Friday, December 18, 2015

Horror List Book Review: Dead in the Water

I'm reading through three lists of best horror with two friends (DeAnna Knippling andM.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 Dead in the Water, by Nancy Holder.

I can't believe it's been over a month since I did one of these. Whoops!

Happily, I can say this was another one I enjoyed. The opening section was written in second person and detailed what it was like to drown. An intense introduction to a story about a group of people whose ship goes down, and who are picked up by a boat that is somehow...wrong.

There's no new ground broken with this story, but the characters are interesting, their voices easily distinguishable. I cared about a few of the characters (others I was indifferent toward, some I wanted to cease and desist). Donna, a female cop, was the character I was most invested in, and the voice that began to prevail as we got deeper into the story. The pacing was good. The peril was serious. And no one was safe from the Big Bad. No one.

There were some good creepy moments, and the tension was well done. Plus, it's a bit of a roller coaster, though I can't say how, because it would give things away. So much hope and peril wrapped up together.

A few times it seemed overwritten, the details a mite too dramatic. There were voice overs, of a sort, that waffled between intriguing and too much. But I was involved enough that these didn't distract me much from the story.

This was a quick read for me, because I wanted to see how it would wrap up for a couple of the characters, and how they would escape. 

My new rankings:

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

I have no idea what the next book will be, but I just bought several, so we'll see what speaks to me.

Ever read this? Or anything by Nancy Holder? What did you think?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Just the Links, Ma'am

Straight to the links today.

Accepting Submissions:

ChappyFiction is accepting submissions for a time travel anthology. Science fiction and fantasy. 7000 words or less. Pays $.06/word. Deadline January 1.

The 3288 Review is accepting submissions of any genre for their February issue. Fiction, creative nonfiction, essays, poetry, photography, visual arts, reviews. Pay is between $25 and $75. Deadline January 15.

Tree Lion Press is accepting submissions for a long-distance running anthology. Speculative fiction. 500-10,000 words. Pays $5 advance + royalties. Deadline January 15.

Rattle is accepting submissions for their summer issue, with the theme Los Angeles. Poetry and artwork. Pays $50 per poem. Deadline January 15.

Outlook Springs is accepting stories set in the quaint small town of Outlook Springs, which exists in an alternate dimension. Fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Up to 7500 words. Pays $10 to $25. Deadline January 15.

Liminal Stories is accepting submissions of stories that are strange and unsettling. Will consider any genre. Up to 10,000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline January 15.

The Sun is accepting fiction, essays, interviews, and poetry. Pays between $100 and $2000. Up to 7000 words.

The Lovecraft eZine is accepting submissions Lovecraftian and Cthulhu mythos fiction. Short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. Pays between $25 and $50.


Splice Today is holding a political writing contest. 1500-3500 word essays. Cash prizes. Deadline December 31.

Science Fiction and the Medical Humanities is accepting short science fiction stories with a theme of health and medicine. Up to 3000 words. Cash prizes. Deadline February 29.

Are you ready for next week? Got any big plans? Any of these links of use to you? Anything to share? How's your writing going?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Goodreads Author Account

I previously did a post about setting up your Amazon Author Central account. Well, last week I realized I qualified to switch my regular Goodreads account to an author account. It's taken a few steps, but it was pretty simple overall.

You can view my Goodreads author profile, if you want to see what they look like. Click HERE. (And, hey, add me as a friend! I've been going through and adding people, but there's a limit on how many invites you can send out each day. But there's not a limit on requests you can accept!)

Instead of reinventing the wheel and telling you how to set your account up, I figured I'd point you to Goodreads own write-up on it. The information they expected was simple, and being able to send them a link to my Amazon Author Central profile was a help, as well. I sent in the request  in the evening, and it was approved when I got up the next morning.

Once it's approved, you can search out your books and have them added to your profile. Three of my books were instantly added under my name the moment it was converted to an author account. It asked me to confirm, and I did. Easy-peasy.

Three of mine were listed under the name Shannon Kenoyer-Lawrence. One did not have me listed at all. I was able to fix this issue easily by posting to a forum they have for that purpose. THIS LINK will take you to a help page on various issues you may need to resolve with your books. After I posted each issue separately to the forum, one was fixed within minutes, the other within a day. This was another place having the Amazon Author Central account helped things: I was able to put a link proving Amazon had already vetted me on those books. I imagine it would have been more complicated than that if I didn't have this simple proof.

Once I had my books set up, I fixed up my profile by adding photos, updating my profile information, adjusting the settings, connecting my blog to the account so my posts will show up there (you can also create a new blog there,) and all those good things. I then went through and started adding some of my connections, and I joined a couple groups, though finding other groups I'd like to belong to will take some time.

There are a lot of options I'm not utilizing on there yet, such as posting upcoming events and doing giveaways of books. They have author widgets you can put on your blog and Facebook, but I don't think I'll be using those until I have novels out. Though I'm curious as to how others in collections have utilized Goodreads.

I've got a lot more exploring to do, but it's a good start. I'd love to hear how you use it as an author, and any tips you might have!

Do you have your Goodreads author account setup? Do you utilize any of the extra features? If you're in collections with other folks, do you use Goodreads for those, or do you just use it for novels? Have you had any bad experiences on there? Do you have any tips or tricks?

May you find your Muse.

Book image by OCAL,

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - Calico Queen & Links

I realized I never posted a picture of my new kitten, Nefertiti, so why not a dose of cuteness today?

We've had Neffie for two months now, so she's about fifty times as large as she was when I took this. Kittens grow insanely fast. She's a calico point Siamese. Did you know a Siamese cat could have calico points? I didn't!

Onto the links!

Accepting Submissions:

Sirens Call Publications has an open call out for the anthology What Dwells Below. Horror involving the creatures that live in city cellars. 4000-8000 words. Pays a flat fee of $25. Deadline January 1.

Alliteration Ink has an open call for their anthology No Shit, There I Was. Speculative fiction. Must start with the title sentence. 2000-7500 words. Will pay $.06/word, contingent upon the Kickstarter. Deadline January 6.

The Non-Binary Review of Zoetic Press is reading for their 8th issue with the theme of Sun Tzu's The Art of War. Fiction, creative non-fiction, flash, and hybrid/experimental. Up to 5000 words. Pays $.01/word and $10/poem. Deadline January 8.

Mystery Weekly Magazine is accepting submissions. 1000-10,000 words. Pays a half-cent per word.

Dreams & Nightmares is accepting submissions of speculative fiction. 1-2 single-spaced typed pages. Pays $12, plus contributor copies.


Glimmer Train is holding their Fiction Open Contest. 2000-20,000 words. First place gets $2500. Deadline January 2.

Of Interest:

LANGUAGE WARNING! The Middle Finger posted The Top 20 Most Original Gift Ideas for That F*cking Writer You Know (No, Not a Moleskine). There are some great ideas in there.

Had you heard of calico point Siamese before? Any of these of interest to you? Anything to share? What's your favorite gift on the list? 

May you find your Muse.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Experiments in Writing - Killer Critters!

I mentioned a story type I've been experimenting with this past Wednesday during the IWSG. The story is experimental in that I've long enjoyed the genre, but I've never written in it. It's a play on the goofy critter horror films, like Tremors and Lake Placid. The idea is fun. The opening scene amuses me. But I realized I'd gotten so focused on figuring out where the story was going that I wrote myself into a corner. I started limping along, struggling with where to go next. And something was missing. What?

So I started thinking about what I like about those movies. And it really boils down to the characters, doesn't it? Those movies are often enjoyable because of a combination of things, but the characters bring it home. Tremors wouldn't exist without Val and Earl. Nobody would have cared enough to stick it out. Though the rest of the characters are quirky, and add quite a bit to the story. Still, Val and Earl make it. And not just one or the other--it's the relationship between them that carries the film. 

Would anyone have stuck it out in Lake Placid without the quick, snarky dialogue between the four main characters? The shocking profanity from Betty White? At least, it was shocking when the movie came out. These days I think we all know she's spunky and not afraid to have fun, but back then she was just Rose (?) to me. Pretty sure I bark-laughed quite a few times during this one.

I've set my story up with two characters that share some snappy dialogue in the beginning, but then I lost that relationship. I buried it while I was trying to get to the next place in the story. Now that I've figured this out, I think I can get somewhere, but it means going back to the second scene in the story and writing fresh from the point where all hell breaks loose. 

In addition, I want to inject more unexpected humor into it. That's something else that's enjoyable in both Tremors and Lake Placid: unexpected humor. Often, inappropriate humor, where the horrific is mixed with something ridiculous. I've put a few details in that are a kick, but I need more. More! Despite the fact that I'm a major smartass in real life, I don't often write that way. Weird, right?

One problem I'm running into is that I haven't actually read any stories like this (specifically, goofy critter horror). I'm taking something I've only experienced in a visual medium, and trying to convert it to a short story. Which is not a horrible roadblock, but I suspect it's at least a sawhorse taking part in the roadblock. An orange cone of doom?

For those of you who enjoy this sort of film, what elements do you think you enjoy the most? Is it the characters? The humor? The pure absurdity? Or something else entirely? What do you seek out when you view one of these? What missing element makes you sad? Have you experimented with your writing lately? How'd it go?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

IWSG - All The Doubts! T.B Markinson Releases A Clueless Woman. And Links!

It's the first Wednesday of December, which means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, created by the ever supportive Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Anyone can participate. Simply click HERE and sign up! Feel free to share your insecurities, fears, and inspirations having to do with the writing world. Then hop around to visit and support fellow insecure writers.

Also, be sure to hop around and visit our wonderful co-hosts:  Sandra Hoover, Mark Koopmans, Doreen McGettigan,Megan Morgan, and Melodie Campbell

I was wallowing in self doubt when I realized it was IWSG time. I [thought I had] finished revisions on a story that's been floated through two different critique groups, so I started submitting it. I got a rejection for it today. It was a "good" rejection, in that it was a personal rejection with great feedback on why it was not accepted. It also included an invitation to submit something else, but as I've mentioned before, somehow that always makes me freeze up. I analyze the feedback I got and look for the flaws mentioned in every other story I have available that might fit that publication. If there's a character issue, I start ripping apart my characters, and looking at all the ways they're lacking. If it started too slow or got slow at a certain part, I start freaking out about the other stories, tearing up the pacing in my head. Whatever issue is brought up, I project it onto the other stories.

The timing could have been better, as I was already over-analyzing my writing because of a story I experimented with this month. It's unfinished, despite being 8700 words, so far, which has me wondering if it's right for trying out my first novelette/novella. Or have I just royally screwed it up, and I need to shorten it into a short story? Should I have taken the left at Albuquerque?

Then I started doubting characterization. Do I get deep enough into my characters in short stories, or am I too plot driven? I keep my emotions close to the vest in real I doing that in my stories? Keeping those emotions strapped down and not setting my characters loose to examine them?

Maybe this doubt is inevitable after a two month hiatus from writing. Last month was the first I wrote anything new in months. The last two stories I put through critique group were old stories I pulled out and revised.

When you take a break from writing, purposeful or accidental, do you go through a period of self doubt and questioning your writing? I was flying high when I was getting the writing done. Now I've set it aside for several days, afraid to look at it again, because I think it will take a lot of work to get it to where I want it. It does show promise. Hopefully getting it there won't be as tricky as I fear.

I should say, though, I don't regret trying this experiment. And I will see it to the end. It's just a matter of convincing myself to jump back in and shut that inner editor up.

Time for my stats for the month of November. I do this each IWSG day to keep myself accountable.

Pieces Submitted in November: 12
Pieces Accepted in November: 0
Pieces Rejected in November: 7
Total Pieces Currently on Submission: 12
Publications Pending: 5
Other: 1 publication shut down while I had a submission there; 2 decided to stop accepting submissions, and posted that we should submit elsewhere in the meantime; 1 publication says it will get back to everyone, though it has closed down submissions, but it has been since August since anything was updated on their website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc., and Duotrope is showing no action since that same time as far as rejections and acceptances, so I am assuming they're actually shut down entirely for now.


Before we get to links today, I want to welcome T.B. Markinson here for her blog tour promoting A Clueless Woman.

Graduate student Lizzie Petrie feels more comfortable around books than people. Although an expert in the Hitler Youth, she’s a novice in love. Her former lesbian lover is blackmailing her, and not even those closest to Lizzie know the full story of their abusive relationship.

When visiting high school English teacher Sarah crosses Lizzie’s path at the campus, their attraction is instant, but not without complications. As they start to spend more time together, suspicions arise from both women in this sexy piece of LGBT fiction.

Plenty of good-natured teasing takes place between lovers as well as between PhD students in this lesbian contemporary romance. No relationship path ever runs smoothly, and oftentimes, those who can’t keep their mouth shut hasten necessary confrontation.

Lizzie finds herself buried in a mess of lies in this romantic comedy. The harder she tries to keep Sarah and the rest of her friends from finding out the truth about her first girlfriend, the more endearingly clueless she becomes.

About the Author:

T. B. Markinson is an American writer, living in England. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs, or taking the dog for a walk. Not necessarily in that order.

Purchase Links:

Mailing List:

Get the first book in the series, A Woman Lost, for FREE by signing up to TB’s Readers’ Group here.


Twitter        Facebook        Blog        Goodreads     Amazon Author Page

“Well, well, well. What do we have here?” If Meg hadn’t been standing right in front of me, I would have recognized her snide tone, even despite the fact that she’d dyed her once-blonde hair a rich, fiery red. “Getting drunk on a school night. Shame on you, Lizzie. What would Dr. Marcel say?” Meg’s companion helped her slip into a coat. Hopefully, that meant they were leaving and pronto.

Approximately 150,000 people lived in Fort Collins, and the one person I didn’t want to bump into ever, let alone with Sarah, was peering down at us.

“Hello,” was all I could force out.

Meg’s gaze wandered over Sarah’s face and upper body before settling on me. “What happened to only drinking at home?” She crossed her arms.

“I’m afraid I’m a bad influence.” Sarah came to my defense.

“I see.” An older man tugged on Meg’s arm. She wore a tight dress—not her usual jeans and J. Crew sweater. And she was with a man—very unusual. “Have a good night, Lizzie.” She turned each Z in my name into a weapon. “Oh, I’ll be calling you to discuss that financial situation you brought up last time.” She gave Sarah a final glare and rolled her eyes. Red-hot anger raged through my mind and body as I clamped my lips together to keep everything bottled inside. How dare she treat Sarah so flippantly?

I counted to ten before I said, “I’m so sorry.”

Sarah’s eyes darted across the room to where Meg and her companion were exiting into the darkness. “Is she a friend?”

I snorted. “Former ...” I’d been about to say girlfriend, but instead added, “acquaintance.”

“I’d use another word for her.”

I let out a rush of air. “Really? What would that be?”


Now for links! Please bear in mind that I am not endorsing any of these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting to a publication or contest.

Accepting Submissions: 

Authors Publish is accepting submissions of essays with the topic of "How I Got My Book Published." Up to 1500 words. Pays $.10/word, up to $65. Deadline December 14. 

Harper Perennial is accepting submissions of essays for their anthology "Not That Bad" about rape culture. This is not just a publication for women. 2500-7500 words. Pay is not specified, but it is a paid publication. Deadline December 15. 

Book Smugglers Publishing is accepting short stories with the theme of Superheroes. Open to all genres (even romance and horror) and age ranges from middle grade up. 1500-17,500 words. Pays $.06/word up to $500. Deadline December 31. 

Fox Spirit is accepting short stories for Respectable Horror. 4000-8000 words. Pays £10, plus contributor copies. Deadline December 31. 

Carte Blanche is accepting submissions of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and photo essays. Up to 3500 words. Pays an honorarium, though exact amount is not mentioned. Deadline December 31. 

Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things is seeking one story with the theme "The Carrot is Mightier Than the Sword" to match the cover of their spring issue. Doesn't specifically mention payment, but I'm in this issue, and it is a paying market. Deadline December 31. 

Apex is accepting submissions for their Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling anthology. Turn speculative fiction on its head. Up to 5000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline December 31. 


Columbia Journalism School is offering the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award. $30,000 will be awarded to someone who is already contracted on with an editor for a non-fiction book with a topic of social or political concern. Must show financial need. Deadline December 11.

Shoreline of Infinity is holding the Story Writing Competition for Readers. Write a science fiction story inspired by artwork they have posted. Up to 4000 words. Prize is publication, an author interview, a print of the artist's artwork, a digital subscription, and £80. Deadline December 21. 

Blue Mountain Arts is holding their Twenty-Seventh Biannual Poetry Card Contest. Cash prizes. Deadline December 31. 

What are your insecurities? Do you get insecure when you've been away from writing for awhile? What are your biggest writing doubts? How do you like T.B.'s cover? Have you purchased your copy yet? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share? How do you keep yourself accountable?

May you find your Muse.