Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Bookstores Bouncing Back?

Book stores are dying! That's been the word online for ages. Yet I recently saw an article stating small bookstores are making a comeback. Colorado has quite a few, with the most well known being Tattered Cover in Denver.

My children's school did a fundraiser recently via Barnes & Noble. They got a percentage of sales from everyone who mentioned the fundraiser at the sales desk. The store was full, with long lines for purchase, which is often true when I go there. Given, I'm going there far less recently, out of frustration for the long missing horror section. A few years ago they had one. Now there are some horror authors mixed into other sections, such as literature, mystery, and fantasy, but there are many major horror authors whose books are nowhere to be found. I can no longer get the "Best of" anthologies I seek out each year, which has driven me to Amazon for those purchases. It also makes it a lot harder for me to browse and find new horror authors I may not be familiar with, which also means I'm missing out on seeing new horror.

In other words, the biggest brick and mortar store around has lost my business, for the most part. In a time when horror is selling like gangbusters, they aren't selling it. I don't understand the business decision, but at least they have plenty of room for non-book items now...

But back to the smaller bookstores. I'm loving the news that they're coming back. Is it frustration with Amazon? I know a lot of authors are trying to spend their money elsewhere due to issues with the company, but what about readers? Are the bookstores making a comeback ones that have cafes or other extras to pull people in, or are they just good old-fashioned bookstores? I'm curious to hear if small bookstores have opened in your area, and what they're like.

The ones I know of in Colorado Springs sell a combination of used and new books. One of those is really good about hosting authors for book signings. And when I go to Estes Park, they've got a small bookstore that sells all new books, and doesn't focus on non-book items at all. 

Or could it be the same mentality that's driving people to move mom and pop restaurants. Big chain restaurants are giving way to smaller, more diverse restaurants. Perhaps it's an overall desire to return to simpler things instead of giant monopolies.

Now for some links. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting. (It's a short one today).

Accepting Submissions:

Helios Quarterly Magazine is seeking fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Up to 1500 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline January 15.

18th Wall Productions is seeking stories expanding upon Wells' The War of the Worlds for their anthology War of the Worlds: Absolute War. 4000 to 20,000 words. Pays in quarterly royalties. Deadline January 20.

Nonbinary Review is seeking poetry, fiction, and essays inspired by Clive Barker's Books of Blood. Up to 5000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline January 23. 

What do you think? Have you visited a bookstore in person recently? Where do you buy most of your books? What's behind the changes? Any of these links of interest?

May you find your Muse.

*Buchladen Buecher, Wikimedia Commons, Kintaiyo, 11 April 2006
*Eslite Bookstore in Taichung Chung-yo Department Store, Wikimedia Commons, Essolo, 11 December 2006

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

IWSG - Writing Spaces & Links

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

The purpose of this group is to out your writing woes, gain support from fellow writers, and give support to those who need it. All are welcome to participate. Just sign up HERE. Post on the first Wednesday each month and hop around to visit others. We recommend trying to visit twelve new blogs and meet some new people!

This month's optional question is: What are 5 objects we'd find in your writing space?

How about some photos?

You'd see my Funko Pops (each one represents a short story sold).

Movie posters and artwork (the xenomorph was created by my friend Jade as a 40th birthday present last year).

Pictures of loved ones.

(I've got pictures of my parents awaiting frames.)

Badges/nametags from events where I've presented.

My library lamp.

And a bonus of my super sloppy shelves, which include craft books, contributor copies, and lots of horror stuff and personal objects (plus photo albums and my X-Files collectors cards from the 90s).

Last month I titled my blog post The Little Things then completely forgot why I'd titled it that way. What I'd intended to post was a little story about exciting small things that happen in writers' lives. So I'll tell you this month instead. As writers we deal with a lot of rejection, so we have to celebrate the little things when they come along. 

One of my neighbors, who I didn't know very well, but we were friendly, asked my husband if I was a writer. She'd done a search on Amazon for horror short stories and found my anthology. Having no idea it was me, she'd ordered it on Kindle and read it. When she got to the end, she recognized my headshot. Ultimately, she ended up ordering a stack of signed books to send out to friends and family, which is probably the coolest experience I've had as an author, so far.

I know the holidays are hard on a lot of people, so I did a post last week about depression and some coping methods for those who might need it. At the very least, know you're not alone.

Okay, it's time for submission stats. Each month, I run through the stats for the previous month to keep myself accountable.

In November:

6 rejections
1 withdrawal (they had zero activity on Duotrope for the last year, and I wanted to submit the story elsewhere)
0 acceptances
6 submissions

Right now, I have 10 short stories out on submission.

Don't forget that this is a WEP month! WEP and IWSG have joined forces. 

Next month is IWSGPit! Get ready to pitch to editors and agents!

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

Accepting Submissions:

Bad Dream Entertainment is seeking humorous horror stories for an anthology. 1500 to 8000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline December 31.

Unlit Press is seeking stories on the theme of Darkness for the anthology Curse the Darkness. 3000 to 10,000 words. Will pay about $100 (payment is in pounds). Deadline December 31.

Zombies Need Brains is seeking fantasy and sci-fi stories for three different anthologies: Portals, Temporally Deactivated, and Alternate Peace. Will pay a minimum of $.06/word with further royalties once earned out. Deadline December 31.

Cantabrigian is seeking literary fiction. Up to 8000 words. Pays between $20 and $50. Deadline December 31.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is seeking stories about angels. Up to 1200 words. Pays $200. Deadline December 31.

Spring Song Press is seeking steampunk stories for the anthology Steam and Lace. 1000 to 10,000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline January 1.

What are your insecurities? What is something cool that has happened to you as a writer? What are your submission stats for the month? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

*Artwork by OCAL, clker.com
*Photos by me

Monday, November 26, 2018

Depression in Writers

Edgar Allan Poe famously suffered from depression, but he wasn't a rarity. Authors are among the most likely professions to have issues with depression. Yet we often dismiss it as being part of our creative process. Some even fear treating it in case it impacts their writing.

I've seen a trend as the weather changes to cold, with night falling earlier and earlier. Writing friends who've sunk into depression. A change in tone on their blogs, Facebook pages, and in-person interactions. Seasonal Affective Disorder runs rampant this time of year, and for those who suffer year-round depression, the change in seasons can deepen it.

I'm someone who suffers moderate depression all year, with severe anxiety and PTSD. I also come from a family in which Bipolar Disorder is common, though I have been lucky to avoid it, so far. After decades of learning and employing coping mechanisms, I finally went on a mild anti-anxiety medication to help with the side-effects of my PTSD after a downward spiral was triggered by a fairly minor incident related to the initial cause. I was incredibly resistant to using medication for this, which is why it took so long. It took feeling completely out of control of myself and my life, constant panic attacks throughout the day, and beginning a withdrawal from normal life events, though I kept forcing myself forward. In the past, I made it through a combination of PTSD and Postpartum Depression on my own, and I was proud of that, but why did I put myself through it in the first place?

I say all this so you know you're not alone. No one can tell you everything will be okay, but there are ways to get through the harder times. Sometimes it takes admitting there's an issue. Seeking out that one person who can reach out to you. Maybe it's a friend or family member. Maybe it's a doctor. Below you'll find some coping mechanisms and options that might help.

1. Get some sun. As writers, especially those of us with day jobs, small children, disabilities, or some other reason that keeps us out of the sun, it's important to try to get as much sun as you can. Even if it involves sitting on your porch, resting in front of a window (I know it's super cold some places), going for a walk around the block, taking a hike, or even driving around on a sunny day. If you absolutely can't get outside, maybe check out one of those natural sun lamps.

2. Journal. A lot of writers already journal. It can help vent frustrations, fears, etc. and get the poison out. It can also help you track it to see if there are particular patterns or triggers.

3. Exercise. A walk is good exercise. It doesn't have to be anything intensive. If you want more than that, you can join a gym, do home workout tapes, join an adult sports group or team in your area, or even find short workouts (including ones intended to be done at your desk) online. I love 30 Days of Yoga workouts by Bad Yogi, found on YouTube. Her yoga workouts are brief, usually about 10 minutes, give or take. The main thing is to get active and get away from your desk, even in short bursts if that's what it takes.

4. Socialize. Find a writer's group or an online community (if you're blogging and visiting other blogs, you're already ahead of the game on that one.) Attend workshops and writing social events. We writers tend to lock ourselves away from people to focus on our writing. It's a solitary pursuit. We forget to see our friends and family. We forget to get out of the house and do something other than work.

5. Tell someone. Find someone you trust to talk to. Admit what's going on. Seek help. If you don't have someone in your life you trust, consider telling your regular doctor and getting a referral to a mental health professional.

6. Positive Reinforcement. As authors, we often punish ourselves when we don't feel we're being productive enough. We talk down to ourselves. We judge ourselves. We try to harden ourselves against rejection, but it's hard to deal with constant rejection. Instead of beating yourself up or having unrealistic expectations for yourself, consider setting small, realistic goals and rewarding yourself for achieving them. You can reward yourself with a movie or an outing with friends, buy something small when you reach higher goals (like the Funko Pops I buy for each short story sale), treat yourself to a special treat or diet cheat day, etc. You know yourself best, so you know best what rewards will matter and what to strive for that's achievable, but somewhat challenging.

7. Consider medication. Only if you're comfortable with it. Do you avoid it because of a stigma attached to it? Things others said? Or have you researched it and it's not for you? I avoided it because I have severe reactions to medications, and I was afraid of what type of reaction that would be when it's for something meant to treat my brain. Every medication they put me on for the permanent migraine I have (I've had it 8 years now) had horrific side effects, and many of those medications doubled as treatments for ADHD, depression, OCD, seizures, etc. My rule was nothing mind altering. Nothing with severe side effects. Nothing that made me feel numb or caused me to shut down in any way.

If you can find something that helps you (or, most likely, a combination of things), it can help you through those harder times. As writers, depression can keep us from being productive. It can taint how we see our work. Sometimes small steps are all the help you need. Sometimes you need more intensive help. No matter where you are in this, I wish you luck, and hope you can find whatever helps you most.

Now for some links. Bear in mind 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 seeking fantasy, science fiction, myth, legend, eldritch, and fairy tales. 1000 words and up. Pays $.06/word. Deadline December 28.

Sigil House Publishing is seeking short stories of any genre or combination of them. 2000 to 15,000 words. Pays $10. Deadline December 31.

Carte Blanche is seeking short fiction, memoir, and personal essays. Up to 3500 words. Pays a modest honorarium. Deadline December 31.

Workers Write! is seeking stories and poems in educational settings for More Tales From the Classroom. 500 to 5000 words. Pays $5 to $50. Deadline December 31.

Allegory is seeking speculative fiction short stories. Prefer works between 500 and 5000 words, but will consider stories outside that range. Pays $15. Deadline December 31.

Zizzle is seeking stories for both young and adult readers. 500 to 1200 words. Pays $100. Deadline December 31.

Split Lip Magazine is seeking literary or mainstream fiction, poetry, and memoir. Word counts vary depending upon type of submission. Pays $5 per printed page. Deadline December 31.

Fireside Magazine is seeking short stories, poetry, and nonfiction. Up to 4000 words. Pays 12.5 cents per word. Deadline December 31. (Note: Does not open until December 15).

Horror Queen Media is seeking witch stories for Vex No More. Up to 5000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline December 31.

Have you dealt with depression? What have you found helps you? Are any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.


Edgar Allan Poe: By Unknown; most likely George C. Gilchrest, Samuel P. Howes, James M. Pearson, or Andrew J. Simpson, all of Lowell, MA - http://www.daguerre.org/images/2008sympos/consignor4a-medium.jpg and http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=39406, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31269051

Aerobics Clip Art: CLKER.com, OCAL

Meeting Clip Art: CLKER.com, OCAL

Medicine Jar Clip Art: CLKER.com, OCAL

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Writer Nation Interview & Birthday Fun

With everyone in the U.S. (including me) ramping up for Thanksgiving tomorrow, I wanted to do a light post to share some birthday fun and let you know about a podcast interview with Writer Nation that just went live.

Yesterday was my birthday. Sometimes it's an entirely different week than Thanksgiving, and sometimes it's two days before! Like this year. I had volunteer work in the evening, and while I was onstage, I got surprised by friends with a clown bringing me donuts. Apparently, my husband knew ahead of time, and he still got me a cake, so between my birthday and Thanksgiving, I'm not weighing myself for the next week.

And because my friends know me so well, the clown was bloody. I even got some on the announcements I was in the middle of when the clown arrived (who was my friend's daughter, by the way, because the doughnut place I'd been wanting a doughnut delivery from only does it in October).

I got to go out with a couple friends after the event and get some wings (way more appropriate for sticking to my keto diet, which I blew straight out of the water yesterday). It was a nice way to celebrate turning 41.

And then I found out my podcast interview with Writer Nation was going live today, which was also fun! My interviewer is a writing friend who also happens to share my birthday, so the timing is perfect.

To listen to the interview, which runs about half an hour, and features discussions of writing while also being a work-at-home mom (WAHM), sentient bouncy balls, Longridge Writer's Academy, fangirling, middle school operas, and my first ever short story submissions, click HERE. This was actually my first podcast interview done in person! The rest have been via phone or Skype, so this was a new experience for me. There's a lot of laughing. You'll see how easy Jenny is to talk to. She also runs the Writer Nation Facebook group, and is a super busy working mom and writer. She's had the most fascinating job, and gotten to be part of some monumental things this past year that have left me in awe. I hope you'll check it out!

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

Accepting Submissions:

Iridium Magazine is seeking short stories, essays, and art. Must feature QUILTBAG+ content. Up to 5000 words. Pays $.03/word. Deadline December 15.

Copper Nickel is seeking poetry, fiction, and essays. Pays $30/printed page. Deadline December 15.

Arsenika is seeking fiction and poetry. Up to 1000 words long. Pays $30-$60. Deadline December 15.

Matter Press is seeking fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, mixed media, and visual arts for The Journal of Compressed Arts. Pays $50. Deadline December 15.

Otter Libris is seeking stories about submariners lost at sea and what might be happening if they're still out there. This is for Still on Patrol. 3000 to 10,000 words. Pays $25. Deadline December 15.

Smoking Pen Press is seeking stories about supernatural beings for Vampires, Zombies, and Ghosts, Oh My! 1200 to 6000 words. Pays $20. Deadline December 15.

Infernal Ink is seeking H.P. Lovecraft inspired erotic short stories for Lustcraftian Horrors. 2000 to 10,000 words. Pays $25 or royalties. Deadline December 21.

The Puritan is seeking interviews, essays, and reviews. Pays $100. Deadline December 25. Also check out their call for Editors in Residence.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Are you doing anything for Thanksgiving? Do you get to see family? Would you love it if a clown delivered your doughnuts or would you run screaming? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Horror List Book Review: The Resort

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.)

This week I'm reviewing The Resort, by Bentley Little.

Bentley Little has a formula that's worked for him for quite some time. He takes a normal person (or family, in this case), sticks them somewhere seemingly normal, even idyllic, then all hell breaks loose. Things go terribly wrong. That's precisely what happens here.

A family goes to a resort in the Arizona desert. They've gotten a deep discount. Weird things start happening right away, including getting back to their hotel room to discover someone else is in there. The management has to convince this someone to let them in long enough to get their things, and they're given a new room.

The little things build for quite some time, and we see different POVs, but this family provides the bulk of the POVs. The adults are having one set of experiences, while the kids have others. The vacation sounds great until everything goes nuts.

When it goes nuts, it goes full Lord of the Flies in the Overlook Hotel nuts. Animalistic behavior takes over some of the residents of the resort, and it's normals against psychos. There's full on violence and odd sexual behavior. The family tries to escape, but the resort throws barriers in their way.

I had certain expectation for a Little novel, and they were met. However, the ending was overly simplistic and the violence and behavior over the top. Still, I accepted the behavior until being disappointed in the end. I would have liked to see a real resolution.

Expect absurdity, violence, and odd, over the top characters if you read this.

My Top Ten:  

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
2. The Girl Next Door (Jack Ketchum)
3. The Bottoms (Joe R. Lansdale)
4. The Collector (John Fowles)
5. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
6. The Bridge (John Skipp and Craig Spector)
7. A Choir of Ill Children (Tom Piccirilli)
8. Needful Things (Stephen King)
9. 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
10. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)

The next book I review will be Dark Descent, edited by David G. Hartwell.

Have you read The Resort? How about a different Bentley Little novel? Are you a fan? 

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

IWSG - It's the Little Things & Links

Happy November! My second favorite month after October. It's the first Wednesday, which means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, created by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Alex created the IWSG to lend support to fellow writers. Anyone can join. Simply click HERE and sign up via your blog (or participate on Facebook!). Post your insecurities and inspirations, and visit your fellow bloggers to lend support and advice.

Our co-hosts this month are  Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Ann V. Friend, JQ Rose, and Elizabeth Seckman! Be sure to stop by and tell them thanks for co-hosting.

Our optional question of the month is: How has your creativity in life evolved sine you started writing?

Since I started writing, I've expanded my horizons and trying things I hadn't attempted before. I've gotten involved in writer's groups, and everything those led to. I've worked on cool projects like writing fantasy pieces inspired by music, and had writing published in different genres, such as YA, horror, mystery, humor, memoir, and fantasy. The more I stretch the muscles, the more ideas I have, and the more I want to try out new things and dabble in other art forms.

My insecurity this month really just has to do with not having gotten much writing done recently. Too busy! I'm trying to fix that with ShaNoShoStoWriEdSubMo and having some write-ins with friends since November is a much calmer month than October. October was stifling, both time-wise and creativity-wise, but it's time to get back to work!

We're running a contest for the February WEP theme, and there are only a few days remaining to enter!

Rules: Submit your idea for a WEP February theme by November 12 to admin@insecurewriterssupportgroup.com. Nothing so U.S. culturally bound. Should have wide appeal.

Prize: Feature in the December newsletter for the winner. And, of course, the winning theme will be the official February WEP theme!

Deadline: November 12. Winner announced in the November newsletter on November 28.  

And the December theme is as follows:

Each month I post my submission stats for the previous month on my IWSG post to keep myself accountable.

In October:

5 submissions
1 rejection
0 acceptances
12 pieces currently on submission

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

Accepting Submissions:

Narratively is seeking personal essays/memoir that delves deeper than the usual. 2000 to 3000 words. Pays $300.

Perihelion is seeking science fiction. 2500 to 7000 words. Pays $.01/word.

Rivet is seeking poetry, nonfiction, and literary short works. 15 to 15,000 words. Pays $25.

Automata Review is seeking short works that explore new spaces. 1000 to 6000 words. Pays $25.

The Sea Letter is seeking short fiction, poetry, and photography. Up to 7500 words (1000 for poetry). Pays $25.

Craft is seeking short fiction, flash fiction, craft essays, interviews, and book reviews. Up to 7000 words (1000 for flash fiction--other types of submissions have different limits). Pays $100 to $200, depending upon submission type.

Crimson Streets is seeking pulp of various genres. 800 to 6000 words. Pays $.01/word.

Daily Science Fiction is seeking short science fiction. 100 to 1500 words. Pays $.08/word.

Unshattering is seeking science fiction and fantasy that show the way back to a livable future. Also seeking poetry, memoir, and art. Up to 4500 words. Pays $.10/word.

Aotearotica is seeking erotica. Poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Up to 3000 words. Pays NZD$50.

What are your insecurities? Have you sent in an entry for the WEP theme? How has your creativity changed since you started writing? Did you submit a story for the anthology? Are any of these links of interest? Anything to share? How were your submissions this month?

May you find your Muse.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

ShaNoShoStoWriEdSubMo Kick-off Day!

It's November 1st! You know what that means! ShaNoShoStoWriEdSubMo time!

No? You're doing NaNoWriMo instead? That's okay.

Each year, I hijack the energy of NaNo to jump start some projects. This year it's especially needed. I've allowed business to steal my writing time, and after an 11 day migraine, I hadn't written anything until last night. So it's time to catch up. (Not that I wouldn't have been doing ShaNo anyway.)

What it is: I set my own relevant writing-related goals during the month of November. Simple!

This year's goals:

Finish a minimum of five already begun short stories.
Write two new stories.
Edit a minimum of three pending stories.
Make 10,000 words progress on squirrel horror (both editing and writing).
Submit at least three new stories.
Send out a minimum of five queries for Myth Stalker novel.
Do a weekly blog post that includes updates.

I'm hoping this will get me back on a regular schedule of some sort.

Before I get to links, I want to share a project Tyrean Martinson put out in October!

Ashes Burn, Seasons 1-7 includes all the seasons from the hint fiction fantasy series. Following the lives of the three characters, the story takes place in a unique format of micro-fiction episodes.

Wend runs a strange path to find a new future.
Teresa hunts for the man she loves.
Bryant blazes a destructive path to a new empire.
Who will survive their methods?

Ashes hold the inner heat of fire, the spark and ember of flame. Like those, micro-fiction holds the spark of a larger story that may grow inside the mind of a reader. Consider each piece a frame of embers. Picture the story in your imagination.

Please note that micro-fiction is an experimental form of story-writing and the whole series is very short.

Now Available for:

The Reviewer's Special is a Coupon Code I've generated for up to 50 downloads between now and November 29th at Smashwords ONLY. If you use this code, you'll get 100% off and be able to read the whole hint fiction series for FREE. However, this is a limited time, limited download offer. If you like the book or find it interesting, please leave a review. The code is: ZG27Q

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

Accepting Submissions:

ServiceScape Short Story Award closes this month. Fiction or non-fiction under 5000 words. $1000 prize. Deadline November 29.

Ninth Letter is seeking poetry and prose that are literary or experimental. Up to 8000 words. Pays $25 per printed page. Deadline November 30.

Martian Migraine Press is seeking horror short stories for Monstrous Outlines. The theme is Camouflage. 1500-7000 words. Pays .03CAD/word. Deadline November 30.

Twelfth Planet Press is seeking novellas for their novella series. They want grit and rebellion. 17,000-40,000 words. $300 advance, plus royalties. Deadline November 30.

Pen and Ink Pub is seeking short ghost stories of women scorned for Haunted. 4000 words and up. Pays $20. Deadline November 30.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is seeking first person stories in the theme of Life Lessons From the Cat. Up to 1200 words. Pays $200. Deadline November 30.

Crannog Magazine is seeking prose and poems. Up to 2000 words. Pays 30 to 50 Euros. Deadline November 30.

Baltimore Review is seeking short works. Pays $40. Deadline November 30.

Goblin Fruit is seeking fantastical poetry. Pays $15. Deadline December 1.

Eternal Haunted Summer is seeking poetry and short fiction gods, goddesses, and Pagan traditions. Preferably less than 5000 words or it will be serialized. Theme: Dark Spirits of Winter. Pays $5. Deadline December 1.

Pedestal Magazine is seeking poetry. Submit up to 5 poems. Pays $40 per poem. Deadline December 2.

Are you doing NaNo or some version of it? Have you heard of micro-fiction? Are any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

*Artwork by OCAL, clker.com

Friday, October 12, 2018

Horror List Book Review: The Collector

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.)

This week I'm reviewing The Collector, by John Fowles.

This is an excellent book. It's slow and non-violent, purely psychological horror. It's told in multiple parts, with each of the characters well developed, though not necessarily likable. The first part is from the main character's point-of-view. He is an outcast, lonely, but fascinated by a woman. He buys a new place and sets up a soundproof room for her before kidnapping her and locking her in. He wants to experience her, be near her, watch her, but he has no interest in sex.

He has collected her.

The next part is from her POV. We get some insight into her reactions throughout her captivity, which we've previously seen from his POV.

Each of the POVs were distinct from each other. Though the pacing is slow, the story drags you in and pulls you along, mostly by holding the terror over you due to your own expectations and fears. As the reader, you hope for some awareness from the main character, some understanding from him that what he's doing is wrong. A sense of morality or hope. His neutrality and blandness are part of the horror.

This one has finally moved my top ten around:

My Top Ten:  

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
2. The Girl Next Door (Jack Ketchum)
3. The Bottoms (Joe R. Lansdale)
4. The Collector (John Fowles)
5. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
6. The Bridge (John Skipp and Craig Spector)
7. A Choir of Ill Children (Tom Piccirilli)
8. Needful Things (Stephen King)
9. 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
10. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)

The next review will be for The Resort, by  Bentley Little. After that, Dark Descent.

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

Accepting Submissions:

Unlocking the Magic is an anthology seeking fantasy involving characters with mental illness. The focus is on realistic portrayals of the mental illness, not magic born of it. 3000 to 6000 words. Pays $300. Deadline November 1.

The Literary Hatchet is seeking speculative fiction flash, short stories, art, poetry, etc. 500 to 6000 words. Pays $5 to $10. Deadline November 1.

The First Line is seeking fiction and non-fiction essays with the first line, "As she trudged down the alley, Cenessa saw a small..." 300 to 5000 words. Pays $25 to $50. Deadline November 1.

Thema Literary is seeking short stories, poetry, essays, and art with the theme The Critter in the Attic. Up to 20 pages. Pays $10 to $25. Deadline November 1.

Spring Song Press is seeking steampunk short stories for Steam and Lace. 1000 to 10,000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline November 1.

Are any of these links of interest? Have you read The Collector or anything by John Fowles? What did you think? Anything to share? Have you been submitting?

May you find your Muse.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Self-Publishing Business Checklist

A friend about to embark on the beginning of her self-publishing journey asked me for a checklist for first steps. I figured if I was going to put it together, I might as well make it a blog post. Anyone with something to add to the checklist, feel free to do so in the comments!

  • Decide whether you will be a sole proprietorship, LLC, S Corp, etc.
  • Decide whether you want a press name, in which case you need to file for your "DBA" (Doing Business As) with Secretary of State (search already existing business names on the site first)
  • File for your EIN at IRS.gov
  • Create a separate business account (once you have your EIN)
  • Sign up for a Square account
  • Sign up for a PayPal account separate from your personal one
  • Create files for any business related documents/receipts/forms
  • Keep track of startup expenses, which are tax deductible
  • Budget self-publishing and business start up costs--what is your break even point?
  • Figure out the price of your book/s once you know the production costs
  • Figure out where you will publish (Amazon, Smashwords, Lulu, Lightning Force, Ingram, etc.) and open accounts with them
  • Get a sales tax license for city and state
  • Purchase ISBN numbers from R.R. Bowker (cheaper in bulk, and you will likely need at least two for each book, as each format requires its own)
  • Contract book cover, editor, etc., as needed
  • Research/complete formatting--ebooks are formatted differently than paperbacks, plus different POD sites may have different requirements (Smashwords has additional formatting instructions beyond what's required by Amazon, for example)
  • Decide on front matter (keep it simple and brief), including any disclaimers
  • Decide on back matter, such as bio, thank yous/acknowledgments, website/social media links
  • Upload final cover/formatted book
  • Order a proof and carefully review the ebook after uploading
  • Make it live once it's ready!
Some resources I found helpful:

I threw this together pretty quickly, so I'm sure I forgot something. Like I said above, feel free to make further suggestions or link to resources you liked in the comments.

And good luck!

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

October? Impossible! IWSG

October is my favorite month, hands down. Fall, spooky things, Halloween, sweaters, gorgeous colors in the leaves, pellet stove, and the ability to actually cook real food without spending a fortune on air conditioning or simply roasting. Yay!

Since it's the first Wednesday of October, it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, this group exists to seek and lend support to fellow writers. Anyone can sign up. Simply click on Alex's name and enter your blog on the link list. Make sure to visit this month's awesome co-hosts:

Don't forget about the IWSG Anthology Contest!

Guidelines and rules: 

Word count: 3500-6000

Genre: Young Adult Romance

A Masquerade can be a false show or pretense, someone pretending to be someone they aren't. It can be a ball, a fancy dress party, it can be a mask. Open to interpretation.

Submissions accepted: September 5 - November 4, 2018

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (Double spaced, no page numbers), previously unpublished story to admin @ insecurewriterssupportgroup.com before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group. 

We've had some entries already, but we want more, more, more! If YA Romance isn't your genre, this is an excellent opportunity to stretch yourself and try something new.

This month's optional question: How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

For me, I've found that if there's a major negative life event occurring, my creativity buries its head in the sand. When we evacuated during the Waldo Canyon Fire and were staying at a hotel, people kept saying, "I bet you've got tons of writing time!" Sure. Only I was stuck in a one bedroom hotel room with my terrified children, had no idea if my home was still standing, or my parents', or my friends'. I was too busy figuring out next steps, like where to go if the house was gone. Whether my husband's workplace would still be standing. All that jazz.

When my dad was diagnosed with ALS, I froze up for a few months. No writing. No desire to write, because I didn't have the emotional energy.

I can't say writing has helped me through anything. It's helped me cope with things afterward, but my creativity seems to disappear when my emotional energy is low. That's okay, because I always eventually get back to it, and get to exorcise it through the stories that follow.

Before I get to this month's stats, a couple cool things happened this month.

First, Strangeful Things made women in horror trading cards, and I'm on one! If you're attending the Women in Horror Film Festival, check out the Strangeful Things table. They've got some horror goodies, including these bonus trading cards.

And I discovered this awesome Ladies of Horror Fiction website, which includes a directory of female horror authors. And I'm on it! Exciting!

Also, I was interviewed over at Wonderland Press.

Okay, stats for the month. For those who haven't visited here before, I go over my previous month's submission stats to keep myself accountable.

In September:

3 submissions
1 acceptance
2 rejections
2 publications (Fright Into Flight and Society of Misfit Stories, Volume II
1 other (I've assumed it is rejected since I haven't heard back)

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

Accepting Submissions:

Nonbinary Review is seeking literary pieces with the theme Dante's Inferno. Up to 2000 words. Pays $.01/word for fiction and nonfiction. Poetry and visual art are paid differently. Deadline October 24.

Flash Bang Mysteries is seeking flash mystery and suspense. 500 to 750 words. Pays $20. Deadline October 31.

Atlantean Publishing is seeking British folklore fiction and poetry. Short story to novelette length. Pays one penny Sterling per word. Deadline October 31.

Horroraddicts.net is seeking short horror pieces for Kill Switch, a tech horror anthology. Think Black Mirror. 2000 to 7000 words. Pays $10. Deadline October 31.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is seeking stories with the theme Life Lessons From the Dog. Stories should be personal and written in first person. 1200 words or less. Pays $200. Deadline October 31.

Shenandoah is seeking short stories, essays, poems, etc. Up to 8000 words. Pay varies. Deadline October 31.

Our Loss Anthology is seeking fiction or poetry dealing with sadness and loss. Up to 8000 words. Pays in royalties. Deadline October 31.

Can you write when things are tough? Does it help? Have you submitted any pieces this month? Care to share your stats? Are you going to submit to the IWSG anthology? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

*artwork by clker.com, OCAL

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Guest Post - Swirl: How Being Mixed Race Informs My Writing

Jessica McDonald is a Colorado author (though she currently resides in Japan). Her first novel, Born to Be Magic, the first in the Council Witch series, is coming out soon, so she's stopping by for a visit. In addition to being a friend, she's also a fellow mixed race/part-Cherokee author, and she addresses how that informed her book.

Here's her Kickstarter Link if you want to check it out: Born to Be Magic

Swirl: How Being Mixed Race Informs My Writing
By Jessica McDonald

When I was young, I didn’t understand the concept of being mixed race. Part of my family was white, part of my family was Cherokee—it was as simple as that. I didn’t particularly grasp why I was lighter skinned than my relatives, or what it meant when I was told to say I was white. But when I was eight years old, my school held a re-enactment of the 1889 Oklahoma Land Rush. The white kids played settlers. The Native kids played dead on the ground. I didn’t know where I belonged. I asked my teacher where I should go, and she asked me, “Who do you want to be?”

Loaded question for a second grader.

Fast forward some decades and that question, “Who do you want to be?” has defined my life. Because I’m white passing, I didn’t identify myself as Native for a long time. I felt like I wasn’t “Indian enough.” But my mom took me to ceremonies and sweats and taught me our history, and I didn’t feel right in the white world either. Navigating the choppy waters of racial identity proved harder than I thought. If I said I was white, I felt like I was denying an entire side of my family. If I said I was Native, I felt I had to prove it—like there was some invisible checklist to certify my Nativeness. My mother died when I was 16, and my grandparents had passed on before her; with their loss I suffered a cultural loss as well. I no longer had anyone to guide me in my search for identity. I had only stories, and a sense of belonging to two worlds and also being a fraud in both of them.

This search for identity is a central theme in my writing, and I don’t think you have to be mixed race for it to resonate with you. We’re all searching for acceptance, we’re all searching for our truth, we’re all ships sailing through a storm. In my debut novel, BORN TO BE MAGIC, the protagonist, Rachel Collins, walks this line between human and witch. She craves normality while defining herself supernaturally. It’s these contradictions, these conflicts, that inform the process of developing our identities.

Rachel is a ley witch, a rarity among her kind, and is somewhat shunned for being too dangerous. Simultaneously, she cannot set aside that which makes her different in order to be completely human. In much the same way, I could not set aside my Nativeness to be completely white, nor could I set aside my whiteness to be completely Native. I had to blend the two, to create a world of my own design, where I could stand on solid ground instead of having one foot on the platform and one foot on the train. Rachel’s story is about finding that world, about carving out a definition of self that is uniquely hers.

My experiences are neither completely Native nor completely white. I walk through the world with white skin, but I bear the weight of the tragedies that befell generations before me. I move through a modern world with ancestral knowledge. I know that I may be rejected by either of my two halves, and therein lies the most important point: The search for identity cannot begin outside the self. To reconcile those conflicts, we must turn inward. One of my favorite indigenous artists, Frank Waln, puts it best in his song “Good Way”:

“You’ve been waiting your whole life to find out who you are
These people judge your skin but still they fail to see your scars
Everything you’re looking for out there is deep inside
Your heart is like an ocean when it’s open deep and wide.”

In my novel, Rachel has to learn this lesson the hard way. She constantly rejects authority while craving its acceptance. She shuns a “normal life” but refuses to fully embrace her witch status. She wants to live in the middle of the Venn diagram of supernatural and human, and doesn’t know how to create that space for herself. It’s her journey of self-identity that serves as her central internal conflict.

Themes of identity and belonging also feature in my other works. My nonfiction essays have largely centered on the representation of indigenous peoples and the conflicts faced by mixed-race persons. While everyone goes through a self-discovery process, my experiences provide me with unique perspective. For Rachel, she encounters people who help her decide her identity for herself. For me, it was reconnecting with the indigenous communities and adoptive families that allowed me to meld my two worlds. I still have fear of being a fraud; I still have fear that I’m missing my Indian card; I still feel somewhat out of place in white spaces. But I’ve taken that inward plunge, and I’ve found a way to bring my two halves together. This allows me to take characters on the same journey, one that I hope will offer comfort and insight to those that journey with them.

Rachel Collins isn’t sure sarcasm is an actual method of self-defense, but she keeps testing the theory. On paper, she’s an agent for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, but in reality, she’s a ley witch, and as a deputy working for the High Council of Witches, it’s her job to keep the supernatural in line and protect humanity from the things they don’t know exist. It’s dangerous, and not just because a Walking Dead reject might eat her face. If she uses too much power, she could become a monster herself. 

It's all magical forensics and arresting perps for dealing with demons until Rachel’s brother disappears, kidnapped by someone sending her a very particular message. Defying the Council’s order to stay off her brother’s case, Rachel hides her witchy identity from the demon hunter Sean—which definitely has nothing to do with how hot he is—and strikes a deal to save her brother. Unfortunately, their plan risks corrupting Rachel's soul, a grievous offense in the eyes of the Council. Now she’ll have to prove she’s not hellbound—or suffer the same brand of justice she used to serve. 

About Jessica McDonald: Writer, speaker, geek. Jessica writes urban fantasy and YA, and is a purveyor of real-life magic. Powered by caffeine, ridiculousness, and charm. Proud indigenous. 

Jessica splits her time between Japan, where she is currently an English teacher, and Denver, where she spent many a year as a marketing director. She has owned her own company, designing promotional campaigns for both authors and businesses. She earned her Master’s degree from the University of Denver and holds undergraduate degrees from The Pennsylvania State University, and has worked for everything from political campaigns to game design companies. She has published original research on online user behavior, and presented to national conferences on how social media really is more than just cat videos. Her recent presentations have included using fandoms as an in-road to STEM for girls and diversity in media.

When she’s not writing or working, she spends time exploring Japan; playing with her two cats and dog; playing the cello; gaming; doing outdoorsy stuff; and avoiding adult life as much as possible. A two-time Zebulon Award winner, she is currently working on her sixth novel, a DinĂ©-inspired YA paranormal called SKY MARKED. She belongs to Pikes Peak Writers and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, as well as the crucial-to-her-success critique group, Highlands Ranch Fiction Writers.

Find her on Twitter at @coloradojess, Facebook, Instagram at @coloradojessica, her blog, or on her super geeky roleplay Tumblr. Or possibly all of those at once.

Thank you, Jessica! Your story hits close to home, especially when you talk about having a foot in each world and feeling like a fraud in both. The quote from Frank Waln is perfect. 

Jessica's book will be released soon. Looking forward to it!

What life experiences have shaped your writing? How much do you see yourself reflected in the characters and worlds you create?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

IWSG - Publishing Path, Stats & Links

It's the first Wednesday of September, and the last summer IWSG until next year!

The IWSG, or Insecure Writer's Support Group is a monthly blog gathering created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, where we address our insecurities and support each other. Anybody can join. Just click on Alex's name and sign up! Then post on the first Wednesday of each month and hop around to visit other IWSGers.

This month's co-hosts are  Toi Thomas, T. Powell Coltrin, M.J. Fifield, and Tara Tyler! Be sure to stop by and visit them!

The optional question is: What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?

My publishing path started with short stories. I started experimenting with them then submitting then getting published, and they completely sucked me in. Now I'm looking at trying to get a novel traditionally published.

My insecurities right now are centered on which project I should be putting the most effort into. I've done a poor job querying my novel, so no new queries out this month. There are two novels I need to finish, and since I can't decide between them, I just work on other things. Plus, I have a craft book on writing, submitting, and marketing short stories outlined, but I haven't started writing it yet.

And then there's the siren song of short stories. I sit here doubting these longer projects, so I avoid them completely, working on short stories instead. Because they make me happy.

What I need to do is choose one long-term project, buckle down, and finish it. In the meantime, I keep beating myself up about my failure to do so, and keep writing short stories. Which means I'm still working, still getting things done, but I'd like to finish these other projects, too.

Submissions for the next IWSG anthology open today!

Word count: 3500-6000

Genre: Young Adult Romance

A Masquerade can be a false show or pretense, someone pretending to be someone they aren't. It can be a ball, a fancy dress party, it can be a mask. Open to interpretation.

Submissions accepted: September 5 - November 4, 2018

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (Double spaced, no page numbers), previously unpublished story to admin @ insecurewriterssupportgroup.com before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges:
Elizabeth S. Craig, author
Elana Johnson, author
S.A. Larsen, author
D.L. Hammons, Write Club founder
Gwen Gardner, author
Kelly Van Sant, Red Sofa Literary Agency
Kristin Smith, author

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title. 

Each month I post my submissions stats to keep myself accountable. This month is a good one! After a lull in publication (I got a bunch of short stories accepted this year, but many of the releases were slated to the end of this year, starting in September), I've got stories in two anthologies releasing in September. More on that below. For now, my stats for August submissions:

Short Stories
3 stories submitted
2 rejections (one after a short listing of almost a year, which left me incredibly disgruntled and disappointed)
1 acceptance
10 submissions pending

0 new novel queries sent
1 novel query pending

Time for my good news!

I've got a short story in Flight Into Fright, an all female horror anthology. It just released yesterday! Purchase links can be found here: Fright Into Flight.

I also have a story in the upcoming The Society of Misfit Stories, Volume II. These are novellas and novelettes, so it's a big collection. Pre-order link is on Amazon, with release on September 15.

I'll also be participating in a signing later this month. Books and Brews will be a multi-author signing, with small presses selling books. This will be Thursday, September 27, 6-8 PM, at Peak to Peak Tap & Brew in Aurora. Other participating authors are Chuck Anderson, DeAnna Knippling, Stace Johnson, J.L. Forrest, Jamie Ferguson, Jim LeMay, Lou J. Berger, Mario Acevedo, Rebecca Hodgkins, Richard Friesen, and Wayne Foust.

Now it's time for some links! Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions: 

Feral Cat Publishers is seeking odd short fiction for Bubble Off Plumb. 1000 to 5000 words. Pays $.03/word plus royalties. Deadline September 30.

Red Room Press is seeking horror short stories for American Psychos: A Serial Killer Anthology. 3500 to 5500 words. Pays $100. Deadline October 1.

The Last Line is seeking flash fiction and short stories. Must have the last line "I will visit again if I am ever back this way." 300 to 5000 words. Pays $20-$40. Deadline October 1.

The /tEmz/ Review is seeking fiction, poetry, and reviews. 1 to 10,000 words. Pays $20.

Grasslimb is seeking poetry, prose, reviews, and art. Up to 2500 words. Pays $5-$70, depending upon type and length of work.

Folded Word is seeking fiction, poetry, essays, and more. Pays $5.

Flash Fiction Magazine is seeking flash fiction. 300 to 1000 words. Pays $40.

Tough is seeking crime short stories. 1500 to 7500 words. Pays $25.

Craft is seeking fiction and non-fiction. Up to 7000 words. Pays up to $200.

New Reader Magazine is seeking fiction, poetry, memoir, and more. Minimum of 500 words. Pay starts at $10.

What are your insecurities? How have you done on submissions this month? Is there anything you've been needing to do, but haven't been able to? Any of these links of interest? Will you be submitting to the IWSG anthology? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.