Arriving! Picture Postcards

You may remember that I recently published a nostalgic post about the picture postcards that used to be sent from holiday destinations.
If not, here’s a link.

I added my address to the post, so that people could send me one, if they wished to do so.

***Please note***
I know, it is almost unheard of to publish your home address online. I don’t recommend doing that, and I am not suggesting you follow suit, especially if you are a young female, a woman alone, or a vulnerable person of any gender. But I live in a small village, and have a very unusual dog.
I can be found very easily.

I am delighted to report that I received my first card on Saturday morning, kindly sent by Paul S, a fellow blogger. He even used a first-class stamp!
Thanks, Paul!

I have been advised that I might be getting some more, and when I have them all, I will feature them on a post, photographing the front and back of each one.

So if you feel like changing your mind about sending me one by post, (mail only please, no E-cards) the address is on the link. For those of you that like to create your own cards, or use a postcard-creation app with your own photos, why not send me your own portrait selfie, or a scene you have taken a photo of? Don’t forget to add your name (or blog name) so I know who they are from. I leave the message on the card up to you.

Thanks in advance, Pete.

Kingdom Of The Little People

On Friday, I was sent a link by my close friend, Antony. Some of you will know that he used to work with me before I retired, and he is also an excellent photographer. He took the photo on my ‘About’ page, and many of the close-ups of Ollie that I have featured.

The You Tube film he sent me lasts only 17 minutes, and I urge you all to take time to watch this very affecting documentary.

The Kingdom Of The Little People is a theme park in mainland China. All the entertainers who perform there, and the staff who work there, are short people. Some have dwarfism, and others stunted developmental growth. Not one of them is any taller than four feet tall. They all live together at the Kingdom’, and perform shows for tourists to earn a living. They earn a good salary, about the same as an IT professional in the local region around Kunming.

The theme park opened in 2009, and is owned by a wealthy entrepreneur. The shows performed include dancing and singing, as well as scenes from traditional fairy tales, and Chinese folklore.

The whole concept of the park has been attacked and vilified by many western newspapers, as well as organisations like The Little People Of America, and Handicap International. It has been compared to a ‘human zoo’, and accused of exploiting little people, of and exposing them to ridicule. The British actor, Warwick Davis, who was born with a rare form of dwarfism, has called for the theme park to be closed down. He is well-know for his acting roles, including parts in ‘Willow’, ‘Star Wars’, and ‘Harry Potter’.

But if you watch the film, you may feel, as I did, that the opposite is true. In a country with no opportunity for such people, and where they are often publicly mocked in villages and big cities alike, this park has become a refuge, even an oasis for them. They live with people like themselves, and get well-paid to entertain the visitors. Their accommodation may seem basic and cramped by western standards, but they have most modern conveniences, form loving relationships, and enjoy sport and the usual recreational activities. Most of all, they have confidence, companionship, and a sense of self-worth that they lacked before going to work at ‘The Kingdom’.

I loved this film, and it really got to me. I watched it again before posting this, and didn’t change my mind.

A funny short film: The Gunfighter

Thanks to my long-time blogging friend, David Miller, I got to see this excellent short film yesterday. A witty satire on ‘narrated’ westerns, it gave me a much-needed chuckle, on a day of dark skies, and heavy rain.

David resides in Nevada, USA. He blogs on WordPress.
He is also a published writer, a song lyricist, and an accomplished compiler of limericks.

Books, Books, and More Books

Ever since I started this blog, I have noticed quite a few things. One of those is that lots of people blog about books. And I mean LOTS!

They review books, they blog about books they are reading, and they blog about books they have read before. They list their Goodreads selections, and how many books they have already read that year. Many mention their TBR (To be read) piles, often wondering if they can ever possibly get to the end of them. I soon realised that where books are concerned, I am a very small fish, in a crowded ocean of literary sea lions.

Well done to them all. I love that people are still reading. It doesn’t matter whether they are using an electronic device, or turning the pages of a huge hardback. It has to be better than watching TV all day, or playing video games.

Another thing I noticed was that many bloggers are also published authors. Some of them are contracted to big publishing houses, some self-published, and many more just starting out. They use their blogs to advertise and sell their books, and usually promote the books of other bloggers too. That’s great. People want to write. They want to see their name on a cover, and have something to show for all that imagination, and hard work. Well done to them too. Keep at it!

Many of my readers have kindly suggested that I should write a book. Perhaps a non-fiction account of my long service as an EMT, or a compilation of some of my most popular short stories. The extended fiction serials that I frequently post are usually long enough to qualify as a novella, so I could go down that route, possibly.

With all this in mind, I did some research.

Amazon currently lists 33,000,000 books, worldwide. And that’s just on one company’s website. I will write that number another way. 33 MILLION.

Many books now boast the words ‘Best Seller’ on their covers. I wonder how many copies have to be sold, before that claim is valid? I found out. To make one of the ‘Best-Seller’ lists in a prestigious journal such as The New York Times, a well-known or established author has to sell more than 5,000 copies. Even then, selling that number of copies doesn’t guarantee you will appear on the list at all. That is decided by an ‘Editorial Panel’. If you are a new author and it is your first book, that number has to reach 10,000 copies, before you will even be considered.

Amazon can rightly claim to dominate the market in book sales in 2019. Their version of what constitutes a best seller is very different. Established authors publishing on Amazon only have to sell in excess of 1,000 copies, before their latest book receives the ‘Best Seller’ accolade on the cover. Unknown authors have to sell more than 5,000 copies to get the same recognition.

So if you are planning to publish your book, don’t be too disappointed if it gets lost in the crowd. And don’t expect it to make the Best Seller lists.
Not yet, anyway.

Meanwhile, keep reading, and keep writing about reading. And if you want to, keep writing that book too. 🙂

Trying Harder With Twitter

If any of you are followed by me on Twitter, you may well have noticed more activity from me lately.

I have decided to ‘try harder’ with Twitter. I confess that it eludes me somewhat. It constantly updates, and I get more than a little ‘lost’ at times. I keep retweeting the tweets of those I follow, but I never actually manage to find those retweets on my own Twitter feed. You have to bear with me here, I have never had a Facebook account, and I am also getting quite old!

It moves too fast for me to comprehend, and there are SO MANY duplicate tweets, I never know whether or not I am retweeting the same post I retweeted ten minutes earlier!

Then I see the same tweet retweeted by fifty other people, and end up wondering if I have tweeted the right thing in the first place! Then someone retweets the retweet I have just done, and my brain starts to ache…

When I got a Twitter account, I did that purely to link it to my blog posts, in the hope of a wider audience. But Twitter is now getting away from me, running like a train I am unable to catch.

So please let me know if I am doing anything wrong, or if you would like me to retweet something you have posted. Otherwise, I might well miss it completely.

And don’t get me started on ‘Mentions’!

Honestly, I am trying harder… 🙂

Spam Warning: Invasion!

Over the past four days, I have been notified of over 180 Spam comments. Five of those were placed there in error, from bloggers I know. All the others were like those shown below; seemingly meaningless, and from dubious email addresses. This selection arrived just a few minutes ago, and is the third such grouping I have had today.

Fortunately, they were all placed in the Spam Folder, by WordPress. But as a warning to everyone, if something like this turns up in your comments, or awaiting moderation, make sure to delete it without opening the link.

It seems we are being invaded!

Select comment boninzsmaj

Select comment omlvfxybah

Select comment srwkcyzejq

Select comment rebxcadrmg

Select comment iuvwwvaeef

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Please read this interesting newsletter about a new concept in magazine and online publishing. Combining the blog format with short-story publications, and a community forum too. If you ever wanted to get published, this is definitely one way it could work for you. The news is self-explanatory, but if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments, or send me an email.

The Thinkerbeat Reader Newsletter


Thank you for submitting your stories to UNFIT/UNREAL magazines. This newsletter is to let you know how I evaluate stories, keeping you in the loop on the submission process.

If your story was submitted before 6/20, most likely your story was not accepted for publication in the upcoming round of magazines. I’m very sorry about that because I know how difficult it is to get published these days. I’m not only a publisher, but also a writer.

So keep trying. In fact, send your story to lots of publications. I’m a strong believer in that. I’ll even show you where to find other publications, down below. For the record, I don’t charge for submission, and I don’t require that you to only submit to one place at a time. Simultaneous submissions are the best solution for making any headway in this profession. Seriously.

About the Process

As you may have noticed, I do things a little differently. For example, I don’t typically write to you and reject your story. The terms on the submission page say that if you haven’t heard back within 30 days, take that as a no. If you noticed the date above, you’ll realize I’m falling behind the 30 day window, approaching 50 days. There’s a reason for that.

I’ve decided to release this newsletter periodically so I can let a lot of people know at the same time what the cutoff date is for the submission window. Right now it’s anything submitted before 6/20. Included in this newsletter will also be tips on what I expect to see in stories from you, which should help you in the future. So stay subscribed and I’ll keep you informed.

What’s different?

1. I don’t usually respond to submissions. The truth is, there are a lot of you. And the number of people writing and submitting stories is growing rapidly every year. Currently, I have about 100 stories each at both UNREAL and UNFIT magazine that I have to read. That’s close to 200 stories, right now. And the number grows by 10 to 20 new stories per day. It’s almost impossible to keep up with.

In the future, expect more publications to follow suit. The New Yorker, one the most awarded magazines for fiction, has had the same policy that I follow for years. Their terms say that if you haven’t heard back in 90 days, assume you’re out. You won’t be notified, unless accepted. I shortened it to 30 days, but am struggling to make the deadline. In the future, I’m going to let people know by newsletter how things are progressing, like I’m doing right now. I’m hopeful it will be the best solution for both of us.

2. In recent weeks, I added a new line to the submission forms at both UNREAL/UNFIT magazines. It says, simply, “Your URL”. What I was hoping for was to get an indication of where your blog is. In the past, I’ve searched for your blogs by author name and that’s time consuming because it involves a lot of guesswork about who you really are.

The results of changing the form have been pretty interesting. I would say about 50% of the people submitting stories don’t have a satisfactory online home. Which I think is odd, because you can set up a blog in about 5 minutes, sourced from a variety of places such as WordPress or Blogger.

Many people are rigging the answer to get the story to go through, with things like and Another common response I see on the form is when someone puts an email address in the answer, like this: All of these stories are being rejected.

When you sign a contract with me, I’ll be asking for rights to use your name, your photo, and your bio to promote the magazines. Professionals know about this and have little problem with it. I don’t mind that you use a pen name, either. The problem is that I need to verify that you are really you. That you haven’t just stolen someone else’s story and put your name on it. That you are really signing the contract as yourself. That you aren’t trying to sell me three stories under three different names, when I don’t allow multiple submissions. Your online home is one place where I check the facts. It tells me how stable you are as a writer. Plus, I also like to read your blogs. I like to get to know what you’re up to. Often I’ll click on the “Like” button on a WordPress site to let you know I was there. I’m interesting in you and what you’re doing with your words.

A number of people have used a page on Facebook or Twitter in the form. Some put down their author page on Amazon. These are interesting, but I’m on the fence about accepting them. Maybe it’s the first time you’ve written a story and you want to see if you can get published in a semi-pro magazine. I understand that. But as we’ve never met, I need verification that you’ll be able to spread the news about the magazine, that other people find you a good resource of publishing information.

What’s New?

Recently, I’ve started up a website called The Thinkerbeat Reader. If you don’t have a blog, feel free to join and I’ll give you a simple one. I’ll even help you upload your photo and add your bio. You’ll be able to use the URL of your homepage at in the submission forms at UNREAL/UNFIT magazines.

If you already have an active blog, use that. I’ll stop by and see how you’re doing. Even so, you’re invited to join the website.

At, I’ve got an up-to-date list of 800 publications looking for stories written by someone just like you. I’ve got a social network set up so we can all talk to each other. I’ve even put the magazines that I publish online there for you to read. Get a look at the stories I’ve already bought for the next round of magazines, before they go to market. See what you’re up against. This should give you a better idea of what I’m looking for each time. It will help you eliminate the guesswork.

Let me say in advance, the site is not free. However, I’ll upgrade your account to ‘premium’ membership if I can see that you’re on my mailing list, you’re submitting stories to my magazines, or you’re an author I’ve published before. It’s like you paid, but you didn’t. I think this is a fair solution for both of us.

How do I evaluate stories?

With close to 200 stories waiting to be read, I have to have a pretty good system. With years of experience, I think I have a pretty good system.

1. Divide and conquer. First, I take about 20 stories and divide them into two piles, the ten best and the ten not-so-good. Then I take the remaining 10 stories and do the same thing, two piles, 5 and 5. Eventually I get to the top 2 stories from the reading session. Next I take another 20 stories and do the same. Then I evaluate the top stories from each group, comparing them to each other. 20 seems to be a good number because that’s close to the submission rate each day. I can’t compare your story to all 100 stories that I need to read right now. That’s not even close to realistic.

One reason I don’t send out rejections is because sometimes a story will grow on me. A week later, it might be in the rejection pile, but I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ll go back and take a second look. In the past, I’ve had cases where I’ve contacted an author after a story was formally rejected and then I asked to buy it. I might even contact you several months later to see if the story is still available, if I suddenly find a need for it.

2. Does the story follow a common trope? Most stories do. Even with the top writers in the field, most stories fit into recognizable categories, whether you realize it or not. One way to know if your story has been written before is to read a lot. You do read a lot, don’t you? You’d be surprised how many variations I’ve gotten on the same story. Man kills his wife only to wake up in the police station, being let go, because she was really a robot. Man kills his wife and wakes up in the police station to find out he is a robot. And she wasn’t. Or she was. And so on. If you’re going to write something already written, you’ve got to do it better than anyone before. How would you know? Read a lot.

3. Is the story low lying fruit? Low apples on the tree are easy to pick, and many stories that I get are based on simple ideas. You put a lot of time into crafting every single word in your story only to step back and realize there’s not much going on overall in terms of plot. I know, because I’ve been there before. It’s the apples at the top of the tree that I want from you. Those ideas are harder to get to.

A Brief History of Thinkerbeat

Thinkerbeat started a long time ago and reached a kind of wall that I couldn’t get past as a publisher. We’d put out an anthology called The Art of Losing with 24 authors in it. It wasn’t selling well and I got really discouraged. About that same time, I was laid off from my job and didn’t know where the money would come from for the projects I had planned. So I folded the site and took a break for a while from publishing.

Previously, I had finished my MBA degree and worked for a publisher. They published a children’s book I wrote. More of my history can be found on my blog.


Later, when I got my second wind, I started Longshot Island, knowing this time it was a long shot. That also reached a kind of wall in just the last year. I wouldn’t say it’s gone forever. But I’ve put it on the back burner for now. Both experiences opened a lot of doors and gave me the chance to meet a lot of great people, like you.

From there I started UNFIT/UNREAL magazines, publishing the best authors in speculative fiction.

About two months ago I noticed the URL was available for Thinkerbeat and a series of incidents got me to thinking of setting the site up again. There’s so much I’ve learned about authors and the publishing process and I’m more confident now that I can help you out. I have a strong commitment to helping undiscovered authors get noticed, because I know how hard that is. Put simply, by pairing your story up with writing giants, people are more likely to read it. At the same time, if we don’t cultivate new talent, where will the genre be down the road?

Here’s an older interview I did with Cathleen Townsend on the original Thinkerbeat website.

Interview with Daniel White–Publisher at Thinkerbeat

Thinkerbeat 2.0 is a great resource. The site offers:

a blog
a social network feed
a library
a list of publications
Learn more at the site:, where you can talk to me.

The Round of Next Magazines

Here are the authors I’m talking to right now.


Ken Liu
Yoon Ha Lee
Jerry Oltion
Robert J. Sawyer
Ernest Hogan
Rebecca Linam
Robert Boucheron
Liam Hogan
…plus more, tba.


Taiyo Fujii
Emily Devenport
Ken Liu
Robert J. Sawyer
Jeremy Szal
D.A. Xiaolin Spires
…plus more, tba.

As I purchase these stories, they are going online at The Thinkerbeat Reader for you to check out, right now. As you can see, I need more stories for UNFIT at this time than I do for UNREAL. This list is not 100% final, but fairly close. I’ve discussed purchasing the stories and been given confirmation in most cases. Some of the stories have been bought already, but I still need to make the final decision in some cases.


The Thinkerbeat Reader has (or will soon have) stories by: Ken Liu • Cat Rambo • Emily Devenport • Martha Wells • Yoon Ha Lee • Jerry Oltion • Matthew Hughes • Daniel Wallace • Tim Major • Eric Del Carlo • David R. Grigg • Bruce Golden • Orson Scott Card • Robert J. Sawyer • Ernest Hogan • Tais Teng • David Brin • Robert Silverberg • J.B. Toner • M. Yzmore • Michael Merriam • LJ Cohen • Jessica Needham • J.D. Astra • Liz Kellebrew • George Salis • Joe Taylor • Adithi Rao • Nathan Susnik • Cathleen Townsend • Pete Johnson and more.

See you there!

Copyright 2019 © All rights reserved. | Magazine 7 by AF themes.