Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Defining Horror, News, & Links

Well, hello! Apparently, I'm going to take a couple weeks off, retroactively. Who knew?

I'm deep in edits for the novel I want to pitch at the upcoming Pikes Peak Writers Conference, with a goal of pitching then getting that sucker out into the world. Whether I get a "send it" or not, I'll be submitting to agents following the conference in April. Exciting!

At the same time, I'm working on writing the next novel, plus finishing a bunch of short stories I started recently.

I was notified today that the paper issue of Cheapjack Pulp is now available on Amazon, and the ebook will be available there this Friday, but can be pre-ordered now. You can find both available formats HERE.


While I was working on getting that added to my Amazon Author Central account, I happened across the Audible version of my short memoir piece, "Grandma's Leather Sofa." I didn't realize it was available! For those of you who don't enjoy horror, this is one of my few published pieces that isn't horror. It's available for purchase HERE. It's read by Hallie Ricardo, who has quite a few audio books under her belt (I was scanning through her credits.) It's so cool to hear my story read by someone else like this. And the person who designed the cover did a great job! I need to see if I can find out who it was in order to give them proper credit, but for now I'm not sure. Also, this is the first thing that's only under my name, rather than a magazine or anthology where it's a bunch of us, so if you're so inclined, a review would be lovely.

Speaking of reviews, I just found one on one of the magazines I'm in that specifically calls out my story. Yay!

I was recently involved in a conversation on Facebook about horror movies. The question was whether a horror movie that's PG-13 can be a good film. As conversations do, this one metamorphosed into other related topics, and I noticed that different people define horror differently. Given, I've noticed this before (and also...duh). A few examples: 1. People disagree on whether Aliens is horror or adventure sci-fi (I believe it's both), 2. I've been told by several folks (all male) that The Handmaid's Tale isn't horror (it sure is if you're a woman.)

I tend to define horror more broadly than some. For example, I consider many dystopians to be a form of horror. Handmaid's Tale is more appropriately a dystopian, but the ramifications are terrifying. Atwood doesn't just show a different world, she tells us how it happened and makes it look so easy. There is a feeling of helplessness inherent to the story, and I think women aren't so far removed from the days they couldn't bank or own property or vote that the possibility of being put back in that place isn't scary.

When exploring whether something is horror, or can be treated as such, one of the first questions to ask is what you get from the story. Horror doesn't just exist to provide jump scares (which exist as a release valve in many cases, much like comic relief does, a bleeding off of pressure/tension). There's a place for jump scares, just as there's a place for gore, but often horror exists to cross lines its creators can't cross otherwise. I don't mean fantasy fulfillment, but rather a means to address issues that are hard to talk about. Metaphor is used heavily in horror to represent other things, whether fears or current issues/affairs. Horror tends to be timely, even if it's not obvious that this is so.

Despite what I said above, there can also be an element of fantasy or wish fulfillment. Why else would "revenge porn" exist? I Spit On Your Grave and The Last House on the Left are extreme examples, but there's often a more discreet usage of it. What about the character in horror films or books who "gets theirs," even though they're technically also victims of the Big Bad? Who doesn't cheer when Paul Reiser's character gets his in Aliens? We shouldn't be rooting for the bad guy, yet we do when the not-so-good guy is a jerk who we feel has earned it. This one's easy to trace. How many times in a week does someone do something to you that you wish they'd pay for? That guy who cut you off on the freeway. The woman who stole your parking spot. The dude yammering away on his cell phone during the movie. We deal with minor irritations like these on an almost daily basis, and it feels good to see karma visit someone, even if they didn't do anything to you personally.

This is an example of horror letting you enjoy the dark within yourself. We all have something dark or inappropriate, possibly even shameful (though much of what we feel this shame over is something others might not see as wrong at all). Exploring it through story is as freeing as seeing someone pay for their wrongs.

Horror blurs the lines, pushes back, tests society. It takes norms and dashes them on the ground. It scares us, but if it's really good, it makes us think, to evaluate ourselves and those around us. The good stuff sticks with us long after our initial experience with it. It creeps around our synapses and randomly nudges them.

So what is horror? Horror is psychological. Or it's gory. Or it's tense. Or it speaks to a frightening future. Or. Or. Or. All in all, horror is what scares you, even if that scare doesn't involve one monster. Horror is what makes you think about the things you'd rather not. Horror is a claw reaching out from under the bed, the neighbor down the street, the twisted future, a sick man, a vengeful woman, a ghost, a harmless clown (or a harmful one), history, a mystery. What scares me won't scare you, and vice versa.

In short? Horror is what you define it as, even if your definition is different than mine. That's clear as mud, right?

How about some links?

Accepting Submissions:

Blackbird is accepting poetry, short fiction, personal essays, and plays. Up to 8000 words. Pays after publication, but doesn't specify pay amount. Deadline April 15.

Helios is accepting fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and art. Current theme is Redux and Progression. Word count varies per type of submission, as does pay. Next submission period is April 1 to April 15.

Third Flatiron is accepting short fiction and flash humor pieces in the theme of Cat's Breakfast (sci-fi and satire). This is intended as a tribute to Vonnegut. 1500 to 3000 words. Deadline April 15.

18th Wall is accepting short stories and novellas for Their Coats All Red. Strange fiction set in the high Victorian era. 4000 to 16,000 words. Pays royalties. Deadline April 15.

Hashtag Queer is accepting short stories for an LGBTQ anthology. I couldn't get their submission guidelines page to come up, so have no further information other than the current deadline of April 30.

The Timberline Review is accepting short stories, creative nonfiction, essays, poetry, and flash fiction. Up to 5000 words preferred. Pays $25. Deadline April 30.

Cohesion Press is accepting short fiction for SNAFU Judgement Day, an anthology of post-apocalyptic military horror. 2000 to 10,000 words. Pays $.05AUD/word. Deadline April 30.

Afrocentric Books is accepting short fiction for Afromyth, a mythical fantasy anthology. Main character must be of indigenous African descent. 1000 to 7500 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline April 30.

How do you define horror? Have you ever had a story come out and not known it right away? Any good reviews or news? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Cover Reveal - Dark Winds Rising

Today I'm welcoming Mark Noce to The Warrior Muse for his cover reveal of Dark Winds Rising!

Dark Winds Rising is the sequel to my debut novel Between Two Fires, and comes out with St. Martin’s Press December 5th 2017! Today is my cover reveal for the next book in my historical fiction series set in medieval Wales. A big thanks to St. Martin’s Press for the great cover art!



Dark Winds Rising (synopsis)
Queen Branwen finds her world once again turned upside down as Pictish raiders harry the shores of her kingdom. Rallying her people once more, she must face her most dangerous foe yet, the Queen of the Picts. Ruthless and cunning, the Pictish Queen turns the Welsh against each other in a bloody civil war, and Branwen must attempt to stop her before her country threatens to tear itself apart. All the while Branwen is heavy with child, and finds her young son’s footsteps dogged by a mysterious assassin. Branwen must somehow defeat the Picts and save her people before the Pictish Queen and a mysterious assassin threaten to destroy their lives from the inside out.


About the Author

Mark Noce writes historical fiction with a passion, and eagerly reads everything from fantasy to literature. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, he’s an avid traveler and backpacker, particularly in Europe and North America. He earned his BA and MA from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he also met his beautiful wife. By day, he works as a Technical Writer, having spent much of his career at places like Google and Facebook. When not reading or writing, he’s probably listening to U2, sailing his dad’s boat, or gardening with his family.

Dark Winds Rising is his second novel in a historical series published by St. Martin’s Press. His debut novel, Between Two Fires, (also published via St. Martin's Press) is available wherever books are sold. Learn more at marknoce.com or connect via his newsletter or blog.

Between Two Fires: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Macmillan

What do you think? Great cover, isn't it? 

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

IWSG - Finish It! & Links

Spring is coming! But before we get there, it's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group, created by Alex J. Cavanaugh.


All are welcome to participate. Just sign up and post your writing insecurities the first Wednesday of each month, then go around and support your fellow insecure folks. Also, be sure to thank this month's co-hosts: Tamara Narayan, Patsy Collins, M.J. Fifield, and Nicohle Christopherson!

This month's optional question is: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Yes, I have, but I must say it's harder to edit an old story than to just write a new one! It has worked out for me, though. Two of my recent publications were old stories I'd pulled out and rewritten. Still, it's not something I do a lot.

My insecurities have to do with finishing stories this month. I've started a bunch of stories, but I keep hopping between them and not getting them finished. I need a good dose of time and energy to actually finish. I can't submit a story that isn't done! And I'm going on a few months with nothing to submit to my critique group, which isn't like me. I'm determined to have one or  two stories to submit next month.

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Each month I do my submission stats to keep myself accountable. In February, I:

Submitted 8 short stories
Got 6 rejections (2 with personal feedback)
Got 0 acceptances (sob)

I currently have 10 submissions out

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

Accepting Submissions:

Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores is open for flash fiction and short stories in fantasy, fairy tale, and science fiction. Pays $.06/word. Current reading period ends March 28.

Sycamore Review is open for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art. No genre pieces. Pays $25 to $50. Reading period ends March 31.

Chicken Soup for the Soul has two open calls for possible topics. The themes are Step Outside Your Comfort Zone and My Kind (of) America. 1200 words or less. Pays $200. Deadline for these two themes March 31.

West Branch is open for poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and translation. Pays $.05/word. Deadline April 1.

Splickety is open for the June issue of Splickety Magazine with the theme Medieval Mayhem. Historical, not fantasy. 300 to 1000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline April 7.

Contests:

Hermeneutic Chaos Journal is holding the Alice Sullivan Prize. Only those who have not had a novel or collection of short stories published may enter (published short stories is fine). 300 to 1500 words. No entry fee. Grand prize of $300. Deadline March 31.

Of Interest:

Sherry D. Ficklin posted The (Hard) Truth About Book Signings. She's got some great information and tips for your book signings, as well as some hard truths, just as the title says.

What are your insecurities? How are you doing with submissions? Any of these links of use? Anything to add?

May you find your Muse.