Friday, September 10, 2021

Hyphens, Em-dashes, and Ellipses


(From ESL Grammar: Link)

Some writers have emailed asking if we had a rule at 42 Stories Anthology that hyphens counted as words. 

This is not a case of "rules." Hyphens change your word count. 

You can send a story that you counted by hand that's 42 words with a 42-character title and 42 word 3rd-person bio, but you didn't use as we recommend and your numbers come out off. 

Explanation below.

Simple solution: Use as recommended and don't count by hand. 

Maybe you're wondering "Why?"

No one wants to count 42 words out of thousands of stories by hand, so we use 

For the title, counts spaces between, after, and before as characters. Please keep that in mind with titles.

Why are some hand-counted word counts and the generators sometimes counting differently? 

Look at this sentence written three ways:

"Hello, he said"
"Hello - he said"
"Hello-he said"

The sentence without hyphens should be three words. Microsoft Word Docs shows three words at the bottom to your left.

When you connect two words, they become one word as shown in the Microsoft Word Doc counter.

Below is a hyphen used to be an em-dash. You should not use a hyphen like an em-dash. Some counters read your hyphen like an extra word as shown in the Microsoft Word Doc recognizes the dash is not a word, so if you used Microsoft Word instead, our counts will not match. is more accurate, so we use this site instead of Microsoft Word

Below is a separated em-dash for a pause, which is what writers should use for pauses. Notice the counter on Microsoft Word recognizes that the em-dash is not a word. Microsoft Word counts the hyphen as a word and not an em-dash, because the hyphen is placed in the sentence incorrectly and the software doesn't recognize it.

Em-dash example

If you are using hyphens like em-dashes, I recommend that you stop doing it in all of your writing. Hyphens are generally used to connect two words into one and similar situations. Hyphens are not for pauses between words. 

I won't get into whether em-dashes should technically be separated or connected to words. For the anthology, either way is fine. Be creative. In both circumstances, and Microsoft Word Docs displays the correct number as shown below:

However, doesn't get the correct wordcount when you connect two words with an em-dash. 

Here's ignoring the em-dash

Here's counting the same sentence as two words with an em-dash connecting words

Both counters are good for different purposes. When checking numbers, the staff at 42 Stories Anthology uses because it's more accurate. 

When putting a title in all CAPS, we use

Microsoft Word and count . . . as 3 words. does not, which is why I use it and not Microsoft Word when checking numbers. This could be another reason numbers don't always match. is accurate and updated frequently.
Also, ". . ." with spaces is a correct ellipsis and ... without spaces isn't correct. 

Off Topic
Please wait 6 months after submitting your story before inquiring on its status. 

On the Release
Many writers are in a hurry for the anthology to come out, so is the staff. We are trying hard to find great works and get the book out and will respond to submissions within approximately 6 months.

Update as of September 10, 2021
Stories accepted: 1,479
Stories needed: 285 to complete the anthology

Note: If you accidently used a hyphen as a pause between words in a story we accepted, you can email the anthology ( a revised version of your story. Please check your numbers in 

Related note: Let's all combine our efforts to end the double hyphen. Below is the face most editors make when they see -- in a story. 

Have a safe and happy month.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Project 42 Stories Anthology Guidelines


The theme of this anthology is to have 1,764 stories by 1,764 writers of different names, which is 42 x 42 by 42 x 42 writers. Multi-subs are okay as long as you use a pen name for each story (max of 4 stories per writer). If you have to ask why the need of a pen name, kindly reread the first sentence again.


Story rules:

Each story needs a title with approximately 42 characters (between 40 and 44).

All stories need to be exactly 42 words.

All bios are in 3rd person and exactly 42 words long.

Use this site:

Note: Hyphens count as a word as do ellipsis so be careful.


The subject line of an email should include 42subs, the category, and your initials. Examples:



Your middle initial will help differentiate you from others. There are 42 categories, and the subject line helps us know which category’s readers to send your work to, so please remember this part.


Each chapter has a cover. All of the covers have been selected except for the Crime, Fight, and

book cover. If you are interested in drawing one, email me:


The publication date is TBA, but once published, a token amount will be donated to United Through Reading. Also, the 42 chapters have a Story of Excellence Award. Award winners receive:


$0.42, which can be added to the anthology charity.

Story podcasts and read on YouTube by the author or possibly an actor

A 42 Anthology Story of Excellence certificate

Writing the introduction to their chapter

Possibly more


We need about 300 stories to reach our goal. Please send us something for consideration. Keep the guidelines in mind.


Pay: This anthology will come out in all possible formats. Unfortunately, payment for all authors cannot be guaranteed. At this time, we have no plan to pay authors aside from award winners mentioned and authors of the Craft of Writing category. We will, however, consider paying authors if it is possible.


When you send us a story, you agree to the terms of the anthology and to your work being published in the Project 42 Stories Anthology. The terms and submission link are here:

Or just go through Submittable:

42 Stories Anthology: Craft of Writing

In short:

Craft of Writing details: If you have won any prestigious awards in writing, or are a publisher, agent, or editor and do not have stories in the anthology already, you can send the following for our consideration with the subject line: Craft of Writing and send Exactly 42 words describing the craft of writing in respect to inspiring writers. Your 42-word 3rd person bio Persons in this chapter will receive $42 and act as guest judges for the Best Of piece for one of the other 41 categories, which is approximately 25 pages double spaced of reading. (38 craft of writing entries needed)

Long story long:

42 Stories Anthology is a book of 42 chapters of 42 genres. Each story has a title of approximately 42 characters (between 40 and 44), a story of exactly 42 words, and a 3rd person 42-word bio. Not to mention that the theme is to have 1,764 names in it, which is 42X42. The aim of the book is to publish tons of writers and encourage them along the way. We will also give a portion of the anthology's profits to United Through Reading upon publication.

The Craft of Writing category is a unique chapter of 42-word interviews from 42 writers who stand out from the rest.

There is one interview topic to answer:
"Tell us about the craft of writing in 42 words."
Then write a 42-word 3rd person bio.
Requirements to submit:
No stories currently accepted in the 42 Stories Anthology (unless you withdraw them).
You have won in an established writing contest such as:
  • The Bridport Prize
  • Bristol Short Story Prize
  • Pushcart Prize
  • National Poetry Competition
  • The First Novel Prize
  • Flash 500 prize
  • Bath Novel Writing Prize
  • Emily Dickinson First Book Award
  • PEN/Faulkner Award For Fiction
  • Writers of the Future Contest
  • Or a related prize
Or your story was a best seller anywhere excluding Amazon.

What do you get?
- Special guest judge for one of the other 41 categories. The guest judge reads 42 stories of 42 words and selects the piece for the Story of Excellence Award.
- Highlighted as a special guest writer in the anthology.
- Your interview in the Craft of Writing chapter.
- If it fits, your name will be on the back cover of the book.
- Payment of $42 USD

How to submit:
In the email:
CL should mention what contest you won and a link to your story (so we can become your newest fan).
Write about the craft of writing in 42 words.
Write a 42-word 3rd person bio.

You can also submit this here:

Q & A for the Craft of Writing:

For writers: What would you classify as a "prestigious award in writing"? Would the award be limited to stories, or would awards for plays be acceptable? 

Answer: It's fine to send a submission and see if we accept it for the Craft of Writing, but the list we use of "prestigious award in writing" is below. However, we realize that "prestigious writing" is subjective and this part is flexible to us:


You have won in an established writing contest such as what is listed above.

For editors: Would editors who work for publications that do not pay pro rates be acceptable?

Answer: It's fine to send something and see if we decide to use the submission for the Craft of Writing, but for editors we're looking for people you can search online for and see a Wikipedia page on such as David Remnick, and if Remnick is reading this, we hope you'll send something. The chapter is to inspire authors and who better to do that than editors (and agents) writers have heard of.


For publishers: Would publishers who are involved in vanity press and/or press that does not play pro rates be acceptable?

Answer: We are looking for publishers who actively help writers and will highlight that in their 42-word bio. This isn't just including publishers, but writers as well who will highlight how they help other authors in their 42-word bios. 

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Types of Editors and Professional Readers: Described through Smurfs


All kids have heroes. 

My Avengers were always editors and professional readers of books: 

Individuals who could take something unreadable and turn it into something great. 

However, they're more like Smurfs than Avengers. 

[Click the images to see credited sources. All were listed as fair use]

There are many types of readers and editors to help mold writing into readable work. 

I have not listed all of them below, but have focused on some I have used and worked with over the years. 

Note: I’m not a copyeditor. 

My first (career) job was teaching second language learners at a university the craft of writing and helping them edit their stories and academic papers. 

Since then, I have acted as what is listed below on writing projects and academic papers for over twelve years and have had my own work looked at by these types of people. Currently, I edit stories that are submitted to my 42 Stories Anthology, but there are also many editors who work on the anthology with me and they do more detailed editing than I do. The staff on the team fit all of the titles below, so I am somewhat familiar with this topic.

That said, I’d like to help others identify editors and specialized readers, because there is a lot of confusion. 

If you believe anything is inaccurate, I encourage you to let me know. 



A beta reader does a general read through and gives a few comments here and there about a book. Doesn't edit in a professional way. 

Usually, this process is done for free or by agreement such as, “I’ll read your book if you read mine.” 

Some people charge for beta reading books, but it's generally not a lot. 

The beta reader also might suggest a little to help with the book, but it’s very general help. 

If you notice a few comments throughout your story that touch on misspellings or small suggestions on 30 of 200 pages, you’ve experienced a beta read. 

Personally, when I've beta read, I've written up a summary of suggestions on a page for authors after beta reading using a sandwich effect: 

Mention something strong about the story or characters,

what needs work the most, 

and end with encouragement such as pointing to editors who might help get the work published.

The reason Vanity Smurf would best represent the beta reader is that often beta reading simply consists of two writers saying "THIS STORY IS SO LOVELY" to each, trying not to hurt the other’s feelings in the process. Don't feel this is negative. In fact, having a book beta read is a great first step after you complete a few drafts and a solid way to build your confidence in writing. 

If you want to go negative, look to the next title:


A critique partner is a professional reader who makes thorough comments on almost every page, which can be general comments regarding changes needed. Alternately, this reader can be very brutal and mean. 

Helpful examples from one:

"This sentence doesn't make any sense. Delete or reword." 

"You wrote mythologically instead of methodology. Haha. Dummy!" 

This person is usually paid money and the amount is up to them. Paid ones don't call you dummy, but they'll be really critical and for good reason. Hearing what doesn't work about your story or writing will help more than hearing what works. 

Grumpy Smurf is a good fit for this title as the person usually has blunt comments about a story that the writer might not be happy with, but the comments are honest and from experience usually.

Sensitivity READER

A sensitivity reader is something I've only noticed recently. Often, I find myself putting on this "sensitive" cap when reading through submissions for my anthology, and thinking: 

Would this and that word offend this and that person? 

How could this sentence be reworded? As is, it will offend someone in XY group.

I've noticed other professional readers do this, too. Sensitivity readers are becoming more popular for PC generations. Do I recommend one? 


It might be better to simply ask someone you pay to read or edit to add this to what they look for when they read your material. Specific knacks like this one don't tend to last in my experience. I could be wrong. 

Poet Smurf would best fit this title because he's very careful with his words. 



Story/character development partner (or developmental editor):

This person looks at the story and or character and can be separately billed depending on the agreement. They suggest, in great detail, specifically how a story or character(s) can be improved upon or states what could be added to the story or character to help with a story or character. 

They usually ignore details that a critique partner might pay attention to and instead they focus on story and or character specifically

This person is paid based on rates they set. Some developmental readers even work on grammar and do minimal copy or line editing. 

Handy Smurf best represents this person as they are good at working out the kinks of characters, fixing problems such as plot holes. 



This editor, as the title suggests, goes through every line of a story and makes each line either shorter and or more coherent for the reader. 

Original writing: She slowly shuttered upon the edges of her cackling lashes whilst they batted thereupon the quivers of her baited hairsmomentarily binding her lustful dark aqua eyes.

Line edited: She blinked. 

Unlike a developmental editor, the line editor will focus on how to make the sentence, line by line, readable regardless of the story or character. To make this even more confusing, some line editors also do developmental edits. 

Smurfette best represents this editor as they make the story arguably beautiful, but they don't always focus on grammar or syntactic rules. That's a copyeditor's job.


This editor is familiar with grammar, syntax, and style rules and will often refer to rule books such as APA or MLA, knows comma rules by heart (probably), and might be kind enough to suggest style guide books. Here are a few of my favorites:

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose by Constance Hale

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.

The Elephants of Style by Bill Walsh

The Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers

This editor knows the difference between 

effect, affect, and aeffect, 

there, their, they’re, and theiy’re,

and all that jazz. 

In short, this editor makes your book more grammatical sound and follows the rules from composition class that most of us forgot. 

Definitely the Brainy Smurf of editors. You might find them annoying at times, but they save you from embarrassing mistakes. 

Copyeditor: "Erm, you wrote 'your welcome in that sentence, but you meant you're welcome.' Remember, it's your turn vs. you're mistaken as in you are."

You: "Whatever! Freaking brainy know-it-all."

Copyeditor: "You're welcome."


Aside from proofing and checking the final draft of a book, proofreaders find technical issues and mark them thoroughly throughout a manuscript on the final draft. Also, proofreaders sometimes work and manage groups (including looking for misses from a copyeditor). 

Their focus is on production errors (thank you, EAE members for pointing this out). 

This editor is often the last person to read a book before it's published. 

They can lead, or work on their own. 

A big difference between a copyeditor and proofreader is that a proofreader might also critique, do developmental editing, line edit, and all of the above. Some of them, however, do this to a lesser extent than the above persons, which is partly why they often read a book after a copyeditor. 

The proofreader also charges for what they do, so keep that in mind. Some proofreaders, in addition, specialize in specific tasks, so it’s good to make sure you have the sort of proofreader you’re looking for before hiring one. 

Proofreaders would be the equivalent of Papa Smurf. They follow the rules they learned from experience, guide like teachers or mentors, and make your story beautiful at the same time if you find the right one.

Are you searching for an editor or reader for your book? 

I hope that this blog helped you think of which one to hire, and strongly recommend real editor organizations to find one rather than searching the Internet. 

Below is a list of where you can find editors, created by mostly the Princess of Oz:

ACES, or EFA for the US, IPEd for Oz and NZ, CIEP for the UK, South African GA, Editors Canada, The Society of Writers, Editors, and Translators in Japan, India has a guild, too.

Thank you to all of the Editors Association of Earth members for helping me catch mistakes in this blog. 

[Copyright information: All images were found at where they state that images fall under the fair use act found here and at where images are all fair use]

Remember to remember . . .

Saturday, January 2, 2021

INDIGENOUS: Call for Submissions


INDIGENOUS writers aren't really well known. I found out about my favorite one, Sherman Alexie, during my creative writing undergraduate days when a professor recommended "The Lone Ranger and Tanto Fistfight in Heaven."

Then I read other like-authors' works and really enjoyed their stories. Many great voices go unknown. Part of my mission for the 42 Stories Anthology was to publish the stories of those who might feel marginalized, so I made the INDIGENOUS and CULTURE categories. 

Maybe you're wondering, "What is INDIGENOUS?" Someone who is native to where they reside. A Japanese person is native to Japan. An Aboriginal resident of Australia counts, too. Any story about people who are first of a nation fit this chapter.  

Since the first call for submissions, July 2018, the INDIGENOUS category has only accepted 11 of 42 potential stories while the CULTURE category was one of the first ones to fill up. The Indigenous category has the lowest number in the book of all 42 chapters next to the MYSTERY category, which has 14 accepted stories and STEAMPUNK and SPORTS, which both have 15 accepted stories. 

If you want to send an indigenous tale for consideration, simply follow the guidelines: 
1) Label the email subject like correctly. 


Don't email asking "is it sub, SUB, or subs or SUBS?" we aren't that nitpicky.  

2) Use to write a title that's about 42 characters including spaces (40 to 44 is okay)

3) Use the wordcounter to write a 42-word story

4) Use the wordcounter to write a third-person bio in 42 words

5) The anthology's theme is to have 1,764 different writer names in it, so if you send up to 4 works (max accepted from one person), you need to use four names. If one story gets rejected, you can use your nom de plume again to send a new story. 

Paste your submission in the body of your email and make sure the subject line is labeled correctly.

You don't have to just send stories to the INDIGENOUS category. 

Go here for a list of updated numbers for the anthology.

Send your story through Submittable
or email:

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

42 Stories Anthology Reading Periods


Some of you are probably wondering why compiling the anthology is taking so long. 

The process has been long: I launched the project July 2018 and it's now December 2020. However, we're more than half way to the goal of 1,764 accepted stories. 

There are only a few reasons it's taking a long time rather than 42 of them.

1) When I first launched the anthology, it was also during my master's program (teaching English to speakers of other languages), and add a full time job, so I'd send stories to editors and readers for votes during my breaks from school. Now, I'm in a PhD program, studying Applied Linguistics and researching technology-based motivation for EFL learners. As such, I only have three times a year to send your stories to the voters and email responses which are:

2) Not enough submissions
Go here for the recent call for submissions

3) Submitters are not replying to acceptance emails. 

It's only about 100 or so, but that adds up. Please check your emails. We respond to every submission during the timetable listed above. 

For those of you who have had a lot of patience and waited, thank you very much. 90% of my off time is dedicated to compiling the anthology and reaching the goal. I hope that the goal is reached soon. 

That about covers it. 

Remember to remember,

Sunday, August 16, 2020

42 Stories Anthology Example Submissions & Cont. Call for Stories


Below are two example stories that match the format described in the original submissions call here. When a submission looks like it's ready for the book, we find it more appealing. Write whatever you'd like and have fun. 

Note: As long as you follow the five guidelines listed in the original call here, we'll happily read your story. 

Example One:


Howdy Bam and staff, please consider my Trapped piece for your anthology. It might also fit into the Culture or Siblings category. Email:


by Jim JazzMullin


    …with worrying speedy licks matching the beats of Take Five. Remaining relaxed, yet . . . longing for the out         side. 

Daddy aims at him, bros, sis. 

     "Still, Stevie," Daddy said. 

     Yet he yearned for slide doors to open.


      Finally, freedom.


Jim was a sax player, pet lover, and chef. He really loved various foods, especially steak. No one on the planet could marinate one at his level of yummy. The recipe is a family secret that only his sons know. Ha ha. 

Example Two:


Dear Bam and team, below you'll find my submission for your anthology. Please consider it in the Fight category or Satire. My email is



by Jimmy M JazzMullin


        When forgotten souls were recalling trumpet tunes,                   anticipation before the two touched hands.

        Fondled and kissed under an umbrella.

        Energies phrased.

        Gone were the days and nights of one thousand eyes of                 doubt and despair.

        Kisses in the Rain became their song.


Jimmy M JazzMullin had many passions. What he loved to talk about aside from his kids tied between cars and jazz. He knew everything about jazz musicians and parts on cars you've never heard of probably. He often wrote many non-fiction stories.

Details of each submission:

   Title around 42 characters (40 to 44-character limit checked) including spaces using

   “by,” lowercased

   Enter is hit once between the name and story

   The story is exactly 42 words


    Enter clicked twice after the story, then type Bio.

   In the 3rd person 42-word bio, only B is uppercased.

42 prompts below. They don't guarantee publication, but hopefully you'll get inspiration:

Alternate Reality

1. Some famous battle or instance in time that went down differently. How would the world be without phones? What if electricity was never discovered? What if the Chinese lost when they tried to overrun Tibet? Where would the Dalai Lama be now?

2. A world of prisoners.


3. Your death race story.


4. Your personal experience with a clown.

5. Clown saves a life.

Dystopia & Utopia

7. A world after technology fails. Is this a Dystopian or Utopian society? Was it one way at first and then another?

8. A world with one language and your dark twist. 

Fairy Tale

9. Fairy tale with a fairy that has a tail.


10. Take your character into a video game (without plagiarizing that movie).


11. Your protagonist is a firefighter or a police officer or a doctor/nurse/teacher and so on.

12. Your protagonist is fighting to pass a test.

Hitchhiker's Guide to History "HGH" (Formally Historic Fiction category)

13. WWI or other non-WWII story (we get a lot of the latter) retold in 42 words.


14. Fictionalize your first encounter/interaction with someone who had an impairment. Were you scared? Was it a beautiful moment? What was the outcome?


15. Write a story about a tribal hero, real or fictitious.


16. Your monster-in-law story. 


17. An animal detective solves a crime without words.


18. Rewrite Clash of the Titans originally and in 42 words.


19. Your detective dies.

Outer Space

20. Your main character is floating in space and chooses their favorite song while freezing to death.


21. A clairvoyant who gets messages from dead pets knocks on your main character's door. 

22. Your main character is a clairvoyant who can only communicate with ghostly animals. 



23. Rewrite Don Quixote in 42 words and keep it original.



24. A twin kills their twin and takes over their life, the spouse knows from the kiss and is cool with the change.

25. A story about inheritance drama that ends with a happy or sad ending.


26. A small town sports player who was a kid's hero, maybe yours.

27. A football story related to current issues. (The readers don't tend to favor political stories, but perhaps you can write it well?)

28. An epic basketball story.


29. Your main character is rebuilt with metal and seeks revenge on their childhood bullies now that they are strong. 

30. Your main character builds a best friend to play catch with (does anything tragic happen? Or is there a tragic reason the protagonist made the friend in the first place?).

Sword & Sorcery

31. A knight fights a sorcerer. Who wins?

32. A princess saves her knight on the verge of death. Is there a twist aspect that you can reveal? 

Thriller & Suspense

33. Your main character is a serial killer (motivations make a good hook, so what is it?) and the next victim is . ..


34. Where in time does your main character travel to, and why?

35. Write about your favorite trip and create a murder story in 42 words out of it.


36. Two vampire lovers. Do they die? Are their deaths natural or sinister or does one of them kill the other? Why?


37. A story about divorce from a child's or a pet's POV.


38. Your werewolf is a superhero who fights other monsters.


39. Poker game gone wrong. Your main character just had to call so and so a cheater. 

40. A brothel brawl story in the old west.


41. Zombies get cured and the aftermath. How does your main character cope with once eating humans? Did you main character eat their best friend, spouse, child and remember? 

42. A zombie story where only animals are zombies and how humans deal with the problem, or maybe a "Me and my zombie dog" tale. 


Here is a blog listing all categories. They're not all listed above. For example, the Crime chapter needs four more stories to fill. 

Click the picture to submit a story through Submittable or the email icon for a direct link:

As a reminder, please do not ask when the book will come out. The answer is always after we reach our goal.

Here is a great place to get answers about the anthology:

Good luck with your submission.