Wednesday, December 7, 2016

IWSG - Five-Year Plan & Links

It always throws me when the first day of the month is a Thursday. I almost posted my IWSG last week, but realized it wasn't December yet. Why am I in such a hurry, anyway? Guess I'm ready for it to be 2017, and to leave 2016 behind.

But for today, it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Ninja Captain himself.


The IWSG is here for anyone to participate by airing their insecurities or reassurances (or both.) Sign up here and post the first Wednesday of each month then visit your fellow posters to lend your support.

The co-hosts for this month are Jennifer Hawes, Jen Chandler, Nick Wilford, Juneta Key, JH Moncrieff, Diane Burton, and MJ Fifield!

In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what's your plan to get there?

In five years I intend to be a published novelist who also still publishes short fiction. I'm working the plan now, which is to say I'm writing when I can, submitting short stories, and I'm hoping to be querying one of my novels by April. It's out to beta readers now. I have a critique group, who mostly see my short stories. I'm working! Which is what we all need to be doing, whatever that may look for each person.

November was a good month, which you'll see when I post my stats. So instead of talking about my insecurities, I'll just say write, edit, submit/query! Work your plan. Work your business. You're not a writer if you don't write. You can't get published if you don't submit/query. Invest in yourself and believe in yourself, and you can get there. Like anything else, it takes time, practice, hard work, and persistence.

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One of my stories is free to read right now at Cheapjack Pulp. Just click here. Another story of mine will appear free online with Literary Hatchet on December 15, but I'll post that one when it's out.


I wonder if people will notice what book this short story is anti-fan fiction to? Meaning, I was inspired by this book to write a tongue in cheek response to it, and I was not a fan. If you read it, let me know what book comes to mind.

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Stat time! Each month I go over my submission stats for the month. It keeps me in line.

November Stats:

Submitted Stories - 4 (on top of ones already on submission)
Rejections - 6
Acceptances - 2 (Cheapjack Pulp and The Literary Hatchet)
Currently on Submission - 9

Two of these rejections were for themed anthologies, which creates a new issue. That issue being that I have to decide if they are too specific or if I need to modify them in order to be submittable elsewhere. One is currently out to my critique group to see what they think. The other I'm already fairly certain needs reworking before I try to submit it elsewhere.

I also suspect I'll be pulling one of the stories currently out on submission, because it's been removed from Duotrope due to being behind on its publishing schedule, and they haven't responded to people in awhile. Ah well. This is not the first time.

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Now for links. Bear in mind that I am merely passing along links I've found, not endorsing them. Always do your own due diligence when researching publications and contests.

Accepting Submissions:

Garden of Fiends is an anthology of addiction based horror. They are seeking 16,000-25,000 word stories. Pays $500. Deadline January 1.

Azoth Khem Publishing is open for submissions to their anthology Carnival of Madness. Psycho-thrillers. 5000 to 7000 words. Pays $25 plus a contributor copy. Deadline is after the New Year.

Inkubus Publishing is seeking stories with a male/male erotic fairy tale theme. Between 500 and 10,000 words. Pays $15 and a contributor copy. Deadline January 2.

The Wild Musette Journal is in its open reading period. Current themes are music and dance, fantasy and mythic fiction, women's fiction and consequential relationships, and environmental and earth-centered concerns. Fiction, poetry, nonfiction, art. 1000-7500 words. Pays $15 to $100. Deadline January 2.

The Twelfth Planet Press is seeing letters from speculative fiction writers, fans, editors, and critics written to Octavia Butler. 1000-1500 words. Pays $75. Deadline January 8.

The Flash Fiction Press is always open for flash fiction submissions. 250-1200 words. All genres. Pays $5.

Year 20XX is always open for submissions. 2000-10,000 words. Pays $10.

Worcester Journal is open to short fiction. 500-1500 words. Pays $15 to $80.

Contests:

Honeysuckle Press is holding the Honeysuckle Chapbook Contest. In their words, they are "seeking boundary-breaking chapbooks that evoke vivid truths." Poetry and prose. 20-35 pages. $500 prize with publication.

What are your writing plans? Your insecurities? Do you have a 5-year plan? 10-year? Did you make any submissions this month? Any of these links of interest?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Horror List Book Review - 1Q84

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 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami.


This book was written by a Japanese author then translated into English, which always makes me wonder what's lost between the two. It took me longer than usual to read. It turns out it's nearly 1200 pages, so I believe that explains it. 

Once again, this is really not horror. As for what it is, I'm having trouble categorizing it, so I looked at Amazon, and they have it under SF/F, dystopian, and magical realism. And all of those are right. But since it was on a list of best horror, here's the review.

Most of the book is told from two points of view: Aomame and Tengo. It's twenty years after they knew each other as ten-year olds. Both lived unhappy lives, but only one was outcast at school. She came from a family of Witnesses, an extreme religious organization with strict requirements her parents refused to loosen for her to save her humiliation at school. His father was an NHK subscription fee collector, who forced him to walk all weekend collecting fees with him, pounding on people's doors. One day in school Aomame slipped her tiny hand into Tengo's, forever skewing their futures and linking them together. That was the last they saw each other. Yet they lived lonely existences, both often thinking of the other.

Fast forward to 1984. Only something's wrong with this time, so Aomame, who senses it first, renames this strange new world with two moons to 1Q84 to keep it clear in her mind. She knows something is off, but can't figure out why or what. In the meantime, she is given a final mission that sets her off against the dangerous Sakigake cult, forcing her to go into hiding.

In Tengo's world, he is given a project to rewrite a young girl's story. It becomes an instant best seller, though he gets no credit; he is simply the ghost writer. The more time he spends with the young girl who wrote the original story, the more he is drawn into a strange world where the content of the story is possibly more fact than fiction.

This story was intriguing. It actually took quite a chunk of the book to get to where the slight skew became slightly bigger, and more a part of the story. Murakami dives deep into his characters, often giving more information than I felt was needed. There was frequent repetition of things, and it led to me skimming those portions. If a story was told or read within the book, it was either summarized or written out, which I found frustrating at times. I feel like it could have been significantly shorter, while still being a solid story. Then again, this is the first book I've read by a Japanese author, and this may be the usual form their stories take. A slower story-telling style that is more elaborate and meant to leave you with many stories, rather than just one.

It was fun seeing the similarities and differences between the culture I know and the Japanese culture. Just as with other books by non-western authors, I found that there were more similarities than differences. Murakami is obviously well read, quoting authors from all over the world, including Shakespeare. The characters ate what I would expect in Japan, but then one ordered peach pie and coffee at a restaurant, which threw me for a second. 

The translator did a good job of incorporating meanings of words into the story. It was a smooth read. There was only one thing that was odd, and it was when one of the characters stays at a "Japenese-style inn." They're in Japan. I'm wondering if this actually just meant it was a traditional style?

The elements that set this world apart from the "real" one were small, yet significant. Like the two moons or a billboard facing a different way. There was an immaculate conception via conduit, little people that shaped some of the other elements, and a cult that was actually experiencing the magic claimed. Underneath it all was the thread of a long-awaited romance, an inevitable combining of two souls. Yet, despite it being acknowledged as this inevitable draw, there is no telling until the end whether it will happen or not. 

Murakami wove beautiful details throughout. His characters were realistic and individual. They each stood on their own. The characters, both male and female, were intelligent, savvy, determined. They were not uniformly beautiful. They had flaws and self doubt. They didn't always know everything. They were human. And no one in this book was innately evil. Each person was doing what they had to do for themselves, even when they knew it would lead to trouble down the line. I knew who I wanted to win, yet I felt bad for the others, because I understood why they did what they had to do. 

It was a nuanced and gorgeous book that compelled me to keep reading. The fantasy elements never got as strong as I expected them to, so read for the characters and the outcome, not for any extreme fantasy elements. And certainly don't read it for horror. I suspect what got it categorized in that way by whichever list I took this from was the idea that someone could be pulled into what was basically another dimension or parallel universe, simply by virtue of a minor decision, thus changing their lives forever.

All in all, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it. Those of you who read fantasy, dystopian, or magical realism might like it, as well. Again, it's not horror, so don't let that hold you back.

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. 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
9. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
12. Dawn (Xenogenesis, Book 1) (Octavia E. Butler)
13. The Stranger (Albert Camus)
14. Dead in the Water (Nancy Holder)
15. The Witches (Roald Dahl)
16. Psycho (Robert Bloch)
17. The Damnation Game (Clive Barker)
18. The Wolf's Hour (Robert McCammon)
19. Berserk (Tim Lebbon)
20. Prime Evil (Douglas E. Winter)
21. Best New Horror, Volume 1 (edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell)
22. Flowers in the Attic (V.C. Andrews)
23. The Tomb (F. Paul Wilson)
24. Shadowland (Peter Straub)
25. Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy)
26. The Imago Sequence (Laird Barron)
27. My Soul to Keep (Tananarive Due)
28. Penpal (Dathan Auerbach)
29. World War Z (Max Brooks)
30. From the Dust Returned (Ray Bradbury) 
31. The Red Tree (Caitlin R. Kiernan)
32. In Silent Graves (Gary A. Braunbeck)
33. The Cipher (Kathe Koja)
34. Drawing Blood (Poppy Z. Brite)
35. The Doll Who Ate His Mother (Ramsey Campbell) 
36. Hotel Transylvania (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)
37. Naked Lunch (William S. Burroughs)

I haven't decided what I'm reading next in this list.

Have you read 1Q84? Enjoy dystopians or magical realism? Have you read a book by a Japanese author? Did you find it was slower paced and more elaborate than you're accustomed to?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Remembering Fall & Links

I don't believe I posted any fall foliage pics this year, so here's one I took on a new drive we went on this year. There was a meandering stream (or lazy river...I don't know the distinction.



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

Accepting Submissions:

67 Press is accepting submissions for the 67 Press Anthology, Volume 3. Literary. Fringe. 5000 words or less. They prefer flash fiction. Pays a flat fee plus royalties (flat fee not listed). Deadline December 31.

The Kickstarter for Humans Wanted: A SF Anthology went well, and they are still taking submissions. Seeking SF stories about the helpfulness of humans. 3000-6000 words. Pays $250. Deadline December 31.

Book Smugglers Publishing is accepting submissions of short stories for their anthology Gods & Monsters. Speculative fiction. 1500-17,500 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline December 31.

CWTCH Press is open for short stories for their anthology If Mom's Happy: Stories About Erotic Mothers. 1500-4500 words. Pays $50 + 2 copies. Deadline December 31.

Comet Press is open for reprint submissions to their anthology Year's Best Hardcore Horror, Volume 2. Must have been (or will be) published in 2016. Short stories/novelettes. Pays $.01/word. Deadline December 31.

Zombies Need Brains LLC has three anthologies open for submissions after having met their Kickstarter goal. Up to 7500 words. The anthologies are: Submerged (F/SF set underwater), All Hail Our Robot Conquerors! (50/60s style robots), The Death of All Things (Death is a character in the story). Pays minimum of $.06/word (depending upon how much more the Kickstarter makes). Deadline December 31.

Carte Blanche is looking for fiction, creative nonfiction, photo essays, poetry, artwork, and more. Up to 3500 words. Pays a modest fee (not specified). Deadline December 31.

Darkhouse Books is seeking short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and essays about descansos (roadside memorials). Up to 3000 words. Royalty share. Deadline December 31.

Contest:

Story Shares is holding The 2016 Relevant Reads Story of the Year Contest. 1000-10,000 words. Middle Grade up. Several categories for prizes, including diversity and genre. Prizes vary from $500 to $3000. Deadline December 31.

Of Interest:

Chrys Fey put out an excellent post (with downloadable PDF) with 100 Marketing Tips.

Has it been fall or winter in your area? Had any snow yet? Any of these of interest to you? Anything to share? How are your submissions going?

May you find your Muse.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Is Post-Apocalyptic the New Western?

At first there were westerns. John Wayne ruled the roost. Men rode in on horseback, guns blazing, and took out the outlaws and the savages. They survived the ravages of the desert, the mountains, the great undiscovered and deadly wilderness.



They were brave, forging new paths, fighting the "other," dealing with the darkness of humanity.

But they were also free. Lawless. Discovering, pushing, reaching.

Then something changed. Replacing the westerns I cut my teeth on were two things: Dirty Harry-style cops (Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson) and a new focus on war and its survivors (Rambo, countless Chuck Norris films).



As with horror, action films often reflect the concerns of Americans. There were new kinds of outlaws, and the cops had to do whatever it took to take them out. Serial killers were also big during this time, with the hardened, no nonsense cop tracking them down despite the risks.

Clint Eastwood's filmography is a good timeline of these trends. Through 1958, he was in a variety of movies, many of them uncredited, several of them having to do with World War 1 era military films and some cheesy horror. But in 1958, he tread into the land of westerns. A Fistful of Dollars came out in 1964. Note that America became minimally involved in the Vietnam War in the 1950s, with our involvement escalating in the 60s. Our direct involvement ended in 1973.

In 1971, Dirty Harry was born. Eastwood was in several more westerns after this time, but they were minimal compared to his cop dramas and comedies.

I looked at crime rates through these years. These showed that crime rates began climbing in the early 60s, peaking for a long time between the 70s and 90s. Starting in 1993, crime rates began dropping drastically ("32 percent from 1993 to 2000" and 23 percent between 2000 and 2012, according to this article.) By the time we rolled into the 90s, Eastwood's films became more varied again, with less focus on any one thing.



Die Hard came out in 1988. Terrorists were the bad guys here. (Or thieves playing terrorists, really, but in the following movies, this was less true.) In the late 80s and early 90s, Schwarzenegger started fighting dictators and terrorists (and robots). Red Dawn came out in 1984. Even Rocky came face to face with a big, bad Russian in 1988. Our crime rates were still high, but they were reaching their pinnacle. Mad Max popped onto the scene in 1979, though I'm not sure when he hit big in America. The sequels came out in the 80s.

At some point we stopped looking at outsiders and lowly villains, and started looking at the government and the power players. When that was, specifically, I can't say without a whole lot more research than I'm willing to do for this particular blog post, but by the time those crime rates dropped, we were already beginning. The Postman came out in 1997. Hunger Games came out in 2012 (book in 2010).



Going all the way back to westerns, where I began this, what was the appeal? Things were simpler, for one. It was all about survival. Everyone knew their roles and followed them. There were fewer people to contend with, and more wilderness to combat. For the most part, there were a bunch of white folks and Native Americans were, quite simply, the boogeyman, the other, the final barrier in settling the west and achieving manifest destiny. In the real world, during the popularity of westerns, we had the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, hippies rallying for peace, and an awful lot of unrest stirring in this country and others (Berlin Wall). Is it that people felt overwhelmed with all of this going on and wished for those simpler days, where the only race wars were those long conquered in real life? Where the biggest enemies were the deeply stereotyped Native Americans and outlaws who were villains through and through, with no redeeming qualities? Did it perhaps give folks feeling otherwise emasculated somewhere safe to aim their discomfort, scorn, and anger at what was happening?



Now fast forward. We've been involved in warfare in the Middle East for decades (the Gulf War officially began in 1990), the Cold War came to a tentative end in 1991, and we've been involved in various other tensions across the globe. Our crime rates are at all time lows, reducing drastically after 1993. War started looking different to us, somehow more distant, even while we can see more of it with the ease of getting footage. In 2001, it was brought to our backyard for the first time in a long time on September 11. School shootings have escalated, as have random attacks on civilians by people wanting to make a point. McVeigh, angry at the federal government, blew up a federal building in 1995. In the early 70s, we had the Watergate Scandal. In the 80s, people stopped smoking pot and started snorting coke.

It started looking really good for government and civilization to break down, and for us to return to a simpler time. A time where basic survival was the most important thing, where trust was hard to come by, where people depended upon themselves and knew that, above all, no one should be trusted. We imagined the apocalypse. The end of industry and consumerism. Of big government. No more reliance on technology. No more taxes. No more laws.

In post-apocalyptic, there is usually a single hero, possibly with a small band of supporters or random good folks who come along to lend aid when needed. Power is back in the hands of the individual. There is more control over one's individual life, with a sense of freedom to it, even when there is great danger.

The more people depend upon technology, the more we wish we didn't. The more government makes laws to govern our behavior, the more we wish they'd back off and give us our freedom. The more taxes increase, the more we want to escape them. The more we see how dirty and disconnected our politicians are, the more we want the system to change. Post-apocalyptic stories remove big government (unlike dystopians). So did westerns much of the time, and even when government was involved, it was distant, grasp weakened. They were depending upon individuals to go in and clean up their issues, trusting them, often wrongly. The focus was on the individual and whatever form of evil they had to overcome. This is true in post-apoc, too. Even the settings often reflect the barren wastelands represented by drought-ridden deserts (or, as in Waterworld, the exact opposite). Resources are hard to come by, just as in westerns. And through it all, we see the evil in everyday people. Raiders, outlaws, power-grabbers, war lords.

Now, westerns aren't entirely dead. This past year saw the release of a bunch, including one with Scott Eastwood. We had Hateful 8, Bone Tomahawk, The Duel, and more. There were some big names in these films. So, no westerns aren't dead, but they've changed, and they no longer speak to the same places within us that post-apocalyptic now does, which is probably why most of them struggle now, or go straight to video. No one watched Hateful 8 for the wild west experience. It was a violent film that acted more like a bloody locked room mystery than a pure western. Bone Tomahawk was horror, exploiting the other while trying to back away from the generalization of "normal" Natives. Diablo, the film starring Scott Eastwood, was more psychological horror than western. So, yes, they're still here, but no, they're not the classic westerns that were so big for such a long time, and their writers are failing to catch that essential genetic makeup that drew people in the 60s.

That's what post-apocalyptic appears to be for.

What do you think? Do you think post-apocalyptic films has ties to westerns? Do they set off similar emotions and thoughts? Or do you think they have nothing to do with each other? What do you think influenced the movie trends through the years?

May you find your Muse.

Disclaimer: I've grossly oversimplified stats and time periods in my attempt to look at the film and book industry during these time periods. This is a blog, not a college thesis or investigative journal. To flesh everything out, I would have had to spend a whole lot more time, found sources to cite, and it would have taken an immense amount of space, much more than should be used for a blog post. So I'd love to talk about what you think concerning post-apocalyptic vs. western, but discussing ALL the stuff I had to leave out for space and time considerations isn't necessary. I addressed history and crime stats in only the most basic way in order to give a quick scan of what was occurring during this time, and maybe try to figure out what might have been influencing films. This post was about me "thinking out loud" about the similarities between post-apoc and westerns.



*Still of John Wayne from El Dorado, Paramount Pictures, 1966
*Still of Clint Eastwood from A Fistful of Dollars, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios
*Violent crime data, public domain, Ryan Cragun: RTCEarly 01:44, 21 December 2006 (UTC) - Data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics
*Hunger Games book cover
*Cowboy on Horse, clker.com, OCAL

Monday, November 21, 2016

Native American Writers, Artists, Actors, and Musicians

It's still Native American Heritage Month, so I thought I'd recommend some art of various types by Natives. First, literature. After all, this IS a writing blog.

Colours of Us put out a list of 32 Native American Children's Books.



The Open Education Database presented 20 Native American Authors You Need to Read.

Goodreads has a list of Popular Native American Author's Books.



I personally recommend Sherman Alexie and Stephen Graham Jones.



You know what? How about some films? It doesn't have to be all about books.

Indian Country Today put out a list of 11 Essential Native American Films You Can Watch Online Right Now.



I can definitely recommend Rhymes for Young Ghouls, which is available on Netflix. It's a fascinating mix of gritty reality and magical realism. Smoke Signals is not on that list, but it's a great film, and one more folks are maybe aware of. Unfortunately, it's not on Netflix. It was the first movie I saw Adam Beach in, though I don't know if it was his first film overall. He's come a long way, which is wonderful to see, though I wasn't excited about his role in Suicide Squad.



Curious about Native American actors and actresses? Native Celebrities has a list. Some of these folks are recognizable (Adam Beach, Wes Studi, Graham Greene, Jason Momoa, and others.)


Here's a list of Native American artists.

And Wikipedia offers a list of Native American musicians. If you like rap, check out Frank Waln, who infuses a rap song with a beautiful flute solo and traditional Native sounds. For New Age/instrumental, Brule is a great choice. They perform around Christmas each year here.



Finally, I'd like to leave you with a short film (less than four minutes). It's a poem performed by twelve Native women about the effects of colonization. Pamela J. Peters wrote and directed "My Once Life."

I hope you've discovered a new writer, artist, actor, or musician you didn't know about before.

What is your favorite Native film? Writer? Actor/Actress? Musician? Have you ever seen Brule perform? Have you seen the film Smoke Signals? Any recommendations I missed?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Horror List Book Review - Dawn - Xenogenesis, Book 1

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 Dawn (Xenogenesis, Book 1), by Octavia E. Butler.


First, I'm going to get this out of the way: not horror. It's science fiction. I'm going to review it anyway.

It was an interesting story. A woman awakens in a strange enclosed space. An alien lifeform with tentacles on its face tells her she must grow used to its form before she can leave the room with living walls. It is explained to her that humanity all but killed itself off, but that these aliens, the Oankali, grabbed up those few survivors remaining and brought them up to their ship. It has been centuries since they picked them up, keeping them in a sleep while the Oankali repaired the Earth.

This woman, Lilith Iyapo, is expected to allow genetic modifications and then to lead a group of humans in training so they can all return to Earth. But humans being humans, they don't understand what has happened, and they meet Lilith with varying levels of aggression, disbelief, disgust, and hatred.

In this way, the book can be considered a type of intellectual horror, like Lord of the Flies. It's an examination of humanity, and an ugly look at the self-destruction of humans. Put a group of them together and see who destroys who first. 

Two types of rape are addressed in this story: an attempt at physical rape and actual psychological rape (you'd have to read to understand what I mean by this). Relationships and sexuality are also explored.

What little hope there is in this book is overshadowed by the horror that is humanity. However, it's a fascinating exploration of both humanity and what could be with alien life forms who mean well in some ways, but also have their own agenda. At times, the humans meant to be "bad" were too severely bullying for me, and I didn't always agree with the actions of the main character, but it was overall a good book. It became slow at some points, but picked back up. I wouldn't continue reading the series, but I would pick up a different book by this author. It should be mentioned that science fiction is my least favorite aspect of speculative fiction, and not a genre I read much of. If you are a sci-fi buff, know that this is not hard sci-fi. It is more about culture and psychology.

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. Dawn (Xenogenesis, Book 1) (Octavia E. Butler)
11. The Stranger (Albert Camus)
12. Dead in the Water (Nancy Holder)
13. The Witches (Roald Dahl)
14. Psycho (Robert Bloch)
15. The Damnation Game (Clive Barker)
16. The Wolf's Hour (Robert McCammon)
17. Berserk (Tim Lebbon)
18. Prime Evil (Douglas E. Winter)
19. Best New Horror, Volume 1 (edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell)
20. Flowers in the Attic (V.C. Andrews)
21. The Tomb (F. Paul Wilson)
22. Shadowland (Peter Straub)
23. Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy)
24. The Imago Sequence (Laird Barron)
25. My Soul to Keep (Tananarive Due)
26. Penpal (Dathan Auerbach)
27. World War Z (Max Brooks)
28. From the Dust Returned (Ray Bradbury) 
29. The Red Tree (Caitlin R. Kiernan)
30. In Silent Graves (Gary A. Braunbeck)
31. The Cipher (Kathe Koja)
32. Drawing Blood (Poppy Z. Brite)
33. The Doll Who Ate His Mother (Ramsey Campbell) 
34. Hotel Transylvania (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)
35. Naked Lunch (William S. Burroughs)

The next book I'll be reviewing is IQ84, by Haruki Murakami.

Have you read this book or anything by this author? What did you think? Did you find the breakdown of "humanity" to be realistic? What would you agree to if you woke up on a spaceship? Any other books by this author you'd recommend?

May you find your Muse.


Monday, November 14, 2016

Guest Post - Nicole Godfrey on Writing Native Characters

November is Native American Heritage Month, and in celebration I asked a friend of mine who is also Native American to write a post about her experiences with editors who weren't aware she was Native, and the issues of only dealing with someone through correspondence.

Welcome, Nicole!

#

In honor of Native American History month, I’d like to cover the difficulties of working with an editor through correspondences.

As if being Native American/American Indian/Indian, or any other term assigned to the Native tribes of North America, weren’t difficult in and of itself, writing about characters of the same nationality presents its own set of problems. We, as writers, strive for accurate representation of each person we create, no matter their nationality, religion, or political standing. The task is daunting and requires constant research. And the powers that be only know that there have been plenty of mistakes made!

Add in the filter of emails from editors. Someone we’ve never met, with no knowledge of background or upbringing, reads our stories and picks out what they think needs to be changed. Race is a touchy subject in person, what with our melting pot of a country making it impossible to accurately gauge someone’s actual ethnicity. But not in person? No way. So when you get a note about calling your character Indian, that it’s an offensive term and shouldn’t be used, especially when following the statement of not knowing if you’re Native, it can push some serious buttons. Multiple buttons if it’s mentioned more than once. Which it was.

I promise that I behaved. Counted to ten and all that. But in the end I had to explain to the editor that I was indeed Native, that I’d grown up around a family that openly called themselves Indians, and said that as long as the person using the term was the “Indian” in question, it was acceptable. This made me question terms and how they’re used in general. What should matter isn’t the term itself, but how the person speaking it wishes it to impact.

There are gray areas with any term, catch phrases, colloquialisms, and slang that have ever existed. So no matter what, there will be the possibility of causing an offense. But what we all should be concerned about is looking beyond the words to the intended meaning. Writers, readers, critics, trolls, and anyone else that would like to voice their opinion about it.

I love being Native. I love my heritage so much that I’ve written several pieces of fiction with Native main characters. Do I strive to be respectful? Yes. Do I wish to keep it realistic? For sure. Will I stop using a term because I think it may hurt someone’s feelings? No. Look beyond the words and see their meaning and purpose. I have a duty to use my gift and deliver stories that inspire higher thinking. No matter the nationality, I will do my best to do right by my characters as they’re meant to be written.

Thanks for reading.

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Nicole is one-half of the team who wrote Hoofbeats. 



Blurb:
After a run of bad luck, gifted horse trainer Cole Frasier thinks he’s lost his touch. When he’s offered three times his normal rate to gentle a stallion, he needs the money badly enough he jumps at the opportunity, even if his boss is of questionable morality.

Once he meets Midnight Blood, he knows there’s something special about the horse, but he doesn’t know how special until he begins sharing dreams with the magnificent steed.

Derek Dancing Hawk is a horse shifter trapped in his horse form due to guilt over losing the wild herd he was guarding. When he meets Cole, as Midnight Blood, he wants to find a way to be human again. During a fight between Cole and the ranch foreman, he manages to shift and save Cole, but his transformation from horse to human is captured on camera. This not only gives Cole’s boss blackmail material, but also creates the need to warn the horse shifter council of the threat to their anonymity. The existence of shifters is a closely guarded secret, one they will go to great lengths to keep.

Purchase Hoofbeats directly from Dreamspinner Press or Amazon.

BIO: Nicole Godfrey is a writer who calls the beautiful city of Colorado Springs home, along with her furry children. She was born in Omaha, NE. and has lived in Florida and Tennessee. Her writing career started with poetry at a young age, leading to her first publication at the age of twelve. Poetry eventually evolved into the love of storytelling, and any good story, no matter the genre, is open to her creative mind. She has two short stories published through Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group; A Page Lost in An Uncommon Collection, and The Power of the Word in Remnants and Resolutions: Tales of Survival.

When she’s not writing, Nicole actively participates in Amtgard and loves to play table-top RPG’s. Art has also been a part of her life since a young age, so she spends as much time as possible playing with different mediums.


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Now for some links! Bear in mind that I am not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting to a market.

Accepting Submissions:

Pulp Literature is open for submissions only between November 15 and November 30. They want diverse stories. Those under 5000 words are most likely to be accepted. Donations are accepted, but not required for submissions (they are doing a kickstarter.) All genres. Pay varies per length. Short stories pay up to $.07/word.

The Indianola Review is open for submissions. Up to 7500 words for fiction. Also take poetry, nonfiction, and miscellaneous submissions. Pays up to $50. Reading period closes December 15. 

Freeze Frame Fiction is open for submissions of flash fiction for the third quarter issue. They also have a themed issue closing at the same time, with the theme "experimental form." Pays $10. Deadline December 15.

Deadlights is open for submissions of short horror fiction. Flash, short, creative nonfiction, and artwork. Up to 7000 words. Pays up to $80, depending upon submission type. Deadline December 15.

Meet Cute is an anthology of microfiction about entertaining first meetings. Up to 1000 words. Pays $10. Deadline December 16.

The Writing Piazza is open for anthology submissions of stories about animals used in testing. Any genre, but they prefer it ends with a rescue. 5000-20,000 words. Pays $25. Deadline December 20.

DarkFuse is open for short fiction and novellas. They pay $.05/word up to 2k. Anything over 2k is not paid, but still accepted. Dark fiction in various genres. 

Have you had issues with editors being wary of something you were writing? Any issues in writing race? Any of these links of interest? How is NaNo going? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.