Friday, June 27, 2014

Cover Reveal - Effigy, by M.J. Fifield

With about one month until the release date, I'm delighted to present the cover for M.J. Fifield's Effigy!

The survival of a once-mighty kingdom rests in the hands of its young queen, Haleine CoileĆ”in, as it slowly succumbs to an ancient evil fueled by her husband’s cruelty.

A sadistic man with a talent for torture and a taste for murder, he is determined to burn the land and all souls within. Haleine is determined to save her kingdom and, after a chance encounter, joins forces with the leader of the people’s rebellion. She gives him her support, soon followed by her heart.

Loving him is inadvertent but becomes as natural and necessary as breathing. She lies and steals on his behalf, doing anything she can to further their cause. She compromises beliefs held all her life, for what life will exist if evil prevails?

Her journey leads to a deceiving world of magic, monsters, and gods she never believed existed outside of myth. The deeper she goes, the more her soul is stripped away, but she continues on, desperate to see her quest complete. If she can bring her husband to ruin and save her people, any sacrifice is worth the price—even if it means her life.

Release date: July 22, 2014 

Cover art by Ravven

About The Author: Armed with a deep and lasting love of chocolate, purple pens, and medieval weaponry, M.J. Fifield is nothing if not a uniquely supplied insomniac. When she isn’t writing, she’s on the hunt for oversized baked goods or shiny new daggers. M.J. lives with a variety of furry creatures—mostly pets—in New Hampshire. Effigy is her first novel.

You can find her at her website or at her blog.

Is this cover gorgeous, or what? 

May you find your Muse.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Razed Cover Reveal

RAZED, a sexy romance by award-winning author, Shiloh Walker, is the much awaited sequel to WRECKED in the Barnes Brothers series and it releases this December from Berkley!

Take a look at the cover and let us know what you think!

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a signed paperback copy of WRECKED, along with some fabulous swag! (Yes, it’s international :))

Tattoo artist Keelie Jessup can handle that someone else has claimed the man of her dreams. She’s just not pleased with her remaining options…

Keelie doesn’t believe in the “perfect man.” But the men who are worth the trouble are usually taken—like her business partner Zach Barnes. After a string of bad luck and the lost chance with Zach, Keelie decides that maybe flying solo—and living with suppressed desires—is the key to happiness.

As a photographer, Zane Barnes has an eye for the human form, and his eyes can’t get enough of Keelie’s curves. Unfortunately, Keelie is like most women—always fawning over his little brother, Zach. Zane is about ready to give up, but then a few stolen moments at his brother's wedding have him thinking maybe there's a chance there after all. Now he just has to prove that the perfect man does exist...for her.

Also in the Barnes Brothers series: WRECKED by Shiloh Walker!

An excerpt:

Humiliation burned in her.

Rejection turned her blood to ice while her skin shrank down about two sizes too small.
She wanted to sink into the floorboards, turn into something thin and vaporous so she could just disappear.

Pushing against his chest, she focused on the navy blue polo.  “Then how about you let me go, huh?  My mistake.”

The hand on her throat didn’t move.

It should have felt threatening.

But the feel of him touching her just made her melt that much more…and it was now a heavy ache inside because he—

His lips brushed her ear.

“You want to know what I want from you?” he asked, the words velvet, stroking over her like a caress.

Keelie closed her hands into fists to keep from reaching for him. He was messing with her.  It pissed her off—and, to her disgust, it hurt.  It almost felt like a betrayal, too, because she hadn’t expected to see this in Zane.

“Back off,” she warned, putting an edge into her voice and preparing herself to make him back off.  So what if he had some moves on him?  He hadn’t seen her moves yet.  Not really.

“I want…” He slid his hand down from her throat, to rest on her chest, fingers spread wide where it rested above her heart.  “This.”

The simplicity of the gesture stunned her into passivity.

She held still as he lifted his head and stared down at her.

She blinked, not moving, as he continued to stand there, his hand on her chest.  “I want five minutes of your time…over a cup of coffee.  An hour for lunch.  I want you to pick up the phone when I call, talk with me for a while,” he said, staring into her eyes while the blue-green of his gaze cut into her.

Then he leaned in and pressed a hot, open-mouthed kiss to her chest, just above the neckline of her sweater.  “I want to peel your clothes away, learn each and every one of these insanely sexy tattoos…each tattoo, and the reason behind them.  I want to know what makes you laugh, and I want to know what makes you mad.  I want to know what sort of book you’re reading whenever I’m in the office—I’ve asked, but you always toss it down when I walk by and you never answer me.”

His breath was a caress on her flesh and she broke out into goosebumps.

Her heart raced in her chest and she couldn’t even begin to understand why there was a knot in her chest.

Author photo taken by
Ayrica Bishop
About Shiloh Walker:

Shiloh Walker has been writing since she was a kid... she fell in love with vampires with the book Bunnicula and has worked her way up to the more...ah... serious vampire stories. She loves reading and writing anything paranormal, anything fantasy, but most all anything romantic. Once upon a time, she worked as a nurse, but now she writes full time and lives with her family in the Midwest. She also writes under the pen name J. C. Daniels.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What do you think of her cover? How cool is her headshot? Did you enter the Rafflecopter giveaway?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - Behind Bars & Links

It being summer, the Littles and I like to go visit some new places every little once in awhile. One of our most recent "field trips" was to the Prison Museum in Canon City. It's actually adjacent to a prison that still runs, and was the female ward for the territorial prison. Believe it or not, this was not my first foray into a prison. My grandpa, a dental surgeon, worked in a prison sometimes, and he took me with him at least once that I remember. I got to eat in the cafeteria when I was about six or so. What stuck out most to me was that he poured milk over his cake. Yes, I was so disgusted by that, that it's all I remember of eating in a prison other than the trays and the noise.

The entrance to the museum/ex women's ward.

One of the guard towers. See that razor wire? On the other side of that wall are the real convicts.

The gas chamber, which they disassembled, moved out of the prison, and reassembled outside the women's ward.

A movie filmed in the prison about a real prison break from there. Note the slogan!

This probably amuses me more than it should. The iron horse was for prisoners to lean over for...corporal punishment?

Now for some links.

Accepting Submissions:

The current fall submission window for Jamais Vu closes July 15. Horror and thriller. Pays $.05/word. Short fiction, book & film reviews, poetry, and non-fiction.

Lamplight's fall reading period ends July 15. Pays a flat fee of $150 for short fiction, $50 for flash. Dark fiction.

Horrified Press has an anthology call out with the theme We Come in Peace. 1000-6000 words (flash or short fiction). Deadline July 15. Pays in royalties. Also closing July 15 is an anthology with the theme Biohazard--same requirements/details as above.

The Bearded Scribe Press is seeking submissions for their first anthology, Twice Upon a Time. They're looking for twisted fairy tales (see list for those already covered). Will pay royalties and a copy of the book. Deadline July 15.

Mystery & Horror, LLC has two anthology calls out with deadlines of July 15. One is History & Horror, Oh My! and the other is History & Mystery, Oh My! They want it to have taken place at least 50 years in the past and to be historically accurate. Up to 8000 words. $5 advance, plus royalties.

Cleis Press is seeking stories for their anthology, In Vikings' Arms: Erotic Romance for Women. Historical erotica. Deadline July 15. Pays $50 and 2 copies of the book.

FireGoat Fantastic Tales is seeking fairy tales, folklore, fables, and speculative fiction. Current deadline July 15. Pays $10 per story. 500-5000 words.

Belladonna Publishing is seeking stories for their anthology Strange Little Girls. Deadline July 15. Pays $120 flat fee, plus 2 hard copies of the book and 1 e-book copy. 2000-8000 words.

Tethered by Letters has multiple publications seeking seeking all manner of things. Noteworthy: Short stories, first chapters, and screenplays. Published online, with possibility of being in the annual anthology. The Bolide: flash fiction. Tethered Tidings: celebrity author interviews. The Phantom Script: poetry. Collective Perspective: community writing project. Always open for submissions. Payment unknown. They also have a contest with a deadline of July 15. $10 entry fee. $400 first prize.


Mash Stories has a quarterly writing contest. Current deadline is July 15. 500 words written to a prompt. No submission fee. Winner receives $100, publication on the website, a podcast made from your story, and publication in their magazine. No entry fee. The current three words are monkey, cathedral, and relativity.

Any of these of interest? Anything to share? Publication news? Ever visited a prison? 

May you find your Muse.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Start Proposing!

No, not to people.


I've posted about various conferences, events, and conventions I've attended, and a lot of the comments indicate folks want to go, but are unable. Though not being able to go can be based on several issues, I thought I'd address the issue of cost.

If you can't afford to go to a conference, convention, or other writing event there are three major ways to address this: 1) Apply for a scholarship, 2) Volunteer, and 3) Propose a workshop of your own/apply to be a speaker. I'm going to focus on being a speaker, but will quickly speak about the first two options, as well.

1) Apply for a scholarship. Many large events have the option of winning a scholarship to attend. People donate to these funds to give you that opportunity. To find these opportunities, look around the event websites for information on scholarships or grants. Be sure to fill in all the information requested. Also, be prepared to have to do something, likely volunteer work, to "pay" for your scholarship. That is another way scholarships can be justified.

2) Volunteer to be staff. Any large event will be in need of volunteers, from folks who act as meal door guards to people who run a department. Obviously, the positions involving a supervisor or larger duty will likely be reserved for people who are knowns, who have volunteered in the past. But there are a ton of other positions available in these types of events that need to be filled. A note on this, if it's a situation where the event belongs to a group that also does other types of related, but perhaps smaller, events, volunteer at those events, offer to lend a hand when you see something that needs to be done, introduce yourself. The more the staff get to know you, the more likely they'll offer a recommendation should you ask for greater responsibility.

Just a note: staff will not necessarily get a full ride (and this is true of all these options.) It may be a percentage discount, a single free day, or another variation. You should find out when you get a volunteer position what your "payment" will be.

3) Offer to be a speaker. To give you an idea of how this works, when a conference or writing event are being put together they will often put out a call for speakers. If it's the type of event that has keynotes, those folks will be contacted directly and issued an invitation. However, that still leaves a bunch of workshop times to fill. For Pikes Peak Writers Conference, we try to find a selection of types of workshops. For instance, we want some workshops on business of writing, some on the writer's life, some on the dynamics of writing, etc. Genre is also a consideration, and something folks want a mix of, but the wider the topic, the safer a bet it will be (unless you're attending a conference/event that is genre specific, such as a romance conference, though I imagine those still aim to make workshops applicable to different types of writing, in addition to romance.)

How do you make a topic applicable to a wider array of people? Take romance. Pretty much every genre can have romance wrapped into the story. There are romances in mysteries, thrillers, westerns, sci-fi stories, even horror. So anything on breaking down romance, creating it, building the pieces of it, anything along those lines can be made interesting to other genres. If you can work it into the verbiage, even better.

Speaking of verbiage, be prepared with a workshop description on the topic you wish to speak about. They'll want a title and workshop description. They may tweak it or ask you to make changes, and yes, they will sometimes be willing to put it together for you, especially if you've been asked to do a requested topic, rather than one you specifically put in to do. But if that isn't the case, it's considerably easier on those staffers dealing with this if you propose with a workshop title and description from the very beginning, not just a general pitch.

A note: It will likely not be free for you to attend unless you're giving a bunch of workshops, so don't give one pitch, give several. If you don't get completely free attendance for presenting, you might get just the day you're speaking, or you may be given a percentage discount. Even a discount could make the event/conference doable for you. This will vary per event, and each one has its own basis for deciding how to "pay" speakers, whether that's with cash, free attendance, a free hotel room, or transportation. Know, though, that this is highly dependent upon cost of the event, your qualifications, and a bunch more. Figuring out ample good speakers for an event is a lot of work, and is harder than you might think.

If you pitch a workshop to a writing event and don't get a request to do the workshop, know that this doesn't necessarily mean they don't like your pitch. It may just be that they had too many of a certain type, that multiple people proposed the same sort of thing, or a variety of other reasons. Continue pitching the workshop each year (or each time the event occurs), pitch it to different groups/events, or tweak it before pitching again, if you think it maybe really was your pitch or workshop that was faulty. If there's anything writers know about, it's rejection and re-writing.

In a related option, if your workshop doesn't get picked up for a big event, consider looking for ways to pitch for individual events. For instance, I run the Non-Conference Events for Pikes Peak Writers. We put on a free 2-hour workshop each month, plus a smattering of paid workshops as they come up. While I actively pursue new speakers, I also appreciate pitches sent to me. And speaking at an individual event can be a way to get noticed for conference, though understand that there are far fewer openings for these types of events than an event that has multiple workshops going at the same time over a period of anywhere from a day to a week. Therefore, they (we) have to be really careful about spreading out topics and types of topics, and not repeating speakers until a certain amount of time has passed.

If the issue is not about affordability, but getting your book seen and your name known, your best chance is to go as a speaker, not as a volunteer. Your willingness to pay for the event is going to increase your chances of getting you in as a speaker (and, therefore, someone who possibly gets to sell and autograph books at the conference/event). You pay to go to the event, but give a workshop, and you will get a certain amount of exposure.

Hopefully, there are some ideas in here that might help you get into an event you couldn't previously afford.

Have you presented a workshop at any type of writing event? If so, what types of "payment" did you get, and was it worth it? Have you volunteered? Were you paid to volunteer, or given any other incentive? Were you glad you did so? Have you ever received a scholarship? Were there any requirements to fulfill in order to get it? If you haven't done any of these things, would you ever consider doing so?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - Con Pics, Cover Reveal & Links

First, I've got a cover reveal for Darby Karchut's The Hound at the Gate

Cover by Lisa Amowitz
Autumn: the season of endings. And beginnings.

Especially for one young apprentice.

At the annual Festival of the Hunt, thirteen-year-old apprentice goblin hunter Finn MacCullen and his master, Gideon Lir, join other Tuatha De Danaan to honor their people’s heritage. But Finn soon realizes that there are some who denounce his right to attend due to his half-human bloodline.

As he struggles to keep his place by his master’s side, he finds himself embroiled in a decades-old grudge between Gideon and another Knight, bewildered (and beguiled) by a female apprentice with a temper as explosive as his own, and battling a pack of goblins determined to wipe out the entire camp in a surprise attack.

It’s going to take some fancy knife work, the help of a female Knight with a lethal bow, and one old pick up truck to defeat the goblins and prove to his people that Finn’s blood runs true-blue Tuatha De Danaan.

You can find more at:

Darby is a Colorado Springs author. My kids and I are reading her book Finn Finnegan together right now.

Now, for [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday, here are a few pics I snapped at the Denver Comic Con. How about a little game? For the cars, name that movie or TV show!

Car #1
Car #2
Car #3
Car #4
Car #5
There was also a giant Lego Batman walking around:

And Gollum:

Now for some links! I've happened across these and have in no way checked them out other than for details. Always do your due diligence before submitting to a contest or publication. 

Accepting Submissions:

Christopher Bloodworth has a call out for short stories for the Boothworld Industries anthology. All stories should begin with a global corporation engaged in nefarious activities. Pays $20 and an e-book copy. Submissions close July 1.

The Literary Hatchet is taking submissions for thrice a year publication. They seek dark fiction. Fiction short stories, essays, interviews, art, etc. Payment is between $1 and $15, depending upon the type of submission. Current deadline July 1.

The Daily Nightmare is seeking submissions for their anthology 13 Quick Shivers. 100 word prose poems based on images they've provided. Payment is $10 and an e-book copy. Deadline July 1.

Cleis Press is seeking short stories for their anthology The Princess's Bride: Lesbian Fairy Tale Erotica. 3000-6000 words. Pays $50-$100. Deadline July 1.

The July submission theme for Penumbra is Lewis Carroll. Pays $.05/word. Deadline July 1. 3500 words or less.

The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir is an anthology of Canadian noir in all its stripes. Deadline July 2. Must be Canadian. 1000-8000 words. Pays $.05/word.


Lit Reactor is holding a crime writing challenge in collaboration with Thug Lit. Crime fiction, any kind. 3000-5000 words. Deadline July 1. First prize is publication in Thug Lit and Thug Lit standard payment.

Spark is holding a contest with the theme You Are Here. They want introspection, epiphany, and self-reflection. No entry fee. Deadline July 1. Grand prize is $500, publication, and more.

African Poetry Book Fund and Prairie Schooner are holding the Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry. This is for books written by African residents, African Nationals, or people with African parentage who live anywhere in the world. Deadline July 1. Prize is $5000.

Wielding Power Publishing is holding an essay contest answering the question "Is it wrong to boycott a business because of an executive's personal political views?" Deadline July 6. Prize is $1000.

Blog Stuff: 

The fellas from A Beer for the Shower are giving away a Mystery Box of Awesomeness. They have a Rafflecopter giveaway for entry.

Anything of interest to you above? Anything to share? Did you guess the cars? How do you like Darby's cover? Any submission news?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Denver Comic Con

First, Happy Father's Day (Belated) to all you dads out there!

We happened across passes to the Denver Comic Con, so we got to go on Sunday for Father's Day. Alright, we didn't happen on them laying on a path out in the woods or anything, but a friend couldn't go for the third day and had a full weekend pass, so we got to use his family's passes. Yay!

I've never been to a comic con before, so this was another new experience. We took the Littles with us, and we didn't go into any panels. We just wandered around to see what a con was all about. I am also entirely unwilling to spend money to get an autograph or photo with someone, so we gazed from afar at Bruce Campbell (his line was INSANE), Lou Ferrigno, Edward James Olmos, Michael Rooker, etc. A bunch of Next Generation and other Star Trek cast members were there, but their spots were abandoned, so I'm thinking there was a Star Trek panel going on somewhere at the same time. So the Hubster didn't get to see any ST folks.

I tried to find James O'Barr's table (creator of The Crow comic, among others.) We never found it, though. I don't read comics, but I'm a Crow fan, so had hoped to get a comic. Even better if I'd gotten it signed. Ah well.

There were some great costumes, and it was interesting to see. There were way too many people there for me, and this was the final day, so I'm thinking it was probably much crazier the day before. I was tempted by a Cheshire Cat painting, but knew it wouldn't be affordable (it was part of such a cool series of paintings, though!)

I didn't get many pictures. Just some of various famous car replicas they had, which I'll try to post on Wednesday. I tried to get a pic of Adam West over people's heads, but it just looks like a guy with white hair far away on a stage (I only took my wide angle lens, not any zoom lenses, so was out of luck). 

It's pretty expensive to go to a comic con. Not sure I'd ever pay to go there, but I'm glad I got to experience it. Mile Hi Con, the one I go to in October each year, really does seem to be a little bit of a mid-point between a full blown writer's conference and a comic con. I think I'll stick to that one. Much cheaper and writer-geared. I wouldn't complain if Bruce Campbell showed up, though. 

Have you been to a comic con? Are you a comics fan? Walking Dead? Star Trek? Bruce Campbell?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - Dusk at the Pond & Links

For today's [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday, the photo was taken with a cell phone, so pardon the quality. This is dusk over a pond near my house. I liked the reflection of the clouds in the water.

Now for some links (yes, I'm keeping it brief this week since last week was many words.) As always, please understand that I am not personally vetting any of the following, merely passing along information I've happened across. Always do your due diligence before submitting to a contest or publication.

Accepting Submissions:

Crossed Genres June theme--Robots, Androids & Cyborgs--closes June 30. Sci-fi and fantasy (or a combination of both). Pays $.06/word.

Darkhouse Books is doing an anthology of cozy noir. Closes June 30. Pays in royalties. 2500-7500 words.

Spellbound is looking for Middle Grade fantasy short stories. The current theme is Magical Cats. Deadline June 30. 2500 words or less. Pays 2.5 cents per word.

Columbus Creative Cooperative is seeking submissions for their anthology For the Road. The theme is Modern American Highways. Fiction and creative non-fiction. 1000-10,000 words. Payment will be a share of proceeds.

Harren Press is open to submissions through June 30. They are specifically looking for short stories that have been rejected by other publishers, to be featured in an anthology. (Yes, they want proof it's been rejected.) 2500-5500 words. They pay $5, plus an e-copy.

Fireside Fiction is open for submissions of flash and short fiction. Deadline June 30. Flash fiction up to 1000 words, short fiction from 1000 to 4000 words. Pays 12.5 cents per word.

Third Wednesday is looking for poetry and flash fiction (termed short fiction on their site, but only 1500 words or less.) No deadlines--open submissions. Pays $3-5, plus a contributor copy.


Casey Shay Press is holding the Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize. Deadline June 30. 20-40 pages of poetry. Prize is $500 and 25 printed copies of the chapbook.

Baen Books is holding a contest in conjunction with GenCon. The 2014 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award closes June 30. Short fantasy stories of no more than 8000 words. Grand prize winner will be paid industry-standard rates, and their story will be featured on the Baen Books website.

Glimmer Train's Fiction Open Contest is open this month through June 30. Fiction short stories between 2000 and 20,000 words. $20 entry fee. First prize is $2500 and publication.

Anything to share? Submission news? Any of these you're interested in? Have you taken in a sunset recently?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Is it Flash, Short, or a Vignette?

Once upon a time, people wrote stuff and published it on their own or sent it to places and hoped they would publish it. When did they start defining type of story by length? Was it in the beginning, or did it develop over time?

These days, you have to figure out your word count to define what you just wrote before you can submit it. Is it flash fiction, a vignette, a short story, a novelette, a novella, a novel? Is it one of a billion things I probably didn't think of when I wrote that list?

I've seen some confusion between flash fiction, short stories and vignettes. In fact, I've been confused on what makes a vignette versus a short story or flash fiction piece. So I decided to look into it and write a couple to try it out.

In general terms (with the understanding that different publications define them their own way):

Flash Fiction - There's a vast array of length definitions for flash fiction, but it is generally 1000 words or less. I don't think I've seen anything above 1000 words defined as flash fiction. Flash is also called a short-short, postcard fiction, and micro-fiction. Micro-flash is sometimes used as a term to define a super short piece of flash fiction (say, 100 words). Again, this is a general definition, that varies wildly between publications.

Short Story - Just as with flash, the length varies between publications. In general, we can say a short story is less than 10,000 words. Just to give you an idea. I've seen 2000-8000 words as a common basis in publications.

In both short stories and flash fiction, you are intended to write a full story, just with brevity. It's intended to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. There is meant to be some sort of character and/or story arc.

Vignette - Vignettes tend to be shorter, more like flash fiction lengths. However, the primary difference between a vignette and a flash piece is that a flash piece is still expected to have a beginning, middle, and end, just like a short story or longer work. But a vignette is more a snapshot in time, an idea, an impression or a moment in time versus a complete story that wishes to convey a story and/or character arc. It's a scene instead of an entire story. It can often be more elegant and descriptive, more intent to show an emotional sense than a story.

By Hanna Ghermay,
Vignettes are far less common than flash and short fiction. In fact, there is no classification for it at Duotrope, as they are more dependent on length for your submission type, and with vignettes it isn't all that simple. (Also, Duotrope defines short fiction as 1000-7500 words, with a novelette being 7500-15,000). A lot of places don't consider the vignette to be a real story, due to that lack of accepted structure, and a search will reveal a bunch of places with their own very specific definitions.

If you're curious about trying out the form, I highly recommend Vine Leaves Literary Journal to get a better understanding. You can read it free online, which is always a great way to get an understanding of a form of writing (read it, read it, read it!). While I don't pretend to be an expert on it, or even to have a full understanding of it, I'm working on it, and I find it interesting to write. It feels less restricted, and you can write what you feel instead of thinking it through too hard. Not a bad way to get into some writing mojo.

Have you ever written a vignette? Heard of one? Any publications interested in vignettes you'd like to pass along?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - The Difference a Year Can Make, IWSG & Links

As many probably already know, we here in Colorado have been in a drought for quite some time (we are high desert, so it comes with the territory), though not as bad as California. This has caused the awful fires the last couple years. But last year, while we still had drought and fires for part of the year, rain came. If you've taken a geology class, you know that getting a solid amount of rain when the earth is parched isn't actually helpful, and can, in fact, be harmful, because the dry earth cannot suck up that moisture. Thus, you get flash floods and mudslides.

Last year, we had plenty of flooding, but one place that flooded was Cheyenne Canyon, which tore apart Seven Falls, a local landmark waterfalls. It actually ripped up chunks of roadway and destroyed the visitor center, and probably much more, but it's closed still, and I have no idea the extent of the damage.

Close to Seven Falls is Helen Hunt Falls. I believe there was damage to the road going up to those falls last year, as well, but the road was open when we went up there yesterday, so I'm not sure. I did want to go up to see it, as last year Helen Hunt Falls was a trickle compared to what it had been a few years before. I figured with the excess of water it saw last year, it would be fuller, so we went to visit. Below, you'll see a photo from yesterday compared to a photo from last year (below that). The angles are different (the falls was so pitiful last year, I really didn't take many photos), but I think the difference is clear.

Helen Hunt Falls 2014

Helen Hunt Falls 2013
Now it's time for IWSG - The Insecure Writer's Support Group, created by the one and only Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh. To join and share your own writer insecurities, click here and add your name to the list. All are welcome! Talk about whatever you want, whether it's something beating you down right now or something you feel will inspire others. 

I set a goal at the beginning of 2014 that I would be submitting to magazines regularly. I've done it! That's for sure. Thanks to the bloggy inspiration from a local friend, DeAnna Knippling, I'm trying to grow how many things I have out on submission at any given time. (This is an example of her attitude toward rejections.) This year, I've made a total of 18 submissions. I've gotten 11 rejections. I have 7 currently out on submission, with hopefully another joining within the week.  

You know those 11 rejections? I got 4 of them in the same week. That week was already an incredibly rough one for several reasons, so every rejection was an extra slap in the face, and I hit a major slump. BUT I got those stories back out the next week when I pulled myself up out of my wallowing.

So I survived those rejections. I survive each time. And while it doesn't get easier to see that rejection, while my stomach sinks just as low every single time, it does get easier to submit the stories in the first place. What's the worst that can happen? A rejection? Even a nasty rejection? So what??

My challenge to you is to submit, submit, submit! Write, polish, submit. Get a rejection? Send that bad boy back out to someone else. Write, polish, submit, get rejection, wallow, polish, submit, rinse and repeat. Whatever works. And each time you submit one piece? Polish another! Then submit it! Get out there, folks. It's the only way to ever make anything happen.

Now please, please, bring on the acceptances. Sob.

Now for some links!

Accepting Submissions:

Steampunk Trails is looking for steampunk stories of all kinds (Victorian to weird western). Deadline June 31. Payment is a flat fee of $20 and contributor copies.

Perspective Magazine wants short stories based on today's events for their debut issue. Deadline June 22. Payment is a share in ad revenue, as this is a free online publication.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is seeking your personal essays about The Power of Forgiveness. Deadline June 30. They pay $200, plus 10 contributor copies.

Inkstained Succubus Press has an anthology call out for Taking Flight, an erotic anthology of erotic fiction with wings. Deadline June 15. Pays in royalties. 

Rosarium Publishing is looking for "seapunk" stories set in Southeast Asia for the anthology The Sea is Ours: Tales of Steampunk Southeast Asia. Deadline is June 30. Pays $.05/word.

Kill Your Darlings takes submissions of original writing in June, deadline June 30. Pays $200 to columnists. They take pitches at any time. 

Visionary Press Collaborative has a call out for short stories for their anthology Alternate Worlds: Evil Genius Anthology. They want you to take a genius and ponder what he or she might have done if they had chosen to go evil. Deadline June 30. Pays in royalties. 

DieGo Comics Publishing is seeking your short stories about witches for their anthology. Deadline June 30. Pays royalties and a contributor copy. They are also seeking short sci-fi and fantasy for their newsletter. Pay not detailed.


Baen Books is holding the 2014 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award. Short story up to 8000 words. Contest closes June 30. Winner will be published on the website and paid industry standard.

The University of Pittsburgh Press is holding their 2015 Drue Heinz Literature Prize for collections of short fiction. Deadline June 30. They require that those submitting have been published before. Cash prize of $15,000 and publication

Bonus Contest (Photography):

This one isn't for writing, but for photography. The Gazette (Colorado Springs newspaper) is holding a contest for photos that say "Colorado" to you. Deadline June 30. Two $500 prizes being offered (in the form of a GC to a photography store.)

Any of these of interest to you? Know of any other upcoming deadlines? Photo contests? What's making you insecure right now? Do you live in an area with too little rain, too much, or just right?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Craft Book Recommendation - Writing With Emotion, Tension, & Conflict

I was contacted by a mutual friend several months ago asking if I'd review a new book, Writing Emotion, Tension, & Conflict: Techniques for Crafting an Expressive and Compelling Novel, by Cheryl St. John. Full disclosure: I was sent a free copy to read for the review.

"Today's highly competitive fiction market requires writers to imbue their novels with that special something - an element that captures readers' hearts and minds. In Writing With Emotion, Tension & Conflict, writers will learn vital techniques for writing emotion into their characters, plots and dialogue in order to instill that special something into every page."

There were several things I really like about this book. First, Cheryl stresses from the very beginning that different things work for different folks, so she didn't write this book to tell us what to do, so much as how to figure out what works for us as individuals. This isn't a "my way or the highway" book. She provides writing exercises that involve watching movies or television shows, in addition to reading other books. In fact, she uses examples from these different mediums, which I think is a great way to get across the meaning of what she's saying to an array of folks. Not only does she recommend books/movies, but she points out what to look for in them and cites her own examples in spots. 

Hearkening back to what I said about her stressing different strokes for different folks, she was good about pointing out examples of what worked for her and what worked for other people she had spoken with. If there were different ways to do something, she pointed out different examples and why those worked for others.

Cheryl St. John has been writing for awhile, and has quite a few books under her belt (over 50). She uses this experience to tell new writers how she did things in the beginning and how those methods have metamorphosed for her with experience. This is something that could easily come across as condescending, but not in the way she does it. What it does accomplish is a little background that lets us know not to get discouraged, that we will all find our way to a system that works for us, and that the way to get there is experience, persistence, and flexibility. And it lets us know that even someone with this many books out, an award winner, is always learning as she moves forward with her writing career.

The book is separated into clear sections, as outlined at the beginning in the Table of Contents. When she deals with Conflict, she stresses the difference between things like conflict vs. incidents or conflict vs. misunderstandings/disagreements. She addresses GMC (Goals, Motivation, & Conflict), an important combination in writing. Of importance, she talks about how to make the conflict realistic. When talking about Emotion, she goes into POV (point-of-view), emotional triggers, characterization, and dialogue. And for Tension, which is addressed in the other areas, as well, she not only discusses how to create that tension, but how to sustain it and show it in your writing.

Her tone throughout the book is friendly and encouraging. She laces fun book and movie quotes throughout. The exercises she provides are useful (not just busy work) and interesting, and she provides asides in boxes to the side when a little something extra is needed. Her examples all work to reinforce what she's trying to teach the reader. I came away from this book with a better understanding of quite a bit, including external vs. internal conflict, something I struggle with identifying. And I had several revelations while reading. I highly recommend this book as a craft and reference book for your writing area. This is one I'll keep nearby to help me when I'm struggling with something.

Just a couple quotes from the Introduction and first chapter to give some examples:

"Feeling tells you what to say. Technique gives you the tools with which to say it." Intro, P. 5

"In order to have conflict, your character must have a goal and his goal must be believable. The believability factor comes from motivation." Chapter 1, P. 13

"This is an important lesson to remember: It's effective to eliminate all possibility that the character could go back to life as usual. He can no longer return to an ordinary world." Chapter 1, P. 15

Cheryl St.John is the author of over forty Harlequin and Silhouette books. Her first book, RAIN SHADOW was nominated for RWA’s RITA for Best First Book, by Romantic Times for Best Western Historical, and by Affaire de Coeur readers as Best American Historical Romance. Since then she's received several RITA nominations and three Romantic Times Achievement Awards. In describing her stories of second chances and redemption, readers and reviewers use words like, “emotional punch, hometown feel, core values, believable characters and real life situations."

Cheryl is admittedly blog crazy. She has a personal blog, From the Heart, a recipe blog, and a blog that follows a home remodel. She guest blogs whenever and wherever she's asked, and blogs monthly at Petticoats and Pistols.

You can purchase Writing With Emotion, Tensions, & Conflict at and Barnes & Noble in paperback and e-book. 

What's your favorite craft book? Have you read anything by Cheryl St. John? Do you feel you have a strong grasp of tension, emotion, and conflict? Are you familiar with GMC?

May you find your Muse.