Wednesday, October 30, 2013

WEP Blogfest Entry - Haunting

This is my entry for this month's WEP Blogfest (Write...Edit...Publish), run by Denise Covey. I wanted to aim a little more for Halloween, so I'm posting it late this evening instead of as part of my usual [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday. After all, it's more fun to read this kind of story at night, and the theme is Haunting.

No critique necessary. I just threw this together to have a little Halloween fun. :) 1040 words.

The Tourist

The sound of his own breaths puffed into his ears. He needed to calm down, but he always got so excited when he was out sightseeing.

Leaves rattled above him, their yellowed flesh dry and withering in the autumn night. Those that had fallen to the ground already skittered across the pavement like nails raking down the inside of a coffin. The smell of wood smoke reached his nose, a hearty fall scent.

He knelt at the base of the tree, hidden amongst the evergreen bushes that managed to always smell like cat urine. His trench coat kept them from scraping at his skin, along with the leather gloves and knit mask he wore.  He was toasty, all bundled up, only his eyes watering at the brisk air around him.

Before him stood a quaint little house on the outskirts of downtown, its Victorian-style roots apparent. A rounded tower ran up the east side of the building, the light on in the uppermost window. Though the curtains were pulled, The Curator seemed not to know they were see-through, at least to a point. He watched as her shadow moved about in the room. She wasn't doing anything dirty, no. This was her office. His many sightseeing trips this month had shown him that.

Three voluptuous pumpkins stood on her front porch, battery-powered candles flickering within. They were carved into cutesy shapes, no gruesome maws for this gal. One was a cat, its little triangle nose flocked by thin strips of missing orange. One was a cartoon character, obviously carved with some sort of blueprint. The third was just a happy cliched little pumpkin face with elementary shapes forming the triangular eyes, circular mouth and slim rectangular nose.

He set his gaze back on that uppermost window, though, waiting until that light would go out and the next one burn into the night. Lucky for him, it was only a matter of minutes. Right on schedule. Keeping steady hours was an important aspect of a tourist destination.

As the first light died, he pulled his leather briefcase closer to his leg. As he often found happening, almost without his will, his right hand slid inside, pressing deeper into its depths to feel the materials the bag hid. The leather of his gloves slid smoothly over the metal of the blades, the polished surface of the hilts. Next to these larger blades, he inventoried, by sensation, the small cloth pouch that held his surgical instruments, then the firm roll of tape, scissors, a tie, a cord from an old phone, rough rope, a hammer, a screwdriver, and more. He knew the items in this bag better than the back of his own hand, more than the sight of his eyes in a mirror, more than his own hair-covered toes.

He liked to have options.

A deep exhalation left his body, and he felt his entire being relax. The lights had progressed in her usual bedtime routine, finally ending up in another top floor window. The bedroom. The room he'd been waiting for all evening. This was the last stop on the tour.

He stood, brushed off the leaves and grass that had gathered on his coat, and stepped from beneath the tree. To anyone who might see him, he would simply look like any professional walking home from work a bit later than usual. This proximity to downtown meant plenty of businesses and restaurants were within walking distance. A nicely dressed man with a briefcase wouldn't raise an alarm.

As he waited, watching for that final light to disappear, he grew increasingly excited. Already he could hear the sounds she would make. It was always fun to try to predict whether they'd be a screamer or a whimperer. Some simply passed out, ruining all his fun. Most combined screams with whimpers, shrieks with sobs. 

His hand tightened on the bag's handle, his muscle memory filling in the sensation of a scalpel cutting through human skin, scissors cutting with that wonderful crisp snip so reminiscent of the sound his mother's scissors had made as she helped them to glide across fabric of various thicknesses. He delighted in the smells, even the tastes, all sensations rich and warm.

The light snicked out. He stepped into the street, started to cross it, his gaze fixed upon the now darkened window.

He was fairly certain she'd be a screamer.

Just as he neared the center of the street, lights washed over him. He turned his head, saw a car coming his way, picked up his pace. Hopping up onto the sidewalk, he started to walk in the direction the car was coming from, not wanting to be seen in front of this house. Remembered. The car would pass quickly and he'd be able to double back easily.

But the car didn't pass. It slowed then pulled to the curb, rolling past him to come to a stop in front of the very house he was visiting.


He continued to walk until he reached a corner, where he turned left, moving quickly out of sight. He pressed himself against the house on the corner, peeked around, and watched as a man got out of the car, shut the door, and proceeded up the steps, past the still flickering jack-o-lanterns.

Unaware that someone watched in horror, the stranger knocked on the door. A moment later, it opened, so quickly that she must have been waiting.

The house swallowed this interloper up as The Tourist watched. Disappointment colored his emotions. He sank to the ground, bag at his side, the slight sound of metal tinkling against metal inside it.

But disappointment couldn't last. No, he always had a backup in case a sightseeing destination was closed. A good tourist is always prepared.

The Tourist picked up the pace as he crossed yet another street, heading for a destination just two short blocks up the way. There'd still be a light on there for another half an hour. That Curator stayed open a bit later. He'd always liked that one motel's slogan. His sightseeing destinations always kept a light on for him so he'd know they were waiting.

He could already hear it. This one was surely a whimperer.

© Shannon Lawrence, The Warrior Muse


Happy Halloween! And thanks for the fun theme, Denise.

May you find your Muse.

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - The Road Less Traveled & Links

This photo was taken in Pike National Forest, northwest of Colorado Springs. We took off in the Jeep, lunch, snacks, and water packed, just knowing we wanted to see some aspens and have a little adventure. Sometimes we all need to take the road less traveled.

Now for some links.

Accepting Submissions:

Vestal Review's current submission window closes November 30. They take flash fiction up to 500 words. It must have a plot. Cash payment differs according to length. Most genres accepted.

Wolf Willow Journal is accepting poetry, flash fiction, short stories, creative non-fiction, photography, and artwork. Their focus is literary, but they'll look at other genres. Deadline is November 30 for the winter issue with the theme "liminal space(s)." Flat fee depends upon type of submission.

Vine Leaves Literary Journal is in their January issue submission period through November 30. They take prose, poetry, artwork, and photography. Pays $5 U.S. for each acceptance. I highly recommend reading a free issue on their website. It's a fantastic journal.

Crossed Genres Magazine will be closing for their Unresolved Sexual Tension themed issue on October 31, and opening for their Conspiracy themed issue November 1-30. Must have elements of sci-fi and/or fantasy mixed with the current theme. Pays 5 cents per word.

Solarwyrm Press is putting together an anthology of short fiction with the theme "precocious children in adult stories." Deadline November 30. Will pay a flat fee of $50 per story if successfully funded via Indigogo.

World Weaver Press has two anthologies closing for submissions November 30 (one due to an extended deadline). They're seeking stories about the fae and Krampus (who punishes naughty kids as the sidekick of St. Nicholas). Flat rate payment of $10, plus a paperback contributor copy.

A River & Sound Review closes for submissions for this reading period November 30. They accept poetry, short fiction, non-fiction, and humor. Pays $25 for poetry, $50 for prose.

Fringeworks has extended the deadline on their Jack the Ripper anthology, Catch Me When You Can. New deadline is November 30. They want original stories about Jack that make the reader think. Pays in royalties.

Are you a woman who has already published in science fiction? Alex Dally MacFarlane is seeking reprints for the Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women. Deadline November 30. Pays up to 2 cents per word.

Blog Stuff:

Denise Covey's WEP (Write...Edit...Publish) Bloghop is today. Halloween themed! I will be posting mine tomorrow, because that's Halloween and I just can't help myself. I believe she also has information up for her November theme.

Misha Gericke is inviting others to join her with a Five Year Project. Do you have an insane goal you're hoping to achieve as a writer? Join this group and support others who have similarly insane goals.

Of Interest:

Morgan Media opened recently, providing author services, such as e-book formatting, cover art, and book trailers.

Have you journeyed the road less traveled lately? What did you do? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share? Any good news?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Top Ten Truly Terrifying Things We Should Worry About Instead of Vampires

Why do we love horror so much? Because it's escapism of the safe kind. Heck, it's even safer than, say, roller coasters when you consider there is a mortality rate for roller coaster riders, a supposedly "safe" way to face fear and get an adrenaline rush. I'm pretty sure horror movies haven't killed anyone, at least not directly, so we're going to go with that. (Whoops...I may soon be proven wrong on that one.)

This being Halloween week, I figured I would address the things in real life that are actually frightening. See, I love critter horror stories as much as the next person, and I've been thinking I should just become a cryptozoologist so I can go out and have all the fun. However, my true horror love is real-life terror. The scares that give me the biggest fear-thrills are things that could really happen. My personal focus tends to be on the human component: serial killers. Yes, I'm fascinated by human depravity, because it seems to me we all have this capacity within us. Some embrace it, some fight it, some have it so well hidden they don't even know it's there. But we all possess the ability to lose our ever-loving minds and go psycho on someone else. Some of us more than others.

There are plenty of things for us to truly be afraid of. Here's a partial list, in no particular order:

10. Nature. While watching footage of something like Hurricane Katrina or the Waldo Canyon Fire, do you ever find yourself smugly thinking to yourself that you've chosen a safe place and all us idiots should just move out of the danger zone? I'm pretty certain I can say most of us in the Springs considered ourselves pretty darned safe. We've gone decades without any major natural disasters, and we had crappy planning in place due to the belief that this was a safe area. I think Mother Nature resented this complacency, so in the last few years she started throwing us a few curve balls: Waldo Canyon Fire; Black Forest Fire; Manitou flooding; a hail storm that caused major damage and had to be plowed up due to the insane depth; flooding in the eastern part of the city; a bloody tornado ON TOP OF PIKES PEAK, a mountain that is over 14,000 feet high; funnel clouds over the western part of the city on 4th of July a couple years ago; a tornado touching down on Academy Boulevard, a major thoroughfare in the city, that same 4th of July. Add to that the fact that we have minor earthquakes that occur along the mountains (minor enough we're not physically aware of them), dormant volcanoes along the front range, and the perfect setup for sinkholes galore, and...OH MY GOD, WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!

Having said that, we are actually a really safe place. One that doesn't have a cyclical set of horrors that hit us each year. We're not part of tornado alley, we don't get tsunamis or hurricanes, we aren't exposed to mega-earthquakes, the ocean is not going to swallow us anytime soon, we rarely get major blizzards, so on and so forth. We ALL live in an area that is prone to some sort of natural disaster, even if it has been years since the last similar disaster. For instance, the flooding recently experienced in central Colorado last happened almost forty years ago. Long enough that people had no idea this was a possible issue unless they were in the area at the time, but recently enough that people living here had experienced it once before. Estes Park has flooded before, and it will flood again, despite safety measures put into place. Nature is as nature does. The gorgeous natural formations we enjoy so much were created by upheavals in nature. This earth was formed before we lived on it, with cycles we have no control over. Forests burn to clean themselves up and make way for new growth. Hurricanes occur due to heating of the ocean's currents. Everything has a reason for being, and here we stand in the middle of it all, with no way to defeat it, as much as we like to pretend we've got it down.

We won't even discuss insect infestations. What we will discuss is...

9. Nature, the Second Coming. What I mean by this is things that prey upon us. I'm not counting germs at this point. We'll get to those later. What I'm counting are those now infamous creatures that swim up urethras when you pee in the water (fella's...) and are attracted to blood in the water (ladies...). When we step out of our air-tight safety bubbles (oh wait, most of us don't have those?), we are exposed to all kinds of living things that want to kill us. And while, yes, large predators fit into this category, I figure they're usually the least of our worries. This from someone who lives in the wildland-urban interface. In this neighborhood, it is not unusual to find a mountain lion's deer kill, hear packs of coyotes yipping as they chase down an escaped dog, walk under a tree only to find there's a bear up there with her cubs, hear the rattle of a frightened rattlesnake warning us off, watch an owl carry off a cat from someone's yard, so on and so forth. That's life around here, and those of us who've lived in the area for awhile accept that (and we by golly keep our pets inside). But what really scares me are those stories I hear about, say a blowfly laying its eggs in your ear canal, then those maggots working their way deeper and deeper until they infiltrate your brain. Or what about those brain-eating amoebas? I'm prone to sinus infections, but I've learned that I can head them off with what I refer to as the holy trinity: Mucinex, Sudafed, and sinus lavage (neti-pot, sinus wash, whatever you want to call it). But that last one can KILL you if you don't boil the water first. Ask the man on the east coast who died from using a neti-pot, only to have a brain-eating guessed it...EAT HIS BRAIN! They're like zombie bugs. Who needs to fear the zombie apocalypse? It's already here, and it's microscopic!

8. The Plague. Here's where we get really microscopic. Viruses and bacteria wipe out millions of people. The Black Death swept across Europe, killing between 75 and 200 million people. These things are constantly multiplying and mutating. Right when we think we have okay control over one scourge, another one breaks out, this time paired with monkey, bird, or swine DNA. They find new incubators. They develop new strains and new resistances. We have MRSA and other diseases that stand up to our best antibiotics. We will never, ever escape every little tiny cellular level murderer that comes our way, no matter how many vaccinations we pump into our kids. Nature is a bitch, and she wins. All we can do is scurry to keep up as best we can.

H.H. Holmes
By Postdlf [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
7. Psychos. Yep, I just said it. Know why? I don't have a Ph.D., so I can call them psychos if I want to. Serial killers, spree killers, twisted mother effers that delight in killing others, often in the most horrible ways imaginable (and unimaginable.) The worst part about these folks? They blend in. We have not been able to really study psycho-/sociopaths, because the REALLY smart ones DON'T GET CAUGHT. Get that? The ones we're questioning in prison, even the ones with high IQ's, were just the ones we caught. There are countless homicidal maniacs out there who have eluded the law and always will. Profilers base their knowledge of murderers off the ones they've been able to actually interview. Again, those are the ones who slipped up and got caught. I posted about the Original Night Stalker during the A-to-Z. Never caught. Zodiac Killer? Never caught. Jack the Ripper? Never caught. And our most frightening killers frequently go undetected, because they defy patterns, move around to different states/countries, etc. Think of how many out there have committed multiple awful crimes that have never been put together with their counterparts. Think of how high their body counts might be. Now consider your neighbors. All friendly, you say? You all get together, are all members of the neighborhood watch? Upstanding citizens? Well, read interviews about how well liked Ted Bundy was. John Wayne Gacy? A pillar of the community. Look up H.H. Holmes; he was a who built his very own torture house during the Chicago World's Fair of 1893.

By Mohamed Ibrahim,
6. Vehicles. Speaking of high mortality rates, let's talk about our cars, shall we? Over 30,000 people die in car accidents each year. (Interestingly, the numbers are decreasing over time.) That's just the ones who die, mind you. There are over 6 million car accidents each year, with about 3 million injuries resulting. Planes crash, boats sink, people fall off tractors. I think you get the picture here.

5. Our own clumsiness. The CDC reports over 120,000 unintentional injury deaths per year in the U.S. alone. People fall down stairs, trip and slam their heads into counters, fall out of bed and crack their heads on nightstands, fall into holes, drown in hot tubs and baths, cut themselves with power tools and bleed to death, and more. You could walk under a falling piano today. It's out of your hands.

4. Space murder. If you listen to the paranoid, space is trying to kill us all the time. Killer comets, hungry meteorites, space debris, solar flares. Space is jealous that we're so pretty, what with our lovely blue jewel of a water-bearing planet and all. It's angry. It wants to eat Earth's face off. We don't know what's out there. Aliens? Maybe. They're already experimenting on us to find all our weaknesses. I figure those weaknesses should be fairly obvious, considering we're so easy to kidnap from our own beds or on back roads in the middle of the night. Come on! What killed the dinosaurs? Could it have been something falling out of space? Maybe. How many times have we gotten lucky when a huge piece of space murder has made it through our atmosphere and hit unpopulated areas? Seen Starman? That crater really exists. Ask Siberia about catastrophic space injuries they've suffered (look up the Tunguska Event.) Stuff is constantly penetrating our atmosphere in the hopes of finally being the space monster that gets to wipe us out. Beware the skies, for they bring a fiery death our way. Woooooo-ooo-oo. Oh, sorry, cough, cough.

By Tvanbr (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
3. Natural causes of death. We walk around with heaven knows what going wrong in our bodies at any given time. Cancer, heart attacks, strokes, diseases lying dormant in our DNA. (Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the U.S.) Short of developing full-body scans that we use annually (we're working on it), there's no way to know what awaits you within your own genetic makeup. Okay, well, there are some markers and such you can test for, but you don't know for certain it will hit you, or when. There could be a freak blood clot floating around in your brain right now, just waiting to get stuck and throw you a major stroke. Your heart could even now be fighting along, trying to stave off the heart attack that will rip itself apart. Any day now you could start exhibiting symptoms of Parkinson's, Lou Gherig's, Multiple Sclerosis, and countless more options. I don't know about you, but this scares the living crap out of me. When my insurance starts offering annual full-body scans, I'm all over that business. Cancer terrifies me. All of these diseases scare me to death. I don't want to die like that. I want to die quickly and painlessly in my sleep. Don't we all??

2. War. I mentioned one kind of human killers, but this is another entirely. Acts of war kill people year-round, every year. Civil wars, world wars, desert wars, wars of all kinds. Acts of terrorism could be included in either category under humans killing other humans. We lose soldiers every day. Civilians get caught in the middle and killed each day. And I could go one step further and include genocide of all kinds here. People kill other people out of necessity, out of religious differences, political differences, to save others, to gain territory, to gain riches and things that will make them rich, to prove a point, to protect their countries, and for so many other reasons. War takes its toll in so many ways.

See page for author [GFDL (
or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (],
via Wikimedia Commons
1. Our minds. Our minds can kill us from multiple directions. Mental health issues, such as Alzheimer's can cause death. Depression can lead one to suicide. I'd written more on this topic, but the point of this post was to be scary, not depressing, so I will leave it at this: Alzheimer's is 6th for leading cause of death in the U.S., suicide is 10th.

Finally, in the spirit of Halloween, riddle me this: Do you believe a human being can be scared to death? Science says you can. Wouldn't that be yet another example of your mind killing you? How do you protect against that other than by never being frightened? HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

What would you add to this list? What are you most scared of, monsters or humanity? Ready for Halloween? What's your costume going to be?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - Snookie Wookie Grizzlyums & Links

For [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday, have a gander at my grizzly friend.

This was a grizzly at the Wild Animal Sanctuary. He was hurt, so was away from the other grizzlies. We watched as he limped over to this water tub and delicately climbed inside, which took a couple minutes. His sigh of relief caused all of us to relax noticeably, probably none of us having realized how tense we were watching him and willing him into that tub. He put his head down on the side and shut his eyes in relief. No idea what the injury was, but it appeared to be to his paw and/or leg. Doesn't he have a sweet face?

Now for some links.

Accepting Submissions:

Roane Publishing is taking submissions for two anthologies, both with a deadline of November 15. Winter's Sweet Kiss is about love in winter, while Bad Boys Rock is an erotic anthology. Pay unknown.

Chrome Baby is seeking submissions of flash fiction for their December issue. Pays a nickel per word. Though it is for December, they are not seeking Christmas stories. Deadline is November 15.

Garden Gnome Publications is accepting submissions for their Biblical Legends anthology series. They seek flash fiction, short fiction, poetry, essays, and nonfiction. Pays $3 per flash, $7 per short, $11 per essay, $13 per poem. Deadline for Garden of Eden theme is November 23. Sodom and Gomorrah deadline is March 23. Deluge deadline is June 23. Land of Nod deadline is September 23.

Digital SF is always accepting submissions. They take short stories, novellas and novels (for serial publication only) in the genres of hard sci-fi, space opera, and speculative sci-fi. Pays a percentage based upon word count, further based upon how much money minus fees is brought in. E-publication via Kindle only.


Walking on Thin Ice is a short story contest with the theme of mental health and the stigma attached to it. Deadline is November 15. Cash prizes. No entry fee. Winning entries will be published in an e-anthology.

Arcadia Magazine is open to any and all genres and topics in a variety of art and writing categories. Pays with a contributor copy.

Blog Hops and Events:

Howlin' Wolf Records and Jason Comerford are putting on 13 Chills again this year. Drop by to check it out. They're presenting us with memorable moments in horror film music.

Write Away Bliss is hosting the Paranormal Palooza through Halloween. It's too late to sign up as an author, but you can visit the posts throughout the month.

The 2nd Annua Oh, How I Miss You Blogfest will be held November 8. Hosted by Andrew Leon, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and Matthew McNish, they ask that you write about bloggers you miss or would miss if they went away.

Anything to share? Anything above of interest to you? Experience with any of these publications?  Good news to share?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Top Ten People You See at Cons

Howdy, folks! I'm back from Mile Hi Con, and I'm exhausted, so I thought I'd just do a Top Ten list of the types of people you see at a sci-fi/fantasy/horror convention (though it was almost entirely lacking horror topics, despite having many horror authors there). This is not to be confused with a writer's conference, though this one does have writers as the speakers/presenters.

10. Monopolizers - Folks in the audience who think they know more than the speaker/panelists. They pipe up, interrupt, answer questions, etc. They wear that terribly smug expression that proclaims "I'm a genius," when, in fact, they often have no idea what they're talking about, and when they do, nobody wants to hear it, anyway. I remember these folks from high school and I don't like them anymore now than I did then.

9. Twitchers - Listen, I've got ADHD (actually diagnosed, not that type people like to claim they have because they seek an excuse for not getting things done), yet I can control how I exhibit any hyperactivity. I've learned coping mechanisms that allow me to not shake my leg, tap my foot, kick seat-backs, click pens (for the love of all that is holy, make them stop!), so on and so forth. But apparently there are many who haven't mastered this control. Unfortunately, ADHD makes me hyper-aware of every little thing going on around me, which means these people distract me to no end and drive me nuts. Just...WHY? I'll also tentatively add the package crinklers to this crowd, but I'm only counting those who voraciously stuffed their faces while crinkling never-ending bags of chips, or cookies, or whatever comes in the loudest packaging possible.

8. Unwashed Masses  and The Diseased - I feel a little mean throwing this one out there, but there were so many people I was stuck sitting next to that smelled. Like they didn't bathe frequently or maybe just didn't use deodorant (though I must say I saw other things that indicated lack of bathing, like limp, matted hair). and many seem to have never been taught what a toothbrush is. There were several instances where I struggled to hold my breath through much of an hour long panel/workshop thanks to someone who was really that odoriferous who had me trapped. Oh, please, if you're going to go to a public gathering (or into public, in general), please, please bathe and use deodorant. Wash your clothes. Brush your teeth (oh, hell, just use mouthwash, I don't care). Do whatever keeps you from smelling like concentrated b.o. and mustiness.

This one is getting two paragraphs, because I'm lumping two similar, but mostly unrelated categories together. The Diseased is how I'll refer to the ones who hacked and coughed, or cleared their throats in terribly phlegmy manners throughout entire workshops. I had one sitting behind me Friday night who was so fastidiously clearing her throat that I kept expecting a wad to hit me in the back of the head. No, seriously. That was grody. But other than her (shudder), there were plenty carrying around Con Crud, as a friend refers to it. Fingers crossed I don't get sick!

7. Knitters - I was surprised how many people were knitting through the workshops. I'm in no way complaining about this one (except for the woman in front of me who kept moving her chair back in an already packed room to make space for her knitting until she finally slammed into my knee so hard that I had to shove her chair forward to get my leg untrapped - I have long legs as it is, and her backward movement already had me crammed into an awkward position; she didn't bother apologizing, and, in fact, craned her neck to see if *I* could move farther back...I couldn't). They were, however, a surprisingly sizable group. Perhaps if the Twitchers took up knitting, we could solve a lot of problems.

6. Clockwork Crowd - There was quite an array of people in steampunk get-ups of all sorts. While it's not a genre I'm into as a reader or writer, I enjoyed seeing all the various costumes. They varied from complicated truly clockwork costumes, to period pieces, to little feathered hats perched on people's heads. Many corsets were slung, short skirts showed striped tights, and brightly colored wigs abounded. I'm also including those outliers who weren't necessarily steampunk, so much as period dressed for various time frames.

5. Furries - I actually only saw one of these this year, a significant change from last year. These are the people who dress up in furry animal costumes. I always figure they're way warmer than I am when the heat turns off for the evening. This year's was Winnie the Pooh. Does that even count? Last year there were a lot of felines.

4. Sci-fi/Fantasy - There were tons of Star Trek uniforms/costumes/t-shirts, etc., as well as a contingent of Star Wars costumes and the like. These people are serious about their preferred Star genre. One can add Firefly and Dr. Who peeps to this grouping, as well. And I'm sure there are others, including some I don't recognize (such as the people with bird masks, armor, and REAL bird wings attached to their costumes...anyone?)

3. Writers - Yep, plenty of writers there. There were quite a few writers who fell into one (or many) of the other categories, as well. We're the ones scribbling notes, people watching, and staring off into space as we work through plots, create characters, fantasize through a storyline, so on and so forth.

2. The Gamers - I didn't interact with these folks (though there are many in the other categories that fit this one, as well, but I'm mostly talking about those into whose territory I did not roam). There are whole areas dedicated to games of all kinds. Black cloth-covered tabletops roared with conversation, often strictly about the game. There were cards, dice, you name it. The truly gung-ho were still going strong when I left the bar around 2:30 AM. They were up well before I was. They took meals at these tables.

1. The Lost - I'm pretty much one of these. When I wasn't with the few people I knew there, I felt isolated and unsure of myself. I'm not a hardcore sci-fi or fantasy fan, and they (sci-fi/fantasy peeps) are by far (obviously) the most concentrated group, enveloping all of the above groups. The Lost wander around, keeping to themselves, hiding in their rooms when not in a workshop. They're overwhelmed. While they're enjoying the con, they're also counting down the hours to when they can leave. Well, I was, and I did enjoy the panels and workshops I attended, as well as the time spent with friends. And, you know, I enjoyed the time locked away in my hotel room, sans kiddos, listening to music, working on some writing. It's always a nice feeling, conflicting with missing my hubby and babies. Nothing like getting away to make you appreciate home.

So...what category(ies) did I miss? Who do you notice at cons? Do you fit into one (or more) of these categories? Which ones?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - Oregon Sunset & Links

I've still got a ton of Oregon photos to go through, but when I was scanning through the photos a set of sunset photos caught my eye. I took these on the way to Portland as we drove through the Columbia River Gorge, which separates Oregon from Washington. The one with more yellows was taken from a moving car, the pink one at a pullover. I just loved the vivid colors.

As much as I love where I live, I'm actually too close to the mountains to see a really good sunset. Go figure, eh? If I drive clear across town to the plains, I can see a great view of a sunset.

Now for some links.

(Note: I pass along information I find online. I have not researched, nor am I personally vetting, any of these publications. Please do your own research on these publications before submitting to them or entering any contests.)

Accepting Submissions:

Ellipsis Literature & Art has an open submission window through November 1. They take poetry, short fiction, and creative non-fiction. They pay $10 for poetry, $50 for prose. They also take art submissions through February 9, for which they pay $10.

Timeless Tales Magazine is seeking short fiction with the theme of Puss in Boots. Deadline November 1. Pays $15 flat fee per piece, plus a free year's subscription.

Politics & Prose has put out a call for submissions for District Lines, Volume 2. The focus should be on Washington, D.C. and surrounding metropolitan areas. They seek poem, essays, short stories, comics, etc. They're also seeking artwork and photography. Deadline November 1. Pay unknown.

Girl's Life is open for freelance article submissions year-round. Pay unknown. Query first.

Collca takes queries for several Bite Size series (history, biography, travel, etc.) year-round. They pay 50% of royalties monthly.


Pikes Peak Writers annual fiction contest, The Zebulon, closes for entries on November 1 at noon MT. The prize is a free conference or cash. This one has a different spin than usual.

Blog Hops:

David Powers King, paired with several fellow bloggers, is hosting the All I Want For NaNo Blog Hop November 1-3 in order to bring attention to their anthology The Spirit of Christmas. All proceeds from the book will go as a donation to NaNoWriMo.

Of Interest:

Tor is giving away a free Kindle e-book collection of some of their best short stories. Carrie Vaughn has a piece in there, among many other awesome authors. You can pre-order it now.

If you've posted anything on bullying and would like to submit it for Rachel to share at When a Lion Sleeps, Let it Sleep, you can email her at pertinax_puella [at] Hotmail [dot] com. She has a page on which she'll share a link to your post in an effort to bring attention to the gravity of bullying.

Have you enjoyed a sunset lately? Any of the above peak your interest? Anything to share? Any publication news for you this week?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, October 14, 2013

ShaNoShoStoWriEdSubMo & Good News

I passed state boards this weekend! I'm now a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant). Next up will be a First Aid & CPR class (my certification for this is long expired). I wish we actually got a score instead of a pass/fail, as I think I kicked ass, but I'll take it, anyway.

Moving on to ShaNoShoStoWriEdSubMo...

Yep, it's almost November, signaling time for everyone to start discussing NaNoWriMo. I'm not in a place to start a new novel at this time, but I enjoy the kick in the pants NaNo gives me. A goal shared publicly is a heck of a kick for someone like me who does better with deadlines. With as distracted as I've been lately, I really need to get back into a routine. Any routine will do, really. I'm sort of a leaf floating at the whim of the river currents at the moment, so why not embrace something that could prompt me.

I made a solid start in NaNo last year. It was the first time I officially signed up for NaNo and started a new novel. However, I was derailed when I found out my dad was dying. I think that might do so to a lot of people. Since I enjoy the energy that accompanies the month of November, I'm going to hijack it for myself while setting my own goals.

Thus, I present to you: ShaNoShoStoWriEdSubMo.

What the heck does that stand for? Shannon's Novel & Short Story Writing, Editing, and Submitting Month.

I've got one novel in desperate need of some re-writes (only one of my villains has enough heart, methinks, and it isn't the main guy), another novel waiting for me to finish it, plenty of short stories needing editing and submitting, and some shorts clamoring to be written.

I'll be aiming to write 30,000 words in November, a combination of the novel needing wrapping up and short stories. I'd like to edit and submit one short story per week. And I'd like to get some editing done on Novel #1.

November is bounce back month!

What about you guys? Participating in NaNoWriMo? Doing your own thing? Do you set goals every month or wing it?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bullying Awareness & Links

Today is Unity Day, and this month is Bullying Awareness Month. To pay my respects to this, I've joined Rachel at When a Lion Sleeps, Let it Sleep to talk about my personal bullying experiences. Note: If you've written a post on bullying this month and would like to share it with Rachel, you can email her at pertinax_puella [at] Hotmail [dot] com.

I could easily talk about my own bullying experiences, starting in kindergarten, when I came home with various bruises and cuts, culminating in a stab wound from scissors being shoved in my back. I could tell you that my parents, after constantly trying to work with the school to stop the bullying, finally told me to fight back or deal with it, born of the frustration of watching their child take beating after beating with no recourse on their end. I could tell you about sitting in the corner, dunce cap on my head, chin held high, after I finally punched my bully back and took him down.

I could tell you about how he never touched me again after that.

I could tell you how that experience hardened me, made me determined not to be hurt again.

I could tell you how that determination wasn't good enough.

I could tell you about constant bullying in middle school.

I could tell you how I taught myself, through sheer force of will, to never let them see me blush or cry. I could tell you that I never blushed again until after I had children.

I could tell you about the Hell that was high school, my cliche-ridden clique-prone upper-crust high school that didn't welcome a poor kid who didn't have the newest stuff, the best stuff, the same stuff as everyone else.

I could tell you about the teachers who were a part of the cliques and bullying at Hades High School.

I could tell you how it hardened me even further, to the point that I look back and question whether the bullied became the bully? I could tell you how I hurt the ones who used to hurt me before they could hurt me anymore.

But what I want to talk about is what it's like to be a parent and see your nightmares come true. To see my own child suffer, my worst fears come to light. I want to tell you how it came full circle.

When my son was in his second year of preschool, he was bullied. It broke my heart, made me feel helpless to defend him. I couldn't exactly walk into the classroom and take care of the problem. I was filled with such rage that the adults I was entrusting my child to weren't protecting him, keeping him safe when I wasn't able.

I didn't immediately know what was happening. In fact, by the time I figured it out, it had been months. Months where my son was being called names. Months where he was being hurt. Months that I had no idea anything was wrong, because there weren't any unusual marks. Sometimes kids get bruises. Sometimes kids get scratches.

You see, I'd trained my child that tattling wasn't okay, but I hadn't done a good enough job of letting him know the difference between tattling and finding help when it was needed.

My son, my sweet, calm, gentle, mild-mannered child. The one teachers had told me for two years in a row was liked by EVERYBODY. I asked, you know. I wanted to know that he was making friends, not just learning what they were teaching on paper. I wanted to know he was okay in that social sense.

They told me he was okay. Safe. Fine. Well liked.

And he was, but not by one child.

My child became violent, but only toward me. He had insane temper tantrums. He screamed with rage, head butted me. I had to drag him out of public places, humiliated by his behavior. I'd never dealt with misbehavior from him before. He was always perfect in public.

One day, he ran at me when I wasn't paying attention. He slammed his head into my pelvis so hard one of my ribs dislocated.

I began to panic. What was happening to my baby? What was WRONG with him??

It was that same week that a conversation began among the preschool parents. He had told me the night before that a child in class had bitten him. Sure enough, there were marks, but we didn't get a chance to have a good talk about it. I made a note to talk to him the next day after school, and to speak to the teacher when I picked him up. Before I had a chance to bring it up, a kid came crying out of the classroom (we were waiting for pickup). He was being led to the office.

We all clearly saw scratch marks down his neck and chest. Deep, bleeding scratch marks.

The moms started chatting, discussing one child in particular. That child was the same one who had bitten my son. Story after story poured out. Each mom had her own story about something this kid had done. One mom declared she was putting her twins into karate so they could defend themselves. Another said she'd spoken to the teacher and gotten nowhere. It seemed the little girls in the class were more willing to talk than the little boys, and those moms held the most information about what was going on.

I spoke with my son that night, and that's when it all poured out. He was taking abuse from this child on a daily basis, most of it verbal, but plenty of it physical.

Mama bear was enraged.

I marched into the classroom after it let out the next day. I asked if they were aware of what was happening to my son.

They were. Yet not once did they think about telling me, his mother, what was going on.

I asked if he was acting out in class.

Nope. He's such a good boy in class. So well liked.

Well, other than this little boy. But he has troubles at home.

I demanded something be done about this child. I was told "God will take care of it."


Yeah, they felt it was not their place to do anything about it, that this child going through a divorce meant he shouldn't be disciplined in any way. In their opinions, he was to be given free rein, to do as he would, because it would all work out in the end.

Those of you who have worked with children know a child behaving this way is crying for help. He wants someone to step in and tell him what he should be doing. He wants to know someone cares about him. They weren't doing this.

I went to the head master. She gave me the same line. So I wrote a letter. I described the actions I would take if something was not done about this child. I addressed the sheer incompetence of these people, to stand by and watch an entire class be constantly attacked, the trauma we were dealing with at home. The damage they were doing to each and every single one of these children, including the bully.

At home, I told my son to stay as far away from the bully as he could. I told him to tell him he didn't want to play with him when he was being mean. I told him not to let him touch him. I demanded he tell the teachers each and every time this bully hurt him. Despite my great desire to tell him to punch him out, I knew that wasn't the best thing to do. (Probably...) I figured the best thing for him to do for now was to try avoidance and his words.

He did one better. My son managed to befriend the boy. He told him he didn't want to play with him when he was being mean, BUT he'd really like to play with him when he could be nice. He repeatedly invited him into games and play.

He accepted.

This little boy wanted a friend. He'd been crying for help. And not one of us adults really saw that or knew what he needed. We all let him down. But one little four year old broke through all of it and got right to the heart of the matter. Somehow, he knew just what to do.

The next time that clump of moms gathered, they talked about how their kids said the little boy had stopped hurting their children. How he was nice. How he played with everyone.

There's always a reason someone bullies. It's hard to see it in the moment. We want so badly to protect ourselves, protect our children, protect our siblings, protect our friends. All we can see is the pain someone else is causing them, and we want to fix it, usually with anger. But that doesn't do any good. As a kid, my way didn't fix anything. I got people to lay off ME. I defended others around me. I was never afraid to stand up to someone else once history had broken me. It became my job. But I defended myself with anger instead of kindness, which likely just reinforced what the bullies felt to begin with, and quite possibly meant other children paid out of my awareness.

I hope with my entire being that my son can continue to apply his gentle nature to any bully that comes at him, and that he won't pay by being tortured. I watch my daughter in fear that she'll either be bullied or become the bully. Do I see in her the possibility of becoming a "mean girl?" Is anyone being mean to her?

Today being Unity Day, remember to care for everyone, for the bullied and the bullies. Remember to take that moment to move past the hurt, the anger...the fear. Because that's what it comes down to, isn't it? Fear? Fear for what could happen, what people will think, that the same thing will happen to someone you care about, that it will go too far, that it will lead to more. Fear that someone will hurt you as badly as someone else has. Fear that you will be hurt, embarrassed, made a fool of.

Let's conquer the fear and try to see the humanity in those we interact with.

There's no good way to switch from such a serious subject to links, so how about I do so with an applicable link: Find information on signs of bullying and what you can do. If you'd like to post something about bullying, send the link to Rachel and she'll post it with the links of those participating.

Now for some links.

Accepting Submissions:

Robocup Press is seeking "raw, risky unpublished flash fiction" for Up Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers. 250-1000 words. Deadline October 15. Payment is $10, plus a contributor copy.

Divertir Publishing is taking submissions of science fiction-themed poetry and short stories for a collection on the unreal. Deadline October 15. Payment unknown.

Blank Fiction Magazine is accepting pieces for their first three issues with the themes Literary Fiction, Noir Fiction, and Science Fiction. October 15 deadline. $50 honorarium for now; they hope to be able to increase this after time.

Strength From Within: An Anthology is seeking submissions of stories of recovery for a charity anthology. Proceeds will go to Asbury House. Deadline October 31. Will pay a flat $25 fee.

Thunderdome Magazine is looking for new myths and urban legends that will make people believe they're true. The anthology will be called Legend: True Stories From a Friend of a Friend. Deadline October 31. Pays $25, plus a contributor copy.

Clarkesworld Magazine is putting together a science fiction anthology concerning cyborgs. Deadline October 31. Pays $.07 per word. While you're there, check out the regular magazine submission guidelines, as well.

Of Interest:

Thrillerpalooza is holding a giveaway for 23 signed thrillers by 24 authors. To enter, all that's asked is for you to leave a comment on their blog, tweet about the giveaway, and do a Facebook status on the giveaway.

Blog Hops:

J.L. Campbell is holding the Who's Your Hero Blogfest October 22-24. All she asks is that you write up to 300 words about someone who has inspired or encouraged you in some way. This is in celebration of the upcoming release of her sequel to Christine's Oddysey, and will fall on Jamaica's Heroes Day.

Spooktoberfest is being hosted by Dani and Jackie October 25-28th. 300-500 word flash fiction based upon an image and three mandatory words.

Sara C. Snider is putting together a Halloween Blog Hop for Halloween Day, October 31. Simply post a short story or poem that fits the Halloween theme.

Have you ever dealt with bullying, either for yourself or someone close to you? What do you think is the best way to deal with it? Do any of these links interest you? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Bit of Weekend Fun

I hope today finds everyone well rested and that you had a pleasant weekend. Instead of blogging about writing today, I thought I'd share my weekend.

I've danced around this over the last few months, but I'm just going to come out with it. Last November my dad was diagnosed with ALS, better known as Lou Gherig's. I indicated this had happened to a loved one, but didn't say who. This is the reason I attended a CNA program, as I'll be caring for him with my mom when the time comes. He's been given about five years, though there are no guarantees. Last January, they said only a year of that would be "quality of life." My dad is handling it heroically. The rest of us, not so much.

This past Saturday we attended a walk to raise funds for ALS research and care of those suffering from the disease. All but one of my siblings and my sister-in-law were able to make it, so we had almost the entire family. It was a gorgeous day, albeit chilly, though the delicious Colorado sun warmed us enough to not need coats. My mom has recently had two knee replacement surgeries and isn't completely healed yet, and my dad is waiting on his wheelchair to be ready, so had only a walker with a seat on it (so he could sit and rest as needed).

Everyone was happy, friendly. There was a tribute to those lost to the disease this year, the numbers staggering. There were three different bands performing along the walk, and a singer on the main stage.

We dressed up like superheroes, the theme of the walk being heroes. We stretched it a bit for the kiddos, who were Harry Potter and Hermione, in robes hubby had spent the previous couple days making. Hubby wore his Batman costume, and my sister, her friend, and I wore themed t-shirts. My middle brother, a police officer, hadn't realized we were dressing up, or he could have come in uniform.

Here's my family (missing two brothers, one sister-in-law, and two toddlers), with my dad in the front:

Thanks to hubby's Batman costume (you can't tell how intricate it is from this picture, but we were stopped repeatedly so people could get their pictures taken with him, or have their kids say hello and give him high-fives.) We won best team costumes, even. Woo-hoo!

Here we are at the starting line:

And my dad:

As my dad will be in a wheelchair soon (likely within the next month for part of the time), we've decided that next year we'll all be X-Men, and he will be...guess...Professor Xavier. Except I know he'll never let us shave his head and beard, so he'll be a modified version. I've claimed Phoenix/Jean Gray (since my mom claimed Storm).

Sunday we drove up to the mountains to see the aspens changing color. We tried out a new trail in the Jeep and found some great rocks to climb around on for awhile. We even got a nice family picture with the golden aspens behind us, though a bit of dust on the lens created a white circle over my face that I didn't see until we got home. Ah well. The rest of the family looks good!

This coming Saturday I take the state boards to complete my CNA. This week is cram week, starting today. I'll still be posting Wednesday as usual, and taking part that day in Bullying Awareness. However, I may not reply to comments until after state boards.

A quick note, we're now doing monthly online writing workshops that are absolutely free through Pikes Peak Writers. They are typically the third Tuesday of each month, but this month, as our usual in-person workshop will not be able to be recorded, we're having a bonus one a week beforehand. If you'd like to know more about NaNoWriMo, you can attend this Tuesday, 6:30 PM MT. You can find more information here. There's live chat, and both audio and video of the speaker. I'll be online during it and would love to say hello! You do have to email for me to send you the link to the online venue, though.

So, how was your weekend? Have you been seeing fall foliage? Is it finished, flourishing, or just beginning? 

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

IWSG & Links

It's that time again! First Wednesday of the month means Insecure Writer's Support Group (or I Was Seeking Gary in some circles...Hi, Gary!).

The IWSG is a support group for writers, run by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Check out the new website at the link above!

What's my insecurity today? Well, I'm sort of in a quandary and I'd love some feedback.

Several months ago, I had a short story accepted into a magazine. We hammered out some details, but I didn't sign a contract yet. I was told I would get edits and a contract in September.

Instead, I received an email from the editor sent out to everyone who had a piece accepted into the magazine saying she thought there was a good chance our stories would not be published, as the owner of this magazine and others had gone bankrupt. She said she was resigning as editor, and recommended that those who could should start submitting our work elsewhere.

My dilemma is multi-fold: 1. I like the umbrella group this magazine is under, 2. I haven't heard from anyone other than the now ex-editor and don't know anyone else who was accepted to see if they've found anything out, 3. I am wary of shopping my story elsewhere just to find out everything is fine. I have no idea who to contact to check on any of these details.

The good thing is that I hadn't signed any sort of contract, though I had accepted placement of my story in writing (my acceptance email). So...WWYD? I'm inclined to shop some other things around for now and see if anything new develops, but I like this story, and I hate to have it moldering for another year because my publication date doesn't go down when it's supposed to.

So far, I've not had the best experiences with fiction publication, and I'm trying not to get discouraged by it.

This entry was longer than my usual IWSG posts, so I'm going to skip [M]WW and jump straight into the links for this week.

Accepting Submissions:

Whitefish Review is accepting submissions for their "Hunger" issue through November 1. Pays $10 per printed page, with a maximum of $50.

Written Backwards is producing an anthology entitled Chiral Mad 2. Viral invite only (consider this your viral invite). Deadline around November 1. Pays pro-payment ($.05 per word). Psychological horror. All profits go to charity after writer payment and payment of publication costs.

Room Magazine, a women's magazine, is seeking submissions. Pays between $50 and $250 for various length pieces. Deadline October 31.

Match Books is putting out two anthology calls right now. One for urban fantasy (deadline December 6), one for romance (deadline November 1). Payment unknown. They also accept novel submissions.

Blog Challenge/fest:

Jane Ann McLachlan's October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge has started, but I think you can still sign up.

Denise Covey at Write...Edit...Publish has a monthly blogfest with a different theme each month. This month, the theme is "haunting," to be posted October 30. Sign up now to participate!

Anything of interest to report? Any acceptances or publishing news? WWYD in my current situation? Had anything like that happen to you? Any of these publications interest you? How about the blog hops?

May you find your Muse.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Nick Wilford's New Business Launch!

Many of you probably know Nick Wilford, a fellow blogger and writer. If you haven't read his blog, there's a good chance you've seen the anthology he put together with stories from those around the blogosphere, Overcoming Adversity, An Anthology For Andrew (his wonderful step-son). Well, now he's launched an editing business, and he's here to tell you a bit about it.


With the unstoppable rise of self-publishing, it’s easier than ever to put your words and stories out there in the world. This is a great thing, and I’m all for it. However, it’s not just about the story - although of course, that is the most important part - but the way it’s presented. After spending months or years on a novel, building an incredible world and honing your characters and storylines to perfection, the last thing you want is to be let down by a lack of editing. It’s just as important as an arresting cover image.

Nick Wilford, Freelance Editor is a one-stop shop for affordable editing, proofreading and formatting services. With professional training and ten years of experience as a journalist and editor, the time has come to transfer these skills in order to help out the fellow authors I have come to love.

But it doesn’t stop there. I’m ready to edit anything; from a crucial term paper, to memoirs and other non-fiction books, short stories, articles or job application letters. Let me put that finishing touch on your masterpiece.

Feel free to take a look at my website for further details of my services and prices.


Nick Wilford is a writer, freelance editor and stay-at-home dad. Fascinated by words from a young age, he trained as a journalist before embracing the calling of fiction. When not writing he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. He has four short stories published in Writer’s Muse magazine. Nick is also co-running a campaign to get a dedicated specialist college built in Scotland.