Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Remembering Fall & Links

I don't believe I posted any fall foliage pics this year, so here's one I took on a new drive we went on this year. There was a meandering stream (or lazy river...I don't know the distinction.

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

Accepting Submissions:

67 Press is accepting submissions for the 67 Press Anthology, Volume 3. Literary. Fringe. 5000 words or less. They prefer flash fiction. Pays a flat fee plus royalties (flat fee not listed). Deadline December 31.

The Kickstarter for Humans Wanted: A SF Anthology went well, and they are still taking submissions. Seeking SF stories about the helpfulness of humans. 3000-6000 words. Pays $250. Deadline December 31.

Book Smugglers Publishing is accepting submissions of short stories for their anthology Gods & Monsters. Speculative fiction. 1500-17,500 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline December 31.

CWTCH Press is open for short stories for their anthology If Mom's Happy: Stories About Erotic Mothers. 1500-4500 words. Pays $50 + 2 copies. Deadline December 31.

Comet Press is open for reprint submissions to their anthology Year's Best Hardcore Horror, Volume 2. Must have been (or will be) published in 2016. Short stories/novelettes. Pays $.01/word. Deadline December 31.

Zombies Need Brains LLC has three anthologies open for submissions after having met their Kickstarter goal. Up to 7500 words. The anthologies are: Submerged (F/SF set underwater), All Hail Our Robot Conquerors! (50/60s style robots), The Death of All Things (Death is a character in the story). Pays minimum of $.06/word (depending upon how much more the Kickstarter makes). Deadline December 31.

Carte Blanche is looking for fiction, creative nonfiction, photo essays, poetry, artwork, and more. Up to 3500 words. Pays a modest fee (not specified). Deadline December 31.

Darkhouse Books is seeking short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and essays about descansos (roadside memorials). Up to 3000 words. Royalty share. Deadline December 31.


Story Shares is holding The 2016 Relevant Reads Story of the Year Contest. 1000-10,000 words. Middle Grade up. Several categories for prizes, including diversity and genre. Prizes vary from $500 to $3000. Deadline December 31.

Of Interest:

Chrys Fey put out an excellent post (with downloadable PDF) with 100 Marketing Tips.

Has it been fall or winter in your area? Had any snow yet? Any of these of interest to you? Anything to share? How are your submissions going?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Is Post-Apocalyptic the New Western?

At first there were westerns. John Wayne ruled the roost. Men rode in on horseback, guns blazing, and took out the outlaws and the savages. They survived the ravages of the desert, the mountains, the great undiscovered and deadly wilderness.

They were brave, forging new paths, fighting the "other," dealing with the darkness of humanity.

But they were also free. Lawless. Discovering, pushing, reaching.

Then something changed. Replacing the westerns I cut my teeth on were two things: Dirty Harry-style cops (Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson) and a new focus on war and its survivors (Rambo, countless Chuck Norris films).

As with horror, action films often reflect the concerns of Americans. There were new kinds of outlaws, and the cops had to do whatever it took to take them out. Serial killers were also big during this time, with the hardened, no nonsense cop tracking them down despite the risks.

Clint Eastwood's filmography is a good timeline of these trends. Through 1958, he was in a variety of movies, many of them uncredited, several of them having to do with World War 1 era military films and some cheesy horror. But in 1958, he tread into the land of westerns. A Fistful of Dollars came out in 1964. Note that America became minimally involved in the Vietnam War in the 1950s, with our involvement escalating in the 60s. Our direct involvement ended in 1973.

In 1971, Dirty Harry was born. Eastwood was in several more westerns after this time, but they were minimal compared to his cop dramas and comedies.

I looked at crime rates through these years. These showed that crime rates began climbing in the early 60s, peaking for a long time between the 70s and 90s. Starting in 1993, crime rates began dropping drastically ("32 percent from 1993 to 2000" and 23 percent between 2000 and 2012, according to this article.) By the time we rolled into the 90s, Eastwood's films became more varied again, with less focus on any one thing.

Die Hard came out in 1988. Terrorists were the bad guys here. (Or thieves playing terrorists, really, but in the following movies, this was less true.) In the late 80s and early 90s, Schwarzenegger started fighting dictators and terrorists (and robots). Red Dawn came out in 1984. Even Rocky came face to face with a big, bad Russian in 1988. Our crime rates were still high, but they were reaching their pinnacle. Mad Max popped onto the scene in 1979, though I'm not sure when he hit big in America. The sequels came out in the 80s.

At some point we stopped looking at outsiders and lowly villains, and started looking at the government and the power players. When that was, specifically, I can't say without a whole lot more research than I'm willing to do for this particular blog post, but by the time those crime rates dropped, we were already beginning. The Postman came out in 1997. Hunger Games came out in 2012 (book in 2010).

Going all the way back to westerns, where I began this, what was the appeal? Things were simpler, for one. It was all about survival. Everyone knew their roles and followed them. There were fewer people to contend with, and more wilderness to combat. For the most part, there were a bunch of white folks and Native Americans were, quite simply, the boogeyman, the other, the final barrier in settling the west and achieving manifest destiny. In the real world, during the popularity of westerns, we had the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, hippies rallying for peace, and an awful lot of unrest stirring in this country and others (Berlin Wall). Is it that people felt overwhelmed with all of this going on and wished for those simpler days, where the only race wars were those long conquered in real life? Where the biggest enemies were the deeply stereotyped Native Americans and outlaws who were villains through and through, with no redeeming qualities? Did it perhaps give folks feeling otherwise emasculated somewhere safe to aim their discomfort, scorn, and anger at what was happening?

Now fast forward. We've been involved in warfare in the Middle East for decades (the Gulf War officially began in 1990), the Cold War came to a tentative end in 1991, and we've been involved in various other tensions across the globe. Our crime rates are at all time lows, reducing drastically after 1993. War started looking different to us, somehow more distant, even while we can see more of it with the ease of getting footage. In 2001, it was brought to our backyard for the first time in a long time on September 11. School shootings have escalated, as have random attacks on civilians by people wanting to make a point. McVeigh, angry at the federal government, blew up a federal building in 1995. In the early 70s, we had the Watergate Scandal. In the 80s, people stopped smoking pot and started snorting coke.

It started looking really good for government and civilization to break down, and for us to return to a simpler time. A time where basic survival was the most important thing, where trust was hard to come by, where people depended upon themselves and knew that, above all, no one should be trusted. We imagined the apocalypse. The end of industry and consumerism. Of big government. No more reliance on technology. No more taxes. No more laws.

In post-apocalyptic, there is usually a single hero, possibly with a small band of supporters or random good folks who come along to lend aid when needed. Power is back in the hands of the individual. There is more control over one's individual life, with a sense of freedom to it, even when there is great danger.

The more people depend upon technology, the more we wish we didn't. The more government makes laws to govern our behavior, the more we wish they'd back off and give us our freedom. The more taxes increase, the more we want to escape them. The more we see how dirty and disconnected our politicians are, the more we want the system to change. Post-apocalyptic stories remove big government (unlike dystopians). So did westerns much of the time, and even when government was involved, it was distant, grasp weakened. They were depending upon individuals to go in and clean up their issues, trusting them, often wrongly. The focus was on the individual and whatever form of evil they had to overcome. This is true in post-apoc, too. Even the settings often reflect the barren wastelands represented by drought-ridden deserts (or, as in Waterworld, the exact opposite). Resources are hard to come by, just as in westerns. And through it all, we see the evil in everyday people. Raiders, outlaws, power-grabbers, war lords.

Now, westerns aren't entirely dead. This past year saw the release of a bunch, including one with Scott Eastwood. We had Hateful 8, Bone Tomahawk, The Duel, and more. There were some big names in these films. So, no westerns aren't dead, but they've changed, and they no longer speak to the same places within us that post-apocalyptic now does, which is probably why most of them struggle now, or go straight to video. No one watched Hateful 8 for the wild west experience. It was a violent film that acted more like a bloody locked room mystery than a pure western. Bone Tomahawk was horror, exploiting the other while trying to back away from the generalization of "normal" Natives. Diablo, the film starring Scott Eastwood, was more psychological horror than western. So, yes, they're still here, but no, they're not the classic westerns that were so big for such a long time, and their writers are failing to catch that essential genetic makeup that drew people in the 60s.

That's what post-apocalyptic appears to be for.

What do you think? Do you think post-apocalyptic films has ties to westerns? Do they set off similar emotions and thoughts? Or do you think they have nothing to do with each other? What do you think influenced the movie trends through the years?

May you find your Muse.

Disclaimer: I've grossly oversimplified stats and time periods in my attempt to look at the film and book industry during these time periods. This is a blog, not a college thesis or investigative journal. To flesh everything out, I would have had to spend a whole lot more time, found sources to cite, and it would have taken an immense amount of space, much more than should be used for a blog post. So I'd love to talk about what you think concerning post-apocalyptic vs. western, but discussing ALL the stuff I had to leave out for space and time considerations isn't necessary. I addressed history and crime stats in only the most basic way in order to give a quick scan of what was occurring during this time, and maybe try to figure out what might have been influencing films. This post was about me "thinking out loud" about the similarities between post-apoc and westerns.

*Still of John Wayne from El Dorado, Paramount Pictures, 1966
*Still of Clint Eastwood from A Fistful of Dollars, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios
*Violent crime data, public domain, Ryan Cragun: RTCEarly 01:44, 21 December 2006 (UTC) - Data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics
*Hunger Games book cover
*Cowboy on Horse,, OCAL

Monday, November 21, 2016

Native American Writers, Artists, Actors, and Musicians

It's still Native American Heritage Month, so I thought I'd recommend some art of various types by Natives. First, literature. After all, this IS a writing blog.

Colours of Us put out a list of 32 Native American Children's Books.

The Open Education Database presented 20 Native American Authors You Need to Read.

Goodreads has a list of Popular Native American Author's Books.

I personally recommend Sherman Alexie and Stephen Graham Jones.

You know what? How about some films? It doesn't have to be all about books.

Indian Country Today put out a list of 11 Essential Native American Films You Can Watch Online Right Now.

I can definitely recommend Rhymes for Young Ghouls, which is available on Netflix. It's a fascinating mix of gritty reality and magical realism. Smoke Signals is not on that list, but it's a great film, and one more folks are maybe aware of. Unfortunately, it's not on Netflix. It was the first movie I saw Adam Beach in, though I don't know if it was his first film overall. He's come a long way, which is wonderful to see, though I wasn't excited about his role in Suicide Squad.

Curious about Native American actors and actresses? Native Celebrities has a list. Some of these folks are recognizable (Adam Beach, Wes Studi, Graham Greene, Jason Momoa, and others.)

Here's a list of Native American artists.

And Wikipedia offers a list of Native American musicians. If you like rap, check out Frank Waln, who infuses a rap song with a beautiful flute solo and traditional Native sounds. For New Age/instrumental, Brule is a great choice. They perform around Christmas each year here.

Finally, I'd like to leave you with a short film (less than four minutes). It's a poem performed by twelve Native women about the effects of colonization. Pamela J. Peters wrote and directed "My Once Life."

I hope you've discovered a new writer, artist, actor, or musician you didn't know about before.

What is your favorite Native film? Writer? Actor/Actress? Musician? Have you ever seen Brule perform? Have you seen the film Smoke Signals? Any recommendations I missed?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Horror List Book Review - Dawn - Xenogenesis, Book 1

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 Dawn (Xenogenesis, Book 1), by Octavia E. Butler.

First, I'm going to get this out of the way: not horror. It's science fiction. I'm going to review it anyway.

It was an interesting story. A woman awakens in a strange enclosed space. An alien lifeform with tentacles on its face tells her she must grow used to its form before she can leave the room with living walls. It is explained to her that humanity all but killed itself off, but that these aliens, the Oankali, grabbed up those few survivors remaining and brought them up to their ship. It has been centuries since they picked them up, keeping them in a sleep while the Oankali repaired the Earth.

This woman, Lilith Iyapo, is expected to allow genetic modifications and then to lead a group of humans in training so they can all return to Earth. But humans being humans, they don't understand what has happened, and they meet Lilith with varying levels of aggression, disbelief, disgust, and hatred.

In this way, the book can be considered a type of intellectual horror, like Lord of the Flies. It's an examination of humanity, and an ugly look at the self-destruction of humans. Put a group of them together and see who destroys who first. 

Two types of rape are addressed in this story: an attempt at physical rape and actual psychological rape (you'd have to read to understand what I mean by this). Relationships and sexuality are also explored.

What little hope there is in this book is overshadowed by the horror that is humanity. However, it's a fascinating exploration of both humanity and what could be with alien life forms who mean well in some ways, but also have their own agenda. At times, the humans meant to be "bad" were too severely bullying for me, and I didn't always agree with the actions of the main character, but it was overall a good book. It became slow at some points, but picked back up. I wouldn't continue reading the series, but I would pick up a different book by this author. It should be mentioned that science fiction is my least favorite aspect of speculative fiction, and not a genre I read much of. If you are a sci-fi buff, know that this is not hard sci-fi. It is more about culture and psychology.

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. Needful Things (Stephen King)
8. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
10. Dawn (Xenogenesis, Book 1) (Octavia E. Butler)
11. The Stranger (Albert Camus)
12. Dead in the Water (Nancy Holder)
13. The Witches (Roald Dahl)
14. Psycho (Robert Bloch)
15. The Damnation Game (Clive Barker)
16. The Wolf's Hour (Robert McCammon)
17. Berserk (Tim Lebbon)
18. Prime Evil (Douglas E. Winter)
19. Best New Horror, Volume 1 (edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell)
20. Flowers in the Attic (V.C. Andrews)
21. The Tomb (F. Paul Wilson)
22. Shadowland (Peter Straub)
23. Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy)
24. The Imago Sequence (Laird Barron)
25. My Soul to Keep (Tananarive Due)
26. Penpal (Dathan Auerbach)
27. World War Z (Max Brooks)
28. From the Dust Returned (Ray Bradbury) 
29. The Red Tree (Caitlin R. Kiernan)
30. In Silent Graves (Gary A. Braunbeck)
31. The Cipher (Kathe Koja)
32. Drawing Blood (Poppy Z. Brite)
33. The Doll Who Ate His Mother (Ramsey Campbell) 
34. Hotel Transylvania (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)
35. Naked Lunch (William S. Burroughs)

The next book I'll be reviewing is IQ84, by Haruki Murakami.

Have you read this book or anything by this author? What did you think? Did you find the breakdown of "humanity" to be realistic? What would you agree to if you woke up on a spaceship? Any other books by this author you'd recommend?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Guest Post - Nicole Godfrey on Writing Native Characters

November is Native American Heritage Month, and in celebration I asked a friend of mine who is also Native American to write a post about her experiences with editors who weren't aware she was Native, and the issues of only dealing with someone through correspondence.

Welcome, Nicole!


In honor of Native American History month, I’d like to cover the difficulties of working with an editor through correspondences.

As if being Native American/American Indian/Indian, or any other term assigned to the Native tribes of North America, weren’t difficult in and of itself, writing about characters of the same nationality presents its own set of problems. We, as writers, strive for accurate representation of each person we create, no matter their nationality, religion, or political standing. The task is daunting and requires constant research. And the powers that be only know that there have been plenty of mistakes made!

Add in the filter of emails from editors. Someone we’ve never met, with no knowledge of background or upbringing, reads our stories and picks out what they think needs to be changed. Race is a touchy subject in person, what with our melting pot of a country making it impossible to accurately gauge someone’s actual ethnicity. But not in person? No way. So when you get a note about calling your character Indian, that it’s an offensive term and shouldn’t be used, especially when following the statement of not knowing if you’re Native, it can push some serious buttons. Multiple buttons if it’s mentioned more than once. Which it was.

I promise that I behaved. Counted to ten and all that. But in the end I had to explain to the editor that I was indeed Native, that I’d grown up around a family that openly called themselves Indians, and said that as long as the person using the term was the “Indian” in question, it was acceptable. This made me question terms and how they’re used in general. What should matter isn’t the term itself, but how the person speaking it wishes it to impact.

There are gray areas with any term, catch phrases, colloquialisms, and slang that have ever existed. So no matter what, there will be the possibility of causing an offense. But what we all should be concerned about is looking beyond the words to the intended meaning. Writers, readers, critics, trolls, and anyone else that would like to voice their opinion about it.

I love being Native. I love my heritage so much that I’ve written several pieces of fiction with Native main characters. Do I strive to be respectful? Yes. Do I wish to keep it realistic? For sure. Will I stop using a term because I think it may hurt someone’s feelings? No. Look beyond the words and see their meaning and purpose. I have a duty to use my gift and deliver stories that inspire higher thinking. No matter the nationality, I will do my best to do right by my characters as they’re meant to be written.

Thanks for reading.


Nicole is one-half of the team who wrote Hoofbeats. 

After a run of bad luck, gifted horse trainer Cole Frasier thinks he’s lost his touch. When he’s offered three times his normal rate to gentle a stallion, he needs the money badly enough he jumps at the opportunity, even if his boss is of questionable morality.

Once he meets Midnight Blood, he knows there’s something special about the horse, but he doesn’t know how special until he begins sharing dreams with the magnificent steed.

Derek Dancing Hawk is a horse shifter trapped in his horse form due to guilt over losing the wild herd he was guarding. When he meets Cole, as Midnight Blood, he wants to find a way to be human again. During a fight between Cole and the ranch foreman, he manages to shift and save Cole, but his transformation from horse to human is captured on camera. This not only gives Cole’s boss blackmail material, but also creates the need to warn the horse shifter council of the threat to their anonymity. The existence of shifters is a closely guarded secret, one they will go to great lengths to keep.

Purchase Hoofbeats directly from Dreamspinner Press or Amazon.

BIO: Nicole Godfrey is a writer who calls the beautiful city of Colorado Springs home, along with her furry children. She was born in Omaha, NE. and has lived in Florida and Tennessee. Her writing career started with poetry at a young age, leading to her first publication at the age of twelve. Poetry eventually evolved into the love of storytelling, and any good story, no matter the genre, is open to her creative mind. She has two short stories published through Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group; A Page Lost in An Uncommon Collection, and The Power of the Word in Remnants and Resolutions: Tales of Survival.

When she’s not writing, Nicole actively participates in Amtgard and loves to play table-top RPG’s. Art has also been a part of her life since a young age, so she spends as much time as possible playing with different mediums.


Now for some links! Bear in mind that I am not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting to a market.

Accepting Submissions:

Pulp Literature is open for submissions only between November 15 and November 30. They want diverse stories. Those under 5000 words are most likely to be accepted. Donations are accepted, but not required for submissions (they are doing a kickstarter.) All genres. Pay varies per length. Short stories pay up to $.07/word.

The Indianola Review is open for submissions. Up to 7500 words for fiction. Also take poetry, nonfiction, and miscellaneous submissions. Pays up to $50. Reading period closes December 15. 

Freeze Frame Fiction is open for submissions of flash fiction for the third quarter issue. They also have a themed issue closing at the same time, with the theme "experimental form." Pays $10. Deadline December 15.

Deadlights is open for submissions of short horror fiction. Flash, short, creative nonfiction, and artwork. Up to 7000 words. Pays up to $80, depending upon submission type. Deadline December 15.

Meet Cute is an anthology of microfiction about entertaining first meetings. Up to 1000 words. Pays $10. Deadline December 16.

The Writing Piazza is open for anthology submissions of stories about animals used in testing. Any genre, but they prefer it ends with a rescue. 5000-20,000 words. Pays $25. Deadline December 20.

DarkFuse is open for short fiction and novellas. They pay $.05/word up to 2k. Anything over 2k is not paid, but still accepted. Dark fiction in various genres. 

Have you had issues with editors being wary of something you were writing? Any issues in writing race? Any of these links of interest? How is NaNo going? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Crystal Collier - Meet Your Doppelganger

Today I'd like to welcome the ever-delightful Crystal Collier, purveyor of cheeses, hostess of author two truths and a lie, and finder of fun GIFs. She's here to talk about her newest book, Timeless. Below, you'll find a quiz to discover who your doppelganger in the Maiden of Time series is. Mine was Kiren, which is funny, because I have a character in one of my novels named Kieran, and they sound like they might get along, though they'd have their differences. I'd love to hear who your doppelganger is!

Welcome Crystal Collier here today to share her new book and introduce you to YOUR Maiden of Time doppelganger!

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?

BUY: Amazon | B&N


Have you ever met someone who looks and acts like someone else you know?

These doppelgangers exist in life, so it makes sense they would exist in literature. Today, you can meet your alternate ego in the Maiden of Time trilogy. Answer 5 simple questions to find out which character is most like you. (Some villains included.)

Look at that! You're a story book character. What do you think? Didn't like your match? Maybe should have picked something else? Try again. Share your results. Buy the books and learn more. (Did she really just say that? Yes, yes she did.) You can also enter to INSTANTLY win some really cool prizes below.

Who is your ideal book character match? (Inside or outside the Maiden of Time trilogy.)

Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.

Find her online HERE.

(Email address is required for awarding prizes.)

Monday, November 7, 2016

Mile Hi Con Recap - Supernatural, the Undead, & More

It's been a week since Mile Hi Con, so it's high time I do a recap, eh?

MHC was held in Denver Halloween weekend. Kelley Armstrong and John Varley were Guests of Honor, and Chaz Kemp was the Toastmaster. I had a not-so-secret hope that I'd be on a panel with Kelley Armstrong, but alas, it didn't shake out that way. There's always the future!

On Friday, I was on the panel Horror on the Menu: Different Flavors for Different Tastes. I already covered a bit about this panel in this post. My fellow panelists were Sam Knight, Emily Godhand, Amity Green, and C.R. Asay.

Hororr Panel: Sam Knight, Emily Godhand, me, Amity Green, C.R. Asay

We had a great conversation about the different types of horror out there, with a consensus that psychological horror was preferred by most of us, but that there is plenty to enjoy elsewhere. Look these folks up if you're seeking some good horror to read!

I went straight from this panel to being a representative of Pikes Peak Writers and hosting a mixer. We had a solid turnout, and I got to hang out and chat with some familiar faces and lots of new faces, which was wonderful. In order to let our lovely waitress get closed up and go home, we retired up to a party hosted by the folks who run Myths and Legends Con, a convention I hope to check out this coming year. They had finger sandwiches, alcoholic chai, and lots of other goodies. The party was still going when we left in the wee hours.

JT and Jennifer work the Pikes Peak Writers table

Saturday afternoon I had a panel I was incredibly nervous about. You see, the way they handle faculty sign ups is to send out a list of the workshops sans descriptions and have you indicate what workshops you'd be interested in, willing to be in, and adamantly against (basically). This one said F/SF Outside the West. Being a wild west buff, that's the version of the west that came to mind, and I marked it as interested, thinking it was F/SF except for the new fantasy-based westerns that are becoming more popular. (Which is a weird thing to think, looking back, but it's where I went, anyway.)

Instead, it was a panel about non-western writers. As in, writers outside the U.S. and Europe, or whose voices differ from those commonly found in the west. When I discovered later what it was about, I jumped into research, reviewing those voices I'd already experienced and checking out a ton of books from the library. Not an unpleasant experience as a reader! However, I doubted my knowledge in the area, and was terrified I'd be asked a question that would make me look like an idiot. Instead, the conversation was an interesting one, with us discussing why it's important to read non-western voices (to experience different ways of life, to see the similarities between our culture and the culture of others, to learn more about viewpoints and issues facing our non-western counterparts, etc.), what voices to read (I'll list the ones I mentioned, plus some suggested by my co-panelists below), and how to handle writing non-western voices (key takeaway = RESPECT). We discussed that research should be more than reading about the non-western cultures we're representing, and that speaking to people within those cultures and finding beta readers within them is a good idea. And even then, there will be someone who isn't happy with what you took away from it. A good piece of advice given by Amalie Howard was not to be offended if someone calls you on what you've written that they is false, but to ask them to let you know where you went wrong (while also understanding that it's not their job to educate you, and they can refuse if they please.)

I was happy to be able to recommend some of our fellow bloggers, as well as to mention a couple Native American authors (Native American voices do not typically fit into the western niche). Here's a list in case you want to check out some new authors:

Bish Denham (Fantasy, MG) - The Bowl and the Stone
Pam Munos Ryan (Magical Realism) - The Dreamer, Echo, Esperanza Rising
Isabel Allende (Magical Realism, some MG) - City of the Beasts
Cixin Liu (SF) - The Dark Forest
Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Magical Realism) - Of Love and Other Demons)
Amitov Ghosh (Epic Fantasy) - Sea of Poppies
Sofia Samatar (Fantasy) - A Stranger in Olondria
Karen Lord (SF) - The Best of All Possible Worlds
Haruki Murakami (Fantasy/Dystopian) - IQ84
Nnedi Okorafor (Post-Apoc Fantasy) - Who Fears Death, Binti
Damyanti Biswas - short fiction, Forge Literary Magazine, editor
Sherman Alexie – Reservation Blues
Stephen Graham Jones (Horror)- Any
Jeff and Ann Vandermeer - The Big Book of Science Fiction (contains 13 short stories translated into English for the first time)
N.K. Jemisin - The Fifth Season; The Killing Moon
Saladin Ahmed - Throne of the Crescent Moon
Ahmed Khan - A Mosque Among the Stars
Jaymee Goh - The Sea is Ours: Tales from Steampunk Southeast Asia
Kim Stanley Robinson - The Years of Rice and Salt
Jorge Luis Borges - Fictions
Ken Liu - The Grace of Kings
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni - Mistress of Spices, and other titles
Zaraida Cordova - Labyrinth Lost
Renee Ahdieh - The Warth and the Dawn
Roshani Chokski - The Star Touched Queen
Cindy Pon - Serpentine (Book 1) and Sacrifice (Book 2)
Tracey Baptiste - The Jumbies

My co-panelists on this one were Stant Litore, Amalie Howard, and Jane Bigelow.

There was a book signing a few hours after this, which I could opt to take part in. I went ahead and did so, knowing I probably wouldn't sell any books (I didn't), but it was fun, as I got to sit with Evangeline Denmark and Amity Green. We chatted with each other and had a bunch of people stop by to talk to us, so it was still a good experience. I actually had the option of selling my books at the Pikes Peak Writers table, but since I was hardly ever there, I didn't do so.

My last panel was Re-imagining History With the Living Dead. My fellow panelists were Stant Litore, Aaron Spriggs, and DeAnna Knippling. Both this panel and the SF/F Outside the West panel had no-show panelists, which is why there were only four of us on each of those. I have no idea why the other panelists didn't show (though I have them both on Facebook, so I suppose I could ask them.) This one was different than I'd expected, but lots of fun. The audience gave us time periods in history, and we discussed how it would work for the living and the undead, what the pitfalls might be for either side, what might contribute to it, etc. We went from prehistoric times to Egypt to the Romans to the vikings. It seems like this could be a party game.

I had dinner out with various friends each evening, walking both nights because it was so lovely out. And two of us took a Rocky Horror Picture Show virgin to the sing-along (we didn't out her). I don't believe she was impressed. 

My final act as faculty was to moderate a Supernatural fan forum. This was the second one I was nervous about out of the four I was part of. Reason being, I'd never been to a fan forum, so didn't know how it was actually supposed to run. Also, I don't retain information like true fans do, so I can't pull an encyclopedia's worth of information out of my booty. To prepare, I put together a list of topics on Supernatural, with a good number from the current season. I tried visiting forums online, but didn't find much helpful there, as it's mostly game play and little things that I couldn't make into an in-person discussion. As it was late in the day Sunday, I was afraid no one would show, but we ended up with a full table. Who can resist the Winchester boys?

We discussed favorite characters and episodes (mine is Yellow Fever), whether Cass and Crowley have been neutered, what's going to happen with the mom, monster of the week, and whether the show has run its course (it kinda' has). It was a fun hour of discussion and a much better experience than I expected.

All in all, it was a good experience. I also worked the Pikes Peak Writers information table a few times (though not as much as some others, so thanks to them!), and attended two panels I wasn't in (a dating game-type panel and a podcast panel). The dating game was an interesting concept, and was actually called The Reading Game. Put a reader on one side of a curtain and pull up three authors meeting the desired genre. The reader gets to ask three questions, unaware of who is on the other side. They choose the one that sounds best and get a free book!

My thanks out also to Rose and Patrick, the folks handling faculty and programming. I got to talk a little about one of my first writing loves (horror) and stretch myself out of my comfort zone in speaking on non-western writers and moderating the Supernatural fan forum. Being able to be faculty at conferences and conventions adds a whole new element to the experience, and I definitely enjoy it, even if I stress myself out ahead of time. Connecting with the audience and the other panelists is so much fun, and makes any stress worth it. This con, specifically, is friendly, intimate, and well run. And unlike World Con, I don't leave feeling empty.

Have you read any non-western authors you'd recommend? Any insights? Would you play The Reading Game? What three questions would you ask? What time period would you most like to see re-imagined with the living dead? What's your favorite flavor of horror? Do you think Supernatural has run its course (even if you love it)?

May you find your Muse.

Exposed Brain Zombie by OCAL,

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

IWSG - Roller Coaster Impostor, ShaNoShoStoWriEdSubMo, & Links

First Wednesday of the month means Insecure Writer's Support Group time!

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG is the blogging community's chance to air their insecurities, and to give and get support from other writers. Anyone can join by clicking on Alex's name above and signing up.

Our co-hosts this month are Joylene Novell Butler, Jen Chandler, Mary Aalgaard, Lisa Buie Collard, Tamara Narayan, Tyrean Martinson, and Christine Rains! Be sure to stop by and say thanks for all their hard work.

Let's see. What are my insecurities this month? Why don't I swish around in the swamp and pick one? Squish, squish, squish.

I frequently have ups and downs. One moment I think I can do this writing thing. The next, I'm doubting everything I write, panicking when I submit a story, even if it's just to my critique group. Doubt is a nasty, clawed monster, and right now it's living in my stomach.

And then there's impostor syndrome. I was a speaker at MileHiCon this past weekend, and I had to introduce myself each time. (Which I'm terrible at, by the way--I can talk about writing all day long, but myself? Not so much.) I always state that my current focus is short stories, and that's where I'm published, and there's this moment where I wait for people to wave me off like it doesn't count, because short stories are often treated that way. Of course, no one has done that, and I've had great fun speaking at various cons this year. It's great to connect with attendees and panelists alike. I can only hope that someday I'll have more confidence going into it. It does appear to get better the more I do it.


Alright, time for this month's stats. In the month of October:

Short stories submitted - 6
Short stories rejected - 8 (1 I was short listed on...sob)
Short stories accepted - 0
Short stories published - 0
Short stories currently on submission - 12
Short stories in edits - 2
Short stories written - 3


Now that we've established that it's November, it's time to discuss NaNoWriMo. While I'm not doing the classic form, I will once again be doing ShaNoShoStoWriEdSubMo, which is where I set my goals for the month. (It stands for Shannon's novel and short story writing, editing, and submitting month.) I like to ride the energy of NaNo to increase my own output. I haven't had time to work out any goals for the month, so I'm going to go with:

Write 3 new short stories.
Write 10,000 words on WIP #3.
Complete a round of edits on WIP #2.
Complete edits on 2 short stories currently being edited.
Submit 1 short story to critique group.
Submit at least 2 more short stories to markets (and continue to submit anything rejected during the month of November.)
Choose 1 new form, genre, or topic that is outside my comfort zone and write a short story or flash fiction piece for it.


Link time! Bear in mind that I'm merely passing along publications I've happened across, not endorsing any of them. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Contrary Magazine is accepting fiction, poetry, and commentary. Pays $20. Their winter deadline is December 1.

Sirens Call Publications is looking for first person horror stories for the anthology First Hand Accounts. 4000-8000 words. Pays $25. Deadline December 1.

Goblin Fruit is seeking poetry about the fantastical. Pays $15. Deadline December 1.

Brain Mill Press is accepting science fiction short stories for their anthology Ab Terra. 1000-10,000 words. Pay is not mentioned. Deadline December 1.

Goal Publications is open for short stories about official country/state/province animals for Fur the More. 2000-15,000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline December 1.

Scary Dairy Press, Inc. is seeking short stories for their anthology Mother's Revenge. Speculative fiction. 3000-7000 words. Pays $30-$70, dependent upon length. Deadline December 2.

What are your insecurities? Do you ever feel like an impostor? Do you have any tips for introducing yourself on panels? Did you submit anything in October? Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo or making your own goals? Any of these links of interest to you? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.