How to Tell Your Children and Friends That Your Father Is a Serial Killer

After we watched Django Unchained, we had a short discussion about sociopaths or anti-social personalities. In a change of perspective, here’s an article about Kerri Rawson, who found out her father was the infamous BTK (blind, torture, kill) serial killer, Dennis Rader. Rawson has criticized Stephen King for writing a novella and a screenplay for the movie A Good Marriage based on her father in which the killer’s wife discovers her husband has killed 10 people. I can understand Rawson’s argument that King may be exploiting what is an awful situation for her family. However, writers often take a seed from something that happened in real life and grow a fictional story from it. In fact, I would encourage you to do that, and especially to write from the perspective of another character other than the killer, one who is affected, but who doesn’t have all the information. As long as it really is fiction, you can take a story like that anywhere you want to go.


Recently, Roy Wenzl profiled a woman named Kerri Rawson for The Wichita Eagle. Rawson’s life was upended a decade ago, when an FBI agent knocked on her door and informed her that the man she’d always known as a loving father was in fact the BTK serial killer. Wenzl’s piece is a compelling and meticulous portrait of a woman slowly coming to terms with the impossible. Below is an excerpt:

When friends questioned whether it was wise for them to have children, Kerri ignored them. She never worried about her kids inheriting a serial killer gene.

When Emilie, at 5, understood what “grandfather” meant, she asked where her grandfather was.

“In a long time-out,” Kerri replied.

Couldn’t Kerri go see him? Emilie asked.

“It’s a really long time-out,” Kerri replied.

Kerri asked friends: “Don’t tag our children” on Facebook. When friends asked why, she didn’t know how to answer them…

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Look at thisDon’t forget to check the assignments page on the homepage for Queen Carol’s Classroom. Snow days do not affect due dates for your blog posts. You all had posts due this past Friday, and you will have posts due this Tuesday and Friday. I’m looking forward to reading your words!

Don’t forget your About page

About pageMost themes come with an About page already built into your bar. One of the criteria on the rubric for this class is to either create or finish that About page. Here are a couple of short articles to help you write a good About page: About Page 101: Making Them Care and About Page 102: The Meat Grinder. Read them and go to work.

Once you’ve finished your About page, consider using the best one or two sentences and copying them into a text widget on your sidebar. That will let new readers know right away who you are.

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Microfiction inspiration

tiny booksDo you miss writing fiction? Yes? Who said you can’t write fiction on your blog? Maybe this is the right time to try writing microfiction, which is simply defined as really short fiction. Here are a couple of places to read some and get inspired.

Microfiction Monday Magazine accepts submissions, but you can’t publish on your blog until after they’ve either published or rejected your story. They publish weekly, but I don’t know how quick their turnaround is for submissions.

Also take a look at Flash Fiction Online. They also accept submissions, but again you can’t publish to your blog until after they’ve published or rejected your story, and it can take from 2-10 weeks to hear back from them. I’d use this site for inspiration, at least until after this quarter.

Finally, take a look at Nanofiction. They accept stories of 300 words and under. Once again, your story has to be unpublished, which includes your blog. They do, however, pay $20 for pieces they accept, which is rare. Take a look at their writing prompts for more motivation.

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Mock Turtle Zine submissions

Mock Turtle

As you consider submissions this semester, don’t forget Mock Turtle Zine. The editor, Christina Dendy, is a former Stivers creative writing adjunct, so she keeps a warm spot in her heart for Stivers students. Don’t think bloggers have nothing to offer a print magazine. In their ninth issue, they printed one of my blog posts that I had revised and submitted. Three senior creative writers — Hali, Jaida, and Carolyn — were published in the current issue, issue 10.

I’ve posted Mock Turtle’s submissions information below. Let me know if you submit, and I’ll see that you get credit for it.


We are now accepting submissions for Issue 11. The deadline for Issue 11 is Monday, March 30. Be sure to check our submissions guidelines below before sending your poetry, prose and artwork. Check back regularly as we will be posting guidelines for the next Antioch Writers’ Workshop Poetry Contest after the new year.

Please review the general guidelines as well as the author/artist guidelines below. Do not submit your work until you have reviewed these guidelines.


General guidelines

  • Do not copy and paste submissions into your email. Please, attach all submissions as Word, Open Office, or text documents.
  • Save each submission as a separate document. Do not submit multiple works in one document.
  • Save each submission with last name first, then first name, then the title of the work. Sample: Dendy_Christina_For_Us.doc.
  • Provide a short biography or artist statement in your email. Biographies should not exceed a short paragraph, four to eight sentences. We print abbreviated (one to two sentences) biographies in the print publication.

Although we have published work from outside of Ohio in the past, we are a local publication that accepts work from artists and authors from Dayton and the surrounding area only at this time. Thank you!

Author guidelines

You may submit any genre, any form. Poetry, song lyrics, fiction, and nonfiction all apply. In fact, we’d love some more nonfiction, so send some!

  • Poetry and song lyrics should not exceed 100 lines. We prefer pieces under 30 lines. Fiction and nonfiction prose should not exceed 2,500 words. We prefer pieces under 1,000 words.
  • Documents are accepted in Word, Text, and Open Office.
  • Documents should be single-spaced in a black, 12-point Times or similar serif font, with one-inch margins. Avoid fancy fonts and formats.
  • Documents should not include address, bio, word count, or other miscellaneous information.
  • You may submit up to three pieces of literature.

Visual artist guidelines

You may submit any artwork that can be represented in a two-dimensional image. Paintings, illustrations, cartoons, photography, etchings, woodcuts, and sculpture all apply. If you are photographing art, be sure to check light and shadow in the final image.

  • All inside pages print in grayscale (black and white). Please submit only b&w images for publication inside the zine.
  • Images are accepted in pdf, jpg, and gif formats.
  • Images should be between 800 px and 3200 px in width.


We have expanded our call for submissions, so we may have to decline some of your submissions. Please know that we will look at every submission and consider its merit in terms of the guidelines and the balance of content within the magazine. We’ll let you know one way or another.

So, a word of advice? First, follow the guidelines. Second, don’t send us something hot off the mental press. Let it sit for a few days, and then look at it again. Revise! Ask a friend to read it and give you feedback. The stronger the piece, the more likely it will be accepted. Look for errors (misspellings, typos, syntax) to fix, and take the time to think about your content. If you wrote a story, does it have a conflict? If you wrote a poem, do you use imagery? If you wrote an opinion piece, do you state a clear perspective? For visual art, make sure you send us a strong image of your piece. If your artwork didn’t scan or photograph well, then scan it again, please. If your photograph is blurry, then perhaps consider another one unless the blur serves a definite aesthetic purpose.

Review process

How do we select work? When submissions are received and the deadline has closed, the editors duplicate the submissions and strip them of identifying information. Submissions are then split into batches, and sent to reviewers, who sort the works into categories (definitely want to publish, might want to publish, and not this time). The editors then review the “definitelies” and the “maybes,” and based on space, make selections for the print publication. The editors also look through the “nots” to make sure that they agree with the reviewers. Preference is given to those pieces considered “definitelies” by reviewers and both editors, and so on, but the final decision is made by the managing and the founding editors.

If a piece was not selected for publication, it does not mean that it did not have merit. It simply means that our team of reviewers and editors judged other pieces to be stronger in some way. Thank you to everyone who had the courage and vision to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, eye to lens, and pen, paintbrush or other implement of creation to visual medium. Please, keep doing it, and send us more.

Authors and artists retain all rights to their work.
And no, we do not pay.
We are not-for-profit and unable to offer compensation.

Prompt: What the world needs now

fill in the blankFill in the blanks: “I think the world needs more _____________” or “I think the world needs less __________________.”  You can write about the emotional, yet vague and overdone, topics (more love, patience, compassion), the unusual (more fingerless gloves, dragons, washcloths, flavors of Skittles), devil’s advocacy (serial killers, discrimination, Justin Bieber), or environmental (buses, trees, dirt roads).  Now write an essay, story, or poem using the prompt as your first line.

(Note: I stole this idea from the Internet.)

Heroes: Demetrius de Moors

Not many things impress me more than someone doing something heroic. This video touched my heart, because Demetrius de Moors is a hero who gave a great gift to Michael Lind. He might have won a trophy that day, but instead, he won a lot of people’s hearts. Take 5 minutes to watch, and then tell me: Do you know any hero stories? Tell me the story.

Colleen McCullough’s obituary

Colleen McCulloughColleen McCullough, one of the Down Under’s most famous authors, died at age 77 last month. She became famous in the 1970’s for her best-selling book The Thorn Birds, which was later made into a TV mini-series that is, to this day, the second highest rated mini-series ever. Her last book was published in 2013, and she wrote and published many in between, including a couple that were made into movies. I’ve read several of her books myself, along with millions of other people. She’s won some awards, including a Ph.D.

You’d think she might have earned some respect, wouldn’t you?

And yet one obituary, published in Australian Photograph described her as “plain of feature, and certainly overweight,” and continued that she was “nevertheless a woman of wit and warmth.”

Don’t believe me? Here it is.Colleen_McCullough obituary

So nice to know she was smart and friendly in spite of her unsightly appearance.

Lately I’ve been considering unfriending someone on Facebook. Every time I post something about women and sexism, he comments that men have it just as bad. Everything. Body image. Unfair pay. Dating. And today, he commented that the “D” word is just as bad as the “C” word. He said once a woman called him the “D” word, so he called her the “C” word, and she never called him that again. If it’s the woman I suspect it was, the next “D” word he probably heard was “divorce.” If I were to post this obituary, which certainly would never have been written about a man, he would somehow make it about men and how badly they are treated in the press.

I will concede that men have their problems. Men probably have 99 problems. Obituaries like this are not one of them.

I didn’t know Colleen McCullough, so I can’t say whether she would have been offended by these words. Maybe her hide is tougher than mine. I can say that I’m offended on her behalf, because I’m as sick as most women of being judged by my looks and not by my accomplishments. (OK, to be fair, nobody talks about my looks in the media, but I’m sure I made my point.)

Those words are cruel and unnecessary. I’m glad she didn’t have to see them. I wish I hadn’t seen them too. Not unexpectedly, the obituary went viral and people started tweeting their own examples of similar obituaries. Look for #myozobituary or check some of them out in this ThinkProgress article.

What do you think? Can you imagine someone writing an obituary like this about a man? If so, do you have an example?