Friday, January 31, 2014

The Necklace of DuChelle... with Pictures

As you know, I recently published my short story, "The Necklace of DuChelle" on Ether.   Yesterday I found out that my story was # 2 on the Top 25 Free Downloads.  YAY!  Thanks to everyone who downloaded it.  To celebrate, I've collected some images that go with the story on pinterest and put them on my blog for you to enjoy.  Hope you like them.
* * *
The Necklace of DuChelle

By Rebecca Lang
            "We are alone now, my dear Leonce."
            In the garden Eleonore reclines on the step of the marble fountain.  A lazy hand skims the surface of the water, like a cat batting at a goldfish. But her eyes are on me.  It is as though she thinks I am the fish or the mouse or the bird—or whatever small creature she wishes to toy with.  But I am not like her other admirers.  I am weak in only one regard: that I am passionately in love with her.
            "I brought something for you, my darling Eleonore."

            I place a golden box on her lap.  To her credit, her eyes do not flit away but continue to linger on my face.  They twinkle, blue as violets.  Sometimes I fancy Eleonore loves me, though it cannot be the constant ache I feel for her.  She is the other half of my soul, and I want to be forever near her.  I want her to be mine alone.
            "I have for you bridal present," I say.  "A final gift before our wedding."
            "Whatever can it be?"
            She lifts the lid.  She smiles. 
            Rows of diamonds drip from a chain, glittering in the afternoon sunlight.  The necklace is extravagant.  Desire glistens in Eleonore's eyes.  She touches the center jewel.
            "How beautiful."
            "It cannot outshine you," I whisper.  "Permit me to put it on."
* * *
For the rest of the story please download the Ether app for your smartphone or tablet and go to this link:  Don't forget to review!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Book Review: Sinking Ships

Title: Sinking Ships: An Abishag's First Mystery
Author: Michelle Knowlden*
Genre: Mystery, Novella


"For all the stupid reasons people get married, seems like caring for the dying is the kindest."

College student Leslie Greene is already nervous about starting her "job" as an Abishag wife, an unorthodox hospice worker paid to lay in bed beside a dying, comatose man--in this case 83-year old businessman Thomas Crowder.  Leslie anticipates personal scandal, loss of friends, and an end to her dating life.  She does not anticipate finding the day nurse lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor, throat slashed, dead.

Suddenly, Leslie finds herself embroiled in a mystery involving family secrets, blackmail, and the wreck of a Portuguese ship.  And the danger keeps growing.  An Abishag wife must watch over her husband--till death do they part.  But who will die first: Thomas... or Leslie?


When I first heard the premise of an Abishag wife, I couldn't believe it.  Who would pay for this service?  It can't be real.  Yet the concept is so thoroughly fleshed out in Sinking Ships and the character's reactions are so realistic that the more I read, the more I found myself thinking, You know, I can actually see some rich, eccentric families paying for the "therapy" of having a young girl warm the bed of their dying father.   It's a testament to Ms. Knowlden's writing that she can take a speculative element like the Abishag wife, wrap it in a mystery, and still make you believe this story can exist in the real world.

A large part of it has to do with the characters, especially the protagonist.  Leslie is a compulsive rule-follower with a streak of inward defiance, a detached professional who forms a sentimental bond with her dying husband.  These contradictions make her all at once human and all at once fascinating.  The heart of this book is really her (non-romantic) relationship with Thomas.  It's surprising that she can form any kind of bond a comatose man, let alone such a tender one.  The scenes where Leslie interacts with Thomas are some of the best in the book.

The story is not perfect.  The first three chapters run a bit slow for my taste, though it picks up in Chapter 4, when the audience gets to see what an Abishag's job actually entails.  The mystery was fine, but I had difficulty keeping track of some of the suspects and the mystery concludes a little abruptly.  All in all, though, I felt the characters were great, the premise fascinating, and  the description was lovely.  It really made me think about death and love and the ways in which we perceive others.  I recommend it.

* Michelle Knowlden is a friend of mine and I did Beta read her book.  Even so, if I hadn't enjoyed it, I wouldn't have reviewed it. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Weekly Update: 1-24-14

First of all, I want to thank everyone who sent their encouragement in response to last week's rather gloomy update.  Some weeks are harder than others.  I appreciate the love and support.

This week felt better, in large part because my short story, "The Necklace of Duchelle," got published.   Now I've already shilled it in the article below, but let me just say, when the email came I was happy.  Finally, a response that wasn't a rejection!  But I wasn't as escatic as I thought I'd be.  Soon after I read it, my mind flew back to my schedule for the day, worries over an upcoming dentist appointment, and frustration at lack of subbing jobs (I ended up not working this week).  My lack of celebration puzzled me.

I think sometimes I don't let myself celebrate.  As hard as I work to accomplish something, when I get it, my mind suddenly switches to No Big Deal, Move On.  But I'm working on that.  This Saturday I'm going to the Huntington Library with my friends.  I was planning to be frugal--having no money to speak of--but as a celebratory reward, I think I'll allow myself to spend $10 any way I like.  :)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Publishing on Ether

Yesterday, I got published by Ether.  Yay!  This is actually the first time any of my original stories have been published.  Although Ether is not a traditional print publisher, I'm still excited that my little short story can now reach a global audience.

My Story

"The Necklace of DuChelle" is a fantasy-romance flashfiction (less than 1,000 words) with a twist. Two passionate lovers grapple with a magical necklace that strangles the unfaithful.  "The Necklace of DuChelle already has a 5-star review.  Maureen Scott writes: "WOW. I loved this story. It captures the insanity of lust and love with this brilliant short story."

You can find "The Necklace of DuChelle" here:  I'd be grateful for any reviews you can spare.

What is Ether?

Ether is a free app that contains short works (less than 6,000 words) in all genres, by all manner of authors.  Some stories cost money to read, but many (like mine) are free.   My friend Ned introduced it to me.  He told me he enjoyed skimming through the stories and quickly reading whichever looked appealing.

For anyone interested in Ether, the website is:  You can also download their free App for your tablet and/ or smartphone.

Ether for Writers

Those who wish to submit their work to Ether will need to go their website (not the App) and hit the tab marked "Writers."  Before they tell you anything, they make you create an account and log-in.  I, personally, hate giving away my email address, but to be fair, they didn't spam like some other sites I know.

Writers can choose to have a Bronze or Silver membership.  Bronze members are allowed to post 5 approved works each year, while Silver members get to post 10--but they have to pay an annual fee of 25 pounds.  (Apparently, Ether is UK based).  Bronze members do not have to pay.

Before you submit, you have to create an Author's profile, which includes your name, your pen name (if any), a photograph of your face, 6 words to describe you, and a longer Author's Bio.  They are very picky about the photo and the six words, an they WILL reject your story if you mess these parts up.  Fortunately, they give examples of what is and what is not acceptable. 

This is the photo I used for myself. 

Basically, the photo should clearly show your full face (and only your face) with no distraction from the background.  The 6 words should work together harmoniously, like the line of a poem, not just be descriptors you spit out at random.   Mine was "lover of fantasy, inspired by Japan."

When your profile is complete, you can submit your story.  A normal Word document works fine, but make sure you check the spelling and grammar, because they won't do it for you.  You select the genre for the story, write a brief summary, and throw in some tags.  You submit and wait for them to get back to you.

It can take Bronze members up to 90 days to get their story approved/ denied.  Silver members receive a response in 14 days.  However, I signed up for a Bronze membership and I got my approval one week later.  (Update: my next two stories, however, took a month and a half for approval.) It came as an email, which helpfully provided me with a link to my story.  I was also notified by email when I received a review.

I'm not sure what they're looking for.  Are they just screening to make sure you don't commit the grossest violations of spelling, grammar, storytelling, and word count?  Or are they judging the content?  All I know is that the first story I submitted made it in.

When your story is published on Ether, you retain the copyright of your work.  In the Terms and Conditions, it states, "This agreement provides Ether Books Ltd with the non-exclusive global right and license to publish the submitted content [...]"  This means if you want to publish elsewhere, you can.  The writer also has the right to remove their content, if they so desire.  Just send them an email and they'll remove your story within 90 days.

Ether will offer your story as free or paid, and I don't think you get any choice in the matter.  Certainly, your first few stories will be free, as you are building an audience.  Once they do start pricing your story (usually for 69 pence UK or, I believe, 99 cents US) Ether will pay you "20% of net receipts." They will accrue the royalties and send the money to your Paypal only "when an amount of 25 pounds has been reached."

My Thoughts

But for me, it's not about the money.  It's about getting the work out there for others to read.  Building a reputation is key.  I want--and hope--my stories will serve as positive examples of writing so that in the future, people will remember my name and give my longer novels a chance.

There are a couple of things I like about Ether.

1. You Control the Copyright

One of my friends told me how she published her short stories in a famous magazine.  Years later, produces were eying her character for a movie.  However, since she sold the copyright to the magazine, that magazine controlled her characters and so she had to turn the producers down.  I'm not sure if that's still how copyright works, but it gives room to pause.  The more you can hold onto the rights of your work, the better.

2.  The Brand is You

If you submit to a normal magazine, your work will get tossed into the general mix.  Even if someone likes your story, they may forget your name.  But here, your face is selling the story.  If someone likes one story, they'll check out others--which are conveniently listed right there for them to read.  If you write enough good stories, you can build a reputation for yourself--which might carry on outside of Ether.  Eventually, people might read your novels.

At least, that's my theory.

Granted, I've only been looking at Ether for two weeks.  So anyone more knowledgeable than I, please feel free to respond.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Weekly Update: 1-17-14

On Wednesday, I made a dentist appointment.  It sounds like no big deal.  A few cavities that need to be filled.  But secretly, I'm pertrified.  Not of the cavities, of the bill.  I've had 2 subbing jobs in January--not good coming off the holidays.  One root canal will send me over the brink.

Meanwhile, I joined an online critique group, sent a short story to Ether, and wrote a new chapter of my Coffins story.  I've been working hard to get stuff done, given the many goals I set for myself this year.  But the biggest thing preying on my mind is the money thing.  I don't care about being rich.  I just feel like, without money, my life is spinning out of control.  Like I can't take care of myself.  Ashamed.

It's something I've been struggling with a lot.  Live your dream, they say.  Find a meaningful career.  At this point, I'd settle for a stable income.  It's not that I want to give up writing.  I can't; I'm addicted to it.  I just wish that I knew all my efforts would lead to something.  The uncertainty is hardest thing.

Sorry. It's been a rough week.  Maybe I'll be in a better mood next week.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Book Review: The Rook

Title: The Rook
Author: Daniel O' Malley
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Spy Thriller


An amnesiac woman stands shivering in the rain, surrounded by dead bodies wearing latex gloves.  The helpful letter in her pocket explains that her name is Myfanwy (pronounced Miff-un-ee, rhymes with Tiffany) Thomas, she's deathly allergic to bee stings, and people are out to kill her.  For it turns out that Myfanwy Thomas is a Rook, a supervising agent in a secret British organization dedicated to combating the supernatural.  Unfortunately, a traitor lurks among the elite, someone who erased Myfanwy's memory and wants her dead.  It's up to Myfanwy to uncover this conspiracy--provided she can hide her amnesia, figure out how to use her supernatural powers, and survive her first day in the office.


I read the first 100 pages with a smile across my face.  The Rook had everything I look for in a good read: action, drama, humor, suspense, all tangled up in an intoxicating mystery.  The agency to which Myfanwy belongs, the Checquy (pronounced Sheck-Eh), is a cross between a British Men in Black and X-men and includes such characters as Ms. Ferrier, a stately Lady who can enter another person's dreams, and Gesault, a hive mind controlling 4 different bodies.  Into this world, a post-Myfanwy flounders, finds her bearings, and flourishes.

Unfortunately, the more Myfanwy triumphs, the less I found myself liking her.  Pre-amnesiac Myfanwy, despite having an incredible supernatural power, was timid and relied on her superb organization skills to climb the ranks.  When she learns she'll lose her memories and personhood alike, she struggles with loneliness and despair, resolves to help her successor, and overcomes her meek nature in order to hunt down the truth.  Through her writing, she forms a bond with her post-amnesiac self.

A one-sided relationship, it turns out.  Post-amnesiac Myfanwy presumably reads her predecessor's poignant and heart-breaking letters, but hardly reacts to them.  Post-amnesiac Myfanwy is a bold action girl, unafraid to explore her superpower.  Unfortunately, her powers are so incredible, it's hard to fear for her in dangerous situations.  She also tends to use them to push her weight around.  As post-amnesiac Myfanwy relies on her powers to carry her through life, she becomes increasingly abrasive, impulsive, and unreflective.  Bodies pile up, but she has no time to weep for them.

The book starts to unravel in the last 100 pages.  A late action sequence is a virtual repeat of an earlier one.  Major villains suffer their defeats off-screen.  Mysteries are hastily exposited, rather than solved.  By the time I put the book down, my smile was gone and I sighed.  A tolerable read to be sure, but it could have been so much more.

And that's what's so disappointing.  Much like Timid Myfawny is shoved aside to make room for Bold Myfawny, so too do the reflective portions of the story fall to the wayside in favor of relentless--and often pointless--action.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Weekly Update: 1-10-14

Hello, 2014!

First, my apologies for a lack of entries.  My brain was crushed by the holidays, even as my stomach expanded.  I enjoyed a holiday with my family, including finally meeting (in person) my nephew Tyson.  On a sadder note, I turned 29.  On my birthday, I went to IHOP for free pancakes.  (Actually, my dad ate the free ones, while I opted for Swedish crepes.)

One good thing, the general sloth of the holiday has given rise to a newfound energy and hunger for achievement.  I've begun a flurry of research and brainstorming and goal-setting.  I'm still disorganized but getting there.  As shown by my goals for 2014, I plan to be bolder this year.

One bad thing, I sent out queries and almost immediately got a rejection.  Russell Galen wrote: "I'll be honest with you, though -- this sounds like it might be interesting but not interesting enough for me to set aside time to read nearly a quarter-million words."  

While I'm happy to get an actual reason for a rejection and also glad my query sounded interesting, this pretty much confirms my fears: my book is too long.  It makes me a little sad, because I've tried, several times, to make it shorter.  What can I do?

Goals and Dreams 2014


These are concrete, specific, and well-thought out, I hope.  They have the force of will behind them and a purpose in the long-term plan of my life.  Whether or not I complete everything on time, I will make a sincere effort.

Get Published!


  • Revise and Submit "Kinuyo and the Kitsune," "Second Chance," "Necklace," "Julia Kaiser," and 1 more to Ether
  • Self-Publish "Lucidity" on Amazon
  • Learn how to Format
  • Learn how to Design Covers
  • Create an Author Page
  • Write and/ or Revise Short Stories for Other Magazines/ Contests  
Deadline: First Story to Ether by end of January; Amazon by End of Summer
I'm tired of not being published.  At the very least, I'll self-publish a short story on Amazon.  I might or might not get paid for these stories, but at the least, I'll get my name out there.  Also, self-publishing will create a trial run for when/ if I need to publish The Changelings, Company, or any other longer work.

Finish the 2nd Draft of The Originals (At Least the Middle Section)
(Est. Pages: 400-600)


  • Read/ Critique Previous Draft 
  • Brainstorm Backstory/ Background 
  • Create Maps and Collect Images
  • Research (Climate, Armies, Revolution, Disease, Etc.)
  • Write 

Deadline: Hopefully, the first 200 pages will be finished by spring; the next 200-400 pages should be complete by the end of the year.
I'm starting to realize this epic will be complicated and slow, no matter what I do.  I want to try a new method of writing.  During NaNoWriMo, I spend at least a month researching and brainstorming before forcing myself to spit out a 200 page draft.  I'm going to see if this works for 2nd drafts as well as first.  The focus here is creating a consistent and logical plot, working on my secondary characters, building settings, and making sure my ideas are strong--very basic levels of story-telling.  No one needs to see this draft.

Finish Three Floating Coffins 
(Est. Pages: 150)


  • Start/ Finish "Isle of Darkness" Segment
  • Start/ Finish Ending
  • Revise Opening Chapters

Deadline: The Isle of Darkness ought to be done by spring.  I have the rest of the year to finish the rest.
Ideally, I can finish this story this year, and have it edited and sent out to agents by 2015.

Increase Income


  • Explore New Job Options (Back to Drawing Board)
  • Career Assessment
  • Temp job in the summer?

Deadline: By end of Spring, come back with more concrete plans
I really can't survive on less than $6000 a year.  Since it might be several years before I get paid for my stories, I'll have to look for a new way of making money.  At the very least, I should get a summer job to increase my income in the months I don't work.

Agents and Self-Publishing


  • Research and Query 20-30 Agents
  • If Rejected, Make Plans for Publishers and/ or Self-Publishing
  • If Accepted... Figure out What to Do Next!
  • Keep Agent Info... Might Need it for Coffins!

Deadline: I ought to have the first 20 agents queried by February; if I find another 10 agents, I ought to finish querying them by the start of summer.  The second half of the year, I'll have to make more concrete plans.
I still want to try traditional publishing, but my Changeling story might be too long and too specialized for it.  In that case, I'll have to look at self-publishing options, or possibly submitting directly to the publisher.

Write Manzanar Ghost Story
(Est. Pages: 50-100)


  • Gather Research/ Research Blog?
  • Brainstorm
  • Write the Story (Use a NaNoWriMo if Necessary)

Deadline: End of Year
I've spent so much time researching this story, I'd like to write it down.  I'd like to experiment with ways of organizing facts, so I'm not all over the place every time I'm forced to do research.  My secret hope is to make money off this story, either through magazine, contests, or self-publishing.

Go to Literary Orange and Los Angeles Festival of Books


  • Plan for the Day
  • Take Lots of Notes
  • Blog Afterward

Deadline: Both Events Take Place in Spring
Networking, hopefully.  If not, at least it will serve as entries for blogs.  Maybe someone will want to know what happened there.

Get Company Critiqued


  • Self-Critique
  • Find Online Critique Group
  • Find Other Readers
  • Decide What To Do With It

Deadline: I'm not sure yet.
First, I need to find a group of Beta Readers--someone to read my story, aside from my dad.  Second, I like this story, but I'm not really sure what to do with it.  Should I self-publish?  Submit?  How should I edit?  I'll have to see.



  • Weekly Update
  • Additional Content Twice a Month (Reviews, Dissecting Fantasy, Travel, Etc.)
  • Read/ Comment on Other Blogs 
  • Research Blog?

Deadline: All Year, Excluding Vacation Weeks
Blogging is a good way to market and so I'll keep trying.  If nothing else, it helps me keep track of various stuff going on in my life.


The vague and wispy ideas.  I'd like to do these things, but either I don't think I'll have the time/ will to commit to them this year or I have no particular system or I just don't think they'll happen.  At any rate, I'm happy with them floating in the back of my mind.  For now.

  • Practice Japanese--I'm going to try to review, but I don't know if I'll have the will to commit to any strenuous study.
  • Lose Weight--The usual New Year Resolution; we'll see how it goes.
  • Get My Own Apartment and Dog--because, damn it, I want to be independent (and puppies are cute).
  • Compile Information on Bakumatsu into Blog--I really, really want to do this, but I don't think I'll have time this year.
  • Write Spin-Off Story About Gryphons--I'll probably get to this eventually, I just don't know about this year.
  • Get Coffins to Agents--again, I doubt I'll have time this year
  • Make Money off My Writing--Sigh, it would be nice.
  • Learn How to Network, Market, Platform, and Sell--I'm so clueless about how to do this.