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You’ve written your story, and now comes the time to dig in, to sift through the words, to pare back and refine and polish. Or do you? Would you send a raw manuscript out to potential publishers?

I hope the answer is a resounding “no.” Although an exceptional plot and engaging, well-developed characters can sometimes redeem a poorly penned story, and likewise, a unique take on an unexplored, fascinating and relevant subject can make a nonfiction work ring with meaning that survives ratty presentation, it’s never a good idea to skip using the grammar reference, dictionary, and thesaurus.

You want your work to shine above the others, and unfortunately many publishers simply won’t bother with a poorly-worded submission. In order to give your work the attention it deserves on the publisher’s side of the desk, give it the attention it deserves prior to sending it out.

If grammar and spelling are challenging for you, engage a friend to help, or the services of a professional editor. Look for recommendations, or read through some examples before hiring someone.  Honestly, some manuscripts that were stated to be professionally edited appeared to us to be anything but. Be careful about sending your work to the lowest-priced or most expedient service available, such as those offered through popular self-publishing packages. Some of the most poorly-written submissions we’ve received were unfortunately the results of poor writers paying for these kinds of services.

As in all things, you do get what you pay for. However, as it is with some of the best things in life, excellent help is available for free!

Consult with some of the resources available at local community colleges, libraries, and writer’s groups. Honest and accurate feedback is essential to making your best work. Try not to argue over suggestions about word choice and clarity. The end result is up to you, but helpful advice can ensure your work is not only read, but recommended. And that will increase the popularity and enthusiasm surrounding your book!

Happy writing, and editing!

Aspen Institute’s Seven Tips on Writing Fiction

The Death of Literature by the Digital Age


SnapSNAP, by Regan Gillespie. What would it take to make you snap? To become so consumed with bloodlust and rage that you begin thinking twisted and bizarre thoughts… doing unthinkable things. Quinn Darby reluctantly moves from a thriving metropolitan area to her husband Aiden’s rural Midwestern hometown following the economic crisis of 2008. While the community quickly embraces its native son, Quinn is labeled an outsider who doesn’t belong. While Quinn struggles to accept her lost career and deal with Aiden’s dysfunctional, bipolar father, Aiden begins to revert to a younger self – carefree, rebellious. He abandons professional ambitions, falls back in with old high school friends and garners the aggressive attention of local women with less-than-innocent intentions. One afternoon, Quinn stumbles across one of Aiden’s social media accounts and is blindsided with details of what appears to be a torrid affair between her husband and a married neighbor named Charmella. The more Quinn obsessively digs, the more she learns about how she’s become the talk of the town… the butt of the jokes… the outlier… and it’s more than she can take. She simultaneously attempts to right her mental health and save her marriage with the help of a therapist, while plotting and carrying out elaborate and sinister revenge plans against those she feels have wronged her.

The Bottoms and Hills: Virginia TalesThe Bottoms and Hills: Virginia Tales, by Arthenia J. Bates Millican. A collection of tales hinged upon “a way of life” in Southside Virginia, the “Old Dominion,” in the authentic language as heard by the author and originally written down in the late 1950s. This treasure is re-published posthumously in cooperation with the Arthenia J. Bates Literary Foundation, in celebration of the author’s 99th birthday. With the original foreword by Charles H. Rowell and afterword by Jerry Ward, these sixteen stories capture “those haunted Black Virginia voices” that “constrained her to write about them, and she willingly became an instrument, as it were, through which the folk preserved their culture and traditions, including their art of story telling.” This edition faithfully recaptures the original, with new commentary and introductions by some of the great voices in Black America today. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the AJBM Literary Foundation, whose mission is to promote creative writing, and “to utilize Millican’s literary work to help the parents, students and members of the community reclaim their pride in the creative imaginings of South Carolina.” Watch for updates on the book’s Facebook page, here:

The Impish Humor of Marlon BrandoThe Impish Humor of Marlon Brando, by Aubrey Malone. A fascinating biography that reveals the comic side of the actor who some have described as one of the greatest who ever lived. An enigma, with his share of dark moments, Brando nevertheless was described by more than one colleague as a comic or even a practical joker, both on and off the set. “Anyone who’s studied Marlon Brando’s behavior over the years,” a writer surmised, “knows that to sort out the guy’s umpteen complexes would take the combined efforts of Sigmund Freud and King Solomon, with an assist from Dorothy Dix.” Most of his biographers either ignore or sideline his sense of humor, preferring to concentrate on Brando the rebel, the brooder or the sulker, despite the fact that after he died in 2004, among his personal effects there were a collection of humorous videos: a concert performed by the stand-up comedian Richard Pryor, one called The Best of British Comedy, and a sizeable number of films featuring Abbot & Costello and Laurel and Hardy. He’d often confessed to watching old footage of the latter duo for hours on end with tears rolling down his cheeks. Brando’s madcap humor, tinged with absurdity, has only been glimpsed briefly in the acres of space devoted to him over the years, not only in biographies but in the hundreds (if not thousands) of newspaper and magazine articles that purport to define the greatest actor of his era. But it was often that sense of humor that sustained him through many of the tragedies in his life. Within the pages of this meticulously researched book, Brando comes back to life, and we are given a rare behind-the-scenes view of the world he knew, with sparks of hilarity with which he often enlivened those around him.

 Watch for these to be released in the next few months. Happy reading!

We are pleased to announce three unique new eBooks soon to be available in our catalogue! Eye Exams, by Richard Krause, is a collection of witty aphorisms that will catch you off-guard, make you smile, and pause with new understanding of the world around you and the people within it. Metamorphosis is our long-awaiting anthology of short stories by fifteen talented writers, and each will linger with you long after you’ve finished reading. Simple Gratitudes, by Hannah Greenberg with Rivka Gross, is a beautifully written series of chapters based on daily life that will invite you to step back, take a deep breath, and find ways to bring the sacred into your own everyday experiences.

Each will be available in paper formats later this year.


Eye Exams_final digitalcover2FEye Exams, A Book of Epigrams, by Richard Krause.

He started out carrying a notebook walking the streets of New York City, riding the subways, or just sitting in his taxi cab at night with a notepad on the front seat, writing what he saw and what occurred to him. Every morning he’d sit down and the shorts would be copied or new ones would come. At first, he looked through all he had read to find them. How could they come from him? Who was he to write them? But except for a few, he soon realized they were his and decided from then on, he would go where his mind led him.

Eye Exams is the production of the last four or five years, his struggle with the world outside and within. His sole object is understanding. The twists he imagines make them his, part of the aesthetic that confers value. Occasionally something comes out unadorned as a simple truth. He is surprised by that, feeling he has no more right to it than anyone else. Some that come from within are so thoroughly his own nature that he has to look on them as estranged. Writing these confers a certain immunity. He cannot be touched with shame or embarrassment, any more than he can be entirely proud of them.

For any readers still with him, the author hopes you will find something here you either were or were not looking for.

Metamorphosis, An Anthology edited by Propertius Press

Metamorphosis, A collection of stories. Edited by Propertius Press.

An old woman boiling laundry in her yard on a remote mountain top suddenly sees a rabbit and thinks dinner is on the way. A young student dealing with the aftermath of rape lashes out, opening a deeper wound. A poet, in despair over making a living, finds the keys to another world – whether real or imagined. A couple of brothers paint remarkable frescoes on the ceiling of a church. The individuals who make up the stories in this collection encounter the unexpected, and don’t necessarily live to tell about it. Working around the theme of life-changing experiences, these twenty-one tales were selected from over two hundred submissions received over a period of three years.

We recommend you take them in slowly, one at a time.

Coming soon!

In the preface to the beautiful and inspiring work, Simple Gratitudes, Hannah Greenberg begins, “It’s neither riches nor social status that makes our tenacious hanging on to life worthwhile. Rather, it’s our integration of challenging “sensibilities,” of deep feelings which might be sweet, but which are necessarily sharply disconcerting, that stretches us and that enables us to grasp the best qualities of this world. “Gratitude,” not “entitlement,” remains the proven route, within our mortal existence, to serving The Almighty and to finding joy in our service.

What’s more, it both behooves us to see the entirety of our commonplace experiences as spiritual, and to elevate all of our spiritual happenstances. So much work has yet to be completed in our process of releasing personal and social expectations and in replacing those anticipatory notions with simple faith. Simple Gratitudes invites us to live by working for The Boss.” With simple but clear-minded and visually rich descriptions, the author elevates normal everyday happenings to a spiritual plane that lies deep in everyone’s heart in a way that transcends religious creed, race, and time itself. No matter where you are or your pattern of belief, you will find her words resonate with gifts of a universal truth.

Click on the Bookstore tab to view our current catalogue.

Recently, we’ve been instituting some changes in the way we assess and process submissions, in an effort to get more books out to our readers a bit more quickly, without compromising on the quality you expect from Propertius Press. We encourage you to use our Submittable platform, and to read the instructions for submissions carefully. This is the best and most expedient way to ensure your work gets the attention it deserves.

writing desk Right now, we’re preparing our list of publications through the end of the year. Follow us on Twitter, here on our Blog, and at the Facebook page for all the latest news and developments, including an improved, more user-friendly website and shopping cart.

These refinements will mean we can spend less time with administrative tasks, and more time reviewing, preparing and finalizing quality literary fiction, non-fiction, verse, children’s works, and other fine offerings for our catalog. We know you’ll be as pleased as we are with the final results!

Author Howard Winn will be featured at Poughkeepsie Public Library
Saturday, April 14, 2018 – 2:30 PM – 4:00 PMDSCN0336adjust

Meet the Author: Howard Winn

Howard Winn will read from his book Acropolis. After returning from WWII, a small group of male soldiers enters Vassar College, courtesy of the GI Bill. The story details the clash of cultures between privileged and working classes combined with personal struggles with PTSD, survivor’s guilt, and simple readjustment battles amid the creative intellectual world of higher education. Winn is an Emeritus Professor of English at SUNY Dutchess and a widely published poet and fiction writer.
CONTACT: Adult Reference 845-485-3445 x3702  or email adultevents at poklib dot org
LOCATION: Boardman Road – Greene Room #1


Acropolis, by Howard Winn We are proud to announce our newest release, a work of fiction based on the experiences of a group of soldiers who came home after World War II and entered Vassar College as students through the GI Bill.

Mr Winn has crafted an exciting and culturally relevant tale, using the lens of working-class men, who might never have thought of attempting to obtain a higher education but for the opportunities given to them for their service. After fighting the “Good War,” a small group of soldiers enters Vassar College, previously a women-only institution, courtesy of the GI Bill, and each attempts to settle in to a civilian life. The clash of cultures between privileged and working classes combined with personal struggles with PTSD, survivor’s guilt, and simple civilian readjustment struggles, amid the creative intellectual world of higher education, makes for an engaging tale. As these young men struggle to recapture lives disrupted by war encounter the beginnings of the McCarthy era, each finds himself facing unexpected challenges. The response of the students and the Vassar administration to politically-motivated attacks upon academic freedom, free speech, and independence of thought blur long-held beliefs of patriotism and service, as the men are exposed through their college studies to the philosophies of Reinhold Niebuhr and others who question the nature of war, nationalism, and aggression, as well as the conflict between personal ethics and group patriotism.

Available now in our bookstore as an eBook or paperback!

quill-pen-150x150 - CopyThis poor editor is having a bad afternoon, as a result of reading too many of these words lately. Do yourself, and us, a huge favor, and take the following list to heart:

Obviouslyif it is, then you shouldn’t need to say so. Please, simply leave it out.

Myriadsthe word is “myriad.” And there are damn few instances where it is used to good effect. So when in doubt, please don’t.

Seeminglywhat is this word, really? It never sounds good. Take a look at any sentence where you find this word, and promptly remove it. See? Sounds better already.

Stuff/ThingsWrite what this ‘stuff’ is, what these ‘things’ are. Use a thesaurus if you have to.

Very/MuchAnother place where a thesaurus may be useful. Or omission, even better.

Ieven when speaking or writing in the first person. Use this word as sparingly as possible. It gets old, fast.

Lots/ManyLike ‘Very/Much’ and ‘Stuff/Things,’ your thesaurus or nothing is often better than either of these words.