Thursday, August 10, 2017

Georgetown Ghost Town Writing Retreat, pt 1

This weekend I attended the Georgetown Ghost Town Writer's Retreat. Georgetown is a small town that grew up around silver mining in the Rockies. Unlike some of the old gold mining towns that have become run down or are known more for gambling than history, Georgetown is well cared for and bustling with tourism.

The retreat was pleasant, but I actually only attended two workshops and a movie night (Dead Awake), where the director was present to do a Q&A afterward. Aside from that, I spent the weekend editing in my room, wandering around playing tourist, and hanging out with fellow writers.

I thought it would be fun to post some of the over five-hundred photos I took while I was up there. Today, I'm focusing on the houses and buildings in town. Next week, I'll post photos from the cemetery, train ride, and mine tour.

Before I jump into the photos, I have a couple pieces of news. First, I'll be presenting a two-hour workshop on short stories this Saturday for Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group. More information can be found under the "appearances" tab. I always love talking short stories, and especially hearing afterward from people who have begun trying their hand at it!

Second, I placed a flash fiction piece this week. Yay! It will be published in October. More information can be found under the "publications" tab.

Third, today's my anniversary! 21 years! Happy Anniversary to my hubby.

All right, photo time. There were a ton of neat houses and buildings from the 1800s, mixed in with some newer buildings. Those buildings on the historical register had plaques or small round signs with the years they were built, including homes people still lived in. It was easy to get lost in history wandering around. As a wild west buff, I even got my share of cool downtown buildings that looked like something straight out of the wild west.

This first house was falling apart. It was nestled between several well kept houses, but this one's yard was overgrown, the porch sagging, and some of the siding peeling off. It looked like someone had loved it once, but maybe they passed away with no one to leave it to, after years of not being able to maintain the property.

The flowers that had sprung up in the overgrown yard were purple, white, and yellow, mixed in with the brown leaves of downed branches, and the faded green of various weeds.

Below was one of the well maintained houses. I'm not sure what year was on the historical marker. There was metal work along the eaves that looked like it dissuade any smart bird from landing there. It looked like the tops of wrought iron gates.

There was an old Presbyterian church with gorgeous stone siding and antique fixtures. It was built in 1874 of native stone.

Below are some random photos from around downtown. 

It was a perfect mix of old and new, well preserved and crumbling. The townspeople (and those working there from surrounding mountain communities) were proud of the town, and eager to share stories of hauntings and history with the hundred or so authors who descended on the town. There were a lot of things I didn't get to do, like tour the electricity museum that included Tesla's involvement, or visit one of the historic houses to tour its hallways and hear about its ghosts. I plan to go back up with my family and visit everything I missed.

Next week, gravestones, silver mines, and locomotives!

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

Accepting Submissions:

Chicken Soup for the Soul is seeking personal stories with the theme "Miracles and More" and "Stories of Redemption." 1200 words or less. Nonfiction only. Pays $200. Deadline August 31.

Silver Empire is seeking stories in any genre with the theme "Stairs in the Woods." Must be about a random detached set of stairs. 3000 to 20,000 words. Pays in royalties. Deadline August 31.

Digital Fiction Publishing Corp is seeking horror reprint short stories that appeared in professional or semi-professional short story publications. 3500 to 7500 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline August 31.

Spider is seeking submissions of children's stories with the theme "Spaceships and Superheroes." Fiction, activities, poetry, recipes, etc. Geared toward ages 6-9. 300 to 1000 words. Pays up to $.25/word. Deadline August 31.

Twelfth Planet Press is seeking short stories about "gender as it relates to the creation of artificial intelligence and robotics" for the anthology "Mother of Invention." 500 to 5000 words. Deadline August 31.

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

Red Ferret Press is seeking BDSM short stories for the anthology "Knotted." Up to 10,000 words. Pays 1/2 cent per word. Deadline September 1.

Independent Legions Publishing is seeking short stories about death by water for the anthology "The Beauty of Death 2: Death by Water." 4000 to 5000 words. Pays $100. Deadline September 1.

Mofo Pubs is seeking apocalyptic erotica short stories for the anthology "Apocalypse." 1000 to 5000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline September 5.

Fantasia Divinity Magazine is seeking short stories about mythological creatures for the anthology "Menagerie de Mythique." 500 to 10,500. Pays 1/2 cent per word. Deadline September 5.

Ever visited a ghost town? How about one that was still thriving? Any neat towns you love to wander through and/or photograph? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

IWSG - Expectations, New Release, Stats, & Links

It's the first Wednesday of August, which means it's time for a gathering of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, created by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

IWSG was created to lend support to writers and allow them a place to share their insecurities among friends. Anyone is welcome to participate. Just go to Alex's website above, go to the IWSG tab, and sign up. Then post on the first Wednesday of the month and visit fellow posters.

Our co-hosts for August are  Christine Rains, Dolarah @ Book Lover, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Yvonne Ventresca, and LG Keltner! Be sure to stop by and visit as thanks for co-hosting.

The optional question for August: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

The first thing that popped into my head was using the word "till" instead of "until" or "'til." I have far more pet peeves, I'm sure, but I can't think of them right now. However, anyone who's been a critique partner knows this annoys me. (That, and not using proper manuscript format.)

One of my insecurities this month involves a problem I never thought about. Expectations. And not mine. I've started hearing from people who enjoy my stories, and it actually freaks me out, because now I over-analyze everything due to fear of letting people down who've liked other stories.

Obviously, this is a good problem to have, but it's hard not to let it paralyze me sometimes when going to push "send."

Now for July's stats:

I submitted 16 pieces.
0 acceptances.
12 rejections.
Currently have 14 pieces on submission.
I have three stories pending submission.
My goal is to have 20 pieces out at any given time, so I'm getting there.
1 publication.

My short story "Faceless" is in this month's Dark Moon Digest! Available from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing and Amazon in e-book and paperback.

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:

Litmag is seeking short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Up to 15,000 words. Pay varies, depending upon type and publication medium, but is between $250 and $1000. Deadline August 15.

Radix Media is seeking fiction, personal essays, and poetry for Aftermath: Explorations of Loss and Grief. 500 to 3000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline August 15.

Tyche Books and Rhonda Parrish are seeking fantasy short stories for Fire: Demons, Dragons, and Djinns. Up to 7500 words. Pays $50 CAD. Deadline August 15.

Splickety Publishing Group is seeking flash fiction for Spark with a theme of Picture Perfect. 300 to 1000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline August 25.

Fantasia Divinity is seeking fantasy and dark fantasy for Autumn's Harvest. 500 to 10,500 words. Pays half cent per word. Deadline August 25.

Dark Moon Digest is seeking horror short fiction. 1500 to 7000 words. Pays $.01/word.

The Centropic Oracle is seeking science fiction and fantasy. Up to 6500 words. They take flash fiction and short stories. Pays $.01/word CAD.

Misanthrope is seeking fiction and essays. 1000 to 5000 words. They give a nominal payment, but don't state specifics.

What are your insecurities? How are your stats for the month? Any submissions? Acceptances? Any of these publications of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

In a Rut? Change it Up

Recently, I got myself into a bit of a rut. I wasn't finishing the short stories I was starting. I didn't feel like editing. Was it perhaps a summer rut? Too many other things to do? Or just plain boredom.

I can't answer those questions, but I can say that I broke the rut by changing things up. I get the Authors Publish Magazine e-newsletter, which comes with a weekly issue including a listing of themed publications closing soon. One theme caught my eye, so I committed myself to a Saturday of writing until I'd finished the short story to their specifications.

Over the course of several hours, I wrote a 6000 word short story to the theme. I set it aside for a couple days before editing (the deadline was coming up, so I didn't have much time to leave it.) Then I submitted it!

I've now done this for five weeks, and I got my writing mojo back. Whatever the reason for the blah attitude, I worked my way through it.

This exact solution may not work for you, but others might. Take a photography break, draw, do a logic puzzle, read a book instead of writing one for awhile, dance, listen to music, lie out in the sun. Figure out what kind of break you need. Or find out how to change up what you're doing to bring some creativity back into it.

For me, it was probably the fact that it's summer, and I tend to want to be outdoors whenever possible. By doing the short story in a few hours, I freed up the rest of my Saturday, and made it so I wouldn't feel guilty if I did other things during the week. If you can figure out your actual issue, it will be easier to find a solution. But if you can't, no worries. Just find something that challenges you or helps you relax away from whatever else is going on. I'm always a fan of a challenge.

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

Accepting Submissions:

Ladybug is looking for children's fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and activities with the theme Our World. Ages 3-6. Up to 800 words. Pays up to $.25/word. Deadline for this theme is July 31.

Spider is looking for children's fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and activities with the theme Fantastic Fantasy Beasts. Ages 6-9. Up to 1000 words. Pays up to $.25/word. Deadline for this theme is July 31.

Black Beacon Books is looking for short horror and mystery for their anthology Shelter From the Storm. 3500 to 7000 words. Pays .01 pounds per word. Deadline July 31.

NonBinary Review is looking for poetry, fiction, and essays with the theme The Tales of Hans Christian Anderson. Up to 1000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline July 31.

Upper Rubber Boot Books is looking for short dark speculative stories for their anthology Sharp & Sugar Tooth: Women Up to No Good. Must be an element of horror. Must be about women and something culinary. Authors must be female, non-binary, or other marginalized sex or gender identity. Up to 5000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline July 31.

Empyreome is looking for short speculative fiction. Prefer fantasy and science fiction. Up to 10,000 words. Pays $.0025/word. Deadline July 31.

What do you do to get out of a rut? Or writer's block? Does the same thing work each time, or do you have to try something different? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Bored Avatar, by OCAL,
Dancer, by OCAL,

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

IWSG - Consider Yourself & Links

It's the first Wednesday of July, which means I need to get my behind in gear and do some fun stuff with my kids before summer's over.

Oh yeah, it also means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, created by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

All are welcome to join. We support each other in our insecurities. Just post the first Wednesday of the month and sign up on the list. Then be sure to bop around and visit other insecure writers.

Our co-hosts this month are Tamara Narayan, Pat Hatt, Patricia Lynne, Juneta Key, and Doreen McGettigan!

I've been in a slump for awhile that I'm finally coming out of. I was too busy, too tired, too depressed. I finally cut my losses and gave up a responsibility that had nothing to do with family or income, and it not only fixed the personal slump, but my writing one. It even improved some health issues. So what I want to talk about today is scrutinizing what you allow to weigh you down. It's hard to tell people no, and if you can't be everything to everyone, it can feel like you're letting people down. But at some point you have to look at what's best for you. For me, being stressed and overwhelmed, and constantly putting other people and responsibilities first, wasn't working anymore. Of course, I'm a mom, wife, sister, and daughter, and that means I have plenty of responsibilities that don't revolve around what's best for me. But the unimportant things, even though they meant something to me, too, needed to go for my health and well being. It's also better for my family, as they get more of my time and attention, too.

I see a lot of people who say they don't have the time or energy to write. Cutting out unnecessary responsibilities, ones that we keep because we feel like we owe it to someone, can help with that. A lot of the time, there's time, but no energy. Everyone has a finite amount of energy, and when it's all expended elsewhere, especially on something that doesn't make you happy, there's not enough left over for the things that do mean something or make you happy.

My recommendation is to step back and look at your time sucks. Day job, family, etc. are important (though there are probably a lot of people who could step back from some family responsibilities that aren't vital or important, as well), but there are often things outside of those categories that can be scaled back, if not cut entirely. Do yourself a favor and look into it if you're struggling.


My stats for the month of June:

7 submissions
2 acceptances (WOOHOO!) (1 due out this month, 1 in October)
6 rejections (1 especially nice one, with great feedback)
11 pieces currently on submission


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

Accepting Submissions:

Left Hand Publishers is seeking speculative fiction, mystery/thriller, western, and some literary fiction for their anthology Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths. 4000 to 8000 words. Pays $25 per story, plus contributor copy. Deadline July 28.

Blyant Publishing is seeking short stories for an anthology. The theme is Beginnings. 1000 to 2500 words. Paying market. Deadline July 30.

Carina Press is seeking royal themed romance novellas for an anthology. 25,000 to 40,000 words. Pays in royalties. Deadline July 30.

Franklin/Kerr Press is seeking science fiction for the anthology Into the Unknown. Must involve new worlds and civilizations. 2000 to 8000 words. Pays $5 per 1000 words, plus royalties, plus a contributor copy. Deadline July 30 or until filled.

VQR is seeking poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction. 2000 to 8000 words for fiction. Pays $200 to $1000. Reading period ends July 31.

Martian Migraine Press is seeking weird fiction for Chthonic: Weird Tales of Inner Earth. 1500 to 7000 words. Pays $.03CAD/word. Deadline July 31.

Room Magazine is seeking poetry, fiction, and art for a family secrets theme. Pays $50 to $150. Deadline July 31.

The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias is seeking horror stories involving a specific list of possible phobias. 4000 to 6000 words. Pays $50 plus an e-contributor copy. Deadline July 31.

Sirens Call Publications is seeking horror for Mental Ward: Stories From the Asylum. 4000 to 8000 words. Pays $25 plus a contributor copy. Deadline July 31.

What are your insecurities this month? When was the last time you stepped back and evaluated your responsibilities? How about the last time you put yourself first? Any submission news for the month? Any of these publications of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Late Night Walkspirations

If you've been around this blog for awhile, you know I like to take late night walks. Really, I like to take walks and hikes whenever possible, but there's something special about the night. I don't have to risk having to stop and be social, or walk the long way around a group of people. No one's dog tries to jump on me. There's no dodging of bicycles. And sensory-wise, it smells and feels wonderful. Especially in the summer when it's so hot during the day that a walk isn't realistic.

On these walks, interesting things sometimes happen. They can be the impetus for a story, because the little things one sees can be translated in multiple ways. For example, the other night there was a car parked, running, outside a house at nearly midnight. There was a window A/C running in that house, so I didn't realize the car was on until I was right on top of it. The passenger window was open, and a teenage girl was sitting in the driver's seat, giant doe eyes staring at me as I walked by. I started wondering what she was doing there. Waiting for a friend who was sneaking out? Waiting for a friend to gather her things and leave an abusive situation? Perhaps she was supposed to be watching the house while the owners were on a trip, and was freaked out at the late hour. Maybe it was completely above board, and her car-mate just had to run inside really quickly. Or perhaps her mom was in labor, and she'd been told to start the car and pull it around while her parents gathered necessary items.

It could have been a billion different things, but letting the mind wander on something like this is a great exercise in writing. Even better if you go home afterward and write a story after choosing one of your theories.

The next night, I went for a walk earlier. Probably closer to 10. On this walk, I came upon a darkened house, the garage door wide open, two cars parked inside. This happens more than you might think. I always make an attempt to knock on the door to get someone's attention to let them know. The problem with this house was that it was in a cul-de-sac on a mostly moonless night, and none of the houses in the cul-de-sac had any exterior lighting on. It was pitch black, trees swaying in the wind, so I couldn't hear anything beyond the rustling. They did have two exterior lights that were on, but they were flickering and only barely giving off a dirty glow. I'm always a little jumpy approaching a front door like this at night, because the possibility exists that someone armed may come to the door or that something nefarious has already occurred inside, and that's why the door's open. This particular house had an inset door, so I had to walk around, past a tree and a giant shrubbery, into the alcove that held the door.

Ultimately, no one came to the door, no interior lights turned on, so I continued on my walk. As I stepped off the porch, lights flickering to either side of me, a rabbit burst out of the shrub at my side and startled me. Heart pounding, I kept going. I had just rounded the corner out of the cul-de-sac when I heard voices. I paused to figure out where they were coming from, and there were two men exiting a house together. They headed to a locksmith's van parked on the street. One was telling the other, "Yeah, she called and said she needed the lock popped out tonight. No idea why."

Both of these last two items could inspire a story. One might be an obvious tale of horror (the flickering lights, exposed dark house, home invasions, robberies, all manner of awful things), while the other could go in any possible direction really. Who needs a locksmith to pop a lock out at 10 PM? One could easily run with it, writing mystery, suspense, literary, women's fiction, horror, you name it. It's all fodder.

Speaking of mystery and suspense, if you're ever writing something about a burglar, robber, or other criminal who might break into homes, go for a night walk. I'd recommend after 11 PM, when most people are sleeping (disclaimer: only do so if it's safe in your area, and be sure you take whatever necessary measures to be safe and/or take a friend.)

You see, I realized the other night that I'd inadvertently cased the neighborhood. By now, I know who leaves a main level window open, who leaves the garage door open a smidge for a cat (often more than a smidge--if a toddler can walk under the door without ducking, anyone can get into your garage). I know who has a window A/C unit that's so loud they wouldn't hear someone breaking a window or picking a lock. It's obvious who has kids, and sometimes even where their bedrooms are, because of a pink nightlight or stickers on the window (which made me evaluate what my kids' windows look like to someone standing on the street). I know where the darkest areas are, because several neighbors in a specific spot don't put on exterior lights. And all of this data is in my head, not because I intended to put it there, but because I mark places where, for instance, someone might hear a call for help. I pay attention to who's awake and who has a bedroom window open for the same reason. Obviously, I pay attention to where it's darkest, so I can avoid it or at least be aware of it.

There's even a house I will cross the street to avoid, because they have a huge delivery-type truck with no business information on it parked on the street, and in their driveway is a big van with the old logos painted over and no windows. Of course it's all probably harmless, and they've started their own business, but it's been years, and there's no logo on the big truck still. So when I'm letting my mind wander, there are many reasons a person might have big vehicles with no windows or identifying marks.

I also know where several police officers live, so I'd know to avoid those houses if I were a criminal. And probably the ones within their view and hearing. (Of course, not being a criminal, those are the houses I'd make a point of going to if there were a problem.)

In this particular neighborhood, the wildlife is the biggest concern on night walks, as we have several larger predators that hang around, including mountain lions. I always used to hear coyotes at night, yipping and yelping away while they cornered a deer or other prey animal. (I haven't heard any this year, so far, and I'm afraid it's because of mange, which was going around.) Would one take similar precautions if it wasn't regular wildlife they were trying to avoid? What about monsters? Zombies, vampires, cryptozoological beasties?

No matter when you take a walk, there's always a chance you'll happen across random inspiration for stories based on the things you see. I tend to get story breakthroughs while on walks, and frequently I get home with at least one idea for a new story. There's something about moving your feet and freeing your mind that gets it brewing. So if you're stuck or looking for inspiration, try a walk or a hike and see if it works for you. But be sure to take note of even the mundane, as it might factor into new ideas or background details for stories you're already writing.

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

Accepting Submissions:

Outlook Spring is seeking poetry, fiction, and non-fiction tinged with the strange. Up to 7500 words. Pays $10 to $25. Deadline July 15.

Helios Quarterly is seeking fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and art for their September issue. Current theme First Contact & Conversions. Up to 1500 words (unless a serial story). Pays up to $.03/word. Deadline July 15.

Third Flatiron is seeking slipstream short fiction for the anthology Strange Beasties. 1500 to 3000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline July 15.

Franklin/Kerr is seeking post-apocalyptic and dystopian horror. 2000 to 8000 words. Pays $5 per 1000 words, plus royalties. Deadline July 21.

Splickety Havok is seeking holiday mashups for their October edition: Holiday Cauldron. 300 to 1000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline July 28.

Aliterate is seeking literary genre fiction. 2500 to 8000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline July 28.

Do you like to go for walks? Do you find them inspiring? Seen anything strange on a walk lately? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

*Pedestrian, by AA,
*Haunted House, by Chrizz4,
*Burglar, by OCAL,
*Small truck USPS postal service, by OCAL,

Friday, June 16, 2017

Horror List Book Review - 20th Century Ghosts

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 Joe Hill's 20th Century Ghosts.

This is a collection of short stories, at least one of which I'd already read in one of the Year's Best type anthologies. It would probably be a good collection for someone wanting to dip their toes in horror, but not wanting anything too extreme. A lot of these stories are haunting (though only a couple were supernatural in nature, despite the name). Some of them linger more on the fantasy end than the horror end.

An example of one that leaned toward the fantasy end (though it was decidedly still horror), was "Voluntary Committal." In this story, the POV character's brother is special needs. He builds an involved maze out of cardboard, full of rooms and decorations, but the tunnels ultimately lead somewhere no one comes back from.

Even more out there is "Pop Art," in which the POV character's good friend is a balloon boy, picked on by the other children. And yes, he's really inflatable. This one was whimsical and full of heart.

Probably the most viscerally disturbing was "You Will Hear the Locust Sing," where a young boy turns into a locust with a taste for people.

"My Father's Mask" is very "Twin Peaks"/"Twilight Zone." Creepy and odd.

The title story (20th Century Ghosts), was sweet and supernatural. I grew in movie theaters since my mom managed several, and I have a special fondness for the world.

All in all, it's a good collection with a lot of diversity in subject matter, although many of the stories revolve around youth and have younger characters. The stories range from sweet to horrifying. Surreal to gritty. Familiar to bizarre.

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

Have you read anything by Joe Hill? Did you see the movie "Horns?" Did you know he was Stephen King's son when you first read him or was it a pleasant surprise later on?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

IWSG: The Dangers of "Just," Podcast, & Links

It's IWSG day! I almost posted last Wednesday, thinking it was June already. Luckily, I caught myself just in time.

Before I jump into IWSG, I was interviewed again, this time by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. I'll be speaking at their writer's conference this coming fall. Mark Stevens was great fun to talk to, and we discussed Deconstructing Horror, my post and the workshop I'd recently done for RMFW. You can find the episode 86 podcast for Rocky Mountain Writer HERE.


Now onto the Insecure Writer's Support Group, which takes place the first Wednesday of each month. Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, this is your chance to air some insecurities and offer support to your fellow writers.

This month's co-hosts are JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner!

Anyone is welcome to join. Just sign up at the website linked above.

My insecurities frequently lead me to add the word "just" to things I say. "I just write short stories." "I just write horror." "I've just been published in short stories." "I've just been published x number of times." "I'm just a writer."

"Just" is a completely unnecessary modifier, and definitely an unnecessary self-judgment. What I've learned in the last year or so is that no one else is using that word when they speak about what I've done, so why am I?

I know I'm not the only one who does this, as I've frequently caught other writers doing so. So to all of you who do the same in an attempt to lower yourself before someone else can (which would hurt far more, yes?) stop using "just" to describe yourself. You're not "just" a writer, poet, etc. You ARE a writer, a poet, a screenwriter.

It matters. We shouldn't be diminishing ourselves. Instead, set lofty goals. Then meet them. And own them.

The optional question of the month is whether I've ever said "I quit," and what brought me back to writing if I did. At this point, no, though there have been times I've considered it. At the same time, over a decade ago I tried to submit a couple short stories. They were rejected, which back then meant my manuscript returned in the SASE I'd sent with it, and a several page listing of submission guidelines and possible reasons for rejection. I submitted two stories, each to one place, then gave up once the rejections came back. It wasn't conscious; I simply didn't bother to submit anymore. Plus, I was working full time and attending college, all while going through some serious medical treatments, which included surgeries, so even if they'd been accepted I wouldn't have written and submitted more until years later, when I did so anyway. I did still fiddle around with writing when I had the down-time. There just wasn't much of it, and since I hadn't decided to make a career of it, I didn't make it something I MADE time for.


Each month I post my stats for the previous month to keep myself accountable.

Submitted 6 stories (1 to a publication I was requested to submit a story to)
Got 7 rejections.
Not much going on this month!


Now for some links.

Accepting Submissions:

The Literary Hatchet is accepting dark short stories, poetry, art, and essays for their next issue. 1000 to 6000 words. Pays up to $10. Deadline July 1.

Red Room Magazine is accepting dark extreme horror and crime fiction short stories. Up to 4000 words. Pays $.03/word. Deadline July 1.

Spring Song Press is accepting fantasy short stories, preferably noblebright ones. Must address the theme "Still Waters." 2500 to 10,000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline July 1.

The Lascaux Review is accepting literary stories, poems, and essays. Pays $100.

Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things is accepting flash fiction, short stories, poetry, and creative non-fiction. Must be appropriate for ages 10 to 18. They also take submissions from kids 10 and up. Up to 12,000 words. Pays $.02/word.

Black Ice Magazine is accepting Cyberpunk speculative fiction. 1000 to 6000 words. Near future. 1000 to 6000 words. Pays $5 to $10.

Strange Fictions is accepting short speculative fiction, poetry, reviews, and essays. 1000 to 10,000 words. Pays $5 to $10.

Do you find yourself qualifying your successes? What are your insecurities? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Epiphanies From Deconstruction - Horror

I did a workshop for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers recently that made me look at how I thought of horror and reanalyze it in an attempt to help others understand it more. As I've delved deeper into the genre, I've expanded my own definition of it. Problem being, I see the same original, narrow view that I've left behind reflected in others' views on horror.

I frequently get comments like "I don't read/watch horror" or "I don't enjoy horror." But then there will be an exception to that. For example, "I don't enjoy horror, but I really liked Coraline/The Handmaid's Tale/Hunger Games/Stepford Wives/Planet of the Apes/Flowers in the Attic," etc. Right now, some of you are reading this and saying "Stepford Wives wasn't horror." Wasn't it? If Get Out is horror, Stepford Wives is, as well. Both look at subjugation and internal, unconscious biases in a frightening way that puts others in harm of losing themselves.

We've pigeonholed horror by defining it by one aspect, and each of us has a different aspect we define it by. Some might think horror is all slashers and gore. Some think it has to involve a monster. Sadly, even known authors of horror deny writing it, because they fear turning off readers and limiting their audience.

Interestingly, the Horror Writers Association pinpoints when this narrowing of the genre definition occurred: the 80s. And they blame it on one specific work: Stephen King's Carrie.

You see, horror wasn't a genre until sometime in the 80s. Even now, it's just a subgenre of fantasy, technically, but then we've split fantasy out into subgenres like dark fantasy and urban fantasy, as well, both of which can contain elements of horror.

The real trouble began when the publishing industry started trying to pinpoint the formula that made Carrie such a big hit. They then tried to duplicate that success by seeking similar stories. Suddenly, literature that met the definition of horror was pushed to the side, targeting this very specific form of horror to make sales and get movies made.

If you want to read more about this, put much better than I can, go to the HWA site.

A second problem we writers, specifically, have is that we're taught to pigeonhole our own writing to sell it. Pick a genre. You can't put "historical romantic mystery with speculative elements" in a query letter; you have to narrow that down. Where is it most likely to be put on a shelf? Well, with true horror, in the widest definition possible, it can go on many shelves.

Where would you find The Lovely Bones? Not in horror. Not even in fantasy, even though there are speculative, even supernatural, elements. It's a touching story, but it's also horrifying. There is clearly dread and horror brought out in the reader. What is NOT horrific about a little girl being raped and murdered then forced to watch from beyond the grave as her killer and family become involved in an intricate dance full of risk?

Where would you find The Hunger Games? Not under horror. It's a YA dystopian. But guess what dystopians are? A form of horror. Again, I ask you what is not horrific about children rounded up and forced to fight to the death for the entertainment of the wealthy?

Horror, in its purest form, exists to elicit darker emotions from its readers. That does not always have to be fear, though that's a strong thread, and is frequently present. It can be despair, horror, alarm, terror, disgust. It can be existential dread. It can be unfulfilled hope, brought to a crushing end. It can make you question society, your neighbor, or even your own morals. What it does not have to do is make you fear the creature under your bed (though it's completely legitimate if it does so).

What you'll often find in horror is that the things that scare you aren't the monsters, even when they exist. In The Shining, the ghosts are the least frightening part. The fright factor in The Shining has more to do with Jack's backslide into alcoholism and mental illness. It has to do with the sense of isolation and helplessness his family feels. The horror of a man coming after his wife and child with an ax is far more impactful than a lion shrubbery or a naked ghoul in a bathtub. At our base, we fear those close to us being able to harm us. Even more so, we fear our capacity for violence and wrongdoing. We fear hurting our loved ones, whether by causing physical harm or mental harm.

I realize I won't convince anyone with one short post. But I ask that you think about the wider implications of horror and try looking at things with a slightly different eye. Just because it was not slapped with a label of HORROR, does not mean it does not play in that particular playground. You may truly not like horror, but you may also just not like the narrow definition of horror you've been presented with. Either is legitimate.

Even I, a longtime fan of horror, didn't see it in its full scope. If you've read any of my horror list review posts, you know that I've said about many of the stories that I didn't feel they were horror. Now I know that they were, and that they existed on that list because they impacted someone emotionally in all the right ways. As a result, I'll go forward with a new set of eyes when reading the stories from Nightmare Magazine's Top 100 Horror Books.

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

Accepting Submissions:

Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores is accepting flash fiction and short stories in the speculative fiction genres (minus horror). Pays $.06/word. Deadline June 28.

The Threepenny Review is accepting short fiction and poetry. Word counts vary per type of submission. Pays $400 for story/article, $200 for poetry. Deadline June 30.

Subprimal is accepting flash fiction and poetry. Up to 750 words. Pays $20. Deadline June 30.

Alban Lake is accepting horror short stories concerning the Ancient Ones for The Mad Visions of al-Hazred. 3000 to 10,000 words. Pays $25. Deadline June 30.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is accepting short pieces for My Crazy Family. Up to 1200 words. Pays $200. Deadline June 30.

Inklings Publishing is accepting short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for Perceptions: Bullies. This is an anthology for kids. Up to 5000 words. Pays $20. Deadline June 30.

Broken Eye Books is accepting weird fiction set in Miskatonic University. Must involve the Cthulhu mythos. 3000 to 6000 words. Pays $.08/word. Deadline June 30.


Helen: A Literary Magazine is holding their Visual Prompt Quarterly Contest. Poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or experimental. There are three images, and it can contain one or all of them. $25 prize. Deadline June 30.

How do you define horror? Have you looked at any of the mentioned stories as horror? Do you find yourself pigeonholing horror into narrow definitions? Are any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Functional Nerds, Cover Reveal: Marked Beauty & Links

I was interviewed by The Functional Nerds podcast. Check it out after you've read the rest of the post! ;)

I'm pleased to be participating in S.A. Larsen's cover reveal for Marked Beauty. Without further ado:

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.


About the Author
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

Connect with her on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Blog | Goodreads

This is a #hashtag giveaway, where two lucky winners will receive a FREE eBook of Marked Beauty upon its release.

To participate:
  • Share one of the premade images via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Or write up a blog post using one of the images.
  • Include #MarkedBeauty in your description.
  • Optional for extra entry: include Add to Goodreads (with link) in your description.
***Posts MUST contain the hashtag #MarkedBeauty for entry into the giveaway or we won’t be able to find you.

Pre-made tweets (you add the image)

"A lust 4 life energy. An ancient curse. One soul's journey thru death 2 find the cure." #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal

"Uncovering some secrets can kill you, or worse ... steal your soul." #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal #YAlit

An ancient race. A timid girl. And a journey to the in-between. #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal #YAlit

The giveaway begins May 17th and will be open until May 23rd. Winners will be announced May 24th via social media.


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

Accepting Submissions:

A Murder of Storytellers is accepting short fiction pieces about the rebellious dead for the anthology The Misbehaving Dead. Up to 10,000 words. Pays $15 and a contributor copy. Deadline June 13.

Arsenika is accepting flash fiction and poetry for their summer issue. Up to 1000 words. Pays $60 for fiction, $30 for poetry. Deadline June 15.

18th Wall Productions is accepting short Lovecraftian stories for their anthology The Chromatic Court: Tales of the Lovecraftian Arts. 4000 to 16,000 words. Pays 5% gross profit quarterly. Deadline June 15.

Pseudopod is accepting short horror/dark fiction to be put out on a podcast recording. Pays $.06/word.

What do you think? Have you participated in a hashtag giveaway before? Going to now? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share? 

May you find your Muse.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Horror List Book Review: Wet Work & Links

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 Wet Work, by Philip Nutman.

This novel came with the back story that it began as a short story he had published, that someone requested he flesh out into novel form. It also included the short story, which was an interesting departure from the novel (in other words, it wasn't just the short story with a whole lot of details filled in.)

This is a solid zombie novel, and very different from the typical ones. In it, the zombies are self-aware and thinking, though some of them haven't made the change successfully. Of the successful ones is our main character, Corvino, a special ops agent who happened to be on an op when all hell broke loose. 

We track several characters other than Corvino, including a man who is herded up with other non-zombies in order to feed a group who have taken over the government. He's a police officer who sticks around initially to help, but ends up running with other officers when it's obvious the police can't do anything against the new menace. You see, not only do the dead come alive again, but any sort of bug or virus is accelerated, so that the common cold kills within a couple days and turns its victim into a zombie, too. This is probably the most damaging part of what happens after the comet sets things in motion.

It's somewhat obvious that Corvino was the original focus of the short story, but the other characters are well fleshed out, as well. The pacing is good, marching us forward until we see what awaits the characters we're watching. Society breaks down, with those who are well committing crimes, looting, raping, etc.

The female characters were mostly incidental, so it was guy-centric. One POV character is female, but she wasn't as well fleshed out as the men. I didn't feel like I knew her well, so it seemed to me she was unnecessary as a POV character, especially considering the end (which I won't give away). However, she wasn't a harpie or the stereotypical female character one often sees; she was just unnecessary as POV, and would have been fine as a secondary character.

It was also clear he struggled with romance/sex, but it isn't a story killer.

All in all, I have little to say. This was an action-driven approach to zombies, one that took them in a different direction than the usual, and there are compelling mysteries involved that Corvino must figure out. Definitely a worthwhile read, especially if you like the zombie sub-genre.

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

Now for some links, since I didn't post on Wednesday. Bear in mind that I'm not endorsing them, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Contrary is seeking short fiction, poetry, and commentary. Pays $20. Deadline June 1.

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

Page & Spine is seeking poetry, essays, flash fiction, and short fiction. Pays $.01/word. Deadline June 1.

Compelling Science Fiction is seeking sci-fi short stories. 1000 to 10,000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline June 1.

Pickman's Press is seeking Lovecraftian horror for their anthology Corporate Cthulhu. 2000 to 7000 words. Pays $.03/word. Deadline June 1.

Helen Literary Magazine is seeking short fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Pays $2 to $5. Deadline June 1.

Fantasia Divinity Magazine is seeking short fiction for the Goddesses of the Sea anthology. 500 to 15,000 words. Deadline June 5.

Have you read this? What do you think of aware zombies? What would people do with societal and mortal restraints removed? Any of these publications of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.