J is for Jargon

J is for Jargon

Miranda Stone:

A hilarious and informative post by Alex Hurst about publishing world jargon.

Originally posted on Alex Hurst:


Are you ready to speak like a pro? The publishing world is full of jargon, and sometimes it’s hard to tell your slug from your synopsis! Today’s post is all about the wonderful (and terrible) jargon we use in this crazy industry. Kept short and sweet (and a bit satirical) for your enjoyment. Real definitions found in the links.

advance – (n) an increasingly rare artifact; a most preposterous leap-of-faith.

agent- (n) knight for hire. Known for extraordinarily discerning tastes in damsels, aka Novels.

alpha reader – (n) a masochist for editing.

antagonist- (n) the character everyone likes more than the protagonist.

ARC- (n) zero edition of a to-be-published book. Public beta test for typos.

archetype- (n) Carl Jung’s fancy name for a trope. Positive and posh sounding.

backlist – (n) No, really, I’m a writer. Look at all of this stuff I’ve written!


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We were led to chapel every Wednesday,
dressed to code in knee-length skirts.
Clutching bibles in our hands, we sat silent
and listened to dire warnings of the hellfire
awaiting us if we did not repent.

We were pliant as lambs, praying every day
and dutifully singing “Onward, Christian Soldiers.”
Teachers doled out slaps to my face and hands,
giving me hard shakes and insults as lessons.
They schooled me well in the art of hypocrisy.

While I memorized chapters of scripture,
self-righteousness bloomed in me like a virus.
I could use my tongue as a knife, slashing others
with my taunts as long as I fell to my knees
and asked God’s forgiveness at bedtime.

Each new day a chance to begin again,
washed clean in the blood of the savior.
But even as a child I required stronger proof
of my salvation than assurances from my elders.

Despite my ceaseless praying, I could never be sure
my fickle god would not demand more of me
than a place in my heart and unwavering loyalty.
I envied others around me, so certain of their spot
in heaven while I imagined the flames of hell.

Years later I escaped the stranglehold
of indoctrination, realizing no god listened
to my daily pleas for absolution or mercy.
Backslider that I am, I now breathe easy.

Writing Process Blog Hop

Samantha invited me to participate in the Writing Process Blog Hop. She’s a talented poet, photographer, and story writer whose work can be found at sometimes, Samantha writes. One of the aspects of Samantha’s writing that I most admire is her ability to incorporate humor into her poetry and fiction. That’s a difficult task for most writers, but for Samantha, it seems to come naturally. I also love the way her talented photographer’s eye will spot a mundane object, such as a discarded shoe in a busy park, and capture it in a stunning photograph that enables others to understand the way she sees her everyday surroundings. If you haven’t visited Samantha’s blog, be sure to do so. Lots of great stuff there (including yummy recipes).

Now for the rules of the Writing Process Blog Hop:

The rules:
1. I must answer the four questions below.
2. I must link back to the person who invited me to this Blog Hop.
3. I must name four writers who will continue this Blog Hop and notify them.


1) What are you working on?

Right now I’m working on revising a short story about a husband and wife who encounter a horrific scene while traveling. This experience serves as a catalyst for the main character, causing her to see her crumbling marriage for what it really is. I still have some minor revisions to complete, but I’m hoping to finish the story soon. And of course, I’m always scribbling bits of poetry when inspiration strikes me.

2) How does your work differ from others in the genre?

I’m not primarily a genre writer, though I’ve had a few short stories in the horror genre accepted for publication. When I do write horror, my stories are what I would call quiet horror–no guts or gore. I try to approach horror writing from a psychological angle. The majority of my writing would probably be classified as literary fiction, with the Southern Gothic subgenre being a strong influence. My ancestors settled in Appalachia hundreds of years ago, and today I consider myself blessed to live in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. So rural life and settings featuring mountains are common in my work.

3) Why do you write what you write?

I mention in the “About” section of my blog that I’ve been writing fiction and poetry since I was a child. When I was about seven, a relative asked me why all my stories were so sad. And I still get that question today from well-meaning relatives who urge me to write cheerier fiction. We writers are generally encouraged to write the kind of stories we would like to read. My favorite stories to read are those steeped in realism, with characters who struggle with the same weaknesses, insecurities, and vulnerabilities found in many of us. I hope that the flawed characters I create in my writing, those experiencing unsettling or painful circumstances, might connect with readers in a meaningful way. I consider it a wonderful compliment when readers tell me they’re able to empathize with not only the protagonists, but also the antagonists in my stories. My stories rarely have happy endings. (Come to think of it, my poems that tell a story don’t normally have happy endings, either. So my blog might not be the best place to visit if you’re feeling down in the dumps.) I mentioned in a recent comment here that in most cases, if I haven’t made the reader squirm a bit, then I haven’t done my job as a writer.

4) How does your writing process work?

I try to write on a regular basis, but I don’t follow any set rules, such as “write for at least 30 minutes every day.” I’ve described writing as being an anchor for me, keeping me grounded and getting me out of my own head and into the heads of my characters. But some nights when I get home, I just want to curl up with a book. (To me, reading is just as important as writing.) I do the majority of my writing on the weekends, though I have been known to wake up in the middle of the night and scribble down a thousand words while the Muse is being kind to me. So basically, I write when I feel the inspiration to do so. If that’s not happening often enough, then I go back to my UFO (unfinished objects–thanks for that nifty term, Melissa!) file, and I continue to work on an unfinished story. Or if I’m really desperate, I’ll tackle my pile of finished first drafts that need revising.

Look for the Blog Hop to continue at these sites:

Dreaming Blithely

Melissa is a fantasy/horror/sci-fi/steampunk writer extraordinaire. (She’s also a great poet, but she won’t admit it.) I’d call most of her horror the quiet type, but wow, it will raise the hair on the back of your neck. Chilling is an apt description. When it comes to settings for my stories, I tend to write what I know, but Melissa has a natural talent for creating alternate realities in her work. She vividly describes her settings in a way that captures the reader’s interest immediately.

Changing Skin and other stories

Rachael is another talented writer whose stories and poems incorporate elements of fantasy, symbolism, and magical realism. Her writing will make you think hard and question. I particularly love the fine nuances of her stories and the way they reveal deeper layers of meaning with each subsequent reading. Rachael is also a natural at writing haiku poetry, which makes sense, as she has a keen eye for writing about nature in its endless cycle of beauty and chaos.

Sirena Tales

Chloe’s blog is a true inspiration to me. She is a gifted dancer, writer, and teacher with endless empathy and support for others. Her poems ripple with energy and movement. As dark as my writing tends to be, I know I can always find light and encouragement in Chloe’s words. Do yourself a favor and follow her blog.


If I had to come up with a single word for Chris’s writing, it would be “deep.” He writes powerful yet subtle poems and stories, and I always find myself reading his work at least twice to decipher the hidden meanings. He’s currently writing a series of poems inspired by the I-Ching which I’ve greatly enjoyed and encourage you to read.

Sadly, the rules say I can only mention four other bloggers here, but there are many more of you who continue to inspire me. I’m lucky to be part of such a fantastic community of writers.