Friday, October 11, 2019

Horror List Book Review: Invisible Man

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.)

It's been almost a year since I last reviewed a book on here. Back in January, right before everything went chaotic in my life, I reviewed Naomi's Room. As with everything else, I'm trying to get back to my old normal.

This week I'm reviewing Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison.

I'm going to be honest. When I saw this title on the list, I thought it was THE Invisible Man, which is actually by H.G. Wells. But this book is on a list of scariest books ever for very different reasons than Wells' story.

Ellison's Invisible Man is a stark look at society, individualism, identity, and, most obviously, race. The examination of race is split between two different areas: the deep South and Harlem.

I wish I'd reviewed this after first writing it. It's been probably about eight or nine months. I read it just before things went upside down. I remember the raw emotion I felt while reading this gorgeously written book. The frustration, the anger, the sadness, and a host of other emotions. But I don't remember specific examples I could pull and more precise reviews to give you.

The "horror" of this book is the way people treat other people, the things that happen that are looked past or ignored. The way we train others to be, and are in turn trained to be. The wrong we can do, and the wrong that can be done.

If I remember right, we never get a true name for the main character. This is part of his invisibility.

All I can tell you is that everyone should read this book. Written in 1952, it flows in a beautiful arrangement of words that belies what we're reading about. To close, I'll put the opening paragraph of the prologue here:

"I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids--and  might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination--indeed, everything and anything except me."

I rank this right there with "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "The Handmaid's Tale" for commentary on society and a vivid, depressing look at the resilient and downtrodden in our society. The invisible, as it were.

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: is seeking horror stories set in the Victorian era for Dark Divinations. 2000 to 5000 words. Pays $10. Deadline October 31.

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

Utopia Science Fiction is seeking optimistic SF. 100 to 6000 words. Pays $15.

Mura Magazine is seeking poetry, flash fiction, and visual art. Less than 1000 words. Pays $1 CAD/100 words.

Czykmate Productions is seeking horror flash and short stories (plus graphic art). Pays $2.

The Bronzeville Bee is seeking speculative fiction, crime, and YA short stories. Up to 3000 words. Pays $.05/word.

Have you ever read Ellison's Invisible Man? How about the other books I mentioned? What are your thoughts? Do you find the subject matter chilling? Any of these links of use? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

IWSG - Read to Write

It's Octooooooooooooooooooooober!

Oddly, it's been in the 80s here until today. I'm ready for fall weather.

It's also the first Wednesday of October, which makes it time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.
Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG is all about seeking and giving support from/to fellow writers. Anyone can join. Just click on Alex's name to sign up. Then post the first Wednesday of each month and visit fellow IWSG'ers.

The co-hosts this month are  Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Mary Aalgaard,Madeline Mora-Summonte, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

The optional question this month is "It's been said that the benefits of becoming a writer who does not read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another writer. On the other hand, how can you expect other people to want your writing if you don't enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?

Personally, I believe writers should be readers. Being a writer is a constant learning and growing experience. Unless you're only reading one author for all time, it's highly doubtful you're going to write just like them. On the other hand, you can learn a lot from other writers and your responses to their work. You can learn just as much about what not to do as you can learn about what to do. I find that an author doing something wrong can make me see the errors in my own writing.

I'm currently waiting on some submissions to either get accepted or rejected so I can start putting together my next collection. I like to put some new stories in with old ones, and am thinking of doing more new ones this time around, but I want to see what I have available first. So no submission stats this month!

In lieu of my usual posts, I wanted to share S.A. Larsen's recent release!

It’s finally here!
New cover. Completely rebranded. Same corpse-raising middle grade adventure.
MOTLEY EDUCATION: The Urd Saga, book I
by S. A. Larsen
Ages: 8-12
Pages: 354
Ellysian Press, September 10, 2019; Second Edition

"A deftly crafted ... and entertaining read!"
Midwest Book Reviews - Children's Watch 2017
Motley Junior High: School for the Psychically and Celestially Gifted Terms of Enrollment
Signed: Ebony Charmed

Ebony should be excited about entering sixth grade to further develop her skills. And she would be. If only her lame abilities let her see more than three ghosts.

Struggling to live up to her gifted family, Ebony is horrified when she is branded a Seeker: someone who is neither Sensory nor Luminary. To top it off, her Deadly Creatures and Relics project – transforming a measly stick – seems destined for failure.

But there are doors to other worlds where creatures have been watching her. And when the truth emerges that her project is more than a stick, she knows she must act. Along with her best friend Fleishman and his pet lizard, Ebony finds herself wedged between prophecies and quests. Oh, and saving the entire spirit world from annihilation.

Ebony is not ready to be a hero. But a dark presence has already stolen more than one local kid. And this time, her failure is not an option.

*Bronze Award Winner, 2017 Feathered Quill Book Awards for Best Juvenile/YA Fiction*
*Winner - Purple Dragonfly Awards 2017, Honorable Mention; ebook*
*Gold Medal Award Winner - Literary Classics Book Awards 2017, Grade School Fantasy*
*Gold Medal Winner - 2017 Readers' Favorite International Book Awards, Children's Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Order signed books from The Children’s Book Cellar via message.

About the Author
S.A. Larsen is an award-winning author, childhood apraxia of speech advocate, and Maine-iac ice hockey fan, who has watched more hockey games than she could ever count. She also has a soft spot for the strange and misunderstood, which might explain her love for dipping plain chips in ketchup. Her favorite stories push the boundaries of our world and open harbored emotions to inspire and challenge the heart. She's the author of Motley Education: The URD Saga Book I (Ellysian Press, 2019; second edition), a fantasy-adventure for middle grade readers and Marked Beauty-her debut young adult fantasy-romance (Ellysian Press, 2017). When she's not chasing her characters around a cemetery or antagonizing them with the wonders of young love, she lives in the land of lobsters and snowy winters with her husband and four children. Visit her cyber home at, find her on Twitter @SA_Larsen and Instagram sa.larsen, or on, where she does most of her spookiness brewing up all sorts of creepy ideas with a group of #SpookyMG authors. Stop by for a visit . . . if you dare.

What are your insecurities? Do you think writers should also be readers? Isn't S.A. Larsen's new cover great? Have you picked up your copy?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Guest Post: Down & Dirty Social Media Tips

Today I'm welcoming Jennifer Lovett Herbranson, author of Social Media for Authors: Book Marketing for Writers Who'd Rather Write. Jennifer is a marketing whiz. She's used it in her military career, and has long helped with social media aspects of marketing for Pikes Peak Writers. I highly recommend her book. As a preview, she's given us some social media basics.

My down and dirty social media tips
  •  Pick one. Instagram is hot right now and about as happy a place as you can find on the Internet. Use up to 30 hashtags but rotate their usage so you don’t seem like you’re spamming those categories.
  • Stories. Best use of Instagram right now is Stories. If you’re a storyteller, these are made for you! Post one a day or every other day.
  • Groups. Best use of Facebook right now is Groups. Organic reach on a Facebook Page is abysmal unless you pay for ads. However, with Facebook’s algorithm change, they are prioritizing friends, family and groups. If you have a street team or want to start one, use Facebook Groups to do it.
  • Tweet away. If you’re looking for industry professionals to connect with, get on Twitter. #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) is a quarterly agent ask for specific types of manuscripts. Check them out. They just might want what you’ve written.
  • Content calendars will save your life! I know planning is a pain but if you do it, you’ll give yourself so much time back in your day for writing your book. Use paper and pen or a scheduler like Buffer to help you plan that content.
  • Email is gold. Yes, it is. 25-30% open rates can’t be beat anywhere. Just don’t spam your subscribers with crap. Give them good progress reports, updates and fun news about you, your public persona and the world you’re building. 
Check out “Social Media for Authors: Book Marketing for Writers Who’d Rather Write” in ebook and print on Amazon. Jenny gives you permission to throw the traditional marketing playbook out the window and develop your own using these principles:
  • You do not have to be on every social media outlet.
  • You do not have to post every single minute of every day.
  • You need a plan. Plans create efficiency. And effective plans grow your readership and give you time back in your day.
Get it on Kindle Unlimited at

Follow Jenny!
On Instagram @writernationjen
On Twitter @writernationjen
On Facebook @Writernation

What do you think about these tips? Interested in the book? 

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Human Trafficking: Not What You Think It Is

I attended a RMMWA (Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America) meeting last week on human trafficking. The information was eye opening. Some of it I knew, but much of it I didn't. So I thought I'd pass it along since I keep talking to people who say they're including some aspect of human trafficking in their books/stories. Be aware that it's a heavy and depressing topic.

The presenter was Brittany Austin, from LCHT (Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking.)

Her initial definition of human trafficking: A severe form of exploitation for labor (including sex) through the use of fraud, force, or coercion. 

There are three categories:

1. Those under 18 involved in commercial sex acts (probably the one we hear most about).

2. Those 18 and over involved in commercial sex acts through force, fraud, or coercion.

3. Those forced to perform labor and/or other services in conditions of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery through force, fraud, or coercion (the one I think fewest people consider when thinking of trafficking.)

An incident must involve one of the following (not one from each category, just one of any of these) to qualify:

Action: Recruit, Harbor, Transport, Provide, Obtain
Means: Force, Fraud, Coercion
Purpose: Commercial Sex Acts OR Labor or Services

Some examples that you might not think of in terms of the means are things like threatening to deport someone, threatening to hurt a family member, or even using a type of blackmail where you threaten to reveal something private and/or embarrassing.

**Sex acts can include stripping and other similar acts, not just prostitution.**

Trafficking often uses a person's needs that are not being fulfilled to coerce them. (Examples: "I'll be the mom you've never had," "I'll marry you so you," "We'll be your family.") Teens/kids will do something to help their single mom, as another example. Those silly ads we see on lamp posts that offer excessively high pay for a mystery job are often targeting youth.

Some simplified examples of how they use a person's needs to get them to perform labor, etc.:

1. Someone suffering from abuse/neglect will fall for the offer of a relationship of some sort.

2. Someone who is homeless will fall for offers of food, shelter, and family.

3. Someone with a marginalized identity can be coerced with acceptance.

4. Someone with an inability to access the job market can be coerced with offers of income.

**Marginalized communities are especially vulnerable**

Immigrant labor force makes up 22% of Colorado's labor force.

Many people know or have some manner of relationship with their trafficker. Interfamilial pimping is a big thing. Arranged marriages can also be examples of human trafficking in some circumstances.

Trafficking tends to come across as being about young females, often white (the white slave trade, etc.). This is what is most often depicted in fiction. However, it is young and old, male and female, white and people of color. It can be anyone.

Sean Crumpler was a human trafficker caught in Colorado. He ended up sentenced to 50 years. He had ten to fifteen LGBT+ boys between the ages of 16 and 21 in his home. Some of them had disappeared from California. In exchange for food, shelter, and gifts, they had to capitulate to his sexual needs.

Ski resorts, agricultural areas, and construction sites are places where immigrants are often recruited directly from their country and brought up to Colorado to be forced into a type of indentured servitude. Often, they get here with promises of a job and somewhere to stay, only to discover their wages are garnished for the transportation, the building they're required to stay in, food, etc. As they continue to work there, they continue to rack up dues, never making enough money to be able to escape. In one local case, the only time they were allowed out of the disgusting building they were being kept in was for work and church attendance on Sundays. A nun noticed their degenerating conditions and reported it, which is how they were found. Not only were they being held due to debt, but their families were threatened. When the perpetrator got out, he kept good to his promises, and traveled to Mexico to go after family members.

Something I've dealt with personally is teens that answer those mysterious ads promising tons of money. They are then transported somewhere for "training," only to discover they're now far from home, often unsure of where they even are, and that they owe money for the transportation and training after the fact. These are the teens you see knocking on doors and selling things like magazine submissions that are not for a local school (for example). They are typically being dropped off in neighborhoods, and must make a certain amount of sales if they want to eat that night. They will be picked up many hours later and taken to a hotel room or similar place, where they all stay in one room. They often have no means to try to reach out to family (or have no family to reach out TO). I've seen these kids selling in my area before, and when I looked up the company they worked for, this exact situation was described. All I knew to do at the time was ask the boy if he was okay. I wish I'd known more about this and had offered to call someone for him or get him to safety somehow.

Here are some red flags and indicators:

- Unexplained injuries
- Evidence of prolonged infection or untreated injuries
- Repeated bacterial, yeast, STI infections
- Dental issues
- Exposure, repeated motion injuries
- Cardiovascular and respiratory problems
- Tattoo branding (there are Denver tattoo parlors that have contracted with people to brand the people they are trafficking, and this likely exists all over the U.S.)
- Evidence of sexual trauma
- Not making eye contact
- Individuals not in control of their own identification documents
- Someone claiming to speak for or on behalf of a victim
- Individual has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story and/or exhibits a loss of sense of time or place
- Individual claims to be visiting, but has no real understanding of where they are or even where they're from
- Youth having relationships with older unexplained adults
- Individual with no idea when his/her last last medical/dental checkup was
- Individual exhibiting PTSD symptoms
- May be in crisis or downplaying injury/illness
- Confused/out of it

Some additional facts:

25% of children worldwide are victims of modern slavery

Women and girls make up 71% of modern slavery victims

Debt bondage affected half of all victims of forced labor imposed by private actors.

In Colorado, you can call 866-455-5075 or text 720-999-9724 to report suspected human trafficking. LCHT.

Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance: 303-861-1160.

You can visit the website for the National Human Trafficking Hotline for more information, including stats in your own state.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline can be called at 888-373-7888 or texted at 233733.

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

Accepting Submissions:

Dragon Soul Press has a number of anthologies open for submissions. The one closing soonest is Organic Ink: Volume 2. No theme, just poems. Pays in royalties. Deadline September 30.

Backpacker is seeking off-the-trail stories from true lovers of the wilderness. There are many categories freelancers can break into. Pays $.40 to $1.00/word.

Funicular Magazine is seeking "quality fiction and poetry that shocks, surprises, moves, and tickles us." Pays $25/piece to $10/printed page, depending upon submission type.

Flash Fiction Magazine is seeking flash fiction of 300-1000 words. Pays $40 per story in their anthology, but nothing for those published online.

Dream of Shadows is seeking fantasy and horror short stories. Up to 1500 words. Pays £20 per piece.

Did you learn anything new about trafficking? Did you know how widespread it was? Any submission links of interest to you? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

New Releases!

Really, NEW should be in quotes. I haven't updated available stories recently, so figured that now was a good time, because one of them is available to read online for FREE!

You can click HERE to read "Dearest" for free at Tales From the Moonlit Path.

Before that came out, I had the following releases:

My story "Where I Woke Up" is in The Desperate and the Damned. A woman wakes up in a house with no escape. Even worse, she has no memory of who she is.

"Tent City Horror" is in the second issue of the newly  relaunched Sanitarium Magazine. What happens when a creature stalks the homeless populace in a tent city? And who might be responsible?

Finally, "Shelter From the Storm" is in Vagabond 002: Apocalypse Edition. Finding shelter in a post-apocalyptic world filled with caustic air is tricky. Especially when something dwells beneath the sand.

Now to get update the website. Oy. I'm falling behind!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

IWSG - Kkkkkkk, brrrr, ding (Modem Noises)

It's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group!

(Unfortunately, I'm using hotel wi-fi since I'm on a trip, and after waiting ages for the picture loading page to load, I've given up, so no image!)

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG is a venue for writers to both seek and give support to other writers. Anyone can join. Simply click on Alex's name above and add your blog to the list then post and visit others from the list.

The optional question of the month is If you could pick one place in the world to sit and write your next story, where would it be and why?

This one's hard, because there are so many places I'd love to sit and write, but I'm going to narrow it down to two basic places. A cottage overlooking the Oregon coast or a cabin in the Colorado mountains. I don't need to go to another country or somewhere fancy. I'd just love a small place with either the sounds of nature and the smell of pine trees or the sound of waves crashing nearby and the scent of the ocean drifting by. And I'd need a window, so I could gaze out while thinking or taking a break.

~Contented sigh~

(Oooooh, the pictures I would post right now if the internet wasn't being a jerk face.)

Because the internet connection is super wonky, I'm going to end this here and skip over my usual links and submission updates until next month. I'll be going home Thursday night, so will visit folks then unless I have a better connection tomorrow!

Where would you most like to write? What are your insecurities? Are you submitting? Any news to share? Know of anywhere accepting submissions?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

IWSG - Summer's Almost Gone

It's the first Wednesday of August, which means it's time for another edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, IWSG exists to be a support to writers.

 Anyone is welcome to join. Simply add your name to the list (click on Alex's name above for access), post the first Wednesday of each month, and visit your fellow IWSG'ers.

The co-hosts this month are:

I still haven't gotten back in the saddle completely after the last couple months of insanity and negativity, but I did manage to get a bunch of short stories edited and submitted, so even though I haven't written a bunch of new words, I'm working. I did also place two short stories last month, so yay for acceptances! Now I need some more. It's been a slow year.

Now if I can just get the creative energy to power up, things will look up. I sent out some news in my newsletter about a publishing schedule for two projects, but they get the info first! (You can always sign up over to the right...hint, hint)

My husband and I are going away soon for our anniversary. A couple days in Steamboat Springs will hopefully give me a bit of a recharge. I'm not taking my laptop with me, as the plan is to relax, plain and simple. (Though I am taking paper and writing implements. What do you take me for? A monster??)

Submission stats for July:

6 submissions
4 rejections
2 acceptances (1 was an invite)

I won't be able to visit people until this weekend.

What are your insecurities? How are you coping with them? Any submissions last month? Acceptances? Rejections? 

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

IWSG - Moving On & Links

It's July, and time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group again. I missed the June edition. Really, I missed most of June. But I'm getting my feet back under me, and here we go!

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG exists to lend support to fellow writers dealing with their insecurity. And, of course, to air your own insecurities. Anyone can sign up by clicking on Alex's name and adding your name to the list then posting the first Wednesday of each month. Be sure to visit your fellow IWSG'ers, especially the co-hosts:

At the end of May, my dad succumbed to the ALS he'd fought for 6 1/2 years. The average lifespan is 2 years from diagnosis. We were lucky dad made it as long as he did, though he should have had another year, based upon how he was progressing. 

What does this have to do with IWSG? I'd set goals, things I wanted to accomplish before he died, because I wanted him to see those achievements. My writing career has been a ticking clock for 6 1/2 years. The biggest goal I had was to traditionally publish a novel before he died. I was also working on a novel where the main character had ALS, with the intention of having him do a sensitivity/accuracy read. I wanted him to see someone with ALS get to be a hero, despite the disease. (Although we found out just how much of a hero he was once he was gone, thanks to over 100 people who reached out to us after his death to let us know how he'd impacted those in the ALS community. People he'd helped.)

I failed to accomplish a lot of things I wanted to do before he died. The problem with making a goal like I did is that when the driving factor behind the timing of your goals is removed, it leaves you flapping in the wind. Now what? Sure, I'll still pursue my goals, but they feel somehow emptier now. There's no deadline anymore. As much as I'm sure I'll still want to achieve them, there will be a certain hollowness to the victories, because I didn't make it in time.

I'm working on two things right now: overcoming the numbness I currently feel toward my goals and trying to get the creativity flowing again. I'm trying to be kind to myself about my lack of writing this month. I never miss deadlines, but I had to ask for a week extension for one deadline. There were a couple anthologies I wanted to write for that had a deadline at the end of June/beginning of July, and I had to let those stories go.

Catch up time is here. I have to meet that deadline, get some short stories edited, get back to writing. I'm intellectually aware that I need to give it time and not beat myself up, but that's easier said than done. I can't not keep moving forward. My dad was a driven man, and he would want me to keep going, keep progressing, and achieve my goals.

I will get there.

Since I didn't post last month, I'm going to do my short story submission stats for both May and June. They're pretty piddly, considering my being sick, having surgery, and everything else during that time. BUT I didn't allow my writing career to fall completely by the wayside. 


Submitted - 6
Accepted - 1 (this was from an invite)
Rejected - 2
Released - 1


Submitted - 3
Accepted - 1 (this was from an invite)
Rejected - 1

Currently on submission: 9

How about some links?

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

Accepting Submissions:

Pole to Pole Publishing is seeking short stories for Not Far From Roswell. Alien themed. Dark fiction. 3000 to 5000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline July 30.

VQR is seeking poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction. 2000 to 8000 words for short fiction. Pays up to $1000. Deadline July 31.

Freeze Frame Fiction is seeking flash fiction. 1000 words or less. Pays $10. Deadline July 31.

Flash Bang Mysteries is seeking mystery/thriller themed flash fiction. 500 to 750 words. Pays $20. Deadline July 31.

Less Than Three Press is seeking LGBTQIA novellas for Creature Feature. Monster themed. 20,000 to 60,000. Pays in royalties. Deadline July 31.

Necro Publications is seeking short fiction for Blasphemous Rumors. Religious horror. Up to 5000 words. Pays $.03/word. Deadline July 31.

Dragon Soul Press is seeking short stories featuring both a vampire and a dragon for Coffins & Dragons. 5000 to 15,000 words. Pays royalties. Deadline July 31.

What are your insecurities? How do you get started writing again after a massive derailment? Have you been submitting? Any news? Are any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Writers Behaving Badly: Top Ten Alternatives

I've written about misbehaving writers in the past, but they've been rearing their ugly heads a lot lately. These days, being a writer doesn't get to be a fully solitary pursuit. A media presence is important. Unfortunately, there are always people who shouldn't be in a position where eyes are on them and interaction is a necessity.

From bizarre videos and ill-advised legal cases to Goodreads attacks and outbursts in Facebook groups to cocky letters to reviewers, writers are behaving badly. I watched an author become aggressive and hateful in a Facebook group where she attacked people who return audio books, confronting everyone who tried to discuss it from the other viewpoint. Then she attacked those telling her to stop attacking people.

Ultimately, having a public meltdown will likely end in a deficit of readers. While the free press you get might alert some new readers to you, it's more likely to put off both people who hadn't heard of you and people who were already reading you. Know what bestsellers have in common? They usually haven't launched crazed attacks online.

Rather than haranguing on this, considering most of you probably agree that it's not a good idea, here's a Top Ten List of things you could do instead of publicly freaking out:

1. Write something newer and better and privately say, "In your FACE!" But only where you can hear it.

2. Gorge on ice cream, sweets, or other edible sadness-soppers that make you feel better with sugar, carbs, fat, and calories.

3. Go for a Rocky-jog while listening to "Eye of the Tiger" and sweating your anger out.

4. Take up a dangerous - but satisfying - hobby like lion wrangling or cactus farming.

5. Write your response down on pieces of paper then sacrifice them to a fire built using elm trees and rattlesnake bones.

6. Paper a wall with whatever review, post, or issue is setting you off then paint over it with black and red.

7. Find a practitioner of magic to put a zit spell on the perpetrator. No one ever has to know it was you...

8. Headbang to Alvin and the Chipmunks songs and get a mosh pit going.

9. Adopt as many kittens and puppies as possible, and create a giant snuggle pile.

10. Go to a bar and sobbingly do karaoke to "I Will Survive" over and over until they kick you out. know...just ignore it and move on.

Oh, hey, I'm actually going to do links! Bear in mind I'm not endorsing them, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

El Chapo Review is seeking fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. All genres. Up to 1000 words. Pays $100. Deadline June 1.

Claw & Blossom is seeking short prose and poetry that involves the natural world in some way. The current theme is "Gnaw." Up to 1000 words. Pays $25. Deadline June 6.

Randee Dawn and Michael Ventrella are seeking short speculative fiction submissions for a Beatles themed anthology entitled "Across the Universe." Up to 4000 words. Pays $.05/word. Deadline June 14.

Stormy Island Publishing is seeking romantic fantasy fiction. 1000 to 8000 words. Pays $20. Deadline June 14.

Iridium Magazine is seeking short stories in a variety of genres with LGBTQ+ characters. Up to 5000 words. Pays $.03/word. Deadline June 15.

The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts is seeking flash fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, mixed media, and visual arts. Pays $50. Deadline June 15.

Darkhouse Books is seeking short stories with Lovecraft/Diesel Punk/Steam Punk flavor for "Fearrington Road." 2500 to 6000 words. Pays royalties. Deadline June 15.

What would you do instead of having an online meltdown? The more creative, the better. Have you ever responded to a bad review? Have you witnessed writers behaving badly? Are any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

*Image "Curls Tantrum Colour Blank Bckgrnd Clip Art" by Peter Van Herk,

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

IWSG - Deadline

It's time for the May Insecure Writer's Support Group post, created by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Today's going to be a super brief post, because I thought I had until the end of May to finish a story, and it turns out I have until today. Good thing I pulled up the email to check!

So what's my insecurity right now? Finishing this story! Holy cow!

I'll have to post about my stats and my experience at Mountain of Authors this past weekend later. I've got Pikes Peak Writers Conference starting tomorrow. I'm co-running the green room, so I'll be away from the hubbub of the main conference floor, which will be nice. I'm on one panel about short stories then have a book signing then a query appointment with an agent, all in a row. After that, I can focus on just doing my job.

Conference ends Sunday afternoon, and then next Wednesday I'm having surgery to remove my gall bladder. I've got a busy week coming up!

The co-hosts for this week are
Lee Lowery, Juneta Key, Yvonne Ventresca, and T. Powell Coltrin! Be sure to stop by and say hi.

The optional question is: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

See you guys on the flip side.

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

IWSG - Doldrums

Into April we go. It's been random snow, rain, fog, and sunny days around here, with temperatures all over the place. Ah, spring.

It's time for another installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, this group serves to create a community of support for writers. All are welcome to participate. Just sign up at Alex's blog or the IWSG blog and post on the first Wednesday of each month. Be sure to drop by some new blogs and visit!

The co-hosts for this month are J.H. Moncrieff, Natalie Aguirre, Patsy Collins, and Chemist Ken! Stop by their blogs and say hi!

The optional question for April is: If you could use a wish to help write just ONE scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be?

The next IWSG anthology opens May 1! The genre is Middle Grade Historical: Adventure/Fantasy. The theme will be announced when the anthology opens May 1!

Also, this is my last post as an IWSG admin. Elizabeth Seckman and C. Lee McKenzie will be taking over the newsletter.

I'm feeling a bit frustrated right now, as I haven't sold any stories in 2019, so far. I've been through dry spells before then gotten a lump of acceptances all at once, so it will come back around. It would be nice if it happened soon, though.

My stats for the month of March are as follows:

1 submission (I had a bunch out on long response submissions)
5 rejections
7 currently on submission

Have you checked out WRiTE CLUB yet? Submissions are open through April 14. Simply submit a 500 word writing sample. The slush readers (raises hand) read the samples and narrow down the selection. The finalists will face off on DL Hammon's blog. All entries and bouts are anonymous, and you get fantastic feedback during the bouts.

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:

Nonbinary Review is seeking art and literature with the theme HG Wells. Pays $.01/word. Deadline April 22.

With Painted Words is seeking fiction and poetry. Up to 1000 words. Pays $3. Deadline April 25.

Fiddlehead is seeking fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Up to 6000 words. Pays $60CAD per page.

SinCyr Publishing is seeking romance with queer identifying characters in kilts. 3000 to 7000 words. Pays royalties. Deadline April 30.

Martinus Publishing is seeking short stories for This Never Happened! Alternate History Farce and Fantasy. 1500 to 10,000 words. Pays in royalties. Deadline April 30.

Flash Bang Mysteries is seeking mystery flash fiction. 500 to 750 words. Pays $20. Deadline April 30.

Split Lip Magazine is seeking fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. 1000 to 2500 words. Pays $50. Deadline April 30.

Have you signed up for IWSG? Will you be submitting to the anthology? Have you looked at WRiTE CLUB? Are you submitting?

May you find your Muse.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Dragging Myself Back From the Dead

Wow, look at me slacking on blog posts. This one isn't going to be anything major, and I can't guarantee I'll be consistently blogging again yet, but I wanted to say hellooooo out there, blogging world!

I took a new job in late December that rapidly grew in responsibility and hours. For about a month and a half I had two jobs at the same time, and had suddenly been launched into full time work for the first time in fourteen years. Thus the silences and slacking. I'm exhausted, but happy, with the new job. My house is a mess. However, I took a partial day while the kids were at school to get one floor of the house clean. It's amazing how good it feels to have that one truly clean space. Not to say my house is filthy--my husband and I have done some consistent, but piecemeal, cleaning. But there has not been a big, thorough cleaning that leaves the whole house spanking clean and spotless.

I had two more publications come out since the last post. One was a surprise. It was due out in May. Turns out, the magazine is closing, and they're opening a slightly different one in its place, so they gathered their final stories and put them out in this earlier edition.

Don't Cry to Mama is a horror comedy anthology and Bloodbond Magazine focuses on monsters.

In the midst of everything, I also still had two volunteer jobs, one of which involved putting on a half-day miniature writing conference with six speakers. We happened to get a massive snowstorm the night before, which led to the cancellation of one speaker and many attendees, and yet it turned out to be the most financially successful, so far, out of seven years of having the event. I think that's mostly due to the attendees coming through for us, which was wonderful. And we managed to fill that speaker slot at 7 AM the day of the event!

I now have books consigned at three different locations, two of them local, which is exciting! Plus, I finished a short story and got in some much needed editing time.

My mom also had to have surgery during all this business. She had an abdominal hernia. My dad has ALS, and she's his full time caretaker, so my brother and I helped where we could. Luckily, the VA provided a daily respite worker and two CNAs to get him out of bed and put him back to bed, which took a weight off my brother's and my shoulders. We filled those roles last time mom had surgery. Happily, her surgery went well, and she's healing up, though she still can't lift him or do anything strenuous. And I got to hear my dad's machine voice for the first time (it's his voice recorded while he could still talk consistently, but it still sounds like a robot voice that kind of sounds like him...) I ended up posting some amusing interactions with the respite workers. Some of them were quite odd. The respite workers, unlike the CNAs, did not have to have any sort of certification. One was from Jamaica, but could not swim. One never stopped talking. I'm not sure she ever breathed. One thought I was offering her dinner when I gave her the food to feed my dad. One was racist. One wouldn't put the fork all the way in dad's mouth and expected him to lean forward for the food--he can't. So on and so forth. And then we have the VA provided house cleaner whose boss came to check up on her. The woman stood there petting the dogs on my dad's lap, and jumped when she realized she'd been treating my dad's legs like a table. She didn't know he was there...despite the fact that he's on a noisy bipap machine that breathes for him. Fascinating folks and plenty of story fodder.

I was a bit sad that I simply didn't have time to do fun things for Women in Horror Month. I did end up having a bump in sales, which was nice, but I wanted to enjoy the month and do some stuff with the blog. Next year! However, I did get to participate in a group reading for National Tell A Fairytale Day up in Denver at the BookBar, so that was fun.

In the midst of all this, I switched out the meds I'm on for PTSD, which means I've been randomly napping (not a thing I do unless pregnant, feverish, or apparently dealing with anti-depressants/anti-anxiety meds) and have been making that adjustment.

We did squeeze in a family overnight trip to Great Wolf Lodge (which is right here in our lovely city, but they don't do day passes, so you have to stay at the lodge in order to visit the water park). The stay was comped for a past issue with a stay, and they gave us a cabana for free one of the days. I feel like I experienced a bit of what rich people get to have, with a private cabana at the water park, a TV, outlets, a table, free drinks, and a waiter that came by every once in a while to see if we needed anything. It was pretty cool! I felt spoiled. I can definitely recommend their customer service.

Don't forget that WRiTE CLUB is going on now! I'm one of the slush readers. Check it out if you haven't before! It's run by DL Hammons.

I'm sure I'm forgetting a billion things, but that's okay. Next time!

Have you heard of WRiTE CLUB? Are you participating? How has the beginning of your year been? Are you getting some writing done?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

IWSG March - Heroes vs Villains

March! It's supposed to be spring soon, but what that means in Colorado is the most snow of the year. Right now we're having regular snowstorms on the weekends, which is rather annoying, but we usually have some gorgeous, warm days mixed in, as well, so here's hoping.

It's also the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for IWSG!

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, this group exists to provide community and support to writers of all stripes and levels. All are welcome to join. Simply click on Alex's name above and sign up. Post about your insecurities or reassurances for others, and bop around to visit different people. It's a great way to meet new folks.

This week's co-hosts are:
Fundy Blue, Beverly Stowe McClure, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard! Be sure to stop by and say hi.

The optional question is Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero or the villain? And why?

You'd probably expect me to say I prefer the villain's POV, and I do get a maniacal delight out of writing from the antagonist's view, but I get something different out of writing from the hero's POV, and I enjoy that, too. And I write from that POV more often.

I didn't really answer the question, did I? There's fun in writing the villain, but I probably glean more satisfaction from writing the hero.

I've been busy with work, and just finished with the big annual event for my volunteer job (a half-day mini-conference with six speakers), so my writing has been minimal, but I finished a short story this past week, and I'm happy with that. I've had time to get some other writing done, as well, so yay! I'm calling that a victory right now.

My short story submission stats for February:

7 submissions
5 rejections
1 short listing
0 acceptances
3 releases
11 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:

Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores is seeking short fiction in science fiction and fantasy. 1000 words and up, but they prefer shorter. Pays $.06/word. Only open for submissions from March 21 to 28.

Darkhouse Books is seeking mid-century murder stories. 2500 to 6000 words. Pays royalties. Deadline March 31.

Crannog Magazine is seeking poetry and stories. Up to 2000 words. Payment unspecified. Deadline March 31.

tdotSpec is seeking speculative fiction stories for Imps & Minions. Up to 10,000 words, but they prefer 2000 to 5000 words. Pays up to $25CDN/story. Deadline March 31.

Orbannin Books is seeking short epistolary horror for Letters From the Grave. Up to 10,000 words. Pays $.05/word. Deadline March 31.

Death's Head Press is seeking bizarro short stories for Breaking Bizarro. 3000 to 8000 words. Pays $10. Deadline March 31.

Verity LA is seeking a variety of written word and performances. Up to 5000 words. Pays $AU100. Deadline March 31.

Davetopia is seeking horror and thrillers about clowns, but the clowns should not be the bad guys. Anthology name is Fears of a Clown. 1000 to 10,000 words. Pays royalties. Deadline March 31.

Prospective Press is seeking stories of female predators. 4000 to 7000 words (or up to 1000 for flash). Intends to pay $.04/word (depending upon Kickstarter success). Deadline March 31.

How has 2019 treated you and your writing aspirations, so far? Do you prefer to write villains or heroes? Have you been submitting? Any news? Any of these links of interest?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Nick Wilford's Corruption Blog Tour!

Nick Wilford is stopping by today to talk about "Corruption," newly released this month!


Hi Shannon! Thanks for hosting me today. I'd like to offer your readers a brief insight into the nature of Loretanian cuisine.
Today I’m going to talk about some of the delicacies enjoyed in the land of Loretania. These people don’t have a lot and are used to living off the land. Unfortunately, the only thing that seems to grow there is bits of scrubby grass. When it’s wet, the land turns into a muddy bog, and when it’s dry, it’s a parched, arid landscape.

To deal with this, they’ve adopted a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, almost like primitive cave people. With large families and scarce resources, they’ve learned to make a little go a long way. Roasted rat is a particular delicacy and is enough to feed a family of six. In Corruption, we see Ranglebuck, the chief of one of the villages, hunting a wild boar which is then served at a feast for the entire village, including the team of scientists who have just arrived to rid the land of the crippling disease that is holding it captive. In truth, it’s rare that such a beast can be found, and it could have lasted a bit longer if it hadn’t been shared with the newcomers, who have their own freeze-dried rations. One thing we learn, though, is that the Loretanians are completely hospitable, even for a people who have nothing.

They treat everyone equally, and it wouldn’t occur to them to be cold or distant. For them, life really is too short.
Title: Corruption
Author: Nick Wilford
Genre: YA dystopian Series: Black & White Series #: 2 of 3
Release date: 11th February 2019
Publisher: Superstar Peanut Publishing

Wellesbury Noon and Ezmerelda Dontible have found themselves in a position where they can make their native land somewhere that lives up to its name: Harmonia. However, they’re setting their sights further afield for their number one task: eradicating the disease that has plagued the neighbouring country of Loretania for generations and allowed the privileged Harmonians to live in a sterile environment.

After dispatching a team of scientists to Loretania, armed with cratefuls of an antidote and vaccine and headed up by their friend, Dr George Tindleson, Welles, Ez, and Welles’s brother Mal – who grew up in that benighted nation – start to worry when they hear nothing back, despite what they had agreed. Commandeering a fishing boat to follow the science team over the sea, they soon find that, while the disease may be on the way out, a new kind of infection has set in – the corruption they thought they had stamped out in Harmonia.

Can they get to the root of the problem and eliminate it before even more damage is done to an innocent people?

*** Warning – this book contains themes that some sensitive readers may find upsetting. ***

Purchase Links:

Meet the author:
Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those early morning times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction, with a little freelance editing and formatting thrown in. When not working he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. He has four short stories published in Writer’s Muse magazine. Nick is also the editor of Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew. Visit him at his blog or connect with him on Twitter, GoodreadsFacebook, or Amazon.

Thanks for coming by, Nick! 

What do you guys think? Have you ever tried rat? Have you grabbed your copy yet? 

May you find your Muse.