Tuesday, January 17, 2017

2016 Year in Review & Links

Last year, I did my first Year in Review post, and I enjoyed doing so, so I'm doing it again this year.

February 15

Eat Your Heart Out: Romance in Horror

Romance isn't necessary in horror, but that doesn't mean we always leave it out.


February 22

Do What You Want, Do What You Wanna

About HuffPo and giving your work away for free.

March 7

Publication Resources

A post all about how to track down open submissions for publications.


clker.com, OCAL
March 14 

Your Other Inner Artist

Exploring other forms of artistry. If you write, what about painting? Photography? Singing? Performing theater?





May 16, 23, and 30, June 6

Writer's Conference Basics

This was a multi-part series on everything you need to know about attending, volunteering/staffing, and speaking at writer's conferences.

Part I - Overview
Part II - Attendees
Part III - Staff & Volunteers
Part IV - Faculty

Boxing Bears, OCAL, clker.com

June 13

The Factions of Writing

Cliques exist everywhere, even in the writing world.


July 11

Let's Talk Money - Taxes, Licenses, & Square

In which I discussed things authors need to know about selling books at events, checking on sales tax licenses needed, and using/setting up Square.


August 15

Setting Up a Book Signing Table

I used a lot of my learning experiences this past year, primarily as a speaker, to put together posts to help other people hopefully get through them more easily. This was another of those. How to set up a book signing table, with various tips.


October 31

Let's Talk Horror: A Top Thirteen

This was a fun one to do. I like the fun ones. Instead of just listing favorite horror movies, I thought I'd break out various elements and list my favorite of those. For instance, favorite scene in a horror film, favorite final girl, etc.

November 21

Native American Writers, Artists, Actors, and Musicians

In case anyone was seeking out Native art during Native American Heritage Month, I listed some resources and links.




November 28

Is Post-Apocalyptic the New Western?

It struck me that westerns have been replaced by post-apocalyptic books and films, showing some of the same elements. Here, I broke them down.

Hm, it looks like I only did two of the fun posts. I'll have to remedy that this year!

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

Accepting Submissions:

The Lorelei Signal is open for submissions. Fantasy short stories, flash fiction, poetry. Any female characters must have a reason for being there. Up to 10,000 words. Pays between $2 and $7.50, depending upon submission type. Deadline February 15.

Nasty is open for submissions. Any genre, but must include a fetish. Up to 1500 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline February 15.

For Books Sake is open for submissions of short stories written by women with the theme of "ghosts." Up to 7000 words. Token payment. Deadline February 22.

Opossum Lit is open for submissions of short stories, poems, and essays. They'd like a subtle link to music. Pays $100 to $250, dependent upon type of submission.

Asimov's is open for submissions of science fiction short stories. Up to 20,000 words. Pays $.08 to $.10/word up to 7500, then $.08 above 7500.

The Cedar Canyon Chronicles is accepting short fiction. Must be set in the fictional Cedar Canyon (Western Oklahoma) and involve a monster of some sort. 500 to 2000 words. Pays $5 for the first 20 accepted stories.

Bards and Sages Publishing is open for speculative fiction, mystery/thriller, and adventure short stories. 5000 to 20,000 words. Pays $25.

Reader's Digest is open for super short stories about you. True story about you. Up to 100 words. Pays $100.

Occult Detective Quarterly is open for short stories about those investigating the strange and unusual. 3000 to 5000 words. Pays $.01/word.

Deep Magic is open for submissions of clean science fiction and fantasy. No violence, sex, graphic language. Pay varies by word count, beginning at $.08/word for the first 5000 words, and going down to $.06/word above that.

Were any of these your favorite? What was the favorite post you put on your own blog this year? Feel free to link to it in the comments. Or, if you did a post like this one, link to that. Any of these publication links of interest to you? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.




Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2017 Goal Setting & 2016 Review

We made it through 2016, even if it came with some new scars. It was a year of craziness, as I imagine all election years are, but we survived. 



It's always fun to recap the year then look ahead to what I'd like to achieve. Setting goals helps me think through what I want to do and how I want to end the year.

I submitted short stories and flash fiction 77 times in 2016. This is not 77 stories, just submissions, since I turn the rejected ones back around. In 2015, this number was 60.

I had 4 acceptances in 2016. This is down from 9 the previous year. I know why, and I'll address that in a minute.

I had 9 stories published in 2016 (the 4 accepted, plus end of year acceptances from 2015.)

6 stories submitted in 2016 are still pending.

Which means I had 67 rejections in 2016. Not up to my 100 goal yet, but creeping that way.

And here's another stat to add: I had 4 speaking engagements in 2016. A standalone for Pikes Peak Pen Women, 2 workshops at Pikes Peak Writers Conference, 3 panels at Denver Comic Con, and 4 panels at MileHiCon. In addition, I participated in 5 signings. So cool!

Last year, my goals were:

  • Finish first revision of novel #2 (UF above). Done!
  • Do a second pass through on novel #1 (YA above). Done!
  • Start novel #3. Done!
  • Continue writing short stories, revising them, and submitting them. One per month would be fantastic, and give me time to focus on my novels, but we'll see. Nope (did not achieve one per month)
  • Finish all short story revisions pending. Done!
  • Submit those short stories once revised. Done!
  • Have one of the novels (#1 or #2) ready by April, so I can query an agent at PPWC. Nope
  • Continue experimenting with my writing and finding the joy in it. Done!
  • Get back to my photography (what? I just slipped in a non-writing goal...) Sorta
  • Continue with the horror reading/review challenge Done!
Not bad! I mentioned above that I know why I didn't have better numbers. It's the same reason I didn't have my novel ready by April, and the same reason I didn't get more short stories written. I got insanely busy between two volunteer jobs, and it did not let up until the end of May. My writing suffered severely, which actually led to a mega bout of depression about having fallen behind in my writing, as well as destroying the progress I'd made the previous year. It wasn't until school got started again that I caught up on my writing, so we'll see what happens with these new stories I've got out. I've also pulled a couple to do some re-writes on.

My goals for 2017, understanding that I set goals knowing life is fluid, and that my goals and circumstances may change at any time, are as follows:

  • Final revision on Novel #2
  • Query Novel #2 in April at PPWC
  • Finish Novel #3
  • Write at least one new short story per month
  • Finish current pending revisions
  • Continue to book speaking/signing opportunities (so far, I have 1 definite and 2 possibles)
  • Evaluate Novel #1 to see if I want to continue pursuing it or trunk it for now
  • Continue submitting short stories - aim for 100 rejections and 12 acceptances this year
  • Write for at least two themed issues or anthologies that are outside my normal comfort level
I think that's more than enough goals for now. Part of me wants to achieve one short story per week, but I don't believe that's realistic for me right now. 

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

Accepting Submissions:

Broken Eye Books is open for submissions to their anthology Ride the Star Wind: Cthulhu, Space Opera, and the Cosmic Weird. They want space opera combined with cosmic weird horror. Short stories of 3000 to 6000 words or flash fiction of up to 1000 words. Pays $.08/word. Deadline January 31.

The First Line puts out a quarterly first line, which acts as the prompt for a story. This quarter's first line is: "Eddie tended to drift into whatever jobs were available that would pay the rent." Story should start with the first line, which cannot be altered. 300 to 5000 words. Pays $25 to $50. Deadline February 1.

Skirt! Magazine is open for submissions to their January theme: The All In Issue - stories about going all in, taking risks, etc. Personal essays relating to women and women's issues. 800 to 1100 words. Pays $200. Deadline February 1.

Mofo Pubs is open for submissions to two literary erotica anthologies: Hotel and Sacrilege. The title is also the theme. 1000 to 5000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline February 3.

Splickety Havok is open for submissions in the theme Tyrannosaurus Reads. Think Jurassic Park. 300 to 1000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline February 10.

Bundoran Press is open for submissions to a science fiction anthology entitled 49th Parallels: Alternative Canadian Histories and Futures. 1500 to 7000 words. Pays $.05CAD/word. Deadline February 14.

Contests:

Creative Writing Ink holds a monthly writing contest. Free to enter. Short stories up to 3000 words or poems up to 40 lines. Any genre/theme. Prize is web publication and £10 Amazon GC. Deadline January 31.

The Chicago Tribune is sponsoring the 2017 Nelson Algren Literary Awards. Fiction short stories up to 8000 words. Prizes of $500, $1000, and $3500. No entry fee. Deadline January 31.

Did you create goals for the year? How about last year? How did you do on those? Do you do resolutions or goals? How strict are you about your goals? Do you go beyond goals and make a plan to complete each item? Are any of these links of interest to you?

May you find your Muse.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG: Lumps & All, Mni Wicon, Stats, Links

It's the first Wednesday of January, which means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, created by Alex J. Cavanaugh.


The purpose of the IWSG is to talk about our doubts and insecurities, as well as to support each other. We post the first Wednesday of each month, and anyone is free to join. Go to the link above and enter your name on the linky, then jump in!

Our co-hosts this month are Eva @ Lillicasplace, Crystal Collier, Sheena-kay Graham,Chemist Ken, LG Keltner, and Heather Gardner! Be sure to drop by and say hi to them, and thank them for all their work.

This month's optional question is: What writing rule do you wish you'd never heard?

I can't list just one. My problem isn't with any one writing rule. However, when you attend workshops and conferences, read craft books and blogs, and otherwise study the craft of writing, it's easy to stagger under the inundation of rules. For me, I had to find a happy medium between learning to hone my craft and leaving myself free to write. Otherwise, I end up overthinking my writing, and I don't think that makes it stronger. Not for me. There are more introspective writers who gain something by over-analyzing their writing, perhaps, but I'm not one of them.

Writing is a creative pursuit. Like anything else, it has rules, but when creativity is the goal, I think it pays to break rules much of the time. Being a grammar nazi, there are rules I obviously think it pays to follow unless that inhibits the story, but the rules I'm talking about are those generalities that impact story lines and plots. I'm sure we'll see tons of those in posts today! For example, show, don't tell, can tie someone up mentally if they're focusing too much on that rule instead of their writing.

Having said this, I believe it still pays to learn from those who know more than we do, to attend workshops and the like, to continue honing our craft. It's just that I also believe it needs to be mitigated, and that we need to carefully riffle through the things we learn to pick out the gems, while discarding the aspects that won't help us, and being careful to use it as an aid, not as something that kills our creativity.

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Before I get to this month's stats, I'd like to announce that the Mni Wicon Blogathon I posted about here has been extended, courtesy of the holidays! A lot of people were out for the month, so we've added a week. It will now be ending on the 7th of January. Full details can be found on my previous post, but here's a picture of one of the prize packs that will be issued to a random winner.


If you'd like to see examples of letters to the banks, Nicole has posted at The Madlab Post.

We'd love to see some folks letting the banks that bankroll corporate greed get an earful.

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My stats for the month of December were as follows:

2 pieces published in magazines!
5 submissions
4 rejections
9 pieces currently on submission

I'll recap my stats for the year in a post next week.

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Now for some links!

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

Accepting Submissions:

Three Drops From a Cauldron is open for poetry and flash fiction submissions for A Face in the Mirror, A Hook on the Door. Urban legends and modern folklore. Pays in a percentage of profit. Deadline January 30.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is open for submissions with the themes Demons, Premonitions, & the Unexplainable; Stories About Cats; Stories About Dogs. Up to 1200 words. Pays $200. Deadline January 31.

Pen and Kink Publishing is open for submissions of vampire romance for Triskaidekaphilia Book #2 - Ravenous. 1000 to 15,000 words. Pays $10. Deadline January 31.

Martian Migraine Press is open for submissions of short stories dealing with possession, whatever your definition of that might be. 1500 to 7000 words. Pays $.03CAD/word. Deadline January 31.

Nashville Review is open for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Up to 8000 words. Pays $25/poem, $100/short piece. Deadline January 31.

Recompose is open for flash fiction and poetry. They want you to walk the line between literary and speculative fiction. Up to 1000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline January 31.

Kristell Ink is open for submissions of short speculative fiction for several anthologies: Infinite Dysmorphia, Terra Nullis, and Holding On By Our Fingertips. 6000 to 10,000 words. Pays 10. Deadline for all January 31.

The Cantabrigian is open for submissions of literary fiction. 800 to 8000 words. Paying market, but does not give specific payment amount. Deadline January 31.

Hyperion & Theia is open for submissions of fiction, poetry, and art. This year's theme is Saturnalia. They take poetry, short stories, novelettes, and novellas. Word count varies by type. Pays $.01/word. Deadline January 31.

Grivante Press is open for submissions of erotic horror. Up to 5000 words. Pays up to $30 depending upon length. Deadline January 31.

What are your insecurities? What writing rules do you hate? Will you be participating in the Mni Wicon Blogathon? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share? What did your December stats look like?

May you find your Muse.



Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Water is Life: Announcing the Mni Wiconi Blogathon

If you've been around The Warrior Muse for awhile, you know I don't usually bring anything political in nature to my blog, or things that are controversial (other than horror, which I suppose is controversial in its own right). However, when Nicole of The Madlab Post contacted me about co-hosting this blogathon with her and Misha of the Five Year Project, I carefully considered and decided I wanted to be a part of it. I've been following DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) online and sharing posts about it on my Facebook page (another place I don't dabble in politics or controversial subjects). For Natives around the country, DAPL has been a unifying subject. While the immediately impacted tribe is the Sioux, DAPL has become a cause that all Natives can get behind. It represents more than the surface issues being spoken about. It represents the breaking of treaties, the disrespecting of Native sovereignty, the police violence on Native people perpetrated by police departments near reservations, the destruction of sacred lands, the willingness to move dangerous construction closer to Native lands when primarily white areas (like Bismarck) are able to successfully fight to move it away from them. It represents the continuing apathy against Native people in this country and the unwillingness of the press to cover Native issues until they become big enough or draw in other people the press IS interested in covering (such as movie stars).



People from around the world have tuned in to the water protectors' efforts at Standing Rock. Representatives from many tribes and countries made their way to Standing Rock these last few months. They've dealt with unpleasantness in many guises, but there are still water protectors standing up for what they see as right. Internal politics and inter-tribal issues have been set aside while they band together to fight the "black snake."



The purpose of this blogathon is to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux in a global month of action to overcome the veritable press whiteout on the #nodapl efforts now being supported by people of all colors and countries. If you're familiar with Nicole, you know her background in film. We're highlighting a super short documentary by filmmaker Lucian Read, entitled Mni Wiconi: The Stand at Standing Rock.

Together with Nicole at The Madlab Post and Misha at The Five Year Project, we invite you to stop the censorship and corporate media whiteout of the #NoDAPL movement, by participating in the Mni Wiconi Blogathon.




PLEASE READ ALL OF THE INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE SUBMITTING BLOG POSTS.

How To Participate:

1. Write an open letter to a bank of your choosing, in response to the film Mni Wiconi: The Stand at Standing Rock and publish it on your blog between Dec. 27 - Jan. 2. (e.g. Dear Wells Fargo, Why Are You Funding Water Contamination? or Dear Chase Bank, You Can't Drink Oil)
  • You can watch the film at the bottom of this blog post.
  • Must be written to one of the 38 banks involved (17 are directly funding DAPL.
  • A $1.4 billion loan is on hold while the Army Corps permit for drilling under the Missouri River is suspended. This means there's still time for the banks involved in this loan to cut their line of credit.
  • Only submit NEW posts. Previously published posts will not be eligible for the giveaway (see below). If you do not have a blog, consider doing a guest post for another blogger or posting your entry on Medium.

2. Add the blogathon badge to your post

3. Send us your post by filling out the form below:

One entry per person, not per blog.

Must be received by Monday January 2, 2017 12:59pm EST


4. Promote your post on social media using the hashtags #WaterisLife #Blogathon #DefundDAPL #BankExit

LINK-UPS

Nicole will post a list roundup of the participating blogs, as they are received and compiled, throughout the week and share the lists on social media.

GIVEAWAY

*courtesy of @MadlabPost & Do1Thing

On Tuesday January 3rd, Nicole will randomly select five participants who will win a 2017 Do1Thing wall calendar and an emergency swag bag filled with a water bottle, first aid kit, KIND granola, flashlights and related goodies. The first winning gift recipient who responds to my notification will also receive a Star Wars themed surprise. 



Some other resources:

#NoDAPL Solidarity
Defund DAPL
Divest From DAPL (tips for moving bank accounts)
Global Month of Action

Even if you won't be participating in the blogathon, I hope you'll give the video a quick viewing.

Did you watch the video? Have you seen any other informative videos about DAPL you'd care to share? Will you be participating in the blogathon? Have you heard of the DAPL protests?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, December 19, 2016

New Publication - Literary Hatchet & Cheapjack Pulp

Hello, and Happy Holidays! Since I figure everyone's busy this week, I'm just going to do a quick post with some links.

One of my short stories came out in The Literary Hatchet this week! It's free to read online, or a paper copy can be purchased via Amazon or CreateSpace.


To read the free e-copy go to the website, click on "Issues" at the top of the page, and scroll down until you see the above cover, which is Issue #16.

To purchase a paper copy, go to CreateSpace or Amazon.

My story is Salvation Lottery.

Plus, I had a different story come out in Cheapjack Pulp two weeks ago, which I already posted about. But it doesn't hurt to post again, right?


The paper copy does not come out for three months, but you can read it free online. If that link doesn't work for you, go to the website, scroll down to "detective/horror" under the cover above, and click on For Love of the Hunt, which is my story.

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I fiddled around with my blog a bit this past week so I could get the covers of my various publications up on the front page. Plus, I added a "Contact Me" page and a "Search This Blog," which is really mostly for me. Sometimes I want to find a specific post, but I have to search through everything to do so, because I don't remember when I posted it. So now I can search for it.

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Now for links. Please bear in mind that these are just links I have come across. I'm not endorsing them. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Splickety Magazine is open for submissions with the theme Literary Time Warp. Take a well known story and switch up the time period. 300 to 1000 words. Pays $.02/word, plus a complimentary copy. Deadline January 13.

Outlook Springs is open for submissions of literary work with a tinge of the strange. Fiction, poetry, nonfiction. Up to 7500 words. Pays $25. Deadline January 15.

Helios Quarterly Magazine is open for submissions fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and art with the theme Commercial Cosmonauts & Hired Guns. Short stories up to 1500 words. Other word limits apply for other types. Pays $.03/word for shorts and some others. Other pay varies. Deadline January 15.

Tribute is open for submissions for the summer issue with the theme Poets With Mental Illness. Poetry. Pays $100 per poem. Deadline January 15.

Great Weather for Media is open for submissions for their 2017 anthology. Poetry, flash fiction, short stories, dramatic monologues, and creative nonfiction. No set theme. Up to 2500 words. Pays $10, plus contributor copy. Deadline January 15.

Tanstaafl Press is open for submissions with the theme Enter the Rebirth. Up to 8000 words. Pays between $.01 to $.08/word, but likely about $.03/word if you are only in this anthology (there are two preceding it). Deadline January 15.

Blog Hops:

Chrys Fey is holding the I Survived Blog Fest. This is a blog hop to spread the word about her new book Tsunami Crimes. You'll be posting a story of tsunami survival, realistic or otherwise. This will take place January 20.

Any of these of interest? Anything to share? Have you been submitting? How do you like the new layout?

May you find your Muse.

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.