will recognize Nova Scotia’s Steve Vernon, who wrote the Foreword. OUT OF THE CAVE is available as an e-book and print book on Amazon and Smashwords

 

 

Hope Clark has graciously written today’s guest post, “The Short Reality of Shorts,” which (coincidentally) coincides with the release of MacKenzie Publishing’s book of short stories. Hope is an inspiration to all writers! Her blog http://www.FundsForWriters.com is always pertinent and reaches 35,000 readers every week. And her books are well received. What more could an author want? (Further info on Hope and her books is at the end of this post.)

Thank you, Hope, for this post!

***

The Short Reality of Shorts by Hope Clark

As a writer, short pieces scare me. As a six-time novelist and one-time nonfiction book author, I find comfort in longer prose. But I have to admit . . . there’s no writing more profound that a short that snaps in its delivery.

Short fiction, flash fiction, memoir, and essays. It takes intense craft to make those pieces zing. So when the Killer Nashville mystery conference asked that I contribute to their mystery anthology, I almost choked. Sure, I write mystery . . . 100,000-word mysteries. But to take crime, clues, and characters and mold them into a 3,000-word package, scared me senseless. But I accepted the challenge.

And I think “Rich Talk” turned into some of my best writing.

Every novelist sooner or later pens a short story. And those shorts, while, um, short, often become more memorable than longer works. Ask Stephen King. Shorts exercise different writing muscles. The reader isn’t allowed a lull, and each sentence carries more weight. But that twist in the end . . . that wow factor . . . shows the power of words, and therefore, the power of you as a writer. Shorts must deliver serious oomph.

Anthologies of shorts can be power houses. With anthologies ranging anywhere from ten to maybe fifty stories, each tale has to represent the theme with enough talent to make the reader want to read the others. A heavy responsibility upon each author as well as the editor compiling the collection. But when an editor has a keen eye, and the slush pile of stories is great and deep, an anthology can turn into an admirable portfolio credit for all involved. And a treasure trove for readers.

Memoir and creative nonfiction hold the same responsibility, and the same demands are made of their authors. Though the pieces may be taken from reality, like the myriad Chicken Soup anthology tales, they must still read like a short story with a solid beginning, middle, and nice-and-tight swing around ending. Reading like good fiction, creative nonfiction recalls a moment and spins it into a concise, well-told tale. It just happens to be steeped in real life.

So many writers start with shorts because book-length material rattles them. The thought of so many chapters intimidates them. Me? I’m just the opposite because I know the tight, well-constructed thought process that goes into a successful short. And every time I read one that resonates, that tells a story with a snap, crackle, and pop, I so wish I’d written it.

I’ve just released Echoes of Edisto, the third book in my Edisto Island Mysteries, and I’ll continue writing my books, but here and there now I’ll make myself create a short. Why? Because those muscles need exercising, and the sharpness of talent that goes into a short is admirable indeed. I also want to be that kind of writer.

***

BIO: Hope Clark is founder of FundsforWriters.com, a newsletter and website that reaches 35,000 readers every Friday. She is also author of the Carolina Slade Mysteries and the Edisto Island Mysteries, with the newest release being Echoes of Edisto. www.chopeclark.com

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Two Eyes Open – Call for Submissions

MacKenzie Publishing is accepting fiction submissions for its second anthology, stories for 18+, titled TWO EYES OPEN. Look at the picture below. What comes to mind? (horror, suspense, thriller, mystery, etc.)

Submission deadline: March 31, 2017, or when anthology is full
Payment: $10 Canadian per story, paid via Paypal

Word count: 2,500 to 5,000 words
Publication date: August 1, 2017

MacKenzie Publishing does not accept material which has been published previously, either online or in print. By submitting to MacKenzie Publishing, you are assuring that you hold the rights to the work and are granting MacKenzie Publishing the right to publish the submitted work. MacKenzie Publishing will require exclusive rights to the stories until December 31, 2017.

To Submit:
Paste info and document in the body of an email (no attachments) in this order:
-Title of story, your name, email, word count
-Story
-Bio (up to 150 words)

Email stories to MacKenzie Publishing at: TwoEyesOpenAnthology@gmail.com

Put the title of your submission in the subject line.

 

Two Eyes Open FB

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Teen Anthology – OUT OF THE CAVE

Submissions to the teen anthology, still tentatively titled OUT OF THE CAVE, closed on Sunday, April 30, 2016.

Many great submissions have been received. Too many! Now comes the difficulty to pare them down and select the “best of the best.”

Everyone will be notified before Friday, May 13, 2016, whether his/her story has been selected OR rejected.

The book will be published on or before September 1, 2016, but hopefully sooner than later.

Check back here for further updates and the upcoming TOC!

Thank you to everyone who submitted a story.

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