Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Guest Post - Book Merchandise: Advice for Authors

Melissa Chan stops by today with a note about book merchandising. Take it away, Melissa:

Have you ever considered creating merchandise for your books? Now is a great time to get started. With a wealth of new internet businesses catered towards helping you create, print, and deliver custom merchandise with just a few clicks, there has never been a better time to start creating merchandise for your books. It is now possible for every author to test the waters with little to no investment involved.
Here are a few pieces of advice for authors considering creating custom merchandise for their books. I hope it will motivate you to consider giving it a try.

Authors can and should be skeptical about diverting any time or energy away from the daily activity of writing and publishing their work. Marketing and blogging about one's books is not too dissimilar from selling shirts, pens, or other gizmos. The benefits of being even moderately successful at merchandise has rewards that few can deny. Improved outreach to fans can help authors sell more books. A few sales of branded shirts or backpacks can improve one's financial situation so that an author can spend more time writing.

Consider getting started with freebies

Who doesn't like a free item? I know I do. Even if it is something of low value that I don't have an immediate use for, I'm still likely to accept a freebie if offered to me. When the term merchandise is thrown around it can often be assumed that it is a re-monetization of the current brand or brand assets. For example, t-shirts one can buy at the end of a concert to commemorate the experience or keychains one picks up after a long day at a theme park are not free. These types of merchandise are purchased in a sale transaction. Without the time and place, ie. concert or theme park, and without the brand printed on them, the sale would never have happened. Imagine going to your favorite band's website and selecting a blank or random shirt and paying money for that. It's a scenario that just doesn't make any sense.

My first piece of advice would be for authors to consider starting with giving away free items before trying to make money selling products. In the end, merchandise is meant to promote one's book. If the point is also to make money, free items are also a great way of upselling one's writing, a win-win situation for everyone. Free items don't have to be expensive. Bookmarks, pins, and even pens can be bought cheaply and are useful items for prospective fans to hang onto. The great thing about paper items such as bookmarks, gift tags, and postcards is the ability to print high quality items at low cost and at scale. Business cards and brochures don't have the same value when given away as the previously mentioned paper goods. However they are all printed on the same machinery. This means that you find great deals when getting them printed. When someone is considering purchasing a hard copy of your book, consider offering a bookmark to go with it, perhaps a bundle deal will push a few more conversions.

Slow and steady wins the race

Merchandise can be as cheap as a two cent bookmark or as expensive as a cell phone case, jacket, or backpack. When beginning your quest in manufacturing goods, a quick search online will bring you to some fantastic looking products to get your book titles and name on. It's easy to see t-shirts and bags and think that they required some type of large costly effort to get started. With all the advanced imaging software, product mockups can look extremely realistic. For example, none of the t-shirts or tote bags available for purchase in my online store actually exist until someone buys them. After you upload your graphics, it's as if the product is real, even before it has been made. I know I have spent hours browsing the wide range of embroidered hats, duffle bags, and notebooks and imaging what type of logos and designs I could bring to life on them and how great they would all look. But don't break out your credit card just yet. Selling merchandise, even to your existing followers is by no means a get-rich-quickly-overnight scheme. It's simply another avenue to help generate revenue or promote your work and thus it must be approached with caution.

If you want to make a few freebies for your upcoming book event, try printing bookmarks on your home printer. Stop by your local craft store for a do-it-yourself set of buttons or pens. For pens to be custom, they don't need to be printed using expensive machinery so the print is applied directly onto the plastic. I've seen DIY pens where you simply slip a piece of paper inside and the graphics will show through the clear plastic. A similar effect could be achieved through putting stickers on the exterior of a pen. Remember, if you are giving away things for free they don't have to be perfect. A pack of 10 or 20 units of any free item will do just fine to begin with. Even if the cost per item seems expensive at first you will be gaining valuable information about what works and what doesn't. If the pens help upsell your book, you won't see them as nearly the same cost. The next time around you will be able to make use of bulk deals and different manufacturing options. Trying out a new means of customer acquisition and sales techniques are best done slowly and over a long period of time.

Get started quickly

This point might seem counterintuitive to what I mentioned previously about taking your time, but equipped with a long term and low budget mindset you should be looking to start as soon as possible. In just a few minutes you can try out different types of merchandise and see how your audience responds. With just a few tweets or as an addition to your email newsletter, you can see how your audience responds. No author should put off trying it out just because it seems like the process requires an excessive amount of time or money to get started.

Whatever you may have in mind, be it a t-shirt, framed picture, or keychain, don't hesitate to just dive right in and begin. It can be useful to see the types of businesses and services available on the Internet these days even if you don't decide to move forward with using any of them.

I hope these tips have impressed upon you just how simple it can be to create merchandise for your books or author brand. If you have any questions or would like any other information on the subject please feel free to reach out to me at anytime! I love hearing from authors and writers.

Melissa Chan, is the founder of Literary Book Gifts, an online shop of bookish t-shirts and tote bags. She loves designing book merchandise for classic titles and authors. If any authors are interested on going on a blog tour and are seeking a giveaway prize please get in touch with me, I would love to offer the prize to help promote your book!

Have you tried out creating merchandise for your books? Has it worked for you? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Nick Wilford Cover Reveal!

Today is the cover reveal for Nick Wilford's Corruption, book two of the Black & White trilogy. Note that the first book in the series is free; more information can be found below!

Corruption (Black & White #2)

Release Date: 11th February 2019

Cover design: germancreative

Wellesbury Noon and Ezmerelda Dontible have found themselves in a position where they can make their native land somewhere that lives up to its name: Harmonia. However, they’re setting their sights further afield for their number one task: eradicating the disease that has plagued the neighbouring country of Loretania for generations and allowed the privileged Harmonians to live in a sterile environment.

After dispatching a team of scientists to Loretania, armed with cratefuls of an antidote and vaccine and headed up by their friend, Dr George Tindleson, Welles, Ez, and Welles’s brother Mal – who grew up in that benighted nation – start to worry when they hear nothing back, despite what they had agreed. Commandeering a fishing boat to follow the science team over the sea, they soon find that, while the disease may be on the way out, a new kind of infection has set in – the corruption they thought they had stamped out in Harmonia.

Can they get to the root of the problem and eradicate it before even more damage is done to an innocent people?

*** Warning – this book contains themes that some sensitive readers may find upsetting. ***

Pre-order links: Amazon US / Amazon UK / Smashwords / Barnes & Noble / Kobo  

Add it on Goodreads

Black & White (Black & White #1)

Cover design: germancreative

What is the price paid for the creation of a perfect society?

In Whitopolis, a gleamingly white city of the future where illness has been eradicated, shock waves run through the populace when a bedraggled, dirt-stricken boy materialises in the main street. Led by government propaganda, most citizens shun him as a demon, except for Wellesbury Noon – a high school student the same age as the boy.

Upon befriending the boy, Wellesbury feels a connection that he can’t explain – as well as discovering that his new friend comes from a land that is stricken by disease and only has two weeks to live. Why do he and a girl named Ezmerelda Dontible appear to be the only ones who want to help?

As they dig deeper, everything they know is turned on its head – and a race to save one boy becomes a struggle to redeem humanity.

Buy links: Amazon US / Amazon UK / Smashwords / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iBooks

Add it on Goodreads

Congratulations on your upcoming release, Nick!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Horror List Book Review: The Dark Descent

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 reviewing The Dark Descent, edited by David G. Hartwell.

This sucker ran 1011 pages, with the final story going right up to the last page, so it took me awhile to get through it. Although that's also partially due to the fact that many of the stories are older, with slower pacing and more elaborate language, which slowed me down, too.

In this anthology, Hartwell traces the history of horror, with stories going back to the likes of William Faulkner, Walter de la Mare, and Algernon Blackwood. The stories went through the mid-eighties, with stories by Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Dennis Etchison, with many more in between. Instead of going in date order, he split the book into three parts: The Color of Evil, The Medusa in the Shield, and A Fabulous Formless Darkness.

The middle slumped for me, with many of them being older, more literary horror stories. I found that I enjoyed the classic ghost and haunted house stories, but others in that era left me unsatisfied. The other two sections were livelier, and the closing story was a strong finish.

As big as this book was, it would take me forever to do a full, real review of this, so what I'd like to convey, in general, is that this is a magnificent collection of stories to read if you're fond of the horror genre or work within it. I may not have loved every story, but I learned a lot about the history of horror and how it's been shaped and changed through the years. There was a lot more cleverness in some of the older stories compared to the harder twist ending we employ now (though the twist was strong back then, too). I got to read classics I wouldn't have read elsewhere. It was a strong set of stories, and they all deserved a place in the history of horror.

Some of my favorites:

"A Little Something for us Tempunauts," by Philip K. Dick
"The Beckoning Fair One," by Oliver Onions
"What Was It?" by Fitz-James O'Brien
"The Beautiful Stranger," by Shirley Jackson
"The Willows," by Algernon Blackwood
Mackintosh Willy," by Ramsey Campbell
"The Signal Man," by Charles Dickens
"Crouch End," by Stephen King
"Seaton's Aunt," by Walter de la Mare
 "The Repairer of Reputations," by Robert W. Chambers
"The Yellow Wallpaper," by Charlotte Perkins
"Born of Man and Woman," by Richard Matheson
"Good Country People," by Flannery O'Connor
"Dread," by Clive Barker
"Josh Charrington's Wedding," by E. Nesbit
"If Damon Comes," by Charles L. Grant
"The Bright Segment," by Theodore Sturgeon
"There's a Long, Long Trail A-Winding," by Russell Kirk
"The Whimper of Whipped Dogs," by Harlan Ellison
"The Summer People," by Shirley Jackson
"The Reach," by Stephen King

I think it would have been nice to have them in date order to really suss out the changes and trends, but with this many stories, it probably made sense to split them out differently. It had to have been quite a job curating all of these stories. Some no longer had copyright, but most did. And I discovered authors I'd heard of, but never really read, who I'd like to read more of.

My Top Ten stands:

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
2. The Girl Next Door (Jack Ketchum)
3. The Bottoms (Joe R. Lansdale)
4. The Collector (John Fowles)
5. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
6. The Bridge (John Skipp and Craig Spector)
7. A Choir of Ill Children (Tom Piccirilli)
8. Needful Things (Stephen King)
9. 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
10. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)

I'm not sure which book I'll be reviewing next.

Have you read this collection? Are any of these stories familiar to you? Would you read a 1000+ page book of short stories?

May you find your Muse.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Bookstores Bouncing Back?

Book stores are dying! That's been the word online for ages. Yet I recently saw an article stating small bookstores are making a comeback. Colorado has quite a few, with the most well known being Tattered Cover in Denver.

My children's school did a fundraiser recently via Barnes & Noble. They got a percentage of sales from everyone who mentioned the fundraiser at the sales desk. The store was full, with long lines for purchase, which is often true when I go there. Given, I'm going there far less recently, out of frustration for the long missing horror section. A few years ago they had one. Now there are some horror authors mixed into other sections, such as literature, mystery, and fantasy, but there are many major horror authors whose books are nowhere to be found. I can no longer get the "Best of" anthologies I seek out each year, which has driven me to Amazon for those purchases. It also makes it a lot harder for me to browse and find new horror authors I may not be familiar with, which also means I'm missing out on seeing new horror.

In other words, the biggest brick and mortar store around has lost my business, for the most part. In a time when horror is selling like gangbusters, they aren't selling it. I don't understand the business decision, but at least they have plenty of room for non-book items now...

But back to the smaller bookstores. I'm loving the news that they're coming back. Is it frustration with Amazon? I know a lot of authors are trying to spend their money elsewhere due to issues with the company, but what about readers? Are the bookstores making a comeback ones that have cafes or other extras to pull people in, or are they just good old-fashioned bookstores? I'm curious to hear if small bookstores have opened in your area, and what they're like.

The ones I know of in Colorado Springs sell a combination of used and new books. One of those is really good about hosting authors for book signings. And when I go to Estes Park, they've got a small bookstore that sells all new books, and doesn't focus on non-book items at all. 

Or could it be the same mentality that's driving people to move mom and pop restaurants. Big chain restaurants are giving way to smaller, more diverse restaurants. Perhaps it's an overall desire to return to simpler things instead of giant monopolies.

Now for some links. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting. (It's a short one today).

Accepting Submissions:

Helios Quarterly Magazine is seeking fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Up to 1500 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline January 15.

18th Wall Productions is seeking stories expanding upon Wells' The War of the Worlds for their anthology War of the Worlds: Absolute War. 4000 to 20,000 words. Pays in quarterly royalties. Deadline January 20.

Nonbinary Review is seeking poetry, fiction, and essays inspired by Clive Barker's Books of Blood. Up to 5000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline January 23. 

What do you think? Have you visited a bookstore in person recently? Where do you buy most of your books? What's behind the changes? Any of these links of interest?

May you find your Muse.

*Buchladen Buecher, Wikimedia Commons, Kintaiyo, 11 April 2006
*Eslite Bookstore in Taichung Chung-yo Department Store, Wikimedia Commons, Essolo, 11 December 2006

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

IWSG - Writing Spaces & Links

It's the first Wednesday of December, which means it's time for another edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, created by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

The purpose of this group is to out your writing woes, gain support from fellow writers, and give support to those who need it. All are welcome to participate. Just sign up HERE. Post on the first Wednesday each month and hop around to visit others. We recommend trying to visit twelve new blogs and meet some new people!

This month's optional question is: What are 5 objects we'd find in your writing space?

How about some photos?

You'd see my Funko Pops (each one represents a short story sold).

Movie posters and artwork (the xenomorph was created by my friend Jade as a 40th birthday present last year).

Pictures of loved ones.

(I've got pictures of my parents awaiting frames.)

Badges/nametags from events where I've presented.

My library lamp.

And a bonus of my super sloppy shelves, which include craft books, contributor copies, and lots of horror stuff and personal objects (plus photo albums and my X-Files collectors cards from the 90s).

Last month I titled my blog post The Little Things then completely forgot why I'd titled it that way. What I'd intended to post was a little story about exciting small things that happen in writers' lives. So I'll tell you this month instead. As writers we deal with a lot of rejection, so we have to celebrate the little things when they come along. 

One of my neighbors, who I didn't know very well, but we were friendly, asked my husband if I was a writer. She'd done a search on Amazon for horror short stories and found my anthology. Having no idea it was me, she'd ordered it on Kindle and read it. When she got to the end, she recognized my headshot. Ultimately, she ended up ordering a stack of signed books to send out to friends and family, which is probably the coolest experience I've had as an author, so far.

I know the holidays are hard on a lot of people, so I did a post last week about depression and some coping methods for those who might need it. At the very least, know you're not alone.

Okay, it's time for submission stats. Each month, I run through the stats for the previous month to keep myself accountable.

In November:

6 rejections
1 withdrawal (they had zero activity on Duotrope for the last year, and I wanted to submit the story elsewhere)
0 acceptances
6 submissions

Right now, I have 10 short stories out on submission.

Don't forget that this is a WEP month! WEP and IWSG have joined forces. 

Next month is IWSGPit! Get ready to pitch to editors and agents!

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

Accepting Submissions:

Bad Dream Entertainment is seeking humorous horror stories for an anthology. 1500 to 8000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline December 31.

Unlit Press is seeking stories on the theme of Darkness for the anthology Curse the Darkness. 3000 to 10,000 words. Will pay about $100 (payment is in pounds). Deadline December 31.

Zombies Need Brains is seeking fantasy and sci-fi stories for three different anthologies: Portals, Temporally Deactivated, and Alternate Peace. Will pay a minimum of $.06/word with further royalties once earned out. Deadline December 31.

Cantabrigian is seeking literary fiction. Up to 8000 words. Pays between $20 and $50. Deadline December 31.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is seeking stories about angels. Up to 1200 words. Pays $200. Deadline December 31.

Spring Song Press is seeking steampunk stories for the anthology Steam and Lace. 1000 to 10,000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline January 1.

What are your insecurities? What is something cool that has happened to you as a writer? What are your submission stats for the month? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

*Artwork by OCAL,
*Photos by me

Monday, November 26, 2018

Depression in Writers

Edgar Allan Poe famously suffered from depression, but he wasn't a rarity. Authors are among the most likely professions to have issues with depression. Yet we often dismiss it as being part of our creative process. Some even fear treating it in case it impacts their writing.

I've seen a trend as the weather changes to cold, with night falling earlier and earlier. Writing friends who've sunk into depression. A change in tone on their blogs, Facebook pages, and in-person interactions. Seasonal Affective Disorder runs rampant this time of year, and for those who suffer year-round depression, the change in seasons can deepen it.

I'm someone who suffers moderate depression all year, with severe anxiety and PTSD. I also come from a family in which Bipolar Disorder is common, though I have been lucky to avoid it, so far. After decades of learning and employing coping mechanisms, I finally went on a mild anti-anxiety medication to help with the side-effects of my PTSD after a downward spiral was triggered by a fairly minor incident related to the initial cause. I was incredibly resistant to using medication for this, which is why it took so long. It took feeling completely out of control of myself and my life, constant panic attacks throughout the day, and beginning a withdrawal from normal life events, though I kept forcing myself forward. In the past, I made it through a combination of PTSD and Postpartum Depression on my own, and I was proud of that, but why did I put myself through it in the first place?

I say all this so you know you're not alone. No one can tell you everything will be okay, but there are ways to get through the harder times. Sometimes it takes admitting there's an issue. Seeking out that one person who can reach out to you. Maybe it's a friend or family member. Maybe it's a doctor. Below you'll find some coping mechanisms and options that might help.

1. Get some sun. As writers, especially those of us with day jobs, small children, disabilities, or some other reason that keeps us out of the sun, it's important to try to get as much sun as you can. Even if it involves sitting on your porch, resting in front of a window (I know it's super cold some places), going for a walk around the block, taking a hike, or even driving around on a sunny day. If you absolutely can't get outside, maybe check out one of those natural sun lamps.

2. Journal. A lot of writers already journal. It can help vent frustrations, fears, etc. and get the poison out. It can also help you track it to see if there are particular patterns or triggers.

3. Exercise. A walk is good exercise. It doesn't have to be anything intensive. If you want more than that, you can join a gym, do home workout tapes, join an adult sports group or team in your area, or even find short workouts (including ones intended to be done at your desk) online. I love 30 Days of Yoga workouts by Bad Yogi, found on YouTube. Her yoga workouts are brief, usually about 10 minutes, give or take. The main thing is to get active and get away from your desk, even in short bursts if that's what it takes.

4. Socialize. Find a writer's group or an online community (if you're blogging and visiting other blogs, you're already ahead of the game on that one.) Attend workshops and writing social events. We writers tend to lock ourselves away from people to focus on our writing. It's a solitary pursuit. We forget to see our friends and family. We forget to get out of the house and do something other than work.

5. Tell someone. Find someone you trust to talk to. Admit what's going on. Seek help. If you don't have someone in your life you trust, consider telling your regular doctor and getting a referral to a mental health professional.

6. Positive Reinforcement. As authors, we often punish ourselves when we don't feel we're being productive enough. We talk down to ourselves. We judge ourselves. We try to harden ourselves against rejection, but it's hard to deal with constant rejection. Instead of beating yourself up or having unrealistic expectations for yourself, consider setting small, realistic goals and rewarding yourself for achieving them. You can reward yourself with a movie or an outing with friends, buy something small when you reach higher goals (like the Funko Pops I buy for each short story sale), treat yourself to a special treat or diet cheat day, etc. You know yourself best, so you know best what rewards will matter and what to strive for that's achievable, but somewhat challenging.

7. Consider medication. Only if you're comfortable with it. Do you avoid it because of a stigma attached to it? Things others said? Or have you researched it and it's not for you? I avoided it because I have severe reactions to medications, and I was afraid of what type of reaction that would be when it's for something meant to treat my brain. Every medication they put me on for the permanent migraine I have (I've had it 8 years now) had horrific side effects, and many of those medications doubled as treatments for ADHD, depression, OCD, seizures, etc. My rule was nothing mind altering. Nothing with severe side effects. Nothing that made me feel numb or caused me to shut down in any way.

If you can find something that helps you (or, most likely, a combination of things), it can help you through those harder times. As writers, depression can keep us from being productive. It can taint how we see our work. Sometimes small steps are all the help you need. Sometimes you need more intensive help. No matter where you are in this, I wish you luck, and hope you can find whatever helps you most.

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

Accepting Submissions:

Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores is seeking fantasy, science fiction, myth, legend, eldritch, and fairy tales. 1000 words and up. Pays $.06/word. Deadline December 28.

Sigil House Publishing is seeking short stories of any genre or combination of them. 2000 to 15,000 words. Pays $10. Deadline December 31.

Carte Blanche is seeking short fiction, memoir, and personal essays. Up to 3500 words. Pays a modest honorarium. Deadline December 31.

Workers Write! is seeking stories and poems in educational settings for More Tales From the Classroom. 500 to 5000 words. Pays $5 to $50. Deadline December 31.

Allegory is seeking speculative fiction short stories. Prefer works between 500 and 5000 words, but will consider stories outside that range. Pays $15. Deadline December 31.

Zizzle is seeking stories for both young and adult readers. 500 to 1200 words. Pays $100. Deadline December 31.

Split Lip Magazine is seeking literary or mainstream fiction, poetry, and memoir. Word counts vary depending upon type of submission. Pays $5 per printed page. Deadline December 31.

Fireside Magazine is seeking short stories, poetry, and nonfiction. Up to 4000 words. Pays 12.5 cents per word. Deadline December 31. (Note: Does not open until December 15).

Horror Queen Media is seeking witch stories for Vex No More. Up to 5000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline December 31.

Have you dealt with depression? What have you found helps you? Are any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.


Edgar Allan Poe: By Unknown; most likely George C. Gilchrest, Samuel P. Howes, James M. Pearson, or Andrew J. Simpson, all of Lowell, MA - and, Public Domain,

Aerobics Clip Art:, OCAL

Meeting Clip Art:, OCAL

Medicine Jar Clip Art:, OCAL

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Writer Nation Interview & Birthday Fun

With everyone in the U.S. (including me) ramping up for Thanksgiving tomorrow, I wanted to do a light post to share some birthday fun and let you know about a podcast interview with Writer Nation that just went live.

Yesterday was my birthday. Sometimes it's an entirely different week than Thanksgiving, and sometimes it's two days before! Like this year. I had volunteer work in the evening, and while I was onstage, I got surprised by friends with a clown bringing me donuts. Apparently, my husband knew ahead of time, and he still got me a cake, so between my birthday and Thanksgiving, I'm not weighing myself for the next week.

And because my friends know me so well, the clown was bloody. I even got some on the announcements I was in the middle of when the clown arrived (who was my friend's daughter, by the way, because the doughnut place I'd been wanting a doughnut delivery from only does it in October).

I got to go out with a couple friends after the event and get some wings (way more appropriate for sticking to my keto diet, which I blew straight out of the water yesterday). It was a nice way to celebrate turning 41.

And then I found out my podcast interview with Writer Nation was going live today, which was also fun! My interviewer is a writing friend who also happens to share my birthday, so the timing is perfect.

To listen to the interview, which runs about half an hour, and features discussions of writing while also being a work-at-home mom (WAHM), sentient bouncy balls, Longridge Writer's Academy, fangirling, middle school operas, and my first ever short story submissions, click HERE. This was actually my first podcast interview done in person! The rest have been via phone or Skype, so this was a new experience for me. There's a lot of laughing. You'll see how easy Jenny is to talk to. She also runs the Writer Nation Facebook group, and is a super busy working mom and writer. She's had the most fascinating job, and gotten to be part of some monumental things this past year that have left me in awe. I hope you'll check it out!

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

Accepting Submissions:

Iridium Magazine is seeking short stories, essays, and art. Must feature QUILTBAG+ content. Up to 5000 words. Pays $.03/word. Deadline December 15.

Copper Nickel is seeking poetry, fiction, and essays. Pays $30/printed page. Deadline December 15.

Arsenika is seeking fiction and poetry. Up to 1000 words long. Pays $30-$60. Deadline December 15.

Matter Press is seeking fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, mixed media, and visual arts for The Journal of Compressed Arts. Pays $50. Deadline December 15.

Otter Libris is seeking stories about submariners lost at sea and what might be happening if they're still out there. This is for Still on Patrol. 3000 to 10,000 words. Pays $25. Deadline December 15.

Smoking Pen Press is seeking stories about supernatural beings for Vampires, Zombies, and Ghosts, Oh My! 1200 to 6000 words. Pays $20. Deadline December 15.

Infernal Ink is seeking H.P. Lovecraft inspired erotic short stories for Lustcraftian Horrors. 2000 to 10,000 words. Pays $25 or royalties. Deadline December 21.

The Puritan is seeking interviews, essays, and reviews. Pays $100. Deadline December 25. Also check out their call for Editors in Residence.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Are you doing anything for Thanksgiving? Do you get to see family? Would you love it if a clown delivered your doughnuts or would you run screaming? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Horror List Book Review: The Resort

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 reviewing The Resort, by Bentley Little.

Bentley Little has a formula that's worked for him for quite some time. He takes a normal person (or family, in this case), sticks them somewhere seemingly normal, even idyllic, then all hell breaks loose. Things go terribly wrong. That's precisely what happens here.

A family goes to a resort in the Arizona desert. They've gotten a deep discount. Weird things start happening right away, including getting back to their hotel room to discover someone else is in there. The management has to convince this someone to let them in long enough to get their things, and they're given a new room.

The little things build for quite some time, and we see different POVs, but this family provides the bulk of the POVs. The adults are having one set of experiences, while the kids have others. The vacation sounds great until everything goes nuts.

When it goes nuts, it goes full Lord of the Flies in the Overlook Hotel nuts. Animalistic behavior takes over some of the residents of the resort, and it's normals against psychos. There's full on violence and odd sexual behavior. The family tries to escape, but the resort throws barriers in their way.

I had certain expectation for a Little novel, and they were met. However, the ending was overly simplistic and the violence and behavior over the top. Still, I accepted the behavior until being disappointed in the end. I would have liked to see a real resolution.

Expect absurdity, violence, and odd, over the top characters if you read this.

My Top Ten:  

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
2. The Girl Next Door (Jack Ketchum)
3. The Bottoms (Joe R. Lansdale)
4. The Collector (John Fowles)
5. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
6. The Bridge (John Skipp and Craig Spector)
7. A Choir of Ill Children (Tom Piccirilli)
8. Needful Things (Stephen King)
9. 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
10. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)

The next book I review will be Dark Descent, edited by David G. Hartwell.

Have you read The Resort? How about a different Bentley Little novel? Are you a fan? 

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

IWSG - It's the Little Things & Links

Happy November! My second favorite month after October. It's the first Wednesday, which means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, created by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Alex created the IWSG to lend support to fellow writers. Anyone can join. Simply click HERE and sign up via your blog (or participate on Facebook!). Post your insecurities and inspirations, and visit your fellow bloggers to lend support and advice.

Our co-hosts this month are  Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Ann V. Friend, JQ Rose, and Elizabeth Seckman! Be sure to stop by and tell them thanks for co-hosting.

Our optional question of the month is: How has your creativity in life evolved sine you started writing?

Since I started writing, I've expanded my horizons and trying things I hadn't attempted before. I've gotten involved in writer's groups, and everything those led to. I've worked on cool projects like writing fantasy pieces inspired by music, and had writing published in different genres, such as YA, horror, mystery, humor, memoir, and fantasy. The more I stretch the muscles, the more ideas I have, and the more I want to try out new things and dabble in other art forms.

My insecurity this month really just has to do with not having gotten much writing done recently. Too busy! I'm trying to fix that with ShaNoShoStoWriEdSubMo and having some write-ins with friends since November is a much calmer month than October. October was stifling, both time-wise and creativity-wise, but it's time to get back to work!

We're running a contest for the February WEP theme, and there are only a few days remaining to enter!

Rules: Submit your idea for a WEP February theme by November 12 to Nothing so U.S. culturally bound. Should have wide appeal.

Prize: Feature in the December newsletter for the winner. And, of course, the winning theme will be the official February WEP theme!

Deadline: November 12. Winner announced in the November newsletter on November 28.  

And the December theme is as follows:

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

In October:

5 submissions
1 rejection
0 acceptances
12 pieces currently on submission

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

Accepting Submissions:

Narratively is seeking personal essays/memoir that delves deeper than the usual. 2000 to 3000 words. Pays $300.

Perihelion is seeking science fiction. 2500 to 7000 words. Pays $.01/word.

Rivet is seeking poetry, nonfiction, and literary short works. 15 to 15,000 words. Pays $25.

Automata Review is seeking short works that explore new spaces. 1000 to 6000 words. Pays $25.

The Sea Letter is seeking short fiction, poetry, and photography. Up to 7500 words (1000 for poetry). Pays $25.

Craft is seeking short fiction, flash fiction, craft essays, interviews, and book reviews. Up to 7000 words (1000 for flash fiction--other types of submissions have different limits). Pays $100 to $200, depending upon submission type.

Crimson Streets is seeking pulp of various genres. 800 to 6000 words. Pays $.01/word.

Daily Science Fiction is seeking short science fiction. 100 to 1500 words. Pays $.08/word.

Unshattering is seeking science fiction and fantasy that show the way back to a livable future. Also seeking poetry, memoir, and art. Up to 4500 words. Pays $.10/word.

Aotearotica is seeking erotica. Poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Up to 3000 words. Pays NZD$50.

What are your insecurities? Have you sent in an entry for the WEP theme? How has your creativity changed since you started writing? Did you submit a story for the anthology? Are any of these links of interest? Anything to share? How were your submissions this month?

May you find your Muse.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

ShaNoShoStoWriEdSubMo Kick-off Day!

It's November 1st! You know what that means! ShaNoShoStoWriEdSubMo time!

No? You're doing NaNoWriMo instead? That's okay.

Each year, I hijack the energy of NaNo to jump start some projects. This year it's especially needed. I've allowed business to steal my writing time, and after an 11 day migraine, I hadn't written anything until last night. So it's time to catch up. (Not that I wouldn't have been doing ShaNo anyway.)

What it is: I set my own relevant writing-related goals during the month of November. Simple!

This year's goals:

Finish a minimum of five already begun short stories.
Write two new stories.
Edit a minimum of three pending stories.
Make 10,000 words progress on squirrel horror (both editing and writing).
Submit at least three new stories.
Send out a minimum of five queries for Myth Stalker novel.
Do a weekly blog post that includes updates.

I'm hoping this will get me back on a regular schedule of some sort.

Before I get to links, I want to share a project Tyrean Martinson put out in October!

Ashes Burn, Seasons 1-7 includes all the seasons from the hint fiction fantasy series. Following the lives of the three characters, the story takes place in a unique format of micro-fiction episodes.

Wend runs a strange path to find a new future.
Teresa hunts for the man she loves.
Bryant blazes a destructive path to a new empire.
Who will survive their methods?

Ashes hold the inner heat of fire, the spark and ember of flame. Like those, micro-fiction holds the spark of a larger story that may grow inside the mind of a reader. Consider each piece a frame of embers. Picture the story in your imagination.

Please note that micro-fiction is an experimental form of story-writing and the whole series is very short.

Now Available for:

The Reviewer's Special is a Coupon Code I've generated for up to 50 downloads between now and November 29th at Smashwords ONLY. If you use this code, you'll get 100% off and be able to read the whole hint fiction series for FREE. However, this is a limited time, limited download offer. If you like the book or find it interesting, please leave a review. The code is: ZG27Q

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

Accepting Submissions:

ServiceScape Short Story Award closes this month. Fiction or non-fiction under 5000 words. $1000 prize. Deadline November 29.

Ninth Letter is seeking poetry and prose that are literary or experimental. Up to 8000 words. Pays $25 per printed page. Deadline November 30.

Martian Migraine Press is seeking horror short stories for Monstrous Outlines. The theme is Camouflage. 1500-7000 words. Pays .03CAD/word. Deadline November 30.

Twelfth Planet Press is seeking novellas for their novella series. They want grit and rebellion. 17,000-40,000 words. $300 advance, plus royalties. Deadline November 30.

Pen and Ink Pub is seeking short ghost stories of women scorned for Haunted. 4000 words and up. Pays $20. Deadline November 30.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is seeking first person stories in the theme of Life Lessons From the Cat. Up to 1200 words. Pays $200. Deadline November 30.

Crannog Magazine is seeking prose and poems. Up to 2000 words. Pays 30 to 50 Euros. Deadline November 30.

Baltimore Review is seeking short works. Pays $40. Deadline November 30.

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

Eternal Haunted Summer is seeking poetry and short fiction gods, goddesses, and Pagan traditions. Preferably less than 5000 words or it will be serialized. Theme: Dark Spirits of Winter. Pays $5. Deadline December 1.

Pedestal Magazine is seeking poetry. Submit up to 5 poems. Pays $40 per poem. Deadline December 2.

Are you doing NaNo or some version of it? Have you heard of micro-fiction? Are any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

*Artwork by OCAL,

Friday, October 12, 2018

Horror List Book Review: The Collector

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 reviewing The Collector, by John Fowles.

This is an excellent book. It's slow and non-violent, purely psychological horror. It's told in multiple parts, with each of the characters well developed, though not necessarily likable. The first part is from the main character's point-of-view. He is an outcast, lonely, but fascinated by a woman. He buys a new place and sets up a soundproof room for her before kidnapping her and locking her in. He wants to experience her, be near her, watch her, but he has no interest in sex.

He has collected her.

The next part is from her POV. We get some insight into her reactions throughout her captivity, which we've previously seen from his POV.

Each of the POVs were distinct from each other. Though the pacing is slow, the story drags you in and pulls you along, mostly by holding the terror over you due to your own expectations and fears. As the reader, you hope for some awareness from the main character, some understanding from him that what he's doing is wrong. A sense of morality or hope. His neutrality and blandness are part of the horror.

This one has finally moved my top ten around:

My Top Ten:  

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
2. The Girl Next Door (Jack Ketchum)
3. The Bottoms (Joe R. Lansdale)
4. The Collector (John Fowles)
5. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
6. The Bridge (John Skipp and Craig Spector)
7. A Choir of Ill Children (Tom Piccirilli)
8. Needful Things (Stephen King)
9. 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
10. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)

The next review will be for The Resort, by  Bentley Little. After that, Dark Descent.

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

Accepting Submissions:

Unlocking the Magic is an anthology seeking fantasy involving characters with mental illness. The focus is on realistic portrayals of the mental illness, not magic born of it. 3000 to 6000 words. Pays $300. Deadline November 1.

The Literary Hatchet is seeking speculative fiction flash, short stories, art, poetry, etc. 500 to 6000 words. Pays $5 to $10. Deadline November 1.

The First Line is seeking fiction and non-fiction essays with the first line, "As she trudged down the alley, Cenessa saw a small..." 300 to 5000 words. Pays $25 to $50. Deadline November 1.

Thema Literary is seeking short stories, poetry, essays, and art with the theme The Critter in the Attic. Up to 20 pages. Pays $10 to $25. Deadline November 1.

Spring Song Press is seeking steampunk short stories for Steam and Lace. 1000 to 10,000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline November 1.

Are any of these links of interest? Have you read The Collector or anything by John Fowles? What did you think? Anything to share? Have you been submitting?

May you find your Muse.