If Walls Could Talk: Auld Lang Syne

M.H. Norris

Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot and days of auld lang syne…

Here, while you read my New Year’s Post, enjoy one of my favorite renditions of the song.

What a year 2015 has been. It seems like the last few years I’ve faced the end of a year and been surprised at some of the things that have happened. But I guess that’s half the fun sometimes, you don’t see everything that’s coming.

But auld lang syne. It’s a Scottish term and, roughly translated, it means days long past.

The Wall is talking–or rather James, Ben, Nicole, and I–are talking tonight. We’re talking about things that happened this year and things planned for next year and how we can improve and make 18thWall stronger.

It’s a process and I’m glad you’ve joined us for the journey.

Even as a writer, I wasn’t sure what 2015 would hold for me. I announced the first anthology that I was editing. I had my first book come out, I got handed a surprise project, I left a project I’d been involved with for ages, and found a couple of new ones. That and I graduated college.

What a year 2015 has been. And once again, it has left me excited to see where 2016 takes me. I’m sure this time next year, I’ll be surprised yet again by what happens.

So here I sit, cutting it close to my weekly deadline yet again and trying to figure out just what I want to say.

From all of us here at 18thWall Productions we wish you all a safe and happy New Year’s. We hope that your 2016 is full of books and writing.

And as we sit here and watch 2015 enter it’s last day, we can’t help but think about auld lang syne.

Happy New Year’s everyone! See you in 2016.

New Call for Stories: After Avalon

Anthology curated by Nicole Petit

King Arthur is dead. Camelot has fallen. Britain drowns in Saxons.

These are the stories of what come after.

After Avalon is seeking stories based on the premise, “What happened to these people and relics after Camelot fell?” What do the knights do when there is no more Brittan to defend? Did Sarras fall, or did the nation surviving knights built stand the test of time? Who wears the Green Knight’s girdle, now, and where does the Lady in the Lake reside? Is Merlin still trapped inside his tree? Who else has gone to Avalon?

Were Galahad, the Holy Grail, and the Spear of Destiny really assumed into Heaven? Or did bards invent that story, an easy solution to explain where Camelot’s greatest knight was on the day Camlann killed them all?

What’s become of the Questing Beast and the White Stag? Gawain’s mother and half-brother have destroyed Camelot, what does he do now? Does Pellinore still chase the Beast?

Has Arthur already returned?

Stories can take place anywhere between Arthur’s death and the present day. Stories set in the future may or may not prove to be a harder sell.

We encourage historically accurate stories set in a variety of times and places. Don’t be afraid to set your story during the crusades, or the Victorian era. Beware that the curator and her assistants are extreme history buffs, and they will notice anything inaccurate. Do your homework.

We’ll say no, thank you to excessively dark stories or stories that insult the Arthurian tradition.

If you’re looking for inspiration, we recommend: Neil Gaiman’s “Chivalry,” Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Marvel Comics’ Prince Valiant miniseries (1994), Simon R. Green’s Drinking Midnight Wine, the Justice League Unlimited episode “Patriot Act,” and “In the Deep, Deep Shallows” (issues #4-6 of Knights of the Living Dead; the preceding issues, which live up to the title, are the epitome of what we do not want).


Payment: 5% of the gross profit will be paid for each accepted story. These payments will be issued to you at quarterly intervals. Stories under 1,500 words will only receive 4% of the gross profit.

Rights: First World Digital and Print.

Deadline: April 2nd, 2016

Word Count: 1,000-15,000

How to Submit your Story:

  • All stories should be sent, as an attachment, to submissions@18thwall.com.
  • The file must be formatted in .doc or .docx.
  • The interior of the document must be in double spaced Times New Roman (12 point font). Indents must be placed through your system’s Paragraph function; do not set indents by pressing tab or space. Please use full em dashes (—).
  • At the top of your document, please include William Shunn’s submission header.
  • Tell us a bit about yourself in the body of your email. Don’t stress this, it won’t make or break your submission.

Place your name, story title, and word count in the subject line of your email. For example, “After Avalon / Neil Gaiman / Chivalry.”

If Walls Could Talk: Leveraging the Public Domain

M.H. Norris

The Public Domain is a magical place full of fun shiny things begging to be used by writers, not only enhance their stories but to give them a little grounding in the real world.

Seriously, go take a second and look at songs, books, characters, and poems that are in the pubic domain.


And they aren’t the only things. One thing that I have found is technically in the Public Domain are Urban Legends. Have you ever actually gone and looked at the sheer number of myths that are out there?

As a special treat, with James’ permission of course, I’m going to give you guys a little piece of the short story I’m working on for All The Petty Myths.

“Since the beginning of time, man has told stories. When a letters came along, these were written down. Some would surpass their origins, over the years, becoming what we know to be legends. Today we call the study of those legends, mythology. Every culture has their own distinct system yet at the same time we all share a group of similar stories.”

Who’s talking—well, you’ll have to wait for the anthology to come out to find out who. But let me tell you, I’m looking forward to seeing how this story turns out.

But things come into the public domain all the time. And people don’t realize the sheer volume of things you can find. For example here, let’s look at my book Badge City: Notches. There’s a scene where I use a song that is in public domain. For me, it just added a little something extra to the scene (and honestly, it’s one of my favorite scenes that I’ve written).

Some things to note, different countries have different public domain laws so be sure to double check and make sure that what you are using is in fact in the public domain. Canada got James Bond in their public domain, this year. Meanwhile, the United States had a legal battle to affirm Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain—and there’s currently a legal war going on to prove Buck Rogers (and characters like him) are as well.

It’s easy to fact check though (and as a writer, you should be fact checking anyway). A simple Google search will point you in the right direction.

Its something I’ve enjoyed looking at and seeing what I can use to enhance and improve my scenes within my stories.

What are you going to find?


If Walls Could Talk: Reflecting on a Year Gone By

They say Hindsight is 20/20 and in most cases that’s true. But as I sit here and feel nostalgic, I wonder if that’s always the case.

What are you feeling nostalgic about, Mary Helen? Or, more to the point, what are you talking about?

Today is the third anniversary of my first short story being published. It’s the anniversary of the first time that M. H. Norris came into print.

And what a mix of ups and downs the last three years have been.

The old website was full of post of tips and tricks I’ve learned and it’s amazing to go back and see how far I’ve come in the first three years of my writing career.

So, here’s a vague overview of things I wonder if I knew then what I know now would I have done things differently.

1) You are always learning.

I’m actually a little embarrassed to admit this, but I thought my first short story was good when it came out. Now? I’ll admit that it was a start and it gave me a chance to get my name out there. It also gave me a confidence boost and let me know that maybe my writing dreams were possible.

But, now? I would not say that it’s good. I mean, it’s not awful but I was a very young, very inexperienced writer.

Writing is a craft that you have to continuously work to improve. There are always things to learn, things you can improve on, different ways to tell a story. But that’s part of the fun.

2) Sometimes, opportunities will surprise you.

I wasn’t expecting Notches. I wasn’t looking to write a whole book. But Pro Se handed the opportunity to me and I had to take it. Sometimes, you have to be open to the opportunities around you.

After all, by taking that chance, I now have a book out. That book was in the top 30K books on Amazon it’s debut week, which is incredible.

3) Keep a bucket list handy.

I have a list of things I want to write eventually and some of those things might show up in forms I didn’t originally intend. But you never know what opportunities will come.

4) Feel free to walk away.

Sometimes, you have to be willing to walk away from a writing project. It’s hard, especially if you’ve been involved for a while. But sometimes it’s for the best.

5) Be willing to juggle.

Sometimes you are going to have several jobs that you want to do. And sometimes you’re going to have to be willing to work on various stages of different projects at the same time.

Edit one piece, write another, research a third, talk about a fourth. Sometimes I do have multiple projects going at once and to me it helps to. If I have something else I can work on, it helps writer’s block to go away.

6) Always look to the future.

Always be looking to the future. Have your BHAG (that stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and always be reaching for it.

I want to someday see the Bestseller’s List. And I plan to get there. I’ll go on the New York Times website and look at it and say “someday, I’ll be there.”

And then I go back to writing.