The Stars Below (poem)

The Stars Below

feverishly scratching
on a manuscript
all day all night

the words drumming
leaking through
your matchstick fingers
onto the blotted parchment

a spider dancing
across the page
with ink stained legs

"the stars!"

you mutter
to a shadowy room

"the stars!"

the windows shuttered
the doors firmly bolted


the stars
tell me everything
I know!"

Joanne Fisher

As I’m still recovering I thought I would share an older poem that I don’t think I’ve published here before. The title is stolen from an Ursula K. Le Guin short story. That story is about a mind that’s been turned inward, and so is this poem. This poem is also about the creative process and the intense focusing on what you’re working on to the exclusion of everything else…

I’ve been rather ill over the last few days, which is why I haven’t published anything here for a time, but I am getting better and normal service should resume shortly 🙂

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher


Tips On How to Get Your Poems Published (article)

As I’ve had several hundred poems published in magazines, journals, periodicals, anthologies and books over the years as well as edited several publications, I thought I would share some of my knowledge when it comes to poetry and how to get poems published. This knowledge is based on my own experiences in writing and publishing.

  1. Read contemporary poetry. Sure the classics are enjoyable to read and useful to know, but please ensure you are familiar with modern poetry and it’s vernacular. You are living in the 21st Century, not the 18th or 19th. Pick up some recent journals and read them. Buy some poetry collections of contemporary poets and read them. Attend poetry readings. Go to book launches. This will help you write work that feels current. Always write for the time your living in. As an editor it was painfully noticeable when people submitted poetry who obviously hadn’t read much poetry from the last century. We don’t write poetry like Wordsworth or Whitman or Blake anymore and you won’t find anything like that in modern poetry journals.
  2. Read the publications before you send poetry to them. Before you submit anything, take a look at the publication you are planning to send poems to. See what sort of poems they publish. This will help you get a sense of what the editors are looking for. If you don’t think they will go for your writing, either find a publication that you think will, or see if you can change your style to something they might want to publish. This may even help make you a better writer.
  3. Always send more than one poem. You might think you’ve written the greatest poem of all time, but usually editors want to see a range of your work. Check the submission details. Many journals will state the maximum amount of poems you can submit for that issue. Usually it will be around four or five. I always send the maximum to give editors a good range of my work for them to choose from. You never know, they might accept one you weren’t expecting them to. If there’s no maximum number stated, send no more than six.
  4. Don’t expect all your poems to be accepted. It is extremely unlikely that an editor will accept every poem you send them for publication. In fact almost impossible. Remember there are a large number of poets also submitting work and there is only a limited amount of space in each publication. Most editors will usually want a good mix of poets and that means they may only use one or two poems of each poet they accept. Occasionally I’ve had up to four poems accepted in journals, but that can be rare.
  5. Don’t send overly long poems. Your twenty page epic will not be accepted, but maybe a passage from it might. Due to space issues it is best to send poems that are on the short side. No more than 50 lines at most.
  6. No genre poems. Don’t send horror, fantasy, or science fiction poems to a contemporary poetry publication, unless the publication is of that genre.
  7. No concrete poems. Concrete poems are poems where the words form a shape. It’s kids stuff. You won’t be taken seriously if you send them.
  8. No archaic language. Modern poetry does not use archaic language. So no thee, thou, thy, or anything like that. See note 1.
  9. Rhyming or free verse? All the journals I’ve submitted to usually publish modern free verse. There are some out there that publish rhyming poetry, but that’s not a field I work in. I only use rhymes when writing humourous or occasional poetry. As in note 2 check the publication before you send them anything to see what they are willing to publish.
  10. Ensure your poetry is well edited. Does every word in the poems you’re sending deserve to be there? Will the poems still work if you remove words, or even lines? Will they be even better if you cut out some passages? To catch the eyes of the editor, poetry has to be energetic and tight. Often a lot of poetry gets rejected because of too many unnecessary words. The poem may be good, but it needs sharper editing and thus is a bit flabby. I used to put poems I had just written into a drawer for several months. Over that time I grew less attached to the poem and could see what needed to be cut when I looked at it with fresh eyes again. Also over that time, my subconscious would think about it and rework it in my mind, usually to something much better.
  11. Watch out for clichés. A cliché is an overused expression, such as cold as ice, thorn in my side, sands of time, etc. I’ve noticed a lot of poetry in WordPress can be cliché-ridden. If some expression you’ve used seems overly familiar, check it on Google. Try to rework it so it becomes something unique from you instead. Always avoid clichés like the plague 😎
  12. Give a brief biographical note with your submission. The editors will want to know more about you and what to say about you in the contributors notes (if they have one). Give them details like where you live, what you do for work, other publications your work has appeared in, books published, future plans, why you write, etc.
  13. Send specialist poetry to appropriate publications. Poetry such as haiku should be sent to haiku journals or publications that accept them. Usual poetry publications may have editors that don’t understand the form, so they won’t accept them.
  14. If you’re rejected, keep trying. Don’t be disheartened. Everyone gets rejected. Everyone. Send the poems to somewhere else. Write more poems and send them off again. Just keep writing no matter what. Join writer’s groups, get other poets to critique your work. If you’re any good eventually you’re going to get published. So stick with it.
  15. Ask editors for advice. If you’re rejected feel free to ask the editors why they didn’t choose your work or how you could write them better. Some may not respond, but some might and give you some good insights. I tried to give constructive advice to people if they requested it. Critiques of your work can sting a bit at first, but you’ll learn a lot about writing and even about yourself…

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

How Is It Done? (poem)

How Is It Done?

It's like there are these words
swimming around the inside
of my skull

& all I have to do
is be quick enough
to catch them before

they slip away beyond
dark swift waters

swirling cascading words -

catching rainbow trout
with a net

Joanne Fisher

First published in Spin 38

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

The Author’s Chair (flash fiction)

The Author’s Chair

“So you want to write books?” the figure asked.

“Yes.” the author replied.

“What you need is the Author’s Chair. You won’t be able to stop writing.” the figure said. A brown leather chair appeared.

“That’s what I want. How much for it?”

“Only your soul.” The author laughed upon hearing this.

“It’s of no matter. Go ahead and take it!” the author urged.

“Fine.” The figure disappeared.

The author sat down and began writing and found he couldn’t stop. He wrote many works, but died of thirst, hunger, and exhaustion from never being able to leave the Chair.

Joanne Fisher

This nasty little story was written with the prompt Author’s Chair provided by the Carrot Ranch September 23 Flash Fiction Challenge.

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©️2021 Joanne Fisher

Jo on Jo 2 (article)

As I’m a writer that never gets interviewed (or gets to be a guest blogger for that matter) I thought I would interview myself, again.

Jo On Jo 2

So where are you from again?

I live in Christchurch, New Zealand. At the moment I’m living in a flat by myself and quite enjoying it. I’ve also lived in other parts of New Zealand, such as Dunedin, Invercargill, and Hamilton. Christchurch had a series of devastating earthquakes in 2010-11 which we’re still recovering from. In March 2019 there were also 51 people shot dead in mosque shootings here, which is still hard to believe happened.

What do you like about WordPress?

I like that I can write what I want to and there’s virtually no editorial control. I also love the writing community here. The support I get is encouraging. It’s always fun reading other people’s work and being able to interact with the other writers. I like the creative blogs whether it is fiction, poetry, art, photography or something similar. These are the ones I go out of my way to check out when I’m looking at the daily blog posts. I also enjoy doing the prompts. Some can be challenging, but they’re great for writing ideas, especially if I’m feeling a bit uninspired at the time.

What don’t you like about WordPress?

I don’t like the new block editor. It seems every time I get used to it WordPress goes and changes it again. The classic editor was easy to use and fairly idiot proof, and I miss it terribly.

There’s also a lot of blogs dedicated to tell you how to do things, such as blogging or how to live, and I prefer to find out how to do things myself. I also resent being told how to write by people with far less experience than myself. I’ve been writing for a long time and over the years I have had many poems and other writings published in magazines and journals around the world. I think I can write reasonably well by now and if someone who has only been writing poetry for a couple of years (and has not been published) wants to tell me how to write poetry, they won’t find me terribly receptive to their posts. That said, I’ve never liked being told what to do.

On the subject of poetry, there’s a lot of not so good poetry on WordPress. I don’t like reading poetry that is didactic and leaves no room for the reader to explore the work. Try to be innovative, try to describe something like it’s never been described before, just don’t ever be bland or flat. If you don’t put any effort into it, then it’s just lazy writing. And, try to have something to say, because if you don’t your poetry runs the risk of just being twee nonsense. I also have an issue with a lot of the haiku here, but I will leave that for another time…

Do you encounter any problems when blogging?

I have dyslexia. It’s mostly when I’m writing that I notice it. There are times, like tonight, when all the words I type are jumbled up and it can be very frustrating as it slows me down. I also have problems with spatial geometry and sometimes I find it hard to interpret an image I’m looking at. One of the writing prompts I do is a photo prompt and sometimes I have to ask them what it is. I also at times leave out words when I’m writing, sometimes it can be a large chunk of a sentence.

Any other issues with blogging?

I wish more people from my own country looked at my blog. Over the years readership from my country has been steadily going downwards, and it’s virtually none at all now. I find that disappointing.

What other things do you like doing?

I love cooking. I like making my own bread and pizzas, but I cook a variety of dishes such as casseroles, curries, jambalaya, gumbo, Italian, Mexican, etc. I love food and I do follow quite a few food blogs.

I collect books (when I can). I love the tactile feel of holding a book especially if it has nice thick paper. Sometimes they are a joy to look through. At the moment I’m wanting to finish getting the History of Middle-earth series in hardcover (most of my Tolkien collection is hardcover now), but that involves dealing with secondhand booksellers and at the moment I can’t afford it.

I enjoy watching films. I like science fiction, fantasy, offbeat, international, and (especially) horror films. I’m also into music (rather eclectic tastes), fantasy roleplaying games, and Magic the Gathering.

Any future plans?

I’m not sure. I used to post a serialised story every week, but the readership for them declined quite considerably so I’ve given up doing that for now. At the moment I’m mostly doing prompt responses. I might do a Dumb Vampires 2 later in the year. To be honest I’m feeling a bit hesitant to do anything too involved, but this may change.

I am intending to publish a couple of eBooks at some point. They will be shorter works. If they’re successful, then I might publish a collection of poetry as well as some other books. Hopefully this process will begin later this year.

Please donate! 🙂

©️2021 Joanne Fisher

Pitch Wars Help Needed

I’m currently participating in #PitMad and have a tweet pitching my novel My Life in Darkness.

#PitMad is where writers pitch an unpublished novel to agents or editors who make requests to see the work by liking the tweet. So please don’t like the tweet, as that is for agents and editors to do. You can read more about it here: PitMad

If you wish to help me and you’re on Twitter, please consider retweeting my tweet to help signal boost it. My Twitter is @joannefisher63.

Thanks for your help 🙂

What to do? (thoughts)



Today is Day Eight of the Lockdown here. Being an introvert and a homebody I thought having to stay at home for at least a month would be no problem for me. However what I didn’t consider was that everyone else would be at home too.

I currently live in a small house with two other adults, one of whom is working from home now and has set up a workstation in the living room and can often be heard talking loudly on the phone to clients all day. My bedroom is also only a few metres away from the neighbours backyard and they love going into their backyard to argue/talk loudly with each other, or play loud music, or make other random loud noises. So during the day I now have a lot of noise around me and because of this I’m finding it hard to write anything. When I’m unable to write I often fall into a deep depression, as I seem to be doing now.  A couple of days ago I was trying to write a new Jess and Cindy story, but I had to abandon it due to the noise coming from next door.

Another problem is that unlike the last place I lived in I can’t seem to find a decent workspace. I had plans to do a final edit of My Life in Darkness, and also begin work on a new novel, but I just don’t seem to have any place where I can focus on them.

All this is making me feel depressed, irritable, and grumpy, and I’m not sure what I can do. At least my physical health is good, and I know I should be thankful for that. I know a lot of people in the world are dying from Covid-19 and I find that hard to deal with. The sheer immensity of it is frightening and very scary. I’ve been trying to use this blog lately to help take people’s minds off it for a while, but it’s hard to keep the world out even when you’re writing fiction.

I have also thought about taking a break from blogging, but this blog is often what’s keeping me alive and if I let it go I’m not sure what will happen to me. It keeps me creative and focused. I like blogging, but I also know I’m not a big success with it. The viewing numbers have been steadily falling since October, and I know this year part of it is due to the virus, but I do feel like I’m making less of an impact with it these days. It does sometimes make me wonder if I should be doing something else with my time.

I’ll do my best to keep this blog going for the meantime. It may change focus however. If I’m not able to write fiction I may just start writing articles as I do have quite a few ideas for them, and this is what I wrote when I first began blogging.

Anyway, I hope you’re all well and safe. I know we will eventually get through this difficult time.

Kia kaha.





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©2020 Joanne Fisher




2019: Year in Review



Well that’s 2019 over with. For me personally it was a good creative year. I wrote more than I have ever done before and completed both the long narratives of My Life in Darkness, and The Sky-Pirates of Durn. Currently My Life in Darkness is being edited and considered for publication. The Sky-Pirates of Durn will need a lot of editing especially in the first few chapters, but I don’t wish to start editing that until I’m finally finished with My Life in Darkness. I continually wrote and published these stories at the same time every week for 45 weeks (36 for My Life in Darkness, and the last nine chapters of The Sky-Pirates of Durn), and I’m really proud of that.


While it has been a good year for me creatively, there has also been some bad things as well. I’m still dealing with the mass shooting in my city that occurred not terribly far away from where I live in March. 51 people were shot dead in two mosques here. I never thought something of that scale could occur here. The victims and their families are often in my thoughts. I remember after the shooting I felt very scared and vulnerable, as many others here did, and I didn’t like leaving the house for several weeks afterwards. On the day the shooting happened, many police cars went speeding down the road I live on, and to this day whenever I see police cars going past really fast with sirens blazing I get very worried and anxious all over again.


2019 Statistics

As I have now had two full years on WordPress, this means I have two sets of data that I can compare with each other. Wahoo!

I started the year on 207 followers, and finished with 541 followers. I was hoping to get to 500 by the end of the year, so I’m very pleased I achieved that. Thanks to everyone who follows me.

                                                          2019                                 2018                         +/-

Posts                                                  270                                   138                      +132 (95.66%)

Views                                           15,400                                4,388                      +11,012 (250.96%)

Likes                                               8,771                                1,886                      +6,885 (365.06%)

Comments                                     2,020                                   379                      +1,641 (432.98%)


As you can see it’s been a good year of growth for my blog.


Top Ten Countries Viewing  My Blog

2019                                                            2018

United States 5,649 (36.68%)                 United States 1,749 (39.86%)

India 3,944 (25.61)                                   India 722 (16.45%)

United Kingdom 1,666 (10.82%)           United Kingdom 474 (10.80%)

Australia 703 (4.56%)                              New Zealand 388 (8.84%)

Canada 459 (2.98%)                                 South Africa 97 (2.21%)

South Africa 328 (2.13%)                        Australia 91 (2.07%)

New Zealand 238 (1.55%)                      Canada 86 (1.96%)

Saudi Arabia 229 (1.49%)                        Philippines 79 (1.8%)

Netherlands 212 (1.38%)                         Netherlands 66 (1.50%)

Denmark 168 (1.09%)                              France 56 (1.28%)

Of note, the percentage of people reading my blog in India has increased almost by 9% from last year. The most concerning aspect from those figures comes from my home country of New Zealand. Though I had 11,000 more views, there were 150 less views from New Zealand than last year. In percentages it fell from 8.84% to 1.55%. I’m not sure why this has happened.


Top Posts


Flash Fiction


New Paint

The Black Arrow

Big Splash

It Was Only After…


Into the Woods

The Scarecrow, part one

The Importance of Names

Life After the Invasion

Meela and Caelynn Have A Serious Talk with the Author…



Darkest Day: The Christchurch Mosque Shootings

Dragons of Middle-earth (written in 2017, but still going strong)

Fantasy Art of Bob Kehl

Favourite Nebula Images

Oumuamua: Thoughts About Our Visitor from Another Solar System



Blood Money

Morning Love

Who Needs Love?

I Really Wish You Were Here, Instead of Me

Half Past Four


I decided not to bother listing my serial fiction. it was just various parts of My Life In Darkness…


Further Plans For My Blog


Around mid-October there was a decline in the numbers viewing my posts. This decline continued and progressively got worse in November and December. At present my posts are generally now getting around half the number of views and likes they got before this decline. While I’m getting more followers, at the same time I’m getting less people viewing what I’m posting. I’m not sure what to do about this. The last couple of months have felt like I’m going backwards, which isn’t a great feeling.

I was going to do another ongoing series starting next week, but I have decided to put that on hold for now. At present my plans are just to continue with flash fiction pieces and the occasional longer story and article, and wait to see if this decline in numbers is going to continue to get worse, or begin to recover. If it continues to get worse, I may have to reconsider what I’m doing with this blog. I’ll guess I’ll wait and see…


Another thing that some of you might have already spotted, but I’ve begun adding pages to my blog. You can now easily access some of my poems and flash fiction pieces (not currently all of them, though I’ll continue to add more as time goes on), and shortly there will be more pages added, such as longer fiction and articles.




Thanks to everyone who follows, views, likes and comments on my posts. I really appreciate it. I would especially like to thank the following for their constant advice and encouragement: Crispina Kemp, Charli Mills of Carrot Ranch, and H.R.R. Gorman. There are many others I would like to thank here too, but it could become a very long list if I started doing that. Needless to say I appreciate everyone who supports this blog in some way, especially those who take the time to read my work and comment on it. Thank you 🙂





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©2020 Joanne Fisher







Can You See This?




My previous post The Last Days of Van Gogh (poem) has less than half the views and likes I was expecting and I’m considering trashing the post, also the last couple of weeks there’s been a falling away of views on all my posts.

I’m wondering why this is happening…




Are you seeing my posts?


Is there something I’m doing you’re not liking?





Just thought I would liven up this post with some pics.


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