We Need Coffee Contest, Spring 2011


UPDATE: April Fool’s Day, 2011

2 commentors gave the correct answers- Sonia, with “nothing,” and Saint-Clair, with “didn’t conclude anything.”

I also would’ve accepted “not a thing,” “no thing,” “nyet,” “non,” “no,” “nada,” “zip,” “zilch,” “null,” and “void.”

Well I had to fit the spirit of April Fool’s Day into the contest *somehow*, so I thumb my nose at the silly random number generator (like anything is random, come on) and declare the WINNERS are Sonia AND Saint-Clair!

Yep- my contest, my rules, and my rules to break.

So Sonia and Saint-Clair, click on “Who is CMStewart?” on the main page of this blog to get my email address, send your email address to me, and I’ll send a $10 gift certificate to Larry’s Beans to BOTH of you!

Thanks for participating, congratulations, and Happy April Fool’s Day!


Play the above video to hear the contest question.

Find the answer *somewhere* in Manon Eileen’s blog.

And please don’t ask her for the answer, I’ve already asked her to not give it away!

Good Luck!

Rules, details, and other fussy stuff:

1. Answer the relevant question in the video correctly in a comment to this post (below).

2. Participants may leave more than 1 comment, but the first comment-answer by a specific participant will be the only answer counted from said participant.

3. What constitutes a “correct answer” will be determined by me.

4. Winner will be randomly selected (using an online random number generator) from all correct entries.

5. Winner will be awarded a $10 gift certificate to Larry’s Beans.

6. Deadline is April Fool’s Day, 2011 (no, this contest is not an April Fool’s Day joke).

7. In the event of “no correct answers,” this contest expires on April Fool’s Day, 2011 (no fooling).

8. The certificate will be emailed to the winner’s email address within 1 week after said winner provides said email address to me.

9. Not responsible for lost or misdirected email.

10. I’m not affiliated with Larry’s Beans, I just think this is a cool-as-beans prize! Good luck!




Sip of coffee warms

In spring, rain refills my cup

Surface tension– spill



Caffeine clears cobwebs, dust of dreams

Opens eyes wide- electrifies

Fortifies with fortitude- forceful (not forgiving)

Flavors bitter black, full-bodied bouquet

Early– morning– coffee

Even in evening piquant piping liquid enlivens


Rapture at the HOTEL- a Flash Fiction Tale

Lee shuffles across the city street. His breath comes in pants and gasps. A cab swerves to avoid him, and the smell of scorched tires fills his nose. Viv steps out of the cab. She pays the driver with a fresh bottled water, and the car burns rubber back into traffic.

“Have a drink. You look thirsty,” Viv says, reaching into her backpack. She fishes out another water and hands it to Lee.

“Are you loco? You can’t flash water around like that in the city. People here will kill for water,” he says.

Viv pulls out a bottle for herself, opens it, and sips.

Lee opens his and drinks half the bottle. “And where did you get these, anyway? These things cost a fortune.”

“You’re welcome, Lee.” She smiles. “And I found these in the cellar of that cult that burned down – that “Honor Our Thamanin Elders’ Law” cult. I snuck into the cellar last night after the investigators left.”

“You really are loco,” he says. They stroll along the sidewalk in the hot sun. He leans over Viv and sniffs. He wrinkles his nose, then finishes his bottle.

“I still smell like foam, I know.” She laughs. “In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a drought. They used foam on the fire, and the cellar was full of it. And I didn’t want to waste this bottled water rinsing it off.”

“It’s just that this heat really increases the smell. Once we get inside, I’m sure it won’t be as bad.” He winks. “You want to have lunch at the HOTEL building? They have a nice restaurant, plus it’s right here. I just want to get in the shade.”

“Sure.” She takes another sip. “This water has a funny chemical taste, but water is water, right?”

Two hooded figures jump from the alley beside the HOTEL, grab Lee and Viv, and pull them through the HOTEL door. They sedate the couple with concentrated clove oil. The figures draw the couples’ blood and check their vital signs. After an hour they revive them with concentrated anise oil and put them in a tank.

“Hello children of Noah,” a voice says.

Viv blinks awake. She lies naked, floating in water. Lee and another man float naked on either side of her.

“You have drunk of the water of Thamanin,” the voice continues. “Now you will be tested. Your faith will decide if you are to become the first full descendants of the Elders.”

Viv squints at the man beside her, salt stinging her eyes. “Aren’t you my cab driver from the morning? Or yesterday? I don’t know what day it is,” Viv asks.

The man squirms in the tank, opens his mouth, and chokes on the saltwater. “My name is Amin,” he sputters. “I did not mean to steal the water. You gave it to me.”

“Yes. I’m the one who stole it. I’m sorry,” Viv whispers before closing her eyes.

Lee clenches his hands and squirts water out of his fists.

“Do not do that. Leave the water in the tank, please,” the voice instructs. “You are endangering your status as potential descendants of the Elders.”

Lee continues his water-squirting.

“Stop it. Stop your sinning,” the voice pleads.

The figures enter the room and inject Lee, Viv, and Amin with a clear, stinging liquid. “You are amphibians now.” They chant in unison. The amphibians drift to sleep. The figures cut deep on both sides of the amphibians’ chests. Red clouds billow in the tank, and the figures rub the wounds with a sticky gel. They install a bubble machine and filter in the tank.

The trio wakes. “You are fish now,” the figures chant in unison. They inject them again, sprinkle fish food in the tank, and leave the room. After several days, the fish jump and flop out of the tank, and slowly the room fills with water. They gasp and squirm on the floor, and as the water rises, they filter the oxygen from the saltwater and breathe. The fish swim in slow-motion – drugged, awkward, and heavy. Their bodies bloat, their skin scales underwater, and their hair billows out from their heads. A chute opens in the wall, and tadpoles and guppies pop out.

A monitor on the ceiling switches on. Figures with globes on their heads appear on the screen.

“Hello children of Noah. You have passed the test. You are honored to be the first full descendants of the Elders of Thamanin, and have fulfilled the beginning of the prophesied water Rapture. We have much to teach you, as you have much to teach us.”

“Why did you cut us and put us in a fucking aquarium?” Viv yells at the monitor.

The globe-heads whisper to themselves. “The gilled swim freely and the un-gilled drown,” one of them replies. “Remain calm and we will join you in celebration in your new aqueous environment.”

Lee submerges, fills his mouth with water, then breaches the surface and spits a water stream at the monitor. Wires pop and spark, and the screen goes black. A bright yellow flame explodes from the back of the monitor and scorches the ceiling. An hour later the ceiling is ablaze, and the room starts to drain.

Someone pounds on the outside of the door. “Heretic – enemy of Noah!” a voice cries out. “You have sinned against the Elders of Thamanin, and rejected the water Rapture.” Then a scream, and the sound of something heavy shoved against the door.

Lee swims in circles. “The water is receding. Soon we will walk on dry land again,” he says.

“Walk? We can’t live on dry land now! We’re fish!” Viv cries.

The three jump back into the tank and watch the outside water drain away.

“We’ll just have to wait for a second Rapture,” Amin says. “The Rapture will return, and when it does, it will be dry. But this time we must not reject it. We just gotta have faith.”

“Amen,” they say in unison.

Re-rapture at the HOTEL (part 2)


Thanks to Chuck Wendig for this flash fiction writing prompt!

#1 Rule on Twitter

Thanks to Scott Hampson for this great comic.

Visit Scott Hampson and see more of his great comics here!

Dear Tweeple,

I know the social media gurus tsk-tsk this, but I don’t use Twitter exactly the way they say I should. I use Twitter primarily to learn about the craft of novel-writing, and to read about topics which I find interesting. I also share information- my own and others’. Yes, I occasionally chat and have fun, but too much of that and I lose focus. I don’t follow tons of people because I’m not trying to be “cool.” I’m not trying to help others be “cool.” Until recently, I didn’t think this personal decision mattered to others.

I don’t like walking into a huge stadium full of people where everybody is talking at once. And that’s what Twitter feels like when I follow a lot of people. I know not following people who follow you is a big no-no according the The Big Book of Social Media Rules. I know I’m supposed to follow anybody and everybody who clicks on my “follow” button. But I don’t. I use Twitter because it’s fun and useful. Following hundreds of people isn’t fun or useful to me.

I know I’m supposed to have at least a thousand followers, or I’m not “follow-popular.” But I’m not a “follow-popular” kind of person. Even the social media guru who told me to get on Twitter in the first place unfollowed her own advice and unfollowed me. Maybe I wasn’t uncontroversial enough. That’s A-OK. I’m not hoping the popular kids won’t make fun of me today, and I’m not wondering why I don’t get invited to any parties. I didn’t join Twitter to re-live high school. I’m an adult now. I have no interest in social posturing, and I have no interest in empty follows.


I’m not going to follow a ton of people only to corral them into a TweetDeck “IGNORE” group.


Most of the people I follow do NOT follow me back- and I’d be a little weirded out if they did. I am an aspiring fiction author, and of the people I follow, over half have nothing to do with fiction writing. They promote science blogs. I follow them because they’re saying something I find interesting and unique. Most of them don’t follow me because they’re not interested in what I’m saying, or I’m saying something they’re already reading elsewhere.

Yes, I’m trying to build a “platform.” My particular platform is “to share information about fiction with fellow writers and readers in the spirit of genuine mutual interest.” Maybe I’ll even impress a potential agent with my writing and consistency someday. I’m not interested in amassing a bunch of followers who have no interest in anything I say or do beyond getting a “follow back.” I don’t believe people who would who follow me just to get a “follow back” would have any impact my author career. I know there are people who say they have the skill and time to make every follow count, but I’m not one of those people.

I read somewhere if I don’t follow people back, I’ve snubbed them. NO. Somebody followed me. I did nothing. Doing nothing is not snubbing. I read that if I unfollow somebody it means I don’t like that person, or I am playing a numbers game. NO. When I unfollow someone I am trying to reduce the amount of NOISE in my Twitter stream. And my Twitter stream is ALL noise- dozens of people all talking about something different. My brain can’t handle a hundred conversations, one after the other.

If you want to follow me, follow me BECAUSE YOU WANT TO FOLLOW ME, not because you want me to follow you back. Follow me because I’m saying something interesting and unique, not because you want another notch in your Twitter belt. Because I don’t auto-follow back. I swear on a stack of my yet-to-be-published novels I absolutely like your online personas and I would give you the shirt off my back, but I’m at my limit. I’m doing as much as I can and still having fun at the same time.

Oh yeah- the #1 rule on Twitter is:




p.s. Here’s another shitastic Twant.

Big Fat Fiction Genre List


Fiction genres may be determined by the content, literary technique, tone, and length of novels.

“Genre conventions,” as defined by Robert McKee, are “specific settings, roles, events, and values that define individual genres and their subgenres.”

So you want fiction genres? I’ve got fiction genres. The first list includes most of the popular and recognized genres and subgenres of fiction. Note that some subgenres of one basic genre will overlap with other subgenres of other basic genres. There’s no established consensus of what constitutes a “fiction genre,” so this list may change as I see fit. In deference to wiki, I excluded the categories of “Young Adult” and “Graphic Novel” from the first list of fiction genres: “Genre should not be confused with age category, by which literature may be classified as either adult, new-adult, young-adult, or children’s. They also must not be confused with format, such as graphic novel or picture book. The distinctions between genres and categories are flexible and loosely defined, often with subgroups.” -wiki


We’ll start with what I consider the 2 broadest fiction genres. Not all fiction falls under these two labels- in fact, I’d say most fiction does not. But I included these at the top of my list to represent the extremes of a spectrum:

AIRPORT NOVEL / PULP FICTION– Written for maximum market appeal, with minimum consideration given to other novel elements.

LITERARY NOVEL– Written with minimum consideration given to mass market appeal, with maximum consideration given to other novel elements.


Next, we’ll move to the basic genres and their subgenres:

ANTINOVEL– Written without many of the familiar conventions of a standard novel.


GENERAL– Written with many of the familiar conventions of a standard novel. Also may fall under another basic genre label.

subgenres: Bizarro, Cross-Genre, Fabulism, Gothic, Historical, Magic Realism, Slipstream, Urban Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Men’s Fiction, Genderqueer Fiction



subgenres: Cross-genre, Historical



subgenres: BDSM, Contemporary, Erotic Action-Adventure, Erotic Fantasy, Erotic Horror, Erotic Mystery, Erotic Romance, Erotic Science Fiction, Erotic Suspense, Erotic Western, Gothic, Historical, Paranormal, Shapeshifter, Vampire, Non-Vampire Monster



subgenres: Bizarro, Contemporary, Cross-Genre, Dark Fantasy, Fabulism, Fairy Tale, Gothic, Heroic Fantasy, Historical, Light Fantasy, Magic Realism, Paranormal, Science Fantasy, Shapeshifter, Shared World, Silkpunk, Slipstream, Steampunk, Superhero, Supernatural, Sword & Sorcery, Urban Fantasy, Vampire, Non-Vampire Monster, Weird Tale, Weird Western



subgenres: Apocalyptic, Bizarro, Creature Horror, Dark Fantasy, Extreme Horror, Fabulism, Gothic, Historical, Horror Western, Magic Realism, Noir, Paranormal, Psychological, Science Fiction Horror, Serial Killer, Shapeshifter, Shared World, Slipstream, Soft Horror, Supernatural, Vampire, Weird Tale, Zombie, Monster Other than Vampire / Zombie



subgenres: Crime Fiction, Detective, Hardboiled, Historical, Noir, Police Procedural, Private Investigator, Supernatural



subgenres: Chick Lit, Guy Lit, Genderqueer Lit, Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Gothic, Historical, Paranormal, Regency, Romantic Action-Adventure, Romantic Comedy, Romantic Fantasy, Romantic Horror, Romantic Mystery, Romantic Science Fiction, Romantic Suspense, Romantic Western, Time Travel, Vampire, Non-Vampire Monster



subgenres: Alternate History, Apocalyptic, Bizarro, Contemporary/Near Future, Cyberpunk, Dystopian, Hard Science Fiction, Mundane Science Fiction, Science Fantasy, Science Fiction Horror, Science Fiction Western, Shared World, Slipstream, Soft Science Fiction, Space Opera, Steampunk, Superhero, Time Travel, Weird Tale, Weird Western



subgenres: Conspiracy, Crime Fiction, Espionage, Hardboiled, Historical, Noir, Political Thriller, Psychological, Romantic Suspense, Serial Killer



subgenres: Alternate History, Classical Western, Contemporary, Horror Western, Science Fiction Western, Weird Western


Special acknowledgement to Duotrope.com for providing most of the above subgenres.


Here’s an alternate list provided by wiki:

And lest we forget: Physician Bluegrass Fiction

Here’s the next big genre: Online (Novels about people living their entire lives online.)

Here’s an expanded list of subgenres.

Here’s a list of ALL genres.


Fiction writers, do you write with a genre in mind? Why or why not?