Monday, May 30, 2016

Writer's Conference Basics, Part III - Staff & Volunteers

If you didn't see the previous posts in this series, you can find them at the following links:

Part I, Conference Basics
Part II, Attendees

Conferences need a lot of help to be pulled off successfully. There are two general ways you can be part of this: Staff and Onsite Volunteers. Typically, both are volunteers, but staff tends to have work in advance of conference, including planning and/or setup, and onsite volunteers tend to be attendees who have offered to lend a hand at the actual conference, but do not take part in the planning and setup (other than possibly onsite setup.) Staff also generally have job titles and roles they must fulfill. These roles run the gamut from coordinating the ballroom decorations to directing the conference.

Benefits of volunteering/being staff: So why would you want to help? What's in it for you?

One major plus to volunteering is being part of the community. Particularly if you are staff, you'll find that you spend a lot of time together during the planning stages. You get to know each other, and a tight knit bond can be created. I've been staff at PPWC for several years now, and some of my closest friends are people I met through my work there. My critique groups are made up of people I've met through PPWC, as well. Even if you just volunteer onsite, you'll meet people you might not have otherwise met.

Another benefit is getting to see behind the scenes. It takes a big chunk of the nerves out of the process of going to a conference. You get to know the people who run things, to become more comfortable with them. You learn a lot about how conferences are put on. I know that, for me, it helped me a ton going forward, and took a lot of the mystery out of everything, giving me a much better understanding of conference and what I might get out of it.

You know how I mentioned above that you meet a lot of people? Well, some of those people might end up being agents, editors, and bigwig authors. As a staff member, I've had the opportunity to sit down and talk in a friendly one-on-one manner with all of the above. I've sat in the green room and chatted with people who fell into these categories. As a non-conference volunteer, I've exchanged emails with all kinds of writers, editors, and agents. It has made it so I'm no longer nervous talking to them. I don't go gaga anymore. Not that I've ever been one to fangirl openly, but in my head, well, that might have been a different story.

Finally, there's the possibility of a comp/discount for the conference. I mention this one last intentionally. If you're volunteering only in the hopes of getting a discount, chances are they'll realize that. The people who continue to be asked to help are those that bust their butts working. If someone comes along and does a half-assed job, we notice, and we don't invite them back. We certainly don't offer them higher jobs or jobs with bigger comps. Plus, if you're doing it just for the comp, you're going to be sorely disappointed when you miss out on things because you're working. There may be perks that aren't money-related, too, such as preference for appointments, being the first in a door, mixers for staff and faculty, etc.

Drawbacks: The time investment might be a lot. You might miss workshops. You might take on a job that requires an unpleasant task (though this would usually be a higher up position). You may find you don't like the job you volunteered for.

My advice is to volunteer if you want to be a part of things, not for any perks it might offer. The perks are a happy extra, and are by no means guaranteed. But if it's a conference or organization you care about, why not give some time?

How to volunteer: Most cons will have some sort of volunteer tab/link or a way to volunteer on the registration form. Some will have advance information meetings you can attend to find out about job openings. You might also look up staff on their website to see if a volunteer coordinator or similar position is mentioned. If so, you can shoot them an email. Otherwise, you can contact the director or another higher up position and ask if there are any volunteer positions open.

This is specific to Pikes Peak Writers, but a good way to get picked up for a volunteer conference job is to be a presence at the non-conference events and to volunteer at them. Non-conference, in our case, is small, so there aren't a ton of volunteer positions, but a lot of us got our start by just offering to do simple stuff like clean up after an event, stack chairs, hold the clipboard and have people sign in on it, give out door prize tickets, etc. Look for openings and offer to help. You can do this at the conference, too, but most of the volunteer positions there are filled in advance, so it would be a case of an immediate need of help.

Either way, making yourself known, being friendly and helpful, these are ways to get asked to volunteer. But do look for other means if you aren't able to do that.

Questions to ask first: If you're considering volunteering your time, there are questions you should ask first in order to not bury yourself in a miserable position or one that takes more time than you can afford to give.

What is my time investment? You'll want to know how much time you'll have to give, both in advance and at the actual event. Find out if there are particular times/hours you'll be needed. Will you be needed at meetings. If so, when will those be? Will these hours be daytime, night time, weekends, or a combination of all these? If you have time limitations, you'll want to make sure they work with your volunteer job. You'll also want to know how flexible things will be for you, in terms of when you can complete your work. I get a ton of advance work done in the middle of the night, but I couldn't do that if it involved phone calls, for instance.

How much of the conference will I miss? This goes hand in hand with the time investment, but is specific to whether you'll be required during workshops. Some jobs may require you miss one or two workshops. Others may require more. While still others will be between workshops, so you won't miss anything at all.

Will there be costs associated, and will I be reimbursed? Ask in advance if there will be situations that will cost you money. If you take on a signs job, will you have to pay to have signs printed? If so, will you be reimbursed? When and how? How fast will you be reimbursed? Is there a process to get reimbursed?

What is my job? Ask in advance what the job is. What is the description? Ask for some specifics. What duties will you be required to perform? Will you need to interact with people? Will driving be involved? Is there a write-up of the job you can be sent in advance? You can ask for a time line of your work to see what your time as a volunteer will look like. Find out what expectations they have of you.

Who do I report to? It's good to know if you'll have a direct supervisor, and who that might be. Will they guide you, or is this something you'll have to step up and take care of on your own? How often do you need to report in, and in what ways? It's also a good idea to know who's above your supervisor, so you know where to go if there's an issue.

This is just a sampling of things you should ask. Be sure to consider other information you might need, and to ask questions accordingly. Don't be afraid to approach someone who used to do the job you're being asked to do. Ask them questions, too. Find out why they quit, and if they have any advice. Ask them if the time investment and job description are accurate. They might not have been the ones to write it up.

Final thoughts: If you volunteer in any capacity, whether as a staff member or as an onsite volunteer, don't come to it with the mentality that you're going to leech something out of it without doing the work. Approach with an open mind, ideas of your own, and as a self starter. All volunteer events, like Pikes Peak Writers Conference, run only as well as the volunteers running it. Be prepared for hard, but rewarding, work. Be prepared to work as a team, sometimes with people you don't necessarily get along with. This is true for any job, really.

What attendees want staff to know: Please bear in mind that, while this conference might be a place of comfort to you, to me it's quite possibly overwhelming. It's new. I might not know anyone at all, whereas you probably now have a group of friends that you've been working with leading up to the event, meaning you have a safety net I lack.

If I ask questions you think are silly, remember that you have inside information I don't have. Just because you know how all of this works, does not mean I do. And therefore it's not a stupid question.

Please be patient with me. Guide me. Reach out to me if you see I'm struggling. If I have a puzzled look on my face, ask if you can help. Chat with me. Introduce me to someone else who's new.

Anything you can do that won't make me feel like I'm drowning will be much appreciated, and I'll remember you forever for the help you gave me. I'll remember you greeted me with a smile, that you asked if I needed help, and that you answered my questions and made it seem like you were happy to do so. The opposite is true, as well. I will never forget you if you're rude to me or make me feel foolish for asking a question or being confused.

What faculty wants staff to know: Your conference is new to me, even if I've been to others, so please guide me to where I need to go. Let me know where I'm supposed to check in. If there's a green room, or a place faculty can rest, please tell me about that. Make sure I have a schedule, and that I know how your schedule works. Let me know how specific types of workshops work. If there is something particular to your event, tell me about it so I'm not caught unawares. And please give me as much information in advance as possible, including my schedule, book/consignment information, expectations, etc.

If I'm cornered or have someone in the audience who's a problem, please step in. The speakers aren't supposed to have to be the bad guys.

Now for some links. Bear in mind that I'm not endorsing these, merely passing along information I've come across. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

The Literary Hatchet is seeking dark fiction, poetry, and prose. They also take artwork, photography, and more. 1000-6000 words. Pays $1-$10, depending upon submission type. Current deadline July 1.

Thema's next submission theme is Second Thoughts. Short stories, poetry, art, and photography. Pays $10-$25, depending upon submission type. Deadline for this theme is July 1.

Manawaker Studio is seeking retellings of legends, myths, and fairy tales in science fiction and punk settings for Starward Tales. Short stories, poetry, and art. Pays $2-$30, depending upon submission type. Deadline July 1.

Sanguine Press is seeking science fiction, fantasy, and horror with the theme I Regret Nothing for their anthology Transitions & Awakenings. They pay on varying scales for length. Up to 10,000 words. Deadline June 30.

Flash Fiction Online is always open to stories between 500 and 1000 words. Pays $60 per story.

The Gettysburg Review seeks poetry, fiction, essays, reviews, and visual art. Pays $2 per line for poetry and $20 per printed page for prose.

Of Interest:

IndieListers allows people to post the marketing methods they've used, and their success (or lack of it). Credit goes out to Marla Newbrough Bell, from whom I got this link.

Do you have anything you'd want volunteers/staff to know? Have you been staff and have other pointers? Is there a question you always ask that I missed? Have you considered volunteering, but have held back? Is there anything you'd like to know that might help you volunteer?

May you find your Muse.

*Meeting, by OCAL,
*Clock, by OCAL,
*Volunteer Form, by clipartfan,
*Blackheadhead, by OCAL,
*Plastic Chain, by OCAL,

Friday, May 27, 2016

Horror List Book Review: Prime Evil

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 Prime Evil, edited by Douglas E. Winter.

Since there are only 13 stories in this anthology, I'm going to address each one. Before I start, let me say that this is a solid collection of stories. However, not as good as a collection by the masters of horror should have been, necessarily. I was also disappointed that there were no female authors considered masters of horror in this collection.

Random fact I found interesting: The majority of these writers were born within years of each other. The earliest birth year was 1932, but it was an outlier. Then 1952 and 1953 were outliers. Everyone else was born in the 40s, with three born in 1947 and three in 1943. You think these horror authors were products of their time? Or was this just a coincidence?

Without further ado:

The Night Flier, by Stephen King. The book opens with the King of Horror. This story was a revamped vamp story. It was a little bit serial killer, a little bit vampire, a little bit mystery. Interestingly, the POV character of the story had a dark soul, himself, which added to plot. He's a reporter tracking a serial killer he's certain must be a vampire. But what is he really? A good, clean read. Compelling characters, as always, in the case of King. Good details. There's a bit with a urinal that I got a kick out of. Not my favorite story by him, but good all the same.

Having a Woman at Lunch, by Paul Hazel. This one was a bit odd for me. There was a lot implied, rather than shown in this. I would have liked to see more. A group of men gather at a restaurant regularly, but their tastes change, and they do something extreme. The "twist" was obvious from the beginning, so then not having follow through in terms of details was deeply disappointing. If I'd known there would be so little to it, I would have skipped reading it. The writing style was interesting, though, so this definitely didn't turn me off the author. Just not the story for me.

The Blood Kiss, by Dennis Etchison. Another weird one. This had two story lines going side by side. One is the screenwriter, a woman who is getting screwed over by the boss. Running concurrently is the screenplay she's written. Interesting, but hard to stay engaged with when it went to the screenplay. And none of it was scary, so it wasn't really horror. There was a psycho involved near the end, and the screenplay was horror. The first two...horror. This one? Not so much.

Coming to Grief, by Clive Barker. This was one of my favorites, and I'm not sure if the reason is because Barker caught me unawares. I'm not big on body horror, so his usual fare tends to bore me with the repetitiveness. Yeah, yeah, more skin got torn off. Yawn. However, this was understated, haunting, and beautifully written. It follows a woman dealing with grief after her mother has died. As she goes through the motions, a creature gets closer and closer. The character development was in-depth. We never really see the creature, because it takes on the guise of someone the victim has lost. The buildup was leisurely, yet not dull. Thank you for showing me you could write something different, Mr. Barker!

Food, by Thomas Tessier. I couldn't figure out if I liked this one. I don't think I especially did, yet it stuck with me. A chronic overeater, who can no longer leave the house, eats and eats until she begins to change. It was interesting and unexpected. Not sure what else to say on this one.

The Great God Pan, by M. John Harrison. This was another story where the majority happened offstage. Three friends have apparently committed a terrible act. We don't know what it is. We never find out. They are being tormented for it. Punished. But are they really, or is it all in their heads? As with a previous story, I would have preferred to know more, to see more. If you're going to tell me they did something horrific, but never tell me what it was, I'm going to be disappointed. It also didn't have full closure at the end. 

Orange is for Anguish, Blue for Insanity, by David Morrell. This one was a bit long, but a gorgeous, multi-layered story. It had a great "Ohhhhhhhh!" moment. Mostly psychological until the end. An art history student and art student are good friends, both rooming in the same place. The art historian begins studying work by someone named Van Dorn. He disappears, but gets in contact with the artist saying he has figured something out, and it's huge. His death in the same manner as Van Dorn's causes the artist to try to figure out what happened. Overwhelmingly, this is people's favorite in reviews. I found the concept of it fascinating and creative. Definitely a good one. My favorite? Probably not.

The Juniper Tree, by Peter Straub. I already reviewed this one in a different anthology, and it dealt with a little boy being molested in a movie theater. Repeatedly. No way in hell was I going to read this one again, though I did start it before I realized it was one I'd read. This time I noticed there was a theme of stickiness. All I can remember is that it was deeply disturbing to me. The character is about my son's age. Nope.

Spinning Tales With the Dead, by Charles L. Grant. This one starts out simply. A bunch of people are fishing. One pair is a father and son. It becomes apparent that everyone is dead except for the POV character. To me, this was about his guilt. I don't want to give more than that away, and I may be wrong. Not particularly scary, but it did make me think. A good story, all in all.

Alice's Last Adventure, by Thomas Ligotti. This one struck me as being about a woman's fear of aging. She saw death and a loss of her former looks when she gazed at herself. There were shadows around her, and people treated her as if she were elderly (or she took their actions to imply this). She was an unpleasant character, which at first made me wonder if Ligotti disliked women and thought this was their thought process. I'm not certain this isn't the case, but I think perhaps it's just this particular character. I was pretty neutral on this story, other than my dislike of the main character.

Next Time You'll Know Me, by Ramsey Campbell. This one was psychological. The POV character is a writer, yet he never writes. He just insists he's a writer (I imagine we've all known those folks.) He reads stories, and thinks people are stealing them from him, because he's certain, once he's finished the book, that he thought of that first. He aggressively goes after an author, insisting he stole the idea straight from his brain. The author, to make a point to his family, and because he thinks this kid has balls, pays him a stipend for the idea. So he continues to go after authors whose stories he feels were his own, because they owe him. His behavior escalates. I'm not sure this one would get to people who aren't writers quite the same way as it did me. What would you do if someone came after you and said you'd psychically stolen their book? What if they showed up at your house? Creepy.

The Pool, by Whitley Strieber. A horror story for dads. A father finds his young son in the pool, attempting to drown himself. He says he hears voices, sees something amazing, and that his dad has to let him go. This continues, with the boy becoming increasingly agitated. This one will hit you as a parent. I can't say I understand the paranormal source of it, but the child's intensity is striking. This story was incredibly short, at least compared to the others. Not a favorite, but haunting.

By Reason of Darkness, by Jack Cady. There is something chilling and deeply affecting about horror stories told from the POV of Vietnam veterans. At least for me. This story follows three veterans who met in Vietnam. Our POV character is the better adjusted of the three. The other two barely hold onto sanity, and their experiences in Vietnam were extreme. One of them calls the other two out to his house after years of no contact. They go. But what awaits them is not what the POV character expected. Both paranormal and psychological in its horror, this was a stunning story to end on. The characters were fascinating. It was intense and fast paced through much of it. Excellent story. 

All of these are well written, whether I liked the story or not. The opening by Douglas E. Winter is deep, peeling away the layers of horror in the 80s (when this anthology was put together), but I found it discouraging as a horror author. The beginning of it says most horror is generic and cliche. I had to remind myself that he was speaking to readers, not writers, and that he was talking about horror at that time, which had a specific feel to it. He goes into why horror is fun, why we need it. Then he discusses how horror had changed in the 80s, and analyzed the source of fears during that time, detailing what impacted the changes we saw. It was definitely food for thought. I wonder what he'd say about the 90s? The 00s?

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. Prime Evil (Douglas E. Winter)
15. Best New Horror, Volume 1 (edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell)
16. The Tomb (F. Paul Wilson)
17. Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy)
18. The Imago Sequence (Laird Barron)
19. My Soul to Keep (Tananarive Due)
20. Penpal (Dathan Auerbach)
21. World War Z (Max Brooks)
22. From the Dust Returned (Ray Bradbury) 
23. The Red Tree (Caitlin R. Kiernan)
24. In Silent Graves (Gary A. Braunbeck)
25. The Cipher (Kathe Koja)
26. Drawing Blood (Poppy Z. Brite)
27. The Doll Who Ate His Mother (Ramsey Campbell) 
28. Hotel Transylvania (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)

The next book I'll be reading is Ghost Story, by Peter Straub.

Are you familiar with any of these authors? Any stories by them you'd recommend? Have you read this particular book? What did you think?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Writer's Conference Basics, Part II - Attendees

If you didn't see it last week, here is Part I of the Writer's Conference Basics series, in which I did an overview of conferences and conventions. In that post, you will find:

  • Conference or Convention? Definitions of the two.
  • Attendee, Volunteer, Staff, or Faculty? Definitions of the attendee types.
  • Cost. This includes additional costs you might run into.
  • How Do They Work? This includes registration, check-in, and workshops/panels/programming.
Today we're talking about conferences from an attendee's point-of-view.

Benefits of being an attendee are:
  • Gaining knowledge in your field
  • Meeting/networking with other authors, editors, and agents. In the case of conventions versus conferences, there may be more fan-related folks to rub elbows with, such as actors, graphic artists, illustrators, etc. Or at a conference such as SCBWI's, where illustrators are part of the group.
  • Creative inspiration
  • Possibly getting feedback on your work, if offered at that conference
  • Possibly getting to pitch your work to an agent or editor (or more than one)
Okay, so you're an attendee. You've registered in advance, checked-in, gotten your registration materials, and looked through the schedule to figure out what workshops you want to go to (or you're playing it by ear). What next?

Downtime -  If there's a session where there are no workshops you're interested in, don't despair! Downtime is important. Especially at an event that's more than one day. Take a session to sit by yourself or to find other folks to talk to. This is a good time for networking and meeting other authors. Visit the bar. Writers spend a lot of time at the bar.

This is also an excellent time to get some writing in. If I travel without friends for a con or conference, I like to spend time alone in my hotel room writing. It's a nice break when you're accustomed to a house full of people and responsibilities. There's no cleaning to do, no laundry, no making lunches. Me time.

Or nap.

My first conference, I felt I had to attend something every single session. I know better now. It's okay to take time for a breather here or there. It will help you get through the rest of the event.

Appointments - Make sure you know when and where your appointments are if you have any. If you can, scope out where you need to be for the appointment in advance, so you don't end up being delayed in getting to it. These things are packed, so if you miss your appointment, there's no rescheduling.

Also make note of what you need to bring to the appointment. If it's a critique, how many copies of your piece must you bring, and how much of it (1st page, 1st three pages...)? Do you need to bring your query letter? What else? Always bring something to take notes with. And if you're pitching, bring water. It gives you something to do to take a moment if you need to think, and it keeps your voice going.

Clothing - If there is no information on the website about a dress code or dress for specific meals, consider the type of event you're going to. If it's a writer's conference, rather than a fan convention, business casual is a good direction to aim. If it's a fan con, you can still do business casual, but casual is also perfectly acceptable, and you might actually be overdressed in business casual. Costumes are also fine at a convention. I wouldn't recommend wearing costumes to a conference unless you want to be the only one (or they're having a costume event.)

If there is a banquet or awards ceremony, you can usually dress it up. Especially if the two are paired. Unless it says black tie is required, you can usually dress in any way between formal and casual, and there will be other people dressed the same. Personally, I like to dress up for a night.

One thing to bear in mind is whether you will be pitching or querying. If you will, I suggest professional dress. It's like a job interview, so dress for it.

And remember, you're going to be alternating between sitting on your butt in probably uncomfortable chairs, squeezed between other people (meaning you can't adjust your sitting as much as you might otherwise), and walking around to different rooms, possibly even different floors/levels of the hotel/convention center. So dress comfortably, and wear comfortable shoes. After my first conference, I gave up on heels, except at banquet. Even if I'm dressed business casual, I'm in my hiking sneakers, because they're comfortable, though I do bring a pair of dress shoes if I'm querying/pitching.

Plus, wear layers. The way most of these venues work, you're going to have a different temperature in every room. And it's a case of the three bears. One person likes it hot, one likes it cold, and one likes it juuuuust right. Inevitably, someone will be happy with the temperature in a given room, and someone else will be miserable. So make sure you have more clothing to put on, and an acceptable amount of clothing to take off without going full nudist.

Meals - If meals are included in your registration, check for any meal tickets in your registration materials. At PPW, we put them in the badge holders, and there are specific tickets for specific meals. Find out where you eat and when. If you miss the meal, you don't get it, much like the appointments. If there are table hosts, where you have the opportunity to sit with a faculty member, get there early! Chances are, there will be major lines. People like food. Fooooood.

There will often be somewhere to get snacks. If it's being held in a hotel, they will have a coffee shop, a gift shop, a restaurant, or some combination of these things. If you're at a convention, they will usually have a Con Suite, in which various snacks are provided throughout the day, supplied by room hosts that change out every few hours.

Don't depend on this, though. Take your own snacks, especially if you have blood sugar or related issues. Do note, however, whether there are rules against snacks in the meeting spaces, which should be noted in the program. I say this because hotels will fine the organization running the conference/convention if they have rules against it. For a nonprofit, additional fees like this can be crippling. At Pikes Peak Writers Conference, we can't allow outside snacks in the meeting space, but people are allowed to enjoy them right out in the lobby or in their rooms, so it's just a matter of walking a few steps to save us from getting fined.

Volunteers/Scholarship Recipients - If you've offered to volunteer at the event, or you've won a scholarship and it requires you to volunteer, show up for the volunteer times and jobs you've been given. Not doing so may mean having to pay it back (if you received a scholarship), and will ensure you're never asked to help or take an active part in the running of the event again. The staff depend upon volunteers showing up for what they volunteered for. So do your fellow attendees. You may not be getting paid for this, but it matters.

Hydrate - We say this a lot at Colorado events, because people from out of state don't realize just how dry it is here and can get incredibly sick (emergency room sick) if they don't hydrate. However, I think it's important to hydrate at ANY event you're at. If you can, bring a refillable water bottle. A lot of events have water stations set up throughout the venue, but the cups and glasses they put out don't hold much water, so fill up a bottle and take it in with you. In my experience, this does not violate the no snacking rule. Assuming you aren't spraying water all over the place, no one's going to yell at you for having a water bottle. Unless it smells like tequila.

Read the Workshop Descriptions - I'm not saying they're going to be well written, but they hopefully usually will. Don't decide whether you want to go to a workshop based on the title alone. I named my short story workshop To Make a Long Story Short. My description listed exactly what it was about (writing, editing, and submitting short stories), but folks who came in based on the title alone thought it was an editing workshop. Now, if the description is bad, that's on whoever wrote it. But if you go into a workshop you didn't want to attend, because you didn't read the actual workshop description, that's on you.

Branch Out - My first two conferences, I took earbuds and a book. In between classes, I found an out of the way nook, put my music on, and stuffed my face in a book. This cut out networking for me. Everyone I met and talked to, I met in the food line or, in one case, waiting for a workshop to start. But think of how many people I could have met if I'd walked around and been open and friendly instead of introverting so hard. I've since made many amazing connections, despite being a shy introvert who hates small talk. Stretch past your insecurities and discomfort as much as you can. No one expects you to be perfect. Even if you give yourself ten minutes to do that before going into introvert hibernation in a corner of the lobby, you'll have pushed yourself.

Also falling under branching out, attend some workshops that are out of the ordinary for you. If you're a mystery writer, attend a romance, science fiction, or horror workshop. If you're in the middle of edits, attend a workshop on the next steps or on the craft of writing. Do one thing you wouldn't normally do. It might be worth it. I've now heard from several people that they attended my short story workshop as the "something different" we recommended. They were solely novelists. They're now also playing around with the short form. You never know what you'll discover or what you'll like.

Focus - If you're overwhelmed, and you're not sure what to attend, find a focus. What I mean by this is, choose a goal for what you want to leave the conference knowing or having accomplished. Then pick workshops that meet that. For instance, if this is your first conference, and you consider yourself a beginner, maybe mostly attend workshops on the writer's life and craft. Your focus should probably be on those things. The next year, maybe you'll attend mostly editing and query/submission-type workshops. After that, maybe it's all about marketing. Look at what will benefit you NOW, and go from there. It's a way you can narrow down your choices.

Now I'll leave you with a couple thoughts from the other attendee categories. I'll do this at the end of each post.

What staff and volunteers want attendees to know:

First and foremost, we're volunteers. No one is getting paid. We do this for the love of helping our fellow writers/authors.  Staff put months and months and months into building this event for you, spending their own time and money to make it successful, often while also having day jobs, their writing careers, and families. So if you have a complaint or an issue, take a moment to consider that we're just people like you, there to learn and further our writing careers, and maybe tone it down a little. You can address an issue and remain respectful. We want to help. Just let us try to do so before you get upset. Certainly, whatever has gone wrong was not intentional.

If you run into a volunteer or staff member who is disrespectful or not helpful, please find another one and let them know, on top of whatever your original issue was. It is horrifying to us when a member of our team behaves inappropriately. Like us, they're volunteers. We try our best to put people where they are best suited and to screen for people who will not be friendly to attendees, but there may occasionally be someone who slips through. There's also the issue of us not being able to do anything about it if no one tells us. If something is reported after the fact, we can't fix it, but we would have been able to if someone had told us when it occurred. And we would have worked our butts off to make it better for you. So please do find someone--preferably above the person who caused issues, such as the director--and let them know what happened. We don't want your experience ruined because of a bad apple. The same is true of faculty and other attendees. Let us know.

And if you saw a staff member excel at what they were doing, or there is someone who was particularly helpful, please tell someone! It's nice to hear the good, too.

If there are surveys, please fill them out. Don't walk away upset because something wasn't to your taste. Instead, make suggestions! We spend an awful lot of time trying to figure out what our attendees will enjoy. The more feedback from past attendees we have, the better an idea we have of what will be well received. We want to make people happy and deliver a product they desire. So please give us that chance!

Finally, there are a lot of working parts to a conference. A ball may be dropped in one place. Sometimes things will occur that we have no power over (for instance, a blizzard or a faculty member backing out at the last minute). Please be patient with us. We're doing the best we can.

What faculty want attendees to know:

We're as much a fish out of water as you at any of these events. We are coming in from the outside, and expected to be in certain places at specific times. Our trip out may not have been pleasant. Something bad may have happened on the way, or in our every day lives. We won't always be at the top of our game. Sometimes we're sick, but we can't cancel. If a faculty member is cranky with you, remember that they're human, and there may have been a reason for it. Although one hopes this won't occur.

We are not always given a lot of information in advance (in fact, we're frequently not), and may be having to adjust or play things by ear. Maybe we thought we'd have a projector, but we don't. Maybe we thought there'd be sound, but there isn't. Maybe we have to speak into a microphone on a table because the sessions are recorded, so end up having to sit down to deliver our workshop (or stand holding a mic like a rockstar, which is not easy to do if you have a lot of notes to consult.) Some of us are introverts and/or shy, too, and this may be something we have worked to overcome in order to be up there. We may be last minute fill-ins, or they may have switched our topic for whatever reason. We have no idea how many people to expect in a workshop we're giving until people are sitting down in front of us.

Some of the complaints I saw on the surveys I mentioned in the previous post were things like: "the speaker sat at a desk, and I couldn't see her;" "there was no PowerPoint;" "the speaker did not appear to be prepared for the large crowd they got." That sort of thing. Some of these were out of people's control. Also, what one person complains about, another person praises. The person who didn't like that a speaker didn't have a PowerPoint? Their arch-nemesis complained that too many speakers had PowerPoints...there is no way to make everyone happy with everything. We certainly do our best to try, though.

Not all faculty are paid or even comped. Don't assume we're making bank off presenting to you. We may have just presented an hour long workshop for free. Even if it wasn't for free, it probably wasn't much. We may have gotten a small stipend, but had to pay to get ourselves to the event.

If the faculty member is an agent or editor, don't pitch to them in the bathroom, don't confront them if they've previously rejected you, and don't interrupt them when they're speaking to someone else in order to pitch to them. Do respectfully ask if they'd be willing to listen to your pitch, as long as it's a reasonable time and place. If they are running to present a workshop, that is neither the time, nor the place. Sitting next to them at dinner, especially after you've made pleasant conversation with them, might be the place (and the time, as long as they aren't eating.) Use your common sense, and remember, above all else, that we are human, too.

Signings can be horribly humiliating things if you aren't the Stephen King of the conference. If you liked what we presented, come talk to us! You don't have to buy the book, but please come say hi and tell us you liked the workshop. Ask us questions. Obviously, if you aren't buying a book, do try to stand off to the side so someone else can make a purchase or get a signature. If we had to consign books, we're out that money until someone buys them. There are no returns, in most cases. Those of us who are low on the totem pole are going to be sitting there watching the lines stretch out the door for the keynotes/guests of honor, and hoping for one sale. So maybe consider buying the book, too, if you liked the speaker.


Okay, that's it for this one. These are turning out to be longer posts than I might hope for, but maybe the amount of information will make up for that. Before I end this post, I'm going to put the links I usually do on Wednesdays. I'd like a little wiggle room over the summer (and maybe even after that), so I'm not going to scrap posting links, but I am going to move them to the end of my Monday posts instead, and just post once per week, except in weeks I have a horror book review, like this upcoming Friday. Once this series is completed, I'll be back to shorter posts. But because I'm combining two posts, I will post fewer links unless I have too many to share to mitigate them that way.

As always, please bear in mind that I'm not endorsing these, merely passing along interesting links. Always do your own due diligence before submitting to a market or contest.

Accepting Submissions:

The Threepenny Review is open for submissions through the end of June. They do not read between July and December. Length varies by type of submission, as does pay, but pay is between $200 and $400. Deadline June 30.

Chicken Soup for the Soul has a couple calls ending soon. The topics are blended families, curvy & confident, and stories about teachers & teaching. Pays $100 to $200. Should be in first person, and be a personal story or poem. 1200 words or less. Deadline for these calls is June 30.

Dark Alley Press is putting together the Ink Stains Anthology. Dark literary fiction. 3000-20,000 words. Pays between $5 and $20, depending upon length.

Litbreak takes short stories, poetry, essays, reviews, and various other things. Word count varies by type of submission. Pays between $25 and $50.


Bacopa Literary Review is holding a contest. First prize is $200. There is a winner and a runner-up in each: poetry, literary fiction, creative nonfiction. Up to 8000 words. Deadline June 30.

Can you think of any attendee tips I left out? If you've been staff or faculty, is there anything else you want attendees to know? Do you have any questions you'd like answered in the posts for staff and faculty? Anything you'd want either of those categories to know?

May you find your Muse.

Man in Chair, by OCAL,
Cartoon Cat Sleeping, by OCAL,
Man in Suit, by OCAL,
Pancake and Syrup Coffee Bacon Hashbrown, by OCAL,
Glass of Water, by OCAL,
Business Man, by OCAL,

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - Rock With a Bun & Links

For today's images, here are some more rock formations from Garden of the Gods. These are all different angles of the same big formation.

My kids are out of school as of next week, so hopefully we can get out on some summer adventures and get some new pictures!

Now for links. Bear in mind that I am not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence when submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Grain Magazine is accepting submissions of eclectic literary fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Up to 3500 words. Pays $50 per printed page, plus contributor copies. Deadline May 31.

Scratchpost Press is seeking submissions for their anthology, The Society Pages. These should be stories exploring a civilized furry community. 2000-8000 words. Pays $30, plus contributor copy. Deadline June 1.

Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk & Eco-Speculation is seeking speculative fiction. They should involve an environmental crisis. 500-7500 words. Pays $.06/word or $15/page, depending upon which is more. Deadline June 4.

Third Flatiron is seeking stories for their anthology Keystone Chronicles. 1500-3000 words. This is a paying market, but pay is not specified. Deadline June 15. 

Tanstaffl Press is seeking short stories for their anthology, Enter the Apocalypse. Less than 8000 words. Pay range will be from $.01/word to $.08/word. Deadline June 15.

MatterPress is seeking fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, mixed media, visual arts, etc., for The Journal of Compressed Arts. Pays $50. Current deadline June 15. 

Lackington's is accepting speculative fiction with the theme of animals. 1500-5000 words. Pays $.01/CAD/word. 

Duckbill Anthology is accepting flash fiction and poetry. Up to 800 words. Pays $5. 

Any of these links of interest? Anything to share? Do you have any publishing news? 

May you find your Muse.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Writer's Conference Basics, Part I - Overview

As I've mentioned, I attended Pikes Peak Writers Conference in April. I was also staff, faculty, and a volunteer, putting me in a semi-unique position to see a single conference from four different points of view. I also worked in a position that gave me access to the anonymous surveys filled out during and after the conference, which gave me yet more insight into the process, so I thought I'd pass along some tips in a multi-part series told from these different points of view.

Part I will focus on a general overview of conferences, and the people at them.

Conference or Convention?

First, I should define what a conference is. A conference tends to be a professional gathering, intended for writers, not fans (although we're all fans, too). There are workshops (where someone teaches on a specific topic), panels (where several people present and answer questions), and other types of programming and activities, though workshops are the primary focus. There may be pitches, critiques, open mic sessions, and more. You may or may not get food as part of your registration. Often, registration must be in advance, especially if food is involved. These can be anywhere from a day to a week, but are most frequently over a weekend. They usually cost more than conventions, but often involve some sort of food.

A convention is more geared toward fans in many cases, and has a more carefree feel, even if the programming is for writers. There will still be scheduled programming, usually more focused on panels than single instructor workshops, and they may have parallel programming that focuses on something fan related. They will also have sessions that are focused more on fun stuff, such as the tea dueling session at Anomaly Con. Chances are, there will also be people in costume. These usually cost less than formal conferences, but they don't feed you at all.

Attendee, Volunteer, Staff, or Faculty?

Now let's go over the difference between attendees, staff, volunteers, and faculty. Bear in mind that my familiarity is with a writer's conference run by a nonprofit, so not everything I say will be true for all different types of conferences or conventions.

Attendees are the people that have paid to attend (or won some sort of comped conference via a giveaway, auction, scholarship, or some other means.) They go to workshops, but do not have to work in any way. They are there to learn and to network.

Volunteers are attendees who have volunteered to help onsite, but do not take part in advance planning. They will be in positions that allow them to help for brief periods of time without missing much in the way of workshops and programming.

Staff consists of the volunteers running the conference. They hold a position title, though that title is likely not known to attendees or even faculty unless it's someone like the director. Their work starts anywhere from days to months (to years) before the actual event. These are the directors, the registrars, the planners, etc. There are staff members who do not have to do any work in advance, but miss a chunk of the conference due to their jobs. Some staff don't get to attend any workshops, because their jobs are that involved. Staff are not paid (again, at least at the conferences I'm familiar with, which are run by nonprofits.) They may receive a comp toward the conference (a comp is getting a percentage or amount off the price of the conference,) but this is by no means guaranteed.

There is also venue staff. Our conference is held at a Marriott hotel. Their staff are not conference staff, and our staff are not hotel staff. They're paid by the venue, and that's who they represent. They have nothing to do with the actual conference.

Faculty are the speakers running the workshops, sitting on the panels, etc. They're the teachers. They're also the editors, agents, experts, and illustrators. They can be brought in from outside the area, and may also be staff members. Some may be paid, some may not be, depending upon the conference and what or how much they're doing at conference. They are likely getting some sort of comp to conference, whether partial or full, and whether they're being paid or not.


The cost is all over the place. Conventions will be anywhere from $20 to a couple hundred. Conferences will usually be $100 to above $1000. The longer the conference, and the more food provided, the more expensive the conference.

Both may have optional extra costs. For instance, conventions may offer pictures and/or signed autographs from faculty at an additional charge, or t-shirts. They may have parallel programming with its own cost. Conferences may offer recordings of the workshops or an additional cost to pitch or get a critique. They may also offer extra programming, such as a specific separate track or an extra day of programming, at an additional cost.

You also need to take into account hotel, food, and travel costs. If the conference is local, this isn't an issue. Otherwise, these are necessary costs unless you have an alternate way of handling these, such as a friend who lives nearby. Often, a conference or convention will have a special discounted hotel rate if you let them know you're attending. This will be at a specific convention/conference hotel. Be sure to check the convention/conference website to find out if there are specific discounted hotels or meal plans.

Note: Book your hotel rooms in advance! If you are staying at an event hotel, the rooms may sell out fast. And if you plan on bringing your own food, ask to reserve a room with a refrigerator.

And, of course, books. There will always be books for sale. We all know this is a big cost for writers!

How Do They Work?

I don't want to make this post too long, so I'm going to go over this very basically, and will cover more in the attendee portion.

Registration - Find their website and they will have instructions on registering, (because they want you to attend). Conventions will usually have a fairly short registration form, while a conference will probably have a longer registration form. In addition to your general information, there may be questions about food choices, class choices, merchandise, pitch and critique choices, and more. You will be expected to pay when you register, not at the venue (although many cons have onsite registration available.) There may be payment plans for the more expensive ones. You should get an email confirming your registration.

Check-In - You will have to check in at a registration desk when you get to the event. These are usually clearly marked, but the front desk at the venue can direct you, if not. At that time, you will receive materials like a badge with your name on it, a schedule, meal tickets, appointment cards, and swag. You must have the badge to have access to the programming, so don't lose it! If food or appointments are involved, you will either find the information for that in your badge or in a registration packet (if you were given one.) My advice is to always take a moment to go through the materials you're given at the registration desk to be sure you got everything you should have, and so you can ask questions then and there. Read through the program. There is often important information in there.

Workshops/Panels/Programming - Now you choose what you want to go to! Look through the schedule. If there are workshop descriptions, look through those, too. A title might be misleading, so make sure you've read what the workshop or panel is really about. You'll likely have some session times where there are multiples you want to see, while other session times won't have anything of interest. It's the nature of the beast.

I'll have more information on this in the next post, but this should get you started. Please feel free to ask any general conference or convention questions in the comments, and I'll answer them the best I'm able.

Do you have any questions about conference or convention attendance? Have you attended a con? Have you worked at one? Taught at one? Have any advice of your own? Are there any terms in this post you need defined?

May you find your Muse.

Avatar Costume by Jesse,
Dollar: Nosmoke by OCAL,
Books by OCAL,

Saturday, May 14, 2016

It's Official - Book Tour - Once Upon a Scream

There's a lot of information out there about the Bubonic Plague, aka Black Death. I happened across several places where priests played a part in various aspects. For instance, priests helped to care for those suffering from the plague, and were sometimes responsible for spreading it before realizing they'd been infected.

They were also active in leper colonies during this same time period. This comes into play later.

The plague wiped out a huge portion of the population during that time. Medicine wasn't terribly advanced then, so many things were blamed for the disease killing people left and right. As were many people. Among those people blamed, were lepers and priests. The reason for the lepers being the obvious skin lesions, as the plague also involved lesions. Even people with bad acne were blamed and murdered by terrified citizens.

Of course, we know the plague had to do with disease. And it's prominently thought that trade had more to do with the spread than other means of spreading the wealth. Still, it was the priests who caught my attention. And the poor lepers.

My story, The Black Undeath, is a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin that combines plague, leprosy, and the undead.

Check out this story and others in the new release, Once Upon a Scream, where you'll find all kinds of twisted, dark fairy tales!

Today's my official day on the book tour run by, the creators of this anthology, but there are plenty of other fantastic authors involved:

Dan Shaurette (who also edited it)
Lynn McSweeney
J. Malcolm Stewart
Laurel Anne Hill
Emerian Rich
Adam L. Bealby
MD Maurice
DJ Tyrer
Charles Frierman
Alison McBain
Sara E. Lundberg
Chantal Boudreau
V.E. Battaglia
C.S. Kane
K.L. Wallis
Wayne Faust
Nickie Jamison

This book is available on Amazon in paperback now, but will also be available in e-book in about a week.

If you live near the San Francisco Bay area, Bay Con will feature a panel and release party for this book, with several of the authors, the editor, and staff attending. The party sounds like it will be a great time, and you can get the book signed by the authors who are present, as well as book plates from some who aren't able to make it. There will also be goodie bags!

Unfortunately, I won't be able to be there, but I'll be sending book plates.

Do you have any interesting facts about the Bubonic Plague? What's your favorite fairy tale? Do you prefer them dark, like the original Grimm's Fairy Tales, or light, like the Disney interpretations?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Crazy Month - More Releases - Zombies and Skinwalkers, Grr, Argh!

You know how, two weeks ago, I posted that I'd had two new releases come out with my short stories in them? Within two days of each other?

Well, I had two more new releases in the last two weeks!

This should be the last of this fantastic insanity, at least for a little while. It's been amazing, but each new release has its own requirements for time and effort, so it's been a busy time. I still need to update my author accounts on Amazon and Goodreads. Whoops! I'd meant to do it this weekend, but didn't get around to it.

Here are the two most recent releases!

Through Clouded Eyes: A Zombie's Point of View, which includes my short story, Metamorphosis. What does it feel like to become a zombie? And do you know it's happening?

Purchase at:

Amazon: US | UK | Australia | Canada | Germany | Italy | France | Spain | Japan |Mexico | Brazil | India | The Netherlands
CreateSpace (Print)

The folks at Sirens Call Publishing have been wonderful to work with. I post submission calls from them all the time, as they not only put out a FREE monthly magazine, but also regular anthologies. 

Bloodbond Magazine, which includes my short story, Sound Advice, focuses on shape shifters and other deadly critters. Road trips through Navajo land can be dangerous. Here there be skinwalkers. This short story was written to a creepy soundtrack, which is included in the story, courtesy of my favorite DJ.

Can be purchased from the Alban Lake store.

Bloodbond is part of Alban Lake Publishing, which has magazines in different speculative genres. I believe they have seven magazines at this time, and that they're always open to submissions.

One of the releases from two weeks ago, Once Upon a Scream, is having a Facebook release party this Friday, the 13th! All are welcome to come, and there are prizes and games. Come hang out with horror authors, editors and publishers.

And if you missed it, I was interviewed over at about my short story in Once Upon a Scream. You'll have to scan down, as I wasn't able to pull a direct link to the interview post, for some reason.

I'm going to have some exciting news soon, but I'm waiting on some final details before announcing. (No, it's not a publication contract--I'm not querying anything yet.)

How is your writing world going? What's your favorite type of monster? How was your weekend? Any news to share?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Horror List Book Review - Rebecca

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 Rebecca, by Daphne DuMaurier.

As I often end up saying in these reviews, this one isn't horror. It says right on the cover what it is: romantic suspense.

Still, it was a good book, and an excellent study in creating atmosphere. I actually used excerpts from the beginning of the book in one of my workshops to illustrate how word choice can create atmosphere. 

This book is about a young woman who is courted by a wealthy older man. She ends up marrying him, and is whisked off to Manderlay, a coastal mansion she's seen on a postcard, because it's widely known. Her new husband is obviously keeping a secret, but she figures maybe this is just the way he is. And she's far too busy trying to fit into high society, when it's very much not her typical world, to delve too deeply into the mysteries of Manderlay.

This wasn't a fast read for me, but I wasn't horribly bored by it either. It should be noted that this came out in the 30s, so the pace and culture are different. DuMaurier is not only excellent at atmosphere, but she's solid on setting, as well. At the same time, her dialogue left a lot to be desired. I suppose the characters that were actually talkative were meant to be some sort of joke. Like they were the losers instead of the folks who answered every question with two words. I was dying for a real conversation at one point. It seemed like everyone was keeping everything close to the chest. 

Despite the lack of strong dialogue, the characters were well developed. I was rather fond of Maxim DeWinter's (the heroine's new husband) sister, and of his assistant. Everyone else was stiff, but they were meant to be. Considering Rebecca is already dead and gone at the beginning of this book, she is also strongly developed and, in fact, has a character arc all her own. At first the heroine (she is never named, a fact that would drive a friend of my crazy--I'm looking at you, J.T.) only hears how amazing Rebecca was, and she is constantly compared to her. But then the dirty secrets come out, and we see a whole different view of the dead woman. Incredibly well done.

While the ending wasn't a surprise by the time I got there, it was still a good book. The pacing began slowly, but built toward the end. The stakes only appeared at the end, as well. But there was such a sense of something coming my way, that I was able to stick it out to see what was going to happen.

If you like romantic suspense, and enjoy the slower pace of a classic piece of literature, I'd recommend this. If you're looking for horror or something you can chew through at a fast pace, it would be best to go with something else.

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

The next book I'll be reading is Prime Evil, an anthology edited by Douglas E. Winter.

Have you read Rebecca? How about her short story The Birds, on which the film was based? Who do you think is a master of building atmosphere in their writing?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Chrys Fey, Seismic Crimes, a Giveaway, IWSG, Horror Addicts, & Links!

While Chrys is here, I'm being interviewed over at So after you're done reading here, please drop by and say hi to me!


I'm going to make my IWSG post short today. But it IS time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, created by the inimitable Alex J. Cavanaugh!

Don't forget to stop by and thank the awesome IWSG co-hosts this month: Stephen Tremp, Fundy Blue, MJ Fifield, Loni Townsend, Bish Denham, Susan Gourley, and Stephanie Faris! 

Since this has been such a fantastic month, I'm going to post words of encouragement instead of fears. My big takeaway lately has been to write what you love, and to not let other people discourage you. If you like writing novels, write them. If you like writing short stories, write them. If you like horror, run with it. If you prefer romance, romance our socks off. Just pay attention to what you love, what you want to create, and enjoy the hell out of the writing of it. Remind yourself why you do what you do.

My submissions numbers will be at the end of this post.


I'm delighted to welcome Chrys Fey today, to talk about Seismic Crimes, the second book in her Disaster Crimes series. Check out her book, then visit her blog, where she writes informative posts about writing and publishing. Take it away, Chrys!

Two POVs are Better than One!

I wrote Hurricane Crimes solely in Beth Kennedy’s perspective because she was the character I felt could tell the story as I wanted it to be told. Donovan was my mysterious (and passionate) character: Is he a killer or isn’t he?

For Seismic Crimes, though, I knew I’d have to divide the story between Beth and Donovan. I wanted to share both of their thoughts and senses for every romantic, suspenseful and disastrous moment. It was fun starting an exciting event in one POV and ending it in another. Certain scenes also seemed to fit better with Donovan or vice versa, and it was fun exploring how each of them would survive on their own.

Beth’s POV:

Donovan was an amazing man; there was no doubt about that. And she couldn’t ignore her feelings either. When she realized she would do anything for him, even kill to protect him, she knew she was in love. Yes, in love with a man she barely knew, but in love nonetheless.

The clock hanging on the wall was wrong but the minute hand continued to move. Each tick frayed Beth’s nerves. Donovan had been in the interrogation room for thirty minutes. What is happening? What are they putting him through?

Her hair hung in damp ropes to her shoulders and her clothes were wet, offering a bit of coolness to her heated skin. She stretched out on the chairs, letting exhaustion take over her body, and drifted off to sleep.

Donovan’s POV:

Donovan sat with his back straight against the metal chair, his cuffed hands clasped on top of the table. An officer sat in front of him. The other two flanked his chair.

“Just watch the footage,” he told them, aggravation growing inside him like acid reflux. “You’ll see I didn’t kill my brother.”

“Well, that’s something we’re all curious about,” the officer sitting at the table said. “How did your brother’s murder just happen to be recorded?”

“It didn’t just happen to be recorded,” Donovan seethed. “My brother was a cop. He was in the Internal Affairs unit.” He spoke slowly as if he were drilling the words into the officers’ heads. “He had a security system to protect his home. It wasn’t a piece of shit system, but an elaborate one. He had two separate systems of hidden cameras outside and inside his house.”

Title: Seismic Crimes
Author: Chrys Fey
Series: Disaster Crimes Series (Book Two)
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Format: Digital and Print
Page Count: 282




An Internal Affairs Investigator was murdered and his brother, Donovan Goldwyn, was framed. Now Donovan is desperate to prove his innocence. And the one person who can do that is the woman who saved him from a deadly hurricane—Beth Kennedy. From the moment their fates intertwined, passion consumed him. He wants her in his arms. More, he wants her by his side in his darkest moments.

Beth Kennedy may not know everything about Donovan, but she can’t deny what she feels for him. It’s her love for him that pushes her to do whatever she has to do to help him get justice, including putting herself in a criminal’s crosshairs.

When a tip reveals the killer's location, they travel to California, but then an earthquake of catastrophic proportions separates them. As aftershocks roll the land, Beth and Donovan have to endure dangerous conditions while trying to find their way back to one another. Will they reunite and find the killer, or will they lose everything?



Amazon CA / NOOK / KOBO 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for coming by, Chrys, and good luck with the rest of your tour! I hope you'll all visit Chrys at her blog, and come say hi to me at!

I usually do a monthly wrap up of my publication/submission numbers for the previous month with my IWSG post, so here they are:

In April:

I submitted 3 stories.
I received 3 rejections.
I received 0 acceptances.
I had 2 stories published (see THIS POST for more information on those.)

Just a few links this week since this post is pretty full up already. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing any of these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Alliteration Ink has put out a call for stories for Steampunk Universe. The focus will be on character who do not identify as abled or neurotypical. Pays $.06/word. 5000 words or less. Deadline June 1.

Helen is seeking short works that are literary or genre. Pays between $2 and $10. 500 to 4000 words. Deadline June 1.

Contrary is open for submissions for their summer issue. Pays $20 per author per issue. Fiction, poetry, commentary. Deadline June 1.


The Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation is holding a playwriting competition. No entry fee. Prizes run from $500 to $3000. Entry must involve someone who is LGBTQ+, and be based on someone from history. Deadline May 31.

Have you written multiple POVs before? Was there a reason, or is that just what spoke to you? Did you read Hurricane Crimes? What are your writing insecurities? Have you allowed yourself to be discouraged by anyone lately? How did you come back from it? Any publication news? Are you submitting?

May you find your Muse.