Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Flash Fiction Press, Best Tree Ever & Links

My flash fiction piece, Nice Night for a Splash was published on The Flash Fiction Press yesterday. It's FREE to read, so check it out!

I got out for a hike with the kids for a couple hours in the early evening the other day, and there was this amazing tree.

I love Garden of the Gods!

Now, links. Bear in mind that I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

[tap] magazine is seeking poetry and prose on trauma, mental health, social justice, and marginalized voices. Pays $25. Current deadline April 15.

The Massachusetts Review is seeking articles, essays, short fiction, and poetry. Up to 8000 words. Pays $50. Submission window closes May 1.

Time Alone Press is seeking horror short stories for Let Us In, an anthology. Up to 4000 words. Pays $.06/word, plus royalties. Deadline April 30.

Flash Bang Mysteries will be open for submissions April 1. Mystery and suspense flash fiction. 500 to 750 words. Pays $10. Submissions will be open until April 30.

Graythorn Publishing is seeking science fiction short stories for Dark Clouds an anthology. 3000 to 10,000 words. Pays $.03/word. Deadline April 30.

Alternative Realities is seeking stories for two anthologies: Summer's End (fantasy) and Broken Bones & Ten Dollar Bills (science fiction). 2000 to 5000 words. Pays a flat fee, plus royalties. Deadline April 30.

Liberate Tutemet is seeking stories for a paying charity anthology, Semi-Colonic Irrigation. They want a mix of fiction and nonfiction. This book is to bring awareness to depression and suicide. Pays $.10/word. Deadline April 30.

Memento Mori Press is seeking haunted house stories. 2000 to 5000 words. Pays $10. Deadline April 30.

Aliterate is seeking literary genre fiction. 3000 to 12,000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline April 30.

Any cool trees in your neck of the woods? Did you read the story? Ever Submitted to The Flash Fiction Press? Any of these links of interest? Anything to add?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, March 21, 2016

It's Hell Month! & Questions for Short Story Authors

If you've ever planned a large scale event (and by large scale, I mean between 350 and 400 people attending a three to four day event, so definitely not the largest, but a good size) you will probably know what I mean when I say I'm officially a week into Hell Month on the planning stages of Pikes Peak Writers Conference. This is when things get crazy busy. I spent most of my weekend working on conference stuff (and a portion of it trying really hard not to slam my head into a hard surface or stab anyone.)

Why am I telling you this? Because my posts may be spotty for the next month. They might not, but there's a good chance I will at least not be posting Mondays, at the very least. PPWC is April 15-17, officially, but come Wednesday, the 13th I'm at the venue hotel non-stop, day and night. I get home Sunday and pass out on the sofa. The only time all year I can pass out cold on the sofa, no matter what else is going on around me. Okay, if I run a high fever, I can probably do that, too, but that's it. I'm not a napper.

I will disappear entirely the week of conference.

The next three weeks will be exhausting, exhilarating, exciting, and frustrating (I just looked it up, and there was no "E" word for frustrating, so now I've broken my streak.)

In addition to my admin and treasurer duties for Pikes Peak Writers and the conference, I'm trying to do a final edit on a manuscript and write a query letter so I can pitch (sort of--we call it Query 1-on-1, and you actually hand the editor or agent of your choice your query letter, then they critique your query letter, ask you questions, and hopefully say "send it." A rather relaxed way to pitch, comparatively), put together a workshop on short stories I'll be presenting on Sunday of conference, meet up with fellow panelists to plan for a horror panel I'm on Friday, and, you know, work the day job and take care of the family. Have I mentioned the kids are home for spring break this week?

Gasp, gasp, huff, huff. Puffffff.

Questions for Short Story Authors:

I'm hoping to get a couple examples of the cover letters some of you send when submitting short stories, so I can show a variety of samples to folks. (If you're willing, please email me! It's the name of this blog--including The--at I don't pretend that my way is the perfect way of submitting, so I'd like to show a few different letters.

What are the best tips you've discovered concerning writing and submitting short stories? Is there one quote that says it all for you? Or an epiphany you had? (I will be attributing tips to the giver.) What's the one tip you would give someone new to short story writing?

Thank you in advance for any responses!

I'll see you in one piece at the end of April! (Even though I'll probably see you in pieces before then...)

What are you up to for the next month? Do you have a recurring crazy busy time during the year? How do you cope when things get insane?

May you find your Muse.

Sleepy Cat,, Jonny Banglecock
Psycho White Background,, Kat Wilson
Me Worry,, OCAL
Confused Panda,, Kelly

Friday, March 18, 2016

Horror List Book Review: The Stranger

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 The Stranger, by Albert Camus.

The only way I can figure this ending up on a best of horror list is because the dissociation of the main character is frightening to those of us who do feel. Or possibly because what happens in the end isn't necessarily just, but is more about people not understanding someone whose thought process is so alien from their own.

This was an incredibly fast read, well written. But it was not scary. It was certainly thought provoking, philosophical, but not horror.

The main character, Monsieur Meursault, goes through life in an apathetic fashion. Nothing bothers him. He is bored. He drifts, really, not fully living. Yet he does have some feeling. He can desire a woman, for instance. But he can't love her. Nor could he love his mother in the sense that most of us understand. 

In the beginning of the book, Meursault is concerned because he has to ask his boss for time off. But his mother has died, and he reasons that his boss can't be too angry since it's for a good reason. He doesn't grieve for his mother, something those around him don't understand. Having been in a situation where my grief was delayed, I really didn't find this so bizarre. It happens.

However, it keeps happening. It doesn't bother him that a neighbor abuses his dog. Or that another neighbor beats his girlfriend and shames her. In fact, he becomes friends with this guy, which ultimately draws him into a situation where he kills a man. The rest of the book is about the court case, where they pull all kinds of witnesses who report that he didn't cry at his mother's funeral, that he had sex and saw a comedy with a woman within a day of her service, that he supported a man who was beating his girlfriend. The reader sees that it isn't so much because he's a bad person, but because he views things differently, but the jury can't see this.

I left the book conflicted, which is, I believe, what the author wanted. I'm really not sure what to say in terms of the horror list review since I maintain that it isn't horror, but commentary. It's worth a read if you find the premise interesting. I've linked to the translation I read, since there are multiple. The book was originally written in French. Camus was Algerian, and that is where the book is set. it if you think it sounds interesting, and you want to follow along with a man immersed in apathy. Don't read it for a scare or any type of horror.

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)
6. The Year’s Best Fantasy: First Annual Collection (Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling)
7. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
9. The Stranger (Albert Camus)
10. Dead in the Water (Nancy Holder)
11. The Damnation Game (Clive Barker)
12. The Wolf's Hour (Robert McCammon)
13. Berserk (Tim Lebbon)
14. Best New Horror, Volume 1 (edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell)
15. The Tomb (F. Paul Wilson)
16. Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy)
17. The Imago Sequence (Laird Barron)
18. My Soul to Keep (Tananarive Due)
19. World War Z (Max Brooks)
20. From the Dust Returned (Ray Bradbury) 
21. The Red Tree (Caitlin R. Kiernan)
22. In Silent Graves (Gary A. Braunbeck)
23. The Cipher (Kathe Koja)
24. Drawing Blood (Poppy Z. Brite)
25. The Doll Who Ate His Mother (Ramsey Campbell) 
26. Hotel Transylvania (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)

The next book I'll be reading is Penpal, by Dathan Auerbach.

Have you read this book? Was it by choice, or as a school assignment? What did you think? Did you think he deserved the ending?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Serious Problem & Links

For the picture today, a note from my daughter.

"P.S. I need new books to read, can you bring me to Barns and Nobles, or the library?"

I know. This is a serious problem. How could I have lapsed in my book buying prowess? This is what happens when a teacher never sends home the Scholastic order forms. I'm going through Scholastic withdrawal.

Okay, link time.

Accepting Submissions:

The Colored Lens is open for speculative fiction short stories that "shift perspectives of how we see the world." 500-5000 words. And novellas up to 20,000 words. Pays $10-20, more for novellas.

Confrontation Magazine is taking submissions of poetry, nonfiction, art, and fiction. Literary. Up to 7200 words. Pays $75-100 for fiction. Pay varies through the other categories. Deadline April 15.

Blackbird is open for poetry, short stories, and personal essays. Up to 8000 words. Paying market, but pay is not specified. Deadline April 15.

Epoch is open for literary fiction, poetry, essays, screenplays, cartoons, graphic art, and graphic fiction. Pays between $50 and $150. (Mail-in submissions). Deadline April 15.

Rattle is open for poetry and artwork in the theme of adjunct poets. Pays $100 per poem. The current theme's deadline is April 15.

A Two Dame Production is open for submissions of fairy tales in the genre of literary erotica. They would love to see retellings of lesser known fairy tales, and especially ones that are not European. Up to 5000 words. Pays $25, plus a contributor copy. Deadline April 20.

The Establishment is open for articulate essays, features, interviews, etc. Pays between $125-500. Must pitch.

Iron Soap is open for 200 CCs, stories of 200 words. No genre restrictions. Pays $.01/word. They also have themed calls. The next one is for Mother's Day, deadline April 22. Non-holiday themed do not have a deadline.

Of Interest:

Grey Matter Press put up a post by Sharon Lawson on what it means when an editor says "Your Story Just Doesn't Work For Me!"

Fun fact: I was short listed for a story with Grey Matter Press, which was later rejected. When I got the first email telling me I was short listed, I thought someone had yet again screwed up my name (Shannon Lawrence/Sharon Lawson). Imagine my surprise when I opened it and it was supposed to be to me, and was good news! P.S. When they have an open call, they're a great market to submit to. Very communicative and friendly.

Any of these of interest? Anything to add? Publication news? Does Sharon Lawson's article help?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Your Other Inner Artist

A lot of people who are artistic are gifted in multiple ways. And if not gifted, at least interested in exploring a different art form. For instance, I love photography. I'm not going to pretend I'm good at it, but sometimes I get lucky. Either way, I enjoy exploring photography, framing the perfect shot, fiddling with making a photo black and white. I've always wanted to play an instrument, but I don't know how (I'm totally going to make my son teach me). And singing is something I dabbled in while in school.

What I'm saying is, if you have a creative mind, chances are it's not a one trick pony.

Why does this matter? Exploring other forms of artistry can open your mind more. So can combining them. If you're stuck in your writing, try reading a poem, listening to music that inspires you, looking through photos, or going to an art museum. Experiencing the talents of another person can inspire your own. Even watching a movie counts! A whole lot of someones created that movie. Writers, composers, directors, actors. Each had a part in the creative process that ended with a movie.

In addition, there are all sorts of crafting that count. Do you crochet? Sew? Bead? What about woodwork? All creative! Crafting is creating.

My challenge to you is to choose a different type of artistry and explore it. It doesn't have to be a new one to you, so if you're already a multi-creative person, enjoy!

I intend to get out with the kids next week, spring break, and take my camera with me. Hiking is in order. I want to try a few new trails, and hopefully get some great pictures. What I'd really, really love to do is get some scrapbooking done. I'm about 7 1/2 years behind, at this point...

Who is your other inner artist? Do you enjoy doing something other than writing prose? Will you undertake the challenge?

May you find your Muse.

All graphics from, by OCAL

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Link Time!

It's late, so I'm going to jump straight into links today.

Bear in mind that posting these does not indicate endorsement on my part. I merely pass along links I happen across. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Jaylee James and Lyssa Chiavari are putting together an anthology that intermingles fairy tales and science fiction, called Circuits and Slippers. 2000-10,000 words. Pays in royalty split. Deadline April 8.

Leading Edge Magazine is seeking short stories, poetry, and nonfiction. Science fiction and fantasy. Up to 10,000 words preferred. This is a paying market, but they are working on their fee schedule right now, so no specifics are listed. 

Metaphorosis is seeking fantasy and science fiction. 1000-6000 words. Pays $.01/word. They want beautifully written work.

The Masters Review is seeking fiction and narrative nonfiction. Must not have published a novel to submit. Up to 5000 words. Pays $.10/word. (Note: they have submission types that require a fee. I am posting only about New Voices, which does not require a fee to submit.)

Blue Monday Review is seeking fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. They like stories in the fashion of Vonnegut. Up to 3500 words. Pays $.02/word.

Cultures and Cuisines is seeking food and travel articles that, while nonfiction, push the boundaries in style. 800-3000 words. Pays $200/article. 

Scarlet Leaf Review is seeking essays, poetry, essays, book reviews, portraits, short stories, interviews, and more. Pays $10-$25 CAD

The Capilano Review is seeking experimental writing and art. Fiction, poetry, reviews, interviews. Up to 5000 words (some categories are shorter.) Pays $50 per published page, up to $150. 

The Sockdolager is seeking short genre fiction. 1000-5000 words. Pays $.02/word. 

Wolves is seeking literary fiction and poetry. They like experimental. Up to 7000 words. Pays $5-$30. 

Any of these of interest? Anything to share? Publishing news?

May you find your Muse.

Jumper Silhouette,, OCAL

Monday, March 7, 2016

Publication Resources

I've had a few people ask me where I get the links I post each Wednesday, so I thought I'd do a quick post about where to find publications. My focus is on short stories right now, so most of these are going to be short story publishers. I'm also going to list resources I've stumbled across, but don't use for my Wednesday blog posts, so you may find lots I'm not posting at those sites (found at the end of this post.)

Unfortunately, I don't have any magic bullets. For the most part, I get my links from LinkedIn groups and Facebook groups I've joined that are related to writing. People post markets they've heard about, or the publishers themselves post. I check these out as people post to be sure they're paying markets that don't cost for submissions, and then I add them to a spreadsheet in date order so I can post them. I recommend you do searches in these two places for groups related to your genre. Once you add some groups in LinkedIn, they send you other recommended groups. For Facebook groups, I typically find them through friends who belong to them when they share something. Or they get recommended by Facebook. I'm in several that are specifically for posting paying markets. I try to share back since I get so many links from them, but sometimes I forget.

When I find a link posted on someone else's blog, Twitter, or Facebook, or if someone posts it in my comments, I mention them with the link to give credit. I don't get so many this way, but I do get a few here and there.

Occasionally, I just do random internet searches for "submission guidelines" and "horror," so this would work for others in their genres. However, this one can be a waste of time, so it's rare.

I've also gone through the back of "Best of" type collections to see what markets those stories were originally published in. Then I'll look them up online to see what their guidelines are. Check out "Best of" collections in your genre. Or see where someone who writes similar content is getting published.

A lot of my links are updated deadlines for markets I've posted before, or new editions/themes/anthologies from publishers I check in with occasionally. If I do a post for an anthology from a specific market, but it also has a list of future anthologies and their deadlines, I add those to my spreadsheet to come back to closer to that time.

Not terribly helpful, right?  But hopefully something below will be more helpful.

While these are not places I usually get links from, these are excellent resources if you're looking for updates on new markets:

The big daddy of them all is Duotrope. I don't go through Duotrope to find the links for my publications posts, but I'm pretty sure most of the links I stumble across are listed on Duotrope, and that's where I go when I have a story to submit. There have been some I've submitted to after finding them elsewhere that were not on Duotrope, so don't depend on it exclusively, but boy does it make life easier. There is a $50 annual fee, or you can pay $5 monthly. I don't just find markets here; I track my submissions through the website. (I also have a spreadsheet, so it's okay that not all the markets are listed there.) It breaks down how many days you can expect to wait before hearing back, as well as other helpful stats, such as average time for rejections and acceptances for that market. They also send a monthly newsletter with new markets. Note: You can find publishers interested in novels here, too.

If you don't want to pay, you can go to the Submission Grinder. It does the same things as Duotrope, though it may have fewer markets, as it's newer and is still in BETA. Plus, it's free. I tried to start tracking on each, but I was doubling my efforts. So possibly when I'm not as active with short stories.

The following are resources I've kept the link to with the intention of visiting them more often. I suck at doing so, and I'm terrible at getting around to reading newsletters, but when I do, they have tons of helpful information.

My Little Corner is a blog where Sandra Seamans posts open markets. I think her main focus is mystery/thriller, but she may post other genres (and I may have misread that as being her focus). She sometimes does multiple posts per day. Each post is for a single market. posts various markets. There may be a focus on speculative fiction, but I'm not positive. They have an index so you can search by pay and type.

Coffintree Hill is a blog that posts speculative fiction markets. I believe it's also one market per post, like My Little Corner.

I don't know if this one is currently being updated, but a list I ran across at some point and copied the link to is Mary Soon Lee's Speculative Fiction Markets. It is just a list of markets. Simple and straight forward. They're separated by pay.

Horror Tree posts ongoing markets irregularly. Despite its name, I think it focuses on speculative fiction, not just horror. posts multiple posts per day with open calls. I think it's all genres. They have an index on the right that breaks the categories down into fiction, poetry, anthology, and nonfiction.

For those who write primarily flash fiction, there's a Yahoo Group with a regular newsletter. It's Pamelyn Casto's Flash Fiction Newsletter. Her newsletter has publishing information, news, and links to contests and publications.

Another Yahoo Group is The Practicing Writer. They list grants, publications, and contests. All genres, I think.

Hope Clark runs FundsforWriters. You can subscribe and get a free email with writing information, news, grants, contests, freelance markets, and writing jobs. I think this is another that does all genres, though it appears to tend toward literary.

A lot of times, the same market will pop up in a bunch of places at once. These markets want you to be able to find them. As you can see, there are a lot of resources to get you closer to them. I only posted one paying site, though I'm sure there are more out there, but I find Duotrope to be invaluable. If you are submitting a lot, it's worth the cost. If you aren't, and are just dipping your toes in, I'd stick with the free resources if they work for you.

Good luck, and happy submitting!

Do you have other go to resources for markets you're willing to share? What is your favorite one? Do you use Duotrope or Submission Grinder? Are there any other similar sites? 

May you find your Muse.

Bullet Bill image,, OCAL
Calendar with Note,, OCAL
Big Bag of Money,, OCAL

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

I Did NOT Forget! - IWSG & Links

It's the first Wednesday of March (WHAT? March? Trauma!), which means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG is a day to post your insecurities (or inspirations) as a writer. Encourage and be encouraged. Anyone is welcome to join. Just sign up.

The co-hosts for this month are Lauren Hennessy, Lisa Buie-Collard, Lidy, Christine Rains, andMary Aalgaard! Pop by and pay them each a visit to say thanks for all their hard work!

Insecurities? Let's talk workshops. If you want to sell books, it's a good idea to get yourself out there by participating on panels and presenting workshops. I've been tip-toeing into the world of workshops for the last few years as a presenter, and while I enjoy it more than I expected (I always leave completely amped up), I'm not sure I'll ever feel completely secure about it.

Having said that, I just presented a workshop on shutting down your inner editor this past month that went really well. Not only that, but I sold a book (The Deep Dark Woods) and was asked to sign it! As someone who is only published in short form, so far, this was a great big first for me, and I left on such a high.

Now I'll be presenting a workshop at Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2016, and I've accepted an invitation to be a panelist for the literary track at Denver Comic Con this summer.

Here comes the panic.

But I'm actually quite excited about it, and I'm sure I'll have a great time. Once I'm up in front of everyone, I tend to relax, but the time leading up to the presentation is full of butterflies.

So do you ever get used to those butterflies? Do they go away?

For those new to my blog, I like to do a summary of my short story/flash submissions for the previous month. This helps me stay accountable in my writing and submissions, and, I hope, shows those who are trying to start submitting what the numbers can look like so they know rejections aren't the end of the world. Since I missed IWSG last month, I'll do January and February this month.

In January and February, I:

-Submitted 10 pieces.
-Sold 1 story.
-Got 8 rejections.
-Had 1 short story come out in a publication (Devolution Z).

And I finished the novella I was working on (that began life as a short story)! Only now I need to decide if I want to keep it as a novella, or if I want to add a second POV character and make it into a novel. There were so many fun things I could have done, but didn't have space for. Hmmm....

Now it's time for links. Bear in mind that I'm not endorsing these publications, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Apex Magazine is accepting poetry for Undead: A Poetry Anthology of Ghouls, Ghosts, and More. Submit up to 3 poems. Pays $5 per poem and a contributor copy. Deadline April 1.

Mocha Memoirs Press is accepting horror-themed steampunk for the anthology Ghosts, Gears, and Grimoires. 1500-6000 words. Pays $10. Deadline April 1.

Stories of Music is accepting creative nonfiction, poetry, photography, and art for Volume 2. The story must be true, and music must be the focus. Up to 9000 words. Pays $200 and contributor copies. Deadline April 1.

18th Wall Productions is accepting short stories and novellas for After Avalon. What happened after Camelot fell? 1000-15,000 words. Pays royalties. Deadline April 2.

Cyclopean Press is accepting speculative fiction up to 7500 words. Pays $50 per story or $15 for poems. Plus a free subscription for you and a friend. Deadline April 5.

Thinking Horror Journal is accepting essays on horror. Must pitch your essay first. 1000 words or more. Pays $20.

You Found a Penny is accepting artwork and flash fiction/poetry/creative nonfiction. This site posts an illustration and a story, and those interested can either illustrate the story or write a story in response to the artwork. Up to 500 words. Pays $50.

Into the Ruins is accepting short stories set in the future. Stories should address shortages of resources or other natural calamities. 2000-8000 words. Pays $8, plus $.10/every paid subscriber above 100 they have at that time.


Fall Lines: A Literary Convergence is an extension of Jasper Magazine. They hold a contest for their annual edition. Short fiction 2000 words or less, poetry, essays, and flash fiction. Two $250 cash prizes. Deadline April 1.

Sapiens Plurum is holding the Earth Day Short Fiction Contest. Write a story personalizing the effects of climate change. 1500-3000 words. 1st prize is $1000. Deadline April 22.

Do you like being a presenter? Have you tried it? Do you stretch outside your comfort level for your writing career? Have you been submitting? Are you thinking about it? Any of these links of interest to you? What are your insecurities?

May you find your Muse.