Writers beware

As I shared with ShadowDancer and through Twitter and Facebook, I was pretty excited about the possibility of my first short novel being published in the english language through an enterprise called, among several things, Strategic Book Marketing. My skepticism said: “Not so fast, Duff!”. I asked Romi Moondi, a fantastic writer/blogger and overall positive soul, if she could shed more light on an email I received from SBM. I share with you some of her insights regarding the “joint venture” they were proposing. Hope this serves as a proper cautionary tale:

You mentioned this literary agency/publisher. Are they one in the same? They should be separate and distinct, otherwise it is a conflict of interest (i.e. a literary agent will target the publishers that work with them, so that they all make money except you). The truth is, you should not have to pay a dime to publish your book, unless you specifically take the route of self-publishing and doing all the work yourself. But if a publisher is working with you, you should not be paying, otherwise it is a vanity publisher (i.e. fees, but they won’t actually sell a lot of your book).

And I noticed that they mentioned if your book sells 1,000 copies with them, they will “almost certainly” publish your next book at no cost..well what does “almost certainly” mean? Continue reading

The Mystical MoonSpiral

Tammy, MoonSpiral, is a mystical painter of women and goddesses. Her fantasy, pastel, and surrealist works have been a favorite of mine since I came to the bubble. Her artwork focuses on women, in breathtakingly feminine and astral ways. She’s a busy woman, a mother, self-taught artist, and volunteer on RedBubble. She also knows a lot about astrology and is always eager to share her knowledge with her friends. I’m so excited to have her on board as our latest blogger/host and I know she’ll make a wonderful contribution to touched by fire.

Here is a little sampling of her amazing art:

TBF Group Features – Week of March 28, 2010

“Dreaming is an act of pure imagination, attesting in all men a creative power, which if it were available in waking, would make every man a Dante or Shakespeare.” ~H.F. Hedge

For much of the population it is difficult to create a masterpiece that can vividly represents dreams such as masters like Shakespeare, Dali or Dante. Most live with a disconnect between their dream state and their awakend state. However, there is a small collection of people that have the talent to bend the distance between to the two so that we may experience a dream-like state while awake. Some can do it with visual skills, such as photography, painting, or photo manipulation; others use their pens to bring the viewer to their own world. I am a strong proponent of connecting to our dreams, and these thoughts are what led me to my choices for features for the week. Each piece chosen has made me feel like the artist brought me to their world, inside their mind, to view what dreams may be within.

Please honor the talented artists below by clicking on the links to view their full work.



the one thing called desire by PJ Ryan

Do you remember when you pressed yourself against me and we stumbled and slammed into the wall but it didn’t fall down like my heart had that time when I was urgent and forgetting to be still.

Loquacity by ianez

salvador dali-
he could have painted my legs.
or my entire frame.
brushed fury
like the color
of fire.

Yellow Bird by Bill Bell

I must keep one flame
inside of me
caged but able to fly

requiem for a saint by greeneyedlady

these images will leach into my brain
and burn there
like acid

come to me by MommaKluyt

Come to me, in the night
Don’t break me, sweet shadow
Lost in the dark
The pain burns like fire

The Dreamy MagpieMagic

Sybille, otherwise known as MagpieMagic, is a very prolific artist. She churns out fantastic art pieces, one after the other, hosts her own blog, writes, creates magnificent jewelry, knitting, and wire crocheting, just to name a few. I’m excited to announce she has joined the ranks of a TBF Host & Blogger to help spread the flames of touched by fire.

Here are a few of my favorite things created by this dreamy and oh-so-talented artist:

The Secret Keeper

He stood in the dark wood, doubtfully looking at the moon through the trees. He shivered in the cold air. Before he had time to consider his choices and give in to his fears she stood before him.

Her hair was long and shimmered blue in the light of the moon. Ribbons were tied in it, each with a key at the end of it.

“You are the Secret Keeper?” he asks her.

She nods.

He pulls a blue silk ribbon and a key out of his pocket and shows them to her.

“Any questions before we proceed?” she says with a low, soft voice.

He thinks for a moment, “Will my secret be safe with you? A lot of lives depend on it.”

“Of course”, she replies with certainty, “I am the Secret Keeper.”

He pointedly looks at the discoloured and scarred flesh of her shoulder. “Are you sure? Even under torture?”

She smiles and a soft green glow appears in her eyes, “Yes, I am sure. Even under torture, maybe especially under torture. This”, she looks at her shoulder, “happened a long time ago, when I was a new keeper and didn’t know my power yet. Do you want to change your mind?”

He shakes his head. “What happens now?”

click here to read the full story

Nymph by MagpieMagicSoulscape by MagpieMagicBlossom by MagpieMagic

Please visit her site on redbubble, her blog, and her etsy shop for more of her fabulous stuff. I’m excited for everyone to get to know her as she contributes to our fun group.

This week’s features (2)

 Hello internet world! Are you feeling like some art & poetry? Here’s the second installment of this week’s features. Enjoy!

The Secret Keeper by MagpieMagic









Broken Bodies Have No Rythm,
Broken Minds Have No Ryhme

by WhoDini

“I just can’t do it” she said to herself, “It hurts too much. I don’t think I can move.”

Having given up on the feat of befitting herself, she resigned to her bed where she remained stagnated for hours. The previous day she had worked-out so hard that reality pummeled her awareness with the insidious truths of her decline from wellbeing. Now, under duress, she lay helpless on one of the many instigators which mirrors her state. A prisoner of futility. An exile of her own desires. What hope she held dear has been dissipated by personal injury.

“I’m not as young as I used to be,” she thought to herself.

In fact, it was her complacent position in her own life which lead to this and deep down, she knew it. An excuse to give up was in order, however. After all, there is an abundance of pity to be had. Self inflicted or otherwise, passive acceptance has long since surpassed willful adaptation, which too, she well knew.

“Oh, well.” she sighed, “At least I tried.”

Shrugging off her efforts in an attempt to get on with life, she slowly arises and hobbles out of the bedroom to sit on the couch and watch T.V.

The Traveller by Angel Gold

Spock’s Vision by Misty Lackey

Misunderstood like a sour apple needs seed.
Broken like a rag doll needs arms.
Driving like a wheel on the road.
Cold like the warm sun.
Withered like a flower on wet snow.
Digested like a stomach without food.
Destroyed like the twin towers located in
New York City.
Bended and torn like a sideways train.
Wasted material for the left brain.
On-board this madness the butterfly dwells.
Captivating colors webs of enchanted dance.
Where am I? This girl calls herself the bee
she swims on my words vacationing for
honey built like a mechanical bomb
ready to expose the truth.
Let there be life beyond the stars
glows time countless space I know.

Not a Care in the World by phatpuppy









 The love has gone by Tatiana Kurnosova









 Broken by
Randy Monteith

a pear in love by Ingz

Duffboy – New Contributing Blogger

I’m very excited to announce some more changes for Touched By Fire. We are adding additional hosts and bloggers as we continue to grow and I’m SUPER pleased to introduce our latest addition.

Duffboy is photographer and writer that hails from Guatemala City. He has a background in photojournalism and communication arts and has a diverse portfolio of work: portraits, landscapes, nude photography, and poetry, to name a few. Oh, and don’t forget he’s an avid blogger and tweeter.

Please enjoy a few of my favorite pieces of his as an introduction to the man behind the latest TBF blogs.


I’m your alternate ending
the button you
should’ve pushed
21 flavors in a single

I’m the passerby
who dialed 911
mystery man, scape goat
a bomb.

I’m the right words
to say when you need
to seduce, snake charmer,
whenever you must perform
spread legs forgery.

I’m the echo, the real deal
a surface just cleaned.

No one’s dying anytime soon

Footsteps, misteps, falling


I seek shelter from gospel


The politics of truth

gang up on me,

they’re not my truths

not my policies.

Bullets stray, voices are raised

guilty parties whose names

are named.

You speak of mortality, joy and I listen.

Yet, I’m afraid.

This week’s features (1)

Greetings, my fellow art lovers. This is my first post as new cohost. I’m very excited and grateful for PJ to trust me enough to take a friendly stab at the blog too. Behold: the first of two posts dedicated to our featured artworks for this week. Stare, read, savor (and buy their art if you can!).

Alice Portrait by Hollee McNamara

She by Anthea Slade

She rhymes with ‘he’ ‘tree’ and ‘me’
She is real and she is raw
She is beauty at the core
She is courtesan, amazon, madonna and mother
She is throughout history considered ‘other’
She hurts but her heart stays open
She is instinct – she is knowledge
She nurtures by heart
She is sensitive
She is sensual and she is smart
She is loving from the start
She is soft – she is strong
She knows but still she powers on
She comes in all shapes, sizes and colours
She is delicate, fragile and playful
She loves her inner child
She mothers her children
She is sexual and she is courageous
She is red, pink and blue
She is resiliant
She breaks and puts herself back together
She is apple pear or hour glass
She has curves and she is deep
She has lips nose eyes
She has legs, breasts and more
She likes a room of her own
She craves to connect…be valued and seen
She has a voice and likes to speak
She is layered and she is mystery
She likes to take time to know you
She is more then what you see
She is grace under pressure
She loves to sing, dance, cry and be free
She loves to love and be loved in return
She is passionate and she likes to dance
She is at her essence about romance
She moves her heart in amazing ways
She is yin, the night and silver
She is moon
She is the red rose…pink heart…the green earth
She possesses an inner glow
She is a queen, goddess and princess
She is a wise old lady
She is a girl
She is woman.


Night Lighter by MommaKluyt

Imagine by Silki Dlanga

Imagine you knowing me↲
Imagine the truth beautifully unlocked ↲
Imagine life without death ↲
Imagine power fully in love without fear↲
Imagine you then ↲
Imagine truth with no lies ↲
Imagine shadowless light↲
Imagine painfree joy ↲
Imagine glory without shame ↲
Imagine perfection↲
Imagine a promise fulfilled and a longing fully satisfied↲
Imagine not wanting↲

$5,500 Short Story Contest

John Howard Reid & Tom Howard Short Story Contest – due March 31, 2010

Submission Period
Entries accepted July 15, 2009-March 31, 2010 (postmark dates). Early submission is encouraged.

What to Submit
Short stories, essays or other works of prose, up to 5,000 words each. There are no restrictions on style or theme. Each entry should be your own original work. You may submit the same work simultaneously to this contest and to others, and you may submit works that have been published or won prizes elsewhere, as long as you own the online publication rights.

Prizes and Publication
First prize: $3,000. Second prize: $1,000. Third prize: $400. Fourth prize: $250. There will also be six Most Highly Commended Awards of $150 each. The top 10 entries will be published on the Winning Writers website (over one million page views per year) and announced in Tom Howard Contest News and the Winning Writers Newsletter, a combined audience of over 25,000 readers.

Entry Fee
The reading fee is $15 per entry. This covers your submission of one short story or prose work of up to 5,000 words. Contestants may submit as many entries as they like.

Click here to view & enter this contest.

Passion of Dance – Art of Richard Young

Dancing is like dreaming with your feet! ~Constanze

Turkish Delight by Richard Young

Turkish Delight by Richard Young

In art, the human body has been captured in all forms of movement, and I find myself especially riveted when I come across pieces that encapsulate the movement and motions of dance. There is something so commanding, dreamlike, passionate, and romantic in the way the position of the arms, legs, muscles and body combine in pose of a dance movement.

Richard Young is a painter from the UK whose fine works really steal my breath at each glance. His use of color palette, play with light, shading, and contrast, and focus on the emotion of his pieces leaves the viewer feeling as if they were privy to an intimate secret moment with the subject. They are full of passion, sensuality, and mood.

I especially appreciated this quote from his portfolio on his own ideas of what he would like art to mean; It was ironic to me when I read this after already writing half of this blog, since his perspective coincides with the goal of Touched By Fire :

It is also both satisfying and fulfilling, a way of seeing the world differently, seeing yourself differently, opening and challenging your thoughts to a different perspective and wider dimension, arousing your senses and stimulating your mind…

He also has a gallery of works on musicians, the human form, and wildlife. Please check out his redbubble page or his own website to view more of his portfolio and learn more about his technique and passion for art.

TBF Group Features – Week of March 7, 2010

“A work of art is a world in itself reflecting senses and emotions of the artist’s world.” Hans Hoffman

Michelle, ma bell by Sophie-Berger

A POEM’S ESSENCE by Cosimopiro

If every poem ever written,
since the first scratch
chiselled in rock,
was placed in a wizards pot
boiled down
to one last syllable,
can one single grain,
lone letter,
a poem be,
capturing essence
does it need company
to give it more meaning?
Can “I”
stand alone
and be read
with self satisfaction
or does it need “YOU”
to stand beside
for conviction

A breeze came through by Vicki Griffiths

I never could pull off a good poker face by Lisa Jewell

There is no pretence in being contradictory. If I travel from the east then shift course and hitch a ride on the back of the west wind, am I a free spirit or am I flighty? I can wake with my shattered heart curled up next to me; then the very next morning, I have to tightly hold the string of my balloon heart, so it won’t escape out the bedroom window. How is this possible? How can one heart behave in such contradictory ways? My cave is cosy and deep within its walls I feel bliss, but I would be remiss in not confessing. I do long to be held and kissed for a lifetime of hours.

Sense by Manoyla F.

Praestus Proboscis by ianez




my fingerprints a linger,
upon each shiny little culet.
fondle, then press __ snap…
each pearl so perfectly fits.

your scent has perfected its continuity.
brushing of itself amidst my olfactory.
bringing with it hints of your palms,
pressed paralax to this she.
to me.

© Jorjia Ianez

Fragments by Elox

Soul by Bill Bell

By the sunshine
in the narrow crack below the blinds
I’d judge that I’m late for something
reaching down I find the sheets
and go back to sleep
Then I don’t know
if I’m dreaming in the twilight
people come and go
some I haven’t seen in years
I guess they’re dead to you
out of sight and out of mind until
you either find them in the obituaries
or knocking at your door
between the planes of interpretation
at the edge of the morning light
trying to be real
trying to extend the story
trying to be something more
then merely soul.

I saw her in the grocery store
coming up the cereal aisle
no older then she had been before
until we were upon one another
then she aged in an instant except for a smile
she’d kept intact then built experience around.
She had two grown children and one in high school
she patted me on the arm and walked away
shedding time as she went an old ache
blossomed and died.

Theres a piano playing
someone left the radio on
the voice of John Lennon singing Imagine.
Clouds streaming over
days on rented beaches
feverish whispers on summer nights
with the windows open
hearing other peoples conversations
no different then your own
there’s a muted piano playing
someone left the radio on.

I rolled over on my left shoulder
noticing I was alone without opening my eyes
the void is warm and I go down again
Standing at a bus station
my father extends his hand to shake
and I hesitate
knowing we will meet again under different rules.
Hold on tight
give a firm handshake
your interpretations of other peoples thoughts
are only by accident right
do it for yourself and the rest will turn out
said a voice already in my head.

Trying ot extend the story
trying to become something more
then merely soul
they’ve forgotten what they were
they merely hearten on
an echo
catch me on the dew point of morning
half awake
turn the radio on softly
see what comes to visit.

Alice in Wonderland – 20 years later by MagpieMagic

dear friend… by Siki Dlanga

let them rip your skin,
let them rip your clothes,
let them rip, let them rip.
the cells will grow back the skin you lost
you will have better clothes
but don’t let them rip your heart….
if that does happens,
if at all it does!
then know this;
there is an everlasting promise
of a brand new heart
and that one cannot be touched
by any vile thing.

(c) siki dlanga

almost up close and personal by wildwomenlove

Where did our love go? by Laurie Search