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.