Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Chrys Fey, Seismic Crimes, a Giveaway, IWSG, Horror Addicts, & Links!

While Chrys is here, I'm being interviewed over at So after you're done reading here, please drop by and say hi to me!


I'm going to make my IWSG post short today. But it IS time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, created by the inimitable Alex J. Cavanaugh!

Don't forget to stop by and thank the awesome IWSG co-hosts this month: Stephen Tremp, Fundy Blue, MJ Fifield, Loni Townsend, Bish Denham, Susan Gourley, and Stephanie Faris! 

Since this has been such a fantastic month, I'm going to post words of encouragement instead of fears. My big takeaway lately has been to write what you love, and to not let other people discourage you. If you like writing novels, write them. If you like writing short stories, write them. If you like horror, run with it. If you prefer romance, romance our socks off. Just pay attention to what you love, what you want to create, and enjoy the hell out of the writing of it. Remind yourself why you do what you do.

My submissions numbers will be at the end of this post.


I'm delighted to welcome Chrys Fey today, to talk about Seismic Crimes, the second book in her Disaster Crimes series. Check out her book, then visit her blog, where she writes informative posts about writing and publishing. Take it away, Chrys!

Two POVs are Better than One!

I wrote Hurricane Crimes solely in Beth Kennedy’s perspective because she was the character I felt could tell the story as I wanted it to be told. Donovan was my mysterious (and passionate) character: Is he a killer or isn’t he?

For Seismic Crimes, though, I knew I’d have to divide the story between Beth and Donovan. I wanted to share both of their thoughts and senses for every romantic, suspenseful and disastrous moment. It was fun starting an exciting event in one POV and ending it in another. Certain scenes also seemed to fit better with Donovan or vice versa, and it was fun exploring how each of them would survive on their own.

Beth’s POV:

Donovan was an amazing man; there was no doubt about that. And she couldn’t ignore her feelings either. When she realized she would do anything for him, even kill to protect him, she knew she was in love. Yes, in love with a man she barely knew, but in love nonetheless.

The clock hanging on the wall was wrong but the minute hand continued to move. Each tick frayed Beth’s nerves. Donovan had been in the interrogation room for thirty minutes. What is happening? What are they putting him through?

Her hair hung in damp ropes to her shoulders and her clothes were wet, offering a bit of coolness to her heated skin. She stretched out on the chairs, letting exhaustion take over her body, and drifted off to sleep.

Donovan’s POV:

Donovan sat with his back straight against the metal chair, his cuffed hands clasped on top of the table. An officer sat in front of him. The other two flanked his chair.

“Just watch the footage,” he told them, aggravation growing inside him like acid reflux. “You’ll see I didn’t kill my brother.”

“Well, that’s something we’re all curious about,” the officer sitting at the table said. “How did your brother’s murder just happen to be recorded?”

“It didn’t just happen to be recorded,” Donovan seethed. “My brother was a cop. He was in the Internal Affairs unit.” He spoke slowly as if he were drilling the words into the officers’ heads. “He had a security system to protect his home. It wasn’t a piece of shit system, but an elaborate one. He had two separate systems of hidden cameras outside and inside his house.”

Title: Seismic Crimes
Author: Chrys Fey
Series: Disaster Crimes Series (Book Two)
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Format: Digital and Print
Page Count: 282




An Internal Affairs Investigator was murdered and his brother, Donovan Goldwyn, was framed. Now Donovan is desperate to prove his innocence. And the one person who can do that is the woman who saved him from a deadly hurricane—Beth Kennedy. From the moment their fates intertwined, passion consumed him. He wants her in his arms. More, he wants her by his side in his darkest moments.

Beth Kennedy may not know everything about Donovan, but she can’t deny what she feels for him. It’s her love for him that pushes her to do whatever she has to do to help him get justice, including putting herself in a criminal’s crosshairs.

When a tip reveals the killer's location, they travel to California, but then an earthquake of catastrophic proportions separates them. As aftershocks roll the land, Beth and Donovan have to endure dangerous conditions while trying to find their way back to one another. Will they reunite and find the killer, or will they lose everything?



Amazon CA / NOOK / KOBO 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for coming by, Chrys, and good luck with the rest of your tour! I hope you'll all visit Chrys at her blog, and come say hi to me at!

I usually do a monthly wrap up of my publication/submission numbers for the previous month with my IWSG post, so here they are:

In April:

I submitted 3 stories.
I received 3 rejections.
I received 0 acceptances.
I had 2 stories published (see THIS POST for more information on those.)

Just a few links this week since this post is pretty full up already. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing any of these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Alliteration Ink has put out a call for stories for Steampunk Universe. The focus will be on character who do not identify as abled or neurotypical. Pays $.06/word. 5000 words or less. Deadline June 1.

Helen is seeking short works that are literary or genre. Pays between $2 and $10. 500 to 4000 words. Deadline June 1.

Contrary is open for submissions for their summer issue. Pays $20 per author per issue. Fiction, poetry, commentary. Deadline June 1.


The Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation is holding a playwriting competition. No entry fee. Prizes run from $500 to $3000. Entry must involve someone who is LGBTQ+, and be based on someone from history. Deadline May 31.

Have you written multiple POVs before? Was there a reason, or is that just what spoke to you? Did you read Hurricane Crimes? What are your writing insecurities? Have you allowed yourself to be discouraged by anyone lately? How did you come back from it? Any publication news? Are you submitting?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Short Stories - Worth Your Time?

A recent conversation at a writing event (that I was not at, and only heard about secondhand) has had me thinking (and being defensive, let's be honest here). I don't know the exact question that was asked, but it was about whether a writer could get anywhere with short stories, basically.

The answer was along the lines of short stories not being something a writer could make a living on these days, and that an author can no longer break into novels by writing short stories. (My version is deeply simplified, I'm sure, and my response is not geared toward the person or persons who answered, but toward the inner dialogue happening in my brain.)

I disagree on at least half of that.

While it would be a lot of work to make a living off short stories, it could probably be done, but it's more likely you'd be supplementing another income with them than actually living off them. You can write more short stories in a year than you can novels, and advances on novels aren't exactly in the hundred-thousands (see below). If you can bust into pro markets, and especially if you write in multiple genres, there are a good number of magazines and anthologies out there. Publishing houses are putting out anthologies of short stories in order to draw attention to their novel publishing lines, for instance.

Are there as many magazines now as there were before, and are they paying as well as they used to? I have no idea. I wasn't writing "back then." Word on the street is that there aren't, and they aren't. But sites like Duotrope and Submission Grinder make it easier to track down open markets than it used to be, so hey, you're one up on the folks that had to hunt them down on paper. The interweebs help a lot, too. As does social media (which, of course, can be found on the interweebs). If you want a specific level of pay, you track down the publications offering that level of pay. That doesn't mean you'll get accepted, but neither does querying an agent about your novel...

As far as using short stories to get exposure, if that's why you want to write them, go for it. Personally, I enjoy writing them, but I do hope that being able to put publication credits in that depressing part of the query letter where you struggle to put something that makes you worthwhile as a writer will show future agents and editors that I'm someone who can write something others want to read (and pay for), that I've been in the game enough to know how to self-promote, that I'm professional, that I can write to a deadline, and that, gosh darn it, people like me.

^And hopefully they'll never read that dreadful run-on sentence.

Yes, I do want to make money writing. I want it to be my career. But I also want my stories to be read and appreciated (hopefully). I'd write either way, because my brain says so. I sure wouldn't work this hard at it, nor would I likely edit and submit it, if I didn't want to do something with them in terms of career.

In looking for examples of modern novel authors who started with short stories, I don't have to go far. Carrie Vaughn, currently living about an hour north of me, got her start in short stories. In fact, her character Kitty got her big start in a short story that later spurned the first novel in the Kitty Norville series. (*Disclaimer: I'm basing this off my memory of an interview I did with her for Pikes Peak Writers, so don't quote me.)

If she can do it, you can do it.

But to do it, you have to write enough stories to make it worthwhile. You aren't going to get a $5000 advance on a short story. Chances are, you won't get much more than that for a novel it took you a year to write and edit, either. That's why you always have ideas coming in, and you are always working toward that next story. Or you are if you want to make a career of writing, whether it's short stories or novels (or something in between).

The more short stories you have out there, the better your chances at income.

The more novels you have out there, the better your chances at income.

Funny how that works.

Neither option is going to be easy. Neither one is going to drop success in your lap without hard work. If you're avoiding short stories because you think you can't make money writing them, maybe take a look at them and see if you enjoy writing them on the side. If your measuring stick of success tells you short stories don't equal success, only novels do, then you're on your own. I'm not going to argue with you. That's a measurement you've created on your own.

If you have no interest in short stories, don't write them. Pretty simple.

Consider the fact that if you put out as many words on short stories as you do on novel writing, you would mill out quite a few short stories. The average length is about 5000 words, give or take a couple thousand (and often depending upon genre). If you write that in a week on a novel, you could write a short story a week. That's 52 short stories per year. 5000 words x 52 = 260,000. That's $13,000 per year at $.05/word (the lowest pro pay). Then you've got reprints and collections, bringing in additional income (at lower pay, if we're discussing reprints) on previous years' short stories. Breaking it down that way, you'd make more Year Two, and more Year Three. So on.

And, no, I'm not guaranteeing you'd sell all your stories, or that you'd sell them at pro rates. Yeesh, I'm just showing you some numbers on a for instance basis. Work with me here.

Of course, 260,000 is actually two to three novels, so we're not equaling one novel to 52 short stories, either. If you sell all 52 short stories or all 2.5 novels, you're going to make more on the novels.

I went and did some quick research, and came up with several other people who had already done lots of research, so I didn't have to (instead of citing all the information I read through, here's the search term I used so you can do the same: average novel advance). The mean and average advances for genre fiction are between $5000 and $6000. So in that one year of writing a novel, the average advance folks are getting is less than $10,000 unless they're getting some solid royalties on top of their advances. Some get $1000. Some get $10,000. Chances are, first timers are on the lower end of that spectrum, while folks who have a few novels out or show higher previous sales are at the higher end.

It should also be noted that mainstream advances tend to be higher, while nonfiction advances are the highest, on average. And I'm betting if we broke that down further, we'd see that certain genres got bigger advances. For instance, based on sales, romance and mystery might get a bigger advance than science fiction and horror. Do the research and let me know (I'm not your research monkey!)

What do these numbers tell me?

If your goal is to be able to quit the day job on your first novel, chances are slim.

If your goal is to be able to quit the day job writing short stories, your chances are slim.

Both of these take time and hard work. They take dedication. You have to reach a certain level. So if you aren't in this for the love, you may have a nasty path ahead of you. Being an author is not a get rich quick scheme.

Unless you're the exception. There's always an exception.

Realistically, do I feel I'm going to become a rich and famous author courtesy of writing short stories? No. But nobody gets to tell me or you or anyone else that it's impossible. Nobody gets to tell me what I can or cannot accomplish. And I'm not going to tell you whether you can or cannot accomplish it, either.

I also write novels, so I'm not going to be a good guinea pig for this. I'm writing short stories because I enjoy them, to hone my craft, because I have ideas that fit the length, to build up my writing resume, to pay for writing related activities, and about five billion other reasons.

I'm not here to convince you to write short stories. I find them worthwhile in many ways, but that doesn't mean you will. Some people prefer short stories, some novels, and some love both. What I AM here to tell you is to write what you enjoy, and to not let anyone convince you out of what you're writing, or to discourage you. If your sole goal or sole measure of success is to make a crap-ton of money, I urge you to sit down and do some research and financial planning, no matter what you're writing. I also urge you to attend some writer's conferences, so you can hear the realities behind author finances, sales, and advances.

And I sure hope you enjoy what you're writing at least a little. Or we won't enjoy reading it.

What are your thoughts on short stories? Do you think they're a lost art? Do you think they're worth your time? Can you make a living on short stories? Can you make a living off your first novel? Your second? What do you measure your writing success by? If you have experience with both, what is your opinion? Do you write in multiple genres? Do you find some genres sell better or for more?

May you find your Muse.

Meeting by OCAL,
Typewriter by OCAL,
Target by OCAL,

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - Rock Piles & Links

Someone left behind some rocks on the rocks in front of the rocks. At Garden of the Gods. (From a hike a few weeks ago.)

I don't remember what these piles are called, but I know there's a name...

Jumping straight into links. Bear in mind, I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

FTB Press is seeking stories about renegades. 2400-4200 words. Pays in royalties. Deadline May 28.

Book Smugglers Publishing is now looking for novellas to put out quarterly. Speculative fiction. 17,500 to 40,000 words. Will pay a signing bonus, plus royalties. Deadline May 30.

One Story is seeking literary fiction. 3000-8000 words. Pays $500 and 25 contributor copies. Deadline May 31.

Caffeinated Press is seeking stories of all lengths (except for novels), plus poetry. Pay is between $10 and $150, depending upon length and type, plus contributor copies. Deadline May 31.

Nashville Review is seeking all kinds of fiction and poetry. Up to 8000 words. Pays $25 or $100, depending upon type of submission. Deadline May 31.

SpeckLit is seeking 100 word speculative fiction. Pays $.05/word. Deadline May 31.

Otter Libris is seeking stories about the circus for Now in the Main Ring: Amazing Tales From the Circus. 3000-10,000 words. Pays $25, plus a contributor copy. Deadline May 31.

Vestal Review is seeking flash fiction. Up to 500 words. Most genres. Up to $25 payment. Deadline May 31.

Lit Select is seeking stories for Love Slave: Score. Erotic fiction. 2000-8000 words. Pays $30. Deadline May 31.

AGNI is seeking poetry, short fiction, and essays. Pays up to $150. No word limits. Deadline May 31.

Any of these of interest? Anything to share? Do you remember what the piles of rocks are called? Publishing news?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Whirlwind Weekend of Releases

The publishing world is an odd one. Sometimes it moves at the speed of sloth. Sometimes everything hits at once.

I had five publications with unknown or tentative release dates, and I was waiting to hear when they'd be releasing. Well, Saturday I was notified of the release of Once Upon a Scream, an anthology I have a short story in.

My short story is entitled The Black Undeath, and is a new take on the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale. With zombies.

It can be purchased at Amazon or CreateSpace in paperback for $13.00, but the e-book won't release until May 28. also did a podcast that involved an interview with Dan Shaurette, the editor, and mentioned something about each of our stories. It's Episode 124. My kids loved hearing my name on a podcast.

If you'll be attending BayCon, those authors from the anthology that could make it will be doing a panel and release party. (I can't make it--sad face.)

The very next day, I received an email that Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things, Volume 2, Issue 2 had released. My creative memoir flash fiction piece, Grandma's Leather Sofa, is in this issue.

This one is kid friendly (one of the very few things I've done that is.) In fact, there are stories in Ember written by kids. And it's fully illustrated! It's on sale for $14.95 at E&GJ Press, but you can use the coupon code SLAWRENCE-FRIENDS to get 35% off!

I actually waited on posting the Ember release, because I didn't want to be obnoxious with the releases on Facebook. But I'll post it today. The kicker is, it looks like one of the magazines I'll have a story in will come out in a week, so boom, boom, boom, three in a row.

Knowing the publishing industry, there will be a gap before the other two release. Funny how that works. Things have been crazy with these two releases and the details surrounding them, and then it will be back to glacier speed, as I wait for acceptances/rejections and release dates.

I enjoy the ride, even if it is sometimes random and stressful.

How was your weekend? Any publishing news to share? Other fun stuff? Have you ever had multiple publications come out at once?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Horror List Book Review: Penpal

I'm reading through three lists of best horror with two friends (DeAnna Knippling andM.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 Penpal, by Dathan Auerbach. 

This book was okay. It had the elements of an amazingly creepy story, yet it didn't deliver. There was an insane amount of unnecessary exposition that slowed the story too much for me. Details that never ended up having a point.

Penpal is about a boy who went through some scary things, but it's told from the perspective of adult him, looking back. The way the story unravels, mundane things are set up and built upon until later in the story, where we find out deeper meanings to them. Knowing that he's looking back on this as an adult severely lowered the tension for me. He obviously survived if he's the one telling the story. So I was never worried about him, and if I couldn't worry about him, knowing he grew up, then what was there to be scared of?

Near the end, others are put in danger. For me, this was the only time I felt any tension. At that point, I read the book much faster than I had been previously. 

Because of the way this was written, I hesitate to give too much away. I can say there were creepy details, ones that I could think, "Ah, that's a great detail," but they fell flat because of the storytelling style.

In the end, I so badly wanted those freaky details to pan out, but they didn't. Yes, the truth of what happened when he was a kid was frightening when I thought about it, but I had to think about it... I had to work to be freaked out, and even then it was, "Oh, yeah, wow, that could have been bad." I even tried to identify with what the mother must have been feeling, considering she knew how much danger he'd been in, but she's a teeny minor character, and it wasn't possible.

Interesting fact: This began as a series of posts on nosleep on Reddit.

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. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
9. The Stranger (Albert Camus)
10. Dead in the Water (Nancy Holder)
11. The Damnation Game (Clive Barker)
12. The Wolf's Hour (Robert McCammon)
13. Berserk (Tim Lebbon)
14. Best New Horror, Volume 1 (edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell)
15. The Tomb (F. Paul Wilson)
16. Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy)
17. The Imago Sequence (Laird Barron)
18. My Soul to Keep (Tananarive Due)
19. Penpal (Dathan Auerbach)
20. World War Z (Max Brooks)
21. From the Dust Returned (Ray Bradbury) 
21. The Red Tree (Caitlin R. Kiernan)
23. In Silent Graves (Gary A. Braunbeck)
24. The Cipher (Kathe Koja)
25. Drawing Blood (Poppy Z. Brite)
26. The Doll Who Ate His Mother (Ramsey Campbell) 
27. Hotel Transylvania (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)

The next book I'll be reading on the list is Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. 

Have you read this? Have you ever read something on nosleep on Reddit? What about contributing to it?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, April 18, 2016

PPWC 2016 Wrap Up - All the Firsts

I'm back!

Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2016 is a wrap! I had several firsts (first time as PPWC faculty, first time being a participating author in a book signing), missed a couple opportunities (I was supposed to have a critique and present my query to an editor, both of which ended up not happening because I was working during the times I would have done them), and had an overall exhausting, but wonderful experience.

I had the opportunity to meet Jeff Lindsay, Joe R. Lansdale, Rachel Caine, Wendy Corsi Staub, Johnny Worthen, Steve Saffel, and a slew of fantastic creative folks.

I taught a workshop on short stories, and was on a panel with my fellow Ladies of Darkness, DeAnna Knippling, MB Partlow, and Susan Mitchell. Both had good attendance, and lots of questions and positive feedback, which felt phenomenal!

I also participated in the faculty book signing, where I signed copies of The Deep Dark Woods. I sold all but two of the books I'd consigned, which I'm really happy with.

The next week will still be busy, but not with the level of stress and pressure I had the last few weeks. I'm looking forward to getting back into my blog and jumping around to visit everyone I've missed in the last month!

How have things been for you for the last month? Anything exciting or interesting to share? How did your first book signing go? Every met any of the folks I mentioned above?

May you find your Muse.

Photo #1: With Jeff Lindsay, photo by Deb
Photo #2: Charise and I with Wendy Corsi Staub, photo from Charise's camera
Photo #3: Me presenting on short stories, photo by Becky
Photo #4: The horror panel, photo by Kameron
Photo #5: Me at the book signing with the last three copies remaining, photo by Michelle

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Welcome to Sortilege Falls Cover Reveal, IWSG, & Links

Before we jump into the IWSG, I want to welcome Libby Heily for her cover reveal of Welcome to Sortilege Falls!

Sixteen-year-old Grape Merriweather has just moved to Sortilege Falls and already she knows something isn't right. A small pack of teenage models, too beautiful for words, holds the town in their sway. The models have no plans on making Grape's life easy. But no matter how cruel they are to Grape and the other “Normals”, no one can stay angry with them for long.

Grape's life changes for the better, or so she thinks, when Mandy, the only “nice” model, befriends her. But that’s when the trouble truly begins. Mandy's friendship places Grape smack in the middle of a medical mystery that has the entire town on edge. One by one, the models fall ill from an incurable disease. Grape quickly realizes that the models' parents are hiding a secret, even as they watch their children die. To save her only friend, Grape will have to find the truth–and that means putting her life in danger.

Due out in June from Fire and Ice YA Publishing

Find it on Goodreads

Look for Libby in the following places:

Now it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, this group exists to air your insecurities, get support from fellow writers, and lend support right back. Anyone can participate. Go here to sign up

My insecurity this month involves creating a query letter to pitch with at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference next week. I haven't had time to sit down and put one together yet, so I need to get on that ASAP. I'm excited to get feedback on it, whether I get an ask or not, because I can use that feedback to improve the query. And then I have no excuse not to start querying agents! ACK!

As part of my IWSG post each month, I like to keep myself accountable by reporting my submission stats. 

In March, I:

Submitted 4 pieces
Got 5 rejections
Got 0 acceptances
Had 1 piece published
Finished writing 1 novella (only to decide I've got more story to tell in a second POV, so I'm making it a novel)

Not a busy month in terms of writing, but this month that's okay. I need to get more productive next month when conference is done!

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

Accepting Submissions:

Part II of The First Line is open for submissions. The first line for this summer issue is "By the fifteenth month of the drought, the lake no longer held her secrets." Each story must begin with that first line, but you can do with the story what you like. 300 to 5000 words. Pays between $5 and $50, depending upon submission type. Deadline May 1.

Sirens Call Publications is open for submissions for their anthology Monster Brawl. They want monsters fighting each other. 4000 to 8000 words. Pays $25, plus a print copy of the book. Deadline May 1. (Note: I have a short story coming out in one of their anthologies soon, and they're incredibly friendly to work with!)

Disquieted Dreams Press is open for submissions of horror comedy Skeptics Must Die. 5000 to 7500 words. Pays $20 per story. Deadline May 1.

Hy Bender and Will Paoletto are putting together the anthology Ghosts on Drugs. The title tells you what they're looking for, though it's broadly defined. No specific word limit. Will pay $.15/word up to 2500 words, $.06/word after that. Deadline May 1.

The Lorelei Signal is open for fantasy short fiction with strong/complex female characters. (You are not required to have female characters, but if you do, they must not be weak or window dressing.) They accept short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. Up to 10,000 words. Pays between $2 and $7.50. Deadline May 15. (I've met this editor at a con, and she is very friendly.)

Lamplight Magazine is open for submissions of horror. Up to 7000 words. Pays $.03/word. Deadline May 15. 

Bracken is open for submissions of speculative fiction. Up to 2500 words. Pays $.02/word. 

The Stoneslide Corrective is open for submissions of stories of all kinds. Short fiction, narrative nonfiction, and flash fiction. Pays between $50 and $125, depending upon submission type. 

What are your insecurities? What do you think of Libby's cover? Any of these links of interest to you? Anything to share? Publishing news?

May you find your Muse.