Friday, February 24, 2017

Horror List Book Review: Dark Forces

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 review Dark Forces, an anthology edited by Kirby McCauly.

I haven't done a book review since December! I decided to give myself a break to try to get through the rest of my giant TBR list, because reading these every other book was really cutting into the rest of my reading.

This was a good collection of stories, even though, like most other anthologies of horror published before a certain time, it is heavy on male contributors and extremely light on female contributors (there are two women, and twenty-two men.) The authors in this anthology were Stephen King, Dennis Etchison, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Edward Bryant, Davis Grubb, Robert Aickman, Karl Edward Wagner, Joyce Carol Oates (the one woman I consistently see in these older collections), T. E. D. Klein, Gene Wolfe, Theodore Sturgeon, Ramsey Campbell, Clifford D. Simak, Russell Kirk, Lisa Tuttle, Robert Bloch, Edward Gorey, Ray Bradbury, Joe Haldeman, Charles L. Grant, Manly Wade Wellman, Richard Matheson, Richard Christian Matheson, and Gahan Wilson. A power house of folks, to be sure.

There were some patterns to this collection of stories. One of them was vengeful females. Another was a proliferation of crones. And women scorned. The number of stories centered around angry women was surprising. It actually made me wonder what books and/or movies came out that year, or what was in the news, that would cause these to be common recurring themes.

The first story in here was written by request. You might recognize it: The Mist, by Stephen King. The Mist is a good story, despite the fact that I was dismayed at the sexism inherent. Not Stephen King! Yes, Stephen King. The female characters in this story were all either attractive or old, and all were described by their looks and appeal to the main character. And the main character sleeps with a young girl while they're trapped in the store, even though he's worried about his wife, who remained behind at their house. Given, he's thinking about his wife while they have sex. I don't know if that makes it better or worse. 

Other than that, it's a solid horror story. He's rather good at writing the eccentric religious zealot, as well as the psycho bully (in this case, the same person). He manages to describe the dregs of humanity well in all his stories, to make you ache for something bad to happen to certain characters. But he also had some incredibly likable characters, from the grocer who stands with him to an elderly woman who takes no nonsense and doesn't appear to be afraid of anything. Even giant escaped creatures, that loom out of the mist to eat people and do terrible things to them.

The other stories included twisted late night clerks, a woman who gets delicious revenge, a Yiddish man mistreated on a cruise for no reason, a new take on the demon barber of Fleet Street, a frightened man who pays a steep price, a man who styles himself an antique dealer suffering for one of his oddities, a conceited jerk who wrongs a woman, sewer invaders, a dream detective, accidental revenge, killer crones, a mysterious well, a cosmopolitan gathering, killer stones, a deadly Christmas tree, a cartoon about a boy who wouldn't get out of bed, a time traveler, tourism gone wrong, doomed punishment, a grizzled man and an ancient monster, a confused man in a coffin, and an extermination gone wrong.

Dark Angel, by Edward Bryant, was my favorite story. A woman takes the ultimate revenge on a man who left her in a bad situation. This one might actually be more horrifying for men than anyone else, but it left me feeling a mix of satisfaction and horror. 

All in all, I don't think there was a story I disliked. There were a couple that fell flat for me, but I figure they would work for other folks. This was a solid collection of short dark fiction, with some fantastic writing from the contributors. I thought it was cool that an illustrated story was included, that Gahan Wilson told a story in words instead of pictures, and that Richard Matheson and his son did a story together.

Before I close this post out, I want to do a quick tribute to Ed Bryant, who died this past week in his sleep. He was a local horror author, a regular at various cons, and an all around wonderful guy. He had a voice like deep velvet and he was incredibly kind to everyone around him, especially newer writers. He had stories in almost every collection of dark fiction out there, and was prolific. I'm going to miss him at the next con.

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

Next book? Not sure. But I will try to read it within the next two weeks to get back on schedule a bit.

What do you think of the writers in this collection? Any of them favorites? Have you read this anthology? Have you read The Mist (I'm pretty sure it also showed up in one of King's collections)? Seen the movie?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Girl Without A Face Cover Reveal & Links

Today, I'd like to welcome Medeia Sharif for her cover reveal of Girl Without a Face!

Evernight Teen, March 3, 2017

Destiny awakes with amnesia. She had been driving on a wet road, about to leave flowers at a memorial marker of a deceased classmate, when she almost met that same fate.

Her mother, Mildred, is restrictive. She doesn’t want Destiny to have her cellphone, which a nurse sneaks into her room. It’s useless since Destiny doesn’t have the passcode. After her hospital stay, she enters her mother’s overbearing household. Mildred becomes physically abusive, and Destiny fights back.

When Mildred is away, Destiny leaves with her neighbor, Gabriel, whom she’s developing feelings for, and they drive around to jog her memory. She’s positive she crashed near a memorial marker. When they find the marker in question, and when she remembers her phone’s passcode, her identity is questionable and Mildred is even crazier than she at first thought. Destiny is eager to escape Mildred’s household and find out who she really is.

Find Medeia – YA and MG Author

Website   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

Congratulations, Medeia! Looks awesome!

Now 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:

LOW L1F3 is open for submissions of cyberpunk short stories. They have a special issue with a political theme. 2000 to 8000 words. Pays $20. Deadline for special issue is February 28.

Parks & Points is open for poetry submissions in February to celebrate National Poetry Month (in April). Can submit up to 5 poems having to do with nature and the outdoors. Pays $15 per accepted poem. Deadline March 1.

Subprimal Poetry Art is open for submissions of poetry, flash fiction, art, and essays. Pays $20. Deadline March 2.

Alien Dimensions is open for submissions of science fiction short stories that involve friendly aliens, are set in space and in the future. Up to 5000 words. Pays $10. Deadline March 15.

A Lonely Riot Magazine is open for submissions of short fiction and poetry. Up to 6000 words. Pays $7 to $20.

Vastarien is open for submissions of nonfiction, literary horror fiction, poetry, and artwork. 2000 to 7500 words. Pays $.01/word.

Persistent Visions is open for submissions of visionary fiction that pushes boundaries and skirts reality. Up to 7500 words. Pays $.07/word.

Fantasia Divinity Magazine is open for submissions of drabbles, flash fiction, and short stories of any genre except erotica and nonfiction. 100 to 7500 words. Pays 1/2 cent per word.

Of Interest: 

Blackbird Publishing put out a post on Three Easy Ways to Use Facebook to Get Mailing List Sign-ups. put out a copy of an old article about a house Robert Heinlein built right here in Colorado Springs. He put a lot of cool details in at the time, and there's even a bomb shelter. (Apparently, there are quite a few homes in the Broadmoor area with bomb shelters and hidden passageways.)

How do you like Medeia's cover? Mysterious, isn't it? Any of these links of interest? Anything to add? How are you doing with your writing and submitting?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Upcoming Appearances, Do 1 Thing, Short Stories, & Links

Why, hello! It's Monday.

I recently confirmed some upcoming appearances I'll be making, so I thought I'd share! Plus, I have a question for you. But first, here's a picture of the awesome care pack, partially from Do 1 Thing, Nicole from The Madlab Post sent after the Mni Wicon Blogathon. Did you guys know there's a Native March on Washington set to occur March 10? Not only is DAPL an ongoing issue for Standing Rock, but the constant apathy and violation of Native rights is at stake.

As far as appearances, I'll be a showcase author at Pikes Peak Library's Mountain of Authors for the first time! I've worked this event as a representative of two different writer's groups (Pikes Peak Pen Women and Pikes Peak Writers) in the past, but this is the first time I've had the opportunity to be a featured author there. I'll have a signing table, and will get the chance to stand up to introduce myself and my books. It's a free event, so if you're local check out my "Appearances" tab for more details. I'd love to see you there!

I've also been confirmed as faculty at Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2017. I'll be on a panel about why you should write short stories, as well as presenting a standalone workshop on the business of short stories. You have to be a paid attendee of the conference to attend.

Both of the above are in April.

In addition, I will be presenting a 2-hour workshop on short stories for Colorado Springs Fiction Writer's Group in August. Half will be dedicated to the writing of short stories, with the second half involving the business side of things. This event is also free.

I've also received a fourth invitation to be a panelist at an event in mid-summer, but that's the only information I'll give out until I have more concrete information.

Question Mark by OCAL,

My question related to the above is what do you want to know about short stories? Not only will your answer to this question help me hone more workshops in the future, but I can do posts about it on here, as well.

I was interviewed at Writing From the Peak. Check it out!

Finally, how about some links? I'm sorely behind, aren't I? My blogging has been iffy at best lately, but I'm working on getting back to my usual schedule. Please bear in mind that I'm passing these along, not endorsing them. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Flame Tree Publishing is open for submissions of short stories for the following themed anthologies: Lost Worlds, Supernatural Horror, Time Travel, and Heroic Fantasy. 2000 to 4000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline February 28.

Galileo Books is open for short stories for science fiction art, essays, prose, and comics. Current theme is Games. 250 to 500 words. SFWA qualified paying market. Deadline March 1.

Radiant Crown Publishing is open for submissions of dieselpunk short stories, novelettes, and novellas for their anthology Gaslandia. Pay varies by type. Pays $.01/word. Deadline March 1.

Splickety Love is open for submissions of short stories themed toward historical romance. 300 to 1000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline March 10.

The Cincinnati Review is open for submissions of prose. Up to 40 double-spaced pages. Pays $25/page. Deadline March 15.

Freeze Frame Fiction is open for submissions of flash fiction for their 4th Quarter issue. 1000 words or less. Pays $10/piece. Deadline March 15.

Arsenika is open for submissions of poetry and flash fiction. Up to 1000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline March 15.


Reflex Fiction holds an international competition for great flash fiction. 180 to 360 words. Free entry. Cash prizes. Deadline February 28.

Of Interest:

Susan Spann did a guest post for Writers in the Storm on takedown notices entitled Pirates Beware: How to Prepare and Use a DMCA Takedown Notice. It seems there's a need for this more and more these days.

What do you want to know about short stories? What would you expect at a short story workshop? What would you be disappointed was missing? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share? How are you doing with submissions?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, February 6, 2017

WIMH - Time to Check Out Some Women

February is Women in Horror Month! The 8th annual, in fact, though I first heard about it two years ago.

WIHM is intended to bring attention to women in all aspects of horror, whether writers, directors, or any number of other artistic ladies who like it scary-style. As one of these women, I figured I'd do my part and tell you about some other ladies in horror that you may not have heard of.


The Soska Sisters (Twisted Twins Productions) are a relatively new discovery for me. You can catch them on Netflix with their show Hellevator, a "reality" show that puts people in a horror setting and makes them solve puzzles of different types or they get locked up in the dungeon. With snakes. And spiders. And showers of blood. All while these two giggle malevolently at the torture. Imagine my surprise when I realized they were also responsible for the film American Mary, starring Katharine Isabelle of Gingersnaps fame. Not only that, but they had a piece in the short film anthology ABCs of Death 2. Now I know they've got other films, which I look forward to watching. Starting with Dead Hooker in a Trunk.

If you'd like to check out more female horror filmmakers, here's a great Rolling Stone article featuring a few, including Jennifer Kent (Babadook) and Karyn Kusama (Jennifer's Body and The Invitation).

Just want movies with female protagonists? Check out this list from Dazed. Or go watch Teeth, American Mary, Gingersnaps, Housebound, Scream, Cabin in the Woods, Resident Evil, or Alien. Sygourney Weaver, Milla Jovovich, and Katharine Isabelle are three of my favorite bad-ass ladies from this list. (Fun fact: I'm watching an episode of Rosewood while I type this up, and Katharine Isabelle is making an appearance on this show.)

As far as TV, if you have Netflix, I highly recommend Santa Clarita Diet, starring Drew Barrymore. This isn't one for scares, but it's a fantastic horror comedy. American Horror Story (also available on Netflix, though not a Netflix original) is also female-centric in many ways. Scream Queens and Crazyhead are both horror comedies out right now.

Also, be sure to check out horror anthologies, like The ABCs of Death, V/H/S, and others. These often feature shorts by female directors, and at least one of these was produced by a woman.


Despite what you may have heard, there's no shortage of female horror authors. We number fewer than the guys, but we're here. Some better known horror authors include Joyce Carol Oates, Shirley Jackson, Daphne du Maurier, Kathe Koja, Lisa Tuttle, Gemma Files, Tananarive Due, and Poppy Z. Brite. Here are a couple longer lists: Hellnotes, Goodreads.

For specific books I'd recommend, try Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale for some classic stories to get you started. Then look up some of the lists out there of best new horror in 2016.

Since it's also Black History Month, here's a great list (plus links within it to other lists) of black women in horror put together by Sumiko Saulson. (Also check out the Graveyard Shift Sisters, who are doing 28 Days of Black Women in Horror, which includes actresses, writers, and more.)

There are two wonderful female editors who put together horror anthologies: Ellen Datlow and Paula Guran. Check out any anthology put together by these two, and you're sure to find a ton of great horror fiction, much of it written by women. Both do Best of anthologies that I highly recommend to help you jump in and discover the current best horror authors.

Nightmare Magazine did an all-female issue entitled Women Destroy Horror. It's still available for purchase HERE.

This should be enough to get you started. And, of course, check out my publications tab if you'd like to read something of mine!

Do you have a favorite female-driven horror film? A favorite female horror author? Please post your favorite women in horror, whether they be actresses (scream queens), directors, producers, authors, or editors, in the comments!

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

IWSG - Late! Stats & Links

It's the first Wednesday of February, so time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, created by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

This monthly group meets the first Wednesday. All are welcome. Come along and share your writing insecurities and inspirations. Be sure to visit other participants and encourage them, too. To sign up, click on Alex's name above, go to the IWSG tab, and enter your blog link. Then post. Easy!

Our co-hosts this month are Misha Gericke, LK Hill, Juneta Key, Christy and Joylene Buter! Stop by and say hi to them while you're out.

Today's optional question: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader? 

Unfortunately, I notice issues in writing much more than I did before, though I try to block out the writer in me when I'm reading, as it's such a relaxing thing for me. Typos, cliches, things I'm editing in my own work, etc., all these stick out when I'm reading. Also, bad plot devices and characterizations. I try to learn from the things that pull me out of a story now, so I can attempt to not make the same mistake.


Jumping into my monthly stats. I like to keep myself accountable by reporting my stats each IWSG, so here are my January stats.

In January, I:

Got 7 rejections (3 of these were personal rejections, which is great!)
Got 0 acceptances (sad face)
Have 2 pieces shortlisted (fingers crossed)
Submitted 5 pieces
Currently have 9 pieces out on submission.

I have several short stories I need to finish edits on so I can get those out, too. I'd like to have 20 short stories going at a time, but I'm not up to that productivity level yet. So I'm participating in a writing challenge for writing every day in February via Facebook. I'll share that challenge to my Warrior Muse FB page in case anyone else wants to jump in.


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

Accepting Submissions:

Vine Leaves Literary Journal is open for submissions of vignettes for their May issue. 800 words or less. Poetry and vignettes. Pays $5 AUD. Deadline February 28.

Imprimo is open for submissions of short stories to their current theme: Time. Any genre. Also take poetry. 2000-6000 words. Pays in royalties. Deadline February 28.

Parsec Ink is open for submissions of short stories to their current theme: Cravings. Up to 6000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline February 28.

Body Parts Magazine is open for submissions of short stories to their current theme: Killer Clowns and Freak Shows for their Spring/Summer issue. Flash fiction up to 1000 words, short stories up to 8000 words. Pay varies by type between $5 and $20. Deadline March 1.

Upstreet Literary Magazine is open for submissions of fiction and creative nonfiction for their 13th issue. 5000 words or less. Pays between $50 and $250 per piece. Deadline March 1.

The Literary Hatchet is open for submissions of short dark fiction, poetry, narratives, art, photography, illustrations, etc. Up to 6000 words. Pays up to $10. Deadline for April issue March 1.

Contrary is open for submissions of original commentary, fiction, and poetry. Pays $20. Deadline March 1.

Skirt! Magazine is open for submissions of essays by women to their current themes. See their page for each month's themes. 800 to 1100 words. Pays $200. Current deadline March 1.

Mugwump Press is open for submissions of short sci-fi and fantasy stories having to do with time travel and related mattes for their anthology Afrofuturism. 1000 to 7500 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline March 1.

Goblin Fruit is open for submissions of fantastical poetry. Pays $15. Deadline March 3.

What are your insecurities? Has writing changed the way you read? How are your stats for this month? Are you submitting? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.