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April 3, 2014

challengeWhile I’m looking for a new angle on the next segment of “Down and Out in San Antonio” I thought I would throw out a challenge to my followers.  Gonna be a fun thing …

But, first you’ll have to put up with a little palaver, only indirectly connected with my challenge.  I am a member of and a hearty advocate for a site called FanStory.  Some of you may be familiar with it.  I’m a writer — by hobby, if not yet by profession.  Most of my follower/friends are writers, too.  Writing can be one of the lonliest passions around.  You know that.  Most of us need to feel the warmth of kindred spirits.  I find that warmth in FanStory.

When I was a kid ( which was up to about ten years ago), I took pride in going it alone.  I fancied myself a literary outlaw.  I kept an eagle eye open for any new banner, such as: “I march to the beat of a different drummer.”  And,winning because none of this got me anywhere, I naturally fell into the joy of thinking of myself as a misunderstood genius.

I hope most of you are brighter than that.   

That’s a lie!  I hope there’s at least one or two of you to stand as a reminder that I was not alone in being  a self-inflated, adlepated waster of God’s precious time.   C’mon.  It’s lonely.  I’m a little cold.  I could use a hug.

There are two things I wish I had done when first I got the harebrained idea of being a writer.  First, I wish I had spent more time studying the definition of “a writer”:  A writer is one who writes.  It is not one who wants (read that as needs!) to convey the impression that he’s a writer.   I talked about it before.  If I had the Don’t Break the Chain Calendar back then, and the determination to follow it, I’d be well on my way to doing that first thing, above.

The second thing I’d wished I’d done at the outset was to have said:  “I’m a beginner.  I’m a greenhorn.  I’m not all that good … but with the help of a lot of people someday I’ll be great!  And, then had the humility to look for those people.

I personally found them — only forty years later than I should have!  I found them in FanStory.

communityFanStory is a community of, and for, writers.  There is also FanArt.  And, most recently, FanMusic.  A man by the name of Tom (I don’t think anyone knows his last name — just Tom) runs the show.   An extremely patient and personable guy, always there to answer questions promptly.

What is FanStory?  It is a site with a duo-purpose.  It’s a place where your writing is displayed.  Once posted, your shortstory, novel chapter, poem, script or screenplay will be reviewed.  You are guaranteed one review, but you can also “pay” to guarantee more exposure, hence more reviews.  I wrapped quotes around “pay” because you earn FanStory Dollars by also reviewing other writer’s works.  You get anywhere from 52 cents a review up to a couple of dollars.  Plus other perks called “reader Member Pumps”, banner adds, etc. 

Now, don’t give up, sigh, and go shopping other blogs.  Promise me!

I’ve paid for nothing but my annual membership ($48, or under $5 a month to try it — and you should!)  yet in a little over a week and a half I’ve accumulated almost a hundred FanStory dollars through my reviewing.  I insist on calling it “critting”, but perhaps that’s the outlaw coming out in me.

NOW THIS IS IMPORTANT!:  That week and a half of work is enough to promote two or three chapters of my novel for review — and pretty well guarantees  from thirty to fifty “crits” each.

At the end of each month there are nominations (by members) for the best short story, best poem, best book-in-progress, etc., with a hundred dollar Visa Card as the award!   

If that’s not enough, what do you get for reviewing?  Each time someone is impressed, or helped, by your review he/she can recommend you for the monthly reviewer’s award.   Another hundred dollar Visa Card.  The results aren’t out yet for March, but I have 9 recommendations.  Stay tuned.

And, as that annoying salesman on TV says: But wait!  There’s more!

There are contests galore on the FanStory site with payoffs being anywhere from FanStory Dollars to $100 Visa Cards!

Is this starting to sound like an advertisement?  ” Heh-heh,” he says, eyes darting all over the place.   Well … in a sense it is.  From the bottom of my heart, though, I think you would find bountiful help on this site.  Yep.  But … (in the interest of transparency) if you’re convinced to try it out anyway, why not link to it from here and give your ol’ Blogster $10 FanStory dollars for recommending you?  I can’t spend it on licorise or a couple of cups of Starbucks, but I can use it to get my book chapters reviewed by more people.

Remember I mentioned the FanStory contests?  Well this takes me back to the challenge I spoke of  in the first paragraph.  See, FanStory has a contest in July that I reserved my sp0t in.  It’s a nifty little contest where the winner is the one who writes what the members consider the best story in 50 words.  Not under 50 words.  In precisely 50 words.  The title doesn’t count.  I played around with it last night and came up with what I think is a pretty good one.  If  it’s voted the best, I’ll have a nice little plastic Visa Card for my wallet loaded with enough to by about 20 lattes from Starbucks!

Anyway, I’m going to include it here for you to cheer …  or mock at. 

 And, I’m tossing out the gauntlet.  I challenge my follower/friends to send in your best story in exactly 50 words.  I can’t afford to give the winner a Visa Card,  but I will award you with the choice of any of my three E-books (shown on the sidebar, here).  That’s better than a kick in the teeth!

Meanwhile, here is my entry in FanStory’s July Contest:

ice skater

Ice Sculpture Shrine

 “Why’d she break the ice and dive? He’d been down three hours.”

 “Misogynist! I understand. See? His arms upstretched. His smile!”

 “Romance! Ha! Ice captured him like that. Rigor Mortis smile. Romantic suicide, hers! Look … Her frozen arms reaching down for him!”

 “Infidel! Skaters will worship them—enshrined ’til spring ….”

*     *     *

Send in your entries, folks!




  1. permalink

    I love it, Jay!Another great piece!I’m going to promote this on Twitter, My Friend!Yes, being a writer is a lonely world, and I now understand how it leads to deep and lasting friendships amongst the brethren.  Vinnie

    • Thanks, Vinnie. I appreciate your interest. Do consider FanStory for yourself. Under $5 a month. I just posted the first chapter of my Fantasy there and it’s projected to get between 25 and 30 reviews.

  2. Reblogged this on Justin Kassab.

  3. ‘Nation Adrift’

    Great! Fifty words, huh? This boss of mine, he’s nuts! I’m supposed to tell my television audience in fifty words about the collapse of leadership in this country? About the drift of our nation toward Socialism and anarchy? Really! Commie jerk! I yelled, “Take this frigging job and shove it!”


    Exactly fifty words, Jay-man, not including the title! Just for you… Fan Story sounds like a lot of fun, but, at this age, I can’t keep up with all the sites I’m on – mainly because of my ineptness in this digital world, but, in the main I can’t keep up with my writing (such as it is). I’ve been running a promotion the last five days, giving away five of my eleven books… Hope you get one or all and give me amazon/goodread reviews, your time allowing, of course. The details and links are in my current blog post, ‘Some Notes on My Writing’ at either Goodreads and/or I post on these sites each week plus my main website and the IAN social network site.

    Love your writing, Jay, and hope you win the Fan Story prize. Thanks for the tweets and your good support. All the best, my friend…

    Billy Ray

    • Sorry I didn’t get this ’til today, Billy Ray. I AM frightfully busy with FanSTory, my blog and Twitter. All’s time-intensive. I’ll check out Amazon and see what you have going. Good luck,


  4. Sounds super-interesting. I’ll save it for my ‘to do’ list but to be honest, it may take a bit of time to get involved. It’s a long ‘to do’ list and I’m not the best at prioritizing. Thanks a bunch!

    • Thanks for stopping by and reading, Sarah! Hope you get your list done soooner than laaaater.

  5. Very twisted 50 words! I’d rather save the money and read lit mags where I’ve submitted; there are other outlets that do the same thing , it’s not high on my list because of IRL connections, but it depends on what you seek. Challenging yourself is always a good thing. Thanks for the tip!

    • All things aren’t for all people, that’s for sure. Sounds like you’re going in the right direction since you use “mags” (plural) in connection with where you submit your work, so you’ve more than one out there. GOOD LUCK! Oh, and, thanks for dropping by.

  6. A bit late, but here’s my 50 word story – nice challenge, I enjoyed it.

    Jack clung to the iron ladder on the boxcar, wind whistling past his ears. He had to leave town. Anna would not marry him. He could not bear the shame of it. No plan, just speed and motion. His eyes stung. He closed them. Never saw the rock tunnel approaching.

    • Oh, My God! That is such a good entry, Jay! I’m not kidding you — except there’s no way of saying this without sounding self-serving. That could very well be the $100 winner! If you just want to enter the contest (which isn’t until July), pay your $5 the last part of June so you’ll be a member during the contest period. You could even make the last sentence “complete” with a change to “Closing them, he never saw the rock tunnel approaching. Same word count.

      At any rate, thanks for visiting and thanks for entering. So far, with the only entry on my site, you’re a shoo-in for winning any one of my books. How ’bout them apples? Better than a kick in the shin!

  7. It is a fun idea! I’d enter if I wasn’t obsessed with what I am doing. Thanks for sharing! 😀

    • Obsession is exactly the reason you should spring $5.00. You’ll really learn a lot from these people, Vonda! AND you can post your novels right on your own page. So every time someone wants to read what you post they’ll see your novels. Neat Stuff!

  8. Sounds really interesting, and I like the idea of “rewards.” Does it become consumptive? I belong to two critique groups which have been wonderful in helping me hone my books, but this might be a way to get the second one out there. Thanks for the info.

    • Thanks for reading my blog, first of all. The best thing I can suggest is to spend the $4 and change to try it out for a month. Once you subscribe shoot me a message and I’ll answer any questions you have there. It’s pretty self explanatory. There are contests for virtually any kind of writing plus “Reviewer of the Month”, Story of the Month, Poem of the Month, each of which reward the winner with a $100.00 Visa Card. I’m on track for the “Reviewer of the Month” with 18 nominations this month.

      Every chapter of my novel I post I get anywhere from 20 to 30 reviews. Of those probably five are constructive (but I mean really constructive) and the rest are like “Read your chapter and it really keeps my interest.” But, the five are worth all the others combined.

      Give it a shot. You have the link I provided. Use that so I get a few “Member Bucks” which I can use to promote my novel.

      Thanks, again, for stopping by. See ya on FanStory.


      • If this will help me market my book, I’ll try it. Might be a little while, as I’m dealing with beta reader reviews of the second book in the hopes of an October publication date. I’m saving your information and will let you know when I dive in!

      • Sounds good, Noelle. I do know you can have your books displayed on FanStory with a URL taking them to Amazon or wherever you have it published. Love to see you there!

  9. Hi Jay! Check my blog today. I nominated you for some awards. Accept or not as you like, but you are more than worthy!

    • Noelle, I’m so sorry! I don’t know when you sent this, but I’ve been away for about a month and haven’t read my responses. No excuse! If you have a blog, you should keep up to date with it. But, correct me if I’m wrong… you seem like a lovely, forgiving woman. What’s your blog’s URL?

      • Well, I’d like to think I’m lovely and forgiving! Heck, it’s summer and people go on vacation. I was NOT worried, just wondered why you hadn’t posted lately. My blog is saylingaway.wordpress,com. Great to hear from you!

  10. Just reading this on June 1st ……. True stuff here. And though I too have been wrapped up in revisions and off track in another current project ………. am relying more on others.

  11. This is great Jay, very readable and fun. I’m going to direct my daughter here as well. Cordelia

  12. Didn’t have any idea about what your Twitter message meant, but clicked on the link anyway.
    I’m like you, started writing on Fan story, found it was biased, very biased after losing a competition to someone who wrote they could see the landscape a week after the sun blew up.
    I mean, is that ridiculous or not.
    I also found some great people who were there to help other writers on their journey. My writing has improved hugely since I was there.

    Good luck with your crits, but be aware that if you put your work up there, is is classified as having been ‘Published’, and many Traditional publishers will not touch your work if it has been already published on sites like Fanstory.
    If you’re an Indie, then you’re pretty right.
    Check out Cat Lover. 🙂

  13. Hi, Jay. I popped into Google and ogled out Bakersfield. I saw your car in Ma Baker’s Street (named after my fav old pop song). I coming to paint your chariot. Please get it ready–your handsome image inspired me, so I am going to airbrush an orangutan. You are a great author, one of the best indeed. See you soon. Pleasant dreams… Nicole xx.

  14. Giggle! Giggle! 🙂

  15. My blog is called ‘a septuagenarian’s ramblings so I guess we are of the same generation. I got your tweeted link but it looks like you have not been very active for a couple of years. Hope you re okay.

    • Fine and well, Frank. Thank you for asking. I will be continuing on with my blog soon. Hope you come back occasionally and take a gander … but leave a goose.

  16. 1senses permalink

    It took a lot of convincing for me to believe you were not James Patterson(only writing a little bit better) writing under an alias. After all, Stephen King himself wrote under an alias to see if, he was as talented as a writer…if, no one knew his name (after, he was famous). Richard Bachman(Stephen King’s alias)wrote stories so compelling that I began to think he had replaced my once favorite author Stephen King…until, I discovered they were one in the same. It was the same feeling I had with you & James Patterson(almost as though, you had allowed yourself to became even better under an alias). So, I apologize for doubting you when, you swore you weren’t James Patterson…but, your talent …that much talent is something that should be well recognized and should have been for years! Thank-you, for your writing! It is amazing!

    • How kind and generous of you. Let me assure you Jay Squires is no alias. I have been working all my life to get, then keep, Jay Squires a recognized entity. So far, I’m still concentrating on the first part. LOL, thank you for making me feel worthwhile in doing that.

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