Friday, January 18, 2019

Horror List Book Review: Naomi's Room


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 Naomi's Room, by Jonathan Aycliffe.


This was a solid ghost story. It reminded me of The Shining, due to it being about a man from the past influencing a man to harm his family. The Shining did it better, but this was a much shorter book than that one. 

Though there are explicit crimes mentioned, no major details are given, and they happen "off-stage." 

The description of the book says this is about a grieving father. It felt like that at the beginning, but by the end he's indifferent, and therefore, so am I. While I think his indifference was intentional, I would have liked to see more internal conflict from the main character, which would have engaged me more.

The writing was good and kept me reading, but the book was predictable. It never emotionally engaged me as much as it should, considering it's about a child who gets murdered to begin with, and only gets worse from there.

My Top Ten stands:


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)


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:

The First Line is seeking flash fiction and short stories beginning with a previous first line (lines are available on the website). 300 to 5000 words. Pays $25 to $50. Deadline February 1.

Unnerving Magazine is seeking horror and other forms of dark fiction. 800 to 4000 words. Pays $.03/word. Deadline February 1.

The New Southern Fugitives are seeking fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art, and photography. Up to 2000 words. Pays $40 to $100. 

Reader's Digest is seeking short works of various themes/types. Pay and lengths vary. 

Have you read Naomi's Room? How about Aycliffe? What did you think? Are any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

2019 Goal Setting and 2018 Review

Yay, it's the new year! I'm hoping, like many others, that 2019 goes a bit better than 2018 in every way possible.

When I do this post every year, it's really just to look forward and consider what I intend to work on for the year. The goals are fluid, and can be changed or replaced at any time. I don't believe in resolutions for the new year, so much as using this time period to narrow my plans.

First, my submissions for the year:

I submitted 51 stories.
I received 43 rejections.
I pulled 9 stories from submission for various stories (including magazines appearing to have gone under and no longer responding to queries.)
I placed 9 stories.
I released my first solo collection of short stories!
I ended the year with 9 stories still out on submission.

Apparently, the number for the year was 9. Here's hoping I beat that number this year.








My goals for the year were:


  • Write a short story or flash piece each week (this is majorly pushing it for me, but I'm going to try.) hahahahahahahahaha!
  • Read at least one book each week. Some weeks I got more than one in.
  • Finish Novel #3. Not quite.
  • Start Novel #4.
  • Continue submitting short stories (aim for 100 rejections and 12 acceptances.) Marking it off because I did submit consistently, though I didn't reach the goals of 100 and 12.
  • Write short stories in at least three genres.
  • Write more nonfiction.
  • Query craft book. Not yet. I've been debating self-publishing it instead.
  • Self-publish short story collection.
  • Evaluated Novel #1 to see if I want to pursue or trunk (though it's obviously trunked for now.)
  • Take more pictures.
  • Send workshop proposals to one conference new to me.

My goals for 2019 are:
  • Finish novel #3
  • Finish novel #4
  • Make a decision on the craft book
  • Write at least 1 short story each month
  • Continue to explore other genres/styles
  • Go to one new conference/convention
  • Put out another collection
  • Take more pictures
  • Hike more
  • Query novel #2
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:

Atlantean Publishing is seeking fantasy stories related to Clark Ashton Smith's writing. Pays one penny sterling per word. Deadline January 31. 

Nashville Review is seeking fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Up to 8000 words. Pays up to $100. Deadline January 31.

Freeze Frame Fiction is seeking flash fiction. Up to 1000 words. Pays $10 per piece. Deadline January 31.

Otter Libris is seeking stories for MCSI: Magical Crime Scene Investigation. 3000 to 10,000 words. Pays $25. Deadline January 31.

Flash Bang Mysteries is seeking mystery flash fiction. 500 to 750 words. Pays $20. Deadline January 31.

Death's Head Press is seeking stories about revenge. 3000 to 8000 words. Pays $10. Deadline January 31.

Atthis Arts is seeking stories of all genres for Five Minutes at Hotel Stormcove. 1000 to 4000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline January 31.

Did you set any sort of goals or look ahead to your plans for the year? How did you do on last year's goals? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.



Wednesday, January 2, 2019

IWSG - New Year, New Doubts

Not only is it the first Wednesday of the month, it's the first Wednesday of the year! Time for the first Insecure Writer's Support Group posting in 2019.


Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG is a blogging community that comes together to support each other in our ups and downs. We post on the first Wednesday of each month. You can, too! Click on Alex's name above and sign up. Be sure to visit some new to you blogs and say thanks to the co-hosts: Patricia Lynne, Lisa Buie-Collard, Kim Lajevardi, and Fundy Blue!

I'm starting the year in a down place, frustrated with some aspects of the publishing business and feeling like a failure in several ways.

I suspect part of it is the fact that the holiday season depresses me, but at the same time, I've had a string of bad experiences with some publishers lately, including two breaches of contract I've been dealing with. Maybe I've simply been lucky up to now. I can say that, overwhelmingly, short story editors and publishers are fabulous people who put their passion into their magazines and anthologies, and do their absolute best, even though most of them aren't making any money off these publications (and many are funding them from their day jobs). I've enjoyed working with those I've worked with in the past (and the vast majority of the ones I'm currently working with). It's disappointing that the end of my year (and thus the beginning of the next) had to be tainted by these experiences, and I keep telling myself it's rare, and to push forward. (To be clear, I'm not talking about normal things, like delays in publication, etc. I'm talking about breaches of contract; not getting paid; books not coming out at all, with a strange email from an editor that the publisher is refusing to respond to his queries about why the finished book has not been released, and said publisher ignoring my queries; and similar issues.)

In addition, I've been struggling with finishing anything. I'm at this weird crossroads where I'm doubting my writing and feeling like if I put out something  bad it will ruin any minor amount of accomplishment I've reached. So it holds me back. I realize it's this fear that's keeping me from writing, but recognizing the issue doesn't seem to make it any easier to write most of the time. I'm also struggling with resubmitting rejected pieces, but I'll be buckling down tonight and getting that done.

To end on a more positive note, I managed to not only get some writing done this week, but to finish a short story I'd been working on for a while. That, despite starting a new day job on top of the one I already have, and some real life stress/drama that's piled on in the last month. I'm feeling pretty good about that, and I hope it indicates those self-doubts are starting to fade some. Here's looking forward to a positive update in February.

I almost forgot the optional question for the month: What are your favorite and least favorite questions people ask you about your writing?

I like questions about what inspired my stories. Sometimes they're completely random, but often there's a story behind the story. There's at least one question I hate to be asked, yet I'm drawing a blank. I'll have to update if I remember it.



Before I get to submission stats for December, how about some IWSG news? We've got the contributors for the next IWSG anthology!

Oddly Suited by LG Keltner
Sea of Sorrows by AV Brown
Behind the Catcher’s Mask by Jennifer Lane
A Diver’s Ball by Angela Brown
Fearless Heart by Deborah Solice
The Dark Charade by CD Gallant-King
The Cog Prince by Elizabeth Mueller
Flower of Ronda by Myles Christensen
Remedy by Chelsea Ballard
Charleston Masquerade by Carrie-Anne Brownian

The top story has the honors of being included in the title. LG Keltner’s story came out on top! The official title of our next anthology – Masquerade: Oddly Suited. Congratulations, LG. (She was also in the top spot for our first anthology, Parallels: Felix Was Here.)

The IWSG Admins spent many hours reading the entries and fourteen were sent to our special judges. We certainly wish to thank them for taking time away from their own work to read the entries:

Elizabeth S. Craig, author
Kelly Van Sant, agent at Red Sofa Literary Agency
Elana Johnson, author
DL Hammons, Write Club founder
S.A. Larsen, author
Kristin Smith, author
Gwen Gardner, author and previous IWSG anthology winner

Look for Masquerade: Oddly Suited late spring!

Congratulations to everyone! There were so many great entries!

Don't forget #IWSGPit is coming up January 15! Do you have a manuscript ready to pitch? Come out to Twitter and pitch to editors and agents.


The Insecure Writer’s Support Group
Twitter Pitch Party!

#IWSGPit

January 15, 2019

8:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Time

All writers and authors are invited to participate.

Create a Twitter-length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript and leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. On January 15, Tweet your pitch. If your pitch receives a favorite/heart from a publisher/agent check their submission guidelines and send your requested query.

Many writers have seen their books published from a Twitter pitch - it’s a quick and easy way to put your manuscript in front of publishers and agents.

Rules: 

Writers may send out 1 Twitter pitch every 1 hour per manuscript.

Publishers/Agents will favorite/heart pitches they are interested in. Publishers can either Tweet basic submission guidelines or direct writers to their submission guidelines. (Writers, please do not favorite/heart pitches.)

No images allowed in pitches.

Pitches must include GENRE/AGE and the hashtag #IWSGPit.

Ages: 
#C - children’s
#MG - middle grade
#YA - young adult
#NA - new adult
#A - adult
Genres: 
#AD - adventure
#CF - Christian fiction
#CO - contemporary
#F - fantasy
#H - horror
#HI - historical
#LF - literary fiction
#MCT - mystery/crime/thriller
#ME - memoir
#NF - non-fiction
#PB - picture book
#PN - paranormal
#R - romance
#SF - sci-fi
#WF - women's fiction
#UF - urban fantasy
#S - suspense


*Authors, please check out the publishers and agents before submitting.*


Also, start getting ready for the next WEP challenge. Here are the 2019 challenges, so you can plan ahead if you'd like.


The February challenge will be 28 Days.



Okay, time for my December stats. I post them each IWSG Day to keep myself accountable.

5 submissions
6 rejections
0 acceptances
1 story returned after contract timed out with no published book, so I'll be submitting that tomorrow, too
2 stories pulled from unresponsive markets who appear to have gone under
8 stories currently on submission

Are you submitting? Getting any writing done? What questions do you like or dislike people asking about your writing? What are your insecurities? Will you be taking part in #IWSGPit or WEP?

May you find your Muse.