Wednesday, March 22, 2017
I'm deep in edits for the novel I want to pitch at the upcoming Pikes Peak Writers Conference, with a goal of pitching then getting that sucker out into the world. Whether I get a "send it" or not, I'll be submitting to agents following the conference in April. Exciting!
At the same time, I'm working on writing the next novel, plus finishing a bunch of short stories I started recently.
I was notified today that the paper issue of Cheapjack Pulp is now available on Amazon, and the ebook will be available there this Friday, but can be pre-ordered now. You can find both available formats HERE.
While I was working on getting that added to my Amazon Author Central account, I happened across the Audible version of my short memoir piece, "Grandma's Leather Sofa." I didn't realize it was available! For those of you who don't enjoy horror, this is one of my few published pieces that isn't horror. It's available for purchase HERE. It's read by Hallie Ricardo, who has quite a few audio books under her belt (I was scanning through her credits.) It's so cool to hear my story read by someone else like this. And the person who designed the cover did a great job! I need to see if I can find out who it was in order to give them proper credit, but for now I'm not sure. Also, this is the first thing that's only under my name, rather than a magazine or anthology where it's a bunch of us, so if you're so inclined, a review would be lovely.
Speaking of reviews, I just found one on one of the magazines I'm in that specifically calls out my story. Yay!
I was recently involved in a conversation on Facebook about horror movies. The question was whether a horror movie that's PG-13 can be a good film. As conversations do, this one metamorphosed into other related topics, and I noticed that different people define horror differently. Given, I've noticed this before (and also...duh). A few examples: 1. People disagree on whether Aliens is horror or adventure sci-fi (I believe it's both), 2. I've been told by several folks (all male) that The Handmaid's Tale isn't horror (it sure is if you're a woman.)
I tend to define horror more broadly than some. For example, I consider many dystopians to be a form of horror. Handmaid's Tale is more appropriately a dystopian, but the ramifications are terrifying. Atwood doesn't just show a different world, she tells us how it happened and makes it look so easy. There is a feeling of helplessness inherent to the story, and I think women aren't so far removed from the days they couldn't bank or own property or vote that the possibility of being put back in that place isn't scary.
When exploring whether something is horror, or can be treated as such, one of the first questions to ask is what you get from the story. Horror doesn't just exist to provide jump scares (which exist as a release valve in many cases, much like comic relief does, a bleeding off of pressure/tension). There's a place for jump scares, just as there's a place for gore, but often horror exists to cross lines its creators can't cross otherwise. I don't mean fantasy fulfillment, but rather a means to address issues that are hard to talk about. Metaphor is used heavily in horror to represent other things, whether fears or current issues/affairs. Horror tends to be timely, even if it's not obvious that this is so.
Despite what I said above, there can also be an element of fantasy or wish fulfillment. Why else would "revenge porn" exist? I Spit On Your Grave and The Last House on the Left are extreme examples, but there's often a more discreet usage of it. What about the character in horror films or books who "gets theirs," even though they're technically also victims of the Big Bad? Who doesn't cheer when Paul Reiser's character gets his in Aliens? We shouldn't be rooting for the bad guy, yet we do when the not-so-good guy is a jerk who we feel has earned it. This one's easy to trace. How many times in a week does someone do something to you that you wish they'd pay for? That guy who cut you off on the freeway. The woman who stole your parking spot. The dude yammering away on his cell phone during the movie. We deal with minor irritations like these on an almost daily basis, and it feels good to see karma visit someone, even if they didn't do anything to you personally.
This is an example of horror letting you enjoy the dark within yourself. We all have something dark or inappropriate, possibly even shameful (though much of what we feel this shame over is something others might not see as wrong at all). Exploring it through story is as freeing as seeing someone pay for their wrongs.
Horror blurs the lines, pushes back, tests society. It takes norms and dashes them on the ground. It scares us, but if it's really good, it makes us think, to evaluate ourselves and those around us. The good stuff sticks with us long after our initial experience with it. It creeps around our synapses and randomly nudges them.
So what is horror? Horror is psychological. Or it's gory. Or it's tense. Or it speaks to a frightening future. Or. Or. Or. All in all, horror is what scares you, even if that scare doesn't involve one monster. Horror is what makes you think about the things you'd rather not. Horror is a claw reaching out from under the bed, the neighbor down the street, the twisted future, a sick man, a vengeful woman, a ghost, a harmless clown (or a harmful one), history, a mystery. What scares me won't scare you, and vice versa.
In short? Horror is what you define it as, even if your definition is different than mine. That's clear as mud, right?
How about some links?
Blackbird is accepting poetry, short fiction, personal essays, and plays. Up to 8000 words. Pays after publication, but doesn't specify pay amount. Deadline April 15.
Helios is accepting fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and art. Current theme is Redux and Progression. Word count varies per type of submission, as does pay. Next submission period is April 1 to April 15.
Third Flatiron is accepting short fiction and flash humor pieces in the theme of Cat's Breakfast (sci-fi and satire). This is intended as a tribute to Vonnegut. 1500 to 3000 words. Deadline April 15.
18th Wall is accepting short stories and novellas for Their Coats All Red. Strange fiction set in the high Victorian era. 4000 to 16,000 words. Pays royalties. Deadline April 15.
Hashtag Queer is accepting short stories for an LGBTQ anthology. I couldn't get their submission guidelines page to come up, so have no further information other than the current deadline of April 30.
The Timberline Review is accepting short stories, creative nonfiction, essays, poetry, and flash fiction. Up to 5000 words preferred. Pays $25. Deadline April 30.
Cohesion Press is accepting short fiction for SNAFU Judgement Day, an anthology of post-apocalyptic military horror. 2000 to 10,000 words. Pays $.05AUD/word. Deadline April 30.
Afrocentric Books is accepting short fiction for Afromyth, a mythical fantasy anthology. Main character must be of indigenous African descent. 1000 to 7500 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline April 30.
How do you define horror? Have you ever had a story come out and not known it right away? Any good reviews or news? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?
May you find your Muse.
Friday, March 3, 2017
Dark Winds Rising is the sequel to my debut novel Between Two Fires, and comes out with St. Martin’s Press December 5th 2017! Today is my cover reveal for the next book in my historical fiction series set in medieval Wales. A big thanks to St. Martin’s Press for the great cover art!
Mark Noce writes historical fiction with a passion, and eagerly reads everything from fantasy to literature. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, he’s an avid traveler and backpacker, particularly in Europe and North America. He earned his BA and MA from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he also met his beautiful wife. By day, he works as a Technical Writer, having spent much of his career at places like Google and Facebook. When not reading or writing, he’s probably listening to U2, sailing his dad’s boat, or gardening with his family.
Dark Winds Rising is his second novel in a historical series published by St. Martin’s Press. His debut novel, Between Two Fires, (also published via St. Martin's Press) is available wherever books are sold. Learn more at marknoce.com or connect via his newsletter or blog.
What do you think? Great cover, isn't it?
May you find your Muse.
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
All are welcome to participate. Just sign up and post your writing insecurities the first Wednesday of each month, then go around and support your fellow insecure folks. Also, be sure to thank this month's co-hosts: Tamara Narayan, Patsy Collins, M.J. Fifield, and Nicohle Christopherson!
This month's optional question is: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?
Yes, I have, but I must say it's harder to edit an old story than to just write a new one! It has worked out for me, though. Two of my recent publications were old stories I'd pulled out and rewritten. Still, it's not something I do a lot.
My insecurities have to do with finishing stories this month. I've started a bunch of stories, but I keep hopping between them and not getting them finished. I need a good dose of time and energy to actually finish. I can't submit a story that isn't done! And I'm going on a few months with nothing to submit to my critique group, which isn't like me. I'm determined to have one or two stories to submit next month.
Each month I do my submission stats to keep myself accountable. In February, I:
Submitted 8 short stories
Got 6 rejections (2 with personal feedback)
Got 0 acceptances (sob)
I currently have 10 submissions out
Finally, links. Bear in mind that I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.
Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores is open for flash fiction and short stories in fantasy, fairy tale, and science fiction. Pays $.06/word. Current reading period ends March 28.
Sycamore Review is open for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art. No genre pieces. Pays $25 to $50. Reading period ends March 31.
Chicken Soup for the Soul has two open calls for possible topics. The themes are Step Outside Your Comfort Zone and My Kind (of) America. 1200 words or less. Pays $200. Deadline for these two themes March 31.
West Branch is open for poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and translation. Pays $.05/word. Deadline April 1.
Splickety is open for the June issue of Splickety Magazine with the theme Medieval Mayhem. Historical, not fantasy. 300 to 1000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline April 7.
Hermeneutic Chaos Journal is holding the Alice Sullivan Prize. Only those who have not had a novel or collection of short stories published may enter (published short stories is fine). 300 to 1500 words. No entry fee. Grand prize of $300. Deadline March 31.
Sherry D. Ficklin posted The (Hard) Truth About Book Signings. She's got some great information and tips for your book signings, as well as some hard truths, just as the title says.
What are your insecurities? How are you doing with submissions? Any of these links of use? Anything to add?
May you find your Muse.
Friday, February 24, 2017
This week I'm review Dark Forces, an anthology edited by Kirby McCauly.
I haven't done a book review since December! I decided to give myself a break to try to get through the rest of my giant TBR list, because reading these every other book was really cutting into the rest of my reading.
This was a good collection of stories, even though, like most other anthologies of horror published before a certain time, it is heavy on male contributors and extremely light on female contributors (there are two women, and twenty-two men.) The authors in this anthology were Stephen King, Dennis Etchison, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Edward Bryant, Davis Grubb, Robert Aickman, Karl Edward Wagner, Joyce Carol Oates (the one woman I consistently see in these older collections), T. E. D. Klein, Gene Wolfe, Theodore Sturgeon, Ramsey Campbell, Clifford D. Simak, Russell Kirk, Lisa Tuttle, Robert Bloch, Edward Gorey, Ray Bradbury, Joe Haldeman, Charles L. Grant, Manly Wade Wellman, Richard Matheson, Richard Christian Matheson, and Gahan Wilson. A power house of folks, to be sure.
There were some patterns to this collection of stories. One of them was vengeful females. Another was a proliferation of crones. And women scorned. The number of stories centered around angry women was surprising. It actually made me wonder what books and/or movies came out that year, or what was in the news, that would cause these to be common recurring themes.
The first story in here was written by request. You might recognize it: The Mist, by Stephen King. The Mist is a good story, despite the fact that I was dismayed at the sexism inherent. Not Stephen King! Yes, Stephen King. The female characters in this story were all either attractive or old, and all were described by their looks and appeal to the main character. And the main character sleeps with a young girl while they're trapped in the store, even though he's worried about his wife, who remained behind at their house. Given, he's thinking about his wife while they have sex. I don't know if that makes it better or worse.
Other than that, it's a solid horror story. He's rather good at writing the eccentric religious zealot, as well as the psycho bully (in this case, the same person). He manages to describe the dregs of humanity well in all his stories, to make you ache for something bad to happen to certain characters. But he also had some incredibly likable characters, from the grocer who stands with him to an elderly woman who takes no nonsense and doesn't appear to be afraid of anything. Even giant escaped creatures, that loom out of the mist to eat people and do terrible things to them.
Dark Angel, by Edward Bryant, was my favorite story. A woman takes the ultimate revenge on a man who left her in a bad situation. This one might actually be more horrifying for men than anyone else, but it left me feeling a mix of satisfaction and horror.
All in all, I don't think there was a story I disliked. There were a couple that fell flat for me, but I figure they would work for other folks. This was a solid collection of short dark fiction, with some fantastic writing from the contributors. I thought it was cool that an illustrated story was included, that Gahan Wilson told a story in words instead of pictures, and that Richard Matheson and his son did a story together.
Before I close this post out, I want to do a quick tribute to Ed Bryant, who died this past week in his sleep. He was a local horror author, a regular at various cons, and an all around wonderful guy. He had a voice like deep velvet and he was incredibly kind to everyone around him, especially newer writers. He had stories in almost every collection of dark fiction out there, and was prolific. I'm going to miss him at the next con.
Next book? Not sure. But I will try to read it within the next two weeks to get back on schedule a bit.
What do you think of the writers in this collection? Any of them favorites? Have you read this anthology? Have you read The Mist (I'm pretty sure it also showed up in one of King's collections)? Seen the movie?
May you find your Muse.
Monday, February 20, 2017
Now for links. Bear in mind that I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.
LOW L1F3 is open for submissions of cyberpunk short stories. They have a special issue with a political theme. 2000 to 8000 words. Pays $20. Deadline for special issue is February 28.
Parks & Points is open for poetry submissions in February to celebrate National Poetry Month (in April). Can submit up to 5 poems having to do with nature and the outdoors. Pays $15 per accepted poem. Deadline March 1.
Subprimal Poetry Art is open for submissions of poetry, flash fiction, art, and essays. Pays $20. Deadline March 2.
Alien Dimensions is open for submissions of science fiction short stories that involve friendly aliens, are set in space and in the future. Up to 5000 words. Pays $10. Deadline March 15.
A Lonely Riot Magazine is open for submissions of short fiction and poetry. Up to 6000 words. Pays $7 to $20.
Vastarien is open for submissions of nonfiction, literary horror fiction, poetry, and artwork. 2000 to 7500 words. Pays $.01/word.
Persistent Visions is open for submissions of visionary fiction that pushes boundaries and skirts reality. Up to 7500 words. Pays $.07/word.
Fantasia Divinity Magazine is open for submissions of drabbles, flash fiction, and short stories of any genre except erotica and nonfiction. 100 to 7500 words. Pays 1/2 cent per word.
Blackbird Publishing put out a post on Three Easy Ways to Use Facebook to Get Mailing List Sign-ups.
Nitrosyncretic.com put out a copy of an old article about a house Robert Heinlein built right here in Colorado Springs. He put a lot of cool details in at the time, and there's even a bomb shelter. (Apparently, there are quite a few homes in the Broadmoor area with bomb shelters and hidden passageways.)
How do you like Medeia's cover? Mysterious, isn't it? Any of these links of interest? Anything to add? How are you doing with your writing and submitting?
May you find your Muse.
Monday, February 13, 2017
I recently confirmed some upcoming appearances I'll be making, so I thought I'd share! Plus, I have a question for you. But first, here's a picture of the awesome care pack, partially from Do 1 Thing, Nicole from The Madlab Post sent after the Mni Wicon Blogathon. Did you guys know there's a Native March on Washington set to occur March 10? Not only is DAPL an ongoing issue for Standing Rock, but the constant apathy and violation of Native rights is at stake.
As far as appearances, I'll be a showcase author at Pikes Peak Library's Mountain of Authors for the first time! I've worked this event as a representative of two different writer's groups (Pikes Peak Pen Women and Pikes Peak Writers) in the past, but this is the first time I've had the opportunity to be a featured author there. I'll have a signing table, and will get the chance to stand up to introduce myself and my books. It's a free event, so if you're local check out my "Appearances" tab for more details. I'd love to see you there!
I've also been confirmed as faculty at Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2017. I'll be on a panel about why you should write short stories, as well as presenting a standalone workshop on the business of short stories. You have to be a paid attendee of the conference to attend.
Both of the above are in April.
In addition, I will be presenting a 2-hour workshop on short stories for Colorado Springs Fiction Writer's Group in August. Half will be dedicated to the writing of short stories, with the second half involving the business side of things. This event is also free.
I've also received a fourth invitation to be a panelist at an event in mid-summer, but that's the only information I'll give out until I have more concrete information.
|Question Mark by OCAL, clker.com|
My question related to the above is what do you want to know about short stories? Not only will your answer to this question help me hone more workshops in the future, but I can do posts about it on here, as well.
I was interviewed at Writing From the Peak. Check it out!
Finally, how about some links? I'm sorely behind, aren't I? My blogging has been iffy at best lately, but I'm working on getting back to my usual schedule. Please bear in mind that I'm passing these along, not endorsing them. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.
Flame Tree Publishing is open for submissions of short stories for the following themed anthologies: Lost Worlds, Supernatural Horror, Time Travel, and Heroic Fantasy. 2000 to 4000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline February 28.
Galileo Books is open for short stories for science fiction art, essays, prose, and comics. Current theme is Games. 250 to 500 words. SFWA qualified paying market. Deadline March 1.
Radiant Crown Publishing is open for submissions of dieselpunk short stories, novelettes, and novellas for their anthology Gaslandia. Pay varies by type. Pays $.01/word. Deadline March 1.
Splickety Love is open for submissions of short stories themed toward historical romance. 300 to 1000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline March 10.
The Cincinnati Review is open for submissions of prose. Up to 40 double-spaced pages. Pays $25/page. Deadline March 15.
Freeze Frame Fiction is open for submissions of flash fiction for their 4th Quarter issue. 1000 words or less. Pays $10/piece. Deadline March 15.
Arsenika is open for submissions of poetry and flash fiction. Up to 1000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline March 15.
Reflex Fiction holds an international competition for great flash fiction. 180 to 360 words. Free entry. Cash prizes. Deadline February 28.
Susan Spann did a guest post for Writers in the Storm on takedown notices entitled Pirates Beware: How to Prepare and Use a DMCA Takedown Notice. It seems there's a need for this more and more these days.
What do you want to know about short stories? What would you expect at a short story workshop? What would you be disappointed was missing? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share? How are you doing with submissions?
May you find your Muse.
Monday, February 6, 2017
WIHM is intended to bring attention to women in all aspects of horror, whether writers, directors, or any number of other artistic ladies who like it scary-style. As one of these women, I figured I'd do my part and tell you about some other ladies in horror that you may not have heard of.
The Soska Sisters (Twisted Twins Productions) are a relatively new discovery for me. You can catch them on Netflix with their show Hellevator, a "reality" show that puts people in a horror setting and makes them solve puzzles of different types or they get locked up in the dungeon. With snakes. And spiders. And showers of blood. All while these two giggle malevolently at the torture. Imagine my surprise when I realized they were also responsible for the film American Mary, starring Katharine Isabelle of Gingersnaps fame. Not only that, but they had a piece in the short film anthology ABCs of Death 2. Now I know they've got other films, which I look forward to watching. Starting with Dead Hooker in a Trunk.
If you'd like to check out more female horror filmmakers, here's a great Rolling Stone article featuring a few, including Jennifer Kent (Babadook) and Karyn Kusama (Jennifer's Body and The Invitation).
Just want movies with female protagonists? Check out this list from Dazed. Or go watch Teeth, American Mary, Gingersnaps, Housebound, Scream, Cabin in the Woods, Resident Evil, or Alien. Sygourney Weaver, Milla Jovovich, and Katharine Isabelle are three of my favorite bad-ass ladies from this list. (Fun fact: I'm watching an episode of Rosewood while I type this up, and Katharine Isabelle is making an appearance on this show.)
As far as TV, if you have Netflix, I highly recommend Santa Clarita Diet, starring Drew Barrymore. This isn't one for scares, but it's a fantastic horror comedy. American Horror Story (also available on Netflix, though not a Netflix original) is also female-centric in many ways. Scream Queens and Crazyhead are both horror comedies out right now.
Also, be sure to check out horror anthologies, like The ABCs of Death, V/H/S, and others. These often feature shorts by female directors, and at least one of these was produced by a woman.
Despite what you may have heard, there's no shortage of female horror authors. We number fewer than the guys, but we're here. Some better known horror authors include Joyce Carol Oates, Shirley Jackson, Daphne du Maurier, Kathe Koja, Lisa Tuttle, Gemma Files, Tananarive Due, and Poppy Z. Brite. Here are a couple longer lists: Hellnotes, Goodreads.
For specific books I'd recommend, try Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale for some classic stories to get you started. Then look up some of the lists out there of best new horror in 2016.
Since it's also Black History Month, here's a great list (plus links within it to other lists) of black women in horror put together by Sumiko Saulson. (Also check out the Graveyard Shift Sisters, who are doing 28 Days of Black Women in Horror, which includes actresses, writers, and more.)
There are two wonderful female editors who put together horror anthologies: Ellen Datlow and Paula Guran. Check out any anthology put together by these two, and you're sure to find a ton of great horror fiction, much of it written by women. Both do Best of anthologies that I highly recommend to help you jump in and discover the current best horror authors.
Nightmare Magazine did an all-female issue entitled Women Destroy Horror. It's still available for purchase HERE.
This should be enough to get you started. And, of course, check out my publications tab if you'd like to read something of mine!
Do you have a favorite female-driven horror film? A favorite female horror author? Please post your favorite women in horror, whether they be actresses (scream queens), directors, producers, authors, or editors, in the comments!
May you find your Muse.