Letter from the Editor

Letter From The Editor September 30 2017

Welcome to the September edition of The Quill Magazine!

This month we have two new stories for your reading pleasure.

'Roses for Father' by Michael Ducak is a introspective look at loss and forgiveness, and the memories that tie us to the past, while Bill Trippe's 'Rink' launches hockey season with a look at what it takes to be part of a team, and the perfect wrist shot.

Coming up, stay tuned for an exciting October, when our Senior Editor Josh Harkema launches a series of head-to-head articles with guest collaborators.  Josh and guest Alyssa Bradac weigh in on 'What is Story?', a look at what makes a story, well, a story.


Colleen Cornez
Owner and Editor-in-Chief
The Quill Magazine

Letter from the Editor

Letter from the Editor July 21 2017

We’re back.  Although I think it’s more like Randy Quaid in ‘Independence Day’.  “Hello boys…I’m back!” A maniacal grin, a crazed look in our eyes as we fearlessly approach our submission box here at The Quill

It’s been a difficult few months for Josh and myself, and our readers and authors have graciously suffered along with us. Josh is back in school (although I’m pretty sure he never left.  Summer?  What the heck is that?), and I am safely recovered from Ebola, or was it Dengue fever?  Oh wait -  Bubonic Plague!

Now here we are, back at the boardroom table (Technically Josh is in class, and I am at my desk, but it’s really the same thing), reading your submissions and offering feedback.  We humbly ask your apology, and to prove we are here and working, we have two new works this week for you.

Linda Reed has supplied us with the graceful short fiction work, ‘Letter on a Train’, and Mrinalini Harchandrai delivers a great piece of poetry ‘The Trashness of Trash’.

Please take the time to read these two great pieces, use the posts to comment and keep sending your submissions to us here at The Quill.

We look forward to reading them!

Colleen Cornez
Owner and Editor-in-Chief
The Quill Magazine

Top Photo Credit - Photosbygar Photography - http://photosbygar.com


Colleen Cornez

Colleen is a writer of romantic fiction, but a fan of everything written. She is preparing to go back to University to complete her Bachelor of Arts in Canadian Studies. She currently edits for The Quill, and with three (unpublished) novels currently in various modes of professional editing or submission, she hopes to have a cooler bio soon. Until then, you can read excerpts of her work at www.colleencornez.ca.

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Where'd Everyone Go -- The Quill

"Where'd Everyone Go?"

Status Update

Dear Quill Readers and Submitters:

The Quill appreciates your help and support! We're in the process of finalizing some accounting and corporation issues we've been having over the last 6 months. I'm now in a position to provide some good news and an update on what's happened over the last few months.

Full disclosure:

We applied to incorporate in December 2016 as a not-for-profit corporation registered in Alberta, Canada. In May of this year we received notice that there was an issue with our application, we corrected the mistake (the issue was due to my use of an incorrect form). It took the government 5 months to send us this initial letter of our mistake, but that's not an issue anymore. We are now 100% incorporated as a not-for-profit in Alberta (7 months later...).

So, we now have to open a bank account, order cheques, and pay all of the authors we've published thus far--who have already waited patiently for months. We're on hold until this can happen (give us about two weeks to figure everything out, we're already six months behind.) And then we'll return to either a bi-weekly or monthly publishing model--Colleen and I haven't had a chance to hash this all out, she's away with work and will return early next week.

In Other News:

I have managed to consolidate all of our code and tech onto the Google Cloud Platform. This has cut our operating costs to next to nothing--I'm hosting the Quill alongside some other projects I'm working on--now we can focus on paying our authors more for each submission, check out our new pay table here.

Our Patreon is still going strong, and I've renewed my commitment to a monthly "how not to write" article written in my typically sardonic style. To get in on our monthly Patreon posts go to https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4758932 and subscribe.

Thank you for supporting us through the launch of this project, we wouldn't be able to do it without you. Check back for more updates as our mission progresses.


Josh -- Chief Bottle Washer

Top photo credit: photosbygar — http://photosbygar.com


Technology, Code, and Frustration

Hello, Quill readers! Some of you may have noticed a bunch of errors over the last week when trying to access the Quill, I have been working on moving the Quill onto Amazon's Elastic Beanstalk this week to improve page load times, and reduce costs (quite substantially) for hosting the Quill. This move was fraught with problems (my git commit messages read like Dante's Inferno) as WordPress is not intended to operate on a PAAS platform. But, I was able to accomplish the nearly impossible task of forcing/finessing WordPress into a stateless environment. This is not to say that I do not expect some "bugs" in the next couple of weeks as I iron out the site's operation. The reason for the sudden change is a small slip up with SSH terminals causing me -- rather stupidly -- to apply a change of DB schema to the live database rather than my testing instance; this forced me to do 30 hours worth of testing in about 45 minutes, which I was unable to do. This resulted in some major glitches and downtime.

You may notice an error saying "mixed content" and/or "this site cannot provide a secure connection." I am still working on SSL termination for the site--if you don't know what this is, it's basically a way for servers and computers to talk over a secure channel--I hope to have something ready over the coming weeks. As the Quill does not store any sensitive information, SSL is not important to our operation, but SSL is becoming an internet-wide standard, and I want to ensure the Quill can operate with current technology, as well as future-proofing the site for the requirements of tomorrow. That said, if you run into any of these errors there is no need to be alarmed.

Thank you for your patience.

This brings me to my next point: the Quill is moving to a bi-weekly publishing model. The weekly publishing schedule was not giving us enough time to engage with authors during the editing process. We were constantly rushing to produce a "finished" piece, and sometimes we let time run away from us. To put this into perspective, no one at the Quill has been able to look at anything submitted after January 24. We have 100's of submissions sitting in the queue, and we would like a chance to go through them, but because of the rush, we were forced to stick with the works and authors we are most familiar with. Moving forward, we will spend more time with each individual author to ensure a piece is "up to snuff" and "ready for its close-up," before publication.

If you have any questions or comments about the shift in our publishing schedule or our technology changes please feel free to email us at editors@thequillmagazine.org. Also, we are always on the lookout for stack editors, a job requiring a certain flair for "outside-the-box" thinking about writing, and the ability to see passed a piece's technical flaws for the beauty underneath. If you're interested, please get in touch.

I look forward to reading your submissions!

Josh Harkema

Associate Editor and IT Wizard(ish) - The Quill Magazine

Elements of Style

The Elements of Style - Rules One through Three

Here we go with your ‘Letter from the Editor’ for this week. I know I promised to cover the softer side of writing a few weeks back, but I lied. Okay, maybe I didn’t lie, I just got really, really, distracted by reading the many stories and poems many authors have submitted to The Quill.

This brings me to a complete segue. (Feel free to use the phrase ‘SQUIRREL!” at any point in this article.) I want to make sure each and every one of our submitters know that it is a pleasure to read their work, regardless of whether they are accepted for publication or not.

Our mandate, when we began this e-zine, was to publish as many works from new, unpublished authors as we could. However, Josh and I had a hidden agenda. It was, and is, critically important that we provide feedback to everyone who submits. We believe that taking the time to tell you why you were rejected or accepted is only to your benefit. It’s what keeps us remembering why we both write (and get rejected), and these little bits of information are our way of helping you, and ourselves, become better writers.

This week, Josh had suggested we do a review on several of the ‘Elementary Rules of Usage’ in Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. Let me be honest. I write genre fiction. Romance, erotica, romantic suspense. I almost always go for what I will call ‘readability’ as opposed to being technically perfect. So, when Josh suggested doing this piece, I put up my hand (stupid, stupid girl!) and said “This is good practice for me.”

Ugh. I’m an idiot.

Be gentle with me…

(Also note, Josh is going to edit my work, LOL. Therefore, anything I royally bugger up, he’s got my back.)

Elementary Rules of Usage

Form the possessive singular of nouns with 's.

This means that you have a singular noun – so…book, bell, candle, Charles, Elvis.

If you need to form a possessive with a noun (in other words if you need show that the noun in question possesses something) you add 's to the noun, regardless of the last letter of the noun.


The book’s cover. The book’s pages. The book’s meaning.

The bell’s toll. (This is a brain burner. In this sense, the bell’s toll means the bell’s sound. If you write ‘The bells toll’, well, that means the bells (plural) ring. See how it gets messy? Pay attention to what you are trying to say when you write something.)

The candle’s flame.

Charles’s son, William. Charles’s wife, Mary. Charles’s car.

Elvis’s jumpsuit. Elvis’s concert tour. Yes, Elvis toured. No, I did not see him perform live. I did, however, see Van Halen with David Lee Roth, and with Sammy Hagar.

Make sense? It does if you're a fan of Eddie Van Halen. Wait. Squirrel.

I mean do the examples make sense? Of course they do.

Sadly, like everything else, there are exceptions:

Ancient proper names, ending in –es or –is (Moses, Isis, Hermes) do not have 's added. The same with the possessive ‘Jesus’, and the forms ‘for conscience’ sake and for righteousness’ sake.

For pronominal possessives; hers, its, theirs, yours, oneself, there is no apostrophe.

By the way, ‘pronominal’ means anything functioning as a pronoun. (Wonderful peeps, please make sure you have, and USE a dictionary, so you understand these terms. If you don’t know the word ‘pronominal’ you will have no idea what the hell I’m talking about.)

This brings me to one of the most common errors we see.

It’s versus its:

It’s means ‘It is’. It is hot. It is cold. It is a pain in my arse when I see this misused. It is regularly misused.

Its means ‘belonging to it’. Its book. Its arse. Its bridle.

If you struggle with this, try to read your sentence out loud, and when you see the word ‘it’s’, remove the contraction. If it doesn’t make sense, or sounds like you’re speaking in some random Eastern European accent, then you’ve used the wrong form. Change it.

In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last.

Let me break this down. ‘Terms’ means pretty much anything. Nouns, verbs, words, phrases, or clauses. A conjunction is a connecting word such as and, or, but, yet, if. There are others. Learn them.

(By the way, if you look at the third sentence in the above paragraph, you will see that I used the proper format in joining my terms. Just gonna point that out. :) )


bell, book, and candle

cheap, easy, and up for anything

She dropped off the parcel, bought a package of stamps, and debated buying the commemorative coin set.

In the names of business firms, the last name before the conjunction does NOT have a comma.


Dewey, Cheatem and Howe. - correct.

Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe. - NOT correct.

Finally, the abbreviation etc. (This is short for ‘etcetera’, which means ‘and other similar things’.)

If you are going to use this, even if you only have a single term before it, it is always preceded by a comma.


Books, etc.

Bells, books, and candles, etc.

Enclose parenthetic expressions between commas.

Get your dictionary, turn to P, and read the definition. This is a nasty little rule, not gonna lie.

A parenthetical expression is a phrase or clause inserted within another phrase or clause. Ugh. Yup. Before we break this rule down, take some time to review what this really means. Google, dictionary, whatever you have. Let me know when you’re done.

Good? Okay, let’s continue.

First off, we see parenthetical expressions used well, and we see them used very badly. If you are writing, keep in mind this element is like expensive whiskey – best in small doses.

But hey, I’ve never followed that rule, either.

This is a very difficult rule to apply, because it’s very difficult to determine if a word or phrase is indeed parenthetical. On top of that, depending on whether the inserted phrase or word delivers just a slight interruption of the sentence, or a considerable interruption, determines whether you need to use commas or not.


What that means is you must read the sentence with the inserted clause, phrase, or word, and decide if it flows better with or without the commas. You also must decide if it makes sense when read with or without the commas.


One final note on this before the examples. Regardless of whether the interruption is slight or considerable, you may not omit one of the commas and leave the other.


She grabbed the cattle prod, which doubled as a paint stirring stick, and ran to help Nora.

(I know. Expensive paint stirrer.)

As she watched his face, which was scarred by the cruel twist of his lips, she was mesmerized by the desire in his eyes.

Margarine may be used, however, butter provides a more flavorful finished product.

Next, we talk non-restrictive relative clauses.

I’m going to the Oxford Dictionary online for this definition. It has the best, and easiest, definition.

First need-to-know? Relative Clause. Oxford says ‘A relative clause is one that’s connected to the main clause of the sentence by a word such as who, whom, which, that, or whose.’

That’s easy enough. Now let’s look up what a non-restrictive relative clause is.

Oxford says ‘A non-restrictive relative clause provides information that can be left out without affecting the meaning or structure of the sentence.’

What that means is the clause you’ve used in the parenthetical expression could be left out and the sentence would still make sense.

Therefore, how this rule of usage affects non-restrictive relative clauses is that they must always be set off by commas.


The fences, which were made of wood, stood tall enough so the deer couldn’t jump over them.

The cyborg, whose name was Spam, moved towards them.

Seems straightforward.


Similar clauses introduced by where or when are similarly punctuated. In other words, if you introduce a non-restrictive relative clause in a parenthetical expression using where or when, you also use commas.

In 1987, when Prime Minister Brian Mulroney proposed the Meech Lake Accord, Bill Vander Zalm was Premier of British Columbia.

Kingston, Ontario, where The Tragically Hip are from, has several federal corrections facilities.

Yes. I am Canadian. I’m sure it wasn’t readily apparent until I mentioned the Tragically Hip.

Note that in these sentences, the clauses introduced by when and where add statements supplementing the statement made in the principal clause. What that means is there are two statements in each of the above sentences which could have been made independently. See below:

Prime Minister Brian Mulroney proposed the Meech Lake Accord in 1987. At that time, Bill Vander Zalm was the Premier of British Columbia.

The Tragically Hip are from Kingston, Ontario. There are several federal corrections facilities in Kingston.

If you have never heard of The Tragically Hip, check them out. They are an amazing, amazing, band.

Okay, that was a SQUIRREL! Moment. Whoops.

Next, this rule talks about restrictive relative clauses. Let’s go back to Oxford. ‘A restrictive relative clause provides essential information about the noun to which it refers. It cannot be left out of the sentence without affecting the meaning.’ Okay, so in this case, a sentence with a restrictive relative clause cannot be split into two sentences.

Note that restrictive relative clauses are not set off by commas:

The band who made the best album will win the award.

The entrepreneur who started this company has an engineering degree.


On to the next part. Here, we talk about abbreviations, specifically etc. and jr. The abbreviations etc. and jr. are always preceded by a comma, and except at the end of a sentence, followed by one.


She grabbed them all, the shoes, the jeans, the shirts, etc., and threw them out the window.

(Don’t ask why. It probably had to do with her lying, cheating, pig of an ex-boyfriend, Jonathan Smith, Jr., who at that very moment was at the club dancing with Tiffany, that conniving bitch!)

If a parenthetic expression is preceded by a conjunction, place the first comma before the conjunction, not after it.

This is another one that is heavily misused. It means that if you are using a conjunction (Remember these? and, but, for, if, yet, along with several others) in your parenthetic expression, you place the comma before the conjunction.


She was screaming epithets at him, and unaware that Tiffany was listening, began to tell Mr. Jonathan Smith, Jr., EXACTLY what she thought of his mistress.

Jonathan Smith, Jr., was grinding Tiffany on the dance floor, but when his amazing and beautiful girlfriend ran in, he realized that he was busted.

Okay. Enough about that slime ball, Jonathan Smith, Jr., and his slutty mistress Tiffany.

We're done with them.

Actually, we're done for this instalment.  Thank goodness!

That gives you an overview of the first three rules from The Elements of Style. We are stopping here for now, but in coming weeks, I will be covering other Elemental Rules of Usage. I was going to do six of them, but two thousand words of rules on writing is pretty intense. Besides, I must go cook dinner. Alas, the menial and the mundane summon me and I am unable to refuse their siren’s call, a slave to my laundry.

One last note. For those of you who aren’t aware, The Elements of Style is a little book with enormous power. The book was written and self-published in 1918 by William Strunk, Jr., a professor at Cornell University. In 1957, E.B. White (Charlotte’s Web), was asked to revise it by Macmillan Publishers. In reviewing the work of his former professor, White was struck anew by the level of brilliance it contained, calling it a ‘forty-three-page summation of the case for cleanliness, accuracy, and brevity in the use of English’. I won’t go into any additional detail. I will say that if you do not have a copy, go buy one. Today. If you have a copy and it’s not on your desk, for crying out loud, go get it and put it on your desk. Now. And if it is on your desk, dog eared and worn, spine cracked from propping it open with a coffee cup, stains of said coffee (and a thousand coffees before it) blurring the words, page folded and held down by your elbow as you try and make that last sentence of your nine hundred-thousand-word magnum opus as brilliant as possible, well done. Thank you, for wanting to be the best writer you can be.


Colleen Cornez

Colleen is a writer of romantic fiction, but a fan of everything written. She is preparing to go back to University to complete her Bachelor of Arts in Canadian Studies. She currently edits for The Quill, and with three (unpublished) novels currently in various modes of professional editing or submission, she hopes to have a cooler bio soon. Until then, you can read excerpts of her work at www.colleencornez.ca.

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The Quill

Letter from the Editor - January 27

Last week was crazy as we launched our inaugural issue here at the Quill.  We want to thank all of the people who registered on our website as well as those who submitted their work to us.  We’re humbled by the vast amount of interest and recognition we’ve received thus far.

As I was scheduled to be in literary residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts during most of this time, I also want to extend my gratitude to Josh for shouldering an exceptional amount of work, under an enormous amount of pressure. Thank you, Josh, and as always, I’m honoured to be your partner in this endeavour.

For those of you who have submitted work to us, or if you are thinking of submitting work to us, we would like to provide you with some direction.  While reviewing submissions for our inaugural issue, Josh and I read a large number of what appeared to be rough drafts, as well as work that was in need of improvement: particularly with plotting, story structure, proper sentence structure, and grammar, among other issues. We quite often had to reject these works, the large number of submission we received required us to focus on those writers who had submitted well-proofed, final drafts of their work.

In light of this, and in an effort to be of service to those who are looking to submit work, whether it’s to The Quill, or elsewhere, Josh will be weighing in regularly with a column about the things that are likely to get your work rejected out of hand.  I would highly recommend that all potential submitters read his ongoing columns.  He’ll be covering topics about the type of skills you need to develop, the books you should read to improve your craft, and the types of instruction you should look for to become a better writer.

As for me, having just returned from the gift of creativity in an exceptional environment, I’ll be focusing, for the next while at least, on what  I’ll call the softer, gentler side of the writing process. Fluffy bunny stuff like genre writing, wordsmithery and showing, not telling, among other topics.

So keep reading, keep writing, and keep submitting - we’re looking forward to working with you!

Colleen Cornez

January 21 2017

Top Photo Credit - Photosbygar Photography - http://photosbygar.com

Credit for Generous Use of The Beautiful Inkwell - The Emporium of Impossible Things, Okotoks - https://www.facebook.com/emporiumofit/

Week One - What Just Happened?

It's been one heck of a ride over the last two weeks. When Colleen and I sat down for the first time to discuss launching an online creative writing journal never, in our wildest dreams, could we have imagined the response we would receive. As I write this we have received hundreds of submissions from hundreds of writers heralding from every corner of the globe. We’ve received submissions from Ireland, India, China, Japan, Canada, the US, and many more; I’m still flabbergasted by both the amount and the quality of the works we’ve received.

Some of the pieces we received brought me to tears, some made me laugh, and some made me doubt my resolve in providing feedback for every submission we receive. I have had the pleasure of reading works of amazing talent and some works I – without a polite term at hand – can only refer to as garbage. On a whole the good outweighs the bad, but nevertheless I have some suggestions for future submission.

Why We Didn’t Accept your Piece

  1. Did you send over a rough draft? If so, we rejected your piece out of hand. Please make sure you’ve had someone read over your work, there isn’t any typos or spelling mistakes, and the story flows well. I’ve read way too much frenetic, disconnected, story-less prose this week.
  2. Did you send over teenage love poetry? Does your poem have a total lack of concrete images? Are you pining after abstract concepts (love, soul, time, death, life, etc.) and not writing about real, physical things? If so, your piece was rejected out of hand. Abstract concepts are fine, but you need to connect them to something tangible.
  3. Is your piece an exposition? By this I mean does your piece have a story or does it just explain a series of events? If you can’t find a story – something with conflict and plot – neither can we and your piece was rejected.

These are the three main reasons we rejected works this time around. If your work was rejected, feel free to resubmit it once you’ve corrected any lack of story or lack of images. We would love look at it again.

Why We Accepted your Piece

  1. We accepted “The Alternative to Getting Old” because it was packed full of story, tension, conflict and plot. The tension of the story is palpable, the characters seem real, the motivation seems rational. At the Quill we’re looking for character driven, conflict based narratives. Not experimental fiction pieces expositing on the nature of flowers.
  2. We accepted “Breathe, Remember” because the images of the poem jump off the page. Each poem is a feeling and a story; each poem is something anyone can see and feel in their own individual way.
  3. We accepted “Not Your Typical Alien” because it is an amazing poem filled with concrete, visceral images. The whole poem speaks in an allegory and with words and images that don’t seem to work together, but when closely analyzed become something more complex than one would initially assume.
  4. We accepted “Leonard Cohen, poet of archetypes” for similar reason to “Not Your Typical Alien.” This essay speaks in allegory and metaphor in a masterful way.

Some Suggestions for Rejected Authors

  1. Read The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. If you don’t know how to write properly, you can’t write creatively.
  2. Read Conflict & Suspense by James Scott Bell. This book will help you understand how and why Conflict is integral to storytelling.
  3. If you’re a poet, read The Writing Moment by Tysdal. This book is a master-class on poem writing. It’s a good place to start, and a good place to review.

With all this said I need to thank every submitter for every piece we received this week. We will be running an issue on Friday of each week for as long as we have the breath – and the funds – to keep going. I look forward to reading your submissions and hope that we at the Quill can help you grow into a better writer.


Josh Harkema - Associate Editor

Note from the Editor in Chief

Josh is the driving force behind, and the creator of 'The Quill Magazine', as well as our  Associate Editor, IT wunderkind, and all around idea guy.  He's also the reason I'm here.  I can't think of anything more appropriate than for him to introduce our inaugural issue.  He's right, it's been a heck of a ride so far, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else!

Colleen Cornez - Owner and Editor-in-Chief