Wednesday, October 7, 2015

IWSG - Pushing Past Insecurities, Stats, & Links

It's the first Wednesday of October, which means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, dreamed up by the ninja himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh. This month, I'm delighted to be a co-host! My fellow co-hosts are  TB Markinson, Tamara Narayan, Stephanie Faris, and Eva E. Solar! 

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

You can still join! Just go sign up and post about your insecurities.

Sylvia Plath said, "The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." Yet we creatives are constantly doubting ourselves. We'll never be without our insecurities, but we can continue pushing through them to write, to submit, to publish. Don't let your insecurities pull you down. Keep writing and keep getting your work out there, however you choose. It's the only way to make your writing dreams a reality.

Author Harper Rose Memes
As part of my monthly IWSG post, I like to recap my submission stats for the month to keep myself honest.

In September, my stats were as follows:

6 short pieces submitted
1 short story acceptance (into an anthology, publication date TBA)
7 rejections
10 pieces currently on submission
3 pieces awaiting revision

Don't forget about the Insecure Writer's Support Group Anthology Contest! The deadline is November 1. Find more details HERE.

Each Wednesday I post links for writers. Onward! Please bear in mind that I am not endorsing any of these links, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting to a contest or publication.

Accepting Submissions:

Milkfist is seeking short stories, flash fiction, art, poetry, and nonfiction. Payment is token, and varies depending upon submission type. $5 to $30. 

The Quip is seeking stories of all lengths and types. They are a comedic literary magazine. Up to 3500 words. Pays $50 and a yearly subscription.

Heck Magazine is seeking writing and artwork of all sorts. No strict restrictions. Pay is not specified, but it is a paying publication. 

Capricious is seeking short fiction and and essays. Speculative fiction. 3000-5000 words. Pays a flat rate of $50. 

Punchnel's is seeking short fiction, essays, poetry, multi-media, and more. They pay a flat rate of $10. Restricts vary depending upon submission type.

In Short Publishing Company is seeking genre fiction. 3000-4500 words. Pays in ongoing royalties.

Duckbill is seeking flash fiction and poetry. Up to 800 words for flash. Pays a flat rate of $5.

Blue Monday Review is seeking short works, flash, poetry, and artwork. Up to 3500 words for short works. Pays $.02/word for short works, with pay on other types of submissions varying.

The Dark City is seeking mysteries and crime stories. 1000-7500 words. Pays a flat rate of $25. 

Sub-saharan Magazine is seeking short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and artwork. They want stories featuring African characters and speculative elements. Up to 2000 words. Pay is $.01/word up to 1000 words, with varying flat rates beyond that.

What are your insecurities? How are you doing with submissions? Are you submitting? What inspires you? Are any of the markets of interest? Do you have experience with any of them? Any news to share?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, October 5, 2015

It's Halloween Month! Horror Movies & Shorts

Ah, October, one of my favorite months. Considering Christmas starts the day after Halloween, I like to get in my celebrating as soon as October starts.

To get in the mood, here's a list from Movies, Films, and Flix discussing "The Top 21 Horror Films of the 21st Century," as determined by a reader poll. There were a few that surprised me (What We Do in the Shadows and Mulholland Drive, neither of which are really horror), and a few I haven't seen (Trick R Treat, Martyrs, and The House of the Devil). There are also several I don't agree with. For example, I haven't fallen in love with It Follows the way many horror fans have. To me, there were a lot of issues with it, not least of which was how hard they worked to beat the message into the audience. Whatever happened to underlying themes instead of in-your-face themes?

Of course, any list like this is subjective. It did give me a few more movies to watch that I hadn't otherwise considered, so I'll have to check out the ones I haven't seen.

As a bonus, Moviepilot put together a list of horror shorts. You can check them out here. My favorites from the list are Night Night Nancy (despite some obvious flaws, like the actress's acting and the unrealistic way she reacts to what's going on) and Downstairs. I tend to prefer the evil of humanity more than monsters (though I love a good monster), but Downstairs had some excellent creepy moments and scares.

Looking forward to IWSG this week? I'll be co-hosting! If you're not sure what it is, look for Insecure Writer's Support Group HERE. Also, I'll be a guest on Yolanda Renee's blog, Defending the Pen, next Monday, the 12th. Come visit me there! In the meantime, I'm among great company, so stop by to see her other guests, as well. Christine Rains is there today.

Bearing in mind that this is 21st century only, are there any films you would have liked to see on the list? Anything you would remove or shuffle around? What was your favorite of the short films? Do you enjoy short films or does it need to be longer for you to get into it?

May you find your Muse.

Image by OCAL,

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - Life Finds a Way & Links

A couple weeks ago, we took the Jeep up into the mountains a bit, via Rampart Range Road, which winds through part of the Waldo Canyon Fire burn area. I was struck by the greens and golds of the tiny aspens growing throughout the burn area. Aspens are springing up everywhere; someday they'll hide many of the burned trees. In some cases, otherwise burned trees had crowns of color where a few leaves grew on undamaged branches. While it was a sobering sight, it was also an inspiring sight. Life finds a way.

The smoke around Pikes Peak and the distant mountains in these photos is from fires on the west coast, which made it extra poignant.

Next week I'll be co-hosting the Insecure Writer's Support Group! All are welcome to join. Check it out here if you think you might be interested.

Accepting Submissions:

Crossed Genres will start accepting submissions tomorrow for their theme of Decoration. Today is the last day for the theme of Nonsense. 1000-6000 words. Science fiction and/or fantasy. Pays $.06/word. Theme deadline is October 31.

Hypnos Magazine is accepting submissions for their fall issue. Speculative fiction. Up to 10,000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline for this issue is October 31.

The Literary Hatchet is accepting submissions of horror. Short fiction essays, first-person narratives, short stories, poetry, photography, art, and humor. 1000-6000 words. Pays between $0 and $10, depending upon submission type. Submission deadline for the issue to be published in December is November 1.

The First Line gives you a first line and asks you to write a story from that. Any genre. Current first line is "George pressed the call button and said, 'Mrs. Whitfield, you have a visitor.'" 300 to 5000 words for fiction. They'll also take nonfiction on your favorite first line in a story, up to 800 words. They also accept poetry. Pays $10 to $50, depending upon submission type. Deadline for this first line is November 1.

Thema is accepting submissions of short stories, poetry, essays, photographs, and art. Must fit one of the themes. Theme ending soonest is The Neat Lady and the Colonel's Overalls. Pays $10 to $25. Deadline for this theme is November 1.

Microcosm Publishing is accepting "short stories and art on the theme of bicycling and utopias, with a feminist perspective" for their anthology Bikes in Space 4: Utopia/Dystopia. Around 2500 words. Unsure of pay. Deadline November 1.

Devolution Z is accepting horror submissions. Short stories, poetry, and art. 1000 to 15,000 words. Unsure of pay.


SQ Magazine is holding a the Story Quest Contest. The theme is Unlikely Partnerships. Free to enter. Six short listed folks will be published in the magazine, and there are cash prizes for the top three. Deadline October 31.

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is holding the IWSG Anthology Contest. The top ten pieces will be published in the anthology and receive royalties. Must be a member of the IWSG, either via blog or Facebook. No entry fee. Theme: alternate history/parallel universe. 5000-6000 words. Deadline November 1.

Eco-Chick is holding their first annual writing contest: women in water. Fiction, non-fiction, or poetry. Up to 15,000 words. Cash prizes. Deadline November 15.

Any of these of interest to you? Anything to share? Experience with any of these publications? Publishing news? What signs of fall are you looking forward to? 

May you find your Muse.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Cyber Stalking & I'm Back!

Okay, I'm not talking about the serious bad kind of cyber stalking. I'm talking about what happens when a story I've submitted is out past Duotrope's listed average time for a response (*see below if you aren't sure what Duotrope is.) Specifically, it's what I end up doing when I've submitted to an anthology, which has a more concrete run time.

And I'm doing it right now.

I try to not visit Duotrope more than once per week, if that frequently (it depends on what publications I've submitted to, and how fast they are at responding.) If I've got nothing nearing when I should be hearing, I'll go much longer without checking it. But submitting is such a hands off thing once you put that work out there, that I end up feeling a bit helpless. When I have something out to an anthology, I have that minute amount of control by looking at the website, blog, Facebook, etc. of that publication. Many anthologies will keep a running update on where they are in the submissions process, and it helps me to know if I've had something out long enough to really start feeling hopeful.

On Duotrope, you can see recent responses from the market, so if your story has been out for 45 days, but there are a bunch of rejections within two weeks of when they are submitted, you have an idea that perhaps yours is being held for extra consideration. This is by no means a definitive thing, but sometimes it gets me through a little bit longer as I wait to hear back. They also show the average response time for acceptances vs. rejections. All helpful data when you're obsessing about whether your piece stands a chance.

Hello, my name is Shannon, and I'm a Duotrope cyber stalker.

By the way, hi! I've been absent quite a bit lately due to chronic migraines. However, I changed my medical treatment for them and am feeling much more human now. Though it doesn't completely rid me of the permanent migraine I have, it radically reduces the level of pain and discomfort. It also helps significantly with my insomnia, which makes everything better, right? So hopefully I'm back to regular posting now!

*For those who don't know what Duotrope is, it's a database of publication listings. I highly recommend it if you're actively submitting. There is an annual cost associated, so if you aren't submitting it probably isn't worth it. In that case, however, there is a free database called The Submission Grinder.

Do you cyber stalk Duotrope? Publications you have stories out to? Or are you able to walk away and forget about it until that email comes in?

May you find your Muse.

Image by OCAL,

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - A Lake With a View & Links

The annual walk to support the ALS Association was a week-and-a-half ago up in Denver at Sloan Lake Park. It was a much larger lake than in years previous, and there was a view of downtown Denver.

Now for some links. I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting to a publication or contest.

Accepting Submissions:

Chicken Soup for the Soul is seeking stories from families caring for loved ones with Alzheimer's and dementia, as well as stories on the joys of simplifying your life. Must be written in first person. 1200 words or less. Pays $200. Deadline for these two is October 30. Check site for other topics ending soon.

Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing is seeking short horror for the anthology Lost Signals. They want stories about radiotelegraphy. 1000-20,000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline October 31. is seeking horror fairytales, fables, and folklore for the anthology Once Upon a Scream. 2000-8000 words. Pays $5, plus a digital contributor copy. Deadline October 31.

NonBinary Review is seeking fiction, creative nonfiction, flash, poetry, and experimental/hybrid. Up to 5000 words. Also visual art. The theme for Issue #7 is The Woman in White. Pays $.01/word for prose, $10 per poem, and $25 per art piece. Deadline for this issue is October 31.

18th Wall is seeking short stories that combine urban legends and mysteries for their anthology All the Petty Myths. 3000-25,000 words. Pays in royalties. Deadline October 31.

Less Than Three Press is seeking LGBTQIA short stories about private investigators for their anthology Private Dicks: Packing Heat. 10,000-20,000 words. Pays a flat fee of $200. Deadline October 31.

The Overcast is seeking short speculative fiction for podcasts. They prefer stories from authors in the Pacific Northwest, but take submissions from everyone. Pays $.02/word. Open for submissions during the month of October.

Josh Strnad is seeking dark fiction for the anthology Silent Screams: An Anthology of Socially Conscious Dark Fiction. They want stories that give voice to those who don't have one of their own. Though this is a charity anthology, authors will be paid $.01/word. Deadline October 31.

DM Publishing is seeking horror short fiction by women for their anthology Fright Mare. 3000-10,000 words. Pays $30. Deadline October 31.

Zombies Need Brains LLC is seeking short speculative fiction for two anthologies: Alien Artifacts and Were-. Up to 7500 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline October 31.

Any of these of interest? Anything to share or add? Do you have experience with any of these publishers? Publishing news?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Salem's Daughters Cover Reveal & Links

Today I'm pleased to be part of the cover reveal for Stephen Tremp's Salem's Daughters!

Stephen Tremp writes speculative fiction and his fourth novel, Salem’s Daughters, is supernatural thriller. A four hundred year old evil is unleashed when souls of the daughters of those killed during the Salem Witch Trials find a new generation of people to murder at a popular modern-day bed and breakfast.

For a full synopsis and to pre-order a copy of Salem’s Daughters for $2.99 (price goes up to $4.99 soon after release) Click Here.

Release Date: October 1

Stephen Tremp
Author: Breakthrough Series

Congratulations, Stephen!

Now for the links. Please bear in mind that I am not endorsing any of these publications. Always do your own due diligence before submitting to a contest or publication.

Accepting Submissions:

Sky Warrior Books is accepting submissions for their anthology Wee Folk and Wise. Must include fairies. Pays in royalties. Deadline October 15.

Lamplight is accepting submissions of literary dark fiction. Short fiction and flash fiction. Pays $150 for short stories, $50 for flash fiction. 2000-7000 words. Deadline October 15.

Iconoclast Literary Magazine is accepting submissions of prose and poetry. Up to 3500 words. Pays $.01/word, plus two contributor copies for prose, $2-$6 per poem or artwork.

The Impressment Gang is accepting submissions of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and reviews. No word limits. Pays $25, and two contributor copies.

Strange Horizons is accepting submissions of speculative fiction. Up to 10,000 words, but 5000 is preferred. Pays $.08/word.

Strangelet is accepting submissions of science fiction, fantasy, and magical realism. Stories, comics, art, and poetry. 2000-7500 words for short fiction, under 2000 for flash fiction. Pay varies per submission type, but is $.01/word for short stories.

Far Horizons Magazine is accepting submissions for two anthologies. Forever Hungry is about zombies. Fantastically Horny is seeking SF&F erotica. 1000-5000 words. Pays royalties, a contributor e-copy, and a discount on hard copies. Will close when filled.

Concis Magazine is accepting submissions of many different sorts of pieces. Genre doesn't matter. Pays $10, plus a contributor copy.

Contests: is holding the 2015 RRofihe Trophy No-Fee Short Story Contest. 3500-5000 words. $500 prize, with trophy and publication. Deadline October 15.

Of Interest:

Writing With Color is "a blog dedicated to writing and resources centered on racial and ethnic diversity." The specific post I've linked to is a guide for describing skin color without using food descriptors/comparisons.

How do you like Stephen's cover? How do you feel about black cats? Any of these links of interest? Any experience with these publications? Anything to share? Publication news?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Horror List Book Review: Darkness

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 Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror, edited by Ellen Datlow.

Oddly, I didn't enjoy this one as much as The Year's Best Fantasy. This is weird because these stories are primarily taken from the "Best/Best of" books. I recognized most of the authors, and I liked them fine, but I didn't end my reading with as many stories that struck a chord as with the last one. This collection was meant to be representative of the best of the best, so it may have just been that my favorites by each of these authors may have been different than the choices made in the book. 

Having said that, there were no weak links. No stories that I was unhappy with, or that I felt didn't deserve their spot. 

It may also be that there were a few I had read previously, so there weren't any surprises for me in those stories. Often, it's the twist or surprise in a horror story that excites me.

This was another one that taught me a few interesting things about the recent history of horror in the introduction. Specifically, I learned something about the origins of Splatterpunk (when it broke through, who pioneered it, etc.). 

My favorite story was Two Minutes Forty-Five Seconds, by Dan Simmons. It was set up beautifully. The reader has an inkling of what's going to happen, yet is still surprised by it when it does, because it's not quite what they thought. Set on an airplane, the POV character is an engineer obsessing about how long it takes a plane to go down, as well as some other equations he runs through. See, I bet you think you know what's going to happen now, right? You do. But you don't.

Honorable Mentions:

Kelly Link's The Specialist's Hat. Creepy, atmospheric, historic setting. A father who moves his family into a house with a history to write about the man and his daughter who disappeared from this house. Good use of isolation, confusion, and the openness of children's minds.

Terry Dowling's Stitch. Freaky surprise near the end. A twist the reader doesn't see coming. A woman is terrified of a cross stitch bit of art on her relatives' wall. Specifically, a half-formed shadow man in the background--Mr. Stitch. Tied to a horrible experience she had in the house, the two come together in an unexpected way.

Glen Hirshberg's Dancing Men. Ties together a Navajo ritual and a Jewish golem ritual. A boy must go to his grandfather's hogan to help with an Enemy Way. Grandfather, a gypsy victim of the holocaust, is dying. The story works its way up to revealing a surprise from the past, and something that explains some of the boy's troubles.

Don't get me wrong, this was a solid collection of quality stories by names most people would recognize (Stephen King, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, Joyce Carol Oates, Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, Ramsey Cambell, Joe Hill, and a bunch more.) And I should mention that my previously chosen favorite from Year's Best was in here: Pear-Shaped Man, by George R.R. Martin. I didn't want to list it as a favorite again. 

As with the other collection, there was nothing I hated. There are some authors I'll look more into. It was a worthy collection, but didn't pack the same punch for me as the last one. It could have been that I wasn't as open to it these last two week's. I think it's time for me to read a novel and take a break from short story collections, as much as I love them. (I have several of this year's collections waiting to be read, too.) 

One thing I liked was that Joe Hill closed out the book. Clive Barker opened it, Joe Hill closed it. It felt like the beginning of the new guard. Then again, I have no idea about some of the others included in this, whether they're older or younger than Joe Hill, or whether they've been around longer or less time than him. Of the names I knew, Joe Hill was the newest author, the one that had started making his splash near the end of the two decades covered. I enjoyed the sense of closure that brought me.

My new rankings:

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
2. The Bottoms (Joe R. Lansdale)
3. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
4. The Year’s Best Fantasy: First Annual Collection (Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling)
5. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
6. Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror
7. The Damnation Game (Clive Barker)
8. The Wolf's Hour (Robert McCammon)
9. Berserk (Tim Lebbon)
10. Best New Horror, Volume 1 (edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell)
11. Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy)
12. The Imago Sequence (Laird Barron)
13. From the Dust Returned (Ray Bradbury)
14. In Silent Graves (Gary A. Braunbeck)
15. The Tomb (F. Paul Wilson)
16. The Cipher (Kathe Koja)
17. Drawing Blood (Poppy Z. Brite)
18. The Doll Who Ate His Mother (Ramsey Campbell
19. Hotel Transylvania (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)

If you are curious about any of the ranked books above, you can click on the title to read my review.

The next book I read will be My Soul to Keep, by Tananarive Due. I've been looking forward to reading something by her. But first I'll be reading a book or two that aren't horror, because the rest of my TBR pile is starting to really stack up.

Have you read this collection? How did you like it? What were your favorite stories? 

May you find your Muse.