Wednesday, June 26, 2013

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - Moonshine Express & Links

Today's [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday brought to you by some stranger who lives near someone I know. I've driven by this truck a few times, and it amuses me, so I finally found myself on the road alone and was able to pull over and take a picture (it's a tiny road on a curve, and there always seems to be someone behind me...until now.) So enjoy the Moonshine Express:

And now for some links!

Accepting Submissions:

Dark House Press is seeking novels and short story collections. They are also looking for short stories for their Exigencies anthology. It will be open until full, and pays in royalties and a contributor copy. They're looking for all kinds of things, including fantasy, neo-noir, horror, literary, crime surrealism, grotesque, etc.

Seventh Star Press has calls out on several anthologies: A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court/Tales of the Unseelie Court (deadline July 15) and Hero's Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions (deadline June 30). Both pay royalties, and both take speculative fiction of any type.

Sugared Water is a new literary magazine seeking fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and art. Pays in contributor copies.

Room Magazine is accepting submissions for their issue dealing with the word "Fashionable." Deadline July 31. Fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction.

Earthen Lamp Journal is a literary e-journal seeking fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, book reviews, interviews, and art. Pays those located in India or with an account in India. Otherwise, they will donate to the local charity of your choice.

Baird Speculative Fiction is seeking submissions for Anathema: a Bizarro Anthology. Deadline July 15. Pays by a token tier payment system. They're also seeking submissions for I, Automaton: A Steampunk Anthology. Same deadline, slightly higher tier payment system.

LampLight Magazine is open to submissions again. They seek dark fiction without cliches. Pays $150 for short stories, $50 for flash fiction. July 15th is the cut-off for their fall issue.

Barrelhouse Books open submission period ends July 15. They're looking for fiction for novels, but they also have a magazine you can submit to.


Colors of My Soul is holding a flash fiction contest. 500 word maximum. Open until June 7. $150 first prize, and publication in the e-book.

Green Mountains Review is hosting the Brattleboro Literary Festival Flash Fiction Contest. Maximum 1000 words. Deadline July 10. Winner will be published int he fall issue, and will have the opportunity to speak at the literary event in Vermont.

Any of these you're interested in? Published with any of these before? What do you think of the Moonshine Express? Am I the only one amused by it? 

May you find your Muse.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ruby's Fire Launch Celebration!

To celebrate the launch of Ruby's Fire, by Catherine Stine, how about a little information and a giveaway? Congratulations to Catherine!


If everything about you changes, what remains?

Seventeen year-old Ruby, long-pledged to the much older Stiles from the Fireseed desert cult, escapes with only a change of clothes, a pouch of Oblivion Powder and her mute little brother, Thorn. Arriving at The Greening, a boarding school for orphaned teens, she can finally stop running. Or can she? The Greening is not what it seems. Students are rampaging out of control and as she cares for the secret Fireseed crop, she experiences frightening physical changes. She’s ashamed of her attraction to burly, hard-talking Blane, the resident bodyguard, and wonders why she can’t be happy with the gentler Armonk. She’s long considered her great beauty a liability, a thing she’s misused in order to survive. And how is she to stop her dependence on Oblivion to find a real beauty within, using her talent as a maker of salves, when she has nightmares of Stiles without it?

When George Axiom, wealthy mogul of Vegas-by-the-Sea offers a huge cash prize for the winner of a student contest, Ruby is hopeful she might collect the prize to rescue her family and friends from what she now knows is a dangerous cult. But when Stiles comes to reclaim her, and Thorn sickens after creating the most astonishing contest project of all, the world Ruby knows is changed forever. This romantic fantasy set in 2099 on earth has a crafty heroine in Ruby, and a swoonworthy cast, which will surely appeal to the YA and new adult audience.

About Catherine Stine:

Catherine Stine writes YA, New Adult and middle grade fiction. Her YA futuristic thriller, Fireseed One, illustrated by the author won finalist spots in both YA and Science Fiction in the 2013 USA Book News International Book Awards. It was also granted a 2013 Bronze Wishing Shelf Book Award and a 2013 Indie Reader Approved notable stamp. Her YA Refugees, earned a New York Public Library Best Book. Middle grade novels include A Girl’s Best Friend.

Fireseed One sequel, Ruby’s Fire is earning advance praise from reviewers and authors:
“Ruby's Fire, returns to the sun-scorched earth of Fireseed One. In this long-awaited sequel, Stine delivers a thrilling adventure led by a new and exciting cast of characters. Ruby, Armonk, Thorn and Blane are memorable, and the romance is really well handled. Favorite quote: " It feels wrong to lean on Armonk right now with Blane staring at me, a hungry, lonely look in his eye. It’s as if he’s never been hugged, never been fed, never been loved..." ”  -YAs the Word

More and more, Catherine enjoys writing speculative tales where her imagination has wild and free reign. She has taught creative writing workshops at the Philadelphia Writing Conference, Missouri University Summer Abroad, The New School and in her own ongoing NYC writing workshop. She loves her readers, and enjoys blogging.

Want to find Catherine & Ruby's Fire?

Where can you buy Ruby's Fire?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Guest Post - Beate Boeker - Creating Strong, Likable Heroines

Hi All! Today I'm handing The Warrior Muse over to Beate Boeker so she can tell us a bit about creating heroines people want to read about.

Creating Strong, Likable Heroines, by Beate Boeker
Funny enough, the most important thing about creating a strong heroine is to give her a weak spot: something she has to fight with and has to overcome, something that makes her life difficult. This is important for two reasons: First, a reader can identify with a heroine who has a weakness – because we all know our own weaknesses. A perfect heroine will only disgust everybody because it's not likely that she exists at all, and if she does, you don't want to have her next to you all the time. Second, this weakness is perfect in order to pitch your heroine into trouble – and that's what you need to make your story compelling.

In my mystery series Temptation in Florence, the heroine Carlina is a successful business woman. She has a high-end lingerie store called Temptation on one of the most exclusive streets in Florence, and she loves her job and is dedicated to making it a success. She's financially and emotionally independent and strong – in fact, she even chucked her desirable fiancĂ©e several years ago because he expected her to give up working independently, and she just couldn't face that.

Her weak spot is her fierce loyalty toward her wide-spread family. As the family is rather eccentric, being loyal to them is not a given, particularly when bodies turn up and more often than not, the family applauds the murder.

Carlina falls in love with the Investigating Officer who has no understanding at all for this closely knit family. Throughout the series, she is torn in two between her family and the man she loves, and that's what keeps the story alive.

Another point to remember is that details make a story vivid and help to paint a picture in the mind of the reader. Carlina has two very attractive cousins that overshadow her a bit if you don't look closer. Besides, she's a hard-working and sober kind of girl, so to add a bit of pizazz, I have her a soft spot for anything that has a leopard pattern – be it her own underwear, the throw on her sofa, or the pattern on the helmet she needs to drive her Vespa.

I very much enjoyed creating Carlina and like spending time with her, her exuberant family, and the taciturn Commissario, and I hope that my readers will connect to her in the same way when they read my novels.

About Beate: Beate Boeker is a traditionally published author since 2008 and has 11 novels and short stories available online. Some of them were shortlisted for the Golden Quill Contest, the National Readers' Choice Award, and the "best indie books of 2012" contest.

Beate is a marketing manager by day and a writer by night. She has a degree in International Business Administration and her daily experience in marketing continuously provides her with a wide range of fodder for her novels, be it hilarious or cynical.

Widely traveled, she speaks German (her mother language), English, French and Italian fluently and lives in the North of Germany together with her husband and daughter.

While 'Boeker' means 'books' in a German dialect, her first name Beate can be translated as ‘Happy’ . . . and with a name that reads ‘Happy Books’, what else could she do but write novels with a happy end?

Although being German, she has chosen to write in English because she appreciates the professional support and training opportunities a writer can find in the US. Learn more about Beate at

About Delayed in Death:
What do you do when you find your grandfather dead half an hour before your cousin's wedding? You hide him in his bed and tell everyone he didn't feel like coming.

Delayed Death is an entertaining mystery set in Florence, Italy. When Carlina finds her grandfather dead on the day of her cousin's wedding, she decides to hide the corpse until after the ceremony. However, her grandfather was poisoned, and she becomes the attractive Inspector's prime suspect. On top of that, she has to manage her boisterous family and her luxurious lingerie store called Temptation, a juggling act that creates many hilarious situations.

Delayed Death is the first mystery in the series Temptation in Florence. The second, Charmer's Death, and the third, Banker's Death, are also available.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - Hoooot & Links

About a month ago, there was quite a ruckus down the street from me. People stopping their cars in the middle of the street, other people standing out in the middle of that same street, people trying to climb a tree. Why? There was a giant nest with three great horned owl babies in it. "Little" downy, fluffy, curious owls. I walked to an area across the street  (not IN the street, mind you) and used a telephoto lens to get some photos, hoping not to disturb them too much.

A ranger said the owls have spectacular vision. If you look at the photo, the little owl in the front was watching me the whole time I was taking photos, just as curious about me as I was of him/her. The one in the middle never stirred, so I figure it was maybe sleeping, and the one on the right flexed its wings a few times.

Due to people endangering themselves and the owls (some idiot climbed up and tried poking them with sticks, and there was a day I had to swerve around some putz who stepped in front of me in the middle of the road as I drove back from the store, despite the fact that it was cordoned off so people would stop doing that), they ended up having to move the babies to a shelter until they can release them into the wild. I was sad for the parents, both of whom were still tending the babies. Yes, the dad stuck around, too, not something you see a ton of in nature.

Anyway, just wanted to share the babies today, as I drove by yesterday and noticed the big nest still there. That way maybe you don't have to stand in the middle of a busy street to take photos of owls. ;)

Now for some links.

Accepting Submissions:

Allegory is taking submissions through June 30 for their September issue. They are primarily looking for science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Pays $15 flat rate.

Midnight Echo, Issue 10, is open to submissions through June 30. The theme is ghost stories. Pays 3 cents per word for short stories, $100 for non-fiction, and $15-$25 for poetry.

Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing has two calls out for anthologies. Bleed is a charity anthology, with proceeds going to Children's Cancer Fund. They're looking for allegorical horror, where the monster represents cancer. Deadline June 30. Long Distance Drunks: A Tribute to Charles Bukowski, pays in royalties. Deadline is December 31.

Stilts is open for submissions for Issue 4 until June 30. They are "looking for four pieces of long-form writing that explore ideas of ritual." Pays $250.

Crossed Genres is seeking submissions for its October issue, with the theme "Strangers." They're looking for science fiction and fantasy. Deadline is June 30. Pay special attention to their caveat for those who have not sold a story to a professional paying market. They make a point to feature at least one new writer in each issue. Pays 5 cents per word (professional paying market).

Crossed Genres also has an anthology for which the deadline has been extended to June 30. They are looking for sci-fi/fantasy stories about quiltbag families. $20 flat-rate payment, plus a print and e-book contributor copy.

"The Capilano Review publishes venturesome experimental writing and art." Pays $50 per published page. Deadline for Fall 2013 issue is June 30.

Fey Publishing is seeking submissions for several upcoming anthologies. The themes are "Happily Never After" and "Horrors of History." Deadline is July 1 for both. Not paying at this time, but you will get a free e-book copy.


Casey Shay Press is open for submissions to the 2014 Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize through June 30. No fee to enter, and the winning poet will receive $500 and 25 copies of the chapbook their poetry will go into.

The 2013 BNZ Literary Awards are open through June 30. This has several categories, with prizes ranging from $150 to $10,000 (yes, you read that right). Deadline is June 30.

Any of these look good to you? Any experience with any of these publications or contests? Do you have great horned owls in your area? Would you climb the tree? Let me know if you submit to any of the above!

May you find your Muse.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Writer's Space

Aaaaaah (that's a relieved sigh, not a scream...just to be clear).

Here I sit in my new office. I have two giant Rubbermaid tubs, full to overflowing, just waiting to be emptied, the contents organized in drawers or filed. Every time I need something, I have to dig through a tub. And I'm cool with that, because this is my office.

Aaaaaah. (Still not screaming)

I don't remember if I mentioned it on here, but hubby has been doing some construction around this joint. He ripped up hardwood floors, tore out a platform and the bottom of a set of stairs, hammering through walls.

I ripped up the carpeting and the carpet tack strips. Yeah, I know. I rock. ;) Phew.

After all that, he built some walls, laid some hardwood floors, built new stairs, painted, re-wired electricity, put in light fixtures/switches/outlets, so on and so forth.

I painted some. And then I grouted some tile. Oh yeah, he put the tile down and then sponged it off afterward. Cuz' he's awesome like that.

I was busy. What do you want?

And all of this adds up to me having a main floor office! So exciting! Before, my office was down in the depths of the basement, sharing space with a guest bed, rolling towers full of photos and scrap-booking materials, and a sewing area. I was crammed in one corner. Yes, it was still an office, and more than some have, so I wasn't actually complaining, but I also couldn't go down to my dungeon to write if my kids were upstairs in their rooms, or out back, or anywhere I couldn't see/hear them from the basement, which meant no time for my office in the summer. But now they can be anywhere! And I can hear them. I know what they're doing. And I can be writing while knowing what they're doing.


We all need a space to create. For some, it's a huge office with a gorgeous view. For others, it's a closet converted to an office, or a guest room with a desk or table in it, or their lap on the sofa. Maybe it's a lawn chair out back, a stolen corner of their "day job" office, a restaurant or coffee shop.

But we all need a space to create in. No matter how tiny that space is. Even if we have to dig it out and force it into shape, it's still a space for creating. It frees us up to focus on our words, our artwork, our crocheting, our whatever-it-is-we're-creating.

I'd post some office pics for you, but I'll be paying Nutschell a visit in the coming months, so I'll have to wait to share it with you until then. Plus, it's not quite picture-worthy yet. Let me do a little more organizing.

In the meantime, I hope you ferret out a little bit of a space for yourself.

And create.

P.S. For those who wondered, and until I can reply to each of you individually, the funky spiked melon in my Wednesday post was a kiwano melon, or horned melon fruit. It really didn't taste half bad. The texture was just a bit gag-worthy for a noob. I got it at a King Soopers, so a regular chain supermarket.

P.P.S The Black Forest fire is being slowly, but surely, beaten into submission. Many have been allowed back to their homes (or the land their homes used to stand on). This fire officially exceeded Waldo Canyon for damage, though the loss of life was equal (2). It was horrific, but once again the community has come together, which is wonderful. There was another fire at the Royal Gorge Bridge. The animals lived, and the damage to the bridge, itself, was minimal, but the park surrounding it was fairly totaled. There are still other fires burning, as well, so our state is not yet free of the summer flames. We have been getting a bit of a rain each day, and I hope that continues through the rest of summer.

What's your creation space like? Do you have an office or is it purely about your lap? What's your view? Have you gone out to get one of those melons yet? Come on, you know you want to!

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - Something's Burnin' & Links

Hi All!

Unfortunately, fire season in the Rockies is upon us again. I woke up feeling like I'd see a plume, probably just because I'd gone to bed knowing that three fires were burning (at least), two of them not too far from me. Looked outside, no plume! But then it turned out I was looking in the wrong direction...

I took these photos from an overlook a couple miles from my house. My kids were worried when they saw the plume (after all, the last plume they saw brought plenty of terror and stress with it), so I took them up to show them how far away it was, how much was between us and the fire, and that it was on the other side of the Interstate, which is big all on its own.

This fire is about 15 miles from us, so we're not in any danger, but our friends are, and my little brother is a police officer, and was called away during a family dinner (two of my brothers have birthdays this week), so I'm hoping they get this fire under control before the 30mph winds and dry heat hit again today. Fire and police are working hard throughout the night in order to get some control while the fire is dampened (which happens at night). This is in an area called Black Forest, where a lot of people have small properties on forested land. The concentration of homes, trees, and brush has caused the fire to spread rapidly, especially paired with high temps and fast winds. Please keep residents and first responders in your thoughts and prayers.

Since I brought you all down on Hump Day, how about a random interesting photo? The kids and I saw a spiky yellow melon at the grocery store and decided we should try it. When I cut it open, it appeared to be alien fruit. The taste was mild, but the consistency was like biting into jell-o fruit. Chunky Alien Egg Jell-O Fruit. Ucky.

Alien eggs?
Now for some links.

Accepting Submissions:

Dark Continents Publishing has put out a call for their anthology "The Sea," edited by Nerine Dorman. Looking for short fiction in the genres of horror, weird science, fantasy, and sci-fi, following a sea theme. Pays $20 per story. Deadline June 21.

Burning Book Press has put out an anthology call for "Written on Skin." They are looking for erotic literature with an element of body modification involved. Deadline has been extended to July 7. Pays $25.

The Stinging Fly is looking for short fiction, poetry, and flash fiction for their Spring 2014 issue. Deadline for short fiction and poetry is June 30. Flash Fiction entries can only be submitted one day: June 22. Token payment, plus 2 issues of the month you're featured.

Columbus Creative Cooperative is looking for short fiction and narrative non-fiction by Ohio writers, past and present, only, for an anthology entitled "Best of Ohio Short Stories." Deadline June 24. Pays in a share of the profit.

Origin Fiction is accepting submissions for their sci-fi anthology "Origin Evolutions." The theme is 2113 (the year), and whatever you foresee that as. Deadline June 24. Will pay on a pro-rata royalties basis.


Kazka Press holds a monthly 713 Flash contest, wherein you write to a theme. This months theme is Life During Wartime, with a deadline of June 20. They pay $10 per story.

Visibility Fiction is hosting a Teens Only Writing Competition. Ages 13-19. Worldwide, free entry. Young adult short stories with protags from typically underrepresented minorities. First prize is AU$50. Deadline June 30.

Blog Hops:

Heather and Tara are hosting The Thrill of It All Blogfest on June 24. Share a big thrill, and you'll be entered into the contest. There are prizes!

Any of these interest you? Anything to share? Any success stories to share? Will you be telling us a thrilling story? Ever tried Chunky Alien Egg Jell-O Fruit?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Art of Character - Interview & Book Review With David Corbett & a Cover Reveal!

Happy Monday!

Today, I'd like to welcome David Corbett to my blog for an interview on The Art of Character, his non-fiction book on the craft of writing. You'll find a review of The Art of Character preceding the interview, and a special cover reveal after that!

My Review of The Art of Character:

Award-winning author of four (soon to be five!) thrillers, compared to Graham Greene and Ernest Hemingway, ex-private investigator, and seasoned speaker and instructor, David Corbett has now released a book on how to flesh out your characters, building them from the ground up to make them believable.

I should first say that I was sent a copy of this book to write an honest review. I'd been wanting to read more books on craft, and thought this would be a good way to jump in. Upon beginning to read it, though, I was drawn in. Yes, to a book on craft. Unlike some who write books on the craft of writing, David Corbett is already a respected writer of fiction, and this shows in The Art of Character. His writing flows, and what he has to say is interesting, not at all dry. I actually enjoyed reading it, and was so engrossed that I took pages of notes to reference back to later. 

"It is entirely possible that the act of writing serves as an incantation, beckoning the Muse, who in turn lures these evanescent beings we call our characters - which are in fact archetypes - out of the inner darkness over which she reigns. This can be both a consoling and terrifying view of the matter. But inspiration often alternates between consolation and terror." p. 7, The Art of Character.

There are four main parts, not counting the introduction and epilogue, organized in a logical and easy-to-follow order: Part I - Conceiving the Character, Part II - Developing the Character, Part III - Roles, Part IV - Technique. Throughout, Corbett provides useful examples, followed by helpful exercises. Some of the exercises force you into your own head, because...

"Every story worth telling in some way mirrors our lives, and to that extent explores four key questions:
     Who am I?
     Where do I come from?
     Where am I going?
     What does it mean?" p. xxiii (introduction), The Art of Character

But he doesn't only want you to look inside yourself for your characters; he also suggests you people watch, study strangers and the people you know. Learn what there is to know about your fellow humans. He approaches characterization from multiple facets, teaching us how to view our characters in a multi-dimensional sense, and helping us to avoid cardboard copies of other people's characters.

In my opinion, it takes great skill to write a book on craft that makes you feel like you're reading a piece of fiction. He doesn't bang your head with it, instead letting it soak in by approaching it in different ways, appealing to the different learning styles each person brings to the subject. I found myself nodding as I read, my eyes being opened to something I'd thought I understood, but hadn't fully grasped. I had to give up on the notes, instead underlining passages so I could come back to them (shhh, don't tell!). 

This is one book on craft I highly recommend. Think you know how to write great characters? It's still worth a read; I challenge you not to learn anything from it.

An Interview With David Corbett:

Q1: What made you switch gears to write this book after you'd published in fiction?

I taught an online course on character through the UCLA Extension Writers’ program, and that obliged me to write out ten lectures. I tend to be somewhat thorough (read: obsessive) in my lectures, so once I was finished, I thought: Be a damn shame and an awful waste not to use all this stuff. So I talked to my agent, who to be honest was not enthused. Another book on writing? Oh, the ho and the hum. But then she read what I’d provided and saw I had a unique take, both practical and philosophical, and the writing itself was superior to most how-to books. I was trying not merely to instruct but inspire. So we packaged the thing, sent it around, and Penguin agreed to publish it.

Q2: Do you feel character building has been under-represented in books on craft?

The trend in recent books on writing has been on structure, with character seen as a crucial element of that, but character is never the central focus. Robert McKee’s Story, John Truby’s The Anatomy of Story, and Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey—three of the most influential texts out there right now—all touch on character, but in the first two books it’s dealt with primarily in functional terms (how character serves the story), and Vogler’s approach sees character more in terms of archetypes than real people. All pronounce the importance of character but give little real guidance on how to conceive or develop great characters.

The guides I’ve read dealing specifically with character also felt strangely formulaic or uninspired to me. All had decent tips but I felt they missed the crucial element: That there is no way to create great characters without a comprehensive understanding of oneself and the elements of one’s own life that form the foundations of personality. Your material is yourself. Or, as Chekhov put it: “Everything I know about human nature I learned from me.” My book tries to teach how to be a perceptive and responsive student to one’s own human nature, the better to deliver that understanding to one’s characters.

Q3: While writing The Art of Character, did you run into problems unique to writing this sort of book versus fiction?

All creative work is essentially problem solving. That’s as true of fiction as non-fiction—or mathematics. I just needed to figure out what was necessary to deliver the best book on character I could write, and get it down. I teach, so it wasn’t that fundamentally different a process than I was used to.

Q4: What do you think is the best way to learn craft (i.e. books on craft, workshops, personal experience, etc.)?

Classes and textbooks provide you with an inventory of questions to ask as you’re writing: Where should I begin my story? Whose story is it? What creates the conflict? What are the stakes? How can I amplify the stakes and intensify the conflict? How can I sustain suspense and generate surprise? The best answers to those questions lie in the books you love, the books that have inspired you as a writer. Our best teachers are always the writers we admire and hope in some small way to emulate.

Q5: What do you think is the biggest mistake writers make in character building?

They rely on the story idea and don’t plumb the character as a unique being whose wants and yearning and fears and shame all drive the action—make it necessary, not just possible. The archetype approach hasn’t helped this problem. We’re seeing thinly disguised reiterations of cardboard heroes and mentors and such rather than real people whose lives generate the details of the story, not the other way around.

Q6: Was there a resource you found invaluable in honing your craft?

I consider the three books mentioned above invaluable, even if I also consider them limited with respect to character. Lajos Egri’s The Art of Dramatic Writing was also a crucial text for me, as were Stanislavski’s three seminal texts: Creating a Role, Building a Character, and The Actor Prepares. (I learned most of what I know about writing from studying acting and trial and error.) Oakley Hall’s The Art and Craft of Novel Writing was a very important and useful source, and Robert Olen Butler’s From Where You Dream also proved incredibly helpful.

But as I noted above, in the end I’m like everyone else, in that I learned most of what I know about writing from the writers I admire.

Q7: What piece of advice would you offer aspiring authors?

Writing is rewriting. (Eudora Welty) And you can’t revise what you haven’t written.

Q8: What's next for you in your writing?

My latest novel (my fifth), The Wrong Girl, is currently making the editorial rounds in New York. My third novel, Blood of Paradise, just sold in France, and I’m working on a film project with producer Shane Salerno.

David Corbett is the author of four novels: The Devil’s Redhead, Done for a Dime (a New York Times Notable Book), Blood of Paradise (nominated for numerous awards, including the Edgar), and Do They Know I’m Running? David’s short fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Mission and Tenth, The Smoking Poet, San Francisco Noir and Best American Mystery Stories (2009 and 2011). He has taught both online and in classroom settings through the UCLA Extension's Writers' Program, Book Passage, LitReactor, 826 Valencia, The Grotto in San Francisco, and at numerous writing conferences across the US. He lives in Vallejo, CA. For more information, visit

I'm also excited to tell you that David will be presenting a workshop, free, online, via Pikes Peak Writers in July. It will be live on July 16, and we'll post it online within a week of that date. I'll be sure to post on here so you can access that workshop FREE!! It will be a video, not just audio.

THE OUTER LIMITS OF INNER LIFE: Bringing Characters to Life by Looking Within.

Join award-winning author David Corbett, Pikes Peak Writers, and Delve Writing, for this free, exclusively online Write Brain workshop on creating characters with depth. You will learn how to build an intuitive connection with your characters through an informed understanding of your own past, and how to use that bridge to create compelling backstories that bring your tale to life. David will discuss the crucial role of both helplessness and willfulness in exploring character, and how these seemingly contradictory inclinations are crucial in creating complex and engaging characters. He will also explore ways to heighten conflict in your story through a better understanding of the emotional stakes. By the end of the class, you'll walk away with a healthy start on your next bestselling novel and a deeper understanding of your characters and your story.

(Note: You can access this recording late the third week of July on the Pikes Peak Writers website. There's one available there now, completely free, from Page Lambert: Manifestation of Yearning: The Flesh & Blood Factor of Good Storytelling.)


Zoe has a great pair of legs, perky boobs, and wears exactly what she needs to show it all off. She works hard for the easy sleazy ‘you only wish you were me’ reputation, burying who she really is—an all-out nerd. 

The only time Zoe gets to be herself is when she hides under her comforter to read X-Men comics, sending jealousy stabs at everyone who attends Comic-Con. Keeping up her popular rep is too important, and she’s so damn insecure to care about the consequences. But when Zoe’s sister takes her car for a ‘crash and burn into a tree’ joyride, her parents get her a replacement. A manual. Something she doesn’t know how to operate, but her next door neighbor Zak sure as heck does. 

Zak’s a geek to the core, shunned by everyone in school for playing Dungeons and Dragons at lunch and wearing “Use the Force” t-shirts. And Zoe’s got it bad for the boy. Only Zak doesn’t want Popular Zoe. He wants Geek Zoe. 

She has to shove her insecurities and the fear of dropping a few rungs on the social ladder aside to prove to Zak who she really is and who she wants to be… if she can figure it out herself.

The release date is expected in September 2013.

Cassie Mae is a nerd to the core from Utah, who likes to write about other nerds who find love. She’s the author of the Amazon Bestseller REASONS I FELL FOR THE FUNNY FAT FRIEND, and is the debut author for the Random House FLIRT line with her New Adult novels FRIDAY NIGHT ALIBI and PULLING THE SWITCH. She also has a three book deal with Swoon Romance Publishing, including her book HOW TO DATE A NERD. She spends her time with her angel children and perfect husband who fan her and feed her grapes while she clacks away on the keyboard. Then she wakes up from that dream world and manages to get a few words on the computer while the house explodes around her. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with the youth in her community as a volleyball and basketball coach, or searching the house desperately for chocolate.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Insecure Writers Support Group & Links

What?! It's a new month already? No way!

Everybody say it with me in true Keanu Reeves-style: Waaaaaay.

So, yes, this means it is time for an Insecure Writer's Support Group post, hosted by the ninja, himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

My current insecurities concern time. Time for writing. Time for blogging. Time for visiting fellow bloggers. I've fallen so far behind, and I feel bad about that. I know that I will eventually get caught up, at least for a little while, but I feel a bit panicky about it in the meantime.

Gary Warning: Your eyes may burn, as A-to-Z is mentioned! You still love me, though, right? :(

I've not caught up on all my comments from during the A-to-Z, which means I also haven't caught up on current comments here on the blog. I intend to start going back and forth, replying to comments from my most recent post, then an A-to-Z post, and so on and so forth. I haven't gotten to all the Reflections posts yet, either, so that's not good. Some who I did visit, though, commented in their Reflections posts about people who hadn't visited them back yet, and how they figure those people didn't care or did the A-to-Z just to gain followers and not reciprocate. I feel bad about the fact that people may be viewing me that way.

So I'm here to say that I will ALWAYS visit back those who have commented on my blog. It just won't always be immediately. Well, I should curb that a bit by saying I will ALWAYS visit back commenters whose blogs I can FIND after they've commented. I'm afraid I have run into a few that I just plain can't find. Once I've caught up and am working my way through the A-to-Z list (Road Trip!), I'm sure I will find many of them. I sure hope so, anyway.

Now, before I get to links, I need to thank the lovely, devoted, spirited, and always awesome, Tina, at Life is Good, for the following award:

Thank you so much for thinking of me, Tina! Please visit Tina (after you're done perusing the below links and commenting here, of course!), and say hello for me. You'll never regret visiting the vivacious and entertaining Tina. Nope, nope, nope. (<---said in a Ducky voice, and I'm not talking about Pretty in Pink).

Now for some links. Please note, any links passed along are those I have discovered, and do not indicate sponsorship or recommendation. I have not vetted these companies, and cannot guarantee they are safe. Please always do due diligence in researching a publication or contest before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Shotgun Honey is seeking short stories in gritty crime for their second anthology Reloaded: Both Barrels, Volume II. Deadline is June 9. Pays $25 and a contributor copy.

Fringeworks is accepting submissions for several anthologies. Raus! Untoten! seeks short stories involving a combination of Nazis and the undead. Deadline June 10. Pays in 12% royalties. The Last Diner seeks gruesome short stories set in food establishments. Deadline June 30. Pays in 4% royalties. NeaDNAthal seeks short stories involving the reappearance of neanderthal man in modern day. Deadline July 20. Pays 4% royalties. Cadavers seeks short stories about dead bodies (not walking dead bodies, just dead bodies). Deadline August 19. Pays 4% royalties.

Kerlak Publishing has calls out for three anthologies. All deadlines are June 15. All pay $20, plus contributor copy, plus royalties. The topics are Steampunk SuperheroesFull Moon Mayhem (werewolves); A Tall Ship, a Star, and Plunder (pirates).

World Weaver Press has put out a call for supernatural short stories for their anthology Specter Spectacular II: 13 Deathly Tales. Deadline June 15. Pays $10, plus contributor copy.

Baird Speculative Fiction is seeking short stories based on Norse myths/legends. Deadline June 15. Pays using a tier system (see their website for more details on that.) Horror, speculative, fantasy, magical realism, slipstream, etc.


The Pikes Peak Writers Fiction Writing Contest is returning this year, but first they need a name for it! So there's a pre-contest contest entitled the 2014 Pikes Peak Writers Fiction Writing Contest Naming Contest (see why they need help?). Submit your proposed name for the new contest. Prize is free entry into the 2013 PPW Fiction Writing Contest. Deadline June 15.

A&U Magazine has announced their first annual Christopher Hewitt Literary Award. There are four categories (fiction, drama, poetry, nonfiction), with a $50 prize for the top entrant in each category, plus publication in their summer edition. All entries must have something to do with AIDS/HIV. Deadline June 10.

New Rivers Press is holding The American Fiction Prize contest. First prize $1000. Deadline June 15. They seek character-driven literary short fiction. Reading fee of $16. They are also taking general submissions through June 15.

Old Timey Hedgehog is holding a free fiction contest. They seek internationalist science fiction. Deadline June 15. Flash fiction and short stories. Pays $25 for short story winners, $10 for flash fiction winners, and publication in Old Hedgy Times. Opportunity for future publication in an anthology that will pay with royalties.

PRADA (yes, the fashion company) is holding a short story contest. Deadline June 18. Winner will receive 5.000 Euros. There's a lot of wordage on the site, so take care to read everything. For instance, it says that they will have the right to distribute your short story as an e-book and paperback (in their stores) without further monetary award to you.

Blog Hops:

Join Dani and Jackie in the Heroes & Villains Blog Hop, June 6.

Lisa L. Regan is hosting a blog hop to celebrate the release of her novel, Aberration. The Aberration Blog Hop will occur June 6 and 7.

Of Interest/Just for Fun:

Blogger Book Fair is a "blog hop" of sorts, intended to help get authors out there. It will involve giveaways. Fill out the form to find out when the next one begins.

Caldera's Artists in Residence Program is taking applications for their month-long artist residencies in the Cascade Mountains. Both visual and literary artists welcome.

(The following 2 links are a bit naughty. Well, one more than the other.)

Lovelyish posted 7 Famous Authors That Worked in the Nude.

This one is the naughtier of the two. There is strong language in it. It's dirty. You've been warned!!!! Don't get mad at me if you read this and are offended! Seriously, the "F" word is used several times. Disclaimer! Warning! Awooooga! This is an Onion piece that I found amusing: If You Wish to be a Writer, Have Sex With Someone Who Works in Publishing.

Anything to share? Any of these you're interested in? Any success stories? What are your insecurities?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Submission Tips

If you have me on Facebook, you've probably seen me randomly posting about flash fiction entries. This is the second year I've chaired a flash fiction contest, and I'm afraid it was enough for me. You see, I spent many hours formulating the contest rules, updating everything, making it as clear as I possibly could. I even provided a printable pop-up with a checklist of everything needed to enter the contest.

At least 1/4 of entrants did not follow the rules. A quarter. Which was just that much more work for me, not something I was seeking. 

by OCAL,

I didn't have to, but I made an effort to contact those who had not followed the rules in order to give them a second chance. After all, I felt that ours was a smaller contest, so why not make it an opportunity for entrants to learn so they could do better on the next contest they entered? 

Even more important, I feel that being able to enter a contest correctly, learning to read all of the instructions and follow them, has bearing on submitting to magazines, anthologies, and ultimately agents/editors. In my opinion, contests should be a jumping off point for submitting works to publications later on.

But, again, and in case you haven't noticed over the past couple of months, I've been severely limited on time, incredibly busy. We're all busy, so I'm not saying I'm any busier than anyone else, but I have exceeded my personal threshold for what I can take on. My being unwilling to just drop people who hadn't followed the rules added to that, but I brought it upon myself. I fully acknowledge that. I could have taken their money and disqualified them, which I would have had the right to do, as per the rules, but that hardly seems fair to me. I simply don't have the time to address how to properly follow the rules with everyone who doesn't follow them, not when it's such a large percentage of the entrants. 

So why not lay it out here? I'm fairly certain I did the same thing last year, born of frustration then, too. However, it's a useful topic, right? If you want to win a contest, or successfully submit a piece to a publication of any sort, you need to know the basics.

I can't cover everything, not in one post, but I can touch on some basics. I won't go into synopses or any of that, but what I will do is stress the importance of reading ALL of the rules. Don't read them just the once and blow them off. They have the right to disqualify you based on the smallest thing, and they don't have to let you know what it was, or even that you WERE disqualified. All you'll know is that you didn't win, and you paid for that privilege. That doesn't help you in the future, which means you'll possibly make the same mistake over and over and over again. That's not right.

Now, I couldn't contact every person who did something incorrect. That would be closer to half the entrants. Those who blatantly didn't follow the rules fell into that quarter of entrants. However, all that being said, I didn't disqualify anyone either. I docked points, yes, but there was not one person who didn't get their piece read and judged. Those points are important, though, pretty much guaranteeing that someone couldn't win. That means those points also would possibly prevent someone from getting published. Right?

When I've entered contests or submitted pieces to publication, I've been sure to read every single rule/guideline about a billion times. Then, before submitting it, I've gone over them again, point by point. I absolutely refuse to be booted for not following the rules. If I don't win, I want it to be because there were people with better works of fiction than me, not because I failed to read the instructions.

Let's cover some of the things people had the most trouble with.

Manuscript format. In the rules, I put that proper manuscript format must be followed. I mentioned some important specifics. Even those ones I made a point to mention were not followed. You will not get eyeballs on your story if they take one look at it and see it is a hot mess. They'll set it aside without reading it. First impressions DO matter. Don't write in all capitals. Don't bold your entire story. Don't send it on rainbow paper. Don't put the entire thing in italics. Don't write in size 250 million font. Don't write in size -500 font. Ow, my eyeballs! Don't write in comic sans. Do follow the rules you find HERE. Please? I'm begging you!

Attachments. (This only applies if the contest/publication says no attachments. Always read the rules first. It will likely say whether they want your submission as an attachment or in the body of the email--follow the rules they set.) Last year, I received a lovely virus during contest season. I'd already stated in the rules that I would not accept attachments, but I went ahead and opened them when I received them, anyway, sighing heartily, but still opening them. Not this year. This year, I still stressed that no attachments would be accepted, and this time I didn't allow it. I did write back and state that I could not take their entries unless they re-sent them in the body of the email. Most people promptly did so, thanking me for allowing them the chance (I didn't have to--it could have been automatic disqualification for not following the rules). There were those who complained, though all did ultimately send them back in the body of the email. However, this leads us to...

Don't complain about the rules. Don't email the person running the contest and tell them what problems you have with the rules. Don't enter if you don't like it. Find a different contest or skip them altogether, but don't complain. Don't bitch at me because you don't like that you had to paste the entry into the body of the email. I've seen publications require this for the entirety of a short story, a novella, even the first x number of chapters of a book. People don't like receiving viruses! Don't tell contest administrators that you think you should have to do x, y, or z. Don't write back expecting leniency. When I wrote to people asking them to re-send in the body of the email, not as an attachment, I had a few people tell me they hoped I took into account that they couldn't format their pieces in the body of the email like they could in their document writer. Funny, 99.9% of people had it correctly formatted in the body of the email, which means it's entirely possible to do. 

Cover letter. I didn't just ask for a cover letter; I made a bulleted list of what should appear on the cover letter. Now tell me if you think it was followed by everyone? I will say, the majority of people followed it pretty well, but there were still people who didn't do it correctly. If they ask for a cover letter, first look to see if they have any rules for what's expected. If they don't, do an internet search and you will find plenty of good examples, most of which are pretty similar. For me, the cover letter simplified entry into my spreadsheet for tracking of entries (it's a blind judging process). I needed the entry to give to the judges and the cover letter for me to have the pertinent information on. Make a bunch of extra work for a different contest chair, they'll drop your entry like a hot potato. 

Name on blind submission. If there are notes saying this is blind judged, or anything saying not to put your name on the entry (yes, I stressed this), don't put your name on the entry! In these cases, it belongs only on the cover letter. If your name is on the entry for a blind judged contest, the administrators can choose to black it out (possibly) or disqualify you. They don't want the judges to see your name. What if it's a buddy? What if it's an enemy? What if you talked smack about their mom? You see, it behooves you to keep the judging blind by following the proper rules. Follow the theme. If there is a theme to the contest/submission (say, for an anthology), follow it. Don't just b.s. your way through it. If you have to send me a letter longer than the 100 word flash fiction contest explaining how your piece fits the theme, it probably doesn't. Let's not stretch here. If your piece doesn't fit the theme, either write another one or skip this particular contest/publication. Don't waste their time.

Handwritten additions. No. Just no. Every part of your entry/submission should be neatly printed. If you make a mistake, correct it on the computer and print it up again. I know this kills trees. I know it costs money. Believe me, I wince when I have to do it. But I do it. I do not take a pen and scribble the corrected information on it. This applies to the piece, itself, as well as to the cover letter. I received an entry where they printed up their work bio in lieu of a cover letter. They then scribbled some notes across it, and yet still managed not to have the requested information covered. Not only that, but the bio print-up was badly printed, the paper must have folded up in the printer, and I couldn't read their email address or name. I still have no idea if I sent the contest results to the right person, but I did my best.

Deadline. Meet it. Don't write after the contest is done and ask if they'll take one more entry, because you just saw it. Sorry, it does not work that way. Or maybe it does and I'm not privy to it. That's entirely possible. Somehow I doubt it, though.

by OCAL,

Word count. Meet it. Don't go over the maximum (or under the minimum) word count and expect them to take it. What's the point? You just paid to enter a contest just to have it disqualified because you couldn't bear to cut out two words! Word count gives judges a convenient out if they're working to narrow down winners. Don't give them that out. Edit, edit, edit! Cut words. Kill your darlings. Meet the word count.

Follow-up entries. Do not send a second copy that is "corrected." Get it right the first time. Just because this second entry is properly typed, doesn't mean it's okay or that we will be willing to supplement your first entry. This, again, is making extra work for the contest chair. And it looks bad for you.

by OCAL,
Double, triple, quadruple check it. Check those guidelines and insure you followed them. Then check your writing for typos and mistakes. Check your grammar and spelling (if spell check can catch it, it shouldn't ever be on the final copy). Have someone else look it over. Make sure it is visually pleasing. If it looks bad to you, it will certainly look bad to a judge. Juuuuuust check it!

Extras. Don't send them. Send only what is requested. Don't send a summary of the backstory of your 100 word flash fiction piece. Don't send copies of your research. Don't send a second story "just for fun." Don't send a story with a note that you know it doesn't meet the theme or guidelines, but you just had to send it. Don't waste people's time that way. Don't send it in a nice plastic cover or folder like you would a high school paper. While it tickled me that people would do that, it also created extra work, and was just overall unnecessary. 

Withholding information. Don't withhold information (unless, of course, they're asking for something out of line, like your social security number or the names and birth dates of each of your children). If they ask for an email address, give them an email address. This is often how you're notified of whether or not you've won. If they ask for a physical address, give them a physical address. This is where they send the check! Most contests/publications won't ask for unneeded information. There's usually a reason they need it. It would cost me a small fortune to pay postage on every single notice I had to send were I unable to send it via email. The cost of envelopes and postage comes out of my pocket, as does the cost of ink and paper for anything printed up. I'm willing to cough that up to send it to the winners, but that's the extent of it. Sorry, I'm a cheapskate. Post note: If you don't HAVE an email address or other requested bit of information, do note this in your contact with them so they know you aren't just being stubborn, and they can decide which other option they will use.

by OCAL,
Entry fees. If there is an entry fee, pay it in its entirety. Be sure you've calculated and re-calculated the amount you need to pay. Pay only by the methods listed as acceptable. Don't ask to be the exception to the rule. Don't just assume you can be and send it the way you want to send it. Pay the way they ask you to. Pay the correct amount the first time. Have someone else check it if you're unsure. If you don't pay enough, your entry will be disqualified, and you will not receive your money back. Be clear on what entry fees are required and which are optional (for instance, an optional critique vs. a required entry fee.) Be sure you write the check to the correct person/entity. Be sure you sign the check. Check your check or PayPal payment as thoroughly as you do (should) your story/cover letter.

Side nitpick: Don't staple the pages together. I shredded my nails messing with staples so I could separate the cover page from the flash fiction piece. If you must attach the pages together, use a paper clip. This one's a side nitpick because I didn't remember to put it in the rules this year, so technically I couldn't (and didn't) count it against them. But boy was I not a fan. It took up extra time and effort, and it ripped up my nails. Darn it.

There are probably five billion other things I could mention, but I think this sets a good basis. Above all, please, please, please, just thoroughly read the guidelines and follow each of them. If something is unclear, send an email to the listed contact to ask about it and verify the information. Don't, however, contact that person repeatedly and expect them to continue having a conversation with you. Ask the question you need the answer to and apply it. Just because the chair/editor was friendly, doesn't mean they want to be best buds. Please keep it professional and brief. And follow those guidelines!

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them. I'll answer them to the best of my abilities. Obviously, each contest and publication will have their own rules, but these are a few things to look at to insure you the best possible chance.

Do you have anything to add? Anything to ask? Have you chaired or judged a contest? Are you an editor? What are your rules or nitpicks? What problems do you see most often? Have you made any of these mistakes? 

May you find your Muse.