Wednesday, August 26, 2015

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday -RMNP & Links

I took a mini vacation with the family this weekend. Though we've got smoke from the fires around the west, the sky cleared up a little bit the afternoon we went to Rocky Mountain National Park.

I'm thinking of everyone near the fires and those suffering from the smoke because of health issues. I have family near the fires, so I'm trying to keep an eye on the new ones popping up. All are safe at this time. I hope those of you near them are doing okay and are safe.

Now for this week's links. I am not endorsing any of these publications. Always do your own due diligence before submitting to a publication.

Accepting Submissions:

Prairie Rose Publications is seeking submissions to two Christmas anthologies. A Mail-Order Christmas Bride is a western historical romance. One Christmas Knight is a Medieval Romance. 10,000-15,000 words. Deadline September 15 for both. Pay not specified.

CBAY (Children's Brains are Yummy) Books is seeking submissions for their anthology Giants & Ogres. Fantasy and science fiction aimed at 13-18 year olds. Must feature a main character who is either a giant or an ogre. Up to 5000 words. Pays $30. Deadline September 18.

Crossed Genres is seeking short stories with the theme of Nonsense. (Also still accepting stories for their Pronouns & Genders issue until August 31). 1000-6000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline September 30.

Fey Publishing is seeking short stories for their Witches anthology. Up to 10,000 words. Pays $5.00. Deadline September 30.

Pseudopod (as well as Escape Pod and Pod Castle) is seeking horror short stories written by women for Artemis Rising 2: Hecate Strikes Back. This is a month long celebration of women in horror. 2000-6000 words. This will be presented as a series of podcasts. Pays $.06/word. Submissions open during the month of September only.

Lillicat Publishers is seeking short science fiction stories for Visions III: Inside the Kuiper Belt. 3000-8000 words. Token payment of $25. Deadline is August 30 for art, September 30 for fiction.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is seeking stories and poems for their themed anthology Angels and Miracles. Up to 1200 words. Pays $200 per story. Deadline September 30. (There are also several titles/themes with a deadline of August 31.)

Pentimento is seeking short personal stories on disability, either from the person with the disability or someone who works with/is related to/provides care for someone with a disability. They also take writing from kids that does not need to be disability related. Up to 6000 words. Pays between $25 and $250. Deadline September 30.

Of Interest:

Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things is running an Indiegogo campaign in an attempt to raise their contributor pay rates to professional instead of semi-professional.

Bustle posted an article about 11 Books That Scared Stephen King. You may find it surprising that they're not all horror stories.

Are any of you near the fires? Are you safe? Any of these of interest? Anything to share? Publishing news?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Horror List Book Review: Year's Best Fantasy

I'm reading through three lists of best horror with two friends (DeAnna Knippling and M.B. Partlow), posting reviews as we go. (For more information, including a list of the books, see this post.) To see the books I've reviewed so far, you can view the list at the end of this post where I rank them. 

This week I'm reviewing The Year's Best Fantasy: First Annual Collection, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. 

Edward Bryant wrote the introduction. Fun fact: I met him and Steven Brust (who has a story in this collection) at my first Mile Hi Con. I had no idea who they were at the time. Whoops!

I found the introduction fascinating, especially as a writer of horror. You'll notice this collection is called the year's best FANTASY, with no mention of horror. This was put out in 1988, featuring the best stories from 1987. Up until 1987, horror was published and honored as fantasy. Horror Writers of America had just been started, with Dean R. Koontz and his wife being instrumental, due to a call for it from both horror and fantasy authors. Horror was taking up a lot of space, both in terms of publishing space and awards being given out at the World Fantasy Convention. When this collection was put together, they were still being lumped together, and how the split would go was up in the air.

As with all these collections, I enjoy going through the intro for the little twinges of memory I get from reading what books, TV shows, movies, etc. came out that year. And to read all the horror news of the time. This one may have been the most educational for me, because of the above!

Instead of splitting each story out separately as I've done in the past, I figured I'd mention my favorite stories instead. 

My top two were:

Halley's Passing, by Michael McDowell. It's about a serial killer (who, as it turns out, is also something more). He travels around and has a quota of one death before dawn of each day. The way the story was laid out was so perfect. We're in the character's head, and he's so business-like about what he does, keeping a notebook record of his expenses, murders, and income from each murder. It's the sheer lack of emotion about each kill, laid out in clear detail, that got me. Each kill had to be different, because he was obsessed with avoiding patterns. The most horrifying details were often throwaways, such as when he's talking about keeping a record of addresses, "because sometimes he likes to visit widows." Just another day for him. I loved the deliberate movement of the character through the story. And the way he came across his victims, in places you feel safe, daily situations, etc. It gave such a cold, hard look at daily life, and gave life to the meme going around Facebook about how many times you walk by a murderer in a day.

The Pear-Shaped Man, by George R.R. Martin. First of all, I've never read anything of his, and I had no idea he was originally known for horror. As of 1987, he was considered a horror author. He was also working on the television show Beauty and the Beast. This story hit perfectly on certain experiences women have with men. A woman moves into an apartment building and frequently sees a neighbor watching her. He's uber-geeky (I pictured one of Martin Short's characters when he was described, especially when it came to the brown polyester pants pulled up to his armpits), socially clueless, has pasty skin, etc. It was the details in this story that got me, though. I noticed it had me physically pulling into myself, squinching up, shoulders rising, during certain parts. There's no gore or violence, but the geeky neighbor is gross in a million little ways. Stuff like a perpetually wet lower lip, squishy white fingers like maggots, and the fact that he keeps cheese doodles in his pockets and offers them to her. The main female character is trying to figure out what's up with this guy, and he messes with her in ways no one believes. Her roommate's boyfriend decides she's obsessed with the neighbor and tells her she's imagining things, but those tiny details are there. Windows oddly kept open, cheese doodles in weird places, things moved. Add to that, the ending isn't what you might think from reading this description. It really hit all the right places for me as a woman who has had unwanted attention and tried to be nice about it.

I listed these two separately because they're the stories I'm still thinking about, the ones I discussed with friends after reading them. However, there were plenty of good stories in the collection. 

Honorable mentions (my other favorites):

A World Without Toys, by T.M. Wright. The fantasy element and commentary on adulthood were such fun, and the setup was immediately an eye catcher.

The Other Side, by Ramsey Campbell. A great piece of psychological horror. And it involved a creepy clown! Yay! I have a thing about people being made to doubt their own sanity, and this story was all over that.

Fat Face, by Michael Shea. Though everything seemed harmless, there was a sense of horror beneath the actual story. It used the senses well, and was beautifully written. Felt inspired by H.P. Lovecraft.

Uncle Dobbins Parrot Fair, by Charles de Lint. This story was magical. One of the few purely fantasy stories that made it into my favorites. It was about magic in the modern world and belief in magic. It left me with a feeling of content and happiness, and put a smile on my face.

Haunted, by Joyce Carol Oates. This story was haunting and gripping, because she says fairly early on what's going to happen, yet you read on to find out more, and with that little bit of hope that it won't happen. It flitted around, jumping from time to time, which was effective in keeping the reader guessing and in making the details disjointed.

Splatter: A Cautionary Tale, by Douglas E. Winter. This was told in an unusual way, with a horror writer trying to find success during a time that appeared to be the castration of horror writers. Alongside his story are snippets about a battle to keep horror from becoming violent pornography, with a call for women to have better treatment in horror. It was told in flashes that tied it together with actual horror movies/stories of the time. Cleverly done.

Gentlemen, by John Skipp and Craig Spector. This one felt deeply symbolic of men who are abusive. But it was literal in this, in the sense that a good man is taken over by something that burbles out of the toilet in a dive bar. He can see what he's doing, but has no control. Until years later, when he finds he can move one arm while the thing inside him sleeps. Disturbing.

And one that really affected me, though I'm not sure it was a favorite necessarily, was DX, by Joe Haldeman. The author was a Vietnam vet in real life, and this is a poem about war time. It was a gut punch, and left me with moist eyes at the end. Incredibly powerful. And sad.

There were a lot of good stories in this one, with a few that made me scratch my head. All the ones that left me feeling like the story was pointless were fantasy, so perhaps it spoke more to my understanding of the genre than the stories themselves. The final story in the collection, A Hypothetical Lizard, by Alan Moore, was one I almost didn't bother finishing. I stuck it out, and was happy to have done so, but I felt like it could have been significantly cut and been a stronger story. 

My Name is Dolly, by William F. Nolan was good, and might have been among my favorites except for the ending. Somehow the ending took away the wonder for me, and caused the rest of the story to fall flat. 

Voices in the Wind, by Elizabeth S. Helfman was sweet, and spoke about believing in magic and wonder. It was very short and simple, and nothing much happened, so it fell flat for me, as well.

Small Heirlooms, by M. John Harrison was one I read twice to try to get the point of. Even after two reads, it was one of the head scratchers. I completely missed the point. The other head scratcher was The Fable of the Farmer and Fox, by John Brunner. I just purely didn't get it. Well, I thought I got the gist of it, but it was maybe too deep a thinker for the mood I was in, and I chose to move on instead of trying to understand it better.

Author's Notes, by Edward Bryant, had such possibilities, but I felt like it wasn't played out as well as I would have liked. The idea was a kick, but I wanted more from it than I got.

Overall, great collection of stories, and a lot of fun to read the introduction. There are several authors I'd like to read more from, and there were no stories I absolutely hated. There were certainly no authors I'd avoid after this collection.

My new rankings:

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
2. The Bottoms (Joe R. Lansdale)
3. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
4. The Year’s Best Fantasy: First Annual Collection (Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling)
5. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
6. The Damnation Game (Clive Barker)
7. The Wolf's Hour (Robert McCammon)
8. Berserk (Tim Lebbon)
9. Best New Horror, Volume 1 (edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell)
10. Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy)
11. The Imago Sequence (Laird Barron)
12. From the Dust Returned (Ray Bradbury)
13. In Silent Graves (Gary A. Braunbeck)
14. The Tomb (F. Paul Wilson)
15. The Cipher (Kathe Koja)
16. Drawing Blood (Poppy Z. Brite)
17. The Doll Who Ate His Mother (Ramsey Campbell
18. Hotel Transylvania (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)

The next book I read will be Darkness, by Ellen Datlow. I believe it's another collection, and I've already got the notebook I've become accustomed to carrying around to jot down notes since I don't have a good enough memory to remember each individual story in a collection otherwise. Might as well keep using that notebook!

Have you read any of these authors? Which are your favorites? Did you know George R.R. Martin was a horror author originally? Did you know horror fiction had split out so recently (in the scheme of things)?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - Misty Mountains, Links, & Happy Book Birthday to Medeia Sharif!

We had more storms this week, and I caught a photo of Pikes Peak as the sun was setting, with low clouds below the peak and a mist sticking around Garden of the Gods. It all looked rather murky, so I thought I'd catch a shot. There's sun hitting the green foothills in the forefront, but everything else was getting filtered.

Before jumping into the links, today is release day for Hot Pink in the City, by Medeia Sharif.

HOT PINK IN THE CITY, Prizm Books/Torquere Press
Release Date: August 19, 2015
Purchase from PrizmAmazon (vendor links will be updated on the author's site)

Asma Bashir wants two things: a summer fling and her favorite '80s songs. During a trip to New York City to stay with relatives, she messes up in her pursuit of both. She loses track of the hunk she met on her airplane ride, and she does the most terrible thing she could possibly do to her strict uncle... ruin his most prized possession, a rare cassette tape.

A wild goose chase around Manhattan and Brooklyn to find a replacement tape yields many adventures -- blackmail, theft, a chance to be a TV star, and so much more. Amid all this turmoil, Asma just might be able to find her crush in the busiest, most exciting city in the world.

Find Medeia – YA and MG Author

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

Enter the HPITC book blast giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now for some links. Bear in mind that these are merely bits and pieces I've come across, and I am not endorsing any of them. Please do your own due diligence before submitting to any publication or contest.

Accepting Submissions:

Good Mourning Media is looking for short romantic fiction that revolves around attending a convention. Unconventional Love anthology. Up to 15,000 words. Payment is $30. Deadline August 31.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Publications is seeking short stories for their second Unbound anthology themed Changed Worlds. 3000-20,000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline September 30.

The Myriad Carnival is an anthology seeking "'queer, weird and dark' stories themed around carnivals." Primarily LGBT themed. 2000-6000 words. Pays $40, plus two contributor copies. Deadline August 31.

Sez Publishing is looking for ghost and ghoul stories. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and photography. 500-3500 words. Royalties. Deadline September 5.

Grinning Skull Press is open for stories to several anthologies (as well as novels). Deathlehem Revisited should take place on or around Christmas. 1000-7000 words. Deadline September 30. ATTACK! of the B-Movie Monsters: Hellacious Hybrids is self-explanatory. 2500-10,000 words. Deadline September 15. There are several more that are open until filled. Pays in royalties.

Shattered Prism is looking for speculative fiction for their November issue. 1500-5500 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline September 1.

Glimmer Train's free submission period in the standard category is open. Up to 12,000 words. Payment $700 and publication. Deadline September 30.


Holland Park Press is holding the I is Another Short Story Competition. This should be a story told in first person about someone close to you. Up to 2000 words. Prize is 200 pounds. Deadline August 31.

Harlequin is holding their So You Think You Can Write contest. Prize is a two book contract. Deadline September 21. Novel length.

100 Year Starship is giving away the Canopus Award. Submissions are open through August 31. Categories are long-form fiction, short-form fiction, original short-form fiction (theme: Finding Earth 2.0), original short-form non-fiction (same theme as previous category). Deadline August 31.

Any of these of interest? Anything to share? Publishing news? Information on any of these publications? Have you entered the giveaway?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - Beating the Storm & Links

A rainier than usual summer has been keeping us inside recently, but we got out right before a thunderstorm for an aborted hike at Red Rocks yesterday, so I figured I'd share a couple of the few photos I got before the thunder chased us away. 

Duck, duck, tree.

I love the pattern in the water behind her.


We've had so much rain that the pond is not only full, but there are two now.

Here comes the storm over the Rockies!

I'm having to ease back on computer time for the rest of the month due to my chronic migraine condition, but I'll do my best to post when I'm able and to visit everyone on the good days. Things should improve by September, so I'll see you more then!

Link time! I am not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Be sure to do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Ellen Datlow has put out a call for submissions to Best Horror of the Year. These should be stories you had published in 2015. There is also a section for other forms of horror that came out (novels, for instance), so you can notify her of anything you have that qualifies. Pay is unknown. Deadline December 15. 

Stephen Jones is taking submissions for Best New Horror Volume 27. This should be short stories published in 2015. Like the anthology above, there is a section involving other forms of horror, too. Pay is unknown. Closes in January. 

Paula Guran is taking submissions for The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novellas, as well as The Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror. Pay unknown. Deadline December 1. 

Freeze Frame Fiction is taking submissions for their October edition. All genres. 1000 words or less. Pays $10. Deadline September 15. 

Sorcerous Signals is seeking fantasy submissions for their next edition. Up to 10,000 words. Pays $5 for short stories, $2 for poems and flash fiction. Deadline September 15. 

Twit Publishing is putting together a Lovecraftian anthology entitled Tales of Unseen Terror and Slumbering Horrors. 4000-9000 words. Horror. Pays in royalties. Deadline September 15. 

Inkstained Succubus Press is seeking horror stories for their December anthology, Winter Shivers. Horror. 5000-10,000 words. Pays in royalties. Deadline September 15. 

Fastrider Magazine is looking for fantasy short stories. 1000-4000 words. Pays $.03/word. 

Zetetic is accepting prose and poetry. Up to 2500 words. Open genre. Pays $.02/word or $20, whichever is more. 

Tumbleweed Books is looking for true stories for their Love of Life anthology. 2000-6000 words. Pays $.01/word. No deadline, but it will close once filled. 

Any of these of interest? Anything to share? Publication news? When do your kids go back to school? Have you gotten much writing done over the summer?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Horror List Book Review: The Damnation Game

I'm reading through three lists of best horror with two friends (DeAnna Knippling and M.B. Partlow), posting reviews as we go. (For more information, including a list of the books, see this post.) To see the books I've reviewed so far, you can view the list at the end of this post where I rank them. 

This week I'm reviewing The Damnation Game, by Clive Barker.

So, hey, first things first: this one was actually horror, which was a refreshing change from some of the books on the list. 

I was wary, at first. I've had two experiences with Clive Barker: Hellraiser and a novella I read. He's a little gross for me, focused more on physical torture than scares, and I don't enjoy torture porn. However, I enjoyed this one, for the most part. It was long and took me awhile to get through, but my reading time is limited.

To give you a short summary, Martin Strauss is a convict. He gets early parole for becoming the live-in bodyguard of a man named Whitehead. He isn't told what he needs to protect him from, ultimately discovering that the threat isn't wholly mortal. Mamoulian is weak and desperate, but he holds great power, including the ability to raise the dead, and Whitehead owes him a debt.  

The characters weren't especially likable, except for the main character, Marty. He wasn't a good guy, but he wasn't a bad guy. He was solid and human, normal. I really only liked one other character, and he made it maybe halfway through. I can't say the other characters were horrible, but they were deeply flawed and selfish. Marty starts out as selfish as the others, but his character grows through the book, which is exactly what they're supposed to do. 

Barker gets the reader involved, at first through the mystery of what's going on, and then because you care about certain characters surviving what's coming. I felt like I could tell some things Barker didn't like. Dogs, for instance. I'm pretty sure he doesn't like dogs. All the characters hate dogs (except one), and awful things happen to dogs in the story. Judging by his treatment of religion, I'd say he doesn't think much of that either. And I'm pretty sure he doesn't think much of women, at least not sexually. There was something in the one sex scene in the story that squicked me out; it's still squicking me out. Ew. 

One thing I've noticed about Barker is his interest in flesh. Torturing flesh, cutting flesh, rotting flesh, missing flesh. There was plenty of that in this story, but much of the horror was actually supernatural. In fact, there were many elements to the horror in this story, as I sit here thinking about it. Some of them were gross, but some were more mental or emotional in nature. 

I mentioned flesh above. When I discussed this with DeAnna, she pointed out to me that she thought it wasn't just flesh, but connections. I continued reading with that in mind, and she was right. Overlooking the physical, connections came up in a lot of ways, with multiple kinds of connections between different characters, for instance, and even the direct act of connecting to each other's minds. Some of the supernatural connections grew with emotional connections. There are historical connections and modern connections. So on and so forth. He interlinks many elements.

As far as his writing, it was more lyrical than I expected. It flowed nicely, and there were many sections I considered writing down. It took awhile for the story to get into the scary stuff, and I wouldn't have minded some of the beginning having been cut out, but I enjoyed it once the pace and tension picked up.

It wasn't my favorite of the books on the list, but it was a good book, with solid horror elements and strong characterizations. There were several truly cringe-worthy scenes, and I was vested in the main character. Not only that, but there were spots where what appeared to be coming made me hesitant to read it while staying at the cabin in Estes Park. I still read it, but I thought twice about it ahead of time. There were also gross out moments that made me lose my appetite. All in all, I liked it.

My new rankings:

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
2. The Bottoms (Joe R. Lansdale)
3. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
4. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
5. The Damnation Game (Clive Barker)
6. The Wolf's Hour (Robert McCammon)
7. Berserk (Tim Lebbon)
8. Best New Horror, Volume 1 (edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell)
9. Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy)
10. The Imago Sequence (Laird Barron)
11. From the Dust Returned (Ray Bradbury)
12. In Silent Graves (Gary A. Braunbeck)
13. The Tomb (F. Paul Wilson)
14. The Cipher (Kathe Koja)
15. Drawing Blood (Poppy Z. Brite)
16. The Doll Who Ate His Mother (Ramsey Campbell
17. Hotel Transylvania (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)

The next book I read will be The Year's Best Fantasy #1, edited by Ellen Datlow. 

Have you read Clive Barker? Are you a fan? Did you notice any ongoing themes or opinions of his? Have you read this book? Would you?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

IWSG - Why We Do It & Links

New month, new insecurities. It's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, created by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Anyone is welcome to come along with the IWSG. Go to the link above and sign up! Then either post your insecurities or reassurances (or a little of both.) Be sure to visit some of your fellow insecure writers, too.

I'm riding one of those all too brief highs, courtesy of placing two pieces this month (a short story and a flash fiction piece.) So I'm going to keep on riding, right into a positive post. I think my last couple IWSG posts were down in the dumps.

We all know that, as writers, we must steel ourselves against the negatives that come with our chosen profession. Most people don't take rejection well, yet an integral part of our job is getting rejections, one after the other. So you find ways to cope, to move on, to harden yourself.

So why do we do this? Why do we set ourselves up for pain?

Because each time we get a yes it makes everything worth it. Each yes, each positive review, each affirmation, diminishes the little things.

But most of all, we do it because we love it. Because we feel driven to it. We do it because we have stories to tell, voices in our heads. I'm pretty sure a good number of us would continue writing, even if we had no interest in getting published. It's the only way to expel the voices from our heads. We have vast worlds inside us, and it feels beautiful to share them with others. It feels even better when they enjoy them, too.

So write. Have fun. Create. Exorcise those demons, both enchanting and horrific. And if you like it, put yourself out there. Push away the bad so you can celebrate the good. Take a chance. Then take another. Then keep right on taking them until you've achieved your dreams.

Having said all that, it's time to report my submissions for the month of July, something I do each month during IWSG to keep myself honest.

In July I:

Submitted 6 stories
Got 4 rejections
Made 2 sales
Was short listed for 1 anthology
Currently have 12 stories on submission

Now it's link time.

Bear in mind that I'm just passing these along, and that I'm not endorsing any of them, nor have a I researched these, so always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Autonomous Press is looking for poetry, fiction, and memoir for The Spoon Knife Anthology. They want stories about consent and compliance. They're open to all writers, but are also looking for neuroqueer authors. Up to 10,000 words. Paying market. Deadline September 8.

Cicada is seeking poetry, fiction, essays, and comics. They take work from those 14+ and adults. They're currently looking for work dealing with witches. Paying market. Deadline September 9.

Liminoid Magazine is open for submissions for their fall issue. 500-10,000 words. Pays $20/piece. Current deadline September 8.

AE is accepting fiction, nonfiction, comics, and art. Science fiction only. Fiction is 500-3000 words. They take submissions from anywhere, but give preference to Canadian authors. Pays $.07CDN/word.

The Baffler is seeking "poetry with grace and fiction with personality." You must pitch first. Pays a token amount.

Glittership is looking for LGBTQ+ speculative fiction. There should be some sort of queer content. This is for podcast, not print. 100-6000 words. Pays $.01/word.

The Fiddlehead is seeking fiction and poetry. Fiction up to 6000 words. Pays $40 CAD.


The M.O. has announced its new theme: Lesson Learned. Mystery. 1000-1500 words. Pays $.05/word to the winner, plus publication, and all those short listed get published. Submissions open August 14 and close August 28.

Of Interest:

Just a bit of fun. Plug in 300 words of your writing at Hacker Factor to see an analysis of the gender of the author. Yes, you know what you are, but it's interesting to see the analysis.

Buzzfeed posted "30 Copy Editors Tell Us Their Pet Peeves." Interesting to look over.

Any of these of interest? Anything to add or share? Publishing news? What are your insecurities? Why do you write? 

May you find your Muse.

Monday, August 3, 2015

New Magazine Release & Magazine Submission Tips

Hello out there in Blog Land!

Last week I had a bit of excitement with a short story coming out in Issue 35 of Sanitarium Magazine.

Yeah, looky there. That's my name on the cover (among others, but JUST  LOOK AT MINE!) <--Just kidding. Mostly.

It's available all over the place:

I already got my PDF e-version, but I get my hard copy around August 12! I can't wait to finally have a print copy of something I'm published in.

Fun fact: One of the authors in this magazine was also in the issue of Under the Bed Magazine I was in. I feel like we should be Facebook friends or something (no, I'm not actually going to stalk that person--it was just an interesting coincidence. The only thing I stalk is my Duotrope page.)

Hello, my name is Shannon, and I'm a Duotrope stalker.

Really, how many times can a person look at the submissions page without going nutso?

I thought since I'm posting about a magazine publication, maybe it would be good to go over the submission process for magazines/anthologies for those who haven't tried it yet.

Then I thought, "Crap, I don't know what people want to know." So if I don't address queries or fears you might have, please leave me a question in the comments, and I'll answer you there.

The Basics:

I'm going to assume here that you've written your story, brought it to a conclusion, and that you've given it a few reads and edited it to where you think it's shiny and polished. (Note: If you keep editing and editing and editing, stop! Don't overdo it. Sometimes the magic is lost that way.)

Format your piece to Standard Manuscript Format.

Your next step is to figure out the genre of your story (if you don't know it already). Here's a post by literary agent Rachelle Gardner on figuring out genre (it's for books, but the principle is the same).

Market Research:

Now that you've written a story and know its genre, it's time to do some market research. First, consider magazines and publications you enjoy. Does your story fit any of these places? If so, go on to the next step: Submission Guidelines.

If not, check out a place like Duotrope or The (Submission) Grinder. These sites allow you to enter the specifications of your search, however detailed you want to get, then create a list of possible publications that are currently accepting submissions. (Note: Duotrope is a paid service, The Grinder is free, but is still in Beta. If you will be submitting quite a bit, it's worth it to join Duotrope. If not, maybe stick with The Grinder.) Start looking through the publication descriptions until you find one that appears to fit your story. If they offer a free example of the publication, read it!

If you can't find something that works for you, search around the internet using related keywords until you find something. Or go to the bookstore and comb through the magazines. Another possibility is to check out where someone else is published, if they publish in the same genre as you.

Submission Guidelines:

It is VITAL that you follow the submission guidelines of each magazine. They will often differ, even if just in one small way. Carefully review them before submitting. Check the requested font, document type, submission windows, cover letter requirements, email or mail (or submission form), bio letter or headshot requests, other requested information, other formatting information, and anything else they might specify. I've seen one specify that the quotation marks had to be a specific type. I've also seen several that do not want you to have pushed "tab" to indent your story (you can look up how to change both of the above online.)

Read these five billion times before you attach and submit your piece.

Cover Letter:

I don't feel terribly qualified to tell you how to write this. I have no idea if my format is actually a good one. I always review the submission guidelines for what they want in the subject line and cover letter. I write the cover letter directly in the body of the email, unless otherwise directed.

One thing I do know for sure is that you must research the editor's name. If there are multiple editors, I typically address it to the managing editor, or whoever is listed at the top of the line. Some magazines/publications make this step incredibly hard, and I don't understand why. I've had to search out interviews or other publications by them to find an editor name. It's frustrating. But you need to do it.

Dear Mr./Mrs. [Editor Last Name],

Cow Tales is a Romantic short story of about 5200 words. Love in the time of the milk harvest can be painful, but Harvey and Delilah find ways to make it work.

I've been published in X and Y, and I won first place in Z contest. I'm a member of P writer's group, and have Q job with this writing related thing or R expertise in such and such job that lends itself to the story I'm submitting. I blog at (Or my author website can be found at

Thank you for your consideration.

[My Name]
[Email Address, especially if different than where you're sending it from]
[Phone Number, though a lot of places don't need this anymore]

Send It!:

Now, you've written, edited, and formatted your story. You've established your genre, narrowed down the market, researched the submission guidelines and editor name, and you've written your cover letter.

Check your story over one more time. Any typos? Any changes they've requested to format? Is it in standard manuscript format (minus any changes they've requested that differ from SMF)? Great, save and close. Attach that sucker to the email.

Now, check that you have the submission email address correct. Check that you have made the subject line whatever they've requested. If they have no request for the subject line, make it simple: Fiction Submission-Last Name-Cow Tales.

Check your cover letter. Did you include story name, story genre, word count, and some brief information about yourself? Did you include any information that might tip you over the top when they're considering your story? Do you bring a specific type of expertise or belong to a writer's group that has requirements to get in (such as 3 pro-market story sales)?

Check for typos. Good?

Hold your breath and hit send.

Keep Track:

Then record somewhere that you submitted X story to Y publication (you can do this on Duotrope and The Grinder. I also keep a spreadsheet on my computer). If it allows for simultaneous submissions, look for another market to send it to. (Note: I used to do simultaneous submissions until I sold a story, only to have the magazine tank before publication. I had withdrawn the story from the place I'd submitted to at the same time, so I could not send it to them again, whereas I could have sent it to them once the other place tanked. Even worse, they'd held it long past when they usually held stories, which possibly meant they were considering it. So I may have made a sale to them if this situation hadn't occurred.)


When you get a rejection, which is inevitable unless you're the most amazing writer ever, do not reply. Though I've been told it's sometimes acceptable to write a quick thank you if they've taken the time to give you solid feedback on your story. Just file or delete the email (depending upon your preference--I keep them so I can print them up and place them behind the acceptance I ultimately get), find a new market to submit to, and submit that puppy, making sure to comb through their submission guidelines and make any necessary changes to your submission.


First, jump up and down and scream a little. Oh, is that just me?

Carefully read everything they have sent you. Read what they're offering you. Read the contract. Research any terms you're not familiar with. Research the type of rights they're purchasing. Make sure you're comfortable with what they're offering and expecting. Don't be hasty.

If you're good with it, follow whatever next steps they have laid out. If it isn't clear what they expect now, send them an email asking for that information. Sign. Provide any additional information. Send that puppy.

Then go write another story and submit that, too.

Did I miss anything? Do you have tips that differ from mine (share them!)? Do you have any questions about the submission process? Was anything unclear? Is there something you'd like me to expand on? What is the oddest request you have seen in submission guidelines?

May you find your Muse.