Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bright Light, Bright Light! And Links

Normally I post a picture of our house lights that Clark Griswold II works so hard to put up. However, we didn't take any stills this year. Clark II did take video, though, so here's a video of the lights as we say goodbye to 2014 and welcome in 2015.

My son came through surgery fine on Monday. We'll all be happy to get to sleep through the night once we're done dosing him with pain killers every three hours. In fact, I'm sitting here, finally having gotten to sit down to write this post, as I wait to give him the next dose in 90 minutes so I can go to bed. Clark II gets the early A.M. shift.

Now for some links! Always do your due diligence to check out publications before you submit to them. I'm simply passing along links, and have not researched them.

Accepting Submissions:

Splickety Publishing Group wants your flash fiction for Splickety Prime, dealing with crime stories. This is for the March issue. Up to 1000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline January 9.

Inaccurate Realities is looking for YA speculative fiction stories of 2000-7000 words. Current theme is "love." Token payment of $15-25. Deadline January 15.

Dark Hollows Press is seeking short stories for individual release in February. Minimum of 10,000 words. Pays $50 per story. Deadline January 17.

Story of the Month Club accepts short stories of 3000-10,000 words. Speculative fiction (though it doesn't look like they take horror.) Pays $20 or a one year subscription. Deadline January 30.

Crossed Genres next theme is "Failure." Short stories of science fiction and/or fantasy. 1000-6000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline January 31.

Farolight Publishing is seeking horror short stories that are too long to be short stories, but too short to be novellas. 8,000-15,000 words. These will be made into Cutting Block Books, given professional cover art, and published individually on Amazon for $.99. Pays $.03/word. Deadline January 31.

Breaking Fate Publishing wants dark fiction. 1000-15,000 words. Next open anthology is "The Dead Walk," a zombie anthology. Pays in contributor copies. Deadline January 31.

Hydra Publications wants your dystopian short stories for an anthology. 1000-7500 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline January 31.


Witty Bard Publishing is holding a Romance Short Story Competition. 1000-9000 words. Prizes include publication in an anthology and royalty shares (making this less a contest and more a call for submissions.) Deadline January 17.

The Chicago Tribune is sponsoring the Nelson Algren Literary Awards. Grand prize is $3500, plus possible publication in the Tribune. Deadline January 31.

Have you taken your Christmas lights down yet? (We always do after the 1st.) Did you drive around this year looking at light displays? Any of these links of interest to you? Anything to share? 

May you find your Muse.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy Post-Holiday & Sudden Secrets Launch

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! And for those with kids, may your "winter break" be a peaceful one. My son's getting his tonsils and adenoids removed today, and it sounds like recovery time will mean we're housebound for the next week-ish. Anybody out there have any great tips or tricks for post-tonsillectomy? I'm planning on a whole lotta' smoothies to get fruits and veggies into him. 

I got some good news about a week ago, but I'm saving it for IWSG!

C. Lee McKenzie is stopping by today for the launch of her book Sudden Secrets, released December 18. However, before we jump into the launch information, I wanted to pass along something both C. Lee and J.L. Campbell are doing that is pretty easy to support them with. It's called Thunderclap. From what I can tell, if they get their goal number of supporters, Thunderclap will put out information on their book via the means the supporters have each chosen (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr.) All you do is click one button, and a one-time tweet, Facebook status, or whatever the heck Tumblr sends out, will be sent at a specific time on a specific date. Pretty easy, huh?

The links:
JL Campbell, Grudge

Sudden Secrets

Publisher: Evernight Teen
Release Date: December 18
Genre: Young Adult

One Secret

Cleo has struggled to heal after her baby sister’s death, but the flashbacks to the accident won’t go away. With the move, she vows to keep her tragedy a secret and avoid pitying looks.

One Mystery

Something’s strange about the abandoned house across the street—flashes of light late at night and small flickers of movement that only someone looking for them would see.

Everyone says the house is deserted, but Cleo is sure it isn’t, and she’s sure whoever is inside is watching her.

Another Secret

In one night, Belleza’s life changes forever. So famous, her only choice is to hide her secret from the world so she can silence small town bigotry.

Then Cleo happens.

Available for purchase at Amazon.

About the Author: C. Lee McKenzie is a native Californian, and after living a lot of different places in the world, landed back in her native state on the edge of a redwood forest. When she's not writing or blogging she's hiking or practicing yoga. Then there's that half acre of garden that needs a lot of love. Sudden Secrets(Evernight Teen 2014) is her fourth young adult novel. You can find out more at her website.

Sounds good, doesn't it? Any tips for post-tonsillectomy patients? How was your holiday?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hike Your Way to Christmas Spirit & Links

My minions and I have been hiking almost daily for the past two weeks. There's a park with hiking and rock climbing within walking distance of my house, which helps quite a bit. As soon as they're done with homework, we're off, trying to beat dusk. On our first day hiking, we discovered this little tree, all decorated for Christmas. Today, we found the number of ornaments almost doubled. We'll be taking our own up there to add tomorrow. Here's the tree when we first came across it.

Isn't it cute? It's like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree, only this one's got roots.

Now for some links.

Accepting Submissions:

Untreed Reads wants your submissions for Haystacks and Homicide: Short Tales of Farmland Crime. 1500-5000 words. Deadline December 31. Pays in royalties.

Grey Matter Press is seeking submissions for a new anthology, Monsters (working title.) 3000-7500 words. Deadline January 30. Pays $.05/word. 

Dark Regions Press has a call for submissions for Dreams From the Witch House, an anthology. Open call ends January 31. 2000-10,000 words. Lovecraftian fiction by women. Pays $.05/word. 

Great Old Ones Publishing is seeking cryptid stories for From the Corner of Your Eye, an anthology. 3000-8000 words. Deadline January 31. Pays $25 + a contributor copy.

Chicken Soup for the Soul has several topics closing soon. Inspiration for Nurses closes January 15. Stories About the Christmas Season closes January 31. Time to Thrive and Support for Mental Health Professionals close December 31. 1200 words or less. Pays $200.

Pantheon Magazine is seeking fantasy, dark fantasy, and magical realism for Gaia: Shadow and Breath. Deadline January 31. Pay not specified.

Amoeba Ink is seeking stories for The Tomato Anthology. Tomatoes must play a role. 7500 words or less. Pays $10-20, depending upon length.  

Lazy Fascist Review seeks stories that slip through the cracks. 500-12,000 words. Pays $50 per story, $10 per poem. Open submissions.

International Living is seeking expats who want to write their story. 500-600 words.

Every Day Fiction wants flash fiction up to 1000 words. All fiction genres. Pays $3 per story.

Have you seen any fun Christmasy things that brought the spirit of the holiday back for you? Any of these publications something you might try for? (I'm considering four of them.) Anything to share? Publishing news?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, December 15, 2014

My Family's Heart Blog Tour

Today, I'd like to welcome K.E. Nowinsky, whose latest book, For All in the Hope, came out December 9th.

For All In The Hope - Tour Banner


TITLE – For All in the Hope
SERIES – Going off Dreams
AUTHOR – K.E. Nowinsky
GENRE – Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, Science Fiction
PUBLICATION DATE – December 9th, 2014
PUBLISHER – Kindle Direct Publishing
COVER ARTIST – Going off Dreams Saga Productions

For All In The Hope - Book Cover


For All in the Hope picks up right where Going off Dreams (book 1) leaves off. Nyx wakes up in the dark realm of Tartarus without her man next to her in bed. They had Xylo, the wicked Woodland Dryad prisoner until they discover that not only is she missing, Nyx’s man Tobar is missing too. Plus, another ally and friend, the Feung Phoenix Shifter and best friend of Tobar’s, Zhou is critically injured! There is a race against time to find out what happened and to rescue Tobar before those that want to destroy Nyx and her powers permanently turn Tobar.

In the Earthly realm, Eryn is still coping with the fact that she has to leave her family and everything she knows and loves. She struggles to keep the stress of the realms from shattering her realities. As mortal Eryn, she’s a daughter to loving parents, the bigger sister to her outgoing younger sister Lena, who is living with her, and she’s also trying to balance Ryan in her life. After Christmas, Lena’s ex fiancĂ© makes another tragic appearance that will change their fates forever.

Back in Tartarus, Nyx comes head to head with the Darkness that wants to consume her powers. Just when you would think the battle is over, another sinister entity comes forward trying to claim her powers. Meanwhile she’s continuing to build her relationships with her friends and allies she’s made in Tartarus while also learning the capabilities of her powers that the Darkness wants to consume and wield for their dark purposes. Nyx discovers her qualities within the quests and becomes the deity that will bring light to the darkness.



BOOK 1 (Going Off Dreams) BUY LINKS


Opening my eyes the images surrounding me were blurry and unfocused. Not knowing where I was, made me feel sick within the pit of my stomach and threatening to escape. My heart was in competition, feeling as if it were going to burst through my chest along with my breathing; it was catching in my lungs like knives.
Surveying the scene, items started making some sense. When my eyes focused, I could make out the dark room with the help of the soft glow from the lights above me. I knew I had returned. I was back in Arden’s Hut, something didn’t feel right though, I was alone. Immediately I moved my hand to feel the sheets on the bed next to me, only feeling empty fabric and coldness where I expected warmth.
My feet met the cool wooden floor as I searched the small quarters along with the connecting bathroom. He wasn’t anywhere, no note, no sign of him ever being there. My heart plummeted in a swan dive directly to the pit of my stomach, this felt all too real and familiar. The emptiness and dread, as if the darkness would swallow me whole was threatening to entrap my consciousness. Commotion from the hallway broke the threatening fear.
Not being able to hear what was going on; I crept toward the huge thick door. Carefully, I maneuvered my toes on the floor, not to wake the creaky boards beneath me. When I heard a familiar voice say “Get Nyx, we’ll have to tell her.” The knock at the door was a little shocking, making my already erratic breathing nearly stop all together.
Drawing a deep breath in I cracked the door peaking out, my eyes focused on the dark silhouette, light that was being filtered from behind her somewhere. As my eyes adjusted more I could associate the name with the being; Arden. She was one of the first entities I met here in this realm.
While it was dark and perilous there was a sense that there could be more, quite a weird sensation of both hesitation and promise. I knew there were threats possibly lurking in the shadows and yet I also had formed friendships and allies with some unique and wonderful beings here. While the threat was prominent I also felt secure and a sense of being home.
When I first met Arden I had seen her materialize on the edge of a mystical forest, which seemed like a lifetime ago. Her hair, black as the night that plagued Tartarus, and her eyes a mystic violet. She reminded me of a Native American goddess. She had the fighting skills of Qamait; goddess of war with the Nuxalk Nation. Her body looks sculpted like a well-trained assassin, fit with curves to draw any male prey. With her enchanted bow and her whip KiKi to aid in her quests, she was magnificent and wicked to witness in battle.
Arden was more of an older sister figure. Within minutes of meeting her I felt a sense of shared spiritual security within our devotion and dedication to those we hold near to us. Plainly put, I liked Arden. She was usually in better spirits though. Now her face was serious and worried which in turn worried me further and only added to my desperation.
Looking at her through the entrance to my bedroom chamber, the light flickered from the candles in the hallway flirting with her skin enhancing her natural beauty. She said, “Nyx, you’ll need to come with me.”
“What’s going on?” I asked her.
She didn’t answer as she walked up toward the main hall.
The main room in Arden’s Hut consisted of wooden walls that reminded me of the consistency and texture like beavers had whittled the wood. Complete opposite, the floors were smooth and reminded me of a clean chopped tree displaying its many rings of life. When you looked above you could see smoke escaping through a fashioned hide-stretched ceiling. In the middle of the room a roaring fire encompassed by rocks that protect the many pillows thrown about – to which Arden would resort to throwing at guests when the opportunity presented itself. Her hut was comforting and inviting; when you took a deep breath in you could detect all the wonders and smells of the forest, which to me were delightful. You could also tell that her home had been around for a long time. Arden is a direct descendent of the Arduinnian Clan, who are known as the Guardians of the Forest, direct descendent of Diana, goddess of the hunt.
Upon entering Arden’s main room, my stomach immediately wrenched into a horrid knot. Zhou was laying lifelessly on the floor. This made my insides crawl knowing how powerful a fighter he is. Immediately I started contemplating what could have caused this serious condition.
Arden must have been hurting even more so. She had developed a relationship with Zhou and this only increased my concern. Arden, the true warrior that she is, was being strong for everyone. A painful lump was pressing against my throat and my eyes were pleading to cry. If Arden was holding it together, so could I.
I always liked Zhou, and I was sad to see him like this. He was still wearing his electric dark blue pants, with an equally dark purple shirt, and with the red streak in his black hair made him look intriguing. I never understood his fashion statements. I respected him though, as a fighter, a friend, and ally. With Zhou’s New Age fashion sense, it made him seem like he wasn’t from this dimension. Tartarus was more of a realm set with foliage. His choices in wardrobe against Arden’s more naturalistic approach made them both look mismatched. Seeing them together usually made me smile but, not now—Zhou was a Fenghuang, a shape shifting fire bird, more precisely a fiery phoenix. While he was very skilled in both his forms he is more powerful when he is in his phoenix form. He’s always eager for a fight. Zhou is like that big brother pulling you in to give you a noogie to remind you of the status quo. I’m afraid this time though, the fight won.
A healer Hikmat had his hands on Zhou’s forehead and chest, his eyes closed in concentration, meditating over Zhou’s lifeless body. I didn’t know Hikmat as well as some of the others in the room, I had met him only recently, and I knew he was a healer of sorts. He was a wizard when it pertained to plants, potions, and concoctions. He was a Tobar Segais like Tobar, meaning he possessed wisdom. His eyes stayed closed while his hands remained on Zhou.
Thinking of Tobar made my stomach dive even deeper. As if my stomach detached from the warm blood circulation within my body and plummeted toward the depths of despair— my mind reconnected with another concern that had me riddled right before seeing Zhou on the floor. Tobar, he was missing from our room and if Zhou was lying on the floor defeated… Tobar was an equal opponent.
Tobar was the one that introduced me into the realm. He was the one that my heart connected with and I felt drawn toward, like no other before him. A truly deep soul connection, without him next to me I felt as though a part of my being was missing. He had given me refuge from myself, I felt safe when I was with him. Without him, the danger lurking within the darkness here seemed more prominent and threatening.
With the thought of him not in sight intensified the sinking feeling that had pressed so deeply south. It began to rise more rapidly back up. I had to place my hand over my mouth to reel in my senses.
Arden kneeled down next to Zhou as closely as she could. She gently brushed her cheek against his in an intimate gesture. The room felt as if all the oxygen leaving vacuumed sealed the room, extinguishing the fire, and even the warm inside my body as I felt a sudden chill. Suffocating, I watched as she then placed her lips upon his with a soft wanting kiss. Arden’s eyes began to fill with emotion. I felt for her, as the tears sparkling against her skin escaped their confines and splashed against Zhou’s skin below. She placed her hands on his as she prayed silently.
Seeing her in such distress only made the situation feel more dire. I too bowed my head and closing my eyes.
Desperately I began to pray for Tobar’s safety and Zhou’s recovery. Please Lord, deliver Tobar back to us safely and lay your healing hands upon Zhou; as we so desperately need You now. I pray for those that have made their move against us. They’ll wish they had never been in existence once I finish with them…
My concentration broke off when Avlov and Enki joined us then. They both had bowls in their hands that contained some healing elements. Enki took Avlov’s and kneeled next to Hikmat on Zhou’s other side. Enki and I had only met recently as well. He was known as Lord of the Earth, meaning he had control over the elements and its constituents.
A Wieven, Avlov is also known as a Wise Woman. She has a vast knowledge of healing salves, rituals and how to use the elements for their benefit. She has fierce white eyes that match her white hair and almost a hipster outfit. I always liked Avlov because she wore converses.
The group that was working on Zhou, the healers, are much like those that wield magic. They can manipulate matter and they have a vast knowledge that helps them in their aiding processes. To watch them in action definitely feels like you were experiencing magic in a true form.
Touching my shoulder, Avolv broadcasted a message using her telepathy, “Nyx, I need to talk to you, please come with me over to the table.” Leading me over, she verbally asked “Have you seen Tobar?”
I was on the verge of tears, there was still so much that remained unanswered, and if Zhou was hurt—I could barely articulate “No, I woke up to an empty room, a cold bed and I couldn’t find him anywhere.” My chest flet like it was going to combust.
Arden had joined us and she put her hand around my shoulders to give me a half-hug “We’ll get these—”
But Avlov interrupted her and said, “I think we should get Nyx up to speed with what’s going on.”
Zhou began to stir making some noises and we all ran to his side. I felt so bad that he had to suffer so much. He opened his eyes and found Arden’s first, she took his hands in hers. Then he found mine and started to speak, weakly saying “I don’t… know… what… happened.”
Enki spoke up and said that Zhou had taken Xylo, the captured dryad we were interrogating, some refreshments for when she would wake up.
Zhou continued, “I opened her door… the next thing I knew I was… laying here.”
Hikmat told Zhou that he needed to rest. We gathered pillows as they propped him up, attempting to give him some comfort. Hikmat gave Zhou another potion, this time it was clear. What was it? How easily we were to trust. After he drank it, he smiled before his eyes closed and he was back asleep.
“So where’s Tobar?” I asked plainly.
Everyone looked alarmed. The sick feeling returned and now there was an alarming amount of pressure on my chest. I could sense something bad was coming. It was just around the corner, lingering there like a poisonous snake waiting to strike, taking me down with its dread and despair.
Avlov came to my side, she could be frightening to look at in the eye. Tobar mentioned before she was also known as the White Witch, I guess when you’ve been in existence as long as someone like Avlov has been, you can acquire a few nick names here and there.
She offered me some tea but I refused it, especially since I know how loopy her tea could make me feel. No doubt she added a little something extra to the liquid concoctions to help ease the soul in times of stress or high anxiety. Which would actually be great right about now but, I need my wit about me.
Arden came over to me and put her hands upon my shoulders again. Looking me directly in the eyes she said “We can’t find him.” My chest felt like it burst into flames. My body went limp, and I felt like I was falling. Everything went black.


Paramore “Daydreaming”
Evanescence “Together Again”
Within Temptation “The Heart of Everything”
Evanescence “Sweet Sacrifice”
Lacuna Coil “Our Truth”
In This Moment “Forever”
Jennifer Thomas “Illuminations”
Jennifer Thomas “Secrets”
Jennifer Thomas “Etude for the Dreamer”
Within Temptation “The Silent Force”



Lacuna Coil “Soul Inmate”
Evanescence “My Heart Is Broken”
Within Temptation “The Howling”
Evanescence “Tourniquet”
Fireflight “Stand Up”
Lacuna Coil “Trip the Darkness”
In This Moment “Lost At Sea”
Within Temptation “Stairway to the Skies”
Evanescence “All That I’m Living For”
Evanescence “Snow White Queen”



For All In The Hope - Character Katheryn (Eryn)

In the mortal realm of Earth, she’s known as Katheryn, Eryn for short. She works within the local school system which means she doesn’t get paid as much as she should. Living on a tight budget, she recruited her younger sister Lean to move in with her. Eryn also has a dog named Bryan and an old fat cat named Smokie. She’s never been too lucky in love but, recently she found a man that isn’t put off by her distance; not to mention Lena really pushes for her older sister to loosen up more.
Within her alternative realm of Tartarus she’s known as Nyx, an evolving powerful deity. She’s been quested with fighting the darkness within a realm seething to consume her. She has a group of guardians with powers of their own to help her as well in particular the man whom from the start, an electrical spark that ignited their passion. Nyx is a survivor she’ll fight for what she believes in and for those that she cares for. She’s definitely someone you want in your corner.

For All In The Hope - Tobar

Before he disappeared, Tobar was a Segais, he had powers of a particular kind; he knew everything. His friends in Tartarus teased him that he was a “Mr. Know-it-all”. This always was useful with the woman that he loves, Nyx. He has a gentle soul and someone you would definitely want to cuddle with. However, after he’s taken his world changes when Lilith and Xylo nearly mutilate him turning him for their own dark purposes. With his new vampirism needs, things get complicated quickly. One good thing, now both Tobar and Nyx are immortal but, with immortality comes other obstacles of their own.

To learn more about the various characters visit



K.E. lives in Maryland, which she refers to as “The Land of Mary”, with her faithful guard dog Bryan, her supportive parents, and their little brat-dog Sampson. She has deep-rooted morals and is very faithful in her beliefs. As a person born and raised in Maryland, she is a fan of the Baltimore Ravens and the Baltimore Orioles. When she isn’t writing, blogging, or spending time with those special characters in her head, she loves to watch her shows, to cuddle up with a good movie, or to spend time with her family and friends.

“After years and years of my mother telling me that I should us my talents and write, I finally listened!”

K.E. Nowinsky continues writing and plans to further the Going off Dreams realms as she dives deeper into the characters and will produce more content and books. The next scheduled work will be about one of her characters Arden and titled Arduinna: Guardians of the Forest, slotted for April 2015. She is also continuing Nyx’s quests in the next installment: How Otlen Prepares Eternity, expected to release late summer 2015.





1 Signed Paperback Copy (INT) 2 Ebook Copies 1 Swag Bag 1 $25 Amazon GC

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Organized & Hosted By 1-MINIBUTTON

Thank you for stopping by!

May you find your Muse.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Horror List Book Review: The Handmaid's Tale

I'm reading through three lists of best horror with two friends, posting reviews as we go. (For more information, including a list of the books, see this post.) So far, I've reviewed Poppy Z. Brite's Drawing Blood, Robert McCammon's The Wolf's Hour, Laird Barron's The Imago Sequence, and Neil Gaiman's Coraline. This week, I'm reviewing Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.

I borrowed this book from the digital library. Since I was just going down my list to see what books they had from it, I didn't bother reading the description of the story. So I was confused at the beginning, but I think it contributed to my dawning horror as I read.

You see, it starts very gently. It seems to be set in the past. Perhaps in a puritan household. I wasn't sure. All I knew was that this woman was not someone from modern times. I was beginning to wonder what form the horror would take in this book. The title certainly didn't make it clear to me.

We follow her through some mundane chores, such as going to a market where, instead of currency, bits of paper with images on them (eggs, chicken) are handed over in exchange for the items pictured on them. The signs outside the stores have no words, only those same images. The POV character has to travel to market with another woman dressed the same as her: simple red dress, white hat with wings. They must walk through checkpoints guarded by heavily armed men.

Wait. Heavily armed men? This can't be set in the past I was thinking of.

The only conversation these women are allowed to carry on is one of simplicity. There is no real exchange of information. Weather and blessings. The POV character is concerned about responding in the correct way. She fears what will happen if she does not. They are being watched.

In fact, all interactions are suffused, filtered, simple, basic. Her very existence is quiet, dull. She's trapped in the house of a man known only as the Commander. Also in that house are the Commander's wife, a male chauffeur, and two women she refers to as Marthas. These Marthas are the women who cook and clean for the household. They actually have individual names, which is more than can be said for our handmaid. 

When she meets up with her partner to walk to town, the partner's name is Ofglen, which I at first took to just be an odd name. But then we meet Ofwarren. And we discover our POV character is Offred. These aren't names. These are possessives. These women have been stripped of their names. They have become belongings. 

Everyone seems to greet the handmaids with a certain amount of scorn, disdain. The wife of the house resents her. The Marthas are inconvenienced by her presence. The man of the house doesn't speak to her, and the chauffeur isn't allowed to.

The details in this book are insidious. At first they appear to be tame, something from a simpler time. But no, this book is set in the near future, not the past. It shows a dystopian future for women, a massive step backwards. And how this comes about is terrifying in its swiftness and simplicity. This isn't a product of decades, but instead just a few years. 

To me, part of the horror of it all was the calm way in which the POV character takes it all. How she expresses the way things are now. The way she takes it with such grace. Eventually, the cracks start to show, and we see the grief, anger, and hope underneath it all. We see the lengths to which women as a whole will go to in order to survive. Their malleability and resourcefulness.

What we also see is how deeply people can delude themselves. How easy it is for an idea to catch on, to seep into people's minds. How an act of such terrifying consequences can slip below the radar and be seen as the right answer. Salvation. 

We see how easy it is for women to become possessions, and for everyone to look the other way. 

There are a lot of details I'm not putting in here because I think they give away too much of the story. I want anyone reading this to be able to see things develop as I did. To get that creeping sense of repulsion at what has happened to this woman. To be surprised where I was. Part of me wants to lay it all out there, to talk about it. It's a disturbing book in its simplicity. Beautifully woven to allow the horror to seep in, to dawn on you in tiny bits and pieces. To process something you've been reading about in one way and come out the other side where the reality of it awaits. That's the beauty of this novel. 

I want you to discover what a handmaid's duty is, what she is to society. What all women are to society. And I want you to see how it all came to be. 

Friends have been telling me I should be reading Margaret Atwood for years. I just never got around to it. I plan on remedying that soon. I've spent more time scrambling to catch up after reading way longer than I intended with this book. It made me hungry for the why and how. As far as action, the pacing is slow, but it doesn't read that way. And for those who don't like monsters or gore, this has none of that. I'd classify it as more dystopian than horror, but I still enjoyed it, and I still found it frightening. 

I can certainly see why this one made the list.

I think I'll be reviewing The Cipher, by Kathe Koja next.

Have you read The Handmaid's Tale? Did it make an impression on you? Did you enjoy it or hate it? What other Atwood books would you recommend to someone just discovering her?

May you find your Muse. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Glorious Sunsets & Links

We've had some lovely sunsets recently. Of course, I never seem to have my real camera when they hit, but I got a few decent ones with my cell phone. There was one that lit the entire sky deep orange, but I was driving at the time.

The first photo is November 25; the next three are last night.

Now for some links.

Accepting Submissions:

Bundoran Press is seeking science fiction stories for Second Contacts, an anthology. They want to hear what happens fifty years after first contact. 3500-6500 words preferred, but they'll take up to 10,000. Pays $.02/word. Deadline January 15.

Jamais Vu is currently open to short stories, poetry, nonfiction, book reviews, and film reviews. Short fiction should be 2000-4000 words. Pays $.05/word. This submission window closes January 15.

LampLight Quarterly is open for submissions. Flash fiction up to 1000 words or short fiction between 2000 and 7000 words. Pays $50 for flash, $150 for short. Deadline January 15.

It's Really 10 Months is seeking stories about pregnancy for an anthology. 1000-2000 words. Payment will be $100. Deadline January 15.

TTA Press has three publications seeking short stories. Interzone publishes science fiction and fantasy; Black Static publishes horror and dark fantasy; Crimewave publishes mystery and thriller. Up to 10,000 words. Pay unknown.

Dual Coast Magazine is taking submissions of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, art, and photography. Up to 2000 words for fiction. Token payment.

Grand Magazine is taking submissions. Articles up to 450 words. Token payment.

Monster Hunter Quarterly is seeking novellas. Each story must feature a monster. 17,000-30,000 words. Royalties. 


Sci-Fest is holding the Roswell Award for Short Fiction. Science fiction stories of up to 1500 words. First prize will receive $1000. Deadline is January 15.

Highlights Magazine for Kids is holding a fiction contest. They should be mysteries. Stories up to 750 words. Three prizes of $1000 will be awarded. Deadline January 31. 

Really Slow Motion: Of Mist and Magic is a contest that combines music and flash fiction. Brought to us by Samantha Redstreake Geary, Epic Music Vn, and Really Slow Motion. Listen to the song selection and write your own re-imagining of a classic fairy tale in 500 words or less. Deadline December 15. Winner will appear in the anthology. A variety of other prizes are being rewarded, as well.

Have you seen any glorious sunsets lately? Any of these publications or contests interest you? Anything to share? Publication news?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Let's Have Some Horror for the Holidays

When thinking about holiday movies, what movie comes to mind first? A Christmas Story? Charlie Brown's Christmas? Love Actually? Home Alone?

While A Christmas Story is probably my favorite non-horror holiday film, there are other films that pop into my head when the sweet scent of cinnamon and pumpkin mingles with the earthy smell of pine. Those holiday jingles typically bring to mind a different sort of scene, one that mingles the merriest time of the year with something darker.

What about some horror for the holidays?

It can't all be ooey-gooey romances, family dramas, and films for kids.

Let's start with a little horror lite: Gremlins. Both Gremlins films are set during the holidays. Gizmo is, after all, a Christmas gift.

The holiday factors throughout the movie, with decorations galore. And in the end, the gremlins unleash mischief across town on Christmas Eve.

Fun Fact: The movie was originally intended to be more dastardly, but it was decided to keep it family friendly. No slaughtering dogs, turning the beloved main character green, or throwing mom's head bouncing down the steps. I must say, I think I prefer it the way they did it.

Gremlins is cute, funny, quotable, and, yes, scary at parts. But if you're wanting something a little more horror with just desserts mixed in, your next step should be the 1972 Tales From the Crypt, in which the short "And All Through the House" introduces you to a killer Santa (or an escaped maniac in a Santa suit...whichever.)

Only one of the stories has anything to do with Christmas, but it's one that has stuck with me for quite awhile.

Another choice if you like the idea of a killer Santa is Silent Night, Deadly Night. This one is about a boy who witnesses the murder of his parents by a man in a Santa suit. As a teen, his boss forces him to wear a Santa suit, causing him to spiral into madness, going on a murder spree.

Fun Fact: This was pulled out of theaters after two weeks, despite outselling Nightmare on Elm Street, which opened at the same time, due to an uprising of indignant parents, angry at the advertising and depiction of Santa as a psycho murderer.

I'm going to throw out one more that's more recent. Rare Exports. Unlike the others that involved Santa, this one features the real Santa. And he's not the jolly guy we've been feeding cookies all these years. This film comes to us from Finland, and it's a bit twisted.

If you'd like to look at more Christmas themed horror movies, here's a thorough list of them from Best Horror Movies.

Of course, you could always just horror-ise your other favorites:

Some other movies that don't necessarily fit the bill of the regular, touching or bittersweet Christmas film, but which also aren't horror, make my honorable mentions: Scrooged, Die Hard, A Nightmare Before Christmas.

What's your favorite Christmas movie? Do you like them sappy, funny, childish, action-packed, or scary? Is there a Christmas movie you've absolutely hated?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

IWSG, Guide to Publishing, & Links

Good news! The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond is Out! You'll find a section from me on query letters, entitled "Querying Your Way to Publication."

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond

Tapping into the expertise of over a hundred talented authors from around the globe, The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond contains something for every writer. Whether you are starting out and need tips on the craft of writing, looking for encouragement as an already established author, taking the plunge into self-publishing, or seeking innovative ways to market and promote your work, this guide is a useful tool. Compiled into three key areas of writing, publishing, and marketing, this valuable resource offers inspirational articles, helpful anecdotes, and excellent advice on dos and don'ts that we all wish we knew when we first started out on this writing journey. 

ISBN 9781939844088
235 pages, FREE
IWSG sites – website, Facebook, and Facebook Critique Circle
Find the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords,Goodreads.

Coincidence of coincidences, it's also time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG invited you to share your writing insecurities or ways to cope with them. You can sign up at the IWSG website.

As I recently sunk into the rejection doldrums before climbing back out again, how about Five Things You Can Do to Beat the Rejection Doldrums?

1. Blast some music, sing, dance, and be ridiculous.
2. Talk to a friend. Especially if that friend is a writer/artist.
3. Go for a walk/hike/swim/bike ride. Something that gets you physical and/or relaxes you.
4. Create. Whether that's by writing, painting, playing music (or composing), taking photos, crafting, sewing, crocheting, or whatever other means of creation soothes you.
5. Research the next market and get it back out there.

I was going to do a Top Ten and be goofy, but I decided at the last minute to keep it serious. And I made it short so I could hear what YOU do to beat the doldrums. Let us know how you pull yourself back up after a rejection.

Now for some links. Always do your due diligence in researching a market before submitting to them. I am merely passing these along, and have not done any research into them.

Accepting Submissions:

Xchyler Publishing is seeking short story entries. They refer to it as a contest, but I'm putting it here since it's run just like anyone accepting submissions. This is for a steampunk anthology entitled The Strange Island of... Pays in royalties. Deadline December 31. 5,000-10,000 words.

WolfSinger Publications is looking for stories for their Weird Western Anthology. Deadline December 31. Pays $5/story + royalties. 500-10,000 words.

Dark Recesses Press is seeking novella length stories for their anthology A Collection of Untimely Hours. Dark fiction. Deadline December 31. Pays $.03/word. 15,000-25,000 words.

Monkey Star Press is putting together two anthologies on parenting. One on tantrums and babysitters, and one on moms, children, and lack of sleep. Essays, creative non-fiction, flash memoir, poems, top ten lists, dos and don'ts, humor, or inspiration. Deadline December 31. Pays $25-200. Up to 2000 words.

Black Beacon Books wants your stories about lighthouses and beacons. Deadline December 31. Pays $20 per story. 3,000-25,000 words.

Upper Rubber Boot Books is seeking submissions for their museum anthology: The Museum of All Things Awesome and That Go Boom. Deadline January 4. Pays royalties. Up to 10,000 words per story or 100 lines per poem.

Jitter Press is seeking horror-themed poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Token payment. Open submissions (no deadline.) 1500 word limit for fiction/non-fiction, 100 line limit for poetry.

Caesura accepts poetry year-round. Pays $20 per poem. Poems under 60 lines preferred.


Nightlight Reading is holding a short story contest with the theme Adventure. Aimed at 10-12 year old boys to keep them interested in reading. Deadline December 31. Up to 5000 words. First prize is $1000, plus publication.

Stage of Life has a monthly contest. 100 words or less. Prizes are gift cards from sponsors. The contest is split out by life stages, such as high school, college, married without children, etc.

Have you picked up your copy of the IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond? Why not when it's free? What are your insecurities? How do you handle rejection doldrums? Any of the publications above interest you? Anything to share?

May you find you Muse.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Repeat Reading, ShaNo Final Update, 2014 Goal Check-in, & Endless Blog Tour

Today's a busy day here on The Warrior Muse. Not for any particular reason. Just because I have bunches of things to talk about.

Repeat Reads

There was a post on Facebook the other day about what books you read over and over, and I was surprised how many people said they never read books more than once. Now, there are plenty of books I'll never read again, but I have several I've read over and over again. I'm curious about what others have to say. Do you read books over and over again? If so, which ones do you read most?

Some of the books I've read multiple times include The Hobbit, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Lord of the Flies, The Gunslinger, It, The Shining, The Stand, Anne of Green Gables, Harry Potter (though this one is only because I read it with my kiddos as they get old enough), The Secret Garden, and probably a bunch more I'm not thinking about right now. What about you?



Write 1 new flash fiction piece
Write 1 new vignette 
Write 2 1 new short stories (one down)
Write at least 5000 new words on WIP #2
Write at least 2700 additional words to the above goals (and then some)


Edit 2 flash fiction pieces awaiting editing
Edit 3 2 short stories awaiting editing (got one edited and submitted)
Edit at least 5 chapters of WIP #1


Re-submit pieces currently awaiting submission
Submit newly edited pieces from above (Submitted the one short story and the flash fiction pieces I edited)
Re-submit rejected pieces

All in all, not bad. The goals I didn't complete will carry over into this month. I've got two other short stories on the cusp of being finished, so I'll have that done soon. I will be pushing off the novel/WIP goals above until the new year, which is when I intended to return to my novels to begin with. I'd like to have all the short works related goals done by the end of this month (and then some.)

2014 Goals--Checkup to see how much I need to do before the end of the year.

  • Better self-discipline.
  • Finish novel #2.
  • Edit novel #1.
  • Submit at least three short stories.
  • Work out a better schedule (this is a perpetual goal...and one I never seem to achieve.)
  • Spend more time writing.
  • Do something writing-related that makes me nervous. Example: Submit to a pro-paying market I think I stand no chance of getting into.
  • Write something different than what I typically write. For instance, a genre I don't dabble in typically. Romance? Erotica? Steampunk? 
The better self-discipline and better schedule are hard to quantify, but I do think I improved the self-discipline (in writing), but did not work out a better schedule.

I'm not aiming to finish novel #2 or finish editing novel #1, because after I'd set these goals I chose to set aside work on my novels until 2015 and focus on writing short form fiction so I could submit it to get publishing credits to my name and work on craft before jumping back into novels. Plus, I've been enjoying working in the short form too much, and I'd like to continue doing so for the rest of this month. Next year I'll have to figure out how to juggle the two.

Endless Book Tour

Author Name: Jaclyn Weist
Book Title:  Endless
Book Genre:  YA fantasy
Release Date: November 28th, 2014
Publisher: Trifecta Books
Tour Host: Silverbow Promotions


Sydney lives her nightmares every night. While other teenagers are dreaming of boys or traveling to exotic places, she must run a staircase with no beginning or no end, or a terrible debt will never be paid.

Just before her seventeenth birthday, the dreams change. She is no longer alone.

But her nightmares don’t end when she wakes up. Her stepmother and stepsisters threaten to ruin everything she holds dear. She must protect the secret that both she and her father have magic or they will use it to their advantage.

As Sydney learns to control her magic, what seemed impossible before—escaping her stepmother and those ever-present stairs—is now at her fingertips. When she learns the ultimate plan of her evil captor, Sydney must stop her at all costs, or she will forever be trapped inside her nightmares.

Dad handed over the ticket and turned to us. He noticed me staring and glanced back to where the valet had been standing. “That's Luke. He’s the son of one of my partners.”

“He’s gorgeous,” Sarah said. “Do you think he’d go out with me?”

Dad laughed. “Maybe so. He’ll be coming to Sydney’s birthday party, along with a few other young men I think you would prefer over Luke. Dillon seems more your type.” He gestured toward another guy coming up to the restaurant with his family.

Sarah wrinkled her nose. “No, he’s more Kaylee’s type. Oh! Here’s Luke with the car.” She hurried forward so she would be standing in front when he opened the door.

I rolled my eyes and glanced over at Kaylee. She was too busy staring at Dillon to notice me. Sarah was right, I guess. I climbed in the other side of the car, hoping to avoid the embarrassment of Sarah throwing herself at Luke.

Dad climbed in right after. “You don’t want to meet him?”

I shook my head. “No. Not right now, at least. Dad, that feeling is here. Someone’s here that shouldn't be, and I don’t know who. What if it’s Luke?”

“You felt it too, huh? There’s a bad feeling here, but it’s not him. His dad—” He stopped when Julie climbed in.

About the Author: Jaclyn is an Idaho farm girl who grew up loving to read. She developed a love for writing as a senior in high school, when her dad jokingly said she was the next Dr. Seuss (not even close but very sweet). She met her husband, Steve at BYU and they have six happy, crazy children that encourage her writing. After owning a bookstore and running away to have adventures in Australia, they settled back down in their home in Utah. Jaclyn now spends her days herding her kids to various activities and trying to remember what she was supposed to do next.

Follow Jaclyn . . .

What do you think of the Endless cover? The excerpt? Do you read books multiple times or only once? Which books do you repeat read or have you read more than once? How did you do with NaNo? Your personal goals? Are you on track for your 2014 goals? Do you review your goals before the end of the year to catch up?

May you find your Muse.