Wednesday, May 29, 2013

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - Spring Bunnies & Links (TONS OF LINKS)

For [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday, I thought I'd share a spring bunny. There are several living under part of my porch. There's a teeny baby I can't quite catch on film (he/she is quick and I don't want to crowd him/her).

Now for some links (I'm going to have to apologize, because this is going to be a loooong list due to my not having done this last week, and to my finding so very many things with deadlines of 5/31).

Writer Beware:

Stant Litore, author of The Zombie Bible series, posted a writer beware about Anthony (Tony) Giangregorio and his presses: UnDead Press, Open Casket Press, and Living Dead Press. Please read the post (it's not long) and always do your best to research any publication you're submitting to. (Please feel free to pass his post along, as well, so writers are warned).

Free E-books:

Petronela Ungureanu has made her book Lost in the Seven Worlds available free on Amazon Kindle for the next two days in celebration of the upcoming release of her second novel.

Fellow Colorado Springs writer, John K. Patterson, is offering his short story, Escaping, free on Amazon Kindle, also in celebration of an upcoming release.


Vocabula is hosting their annual Well-Written Writing Contest. 200-500 words. Deadline is May 31, but the next year's contest begins June 1 (with a deadline of May 31, 2014), so there's no need to scramble. Fiction and non-fiction accepted. No poetry. $200 first prize.

The Wolfe Pack is holding a contest for the Black Orchid Novella Award. Must conform to the tradition of the Nero Wolfe series. 15,000-20,000 words. $1000 first prize, along with publication in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. May 31 deadline.

Critique My Novel's 2013 Novel Writing Contest is taking entries until June 1. First prize is 2 agents reading your novel and commenting on it (they have the option to offer representation), $350 cash, $100 voucher toward a full critique, and Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass, along with the workbook.

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers is holding their annual Colorado Gold Writing Contest. First prize is $100. They've got a great lineup of judges. Deadline is June 1. $30 entry fee per entry.

Accepting Submissions:

ChiZine Publications is putting out an anthology entitled Fearful Symmetries, to be edited by Ellen Datlow. THE Ellen Datlow!!!  Deadline is May 31. Horror and supernatural fiction. Short stories up to 10,000 words, but 7,500 or less preferred. Pays 7 cents per word.

Acappella Zoo is taking submissions for their fall issue. They accept fiction, poetry and black & white artwork. Pays with a submission copy, plus they choose best entries to receive a cash prize. Deadline May 31.

Wordrunner echapbooks is seeking poetry for their quarterly online collection. Current deadline May 31. They ask that you submit a minimum of 15 pieces, maximum of 24.

One Story is seeking short stories between 3,000 and 8,000 words. Deadline May 31. Pays $250 and 25 contributor copies. Any genre/subject.

The Gettysburg Review, published quarterly, is closing their submission window May 31 (to be reopened in September). Seeking poetry, fiction and essays. They also take submissions of full-color graphics year-round. Pays $2.50 per line for poetry, $30 per printed page for prose. Each get a contributor copy and a 1-year subscription.

Weave Magazine is seeking short and flash fiction. Submissions close May 31 and reopen September 1. Pays with a contributor copy.

Evil Girlfriend Media is accepting novel submissions in a variety of horror, supernatural, speculative, and fantasy genres. They're also seeking short story submissions for their anthology, Stamps, Vamps & Tramps. Pays $20, plus one contributor copy for the anthology pieces.

Medusa's Laugh Press is seeking pieces for two anthologies: Cadavre Exquis (fiction and poetry, up to 2000 words) and Miniature Book Micro Text (fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, up to 1000 words). Deadline is June 3. Pays with a contributor copy.

Anything to share? Interested in any of these, specifically? Are the bunnies breeding like...bunnies...around you these days?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, May 27, 2013

I'm Back!

Hi! ~waves~

I had a great visit this past week, getting to see some family members I hadn't seen in over a decade. It was a short visit, but we got to show them some of the local sights, and we had time to chat and touch on memories.

Now it's time for me to get back to "work," because I missed you all!

Spring decided to finish early 'round these parts, and we skipped the lovely mild 70's, going directly into the upper 80's. The sounds of whiny kids and cranky parents are already floating on the breeze (joined by our own personal chorus, of course). The media is feeding off the quiet panic of those who weathered the Waldo Canyon Fire last year, reporting on all the weather emergencies we had in the month of June (several feet of hail that had to be removed with snow plows, tornadoes, flooding, and the fire), and warning us that this year could be equally crazy. Wouldn't want to have a reason to relax as we ease into summer, now would we?

Bunnies have taken up residence under our porch, itty-bitty babies hopping about and hiding under the sandbox. The magpies are out in full force, shrieking at the red-breasted robins as everyone vies for the desirable nesting real estate in the area. A random fox trots through the neighborhood, eyeballing porches for food left behind by sticky children. Rattlesnakes sun themselves on naked pink rocks. Deer munch on the sweet high-desert grasses, strip bark off trees, and meander across the street, daring motorists not to see them. A hummingbird whistles up to the feeder on the back porch, calmly sipping as its wings flutter into a blur.

The scents of barbecuing meat drift in through the windows, watermelon seeds and cherry pits fly through the air. It's Memorial Day, but how many consider what this really means, why we have this "holiday weekend," as I've seen it referred to. Have we forgotten why some of us get this little break?

I won't be barbecuing today, though I don't begrudge those who do (not in the least, so please don't think I'm making a statement on how anyone celebrates Memorial Day, because we all observe it in our own way, and I respect that). I've lost too many loved ones, either physically or emotionally, watch still as silent killers left over from military service take them down. Agent Orange, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gherig's Disease, which veterans are twice as likely to get as civilians), all of these and more stalk our veterans. Today, I fly the flag and think of those who have served, and who serve still. I think of the loved one who was recently diagnosed with ALS, because it is thought related to his time in service to this country, and not only is today Memorial Day, but this month is ALS Awareness Month.

Today, I honor others. Today, I grieve, what has been, and what will be.

I hope many get to spend the day with their families, celebrating however they choose, enjoying that time together. But I also hope a thought is spared for those who can't see their families today, because they fight for their country. Or because they fought for their country.

What are your plans for the day? Barbecuing? Seeing family? Water balloon fights (we did that yesterday)? A day at the pool? Hiking? Camping (if you're camping, you probably won't see this until later, eh)?

May you find your Muse.

Flag courtesy of OCAL,
Barbecue grill courtesy of OCAL,
Heart courtesy of OCAL,

Monday, May 20, 2013

Gone Fishin'

Gone Fishin'!

Not literally (I'm not much of a fisherwoman).

No, I've got company coming this week. Normally, I'd post and just catch up on comments this weekend, but as I have not caught up on comments and blog visits from April, I figure I shouldn't dig myself a deeper hole. Dontcha' think?

I hope you have a wonderful week, and I'll be back with you next week, scurrying to catch up on those comments I'd just started making headway with.

Happy end of year to those of you whose kids finish up this week. I now officially have a 1st grader and a 3rd grader, and I'm on my way to my god daughter's senior graduation!

Bye! See ya'! Happy traaaaaaaaaails to you, until we meet again.

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Blog Awards ([M]WW) & Helpful Links

I was graced with some blog awards in the last month, so I figured I'd post them for [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday.

Jo Murphey, at The Murphey Saga, gave me the Shine On Award. Thank you, Jo! Jo is a wonderfully supportive person. Though she constantly faces her own battles, she is always there to comfort someone else or give them advice. She's always positive, never complaining.

Christine Rains gave me the Zombie Rabbit Award. I hear the one and only Jeremy, Retro-Zombie, created it! Thank you, Christine! Christine's latest novella in the 13th Floor series, The Oracle & The Vampire, is now out. Want a sample of her writing? Check out her A-to-Z posts in order. You won't regret it.

I also received the Liebster Award, which I think got mixed up somewhere along the way, because I recall it being for those with fewer than 200 followers. Still, I appreciate being thought of, so a big thank you out to Nikki Broadwell, at Author in Progress! I usually skip the blog award requirements, but because she went to the trouble of making up her own questions, I've answered them at the end of this post (after the links).

All of these bloggers are fantastic, so if you have a moment, I highly recommend you stop by, visit their blogs, and tell them I said "hi!"

Now for some links.

Accepting Submissions:

This first one's for A-to-Z'ers. Woven Tale Press is taking submissions of your best A-to-Z posts for publication in the next issue. See the bottom of the page for the letters they're still seeking.

Untreed Reads is accepting submissions for their Moon Shot Mystery Anthology. They're looking for short stories that combine mystery and sci-fi/fantasy. Deadline May 30. Pays in royalties.

Zero One Publishing is seeking submissions of flash fiction for their anthology Whispers From the Abyss. This anthology is H.P. Lovecraft themed, and pays 1 cent per word, plus a copy of the anthology. The deadline is May 30.

The open reading period for Wag's Revue ends May 31, and will not reopen until September. Pays $100 per piece for interviews, poems, essays, and short stories. Their Summer Writer's Contest opens June 1. $1000 first prize.


The Fiction Desk Ghost Story Competition is open until May 31. Cash prize and publication in an anthology.

Blog Hops:

The 2nd Annual May Monster Madness Blog Hop is going on through the 17th. You can still sign up! The only rule is that it has to do with monsters. Hosted by Annie, Emma, and Ked.

Friday, May 17 is the Best and Worst Movie Remakes Blogfest, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, Stephen Tremp, Livia Peterson, and Al Diaz. What will be on your list?

Hosted by D.L. Hammons and Elise Fallson, the WIP It Good Blogfest will be May 31. Tell us about your current WIP (Work In Progress)!

Of Interest:

Looking for an agent? Have one picked out? Check whether they're in the Association of Authors' Representatives first!

I like to pass this one along every little once in awhile. Preditors & Editors is a good site to vet editors you're considering to make sure they're legitimate and to see if others have complained about them.

1. Why did you start a blog?
Initially, I created it because I kept hearing I needed a platform. That did me no good, so it fell by the wayside, and then one day I said "forget platform" and started having fun with it, creating the blog I have now.
2. what TV shows do you watch?
Supernatural, Law & Order: SVU, Psych, Hemlock Grove, and more
3. fancy restaurant or hamburger joint?
Depends on the day. I love Craftwood Inn and Marigold's (fancy), but I also love Drifter's (burger joint).
4. favorite leisure activity?
Reading, going for a walk, watching a movie, bath
5. serious or light-hearted?
Moi? A little bit of both.
6. favorite genre in books you read
Horror and Urban Fantasy
7. coffee or tea?
Tea (coffee gives me migraines...sad sigh)
8. cats or dogs?
9. introvert or extrovert?
Introvert, but I enjoy being around people sometimes, too. It just drains my energy.
10. favorite movie?
11. sweet or salty?
Depends again! If I HAD to choose, I'd always go with sweet. But I prefer not to choose, which is why chocolate covered pretzels are so tasty.

Anything to share? Want to answer these questions for yourself? Any of the links you're interested in?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Junk in Your Trunk

Recently, I hit a point of, not really frustration, but resignation with my first WIP. I've been editing it, but it felt like something was missing. When this resignation hit, I started thinking perhaps this WIP was my trunk book.

What's a trunk book/novel? It's that dirty secret so many novelists have, that novel they wrote that turned out  to be something they didn't want to see the light of day. It's the novel that couldn't or shouldn't be published.

I started wondering how and when you decide your WIP is a trunk book. How do you know this book isn't going to go anywhere? Or is no book truly a trunk book? Perhaps it's just the book that someone gave up on too soon. How do you avoid that mistake?

I've entered WIP #1 into two writing contests previously. In both instances, I was within a couple points of making it as a finalist, but I never made it that tiny leap into finalist territory, which tells me it wouldn't have won even if it had. But that means it can't suck completely, right? It wasn't panned across the board, but had some flaws that needed to be attended to.

Jeffrey Carr,
I've been having trouble getting back to it to edit, though. I'm what I call an oooo, shiny girl. I'm highly distractable (apparently not a word). I have so many ideas swirling through my brain all the time that I simply can't keep up. I have to write them down, and I have such a strong urge to drop what I'm editing and jump into the next story, because it's begging to be told. However, I don't let myself do that, which leads to frustration. I have blue brain. Blue synapses? Either way, I think you know where I'm going with that (my apologies).

Here's the thing. Once I let go of it and decided that perhaps it was time to trunk that sucker, I had a bit of a breakthrough. It will take a lot of work, something I hope to hit over the summer, but I may be able to salvage it. If it doesn't pan out, if I'm not happy with it, perhaps my WIP will find it's way into the figurative trunk. It's not there quite yet, though.

Do you have a trunk book (or more than one)? How did you know it was time for the trunk? Did you get tired of it or just finally decide it wasn't going to happen?

May you find your Muse.

P.S. Part 21 of Andrew Leon's Shadow Spinner series is free today! You can find it on Amazon - Part 21: The Chase. If you haven't been following his serial, I highly recommend it! And today you can pick up several of them for free, including the first one (which is always a good place to start).

Friday, May 10, 2013

Act Like You Love Me Cover Reveal

It's a good week for cover reveals! This one is actually for a local author and fellow member of Pikes Peak Writers, Cindi Madsen. She has done many workshops recently, with an emphasis on writing YA, and she's always willing to support fellow writers and answer their questions. Plus, she has great fashion sense and, sometimes, colorful hair.

All’s fair in acting and amore...
Brynn McAdams isn’t the awkward drama geek she was in high school—she’s grown up and confident, or at least she likes to think so. But when her old crush, the impossibly handsome and impossibly unattainable Sawyer Raines, comes back to town to direct her community play, Brynn finds herself determined to be someone other than the girl he doesn’t even recognize. Good thing she’s an excellent actress.
After his bad breakup in NYC, the last thing Sawyer wants is to get involved with another actress. But the glamorous and beautiful Brynn draws him in, even though as her director, he knows she’s off-limits. There’s just something about the woman that feels…familiar. Like home.
As Brynn’s lies start to snowball, she struggles to stop acting and come clean. But what if Sawyer is already falling for the fake Brynn, not the Brynn she truly is?

About Cindi: Cindi Madsen sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a new pretty pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music, dancing, and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband and three children. She is the author of YA novels All the Broken Pieces and Demons of the Sun, bestselling short romance Falling for Her Fiancé and the women's fiction novel Cinderella Screwed Me Over.

Enjoy a blurb from Act Like You Love Me:
“Cut, cut cut!” Sawyer stood. “Was that supposed to be more passionate? Because it sucked.”

“This is supposed to be the eighteen hundreds,” Brynn said. “It can’t be too passionate or it would seem inappropriate for the time.”

The next instant Sawyer was charging up the steps to the stage. “I’m not saying it’s got to be a kiss with tongue, I’m saying you’ve got to look at each other like you’re in love so the audience will want it to work out. Our modern audience.” Sawyer shook his head. “Take it again, from before the proposal.”

It was impossible to concentrate with Sawyer standing right there, so close she could hear every shift of his body and feel his gaze on her like a weight. All her lines were swimming together.

Leo knelt, told her she was an angel. She said her line, trying to peer into his soul like she wanted to be with him, and then Leo kissed her. And it was sloppier than usual.

She did her best to not jerk back, though it was her first instinct.

“Okay, that was just…” Sawyer moved in front of her. He looked at the playbook, then lowered it by his side and stared into her eyes. The air thickened around them and she could feel every thump of her heart. “What a perfect angel you are, Cecily.” He said it so tenderly, his smile close-lipped but full of joy.

“You dear romantic boy,” she said, all out of instinct because thoughts were getting fuzzy.

He leaned in and kissed her, a soft kiss with his lips barely parted. The pressure of his lips increased for a delicious moment, and then they were gone. A quick, simple kiss, but when his mouth left hers, she felt its absence so strongly that she couldn’t think about anything else for a couple seconds. Her breath was stuck somewhere in her lungs and her lips still tingled, living the sensation over and over again. Heat wound through her body, her hands itched to reach out and touch him. And then she remembered she was supposed to. She ran her fingers through his hair and felt the whisper of his breath on her wrist as he exhaled.

“Wow, that was good,” Wendy said from the front, breaking Brynn from her trance.

Brynn stepped back and swallowed, but her throat wasn’t working right. Sawyer’s eyes never left hers, and one corner of his mouth curved up in a smug, self-satisfied way.

“It was all right, I suppose,” Brynn said, working to keep her voice steady. She crossed her arms and shrugged. “For a first-timer, anyway.”

That only made Sawyer’s smile grow wider.

Brynn couldn’t help but watch Sawyer as he jumped off the stage. Funny how she’d dreamed of kissing him all the time in high school, but her fantasy wasn’t even close to the real thing. Her heart felt like it’d just been wrung out and shoved back in her

And her scene with Leo was better. She was sure it had nothing to do with the fact that she closed her eyes and pretended it was Sawyer kissing her again.

Nope. Nothing at all.

ACT LIKE YOU LOVE ME pre-buy links:


Additional links to Cindi’s pages:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Seeing Ghosts Cover Reveal, Post A-to-Z Road Trip, & Links

In lieu of [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday, I've got an awesome image for you: the cover reveal of James Garcia, Jr.'s Seeing Ghosts!

Paul Herrera finds himself bequeathed a mysterious old house near the California central coast by a deceased aunt he never knew. The woman who shows it to him is the spitting image of his wife, taken from him three years before in a senseless car accident which also took his unborn son. While he deals with the ghosts of a past he cannot let go, there are new ghosts Paul must deal with - alone for the week in the expansive two-storey house that he will soon discover holds many secrets. Eventually, he will see that he is surrounded by ghosts as he struggles to hold onto the only thing that he has left in this world - his sanity.

Seeing Ghosts will be released on June 5! His previous novels are available from Amazon now: Dance on Fire and Dance on Fire: Flashpoint. You can find James at his blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

It's also time for the Post A-to-Z Road Trip! If you'd like to continue working your way through the list to visit all the participating blogs, sign up to accompany Tina, Nicole and myself on the trip. There are no strict rules, no required number of visits. Take it at your own pace, visit who you like. You can find more information over at the A-to-Z Challenge Blog. The linky will be added at the end of this post.

Now for some links.

Accepting Submissions:

Sirens Call Publications has two calls out for submissions. Fear of the Water, an anthology, closes May 20, and is looking for 4,000 to 10,000 word pieces. Pays with an e-contributor copy, discount on paper copies, and royalties. They are also seeking stories for their Bug Issue, with a deadline of May 31. For this, they'll take short stories, flash fiction, or poetry. Pays with an e-contributor copy.

Fringeworks is seeking short story submissions with the theme Dead Man's Tales. Deadline May 29th. Pays in royalties. 2000 to 6000 words.

Daily Science Fiction is looking for speculative fiction stories of 100 to 10,000 words. Pays 8 cents per word. Always open, so there is no specific deadline.

U.S. Kids is looking for stories for Turtle, Humpty Dumpty, and Jack and Jill Magazines for kids. Payment is $70 for two of the magazines, with Jack and Jill paying per word.

All KHP Publishers' imprints are accepting novel submissions right now. They have a wide variety of imprints, so be sure to look through the list.


713 Flash's monthly contest deadline is May 20, with the theme of Slipping Through Time. Pays $10.

Of Interest:

M. Bennardo did an interesting post on submitting short stories, entitled Short Story Submissions: Ten Case Studies. A great read for anyone diving into the submission process, or considering it.

Looking forward to James' new book? Isn't his cover gorgeous? Planning on joining the Road Trip? Considering submitting to any of the above publications/contests? Anything of interest to add?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Retreat Into Writing - Five Reasons to go on a Writing Retreat

I've been enviously reading about and hearing about friends going on writing retreats, but the first time I looked at a retreat to see what the pricing was, I suffered a little sticker shock. I realize a good retreat is well worth the funds, and that they go toward the venue (in some cases--some charge separately for the venue), the food, materials, and whatever professionals are there to teach you, but I have a hard time spending money on myself.

I keep looking them up and coveting them, but I decided to choose one and set myself a goal to save up and go to one, not this year, but in the not too distant future. Next year? Not sure. I hope so!

The one I chose is one of several run by a specific person. Page Lambert is an author, a creative coach, and an editor, in addition to facilitating three writing retreats per year. She lives here in Colorado, and I'm excited to say that she'll be coming down to the Springs to speak for Pikes Peak Writers this month (May 21!!). I can't wait! I've heard great things from other people who have heard her speak, so I'm looking forward to her talk. (If you're in a position to come to Colorado Springs for her workshop, click on May 21 above and see what her topic is! I'd love to see you!)

In getting to know Page, I read up on her writing retreats. She leads one into Peru, one is a river rafting trip (this fall), and the one I want to go on is at the Vee Bar Ranch (Literature and Landscape of the Horse). That particular one was recently featured in the Casper Star Tribune, while her river rafting trip was featured in O Magazine in 2006. The one at the Vee Bar Ranch is a week long, you get your own horse, and you split your time between writing and riding. Really, I'd like to go on any of them, but this is the one that's really caught my attention.

By Seth.zeigler [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Since I have a hard time justifying spending money on myself, I figured I'd look at how writing retreats can benefit me, and why I deserve to go on one (eventually), and drag you guys along with me. Plus, there's probably a few of you out there that can help convince me. Right?

What a Writing Retreat Can Do For You:

1. It can get you away from home and the distractions you find there. Sure, I can go to Starbucks or somewhere like that, but that's a short-term thing, and it's still too easy for me to realize there's something else I can be doing and run back home. I still have to do the usual stuff before I head out, and when I get home. In other words, my personal distractions are looming over me when I try to go somewhere outside my house for the day. I'm inclined to get online and get non-writing work done if there's free wi-fi (so I often avoid places with free wi-fi). But when I left home for a weekend to go to my brother's Navy graduation, I was so excited about one feature of my hotel room: my desk. Yes, I was pathetically excited about that sucker. There were no kids, I'd told people I was away and wouldn't be doing any work-work, and I didn't have a phone with an internet connection to check emails and such (now I do, sigh). That meant the evenings when I was there by myself could be all about writing. This tiny little space and me. The freedom I felt was tremendous. Not from my family, but from the constraints I put on myself, the pressure I feel to be good at any work I'm doing, to put it first. I got a break from that for one weekend, and it showed. Guess which story I finished out there? The one that just got picked up for a magazine. Yeah. Imagine what a person could do with a week away that's dedicated to the writer in you.

2. Education. Each of the retreats I've looked at over the last few months has featured different resources and instructors. All offer something, some specifically themed, some not, to make the retreat worthwhile for those attending. It isn't just about writing time (well, probably some are), but about experiences, training, and education. You can learn a bit about writing then immediately put it into practice. A conference lasts a weekend and teaches so much. A week long retreat can teach so much more, while in an often more laid back atmosphere, where you aren't running from workshop to workshop, session to session.

3. Feedback/Critiques. Some, not all, retreats offer feedback of some sort. A space to share your writing and get tips to improve it. I keep hearing how important critique groups are, and here is a way to get immediate feedback over the period of your stay. If it's not offered in the larger group, you can always buddy up with someone and offer to critique for them if they'll do the same for you. And who knows? You may leave there with a critique partner you can email back and forth with.

4. Inspiration. There are many sources of inspiration on a retreat. For one, being around other creatives always inspires me, even if it's for two hours at a lunch or an evening event. I leave conference every year wanting more, needing to write, processing gazillions of creative thoughts that sprang up because I was in that mental space required to be creative. A week away, surrounded by other writers, would certainly inspire me in countless ways. In addition, for me at least, getting back to nature, back to the basics, always gets those creative juices flowing. Riding a horse out on the range, learning how to care for a horse, viewing the gorgeous surroundings on the ranch. All of those things appeal to me, to an ignored part of me that yearns for more of that type of experience. And then, of course, if you've got an accomplished facilitator/instructor, you'll be inspired by them. I know that I look at what Page Lambert has accomplished and am already inspired.

5. Relaxation. There's nothing like leaving behind your usual rigors. It's why people like vacations. Even a vacation that involves physical work is a break from the daily grind. And this goes back to number 1, above. Getting away from all the things on that honey-do list, those to-do's that seem to pile up with no relief in sight, is divine in and of itself. For moms, when we're home we're always on. There's cleaning, homework help, making lunches, packing backpacks, bathing kids, feeding the family, doing laundry, reading to kids, helping in the classroom, so on and so forth. Even when they're in bed, I'm dealing with something, preparing something, thinking about something I need to do the next day. And every one of us has the same sort of thing. Dads, non-parents, everyone. It's work, or it's parenting, or it's volunteering, or it's family, or it's a combination of these and a billion other things. We all need to get away some time.

I don't know if I talked you into a retreat, but it's certainly sounding good to me. The one I want to go to is in June, so no way for me to save up in time for that, but maybe next year or the year after. I know Page has been doing this for 17 years, and I can only hope she'll keep doing it for many years more.

Something else I'd love to do some day is maybe put together a retreat for Pikes Peak Writers. And I can't do that until I've experienced it and seen it from the other side, right? RIGHT?! Or is that just what I'm telling myself?

Can you tell how badly I want to go to do this??

Have you been on a writing retreat before? Did you like it? What did you like/not like about it? What would be your optimal writing retreat? Did you see any benefits I didn't mention here?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, May 3, 2013

A-to-Z Reflections Post & Linky

It's time for my A-to-Z Reflections. The linky list is at the end. To sign up, make sure you create your post first then link directly to that post, not to your overall blog.

This was my third A-to-Z Challenge, and I had a lot of fun this month with my theme on History's Mysteries. I learned some new things and got a few story ideas from my research. Most of what I wrote about was already known to me in some way, shape or form, but I still learned tidbits about even those events I'd already heard of.

My favorite topic, by far, was the Dyatlov Pass Incident, which was entirely new to me. It's a fascinating story, no matter which direction you look at it from. At least for me.

But my favorite part of this A-to-Z Challenge was not actually my topics or what I learned from them, but the comments people left on the stories. I liked the discussions, the theories, the funny responses, and the great interaction with you guys. Some of you came up with theories that hadn't been mentioned before. Some of them were crazy, but others were just as logical as those already mentioned. All of them were interesting and entertaining.

So for that I have to thank those of you who left comments during the A-to-Z Challenge. Thank you! I had a lot of fun with this one.

Before you think it is completely done, don't forget the Post A-to-Z Road Trip. We'll be announcing it on May 8 on the A-to-Z Challenge blog, as well as posting a linky lists for those interested to sign up. For anyone who isn't aware of what it is, there will be a more thorough explanation on that date, but the gist of it is that you have between the opening date and the next A-to-Z Challenge to visit the A-to-Z participants. This is for those bound and determined to make it through the entire A-to-Z sign-up list to discover new blogs. There are no limits or restrictions, other than that it ends when it's time for the next Challenge.

Will you be posting a reflections post? What was your favorite History's Mystery? What is your favorite History's Mystery that I didn't post about? Will you be joining us on the Post A-to-Z Road Trip?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

IWSG & Links

So, since I didn't get my post up until late yesterday, I figured I'd hold my IWSG post until this evening.

IWSG is the Insecure Writer's Support Group, and is hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh & Friends. You can link directly to the group linky by finding the below image in my sidebar and clicking on it.

I have a new insecurity right now, but it's one that stems from getting a teeny-tiny taste of "success," so to speak. I haven't reached any great pinnacle of success, that's not what I'm saying, but I've now got two pieces that have been/will be published, and suddenly I'm aware that the time has come where I will have to put my money where my mouth is. As in, now I'm not just claiming to be a writer. Now I have to prove it, because people will be able to read what I'm writing. This is the point where someone could read it and say, "Oh man, she sucks at this writing thing."

Do you know what I mean?

Some links for you:

Accepting Submissions:

Grey Matter Press is seeking speculative horror fiction shorts stories for their anthology Ominous Realities. Deadline is May 5, so you've got to hurry! Pays with a contributor copy.

Apokrupha is calling for horror flash pieces for an anthology entitled Dark Bits. 500 word maximum. Deadline May 15. Pays $20 per piece.


Colorado Creative Industries is giving out Jumpstart Awards, grants of up to $1000. Deadline is May 15. There are specific guidelines as to what it can be used for.


Paper Darts has a Short Fiction Award that is hard to believe. $800 for 800 words, plus publication and illustration of your piece. Entry fee is $6. Deadline is May 15.

Carve Magazine is holding their annual Raymond Carver Short Story Contest. Deadline May 15. Entry fee $17 online/$15 mailed. 1st prize is $1000.

What are you feeling insecure about? Anything to pass along? Interested in any of the above?

May you find your Muse.

Z is for Zodiac Killer

It's still the 30th somewhere, right?

Z is for Zodiac Killer.

Most people have probably heard of the Zodiac Killer. He struck fear into the hearts of northern Californians in the 60's and 70's, toying with police and residents by sending letters to the papers. He claimed to have killed 37 people, but only seven victims have been confirmed, and only five of those died. There are also five victims believed to possibly be victims of his, but they are never considered definite victims.

Sketch of the Zodiac Killer, as described by a victim
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
For the most part, he shot his victims...multiple times. However, two of his confirmed victims were viciously stabbed, as was one of the possible victims, who was nearly decapitated due to knife wounds to her throat. One of the possible victims went missing, her body still undiscovered. And one of the other possible victims was driven around with her infant for 1 1/2 hours, but she escaped into a field, hiding from the man who'd lured her into his car. He took off and destroyed her car, burning it.

Another sketch, this time described by a victim who saw his face
By En tecknare i USA baserat på vittnesmål [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

If he doesn't sound familiar yet, one of his common M.O.'s was to shoot couples, either in their car or on a picnic. One set of confirmed victims were parked in their car at night when a man approached them, shined a flashlight into their eyes, then shot them multiple times. He started to leave, but the man made sounds, so he came back and shot them a couple more times. Believe it or not, the male lived and was able to describe the shooter.

Throughout his active period, the killer sent letters to the papers, police, and even the father of one of the possible victims. He included cryptograms in four of them, but only one has been solved at this time. He claimed that solving the cryptograms would give the police his identity, but the solved one did no such thing. He was also the one to name himself the Zodiac Killer, which is not how it usually works. Often, reporters assign the monikers to the criminals they're reporting on. Not the Zodiac--he was on top of things.

Letter from the Zodiac
By Sherurcij at en.wikisource [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

He obviously hungered for attention, demanding the press print his letters on the front page, even threatening various murders if they didn't do so. He spoke about his crimes in a detached way, not too excited, not bothered or sympathetic toward his victims. After being challenged to provide proof, he did so, first with facts, then eventually by sending a bloody bit of shirt he'd torn from one of his victims (a cab driver he shot).

The police investigated hundreds of suspects, but never found one they could pin down. In 2007, a retired policeman claimed to have discovered the identity of the killer, saying he was forced to withhold the information and to stop the investigation.

There is a ton of information on the Zodiac Killer out there, but one website in particular offers copies of the Zodiac's letters, bios of each of the victims, and much more.

Have you heard of the Zodiac Killer? What do you think happened to him? Why did he stop? Killed? Imprisoned?

Happy last day of the A-to-Z!

May you find your Muse.