Scifaiku: Core

Core (blog)

you never disappear
great protective magnet
Earth’s iron soul

A Scifaiku by Wendy Van Camp
Illustrated by Wendy Van Camp

Scifaiku poem inspired by the current trend of the weakening of the magnetic north. Science postulates that the Earth’s poles might flip, as it has done in past ancient eras.

Poem first published: Far Horizons Magazine, July 2017

Flash Fiction: Day of the Ficus

Day of the ficus (1)

Day of the Ficus
by Wendy Van Camp

genre: Science Fiction
Words: 500
originally published: Far Horizons, July 2017 issue & Quantum Visions 6,  2017 issue


“Doctor Pearson, there is a message coming in.”
“Dammit. Who the hell is still up there, Buttons?”
“I am MCC, your Mechanical Cultivation Cyborg. I do not answer to Buttons.”
“Where’s the blasted microphone?”
“Three feet to your left and on the table, Doctor Pearson.”
“This is Doctor Mary Pearson of the EPA. I thought everyone evacuated. Who are you and why the hell are you still here?”
“Officer Roy Hayes. I helped with the evac, but I got cut off by…those things.”
“Don’t touch them! Repeat. Do not touch the plants!”
“I might not have much choice. They’re moving closer.”
“Where’s your location, Hayes?”
“Third floor near Forever 21. I’m trapped behind the display window with the manikins.”
“Stay put. We’re going to get you out of there. Out.”
“Doctor Pearson, I must protest. Nothing seems to kill Ficus Capillipes. How will we rescue Officer Hayes and save the mall?”
“There’s one thing that we haven’t tried. I need your help, Buttons. I still can’t see. Damn plant and its protective goop went right into my eyes. I should’ve sent your metal hide in there instead of going myself.”
“I was not manufactured for that purpose, Doctor. I am a cultivator, not a destroyer. It is against my programming.”
“This is your lucky day, Buttons. Get your mechanical gears in motion and lead me to the Sports Authority! I need gear.”
“I do not answer to Buttons.”
“Get your metal butt moving.”


“Third floor, Doctor. We are on level flooring again. Ficus at 3 o’clock, four feet away.”
“Take that, you nasty plant!”
“Doctor, you almost flamed me with the weed burner. Do be careful.”
“Just lead me to Forever 21.”
“Ficus at 8:30, five feet ahead.”
“You there! I have a pistol. Stand down with the flamethrower.”
“Officer Hayes? It is Mary Pearson. We’ve come to rescue you.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“Are you all right, Officer?”
“My leg got crushed. Can’t walk. The city PD contacted me. They’re going to blow up the mall. They don’t think there’s any other way to contain these mutant plants.”
“What about us?”
“If we can get to the roof, a helicopter will lift us out. Will that weed burner get us there?”
“You bet your sweet behind it will. Buttons, you’re going to carry Officer Hayes and be my guide. We’re counting on you.”
“I do not answer to Buttons.”
“Just lift the man.”


“Dr. Pearson, they are ascending Officer Hayes into the helicopter. You are next.”
“We would’ve never gotten this far without you.”
“I am too heavy for the helicopter, Doctor Pearson.”
“I’m sorry. If there was any other way….”
“I am only a machine.”
“You’re an AI. You have sentience.”
“The rope is around you, Doctor. You must go before they blow up the mall.”
“You’re a hero, MCC.”
“Call me Buttons.”

This original story was written during a month-long writing challenge in one of my online science fiction/fantasy groups. The prompt was to write a flash fiction of around 500 words composed entirely of dialog and consisted of three characters, one of which had to be AI.

This story appears on Medium.  If you like the story and are a member at Medium, please consider supporting me as an author by giving me “claps” via the Medium system.

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links


Happy Monday!  I have another great ten links to articles about the craft of writing.  Each one is a bit meaty, so pour yourself your favorite beverage before you settle in to read today.


Writing A Fantasy Trilogy with Michelle Hauck

All Wounds Matter: Writing Better Stories

Grammar Checker Tools: Crucial Software or a Crutch for Freelancers?

So What’s Your Book About?, or, Creating the Perfect Elevator Pitch

Writers Need to be Amphibious

4 Tips on Writing Action Scenes


Self-publishing allows writers to tell stories on their own terms

Literary fiction is in crisis. A new chapter of funding authors must begin

Components of Your Poetry Chapbook

Poetry Book
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

As a poet, I write and submit my poems, much as I do my short stories. I write a batch of scifaiku, submit it to various magazines and hopefully, see most of it published. As an artist, I take the second step of illustrating my poems and turning them into blog posts, illustrated poems to publish in magazines or to sell as art prints at science fiction conventions. I have a dream to one day create a collection of my poetry to sell as a poetry chapbook.

Whether you submit your collection to a traditional publisher or plan to self-publish your manuscript, there are certain elements your manuscript will need to be ready.


You will need to decide on a title for your collection of poems. Think about the theme of your work and what poems you are going to include in the collection. This will help you determine a good title for your chapbook. I often suggest to make a list of possible titles, pick out three or four favorites from the list and then double check the names on Amazon. See how many other books have the same title as your book. If there are none or only one or two, you have made a good choice. Be unique.

Author Name

Do you use your real name or a pen name for your work? Today, this is not an obvious choice. I know of authors that have different pen names based on the genre or type of writing that they do. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the last author on Earth who uses her real name on everything! Be aware that potential readers are more likely to purchase your book if they recognize your name. Branding yourself as a poet is important. It helps to have published your poetry in magazines for a few years or even to have won an award before you publish your first poetry collection.


As with a regular book, owning your ISBN number is an advantage. If you traditionally publish via a small press, they will handle this for you by placing their own ISBN on the collection. If you self-publish, purchasing the ISBN is a good idea. This means that your own imprint is listed as the publisher of record of your chapbook. It gives you more control over the product in the long haul. It is possible to use Amazon’s free ASIN number on your book and if this is your first volume, that might be a good option. You can reassign an ISBN at a later date to your book if need be.


This is not a mandatory page in your chapbook, but it is a nice touch to have. It is where you might credit literary journals that first published your poems or a mentor that helped you find your way as a poet.

Table Of Contents

A linkable (in the case of an ebook) table of contents is important in a chapbook. The order in which the poetry is read is part of the overall experience of a chapbook. Unlike a novel, poems could be read out of order and still hold meaning to the reader. Do you want to move the reader in a steady emotional progression? Do your poems tell a story and need to be read in a certain sequence? If some of the poems are related, do you group them together? As you go over your body of work and make decisions which poems you will include in the collection, these ideas need to be decided upon and then reflected in a cohesive index that the reader can follow.


At the end of your chapbook, include a short Biography of yourself as a poet. Most books have only a paragraph or two. If you have a website, make sure you include its URL. If you have a mailing list, include the link where a reader could join it. In the ebook, the link will be clickable. However, I like to include a QR image of the links here as well. In a print version of your chapbook, these can be accessed by the reader’s phone and take them to the link more easily.

Book Cover and Blurb

A picture says a thousand words, or can possibly sell a thousand books. Put time and energy into your chapbook’s cover. Find a compelling licensed image that speaks to the theme of your presented poetry to use, or hire an artist to create one for you. On the back of the book, you will also need an image, but there you will include a blurb about your chapbook. Tell the reader what they can expect to find inside in a way that would intrigue them to open your book and take a peek. This is a good place to include your poet photo if you wish. I usually do not include photos of myself as an author or poet on my books, but it is an option for you to consider. Many poets do.

Publishing a chapbook of poetry is similar to publishing a book, although a poetry book is usually a slim volume. In some ways, it is more difficult to create than a fictional book because of all the tiny components that come together that may or may not be related to one another. Putting together a book of poetry is an art in itself in addition to writing the poems in the first place. But overall, the advent of modern Print-on-Demand publishing has made the act of creating a chapbook and selling your poetry much easier than it was back in the days of vanity presses. As a poet, you have little to lose and much to gain if you think carefully about the components of your poetry chapbook and publish your poetry to the world.

Author Interview: Jenai M Merek

Writing novels inspired by the salty world she loves–the ocean is author Jenai M. Marek’s sanctuary. “You can be whoever and whatever you want on the waves … the sea doesn’t judge.”  Please welcome her on No Wasted Ink.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy name is Jenai M. Marek. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, but am now settled in League City, TX, with my husband and four-year-old son. When I’m not writing or working with my indie publishing group, I enjoy surf, kayak, and offshore fishing. I’m also a member of a local pirate guild, the Railean Pirates, and annually volunteer at a local fishing tournament for breast cancer support, called the Sisters Helping Sisters. You could say I’m obsessed with the ocean. Not only for the sea’s real and scientific wonders but for the great unknown and mystical possibilities it may contain below the surface.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing since I learned how to arrange different parts of the alphabet into words. Though I have no memories of writing this, my mother could show you a handwritten book I wrote when I was two and a half called The Red Dress, which I illustrated myself and managed to write a cohesive beginning, middle, and end–a real rudimentary plot — about a red dress I wanted to wear.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I honestly don’t remember a time when I didn’t consider myself a writer. I think since I realized that writing, was a communication tool that circumvented actually talking to people, writing became my favorite way of expressing myself, and therefore, I’ve always just been a writer.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My next book in line to be published is the sequel to my Gup the Sailor pirate adventure novel series, called Gup the Sailor and the Devil to Pay. (I’m also working on a collection of personal narratives on living in an autism family, the latter of which I’ve said very little to anyone about, as it’s a very personal work in progress that I’ll probably not be releasing for another year at least.)

What inspired you to write this book?

I would say books like Tom Sawyer; Anne of Green Gables; The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe; and other imaginative adventure-driven stories, where intelligence, kindness, and fearlessness are the central themes and the books that inspired me to continue that tradition of writing children’s literature which sparks the imagination… and to write in such a way that the young at heart will also be compelled to dive into that story as well… I write specifically for my son, but there’s an overarching drive in my writing that hopes to reach out to the adventurer in us all. When I read the books that took me on emotional journeys, as well as logistical ones, I’d always found a much-needed escape from harsher realities in my own childhood, and I wanted to leave a legacy of that tradition for my own boy.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My writing style is to put myself into the head of a character, and just start telling his or her narrative. In my Gup the Sailor stories, I pretend I’m a young boy raised on a ship, by honorable freebooters, and just start typing out the story. It’s worked for me so far, but I’m not sure that’s so much a “style” as a writer’s coping mechanism.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

I like to use idioms when I write book titles but write them with a twist that connects to the story or narrative. For example, my upcoming book is called Gup the Sailor and the Devil to Pay, which is the sequel to The Dangerous Voyage of Gup the Sailor. The first book, which did have a wrapped up conclusion, still left a small cliffhanger from which the second story picks up–and the idiom “there’ll be the devil to pay” actually fits nicely with the narrative to come. Most of the time when I write titles, they’ll have a pun, or a play on words, if not just be blunt for frank’s sake.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Not so much a message, but definitely a thematic spectrum: that courage, sticking to your guns, and doing what is right, not what is expected, are not going to be easy but is always worth it in the end. And that the right path for me is not always the right path for others–and that’s okay, too. Accepting life’s adversity and change for what it is, and maintaining a strong sense of self in spite of it, is a strength of character not nearly celebrated enough.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

Not at all, but I assume a highly celebrated psychologist could explain the allegorical connection of pirates to my feelings about algebra.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Well, apart from Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and C.S. Lewis for obvious (and aforementioned reasons) I’m addicted to literary fiction from Ernest Hemingway, Banana Yoshimoto, Isabel Allende, Franz Kafka… to name a few. Mostly because each of these authors has a strong grasp of reality, that they’ve woven into a subtle fantasy that takes my breath away.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Not a writer, but a reader–my mother. She taught me to spell, read, and write before I was old enough to attend school. She’s a teacher, herself, and a specialist with special needs literacy and has a masters in literacy education. She read to me … a lot as a child. And though I struggled with dyslexia and social anxiety and awkwardness, my mother encouraged me to overcome my personal adversity to be the writer I wanted to be. Her encouragement helped me overcompensate for my shortcomings, and that makes her a better mentor than any other author out there–who may or may not share my struggles with basic socializing.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Oooh… this could be a whole other interview! The illustrator who designed my current book cover is no longer in my employ. I have a new illustrator, Holly Huffenberger, who is currently producing book covers for second editions, as well as working on the upcoming cover of my next novel. I chose her because her artwork has this wonderful playfulness about it that compliments the whimsy in my stories.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

No, do you think other writers have any advice for me? I try not to give too much broad advice. I will say if there’s ever an author out there that feels they’ve come face to face with something that makes them want to give up, they are more than welcome to contact me for specific things I’ve done to avoid succumbing to defeat. Other than that, writing is as much a journey of self-discovery as any other journey. Nothing I can say without a specific prompt will really be much help at this point.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Read everything. And if it’s unreadable to you, put it down and move on. There’s so much out there, don’t let one bad story keep you from the next. (I’ve still not finished some highly acclaimed books, but I didn’t let my distaste for them prevent me from grabbing the next book–sometimes books by the same author, and discover I adore them!)

The_Dangerous_Voyage_of_Gup_the_Sailor Book CoverJenai M. Marek
League City, TX


Gup the Sailor and the Devil to Pay

Cover Artist: Holly Huffenberger


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