No Extra Words

one person's search for story


May 2016

Day Off for Reflection

Memorial Day.jpg

Today is a holiday in my part of the world, and I hope you had a chance to check out the last episode with a conversation about this holiday. I’ve spoken before about how important it is to take time off for reflection, so for today I’m trying to stay away from Twitter and WordPress and just focus on the real world. Exciting stuff is on its way for the podcast and everything else, but for today we are reflecting.

Wishing you peace today,


Meet Episode 50 Contributor William C. Blome

One year ago today, I released No Extra Words’ first episode out into the world. It’s our birthday!

We are celebrating that and our 50th episode this week with a jam-packed super-sized episode, including all kinds of new and notable content, including a story by William C. Blome, who is the 111th unique voice to share a story on the show. And many, many more are coming.

William C. Blome writes short fiction and poetry. He lives wedged between Baltimore and Washington, DC, and he is a master’s degree graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. His work has previously seen the light of day in such fine little mags as The Alembic, Amarillo Bay, PRISM International, Fiction Southeast, Roanoke Review, Salted Feathers and The California Quarterly.

Happy listening,


Meet Episode 50 Contributor Sally Stevens

Our 50th episode celebration features some new stuff, some old stuff, a new contributor, and returning contributor Sally Stevens! Her story “Farmer’s Wife Turns Hubby into Scarecrow” appeared on Episode 40 in March. She is scheduled to be our first three-time contributor, so keep listening to hear more from Sally.


Sally Stevens has worked as a singer, lyricist, and choral director in film and TV for many decades in Hollywood. She has also had poems and short fiction included in No Extra Words, Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal and Mockingheart Review. Her song”Who Comes This Night” (music, Dave Grusin) was recorded by James Taylor in his first Christmas CD, 2004, and her song “There Is Time” (Music, Burt Bacharach) was recorded in his album WOMAN, with the Houston Symphony. Most recently, she contracted choirs for John Williams (Star Wars: The Force Returns) and Thomas Newman (Bridge of Spies) and just completed recorded vocals for Finding Dory (composer, Thomas Newman.)

Happy listening,


Finding Your Voice (aka Twitter giveth and Twitter taketh away)

I like to retweet things about writing that speak to me…I actually find Twitter inspiring when it isn’t a giant billboard or time suck. This week I stumbled across a tweet that made me think:

Try to know your target person when writing and who you are writing for. Even if that’s you. =) …Your Writing Vision

I won’t state the author of this tweet only because I think I may have offended her/him in the conversation that followed, which was never my intention, so out of respect I will keep that person’s Twitter handle out of this conversation. But when I retweeted it, I expressed some discomfort with this advice. I don’t disagree entirely…certainly as writers we must serve our readers…but my key question was, doesn’t story come first? How can I know who I am writing for until I write my story and figure out what story I am telling?

It’s a big question and, as at least one person pointed out, well beyond the scope of Twitter’s 140 character limit. In my conversation with the original poster, her/his comment was that you can’t, for example, write an erotic thriller and then market it to middle grade. Which, again, is totally and completely valid. But that’s not a writing problem. That’s a marketing problem. Marketing isn’t writing.

I’ll say that again: Marketing isn’t writing.

One of my favorite authors, Kirby Larson, has said that when she sat down to write her Newbery Honor Book Hattie Big Sky, she thought she was writing a children’s book. For many reasons, including the age of her main character, the publisher decided to market it as a young adult book, and her audience has been wide. I’ve had adult book groups love that book. I’ve met fourth grade girls who love that book. I’ve met 16 year old girls who love that book. Kirby served her audience…her entire audience…by writing a damn good book.

None of this means you can’t be an author who writes young adult (YA) or children’s or any other category of book. But it’s important to keep in mind that story comes first.

Why does story come first? Because we respect our audience. Whether they are nine years old, or fourteen, or twenty-six, or seventy, our readers deserve the best we have. We don’t talk down to them. We don’t pander to them. We don’t want to write what’s been written before. The reason YA is a category and not a genre or style of writing is that young adults, like everyone, deserve ALL of the best stories we can tell: literary, dark, romantic, funny, whatever your story may be. Need to trim explicit content to market it to a certain group? That’s what second drafts are for. You can write a story or you can market it. When you do both at the same time, you run the risk of becoming just like everyone else. You want to read a story created by a marketing survey? Yeah, me neither.

It’s entirely possible I’m wrong here. I’m one person, and I can take it if you disagree profoundly with me. On anything. Just please don’t tell me YA is a style of writing. Because I was a teen librarian for six years and one thing that I expect is respect for YA readers. And writers who consider writing “to” them rather than writing an excellent story “for” them don’t respect them.

So I made the mistake of arguing with a stranger on social media. Which went about as well as that usually does. But then, just when I was regretting that life choice, Twitter was nice enough to float this quote my way:

“To gain your own voice you have to forget about having it heard.”

-Allen Ginsberg

And that’s really what this all boils down to, isn’t it? We writers-in-training (if you’re not still in training please tell me what that feels like because I’m dying to know,) we are trying to find our voice. And we can’t…we just cannot sculpt it into the kind of voice that “gets heard” without losing what makes it real, and unique.

Go write your story. The best one you have. Let the microphones, the megaphones, and the readers find you. Or you can be like everyone else, I guess. But where’s the fun in that?

Happy writing,



Episode 49: I’ll Be Seeing You

Copy of FLASH

Today’s episode is super-sized because it contains some special bonus holiday content at the end.

“Memorial Day” looks closely at an important holiday. By C.M. Gabbett, copyright 2015, used with permission. Read his bio.

In “The Quiet Raspberry Wormhole,” if you look at just the right angle you can see back a ways to what was. By Jefferey H. Toney, copyright 2015, used with permission. Read Jeffery’s bio.

“Yasmina” is the story of a women who has experience great loss adjusting her vision of the future. By Evan Guilford-Blake, copyright 2013, used with permission. Read Evan’s bio.

Bonus Memorial Day content: stick around to the end of this one to hear the true story of one American hero.

Sounds from this episode are courtesy of the Free Sound Project. Thank you to freesoundjon01 for the church bells and 18hiltc for “Taps.”

50th episode and our one year anniversary coming next week! See you then!

Happy listening,


Meet Episode 49 Contributor Evan Guilford-Blake

Evan joins our distinguished group of repeat contributors, having made his first appearance on the show back in January on Episode 32. “Yasmina,” the story he shares with us this week, is excerpted from his award-winning flash suite In the Realms of Light and Darkness.

Evan Guilford-Blake’s prose, plays, and poetry, for adults and children, have appeared in almost 70 journals and anthologies, winning 24 awards and receiving two Pushcart Prize nominations. His novels Animation (literary fiction) and The Bluebird Prince (middle-grade), and the literary fiction short story collection American Blues are available on Amazon. Many of his 40 plays are available through the New Play Exchange. He and his wife (and inspiration) Roxanna, a healthcare writer and jewelry designer, live in the southeastern US.

Happy listening,


Meet Episode 49 Contributor Jeffery H. Toney


Dr. Toney has published scientific peer-reviewed articles, news media opinion pieces, as well as short fiction stories in O-Dark-Thirty, the literary journal of The Veterans Writing Project, The East Coast Literary Review and in Crack The Spine. Recently, he was nominated for a PushcartPrize for his 100 word story, “The Quiet Raspberry Wormhole” published by Crack The Spine. He serves as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Kean University. He volunteers and fundraises for charities such as Music For Relief, founded by Linkin Park, and the RFK Center for Human Rights. He serves on the Steering Committee of the Science and Human Rights Coalition of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). You can follow him on Twitter @jefftoney, read his blog on The Huffington Post, and listen to his podcast interview about how anyone can contribute to human rights issues on Talk Nerdy with Cara Santa Maria 

Happy listening,


Meet Episode 49 Contributor C.M. Gabbett

C.M. Gabbett is the author of over a dozen political articles and numerous short stories. His work has appeared in RedAlert Politics, Black Lantern Publishing, The Gambler, Section 8, The Ramapo News, and Trillium, among other publications. He currently lives in central New Jersey.

Happy listening,


Episode 48: Disregarding the Warnings

Copy of FLASH

“Saving Andie” is the story of a board room meeting in which the experts must decide whether to launch a rescue mission. By Lars H. Hoffmann, copyright 2015, used with permission. Visit Lars’ website.

In “Sunshine and Asteroids,” a disaster survivor is alone in a new world. By Jason J. Nugent, from his anthology (Almost) Average. Copyright 2016, used with permission. Visit Jason’s website.

“Rewards” is a story of a fantastical person and an ordinary family. By Anne Elizabeth Weisgerber, copyright 2015, used with permission. Visit Anne’s website.

Happy listening,


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