Friday, December 15, 2017

Horror List Book Review: Night Visions

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.)

This week, I'm making a change. Ranking the books has gotten increasingly harder, and I'm not even sure I'd still rank them the same anymore. Over the course of my reading from this list, I've learned a lot about the different styles of horror. As a lifelong lover of horror, I thought I had it down, but I hadn't been exposed to some of these styles before. Horror covers a lot of ground, and there's quite a bit of horror that isn't acknowledged for what it is, instead being categorized in a secondary genre (for example, a sci-fi horror story being classified as sci-fi, not horror). 

At the beginning of this process, I was opinionated on certain books not being horror, because they didn't follow the "rules" I had for the genre. If I re-read and reviewed them all over again, there would be some changes. To me, that says this whole project has been beneficial to me as a reader, but also as a horror author. It's been a learning process.

Instead, I'll be keeping track of the top ten. For simplicity's sake, the top ten will be novels and collections only, not anthologies. I'll still review the anthologies, but they will not place in the top ten.

Moving on, this week I'm reviewing Night Visions: In the Blood, edited by Alan Ryan. 

This is an unusual anthology, in that there are only three authors, each with several stories. There was a series of Night Visions anthologies done this way, but this was the first one. I'd love to see this formula continued today. It gave a larger taste of authors who were often found in the major anthologies of the day, but just one story at a time. The setup of Night Visions allowed readers to immerse themselves in each author's style, and to discover them in a way a single story didn't allow.

I'm not going to go into individual stories (mostly because I handed the book over to a friend before reviewing, which was a mistake, because I need to be able to thumb through the book and refresh my memory when it's short stories), but I can say my favorite author in the bunch was Charles L. Grant, followed by Steve Rasnic Tem, then Tanith Lee. They're each skilled, but the gothic style of horror Lee writes isn't my favorite, though it's gorgeous. Her stories were beautifully written, but they were slower paced and didn't end up interesting me as much as the others. Grant and Tem both wrote stories that were more straight forward. I think Tem and Grant wrote similarly enough for it to make sense that they were together in this anthology, but that Lee would have been able to shine more if combined with other gothic horror authors. Her style seemed more literary in its focus on the words and the style versus the more straight forward story. I think I would have liked her stories more if they'd been matched up with different authors, rather than at the end of this collection, with me firmly settled in to the previous styles.

Still, I loved the concept of this book, and I intend to check out any others I can acquire. There were some amazing authors collected in this series of anthologies. 

My Top Ten:

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
2. The Girl Next Door (Jack Ketchum)
3. The Bottoms (Joe R. Lansdale)
4. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
5. A Choir of Ill Children (Tom Piccirilli)
6. Needful Things (Stephen King)
7. 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
8. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
9. 20th Century Ghosts (Joe Hill)
10. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)

Next review will be of John Dies at the End.

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

Accepting Submissions:

WolfSinger Publications is seeking short horror stories for the anthology Haunted Hotel. 1000 to 7000 words. Pays $5 plus royalties. Deadline January 15.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is looking for personal stories in the themes Christmas and Holiday Collection, The Empowered Woman, and The Miracle of Love. Up to 1200 words. Pays $200. Deadlines are between January 10 and January 15.

Outlook Springs is seeking fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Pays $10 for poems, $25 for prose. Deadline January 15.

Myriad Paradigm is seeking short speculative fiction for the anthology Mind Candy 2.0. Prefer science fiction and aren't looking for anything too dark. Up to 5000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline January 15.

Of Interest: 

If you're looking for recommended word counts per genre, this Writer's Digest article by Chuck Sambuchino: Word Count for Novels and Children's Books: The Definitive Post.

And for those looking for horror to read, here's 25 Horror Readers on the Most Gut Twisting Book You Could Buy

Have you read any of the Night Visions series? Or anything similar? Have you read any of the three authors in this anthology? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

IWSG - What Would You Change?

It's the last first Wednesday of 2017, which means this is the last Insecure Writer's Support Group of 2017! Are you guys ready for a new year? I'm not.

The IWSG was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Every month, writers post about their deepest writing insecurities and visit others' blogs to offer their support. Anyone can sign up by going to Alex's website and adding their blog to the linky list.

This month, I'm one of the co-hosts! Please be sure to visit my awesome and talented fellow co-hosts: Fundy Blue, Heather M. Gardner, and Julie Flanders.

This month's optional question is: As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

I think I would have started working on self-publishing a collection of my short stories earlier, and I would have started work on the short story craft book I'm working on earlier, as well. Then again, I wasn't ready before, and it will happen all in good time. I'm tapering off on the insane amounts of research I've been doing in order to make everything go okay, and getting to the nitty gritty of compiling and formatting everything. Soon!

Every month, I do a recap of my submissions for the previous month for accountability. In November, I:

Submitted 9 short stories
Got 7 rejections
Got 0 acceptances
Sent 5 novel queries
Got 2 agent rejections

I currently have 17 short story submissions out. I suspect two of those publications have gone under, but they haven't made an announcement, and their sites are still up, but they haven't sent any rejections/acceptances in months, so I've submitted the stories I had out to them to other publications that take simultaneous submissions, and I've queried those two publications, but they haven't responded. Next step is to send an official withdrawal of my stories, but I may wait until after the new year (or until those stories are accepted, if that's sooner.)

Next up, links. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence when submitting to markets.

Accepting Submissions:

Carte Blanche is seeking all forms of narrative, including poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and photo essays. Up to 3500 words. Pays a modest honorarium. Deadline December 31.

Martinus Publishing is seeking short stories for Forbidden: Tales of Repression, Restriction, and Rebellion. 1500 to 10,000 words. Pays royalties. Deadline December 31.

Workers Write! is seeking short stories set in a cafe or dealing with the food industry. 500 to 5000 words. Pays $5 to $50. Deadline December 31.

Allegory is seeking speculative short fiction. Prefer 500 to 5000 words, but don't have a hard and fast limit. Pays $15. Deadline December 31.

Lethe Press is seeking speculative short fiction for an anthology. 4000 to 14,000 words. Pays $.05/word. Deadline December 31.

Dreaming Robot Press is seeking fantasy short stories that will appeal to middle grade readers (8-12). 3000 to 6000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline December 31.

Zombies Need Brains is seeking fantasy and science fiction short stories for three anthologies: The Razor's Edge, Guilds & Glaives, and Second Round: A Return to the Urbar. Up to 750 words. Pays $.01/word + royalties. Deadline December 31.

Hydra is seeking sword and sorcery short stories for the anthology Unsheathed. 7500 to 10,000 words. Pays $30. Deadline December 31.

Stephen Jones is seeking your best horror stories published in 2017 for Best New Horror Volume 29. No idea if it pays, but having your story appear in this would be huge. Deadline December 31.

Smoking Pen Press is seeking romance short stories for the anthology A Wink and a Smile. 1000 to 7000 words. Pays $25. Deadline January 1.

What are your insecurities? Would you change anything about this past year? Have you been submitting? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

ShaNo Wrap-up

It's the last day of November. A day when frantic writers everywhere are pounding away at keyboards, scribbling away at notepads, chattering away at voice programs, all in the hopes of finishing those last few thousand words to declare themselves NaNoWriMo winners.

So it's time for me to revisit my ShaNoShoStoWriEdSubMo goals for the month. I don't do NaNo proper, but I set myself the following goals for the month:

1. Create a business plan and timeline for the next year.
2. Finish Nuts! (horror comedy) (about 20,000 words) (Wrote about 3000 words)
3. Edit three short stories currently pending edits.
4. Write two new short stories. (STARTED 4 new, but did not finish them)
5. Submit newly edited stories.
6. Outline craft book.
7. Get all rejected stories resubmitted.
8. Send five more queries for Wendigo Nights. (current novel on submission)

All in all, I'm feeling pretty good. I would have liked to have gotten more new words written, but what I got done helped a lot with things I was stressing about, and frees my time up for writing this month. I was having trouble writing due to being consumed by figuring out my business plan, etc. I also got a lot of research done, which wasn't on the list, but should have been.


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

Accepting Submissions:

Pedestal Magazine is seeking poetry for their next issue. Submit up to 5 poems. Pays $40 per accepted poem. Deadline December 3.

Mslexia is seeking poetry and prose with the theme Bewitched. Up to 2200 words. Does not specify pay. Deadline December 4.

Mason Jar Press is seeking short urban fantasy stories for Broken Metropolis Anthology: Queer Tales of a City That Never Was. Queer perspectives. Up to 6000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline December 7.

Fantasia Divinity Magazine is seeking short stories for Out of Your Shadow Anthology: Empowered Sidekicks. 500 to 10,500 words. Pays one-half cent per word. Deadline December 10.

Eye to the Telescope is seeking poetry for Arthuriana. They want anything Arthurian and speculative. Submit 1-5 poems. Pays $.03/word up to $25. Deadline December 15.

Love & Bubbles is a Kickstarter project anthology. They're looking for romance under the sea (not ON it). Up to 5000 words. Depending upon the success of the Kickstarter, authors will be paid between $50 and $300. Deadline December 20.

So how did you do with your NaNo goals? Whether you "won" or not, how do you feel about what you accomplished this month? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Horror List Book Review: The Girl Next Door

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

This week I'm reviewing The Girl Next Door, by Jack Ketchum.

Before picking this one up, I heard repeatedly of people not being able to finish it, because it was so intense and disturbing. For me, that took the shape of not being able to put it down, because I needed to know how it ended for this girl, and there's no way I could walk away from it without knowing. I read it in a 24-hour time frame. The last book I read like that was The Exorcist, years ago, pre-kids, when I had the time to do that.

Inspired by a true story, The Girl Next Door is about a 16-year-old girl held captive and tortured by the woman charged with caring for her. Eventually, that woman's sons and various neighborhood children join in the torture and humiliation. The narrator is a boy living next door who witnesses much of the torture. He battles with transitioning between being fascinated and repulsed, confused about his feelings, defending his best friend (one of the sons), and alternates between putting the girl on a pedestal and loathing her for her helplessness.

The most disturbing part about this story is the utter helplessness and lack of hope. The book is set in the 50s, a time when the police weren't going to step in when a teenage girl said she was being punished a little too forcefully, when mothers believed a girl must be a slut and deserve punishment, when propriety dictated not digging into what your neighbors were doing, when kids were out all day without their parents necessarily knowing where they were or what they were doing.

This was well written, the pacing intense, the characters drawn well enough to engage the reader without questioning their behavior. The narrator is especially well realized. The depravity depicted is grotesque, horrific, and terrifying, because it starts out as a basic indignation that becomes pure, mindless hatred, the evil of jealousy and bitterness sucking down everyone within reach. Events escalate from semi-rational to all out insane and criminal, leaving the reader desperate for a satisfying resolution.

This story will certainly stick with me for a long while.

If you're curious about the real life story, which this loosely follows, look up Sylvia Likens, the name of the girl who was tortured. I wouldn't look it up until after you read the book if you're inclined to do so, though.

My new rankings:

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
2. The Girl Next Door (Jack Ketchum)
3. The Bottoms (Joe R. Lansdale)
4. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
5. A Choir of Ill Children (Tom Piccirilli)
7. The Year’s Best Fantasy: First Annual Collection (Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling)
8. Needful Things (Stephen King)
9. 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
10. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
12. 20th Century Ghosts (Joe Hill)
13. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
14. Dark Forces (Kirby McCauly)
15. Swan Song (Robert McCammon)
16. Audrey's Door (Sarah Langan)
17. Dawn (Xenogenesis, Book 1) (Octavia E. Butler)
18. Wet Work (Philip Nutman)
19. The Stranger (Albert Camus)
20. Dead in the Water (Nancy Holder)
21. The Witches (Roald Dahl)
22. Psycho (Robert Bloch)
23. The Damnation Game (Clive Barker)
24. The Wolf's Hour (Robert McCammon)
25. Berserk (Tim Lebbon)
26. Prime Evil (Douglas E. Winter)
27. Best New Horror, Volume 1 (edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell)
28. Flowers in the Attic (V.C. Andrews)
29. The Tomb (F. Paul Wilson)
30. Shadowland (Peter Straub)
31. Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy)
32. The Imago Sequence (Laird Barron)
33. My Soul to Keep (Tananarive Due)
34. Penpal (Dathan Auerbach)
36. World War Z (Max Brooks)
36. From the Dust Returned (Ray Bradbury) 
37. The Red Tree (Caitlin R. Kiernan)
38. In Silent Graves (Gary A. Braunbeck)
39. The Cipher (Kathe Koja)
40. Drawing Blood (Poppy Z. Brite)
41. The Doll Who Ate His Mother (Ramsey Campbell) 
42. Hotel Transylvania (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)
43. Naked Lunch (William S. Burroughs)

I've also finished both John Dies at the End and Night Visions, so will be reviewing them over the next month or so.

Have you read this book or seen the movie it was based on? Have you read anything by Jack Ketchum? What did you think? Do you find the human monsters scarier or less scary than the ones with fangs and claws?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Field Trip: Bishop Castle

In September I finally got the chance to take the kids to Bishop Castle, a castle in Colorado built by a single man, Jim Bishop. He's eccentric, as evidenced by signs all around the property ranting against the government, as well as this one-man mission to build a castle from the ground up, which started in 1969.

The castle has been pieced together with stones, metalwork, and stained glass, and features a giant metal dragon head that breathes fire (courtesy of a hot air balloon burner) and multiple towers. One of his children died during the building process in an unfortunate accident, and there were legal issues in the papers last year, but they seem to have been resolved.

Bishop Castle is located in the San Isobel National Forest, with gorgeous tree-filled vistas surrounding the castle. You'll see from the pictures that we were above the trees upon climbing the towers. The drive there was beautiful and peaceful, and we found a hole in the wall that served delicious BBQ and ice cream on the way home.

Read more about Bishop Castle HERE.

I actually heard about the castle back in high school, when I was invited to a rave being held (illegally, of course) at the castle in the grand ballroom (the room with the big stained glass windows and arched ceiling). I didn't go, but signs in the grand ballroom indicate this rave wasn't a rare occurrence. The floor has been damaged by fires, and garbage was left behind after the raves.

By the way, look closely at the green-clad "angel" above. Recognize her face?

Link time! Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

JMS Books is seeking erotic LGBTQ+ romance novelettes to be released individually as e-books with the theme Music of the Heart. 12,000 words or more. Pays royalties. Deadline November 30.

Down & Out Books and Michael Bracken are seeking private eye mysteries set in Texas for the anthology The Eyes of Texas. Ideal submission is around 5000 words. Pays in royalties. Deadline November 30.

Fantasia Divinity Magazine is seeking short stories about forgotten Norse goddesses for their anthology Forgotten Goddesses of Norse Mythology. 500 to 10,500 words. Pays a half-cent per word. Deadline November 30.

The Golden Key is seeking poetry and stories with the theme Revolutionary Things. Up to 3000 words. Pays $10. Deadline November 30.

Polychrome Ink is seeking stories of most genres from diverse writers. Pays $15-$40. Deadline December 1 for Volume V.

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

Crystal Lake Publishing is seeking quiet horror and dark fiction for Tales From the Lake Volume 5 (does NOT have to be lake themed.) Up to 6000 words. Pays $.03/word. Deadline December 1.

Slice Magazine is seeking short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Current theme is Flight. Pays $75 to $250. Up to 5000 words. Deadline December 1.

What is the oddest tourist destination you've visited? Does your state have a castle? Ever been to it? What do you think of Bishop Castle? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share? 

May you find your Muse.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Remakes Blogfest: The Thing

Today's the Remakes Blogfest, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh and Heather M. Gardner.

In this blogfest, we're supposed to choose a remake we liked and tell you why this was a good remake, unlike most of the schlock pouring out of Hollywood.

The remake I've chosen is The Thing. Released in 1982, The Thing is a remake of a 1951 movie called The Thing From Another World. Now a cult classic, the movie starred Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, and Keith David. Trapped in their Antarctic research station with something stalking them that can become anyone or anything, they must figure out who to trust.

Most people don't even know this is a remake, which tells you the first one was lacking. The audience has no idea who has been taken by The Thing and who hasn't. There's great suspense and horrifying visuals. Plus, I'm always a sucker for isolation horror. The scariest part isn't the creature itself, so much as the complete lack of trust they can have in each other. This isn't just a group isolated from the outside world, but a group isolated from each other, yet trapped in a small space together.

Here's a nasty scene from the film (skip it if you don't like horror or grody visuals):

Have you seen The Thing? How about the original? Do you think it was a good film? What's your favorite remake?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

IWSG & ShaNoShoStoWriEdSubMo

It's time again for both the Insecure Writer's Support Group and NaNoWriMo, it being the first Wednesday of November. Only I don't do NaNo, I do ShaNo. More on that later.

There's a call for writing contest judges out. If you might be interested in being a judge for a writing contest, contact me privately through the "Contact Me" form to the left, and I will email you more specifics on what they're looking for.

IWSG! Held the first Wednesday of each month, the Insecure Writer's Support group is the brain child of Alex J. Cavanaugh. Intended for gaining and giving support for insecure writers. Anyone can join; just click on Alex's name and sign up.

Our co-hosts this month are Tonja Drecker, Diane Burton, MJ Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass! Be sure to stop by and visit them.

My insecurities this month mostly have to do with putting myself way outside my comfort zone and pushing myself into new things in the world of publishing. I'm buried in research right now, but excited to be trying new things. It's time to start putting together a collection of short stories I've gotten the rights back on, which I want to self-publish, and I want to do it right. I talked about that a bit last month. I'm also working on a craft book on writing, submitting, and marketing short stories. I haven't decided if I'll self-publish that or try to go through a traditional publisher first. Decisions, decisions. And, of course, I'm querying a novel for the first time, while still writing and submitting short stories. Shew. I feel like I sound busier than I actually am.

All of this is good, but overwhelming, new, and different. I can't wait to see what the next year brings! It's time for me to make a business plan and timeline.

That brings us to ShaNoShoStoWriEdSubMo. I've been doing this for years now. Instead of doing NaNoWriMo, I hitch myself to the energy created by everyone doing NaNo by setting my own goals for the month that make more sense for my career, seeing as how I'm not primarily a novelist.

Without further ado, here are my ShaNo goals:

1. Create a business plan and timeline for the next year.
2. Finish Nuts! (horror comedy) (about 20,000 words)
3. Edit three short stories currently pending edits.
4. Write two new short stories.
5. Submit newly edited stories.
6. Outline craft book.
7. Get all rejected stories resubmitted.
8. Send five more queries for Wendigo Nights. (current novel on submission)

Doable? We'll see. It's been a super busy few months, and I mostly want this to help me get back on track.

Each month at this time I do a summary of my submissions the previous month in order to keep myself accountable.

In October, I:

Submitted 6 stories
Got 1 acceptance
Got 7 rejections
Got 1 story shortlisted

I currently have 11 short stories on submission. There are several I need to turn back around and resubmit, but haven't had a chance, so the number's a bit low for me.

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

Accepting Submissions:

Splickety Spark is seeking topsy turvy romance stories for the theme Sadie Hawkins. 300 to 1000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline November 24.

Baltimore Review is seeking short fiction. Review editor's preferences for more information on what they're seeking. Pays $40. Deadline November 30.

Owl Hollow Press is seeking high-seas short stories from teens ages 13-19. Up to 7000 words. Will be published in the anthology Band of Misfits. Pays $30. Deadline November 30.

Primordial Magazine is seeking "stories and illustrations depicting plausible alien life." They also take articles and reviews on the topic. 1000 to 16,000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline November 30.

Ninth Letter is seeking short fiction (currently open for poetry and essays, too). Up to 8000 words. Pays $25 per printed page. Deadline November 30.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is seeking short essays with the theme Love Stories. Must have happened to you or someone you know. Up to 1200 words. Pays $200. Deadline November 30.

Things in the Well is seeking short stories for the anthology Behind the Mask: Tales From the Id. Must involve masks. 6000 to 10,000 worse. Pays $50. Deadline November 30.

What are your insecurities? Have you submitted anything this month? Are you doing NaNoWriMo or some variation of it? Any of these links of interest?

May you find your Muse.

*All artwork except IWSG badge came from, OCAL.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Horror List Book Review: Audrey's Door

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 Audrey's Door, by Sarah Langan.

There's a large focus on mental illness in this book, which I think is where the horror primarily resides. Though there are paranormal elements, the most fearsome thing is what is happening in Audrey's mind as she feels a compulsion to build a free-standing door in her new apartment. Audrey has OCD, as well as other issues, and her mother is bipolar. Her boyfriend holds his anger inside and lets the people in his life walk all over him, including his mother and girlfriend.

There was an element of Rosemary's  Baby in this story, as it's set in an old building full of lifelong residents (almost all elderly except for her sweet neighbor) who want something from her. No, they don't just want it, they need it, and they will do anything for it. Fear of the elderly is a big  factor in Audrey's Door, as well. They're creepy and weird, and they're not afraid of anything. Or that appears to be why we're supposed to be afraid of the elderly.

For me, this book couldn't decide whether it was about the horror of slipping from mental illness to straight up insanity, supernatural horror, or the danger innate in other people who want to use you. I don't think the paranormal aspects delivered, but I do think there was thorough character development that made me care about what happened to the characters we're supposed to worry about. The background is interesting, as is the plot overall. However, near the end, we start bouncing around to unexpected character POVs, and I think it would have been stronger sticking with the main character's POV. The development that came from the other POVs was unnecessary, and tore me away from what was happening to Audrey. We even jump to Audrey's boss's POV for a chapter. Why? 

Langan is a good writer, but there were elements that dragged the story down instead of improving it. Still, I could tell what stories had inspired her, and there were some wonderful creepy moments. Her characterization was the strongest aspect, which is important in horror. I wanted to see how it would end. Her voice is strong, the pacing solid. I wish she'd pared down the POV stuff, but some of the extra POVs provided touching moments--they just weren't necessary for this story.

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. 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
9. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
11. 20th Century Ghosts (Joe Hill)
12. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
13. Dark Forces (Kirby McCauly)
14. Swan Song (Robert McCammon)
15. Audrey's Door (Sarah Langan)
16. Dawn (Xenogenesis, Book 1) (Octavia E. Butler)
17. Wet Work (Philip Nutman)
18. The Stranger (Albert Camus)
19. Dead in the Water (Nancy Holder)
20. The Witches (Roald Dahl)
21. Psycho (Robert Bloch)
22. The Damnation Game (Clive Barker)
23. The Wolf's Hour (Robert McCammon)
24. Berserk (Tim Lebbon)
25. Prime Evil (Douglas E. Winter)
26. Best New Horror, Volume 1 (edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell)
27. Flowers in the Attic (V.C. Andrews)
28. The Tomb (F. Paul Wilson)
29. Shadowland (Peter Straub)
30. Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy)
31. The Imago Sequence (Laird Barron)
32. My Soul to Keep (Tananarive Due)
33. Penpal (Dathan Auerbach)
34. World War Z (Max Brooks)
35. From the Dust Returned (Ray Bradbury) 
36. The Red Tree (Caitlin R. Kiernan)
37. In Silent Graves (Gary A. Braunbeck)
38. The Cipher (Kathe Koja)
39. Drawing Blood (Poppy Z. Brite)
40. The Doll Who Ate His Mother (Ramsey Campbell) 
41. Hotel Transylvania (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)
42. Naked Lunch (William S. Burroughs)

I don't know which one I'm reading next, but I stocked up, and have a whole pile of books on the list to read! Yay! 

Since I didn't do links on Monday's post, I'll do them today. Bear in mind that I am not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Fireside Fiction will be open for submissions for one week only. Short stories of any genre. Up to 4000 words. Pays 12.5 cents/word. Open to submissions November 5-11.

Lamplight is seeking dark fiction short stories and flash fiction. Up to 7000 words. Pays $.03/word. Deadline November 15.

Hinnom Magazine is seeking speculative fiction short stories. Up to 5000 words. Pays $10-15. Deadline November 15.

World Weaver Press is seeking solarpunk short stories for their anthology Glass & Gardens: Solarpunk Summers. Up to 8000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline November 15.

Ducts is seeking essays, fiction, poetry, and memoir. Up to 4000 words. Pays $20. Deadline November 15.

Have you read this book? Did you enjoy it? Do you know of other horror stories involving fear of the elderly or mental illness as a main plot?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, October 23, 2017

S.A. Larsen Guest Post - Marked Beauty

Please welcome S.A. Larsen on her blog tour to promote her new release, Marked Beauty. 

Title: Marked Beauty
Author: S.A. Larsen
Publisher: Ellysian Press
Release Date: October 2017

Uncovering hidden secrets can sometimes kill you . . . or worse, steal your soul.

Anastasia Tate has a secret. She can feel the emotions of others through their life energy auras. Not a welcome gift for a teenager. Especially when a sinister presence begins stalking her.

Viktor Castle also has a secret. He’s tasked with protecting humanity yet cursed by an ancient evil to destroy it.

After Viktor saves Ana’s life, her abilities grow stronger. Drawn together, she senses Viktor has answers to lifelong questions. Only he shuns her at every turn, knowing he has saved her only to put her in more danger.

As Ana struggles with her attraction to Viktor, he tries everything to bury his unexpected feelings for her. But they must find a middle ground. For only together can they combat the dark forces threatening both their lives . . . and their souls.

Purchase Links:


I asked S.A.the following question:

Did your writing routine change at all between writing an adventure and a romance--how so and what was surprisingly similar?

Writing For Different Genres and Ages
by S.A. Larsen

When I took my first literary stab at writing a fictional tale I did just that—I wrote. Literally sat at my laptop and began typing. There wasn’t much thought about age group, setting, or even a story problem. Before I knew it I’d created two characters, each with a distinct teen sheen that began to breath. I could almost hear them. From there, I explored possible worlds to drop them into, story problems, and all that encompasses being a teenager: school, parents, worries, fears, angst of growing up, wants, and romance; all age appropriate, of course. Looking from my own experiences to those of friends I’d grown up with along with reading YA novels took me on a journey of what it’s like being on the outside of growing up teen. Thus gave birth to my first young adult story.

Then came this tiny voice inside my head Pick me, it said. A different character and one that wouldn’t fit into that first YA novel I wrote. (If you’re wondering, yes – it was Marked Beauty. <3) So I pressed fingertips to keys, and a story poured out of me. Only thing was the more I wrote this new character the younger he began to sound. No, wait . . . he wasn’t a he at all, either. He was a she. And that’s when I realized the character chatting up a storm in my head was a middle school-aged girl full of fast-paced adventure and a bit of snark with a love of cheese. Great! I can write a middle grade novel. Uh, but how was I to do that?   

I used the same methods I did when I began writing in the first place. I listened to my characters and revisited my earlier days and experiences. Reading a ton of middle grade to switch gears for the younger age group and change in genre also helped. If I’m going to be completely honest, I also robbed the middle grade feel of wonder, exploration, adventure, and excitement from my four kids. They’ve given me a plethora of MG material to use. Point being: don’t fear writing in different arenas.

Writing in more than one genre and for more than one age group can present a writer with unique challenges. But it also brings growth in writing and in personal perceptions. I definitely see the world of our youth with more appreciation and awe. 

S.A. LARSEN is the author of the award-winning novel Motley Education, the first book in a fantasy-adventure series for middle grade readers. Her work has appeared in numerous local publications and young adult anthologies Gears of Brass and Under A Brass Moon by Curiosity Quills Press. Marked Beauty is her debut young adult novel. Find her in the land of snowy winters and the occasional Eh’ya with her husband of over twenty-five years, four children, a playful pooch, and three kittens. Visit her cyber home anytime at

There are two giveaways for this book launch!

Blog Tour Giveaway:

1 lucky winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Release Party Giveaway:
What better way to celebrate a book birthday then by a giveaway! There are many ways to enter, which you'll find below. You can win an iTunes, Amazon, or Starbucks gift card, an authentic Vera Bradley Little Crossbody in Cobalt Tile, an assortment of bookish swag, and even a KINDLE Fire HD 7"! The giveaway runs from release day, October 17, 2017 to December 5, 2017. Winners will be announced via social media December 7, 2017.

*No purchase necessary to win*
However, if you have read Marked Beauty or purchase it and read you can earn extra entries by posting a review on any major online retail bookstore and Goodreads! All the information you'll need is in the form below.
BUT there's more...

Writers who enter can WIN a first five pages critique!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can find the tour schedule HERE.

Thanks for stopping by!

May you find your Muse.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

32 Nights of Horror & New Short Story Available!

To celebrate October, I've been watching a horror movie each night (including midnight on the first, which is why it's 32 instead of 31). Most of them have been old favorites, but some have been new to me, so I thought I'd pass along some recommendations from the new (to me) films.

Before we jump into the movies, I wanted to announce a new short story release. My short story Unwelcome Guests is now available for Kindle via The Society of Misfit Stories. It's a standalone e-book for $.99, and will not be available in print until 2018, when it will be included in the annual anthology from Bards and Sages.

Okay, now for the movies. First, an older one that I just hadn't seen yet.

Cube was released in 1997. In it, a group of people wake up inside a giant cube with small entryways between each different room within it. None of the people know each other or how they got there, but each has a skill that could help them get out of the cube. In the meantime, traps in the rooms eliminate those entering them.

Despite the fact that there are some nasty deaths, this isn't gore porn, like Saw and similar films. Rather, I found it to be a character study in the way Lord of the Flies was. Is the cube more dangerous, or is it the people within it?

Next, how about one that's out in theaters? (Totally counts.)

I went to see IT. This was actually the first Stephen King book I ever read. I'm a huge Tim Curry fan, but he was limited by being Pennywise in a television miniseries. Skarsgard didn't have the same limitations, and was overall a freaky killer clown. He didn't try to copy Curry's Pennywise, which is what I think made it all the more successful.

As anyone who is familiar with any aspect of IT knows, this is a tale of bullying, of adult complicity, of childhood bonding, and so much more. There's a reason this new version of IT has surpassed Exorcist as the top-grossing horror film.

One of the newer movies I watched was The Autopsy of Jane Doe. This one came out in 2016, and I'm not sure it was even in theaters around here. In it, a father and son team of coroners gets the body of a young woman found under mysterious circumstances. She has internal injuries, but no external damage to indicate how they happened. As they proceed with the autopsy, strange then frightening things begin to happen.

The movie is compelling, with a series of puzzle pieces resulting from the autopsy. The father/son relationship of mentor/mentee is an interesting one, and the details are well played out.

This next one was pure camp, and a lot of fun. The Babysitter is a Netflix original. A boy decides to stay up to see what his babysitter does after he's supposed to be asleep. To his shock and horror, he witnesses her murdering a young man to collect his blood in order to do a spell with a group of teens. But they also need the blood of an innocent.

Full of familiar, but loved, tropes, with a great sense of humor. I enjoyed watching this one, because it doesn't take itself too seriously, yet still delivers. The bullied 13-year old finds himself while fighting off a group of sadistic teens.

The rest of the movies I've watched so far this month are:

The Others
Friday the 13th (ON Friday the 13th, duh--the original)
It Comes at Night
American Psycho 2 (not recommended)
Alien Resurrection (my daughter has seen the rest, and we're watching them in order, so next is Prometheus)
Silence of the Lambs
Pet Sematary
The Bad Batch
Cult of Chucky
Flatliners (old one)
Fright Night (newer one)

Obviously, the original Halloween must be saved for Halloween night.

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

Accepting Submissions:

The Literary Hatchet is seeking dark fiction and poetry. 1000-6000 words. Pays $5-10. Deadline November 1.

Rosarium Publishing is seeking water-themed speculative short stories for the anthology Trouble the Waters:Tales From the Deep Blue. 2500-7000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline November 1.

The First Line is seeking fiction using the first line for this submission period. This period's first line is "I'm tired of trying to see the good in people." 300-5000 words. Pays $25-50. Deadline November 1.

Spring Song Press is seeking fantasy/noblebright short stories for the anthology Fell Beasts and Fair. 1000-10,000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline November 1.

Kenyon Review is seeking prose, drama, and poetry. Up to 7500 words. Pay is not mentioned, but this is supposed to be a paying market. Deadline November 1.

The Sun is seeking essays, short stories, and poetry. Up to 7000 words. Pays between $100 and $2000. Deadline November 1.

Seen any of the movies I listed? What did you think of the newer ones? Any of these links of interest? Anything to add? Submission news?

May you find your Muse.