Showing posts with label Pages of Stories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pages of Stories. Show all posts

12 May 2014

A Visit with Darlene Poier and Laura Crowe

by Fran Rizer

Alberta, Canada’s Darlene Poier is no stranger to SleuthSayer readers and writers.  Both Leigh Lundin and I wrote about her several years ago when John Floyd, Leigh, and I had stories published in the same issue of her magazine Pages of Stories.  Recently I interviewed Darlene about her new magazine, Ficta Fabula, which includes include my story "Positive Proof" in this issue.

     What is your mission statement for Ficta Fabula?
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Darlene Poier, Publisher of Ficta Fabula
What a great question. It’s good to know what a business stands for. Our mission statement at Pages Of Stories, Inc. is “To inspire creativity and imagination by providing high quality reading entertainment for people all over the world.” I truly believe that too many people just concentrate on making it through the day unscathed. We don’t seem to get very many opportunities to use our imaginations and be creative and ultimately have fun. Short stories provide a great 10 – 15 minute break where the reader has no responsibilities and can just sit back, relax and let the words on the page create pictures in their minds.
    Do you publish stories in all genres?  If so, what is the most common in the magazine?  If not, what genres are not acceptable?
We accept all genres of fiction and it seems that crime and mystery lend themselves to making excellent short stories. Romance and dramas are also right up there with good tales.

     What is the most frequent weakness that prevents acceptance of a story?

Ah, that’s the million dollar question. Each magazine has its own set of standards and requirements. I’d like to emphasize that when we turn down a story, it’s not really a rejection but more of a statement that it’s not the right story for the magazine at that time. I strongly encourage each author to keep shopping their story around. If it’s a well constructed and compelling story a magazine will pick it up.
As for Ficta Fabula and its predecessor Pages Of Stories, well, it’s tricky. We want stories that appeal to the mainstream public and as a result I’m very fortunate to have the assistance of a story selection committee. There is no one thing that I could pinpoint. Sometimes it’s the plot that doesn’t work for this market, sometimes it’s incomplete character development, and sometimes it’s too many loose ends in the story.
Editor Laura: Final acceptance decisions are made by Darlene but from my point of view, weaknesses that cause a story to be rejected—and involve too much editing time—include proofreading and typographical errors, disappointing or unfinished endings, or weak storytelling skills. Stories that work unfold on the page and draw readers in, and connect with them on an emotional level; too many authors rush through the vital elements of setting and character development and the story suffers for it.

     What are the word requirements for Ficta Fabula stories, both minimum and maximum? Can you tell us how, or perhaps why, you determined the limits?

The minimum word limit is 1,000 words. I like to give our readers stories that have more detail in them so that when they are enjoying this escape in their day, they can really dig into it.

     Ficta Fabula has a new editor, Laura Crowe.  Please tell us about her.

Laura and I first met when she submitted a story to Ficta Fabula’s predecessor, Pages Of Stories. She is a talented author in her own right and has done an awesome job editing FF. I’ll let her tell you the rest..
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Laura Crowe, Editor of Ficta Fabula
Laura: I am a writer, editor, teacher, and owner of Imagine It In Writing. My short stories and articles have appeared in numerous Canadian magazines including Pages Of Stories, The Prairie Journal, Every Day Fiction, and Horizons. My first book, Take Flight: True Stories of How Dreams Shape Our Lives, is a unique collection of true short stories contributed by thirteen authors that I edited and compiled.
Besides writing, I love working with authors one-on-one as an editor, specializing in fiction and memoir. I also offer mentoring programs, and am available for speaking about the writing and editing process, doing readings of my work, and teaching writing classes. 
When not writing, I'm usually in my piano studio, or outside on my deck with a cup of coffee and a great book. I live in Alberta with my  husband, two daughters, and two quarter-Siamese cats.
I can be contacted at 403-518-5858.  Or find me on the web at

     Back to Darlene:  When will the next issue of Ficta Fabula be available and how can readers obtain it both electronically and in print.

Alas, FF is no longer available electronically but I’m working hard to bring it back. The next printed issue is available this month.  If anyone would like to order this awesome magazine (said completely objectively!) containing the work of the most talented authors surrounding the globe, then just send me an email at

      Please tell us a little about you personally such as who's in your immediate family, where you live, and what do you enjoy in addition to publishing? 

Ok, a little about me. I’ve been married to Gary for nearly 20 years and we have no children but two gorgeous critters. Kayla is an awesome 14 year old canine companion. She’s our little girl with a fantastic and funny personality. Persephone is a wonderfully cuddly feline friend. (I’m a fan of alliteration). She’s a 3 ½ year old long haired beauty. She’s a bit of a stinker in the middle of the night but in all the time we’ve had her, we’ve never heard her hiss at anyone or anything.
We live in a little town just north of Calgary, Alberta where we are blessed with mountain views and prairie sky.
In addition to publishing? What else is there?  Gary and I are big fans of warm tropical locations and go down to the Caribbean just about every spring. Gary is a huge football fan and I love old movies and when the weather permits I like to spend time in my garden. We love to travel and this year we’re determined to see more of the natural beauty that is all around us. I also enjoy giving back. Both Kayla and Persephone were adopted from animal shelters so we work to give to them. As well, the YWCA women’s shelter program is dear to my heart and I participate in a fundraiser every year (if interested the link to my fundraising page, it is: Beyond these activities and working at a day job outside of publishing – that makes for a pretty busy time.

How did you select the name Ficta Fabula for this magazine and what are your plans (or dreams) for your publishing company, Pages of Stories, Inc.?
Well, the name came with the help of Google Translate and roughly translated from Latin it means fiction story. I’d been playing around with different titles in different languages and when ficta fabula showed up in the window I knew it was a winner.
I’m planning on Pages Of Stories, Publishing being the provider of the best fiction to our readers out there. Our special ABBA issue is the start of what I hope will be an annual magazine of special issues. I’d like to start publishing novels and novellas in 2015 and we’ve just launched Fabulous Fiction Fridays where everyone who registers can enjoy a short story direct to their inbox every Friday. I also want Pages Of Stories Publishing to be the publisher of choice for many authors. I sense much of the frustration with other publishing companies and I’m determined that we’ll operate differently. It’s no easy thing for an author to submit their work to a complete stranger for evaluation and I want people to know that we respect and appreciate that effort. Laura and I are collaborating on a book for authors with tips and suggestions about preparing novels and other stories before submitting to a publisher and how to best go about submitting it for the best results. Down the road we’d also like to offer workshops and retreats. We also want to offer more value to the discerning reader. Soon we’ll be announcing something special for them off the Pages Of Stories website. I believe that collecting good fiction and sending it out into the world will bring a smile to someone’s face at some point in the day. If we’ve made someone’s day better, then we’ve achieved something special.
Is there anything else you'd like to say?
Darlene:  Happy reading.
Fran:  Ditto

28 November 2011

A Sad Farewell

By Fran Rizer

Way back when I did my undergraduate work at the University of South Carolina, I double-majored in English Literature and Journalism. The only grade less than an A I ever made was the exam on writing obituaries. There was an exact format that had to be followed. Unfortunately, I'd partied too hearty the night before the class and slept in. Not only did I not know how to write an obituary, I didn't even know we had a test the following class. I received an F and a lecture on missing the prof's lecture.

Times have changed and our State Newspaper now will print ANYTHING the family gives the mortuary. Of course, now the family has to pay by the word for the printed obituary. I've written quite a few, but I'd still rather write anything than an obit. Today's topic is a death, but I'm not going to write it as such.

This morning, I received an e-mail from Darlene Poier, editor and publisher of Canadian magazine, Pages of Stories. Subject line reads, "Goodbye from Pages of Stories." Problems forced the Poiers to take a brief hiatus to reorganize. Research in how to promote the magazine convinced them that they could not continue. Therefore, Pages of Stories ends.

I learned of Pages of Stories through Criminal Brief and won a subscription through a contest. That led to my submitting a story, which led to my story appearing in the same Summer, 2011 issue as stories by John Floyd and Leigh Lundin. I was honored to be in such fine company.

Darlene started the magazine intending to publish the best stories available, and she states, "I believe that this magazine did accomplish the goal of having the highest quality stories available, making for an enjoyable read for everyone." She wrote that subscriptions never rose to the level necessary to establish a foundation sufficient for production and promotion.

Last Friday, comments on John's blog led to a discussion of how few fiction magazines are left and how hard it is to obtain them. Perhaps we need to reconsider subscriptions. John, what I do to avoid the crowding situation is donate to nursing homes and senior citizens groups. But then, I have to subscribe because not a single bookstore of newsstand in Columbia, SC, stocks AHMM or EQMM.

The web site for Pages of Stories is still up but will soon come down. The war story project Lest We Forget is available in both hard and soft copy. Communicate with Darlene through the website or at

I promised I wouldn't write this as an obituary, and I'm not. Instead, it is an eulogy and a question about our legacy and the inheritance we leave. Certainly the market is depressed, but what do we leave those who come after?

I'm going to miss Darlene and Pages of Stories.

23 October 2011

Friends and Family

black orchidby Leigh Lundin

Five weeks ago, SleuthSayers launched from a core of five committed (in multiple senses of the word) writers to a greater family of fourteen. Coordinating fourteen members might seem a difficult task, but my colleagues are patient with me and their fun, enthusiasm, helpfulness, and professionalism worked miracles.

I list fun first because humor flourished early and easily. For example, Neil's ironic wit and the gentle humor of Jan and Fran melded like ivy in the brickwork of our joint project. I knew Dixon and RT were tough, cigar-chompin', kick-ass guys, but who guessed how riotously funny they are? A writer could do worse modeling characterizations after the criminally sane among us.

But there's more. Behind the scenes, SleuthSayers family members exchange crime notes, music CDs, tobacco tips, and successes. More about this last item in a moment.

Friends in Sly Places

We also depend upon friends such as Jon Breen, Bill Crider, and Women of Mystery, but especially our editors, Janet Hutchings of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Linda Landrigan of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Andrew Gulli at The Strand, and Darlene Poier from Pages of Stories.

Buying your favorite magazines pumps lifeblood into the imagination incubators of our genre. If you're not familiar with Pages of Stories, it's an eMagazine available in eBook format (Nook, Kindle, iPad, etc), PDF, and on-line, where you'll find works by Fran Rizer, John Floyd, and me, to name a few. If you want to taste a classic approach, Steve Steinbock has mentioned Arthur Vidro's Old-Time Detection and Geoff Bradley's Crime and Detective Stories, affectionately called CADS in its British homeland.Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, December 2011

Readers Choice Award

Speaking of magazines, if your December issue of Ellery Queen hasn't arrived, rush to your local bookstore to grab a copy now! It contains the ballot (last page) and list (page 83) of stories eligible for the EQMM Readers Choice Award. Listed is English by Leigh Lundin (that's me!), the parable James Lincoln Warren wrote about. Also featured is Elizabeth Zelvin's lauded Navidad. You'll find Neil Schofield's Detour and our friend David Dean listed. You'll notice other names like Doug Allyn and William Dylan Powell. I can't speak for the others, but if you comment with your eMail address, Elizabeth and I will make our stories available to readers upon request.

Wolfe Pack Black Orchid Banquet

The Wolfe Pack, an organization devoted to mystery writer Rex Stout and his most famous creation Archie Goodwin, er, Nero Wolfe, will hold its 34th annual Black Orchid Banquet Weekend December 2-4. Held at the Vanderbilt Suites in New York City, the Black Orchid Banquet will feature television personality and mystery writer Al Roker, introduced by novelist and past Nero Award-winner Linda Fairstein.

The bacchanalia features presentation of the Nero Award for the year’s best mystery novel and the Black Orchid Novella Award for best unpublished mystery novella, presented in conjunction with AHMM. The winning BONA story will be published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.
Black Orchid Perfume
Black Orchid Perfume– a beautiful excuse for a noir dame
Rumors and Rumours

After only a month on-line, one of our colleagues credits SleuthSayers with a major professional offer. Details are sketchy, but to the envy of Entertainment Tonight and People Magazine, we're promised a scoop if a major deal is inked.

Mark your calendar for a special guest article. On 4 December, we expect to feature a, ahem, wolfish announcement.

Next week, Louis Willis returns with a fascinating family story about bootlegging.

17 October 2011

Speaking of Lists & Series

by Fran Rizer

Recently I discovered a wonderful Internet site that displays the top 100 songs of each decade. I enjoyed traveling back in time, listening to favorite old melodies, even singing and dancing along with some of them. This led to a site about "One Hit Wonders," the songs by artists who had big hits with one song and were never heard from again.

One Hit Wonders exist in the world of literature also. For starters, can anyone name anything else written by Margaret Mitchell? Gone with the Wind is the only work that comes to mind. Same for Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and let's not forget Grace Metalious's Peyton Place.

I didn't find many One Hit Wonder mysteries. Googling 100 Best Mysteries of All Time (there are several lists, including one by MWA in 1995), I found that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, and Robert Chandler were consistently in the top ten, and most authors on the list had written several successful mysteries. I also discovered that some books on that list were ones I wouldn't necessarily classify as mystery. To Kill a Mockingbird appears as number 60, making it one of the few mystery One Hit Wonders, though personally, I've always thought of it as straight literary. (Maybe we need a genre called "literary mystery." And please don't email me about the plot to explain the mystery classification. I almost know that novel by heart; I just never think of it as a mystery book.)

Mary Higgins Clark not appearing until number 50 was a surprise, but she'd probably hit somewhere higher if the list were made now in 2011. Dracula by Bram Stoker came in at number 70 showing what a broad approach was taken on the MWA list. I have no intention of linking the lists nor copying them, but they're interesting and easy enough to Google.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is number one on all the lists I checked. He created the Sherlock Holmes series. Most favorite current mystery writers have series. What's important in a series is an intriguing protagonist involved in tightly woven plots. (Who'd'a thought that?) James Patterson has detective Alex Cross; Patricia Cornwell, medical examiner Kay Scarpetta; Janet Evanovich, sassy Stephanie Plum; Alexander McCall Smith, employees of No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency; Jeffery Deaver, criminologist Lincoln Rhyme; and Sue Grafton, fast, fun detective Kinsey Milhone. (BTW, Grafton is on the list.)
My old friend Mickey Spillane is on the list, too. He created several series characters. My favorite will always be Mike Hammer though he's not someone I'd want to know personally, and, though fascinating, Mickey wasn't at all like Mike when I knew him.

Gwen Hunter, my mentor of long ago, told me my protagonists should never be perfect, but always have weaknesses, either physical or mental. I'd planned to name a few of those until Janice Law's "Desperately Seeking Detectives" a few blogs ago. She said it better than I would have, so to quote Janice, "Of course, every detective needs a weakness and here, again, the profession has been creative. The old broken heart (Lord Peter Wimsey) and alcohol problems (Philip Marlowe) have been greatly expanded. One of Dick Francis's protagonists had a hand crippled from a racing accident. Jeffrey Deaver went several steps better with Lincoln Rhyme, his quadriplegic detective, while Jonathan Lethem gave his Lionel Essrog Tourette's syndrome,
which certainly added an original flavor to the narrative."

In today's society, most readers know their favorite series characters better than they know their next door neighbors. Sometimes readers attend launches and signings as characters from my books. Photo on the left is Charles Waldron as Cousin Chuck and Shannon Owen as Callie.

Fans also know what foods the characters eat and frequently, at library book talks, they serve refreshments of foods from the books. (They're shown on the webpage.) At the McCormick, SC, library, they even prepared a fake, but believable, casket with a floral spray for the speaker's stage. I brought it home with me, and it's in my storage shed.

At the Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, There's a Body in the Car book launch, Barbie Yeo came as Jane– pink glasses, mobility cane, red hair and all. The photo below right is Barbie as Jane and Fran as Fran. So far, no one has appeared at a signing as Callie's dad, but I'm waiting for the day since Callie describes him as "a sixty-ish Larry the Cable Guy."

Why is my mind on series characters today? Because I've begun a new series and am busy developing the protagonist so that I know every facet of her life. Tamar Myers, author of the Magdelena full-board inn (for heaven's sake, don't call it a B&B) series as well as the Den of Antiquity series, told me that she sketches her characters and hangs the drawings around the computer while she writes. With drawing skills limited to pleasing elementary school children, I don't attempt to draw my characters. I do, however, sometimes clip pictures from magazines when I spot my exact mental image of one of my people.

I'll introduce you to my new series stars, Stella Hudson and her daughter Billie Estelle, a few blogs from now. Meanwhile, see if you can guess what Stella's weakness or flaw is. Submit your answer through Comments when you answer the question of the day below. (Yes, there will be prizes, and no, Leigh and Velma can't guess Stella's weakness because I've already told both of them.) When the winners are determined, I'll announce them in Comments and tell how to submit private instructions for me to forward prizes.

Speaking of contests, last spring, I won the Criminal Brief contest for a year's subscription to Pages of Stories Magazine. The Autumn, 2011, issue came out this week, and I've read it start to finish. Let me call your attention to two of the wonderful stories in this issue: Continuation of "Untenable" by our own Leigh Lundin and "The Door Between Mary," a ghost story you need to read before Halloween by my good friend J. Michael Shell. Visit Pages of Stories website to learn more about this magazine which publishes quality fiction from all over the world.

Until we meet again, take care of YOU.


What did rocker Jerry
Lee Lewis and author
Edgar Allan Poe have
in common?