Friday, October 21, 2016

Guest Post, Question & Horror List Book Review: Psycho

Two things before we hop into the review of Psycho:

1. I'm a guest over at Shelley Workinger's But What Are They Eating? My story, "The Blue Mist," from The Deep Dark Woods, is featured. Come say hi!

2. I'm looking for recommendations of non-western (American or European) toned authors in speculative fiction. Anybody have some? 


I'm reading through three lists of best horror with two friends (DeAnna Knippling and M.B. Partlow), posting reviews as we go. (For more information, including a list of the books, see this post.) To see the books I've reviewed so far, you can view the list at the end of this post where I rank them.

This week I'm reviewing Psycho, by Robert Bloch.

This is going to be a brief review, because it's incredibly hard to review something I was so familiar with already, having seen the film based on the book about a billion times before reading it.

It could have been better written, but I suspect it was an early book for Bloch. I imagine it was a shocking piece of fiction when it came out. Norman Bates is a slow reveal. At first, he's an overweight noodge (that's not a real word, but I think you know what I'm saying). Shy, quiet, tentative. He fully believes he's cleaning up after his mom when a woman is murdered at the hotel. He gets rid of the evidence and takes action against his mother.

We bounce around through multiple points of view, from Norman to the woman soon to be murdered, to the woman's boyfriend, etc. Bloch explores their various ways of thinking, why they make the decisions they do, and their insecurities and insanities. The reader gets far more insight into why things go the way they do, as well as into what happened to his mother, than in the movie. 

I was warned before I read the book about the sexism. At first, I thought the warning was inaccurate, thinking that since we were seeing it from the viewpoint of Norman, it was just part of the character (Norman has mega-issues with women courtesy of his mother.) However, the original victim has a sister, and she is the most inane, dull, stupid character. She does everything the men tell her to do, including not reporting her sister missing, all while wringing her hands and asking the men what should be done. She is dismissed repeatedly, and even writing! Repeatedly! ACK!

Moving on from there, this book has the suspense you would expect from it, and it delves into the mental issues of all the characters, not just the murderer. It's a worthwhile read and a quick one. Don't expect to be surprised if you've seen the movie, though. Both do the story justice in their own way, but the story lines are close.

There will always be something frightening about the plain guy next door being psychotic, twisted, and dangerous. The more unassuming, the more frightening. This is captured in Psycho.

My new rankings:

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
2. The Bottoms (Joe R. Lansdale)
3. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
4. A Choir of Ill Children (Tom Piccirilli)
6. The Year’s Best Fantasy: First Annual Collection (Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling)
7. Needful Things (Stephen King)
8. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
10. The Stranger (Albert Camus)
11. Dead in the Water (Nancy Holder)
12. The Witches (Roald Dahl)
13. Psycho (Robert Bloch)
14. The Damnation Game (Clive Barker)
15. The Wolf's Hour (Robert McCammon)
16. Berserk (Tim Lebbon)
17. Prime Evil (Douglas E. Winter)
18. Best New Horror, Volume 1 (edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell)
19. Flowers in the Attic (V.C. Andrews)
20. The Tomb (F. Paul Wilson)
21. Shadowland (Peter Straub)
22. Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy)
23. The Imago Sequence (Laird Barron)
24. My Soul to Keep (Tananarive Due)
25. Penpal (Dathan Auerbach)
26. World War Z (Max Brooks)
27. From the Dust Returned (Ray Bradbury) 
28. The Red Tree (Caitlin R. Kiernan)
29. In Silent Graves (Gary A. Braunbeck)
30. The Cipher (Kathe Koja)
31. Drawing Blood (Poppy Z. Brite)
32. The Doll Who Ate His Mother (Ramsey Campbell) 
33. Hotel Transylvania (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)
34. Naked Lunch (William S. Burroughs)

The next book I'll be reviewing is Dawn, by Octavia E. Butler.

Do you think about what your characters would eat? Is food an instrumental part of your books? Did you stop by and say hi? Do you have any recommendations for non-western voices? Have you read Psycho? Seen the movie? Have you read anything else by Bloch? What did you think? Anything you'd recommend?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Author Meet and Greet Update & Links

I'd love to be able to post something of consequence right now, to put out an informative post, or to even post fun horror stuff since this is usually my favorite time of year, but the election and just plain PEOPLE have me so depressed right now that I sit here staring at this blank screen and can't think of anything I want to talk about. I'm thankful it's not impacting my fiction writing, but it's just not happening for me on here.

So instead I'm going to post about the fun Author Meet and Greet I was part of this weekend. Because I had a great weekend until I went on social media tonight, so I'm just going to back up and pretend this evening didn't happen.

A local small press put on a signing event Saturday, and I was invited to be a part of it as one of two horror authors! It was held in a local art gallery, so we were surrounded by paintings and other forms of visual art, which is a great setting. There was wine, there were goodies, and there was a talented group of local authors. Friend and fellow horror author DeAnna Knippling shared the table with me, so we had some fun decorations.

The sign is new. My husband got up early and made it for me that day. Isn't he awesome? He even dropped by and said hi about partway through, and to see if I needed lunch or anything else.

I had four of my titles there, and I sold out of two of them! Not to say I had a big inventory of them or anything, but it was still exciting. Especially as my biggest fear going in that morning was that I would sell a big goose egg, thus letting down the friends running the event. I imagine it helped that it's the month of October. You know, formerly my favorite month. It's the month some folks who don't otherwise touch horror check it out. Even bigger than selling out, I sold to strangers! We authors try to support each other by buying books, but strangers, people who were not writers, they bought my books! Meep!

Now I have to decide whether I'll go through the work of selling my books at MileHiCon at the end of the month. It involves getting sales tax licenses for state and the city of Denver, and I only have two of my books. While I might be able to get my books in time for MHC that I sold out of, I'm not willing to pay expedited shipping to ensure it. So I need to decide this week, and to determine whether it's worth trying to get at least the one book shipped out now. SO MANY DECISIONS!

A lot of people stopped by and chatted, and even when they didn't buy a book, it was nice. All in all, I'd say it was a successful event, but I'm not the one who has to do the bookkeeping on it. If it was, in fact, successful, they'll hopefully be doing it again with other authors, but I don't know how soon that will be. Organizing events is stressful, and nothing teaches you that like doing it!

Now for some links. Bear in mind that I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Ellipsis, a Westminster College literary journal, is open for their annual publication. Poetry, short fiction, creative non-fiction, drama, and art. Pays $10-$50. Deadline November 1 for most categories.

Belmont Story Review is open for fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction. No word limit mentioned. Pays a cash honorarium. Deadline November 1.

Mofo Pubs is open for submissions to their anthology Wanderlust. Sexually explicit literary erotica. 1000-5000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline November 3.

Lamplight is open for submissions. Dark literary fiction. Up to 7000 words. Pays $.03/word up to $150. Current deadline November 15.

The Lorelei Signal is open for fantasy short fiction. Up to 10,000 words. Pays between $2 and $7.50. Current deadline November 15.


Don't forget the Insecure Writer's Support Group 2016 Anthology Contest. 3000-6000 words. Fantasy with the theme "hero lost." Pays in royalties. You will be published in an e-anthology. Deadline November 1.

New York Encounter is holding a poetry contest. Theme: Reality has never betrayed me. Cash prizes up to $300. Deadline November 1.

For Fun:

It's always good to find new scary books. Here's a list of 40 Scariest Books of the Last 200 Years by Sarah Mangiola on The Lineup.

How was your weekend? Bought any good books lately? Read any books in the last month or so you'd recommend? Are you ready for Halloween? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

IWSG - It's Beta Time, Signing, & Links

Before we jump into the Insecure Writer's Support Group, a little news. I'll be participating in a local author meet and greet this coming Saturday, October 8, 11-2, at Cottonwood Center for the Arts.

It's free to attend! Wine, treats, trivia, and lots of books for sale for Christmas gifts. I hope to see some local familiar faces there. I'll be selling/signing copies of Once Upon a Scream, The Deep Dark Woods, Through Clouded Eyes, and Bloodbond Magazine.

I'll also be a panelist at MileHiCon in Denver the last weekend of October. More on that soon. I got my schedule last night, but I'm not sure if I'm allowed to share it yet.


Now onto IWSG. This is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh, created to give writers a place to air their insecurities. Join up and share! All are welcome.

This month's co-hosts are Beverly Stowe McClure, Megan Morgan, Viola Fury, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Angela Wooldridge, and Susan Gourley!
Stop by and say hey and thanks for all their hard work.

The optional question of the month is "When do you know your story is ready?" Not sure I have a good answer for that one. I tend to think you just know. On the flipside of that, it's probably never 100% ready. Once you have done your big edits and are just nitpicking at it, it's ready. You will never find every issue, and you could easily spend forever on one story.

Speaking of which, my insecurity this month is that I've just sent my novel out to several beta readers. Waiting to see what they think. I should know by November, and launch into another round of edits then. Nerve wracking!


My short story submission stats for the month of September are:

17 submissions
14 rejections
1 anthology invite
1 short listing
12 currently on submission

Busy month! The longest a story in this batch has been out is 130 days. The longest I've ever had a story out is 293 days.


Now for some links. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing any of these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting to a publication.

Accepting Submissions:

Splickety Havok is taking submissions for the Literary Mutations issue, due out in January. 300-1000 words. Pays $.02/word. Take a literary classic and twist it. Deadline October 28.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is looking for pieces for the theme Inspiration for Teachers. 1200 words or less. Pays $200. Deadline October 30. is seeking stories for Clockwork Wonderland, a clockpunk Alice in Wonderland themed horror anthology. 2000-5000 words. Pays $10. Deadline October 31. Personal note: I do endorse this publisher. I've worked with them, and they were wonderful to deal with. 

Level Best Books and Dames of Detection are seeking stories by and about law enforcement for the anthology Busted: Arresting Stories From the Beat. Up to 5000 words. Pay is not listed. Deadline October 31.

Tacitus Publishing is open for horror set in space for the anthology Shattered Space. 1500-5000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline October 31.

A Murder of Storytellers wants your speculative fiction story about people's gods for The Book of Blasphemous Words. Up to 10,000 words. Pays $15. Deadline October 31.

Whortleberry Press is asking for flash fiction of 500 words or less for Forty Flashes. Fantasy and science fiction. Pays $6. Deadline October 31.

The Literary Hatchet seeks dark fiction, poetry, essays, art, photography, and more. 1000-6000 words. Pays $1-$10. Deadline for the next issue November 1.

The First Line's next first line (and final for this go around) is: "In the six years I spent tracking David Addley, it never occured to me that he didn't exist." Write a short piece with this first line. 300-5000 words. Pays $5-$50. Deadline November 1.

Blog Hops:

Juneta Key is hosting the October Storytime Blog Hop. Post a speculative fiction story on October 27.

What are your insecurities? How do you know when your story is finished? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

S.A. Larsen Cover Reveal - Motley Education

Today I'd like to present S.A. Larsen's Motley Education cover reveal!

Title: Motley Education (Book One: The URD Saga)
Author: S.A. Larsen
Release Date: October 10, 2016

Forget having a lively after school social life, Ebony Charmed is fighting to keep the entire Afterlife alive.

Ebony’s less-than-average spirit tracking abilities are ruining more than sixth grade at Motley Junior High: School for the Psychically & Celestially gifted. Her parents argue so much her dad moved out. And, even though he’s scared of his own shadow and insists on bringing his slimy, legless lizard everywhere they go, Ebony wouldn’t survive without her best friend, Fleishman.

When Ebony’s Deadly Creatures & Relics’ project goes missing, she learns her missing project is one of the keys to saving the spirit world. Now Ebony and Fleishman must battle beasts from Norse Mythology to retrieve her project before spirits are lost, the Well of Urd dries up, and Ebony loses all hope of reuniting her family. But someone lies in wait, and he has other plans...including creating a new world of spirits without them in it.

Motley Education has been aligned with Core Standards for grades 4-7. A guide will be available on the author’s website to download for FREE after the book’s release date.

About S.A. Larsen

S.A. LARSEN is the author of Motley Education, the first book in a middle grade fantasy-adventure series. Her work has appeared in numerous local publications and young adult anthologies Gears of Brass and Under A Brass Moon by Curiosity Quills Press. Look for her debut young adult novel, Marked Beauty, set for release in 2017. Find her in the land of lobsters, snowy winters, and the occasional Eh’ya with her husband of over twenty years, four children, a playful pooch, and two kittens.

You can visit her online at

Follow her on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram and connect with her on her Website & Blog.

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Five lucky winners will each receive a signed bookmark and assorted swag! Contest runs from 09/15/16 to 09/23/16. Winners will be chosen my

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Direct link to giveaway:

What do you think? It raises interesting questions, doesn't it?  

May you find your Muse.

Monday, September 19, 2016

It's Baby Moo and Julie, Too! (& Links)

Today, I'm featuring Julie Flanders and her new book Baby Moo's Great Escape. If you've been by Julie's blog, you know she cares deeply about animals and works to bring attention to ways to help them. Now she's taken that love and put out her first children's book.

Without further ado, here's Baby Moo! (Man, I keep rhyming.)

Baby Moo has a dream. He wants to travel the world and sing on the stage of the Sydney Opera House! While he loves his home at Sunrise Sanctuary, it hasn’t been the same since a piglet named Nathan showed up and stole all the attention away from Moo. Jealous of the new baby, Moo decides now is the time to make his escape and pursue his dream.

But the world outside the sanctuary gates is not quite the fun and exciting place Moo imagined, and he quickly finds himself in big trouble. Moo's friends Missy the dog and Ruthie the cat rush to help him, and land in some trouble of their own.

Lost and frightened, Moo and his friends must rely on each other to find their way back home. Will they ever see Sunrise again?

Release date: September 8, 2016 from Native Ink Press


Julie Flanders will donate $1 to Sunrise Sanctuary, home to Baby Moo and numerous other rescued animals, for each copy sold in September. 


Now for some links! Bear in mind that I'm not endorsing any of these links, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

The Patchwork Raven is open for submissions of children's bedtime stories aimed at kids 3-9. Pays $25. Deadline September 30.

The Fantasist is open for novellas. They have a whole big list of stuff they like, so I'm going to leave it up to them, but fantasy and YA, in general, though YA is not required. 15,000-40,000 words. Pays $50. Deadline September 30.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is looking for stories matching the theme Best Mom Ever! Up to 1200 words. Pays $200. Deadline September 30.

Karen Walker is putting together an anthology called Still Me After All These Years. She's looking for contributors age 50 and over. I don't believe this will be paid, which I usually wouldn't share, but this is a passion project for her, so I agreed to share, anyway. Deadline September 30.

The Last Line is open for flash and short fiction ending with the line "It was hard to accept that from now on everyone would look at her differently." 300-5000 words. Pays $20-40. Deadline October 1.

Robert N. Stephenson is looking for submissions of speculative fiction for the anthology The Worlds of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Vol II. 4500-10,000 words. Pays AUD$100. Deadline October 15.

Disquieted Dreams Press is seeking body horror short stories for the anthology In Our Bodies. 2000-5000 words. Pays $10. Deadline October 15.

Helios is looking for fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and art. Theme for the December issue is RE_ACTED, and they're looking for stories that explore the dark side of human progression. 500-1500 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline October 15.

Blog Hops:

The October theme for the Write Edit Publish blog hop/challenge is Constellations. Up to 1000 words. Post October 19.

Of Interest:

I thought this was interesting and helpful: Beta Reader Etiquette.

Sounds cute, doesn't it? And isn't it awesome she's donating money to Sunrise Sanctuary for all September purchases? What do you think of Baby Moo? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share? Publishing or submission news?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Horror List Book Review: Needful Things

I'm reading through three lists of best horror with two friends (DeAnna Knippling and M.B. Partlow), posting reviews as we go. (For more information, including a list of the books, see this post.) To see the books I've reviewed so far, you can view the list at the end of this post where I rank them.

This week I'm reviewing Needful Things, by Stephen King.

I thought I'd read this already, and then I found it on my unread books shelf (yes, I have one of those...doesn't everyone?) and realized I never had. I decided to read it, not realizing it was on this list, so yay!

This novel is about a small town (Castle Rock, which has featured in other stories, like Cujo, The Dead Zone, and The Body (Stand By Me)), and a man who shows up, opening up a mysterious shop called Needful Things. He gives everyone their most secret desires, but he exacts a price, ultimately causing the town to degrade into disturbing violence. It's amazing what people will do out of greed for their desires.

The main characters are the sheriff and his girlfriend, a local seamstress. She has horrific arthritis and is in constant pain. They're also the only ones to be able to see through Leland Gaunt's--owner of Needful Things--friendly veneer. 

The first we see violence in the book, a plan come to fruition for Gaunt, it's two women tearing each other apart, literally, in the middle of a suburban neighborhood. This is after several awful things have occurred to each woman, attributed to the other woman. Muddied sheets, rocks through windows, and a dead dog.

If you can't stand violence against animals and children, this is not the book for you. Stephen King pulls no punches (does he ever?). No one is safe in this book, not puppies, not cats, not birds, not children. Fair warning.

As always, King gets to the base of each character. He intricately weaves the lives of the townspeople together, hinting at, and eventually telling about, past sins. For a small town, they sure have big secrets.

Once the violence really gets going, it's an insane maelstrom of greed, rage, envy, you name it. In fact, I'd say all of the cardinal sins are covered. And for the most part, the breakdown in civilization in the town of Castle Rock is built up just right, so the violence makes some odd sort of sense. You can see why it happened, anyway.

The people being blamed (and attacked) for committing various evil deeds are not the people actually doing those. The plot is carefully set up, with a bunch of disconnected actions ultimately coming together and making sense as you read on. 

As a bonus, there are references to other King novels set in the town, with a character returning from The Body (I won't tell you who, but you'll know when he shows up). If you've seen the film, you'll know why I kept looking for the line, "I killed my wife. Is that wrong?" Yeah, it's not in the book.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, even though the animal and child deaths bothered me. It's a slow (not boring) buildup to an explosive ending. 

My new rankings:

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
2. The Bottoms (Joe R. Lansdale)
3. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
4. A Choir of Ill Children (Tom Piccirilli)
6. The Year’s Best Fantasy: First Annual Collection (Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling)
7. Needful Things (Stephen King)
8. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
10. The Stranger (Albert Camus)
11. Dead in the Water (Nancy Holder)
12. The Witches (Roald Dahl)
13. The Damnation Game (Clive Barker)
14. The Wolf's Hour (Robert McCammon)
15. Berserk (Tim Lebbon)
16. Prime Evil (Douglas E. Winter)
17. Best New Horror, Volume 1 (edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell)
18. Flowers in the Attic (V.C. Andrews)
19. The Tomb (F. Paul Wilson)
20. Shadowland (Peter Straub)
21. Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy)
22. The Imago Sequence (Laird Barron)
23. My Soul to Keep (Tananarive Due)
24. Penpal (Dathan Auerbach)
25. World War Z (Max Brooks)
26. From the Dust Returned (Ray Bradbury) 
27. The Red Tree (Caitlin R. Kiernan)
28. In Silent Graves (Gary A. Braunbeck)
29. The Cipher (Kathe Koja)
30. Drawing Blood (Poppy Z. Brite)
31. The Doll Who Ate His Mother (Ramsey Campbell) 
32. Hotel Transylvania (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)
33. Naked Lunch (William S. Burroughs)

Have you read Needful Things? Where do you rank it among King novels? What did you think of the buildup? What would your weakness be in terms of desires Gaunt could take advantage of?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Cover Reveal: Timeless, by Crystal Collier

Crystal Collier, she of the author feature where they give two truths and a lie, is releasing her new novel, Timeless, in November. You can't read it yet, but here's a preview of her cover!

Timeless is a YA Paranormal Historical novel, the third in her Maiden of Time series.

Time is the enemy.

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil, and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?

Timeless will be released by Raybourne Publishing November 1, 2016.

If you're eager to jump in, the first two books, Moonless and Soulless can be purchased HERE.

Crystal is running a giveaway. Enter to win!

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What do you think? It's a gorgeous cover, isn't it? Have you read the first two novel in the series? Have you played two truths and a lie on Crystal's blog?

May you find your Muse.