I earn more writing novels than short stories — and you probably will too

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

For several years now, I’ve been earning the majority of my income by writing fiction under a variety of pen names you’ve never heard of. And it isn’t anything special about me. Thousands of authors you’ve never heard of are quietly making a full-time living creating fiction.

True, thousands of others fail. Probably hundreds of thousands. But they don’t fail for thousands of unique reasons. They mostly fail for the same reason people fail in any business — they try to shortcut their way to the money.

I don’t want to call anybody out, so I’ll paraphrase the single most…

A hummingbird attacked my husband.

female/juvenile ruby-throated hummingbird
female/juvenile ruby-throated hummingbird
Ruby-throated hummingbird at my feeder / photo by the author

“She flew right at me!” hubby huffed on Sunday morning. I knew exactly which one he was talking about. Same one who bopped three birds on the head in a row and then flew at my window in a dream of bopping me:

I have no idea why I find stuff like this so funny. But I’m still laughing, and it’s already Tuesday evening.

When real life becomes something out of a Stephen King novel, even Mr. King isn’t sure what to do

Shark and prey fish
Shark and prey fish
Shark & prey #2 / digital painting by the author / based on two photographs, also by the author, of captive animals at the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans

When water turns to poison, they must swim elsewhere. But where is else? What if all the water everywhere is a warm, soothing soup of brain-eating death? Into the canal they swim, a few, then dozens, then hundreds. More sharks than water past a certain point.

The famous writer who lives nearby tweets out that something should be done. But nothing will be done or not in time. Forget it, Jake, it’s Florida.

The shark scientist says:

“…if those conditions go south in the canal there’s nowhere left to run. …

A concrete poem

Author (Red hair) descends pyramid at Chichen Itza
Author (Red hair) descends pyramid at Chichen Itza
The infamous “butt bounce” descent down Temple of Kukulcán at Chichen Itza / Photo of the author (red-haired woman) by Roger Williams

Author’s Note: I’m afraid this poem was inspired by actual events. I’m the red-haired lady in the “my eyeballs are burning” shirt. It’s 1999. If the world’s ending, I’ve got zero intention of going out in good taste. My future husband took the photograph on Fujichrome film.

The thing they don’t mention
is pyramids are

Up I go uppity up
if you don’t
look down
it’s easy

To go down without
looking down
not so easy
how did
I land

Some hold that rope over there
Too many do in fact
can’t reach it
so it’s the
dance down
bump by…

Why are some people working so hard to persuade you not to enter?

Oxalis flowers
Oxalis flowers
These oxalis flowers aren’t lucky clovers — or are they? /photo by the author
  • “It’s a rights grab.”

Medium addressed that concern within twenty-four hours. They want a non-exclusive right to use your submission for a year. Is that really a deal-killer?

  • “They were paying out a lot more in bonuses.”

And that’s relevant how?

Now they’re paying that incentive money as guaranteed contracts to Fellowship writers they’ve already selected. If you didn’t know that, you didn’t get picked.

The writers they most desire to keep are getting grants. That’s where the bonus/incentive money is going. They’ve decided who among their existing pool of writers needs the grants to keep publishing content to Medium.

What if we’d kept working on weather control instead of just giving up?

House Sparrow Goes Wading
House Sparrow Goes Wading
House Sparrow Wading / photo by the Author

Did you know the United States once had a President’s Advisory Council on Weather Control? Of course, you didn’t. It was in the long ago, under the administration of a president who got famous enough to become president by being a general in a pretty big war that our side actually won.


Before my time, I assure you. But we heard all about it as kids. Once in a while, someone mumbled darkly about the CIA. …

The two-minute hate of the ruby-throated hummingbird is now in session.

Adult male ruby-throat hummingbird
Adult male ruby-throat hummingbird
This adult male ruby-throat is not the guilty party in question, but the actual evil-doer was moving too fast for me to get a photo / photo by the author

Ruby-throated hummingbird migration is well underway. Lots of angry juveniles are moving through my yard. A minute ago, I watched a feisty youngster hit a male House Sparrow on the head, chase him into the trees, come back, sip, hit a male Red-bellied Woodpecker on the head, drive him into the trees, come back, hit the female Red-bellied Woodpecker on the head.

Sip from Feeder 1. Look in my window to decide whether I too can be hit on the head. Sip from Feeder 2.

All this in under two minutes.

How it started:

Having suggested you enter this contest, I’d better speak up now that it’s all gone pear-shaped

Matt Adrian’s “bad at math” postcard which was a meme around 2011
Matt Adrian’s “bad at math” postcard which was a meme around 2011
Matt Adrian postcards photographed by the Author / Art by Matt Adrian AKA The Mincing Mockingbird / NOT an affiliate link, I’m just one of the artist’s many fans

Welp, I have a bit of egg on my face about this story:

After the winners of the Vocal Media SFS #1 contest were announced, I was contacted by another Writer’s Blokke author in my comments who tipped me off that the second-place winner in the contest didn’t qualify. I won’t repeat her research, since she gathered her work into a story which you can find here:

Oh, boy. Turns out the second-place winner in the challenge should have been disqualified because they ran way, way over on verbiage. Melissa Balick counted the words.

I was still digesting this and…

Why is Florida man funny even if somebody dies and anyway he’s not from Florida?

Baby Jacana ponders the mysteries of life on a beach
Baby Jacana ponders the mysteries of life on a beach
Baby Northern Jacana chick wonders about it all on a beach near Veracruz, Mexico / photo by the author

I’m twisted enough to see the dark humor in this story by Lafayette Daily Advertiser journalist Ashley White. It’s about a well-to-do middle-aged white guy who hired a couple of bumbling know-nothings to kidnap his wife. He’s the kind of guy who puts the Louisiana in the Florida man stereotype.

I found out about the guy’s dirty doings from an email link sent to me by USA Today, who must have purchased reprint rights. The blurb to make me click says this:

Plot gone awry: A Louisiana millionaire masterminded a plan to kidnap his estranged wife. …

Amethyst Qu

Author of “The Moldavite Message.” Seeker, traveler, birder, crystal collector.

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